Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Measure of a Woman

Every Wednesday on social media, there's a big movement called "Woman Crush Wednesday" -- which has become this awesome platform where thousands (if not millions!) of people shout out their biggest female inspirations, or girl crushes of the moment. It got me thinking about what it means to be a woman in today's world -- where the pressure is sky-high to balance work, family, your body, your friendships, your passions, etc. There's no question that right now, at this point in history, women simultaneously have the most pressure and also the most support of any generation that's ever lived. This double-edge sword often leaves us feeling conflicted and unsure of how exactly we want to live our lives. 

For this reason, I so value movements like #WCW and #goddessrising that help raise women up so that we can ALL collectively feel supported, inspired and necessary. May the girls of our generation start to value the elders, the wise, the seasoned, and look to them for guidance. May we understand that the measure of a woman doesn't come from a fleeting place of external beauty, or number of followers, but from a more profound place of having lived life to its fullest, having taken BIG leaps of faith when necessary, and having learned some tough, yet essential lessons along the way.

"The women whom I most admire in the world are those who have lived long and survived much. They have been through love, amazement, loss, catastrophe, sorrow. Most of all, though, they have been through DISAPPOINTMENT — and they have each individually found a way to live through it. 

Not only have they lived through disappointment; they came out on the other side much stronger as a result, having earned perspective, endurance, and wisdom through their trials.

One of the biggest misconceptions about women is that we cannot survive disappointment — because who among us — after a certain number of years of existence — has not been terribly disappointed? By love, by loss, by pain, by life itself?

Yet we are still here. Still here, and, if anything, stronger as we get older. Stronger for all that we have passed through. This is the truth that all the greatest old women know, deep in their bones.

The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it.

Those women are my SUPERHEROES."

-- Elizabeth Gilbert

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Zen Girl's Guide to Valle de Guadalupe -- 2015 Edition

Last summer, I wrote the first Zen Girl's Guide to Valle de Guadalupe with all my insider tips and tricks on where to stay, what to eat and what to do while visiting Mexico's famous wine country, located just two hours south of San Diego, California. Since then, I've been lucky enough to travel down there at least once a month for special vineyard events, bachelorette parties, surf trips-turned-wine tasting adventures, and my very own vino and vinyasa-inspired 29th birthday bash last May. Each time, I fall more and more in love with this little slice of heaven.

Since writing the 2014 edition of my guide to Valle de Guadalupe, I've been contacted many times asking for my personal recommendations on the region. Email inquiries typically go something like this:

Do you feel safe? Yes, 100% absolutely. At first, I would only travel down there with my husband and other guy friends. Now, I frequently take girls-only trips so we don't have to deal with the guys slowing us down.

What's it like? My favorite way to describe Valle de Guadalupe is -- "think: Tuscany, with Tequila" or "Where else in the world can you enjoy merlot, menudo AND mezcal, all in the same day?!" :) All jokes aside, it's hard to explain the magic of this place, and I think that's precisely what makes it so special. If you're more of a visual person, take a few minutes and watch this amazing video by the VagaBrothers.

Why should I go? For my ocean and surf-loving amigos, it takes a lot to pry them away from the beach for too long, so I remind them that you can stay at the beach, get in a morning surf sesh, go wine tasting all day (it's only a 45 minute drive) and still fall asleep to the waves. Also, it's helpful to remember that all the best wine-growing regions in the world are located near the ocean. Think Napa, Chile, South Africa, Australia, Tuscany, etc. The fact that we have an award-winning one in our very own southern California backyard is worth a visit. Over the last year, I've taken over 50 people to Valle de Guadalupe for their very first time and not one of them has regretted it. In fact, I often get sent photos of them returning a few weeks later, taking a group of newbies on their own. #soproud

And lastly, my favorite question of all . . . "Hey Mandy! I want to go to that Mexico wine country place you're always going to. What should I eat/see/do and oh yea, where should I stay?"


