Making a Life Mala

by Monique Minahan

life mala - MoniqueWe all wear our stories in some way or another, don’t we? They make us who we are (and sometimes keep us from becoming who we can be if we let them define us too narrowly.)

I started making what I call “Life Malas” because each marker is placed for a life event. I used yellow jade for manipura chakra (solar plexus), green jade for anahata chakra (heart), green ruby zoisite for sahasrara chakra (crown), and a spiral shell I found on the beach because it feels like home.

I made this one for me, so I placed the green jade marker beads at the times when my life and heart were busted open. Marker 1 is at 25, the age I was when Nathan died. Marker 2 is at 37, when my baby was born. Marker 3 is at 98, the age of my great-grandmother, born in 1917, who is breathing her last breaths this year.

Stringing the beads under the darkness of a new moon, it occurred to me that at one of these beads I will pass away myself (and that this life is not a dress rehearsal, so I’ve got to live it right the first time.)

There are 108 beads in a mala, and if I get to see bead 98 like my grandma, I’ll count myself very lucky. I’ll still count myself lucky to see 39 this month.

I made this mala necklace to remind me that both loss and life are part of the same cycle. They coexist beautifully if I let them, and if I practice embracing both rather than inviting one and rejecting the other, I get to experience the full depth of being human instead of just skimming the surface.

My life mala is an outward representation of the integrity, cohesiveness and beauty that emerges when I allow every experience to support the next one. Broken or fragmented as they appear at times, when I view them all together they form this fragile but beautiful thing called life.

Mo Minahan

Monique Minahan
Contributing Writer

Mo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open. 

Read more from Monique on her blog, mindfulmo.com

 

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Top 5 Best Destinations to Enjoy San Diego Like a Local

by Michael Caldwell

Point Loma, photo credit: Laura McCorry

Point Loma, photo credit: Laura McCorry

It’s no secret that San Diego is practically paradise. Boasting beautiful beaches stretching over 70 miles and a temperate year-round climate that sees the sun shine approximately 146 days a year, there are worse places to be. Over 30 million visitors flock to San Diego each year with attractions like Sea World, Lego Land, the San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park and the annual mega-event Comic Con pulling in large crowds.

But which San Diego spots do the locals savor? Check out these five area attractions that promise a glimpse into what could be your everyday life when you live in America’s Finest City.

1. Yoga One (of course!) 

This award-winning studio offers a variety of top-quality yoga classes located in the heart of downtown. You can chill in a beginner-friendly Gentle or Restorative class held on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Get your mantra motoring in one of the Flow or Vinyasa classes held daily. Want to see the sun as you perform your sun salutations? Take the Rooftop Yoga Class, held Sundays at 9am at the Hotel Solamar. Stay and use the pool afterwards and enjoy a beverage from the bar. Yin and Yang, baby! Yoga One has been helping San Diego residents and visitors live healthier and happier lives since 2002. Their bi-annual Yoga One Teacher Training draws students from all over the world, including Spain, Ireland and Japan! Watch out Comic Con!

2. Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument

There are so many choices when it comes to beaches in San Diego, you might not know where to start: La Jolla Shores, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and of course, the iconic Coronado Beach boasting the Hotel Del Coronado, just to name a few! But venture out to Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma and you’re in for a real treat. At the top of the bluff, you’ll witness a stunning view of San Diego and North Island and you can tour the historic lighthouse. Venture down to the water (you can hike or bike or drive) and you’ll encounter beautiful cliffside rock formations and tide pools filled with marine life. During the winter season, you might even catch a glimpse of migrating grey whales!

3. Julian and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

A short 60 mile drive northeast of San Diego and the entire landscape changes. First time visitors could be forgiven for not realizing they are still in San Diego County. With a population of less than 2,000 and trees, mountains and apple pies a-plenty, prepare to be befuddled and bewildered. This charming, one-time gold mining town also has a colorful history featuring African American founders such as Albert and Margaret Robinson who built and operated one of the town’s first hotels. Hike, bike, eat apple pies and baked goods. What’s not to like?

4. San Diego Craft Breweries and Beer

There are over 100 breweries from which to booze, err… um… choose and more on the way. San Diego has become an international hot spot for craft beer. International people! Take that Belgium! Check out the SDSU based documentary “Kings of the Craft” featuring some San Diego based hoppy-weights (hee-hee, get it?) Stone, Ballast Pointe, Modern Times and Karl Strauss, etc.

If you love craft beer, (and don’t say you don’t while in San Diego city limits) then please don’t go alone into some of the more well-stocked liquor stores. Many carry over 1,000 beer options. You could very well get lost, likely stunned and possibly frozen by the possibilities. Use the buddy system. Set a time to leave. Leave a trail of bread crumbs to find your way out. Every year hundreds of visitors to San Diego never leave because they are lost in a craft beer o-plenty liquor store (it might happen). You’ve been warned.

P.S. San Diego is becoming a distilling upstart as well, oh and we have wine! Can you say Temecula?

5. Balboa Park 

On any given day, you will find San Diego locals and visitors outside and just enjoying the fresh air, blue skies and plenitude of recreational activities in Balboa Park. The Balboa Park Fact Sheet says it’s “the nation’s largest urban cultural park in the nation.” A gorgeous green space set aside downtown, Balboa Park offers a wide variety of activities to pursue including hiking, gardens, fountains, sports, play grounds, velodrome, frisbee golf, drum circles, people watching, bocce ball, volleyball, etc. That doesn’t even do it justice. There are 15 museums for Pete’s sake and much more, in fact, too much to list so visit the fact sheet, playa and have yourself a ball.

Michael CaldwellMichael Caldwell
Contributing Writer

Yoga teacher and Co-Founder of Yoga One, Michael has been practicing yoga and incorporating its philosophy into his life since 1997. His kind and gentle manner is well suited to leading students of all levels. Michael has published numerous articles on a variety of subjects including yoga, meditation and rock n roll.

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Instructor Spotlight: Dina Weldin

photo credit: Norman Photography & Paperie

photo credit: Norman Photography & Paperie

MC Hammer may have said it best, and perhaps could have been referring to Dina Weldin when he rapped, “too legit to quit.” Dina is legit. She is a warm, caring, positive and authentic individual. She is beautiful inside and out and is far too legit to quit being wonderful. Step onto your mat with Dina Weldin this month on Wednesdays at 7pm for a mixed level Flow class. Check out our full class schedule here.

1. What is your favorite style of yoga?

Right now my favorite style of yoga is Vinyasa. I began with Iyengar and thoroughly appreciate that style but I enjoy the constant flow and movement with my breath during a Vinyasa practice. It is more of a challenge for me to control my breath when in constant movement so I appreciate that aspect of Vinyasa as well.

2. What first attracted you to yoga when you began your practice?

My mom was a yogi for most of my teenage life and I grew up watching her practice and hearing all about how much she enjoyed this thing called “yoga.” My mom convinced me to go to a class with her when I was home on a college break and just like that, I was moved. It wasn’t about the physical aspect for me. I felt the connection of mind, body, and breath in yoga and it was unlike anything I had experienced in any other physical exercise. I also left the class feeling more sore than every before – talk about using muscles you never knew you had!

3. What is your favorite yoga pose right now?

This changes with any given day! I love a good headstand and being upside down on most days. On this very day in my practice, I would say blossoming lotus pose. It is a perfect mix of balance, hip opening, and the beauty a lotus flower represents in general is inspiring to me. Not to mention, every time I teach this pose, I can’t help but smile at all my students that really look like little lotus flowers blooming! It makes me so happy to see.

4. What pose is still the most challenging?

Handstand! It gets me every time! You can find me in a handstand for no longer than 10 seconds before I lose my balance (and that’s on a good day!) Practice, practice, practice. This is what I keep repeating to myself when I try my handstands. It will come when it’s time.

photo credit: Norman Photography & Paperie

photo credit: Norman Photography & Paperie

5. If you were an animal, you would be: a DOG! Cliche, I know. But when I look at my dog and she looks back at me, I know she can understand what I’m saying. Dogs are on another level, far wiser than us humans at times I’m sure!

6. Describe what yoga means in your life using just 6 words: Unity with our mind, body, & breath

7. What might your students be surprised to learn about you?

I have been to Egypt every other year since I was born and I can speak Arabic! I have ten piercings (all in my ears!) but I rarely wear earrings in all of them. Oh, and me and forward folds are not friends! We are learning to get along though, slowly but surely.

8. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for new students?

Practice every moment you can – at home, without a mat, in a park, in a studio, in the airport, wherever – just practice! Without practice it is difficult to achieve that sense of true connection. Never feel the need to push your body any further than it wants to go. Really listen to your body.

Most importantly, take a minute each and every day to listen to yourself breathe. That is the true indicator of what your body is feeling. If your breath is labored, speeding up, or interrupted, take a moment to sit in child’s pose and reconnect. Always remember:

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

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Yogi Reads: Yoga for Life

Yoga For Lifeby Olivia Cecchettini

“Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom” 

by Colleen Saidman Yee

Summary: Yoga for Life is an amazing memoir written with such searing honesty, it touched me deep within my soul. Colleen Saidman Yee shares both her shadows and her light with vulnerability as she chronicles both her life and her yoga journey. Saidman Yee emphasizes the message “you are enough” and while reading, I felt as though she was writing as my friend, mother, sister, teacher, woman, light worker, but most of all, a real person. She knows the practice and the body inside and out. It’s a book about her life and she shares her story out of a calling to support healing and community.

Why I Love It: Colleen shares her personal journey from rebellious teen with a heroin habit to a supermodel traveling the world to now being called “The First Lady of Yoga” by the New York Times. She’s lived such an interesting life! Most importantly to me, she didn’t hold back from sharing the unedited, un-airbrushed side of her life. We all have sides of ourselves of which we’re not proud, but the path to both Inner Peace and Freedom means bringing those experiences into the light of acceptance.

B.K.S. Iyengar said, “If you don’t want your life to change, don’t get on your yoga mat.” Every time I step on my mat, I come into greater acceptance of myself. Over time, I breathed into the hard, tight places I had stuffed away deep down in my muscles and they began to open up. My chaturangas got stronger and my confidence grew. I took time in savasana to be still and connect to my heart. These simple (though not easy) rituals changed they way I saw things, and the things I saw began to change.

It’s a beautiful, unique process how yoga touches each individual person but it always comes back to the heart. I truly believe that compassion, kindness and love can heal the world and Yee’s book is a reminder of this truth.

Recommend For: Anyone who enjoys yoga and inspirational life stories. Especially in this digital age, it’s easy to compare your day-to-day life with everyone else’s highlight reel. We compare ourselves and feel less-than and unworthy. That’s why the mantra “you are enough” is so powerful because it’s true! We need to be reminded of this over and over again. Without changing one single thing, I believe you are enough, exactly the way you are. Not in a year, not after you get married, and definitely not after you have lost ten pounds. Right this second, you are whole and you are enough.

Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga sums up Saidman Yee well, stating –

“Like Gandhi, Colleen is stayagraha—meaning possessed by the truth. She tells her story honestly, without pretense, no makeup—totally fearless while at the same time gracefully imbuing every word with infectious joy, gratitude and compassion. You will find no blaming or complaining in this memoir for this is the story of a remarkable woman who approaches life as an adventure, armed with a bewitching ability to transform obstacles into opportunities and the ordinary into something magical. She is living proof that yoga is for life.”

Olivia headshotOlivia Cecchettini
Contributing Writer

Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.

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Amy Caldwell featured on Yoga Digest

8 Yoga Poses to Enliven Your Hands and Your Practice

by Amy Caldwell

Thanks for the feature, Yoga DigestGo here to read the full article which includes a guided yoga practice focused on enlivening the fingers and hands.

photo credit: Simpatika

photo credit: Simpatika

Knowing Your Body Like the Back of Your Hand Can Begin with Your Fingers

The Practice: The feet often get a lot of attention in yoga class. You may be familiar with the term “yogi toes” and teachers advising students to, “lift and spread the toes,” or “root down through all four corners of the feet.” Yet aside from a few mudras (gestures) the fingers often play second fiddle to the toes. The following practice will enliven your fingers. It will also increase your attention to detail, foster optimal alignment through the wrists, arms and shoulders and ultimately, empower your entire practice.

Body-Mind Benefits: Our fingers are dexterous, strong and acute sensory receptors. Bringing focus to what your hands are doing during practice will enhance the flow of energy, help prevent injury and improve concentration. Whether touching the mat, the earth, held in mudras or placed on your heart, our fingers initiate a connection and often tell a story. Learn to recognize and enjoy the nuanced sensations present at your fingertips.

Enjoy gratitude for your hands. They are an extension of your heart in their ability to feel, serve and connect compassionately to your self, others and the world around you.

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Amy Caldwell Featured on Southern California Homes

Thanks for the feature! Click on the image below to read the whole article.
Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 4.03.02 PMTo find out more about our Yoga One Teacher Training with these incredible instructors, go here!

 

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Instructor Spotlight: Nam Chantepie

Nam Chantepie 1Cool. Jimi Hendrix, the Fonz and Nam Chantepie. The type of guy that upon first impression oozes a style, a charm, a persona… and the best part? The more you get to know him, the cooler you realize he is. Come take his Level 2 Vinyasa Flow on Thursday evenings at 6pm. Check out our full class schedule here.

1. What is your favorite style of yoga? 

Hatha Yoga. I like taking the time to really get into the pose and experience the alignment, muscular engagement and extension. Although I do enjoy flowing through a fun and interesting sequence, my home practice is more about exploring individual poses and the slow, deliberate transitions between them.

2. What first attracted you to yoga when you began your practice? 

I was living a rather sedentary life, and had just ended a toxic six year relationship. Never having taken a single class before, I looked to yoga to help me transition back into the gym and get back into shape. What I actually got out of my first three months was a clearer head, a lighter heart, a freer spirit and a 30-pound lighter body, and I forgot all about the gym. Yoga lifted me up and showed me so many things I never expected or knew I could find on and off my mat.

3. What is your favorite yoga pose right now? 

Handstand. I’ve been committed to a daily handstand practice for almost a year. Only within the last 2 months have I finally found a sense of weightlessness and engagement in my handstands.

4. What pose is still the most challenging? 

Ustrasana (or camel pose) has always been a challenge for me. I have a nagging shoulder impingement that keeps me from fully drawing my shoulders back, so it is difficult for me to feel ease or opening in this pose. I almost always modify with my hands on my hips and squeezing a block between my thighs.

Nam Chantepie 25. If you were an animal, you would be: Probably a monkey. Mostly because I’m a goofball and love inverting!

6. Describe what yoga means in your life using just 6 words: peaceful centered space to grow from

7. What might your students be surprised to learn about you? 

When I was three years old, my mom and I tried to escape from Vietnam. We were caught three times and sent to prison each time. So technically, my students are being taught by a multiple offending ex-con. :)

8. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for new students? 

My first week of yoga, I had the honor of taking a class with Yoga One instructor Amy Freeman. Towards the end, I was really struggling and almost gave up on yoga altogether while unsuccessfully trying urdhva dhanurasana (full wheel pose).

Amy came up to me, gave me blocks to modify my pose and said, “It’s ok, you’re doing great. Think of where you’ll be a year from now.” Those words have stuck with me. Those are the words I think about every time I move into camel pose.

Yoga is not about achieving the perfect expression of the poses, it’s about incremental improvements and the humility to take a step back whenever your body needs it.

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Kids Yoga and Art Interview + Summer Workshops

Yoga One is excited to host a series of Kids Yoga and Art Summer Classes led by recent Yoga One Teacher Training graduate, Hannah Faulkner. Her passion for teaching yoga to kids is apparent in every creatively-themed class. Keep reading for her perspective on teaching little yogis!

There are several remaining classes this summer and registration is still available ($25/class) with 24-hour pre-registration to ensure available art supplies for each participant. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 2-4pm at Yoga One. Updated information can be found at www.halfmoonyogaandart.com/kids-summer-camp.html

FullSizeRenderYoga One: How is teaching yoga to kids different from teaching adults?

Hannah: Kids need to be active and have fun while doing yoga! Teaching kids means you are constantly innovating and finding new ways to engage their senses and minds while incorporating traditional (or nontraditional!) yoga postures.

I teach themed lessons in which we use our imaginations to travel to a new place each week. When we visited Ancient Egypt, they learned how to do pyramid pose and while practicing yoga, I shared stories and interesting facts about the culture. We played games like Crocodile Crossing, where everyone is a crocodile holding plank pose and we each take turns trying to cross the Nile River without getting tagged. For the end of class, we closed our yoga practice with three minutes in mummy pose (savasana for adults) and they loved being wrapped up in their mats!

