Set Yourself Free

Photo by Monica Justesen

For too many years I tried to fit into places and parts of society that didn't feel supportive. Phases of feeling uninspired and a loss of direction left me trying to fill myself up with material items, drugs and alcohol, and toxic relationships. These all left me feeling more disconnected, even though I appeared happy and vibrant on the outside (yes, I was awesome to party with, and even won the superlative of second 'biggest partier' during high school!) but in reality it was an illusion...

Deep down I knew what sparked me (travel and adventure, learning about different people and cultures, food, living simply and according to my own rules - a wild child at heart who was happiest barefoot in the tropics) but I didn't have the clarity to focus my energy in the right direction. I didn't feel I could truly live as my most authentic Self.

So I hid myself and identified with the false parts of me, and spent my teenage years living according to who I 'thought' I should be, until I began practicing yoga at the age of 19. It wasn't an overnight shift to sobriety and well-being, but it was the catalyst that excelled my own personal growth and evolution.

Yoga dropped me deep into my body, mind and heart and for the first time I felt the deeper sensations of life...literally high from the experience of moving my body with breath and focused intention. I was surrounded by women who were down to earth, authentic and empowered. My heart was awakened through the mystical traditions of the East that began to answer some of the biggest life questions, that I didn't even know I had...

My soul was sparked and it began to unravel into the most beautiful, raw, and powerful, journey of self-discovery and self-love. 

The practices that continue to bring me closer home to my authentic myself is what I feel called to share. These practices bring me back to what's important and what my values are. They give me clarity, balance and compassion. They help to form my inner compass and allow me to listen to my inner wisdom and truly live from the heart. 

My mission is to support others on their journey of returning to their highest Self through the practices of yoga and holistic living. I want everyone to know they are worthy to create their own life of freedom, authenticity, and love. 

No one is exempt.

It is our birthright to wake up and feel excited about life, and to share our gifts with the world, in whatever way, shape or form that takes. There is no one formula. We are individually crafted beings with a unique soul purpose - like a seedling, it wants to bloom into the most radiant version of you!

I aim to empower others to learn the transformational tools to sustain their health and happiness, in the same way so many incredible teachers and mentors have shown me. Often we are the ones in the way of our own growth and freedom. We put so many limiting beliefs and false identities on our stories. All it takes is one moment, to reach out for help, step onto your mat, take that trip you've always dreamed of, write the book, quit the take the leap of faith and know that your heart wants to be free, and when you begin to listen to what you really desire, the entire world shows up to support you. 

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Yoga, I bow to you

Yoga has been one of the greatest gifts in my is a practice that never ends and continues to awaken and fill my heart more with each passing day. 

Over a decade ago, yoga dropped me deeply into a new path of purpose and meaning...

I was always vibrant and had a love for life, but never felt truly connected to myself - I didn't have clarity to recognize this, so it became much easier to mask it all with partying and ignored my hearts true desires...I did this for many years and followed what was 'safe and comfortable' within my family and society. 

I found myself at University, totally un-inspired by conventional education and focused my attention on waitressing outside of classes, saving all my money to travel abroad during school breaks. It was through travel that I was ignited and I received the most education from the people and cultures I experienced. I had a deep desire for freedom, and traveling to new parts of the world, letting go of who I thought I needed to be, and experiencing life with a new set of eyes brought me closer to the presence I longed for within. These moments were the first signs from the Universe of the teachings.

During this time in University, I learned about a hot yoga studio in town. I knew nothing about it, except for the older, beautiful girls at work (who I looked up to with complete reverence!) said it was amazing and I had to try it. It didn't take much convincing, and at the end of that first class I remember feeling at home in my body, clear in my mind, and completely at my heart. All of which occurred while sober, in a walled room, in the middle of winter, in New Hampshire. I wasn't sure exactly what had happened during those 90 minutes, but I knew the experience was nothing short of awakening and empowering. From that day on, I dove into the practices wholeheartedly.

Fast forward a few years later - a school graduation, plane trips back and forth to India, and I had completed my first Yoga Teacher Training. My personal path begin to unfold with an abundance of enthusiasm and a fierce desire to learn more about myself and life...

Since my first training in 2011, I have followed my inner call to teach, travel, learn, and consciously create a life which is unique to me and brings me joy, passion and purpose. My teaching has been a grounding force which has shifted my own practice on the mat, off the mat. Teaching invigorates every cell in my body and redirects my energy to a path of service, continual studentship and evolution. I am beyond grateful and deeply humbled to share the practices that give me so much strength, grace, love and freedom. 

It hit me exceptionally hard today, after teaching a class in a studio, in the same city where I first came to my mat many years ago, just how grateful I am to be immersed in the practices and teachings. It is one of the most rewarding and soul-filling experiences to witness committed practitioners moving with breath, finding focus and stillness, and leaving the studio with a smile as they go out into the world feeling more at peace within. 

I am honored to share what I love through various platforms and for the supportive global community of freedom-seekers who continues to inspire me to stand in my truth and follow my heart. 

I bow humbly to wisdom of the teachings...I bow to my teachers who have translated them so eloquently...I bow to life's many wild, unforeseen and Divinely timed experiences that remind me of the true practices of yoga, off the mat. 

This journey is never ending and I thank you for being a part of mine at this very moment whether we have practiced together or you are reading this from a far.  It is the highest gift to share and learn transformational teachings from one another and it is through our own individual awakening that the collective consciousness will rise...

May we continue to serve one another as friends, mentors and community of the heart. 

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

5 reasons to go on a Yoga Retreat

Photo by Alli Baltodano

Photo by Alli Baltodano

A yoga retreat is a unique experience which supports us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. While there are many benefits to yoga retreats, the following four reasons are what keeps me creating these sacred spaces for students:

1. Shift your perspectives

When you physically travel to new locations (even if it is only hours away!) you step out of your comfort zone. Exploring unfamiliar or foreign places encourages you to see the world through fresh eyes and in order to adapt you will need to learn from the people and cultures around you through receptivity, humility and compassion. 

2. Improve your Health

Retreats are designed to aid you with a healthy routine to purify you from the stressors of modern day life. Think deep sleep and cat naps, sunshine and nature, a wholesome fresh plant based diet, daily movement and meditation, and a loving community...all of these aspects are intentional ways a retreat supports the body, mind and heart for ultimate well-being. In this supportive atmosphere, unhealthy patterns/habits often surface and are recognized, as opposed to ignored and suppressed. 

The space for rest encourages reflection and awareness, which then opens up the doors for transformation. With awareness comes the desire and responsibility to make necessary shifts...

3. Build community from the Heart
Community or a tribe from the heart 'kula' is one of the most important and beautiful aspects of any retreat! Retreats encourage everyone to come together with a collective intention and hold space for the group to experience something unique together, under new circumstances. Even if you go on retreat with a friend or partner, you can expect to dive deeper into your relationship as it will evolve.

Retreats create a neutral, loving and supportive environment which encourages you to meet one another from a place of authenticity and with an open mind/heart. While you will spend plenty of time alone, you will also find that the community forms quite quickly when you meet from a place of presence. Think fun adventures to nearby hidden beaches, candlelit dinners without technology, and many inspiring hours spent in practice together on the mat.  

Often these authentic connections become long lasting relationships and continue to inspire you long after you've returned home. 

4. Deepen your Yoga Practice

Retreats immerse you into the yoga practices, both on and off the mat. 
On the mat, practicing for an extended period of time with the same teacher(s) allows them to get to know your body/mind to give you more personalized modifications, adjustments or therapeutic advice to practice more safely and with depth. 
Any integrated retreat will encompass asana (poses), pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation (guided, journaling, reflective work) and workshops (philosophy, holistic health, creativity, etc.) and set a theme or intention for the retreat which is delivered in a progressive and intelligent manner to guide you further into the experience of yoga. The teacher(s) are prepared to take you on a deep journey and are passionate about supporting students in this unique way. 
Off the mat, living daily yoga through a healthy routine in alignment with nature (deep sleep and a technology detox!), clean meals and learning alongside community and adapting to a new routine/rhythm are all powerful ways to deepen your experience of yoga. 

