Episode 58 Bite Sized: Adventures On the WESTCOAST TRAIL

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Okayyyyy finnneeeee…..I guess it’s time to admit that summer is over and we’ve shifted into a new season.  There’s been a lot of resistance around letting go of summer this year for me.  For one, there were two weeks at the end of August where the skies turned dark grey from the passing smoke of the BC wildfires.  It was so thick that the sun looked like an orange egg yolk the whole time.  When the haze finally lifted, we found ourselves thrown into the frigid chill of autumn.  Another reason why I don’t want to say goodbye to summer is because it was SO. MUCH. FUN!  What’s not to love about sundresses and strappy sandals; ice cream trips and warm walks under the moon; plus I was lucky to squeeze in a few trips too!  I wish my winter jacket hadn’t already made its debut but I suppose it’s the most peaceful choice if I surrendered to the divine force of mother nature and embrace the new season of fall. 

To officially close off summer, I’d love to share about one of my favorite trips that I’ve EVER taken.  This summer I did the Westcoast Trail and it was beyond spectacular!  We hiked along the edge of Vancouver Island, weaving our way between the lush rainforest and beachy sea breeze.  If were weren’t being hugged by the trees, we were playfully discovering the crabs and starfish on the ocean shore.  How spectacular to be immersed in nature for four whole days!  Nature is something that I connect most with and being on the Westcoast Trail brought such a powerful sense of grounding.  I felt an unshakable sense of certainty that I seem to always crave.  I think the soul can recognize when you’ve come back to your true nature. What a great reminder this trip was to do more of what we connect with.  It doesn’t have to be a big thing – if you love the ocean and you live by one (lucky duck) then make sure you’re out there often.  I hope this episode inspires you to go out and do what connects you so that you too can be in a sense of awe, wonderment and powerful grounding.  I also include practical details so you can prep for your trip too should you decide to do it one day 😉 

Tell me, what brings you back to your true nature?  And how do you do more of that?

Episode 57: Understand How Energy Flows in You With Chinese Medicine with Caitlin Donovan

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There are many ways to understand the energy around us.  In western philosophy, when we talk energy we use a scientific lens.  We logically categorize each finding into its own tidy compartment: kinetic energy, potential energy, thermal energy, chemical energy, gravitational energy…(yes, I loved my science courses * nerd face * 😉 ) We try to create something tangible out of the unseen – and I’d say we’ve been quite successful at it!   We take these concepts to help us understand the world around us – another thing that science has been quite successful at too!  But that’s not quite what I’m interested in learning these days when it comes to energy.  I’m more interested in the deeper workings of energy within ourselves – not just how something works but the big picture of how everything integrates together (mind, body, spirit).  This is where systems of Eastern Philosophy can help!  Today we talk about how energy flows within ourselves based on Chinese Medicine.  Caitlin Donovan, an acupuncturist, herbalist and face reader with a Master's degree in Chinese Medicine is here to teach us all about it.  As Caitlin puts it - in our western world, we process information in a linear fashion whereas with Chinese Medicine everything happens in a circle.  You need to see all parts together to understand the picture.


Key Nuggets:    

  •    Acupuncture (part of Chinese medicine):

    • The basic theory behind acupuncture is that your body is blocked in some places and empty in others.  Acupuncture points are considered gates that can open or close the flow of energy (prana, chi…) in the body.  If there is a blockage it must be opened and if there’s emptiness then the gate must be closed so that the energy can fill up.

    • The tool to perform acupuncture are tiny needles the size of a hair (takes 30 acupuncture needles to become the size the of a needle used to draw blood)

    • It’s not so much the needle that produces the healing effect but more rather the acupuncture point in which it is inserted

    • In acupuncture, the body is categorized into 12 different organs and there is a right and left side. Each side is totally symmetrical to the other.  Whatever channel (or meridians) that run on one side is also on the other.  Along these channels, there are the gates.  The measure of these gates are standard in measurement but different on each body because we’re all different sizes.  We measure based on reference points in our bodies. For example, we know that from our wrist to the elbows there are 12 points.

  • Chinese medicine

    • The overall guiding principle is the Yin/Yang theory.

    • Chinese medicine looks at where the natural balance of our body is not working. It’s not about “fixing” the problem but rather to restore the balance.

      • For example, we think that when we get colds we are unhealthy.  But in Chinese medicine, it’s not bad to get colds as long as our immune system kicks in and we’re able to come back from the cold. Where there’s an issue is if something gets stuck and you get  cold but you end up with a cough for 3 months

  • Chinese medicine is an umbrella of healing modalities that include

  • Acupunture + Moxa

  • Herbal Chinese Medicine

  • Qi Gong (cultivation of energy.  We would say that tai chi is a form of qi gong)

  • Chinese massage

  • In the western world, we’re used to looking at systems in a linear fashion but Chinese Medicine is really more of a circle (you need to see the whole picture)

  • All of the modalities listed above are together and separate at the same time.  It’s actually difficult to separate it out in our linear fashion that we’re used to.

  • Understanding herself through the lens of Chinese Medicine allows Cait to not feel guilty for what’s happening in her body.  What Chinese Medicine has taught her is that her body can perform but sometimes needs help and that’s all okay.  Takes the pressure away from the expectation to always be perfect even though you’re doing everything right.

  • It’s not always the big stories that we tell ourselves when we think “everything happens for a reason” and we start blaming ourselves – emotional blockage or something. Remember that energy moves in more than one direction: so if your emotional life can create physical symptoms in your body, then your physical body can also create emotional symptoms

  • Ex. If your solarplexus chakra is underfunctioning (or in Chinese medicine it is “cold”), then you may feel disconnected. You can use Chinese medicine to help “warm” the body up and bring it to balance. In this respect it was more of body balance issue than it was an emotional issue.

  • Oftentimes an ailment will be due to multiple reasons so taking a holistic approach is beneficial.

  • Face reading

  • A system that uses facial features to determine the basis of people’s personalities. It’s like an eastern philosophy of personality test that helps you understand yourself a little better.

  • Ex. Size and thickness of somebody’s eyebrows shows wood energy which indicates the level of passion or anger that they have.

  • You can even see what age people were when they went through traumatic experiences

  • Can be used to determine when you’re on your “golden path” (living your  life’s purpose)

  • If we know ourselves well enough and trust ourselves and understand our natural predispositions, we can choose to do things that are naturally aligned with who we are and it costs much less energy expenditure to live our day to days. (as opposed to doing what outer influences expect us to do)

  • When we’re misaligned then we are using way too much energy than we have too and we are so drained.  It feels like we’re doing all the right things but then we keep feeling a little off.

  • Energies include fire, earth, water, metal, wood

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Listen but don’t fix

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Caitlin wanted to share a piece of teaching from astrologer Tosha Silver – yes, you need to do the work and create momentum and move forward but also pay attention the crumbs that the universe gives you. Remember to adjust course as necessary.  Sometimes what you dream up isn’t necessarily what will make you happiest


If you have any questions for Caitlin Donovan or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  caitdonovan.com 

Facebook: facebook.com/caitlindonovanprague

Resource: Quiz to find out what your dominant element is, is available on Caitlin’s website.

Episode 56: What's Blocking You From Attracting the Abundance You Desire with Tanner Kennedy

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In this episode, we talk about M-O-N-E-Y.  A topic that many shy away from even though we all want and need it.  Why is that?  Probably because there's so much stigma around money plus our own complicated relationship with it.  We want it but we're afraid to admit to wanting it.  Maybe we somehow came to know it as evil.  Maybe deep down inside we don't feel like we deserve it.  Or maybe it's because we think that wanting it makes us greedy people and the last thing you want to be is evil especially when you want to do nothing but heart centered work and make a positive change in the world.  See, it's complicated.

Here's the thing though - if you truly want to do heart centered work or have creative freedom, you need to be financially viable!  If you're not financially sustained, all you'll be thinking about is how to make the next dollar so that you can pay rent or have lunch.  Tanner Kennedy, Law of Attraction Money Mindset Coach & Founder of The Own Your Worth Project talks to us about how to approach this topic and what's really blocking us from the abundance we desire.

"Think about it this way, the more you have, the more you'll be able to continue your work and help others.  Scarcity mindset makes us think that our gains take away from other people but that's just not true".  

Before you listen in, I want to point out that when we refer to "entrepreneur" it doesn't mean that you need to have a full fledged business.  This applies to you even if you're selling art on the side, crafts on Etsy or teach Yoga classes!  Happy Listening!

