Monkey-minded Yogi’s

A few weeks ago I launched a product that I have poured my passion, time, and savings into over that last six years. I created The World’s First Yoga Doll series – a patent-pending doll that actually moves like a real person. My intention is to give future generations a toy that encourages young girls to embrace who they are AZ.I.AM, learn yoga, and is focused on healthy and positive play patterns.

I am very mindful to always create authentic, original content and products. I’ve been that way since I was a child. I take great pride in giving credit where it is due, if I was inspired in any way by an outside source. I couldn’t ever copy someone else’s work or idea, nor do I understand any value in doing so.  For this reason, I rarely attend yoga classes or read other people’s writing / books. I do not want my work to become a homogenized version of what other people are doing, or subconsciously be influenced by their experiences – I want my motivation for everything to be organic. My friends know that I am a secure and safe vault for their shared secrets and concepts.

With that said, our monkey-minded world does not think or act the same way that I do. To the contrary, most people feel more comfortable only doing what others do, wearing what others wear, copying the work, writing, and ideas of others – or even trying to change how they look with plastic surgery to appear more like someone else than who they are. The source of this is obvious: 1) they do not know who they are, and 2) they are afraid to be seen as “different.”

I became a yoga instructor for several reasons. Firstly, I have always had a robust spirituality and reverence for Nature. Secondly, I wanted to get out of a “limelight” (this is before yoga became a global rage). Thirdly, I hoped to be part of a community seeking and practicing higher states of consciousness and truth. Having studied Psychology, I also had a keen eye for character analysis, development, and personality based on reality; I never got wrapped up in the religious nature of yoga philosophy; instead I use the myths symbolically, not literally.

The last few weeks have been wildly disappointing and equally liberating on a few fronts. I reached out to fellow yoga instructors and peers to help me get the word out about my dolls. I was so excited to share my project with them and finally let the cat out of the bag, but this was definitely mixed with some nervous energy as well, having poured my bank accounts into funding the development. The events that followed completely rocked and shocked me, and the people who did show up to sincerely support my endeavors were not the people who I thought would have and vice versa.

The support that I received for my inspiring doll collection has been massive, and we are almost sold out of our pre-order production, but there was zero cheer from my yoga instructor peers. Now, I totally get that not everyone can support their friend’s endeavors financially, but everyone CAN support positively – even if that is only with positive cheer and/or sharing with their communities. Below is a list of how a few well-known “yogi’s” responded:

1)    40% of my fellow instructors responded with overt jealous anger, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that…” is the only thing they could mutter into word.

2)    Another 40% didn’t have the courtesy to respond in any way, or offer any sort of congratulatory cheer.

3)    One yoga instructor followed the phrase in #1 with “Y’know what? Lose my number.” Ironically, I had given her over $400 worth of AZIAM Activewear over the years at her request, books for her kids, and even donated each time she posted a spinning fundraiser on social media.

4)    Yet another yoga instructor (with whom I had practiced Ashtanga Yoga with in India before either of us had websites) replied back that my dolls were amazing – and that she wanted to invest in my doll project (after stating #1, of course). She finagled me into sending my business plan, which I felt hesitant about doing, but I approached the opportunity with a widely open heart and arms – embracing the idea of two yogi’s sharing this with future generations. It felt pure … until her ego got the best of her, and she stated that she “was going to make her own.”

5)    The greatest supporter was hands-down MindBodyGreen – they were quick to see the pure-message and share it with their community. Their recognition was so sincere that I cried. The post received 1600 likes within 2 hours and I received praise and cheer from all over the globe in response. I was (and am still) incredibly impressed with their editors, and how the ones I have experienced truly live yoga. Other yoga-related sites replied back with grand cheer and “congratulations,” but while including an attachment detailing how much they charge per blog, review, and mention. #Namaste

Once I realized that my peers weren’t there yet – that they weren’t fully capable of living yoga off their mats, I felt sad. I took a couple of weeks to mourn the loss of something that never existed. Then, to my surprise, I started to feel liberated. I had held on to an illusion of a like-minded community that was superficial and competitive – just like the monkey-mind that yoga seeks to educate and discipline. Having worked closely with many celebrities throughout the years, I recognized the same superficial elitist attitude from my peers. I have seen it time and time again with celebrity culture. They can only cheer for those who do not threaten them, and they feel that they have a right to use other people’s concepts because they have the money and influence to release them bigger and faster. My yoga peers do not have the same means, and therefore responded with anger and immediately separated from me so as not to feel “less than” in any way. This realization tied together the irony that most of my “yogi” peers are more focused on becoming a celebrity than living yoga, and that is why I witnessed the similarity in behavior.

