Category Archives: food

Yogi Favorites (3) ~ How to make Sprouted Almond Milk


Why sprouted almonds? Seeds and nuts contain vital energy forces that enable them to grow into trees and plants, given the right conditions. With the life essentials of water and sunlight, inhibitor enzymes built in to protect the seed are released and begin to germinate, increasing the power and bio-availability of vitamin and mineral content. 

Note: During germination, the skin becomes toxic, so always peel your sprouted almonds! The germination process transforms the chemical composition of the almond, giving it a nutritional profile more like a living plant than an inert seed. 

Sprouted almonds are anti-inflammatory, diabetic-friendly superfoods packed with protein, fiber, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins – the perfect Dharma yogi food! 

Here is how make it – easy, a little time consuming, but 100% worth it every time.

1 ½ cup sprouted almonds or brazil nuts

4 cups filtered water

3-5 dates 

1 Tbs vanilla (or fresh vanilla bean seeds)

Pinch sea salt, agave, honey or maple syrup to taste

It takes about 10 minutes to peel the sprouted almonds. Hold the large end in your finger tips and squeeze, the nut slips out of the skin pointy side first into your palm. Rinse after peeling to remove any lingering toxins from the skins. 
About the dates, if you remember to do it, soaked is better, if dry however, they soak themselves in the milk after blending and dissolve away leaving only skin that falls to the bottom.
Pour the nuts and water together into the blender. Close the lid and blend on high for a couple of minutes.

The better blended the more nutrition you will gain from the nut pulp.


Any linen type cloth or very fine cheese cloth will do for straining. It doesn’t have to be a bag but that will make squeezing it easier.  Make sure your bowl is large enough.

Pour the milk through the cloth into the bowl.

When the sprouted nut meal pulp is still in the cloth you can dip, wet it again and squeeze with your hands. This will yield more of the vital essence of the nut. You can add a little more fresh water into the bag as well to help with this.

You can also pour the milk through a second time, again its like squeezing milk from coconut pulp, the more you work it, the more comes out of the pulp. Once you’ve done this to your satisfaction, then you are ready to pour the milk back into the blender without the pulp now, and add the dates (pitted), vanilla and salt.

Store your Almond Milk in a glass container and shake well before consuming. It will last three plus days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Text: Lana J. Lee & Amy Stinchcombe Pictures: Amy Stinchcombe, Enid Johnstone

Recipe Source and Sprouting Instructions: The Dharma Yoga LOAY Teacher Training Manual

Yogi Favorites (2) ~ Sprouting Almonds & Making a Dharma Sun Salute Blend



“I think it’s the best food.” ~ Sri Dharma Mittra on sprouted almonds

Five facts about Almonds:

  • Almond oil is excellent for the skin and almonds build muscle, reduces cravings, fight obesity and can prevent heart disease;
  • Almonds make for a good flip side to dairy and is officially the healthiest of all nuts;
  • If you plant an almond tree it will be covered in lovely light pink flowers in the late winter or early spring;
  • In Greek mythology the almond tree is represented by the beautiful princess Phyllis. Left at the altar on her wedding day, Phyllis waited for years before finally perishing of a broken heart. In sympathy, the gods transformed her into an almond tree, as a symbol of hope. When Phyllis’ fiancée returned to find her as a leafless, flowerless tree, he embraced it and the tree burst into bloom – a demonstration of love not conquered by death;
  • Almonds are a Yogi staple and Dharma Yogisare great consumers of Almonds.

Sprouting Facts:

Most raw seeds, nuts and beans should be sprouted to reap their maximum potential.  Sprouting changes the entire chemistry of the seed, nut or bean, flooding it with the Prana (vital life-force), thus turning it into a mature, healthy plant that is easy to digest.


A sprout is a complete food and can supply the physical body with vital nutrients in promoting life and radiant health.  Once seeds and beans are sprouted, they can be placed in direct sunlight for 30-60 minutes.  The sprouts then become a green vegetable, a wondrously complete Superfood.