Valle de Guadalupe is growing and expanding its offerings at an astronomical pace. Whereas a few years ago, there were only a handful of small, boutique-style hotels that booked up weeks in advance, now a variety of options and price-points are readily available to visitors.

A few of my classic favorites that have stood the test of time are:
listed in order of least to most expensive

Hotel Boutique: a great kid/family-friendly option, with a delicious restaurant called Fuego on-site
- Adobe Guadalupe: perfect for a romantic getaway; horse lovers will adore taking a ride on their gorgeous Aztecas
- Encuentro Guadalupe: ideal for the traveler who appreciates eco-minimalist architecture and refined luxury

My current *new* favorite places to stay:

Glamping: a collection of 1960s airstreams located near Hacienda La Lomita vineyard
- Terra del Valle: an adorable bed and breakfast, next to Baron Balche; day spa nearby!
- Rancho las Orquideas: perfectly designed spacious cabins with the nicest hosts
- Finca la Divina: coming soon! San Diego Magazine was the first to announce the highly anticipated boutique hotel by renowned Valle chef, Javier Plascencia, founder of Little Italy's newest hot-spot, Bracero Cocina. This 3 bedroom retreat-style getaway will have on-site wine tasting, a heated pool and jacuzzi and option to have your meals delivered from his nearby famous restaurant, Finca Altozano. I can't wait to stay here! Rumor has it, reservations will open next week. 


Here is a typical one-day itinerary I put together for my first-time Valle visitors:

- Hire a private driver: if you are a couple who can splurge a little, or going with a group, definitely splurge on a driver for the day, you can relax completely and will be so happy you did!
- First stop: wine tasting at Montefiori
- Next wine tasting: Finca la Carrodilla, pictured above, doing yoga on their wine barrels :)
- Lunch at Traslomita, pictured below, my birthday lunch was heavenly!
- Private Tasting at Trevista Vinyeards, the owners Hilda and Jim are dear friends of mine and the best hosts you'll ever meet! If you're lucky he'll let you take his cherished tractor for a joy ride (pictured below)
- Sunset cocktails at Encuentro Guadalupe, I recommend something with mezcal at this point! Encuentro has the best view in all of the Valle, and a helicopter for amazing sky tours. It literally took my breath away.
- Dinner at Deckman's en el Mogor, the 6 course pre-fixe chef's choice is a guaranteed culinary journey!
- Still thirsty? Nightcap at La Gotera. It's a secret local spot, ask around :)

Until next time, Valle de Guadalupe!

Thanks to Fernando Gaxiola from Baja Wine + Food for being my Mexico mentor and to the Valle de Guadalupe blog for being my constant source of up-to-date info and happenings.

Feel free to contact me if you want a help with a personalized itinerary or have any questions!

For more on my BAJA MEXICO adventures, check out these past posts -- 

Monday, September 7, 2015

An Ode to SUMMER 2015

You will need green juice and sunsets and spontaneous road trips. 

Tequila and passports and old songs with new meanings. 

You'll need to laugh until you cry while streaking under the moon in Mexico. 

Goddess cards and flash tats and late night conversations that reveal your purpose in life. 

You'll need to dance til the sun comes up and embrace the awkwardness of turning from a girl into a woman. 

Above all, you will need your people. YOUR TRIBE. 

You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else. 

A living, breathing, screaming invitation to see the beauty in yourself and to believe in better things.

valle de guadalupe, mexico ~ memorial day 2015 

As I watched the sun set just now on Labor Day - September 7th 2015, I'm reflecting on what a truly growth-filled summer it has been. From this wild moment back in May gallivanting around Baja Wine Country with our mascot Faviana the Falmingo to watching the famous California green flash susnet at home in La Jolla, soooo much has happened. I've taken big risks professionally and personally -- pushing myself to achieve goals I never thought possible. But none of this would have been possible without these girls by my side. 

Summer 2015 reminded me of the power of sisterhood and surrounding yourself with people who see the light in you. Who encourage you to live the life of your dreams and (I'm starting to think this is the most important part) -- who clap when you win. 