5. Align with your highest Self

Time away from daily roles and responsibilities drops you deep into your heart. When you live from the heart you live from a place of truth - you begin to notice what's important to you and reflect on what ignites your spirit and brings joy. When you take a 'time out' from life, you give yourself permission and space to fully let go and relax, play and return to your most creative, wild state. Your wild state is your heart's wisdom or intuition. It's the place within you that feels guided and at one with nature. It is the place that knows exactly what you need to do in order to fulfill your most happy, healthy life. Retreats help you to get clear on the shifts you need to make in order to live from a place of alignment with your purpose, passions and path. 

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Craft your Sadhana, Self-practice

Photo by Alexandra Chan

Cultivating a spiritual self-practice, Sadhana, is one of the best ways to deepen your practice and bring real transformation to your life. Our home practices spark our inner fire through commitment and studentship, and open our heart through devotion and self-care. The ability to roll out your mat (anywhere, anytime!) and intuitively guide yourself through movement, breathing and meditation is a priceless gift. When you cultivate your own practices, yoga no feels like something you have to seek out and add into your schedule, but rather an important ritual that it vital to your days success and overall state of well-being. 

Creating your own practice can be equal parts liberating and overwhelming, but as with anything, the more you do it the easier and more seamless it becomes. With consistency your self-practice will be some of your most cherished moments of your day and will shift your perspective on your definition of self-care and true yoga.

Below are simple tips and guidance to begin building your self-practice:

1. Set the space: create a space in your home that is relatively private, quiet and inspiring. Remove all unnecessary technology and commit to putting your phone on airplane mode if you need it nearby. Set up your mat/cushion near natural light if possible, and cultivate a small alter in front to create a sense of reverence and devotion. Your alter is personal to you, and can include (and is not limited to!) items/images you love, a candle and something from nature. An alter is meant to feed us, in the same way that we tend to and feed it. There is an energetic connection and the relationship with it draws us deeper into our practice, reminding us of why we come to the mat each day. If you have family members/children/pets at home, your sacred space can help to set bounderies, so they understand that when you are in this space they should respect you by giving you quiet time alone.

2. Create a simple flow: create a 'base flow' which you can use anytime you arrive to practice and are not sure where to begin. It will set a foundation and give you more confidence to adapt and modify once you feel ready. Create a short sequence including sun salutations and 5-10 poses which are balanced and therapeutic, specific to your bodies needs. As your practice develops over time, you may no longer use this set sequence, however a 'base flow' creates a supportive container and way to measure your progression through consistency and familiarity. 

3. Define your intention: before you begin your practice each day, take a minute of stillness and silence to check in with your body and mind. Take note of what would best serve you today? If you feel you need energy, guide yourself through a dynamic flow, if your body is exhausted guide yourself through a gentle flow, and if your mind is anxious a few restorative poses, Savasana and guided meditation may be the perfect combination. Once you attune to your current state of health in body and mind, you can become more clear on your intention. Your intention can be a theme you work with for weeks or months, or it may change day to day based on your life's circumstances. An intention is connected to our hearts desire and what we want to cultivate to support us on our path. Ask yourself what it is you would like to cultivate more of - strength, receptivity, compassion, contentment, sweetness, courage? Set a simple intention in the positive tense and present moment based on whatever quality feels aligned for you. For example: 'I take time to nourish myself today'. 

4. Work your practice into your schedule: include your practice in your schedule and give it as much importance as any of your other activities, work deadlines or social commitments. Most important, choose a time of day which works (the majority of the time) for your lifestyle and schedule. It doesn't matter if mornings, mid-day or evenings is better for you...take your pick and commit. Consistency builds neurological patterns, bringing a sense of familiarity and comfort, which leads to new habits formed. Each time you come to the mat at a similar time, you enhance these patterns and help engrain your mind with 'now it's my time to practice'. Eventually it will feel more normal than un-normal and your body and mind will crave practicing around the same time each day.

5. Let go of expectations: some days your energy level and schedule will allow for a full hour on the mat, and other days it may be more like 10 minutes. Don't focus on the length of time and simply complete your practice to check it off your to-do list...instead, enjoy the time you do have each day and allow your practice to shift organically. Be realistic and gentle with yourself. Every minute spent on the mat moving, breathing or sitting is beneficial and cumulative. Consistency is key. Come to your mat 5 times per week for 10 minutes, rather than 1 time per week for 1 hour. 

6. Less is more: practice quality over quantity! Don't try to cram everything in to feel like you have completed the 'ideal' practice with a full asana sequence, pranayama and meditation. On days when you are feeling pressured for time or are not focused, cut down your practice drastically and choose a few key poses, and practice them more mindfully with slower, deeper breaths. This will calm your nervous system much more effectively and create a more integrated practice, even if it isn't what you may have intended to do.

8. Keep a journal: a journal is an easy and fun way to record your practices to keep track of your experiences and how you feel each day. Record how you were feeling when you arrived to the mat, your intention set, and the practices you choose. This gives insight into your current state of health and can be used in the future as a guide for how to practice when you feel sad vs. excited. 

9. Awaken your intuition: to step wholeheartedly into your home practice, you will need to trust in yourself and utilize your intuitive capacities. Your personal practice is for your benefit, and must be lead by your innate wisdom. Meditation is a wonderful way to refine your intuition and become more honest with what will best serve you on a day to day basis. 

10. Stay inspired: like any practice, something things get stagnant, which is part of the cycle of growth. When your feeling un-inspired physically in your practice, get out of your head and follow an online class with one of your favorite teachers, or better yet, go to a studio and have a personalised connection with a teacher and soak up the community. To deepen your practice off the mat read texts, listen to podcasts and enhance your creativity through art, music or time in nature.


LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

A message to Change-makers

Photo by Alexandra Chan

We are the creators and change-makers. We are the ones who are birthing new ideas and ways of being in the world...we are the catalyst for a new consciousness. We are the ones who are fiercely stepping into our power to give voice to that which has been left unsaid, to remember the wisdom of our planet and ancestors, and to live in balance, harmony and peace.

It is possible and it is already happening, and most likely if you are reading this blog, you are a part of the shift. 

We each have a unique gift to share and are here now for a unique reason. Your medicine is needed in the world. Now is the time to step into your strength with grace, speak your story authentically, share your knowledge without expectations, and rise into who the world truly needs. 

Us change-makers certainly have days when we feel empowered, strong, centered and in our flow. Inevitably, we all have days where life hits hard with it's diverse spectrum of experiences and emotions. As change-makes, we live as receptive, open and vulnerable beings, tuned into the subtle energies and experience life in ways which are deep, sometimes dark, but always profound. We have the ability to see the lessons throughout it all, and remain present to the Universal guidance. As change-makers we serve for the greater cause - we are the ones who birth big ideas, projects, and events into the world. We are in a constant process of growth and transformation...we are reborn time and time again. This process is never easy and there can be feelings of defeat and doubt, sometimes we may even question if we want to continue on this path. When you find yourself in these uncomfortable spaces, remind yourself of your potent power and Divine wisdom that is absolutely needed to heal the collective...

Light some palo santo, make a cup of your favorite tea, put on your most healing sounds and hunker down with your journal. Ask yourself the following questions and then post it on your wall as a reminder of your magic...

What is your story of transformation? What is unique about your story? What are your ways to share it with the world? 

