Loving life with nature, beauty and yoga's wisdom.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Dewy Glow

A radiant New Jersey Magnolia tree

The first day of May, May Day or my Celtic Irish Egan ancestors called it Beltane, is the celebration of high spring in the Northern Hemisphere. A time when the strengthening sun's male energy has warmed mother earth and will continue to heat things up and create lush gardens in full bloom, passing breezes which carries fragrant scents and everything in life starts to feel a little better regardless of your allergies climaxing and our every day pain and suffering triggering us.

A powder puff pink New Jersey Cherry blossom

You may recall the image of a maypole somewhere in your consciousness. Did you know that it is an old European phallic image celebrating fertility? Specifically the union of father sky and mother earth's new growth. The ancient European tradition is to dance around the maypole and light bonfires as a means to bless the earth for a prosperous growing season ahead.

In the States I know we celebrate other new beginnings in May like graduations and Mother's Day which honors all who nurtures. Annually I teach a Mother's Day yoga workshop and I'm always mindful to let people know that childless mothers are welcome. This year I'm inviting the female side of men. Yes, even the high testosterone men have a little gentleness in them. Visit http://www.bamboomovesyoga.com/ and Click into the Englewood, New Jersey location and you can read up on the workshop I'm teaching Saturday May 14th at 3:30pm with my psychic healer Carol Lynne Parker.

Our focus is opening and chipping away at healing our 2nd chakra/energy center found in our reproductive organs. This center governs all emotions connected to our creativity and desires, mostly sexual. To work towards healing this center in May is perfect as Mother Earth is displaying her beautiful creations as flowers peak, animals are born and so much more.

under white buds in New Jersey

Here's one last picture of a flowering tree inspiration in New Jersey. I live in NYC however I drive out to New Jersey to teach because I love nature. It inspires me, my practice and admiring it daily whether I'm in the burbs or not is like taking my vitamins.

This past week in NYC heat, rain and thunderstorms were plentiful. With hot moisture in the air comes a dewy glow. What I mean by this is rosy cheeks and shiny skin.

I never thought of shiny skin as attractive until I saw an older woman on the subway with caked on makeup, a man dressed as a sexy woman with lipstick applied beyond his lip line and wearing far too much powder that began to collect on his sideburns. Also I recall when an old time student of mine Stanley stopped me as I exited teaching a summer time sweaty yoga class, he said "You are glowing and rosy cheeked. You look healthy and great!" I thought I looked like an oily and sweaty mess.

Since our skin whether it is dry, normal or combination responds to humid weather with a little shine at least by 12 noon, here's a little Celtic Folklore that may entice you to not cake up your face with powder and sport a dewy glow instead.

It was believed the morning dew of May 1st held special beautifying powers. Maidens would gather the dew from plants and pat the moisture into their faces, believing it would enhance their looks. I read that some ladies would roll around in the morning grass naked to soak up the dew's beautifying energy while others would run a spoon across the moist grass and bottle the dew. My updated and less obvious Beltane ritual is to slip on a pair of water proof flip flops and walk through the moist morning grass.

me and the damp washcloth dewy glow method

This topic reminds me of a little blurb I read from Christie Brinkley the last time I got my nails done. She said after you apply your makeup, powder and all take a damp wash cloth and pat your face with it. She claims this keeps her skin looking fresh, young and not appearing overly made up. I'm not sure of her age but I know she's been on the beauty scene for a long time and looking at pics of her these days, she's certainly someone I'll take beauty advice from.

I've been using her advice with a variation that I feel works a bit better. I dampen a wash cloth with hot water and I hold the wash cloth a few inches away from my face either after applying make up or taking it off. This technique has a mini steam room effect. The result is a dewy and rosy glow. My hubby saw this procedure after a makeup application and he copied me sans rouge. Watching his delight I added some lavender oil to the wash cloth and the sensation junkie in him was in heaven.

My high spring make up and bag from http://www.forever21.com/

To enhance your radiant dewy glow even further it is time to empty out your current makeup bag and spring clean any traces of winter time makeup out of it. Add colors and products that freshen and lighten up your look.

