Thanksgiving: Taking a Stand for All Earth’s Creatures



So we love yoga, and yoga is about wholeness, health, spirit, and with all that comes the opportunity to put your beliefs where your mouth is.  We say we love all creatures of Mother Earth.  Then it comes time to socialize around a meal, and this is where many turn a blind eye to Ahimsa—one of the principles of Yoga.

From Wikipedia:

Ahimsa is one of the cardinal virtues of several of the world’s spiritual paths.  Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept, inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself.

symbol for Ahimsa

symbol for Ahimsa

I am maneuvering  around delicate ground here, I know.  If this sounds preachy, I apologize.  There may be no way around it, but let me  try this— What I really want is to let you know that it is relatively easy to commit to a diet that does not include our fellow sentient beings.  And once you do, you just learn how to let the snide comments or the misinformed concerned friends and family lectures roll off your back.  With a little research and testing you can easily learn to make amazingly great food and get all the nutrition you need, completely from the plant world.  Believe me, I’ve been doing it for six decades.  It is not hard.  It is just a matter of letting go of one habitual way of eating/cooking and learning a new one, and showing Ahimsa to yourself in the learning curve.

images-1Let’s Talk Turkey—I am sure you know what I am about to say, unless you don’t let yourself go there.  And if that is the case, feel free to skip this paragraph.  At this time of the year, turkeys live their complete lives in cages.  They are fattened up with hormones, as well as antibiotics because they are sick from living an unnatural life in cages.  And this is what we as a nation are eating.  How healthy can that be? Animals also secret uric acid and fear hormones when they are slaughtered.  Where do we think this goes?  Even if they are free-range, they are grown for one purpose only—to be slaughtered.  In my mind, there is a correlation somewhere here about the way women over the world are treated, and the way we treat our animals.  I am going to be frank with you–as a woman, it makes me sick to think about it.

images-2If I have any readers left at this point, I am congratulating you for bravely walking through the valley that many will not go…where meat is not meat but animals who have their own lives, loves, families, heartbeats.

You may like to read this talk on Ahimsa by one of the great spiritual masters of all time, Swami Sachidanada, of Integral Yoga.  It makes a lot of sense and is written with Ahimsa for all.

And if you are so inspired, some great vegetarian recipes.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!!

Posted in appreciation, awareness, cleansing diet, Kundalini Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, notes from Shakta, thanksgiving prayer, vegan, vegetarian, whole foods, world peace, yoga, yoga therapy, yogic remedies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Poop-Scooping Mindfulness

images-1Everything is about mindfulness these days.  What we used to call “being conscious” or “awareness” has a brand-new name.  I love that people are catching on to this idea, so whatever name does the job, I’m all for it.

My morning sadhana (yoga/meditation practice) has evolved as of late, to include mindfulness in ordinary life.  I think of it as my meditation practice–such things as making tea, making the bed.  My practice has often included mindful dog walking, and now today—poop scooping.

A little background is in order here.  My family used to live in a townhouse with a yard you could walk through in two steps.  Walking to a bike path was the only way the dogs could do their business.   Now we have a glorious fenced in half-acre or so where–among other activities, such as hammock relaxing and fire pit gathering–the two dogs can relieve themselves at times when the humans are busy.

So on this glorious, blue-skied fall morning, I got the impulse to spend some quality time in my yard with doggy bags in hand, searching among the colorful leaves for camouflaged “presents” from the dogs.  I delighted to think that I would surprise my husband, who has many times brought up the hazards of leaf-blowing and gardening among the land mines of doggy do.

It was actually fun, and of course, mindful.  After the first one or two scoops, I got the mental picture of what I was looking for among the similarly colored and shaped earth and leaves.  After the first couple, it became much easier that finding Waldo.


I am convinced that mindfulness is not so much about watching the pieces of mindfulness— watching your breath, being present to your body, mind, the air, the colors… But all of the pieces can somehow add up to a wholeness.  And the wholeness is greater than the parts.  The proof of mindfulness is a feeling of peace, happiness, contentedness, satisfaction in  “just this’.

Another way of saying it is that poop-scooping is just a focus to flow the energy of now.  

I can delight in the moment that my eyes recognize the shape I am searching for among the leaves, in the actual scooping, while tying the bags and seeing them pile up, in washing my hands, sipping my tea, listening to the birds, writing this note.  My morning practice is extending longer and longer.  I wonder…could it someday cover my whole day?