Key Nuggets:

  • When we feel powerless around money, we are unable to create or manifest what we want
  • Women in particular seem to have a certain sense of powerlessness around money b/c of our society and culture.  The journey is around learning to regain power and regain worth around money
  • Having a heart centered business to make a change in the world is great and the truth is that money is going to sustain that work.  Tanner helps women entrepreneurs come to a place where you realize that you can do great work and be paid for it and that’s okay.
  • Tanner herself went through a turbulent with money – she had a major wound around money which had a lot had to do with how she saw herself and her worthiness. It tied into the men and father figures in her life. 
    • In our society Father figure = bread winner = safety with money
      • We need the masculine side of us to create and make things in the world. Therefore issues around father figures can result in issues with making money in life
  • Got to a place where she truly believed that she could manifest anything she wanted around money
  • By “power over money” Tanner means to overcome the fear around it.  
  •  Example of limiting beliefs around money “I’m bad if I make money.  I’m taking from other people”.  Know that the is no scarcity.  The more you have, the more you can give back to others.
  • You don’t have to ask anybody for permission for what you desire.  You just need to give the permission yourself.
  • As you line up more with your truth, you’ll find that the relationships you have in your life and the financial situation you are in also begins to align (or vice versa).  For Tanner, she used these situations to understand where she was in her growth of self emotionally and spiritually.
  • There is power in understanding when to let go of something, even if you’ve had it all your life. Tanner gained this wisdom through her own experience of having to let go of her family to move forward.
  • As we continued to talk, the real topic started to reveal itself and that was: SELF WORTH. Your self worth defines your relationships, what you want from life and what you’ll allow yourself to deserve.
    • Not surprisingly, this all leads back to self-love
  • Tanner suggests creating a routine of self-love to allow yourself to rise to the next level.  She talks specifically about business and taking the time to evaluate what you’ll tolerate and how you want to price your products
  • Tanner’s “upgrade” routine includes anchoring her beliefs about self-worth in her routine:
    • Yoga & body weights in 30 minutes.  The key is doing it with the intention of anchoring the beliefs of what she wants to create next.  She’ll listen to meditation or she’ll give herself self-talk.  In the end, her body believes the thoughts and she knows it’s within her rather than just in her head swirling around
  • Allow yourself to receive the blessings when they show up.  We sometimes make rules about what kind of people we deserve in our life or what we are able to get; and are blind to the great opportunities that come our way. We even self sabotage - for example, we might second guess our skills or products when somebody wants to pay us more than what we think we deserve.
  • ·We talk about charging and business but I want to stress again that this applies everywhere – from the salary you’re willing to take to who/what you choose to give your time to.
  • Setting prices:  Think about what you really need to sustain yourself and then set the price from that standpoint!
    • Inner work needs to be done for inner worth to harness in the price that you’ve set on the outside
  • Whatever financial reality that you’re thinking in your mind that you’re not saying out loud or are too scared to say out loud is a real reality and you can work up to make it real!
  • Sometimes it’s scary to talk about money because of the chance of being rejected. Another reason is maybe you don’t feel like you’re worthy of it.  It can also be the guilt of rising above the level of life that we knew and grew up in and leaving that life behind and along with the people in it.
  • When you’re ready and you’re clear, everything falls into place quickly
  • Tanner’s Tools For Manifesting Money:
    • Do a moving meditation where you are anchoring the thoughts and beliefs that you want into your body
    • Write out your ideal next 6-8 weeks to help anchor into body.  Be detailed and specific.
    • Begin to set boundaries with people who don’t support the next best version of yourself (ex. Limit time with them or get them out of your life)
    • Question to consider: What did your upbringing teach you about how to perceive money?

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Learn how to set boundaries.  It’s easier said than done because it requires you to free up energy to learn how to say “no” and also develop enough self love to be able to say “no”.  Oftentimes we can’t say no because of fear – fear of what other people will think or of disappointing others.  Once Tanner learned this, she started to have control over not just money, but also life, body and everything else.  She became a pro at manifesting and knew that she had the power to stay in her own space of creation.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

In Tanner's own words:

"When you commit to your entrepreneurial journey, it will require you to grow your self-worth from the inside out. Part of the initiation process will be attracting narcissists. They are put in your path to help you learn to harness your thoughts and create a unshakable mindset about who you really are, your self-worth and your focus."     


If you have any questions for Tanner or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website: www.theownyourworthproject.com

Email:   tanner@theownyourworthproject.com

Facebook and YouTube channel also on website

Freebie: 3 Hidden Blocks That Sabotage Wealth & Abundance - Free Video Course - https://theownyourworthproject.com/3-hidden-blocks/

Episode 55 How to Show Up Authentically Even In Times of Struggle with Jenny Ravikumar

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Jenny Ravikumar is a devoted yoga practitioner, yoga teacher, reiki master, certified crystal healer through Hibiscus Moon and owner of the Barefoot Yoga Shala studio based in Massachusetts.  Most recently, she started a successful non-profit, Yoga for Families of Addiction.  As the name implies, this non-profit provides healing for friends, families, and spouses of addicts.  Through Jenny's own experience she found that there are many yoga platforms to help addicts themselves get through their struggles but there was nothing out there to help the people who love the addicts.  With Yoga for Families of Addiction, Jenny creates holds space and creates sacred sessions to help friends, families and spouses of addicts get through the tough stuff like shame, co-dependency, anger and forgiveness.  We cover a lot of interesting topics in this episode including a short pit stop on how it's possible to fuse together religion and yoga, but the main topic here is how to stand in our truth and show up authentically even in times of great struggle. 

Jenny's own story is that she was married to somebody with an alcohol addiction and went through a traumatic divorce.....all the while completing her 500 YTT, opening up a yoga studio and taking care of her new baby boy.    How did she continue to teach from her heart and show up authentically for the community even while all this struggle was happening?  Listen in to find out! :)   

Key Nuggets:

  • One torrentially important message I picked up in this conversation is that your YOGA exists at all times.  Even through the tough times.  Actually, even especially in the tough times.  Regular practitioners or yoga teachers may feel like they "should" be the perfect zen image but that's so not true.  As Brene Brown says: 
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
  • When you're going through something traumatic, it's natural to hold onto what feels good.  Sometimes what you hold onto is good, sometimes it's something not so good.  For Jenny, that's when she discovered the world of essential oils, energy healing and crystals.
  •  What emotions do families of addiction go through?
    • Co-dependency
    • Shame – a lot of ppl don’t share what’s going on their world because they want to keep their friend/spouse/family safe and on a pedestal
    • Anger
    • Forgiveness
  • How did Jenny continue to teach from a place of authenticity during her traumatic divorce?  She would never teach on something that she wasn't feeling.  For example, if she cried her eyes out that day, she wouldn't teach about joy because the material just wasn't there at that moment.  But instead, the focus would be on something like forgiveness.  That's a yoga teacher's example but even if you're not a yoga teacher, you can apply this and find authenticity in your day to day interactions.  For example, answering authentically to "how are you?".  Doesn't mean you need to divulge everything that's wrong but rather than saying "great!" when you're not, it could simply be "I'm happy to be here".
  • What helped and continues to help Jenny through her struggles is her toolbelt.  When times get tough, she comes back to:
    • Breath
    • Essential oils
    • Crystals
    • Reiki
  • Tools like the ones listed above and our yoga practice (of course) are the modalities that can get you through healing.  What's in your toolbelt?

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

In Jenny's words....

The two biggest lessons I've learned as a teacher is that (1.) I'm CONSTANTLY learning from my students and my son, they are always my best teachers. And (2.) as I continued to run my studio AND create a new non-profit, I was finalizing a traumatic divorce and am raising my son as a single mom every day. The journey isn't always easy, the lessons will continue to pop up over and over.... but with resilience, LOVE & compassion, we can dig deep to find strength we never knew we had.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

BREATHE. A transformation isn't meant to be beautiful. It's meant to bring up the ugly, rip open your heart and be a messy battle. If were easy, everyone would do it. Continue to breathe into love. Stay in the present. Have faith. Know you're supported. Because I promise, if you can hold on for a few more breaths, it will be beautiful on the other side.


If you have any questions for Jenny or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Websites: www.jennyravikumar.com   www.barefootyogashala.com    www.yogaforfamiliesofaddiction.com

Email: jenny.ravikumar@gmail.com

FB: @jennyravikumar @barefootyogashala @yogaforfamiliesofaddiction

Episode 54: Getting Over Self Doubt with Tara Wagner

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Tara Wagner is a breakthrough coach who helps identify what's holding you back from your next level of success.  In other words, she's an expert in helping people get over their self-doubt! How timely since I just talked about this in Episode 51.  This conversation with Tara is like an expansion of the topic of self doubt, imposter syndrome and limiting beliefs.  In specific, we talk about awareness (how do you even realize the limiting beliefs you have in the first place?), root cause (where do most of our false beliefs come from), and what to do about it!  I love Tara's perspective not just because of her spunky disposition but also because she manages to take a practical approach that's grounded in spirituality.  Yes the universe works in mysterious ways and there is such thing as divine timing; but we are also living in a human world and each of us have been granted with a predictable, computer like device in our noggins, so why not learn how we can learn to use both sides of the coin toward a happy, meaningful life?  Listen in and prepare to be uplifted!!

Key Nuggets:

  • Conditioning of nasty thoughts like “I can’t”, “I need to be quiet”, "I'm not enough" are things we grow up with that eventually holds us back
  • Everyone feels the imposter syndrome – not just people who are starting out.  Anytime you’re ready for the next level you will feel it.  It’s normal!
    • You take some of the struggle away when you realize that the ups and downs are all part of the process
  • How do you bring awareness of this limiting belief in the first place?
    • Ask yourself different forms of the same question until you hit a spot – that spot will feel like truth whether it just feels like a ton of bricks, or maybe make you cry. 
    • And it’s in this awareness that you can begin to take the first steps to heal
  • One of the most common limiting beliefs is that "I'm not good enough" complex.  How do you know if you have this limiting belief?  Well the “I’m not enough” complex shows up in….
    • Not being able to take compliments
    • Nerves
    • Throat closing up
    • Resistance
    • Paralysis
    • Thoughts like “who am I to do this?”
  • Another limiting belief that Tara had gone through was that she was “too much”
    • She received messages as a child (from herself and outer world) that she was too loud, too opinionated, and that people can’t handle her energy
    • Nobody explicitly told her this but it’s important to realize that there are many messages that we receive without being explicitly told.  It could simply be the exasperation in somebody’s reaction to you that sets it up.
  • This leads to the point that we can only look through the lens/perspective that we currently have now and that’s perfect.  Sometimes we may misinterpret something but the point is that we did the best we could with what we had at that time.
    • There are phases of life where we take in most messages: toddler years and in our preteen/teen years.  These are the ages of formation.  As teenagers, we begin to develop our core beliefs
      • In Tara’s work with her clients, the majority of the beliefs that hold them back stem exactly from preteen/teen years.  We misinterpret ideas and end up with beliefs like "the world’s not safe" "I'm not lovable" "I am loved" and being able to trust in relationships….
  • It’s totally normal to make of what we have at the time but there is an expiration date and at some point these beliefs become unhelpful.  There comes a point when we're ready to do something big and beautiful and it will question the existing belief systems. What we actually need is a system to help determine when an old belief system no longer serves, dismantle it and reshape into new, helpful beliefs.  We need to learn to create a new pattern.
  • How to breakthrough limiting beliefs now that you’ve identified them?  Tara shares one method:
  1. Look at the behaviour
  2. Look at the emotions behind it
  3. Look at the need behind it
    • If you’re struggling to meet this need, look why.  That’s when you get into the core beliefs  
  • The real trick is to train your brain to run through this process where you can easily identify the behavior, emotions, needs and limiting beliefs.  From there you can choose your actions with awareness. Tara suggests to think about this like potty training a puppy.  This way, you can approach it with love, non judgement and without any self deprecating self talk.
  • Next, to start reshaping that limiting belief. Tara loves using affirmations, use of essential oils, EFT, and even just simply taking action to reaffirm what you want to think and feel.  With that said, just the awareness – the turning on of the lights in a dark room, will change the shadows.
  • In practicing the four steps above, you'll gain EMOTIONAL FREEDOM
  • Give yourself as many experiences as you’re drawn to.  All paths lead home. 
  • What action can you take now to start taking in the new belief you want to have? (ex. "I trust in people", "I am worthy"…)
    • The brain is a practical thing and when we use it as such it can be quite advantageous
    • We need to constantly reinforce beliefs and you can do it by taking action, which is far more reinforcing than just sitting and waiting to feel good.  Tara uses the analogy of a cookbook – you can’t just read the recipe over and over and just get it.  You actually need to go through the motions of taking out the ingredients and cooking.
  • If you don’t take action then you don’t change anything
  • One powerful question to continuously ask yourself is: What would your most compassionate, loving, best self do despite the worry, fear, laziness, hold-backs?

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

 It’s okay to trust people.  Ultimately it leads back to love -you can give love and you can receive love.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Don’t take it too seriously.  Learn to laugh at all of it – the thoughts, the emotions….there’s so much healing that laughter can do.  Don’t get lost in your character!

You can have the same experiences and learn the same things without the suffering, and the stories and the spiraling.                                                                                             


If you have any questions for Tara or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  xotara.us (this is where you can also get her FREEBIE Self Care in Seconds)

Instagram: @tarawagner


Episode 53 Bite Sized: 5 Minutes to Get UNSTUCK

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Feeling STUCK can be so uncomfortable.  You're in a place in life or in your mind where you don't want to be and just can't seem to get out.  It's sticky and stuffy and frustrating.  Unfortunately being stuck is one of those inevitable situations that we will find ourselves in from time to time.  Just like fear or self-doubt.  What we can do with this feeling is to bring awareness to what it's telling us and find a way to release that stagnant energy.  In other words find ways to get UNSTUCK.  

In bringing awareness to the feeling, figure out how it feels.  Does it feel dull, listless, unmotivated (what  label as stuck in a funk); or does it feel like you're spinning your wheels but you're trapped (stuck in a rut).  Our natural tendency is to push harder toward what we want when we're stuck so we go out to paint nights, cooking classes.....and fervently chase inspiration or the next creative breakthrough.  At times, that's exactly what we need and then voila! we regain our freedom.  But if you've tried it all and it's still not working, then it means that you need something else.  That something else is that you're tired and need to listen to the ongoing lesson of taking PAUSE.  

That brings me to the second part where we find ways to release the stagnant energy.  Pause, breathe and connect back to what's been disconnected.  Listen in for a 5 minute pranayama (breathing) exercise to help shift your energy and get you on your way to getting unstuck!

Music Credits:

Concentration Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) 
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Episode 52: PART II Gettin' Oily With It - How to Use Essential Oils with Mia Mitchell

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Here is Part II of the conversation that I had with the lovely Mia Mitchell!  Last week she shared the heartfelt story of her darkest hour - loss of a best friend, the downfall of a marriage and contemplation of a life not worth living.  In essence, Mia's story is a powerful voice for mental health awareness.  With time, Mia healed and now has a successful essential oils business where she helps others in their own healing journey.  In Part II of our conversation, we focus on the thing that helped her recover: Essential Oils!  How they help, how to use them (ie. on chakra points) and Mia'a top 10 favorite oils for healing.  

Key Nuggets:

  • The quality of the essential oils is crucial.  You want a pure oil that’s not diluted with other chemicals, synthetics or alcohol.  Not only can they dampen the effectiveness of the oil  but you can end up absorbing these harmful chemicals depending on how you’re using the oil.
  • Do your research on that brand of oil that you're using and watch for these factors that affect their quality:
    • Where the plants are sourced
    • How the plant is grown (ex. No pesticides)
    • How the oil is processed
    • How the oil is tested
  • Watch out for labels in essential oils.  Some say “pure 100% oil” but what they mean is that there’s only 1% of 100% pure oil.
  • Essential oils can be used topically (like on your wrists, feet and chakra points), aromatically and some even to be ingested
    • It only takes 20-30 seconds to get into your bloodstream
  • Oils are very high vibration which is why they are so helpful for chakra points
  • Mia’s top 10 favorite essential oils for healing herself and clients:
  1. Lavender
  • Benefits: Soothing, calming, helps produce melatonin in body, great as a sleep aid
  • Attached emotion: oil of calm and communication
  • Place on: throat chakra to open it up,

2. Frankincense

  • Comes from very old Boswellia trees .  The actual oil is from the resin of the tree.
  • Benefits: probably the number one healing oil on earth; this is your go to oil if you don’t know what to use; place on all chakras  
  • Attached emotion: oil of truth, love, clarity, wisdom, enlightenment.   Can also embodies a lot of other different emotions as well
  • Place on: everywhere, all chakra points to clear them

3. Console (blend)

  • Something that really comforted Mia when she was going through her tough time.  She used this one in her diffuser and topically.
  • Mix of patchouli, frankincense, ylang ylang, rose, sandalwood
  • Good for comfort and to soothe anxious thoughts

4. Balance (blend)

  • Mia uses this one every single day to ground and reconnect to the Earth
  • Perfect to be used in meditation or when you’re anxious or feeling lost
  • Mix of spruce, frankincense, blue spruce tanzeer, chamomile…

5. Wild Orange

  • Benefits: energizing, happy, joyful
  • Attached emotion: oil of abundance
  • Mia usually diffuses it but you can put it on you chakra points as well (whichever ones that you want to increase)

6. Vetiver

  • A resin that's woody, thick, deep, and smoky smelling oil.
  • Benefits: deep sense of centering, great for using when you sleep
  • Attached emotion: the oil of centering
  • Use in diffuser to help sleep

7. Copaiba

  • Also from a resin of a tree so smells deep and woody.
  • Benefits: soothes anxious feelings, pain relief, supports healthy immune systems and a cardiovascular system.  The healing properties are very similar to cannabis (just without the cannabanoids)
  • Can use to relieve pain in joints or fibromyalgia
  • Attached emotion: the oil of unveiling

8. Clary Calm (blend)

  • Benefits: Supportive of women’s moon cycles (aka. Pms), brings body back into balance
  • Mix of lavender, chamomile, ylang yglang, clary sage, bergamot, cedarwood…
  • Place on: belly to help with bloating or any pains

9. Hope (blend)

  • Lush and warming

10.  Yoga Collection (blends)

  • Anchoring, centering and enlightenment.


One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Listen to your heart, not just your head.  Trust your intuition, trust yourself and then love and care for yourself.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

 Listen to your own inner guidance and trust yourself.  You know what’s best for you above anybody else. People will give you their opinions but at the end of the day it’s about what your true ideas are.  Take the time for self love.  It’s okay to not be okay!  You will fall down that’s okay, just get back up.

Everything that’s meant for you won’t pass you by.


If you have any questions for Mia or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.miamitchell.com.au

Email:  mia@hfessentials.com

Instagram: @itsmiamitchell

Episode 51 Bite Sized: Perfect NOW. You Are Perfect Right NOW.

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Self-doubt creeps in from time to time and it's probably never going to fully go away.  Everybody experiences this feeling, even millionaires and world renowned self-help experts.  Even with their major successes, they still get a niggle of this self-doubt from time to time.  If even proven successes don't prevent self-doubt from coming back ever again, then we must learn to navigate this feeling.

I've been going through a bout of imposter syndrome myself.  I was trucking along all fine and dandy then Bam!  It just hit me - an overwhelming feeling that I knew nothing at all and a major questioning of what the !@#$ I'm doing at all.  I sat with this for many days before I realized that the culprit was a hefty dose of self-doubt (that's the thing about feelings - if you're not paying attention you just fall into it).  Apparently I needed it as a very important reminder of how perfect everything already is....of how perfect I already am.  Listen in to hear what I learned! 

Episode 50: PART I The Dark Knight Of The Soul. A Journey From Depression to Self-Love with Mia Mitchell

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Mia Mitchell is a beacon of light who works to guide others into a life they love by using essential oils as her trusted tool.  This lovely Australian lady’s heart centered essential oils business stems from a reason more deep-seated than passion if you can imagine.  I dare say (after hearing her story) that this is the truest form of expression of herself.  A manifestation of her soul’s purpose, born from her darkest hour. 

