Monday, September 29, 2008

Yogi Tea: a Blissful Autumn Drink

Yogi Tea is SOOOO good.
Once you start drinking it you will want to drink it all the time. It is so nourishing and calming to the body. All of the spices in the tea, following the Ayurvedic tradition, have a health building, medicinal quality; and many of the ones mentioned in this post – like ginger, cardamon and cinnamon – are very warming and appropriate for autumn and winter. They cure what ails you, and even better, the help to prevent the ailing in the first place.

Tea is comforting, and it can be used as a part of wonderful daily rituals that cultivate mindfulness, and foster gratitude for each small moment. Tea after yoga class is often used as a way to build sangha (community) by giving people a reason to sit down together to talk and share.

YOGI TEASThese recipes came to me through a Kundalini Yoga yahoo group I belong to. Thank you, and Sat Nam, to RUTH SALDANHA, who posted them to the group. I have added some of my own notations as well.
This recipe comes from Yogi Bhajan, who introduced Kundalini to the west in the late 1960s. Yogi Bhajan is also the founder of the "Yogi Tea" brand, which is easy to find in health food stores.

- 2 quarts water
- 15 whole cloves
- 20 black peppercorns
- 3 sticks of cinnamon
- 20 whole cardamon pods (split the pods first and be careful with the
tiny seed sticks that come from the inside)
- 8 fresh ginger slices (1/4" thick, no need to peel)
- 1/2 teaspoon regular or decaf black tea leaves (approximately 1 tea

Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Add cloves and boil one
minute. Add cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and ginger. Cover and boil for
30 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for two to three hours. Remove from heat,
add black tea, and let cool. Strain and store in the refrigerator. Reheat
when you want a cup and add milk and honey to taste.

Spiced green tea
- 1 tablespoon organic green tea leaves,
- 3 pods black cardamom (green cardamom will do if black cardamom is
unavailable), crushed
- 1 piece of ginger, crushed

Makes one large teapot. Do not brew for more than three minutes, as green
tea becomes bitter after that. Black cardamom has a slightly smoky taste,
very different from that of green cardamom. This tea is good for digestion,
but it is heating, and both ginger and cardamom are said to be aphrodisiac,
so don't have it before bed, unless you are planning not to sleep immediately.

Chamomile and ginger tea
- 1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
- 1 piece of ginger, sliced timely

Chamomile is a relaxing herb, calming to the nervous system. Add a teaspoon of honey and sip slowly before your evening meditation.

Thyme and mint tea
- 1 pinch dried thyme, or better, a few twigs fresh thyme,
- 1 pinch dried mint, or better, a few leaves fresh peppermint
- 1 small twig rosemary (optional)
- 2 pints boiling water

Mint can be grown in any garden, and even in pots on a window sill. This tea
taste much better with herbs freshly picked from the garden. Brew for a few

Liquorice and fresh mint tea
- a few leaves fresh peppermint
- 1 piece of liquorice stick (it's actually the rood of the plant, and
looks like a twig), about 1 inch long
- 1 pint boiling water

Pound the liquorice stick with a mortar and pestle. Brew with the mint for
at least five minutes as liquorice take a while to release its delicious
bitter sweet flavour. A great digestive tea, excellent for Pitta constitution.

Spicy pink tea
- 1 large pinch of dried hibiscus flower
- 1 large piece of ginger, crushed
- 1 stalk lemon grass, chopped
- 1 pint boiling water

Hibiscus flowers give this tea a reddish colour, as well as a distinctive
tang, which complement very well the fieriness of ginger. Brew for a few

Indian Chai
- 1 tablespoon organic black tea leaves
- 5 pods green cardamom, crushed
- 1 piece of ginger, sliced
- 2 cloves
- 1 small piece of cinnamon bark
- 2 pints of water
- 1 cup milk
- 3 teaspoons organic cane sugar

Put all the ingredients in a large pan, bring to the boil and simmer for
five minutes. Strain and serve piping hot.