Here are three hints to tell if someone has the capacity to live organically:

1)    Self-control. When you share or present an idea to someone, they are able to maintain confidentiality, express sincere cheer, give sound and honest feedback, and separate your content from their life and work. It’s like a monkey who has enough self-control and discipline to not eat his friend’s mango when it is set down in front of him.

2)    Humility. They are able to live “Namaste” and recognize how each person is part of a whole, not solely as a manifested aid providing them alone with some sort of gain or growth. You know the person, “I manifested this and that….” This is a yogi red flag showing someone with an undeveloped psyche and exhibiting ego insecurity behavior. Warning: they will take your mango.

3)    Look at their friends and partners. Do they choose to be around others who inspire them and speak truthfully? Or do they prefer “easy” friends who sugarcoat reality to feed their egos and illusions?

It’s so much nicer knowing the truth, and releasing the anchor of expectation. Only then can we gravitate towards our true like-minded communities. This also created an even greater motivation within me to teach the real yoga – where no Photo-shopped selfies of bikini-clad handstands are required.

You were born with a unique personality,  purpose, and genetic disposition. Why reject and ignore yourSelf out of fear of not belonging? Take time to discover who you are, and take actions to live true to who that is. There are enough mangoes for everyone!

Kali-fornia Chakra Collection

About ten years ago, while living in San Diego, I frequently led “Goddess Retreats,” all female, juice-fasting, yoga & hiking retreats in high-energy centers worldwide (Sedona, Maui, India, etc.). I kept a map of California pinned on the wall to the left of my desk and a globe to my right.

For some reason, I was having a ‘Sleepless in Rancho Santa Fe’ kind of a week, where I repeatedly woke up around 3am, unable to fall back asleep. After the fourth or fifth night of this unusual pattern, I went to my desk to do some writing. As I looked to my left, my eyes locked onto Mount Shasta, California. I instantly felt a very strong pull to this site. I started doing a little research online about Shasta, and I was very intrigued with the spiritual and natural writings about the town and mountain.

The very next night, as predicted, I again woke at 3am. I, once again, sat down at my desk, and this time when I looked at my map, I saw seven major cities in California connecting up the state, much like the seven energy chakras of our energetic bodies. Out loud I said, “it’s Kali-fornia!” altering the spelling after the goddess, Kali, who rules the first chakra. After all, California is reported to have been named after an African Queen, Califia, and the state seal features the Roman goddess on it’s crest.

The next morning I called a close friend of mine, Bobby Williams, who is the epitome of the masculine adventurer, rugged outdoorsman, and nature-lover. I said, “Bobby, I have to go to Shasta!” He answered without hesitation, “Let’s go!” Within a week, Bobby arrived at my home in San Diego in his white Bronco, ready to ascend California. Together we (he, the extreme masculine energy, and I, the extreme feminine energy) drove through all Kali-fornia Chakra’s from the base of the state (San Diego) to the crown (Mt. Shasta) – all in under 11 hours. Along the way, I took note of the centers and cities, and how they matched the energy of the Yogi Chakra system:

1. San Diego – I AM ABUNDANT – The Muladhara Chakra Tank is printed on a deep red tank, with the words “Kali-fornia Girl.” This center represents your “roots,” including the abundant soil that we root ourselves in. This center focuses on family, security, and abundance of mind, body and world. The back of this tank features the Sanskrit symbol, a list of attributes and the related Kali-fornina Chakra City, San Diego, residing at the base of California. Get Grounded! 