One of the hardest things in life, I think, is to be truly happy when good things happen to other people. To view their success from the outside and not have an ounce of envy or view it as a reflection of what you don't have. To wish nothing but the best for others and MEAN IT. I feel so lucky to have found girlfriends that embody this. Kathryn, Kristy, Leslie, Jenny (and so many more that aren't pictured above) keep me grounded in love and encourage me to fly. 

Summer 2015 -- thank you. 

// the poem above is my zen-girl-remix of Jamie Tworkowski's famous "to write love on her arms" //

Saturday, September 5, 2015

What is spiritual strength?

Spiritual strength comes from fighting the tough battles. 

From speaking your truth even when no one wants to hear it. 

From living your dreams even when it makes other people uncomfortable because they haven't tapped into their inner light yet. 

But we all have this ability deep inside of us. 

To feel beautiful amongst the ugly parts of life. 

To find unshakable inner peace even when our world is spinning out of control. 

All you need is your breath. And a smile. And a good friend to remind you that YOU ARE MAGIC!

- Mandy Burstein

* I wrote these words in June 2015 during a particularly hard time in my life, when nothing really made sense, but a dear friend came along and reminded me that you can be beautiful amongst the ugly parts of life. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Years Yoga Retreat


we should love ourselves so fiercely

that when others see us, 

they know exactly 

how it should be done." 

This will be the theme of our New Years in the Jungle retreat. Cleansing, healing, rejuvenating, self-love yoga and excursions to push you past your fears into a place of radical acceptance. A once in a lifetime chance to explore the depths of the soul in Sayulita, Mexico and step into the new year loving yourself like the QUEEN you are. 

A New Years Retreat unlike any other -- we will literally ring in 2016 together! There's no one else I would rather create this with than my girl Jade Alectra, founder of the #womanpoetry movement and all-around beautiful goddess healer. Together, she and I will take you on an epic journey back to yourself, drawing lessons from the dark days to help shine light into new spaces of your heart. We will release fear and dive deep into the practice of true, unfiltered self-love. This will be my 10th time leading a yoga retreat in Mexico, so I'm pulling out all the stops! My favorite jungle and ocean adventures that have healed and inspired me over the years are now my offering to you. 

December 30 - January 3
wednesday - sunday
5 days, 4 nights
Sayulita, Mexico

Your Retreat Package Includes: 
  • 4 nights stay at boutique eco-luxury retreat center 
  • Round trip transport from Puerto Vallarta Airport (PVR)
  • All local taxes, fees and staff gratuity
  • Yoga classes with inspired teachers Jade Leblanc (@jadealectra) and Mandy Burstein (@zengirlmandy)
  • SUP Yoga class + ocean adventure day 
  • Organic breakfast + green smoothies every morning
  • 4 delicious group dinners, including a special New Years Eve feast on the beach with fireworks
  • One massage with Mandy's personal shaman healer -- this guy is GOOD! :)
  • The following excursions are also included in the package price:
    - one native sweat lodge temazcal ceremony to release the energy of 2015
    - one New Years Day group hike through the jungle to a sacred blue mud beach to set intentions and start 2016 from a beautiful, open, intentional place. > preview here <

What's not included?
your flight; additional spa treatments or excursions not listed above; lunch
(we leave mid-day open to explore town and show you our favorite local taco stands and beach bars)

please note: retreat deposits are non-refundable. final balance due by December 1, 2015.

Meet Your Hosts

Mandy Burstein -- Having grown up all around the world, Mandy blends her love of travel and adventure to create amazing, unforgettable yoga retreats. She has guided over 100 students on retreats to Mexico and is completely in love with the country, as it has healed her personally and challenged her professionally. Mandy teaches powerful vinyasa flow, stand-up paddleboard yoga and deeply restorative yoga, all concentrated around the theme of self-love and empowerment. 

Jade Alectra -- After finding yoga in her darkest of hours, Jade realized the healing powers of the practice and became a certified yoga instructor. A passionate runner and all-around talented athlete, Jade teaches a unique, dynamic physical asana practice. She challenges her students to go to their edge, helping them find a deeper sense of self-love and self-respect. She is excited to explore the jungles of Sayulita, Mexico and welcome 2016 with a dedicated tribe of fellow seekers. Read Mandy's entire interview with Jade here.  

Current Availability

PRIVATE ROOM - $1399 per person - SOLD OUT!
(private room with your own bathroom and kitchen. one large king bed)

SHARED ROOM - $1199 per person - SOLD OUT!
(private room with bathroom and kitchen. 2 queen beds in each room, 2 people total)

* Thank you for your interest in our New Years Yoga Retreat. As of 8/25/15, the retreat is officially at full capacity. We are overwhelmed with gratitude and so excited for this unique experience! Please email Mandy ( if you would like to be put on a wait list or notified about future opportunities. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

FLASH GIVEAWAY -- Temple Turmeric Gift Basket!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Turmeric should be in everyone's diet! I'm no doctor, but I have learned one simple, irrefutable fact in my years studying yoga, nutrition and healthy living -- our typical Western diets cause massive inflammation in the body, which can cause illness and disease. Remember learning about pH balance in high school chemistry? One too many droplets in the beaker and explosion central! Our bodies are just as delicate. 

A simple formula to remember is you need to be slighlty alkaline for your body to be functioning at its highest potential. In order to do that, you need to cut back on highly acidic foods like: fatty red meats, processed/canned foods, refined carbohydrates, cow's milk, high sugar juices, etc. Introduce more alkaline-based foods into your diet like: leafy greens, whole grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables, raw manuka honey, ginger and turmeric. Affectionately referred to at the "Queen of Spices", turmeric is a natural, powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It's most famous for treating digestion issues, arthritis, muscles aches, and reducing inflammation in the body. It's even been used for the treatment of cancers and severe rheumatoid arthritis. 

This month, I am so proud to partner with Temple Turmeric, a conscious company that creates delicious turmeric-based nourishing beverages called elixirs using only non-GMO ingredients. The turmeric they source is grown in Hawaii and is of the highest quality on the market today. I'm so excited to give away a variety pack of Temple Turmeric elixirs so you can sample all their unique flavors, along with a special 6 pack of their new Super Tonics called PURE PRANA

This gift pack is valued at around $75 and exclusive to my amazing ZEN GIRL readers. Just enter the giveaway below and you'll be in the running! This is a flash giveaway that begins Thursday, August 13 and ends Friday night. Winner will be announced on Saturday. Good luck!

Namaste xoxo,

a Rafflecopter giveaway

update 8/15/15: winner announced! congratulations ALYSON WRIGHT!
(please contact me via email to collect your Temple Turmeric gift basket)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Secret San Diego - Adobe Falls

When I think of the word "adventure" my mind immediately wanders to far away lands with thatched-roof palapas and turquoise waters. Only recently have I started exploring my own backyard, and am so amazed with the magical little finds you can stumble upon in San Diego.

This week, my 17 year old sister is visiting me for her last summer trip before she heads to college in the Fall. Over the last few months, we've schemed up a variety of plans for our few days together. We tried to rent a VW Bus and drive all up and down the California coast. Then, we realized neither of us drive stick. We plotted a trip to Los Angeles to hike the Hollywood sign, then her flight got delayed and re-routed so that plan was foiled. As a last-ditch effort, we even considered a road trip out to Joshua Tree, then realized that the Mojave Desert is pushing 115 degrees in August. Scratch that from the list immediately! With time running out and our viable options dwindling fast, we started googling hidden San Diego and secret San Diego adventures. We came across one that made us both wide-eyed and giddy with excitement: Adobe Creek Falls -- known as the only year-round waterfall in San Diego County. There is relatively little information online about this "secret" hiking destination, so it took us three tries to actually find it, but once we did, it was AMAZING. If you want to attempt this hike, be prepared for many twists and turns and laughs along the way, which is all part of the adventure right?!

