Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zen Girl's Guide to Yelapa, Mexico

There's a famous saying, I'd rather have a palapa in Yelapa than a condo in Redondo. It made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. Being from Southern California myself, I can tell you honestly that the condo's not so bad. Live any close proximity to the ocean, and I consider that blessed. But, it did get me thinking about exploring this little-known gem of a fishing village tucked away in the Mexican Pacific coast. I've been traveling in and out of the Puerto Vallarta aiport consistently for the last four years. Usually, as soon as we land in PV, I high-tail straight up north to the bohemian pueblo de amor of Sayulita (in the Mexican state Nayarit) where I teach yoga and lead adventure retreats. Rarely ever do I get to venture south of Vallarta. But, having heard rumors of magical jungle hikes through tribal land to giant waterfalls, and it being Bob Dylan's personal shelter from the storm in the 1970s, where he would retreat and find new creative inspiration, I finally took the opportunity to travel to Yelapa and see for myself what the hype is all about.

After spending 5 days there, I can tell you that I'm so happy I went. And you should too! Yelapa has something for everyone. The most rustic jungle lodges are nestled adjacent to luxuriously elegant villas. The all-day hikers and explorers share stories and margaritas at night with the sandy beach bums who never moved an inch all day. There's a palapa in Yelapa for everybody -- and that's just part of its charm. Here's my step-by-step guide of this world-class travel destination that you've probably never heard of . . .

1) How to Get There: After an easy 3 hour direct flight from San Diego, the adventure begins. Yelapa is only accessible by boat, so if you're not comfortable embracing the life aquatica, then this definitely is not the place for you. You catch a water taxi from either Los Muertos pier in Vallarta or from Boca de Tomatlan pier. From Muertos, it's about an hour boat ride to Yelapa; from Boca about 30 minutes. Grab a few cervazas before you hop on the water taxi (be sure to hook your boat driver up with one!) and it's all smiles as locals and tourists become friends on the high seas.

Once you arrive, you'll realize that the town has never been touched by vehicles, and there is a certain serenity to the fact that everything moves at a leisurely pace. No rush is the mantra in Yelapa.

2) Where to Stay: Hotel Lagunitas was the perfect fit for us. Charming and minimalist, with sand at our doorstep. Most places in Yelapa have little to no internet access, especially the higher you go into the jungle, so we chose Lagunitas specifically because there is a bit of reliable WiFi in the hotel reception. That came in handy big-time when my husband got an urgent work email during our stay, and was able to FaceTime with his business partner. All in all, it was the perfect place to kick back and watch some amazing sunsets from bed.

Oceanfront palapas on the north beach, ranging from $90-$130 per night. (more info here)

3) What to Do: After two days of laying face-down in the sand and having our margaritas replenished every hour, on the hour, it was time to move around! Yelapa has miles and miles of dense jungle that is just begging to be explored. Its most famous hiking trails lead to its 2 signature waterfalls. The first, most accessible waterfall is located a short 20 minute hike from town. That one was OK but over-run with tourists --meaning there were about 12 people ther. We had heard rumors of the second, more important waterfall, some locals called it Cascada Catedral, located a 2 hour hike deep into the jungle, each way. There are no markers and no signs, just some shady, contradicting directions we had received from a variety of hotel staff. We were down for the adventure, so we put on real shoes for the first time in days and set out to explore. We soon found out that people live along about 75% of the trail, up until you get really deep into the jungle, so just smile and ask for directions and they'll point you along until you need more help, and someone else will appear. It was a crazy experience, where we came across tons of sketchy wildlife (including coming face to face with multiple Coati -- a giant orange raccoon creature) but arriving at this huge mystical waterfall and feeling the vibrational healing of the earth and water elements colliding was so worth it.

4) Where to Eat -- put this on your bucket list, immediately! Ocean Grill is my new favorite spot to recommend to anyone that loves the mash-up of adventure and rustic luxury. It's reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast in the summertime, with a touch of European flavor and that amazing Mexican hospitality. There are only 3 reservations per day, so you must book online in advance of coming. Do not try to just show up in a water taxi -- we saw multiple people get turned away, even in yachts! The owners are down-to-earth and treat everyone with equally impeccable service, as long as you respect their policy of pre-booking. Once you're there, you'll understand why. Absolutely everything is hand-made or brought in from nearby. The octopus and oysters were caught off the pier and they want everyone to have enough space and time to enjoy the property. After eating the most delicious meal, you have time to explore the private beach and jungle on-site. The last water taxi leaves Ocean Grill at 5pm, so take the earliest reservation possible to enjoy this unique concept to the fullest.