May this be a reminder that you are a change-maker...a healer, teacher, guide and creative who is wild and wise. May you express yourself in all ways and continue to dance through life, despite the difficult moments. May you remember that there is a tribe of change-makers who have come before you and have paved the way, may you honor and call them in. May you remember that there is a tribe of change-makers who stand beside you right now, may you know them and support one another. May you continue to be an inspiration for those who will come after you and leave behind a legacy that will encourage them step into their light. 

Let it be so.


'Your legacy is every life you have ever touched' - Maya Angelou

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Suzanne Slocum-Gori

Precious time off the mat with one of our most loved and experienced yoga teachers, Suzanne... 

RYB: What was your first yoga class like?

SSG: It was fast and furious, and I think I lost students at the first sun salutation.

Luckily my husband was front and center with a big smile holding me up through my nervous chatter of language. I remember pulling everyone back together and ending on a sweet note with mantra & chanting.

RYB: How would you describe your yoga classes/style of teaching?

SSG: My classes are alignment based with a balance of strength and flexibility, and invite students to practice yoga off the mat. My classes also include restorative postures and subtle body practices, including meditation, pranayama and mantra.

You have been teaching for over 10 years...

RYB: How has your teaching evolved? 

SSG: My teaching has evolved to be much more purposeful. My classes are therapeutic in that they focus on physiological or bio-mechanical processes, muscular-skeletal actions, and psycho-emotional matters which apply to our modern day humanity.

My teaching has also moved closer to an intuitive approach. I am more attuned to the needs of the students. I simplified and diversified the way I teach so that more people can access the teachings.

RYB: Why teach yoga, what makes it so meaningful?

SSG: Yoga continues to invite more ease and clarity within my ordinary day-to-day experiences, and I have witnessed yoga do the same for many others over the years. I feel compelled to share the teachings so people can begin to experience the pockets of comfort and joy…. before life passes by, because life is happening right now in front of our own eyes.

You are co-founder at One Yoga in Vancouver, Canada...

RYB: What is one of the greatest gifts of being a part of a studio community?

SSG: It has been a true gift to be a one of the initial threads of One Yoga for the People in Vancouver, which is a colorful and strong network that is constantly beating and changing everyday. Being part of a studio community lends me purpose and strength. The ever-evolving and dynamic network of the studio requires me to grow and to be more resilient in order to be a member. I can’t ask for a better present.

RYB: What have you learned through owning a studio?

SSG: I have learned that each of us is born with an innate unique intelligences. These skills are given to us in order for us to live out our purpose. Yes, it is important to refine some of our weaker capacities, but I feel it is essential for us to recognize our innate gifts and place ourselves within roles and responsibilities that allow these capacities to be exercised. In the beginning, I took on responsibilities and roles that required skills that were not my forte. I made many mistakes, and it was incredibly humbling. I realized that collaboration was the answer, and I partnered with people with diverse skill-sets and HUGE hearts. I am blessed with intelligent business partners who I consider like family.

You have three gorgeous cubs...

RYB: What is the best part of being a mom?

SSG: I feel the best part of motherhood is the level of love that is generated and expressed between my children and I. I never knew I could love like this nor receive in this manner. And the crazy thing is that the love continues to grow – it is completely prolific. I feel some of my deepest and heaviest barriers have softened by the way my children look at me, or hold me or need me. This softening unfolded me and created a great deal of sensitivity – a vulnerability, which feels very uncomfortable at times. Yet, I feel I have been given access to a source of strength that is incredibly resourceful, and subtle, as a tool to move through it all. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is full of fatigue, constant negotiations and high demands, but the love seems to hold me up from collapsing. Indeed, people have the potential to experience all of this outside of parenthood.

RYB: What do you hope to pass on to your kids?

SSG: I truly hope to pass on the teachings of yoga. The yoga teachings will provide them with techniques in order to expand their hearts and open their awareness. The teachings will invite them to feel more sweetness and creativity and to experience more laughter. I feel my children will need to be very creative in how they navigate in the future on this planet. I feel life will continue to become more challenging, and difficulty is paralleled with what feels uncomfortable. The skills gained from the yoga practices could help them intelligently traverse through that territory. The yoga teachings can also assist my children in accessing their inner flame, and this flame will help them find their way when they get lost. I also hope to entrust my children with qualities from their grandparents and ancestors, all of which embody faith, fortitude and leadership.

RYB: How has motherhood shifted your practice?

SSG: Due to the greater sensitivity motherhood often requires, I feel my practice has become much more intuitive. I have become much more aware of the steps and milestones required along the long journey toward the heart. Therefore, everything is very purposeful, M y practice is constantly adapting to my needs in any given moment; e.g., a practice to help with fatigue or insomnia. Motherhood has invited me to simplify and diversify my practices so that different parts of me can access the teachings. Once as I can access the refined and subtle teachings, I invite them to descend within me. Then they awaken over time inside.

RYB: What are 3 things currently inspiring your practice: 


·      My subtle body practices at sunrise, including pranayama, mantra and meditation

·      Mother Nature

·      My various roles and responsibilities

RYB: How would you like to impact the world through yoga?

SSG: I hope the yoga invites people to be more conscious and aware of their moment-to-moment experiences. Through this knowledge I hope for students to become more accountable for their actions, behaviors and speech. In addition, through a greater awareness I hope for people to have more access to their inner light and shed their light and love with others.

Transformation of Solo Travel

Photo by Megan Kathleen

Photo by Megan Kathleen

I have been living a nomadic lifestyle over 5 years now. At times I have a home base for months and other times it is for days at a time. I have traversed the globe in various contexts - from teaching yoga at luxury island retreats centers overlooking grand vistas, to eco-communities hidden away in lush jungles. I have traded in monthly rent for plane tickets, and employment applications for visa forms. I have stepped away from what other people think I should do, and instead listened more closely to what I want to do. A dedicated yoga practice for over a decade has supported me with strength and clarity to uncover my purpose and highest capacity to impact the world. 

At times my travels are filled with a loving partner beside me, family and friends who meet me for a week of relaxation, or community I meet along the way, however the reality of my travels is that I spend a lot of time on my own. I am often asked if I am ever afraid/bored/lonely and the simple answer is yes. There are plenty of times when I wish my loved ones could experience the magic of the tropical sunset before my eyes, share the same taste of exotic foods, experience the freedom felt from riding a motorbike through vast mountain ranges, or feel the same joy that permeates through me after a yoga practice in nature. 
And of course there are times when I miss the comforts and support of home — familiar faces and rhythms, my own language, accessibility of fresh water and foods at my fingertips, and the safety and ease of the small town in New England where I grew up.

However the more I travel, the more I become comfortable within the discomfort…

The challenges are slowly becoming sacred spaces that grant me the practice of observation and acceptance. They are the tiny moments on a day to day basis that have big potential to show deep rooted patterns, fears and limitations. They invite me to embrace fully, shift my perspective and make more skillful decisions. While this process is not unique to traveling, they are personally most potent when I am on my own. 

Traveling solo is a priceless experience, rich with opportunities of inner transformation. 

It encourages us to move fearlessly into unknown territories and ignites our intuitive capacities. It demands that we fully trust and surrender — to remember that there is always a way to overcome obstacles. It opens us to a higher grace that reveals connection with everything and everyone, even in the most foreign of contexts. 

But most importantly, when we are on our own, we are invited to embrace ourselves fully and to love ourselves unconditionally…

When I long for familiar faces, the people I love, and the comforts of home — I return to self-love. I sit with myself and allow the feelings of unknowing to be washed away by what is familiar and steady breathe, the rising sun and moon, a flat bit of earth to lay my mat out, and the practice of letting go and looking for the good. This practice brings me back time and time again to my inner sanctuary and sparks moments of contentment, peace and gratitude. 