These are my favorite earth & animal friendly pickups I wear pre, during and post yoga practice.

1. cream blush and lip tint in strawberry by 100% Pure http://www.100percentpure.com/ bought at Duane Reade

2. lip gloss in strawberry by 100% Pure
A kissable gloss which also doesn't catch and stick to your hair.

3. cream eye color stick in black pearl by 100% Pure
I love how with an easy swipe it creates the smudge look under my eyes and sometimes I use it on the outer corner lid of my eyes for a deeper look.

4. Dr. Hauschka Toned Day cream http://www.drhauschka.com/ bought at Whole Foods
I've been using this product instead of a standard foundation for about 10 consistent years. I love how it is thin, adds tone and coverage to my complexion while it smells clean.

5.Dr. Hauschka concealer
I love the twist and apply through the spongy tip applicator

6. Dr. Hauschka compact pressed face powder
I pat my nose and under eyes with the puff once or twice a day and use the mirror to check my teeth for stuck food after each meal and snack.

7. tweezers and 8. eyelash curler is from Tweezerman http://www.tweezerman.com/ bought at CVS

9. My mascara is not a natural product. It is the classic and fabulous Great Lash from Maybelline. I've purchased and tried so many natural mascaras in the past year and none are worth wearing and buying again. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

10. The eye shadow you see above is a beautiful opalescent shimmer color from Physician's Formula http://www.physiciansformula.com/ I wear it over my entire eye lid. It is not a natural product however this company does offer several awesome 100% pure organic products. Having successfully bought their products at CVS before and I'm always curious for more, is how I stumbled into this lovely eye brightening eyeshadow they call natural eye light.

my coffee table book

The picture of my makeup bag and all the goodies inside were photographed over cherry blossoms photos from my always open coffee table book. I love this book which showcases so many beautiful trees from all over the world and in different seasons.

The Life of Trees by Louis Blackwell

My son Ryan and I were sitting on a couch fully absorbed by this book while furniture shopping at West Elm a few years ago. My husband Amit days later gifted me this book after noticing our captivation. Since then I've kept it on our coffee table always open to a different tree picture depending on my mood and the season. Some days you can't have fresh flowers or vibrant plants so why not have visible pictures of them and let your imagination run wild.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brown Sugar Magnolia

I overheard a passerby comment to a friend "New York City goes from cold to a hot. Where's spring?" This is where developing a mindfulness practice comes in.  If I was in the conversation I would have pointed out baby springs magnolia blossoms on the street's corner already transitioning towards the ground and creating a brownish pink blanket around the tree's base. Like the blanket you put around a Xmas tree's base. The secret to enjoying a NYC spring is to pay attention.

Gandhiji's lotus feet in Union Square adorned with fallen Magnolia petals.

At Union Square market although the temperature is damp and cold the vendors are enticing shoppers with colorful flowers to plant.

I love this pink. Even though I'm tempted to buy a few flowers to plant on my terrace I'm holding off until after Mother's Day. Plenty of green thumbs I know tell me to hold off until we are into May because springs nippy temperature turns warm as we enter summer's advent.

hooded sweatshirt http://www.oldnavy.com/

Me on my barren terrace. Waiting to adorn it with flowers.

boots http://www.forever21.com/

This is a grunge earth day look. Today I'm not out and about and teaching. Since I'm keeping it on the down lo, my look covers up my yoga gear in a chic sweat suit relaxed way.

sweater vest http://www..forever21.com/ belt http://www.jjill.com/

I love this lacy sweater vest over my son's hooded sweatshirt which is made more feminine with a wide brown belt. The boots keep my toes warm and toughen up this look.

necklace NYC street vendor

I have a dressing rule that some may call obsessive, I call it coordinating. For instance, my boots have brass eyelets for it's laces while my sweat shirt's zipper and belt buckle is brushed silver. To bring the hardware of my outfit together I picked this necklace which has a combo of brushed silver, brass, gold and even pewter accents. I recommend adding necklaces like this into your wardrobe. They come in very handy in bringing pieces together

agave nectar http://www.organicsyrups.biz/

This week I had a visitor over looking for some sugar to sweeten her tea. I offered her agave nectar and she cringed. I looked for sugar and found some left over brown sugar I've used in the past for baking. Again she frowned she wanted white sugar. I said we don't keep the white devil in this house although it creeps in the most interesting of ways like being disguised in fruity drinks, sweetened yogurts and probably a handful of other mysterious ways that have been overlooked.