5) A Special Treat: When I go back to Yelapa one day, I'll make sure to treat myself to a stay at Xinalani, or maybe even bring a yoga retreat group there. This award-winning center is tucked away on a private beach a few minutes boat ride north of Yelapa, near Boca de Tomatlan. This is the mecca for yoga, meditation and healing treatments in the area. Drop in for a personal stay or hop onto one of their existing yoga retreats and indulge.

Everything about our trip to Yelapa was a beautiful contradiction and stimulating to the senses. The warm smiles of the local people, the delicious fresh caught fish, the laid-back pace, mixed with the intensity of the jungle that draws you in deeper and deeper until you find exactly what you are looking for.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Meet Zen Girl of the Month: Jade Alectra

"I will teach my daughter not to wear her skin like a drunken apology. I will tell her ‘make a home out of your body, live in yourself, do not let people turn you into a regret, do not justify yourself. If you are a disaster it is not forever, if you are a disaster you are the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. Do not deconstruct from the inside out, you belong here, you belong here, not because you are lovely, but because you are more than that." - Azra Tabassum  

If you follow Jade Alectra online, you are bound to be stopped in your tracks by some deliciously written words like these at least once a day. Jade frequently and passionately shares the writings of today's most articulate (and largely undiscovered) female poets like Azra T, Caitlyn Siehl and Nayyirah Waheed, just to name a few. She utilizes their musings as a foundation for sharing her own truth, which comes in form of raw ramblings on life, love and heartbreak. Combined with photography and captivating video of Jade moving through her emotions via challenging yoga postures, creates the perfect storm for her signature style: WOMAN POETRY

Jade's ability to be so raw and real stole my heart about a year back. I felt called to connect with her and collaborate on a female-empowerment event together. From that mutual positive energy flow, the first "Woman Poetry" workshop was birthed. This Saturday night in San Diego, we will hold the space for healing and radical self-love. {more info here}

Here's a chance for you to get to know the Jade behind the popular instagram page. With a dedicated fan-base of over 40,000 people, Jade actively engages with each of them and above all, creates a space for woman (and men, too!) to share their truths, move past pain, and learn to love themselves again. 

Name, age, location: Jade Alectra, 27. Orange County, California

In 10 words, what is WOMAN POETRY? WP is when your soul utilizes movement to convey the message it can't yet speak.

How did you develop this style? It more so happened to me rather than me creating it, and once I noticed it was such a healing way of practicing, I decided that the name Woman Poetry was the best expression for something that can't be expressed in words.

What does a typical day look like for you? If I'm not teaching, or working out, I'm at the beach exploring sea caves, or hiking to all the waterfalls Southern California has to offer.

What did you do in your past life, pre-yoga? Basketball and PoleVaulting were my go to and anything that avoided stretching!

What was the first big (or little) step you took to create this life you now live? The first little AND big step was to allow myself to be forced into a yoga class by a yoga teacher at the gym I work at. I walked out of two classes and on the third one I stayed, and have been hooked ever since! 

Who are the biggest female inspirations to you? Who do you follow online? The biggest females inspirations aren't the blogs that post perfectly tanned and toned bikini babes, but the girls that are raw and completely themselves. @yoga_girl (Rachel Brathen) has really morphed into one of those for me and the depth she takes her instagram posts are the same vibrations and feelings I hope to be leaving out for the world to find. In a world of perfect poses and videos and edits, I enjoy the ones that share their real life. The spills, the face plants, the break ups, depression, and the deaths. It's important to take life as a whole and not just worship the 'pretty' parts. I've always learned more falling and scraping my knee than when I nail a pose 'perfectly.' Both teach you something but one without the other and I think balance becomes elusive

What are your 3 biggest fears?

#1: Losing myself to what society thinks or wants to think of me. 

#2: Spending too much time staring at my phone posting the past and not living in the present. 

#3: Not loving myself fully. 

How do you work to conquer them everyday?