Sometimes the most transformational times during travel are the ones we don't expect or necessarily enjoy. Often they are the times when we are face to face with ourself and must look within for guidance. This process of recognizing, accepting and embracing all that is with an open heart is truly where the journey deepens. 

As seen originally on Yoga Trade

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Sacred Self-Care for Entrepreneurs

We are all here on this Earth with a mission, and the more we step into our Dharma (unique purpose) we are called to expand outwards and be of service. As change makers, we can easily fall into endurance mode, pushing or striving to cultivate more, in order to have a greater impact. However, these endless cycles of 'doing' to 'create' are not sustainable, and will always lead us to burn out status which leaves us feeling depleted, uninspired and unworthy. These feelings directly impact our own well-being, the integrity of our work, and those around us. These moments lead us far from our inner state of flow, and block the natural state of abundance and health that the entire planet holds for us.

In order to share the potency of work that we are here to create, we must move from a place of pleasure vs. pressure, connection vs. competition and love vs. stress. 

We must remember that there is perfect Divine timing for everything to bloom with sustainability to reach its full capacity.

Nature is our greatest teacher and shows us examples of how to live skillfully...

For example, the seedling of a flower will take time to soak up the water, nutrients and sunlight before sprouting. A seedling will also honor the most aligned time to knows not to bloom when the cold bitter winter winds are still alive, and not to endure through the end of summer as it will dry up in the hot blazing sun.

In our own lives, we can use the cycles in nature as our guide. In our work, it takes time to truly integrate teachings through study and practice. Our experiences in life must be soaked in attention (water) and intention (sunlight) in order to digest and sprout through our own words and actions authentically. The end result of this cycle is abundance through cultivation (the flower bud) which manifests through projects, events, collaborations, etc.

This cycle is seen over and over through many forms in nature and remind us to move forwards on our path with patience and intuition. Nature honors each cycle and never rushes -- She moves from a place of deep connection, knowing and trust. The seasons and cycle of each day are the guides of when is most beneficial to move inwards or expand outwards.

Often, it takes simple awareness, acknowledgment and acceptance that our bodies, brain and heart are feeling overloaded and that we are not in our natural state of flow. Once we clearly see that we are ignoring our own well-being, we can nurture ourselves to return to our natural states of abundance, in order to serve ourselves and the planet with our unique medicine. 

How to incorporate more Self-care into your daily life to prevent falling out of rhythm:

1. Make a list and let it go write down your ideas, visions and dreams -- and then give yourself permission to let it all go. With an ongoing list, you can rest easy that you don't have to keep it all at the forefront of your brain and instead make space for the most important daily tasks. Include a 15-30 minute weekly session and return to this list to see where you can begin to make small shifts towards the most important idea you want to focus on and cultivate. 

2. Tune in let your mind take a holiday from all the processing, planning and doing. Incorporate daily movement through excercise or asana and follow it with a deep restful relaxation such as a long Savasana or Yoga Nidra where you can tune out from any conscious activity in order to tune in to your body, breath and heart.

3. Tune out take a break from technology, and especially social media. While it can be inspiring to follow our peers and mentors, it can also keep us in constant states of comparison or seeking approval. Create periods of full detox throughout your week (or each day!) to focus on yourself and those around you through intentional conversation, playtime in nature and nourishing activities. 

4. Sleep! Sleep is essential for our bodies and minds to rejuvenate. This is one of the easiest ways to fall back into rhythm with nature's cycles -- aim to sleep before 10PM and rise before 6AM for the most restful and beneficial hours. Take small naps under 45 minutes when you are feeling drained and unproductive. Begin to see sleep as cleansing, supportive and healing -- not as lazy or unproductive.

5. Schedule Self-care in the same way you schedule your yoga class, business meeting or coffee with friends -- schedule daily Self-care and stick to it...even if it's only 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, a 15 minute walk in nature at lunch, and a chapter in your favorite book at night before sleeping. Small, simple and consistent are great rules to remember when creating more Self-care in your daily life. 

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Essential Steps to Personal Evolution

There are three essential pieces to all personal evolution: willingness, awareness, choice.

Seems like an unnecessary-to-mention first step, but willingness is like creaking open the door, even just an inch, to peek inside. Without the inch of openness, you’re not seeing anything on the other side. If you’re reading this novella, you’re already willing. Check off the box, friend.

Many times willingness is the hardest step. We’ve all been in a bad mood — and most of us rationally know that if we just change our mind to decide to be in a good mood, we’d eventually get there. But when you’re in the thick of it that’s an obnoxious notion, one that feels like overturning massive, misshapen boulders.

The first step to shifting is just willing to be somewhere else, to feel something else, to exist in a new way in this moment. Willingness can be silent, like taking a deep breath to garner the strength to not argue with your father about politics or deleting the phone number of a toxic ex-partner. Sometimes willingness sounds like a half-hearted yelp out loud, “OK, this isn’t working for me. I am willing to explore new options, thanks.” It can have thousands of different qualities, the one that matters is an openness to feel something different.

Once you decide to feel something new, you must find awareness around how you’re currently being and what you’re currently doing. It’s much easier to change the situation if you understand what’s actually happening. The trick to honest observation is the honesty part —there’s no room for victims here because victims don’t actually don’t want to change, they just want to validate why they’re stuck in the mud. And as a good friends (we’re already friends! I, like, love you), I can’t validate your need to continue suffering when there are so many other juicy options. Continually remembering and committing to honest observation will allow you to start noticing your personal patterns. Once you know your personal patterns, you can catch your BS before it starts to wreak havoc on your full ecosystem.

If you can’t look at your situation objectively, ask an honest, gentle, loving someone else to take a look with you.

And lastly, using the data you’ve collected during your honest observation, you’ll make empowered choices. Empowered choices aren’t ‘right choices’, because there’s no such thing. Empowered choices feel strong and distinct because they’re rooted in intuition and your commitment to growth. Empowered choices nourish the ecosystem, so they can never lead you astray. Empowered choices have enough momentum and promise engrained in their DNA that they encourage you to show up with both feet in the decision, without having to doubt whether it was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, which usually allows the choice to be ‘right for right now’ merely because of your enthusiasm. A ‘wrong’ choice with lots of enthusiasm, authenticity and gusto can make for loads of learning — and that, to me, is a spicy right choice.

TORY DUBE is a Holistic Nutrition Specialist, Certified Life Coach and Certified Hypnotherapist through Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. She is the founder of Tory Dube Holistic Health (formerly 'Hotchickpea', founded in NYC). Tory writes for several health publications, is a children's book author, hosts international wellness retreats, and works with clients around the world. Follow her here:

The Spiral of Experience

We all have our starting point -- a sacred moment of conception.  From that moment of conception we begin our journey on this planet through the channel of our mother, who is our first home, the first country in which we ever live.  

Photo by Alexandra Chan

After we emerge from the womb this journey on earth becomes our own. As the earth turns on its axis and revolves around the sun, our travels take the shape of a spiral within a spiral. With each expanding circle around the sun, our spiral widens out from our point of conception, and we gain experiences. We process, are affected by, and respond to these experiences. Most importantly, we learn from these experiences.

Consider the universality of the human experience. Each of us in this life will at some point go through the full spectrum from elation to despair. We will experience feelings of both fullness and emptiness. We will know the joy of fulfilling connections and the isolation of loneliness. We will gain recognition of authenticity in others, as well as the recognition of duplicity. Love will be present at the same time as loss. These polarities cannot exist without each other, and the Tantric path teaches us that while our perceptions of these experiences may differ vastly, in fact they are all the same; they are Shakti, Spanda, the sacred tremor of all life and creation.

It is our honor and our privilege to experience the vibration of creation in our human forms. 