Sprouting instructions:

Soak the almond for 12 hours and then rinse every three to four hours for a period of 18 hours.  Sprouted almonds should be covered in water and placed in the refrigerator.  The water should just cover one half inch over the top of the almonds.  Peel the skin off before eating, as it becomes toxic during germination. Enjoy!


Using sprouted almonds:




Dharma Sun Salute Blend


Instructions:


Add the following ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy:

2 large bananas or 1 avocado
1 cup of sprouted almonds (peeled)
1 to 2 cups of the fresh juice of your choice or rice/soy/almond milk
Agave nectar to taste (the bananas are naturally sweet if ripe so you may find you do not need an additional sweetener)

While making your blend, chant the Mantra for Purification at least three times.


“I said to the almond tree, ‘Friend, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed.”  ~ Nikos Kazantzakis


Post written by: Enid Johnstone Pictures: Lorenza Pintar

Recipe Source and Sprouting Instructions: The Dharma Yoga LOAY Teacher Training Manual

Yogi Favorites ~ (1) Dharma Green Cleanse Juice


Many people know that juicing is good for you and yet not that many people include it in their everyday routine. This is why you should try to:

Celery, cucumber, and lemons are all very effective for balancing acidic pH levels in the body. The body does have its own system for regulating and maintaining homeostasis to keep this balance, but only so long as we do our part. 


Celery and cucumbers contain 95-96% percent of their weight in water that is naturally distilled, making them superior to ordinary filtered water. As its physical shape suggests, celery helps increase bone mass with high levels of Vitamin K  that promote bone tissue activity. The leaves are rich in Vitamin A, while the stems pack vitamin C and various other essential vitamins and minerals. 


The silica content in cucumbers also helps form healthier connective tissue, meaning stronger bones, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. The skin is an excellent source of vitamins C, A, fiber and folic acid. 

Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which cannot be produced or stored by the human body, meaning it is essential to acquire in our daily diet through nutrition. They are nature’s tonic, making them the perfect addition to the Dharma Green Cleanse Juice. 


Here’s how to do it:


Get the celery, cucumber and lemons ready. Wash the celery stalk by stalk in salted or ‘veggie wash’ water. Rinse well. 


Peel the cucumber if it’s not organic, otherwise it is a matter of taste. Cucumber peels are generally bitter and may not be that good to consume.


For this amount of juice at least 2-3 lemons are needed. Celery is a hard vegetable for juicers, so use the high setting.


If you love lemons and the lemons are organic you can juice the peel as well. Otherwise use only the juice. 


Add the lemon juice at the end. One whole large celery bunch and one large cucumber yields about 36 oz of juice. 

While making your blend, chant the Mantra for Purification at least three times.


Drink immediately while the enzymes are still living. Enjoy!


Post written by: Lana J. Lee & Amy Stinchcombe Pictures: Amy Stinchcombe

Recipe Source: The Dharma Yoga LOAY Teacher Training Manual

Five Ways To Conquer Cravings

By Sara Schwartz



I used yoga to quit smoking. I did so after I noticed that after my Power Vinyasa class I was less eager to grab a cigarette. It also turned out that I liked the taste of fresh air, so when I decided to give up smoking, I just figured I would do a ton of yoga and it would be easy.

Turns out that quitting smoking was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The craving struck and sat like a piece of lead on my throat and tongue. Sometimes, it settled around the center of my chest. The craving created a real physical ache as well as annoying mental repetitions. “If I only had… I would feel better…”

To break a habit you have to use the force of willpower and willpower is essentially the movement of the spirit. You need willpower to move through a craving. Logically, cravings just cause us mental pain, and this mental pain is the feeling of an old habit breaking. To pass through cravings is to be in touch with the divine force of will. In a craving you can sense the movement of your spirit, strengthening your connection to your spiritual anatomy.

The second time I came face to face with intense cravings was during my Dharma Yoga Life of aYogi 500-Hour Teacher Training when we were instructed to follow a fairly strict vegan diet.

