All posts by Nicole

Healthy, Easy Post-Yoga Snack (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

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CHOCOLATE CHIP PROTEIN BITES

I made these snack bites a couple of months ago and I realized today that I could definitely share these here. These are a wonderful pre and post yoga snack; they are filling but not too filling and are made with healthy, whole ingredients. Nix the chocolate chips if you want to cut down on the sugar but you should add them; life is too short to be without chocolate chips! I think I will add a few recipes here every once in a while that are healthy and vegan. Most of us do yoga to feel good, improve ourselves, show self love and eating healthy is what many of us strive to do. My blog, Forever Plant-Based, is dedicated to healthy plant-based recipes. Check it out if you are not sure what to make for dinner or need a cool snack idea. Lately, my recipes involve glorious chocolate and peanut butter, two AMAZING ingredients.

1 cup of quick cook oats
1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
1/4 cup of coconut palm syrup or maple syrup
1/4 cup of dairy free chocolate chips
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
3 tbsp of non dairy milk


Hand mix all the ingredients in a big bowl except the milk. Add in the milk and use your hands to mix. Roll into bites and store in a glass bowl. I made about 10 bites. You can store in the fridge or on your counter if your kitchen is cool and dry.

How To Continue Your Meditation Practice When You’re Stuck by Nicole D’Angelo

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I once heard that those who don’t meditate, need it the most. I can be one of those people. I do well with it for a few days and then I go off course. I enjoy it, it centers me, I love teaching it but I don’t allow myself enough time to really reap the benefits of it.

Sometimes my mind won’t stop. Sometimes I can’t put the phone down or the laptop aside. Sometimes I just find other things to do. I haven’t dug deep enough to figure out the root cause of my procrastination but I do know it is well worth it when I do meditate. Some days I fall right into it because I’m tired and need a break or I just need to disconnect from electronics. I work from home so being attached to my laptop, even while working on tasks that make me happy, can cause me stress and fatigue.

I have a few ways that you can keep going with your meditation. Once you make it a habit, it will become second nature but that will take at least a month. I started lifting weights at the beginning of May, consistently and thoroughly, and I STILL need to psych myself up to do them everyday, at times. It is, however, becoming part of my day and I’m finally seeing results. When I don’t strength train for a few days, I definitely feel it in my body. It feels like forever that I’ve started strength training full force and it’s only really been a little over a month. I need to put this into practice with meditation.

When you stop meditating or finding time in your day to center yourself, you also feel it-you feel it in your mind. You may become frustrated easily or you’re easily distracted or you find yourself in a bad mood or overly tired. This could be your mind saying that you need to meditate.

You don’t want to sit for 10 minutes anymore. What do you do when you’re stuck?

  1. Listen to calming music and concentrate on the voice of the singer or an instrument. I listen to Enya, her music gives me something to look forward to when I sit and get quiet. Keep the music low and try to choose songs that don’t evoke emotion.
  2. Go to a meditation class. I went to a yoga nidra and sound bath class last night at my studio and it was awesome. Taking a meditation class gives you another perspective and can rejuvenate your excitement about meditation.
  3. Meditate for a shorter time. It’s better than not meditating at all. Cut your time short and build back up again.
  4. Try different kinds of meditation. Follow a guided meditation online, do a walking meditation in a quiet park or chant ohm over and over again. Or just sit and breathe deeply until you feel refreshed. Sometimes people find that certain chores at home such as washing the dishes or folding clothes helps them relax. You go into your own world and get quiet.

Try one or two of these suggestions and see if you can get back into meditating. A consistent practice will bring you the most benefits: lower stress, being able to handle what life throws at you, feeling lighter and happier and so much more.

XO

Nicole

How Yoga Helps With Addiction Recovery by David Wilcox

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This month we have a guest post from David Wilcox, a yoga instructor and creator of HeroinAddict.info, a resource for people and their families who are struggling with heroin addiction. David teaches yoga classes at community centers and rehab facilities and attributes much of his recovery to yoga.