Clare island punch
- 1 large pinch of dried hibiscus flower
- 1 small pinch Bancha tea (black tea can be used as a substitute)
- 6 pods green cardamom, crushed
- 1 thumb size piece of ginger, finely sliced
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 3 seed black pepper, crushed
- 1 piece of liquorice root, crushed
- 1 sprinkle of allspice powder

Put all the ingredients in a large tea pot, cover with boiling water, and
keep on the stove for 10 minutes before serving.

Drink in good health!
Jai bhagwan-
Teal Marie

One interesting, and to me VERY surprising piece of information I came across regarding cinnamon: "Coumarin is a flavouring which is found in higher concentrations in the types of cinnamon grouped together under the name “cassia cinnamon”. Relatively small amounts of coumarin can already damage the liver of particularly sensitive individuals. However, this is not permanent damage."

You can read more about it here, and find out more about Ceylon cinnamon that evidently does not have this component here.

Now cinnamon has been shown to be a very effective assistant in lowering blood sugar, and has many other healthy benefits, so I wouldn't get to panicked about the coumarin issue. This article discusses the health benefits and the coumarin issue as well. Like all of these issues it is going to take some research to get to the bottom of. I will try to get back with some posts with my findings, I welcome any information readers may have to offer.

This site has a lot of useful information on the medicinal uses of herbs and spices. And this one as well. Here is a site for buying organic herbs.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Get in Touch with Your Inner Goddess

My mom called me the other night. She gets together with this awesome group of women who have the most incredible parties. Their big one is in June, and it’s called Estrofest…it’s quite an extravaganza. Anyway, they are having a “Goddess Party” this weekend and she, and my sis-in-law, were asking for some ideas for goddesses. I was just going to email them, but then I thought, hey, this is a great post…

So, before the concept of “God” started leaning toward the patriarchal, bearded grandfather concept that dominates many religions today, the goddess, in her many forms, reigned supreme. This is a vast and fascinating subject, and the archetypes represented in the pantheons of goddesses across cultures and millennia have a lot to offer to us. They show up in our dream minds, and inform our ordinary waking states. We can recognize some aspect of all of them in ourselves, and it can be helpful to contemplate them when we need a little support cultivating the energy or ideas that they represent in our own life.

Here are a few goddesses that come first to my mind in this autumn season:

Demeter: The Greek Goddess of Agriculture.
Her name means, “barley mother” and “earth mother”; she is a fertility goddess, and is often shown with a stalk of corn or grain, a torch, and a crown. She helps women harmonize with the ebb and flow of their life cycles. Her daughter, Persephone, was carried away in a notoriously bad relationship with Hades, god of the underworld. Demeter was so grief stricken that she caused the world to ebb into winter and to stay in that state of death until Persephone was returned, albeit for only part of the year (hence, the seasonal cycle.)

Hestia: Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home
Hestia represents purity, sincerity, sanctity and safety. She is responsible for the wholesomeness of a warm meal and a cozy hearth. We bring her energy into our lives when we express the “domestic goddess” inside of us.

Now, if you are looking for a goddess with energy a little less tame, meet a few of my favorites:

Durga: Hindu Warrior Goddess
Durga is my girl.

She symbolizes strength, valor and protection. The Hindu gods called her forth with a “breath of fire” when they found they could not defeat the Buffalo Demon, Mahisasura, who threatened the world. She rides on a lion in a sacred trance, brandishing a weapon given to her by the gods in each of her eight arms (click the link above for more on her weapons.) She is the slayer of evil, and is also referred to as "Triyambake" meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

Here is kirtan (a sacred chant) to Durga

Lilith: Hebrew Goddess of Personal Power and Sexual Appetite
Take a walk on the wild side ladies. When God made Lilith (the first Eve) for Adam, and she told him, “I will not lie beneath you”, and he gave her the old “well, I won’t lie beneath YOU because you should always be in the inferior position…”, Lilith said, “Ah, no you din’it!”…or something like that. Anyway, Lilith doesn’t take any shit, so if you feel like you need to pull a little of that power into your aura, she’s ya’ girlfriend. Lilith is all about freedom of choice; she makes her own rules, and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She is also a sensual seductress, tempting men to follow her for her own pleasure’s sake. So, have at it ladies. YOu may also want to check out Lilith Magazine.