Luckily, we found an article in the San Diego Reader, that was written in 1997 yet somehow is still extremely relevant and pointed us in the exact right direction. Adobe Falls is located in East County, near the College Avenue exit by San Diego State University. I attended SDSU and lived all 4 years on campus, yet somehow never heard of this little gem. Technically, it's illegal to go there, since it's private campus property. I've heard rumors of people getting trespassing citations, yet considering that it's August, school's out of session, and we went there on a quiet Thursday morning, I figured we were in the clear. And if not, my little sis would have a fun story to tell her friends the first week of college!  Insider tip: after you experience the waterfalls, continue hiking further another half a mile until you arrive at the secret tunnel. It's full of amazing grafitti and is a perfect photo op.

My advice: do not go on a Saturday or Sunday, especially during the college school year. Keep a low profile, be nice to the neighbors, and pick up trash on your hike back out. Be respectful of the land and hopefully we can all keep enjoying this hidden treasure for years to come!

Here is a photojournal of our "Secret San Diego" hike to Adobe Creek Falls -- 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This Saturday -- Join The One Love Movement!

On August 8th, we'll raise the vibration here in San Diego by connecting through yoga, meditation, and ​by giving back because we can, and by coming together as ONE. Please join us for The One Love Movement's 4th annual charity yoga event for under-served kids! 

According to event organizer, my friend Kim Bauman, "The One Love Movement is all about inspiring others to want to serve their heart in a way that fits them. We all have our own cause and our own thing that tugs at our heart. For me, it's under-privileged kids, for you it might be saving the whales, and no cause is better than the other, the intention is that we inspire a community that gives back through action."

Once a year, Kim rallies the best yoga teachers and a devoted local yoga community to throw the most amazing yoga charity event in southern California. This time last year, right before her last event, we sat down and chatted about her journey. Kim answered some very personal questions and shared her beautiful story. Read the entire interview here. 

Join us for The One Love Movement's 4th annual charity yoga event, Saturday, August 8th. For full details and to purchase tickets for this Saturday's event go to

Use promo code: ONELOVE to save $5!  Let's come together ​and mak​e​ a difference for under privileged ​kids! Live music performance by: ​DJ Drez & Marti Nikko, featuring global yoga teachers Taylor Harkness, MacKenzie Miller, Jaysea DeVoe, Kim Bauman, Heather Peterson, Britta Rael, and Andrew Sealy. 

*This weekend at Bird Rock Yoga, we are hosting more intimate workshops with Taylor Harkness and MacKenzie Miller, in collaboration with The One Love Movement. Backbends on Friday night with Taylor, followed by Arm Balances and Inversions with MacKenzie on Sunday. It's going to be an incredible #ONELOVE weekend! Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 3, 2015

12 Hours in Tijuana

Tijuana, Mexico is a special place. Just saying its name out loud, you're bound to get an immediate reaction from people. Ranging from deathly afraid to excited and intrigued, the city's complicated past brings out fierce emotion in people. I've lived in San Diego since I was 15 years old and my high school days included frequent weekend trips down to "TJ" for family parties and quinceaƱeras. Flash forward to my 20's and Tijuana was completely off limits. Baja California, in general, became the wild wild west and only the most daring surfers were crazy enough to drive down in search of perfect, empty waves. In my mid-twenties, I found myself in a tribe of those crazed surfers who were obsessed with Baja. Strict travel warnings and horror stories of kidnappings were no match for their passion and dedication to the ocean. Still to this day, we road-trip down to Baja at least once a month for the past 7 years, and yet Tijuana remains only a pass-through, over-looked and not quite understood. 

Until now . . .

With happy, nostalgic memories of hopping around Tijuana as a teenager fresh in my mind, I felt inspired and almost compelled now as an adult to give the city another chance. Baja's wine country, Valle de Guadalupe has recently received international acclaim and now, more people than ever are venturing south of the border. I've led 3 yoga retreats to Baja in the past 12 months and am always on the look-out, scouting the up-and-coming hot spots in Mexico that haven't quite been discovered yet. This past Friday, the stars aligned and the opportunity to explore the city presented itself. A little work, and A LOT of play led to one of the best trips of my life!