It took a lot of time, sweat, and effort, but you finally did it. The proverbial monkey is off your back, and you’re now in addiction recovery. The hard part might have been getting here, but that’s not to say your life will be easy from now on. As an addict, you will continue to face struggles and trials.

Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. Not only can your family and friends give you support, but there are a myriad of holistic methods (like these) that can bolster your recovery. In fact, researchers are turning towards the ancient practice of yoga as a solid way to fight your addiction.

There are many different kinds of yoga out there, but they’re all based on the same principles. It’s an ancient form of discipline, exercise, and meditation that leads to a healthier lifestyle. Although doing stretches and difficult poses is a big part of yoga, it’s more than that.

Yoga helps improve your overall wellness, for both your body and your mind. There are some major physical benefits, such as increased flexibility, stronger muscles, and better breathing. But because yoga aims to balance the mind and body, there are mental benefits as well. Even if you’re not in addiction recovery, yoga can help reduce anxiety and relieve stress.

This is not a sudden change, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, the physical and mental wellness you gain from yoga begins to build as you continue to explore the different poses, breathing, and meditations.

Why Yoga Helps With Addiction

Those physical and mental benefits can help you stay sober. One of the biggest problems recovering addicts face on the road to recovery is the dreaded relapse. When you become overly stressed and anxious, years of work can be ruined by falling back into your old habits and patterns. This is where yoga can help.

Yoga stretches and meditation can help bring you feelings of peace and comfort. As you reduce your stress level, you are less likely to turn to whatever high became a problem in the first place.

And yoga helps with much more than anxiety and stress. As your mind and body get used to yoga, it begins to draw your attention inward to your own self. That means you have less need for an artificial high — the natural “high” from yoga exercises and meditations begins to replace it. And because you’ll likely do yoga with others, it can even give you a sense of community.

Yoga Poses That Help

Because there are many types of yoga, all the different methods can be overwhelming.
Which ones can help your addiction recovery the best? Try these.

  • Spinal Breathing Pranayama: A combination of meditation and breathing that calms your mind.
  • Fish Pose: The name might be silly, but it’s a great way to stretch muscles deep within your body to release some tension and stress.
  • Downward Facing Dog: One of the more famous poses, this exercises your muscles but also releases mental tension.

You Need All The Help You Can Get

Addiction recovery is something you can work on alone at times, but there will be plenty of days when you’ll need additional help. Again, friends and family are great sources for help and support, but consider trying something new, and look at yoga as a way to relieve stress, calm your mind, and help you maintain your sobriety.

Author: David Wilcox

Learning to Listen to Yourself and Move On by Nicole D’Angelo

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Inspiration to write comes in many forms, some very unlikely or unexpected. Some of the most difficult situations we go through can actually open our eyes and show us everything we are blessed with or may have forgotten during our dark days. This past week I have done some soul searching about relationships and making new friends and I’ve come to a few conclusions that I want to share and hope they resonate with you.

New York City is exciting and scary and absolutely spectacular; I wouldn’t live anywhere else. It is an environment that forces you to take a look at yourself, your life, what scares you and why and how you relate to other people. The city can be lonely and it can often be challenging to make friends and/or form long lasting relationships. People move to different cities, people grow and change and NYC is often a temporary place for people due to their job situation.

When I meet new people, I tend to dive in right away. If I click with someone, I embrace them with all I have. I want to spend alot of time with them, I seek them for inspiration and just generally want to appreciate them for who they are. Recently, one of my friendships ended and in looking back, I realized I ignored myself when I was wrapped up in the newness of this person. And, sadly, realized it wasn’t a friendship at all.

I always think about what kind of friend I want so that I can try to be that kind of person to someone else. A friend should be someone you can count on to be there for you when you go through dark times. They should be someone you can be yourself around, someone who supports you and, ultimately, is loyal. I recently tried to be a very supportive friend but there were too many issues that I was trying to ignore.

Some red flags when you find yourself in a relationship with someone, a friend or a lover, that you must pay attention to:

  1. If you are neglecting your own self care to be with this person, you need to reassess.
  2. If you feel like you can’t be yourself, say what you feel or show your true personality, this may not be the relationship for you.
  3. If the relationship is one-sided, if you are always doing something the other person wants to do and not what you want to do, you must reassess.
  4. If there is another aspect to the relationship such as you work for the person or the person works for you, don’t mix business and personal. It won’t work. Don’t do it. You must somehow be friendly with the person but also not a friend.
  5. If you are constantly worried what they will think of you, you must reassess why you are in this relationship.
  6. If they say things to demean you or overly criticize you, that’s not a friend.

During the reassessment process, you need to ask yourself if any of the 6 points above applies to your relationship. Another part of the reassessment process is stopping and getting back to yourself. Meditation is a wonderful way to listen to your breath, get quiet and refresh your mind, body and spirit. If you have a hard time getting started with meditation (more about that in my next article), turn on some relaxing music and listen to a song or two with your eyes closed, seated in a comfortable position. Breathe in and out deeply 4 times and you will begin to feel more relaxed.

In hindsight, it all seems so easy and something I wish I had practiced. I latched onto this person and tried to be their friend and ignored so many red flags; it did not end up to be the relationship I thought it was and that hurts…alot.

As a woman, my female relationships are so important to me. I find my female friends engaging and stimulating and supportive; my closest friends from college are women who I have known now almost 20 years and who I could never be without. When I moved to NYC, I needed to find friends here. It’s more difficult to make friends when you get into your 30’s, at least for me, because you become more set in your ways, you don’t compromise as easily and you know who you are a little bit more. And as a single woman who is focused on her small business, I look to other (usually older) single women who have had amazing lives as a source of inspiration. I thought I found a friend who embodied this idea of a strong, independent, amazing women and it turned out not to be true. It was my need to find someone to look up to that ultimately caused me to lose myself in this relationship. To make me forget that I’m already a strong, independent woman and that maybe I need to look to myself for inspiration. I put people on pedestals and they always fall off.

We all must find ways to cope with lost friendships, broken relationships, rejection, deception etc and they need to be healthy coping mechanisms. Find an outlet for your emotions; today I poured out all of this here as a way to begin to get over this person. To think about what kind of friend I was and was not to her and to get back to myself. Yoga, meditation, exercise, talking to a friend, crying to a friend, these are all healthy outlets on a pathway to healing.

There is nothing worse than finding out someone doesn’t feel the same way about you. You kind of lived in a little fantasy world for a while and then the bubble bursts. But even as you feel hurt, you feel almost a sense of relief. Relief that you can be yourself again, that you are free from the drama (even if you created some of it in your mind), and free to get back to yourself.

Leave the situation behind you as much as can…with love. Think of the other person with love, send them love from your heart and try to leave any anger or resentment behind. And focus on building a relationship with yourself again.

XO,

Nicole

The Forgiving Meal by Jen Whinnen

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Another amazing blog post from Jen Whinnen, Founder and Director of Three Sisters Yoga, the yoga school we are so lucky to host at our little studio. Jen’s words come at a perfect time when some of us feel helpless and angry in the midst of all the chaos. Enjoy!

One morning over winter break I found Jack with his head buried into his Dad’s chest, choking back tears. When I asked him what was wrong, he said “Jai said he wishes Z was his brother instead of me.”

Ouch.

These are harsh from any sibling, but it’s especially harsh coming from a little brother whose adoration has always been absolute. My boys have, for the most part, enjoyed a pretty close friendship. The bedrock of this friendship is Jai’s unwavering belief that Jack is the world’s greatest big brother. Jai identifies himself as “Jack’s Brother.” That’s how he introduces himself, how he knows himself. To Jai, Jack knows every good thing in the world, has shown him every good thing in the world, and always has his back. Because of this, Jai has always been happy to step back and bask in his brother’s glow.