White Buffalo Calf Woman: Lakota Goddess of Peace
This sacred woman of supernatural origin gave the Lakota their "Seven Sacred Rituals". She is the ultimate role model for woman as facilitator, leader, healer and bringer of peace. You know the “Peace Pipe’? Yep, that was all her. The peace pipe was used in rituals within a sacred circle; it was passed from person to person so each could share their truth, and understanding and unity could be brought to the group. I love her because her way to peace and understanding is decidedly feminine, based in communication and tolerance.

Saraswati: Hindu Goddess of Knowledge and Arts
Saraswati is my patron saint, so to speak. I just love her. She dresses in white, and holds a mala (prayer beads) and a palm leaf scroll, indicating knowledge. Saraswati usually rides a swan or a peacock, while playing music on a veena. She is the mother of the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. She is identified with the Saraswati River and it’s nourishing and purifying aspects. She is the consort of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. Saraswati Puja (celebration) is coming up in October, if you have a Hindu temple in your town, try to go, they are amazing rituals and celebrations.

None of these great goddesses resonating with you? Here are a few more to ponder:

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love
Green Tara: Buddhist Goddess of Compassion
Isis: Egyptian Goddess Magic and Life
Artemis: Greek Goddess of the Wilderness and the Moon
Butterfly Maiden: Native American Goddess of Renewal

Manditory Goddess Reading:
Goddesses in Everywoman, Gods in Everyman by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD
A Goddess is a Girl's Best Friend by Laurie Sue Brockway
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

Other Resources for Your Inner Goddess:
Inner Goddess Retreats
Art of the Divine Feminine

Enjoy, and may the Great Goddess hold you in the palm of her hand always.

Teal Marie

P.S. Mom and Sarah, send in some pics from the party and I’ll put them in a follow up post.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Turning of the Seasonal Wheel: The Autumnal Equinox

September 21, is the Autumnal Equinox, the time when night and day are of equal length.
“This time holds the night and day in perfect balance… As the wheel turns towards the dark half of the year we honor the aging of the Great Goddess as she passes to the Crone stage…” says Natalie “Fox” Maisel in her ritual for Mabon, the autumnal equinox (available for download, here.) “At this time we give thanks as we yield our harvests and turn inward for the cold months. This is an auspicious time to finish old business and take time slowing down from the business of the past season.”

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love it so much, I wish the whole year was autumn. When the air starts to turn cool it’s so invigorating to me. I feel this real internal pull towards center; a deep going in, and in, and in. I feel most creative at this time of year, and deeply intuitive. I also feel a real need to slow down. My yoga sadhanas get deeper, more meditative; lots of long holding postures and slow transitions. I feel especially grateful for fall this year, as it is the first year in many that I am living in a place that has a change of seasons. Last weekend my fiancĂ© and I went to the Blue Ridge Mountains to hike in the cool mountain air and sip hot apple cider as the sun slipped behind those dusky blue ridges. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful.

As Natalie’s words above highlight for us, this is a wonderful time to heed the natural instincts we are feeling. If you feel a little sleepy, and slow, like you need some time to rest and think, go with it, you are on the right track. This is the season for resting and thinking, for taking inventory of what we have been running around doing all year. I encourage you to take some time to take care of yourself, and give yourself the gift of some processing and transition time in your life. It is also a great time to leave behind things you don't need. Behaviors, relationships, or ways of thinking that are no longer useful to you. As the poet Rumi says, "Change rooms in your mind for a day."