Of course, there are times during the day where something happens and we react.  When we are taken by surprise, and the proverbial dog poop is on the bottom of the shoe.  Well, the cool thing is that mindfulness doesn’t discriminate.  There is the possibility of mindfulness at all times—if not in the exact moment when we react, then it can be the moment after.

It seems that once awareness or mindfulness is there, the situation becomes more ok.  And we feel more ok about ourselves too.images

And if we cannot find our way to mindfulness in a particular situation?  That happens.  Self-acceptance can still be there.  Allowing ourselves to learn and grow at our own pace goes a long way toward mindfulness.

Cup of tea, anyone?

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Middle Age…and Beyond

intro to poem

What’s Left

I used to wait for the flowers,

my pleasure reposed on them.

Now I like plants before they get to the blossom.

Leafy ones–foxgloves, comfrey, delphiniums–

fleshy tiers of strong leaves pushing upstock

into air grown daily lighter and more sheened

with bright dust like the eyeshadow

that tall young woman in the bookshop wears,

its shimmer and crumble on her white lids.

washThe washing sways on the line, the sparrows pull

at the heaps of drying weeds that I’ve left around.

Perhaps this is middle age. Untidy, unfinished,

knowing there’ll never be time now to finish,

liking the plants–their strong lives–

not caring about flowers, sitting in weeds

to write things down, look at things,

watching the sway of shirts on the line,

                                           the cloth filtering light.

I know more or less

how to live through my life now.

But I want to know how to live what’s left

with my eyes open and my hands open;

rain branchI want to stand at the door in the rain

listening, sniffing, gaping.

Fearful and joyous,

like an idiot before God.

“What’s Left” by Kerry Hardie, from Cry for the Hot Belly. © Gallery Books, 2001.

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Yoga Dog: Come Along if you Feel that Happiness Is the Truth

The word that occurs for the way I’m feeling with the Yoga Dog Kickstarter  that launched today is– EUPHORIA.  After two years of discussion and planning, and great chunks of time when other projects put Yoga Dog in the doghouse—here I am with Jennifer Foster, founder of Kids Wellness Alliance, a kid’s “edutainment” company founded on the belief that kids deserve entertainment that honors their spirit and nurture their minds and

And so, here we are, Friday Oct. 17, 2014.  As the the special subject expert and creative collaborator. I’m thrilled to see the characters in the story fleshed out, the former Disney team working on the storyline.  I even get to play a part–the voice of “Glow”, who is Yoga Dog’s intuition and fairy godmother!  Check out the cast of characters at the bottom of the Yoga Dog Kickstarter page.  So creative!


You are most important in the picture that is forming

with the launching of Yoga Dog.

You who love children,

love yoga,

love to have fun, and see our children having fun.  

Love to know that all children–

including those with diagnoses such as autism and ADHD–

are receiving yoga tools that bring them joy and health

You who love to see our children grow up with peacefulness,

mindfulness, mental and physical wellbeing

love to feel our world getting brighter and more peaceful

as these children become young adults—

You, you, and you!

You are so needed right now to spread the word

and give what you can to make Yoga Dog happen.


20140120_094829Imagine a time when our children can use the TV, a tablet, a smart phone, or a computer for their own good.  Where children ages 3-7 and beyond can love a fun-filled story about a lovable dog, his sassy sister cat, and all the other characters who add comic relief (that even adults can enjoy) while steering children into yoga tools that help them to:

  • calm down and learn to self-regulate
  • focus their attention and stay clear
  • take their breath with them into potentially scary, or enraging situations, and change the outcome
  • be an example to not only other children, but to their parents, teachers and anyone they come in contact with.
  • Get physically fit, mentally empowered, emotionally balanced… and learn to hydrate their bodies and brains until it all becomes a sweet habit.

I’m over the moon with just the thought of it, aren’t you?

Yoga Dog is going to wag his way into the mainstream.  And for those of us who teach children yoga, or offer children’s yoga training programs, that means that once things get rolling with Yoga Dog episodes, lots and lots of parents, teachers, administrators, therapists are  going to be searching the internet for YOUR CLASSES AND YOUR TRAININGS.

Cool!  images-9

And what else is cool is that the Yoga Dog show will be given away to schools and to military bases.

You may not know how Kickstarter works.  I didn’t in the beginning.  Here’s the scoop–if you don’t reach your goal, you DON’T GET TO KEEP THE MONEY.  We are raising $300,000—that is $10,000 per day.  I’ve already given thousands and expect to give more.

The first 48 hours are crucial and influence the rest of the campaign.

