Full disclosure

I am reintroducing my other blog called O2vegan. Can you guess what it is about? When I was a nutrition counselor,I was paid to tell people what to eat. When I was a personal trainer, I was expected and paid to tell people what exercises to do. Now, I am a yoga teacher, yoga teacher trainer, and studio owner. I moved away from my previous jobs because I didn’t like being held responsible for people’s health. In fact, I believe that no one can tell you what you should or should not do. That is your job. However, I think my job is to empower people with knowledge about all things yoga. I love to think and write and talk about yoga, yogic philosophy, yogic diet, food in general. To me, food is love. Love is very much part of the yogic path. When I teach yoga and especially when I teach yoga teacher training I would be remiss if I only taught the asanas. There is so much more to the yogic lifestyle.

So why not just have o2vegan be part of the O2 blog? Ahh, now we are getting to something interesting. Because diet is a very touchy subject for people. It is okay for me to say, “breath”, or “turn your toes to 90 degrees”, but it becomes a different story if I say, “this is what you should eat”. We all have different relationships to food. I am passionate about food because it is a choice that we make many times a day. Yoga is about paying attention and I believe strongly that we all need to pay more attention to how we treat each other, the world, and other beings. Is there only one way to do that? Of course not. However, I believe that being joyful is infectious. I love vegan cooking and want to share it with whomever is interested! Does that mean you must become vegan to be a yogi? Again, of course not.

Ten years ago, I broke up with a man who I almost married. I was devastated at the time. Soon after, I met the man who would become my husband. My ex was a vegetarian, and after some much needed space from him, I discovered him to also be not very nice. My now husband, Steven, was of all things, gasp, a carnivore! However, he was and still is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people on the planet. He is now a vegetarian, which is lovely, but the point is, you can’t judge a person by what they eat, or their political party (that one is a struggle sometimes!), or what car they drive. It takes more than that. It takes patience. It takes paying attention. It takes courage.

That said, I am passionate about the vegan diet and it’s benefits to the planet, to the animals, and to human health and consciousness. It’s my thing. If you are interested, check out my blog. If not, thats cool too. I will keep talking about it and cooking for anyone who will let me. To me, this is not about shoulds, this is about possibilities, joyfulness, love, and yumminess.

What the heck does blogging have to do with it?

So, my good friend Kelly, put this blog together for me from an old one that my friend Ian made for me. Confused? Well, originally I had all these things I wanted to say and show about animals, and food and community but didn’t feel confident enough to actually have my own blog. So, Ian set it up and made a link for my business website, o2yoga.com. I would send him content and he would post it. Well of course he got busy (like adopted two kids kind of busy) and didn’t have time to update the blog or whatever it was. Finally I pulled the link off my website because I though it looked bad that it wasn’t being updated. Here is where Kelly came in. She said, “Mimi it’s easy. You can do it. I’ll help you.”. What me? Write a blog? I can’t. I don’t know how. You know. But here is my first post on my very own blog!! I am actually totally excited and nervous.

What the heck does this have to do with being a vegan, or a yogi, for that matter? It has to do with being empowered. I had a pressure cooker in my kitchen for years but never used it. Why? Because I was afraid of it. Than my friend Diana showed me how to use it and now I use it all the time. Lots more about diana and pressure cookers later. My husband, Steven has been telling me for months that I should write a blog, but I didn’t feel confident enough. He actually started one first, which if you know Steven, is major. More on that blog and his quest to rebuild our 1954 bright hull sailboat later too!

Point is, I am feeling empowered not scared by this opportunity to write my own blog. It’s funny. I have been writing for years for my newsletter but this feels different, more personal, more open, more dynamic. Thank you Kelly for opening this door for me. Now that I have written my first post, I feel like I can do it again. I think I have been holding my breath this whole time.

Yoga In Depth – Inspiration

When was the last time you were inspired? How many people do you know that inspire you on a regular basis? What is inspiration anyway? These are questions I ask myself regularly. Why? Because in my mind, inspiration is what makes us better. Here are some definitions of inspiration: the drawing of air into the lungs. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity. The causing of enthusiasm or a sudden idea. Are you craving that feeling of inspiration? Have you given it any thought?

Over the course of an average day, we experience a wide range of emotion. These emotions are reactions to things happening around us. They are often reactions based on previous experiences and anticipation of other experiences. Being reactive is not the same thing as being inspired. When we react we are often feeling powerless, at the mercy of the experience. Inspiration has a more empowered experience.