With each widening revolution of our own sacred spiral, we gain more knowledge, more perspective, and more space, translating to a strong clarity of vision. So though our experiences of joy, love, loss, wounds and victories may repeat themselves, our responses to them and how we perceive them will change. Our lives become the Japa, the repetition, and if we claim the path of the Tantrika, we go into that spiral of repetition with bravery, clear sight, curiosity, and neutrality, ever pressing forward on our journeys to see what waits for us on the other side.

Marla Cinilia is a heart-based E-RYT 500 and a perpetual student of yoga, spirituality and mysticism.  She teaches and loves in New Hampshire and Maine.

Dharma: Live in Rhythm

We are each encoded with an individual blueprint which guides us towards our Dharma, or unique purpose, in order to create a life of deep meaning and fulfillment. The root meaning of 'Dhra' in Sanskrit is 'that which upholds or nourishes'. Our Dharma is found within our intrinsic constitution and is meant to be accessed, explored and shared with the world for the collective benefit.

The more that we align ourselves with our unique Souls purpose, the more we find ourselves living from a place of love, truth and power.

When we honor our Dharma our lives begin to flow with ease...we feel fulfilled, supported and guided by the Universe in a state of 'effortless effort' -- we cultivate potent relationships, are supported in our projects and find ourselves in beneficial situations which help us move forwards on our path through equal parts action and surrender.

It is through the embodiment of our Dharma that we live in Divine rhythm with ourselves and those around us...

The rhythm of the larger pulse, or Universal Dharma, is the flow of intelligence found in Nature through Seasonal cycles, the evolution of cultures, and pulsation of consciousness. It is the invisible connection and supreme vibration to life and all beings.

The two Dharmas are consistently interwoven like a colorful tapestry. The strength of each thread plays a powerful role in the beauty and longevity of the tapestry. Our individual Dharma (thread) strengthens the entire tapestry through honoring our unique gifts which brings clarity to our values and aims in this lifetime, and ultimate abundance through actions led with integrity and love. The thread of our individual Dharma asks us to step into our highest Self for healing, harmony and the benefit of all beings within the collective tapestry of the Universal Dharma.

The practices of yoga draw us directly into the heart and with steady commitment, move us onto the trajectory of Dharma. 

Do you feel loved, nourished and supported? Do you feel like you live in a state of rhythm or harmony? Or do you feel stagnant, stuck and unfulfilled? These simple questions invite us to reflect upon our life to see clearly when we are walking our path with truth, power and potency. 

Below are simple practices to allow your Dharma to reveal itself...

1. Explore Sacred texts -- Jhana Yoga or the 'Yoga of knowledge' offers the teachings of Dharma through intellectual study. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most renowned and Sacred texts from the Mahabharata scriptures, and tells the epic tale of Arjuna, a warrior who steps into his Dharma through the guidance of his higher Self.

2. Holistic practices that are nourishing, purifying and strengthening for the body and mind. Disciplines such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong aim to bring you into your highest Self.

3. Surround yourself with people who inspire you or you aspire to be (those who are living their Dharma!) -- seek a mentor and build a close relationship in order to learn how they live their lives with skill, intention and integrity.

4. Joy, nourishment and Self-love! Step into actions, relationships and experiences that ignite and nourish you -- create a list of 20 things that bring you happiness and return to the list as inspiration whenever you need a boost.

5. Listen to your hearts desire. Integrate practices that dive deep into what your heart is calling for. Sankalpa, contemplation, reflection and journaling all explore your deep yearning desires and help uncover what is truly at the root of the desires. 

6. Meditation creates space in our mind and moves us into a space of calm, presence and love. This state of mind is vital for our intuition to flow and move us deeper into Dharma.  

7. Cultivate a Kula or Soultribe which create a platform for deep connection and intimacy. It is through our unconditionally loving relationships that become a mirror and help us see our gifts, roles and purpose. 

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

How to live more Mindfully

I am in constant awe of the beauty of life...the 7 billion people on Earth, each with their own beliefs, stories and purpose and the intrinsic intelligence, power and serenity that nature provides all at once. I have always had a deep desire to travel and experience life in all corners of the world. I feel drawn to nature and I am happiest when I am living simply and in alignment with her. It is my forever inner child who wants to continuously learn and be humbled, and it is my inner yogi who is called to connect deeper with life on a global scale. 

This inner desire leads me to see and feel the world in ways which are hard to put into words. The longer I am on this path of self-discovery, the more sensitive I become. I am easily overwhelmed by all the suffering, pain and death and yet incredibly fulfilled by the simple pleasures always available within and around - forgiveness, laughter, gratitude, joy and love.  

Yes, we each have our own capacity to shape our inner landscape throughout any experience, however it is our responsibility to shape our outer landscape in the same way. Just as we devote time to ourselves, our passions and loved ones daily, we must devote energy, awareness and action towards environmental consciousness. 

We are all aware of the Earth's current state of health - she is amass with fossil fuels from human activity which are causing temperatures to rise, new weather patterns to form, species to die and terrains to change at rapid speeds. Not to mention lack of resources - deforestation and pollution of the lands and oceans. Many of our less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world are living in extreme conditions which are unhealthy and dangerous.

It is time we acknowledge the issue of lifestyle and consumption at the centre of climate negotiations.

It is up to us as individuals to see the world with reverence and to heal the world with action, and it starts today, with you!

Of course it can feel overwhelming to make changes in our lifestyle (especially when we have lived our entire lives in a different way!) but remember that starting small is better than not changing at all. Belief that you will have an impact is the first step in beginning this process. The second step is to have an open conversation with loved ones (or friends if you live alone) who can come up with creative ways to save resources/money in your home. Loved ones can hold you accountable and will bring a sense of community -- creating larger impact as your sustainable living is a shared vision. No matter what your budget is, there are ways in which you can create a more mindful life, and the more you practice living in this way, the easier it will become and the higher the quality of your life be!

Simple ways to live more mindfully for the well-being of the entire planet:

1. Watch 'Before the Flood' for the facts and a real look at the current situation of our environment and what is possible to reverse the damage. 

2. Consume differently: buy local, organic and environmentally friendly products. Shop at local markets, enjoy coffee from fair-trade roasters (bring your reusable take away mug!), eat at farm-table restaurants, ditch plastic and use eco-friendly water bottles and make your own beauty or cleaning products at home with essential oils!

3. Alter your energy consumption: invest in energy saving light bulbs, hang your clothes vs. dry them, use the oven for multiple purposes when it's on, carpool or take public transportation and unplug all devices (and chargers!) when they're not being used. 

4. Save water: take shorter showers, wash your hair every other day, install water reducing shower heads and collect rainwater to water your plants. 

5. Eat a plant based diet: meat (beef especially) uses incredible amounts of land and water resources. Try adding 'meatless meals' to your diet a few x per week or one meal daily to begin. Stay open minded and get creative in the kitchen with all the delicious vegetarian/vegan options you can experiment with!

6. Recycle more than just trash: save glass wear from food packaging to store food, use old yoga mats for non-slip liners or donate to animal/homeless shelters, find wood pallets to create furniture, donate/purchase clothing from thrift stores and host a clothing swap with friends! 


Create small ripples of change in your daily life and know that this will impact the entire waters of the Earth. Share 'Before the Flood' with your community and lets raise the standard of living.

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

The Power of Sisterhood


Now, more than ever, we are being called to stand up, speak our truths and live with compassion, authenticity and fearless hearts. Many of us are feeling a call to live more sustainably and protect the earth, to learn/share integrated practices which help us to live from a place of love and not fear.

Our individual efforts are 100% needed for a collective shift...

This is why I teach yoga and meditation.

I know that these teachings have given me tools to step out of my personal addictions, and help me to make better decisions daily. 

And with my own healing, I can offer more support and love to those around me. I can live a life of service and have the most positive impact in the world.