#1: I noticed that I was posting only seamless videos and pics. I began to post 'fails' and face plants, and I broke up with my pattern of posting. 

#2: My boyfriend and I made a rule that we need to leave our phones at home for at least 4 hours a day. To fully be present and enjoy.

#3: I go make up-less often and spend time alone at beaches and hikes. I write and do yoga and remind myself that my body and mind are my own and I am in charge of loving myself truly before anyone else. 

What is your advice to people in overcoming their deepest fears? Jump right in. If you stop and stare and try and plan your moves forever, suddenly it's years of living in fear and less time actually living.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? It's February 2020, what's life like, Jade? I see myself living in a tropical place in a small modest home with my boyfriend, leading retreats all over the world, and living part time in a tiny house (look up Tiny House on Netflix... Such an inspiring minimalist lifestyle) and full-time in a bikini. Just 'be'ing. And always near the ocean! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What is Woman Poetry?

Woman Poetry is an opportunity to practice radical self-love. It is a chance to release, shed and surrender the negative emotions we hold onto. As women, we have immense intuitive and healing abilities to positively uplift and nourish ourselves and those around us. Unfortunately, more often that not, we stand in our own way. We hold onto past pain, heartbreak, regret, disappointments and most of all -- fear. We cling to these emotions and allow them to grow inside our bodies and minds. This manifests as digestive issues, stubborn belly fat, tightness in the shoulders, hips and low back -- and that's just on a physical level. Energetically, we can feel stuck, stagnant, and uncomfortable. Life is not meant to be lived this way! The sooner we acknowledge these emotions and move through them, we create the space for NEW energy to arise. Positive, uplifting energy to nourish ourselves and others. The ultimate freedom. All of us deserve to feel FREE.

I'm so happy to hold space for the first ever Woman Poetry event! 

Saturday, February 28 from 6 - 8 PM
with Mandy Burstein & Jade Alectra
at Bird Rock Yoga in San Diego, California
facebook event page // tickets available here

what inspired the woman poetry event?

this girl - Jade Alectra. and her raw vulnerability to start the WP movement

Friday, February 13, 2015

5 Ways to Practice Radical SELF LOVE

You know that feeling when you come across words that speak directly to your soul? They have a way of summarizing exactly what you're going through that you were never able to articulate yourself? It literally took my breath away when I stumbled upon the great philosopher, Osho's take on what it means to love . . .

 "Love should be like breathing. It should be just a quality in you – wherever you are, with whomsoever you are, or even if you are alone, love goes on overflowing from you. It is not a question of being in love with someone – it is a question of being love.

People are frustrated in their love experiences, not because something is wrong with love…they narrow down love to such a point that the ocean of love cannot remain there. You cannot contain the ocean – it is not a small stream; love is your whole being – love is your godliness. 

You are love. Love is not dependent on the object, but is a radiation of your subjectivity – a radiation of your soul. And the vaster the radiation, the greater is your soul. The wider spread are the wings of your love, the bigger is the sky of your being."

captured by horizon light photography

 I've been on a journey over the past few months to really, truly discover a sense of radical SELF LOVE. In actuality, it's been part of my path my entire life, but now, as I feel this great shift from girl to woman, and I know that motherhood is a part of this next step, I've felt an enormous push to really dig deep into my soul. One day, I want to show my daughter what a woman who TRULY loves herself from the inside out looks like. I want her to know that it must always start from within. No amount of external love can ever fill the gaps of an empty heart. No one else can do the work for you. And, the best part is, it doesn't have to be a scary process. It can be a beautiful journey towards loving and accepting yourself fully, just as you are. Society has taught us otherwise our whole lives. The media thrives on making women feel less than and that we need to buy the right make-up, have a flawless figure, wear the right designer heels and rock all the hottest trends to be considered beautiful or worthy. But guess what?! We are FLAWLESS just the way we are. I've never felt more beautiful than this year. I've worn little to no make-up and gone barefoot with salty hair and sandy toes more often than not and I promise you this -- I've never felt better. Nature is full of examples of pure, unfiltered love.

Here are the top 5 rituals I've incorporated into my life to practice self love, compassion and gratitude every single day:

1) View your time as precious -- We are only given so many hours in a day, in a lifetime, on this planet. Stop feeding the need to fill your time with people and activity. Carve out at least 30 minutes each day for uninterrupted YOU time. You'll start to crave it.