So please give what you can….$5 or $500 or $5000…. and then come back and give more during the 30 days.  Let your voice resonate into our future with your donation and with your sharing of  Yoga Dog with your friends and colleagues.  Here’s the link again:

Happiness is the Truth.  We all know it.  Yoga Dog is the perfect way for our children to feel it, live it, and be it.

Posted in ADHD, autism, Children's Yoga, Radiant Child Yoga, school yoga, yoga, yoga dog, yoga games, yoga music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practice of Peace for Adults and Children (Give-away)

Written by Shakta Khalsa,  As published in Aquarian Times Magazine, 2004.  Feel free to use and share.


fire in my heart

fire in my heart

How can I, as one human being, help our world? Can I create a vibrational frequency of peace within myself that radiates outward and affects our entire world? Is that even possible?   Our world and our mind are made of the same stuff–energy. Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga, talks about how everything is vibrational frequency, or energy, in The Mind: Its Projections and Multiple Facets: ”The total sum of this life and this Earth, of this planet, this cosmos, and this space is nothing but energy. Call it any kind of theory you want, this life is constructed so that the energy of existence is transferred into matter. That matter can also be transferred into energy. Whatever the details of your theory, somehow that essential energy created matter and that matter sustains us through the energy!”

Science is now beginning to be able to document nonphysical forces. From Gregg Braden’s book, The Isaiah Effect Decoding the Lost Science of Prayer and Prophecy comes this experiment: “In a report from the International Society of the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, scientists documented the nonphysical force of emotion actually changing the physical molecule of DNA. …The study reported that “individuals trained in generating focused feelings of deep love…were able to intentionally cause a change in the conformation [shape] of the DNA.”Unknown

Many people are waking up from a long sleep because events of cataclysmic proportions are taking place on our planet almost daily. It can easily feel as though we don’t have power to do anything about the way our world is headed, that we can only helplessly stand by and watch the deterioration and destruction of everything we love. But many, many people I meet and speak with are rising to the challenge of these times. I count myself among them as I find myself over and over again coming into a projective state of prayer, but not the kind of prayer that is asking or begging. What I am calling prayer is a practice of consciously creating reality with my vibratory energy. Anytime I forget, I again become aware that I have the power to choose an energy projection of truth and peace prevailing on earth. I’ve noticed how often this uplifted energy is “caught” by others, who perhaps just needed a reminder.

I believe that when enough of us are using 100% of our vibratory energy to create at each moment a vibration of peace, changes that we would normally think of as miracles become everyday realities.   SONY DSCWorking with children has been a life path for me, and through that path I have found children to be completely aware, sensitive individuals. So with that in mind, after each exercise for adults I’ve included suggested ways to communicate with children.   Feel free to improvise and adapt this for your personal use. After the exercise, allow a space for your child to talk about what he or she experienced.

This is very subtle and sensitive work. To stay present, it may be helpful to be aware of your breath, especially at the beginning of the practice.  

Moment to Moment Practice of Peace


  • Bulleted = guided practice for adults  Bold print = guided practice for children
  • I let myself relax into a state of feeling for all who are suffering, and that feeling extends out to all of the world. I allow the pain. I sit with it and let it be as it is, in trust, simply because it is part of All That Is. After some time, I find the pain has subtly transformed into something else: a compassionate healing, an accepting of the higher wisdom in this, as all, actions.

Let’s close our eyes and allow whatever we feel, even if it is sad, or angry, or fearful. If pictures come to you, things that you’ve seen on TV, heard people talking about, whatever it is-just let it be. It cannot hurt you to let it be. Give yourself permission to feel, and just watch what happens if you don’t block your feelings.

  • I extend my prayer field, my energy field, out in front of me and all around me, envisioning and creating a world in which all conflict is resolved in the highest manner. I don’t use my rational mind to think of strategies that would resolve it, but create a space–an emptiness that contains all possibilities–in which the Unknown can fully work.
  • I trust humanity. I visualize us at our best, with full awareness of the consequences of our actions, using this challenge as an opportunity to propel our world into a new way of being. This does not mean that those who have hurt others are not called to account, but I see this happening in the miraculous ways of the Unknown, rather than by ways that creates more suffering and retaliation.

Instead of trying to think about all the problems and solutions that are being talked about in our world right now, let’s do something really different Let’s imagine a big emptiness that stretches out in front of us, and all around us, and goes into the future. That big emptiness is a space in which anything–anything! is possible. Magical things, miraculous things, things no one ever thought about-can all happen in this wonderful emptiness that we are allowing to be there.