“Food is a very emotional experience,” LOAY Director Adam Frei told us. I thought to myself: I don’t have any emotional issues with food – I’ll eat anything!  But then, I realized I couldn’t have my Chai Tea Latte and I cried! Chocolate cake, even though I never ate it, became my newest obsession. But I stuck with the diet; I ate my salads and drank my juices. At first my body didn’t feel very good. I was tired and hungry all the time. I realized I was detoxing. Then I adjusted and began to feel calmer, cleaner, and my yoga practice felt solid.

Overcoming my cravings meant I had to stake out uncomfortable territory. I had to re-visit what I had done when I quit smoking. 

Here are five ways to get rid of cravings and live a healthier life:

    • Make a list of why you want to give something up and allow that to become your mantra. Why would I want to follow a yogic diet? Because “healthy body, healthy mind”. So when I craved chocolate cake I asked myself “does this cake cultivate a healthy body better than a banana?” Of course the banana wins this round!
    • Take one day, one moment, and one breath at a time. This is what they say in Alcoholics Anonymous and I used it to quit smoking. Each morning I would think, “today I am not going to smoke.” If during the day the craving was bad I would think: “right now, I am choosing not to smoke.” If I was in front of a store ready to jump in and buy a pack of cigarettes, I would think “now I am inhaling; now I am exhaling” as I breathed.
    • Read spiritual literature. Sri Dharma Mittra recommends this all the time! When you are feeling uninspired and uncertain, the Bhagavad Gita can point you in a good direction. Arjuna also didn’t know why he was supposed to fight, and Krishna gives him a ton of reasons why he should. Sometimes you might not be sure why you’re fighting your cravings, so you too can apply Krishna’s counsel.
    • Practice Pranayama. It can be as simple as a square breath: Inhaling for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four. If the craving is strong you might try a stronger, more complicated Pranayama: like Nadi Shodana with Kumbakha (alternate nostril breathing with breath retentions). As Swami Sivananda said “the veil is removed by the practice of Pranayama. After the veil is removed the real nature of the soul is realized.”
    • Remove the tempters. Clean your kitchen of those culprit foods. When you shop at the grocery store first go to the fruit and vegetable section. When I tried to quit smoking I stopped going to the smoker’s corner on my lunch break and I went to the park instead.
These are just techniques to test out in the laboratory of your own experience. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a cigarette or a piece of chocolate cake. After I had decided to quit smoking I slipped up for a good year before I was actually able to buckle down and commit to a daily yoga practice. During the LOAY Teacher Training Diet one day I walked into a Starbucks and had a cup of tea and a scone and enjoyed every moment of the sugary and caffeinated goodness. But the next day I woke up and was back on track.
Over the long run the cravings get less and less. And now, three years later, if I smell a cigarette it makes me feel sick. Now, most sweets are too sweet for me since I spent half a year not eating sugar.

You can create the life you imagine! It just takes time, awareness, and as Sri Dharma says, a little bit of ‘angry determination’ to get back up again after you fall.

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Sara Schwartz lives in Queens, New York with her husband Yancy. She currently teaches at Yoga to the People, where she received her 200-hour certification in 2010. She recently graduated from the Dharma Yoga Center Life of a Yogi 500-Hour Teacher Training. “Offer up the fruits of your practice” is her favorite advice from Sri Dharma Mittra. She is very grateful for the guidance of Sri Dharma and all of his teachers.

3 Ways To Cultivate Compassion In Your Life

By David Jozefczyk 
Ahimsa (non-violence/non-killing or compassion), the ethical guideline that stands in the forefront from the others, is life’s law of non-harming

Once this ethical guideline is mastered, all other ethical guidelines fall into place. Also true, is that the more compassion is studied, the more layers of understanding appear.



Most people understand Ahimsa in regards to non-killing or not causing physical pain to other human beings or pets.  But Ahimsa goes beyond that. Prior to learning about Ahimsa, I fell into this category.  The first time that I had the honor to receive Sri Dharma Mittra’s teachings regarding Ahimsa, it changed my life.  This intricate ethical guideline (Yama) was explained to me with such simplicity and in such a compassionate manner that it brought tears to my eyes and struck a chord deep within me
A vegetarian lifestyle is a great way to practice Ahimsa as it covers three areas – through thought, word and deed. 