Yoga One: You’re both an art teacher and a yoga instructor – have you always wanted to combine these two passions?

Hannah: I’ve just stumbled upon this amazing combination within the last nine months. I’ve been teaching art to all ages for the past few years and just started teaching kids yoga last September. They were learning about gardens and vegetables, so we did a garden-themed yoga class and created figures through stamping cut fruit dipped in paint. It’s amazing the connections kids can make when they involve their whole body and mind!

Yoga One: Can kids who have no experience with yoga or particular skills in art participate?

Hannah: Yes, of course! Many of my young students have no prior yoga experience. In every class, I demonstrate the pose and carefully explain how to get into and out of the pose. I give verbal instructions on how to adjust into the fullest and safest version as well as modifications for kids who are still building strength and working on balance.

Through artwork creation, we are focused more on the process than the product. Kids have the opportunity to sketch a map of the place that we visited in the provided journals along with a quick drawing of their favorite poses (i.e. a camel, pyramid, sphinx, cobra, pharaoh, crocodile, etc.). Then we create an artwork as I guide them through step by step instructions.

I have templates and stencils for those who do not feel as comfortable drawing with their free hand. This week we made Egyptian profiles and I provided a template for the outline of a face and Egyptian style eye. The kids added their own decorations for the head band, necklace, and lips. I love providing the opportunity for each student to access the heart of the lesson as well as demonstrate their own creative expression.

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Yoga and Body Positivity

by Laura McCorry

The body positive movement means finding ways to respect, honor and love your own body as a daily practice. Feeling positively about your body has nothing to do with your health, fitness or size. (Can we repeat that about a thousand times across the twitterverse?)

The culture we live in is always ready to tell us that we’re not good enough. Sometimes all we see in the media are airbrushed and photoshopped images of women and men that misrepresent the natural body of the model. Not only have we elevated one type of body to an ideal, but often the thin/fit/flawless body is a complete illusion.

So what does it mean to step out of this culture and onto your mat to practice yoga?

Every belief you have about your body will follow you onto your mat. If your thoughts are predominantly negative, this can have disastrous consequences for how you feel about yoga and your likelihood of maintaining a regular practice.

yoga present momentBut yoga teaches present moment awareness – which means paying attention and honoring how your body moves that day, without comparison to how it moved in the past or how you’d like it to move in the future. The more you practice this mental shift into the present, the more you can circumvent negative self-talk.

Body positivity doesn’t mean complacency in the face of health risks. It means rejecting the “not good enough” mantra and replacing it with affirmations of love, acceptance and encouragement.

When we feel positively about our bodies, we create an atmosphere of nurturing protection for the body and prompt the desire for more positive change. Sometimes the biggest physical challenge you encounter in life is not the super hard workout or the discipline to stay active – the bigger challenge is the radical acceptance of your body. All of it, without exception.

You are only given this one vessel with which to experience the world. Treat it kindly. Allow it to feel the warmth of the sun and the caress of the breeze. Take it on adventures and let your body carry you through a world of new experiences.

Know that all change starts within. If you can change one thought, you can begin to change your way of thinking. If you change your thinking, you can influence others to do the same. Maybe one day the cultural legacy we leave behind will be one that affirms the value of all bodies and contributes to the health and happiness of all.

(Here’s a great place to start, 10 Ways to Practice Self-Love.)

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura@yogaonesandiego.com

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Yoga One Free Class Aboard the USS Midway

Amy Caldwell aboard USS MidwayIt’s happening again! Join Amy Caldwell this Saturday June 20th aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier for a FREE yoga class from 8am-9:30am.

We’ve partnered with the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Scripps Health to offer an all levels, family-friendly yoga class to support Healthy Living in the City.

Last year we had about 400 participants and this year the event is already completely booked with 1000 people expected! We can’t wait to unite our intentions for healthy living with so many and practice yoga together.

San Diego Jumble interviewed Amy Caldwell about this Saturday’s class – listen here and find out about other upcoming free yoga classes in San Diego!

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