  • I have the courage to go into the mind and heart of someone who hurts others. I feel the pain that can be translated into hatred and inflicting pain on others. I feel it pass through me, and I allow it as part of All That Is. I remember that when I accept what is, it cannot stay the same. My acceptance of it creates a kind of “vibrational hug” around it, and it melts. I have a sense that these beings are brought into the fold of humanity through the transformation that happens through this compassionate act.

It takes courage to go into a place inside you where you allow yourself to feel the pain that is inside a person who you don’t like, or who has hurt you in some way. Think of anyone who is like that for you. And now….allow them into your heart and feel their heart too. The hate melts and what is left is just a human being who didn’t know how to handle their painful feelings.

  • I trust that the Unknown, the All That Is, who is sometimes called God, will unfold the events of the future that will match the vibratory frequency that I, and many others together, are holding and projecting–a sacred space where peace and truth prevail. In this deep space of trust and knowing, I feel the ecstasy that is my birthright, and I extend that birthright out to all of humanity.

Without even thinking we trust that we will have another breath, and another, and another, right? Now let’s have that same kind of trust that something good is happening. Something that is connecting us with everyone else on our planet. Feel the peace in your heart and connect it up with everyone else-people you know and don’t know, and grow that peace so it stretches all around the world.  

imagesAnd now, let’s send a blessing to our world by saying together three (or more) times:   Peace to All, Life to All, Love to All

Posted in awareness, Children's Yoga, conscious relationships, guided imagery, kids yoga, Kundalini Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, world peace, yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Best 200 Hour EVER!

IMG_3890Before I get too far along in the next phase of life, (ie. back to business, and the business of living), I’d like to take a moment to honor the latest experience of Radiant Child Family Yoga 200 hour certification training 2014, which took place in July and August in Reston VA, and in retreat style in Gore VA at the high-vibration retreat called The Land Celebration.

The group of 95ers and 20oers were seamlessly compatible as we worked with the Yoga for ADHD/Autism and Happily Ever Now.  As we moved into the retreat for the last 105 immersion program with the 200 hour students, very quickly they were completing each other’s sentences more than once.  We organizers all commented that the students EFFORTLESSLY understood whatever deeper concept of Yoga was being communicated.  More than once, the conversation and insights were right on the leading edge of consciousness!IMG_3838

Our time together included a powerful sweat lodge, hosted by Suwaylu, who is the energy behind The Land Celebration.  We release a lot of old stuff in that sweat lodge, and came out cleaner and purer in thought, word, and deed.  Great thanks for Suwaylu for that.  Same for the powerful Kundalini yoga that we practiced with Kartar, myself, and Lisa, whose versatility includes gormet cooking, hatha yoga training, and energetic and physical anatomy.  Kartar, as usual, brought people to tears, as he goes deep in a loving and human way…that’s his style (and has something to do with why I married him all those decades ago!)

IMG_3898We brought back B.J. to teach Senior yoga, and since seniors are her life and love, everyone in the course gains confidence in teaching elders with love and respect.  We added a new section to the training, Yoga based on Brain Gym, taught by Jyoti, who is the power behind the organization of the entire training.  Great to see her teaching also, and helping students to gain more brain-body tools to use in schools and everyday life.IMG_3895

I am very pleased with the evolution of RCFY 95 and 200.  Every year it is a high point for me because I get to know my students in an all-new way, and together we take the experience of Conscious Living higher and higher.

If this trend continues, and I have every knowing that it will—next year we will be saying “best training ever!” all over again….


Get a taste and an authentic feel of the retreat from this video, lovingly put together by Lisa.  Thank you!!!IMG_3835


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Hooray for Yoga Grandmothers!

The little ones get so many gifts from grandparents…and yoga can be one of them.

Patti Lucchesi has been sharing yoga with her young grandchildren for years.  She uses the Radiant Child Yoga program with them.  They sit with eyes closed and meditate.  They stretch like fish in the ocean.  They partner up and do “window washing” with hands pressed to their partners—a meditative exercise where they “feel” where the hands want to go, sometimes one partner is leading, sometimes the other.  And sometimes—no one is leading.  This is an experience we call “getting into the flow.”  Children can do this so naturally, and this exercise helps them realize what the flow is!73327_505999636141526_830389800_n

Patti knows all this and that is why she shares it with her fortunate grandchildren.  Take a look at the inspiring video she made with her children singing the Radiant Child songs and doing yoga.

In getting permission to post this video, I contacted Patti’s daughters.  One of them, Dena, had this to say:  “My daughters and I have loved your music.  I heard it for the first time during my prenatal yoga  I got the CD and my 2 year old (at the time) Evie, and I listen to it all the time in the morning to keep centered.  Elianna – who is 2 now can be found singing the tune around the house, and she has been hearing them since my belly.”