I use agave nectar because it has a light sweet taste, easier to clean up than honey and most importantly because it doesn't spike up our blood sugar level as fast as white sugar does. Agave's sugar has a slow absorption rate into our bloodstream.

After warming up with some tea, soy milk and agave nectar it is time to practice a little yoga.

Warrior 2 feet, legs and hips

Since February I've been teaching bird poses. Now that we're in April's last week and moving into more consistent warm weather it is time to add a new theme into my yoga practice and teaching regimen.

With Gandhi, a peaceful warrior being a repetitive subject in my consciousness, skirt season ahead and now that it is almost May... I feel it is a good time to revisit our New Year's wish and ask ourselves "Has it blossomed?" Whether the answer is yes or no it always takes a combination of peaceful grounding and a warrior's strength to put feet on any intention and watch it branch out and grow in it's own timing. That is the trickiness of a wish. It always shows up when we least expect it and with different faces than we imagined would deliver it. Again this is where having a mindfulness practice comes in handy. The art of paying attention enables us to not miss our wishes manifesting in front of us.

My new practice focus: Warrior postures. The warrior of the moment is Warrior 2. There's so much to share about this pose. Let's start with the basics...

align the shoulders over the hips

 The front bent knee is turned out from the hip while back leg is long and turned in slightly from the hip. Because the legs are opposite, one turned in and the other out, your hips will be uneven. Never look for perfection just a feeling of grounding, space and easy breathing.

back view with hands on hips.

Here you can easily see how my hips are uneven. This posture is a leg strengthener and a standing hip opener. In my mind I ask my tailbone to descend and my front pockets to open. Little by little and practice after practice my body listens and starts to take on the Warrior's shape.

Feeling my shoulders over my hips extend your arms out shoulder height. Note how my fingers are not spreading wide apart.

Here's the back arm extension.

gaze over the bent knee's extended arm and fingers

What I love about taking pictures of my practice is now I see how my arms are not level although they feel it. Yoga practice is one of the few movement regimens you can do and slowly improve as you age and practice. I've never heard of a 90 year old run better than they did in their 30's.

My color inspiration for the week ahead. Brown, cream, white and varying shades of pink.

By the way my tights above are from Old Navy and tank from Forever 21. I decided to GY them after the shoot. Meaning I'll wash and give them away. The tights had their days with me and the tank is great for wearing a standard bra and not showing the straps however the tank is a little baggy for me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wall Flower Print

By the look of the clouds in the sky, the cold moisture in the air, logging onto www.weather.com and checking the weather today it's another April rainy day ahead.

Floral Jumpsuit, www.forever21.com

To brighten my day I opted to wear a flower summer jumpsuit over my basic black camisole tank and yoga tights. My first layer keeps me warm as the wind blows right through my jumper. When was the last time you wore a jumpsuit? The 1980's? I saw the comeback of the jumpsuit last summer as I was strolling through American Apparel. I didn't pick it up then but I do remember thinking a jumpsuit is a very relaxed & chic way to cover up a yoga look.

My husband said I look like wallpaper today. I chuckled to myself remembering how I was one of those girls who worked at Laura Ashley in a Jersey mall in the '80's. I loved flower prints then and still do now. I also read Jane Austen books during my breaks, the ultimate wall flower style writer. She saw every detail and wrote about it.