That is, until recently. Lately they are like two little tributaries, diverging off in different directions. Jack sometimes just wants to be left alone. Jai never wants to be alone. Jack finds himself annoyed and frustrated by his little brother. Jai is constantly being hurt by the rejection. My hope is that some day they will merge back into the same river, that they will find the same flow, but right now they bicker. They pick on each other. They yell and fight a lot.

Over the break Jack’s best friend spent a few days visiting us. Jack didn’t want to share his friend.  He was mean, telling Jai to go away, not including him. To someone who’s always been included in every activity, who sees Jack as his best friend, this hurt. It hurt a lot. So, Jai went for the jugular.

“I wish you weren’t my brother! I wish Z was my brother instead!”

Jack was crushed. And then, of course, he got mad back. “Jai is the worst brother in the world! I will never forgive him! Never!”

My older son is at a (highly dramatic) crossroads. He can choose to retaliate, to say something cruel, to punch his brother. He can go on excluding him, tell him he’s a terrible brother, that he never wants to see him again. All the anger options were on the table. And they all looked pretty good. Anger and Revenge always come ready to party. They bring the dishes with the best sauces and most delicious toppings. Dripping in buttery pools of contempt and sugary indignation, they are so very, very appealing.

That is why, when I pointed out the small, steamed, unadorned plate of empathy and forgiveness, Jack gagged. Where’s the sweet satisfaction of retribution in a small plate of humble pie? I want to carbo load on gooey piles of hot, steaming anger! Where is my righteous heartburn if I put myself in someone else’s shoes?

I tried to reason with him, “Try and understand where Jai is coming from. How would you feel if you were being excluded?”

As Jack railed against my logic and I continued to try and reason with him I thought “oh man, I sound just like my dad!” and I groaned a little inside. My dad had this “empathy and forgiveness” lecture/sermon that he usually delivered after I’d had a fight with one of my sisters. I would sit on my bed, staring at the bedspread patterns, twirling a loose thread around my finger, and meow out while he droned on and on and on about how important it was to let go of your anger, to try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to forgive.

Of course he wasn’t wrong. To give in to rage, passionate anger and indignation is a kind of suffering. We are the ones who have to struggle through it and if we don’t let it go, it stays with us. It compromises our peace. It wears us down.

In my years of recovery after my dad died, I spent many a bitter thought lambasting my dad’s philosophy. I saw it as his manipulative way of not taking responsibility for his past, for forcing us into “forgiving” him and never taking responsibility. But, what I understand now is that he wasn’t telling me “just forgive me so I feel better about me,” but “forgive so you feel better.” He was trying to tell me that he couldn’t do it for me. I had to make that choice. I could hold tight to my anger forever, nurse it for as long as I wanted, or I could chose to forgive. Either choice is viable. But, either way I must choose.

My little pep talk with Jack yielded exactly zero empathy result. (I totally get why my dad held me hostage for so long – kids are stubborn!) I let him go and an hour later all the boys were playing together just fine. Such is the memory of a child!

However, I am still here thinking about anger. Anger is a force, a power. It’s not bad per say. There are times when it can be useful. But it is a powerful force. It can rule us or we can choose to master it. I know that I often use it to distraction. I get mad for petty reasons, I punish unnecessarily. I use it as a default in many ways for dealing with the day-to-day mundane things I don’t like.

And that’s an abuse of power.

With the inauguration less than 24 hours away many of us feel pretty angry. Understandably so. It’s important that we remember why we’re angry and remain vigilant in our support of those working for social justice and our public health.

It’s also important to remember how much that anger and frustration taxes us, how much it takes from us.

So what to do? I’m not entirely sure. I do know that I need to lean into my practice more. Yoga teaches us to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. It shows us how to engage while disengaging from the ego. It helps us remain calm and practical. These practices are going to be vital in the years to come.