This time of reflection is also a great opportunity to re-establish contact with Gratitude. As you make your inventory of the past year, consider starting a Gratitude Journal, and writing in it daily. I find just a few lines, even a word, helps to keep me rooted in mindfulness and gratitude for “what is”, and makes acceptance of “what isn’t” much easier.

During this change in seasons the body, as well as the mind and spirit, need some special care and assistance. Check back to my blog during the couple weeks. I will have several posts focusing on how to honor and assist your body as it rides this turn of the Seasonal Wheel.

May this autumn season of harvest bring you bounty and blessings in your life-
Teal Marie

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yoga master, 90 next month, says discipline makes him feel one-fifth his age

This is a beautiful and inspirational story about yoga and the positive impact in can make on our lives. This guy is my hero! I'm telling you, if we all did one hour of pranayama each day we would live in radiant health forever.

I was also excited to see that this gentleman did some of his studies with Swami Kripalu, who is the head of the Kripalu Yoga lineage that I teach. They were both from Gujarat, India.

Make sure you watch the slide show! To view it go to the original article by DAVID CASSTEVENS, here.

ARLINGTON — He spoke as if he were seated on an examining table, talking with his doctor.

"I am feeling very goood," he declared.

Any pains?

"No headache. No fever. Never."

Problem with medications?

Kantilal Talati smiled. "No med-i-ca-tion."

The polite, gracious man from India, who turns 90 next month, summarized his well-being in economical English. "I never fall sick. Due to yoga only."

Arpita Shah’s grandfather knelt on the living room carpet of an Arlington home where he has lived with his daughter and son-in-law since leaving Bombay, India, last summer. Limber as an Olympic gymnast, Talati curled his 5-foot, 125-pound frame into a tight ball, and using his head for balance, slowly raised both legs overhead until his inverted body punctuated the accomplishment, forming an exclamation point.

Then Talati lowered his bare feet, turning the soles inward until they met in a posture of prayer.

As he maintained the headstand — the king of yoga poses — his family watched with respect and admiration.

Daily devotion
Talati performs a variety of positions — asanas — as part of his disciplined daily yoga schedule.

"Never do I lapse," he said proudly.

Yoga, an ancient Hindu practice, is aimed at achieving a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. Postures and breathing techniques induce relaxation.

Talati devotes one hour every morning to pranayam (breathing exercises), followed by an hour of yoga.

After breakfast he gives yoga lessons to his hosts.

In the afternoon he does another session alone, performing more challenging yoga poses and movements that massage internal organs, enhance blood circulation and act on the joints, increasing strength and flexibility.

According to a yoga philosophy, it’s not the number of years that determines a person’s age but rather the suppleness of the spine.

Talati credits his 30-year regimen for his good health and longevity.

"I am very young now," Talati said. "If someone asks me 'How old are you?’ I always say, 'I am 18 years!’"

Amused by his own statement, the man born Oct. 25, 1918, broke into a high-pitched staccato laugh..

"My grandfather," said Arpita Shah, a 33-year-old nutritionist, "is my hero."

Crisis spurs change
A native of Bharuch, a seaside city in the state of Gujarat in western India, Talati worked as a project developer for the government-operated Western Railway. As a young man he smoked heavily.

"Four packs a day," he said.

"What!" his granddaughter said in disbelief at this revelation.

After Talati suffered a heart attack at age 44, he made a commitment to dramatically change his lifestyle. He learned relaxation and meditation techniques, and yoga poses from famed guru Acharya Swami Krupalvaanandji and, after he retired, began teaching the discipline at schools, temples and public gardens.

Talati is registered with the Yoga Alliance to teach at the 500-hour level, the highest level available.

"He is a jewel, the perfect testimony for yoga," said Marinda Hollar, owner of the Arlington Yoga Center. "It’s not only his physical prowess, but his kindness. Humility. Authenticity. He’s not trying to get money or attention. He cares about others. That’s what a yogi is."