Most importantly, I know that these practices bring people together in community and that ideas become more powerful when shared...

This shift in consciousness is the rise of the Divine Feminine. The energy of the female is potent -- She gifts us the qualities of creativity, intuition, protection, holistic thought, collaboration, empathy and unconditional love...all of which have been ignored and abused within our society for far too long.

While men have an equally important role to play, it is women's time to gather in sisterhood to encourage mass collaboration and love as the qualities our society will recognize and hold sacred moving forwards.

This is why I share the practices of yoga and mindfulness through retreat immersions around the world. I want EVERY human to first treat themselves with the love and respect they deserve through heathy lifestyle habits: high vibe nourishment through diet, sleep patterns, physical movement and time for reflection and relaxation to bring awareness to the parts of us we need to nourish (or begin to nourish) daily. I want women to learn to accept themselves exactly as they are, to see themselves as a beautiful and unique Goddess and live with more sweetness. Most important, I want everyone to experience the gift of sacred community: what it feels like to be seen, heard and felt from a place of neutrality. When we feel nourished from within and supported from those around us, we naturally rise into our highest selfs.

This is the power of Divine Sisterhood. Our sisters provide the platform for loving-kindness and a safe haven of support. Our sisters help shape-shift us into better partners, mothers and daughters. They remind us of our power and responsibilities as women of the world. They hold us accountable without shame or blame. They honor our uniqueness and help us integrate with tenderness. The power of sisterhood is fierce, creative, loving and a change-maker...and this energy resides within each one of us.

As we are all a direct mirror reflection of one another, it is imperative we take initiative and become mentors for the world. Women must celebrate and collaborate with one another in order to encourage those around us to follow suit.

And when enough of us support one another to take action, the system will naturally adapt to support us. There is a ripple effect which will spread far and wide.

But it begins on an individual level...

It is our birth right to step into our highest selves -- to be happy, healthy and give back to the entire eco-system that is our global family. This is a call to action to create more Divine Sisterhood in our lives. Together, women can change the world. I feel it. I believe it with every single cell in my being. Things are just getting good and I am so honored to be here, right now, alongside you.

The Divine Goddess within me, recognizes the Divine Goddess within each and every one of you.

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Begin your Blog: here's how!

Photo by The Photo Forest

Photo by The Photo Forest

So you want a start a blog? That’s awesome! I've recently spoken with several friends over the last week who are starting blogs, podcasts, and other free resources for their users, which is super rad. 

However, it's not so rad to offer things for free without providing opportunities for energetic exchange. See, if we’re just giving out free stuff all the time, we’re really giving away our life energy. We’re actually tricking the balance of how the Universe likes to work with a give and take, a back and forth, a luscious flow of energy in and out, like the tide flowing in and out.

So how can we create an even energetic flow, in this case between free resources and the consumers of those resources? Here are my 5 suggestions for making the most of and creating energetic and monetary return on your blog.

1. Find Your Niche.

This adds value for your readers. What is their issue and how are you solving for it? Do they want to know how to build a tiny home? Makes sure you have resources that provide theme with a bunch of juicy deets about what to buy, where to buy, and how to do it. It’s awesome to write about your life, but make sure there is a consistent focus, a common theme. That common theme should be the headline of your blog, so that your readers know what to expect.

2. Keep It Simple.

Having a standard post type isn’t boring. It’s smart. It helps your readers know what they’ll get from you every week. If you do interviews, ask the same questions. If you make videos, give them the same intro and closer. If you use photographs, make your photographs cohesive, in the same style and with similar framing. You can switch things up, but make sure you have some standard (special and unique) post types for your blog.

3. Be Reliable.

Make sure you publish things on a schedule, let your readers know when you’ll release new content and stick to it. This is a relationship, and if you don’t show up when you say you will, that relationship doesn’t happen.

4. Make The Ask.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving people the opportunity to spend money with you yet, ask them for something else, a follow on Facebook, their email address, or a comment on the blog (actually, always ask for this no matter what). Make sure at the end of every post you ask your readers for something in return that helps you get to know them better or an engagement that helps your business. I.e. “Like this blog post, share it on Facebook.” “Do you want to share your travel adventures? Tag us on Instagram and we’ll comment back.”

5. Turn It Into An Energetic Plus.

This doesn’t have to happen at first, but once people get to know you, they’ll want to work with you more. If you don’t give people an opportunity to do that, it’s like brand blue balls, which can be good for raising your brand appeal, at first…but if you don’t give it up, your readers will get bored and disengaged. Do you offer a travel blog and teach surfing? Plan a trip to Costa Rica with a few friends and sell it online. Do you blog about healthy living? Offer 30 minute consults for lifestyle/food planning and offer to hold people accountable to their goals in an online community.

As a soulful entrepreneur, this is sometimes a difficult concept, but just remember, giving is a gift…on both ends. If you feel an energetic suck from a creative endeavor, think about what you need and how you can get more of that. Ask for help. I’m here for you and I’m sure someone else is too!

Meg Jamison combines design + yoga + life to create a beautiful, powerful, connected world. As a brand designer and yoga teacher, Meg loves to visually express who you are and to guide you on a process of deep exploration. Follow her here:

Find happiness, everyday!

What I desire in life and how I define “success” has changed drastically over the past year. What I used to acknowledge as achievements have become completely irrelevant, and it's even hard to understand what made me think or feel that way in the first place...

I know that this change I'm experiencing is not something that is well understood by many. From a young age, society conditions us to believe that success and respect are earned from a high paid job. The majority of society pushes and molds us in one direction and definition of what success is, ignoring the pursuit of what truly makes each one of us happy and what it would look like to follow our individual truths.

My personal revelation began with my Yoga practice…surprise, surprise! Yoga is constantly teaching me to be myself and be comfortable with that, no matter what. Yoga teaches me to be more brave, to listen to myself, to acknowledge and respect myself. With those powerful seeds planted inside of me, it was only a matter of time...and step by step, I am learning to let go of former beliefs about what life is all about, how it should look, and what my role is in it. 

This process of questioning everything I was used to do, believed in, or spent my time once doing is both, inspiring and scary at the same time! Fortunately though, once the seeds are planted and the ability to follow your heart kicks in, it is extremely difficult to ignore it.

We all have the same desire to find happiness in life, yet many of us are disconnected from how to attain and sustain our happiness...

Quotes such as ‘do more of what makes you happy’ are thrown around these days like confetti...and sure, they can inspire us while we read them, but it takes real bravery and courage to actually use the quote as inspiration to take action towards living as your most happy Self. 

Personally, it has taken me time to reflect the planted idea that happiness and your job, for example, are two completely different things. Before, I was convinced that happiness would come after I had the good education, earned money in a well-respected job, possessed more of whatever I have now, and ideally could pride myself with a picture-perfect relationship. But then Yoga made its way into my life and I realized that happiness is a matter of choice and can be found anywhere and at any place.

Happiness is found within and is not dependent on anything else in our lives. Once I figured this out, it made me thirsty for more…

There are just certain things in life that we have to do. Yes, I will always have to file my tax statement, earn enough money to pay my rent, or study for that finance exam…but besides that, I realise there is ample time and there are endless opportunities at my fingertips that allow me to live creatively and fill my days with joy and pleasure. I believe that a 9-to-5 job can be something we are passionate about, and we have the right to enjoy every day...a Tuesday can be as much fun and free feeling as a Saturday! Why shouldn't it be?

We must ask ourselves honestly how can we access our freedom and passions everyday, not just once we've reached our end result. How can we bring more of what we love into our lives each day? It may mean shifting our perspective to see our current job as an inspirational business idea, spending quality time with friends, taking the time for our yoga/dance/fitness class each week or walking through the park on a sunny day. The key is to find what brings you joy and to follow it, in both big and little ways, each day.