Since I can not control anyone other than myself, I will offer you my own personal “treatise” for the coming administration in hopes that it might help you too:

  1. I will continue to try and engage in political discourse with those who do not share my views respectfully and with an open mind.
  2. I will continue to resist social injustice and support those organizations that align with my morals and values.
  3. I will continue to teach my children the importance of empathy, sympathy and compassion (whether they like it or not).
  4. I will try to do all of this with as little anger as possible.

When I step up to the emotional table and take a look around at all of the offerings, I will try and remember to choose the healthier, lighter options. I will aim to take small portions of the gooey stuff and go easy on the gravy. Hopefully by the end of the meal I will be able to walk away from the table less bloated and a little lighter.

I hope the same for you.

Resilience by Three Sisters Director, Jen Whinnen

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Hello my friends,

Whew, what a season this has been! This past week in particular has been quite the doozy!

I’ve sat down a dozen times to try and write the opening of this newsletter and I keep getting stuck. I find myself just sitting, staring at a confused screen full of jumbled thoughts and messy sentences. I don’t have adequate words for what’s been happening in this country and in my own personal life. I am entirely inadequate. I feel completely incapable of completing the tasks set before me. Where do we go when we feel there’s so much to do, and so many people to protect, and we’re so full of worry and doubt that we just want to flee? I don’t actually have an answer for that. Oh how I wish I did!

However, I do know that we have to keep plugging along. We have to keep trying to be the best, most loving, most supportive people we can be. And to do that, we have to refine our resilience skills. Because resilience, the ability to accept that things are going to be hard and uncomfortable, but to keep doing it anyway, will fortify us.

Resilience can be learned. And I know this because I was in my late my 20’s before I had any resilience skills. Before that every time something got uncomfortable, I quit. I simply didn’t know how to be uncomfortable. When I was “bad” at something, I assumed that meant I was bad at that thing forever and gave up.

So how did I learn otherwise? Yoga, of course! The routine of a regular yoga practice, of teaching myself to just show up regardless of how “bad” I was at it, slowly changed my mindset and taught me how to try again. This seemingly basic skill, learning how to start all over again, created the conditions for success and wellbeing. Thanks so much yoga!

Now, I’m not going to say that yoga will fix the current state of affairs. It won’t. We can’t fix community problems by going to a yoga class. But, yoga can calm the mind. It can help unbind bound emotions and give us a moment of pause. And in those moments we find a path, a way of being of service, a way to hold down the fort, to protect others. The practice itself won’t do the big things, but it will direct us to ways that we can. So, get on your mat again and again. Use it to reveal the path you need to take to muddle through these murky waters.

And then, get off the mat and do the things. Use the practice to teach you to be flawed, but dogged in your pursuits. Don’t give up, but also know that you are going to have bad practices. And then get up and do it again. Be redundant in your effort. Show up every day and stick with it. You are proficient, powerful and have so much offer.

So now to my lead in! We have three great workshops coming up this winter. All three of these workshops are great building blocks for refining your resiliency skills and assisting you in creating great communities so come join us!

First up – this weekend we have the ever amazing and talented Nick Demos’ workshop on creativity. Creative problem solving is the cornerstone of successful people, so come learn how to channel that creative energy in your yoga practice. Then in December we have Erin Moon’s anatomy and restorative workshop – yum! What better way to recover from all the crazy than learning how to understand and relax your body? And lastly, we have Dana’s therapeutic fundamentals. You don’t need to be a yoga teacher to take advantage of these workshops. See below for more descriptions or click here to sign up.

Wishing you lots of love and support this season my friends. Let’s do this!