 A quick break-down: we crossed the border around 2pm; went straight to Erizo Baja, a famous ceviche spot by superstar chef Javier Plascencia (everything was amazing!), followed by a stop at Cerveceria Insurgente (a tasting room & restaurant that carries tons of local and international beers on tap -- perfect for the cerveza lovers!), and then stopped into a gorgeous restaurant called Verde y Crema. Along the way, we heard that the season opener for beloved Tijuana soccer team XOLOS was kicking off at 7pm and we couldn't miss it. We grabbed a taxi over to Caliente Stadium and got the last few tickets available. At $45 a pop, the experience was worth every single pesos. Fireworks, mariachi, singing and dancing (even though we lost!) was the best way to celebrate on a Friday night. We grabbed late-night street tacos and tortas on the way back to the border and were back home in La Jolla by 2 AM. We felt 100% safe and are already planning the next trip down. 

Side Note: I should probably mention that the "we" in this adventure is myself, and my 2 very blonde girlfriends Jenny and Leslie. 3 girls running around the city, eating like queens, dancing with strangers in the stadium and absolutely loving life. Ladies and gentleman -- I'm here to tell you that TIJUANA IS BACK and better than ever!

Here is a photojournal of our 12 Hours in Tijuana -- 

my favorite part?
creativity is just ooozing from the city. beautiful street art, interesting culinary creations and the use of all fresh, locally harvested fish and meats are super inspiring. 

want to plan your own adventure in Tijuana?

bienvenida a Tijuana -- general info on the arts & culture scene
club tengo hambre -- a roving supper club with amazing guided tours
baja wine and food -- an expert in all things gastronomic, follow them on social media for the hottest spots and carefully curated experiences

Friday, July 31, 2015

30 Day Summer Yoga Challenge -- #MermaidYogis are you in?

Summer 2015 is in full swing and the ocean is calling! Grab your yoga mat or stand-up paddle board  and head outside for some salty, sandy yoga fun. This August, we challenge you to 30 days of mermaid shenanigans. Reconnect with your inner ocean goddess and learn a few new things along the way. The #mermaidyogis challenge is a great opportunity to re-dedicate yourself to your yoga practice, prioritize your personal health and well-being, and become a part of our tribe. 

We've hosted 3 month-long mermaid challenges in the past, and each one has been incredible! I've personally gotten to connect with fellow ocean-loving yoga girls all around the world. From Australia, the UK, South Africa, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada and all over the US, women who feel a deep connection to the sea are joining together for 30 days of community, support, sisterhood, growth and connection through yoga. 

  1. Repost the collage above on your Instagram and Facebook and tag #MermaidYogis
  2. Post once daily from August 1-30 – a video or creative photo of the pose of the day. If you miss a day, no worries. Just catch up before September 2!
  3. Tag hosts in all posts – @stoked_yogi, @zengirlmandy, @janalyn.rose, @seavibesyoga
  4. Tag sponsors – @gracedbygrit, @glidesup, @mandukayoga, @colorescience, @twistedguru, @rawelementsusa, @bodyglovegirl, @bloominglotusjewelry, @thebeautyofhandmade
  5. Be creative, have fun, and remember that this movement is meant to help you LOVE your practice, connect with the ocean, and most importantly -- LOVE yourself! Check in with us hosts daily pose instructions.


Want more?

Mermaid Meditations
 -- free guided mantras and meditations inspired by the sea. 
Themes are: Acceptance; Confidence; Self Care and Moon Meditation. Watch them here.

Mermaid Retreats -- magical things happen when we step away from technology, breathe with nature, and laugh out loud with new friends. I'm constantly designing new experiences to help women fall in love with themselves and their lives again. Check here for my upcoming retreats!

So ... are you up for the challenge? 
Comment below if you will join us August 1st for a whole month of #mermaidyogis fun! 
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