So ask yourself, what is it that makes your heart jump a little higher? 

Sabrina is on the journey to self-love, self-care and connection. Through Yoga and Meditation she learned how to truly connect with and channel the positivity within. Sabrina balances life between her many passions and desire to make a difference in her own life and those around her. Follow her here

The Power of Stories

Myths, legends and stories are an integral part of human existence. Traditionally, in all cultures across the world, they have been passed down from elders to youth to share information and spread teachings.

As the listener, we are invited to become open in order to receive and to tap into our highest states of imagination and creativity. As the teller, we must be present, charismatic and clear in our delivery.

Stories are powerful when told with authenticity and from a place of love...

When these two merge, there is a profound exchange that happens between the listener and the teller. The story becomes the vehicle for transmissions and teachings, and allows the community to grow together through their shared experience of sitting, listening, imagining, creating, reflecting...simply being together. 

The mythological stories have awakened in my own practice over the past few years, and have become one of my favorite aspects of teaching. Through their wild characters (gods, goddesses, demons and everything in between!) and dramatic plots, they encompass the many expressions of humanity through the characters, emotions and circumstances. Like any story, the mythological ones from the Hindu tradition are meant to awaken aspects of consciousness within us. They help us to develop our understanding of yoga philosophy and of our own spiritual journey. These stories illuminate, inspire and nourish us, and provide a beautiful gateway to experience the teachings in diverse ways. 

However, the power of a story doesn't only lie within the context of spiritual teachings...

Stories remind us that no matter how the landscapes change (as they do often!) we are all here with the same challenges and desires. They help us to reflect and answer some of the most meaningful questions in life. They are a thread that has potential to weave individuals into a shared experienced as a community and forever impact them.

There are certain areas in the brain that become active and engaged (different to when we simply hear words/sentences) when we hear stories. The areas in the brain that are triggered, draw us deeper into our emotions in order to connect with what we are being told. 

A powerful story bring us directly into the heart. And just as everyone has a heart, everyone has a story...

I believe that we all have a unique, transformative and potent story to share with the world.

This story is our authentic, raw, sometimes glamorous, and often times messy path of who we are and what has shaped our values...what experiences lead us to this exact moment...what are the wisdom nuggets we've learned along the way, and how can we effectively share them with our loved ones, communities and the world? 

When we tell our stories, to ourselves in our journal, or to an audience in public, we begin to connect the thousands of tiny dots that make up our incredible Selfs. This process is an act of courage and of Self love. It requires us to reflect honestly on our experiences, without judgement, and with full trust that we are living the teachings that we each need to step into most badass God/Goddess version of our individual novel.

When we tell our story, we are reminded that all of the sweat, tears, pain, laughter, love and passion are incredible gifts of the human experience...

When we tell our story, we are empowered to become the author of our life. We see that our story can (and will) shape-shift, and we have the ability to write each chapter before it unfolds.

Most important, when we tell our story, we inspire those around us to also share their authentic story. This creates a ripple and spreads far through greater forms of connection, communication and healing that spontaneously arises out of the shared experience. 

So ask yourself, what is my unique and wild story, and who can I honestly tell it to? 

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Cleanse and release through Smudging

Smudging is an ancient practice used in Native American traditions to clear your body, mind and spirit of any negative, stagnant or unhealthy energies within or around you.

There are many rituals from Shamanic and Yogic lineages which involve the practice of purifying, using the elements and sacred plant medicine. When these rituals are done with reverence and authenticity, they help connect us to a higher source through clearing negative energies and calling in our highest intentions. Through the act of preparing and performing these ceremonies, we are awakened to nature and the intelligence and Divine wisdom it holds.

Smudging can be done as a traditional art form as well as adapted to fit your Sadhana, daily practice. 

Here's some tips to begin your very own Smudging ritual:

1. Create your bundle: take yourself on a walking meditation and forage in your backyard for beautiful herbs, plants and barks that you would like to include. When you create your own bundle from local resources, the ritual becomes even more personalized and unique to you! Dried sage bundles are always a good 'base' item you can purchase if you are unsure of where to begin...look for ethically sourced sage from an organic shop if possible. 

2. Create a sacred space: clear your space of clutter and open up windows/curtains and allow for fresh air to enter. If you have an alter space you can use this area and store your smudging items when your not using them. Creating a space that feels clean, safe and supportive will help focus your attention.

3. Become present: move through the ritual mindfully and slowly. Take 3 cleansing breaths to center yourself before you begin. With a greater sense of presence, you will be more likely to move through the practice with sacredness and reverence for the plants (Divine nature) and anyone else (ancestors, current loved ones, people in your life) you would like to acknowledge and bless.

4. Call in the four directions: the four directions (East, South, West, North) symbolize the various dimensions of health and the cycles of life. Calling in these directions acknowledges your whole and complete Self. In Native American tradition, various tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently, however the four directions most often correspond to the following:

Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death

Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall

Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical

Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth

5. Practice with heart: this is the most important thing to remember when moving through any spiritual ritual/ is so easy to go through the motions and become mindless, even when in our spiritual practices. Be sure that you are smudging from a place of intuition and loving attention. Smudging may be a daily practice for you, or it may be something you do on special occasions - when you smudge authentically and from the heart, there is no way to do it wrong. When you are ready to light your sage (or other herbs), acknowledge any intention(s) you are setting with the ritual. Become present to the elements as you light your bundle, and gently fan the smoke with a feather (or your hand) around your body, anyone else in your space and the room, symbolizing the clearing and purification.

A Smudging Prayer by Bess O'Connor

May your hands be cleansed, that they create beautiful things.

May your feet be cleansed, that they might take you where you most need to be.

May your heart be cleansed, that you might hear its messages clearly.

May your throat be cleansed, that you might speak rightly when words are needed.

May your eyes be cleansed, that you might see the signs and wonders of the world.

May this person and space be washed clean by the smoke of these fragrant plants.

And may that same smoke carry our prayers, spiraling, to the heavens.

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here

Tarot: In Sacred Conversation

Ask any holy person, any spiritual devotee, any psychic medium/intuitive and they will tell you the same thing - our spirit guides are always near. The Divine surrounds us as a constant, both internal and external. This source wishes to aid us in our awakening and is trying to communicate with us all the time. We are embodied as humans in the physical/material plane; this is our privilege. It’s how our souls are able to live out their karmic destiny and fulfill their purpose. However, we all know how easy it is to feel as though our clarity is obscured and our path unclear.

Our spirit guides exist in the cosmic/etheric realm and strive to communicate with us in a variety of ways. Even if you are resistant to the idea of spirit guides or the notion that there is a higher consciousness within us, chances are you’ve experienced (even if only once or twice) your own form of connection with this power, a time when you just intuitively knew what to do, or felt peaceful in the midst of a chaotic situation. Perhaps in a moment of extreme confusion you asked for a sign or a directive. Perhaps, while experiencing intense joy, you found yourself spontaneously giving thanks (to what? To who?) These instincts to reach out, to be in conversation with something greater, to give thanks, to ask for help - exist because the connection to spirit is real, even if in your day-to-day you operate more from a place of science and data (sidebar for a topic all its own: spirit and science are not mutually exclusive!)

For those interested in cultivating an occasional or a constant connection with spirit, tarot provides a grounding ritual and a shared language with those guides who surround us and offer illumination. I view tarot as a form of functional, solutions-based prayer. Usually when we reach out to spirit it’s in the interest of getting a question answered or lobbying for a particular outcome - I hope I get that job opportunity! How will I be able to manage my day-to-day life in the face of this unexpected financial crisis? Where will the money come from? I hope I will be prosperous! How can I mend my relationship with my estranged family member? Why do I struggle so much with XY and Z and how can I change it?