Jen

How To Begin A Meditation Practice At Home

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I wrote the below article for my blog Forever Plant-Based, a place where I write about vegan recipes and my thoughts on fitness including yoga and meditation. I love my blog, it’s my most favorite thing to do on a rainy or non rainy day and I love sharing my thoughts with the world. Hope you enjoy this!
I love teaching meditation at my yoga studio. I pick a theme and focus my guided meditation around that theme. Sometimes my students are strangers, most times they are friends. It’s so much fun to connect with people in a cool, intimate, relaxing setting where I can share my favorite essential oils and talk about life. After meditation with my three friends last week, we chilled on our yoga mats and talked quietly about various topics. We drank Happy Tree maple water and ate cookie dough bites. It was such a fabulous ending to a great day. I wrote this post to inspire you to make meditation a new habit. There are always habits we need to break; why not begin a new habit?!
Studies have shown that meditation is excellent for mental and physical health. People who meditate are able to deal with stress more easily and regular meditation can lower blood pressure and anxiety levels. Sitting quietly and breathing is enough to clear your mind and reset your body. Living in NYC, I know how important it is to stop and find quiet throughout my day. Sometimes, just having fifteen minutes of down time, can leave you feeling recharged and ready to take on the rest of your day.
As a yoga and meditation teacher, I teach many guided meditation classes where I help people focus on breathing, slowing down their thoughts and feeling present in the moment. It’s easy to slide into a delicious meditation after savansa but it isn’t a requirement to only practice meditation after yoga.
Here are a few ways to begin a meditation practice at home:
1. Choose a quiet, cool place in your home where you can be alone. Make the space your own by adding calming pictures and comfy blankets to sit on. Make sure you can be in this space by yourself for a period of time throughout your day.
2. Sit with your back straight and your legs in a comfortable position. If you feel better lying down, this is great, just don’t fall asleep.
3. Take a few deep breaths and feel your heart rate slow and stress leave your body. Inhale until you cannot inhale anymore, hold for a few seconds then exhale. It’s a great activity for your lungs and will open up your chest muscles and deliver oxygen to all parts of your body. When we are stressed and tense, we forget to breathe and breathing is very important when you mediate.
4. Clear your mind and just think about being in the present moment. Focus on your breathing, feel the breathe coming in and going out of your lungs and concentrate on that. Let your mind go where it wants to go. When you feel yourself thinking about your grocery list or what you need to do later in the week, come back to your breathing. This is a great time for you to turn on calming music if you cannot sit in silence. Turn the music on low so it’s not distracting but so that it helps you stay focused on meditating. Using music for meditation is similar to listening to a guided meditation.
5. Meditate for anywhere from 5-30 minutes or more. When you are just beginning a meditation practice, start out with short periods of meditation and build up. Meditate at any point in the day when you have free time. Thinking too much about when and how much you will meditate makes it more stressful. There is no specific time of day or length of time that you need to meditate.
6. After you meditate, take the time to appreciate nature and smile. Take your calm, relaxing meditation with you throughout your day.
Making time to meditate is an important aspect of our overall health. It’s wonderful when we eat healthy and exercise but regular meditation can help you slow down, appreciate life and feel grateful for all that you have. Never doubt the power of sitting and breathing for just five minutes a day; it can change your life.
Love,
Nicole, TYC

Finding YOUR Yoga Practice

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Yoga is so much more than asanas. It’s a focus on caring for yourself in all aspects of your life. It’s meditation, eating well, getting enough sleep, moving your body, giving back to others. You don’t have to be doing a 75 minutes vinyasa class everyday to be doing yoga. Yoga every damn day…it means yoga in whatever form feels good in that moment.

Yoga is everywhere on social media and usually in the form of a super toned body doing a handstand with legs in split. I’m not super toned, I can’t do a handstand without a wall and I’m still working on my upper body strength. So, it’s hard sometimes not to feel like a failure when you flip through Instagram and see all of these perfect poses. If you feel pressure to do someone else’s yoga, you need to come back and reconnect with yourself. What can you do? What is your favorite pose and why? Do you feel strong and tall and brave when you’re in tree pose? Do you connect more with meditation? Is your yoga practice 10 sun salutations every morning? Be happy and grateful for your own, unique yoga practice and banish the word “should” from your vocabulary.