2) Learn to enjoy alone time -- At first, it will be hard to commit to this practice, and you'll probably be fighting it, but commitment is key. Start or end your day with that 30 minutes and just indulge. Do whatever makes you feel amazing. A bubble bath, cooking yourself a delicious meal, journaling, etc. Fight the urge to veg out on junk TV or processed foods, they will leave you feeling depleted and vibrating on a lower frequency. Keep it high-vibe and you will be radiating from the inside out.

3) Create rituals just for you -- I start every morning with warm tea or a cold, fresh homemade green juice. I get a massage once a month, at least. I meditate by the ocean and play in nature whenever it's calling. I've learned to value and commit to these self-love rituals. Don't get me wrong, I still feel a twinge of guiltiness every time I treat myself to something special. It goes against everything we've been told as women. Taking care of yourself is not necessarily valued in our culture. But, feeling guilty serves NO ONE. When I take good care of myself, I can better serve those around me. It's as simply as that. Choose 3 self-love rituals that you need in your life right now. Commit to them. Stop feeling guilty. Start feeling great!

4) Surround yourself with high-vibe people -- Circling back to point numero uno, your time here is precious. Only those with positive, uplifting vibrations deserve to be in your life. As much as possible, avoid situations where you'll be caught up in gossip, competition and bad energy. Women need to be supporting each other, not tearing each other down. Life is hard enough. Find a group of positive souls and stay connected to them. Feed the positive relationships in your life, and more will grow from there.

5) Get to know yourself better -- Like Osho so eloquently says, you ARE love. Love is a radiation of your soul. Get to know yourself on a cellular level, it's radical and beautiful and unique. Remember that you are a part of the whole. The fact that you are even on this planet right now is a miracle. Embrace every moment of it with a deep sense of unshakable self-love.

Need more inspiration? Put THIS on your vision board!

my beautiful friend Shannen Maher photographed by the talented Janalyn Yanover

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mermaid Meditation #3: Self Care

Life gets busy and we forget to take care of ourselves. From time to time, we all need a loving reminder to pause, breathe and take a few minutes for ourselves. Especially if you are a mama or work in a healing capacity, the tendency is to give, give, give until there is nothing left. But, let's admit it -- there's nothing pretty about a goddess who is worn out physically and spiritually. As the old saying goes, when you take care of yourself first, you can better take care of those around you. Here is an opportunity to take back control of your life. Spend 2 minutes breathing and visualizing yourself healthy, happy and nourished.

If you missed out on our first two Mermaid Meditations ("acceptance" and "confidence"), you can check them out here: 

Meditation #1: Acceptance
Meditation #2: Confidence
Meditation #3: Self Care

This third Meditation in the series builds on the last two. Once we have accepted and forgiven ourselves, we can re-build our confidence and begin to take care of ourselves again.

Meditation: Self Care


Affirmation: I nourish my body with healthy foods, my mind with positive thoughts, and my soul with uplifting relationships. 

This two-minute meditation is designed for those days when you need a reminder to prioritize yourself first. After listening to this mediation and repeating the mantras, you will feel inspired to put your health and well-being first in your life and take better care of yourself. You will feel energized with a new-found sense of self-love and a renewed dedication to yourself. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down with dim lighting, turn off all distractions, and simply follow my voice as I guide you through this journey. Namaste!

[if the embedded video isn't working, click here instead] 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First New Moon of 2015 - How to harness the Aquarius Supermoon energy in your life

This Aquarius New Moon is a powerful one! The first New Moon of 2015 is a Supermoon, meaning that it is much closer to the Earth than normal and therefore, we can feel it in our bodies and hearts much more profoundly. If you've been harnessing the New Year energy wisely, you've taken the first three weeks of the year as an opportunity to reflect, absorb and forecast for the year ahead. Instead of setting arbitrary goals and trying to figure out what you want to do this year, you've asked yourself "How do I really want to feel this year?" And from that place of understanding what type of energy you want to bring into your life in 2015, you can then start to craft goals and action items that will invite these feelings and sensations into your reality.