Many people feel at odds with their surroundings and the activities that they spend most of their time doing, namely their jobs. Maybe they do a job that doesn’t feed them on an energetic level. Maybe they work for a company who’s beliefs aren’t consistent with their own. Maybe they are encouraging people to consume more than they really need. Maybe they are working a schedule that is unhealthy. Unfortunately, this scenario is more and more common. Our culture rewards overworking, consuming too much, and being “busy”. Stress is a direct reaction to these issues. Stress is a symptom of feeling in some ways powerless.

In contrast, inspiration can be an antedote. First, we need to figure out what or who might be inspiring. Even more pressing is to take a deep breath. Literally inspire, breath deeply, fill your lungs and your body with energy, oxygen and prana or life force. At O2 we put breath at the forefront of the practice. Why, because, conscious breath is key to transformation. The breath literally calls us to the present moment. It literally feeds our cells and more subtly feeds our energetic body. Think about how you feel at the beginning of a yoga practice and then contrast that with that feeling you get coming out of savasana. Much of that difference comes from the time you spent focusing on breath.

How does this help with the other types of inspiration? Stimulation and stress are liked a cluttered closet. There is all this stuff bottled up and bouncing around inside of us. It is nearly impossible to find the space in our brains to see and feel things that make us feel light when we are cluttered up. Breath and movement (yoga asana especially) help to clean out, wring out, and clear out the body and the mind. Being inspired is being empowered. Being empowered to make changes in your life and the lives of others. These things can be very small. In fact, they really start as ideas. Being empowered means at first just knowing that there are options, choices. It then means defining them. It then means maybe, just maybe, putting them into action. The beauty of being inspired is that change feels good. Transformation happens not because we force it but because the circumstances are created. The options become available. The choices are there to be made.

Being inspired does not necessarily make for an easier life. We all know that yoga practice is not “easy”. The practice or yoga and the practice of being inspired are disciplines, work. But this practice of yoga, this practice of inspiration makes for a life that is more satisfying, more prana rich and more fulfilling. On that note, I would like to introduce you to the co-founders of Maple Farm Sanctuary, Cheri Exell-Vandersluis and her husband Jim,http://maplefarmsanctuary.org/Our%20Story.htm.
On May 22 we raised $760 for the support of the animals in their care. Talk about inspiration not making for an easy life. These two wonderful people were inspired to make a space in the world that was free of violence. They were recently featured in a movie called Peaceable Kingdom, http://www.peaceablekingdomfilm.org/.
Watch the short clip and see inspiration at work.

These people in the film don’t just inspire me, they challenge me to be better, they motivate me to make change, and they encourage me to stand up for those who don’t have a voice. Inspiration comes in all forms and it is part of the transformation taking place all around us. I wish you a summer full of inspiration and full of O2 Yoga.
Peace, Mimi

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yoursellf to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali

Our Mate

We have a new link for the site featuring one of my dogs, Mate. Now of course she is there because I think she is cute but also as a symbol.

We often think of the animal symbols for vegans being the ones that people eat like cows and pigs. Yes, it is true that dogs are eaten in parts of the world, but in the US dogs are treated completely differently than “farm animals”. I think it is interesting that people would never think of eating a cat or a dog, especially their own pets. I have seen and read so many examples of people being horrified by dogs or cats being abused while eating an abused animal. I don’t think this is intentional or even conscious and that is really the point. Hatred and prejudice is fed by misunderstandings and misconceptions. More importantly, many behaviors are really just habits. See Yoga In Depth April, for more on this concept from a yogic perspective.

The point is, the more connections we make with others, including all kinds of animals not just “pets”, the more compassion is cultivated. I don’t think people who eat meat are bad. I don’t think not eating meat is the end all of enlightenment. What I do think is that there is lots to be done, lots to be changed, lots of joy and love to be spread, and an awful lot of yummy things to eat that don’t involve a creature suffering. Trying to change peoples hearts and minds about really touchy issues like food is really difficult. Changing our own behavior and then modeling without proselytizing is quite another. I am proud of being a vegan but more importantly, I feel joyous about my choices. I have many more to make but the energy to make them is there and is building day by day. I look forward to many more exciting choices coming my way.

Peace, Mimi

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
-Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist (1901-1978)