I usually go on and on when I write blog posts but I want this message to be short and sweet. If you constantly compare your yoga practice to other people’s practice, you will become frustrated very quickly. Then you will start forcing your practice and then it becomes a chore. Trust me, I’ve been there. Yoga and meditation can bring out all of our shit that is buried and can cause us discomfort. You may find yourself in savasana with tears streaming down your face or you may find it difficult to sit still during meditation. Embrace the difficulty and work through it or move to another yoga practice. Focus on yourself and your practice will blossom.

To those of you reading this, thank you for stopping by our humble website. We feel truly blessed to have this beautiful yoga studio for you to be creative and cultivate you and your student’s yoga practice.

Namaste,

Nicole

Guest Blogger: Jen Whinnen, Three Sisters Yoga Founder

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It was a year on July 20th since I graduated from yoga teacher training and I was privileged enough to be a member of the Three Sisters Yoga sangha. Together we practiced yoga four days a week for six weeks for many hours. We learned asanas, meditation, the history of yoga and, mostly importantly, we learned more about ourselves and each other. During our graduation party, Jen shared her story of how she started Three Sisters Yoga and talked to us about the business of yoga. It was an eloquent and uplifting story and it inspired me. Now I am one of the owners of The Yoga Collective, something that seemed impossible a year ago, and this blog post rings true for me. Jen’s post below about the business of yoga is a powerful read and I just had to pass this one on. To my wonderful, fellow yoga teachers, this one is for you. ~Nicole

The Schism of Yoga and Capitalism, by Jen Whinnen

I am a professional yoga teacher. This is my career. I use my philosophical and spiritual practices to make a living. As such, I live in an irreconcilable paradox. By profiting from my spiritual work, I willingly participate in the system of capitalism. Capitalism is in direct contrast to the principles of yoga. Capitalism is an economic and political system that is interested in profit, in gain. Yogic practices aim to free oneself from the things capitalism relies upon to thrive; desire and attachment. Capitalism aims to produce an experience in the material world. Yoga aims to release the consciousness from the material world. Capitalism does not care about yoga. Yoga cares not for capitalism. They are irreconcilable.

However, I do not feel the need to bring these two systems to a peace accord. I do not believe, as is often touted in yoga circles, that I can make my capitalistic career yogic. “Conscious Capitalism” is an oxymoron. It places morality upon a concept, a thing. Things are not moral or amoral. They are things. A natural disaster is a disaster in name only. Nature shines and produces, rages and destroys. That’s what it does. Our feelings about destruction are not shared by nature. Capitalism produces and consumes for profit. That’s what it does. Therefore, conscious capitalism is a distraction. It takes the responsibility of consciousness off me. It anthropomorphizes a thing, giving it a moral compass it does not have. This is the antithesis of the yoga practice. I can not rewrite the terms of capitalism because it makes me uncomfortable.

I can, however, get comfortable with the fact that, in terms of my yoga practice, choosing to participate in capitalism is an imperfect choice. I, being a sentient being with a mind and body to govern, must acknowledge that I am making an imperfect choice.

Imperfect however, does not mean “bad.” It simply means not perfect. Perfect Love, Universal Consciousness, the Ultimate, is a concept that is nearly impossible to conceive, let alone achieve. How many of my day-to-day actions reflect this kind of experience? Very little. Probably none. But that doesn’t mean I am bad. It simply means I am not perfect. I am not fully realized.

Ironically, this imperfection is the thing that assists in revealing the Perfect to me. This is the yogic paradigm. We have to be in the world, to use the world, to reveal the truth that is beyond the world. Accepting my imperfection, my limitedness, accepting that my experience is skewed by my misconceptions is the thing that will afford me an opportunity to change. Understanding my actions as being imperfect calms down the constant babble of “Oh no I am right for doing this because I want it. And because I want it, it must be the thing I need to do!” These thoughts keep me furiously racing in the hamster wheel.