2. Los Angeles – I AM CREATIVE – The Svadhishthana Chakra Tank is printed on a coral tank with the word “FLOW,” reminding you to be fluid, creative and sensual. The back of this tank features the Sanskrit symbol, a list of attributes, and the Kali-fornina Chakra City of Los Angeles – the land of fluid illusions and creativity. Create your life! 

3. San Luis Obispo – I AM POWERFUL – The Manipura Chakra Tank is printed on a yellow tank with the words “I AM” followed by a smile symbol, reminding you of who you are at your core center, nurturing a healthy sense of self, and choosing a happy state of being regardless of circumstances. The back of this tank features the Sanskrit symbol, a list of attributes and the related Kali-fornina Chakra City, San Luis Obispo, known as the “Happiest Place in America.” Be Happy! 

4. San Francisco – I AM LOVE – The Anahata Chakra Tank is printed on a mint colored tank with the words “I LOVE YOU.” Live LOVE, unconditionally. The back of the tank features the Sanskrit symbol for this chakra, a list of attributes and the related Kali-fornina Chakra City, San Francisco. If you left your heart in San Fran, it might be time to get it back! 

5. Sacramento – I AM TRUE – The Vishuddha Chakra Tank is printed on a navy tank with the words “AZ.I.AM,” reminding you to live true to who you are, and to express yourself truthfully. The back of this tank features the Sanskrit symbol, a list of attributes, and the Kali-fornina Chakra City of Sacramento – the voice of Kali-fornia. Live True! 

6. Eureka / Napa Vineyard country – I AM INTUITIVE – The Anja Chakra Tank is printed on a violet tank with the words “IN 2 IT,” reminding you of your innate intuition. The back of this tank features the Sanskrit symbol, a list of attributes, and the Kali-fornina Chakra City of Eureka – center for a-ha realizations and the Purple Haze, psychedelic quality of Napa’s vineyards. Listen to your inner voice! 

7. Mount Shasta – I AM – The Sahasraha Chakra Tank is printed on a white tank with the word “NAMASTE,” center chest, reminding you that we are all One, made of the same pure Spirit source. The back of this tank features the Sanskrit symbol, a list of attributes, and the Kali-fornina Chakra City of Mount Shasta, which means “chaste” or “pure.” Be, as you are. As I AM.

Kali-fornia Girls, we’re undeniable.

Can We Keep It Real?

We currently live in a very power hungry, ego-driven, illusion-based and overindulgent in consumerism world. Sadly, this only seems to be getting worse. I have been watching several psychology studies over the last few years that confirm a rise in sociopathy in America  – with a vast increase in anti-social behavior in our children. I believe that this is a natural survival extension of our world’s twisted paradigm, as well as in part to how we now tend to communicate with each other (via text, email, social media, etc.). We no longer have to be as responsible for our feelings and actions, or care about how someone else feels.

 I was really devastated with the passing of Robin Williams, like most of you, and at how he took his own life. It hit me in a very profound way. Is our culture elbowing out those who care, who feel and who reach out their hand to help others? It is a rare event in itself that we were able to witness such a true, pure, (bleeding) heart as we saw in Robin Williams. He had so much love, and every action that he took was to make someone else feel better. How amazing is that?! Whether it was his past drug and alcohol abuse that expanded his awareness, or deeper childhood wounds driving him to understand the flaws of society, it is clear that he could see straight through the illusions of the world, especially the illusions of Hollywood that he refused to cloak himself with. Not many can understand such realities, let alone express them so hilariously as he did.

The increased violence in Syria, Iraq, Isreal, Africa and many other places throughout the world is alarming and discouraging. In my opinion, these jihads are not attracted to the religious aspect of being Muslim, they are angry individuals who are attracted to the misinterpreted violence. They are fueled, no doubt, by many things, with “Hollywoodism,” being one, so they say. I don’t think that they understand the incredible illusion of Hollywood, and they (believing the world of the “Rich and Famous”) feel deprived, left-out, “less-than.” It feels like an argument that spun from a non-verbal text misunderstanding – you know the kind, right? Where an argument arose out of misperception? Where both parties clung to their own assumptions and created a war from nothing? Except now these jihad’s misperceptions and subsequent feelings of alienation have a vengeance and a mission of their own. You and I know a little differently.