1.    Thoughts

With thoughts, for example, when eating with friends and family who are not educated in Ahimsa, my thoughts do not judge or think bad of them.  I have realized their true Self does not mean to harm, it’s just their physical mind is not ready at this point in their evolution and so I feel compassion for them.



Ahimsa of thoughts not only applies towards others, but towards the self as well.  Negative thoughts can manifest themselves, so any negativity or harm towards yourself (as well as others) should be avoided.  A good amount of bad karma can be accumulated in this regard and no one wants that!

2.    Deeds
In regards to deed, leading by exampleand consistently living as a vegetarian is a very powerful way to influence and it may eventually change another person’s outlook on diet.  

3.    Words

Lastly, being vegetarian and practicing Ahimsa in regards to word, conversation arises from time to time and I am asked “what made you become vegetarian?”  I always choose my words carefully, as some friends and family members love to play devils advocate by mentioning plants.  I answer that it is impossible for most people to be completely non-harming due to the physical body needing sustenance, so I chose what I feel to be the lesser of two evils.  This type of conversation has the ability to transform others not aware of Ahimsa.

Words can be very powerful and life changing in both a positive and negative way.  Even a simple “hello” with the right intention to someone passing by can brighten his or her day! 

I feel it is a good practice to keep your words to a minimum and positive and uplifting in nature.  Many yogi masters teach that if you do not have anything good to say then this is a good time to practice silence or Mouna, which Swami Sivananda describes as “Tapas of speech.”
I am still learning from the masters to eradicate negative traits and to bring more compassion into my life by practicing Ahimsa.  Through a steady and consistent practice this can be mastered and then applied towards all Yamas and Niyamas!


_____________________________________

Dave Jozefczyk began practicing yoga in 2006 by taking class with his wife ‘chelle in his basement.  Having a consistent flow of friends who attended three days per week made it an official class.  The next chapter in Dave’s spiritual journey was experiencing a long weekend immersion with Sri Dharma Mittra at Kripalu in 2008 with his wife.  Since that transformative weekend, he has been faithfully practicing Dharma Yoga.  During these five plus years of practice and observing his wife’s transformation after completing her 500-hour LOAY Teacher Training, Dave realized that he also had the ability to help others and serve in so many different ways. In June of 2013, Dave was very humbled to experience the 200-hour LOAY TT at the Dharma Yoga Center in NYC.  He is currently teaching at the CNY Yoga Center (Dharma Yoga Syracuse) to fulfill his internship credentials.  It brings him such joy to be able to share the Dharma Yoga teachings, which he continues to learn from Sri Dharma and the Dharma family.

Dharma Yoga Across the US

Q & A with Dharma Yoga teachers in the US…

This week: Ishvara Pranidhana Om

– Jefferson City, Missouri


  By Nicole Sopko
Ishvara Pranidhana Om, simply called “Vara” by her students at Dharma Yoga Missouri, is a dedicated and reverent student of yoga. She has fully incorporated the practice of yoga in her life, running Dharma Yoga Missouri as well as the attached vegan café, Vitality (www.vitality-cafe.com).
Where do you live?

I live in Jefferson City, Missouri. It’s the capitol, in the heart of the state that’s in the heart of the Midwest. I lease a building that has Dharma Yoga Missouri along with Vitality, our vegan café, on the first floor. I live in the apartment upstairs with my two daughters and two cats. I like just walking downstairs and being at work.



Which LOAY trainings have you completed? How did you come to do those trainings?
I completed my LOAY 200-hour in June 2010 because I started subbing and needed to have formal training. Also, I took a weekend workshop with Dharma Yoga Teacher Rebecca Kovacs in San Diego, CA, that blew my mind and blew all of my perceptions about Yoga out of the water.

So I took a 24-hour trip to meet Sri Dharma Mittra for a Maha Sadhana the day before Valentine’s in 2010 to check out the facility and the teacher. I had watched his Maha Sadhana DVDs and his voice was something so old in my memory that when I met him in person I started to cry.  Sri Dharma asked me, “What’s wrong with you, did you break up with your boyfriend? Oh, you just have some Shakti rising up” as he gestured to his heart. I was stricken and all I wanted was to be with him. So I signed up for the LOAY 200-hour teacher training.