Why is it important to be in touch with the moon? This exact question was answered to me on so many levels this morning. I participated in a New Moon Temple hosted by Goddess Rising and the response was this: The magic Wild Woman inside each of us can be remembered and then revealed once we re-connect with the natural lunar cycles. Let go, let it flow, let the moon guide your soul.

So here we are, friends. The first NEW MOON of the year has finally arrived. But, what does it all mean? Well, a New Moon is the ideal time to plant seeds. To build, to grow and to expand what we want more of in our lives.

How do I make the most of a New Moon cycle? First ask yourself, what do I need to release? Or what am I ready to weed out of my life? Then, participate in some sacred new moon rituals.
- light a candle
- take a few deep breaths
- physically shake out old tension, stress, disappointments and regrets
- keep breathing
- release the old {journal or say out loud what you are ready to let go of}
- plant seeds of new {journal or verbalize what you are ready to create}

Under the January 2015 New Moon, I am planting seeds of . . .
- global cooperation
- supported and supportive energy flow
- an abundance of resources and love
- VIBRANCE: feeling alive and inspired every single day

I am ready to step into my own as a woman and create something new, inspired and radically beautiful. To connect like-minded souls on a larger stage. To connect all the dots. 2015 = infinite! I am ready to show the world that:
love is magnetic, unity is possible, hope is alive, and dreams can be reality. 

photo credit: klaus lange
my new moon alter from today's ceremony - candles, seashells, journal, 
crystals, and the angel card "Dana" - which is also my mama's first name :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

14 Lessons Learned in 2014

This time last year, I thought I wanted to spend a month in Bali and make a baby. Instead, I went hitchhiking in Mexico, became a professional mermaid, meditated in the jungle, taught a whole bunch of yoga, and thought I was going to die in an Indian sweat lodge. In 2014, the Universe didn't give me exactly what I wanted, but it gave me precisely what I needed. One year of being selfishly, unapologetically focused on me. On my spiritual growth and personal development. A ginormous FEAR DETOX. As someone whose natural inclination (and job) is to focus on the well-being of others, I would not necessarily have chosen this path for myself. But, something in my heart, and in the stars, told me that I needed to remain open to whatever/wherever the Universe wanted to take me -- to stay in the love and to stay in the flow -- and that's exactly what I did. It was a whirlwind of a year. Probably the most growth-filled year of my 28 on this planet to date. Side note: (and this is mainly for my parents' piece of mind...) It was also my highest-grossing year as a yoga teacher to date. Cheers to being able to make money while living your dreams!

Here is a collection of the various lessons I learned in 2014, in the hopes of maybe inspiring something in you.... and remembering what this year felt like twenty years from now when I'm actually in Bali with my babies.

1) I feel best when I listen to my body. I've been practicing yoga consistently for six years now and the tendency as you progress in your practice is to see how much further your body will take you. "Got one leg behind the head? Great! Now, how 'bout both?" Well, a series of minor injuries and wisdom imparted upon me from seasoned teachers made me realize that this year, what my body wanted and needed was more breathing and less accomplishment-based yoga. No doubt, I practiced my handstands and backbends when my body was feeling strong, but the rest of the time, I focused on what my body needed in that particular moment to thrive. I realized that I love how it feels to honor my body and give it exactly what it needs.

2) Find your tribe. In learning more about myself everyday, I'm understanding how important it is (to me) to feel part of a community, connected to a group of people that truly understand you and support your path. This year, we created a movement called #mermaidyogis that welcomed in anyone who feels a deep love for the ocean and yoga. We connected online in the thousands, met up locally here in San Diego by the hundreds, and a smaller, super passionate group even joined us in Mexico for a week of mermaid and yoga adventures. Many of our tribe have found soul-sisters in each other. It's incredible to see people unite around a common cause and make magic happen.

3) Connections in person are SO good for your soul. While building a massive following online was fun, it made me value my in-person time with other humans even more. I crave hugs and eye-contact and remain devoted to taking people from behind their screens and into real life, creating connections that will last a life time.