Cropped Denim Jacket Theory circa 2005www.theory.com

At first I put on my black trench to step out and I noticed the proportions of baggy pajama looking pants and a mid thigh length trench made me look stocky and sloppy. It immediately became a cropped jacket day. To stay warm and dry I decided to layer two cropped jackets. The first layer is a vintage Theory denim jacket with silver buttons. The silver buttons coordinates nicely with the icy blue flowers and the blue flowers pick up the denim's light blue. The cropped black leather jacket on top breaks the wind and allows rain drops to bead off you rather than soak into your clothes and onto you. I bought this black leather jacket nearly a decade ago on Broadway for $99. I'll never forget the salesman. He did a hard sell and I'm grateful I got sucked in. It's buttery soft and a classic.

Ankle boots www.aerosoles.com

I've put my tall boots with the exception of my rain Wellies high up on my closet's shelf while keeping my ankle boots within an arms reach for days like these. Aerosoles are not for unglamorous ladies anymore. They offer some sleek designs that allow you to high step it in heels and be compassionate to your feet at the same time.

Elastic bangle www.forever21.com & Cami www.oldnavy.com

The silver bangle picks up the denim's silver buttons plus the silver earrings that are not shown. I chose a black shelf bra camisole style tank, Old Navy, underneath to create a seamless illusion of straps that could belong to the jumpsuit's design.

Fresh juice www.liquiteria.com

Liquiteria is one of my favorite post yoga nutrient hangs in the Lower East Side. They offer a wide variety of fresh juices and high vibrational counter style food. I picked the killer x to combat a little congestion. There's a killer xxx for an extra gingery kick.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New York City's April Gurus

People often ask me how often I've been to India. They question the variety of tunics I wear and the amount of Gurus I speak about. Well the answer is I've been to India once for about 48hrs while I accompanied my husband on a business trip. The tunics are samples that were bought abroad before my darling Amit knew me and his ladies clothing line was up and running. Remember 2008? When the banks fell apart, our way of doing business changed and so did our ability to buy extra clothes and stuff? That is when I got creative about dressing and started to re-explore vintage clothing as I did in high school. I also learned which stores have the best value driven basic clothing to mix with the old and keep the boho, gypsy and hipster fashionista alive within me.

As for the Guru's well they come to New York City every Spring and Fall. I guess they like to inspire us when the seasons are in transition in hope that we may change like the weather. The photo above is of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar no relation to the Ravi Shankar who hung out with The Beatles.

Sri Sri graced NYC with his teachings on meditation Sunday April 10th. I took a photo of my Playbill because the security at Lincoln Center made me check in my camera at the coat room. Sri Sri is one of my favorites. He's a simple and deep speaker. I found myself the following week teaching and practicing his teaching of...as you sit to meditate and concentrate on your breathe...each time your mind takes you away from concentrating on your breath and the meditative space in between watching your breath repeat the mantra "I'm nothing, nobody, I'm energy." I've found this concept of letting go labels such as I'm a mother, a wife, a yoga teacher etc. chips away at the mind's chatter of I have to do this or that later because this is my role. When you strip yourself away of your ego's tasks for just a moment and become quiet, you will feel such a rush of pure energy making you so much more intuitive, efficient and operating from your heart rather than your head.

Thank you Sri Sri for the "I'm nothing mantra". This is absolutely opposite of what Anthony Robbins taught me a decade ago with his "I can do it!" mantra. I needed that push then and something different now. I love the way our spirit brings us in front of exactly what we need at precisely the right moment. The hard part is we have to pay attention.

Sunday April 17th my husband brought me to experience what some people call the new Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanthi at Manhattan Center on 34th Street. This is where Mother Amma does darshan and hugs thousands of people each summer.

Here's another picture of a program. Still water, greenery, a reflection and a full moon. Fitting for a meditation and the fact that it was a full moon as he spoke. The Farmer's Almanac calls April's full moon the Pink Moon because the cherry blossoms are adding a pink tone to our landscape.