Talati hopes to open a yoga studio next year. For now, his daughter and granddaughter are his regular students.

Arpita Shah’s stamina has improved, but she has yet to master the headstand.

"My grandfather won’t let me use a wall to help balance," she said. "He tells me, 'There are no shortcuts.’ He says I must learn the right way. No matter how long it takes. I am so lucky. I have found my teacher in him."

A simple life
Talati lives simply, modestly, happily, at peace with himself and the world.

He sleeps in a small guest room furnished with a rattan bed and a dresser.

A photograph on one wall pictures the woman to whom he was married for 66 years.

After Padmavati Talati died last year at age 85, her husband left his homeland to live with family in Texas.

"I prefer it here," Talati said. "The climate is better. The atmosphere. The air."

Rising before dawn, the yogi bows before a brightly colored painting of a Hindu deity and then begins his regimented day with a body-cleansing cup of hot water with lemon juice and honey.

A vegetarian, he has whole-wheat toast, with egg whites, juice and Indian tea for breakfast.

He doesn’t require naps and spends hours each day reading and writing about yoga.

Before retiring at 10:30 p.m. he walks about two miles.

"He wants to start jogging," his granddaughter said.

How long will he live?

The question appeared to surprise and amuse the elderly man.

"As long as God gives me that bonus," he said, smiling. "It is not in my hand. I want to die healthy. That is always my prayer."

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Healthy Treats for Big and Little Yogis

As a yoga teacher, I get a lot of questions about healthy eating, particularly from parents who are trying to improve their own eating habits, and start their children out on the right track. In general I tell people:

A healthy diet for the yogi or yogini of any age should be moderate to help keep the body light and the mind calm; and full of vital nutrients to support and build Prana. A correct diet will strengthen the immune system, make meditation and yoga asana practice easier, and lead to a more equananimous approach to life.

I also tell people, "if it's it!" Basically, you can't go wrong if you make 70% or more of your diet living, whole food. Meaning something that grew in the ground, or on a tree and has had no processing other that you lightly cooking it. The salad pictured above is very typical of what we would have for dinner. My fiance Mike made this one. Isn't it gorgeous? How could you not want to eat that? It even had edible flowers on it.

This is doubly important for your littlest yoginis. I would highly encourage any parent to make their own baby food. I know you are extremely busy, but really it takes very little time, and the pay off is enourmous. Your child will grow up with "whole food tastebuds", instead of fat, salt, sugar, aka "Mickey D's", taste buds. This summer I spent an afternoon at each of my sis-in-law's homes making baby food for their little girls (see pic of eager eater Bella gazing at her stash of baby food). It took a few hours to make, literally, a couple months worth of food, and for a fraction of the cost of commercial baby food. Try it, and tune back into my blog, those baby food recipes will be coming soon.

Besides the baby food, over the next few months I’ll be sharing a lot of my day-to-day favorite recipes, but in the meanwhile these came to my email box and I thought I’d pass them along. If you’d like to see more recipes like these you can find them, here.

Namaste, and may your food nourish you-
Teal Marie

Peanut Butter and Granola Breakfast Wraps or Snack
This wrap recipe calls for bananas, but you could also use apple slices or another fruit instead. Omit the honey for a fully vegan version.

* 1 flour tortilla (use whole wheat if possible)
* 1-2 tbsp peanut butter
* 1 banana, sliced thin
* 1/3 cup granola
* honey (optional)

Preparation: Spread the peanut butter on the flour tortilla. Place bananas and granola on the peanut butter. Drizzle with honey, if desired and wrap.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
If you're craving a high-fat and salty treat like fast food French fries, try this recipe for healthier baked sweet potato fries. Baked sweet potato fries are much lower in fat than a deep-fried version and are very quick to prepare. Kids will love these baked fries as well.

* 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 1 tsp cumin
* dash cayenne pepper
* 1/4 tsp paprika
* 1/2 tsp salt or seasoned salt

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients until potatoes are evenally coated with oil and spices. Place potatoes on a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until done.