4) How to take calculated business risks. Something came over me this year. After spending the first four months soul-searching and frolicking in the jungle, I felt compelled to give other people that experience. It felt wrong to hold onto all that positive energy just for myself. I became committed to creating travel experiences in which other people would be able to let go for a bit and tune back into nature. Then, I woke up one day in July and realized I had booked 3 yoga retreats in 6 months. Holy moly! How was I going to pull this one off? Had I oversaturated myself? Were my 3 different business partners going to be mad that I triple booked and never work with me again? The fear started rushing in, so I decided to breathe. And I realized that everything was going to be OK. I took a big business risk, but I did so in a calculated and caring way for all parties involved. The retreats were spaced out enough and themed differently enough that they didn't interfere with one another. I'm happy to report that all 3 were hugely successful and I'm still on good terms with everyone. Clear lines of communication and taking actions with mindfulness and attention to detail go a long way in the business world.

5) Friends don't have to be your business partners; not all business partners have to be your best of friends. As a textbook Gemini, I loooooove connecting with all kinds of people. I love when those people become life long friends and you make magical projects happen together. In an ideal world, this is how it would happen every time. But in reality, there is no need for everything to blend together. Sometimes, it's 100% normal to do business with someone and leave it at that. And most of the time, your best of friends don't need to be your business partners. Keep them as friends, it will last longer that way :)

6) I LOVE home cooking. Speaking of business, 2014 was busy. In the most beautiful way. My husband started his very own law firm and I embraced my inner yoga-entrepreneur. Everything was on the up and up and up. Except our time in the kitchen -- that was on the way, way down. We ate out a lot. More than I'm happy to 'fess up to. Eating out is easy when you're busy, you feel like you've "earned" it on some level. But there's nothing better than putting love and elbow grease into your meals. A little preparation and looking at cooking as a form of meditation goes a long way.

7) You MUST love yourself first. Speaking of food and what we put into our bodies....this year, I deeply connected with the idea that love must first come from within. While I've got an adoring husband and an amazingly loving family and friends, you can't fake true self-love. As a 90's child, I grew up with the energy of eating disorders, body dysmorphia and self loathing all around me. It was cool to cut yourself and/or be a mean girl. But now, coming into my adulthood, I'm so over that mean girl shit. As women, we must uplift and bring out the best in each other. And the only way we can do that is if we truly love ourselves first. When we love ourselves and fill our hearts with authentic compassion and joy, it pours out onto all those around us. Goddess energy flow is what I'm all about these days. Together we rise.

8) It's OK to check-out of life sometimes. Real talk: there is way too much pressure on women these days. The struggle to "do it all" is real and it's just not possible. We need time to re-boot and fill our souls back up so that we have more to give when we come back home. I was so impressed by the mamas who came on my yoga retreats this year. Some with babies as young as 9 months old, full-time jobs and husbands to care for, packed their bags and met me in Mexico for a week of self-care. There's no need to feel guilty for taking time for you. In Spanish they say, haz lo que amas - do what you love. And do what makes you feel love.

9) We are all connected. One of my favorite memories of my time in Mexico this year was hitchhiking with my friend Jenny. We didn't know where we were going, we just trusted that the Universe would provide. And it did. Getting into the cars (or mostly trucks - everyone in Mexico drives trucks) of complete strangers is something so taboo in the US, understandably so. There is lots of fear, mistrust, and frankly, lots of dangerous people, all around the world. But, what we found was that when we put out good energy, it came right back to us. When we looked into the eyes of these strangers and asked about their families, their eyes lit up and in that moment, I realized - we are all connected. We are all made of the same dust and particles as the stars and the grass and the trees. No one is better than anyone else. We all have beating hearts and the same capacity for love. That being said: In full disclosure, I've promised my husband I won't do it again....unless I reallyyyy need a ride and a reminder that we are one. ;)

10) Do what you're most afraid to do. That's where the growth will occur. I had never heard of a temazcal until early in 2014. My friend Ana was doing a tribal sweat lodge on her yoga retreat in Mexico facilitated by a tribe of local Indian healers and it hit my core. Something about it intrigued me to the max. I contacted her for more info and it turned out this particular ceremony would occur on May 24 - the day after my birthday, first day of my 28th year. All the stars were aligning to offer me this purifying experience as I traveled into my womanhood. I didn't think about it too much until right when they shut the sweat lodge door and I had a minor panic attack. I couldn't be that white girl that came and had a freak out! I had to do this - there was no other choice. In a way, I gently forced myself through the process and am so glad I did. It was a beautiful experience that allows you to step into the womb of Mother Earth (pachamama), tap into your inner child, and come out re-born. I loved it so much I completed my second temazcal ceremony on Decemeber 31, the last day of 2014 with my friend Fatima in Tulum. I feel re-born full of love and ready to do more things outside my comfort zone in 2015.