However, when I start to think “Wait, do I need this? Do I want this? Does the thing need to change or do I need to change?” then I slow down. Once I slow down, I see that I can also moderate my pace. I can get off the wheel if I want. It’s not until I come to the point of realizing my imperfection that I can even conceive of the notion that I made a choice. I choose to run fast or run slow. I choose to stay on or get off. The wheel is just a thing. The wheel is there, but I choose my participation. If I stay, according to the yogic paradigm, I am doing so consciously. I am here of my own free will. I am participating in my own experience. I can not change the storms or stop the rains, I can not change the wheel. But I can change my relationship to the wheel. I can change the way I think. That is the only thing I can do.

Making money as a teacher is not a yogic act. Giving away my teaching for free is not a yogic act. I can be just as invested in my generosity as I can in my greed. Both are actions. What is yogic is how I manage my mind when I act. Krishna tells Arjuna “You have the rights to action, but not its fruit” (2.47). How easy is it to act without wanting a reward? This is No. Small. Task. This is a Big Idea. A big concept to wrangle with and work on.  In order to do so I must accept that I willingly make imperfect choices. In doing so I become aware of my desires, my attachments to the fruits of my actions.

As a “householder,” a mother, a wife, lover of chocolate and cheese, a teacher, a writer, I work trying to let go of my desires for romantic love, praise, stuff and try. Invariably I fall short, but that is not a reason to bemoan the effort. The efforting is the thing. Consciously accepting that I miss the mark keeps me from getting distracted with useless attempts at justifying my choices as valid or invalid. It liberates me. It allows me to be forgiving of myself and forgiving of others for doing the same stuff. I am in it too. Being imperfect opens me to the Perfect because I see that we are all, everyone one of us, doing the best we can.

I often joke with my students that I have no misconceptions about my place in the cycle of samsara (the cycles of reincarnation). If reincarnation is real, I accept that I am coming around again. I tell them, “So, I’ll see you next time. We’ll get together and have a coffee!”

My treat.

www.threesistersyoga.com

Pre-Yoga Smoothie Recipe

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I try not to eat anything before I take or teach a yoga class so that I’m not doing asanas on a full stomach. My best yoga class happens when I eat very healthy during the day and my stomach is almost empty before class. I usually have a healthy green smoothie before and sometimes after a yoga class; smoothies help me feel nourished and light during class. The best smoothie I make includes a ton of green, a little bit of fruit and lots of vegetables. I did a blog post on my vegan food blog around the winter holidays where I talked about how to avoid overeating and what to do if you do overindulge. I also included the recipe to my “reset” green smoothie. Now that the 4th of July is right around the corner, this is a perfect time to avoid overindulgence, continue eating greens and practicing mindful eating. So, without further delay, here is a great pre and post yoga green smoothie recipe:

Green “reset” smoothie recipe:

A handful of fresh organic spinach
A handful of organic romaine
5-10 slices of an organic cucumber
1 small avocado or 1/2 of a large
Juice from 1 lemon
1 organic pear, chopped
1 organic apple, chopped
1 frozen banana
2 cups of coconut water

Slice up the pear, apple and cucumber into small pieces. Add everything to your blender and blend well; blend for about a minute. Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy. Add more water if you had alot of alcohol to help replenish your body. This smoothie fills a pretty big mason jar which was about 6 cups of smoothie so you will have plenty leftover.

Before a yoga class, I suggest drinking 1-2 cups of this and saving the rest for after yoga. Or if you are very hungry, drink the whole smoothie an hour before class so you don’t go into class full. All of these ingredients help flush toxins out of your system, especially if you’ve had too much salt or alcohol, they help hydrate you and the fat in the avocado is the good, healthy fat. Click here for my full blog post about eating healthy during the holidays.

Namaste,

Nicole, TYC