Thai Peanut Sauce
A basic Thai peanut sauce can be used for dozens of things. I like to use it as a salad dressing, to dip spring rolls in or as a sauce for noodles. This basic recipe isn't too spicy, so kids will especially love the peanutbuttery taste. You might also want to try this spicier Thai peanut sauce recipe or a Thai peanut sauce with ginger.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes


* 1/4 cup peanut butter
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 2 tbsp lime juice
* 2 cloves garlic, minced and crushed
* 2 tbsp rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over low heat (mixture will become easy to combine as peanut butter melts). Continue stirring over low heat until ingredients are combined and mixture is smooth and creamy. This recipe is perfect as it is, but you may want to thin it out a bit with more water, depending on what you're using it for.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

In the end if you stay win.

Book cover of Book cover via Amazon I was thinking a bit about happiness today...maybe because I was feeling a little un-happy. And, I really had to ask myself, "Self...what's the point?" And then I remembered reading this...
Billions of things could happen that you haven’t even thought of yet. The question is not whether they will happen. Things are going to happen. The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what happens. The purpose of your life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences. You were not put on Earth to suffer. You’re not helping anybody by being miserable. Regardless of your philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that you were born and you are going to die. During the time in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience. Events don’t determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. They’re just events. You determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. You can be happy just to be alive. You can be happy having all these things happen to you, and then be happy to die. If you can live this way, your heart will be so open and your Spirit will be so free, that you will soar up to the heavens. This path leads you to absolute transcendence because any part of your being that would add a condition to your commitment to happiness has got to go. If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience. You’re going to die anyway. Things are going to happen anyway. Why shouldn’t you be happy? You gain nothing by being bothered by life’s events. It doesn’t change the world; you just suffer. There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.

This choice to enjoy life will lead you through your spiritual journey. In truth, it is itself a spiritual teacher. Committing yourself to unconditional happiness will teach you every single thing there is to learn about yourself, about others, and about the nature of life. You will learn all about your mind, your heart, and your will. But you have to mean it when you say that you’ll be happy for the rest of your life. Every time a part of you begins to get unhappy, let it go. Work with it. Use affirmations, or do whatever you need to do to stay open. If you are committed, nothing can stop you. No matter what happens, you can choose to enjoy the experience. If they starve you and put you in solitary confinement, just have fun being like Gandhi. No matter what happens, just enjoy the life that comes to you.

As difficult as that sounds, what’s the benefit of not doing it? If you’re totally innocent and they lock you up, you might as well have fun. What good does it do to not have fun? It doesn’t change anything. In the end, if you stay happy, you win. Make that your game, and just stay happy no matter what.

©2007 Michael A. Singer. From the book The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Yoga Meals for Cleansing and Health

LentilsImage via Wikipedia

When diet is wrong medicine, it is of no use.

When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.

~Ayurvedic Proverb

Kitcheree is a traditional Indian dish made from rice and daal (lentils).

Mung beans are often used, but many varieties of lentils and beans can be used. This site has some wonderful recipes for Kitcheree and other health building and cleansing recipes. This is not a "hot" spicy dish, but it is filled with aromatic herbs like cinnamon, cumin, and cloves. All of the spices provide vital health giving functions in the Ayurvedic tradition.

You can find out more about the ancient system of Ayurveda, here.

Happy Eating! May your food nourish and protect you.


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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Interview with owner Natalie "Fox" Maisel from Pink Heels Blog

If you have not yet visited go there now! It is a fabulous site with all things honoring the Divine Feminine in all of us. Natalie provides audio downloads of beautiful guided meditations and rituals that will help you tune into the uniquely feminine strengths and energies within you. Her Meditative Journeys CD is one of my favorites for use in my yoga classes, and for my own relaxation.

Her yoga classes are also available at

Check Nat out today!


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