I suspected that Mia had an incredible story to tell and this suspicion was confirmed just a few minutes into our conversation.  What I planned to talk to Mia about was essential oils and how they can help us in our yoga practice and everyday lives.  And we did talk about that! ...Eventually.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, a hidden gem of a story was waiting to be revealed.  When I asked Mia about how she came to find her love of essential oils, it turns out that it started from a dark place.  A place of anxiety, depression, and very, very, very difficult experiences (I put a “very” in for each of the obstacles she shared) including the loss of a loved one to suicide.  It was clear that beyond which essential oils are best for meditation or giving you energy, there was a strong message to be shared.  Mia’s story is a powerful voice for the awareness of mental health issues.  Her messages are clear and true as can be  

“It’s okay to not be okay” 
“In every moment you have a choice.  While making a choice might be hard, you still have one”

You’ve probably caught on by now that this interview went for much longer than anticipated!  I’ve split it into two parts for you.  Today, I present to you PART I where you’ll hear Mia’s story about mental health.  Next week I’ll release PART II where we tap into her expertise on essential oils.

Key Nuggets:

  • "In every moment, you have a choice.  While making a choice might be hard, you still have one."  This piece of wisdom comes from Mia's realization on a beach one day where she sat right after her husband had left.  It was in that moment that she decided to choose to get better and do what she had to do create a life she loved.
    • The moment you commit something is a defining moment.  The mere acting of making a commitment already changes the path that you're on.
  • Mental health is still one of those things that everybody is scared to talk about but it direly needs to be talked about.  As Mia shared her own experience on mental health, she creates powerful space for others to feel how they do and at the same time know that they're not alone. 
  • Mia’s description of grief: It's like being in the waves of the ocean.  There may be small waves to float along and they are alright but there can be big ones that push you down.  All the way down to the ocean floor.  But you can always come back up and breathe. Just breathe.
  • Mia's advice on what you can do if you know somebody who's going through grief:  Reach out to that person.  Knowing somebody is there and being able to have a conversation can make the world of a difference.
  • Mia’s practice to continue the life she loves:
    • Allow gratefulness to guide her
    • Reflect and immerse in what she's learned from her experiences
    • Self love – it always comes back to self love.  It's not selfish to put yourself first and make sure you are taken care of!    
  • Be careful not to apply pressure to yourself for daily practices of what to do and when.  It could become the opposite effect if you don't meet the mark one day.
  • There are certain tools and healing modalities that are meant for you.  If you try something and it doesn't work – keep searching!  Not all tools and healing modalities are for everyone.


If you have any questions for Mia or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.miamitchell.com.au

Email:  mia@hfessentials.com

Instagram: @itsmiamitchell

Episode 49 Bite Sized: 5 Ways To MOVE FORWARD Now that You Know You're On The Wrong Path

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In the last episode of Bite Sized I talked about the importance of knowing when to quit and how it can be just as important as the power of perseverance.  The wisdom is in knowing when to do which.  In this episode I talk about what to do with that information.  So you have an inkling that you need to quit something in your life. Now what?  Where do you even go from here?  I've been there many times - not ready to actually take the leap because I haven't got the slightest idea of where to place my foot.  I've reflected on my personal experiences and lessons to distill 5 action steps that can help you reset your compass so that you have at least a little bit of idea which direction to go.

Episode 48 Bite Sized: 5 Signs That You Should Probably QUIT

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Thank you for tuning into the final episode of launch week for my new segment, BITE SIZED!  Today I answer the question that I ask all of the guests I interview:  What Is The Biggest Lesson That You've Learned Along the Way?

My biggest lesson is that

QUITTING is just as important as PERSEVERING and takes just as much courage.  The wisdom is in knowing which is which.

Quitting has such a negative connotation attached to it and it basically equates with failure if you decide to give up.  But is it really that bad?  If you think about it, sometimes the resistance to quit stems from the same reason that we resist to persevere: The Fear of Failure.  Before you make a judgement on whether to quit or persevere, you need a few more pieces of information.

I share my personal story of the trials and tribulations it took for me to learn this lesson (it got handed to me a few times before I totally understood).  In reflecting on my experience, I found 5 signs that suggest it's probably time to quit; and of course, I share them with you!

So, what'd you think of this episode?? Let me know in the comments below or email me hello@curiousmonki.com

Episode 47 Bite Sized: How To Keep Going Even If You're Scared

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Welcome to the very second episode of BITE SIZED!

Transitions are never easy even if it's a change for the better.  Career change, ending a relationship, starting a new endeavor....it's scary to take a leap of faith!  But once you hear what your heart truly desires, you can't really go back.  Today I talk about how to keep going even when it's scary and I share with you my two greatest pieces of inspiration that kept me (and still keeps me) going when that low vibe self-doubt starts to kick in.


That speech that Oprah did that helps me get through the thickest of doubts.


Episode 46 Bite Sized: NEW DREAMS How to pivot when you change your mind about what you want

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I'm adding to the goodness with a new segment called BITE SIZED.  In these short 15-20 minute episodes I go solo and completely candid to deliver a dose of inspiration, knowledge or sum up golden nuggets from past episodes.  It's my way of amplifying the good vibes :)  I haven't reached enlightenment or anything like that yet but hey! I've picked up a few nuggets of wisdom on my very own journey and I want to let you in on it.

Bite Sized episodes will be hot and ready for you at the beginning of every week (still deciding on an exact date...maybe Tuesdays??); and don't worry, the longer interview episodes are still happening!  There's so much knowledge and experience to learn from each other, I can't see it stopping.  You can still expect the interviews at the end of the week.

I really, really, super really want this to be valuable for you.  It's my deepest intention to inspire you, spark a transformation within you or give you that second wind when you don’t think that you can keep going.  I'm going to keep trying to keep delivering value but I also need your help!  Please let me know what you think of these episodes by leaving a comment below or hello@curiousmonki.com.  And if you really love what you hear, please give me some big love by leaving an itunes review.  

As I keep saying, we have so much to learn from each other that can help us along our own paths.  This journey is your own but you're not alone!

In this episode, , I extract the golden nuggets from my interview with Awilda Rivera of Episode 41: Searching for True Desires and Manifesting it to Life. 

1. Dreams Change and that's okay

2. You faced your truth, now how to find out what your new dream is?

3. Keep on going and persevere



Episode 45: Seven Things That Make A Remarkable Yoga Teacher Training with Rachel Scott

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Rachel Scott is a yoga teacher trainer, instructional designer, and writer.  She regularly contributes to Yoga International and is the author of Wit and Wisdom from the Yoga Mat and A Yogi's Guide to Dating.  With over 4000 hours as a yoga teacher trainer, her passion for helping yoga educators create excellent trainings certainly shows through.  I am so grateful to have Rachel and her captivating energy on this episode!  You've probably guessed by now that the topic is all about Yoga Teacher Training.  In specific, Rachel helps us understand what separates an exceptional training from a disappointing one.  You're going to want to listen in whether you're considering taking your first yoga teacher training, continuing yoga education or playing around with the idea of being a teacher trainer yourself.  Rachel breaks down the reason why sometimes amazing yoga teachers deliver a less than satisfying training, prepares you with pertinent questions to ask if you're looking into taking a training, and lays out what makes a remarkable teacher training (spoiler alert: part of it falls on the responsibility of the student).

I wish I could tell the whole wide world about this one because so many people struggle to find a good yoga teacher training.  It's not something that you'd want to roll the dice on either, seeing as how each training is thousands of dollars.  Rachel's advice is worth its weight in gold!  So if you know somebody who would benefit from this info, keep the good vibes going and SHARE THIS EPISODE!

Many thanks to you for joining me.  Now, plug in those headphones and listen away!


Rachel's article on Yoga International: How to choose a yoga teacher training  

Rachel's free course on how to create a teacher training

Key Nuggets:

  • Even with all the training she's done, Rachel is still working on one of the first lessons of the yoga sutras: "yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of the mind".  And that is yoga.  She’s an inspiring reminder that a patient, consistent practice is far more important than mastering anything.
    • Contemplating this concept further, it's about how to put the soul in driver seat so that the mind can be a servant.
    •  What Rachel's learned is that the mind goes in loops.  She used the terms “mind hamsters” or “brain loops” which I love.   She used to think that if she could rationalize the thoughts in her mind then everything would make sense.  But she eventually learned that true wisdom is outside of that.  It’s within our more essential nature.
      • So it’s about creating space between vrittis (fluctuations of the mind) and our deeper self.
  • Pain has helped her jump out of her mind and into another way to process information.  At one point in mental suffering, you just “can’t take it anymore”. And at some point, you must realize that your mind isn’t telling you the whole truth.  And maybe it’s not truth at all.
    • If mind told happy stories all the time, it’d be a great place to live.  But it doesn’t and that’s why we search for truth.
  • Your interest in yoga will ebb and flow.  That’s perfectly normal! The study of yoga is so vast and there’s so much to learn.  Rachel herself was first interested in the asanas (I feel like that’s where most of us start) then her interest flowed into anatomy, education and now she’s contemplating in digging deeper into tantric philosophy.  And that’s the thing, you don’t need to know everything at once!  A great reminder to seek as a lifelong learner.
  • Amazing yoga teachers might be tapped into an organic knowledge but that’s hard to distill into a course.
    • There’s a different between a great yoga teacher and a great yoga teacher trainer
  • What Makes an Remarkable Yoga Teacher Training
    • Teaching people how to teach needs to be more about being a sage on the stage.

 . Keep the learner in mind first, not what information you know.  This is an opposite approach to what’s instinctive.

  • The teacher trainer needs to consider teaching styles and teaching methodologies to create a comprehensive, understandable teacher training.

2. Consider how to take the concept of becoming an amazing yoga teacher, which is quite inspirational, and be able to break it down into practical chunks of skills that somebody can practice on.  Focus on skills, not just talent.