I took the LOAY 500-hour training because I was so happy about my first training and also so that I could teach all the levels at the center. When I heard that there was going to be a LOAY 800-hour I was like, “PUT ME ON THAT LIST!” At this point I have an overwhelming burning desire for liberation, it’s all I think about and I think that is certainly a result of such intensive immersion experiences. I think the LOAY 800-hour TT has been the one of the best experiences of my life so far.
How have the people you met in the training inspired you?

The people I met are a varied group of people, some whom I remain very close with to this day. There are people from every walk of life, all different ethnicities and from different parts of the world.  I am inspired by the fact that we can all be so different, yet are all reflections of each other in our love for Sri Dharmaji and our quest for Self-Realization.

What is one practice that you do every day?

I watch the activities of the mind and pray constantly. I devote every action to God, and try not to be concerned with the activities of the mind, but I am always trying to observe it. I am consumed with thoughts of liberation, so I ask for Divine Help all the time.

This is the easiest practice for me because I don’t always have time for asana and pranayama, or reading scriptures every day.

What are you currently working on?

I opened Dharma Yoga Missouri in 2010, and three other trainees have taken the LOAY 200-hour training since then. I’m letting them take over most of my classes for the summer so I can focus on the Vitality Café. I will return in September with emphasis on teaching the Deep Healing Relaxation Series.

I opened the Vitality cafe in my town because there is nothing like it for 150 miles in any direction! Vitality is named after the Vitality diet that I was required to follow during my LOAY 500-hour training. Vegan food is considered to be fairly radical here! Starting in September, our studio and cafe will be doing Fresh Start, a one month program on just raw food.  Every day there will be recipes, inspiration, and a Dharma Yoga Asana mini-class.  I am also doing some half-day intensives with raw vegan dinner afterward.  All info can be found on our website.

I admit that I am using customer’s senses to trick them into making a compassionate decisions about food. If I give someone chocolate cake and please their senses to the point that they might consider having vegetarian food next time they eat something, then that is better than me trying to feed them a bunch of sprouts which they will simply reject and classify as “health food.” So we offer food that is not sattvic, but we have to get them hooked on vegan food somehow…


How has your experience in the Dharma Yoga LOAY program affected your life outside of training?
The name of the program “Life of a Yogi” is exactly that and has turned me into an aspiring Yogi. I went from a drugged-out meat eater, deluded, with total lack of self-control to a person that my family and old friends have a hard time recognizing. I don’t think I will ever look back to this time and think, “Oh well, you know…I was young.” I can’t imagine going backwards from this point. The love and discipline and other qualities that Sri Dharma and my other teachers exemplify is so far-reaching that Self-Realization seems the only way out!


What books are you currently reading or studying?
Yogic Powers by Yogi Gupta (because it pertains to my 800-hour training and Psychic Development). Plus, I am always reading and re-reading the Gita.

Check out the Vitality Café on Facebook for beautifully styled and delicious vegan food.




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Nicole Sopko(Gopi Om) is a Dharma Yoga teacher living in Chicago, IL where she teaches Dharma Yoga and operates a nationwide vegan natural food company alongside her (life) partner. She takes great care to be always aware of the ways in which these two responsibilities intersect and spends her time promoting compassion in all forms. She is a dedicated and loving student of Sri Dharma’s and visits New York as frequently as possible to absorb the benefits of his holy teachings in person.Nicole Sopko(Gopi Om) is a Dharma Yoga teacher living in Chicago, IL 

Five Ways To Detox Your Thoughts

by Sorsha Anderson

Most of us have an idea how to detox our bodies:  eating right, exercising and juicing or fasting.  But how do we detoxify our thoughts and thought process?  In much the same way: by choosing which thoughts to feast on and which to pass up.