Adyashanthi is a beautiful teacher who like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke of the concept of bringing your consciousness to the state of no thing ness. Buddhists call it emptiness. NYC's April gurus spring message: Be nothing, let go of your labels, your tasks and chores as the only thing that keeps you propped up in this world and become still daily with meditation. You will create the space in your consciousness to see yourself  living with all beings of the universe as one. This will give you energy and release your stress.

Amit was sitting on the edge of his chair for this guru while I'll admit the disco ball overhead kept calling my name.

Inspired by the pink blossoms, I'm in my pink tunic from India.

I saw some divas coming out off the L train subway line from Williamsburg, Brooklyn (a super funky and chic neighborhood) wearing their summer platforms and socks. I'm not a complete fan of this look but I put my boots to the top of my closet and I don't plan on wearing them until November unless I'm off to some chilly destination. Cork and leatherette platforms, Forever 21. Oatmeal colored socks which coordinate with the tunic's embroidery is from Target. Navy tights, American Apparel.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Peaceful Warrior

This past Saturday marked Union Square's official start to the peaceful protest season. Notice the back view of Gandhi's sculpture holding a sign in fine print stating "No More Islamophobia." Protesters cry for change is perfectly in synch with nature's pink magnolia newly bloomed blossoms.

North East of Union Square my family and I grabbed a quick brunch at Piccolo Cafe. I will return for their veggie paninis and very red tomatoes.

Piccolo Cafe has a rustic charm that made my post yoga wearing clogs from Forever 21 and long coverup corduroy/eyelet prairie skirt fit in. Their tables have a foot rest option while you sit on their high stool


My son's Old Navy waffle knit zip up hoodie made more shapely with a Forever 21 stretch woven belt.

I practiced yoga in the morning and covered up my tights and tank with this look. The skirt is vintage Peruna from London.

There are plenty of trendy European tourists in my neighborhood. While they take in downtown's charm I take notes on their innovative styling. My recent pick up is the bangle over the sweatshirt.

On our way home I stopped into the pharmacy and bought a fabulous must have moisterizing cleanser. Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser. It is 100% natural and takes off mascara too! Sensation junkies will love how each time you use it you smell fresh peeled oranges.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Bird's Eye View

                                           Heron Pose/Kraunchasana

      Since February I've been focusing on practicing and teaching yoga's bird poses. Where I concentrate on tearing apart and putting together one bird posture a week. During each week's worth of bird pose study I'm finding now that it is April the students and I are beginning to soar rather than fret into the balancing demands and heart opening grace of the bird of the week.
   I'm practicing this way now because for years I've been suppressing a feeling when it comes to yoga teaching and that is yoga and fashion have a lot in common. Isn't true that you don't wear a puffy parka during summer's heat or shorts during the freezing cold? Now I'm tuning in more and more to nature's seasonal cue to practice particular postures that compliment balancing my energy during the changing seasons of the year. Whether we like it or not everything changes. The weather, our likes, dislikes, the money you earn and so does our taste in dressing ourselves. Why doesn't your yoga teacher switch things around more often and teach postures that compliment your energy during a rainstorm or high winds? You may want to ask.

   Ayurveda the natural and medicinal sister practice to yoga teaches that February in the northern hemisphere marks late winter, the beginning of the Kapha season (pronounced coff-uh like a cough). During the Kapha season winter's snow melts more often than it sticks to the ground. You can expect more rainy, windy and chilly days ahead along with the earth swelling with water ready to push through new shoots of fresh growth. With moister and cooler air comes excess mucus that clogs our sinuses while those airborne particles that make us cough and allergic begin to stick to our moist noses, eyes and throat making us sick, run down and feeling heavy.