3. One of Rachel’s favorite trainings that she went through was a course she took with Chris Chavez.

  • She loved it for the Community, emotionally engagement, connection to teacher, connection to students.  It was a very joyful experience to be there.
  • How she thinks he did it aside from his natural talents is that he did a lot of storytelling, was positive (he meets you where you’re at and he elevates you from where you are), he can recognize where a student is at and celebrate where they are (never made somebody feel bad for not being further).
    • A great trainer doesn’t put their students down.  They trust that their students are doing their best.  Rachel’s seen trainings flounder when teachers don’t meet their students where they’re at or when they give a lot of negative criticism, completely slamming the door on a question.
  • What makes a great teacher trainer?

4. A teacher trainer needs to have the ability to break down the mystical into the tangible (skills).

5. They need to be able to be structured about things (ex. Learning objectives)

6. Be able to hold space beyond what would occur in a regular yoga class (ex. Breakdowns, people reaching their limits…)

7. One of the “great mistakes”, as Rachel calls it, that teacher trainers make is that they think about what knowledge that they can impart but they aren’t considering what they want their students to be able to do as a result of the training.

  • Online versus Classroom training:
    • Rachel’s view on online training is that it’s never going to be the same as in-person training where you can raise your hand and get immediate feedback for your questions.  With that said, it’s still a powerful platform for learning.
    • Some pros of online is that it you gives the teacher access to really build a community and to instantly share links and videos.
    • What determines a good online training?
      • Online courses that put students in contact with each other and where the instructor gives feedback.  Instructors that check in with students and allots time for feedback.
      •  It’s not a good training if it’s just something that’s switched on and left to run. There needs to be much more integration than that.
    • What kind of training just has to be studied in person:
      •  Hands-on assisting
      • Standard yoga teacher training to an extent (ex. 200hr or 500hr).  It could be a hybrid with some parts online but there really needs to be an in person portion so that teacher can watch you teach and give feedback. Rachel’s teacher training is a hybrid which is great. 
    • What kind of training is good for online?
      • Anatomy
      • Philosophy
      • Sequencing
  • How to choose a good yoga teacher training?
    • First start by understanding what you want.  What teacher training you should take is determined by what you want.  Do you want to go on a retreat, get out of your world for a bit?  Do you want to be more immersed in community?  Do you want to learn to be an excellent technical teacher?
    • While scheduling and timing are important factors to consider, you need to start with the first bullet point and be clear what your priorities are.
  • How to figure out if a teacher for a teacher training is right for you?
    • Go take the their class
    • Meet them
    • If this is a yoga teacher training retreat, they should be happy to get on the phone or Skype with you
    • Ask what their learning objectives are and how the days are structured.  You want them to be able to articulate what you will get out of the course and how.  They should also be able to explain how they will assess you. 
  • If you realize that you actually don’t want to take a teacher training and a retreat is actually more suitable for you, here’s what you can ask to make sure it’s the right retreat for you:
    • You should still skype or get on the phone with the teacher of the retreat
    • How are the days structured?
    •  Do I have to practice?
    • If there’s something in particular that you’re wanting to learn, ask if you’ll be learning it (ex. Yoga philosophy)
    • What style of yoga do you teach?
    • Do you do hands on assist?
    •  How much personal time can I expect from you?
    • What other activities are available?
    • Where is the nearest town/city?

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

 To show up in your yoga practice whether it’s a 5 minute or 1 hour practice.  This will eventually translate to all areas of your life.  The wisdom within yourself is a profound teacher.

Do this consistently because

“small daily acts change the world”

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Give everyone out there a hug and say “yes, you’re good...you’re good even with all your imperfections".  Then make sure that you say this to yourself as well.            


If you have any questions for Rachel or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.rachelyoga.com

Facebook: @rachelscottyoga

Episode 44: Yoga Philosophy 101 - Are We One with Nature or Separate? with Anne Douglas

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Anne Douglas of Episode 30: Messages from Our Bodies and How Anahata Yoga Can Help You Listen is back on the show and this time she's here to talk yoga philosophy.  Perhaps you'd really like to understand the philosophy of yoga but words like "vedic" "samkhya" and dates older than 1995 makes your brain want to take a nap.  Sanskrit and history are not your forte.  No problemo, start here!  Who better to explain this stuff than a patient, knowledgeable teacher who happens to be passionate about how yoga philosophies help us resolve suffering.  In this episode,  Anne helpfully explains the two major schools of thought in yoga philosophy: dualism versus non dualism.  Basically, are we one with nature or are we separate with nature? Depends.  We go into depth to understand what these two philosophies mean in the bigger picture as well as to how we relate to life individually.  By the end of the episode, you'll be cooing about purusha and prakriti like it ain't no thing.  This episode is loaded so buckle in and get your learnin' on!

Key Nuggets:

  • Origins of Yogic teachings date back 6500-7000 BCE in the Samkhya philosophy.  The philosophy was primarily dualistic (spirit and all of nature are separate).
    • The idea was to end suffering as a result of coming to know ourselves as the seer (purusha).  Once we see that then we'd be in abiding peace and unending equanimity.  Ultimately the suffering ends.
  • The under-riding philosophy in our modern day yoga practice is dualism (ex. The teachings of Patanjali) but there are also traces of non-dualistic philosophy.
  • Dualistic View: freedom (aka. The end of suffering) arises from the understanding of who we really are which is that we are not nature but are pure consciousness.  We are the quiet calm of pure awareness that doesn’t succumb to changing nature of anything.  In this school of thought, things that change are nature and what does not is pure consciousness.
    • Our practice of yoga, especially the 8 limbs, is designed to help refine our senses so that we can further open to the pristine witnessing awareness.
    • This is a more masculine view that’s cognitive. Based in freedom coming from knowing ourselves as consciousness.
  • Non Dualistic View: purusha (consciousness) and prakriti (nature) are one.  They are not separate.  Prakriti is a rising of purusha and is not meant to be transcended.  It (our bodies, nature….) is meant to be cherished, loved and used as a pointer to direct us to our deeper nature so that we can live in a world where both are true.  We can be homeowners who raise families, own cars and live a modern day life but also, we are spirit.
    • This is more of a feminine view.  Embraces body as a tool to help realize the fullness of who we are.  To help us embrace the human that we are in this lifetime but also the spirit that extends beyond this lifetime.
  • In dualistic philosophy, we find freedom when we dis-identify with our limiting beliefs.  This is true to an extent but the hazard is that if we keep going then we no longer see that we are part of our bodies (ie. we dis-identify with prakriti (nature, bodies...) because we are pure consciousness).  This can subtly create a split between bodies and consciousness.  We may end up using body and nature for our benefit but we don’t take care of it.  Maybe we feel compelled to override prakriti (nature) and fail to realize the repercussions of our actions.
  •  Different schools of philosophies come from the natural evolution of ancient yogi’s practices (just like we have)
  • Quick breakdown of the order of how these philosophies developed:
    1. Samkhya dualistic philosophies
    2. Patanjali’s yoga sutras
    3. Vedanta
    4. Advaita Vendanta
    5. Kashmir Tantric Path
  • To embrace the nondual practice in your daily life, try to notice if there are any areas in your life that you are overriding.  Are there places where you're not paying attention to body needs or emotional issues (ie. trying to prematurely transcend)?  Allow yourself to embrace your body, thoughts and emotions and not seeing it as bad or judging them.
    • It’s one thing to have an objective thought of yourself but it’s another not to heed the call of your body (ex. Pushing too far in yoga practice to the point of injury).
  • An understanding of each of the philosophies is good to get but at the end of the day, move into this like how we do with the rest of yoga – use what works and leave what doesn’t.
  • Suffering arises from our myth of separation.  We suffer when we take ourselves as only this body.  We don’t know who we really are. This is how all schools of yoga philosophies view suffering.
    •  Each of us are really trying to find our way out of suffering and into freedom.  Through this lens we are able to better understand the actions of others (ex. Why our partners act a certain way, why our dogs act a certain way….)
  • In the most idealistic scenario, we recognize ourselves as consciousness and in turn see the connection between us and everything else.  We see the consequences of our actions.  While we still feel painful emotions such as sadness, anger and despair, our home ground is in equanimity.
  • The three yogic teachings that you can use to stop suffering:
  1. The answers to the end of suffering is already within.  Stop searching and just look inside.  That’s the point of an asana practice – to soothe the nervous system so that we can experience the stillness that’s already here.
  2. Recognize that every point of suffering in our lives is just a messenger pointing us back home to our truth.  This brings us back to the first point, which is to sit with the disharmony.  Anne advises not to just take her word for it though.  In the wisdom of the Samkhya yogis, experiment and find this out for yourself.
  3. There is no "other".  If you were to run an experiment so that you perceive that there is no "other", how does that change the way you operate?  Most likely with more softness and kindness.
  • Two most powerful questions to bring us back in the height of emotion:
    • What would love do now? (love encompasses us and the other)
    • What would peace do now?                                                                        


If you have any questions for Anne or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.anahatatherapy.ca

Email:  anahatayoga@telus.net

Episode 43: Fearless Self Love with Andrea Catherine

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"There is no one straight path"

This nugget of insight seems to be a recurring theme throughout the conversations that I have with my marvelous guests.  Their paths are colorfully weaved with discovery and changes.  For the most part, their stories don't follow a linear trajectory.  In fact, it's the dynamic quality that brings so much inspiration and aliveness! Restaurant owner turned yoga teacher, engineer turned yoga studio owner, law professional turned shaman....

I think what's so alluring about these stories is that these people stopped to ask themselves somewhere along the way "what do I truly want in life?" and then mustered the courage to try and figure it out!  "What do I truly want in life?" and "How can I be happy?" are questions that we eventually ponder.  Growing up, we're taught to pave our lives out in one straight path and to fear the unknown, but the heart desires truth and purpose, and those things might not be on the pretty paved road.  That's why stories of daring leaps perk us up.

With the last few interviews, there seems to be another layer emerging. That is: 

"What you desire can change."

Ah yes, life likes to keep it exciting doesn't it!  Just when we think we've figured it all out, the tides turn.  The key is to continue tuning in and pivoting as needed.

In this episode, we get to hear about just that as Andrea Catherine opens up candidly about her next leap in life.  Andrea is currently a yoga teacher, yoga health coach, Ayurvedic health counsellor and host of the podcast, Fearless Self Love.  Her new calling is calling though and she's in flux to move toward her dream of creating a space that's a destination for travelers, locals and folks in transition.  We also talk about self-love - what it means, how to do it, and how the practice of it has helped Andrea arrive at where she's at today.   

Key Nuggets:

  • Andrea talks about ideas and how some ideas come strong and fade quickly but then some stick around.  Her new dream stems from the latter - an idea that's been close to her hear for some time.  Now she's ready to pursue it!
  • Self-awareness in what kind of environment you would thrive in is important.  After 8 years of creating on her own, Andrea has discovered that she loves creating with a team.  Knowing this, she will try to achieve this with her new endeavor.
  • Because Andrea kept asking questions like “what really matters to me?” she was able to identify when it was time to take on a new trajectory in life (ie. from being a yoga teacher to pursuing her dream of opening an inn).  To her, this self-reflection is a form of self-love.
  • Transformational moment: when she said “I love you” to herself and really meant it, her life changed.
    • Before that moment, Andrea thought that loving herself meant eating well, exercising, and treating loved ones with kindness.  While those are acts of self-love, it didn't encompass the whole truth of self love.
  • Is self-love selfish?
    • Acting on what you need doesn’t take away from what somebody else needs
    • You need to value your own time and practice as much as you value others’
    • For me, I think selfish shouldn’t even be part of our vocabulary especially if it holds a negative connotation for you (more on this in a future episode!)
  • Andrea's practices to cultivate self-love:
    • Making space for herself by riding her bike. That's the one time that she doesn’t check her phone
    • Have a practice of movement
    • Keeping a practice that’s different and new that her work can’t provide
  • Self practices with non violent communication
  • Being in a creative space in the kitchen
  • Writing
  • Being in nature
  • Surrounding herself with people that she trusts and asking for help when needed             

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

It’s okay to wait and it’s okay to change your mind.  A yes or no decision doesn’t need to be made right away.  Take time to sit quietly to discern what you really need and keep some space for the unknown.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Don’t compromise your growth.  Choose to surround yourself with people who are going to be supportive of your growth.


If you have any questions for Andrea or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.groundedhere.com

Facebook: Grounded Here FB Group

Instagram: @groundedhere ; @fearlessselflove

Episode 42: How Founder of Yoga Boss Babe Combined Two Opposing Passions to Create a Successful Business w/ Elizabeth Nguyen

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Elizabeth Nguyen is a yoga teacher and founder of Yoga Boss Babe, a subscription box to help yoga teachers grow a thriving business.  This girl works with a stunning amount of dedication, authenticity and passion!  She is in love with her business and life today but like all great creators, there was quite a bit of travelling to get to this leg of the journey.  In fact, the first business she ever created was one that she didn't totally love.  She eventually went with her gut feeling and searched for an idea that made her feel excited and passionate.  One thing led to another and she came up with YBB!  There are so many rich lessons in Liz's story including how to know when an idea is truly for you, what challenges to expect when you pursue what you love and what it takes to succeed.  Plug in those headphones and get the idea juices flowing!

Key Nuggets:

  • Liz's story highlights the many different paths that you can take your yoga career.  She first founded Beyond Namaste to bring yoga to corporate workers but then realized that it didn't completely align with her passions.  This didn't mean that her life as a yoga teacher was over.  She kept searching and eventually came up with the unique idea of Yoga Boss Babe, a yoga box filled with tools to help yoga teachers in their businesses.
  • One of Liz's favorite quotes is “Yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down”.  We were referring to how the quote helps new yoga practitioners take their practice in strides but this quote is also an important reminder to you that it's about the journey!  So take your own personal journey in strides. 
  • One of the biggest transformations that Liz has experienced through her yoga practice is to have more conscious responses rather than reactionary.  To take a step back, look at the big picture and understand the lens that the other person sees the world in.  She’s also learned to let go when something doesn’t matter enough to hold onto.
    • On that note, oftentimes when somebody has a certain response, it’s not about you.  It’s a result of their personal situation
    • Perhaps even reflect on this question yourself: “How has your yoga practice changed your approach to life?”
  • Why Liz's first business wasn't the right one for her:
    • Long process for approvals and pricing plans
    •  It didn’t feel right and she no longer liked to speak in corporate lingo
    •  She wanted to find a space that she felt more natural in
  • How Liz created a business that worked for her:
    • As she searched, Liz began to feel the desire to start a new business that would integrate her strength in curating products (shopping 😉).  The idea continued to brew. She read Carrie Green’s book She Means Business and Liz decided that she wanted to do something online.  The last piece of the puzzle was figuring out who she wanted to serve….and that came quite naturally as well.  Liz wanted to serve yoga teachers! She understood that there are many teachers who come out of YTT with the desire to make a career out of yoga but aren’t sure how.  That was how she felt too.
    • With all the ingredients in place, it was just a matter of coming up with the right idea.  On a car drive home one day, the idea came to her: Yoga Boss Babe!  A subscription box that helps yoga teachers improve their businesses! 
  • After hearing Liz's story, here are the factors that led to Liz's success:
    • Awareness that her passion (shopping) was also a strength
    • Using the right resources (the book that led her to decide she wanted to do an online business)
    • Keeping herself open to opportunities - once she had a sense of direction then the ideas could start forming 
  • Liz's story with her business is an inspiring reminder of the many paths that you can take a yoga career.
  • Starting something is hard whether it be a business, new career, passion project or piece of art.  Here’s more about her journey:
    • She had completely different experiences when she launched Beyond Namaste versus YBB
      • With Beyond Namaste, she had a lot of reservations, self doubt and doubting abilities to speak with upper management.  Everything felt like work.
      • With YBB, the idea first came to her on a drive to San Diego.  Once the idea came she couldn’t stop thinking about it.  She absolutely couldn’t wait to research it, buy the domain name and begin working on it.  She felt so confident that she just launched and has never looked back.
  •  Biggest challenges:
    • The quote “build it and they will come” is not true.  Liz learned how much hard work it takes to bring awareness to a business.  
    • Time management and being her own boss
      • Need to be disciplined to do what you need to do
      • Aligning expectations with reality (what you want to do versus what you can really get done are so different)
        • Work life balance.  Figuring out when to stop working and when to enjoy life
  • Tips for the challenges
    • Takeaway for yoga teachers is that you need to differentiate yourself from other yoga teachers.  Do that by firstly finding your ideal student (the student who you just love teaching the most). Secondly, find what is unique to you and integrate it.  For example, Liz found her "zone of genius" (that sweet spot where your skills meets your passion) for shopping and yoga with YBB.  Kelsey Delane from episode 35 found her unique space through her passion for the Yoga Sutras.  Most importantly, be authentic in what you do.  
  • Time Management:
    • Liz is still working on it but her current strategy is to prioritize the most important items and then leave white space in her schedule to allow for unforeseen items (b/c not everything always goes as planned)
    • She uses a whiteboard to capture her ideas so that she doesn’t get led in different directions 
    • Take times for breaks and prevent burnout!
    • For me, the best advice I’ve received is to not stuff your schedule and only pick 3 things to accomplish in the day.  Finishing 3 of the most important things will feel much better compared to doing 10 things that aren't high priority.  If you don't do the most important items first then it's highly likely that you'll feel like you "got nothing done" by the end of the day.
  • If you find something that you’re passionate about and you feel excited to do it everyday, then you need to find a way to do it

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Trust your instincts and your gut.  It will lead you to the right direction.  For Liz, this knowledge served her well when she was running her first business and heeded to the deep feeling that it wasn’t for her.  In the end, she launched a second business that she is wholeheartedly passionate about.

What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Find your passion and what you love to do, then do it!  Trust yourself to run with it when the great idea comes along.



The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – inspired Liz to slow down and come up with more of a mindful response vs a reactive response; and to let go when it doesn’t matter enough.

She means business by Carrie Green – the book that helped Liz come up with the idea for Yoga Boss Babe

Episodes referred to (create hyperlink)

Episode 2: A Healing Journey with Alison DuRussel

Like Liz, Alison was interested in helping people via the healthcare system.  And like Liz, she started to wonder if there was a natural remedy that could alleviate the number of pills that patients ended up relying on.  Listen to Alison's story of how she went from pharm tech to massage therapist to yoga teacher and to sound bath healer.  

Episode 3: Mastering the Business of Yoga with Amanda Kingsmith

There are so many paths that you can take your yoga career.  Like Liz, Amanda is also helping yoga teachers flourish via their own unique path.  Listen to this episode for the three key items that you need to have for a successful yoga career.


If you have any questions for Elizabeth or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  yogabossbabe.com

Email:   liz@yogabossbabe.com

Instagram: @yogabossbabe

Episode 41: Searching For True Desires and Manifesting It To Life with Awilda Rivera

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Awilda Rivera is a yoga teacher, spiritual advisor and success coach who has dedicated her life to help empower others to succeed.  She’s navigated a few twists and turns in her own life as she transitioned from being a law professional and into the world of spirituality and wellness.

A cardiac episode in her late 20's brought Awilda to face a very real truth in her life.  Ever since the age of ten she’d been committed to becoming a lawyer.  She took a sense of responsibility in being the first person in her family to go to college and held high expectations of herself to not disappoint.  Yet as she lay there in the hospital bed, with only one and half years of law school before graduation, she could no longer deny that this wasn’t what she wanted anymore. 

The question that surfaced after admitting this to herself was “what intention do I want to live my life with? What kind of intention do I want my work grounded in?”  She pinpointed that her passion was to help others.  The journey that ensued was onerous, messy and wonderful.  By following the thread of "wanting to help people" Awilda was able to hone into exactly how she could help.  Today, she’s not only living her dream by helping other people live their dreams, but she’s also an inspiration for the multi-passionate soul who loves more than one thing and wonders how it could possibly come together. 

Tune in to hear the rest of her story!  In this grounded conversation Awilda shares valuable wisdom about pursuing what you love and how to manifest it to life including mantras and mudras that you can use.


Book to learn more about mudras

 Mudras Yoga In Your Hands by Getrud Hirschi


Key Nuggets:

  • Dreams change - sometimes what we thought we wanted isn't what we want anymore and that's OKAY.  We go through so much growth in life that we may not be the same person as our past.  For Awilda, it was recognizing that her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer no longer resonated with her. 
  • Identifying your natural talents is one thing but then you need to figure out how to strengthen it and choose how you want to use it.
  • In listening to Awilda’s story of finding what she wanted to do, I noticed that she had a different method for honing into each skill:
    • Awareness of natural skills - for the longest time, she thought that her clairvoyant abilities were part of her culture and that everyone else who grew up in that tradition had it too.  Eventually she realized that this skill was unique to her and worked to sharpen that skill.  
    • Discovery – just trying things can get you somewhere.  Awilda tried yoga and loved it, which brought her down the path of becoming a yoga teacher. 
    • Keeping eyes opened for opportunities - if Awilda hadn't been diligent in looking into coaching training, she may not have come across the opportunity for a scholarship to a coaching program.  And if she hadn't reached out to the scholarship coordinator, she may not have realized that she still had a chance to make a submission to the scholarship.  Then she sat down, worked her tushie off and lo and behold actually got the scholarship!!
  • Multi-passionate souls are making way for themselves and Awilda demonstrates this with successfully being a spiritual advisor, coach and yoga teacher.  The old adage "jack of all trades, master of none" seems to be going out of style ;) 
    • Here's her advice in pursuing more than one thing that you love:
      •  Depending on what your passions are, you may need to branch out separately.  In her case, all three passions weave together nicely.  Her partner's passions, on the other hand, do not.  He's a real estate agent and a gifted actor.  In his case, he needs to create a separate brand for each passion. 
  • One of her hardest lesson in chasing her dreams is that it required a lot more hard work and consistency that she thought.  She knew it’d be hard but it required much more consistency than she imagined, which ended up being a lesson in patience. "It’s a marathon not a sprint"
    • This lesson can really be expanded into all the different pursuits of heart callings whether it be finishing up that yoga teacher training or  clearing your junk drawer of emotions.  
    • No matter the journey, EFFORT, CONSISTENCY and PATIENCE are key. And you gotta do it with COMPASSION and SELF-CARE.
  • According to Awilda, if your business is really aligned with you (ex. your beliefs, values and intention; and mental and emotional well being) then the business will kind of take on a life of its own and could actually guide you.   
    • To listen to her business, she first looked at the biggest spectrum of who her passions can reach.  For her, this is what drove her because she’s always looking to improve the quality of what she has to offer and how she can add value to ultimately fulfill her why of trying to help other people succeed in what they love.
  • Yoga brings you closer to your own truth.  This is one of the biggest lessons that Awilda has learned.
  • Awilda is all about manifesting desires.  She explains that we can use the “whole package” of yoga – poses, meditation, philosophy (ie. 8 limbs) and mindfulness to help us
    • The practice helps you to slow down and become present.  She gives an example of a guitar - when you strum the right chord, the music radiates and attracts a sense of beauty.  With the wrong chord, well it just sounds all wrong.  
  • Mantras for manifesting what you want.  Here are a few of her recommendations.  The best way to do this is to use the ones whose energy resonates with. Say it out loud or silently to yourself.
    • To plug into the universe: SO HUM or I AM
    • For abundance:  Om Shri Maha Lakshmi Omaha

  • Mudras are like yoga for your hands and are also powerful ways to help you align your vibe. 
    • For abundance: Apan Mudra - Press your middle finger and ring finder to your thumb. Visualize planting seeds, watering them and growing bountiful crops and express gratitude to the universe.  You can also use the mantra “I sow seeds, nurture them and reap rich rewards.  With the universe’s help, I gratefully accept”.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Trust in yourself and believe in the mission of helping others.  Awilda finds that as long as she stays true to this and embodies it, she ends up growing and become more successful.

One nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are also on this journey of growth and transformation:

Be authentically you.  Your journey won’t be everyone’s cup of tea every single step of the way.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody and are living in truth, it will work itself out.


If you have any questions for Awilda or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:   www.awildarivera.com

Facebook:  Awilda Rivera Coach Yogi Spiritual Advisor

Instagram: @missawildarivera.com

LinkedIn: awildanrivera

Episode 40: What does Yoga Have to Do With Body Image? A Lot More Than You Think with Melanie Klein

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Melanie Klein is an empowerment coach, professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Moorpark Collect in Venura County, California, speaker, writer and thought leader in the areas of body confidence, authentic empowerment and visibility.  In addition to many other books she’s also the editor of the recently released, Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body.  She is passionate about the topic of contemporary body image politics and is making waves in creating a healthier, more positive perception of our body image.  She's been featured several times on Yoga International to talk about this topic and co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition in 2014.  YBI strives to provide accessible, body-positive yoga and reflects the full range of human diversity.

What an absolute thrill to talk to Melanie!!  This conversation expanded my understanding of how I relate to myself and I even had a breakthrough Aha moment (you'll definitely recognize when this is as you listen...I was ecstatic :) ).  I used to think of body image as a social issue and never considered its relation to yoga.  If I practice yoga, mindfulness and acceptance then surely I have a healthy body image right? No need to extricate this one specific thing from the big picture of accepting the whole self....right?  Turns out I was wrong.  Our body image is not only an outcome of our internal relationship with self but is also a product of the society, politics and history that shapes us.  It's so powerful that it dictates our self-worth.  It can even hold us back from reaching our full potential.  Yoga can be one of the most powerful tools to help us disentangle our distorted body image from our identities.  In this episode, Melanie and dig further in-depth into the topic of contemporary body image politics - what it is, how it affects all of us and what we can do about it, including how an authentic yoga practice can free us from the war we wage against our bodies.  Buckle in.  This one's a good one. 

Key Nuggets:

  • In taking a women’s study course in university, Melanie came to understand that the relationship with her body (a negative, distorted one marked by a lot of punishment and guilt) was not a defect of herself but rather something that she’d been taught all her life.  Not only was she influenced by the role models in her life, she’d been influenced by what was considered normative based on media. 
    • Media messages to be the right height, weight and shape encouraged her to buy happiness by purchasing products to "fix" those flaws.
  • When we compare ourselves to digitally photo-shopped bodies, we end up thinking that the difference between us and what we see in magazines are flaws.
    • So again, our relationship with our body image isn’t just us and our bodies.  It’s been influenced by a variety of factors:
      • The female role models that we grew up with.  How they related to their bodies may influence how we’ve developed a relationship with ours and even shape our perceptions of what the expectations are, even if they never explicitly shared their outlook with us.  As young people, we absorbed what we observed.
      •  Media – the portrayal of beauty in media is intoxicating and ubiquitous.  It becomes difficult to imagine anything different when that’s what we ever see.  This is especially true for young people who are just developing their identities.
        • This effect is even more prevalent in today's digitally connected world.  For Melanie, growing up in the 80s and 90s, there was an “off” time when you closed the magazine or turned off the tv.  Today, media is even more saturated with the growth of social media.  Facebook was only created in 2006 so when you think about it, a 16 year old today only knows of this world of 24/7 social media.  Makes it even harder to shift perceptions.
  • Melanie found her yoga practice to be a reprieve from the world of media.  Soon it became a sacred place for her where she could apply her knowledge of media, body image and socialization and actually shape a new reality when she practiced on the mat.  Instead of just thinking about what it’s like to be present, she’d practice it.  Instead of just thinking about body acceptance, she could just practice it on the mat.
  • One of the biggest shifts in Melanie’s perception that changed the way she related to her body was the realization that “I can be comfortable in my body”
    • Up until that point, she was always so uncomfortable in her body.  She kept thinking that she had to change or fix something.  There were insecurities and disappointments.   And then she realized that she didn’t have to be constantly at war with her body.  That it’s okay to be at peace; and the practice of yoga helped reinforce this new place.
  • This conversation spurred a major Aha Moment for me!  I realized that up until this point, I wasn't even able to disentangle my body image from my identity!  All my life, it seemed okay to constantly feel like I needed to change something about how I looked.  It was okay because it’s not like I hate my body, I just wanted to make it "better".  I didn’t even realize that, that's considered being uncomfortable in your body.    
  • So many women and girls don’t realize that they don’t need to be caught in the cycle of body dissatisfaction and that we can come to a place of satisfaction even when we carry a bit of extra weight, wrinkles, scars….
      •  We don’t need to “change” or “fix” anything.  We don’t need to buy the miracle product.  We just need to make the choice to stop waging war on ourselves and come to peace . Right. Now.
        • In turn this will change the perception that our self worth is determined by the number on the scale.  Change the value system.  Accept the truth of the moment.
      • When we say “perfect” or “want more” we’re usually measuring it against a conventional level of standard that doesn’t honor the diversity among human bodies.  It’s based on a certain body type, age, physical ability and race.  We are taught that we should strive for it and it’s normal.
        • By accepting rather than judging what we still need to work on, then we can open up ourselves to insights and move more deeply into our authentic power.
  • If we’re committed to a growth based life, we can expect that there’s always some area that we’re working on.  And if we can expect that, then we can meet it with joy and enthusiasm rather than see it as a failure.
  • Where the practice of yoga came in for Melanie is that it gave her the embodied component.  To her, yoga plus her intellectual understanding of body image politics went hand in hand.  
    • Loving your body isn’t just something you think about, you need to practice.  Yoga helps with this practice.  Linking breath and movement, giving you a new sense of your body.  Allowing you to experience your body in a different way.  Tunes into how it communicates to us; we learn our own natural rhhythms.
    • Then we come in to a relationship of mutual respect and trust with our bodies.  Yoga is one effective tool to help create positive body image and body peace.
  •  What’s important for us to know about the topic of contemporary body image politics is that our bodies are not separate from the world that we live in.  The way that our society operates and its politics impacts us physically. The social, political and historical realm that we exist in.  Our body image is a result of the role models around us as well as the larger systems.  It's stamped with the expectations of our society.
  • The false representation in media of the “perfect” body makes us feel small and insignificant.  It lowers our self esteem and self value.  That transfers to our entire being because then we end up keeping ourselves small, silent and we don’t show up the way we would if we would if we felt radiant, confident and at peace.
    • An important question to consider is: What are the costs when we have a negative self image of ourselves?
  • If we’re feeling bad about ourselves, aren't we taking time to cultivate our gifts and sharing it out to the world.  If we’re feeling self-conscious and lamenting over all the parts of us that need to be “fixed” and that becomes what we put our main focus on.  We become invisible and unwilling to show up for ourselves and the world.  We don't reach our full potential!
  • For people who really want to reach their full potential and become self actualized, it’s difficult if they're at war with their bodies.  If we become at peace with our bodies then we can work on all those other things.
  • We’ve been told that our primary worth is how we look (especially girls).  Being exposed to this from a young age, we’ve internalized it. But there's a way out!  Reject those standards and values.
    • Consider that we live in a world of social constructs and that we can deconstruct and reconstruct.  We’re not doomed to live in the way that we’ve grown up with – hating our bodies, feeling low self confidence…
    • The change in conversation about body image has already brought change.  For example, retailers are offering larger sizes and shifting their standards
  • We get to choose our own value system and choose our own beauty paradigm
    • One way to do this is pay attention to the media that you’re taking in.  When Melanie started to bring awareness on what media she was consuming, her definition of beauty broadened - for herself and how she saw others’ beauty.
  • Yoga can also be a powerful tool in developing a positive body image.  The  yoga that you choose to practice (meditation, vinyasa...) will be personal; but the key is coming to present moment and accept it for what it is. That’s where the peace begins.
  • Also important to understand the difference between yoga practice, yoga culture and yoga business.  We need to understand these differences to access the true gifts of what yoga has to offer.
    • Yoga practice is the authentic practice. The practice of mindfulness, present moment, breath...it's accessible to everyone and does not exclude body size, age, or physical ability.
    • Yoga culture includes everything around the practice – the products, memes, clothes, representation.
    • Yoga business is how corporations, advertisers and product developers have monetized from the practice.  Ex. Practicing in exclusive spaces, representation of the yoga body.
    • Yoga culture and business makes us seem like we can buy our identity as a yogi.  It takes us further from the authentic practice of awareness.
  • The most important thing we can do in shifting the body image is to be an open and receptive listener. Allow yourself to be moved by others’ stories and find points of connection with the rest of humanity.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Allow yourself to receive the beauty of your lived experience.  The beauty includes the good, the bad and the ugly - see it all as a gift that you are alive and here now and make the most of every moment.

One nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation:

The continued effort, work, challenges and obstacles are all worth it. Once you reach the other side, it opens you up to a realm of new possibilities.  There will always be something to work on and each step you take will open you up to more joy and possibility.

Interview Links:

If you have any questions for Melanie or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website: ybicoalition.com 



Instagram: @melmelklein

Episode 39: Yoga-ing Even Before It Was Cool with Marla Meenakshi Joy

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Marla Meenakshi Joy, Owner and Director of Downward Dog Yoga Centre, spent years in the Himalayas studying Meditation, Sanskrit and Yoga Philosophy.  She’s been studying meditation and the philosophy of the Vedas since 1988.  She began teaching in 1999 in Teacher Training programs across Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia, as a teacher of Philosophy and Sanskrit, Chanting and Meditation, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga, and Restorative Yoga.  Wait, there’s more!  She’s also a celebrated song-stress and leads Kirtan with her band SWAHA. 

What a pleasure it was to have a conversation with this soul that’s been steeping in the wisdom of yoga, continuing to expand her growth year after year.  What’s really interesting is hearing what the yoga scene was like 30 years ago.  In this episode, Marla shares her yoga journey from being a young 19 year old who went off to the Himalayas and finally found “home” in her yoga practice to the influential teacher/yoga studio owner/songstress that she is today.  We catch tidbits of her wisdom along the way as we take dips into understanding ashtanga vinyasa yoga, the Vedas, Kirtan and more.  Amongst the tools she shares are mantras to help clear the way, remove fear and reconnect to your true nature.


Books recommended by Marla:

Yoga Mala by Pattahbi Jois

  • Knowledge on Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
  • Understand the cleansing process in the body as a result of practicing this type of yoga

Learn more about mantras: Thomas Ashley-Farrand's Books 

  • Marla’s mantra recommendations:
    • To Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.  Use this to clear the way for your day: “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
    • To Durga, the protectress goddess.  Use this to help remove fear: “Om dum durgayei namaha”
    • An abstract mantra that’s not associated with any deity or any form.  A universal mantra – the mantra of the breath. It repeats itself on every inhalation and exhalation naturally.  Use this one to be reminded of your true nature and reality: "So Hum" Translated, it means “all that there is, is me or I am all that there is”
      •   Inhale: SO
      • Exhale: HUM

Key Nuggets:

  • Part of the practice of yoga is to contemplate the question "What is my true nature?"
    • Once you find the answer of what your true nature is then it becomes about deepening that understanding at all levels; and that’s where our practice of meditation practice comes in.
  • Advaita Vedanta – non dual philosophy of yoga.  Based on this philosophy, there's an underlying oneness despite our perception of duality.  How do we get to that core of the oneness in nature?  Everything that we sense in the world will tell it that it’s separate from us.  To get to the core, we need to go within and get silent to understand it. If we don’t do the deeper practice, we end up wit intellectual knowledge but not experiential wisdom.
  • Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
    • Richard Freeman brought the first exposure of this type of yoga in 1995
    • Consists of six series of movements, each series more advanced than the next.
    • Involves cleansing of the organs for each posture, concentration through your gaze, pranayama (breath practice) within the movements and vinyasa to link each pose elegantly
    • As a result of this practice, it changes the energy in your body and nervous system
    • One of the advantages of practicing the same sequence over and over is that it allows your mind to shut off and you can just get into the moves
    •  If you want to do more of a free flow class, you can create a sequence around the primary series.
  • Marla’s top concepts that she tries to live by everyday:
    •  Come from a place of love
    •  Begin day with Sadahana (a daily spiritual practice) so that you give yourself space to fill your cup (and in turn have enough to fill others' as well).
      • Marla’s Sadahana: puja (ritual offerings) to deities, meditation, pranayama, asana 
    • Continuation of expansion on the path of self reflection
  • The Vedas
    •  “Vedas” means knowledge
    •  It comes out from a time period where the great seers revealed wisdom that they channeled. 
    • Overtime, many different branches of philosophies has blossomed but ultimately the teaching comes from the well of knowledge that we are all one. 
    • Where vedas and what we know as yoga in the western world connects is that the asanas (the poses), which serves as a great start into the more heart centered aspect.  Once the seed is planted, the community, teachers and practice that you surround yourself will eventually lead you to bloom into the deeper inquiries.  Usually the next inquiry is the breath work and then meditation. Maybe even eventually getting into chanting and mantras.
  • Kirtan
    • Comes from the root word “kirt” which means to celebrate, glorify and describe.  That’s why there is a sense of story.
    • Usually done as a call and response performance
    • Joy and bliss comes from the practice
    • Bypass the mind and transported into the heart
  • Kirtan versus chanting
    • Kirtan is specifically a collective call and response performance.  On the other hand, chanting can be done in a variety of ways - you can chant a mantra, sutra, scripture or a prayer; they could be short or long; they can be done alone or with others.
  • Mantras can help shift our energy, and the shift is different depending on if you're chanting externally versus internally.  Can help bring you deeper into meditation when done internally.
  • Marla’s mantra recommendations:
    • To Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.  Use this to clear the way for your day: “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
    • To Durga, the protectress goddess.  Use this to help remove fear: “Om dum durgayei namaha”
    • An abstract mantra that’s not associated with any deity or any form.  A universal mantra – the mantra of the breath. It repeats itself on every inhalation and exhalation naturally.  Use this one to be reminded of your true nature and reality: "So Hum" Translated, it means “all that there is, is me or I am all that there is” 
      •   Inhale: SO
      • Exhale: HUM

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

This path of enlightenment is something that really takes daily work, effort, and practices in order to allow it to unfold within yourself.  Have humility along the path because we are human and we mess up.  Be humble enough to reflect, apologize first,  and grow.   

One nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are also on this journey of growth and transformation:

Keep finding ways to open your heart and drop the monkey mind into your heart as much as you can. Cultivate compassion for yourself and in turn you’ll be able to turn it to others.  The practices that yoga gives us should be melting the heart.  If your yoga practice seems to be hardening you, take another look at it.  Unhappiness comes from disconnecting with self.  

There are two choices in this world: love or fear.

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real                  


If you have any questions for Marla or want to learn more, connect with her through:


Music: www.swaha.ca 

Yoga Studio (Toronto, Canada): www.downwarddog.com

Email:   info@swaha.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marla.m.joy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meenakshiswaha

Twitter: https://twitter.com/meenakshiswaha