When we pray we may receive answers immediately or we may be asked to practice patience while we stare into the void of mystery and simply trust. However, when we bring our questions or even just our current state of mind to the tarot deck as an inquiry for more clarity or affirmation, we receive tangible messages from the divine right away. When we approach with reverence and openness, tarot becomes the medium for messages to be passed directly from ether into matter. As in all other areas of our lives, interpretation, perception, and discernment are important. It’s easy to get swept up in the drama of certain cards (Death! All the swords! The hanged man!) And yes - just as in real life, the cards reflect the full spectrum of our human experience - darkness and light and every shade in between. It's important to view each message through the lens of solution. Our guides exist to help us, not harm. They want nothing more for us than expansion and an upward rising trajectory. Trusting that the messages we receive are meant to assist us as we move forward on our path is essential for an effective relationship with tarot and with spirit.

A certain measure of channeling and psychic openness is useful and necessary if you are reading for yourself. If you are receiving a reading from someone else, it’s most helpful if you have a baseline measure of trust in the clarity of that person’s intuition. If someone is preaching doom and gloom and you leave a reading feeling anxious or defeated, and most likely something has been lost in translation. Even if you pull the home run spread of the darkest cards in the deck, there’s a message of lightness there - a healing antidote, a way for you to BE in order to move through the darkness in a way that is skillful and peaceful. This is our honor and our challenge - the only true constant is change. Your cards will always change along with the shifting consciousness you bring to your prayers and your readings. One day is full of darkness, the next full of light, and all is still well. This is how we live our lives. This is what the tarot reflects back to us, and this is how we learn to find solid ground through sacred conversation with the Divine sources that surround us and want nothing more for us than victory. Trust us, say our guides. Trust us. It is always perfect, and it will always change, and the conversation that serves our forward motion can be constant if we wish it to be so.

Marla Cinilia is a heart-based E-RYT 500 and a perpetual student of yoga, spirituality and mysticism.  She teaches and loves in New Hampshire and Maine.

Cultivate Inner Power through Awareness

The deeper I dive into my practice of yoga and meditation, the more fascinated I become by the sensation of thoughts. My mind is like an entire world visible to no other but me, and the more I understand my thoughts as simply 'thoughts' the more I began to feel extremely liberated. 

We are used to thinking non-stop. Whatever is happening around us, we internally comment on it, reflect upon it, do anything with it -- anything but let it be. Even the most simple things in life can become awfully complex just by putting thoughts (more attention) into them. This complexity can become overwhelming, especially when these thoughts keep us in a vicious circle of destructive and pessimistic thinking. Don't get me wrong, our minds ability to think is an amazing tool, however we must put right effort into learning how to properly use it - instead of being used up by it.

This cycle is exactly what I have experienced. At times, I have been used up by my thoughts, keeping myself small and insecure and full of doubts. Without a single question, I accepted whatever my mind gave me, which most of the times have been a vicious circle of rumination, negativity and judgement. I also believed in the past, that I was the only one who experienced this, but I've come to realise we all have that inner voice that, and if not handled accordingly, can tear us down.

In one of my latest readings, I stumbled across meta-awareness. Meta-awareness examines our mind wanderings, how easily and often we get distracted by everything, I really mean everything. Reading this took me back to my first meditation practices where I felt as if I just couldn't get it right. Why? Because my mind kept distracting me. I couldn't even count until 6 before my mind was taking me back to yesterday's conversation with my sister or I was thinking about tonight's dinner plans. I thought I had missed an essential part of the practice, and maybe meditation was just not for me.

What was happening instead was exactly what meditation is: being distracted by thoughts, noticing them, observing them and trying to return to the present moment, only to be distracted again.

The first encounter with the meta-awareness was followed by a slow and ongoing realization that my thoughts are not facts and not true. My thoughts are often noise. Distraction. Confusion. Interference.

The more you are caught up in a certain thought, the more likely it will keep coming back. That can be a frustrating cycle, however, there is a way out. All it takes is practice!

If you want to take on your thoughts and gain the power back over your mind, the most important tool for you is awareness. Here, it is not necessarily important how you practice awareness, but most important is that you practice it. And a practice needs to happen regularly, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. Try and make it your healthy habit.

Here's how to practice more awareness:

Meditation: I start my day with a 12 to 17 minute meditation practice. Sometimes, I feel the need to sit longer or even twice a day, so I try to schedule that in. I see it as taking care of my mind, just like taking care of my body by heading to the gym or preparing delicious food.

Time-Outs: If you find yourself in the middle of negative thoughts tearing you down, be pro-active and take a time-out. This can literally be anything. A walk in nature, a couple of pages in a good book, some music or just two minutes sitting in silence following your breath. The most important thing is to give yourself a change of scenery and act upon it.

Write it down: If there is one particular thought or a series of thoughts that keeps showing up, write them on a piece of paper and ask yourself critically: are you tricking yourself into something, are you thinking in black and white terms only, or could it be possible that you are expecting perfection from yourself? I like to ask myself if I would expect my dearest friends to act in that way or make that certain decision. The answer is usually no. So why continue to be so harsh upon yourself? 

Gratitude: Every evening before going to bed I write down three things that I am extremely grateful for that specific day. I don't worry about writing it poetic or beautiful ways – I simply note whatever pops up in my head first. Since my gratitude journal is usually the last thing I see before closing my eyes, this helps to shift my perception of the day I experienced.

Remember, awareness is the driving force behind your thoughts.

If you practice shifting your awareness away from your negative and destructive thoughts, you withdraw the power.

Like with anything, the more you practice, the better you will learn how to use your mind and thoughts as the previous tools they are. 

Sabrina is on the journey to self-love, self-care and connection. Through Yoga and Meditation she learned how to truly connect with and channel the positivity within. Sabrina balances life between her many passions and desire to make a difference in her own life and those around her. Follow her here

Step into Spring

The Spring Equinox is celebrated as the first day of the new season, when day and night are equal in both hemispheres. This is a particularly potent time in the year when nature comes alive after the hibernation months of winter. Seeds are germinating, buds are bursting on trees and the power of the sun is increasing. This is a dynamic and expansive time of the year which symbolizes fertility, growth and opportunities. 

Here are 3 simple tips to stay balanced and maximize your potential throughout this time of transition:

Embrace Creativity

Spring is a season where things come alive after the cool and dry winter months. This change is a beautiful time to manifest intentions, as we are supported through the natural cycle of transformation -- birth, sustainment and destruction. During Spring we are in the 'birth' stage with changing weather patterns, welcoming fresh air, cleansing rains, and warmth from the sun which provides an abundance in life and energy. Use this dynamic energy present within nature, to support our expressions of creativity as we expand into new projects, roles and practices. Reflect on your core values and intentions you hold for new responsibilities moving forwards and hold yourself accountable to expand with integrity and awareness.

Cleanse and Awaken

After the stagnant, introverted months of winter, it is important to bring a sense of lightness to the body and mind. Utilize the warmer weather and use nature as your playground (walk, run or cycle) to get your body moving in new ways and counter any lethargic tendencies, wake up and sleep 30 minutes earlier, cleanse your diet and eat more fresh vegetables/fruits and drink plenty of water! Reflect on the previous months through a 40 day Sadhana (practice) which guides you to release one negative habit, and replace it with a positive one. Clean your home/office/car and keep spaces open, light, and inspiring. Try to donate something each time you take in some new to make sure you don't accumulate unnecessary clutter.

Gather in Community

Welcome the new season with enthusiasm! Join together with family and friends to celebrate, reconnect and share your intentions/ideas for the months ahead. Community is wonderful for support -- when we voice our intentions/dreams/aspirations we are much more accountable for our actions. Empower yourself through the love, joy and encouragement of others.

LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here