11) Be Strong, you never know who you are inspiring. I got a call from my former yoga student a few weeks ago out of the blue calling to thank me for all the support over the years. Even though we barely talk and haven't seen each other in person since 2012, we keep in contact online. She called to tell me she had just left her lawyer's office to file divorce papers from her husband of almost 20 years. 3 gorgeous children and a seemingly perfect life together had come to an end. She was ready to leave a toxic situation and love herself again. I was blown away by her courage and strength! She said I was an inspiring force in her life, whether I knew it or not. A truly humbling moment for me and a good reminder that each of us has the potential to inspire and uplift each other. Keep your vibrations high, you never know who might need them!

12) Fear is LOUD. Let your love and gratitude for life be louder. Towards the end of 2014, I finally committed to participating in Gabrielle Bernstein's 40 day fear-detox challenge. Her book "May Cause Miracles" has taught me this: fear resists gratitude. Fear wants you to stay low-vibration. The ego seeks out problems and looks for what's lacking in life. Everyday, you must work to build your gratitude muscles and trust that your love is stronger than any fear.

13) Don't settle for a spark, light a fire instead. As women, many of us prefer to dim our lights and let others shine first. On a stormy night in Mexico, during our #mermaidyogis retreat, we were doing a visioning exercise and I was unexpectedly overcome with frustration and sadness confessing to the girls that I do not believe I deserve all the greatness this life has to offer. Caught in a rare moment of vulnerability, with tears running down my face, one of them pulled out their phone and read the group this Marianne Williamson quote: "Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

It was my a-ha moment to wake up and realize that I am worthy -- we are all worthy -- of living out our highest goals and dreams in life.

14) There's so much more to learn! I adore being a teacher, but there's nothing better than being a student. I can't wait to see what other spiritual lessons and assignments the coming years have in store for me. May we never stop learning, growing and expanding on this beautiful journey called Life.

mostly all of my photos are taken by my bestie, 
janalyn yanover @horizonlightphotography

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year Detox 2015

Happy New Year, yogis! I love the fresh energy of a new year. It's the best opportunity to leave behind old, bad habits and start a new chapter in your journey towards health and happiness in life. Last January, I had the opportunity to lead the New Year Detox at Bird Rock Yoga and it was an incredible experience. After a sweaty, purifying vinyasa flow, we set goals and intentions for the new year and collectively supported each other in the process of identifying action items to ensure that we would follow through with our goals. I'm happy to report that many of the attendees to last year's detox workshop have come back and shared with me their goals and dreams that have come to life! Never underestimate the power of putting your wishes out to the Universe and having a solid support group cheering for you along the way. 

This year, the detox workshop is back and better than ever! I've partnered with Farm to Fork La Jolla to provide 100% raw, organic, cold-pressed green juices for everyone, as well as health food company, Rickaroons to keep us nourished and on point for some deep soul-searching and goal-setting. Also a new addition to this year's event is my friend, local health coach, Jenny Niezgoda who will be doing a talk on Holistic Nutrition and how to incorporate more healthy options into your diet. The theme of this year's detox is: IT IS ALL CONNECTED - your body, your mind, your soul - what you put into it is a direct reflection of what comes out into your life. This will be a FULL CIRCLE experience to help you kick-start your new year and finally tackle your goals and dreams in 2015. 

Saturday January 10 -- 11am -- $30
Sign up here:

Can't make it on Saturday? Detox on your own or find a group of friends to support each other in the process. Here are some of my favorite healthy recipes to start eating better in the New Year. Ready to step it up and make your home a totally toxin-free environment? Check out my favorite ways to detox your life, starting with where you sleep. Good luck! 2015 - here we come! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Zen Girl's 2014 Guide to Mindful Holiday Shopping

Every year, the holiday season brings out the consumer in all of us. There is a general understanding that we shower our loved ones with material possessions, which doesn't have to be a bad thing, if these gifts are coming from a mindful place. In this year's Zen Girl's Guide to Mindful Holiday Shopping, I'm featuring seven of my favorite small businesses of 2014 -- all of which sell presents with purpose. Each item has a story, a message and/or an ability to increase the overall health and happiness of the lucky recipient. I wish you all a beautiful holiday season and encourage you to shop with intention and mindfulness this year! XO!

1) The Bohemian Yogi -The Piece Collection
yoga girls with wanderlust in their hearts will appreciate any item from The Piece Collection. Casey and Allasia are "two girls collecting the world for you, one piece at a time". Their items for sale include: super soft Turkish robes, fringe Moroccan leather bags, handmade jewelry from Nepal, Peru and more. Their pieces have been carefully curated with intention and purpose and are sure t WOW whoever is lucky enough to receive one.

2) The Glamorous Yogi -- Axiology Lipstick
all natural, 100% organic, vegan lipstick. Look gorgeous and practice ahimsa -- the best of both worlds! Axiology founder Ericka Rodriguez lives in NYC and traveled to Bali last year to research the most natural, non-toxic ingredients for her new cosmetics line. She recently introduced her first product, vegan lipstick to the market and it's creating a firestorm of love in the yoga world. Axiology is about to change the way yoga girls shop for makeup. Snag a tube of this lipstick for the holistic hottie in your life!

3) The Fashionista Yogi -- Mermaid by Hand Jewelry
designer Eliza Sloane created the most beautiful pieces of jewelry that any bohemian, free-spirit, ocean-loving zen girl would swoon over. Using seashells, sea glass, big chunks of turquoise and beautiful gems like Australian opal, each piece of MBH jewelry is lovingly kissed by the sea, then crafted into an exquisite bracelet, necklace, ring or other statement piece of your choice.

4) The Mermaid Yogi -- Women's Inflatable Stand-up Paddleboard by ISLE
speaking of mermaids, earlier this year, I had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with San Diego based action sports company, ISLE to create the first inflatable stand up paddle board specifically for SUP Yoga. Of course, I had to make sure it was turquoise and pink and had lotus flowers all over it - duh! :) Not only is it one of the most affordable paddleboards on the market, but it deflates into the size of a backpack, so you can check it as luggage and take it with you around the world. This is a perfect present as it encourages you to stay healthy and therefore happy all year long!

5) The Creative Yogi -- Grizzy Love
we all know that girl who refuses to wear plain jane black yoga pants. Her soul cries out for color, design, creativity! Give this girl exactly what she needs, and wants -- anything from Grizzy Love. With an assortment of leggings that have everything from dream catchers to the colorful chakra system hand-screened down the leg, to tanks that have adorable sayings like child of the universe and OM is wherever i'm with you, this clothing line is full of intention and inspiration.

6) The Healthy Yogi -- Rickaroons
These three-bite snacks have personally saved my life on many occasions. You know those super busy days when you don't have time to sit down for breakfast....or lunch?! Rickaroons are the perfect superfood snack that are so deliciously indulgent but without the guilt. They're 100% organic, soy-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly and paleo-approved. Packed full of healthy ingredients like: chia seeds, cacao nibs, almond butter and coconut, these guys have a 2 month shelf life, making them the crowd-pleasing stocking stuffer of 2014!

7) The Ultimate Seeker -- May Cause Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein
this book has totally changed my life! I started reading Gabby's books at the beginning of 2014 and they've encouraged me to dive deep into my spiritual practice, specifically seeking out my fears and transforming them into love. Through her books, I've learned to reflect, notice and understand parts of myself on a deeper level. I'm less quick to judge, get angry and feel scared. For that girl in your life that lives with a heart wide open and has a million unanswered questions about her purpose, the Universe and why we are all here, do her a favor and get her this book! She'll thank you later...

photo source
Books make the best gifts! Here is some other dope literature I got the chance to read in 2014 and totally fell in love with. Consider any of these for the free spirit, zen-seeking mamacita in your life....

8) The Adevturous Yogi -- a ZEN GIRL YOGA RETREAT!
give the gift of world and soul exploration. I've got a fun line-up of yoga retreats and workshops coming up in 2015 and would love to have the Zen Girl in your life join us! I've been lucky enough to witness some major spiritual breakthroughs happen on my retreats and am so excited for next year's bunch of open-hearted yogis. Email me and we can set something up!

Love and Blessings to you all!
Zen Girl Mandy
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