    To counter the lethargic feelings that comes along with nature's dominance of both the earth and water elements from February to late spring, I've made it a point to focus my yoga posture teachings and personal at home practice on poses that make us feel sunny and warm such as repeating plenty of flowing Sun Salutations mixed with a bunch of airy and space activating postures like the wide variety of bird arm balances. There's crow, flying crow, twisted crow, peacock and peacock feather pose otherwise known as the inversion forearm stand. Eagle and bird of paradise poses are one legged standing balancing postures which invite your inner winds to turn turbulent and produce an internal shake or two for you to ride your breath in addition to practicing upper chest opening backbends where you can fluff up and open the tight muscles of your upper chest, shoulder joints and release your tight hips to the earth in the endless varieties of seated pigeon poses. If you soften your senses enough while you're in these postures you will feel nature's elements of sun, air and space enter your body and heal it. Practicing these postures during the cold and wet days of the Kapha season has made me feel more balanced and alert each time I walk off the yoga mat and back into my life.

    Now that early spring has sprung in the northern hemisphere I'm noticing north eastern snow birds are flocking back to town. In this case I'm referring to the human variety that has winter homes down south in the tropics. Classes are filling up with golden bronze shoulders and the ladies are wearing fruity colored nail polish to contrast their skin's sunny glow. On their arrival I'm left to teaching about two or so more weeks of bird poses. I'm still researching to see if I left one bird out. As I do I've come to realize my favorite bird postures to practice are the seated heart and hip opening variety. I guess this discovery is in perfect alignment to my new life of being at home more often and nesting as well as having tight biceps from carrying and caring for my 6 month old son Krishna. Mommies who change endless amounts of diapers get a lot of tight shoulder release from practicing backbends and sitting down is always a treat. Being in pigeon postures is perfect for me now.

    As a result of loving the seated bird postures I've come to learn by way of observing myself and many students get into the postures that although the pigeon variations are seated there's a quality of balancing the 2 sitting bones, pubis bone and tail bone to converge and meet the ground in order to take root like a tree before the pose can grow. I'll get into the nitty gritty of pigeon pose in another blog post because I've come to rediscover this past week the delight of practicing the seated bird pose heron/krunchasana, a white long necked sub-tropical bird, perfect for the snow birds. I experienced the same fact of rooting the four bones of the pelvis is true for this pose as well as making it a seated balancing pose which invites the air element into the body just as pigeon does.

    Take a look at the photo posted of me of me above practicing heron pose. One leg is extended upward and the other is bent at the knee in half hero's pose. When you sit like this most hips can't balance on the floor. To ground your 2 sit bones, pubis and tail bone placing a folded blanket under the hip that is hovering off the floor is best. I can't tell you which hip because it is different for everyone and can vary depending on the weather, your body and consciousness. Sometimes I like to sit both hips on a folded blanket while on other days I don't want any support to ground.

     A tip to practice once your grounded is to round your lower spine like the base of an egg. How fitting for April and spring's spirit of rebirth. From there you can unfurl your upper spine to point upward like a heron's long neck and catch the sun's rays on your upper chest as you puff up your chest like a bird.

     Finally the Basics class inspired me most while teaching heron pose this past week. I asked the students to be like a shaman while in the posture embodying the heron's spirit and wisdom. To imagine what it would be like to fly through the winds of the sky realm and feel the sun from a new angle. After I said this I opened my eyes to take a look at the class  and they were in it. They appeared to be fully immersed in their bird. I gently asked them to come out of the pose and no one heard me. This makes me happy!

     As I ponder my next series of teaching the greening of the earth begins. How exciting as we feel new possibilities are in the air.


Vintage tunic from Monsoon London, tights Forever 21, necklace Laila Rowe, multi hoop earrings from NYC street vendor

How to cover up after practicing on a chilly April afternoon.

I don't have a classical khaki trench coat. Here's my trench vest, Forever 21, underneath is a Theory cropped blazer circa 2009, bangle from Forever 21, tote, NYC street vendor, mint green scarf is inspired by the pale shade of green I'm seeing on the trees these days. The scarf is gifted from India.

Clogs, Forever 21, are the perfect after yoga slip on shoe. It is still chilly outside making socks the same shade of brown as my tights and shoes a must to elongate the look. Socks, Filene's Basement

Hat, Pookie & Sebastian circa 2009, works great to face NYC's street corner's winds and covers after yoga practice hair.