 Personally, from having met a few celebrities in my day, I know that they are no different than the rest of us – in fact, I tend to feel more sorry for them when almost inevitably they begin to believe their own illusions, because it is then that they risk losing a chance at true self-actualization. What I love about the surge in talent-search reality shows is that we see how much true talent there is in the world. And anyone can be a “celebrity,” for which talent is not required. Being based in Los Angeles, I teach many celebrities purely because that is where I live and work. Aside from a few that I have met and worked with, they tend to have deeper insecurities, fears and anxieties than most people I know (we all have them, but pretending that we don’t feeds the realm of illusion). I have also been able to witness first-hand their “team” – whose sole job is to assure that their moments in front of the camera tell a different story, one that can be marketed and profited from. They are made-up, styled, rehearsed, staged, pre-recorded, photo-shopped, audio-tuned, tweeked, nipped and tucked to present their illusion. Doesn’t that sound awful?

As many of you know, I studied child development in college, and I can’t help but wish that children all over the world had the opportunities to self-realization. My heart breaks seeing children lying murdered in the streets, and their potential stolen from them. We do not have a choice if we want to avoid more global suffering. Our planet cannot sustain so much greed and violence, and our societies will be negatively compromised. We have to return to what is real and natural.

In light of the increased violence in the world today, I felt it fitting to add a weekly Pray It Forward in all of our represented cities. The world needs peace, and we cannot sit back helplessly watching so much violence. We are part of the energetic fibers of this world and we can make a positive change.

AZIAM Yoga  has now added free Pray It Forward meditation classes with all of our current CLK Yoga – Pay It Forward  instructors. If you would like to be part of our movement, please email info@clkyoga.com. Some instructors teach once a month, others once a week. The yoga is free, our guests Pay It Forward with a sincere act of kindness.

I have added SUNDAY’s at 7pm – Palisades Park in Santa Monica for our (free) Pray It Forward Meditation for Peace offerings.

 ‪#‎PrayItForward‬

 

I AM Authentic – 5 tips to Living True

5 Tips for Living an Authentic, Zen Life By Alanna Zabel

emerson

I believe that most of us have experienced moments when we feel, act or speak in an inauthentic manner. Sometimes we want others to like us or to think that we are intelligent, cool and “in the know” – so we may go so far as to present a false persona to feel accepted. Or, we do it because we feel unsafe being our true self – or maybe we want something so much that we are willing to diminish our truth to get it. This can result in a feeling of disconnect, and even painful feelings of guilt, insecurity and/or weakness when this happens. Worse still is when we’re inauthentic with ourselves because we’re unable to admit something intimate or difficult to express. If you aspire to experience more authenticity in your life, start by accepting yourself, exactly as you are – and committing to living authentically with who you discover. Below are five tips meant to strengthen one’s practice of living true to who they are:

1) Be Present. On average we have 28,000 days in a human lifespan. That really isn’t a lot, and therefore wise to make clear life goals – just hopefully not at forsaking your lifestyle and experiences. When we are present, we resume a natural flow to our life (or the Dharma Zone, as I call it in my book, As I Am). This flow is what happens when we let go of the limiting tethers of the past and future – where you forget about the outside world and are completely doing what you’re doing, whether that’s writing, drawing, practicing yoga, meditating or any other activity. Synchronicity occurs when we are in this Zone and our lives flow effortlessly. Knowing that our time is limited, it is wise to practice being present, and to embrace each moment as it happens. Even the more difficult phases of your life that challenge you are part of your journey, and learning to be present through them adds a deeper aspect of authenticity to who you are. Being afraid of them can potentially throw you off your personal path. An obvious example is parenthood. I empathize with parents who feel that they have to create a perfect, well-balanced life of education, athletics and art for their children, but hopefully they are not sacrificing the moments of being human and authentically discovering who we are (you know, laying in a puddle of rainwater while pondering the magic of Nature).

2) Be Kind. There is a strong correlation between the wellbeing, happiness and health of people who act with kindness towards others. It is difficult to be angry, resentful, or even fearful when we are showing unselfish love and compassion towards other beings. I really enjoy leading Seva (service) Yoga retreats, and one of the reasons is that I see a massive shift in my retreaters when we begin our service activities. For example, it doesn’t matter if they are cleaning dirty food bowls for elephants or shoveling dirt, they undoubtedly begin to settle into a deeper sense of happiness and presence as expectations and defenses are softened by the acts of giving.

3) Listen to yourself. Taking and following the advice from another person is assuming that: 1) They have lived through exactly the same predicament as you have (meaning that all the factors are exactly the same) and 2) That they have the same wants and needs as you do. Neither of which is probably true. However, taking bits and pieces of advice from others can be helpful, but it is always most wise to meditate alone and make certain that your actions are in line with who you are and what you want for your life. We can really second guess ourselves when we are the only voice trying to weight our options. Adding other voices and opinions often makes the process more confusing. Practice with the small stuff – for example, what movie would you like to see this weekend? Try making a decision not based on popular reviews, ratings or showings. Ask yourself what would inspire you and expand your perspective of awareness. Then go see that movie!

4) Spend time alone in silence. Alone time has a long list of benefits, which include boosting your immune system, strengthening your relationships and improving your outlook on life. Try taking 30 minutes every week where you turn the power off externally and amp it up internally. For example, turn off your phone and email. Spend the day sitting somewhere peaceful, where you can focus on your breathing and being present. The happy contradiction is that alone time like this—in such a pure form—will carry over to your other relationships and endeavors. When you connect to yourself in a deep and true manner, you start feeling more positive and powerfully charged. When you feel more connected and charged, you often connect to others with a greater capacity and joy.

5) Avoid gossip and drama. Judgment is making a “good” or “bad” assessment when we compare (implicit or explicit) how things or people are, and how we think they should be. So, in judgment, there’s an element of dissatisfaction with the way things are and a desire for things to be the way we want them to be. This makes it very limiting to maintaining presence and realistic awareness. We begin to judge other people based on past judgments and our perspective of reality becomes tainted. AZIAM has created a 30-day Non-Judgment Challenge to help us practice this vital virtue in our everyday lives. I offer a two-step formula: Step 1: Witness Your Reality – We are not going to take away your opinions or perceptions. We are simply taking away reactions to them. In every potentially judgmental situation you find yourself in, feel free to say whatever you want in your own mind. Ex: Someone snags a parking spot you were pulling into. In your mind, go for it – you have 5 seconds (only) to assess it and label it. Step 2: LET IT GO. Follow every 5 second assessment with “AND SO IT IS.” That’s it, “AND SO IT IS”. Then move on to the next activity you were planning or involved in. This group event and practice is meant to get us into the habit of not letting life’s imperfections drag us down while refining this highly beneficial practice of non-judgment.

Broccoli Soup!

Brocolli Soup

The Broccoli Puree Soup is one of my favorite recipes from my 21-day mind-body detox program, The Dharma Zone featured in my book, As I Am. The Dharma Zone program is designed to increase your awareness of who you are (and how to stay true to you), while living in a world telling you who you should be. You can join the group event here.

Ingredients:

• ½ large onion, chopped

• 1 large garlic clove, chopped

• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

• 1 pinch black pepper

• 1 pinch dried thyme

• ½ bunch of broccoli (cleaned, stems removed and broken into smaller florets)

• ½ head of cauliflower, cleaned and cut into large pieces

• 2 cups vegetable broth

• 1 avocado

Heat a large soup pot with a splash of olive oil, onion, garlic and spices over medium high heat. When it starts to sizzle reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes until lightly brown, softened and fragrant, stirring occasionally.

Add the cauliflower and broccoli and cook a few minutes with the onions. Add the hot broth to the soup pot, increase the heat back to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat back to medium, partially cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are very soft and you can mash them with a fork.

Remove soup from the stovetop and let it cool a bit. Purée the contents with a blender or food processor until smooth. Add more broth depending upon how thick you want your soup. Garnish with the avocado on top.