Think of your mind as a giant store that is stocked with unlimited food.  Further realize that this store is stocked in part by the world outside which is filled with unhealthy influences.  No matter what our intentions, our store is not always the health food store we would like it to be.  The good news is that no matter what state our store is in, we can examine carefully each item that we take off of the shelf and choose whether or not to put it into our cart.

Try the steps below:


  • Understand that you are not your thoughts. 

Just as the food in your cart may belong to you, it is not you. The same is true with thought.  Thoughts are a product of the mind, the mind is a tool of the self, but it is not the self.  As Sri Dharma Mittra explains, “the mind is powerful, it loves its pleasure. It will throw you down! But you are not the mind.”   

He continues with this analogy:  the higher self resting in the body is akin to a driver in a car.  If you are driving the car and the brakes fail and you are having trouble with the electrical system, you are having trouble with the car, but you are not the car.  Next: 



©Jeffrey Vock

  • Observe your thoughts

This can be done very simply in a short period of time.  Pick a quiet time during the day, or even as you lay down before sleep at night.  Close your eyes and observe the thoughts that come into your mind.  Do not engage the thoughts, do not dialogue with the thought or practice arguments in your head…just watch the thoughts come up and then let them go.  Even five minutes at a time will help introduce you to your thought patterns and begin to give you the sense of the ‘observer,’ your higher self watching the thoughts.  It will give you an excellent idea of what shape your store is in.  Is it a health food store or a 7-eleven?

  • Don’t fear your thoughts.

Even if after some observation you notice negative patterns, keep calm.   Everyone experiences negative thoughts.  You cannot help the thoughts that float through your mind.  Remember, they are thoughts only and they are not you.  You can begin to control your thoughts by using your discrimination.  You do not have to validate every thought that comes into your mind any more than you have to buy unhealthy food every time you enter the store.  If a troublesome or unhelpful thought arises, ask first, “Is this thought compassionate? Is it compassionate to myself, to my friends, to the world?”  If it is, engage the thought and let it tell its story.  If not then let it go; leave it on the shelf.  Leave room in the mind for something worthy.  As Sri Dharma Mittra says, “Cultivate compassion, the rest will come.”

  • Strike a pose!

Try tree pose, with the eyes closed. No matter how observant and vigilant we become, all of us have trouble at times releasing negative thoughts. If the mind is stuck in a difficult place, give it something else to concentrate on.  Vrksasana, can be done almost anywhere, any corner of any room, even a bathroom stall at work.  Stand in tree, feel your standing foot on the ground and close your eyes.  Tell your mind, ‘Nothing changes here; I am simply lowering my eyelids.’  The mind may fight; it may panic as the eyes close and it loses the visual horizon; but remember, you are the driver.  Use the breath, feel yourself in space; imagine you are simply a tree in the dark.  The mind will start to understand that it does in fact know where it is in space without visual reassurance.  It will begin to settle. The worrisome detail the mind would not relinquish may suddenly dissolve in the moonlight!



©DovVargas

  • Count to ten – upside down.

In addition to the physical benefits of inverting the body, the mind greatly benefits as well.  One of the elements of inversions that hooked me early on was the instantaneous quieting of the mind.  If the mind won’t stop, if it becomes filled with obsessive thoughts and won’t let go, dump it out!  Turn your cart upside down, empty it out and start again.  The mind will begin to concentrate on not falling over and start to let go of everything else.  Something about going upside down is also reminiscent of being a kid again.  We physically recall a time when we felt fearless and invincible and our mood instantly elevates. 

You are not your thoughts, but thoughts are energy and the vibration of that energy affects our mood, our state of being and our physical body.  Next time you are revamping your diet because the body is calling out for a change, also take stock of the contents of the mind.  Choose to leave those uncompassionate, un-helpful thoughts on the shelf, and over time, your store may stop stocking them altogether.


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Sorsha lives and teaches in Vermont.  She has been practicing since 1991 and worked with very gentle and restorative yoga until her 30’s when she wandered into a hot and sweaty, but meditative vinyasa studio.  Neither a dancer nor gymnast as a child, and after having had two children, she surprised herself by balancing in crow for the first time at 36.  She never looked back.  Sorsha approaches each new pose with a sense of optimism and adventure and delights in encouraging others to try what only seems impossible at first glance.  She particularly enjoys teaching older women who are trying to find their way back to their bodies after a sometimes very long absence.  Sorsha is thankful to have found her way to the Dharma Yoga Center and makes the trip from Vermont as often as she can.  She offers gratitude for the beautiful physical and spiritual teachings of Sri Dharma Mittra.



Yogic Wisdom from Sri Dharma Mittra, Part II

You may remember our last collection of quotes from dearest Dharmaji; we thought it was about time for a few more!
Please enjoy, and share with those who may benefit…
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1.  
2.   “Pain and suffering is for the purpose of cleansing the mind and subtle channels, or nadis. When the nadis are polluted, there is no chance of feeling even a little bliss. When the mind and body are cleaned, the energy can begin to move, and one tastes a little then the bliss.”

3. 

 
4.   “Don’t listen to your mind; listen to your heart.”
5.
6.   “Most adults don’t sing anymore. We have to break that, and start singing the name of the Almighty One, try to cultivate the emotions. We have to elevate our emotions to the maximum, to the limit, and that then turns into spiritual bliss.”
7.
8.   “With constant practice, one can improve his physical body and mental attitude rapidly, thereby igniting the higher motives of making one’s self useful to himself and all mankind.”
9.
We thank Dharma Yoga teacher Katherine Labonte for compiling this fantastic list of Sri Dharma Quotes.

20 Ways Yoga Changed My Life

By Deanna Aliano

Practicing yoga on and off for fifteen years has led me to one conclusion: I need to be disciplined and keep a regular practice to maintain the evolution that yoga has helped me attain.
So I’ve begun compiling a list of all the ways yoga has changed my life. I share it with you in hopes that you will be inspired to begin a practice, or maintain or resume your current one.
1.        I am more relaxedand handle the daily stresses in my life better. Stress can’t be completely eliminated but it can be managed. Yoga is a path to achieve that.
2.       I am healthier. Yoga has helped me lose weight, increase my muscle tone and given me better posture, just to name a few of many changes.
3.       I am more focused. My time on my mat has taught me to tune out outside distractions while I am there. This sense of focus has been attained off the mat too.
4.       I have a strong sense of accomplishment. Nearly every time I go to class I notice an improvement on some level – going a little deeper into a pose, a little more balance, holding a pose longer. These little achievements make me realize I am getting somewhere.
5.       My daily interactions have improved. I’m more confident in my skin because I have found my center.  Therefore I am not intimidated by others or self-conscious.  I now enjoy my time with other people because I can be myself.
6.       I eat better. I went from being a carnivore to eliminating red meat, then poultry, and now I am a complete vegan. My body no longer craves sugar or animal products. 

7.       I am more patient with myself. My time on the mat has taught me not to push myself beyond what I am ready for. I no longer feel the need to have a practice like the other yogis in the room, but instead allow myself to be where I need to be at that moment – even if that changes daily!
8.       I am more patient with others. Learning to be patient with myself enabled me to look at the world and realize everyone is at their own place in life. Being judgmental or trying to change people gets you nowhere.
9.       I am less fearful. I learned to push myself past my level of comfort and into the unknown while on my mat. This same idea applies to life in a big way.
10.    I am more flexible both mentally and physically. Of course, you expect to become more physically flexible through yoga, but I didn’t realize that as my body practiced asana, my mind began to change, and I now accept & perceive everything from different angles. 

11.     I am stronger both mentally and physically. Yoga is not just about flexibility, but about finding the balance between flexibility and strength. Many of the poses take a tremendous amount of strength to hold! Sometimes the greatest strength is in keeping the mind from telling you that you cannot do it. Yoga taught me to refocus and tell myself that I can.
12.    I am able to sit quietly for long periods of time. My mind still wanders, but it is much easier to bring it back and become a silent observer.
13.    I better understand who I am and my purpose in this life. We all have a path, something we are here to do. Practicing yoga put me in touch with that purpose and allowed me to reconnect with who I really am.
14.    I better understand my true needs and can differentiate them from desires. This is hard and I often struggle with it, but it has become easier to recognize things I don’t really need to get by in life.
15.    I am more creative and expressive. This connects to increased confidence. I think it is why many creative people are drawn to yoga. While practicing, you find the confidence to express yourself. Also, when you clear the mind of excess baggage your creativity rises to the surface.
16.    I am more present. Clearing the mind allowed me to better focus on the things immediately in front of me and I’m no longer sidetracked. I am really present.
17.    I am more responsible. Developing discipline on the mat means more discipline in everyday life, and this has allowed me to see the things that need to be done and accomplish them.
18.    I am happy and content with what I have and where I am in life. I recognize it for a path and not a destination.
19.    I am more compassionate. By recognizing and letting go of my own stresses and pains, I am better able to recognize them in others, and perhaps help others to let go of their own suffering.
20.   Giving and receiving more love in my life. By being at peace, content, and present, I have cultivated space in my life for others to join and share the good vibes…
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Deanna has been exposed to many different styles of yoga and has recently taken the Dharma Yoga Life of a Yogi Teacher Training with Sri Dharma Mittra in New York City. Being a certified Pilates instructor, massage therapist, and fitness trainer, Deanna never thought she would find her higher self in a “fitness” class, but she did and has never looked back. She has developed Artasana workshops, exploring creativity through the art of yoga. She spends her time off the mat writing, illustrating yogis and enjoying her children at the New Jersey Shore.

Day Six: Flux


The Life of a Yogi
          Another day gone… This morning I could hardly believe it was the beginning of day six, and even though the morning seems like a really long time ago, I’m still having trouble grasping the fact that there are only two days left of the training. It makes me think of what Sri Dharma says about the Supreme Self: “No notions of time…” and all of that. But then again, I’m pretty sure the fact that I have no notion of time right now is more related to exhaustion than enlightenment.
          I was really tired this morning for some reason – not too sore or anything, just a general fatigue. I was a little agitated at myself, because I had really wanted to be totally alert for pranayama/dhyana and discourse with Sri Dharma (this is only the third time we’ve had him for discourse this module, so I wanted to absorb as much as possible). Even though I was tired most of the morning, I stopped being so serious and agitated at myself once Baxter started barking at Sri Dharma while he was demonstrating lion pose; it was hilarious and SO adorable.
          We had another small group teaching session after discourse (the last one of those is tomorrow, and I’ll be teaching), followed by Master Sadhana – with Yoshio today. Both of those were really fun; Yoshio’s class is just so full of love, and I’m a big fan of his sequencing and general style.
          After lunch we had a lecture with Eric on yogic scripture, which was really interesting. I started becoming more fascinated with scripture while I was reading the Atmabodha in between modules, so I appreciated the clarification he offered on some subjects, and his recommendations for further reading. I already have a bunch of books about yoga at home, and I feel like all I’m going to want to do once I go home is sit in my room and read!
          Then we had a session with Andrew regarding teaching Dharma Raja Yoga Basics, which is a course that concerns itself with the last three limbs of yoga – dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. It was cool to have a structural outline for teaching a class without asana, because that’s something I’m really interested in doing in the near future. We had Andrew for the rest of the evening as well – Maha Shakti and Yoga Nidra. The Maha Shakti was really nice; I ended up practicing near most of my small group members, so I felt really safe and supported throughout the class. That’s been one of the coolest things about this program – developing relationships with my group and a lot of the other trainees as well. I think that’s one of the things that feels different this module, actually: we are all just really comfortable with each other now, so it feels like home even more so than last time.
          Unfortunately I fell asleep during Yoga Nidra. I was CONVINCED that I wouldn’t, because I had stayed awake through the savasana at the end of Maha Shakti… But then I made the mistake of letting my attention wander just a little bit at one point, and I was so tired today that that was all it took… I was asleep before I even knew it. Oh well, I’ll have another chance at it tomorrow with Sri Dharma!
          Tonight I think it’s going to be straight to bed – there’s not enough time left to waste any of it being tired!
~Danielle