So lovely to see how the yoga and music has been woven into these children’s lives.   Thank you to the parents, and to Grandma Patti!!


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Believing What You Think

Byron Katie once said, “All fear is about believing what you think.”  My experience tells me she is right.   And so, this piece of wisdom  has become part of the Guidance Cards in Happily Ever Now, a unique and powerful course I teach a few times a year.

flat,550x550,075,fJust a short time ago, I had a dream that typifies this idea.  In the dream I was sleeping peacefully on a bed outside.  It was snowing.  The feeling was peaceful, as though there was nothing unusual about sleeping outside on a bed in the snow.  In revisiting the dream, there was a sense that I created the scenario, as though on some level I knew it was a dream.  So I could relax and enjoy the feeling of it.

Next in the dream, some hikers came along who were walking on a trail that meandered right by my bed.  All bundled up and booted, they were astonished that I had slept in a bed outside in the snow. In a wink of an eye, my peaceful feeling vanished.  Gone was the understanding that the scenario was self-created…that all was as it should be. Instead I  began to believe their perspective, and with a bit of panic, agreed that this was not only strange, but possibly dangerous since I was wearing only pajamas.

I woke with a start, and had the immediate realization that the dream creation posed an  interesting idea to ponder:

All players in the dream were different perspectives of myself.  I was the innocent one enjoying the feeling and wonder of the scenario.  I was the “nay-sayers”, pointing out the illogic and the danger.  And I was the one who forgot that I created the dream, and began believing what I thought!


imagesWould love to open a discussion here:

What experience have you had that is similar to this?  Whether it is prompted from a dream state, or  a thought you catch in your day to day life–what insights and realizations have come to you in this state of awareness?

Posted in appreciation, awareness, Kundalini Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, notes from Shakta, Poetry, yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bluebird Story Comes to Life

fledgling1As some of you know, Checka Antifonario and I have made two albums* of guided meditations/relaxations for kids of all ages (including adult ones!).  One that Checka wrote, which is on Rainbow Walk  is the Bluebird story.  In the story, the child finds a baby bluebird who has fallen out of its nest.  With care, love, and patience the child is guided to provide a piece of bark and wait.  The baby bird finally hops on and as the child is guided to be “your most gentle self”, the bird is lifted back to the nest.

This morning I had a similar experience.  My dog, Zeus, was focused on the 4 ft-deep window well that provides light for the back basement room of our retreat in the country.  Peering in, I saw a fledgling desperate skirting the edges of the well, circling round and round while its parent’s call could be heard in the trees above.  When I first walked out this morning, I noted that the bird’s music was louder than usual, and how lovely it was to hear their songs.  Having seen the predicament the fledgling was in, I now understood that the loudest and most persistent birdsong was from the parent; a song of emergency, of watchfulness, and perhaps of guidance.

After putting the dogs inside, I found a couple of branches long enough, and with enough perching places.  I set those inside the well and left.  When I came back with my camera (see video),  the ending video bleep startled the bird.  It fluttered against the window and fell down in the well again.

Taking lessons from Checka’s Bluebird guided practice I realized….”PATIENCE, SHAKTA!”

With that I went back indoors myself and sent good thoughts, being my most gentle self toward this little fledgling.  A half hour later the well looked like

Success!   No more parent-bird song in the air….

Thanks Checka for the remembrance—it is not about me, it is about helping!

* Album titles:  Rainbow Walk (ages 3-8) and You are Made of Energy (ages 9-14)

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Small in body, Grand in Spirit!

Giselle, who loves yoga!

Giselle, who loves yoga!

In the words of one of my Radiant Child Yoga students…..

“Children show us what truth is on a daily basis, as they aren’t inhibited by what standards or rules society has brainwashed us to follow. Children can giggle uncontrollably, dance like no one is watching, and question the world with such wisdom when we–their shepherds–stand paralyzed in fear, having forgotten the feeling of our truthful existence by worrying so much what the world thinks.

In each moment I am with a child my truth is ever present, my giggles revisit, my creativity flourishes, and my spirit is plumped full of juicy energy.

To my wisest teachers, the young bodies that play freely, you are truly divine radiant souls…. and I thank you for helping me experience what my own soul has been yearning for since I landed here on earth.”


Posted in awareness, Children's Yoga, conscious relationships, kids yoga, meditation, mindfulness, parenting, Radiant Child Yoga, yoga | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment