Introducing: Bhakti Chai

press_Bhakti_LOGO

Hi dear readers.

Super exciting news today.

Lila has a new sponsor – Bhakti Chai! 

Bhakti Chai is a Boulder, CO based company that microbrews, you guessed it, kick-ass chai with an awesome message.

022

I’ve been a major fan of this fiery and delicious elixir for a number of years now. When I was doing my Kundalini Yoga TT in Boulder in 2008, we would rush over to Whole Foods after our early morning sadhana for a cup of Bhakti Chai. At this time, it was only available in certain areas of Colorado. Then, when I was living on the East Coast for 2 years, my husband would order a box of Bhakti to be sent from CO for my birthday and Christmas. This was always one of my favorite gifts.

Bhakti Chai is, without a doubt, bomb-diggity – the absolute perfect blend of sweet and spicy.

Bhakti Chai has grown in a sustainable and grass-roots manner into a successful business, staying true to the original mission of responsible social action and high-quality products made with love. Bhakti Chai is alway brewed using Fair Trade, non-GMO and certified organic ingredients. As a company they have prioritized zero waste manufacturing and dedicated part of their profits to supporting various nonprofit organizations serving women, girls and the environment.

019

The founder of Bhakti Chai, Brook Eddy, was inspired to start making this delicious drink from her experiences in Northern India studying the devotional and service-oriented path of Bhakti Yoga in the early oughts. Home-brewing chai began as a way for her to remember the evocative scents of India but quickly grew into a small industry once her friends and family got a hold of the delicious tea. To read more about the story of this wonderful business, click HERE.

026

The kick that gives Bhakti Chai its distinct and authentic taste comes from a perfect blend of health-enriching and antioxidant- supercharged spices such as cardamon, black pepper, fennel, clove and fresh ginger juice. These spices fuel the digestive fires – agni – warming you from the inside to keep your digestion strong and healthy. This spicy blend mixed with Fair-Trade, organic black tea packs a punch when it comes to cancer-fighting antioxidants.

025Unlike many common chai blends found in America, it is not loaded with refined sugars, syrups or preservatives. Personally, I find many of these types of chai, like the kind you would get at Starbucks, too sicky-sweet and totally unlike any chai I’ve ever tasted in India.

Bhakti Chai is authentic – it lets the taste of the tea and spices do the talking.

Bhakti Chai can be bought in concentrate or in small bottles pre-blended with soy milk for an on-the-go pick me up. There is an unsweetened option available in the concentrate (my preference) as well as a de-caffeinated version (Thad’s choice) and there’s even a coffee-chai blend for those who want to fly to the moon and back. 🙂

locations_family_RTD_RMR

I love to whisk together, on the stove-top, unsweetened almond milk and unsweetened BC with a spoonful of coconut sugar as my morning treat. I also adore tossing a splash of Bhakti into my vegan pancakes and french toast batter. So yummy! Check out all these other fun recipes you can make with Bhakti Chai.

When Thaddeus and I decided to move back to CO last year, I asked him, “What are you most looking forward to about being back out west?”

To which he replied, “Snow and Bhakti Chai.”

It’s that good.

DSC_0008

Thad enjoying his morning Bhakti…this photo still cracks me up! 

Check to see where you can find Bhakti Chai locally

Or shop online!

products_GROWLERS_1Thanks Bhakti Chai for supporting Lila blog!

Blessings to all,

Frances

(all images from Bhaktichai.com, except the pic of my hubby’s butt – that’s mine and mine alone..hehe)

Advertisements

Introducing: A’Terra and Earth Garden Botanicals

Logo - A'Terra

I’m really excited to introduce you today to Lila’s newest sponsor – A’Terra and Earth Garden Botanicals.

This line of natural skin-care, medicinal herbal teas and essential oils are all lovingly produced at Green Earth Farm in Saguache, Colorado.

Lillian McCracken, with her husband, co-founded Green Earth Farm in the high altitude San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado.

I have visited this beautiful certified-organic farm and had the great privilege to learn about traditional herbal medicine from Lillian when I was a student at Crestone Healing Arts Center.

Brussels

Lillian is a true “wise woman” in my book. She has spent her life learning from the earth and from the energy of the plants themselves. She is a truly gifted astrologer, gardener and healer.

From her decades of experience with plants she has meticulously developed two lines of self-care products to nourish and heal the body and mind using plants and herbs from her own farm.

A’Terra consists of a line of organic body products such as lotions, cremes, serums, balms and perfectly blended essential oils.

Earth Garden Botanicals is her line of healing herbal teas and tinctures.

Calendula

I’m a huge believer that what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. Most of the shampoo and cosmetic products on the market these days are the skincare equivalent of Twinkies and Doritos. They are chock full of toxic chemicals and artificial substances.

A’Terra products are more akin to home-cooked vegetable kitcharee and green smoothies – healing, cleansing and purifying.

I have been using her products for a few years now and I recommend them to everyone I know. They are so high quality, amazingly-prized, hand-made and seriously some of the cleanest and greenest products on the market!

My skin responds beautifully to the Radiance Complexion Serum and Lotus Lotion. The Herbal Lip Balm is a must for me, especially during these dry winter months.

window

My husband and I both rely heavily on her Relief headache essential oil blend. It is a life-saver for anyone who suffers from regular headaches.

One of her other products that I love is the Lunar Harmony tea blend. Drinking this tea regularly helped balance my moon cycle and hormones – it’s true medicine.

If you can’t tell – I’m a big fan of A’Terra and I love knowing that these products I use daily are handmade in my own state with organically grown plants.

Greenhouse

To learn more about Green Earth Farm, visit the website.

To peruse the selection of natural skincare and herbal products, visit the A’Terra and Earth Garden Botanicals online store.

organic-greenearthfarm

To help you get to know the woman behind the plants just a bit more, I asked Lillian a few questions:

When did you start growing herbs and making your own products?

We started Green Earth in1987. I started making herbal preparations in the early 70’s but not commercially until 1988. Our first product was the Calendula Crème & it just grew from there in response to requests. I moved from San Francisco to northern California in the late 60’s. Sonoma County became the epicenter of the organic agriculture, alternative healing & herbal renaissance. I was fortunate to be able to apprentice with some amazing teachers there.

What are your three favorite products that you currently produce?

It’s nearly impossible to choose my three favorite preparations but if I have to, I would choose our first product which was the Calendula Crème, our most recent: Tree of Life Nourishing Crème & the Solar Protection Mist because at 8000 feet of elevation you need it daily all year round.

index

index-1

Dear readers, I hope you check out these wonderful products!

Huge thanks to Lillian for her support of Lila!

 

Blessings and Love,

Frances

Ashtanga Adventures…

DSCN0483

This morning we depart for India! It doesn’t really seem so long ago that we just landed back in the States from Delhi. I guess we are really trying to make the most out of those 10 year visas.

For the next 3 and a half weeks, we will be in Kovalam, Kerala with a bunch of awesome Ashtangis practicing our little booties off under the guidance of certified teacher and general badass, David Garrigues.

One of my goals for this trip is to post a little tidbit every day here on Lila. If you would like to stay updated on these posts, please sign up for email subscription at the bottom of the page and be sure to follow Lila on Facebook.

This is my 4th trip to India since 2007! And I think I finally packed the right amount of clothes this time. Though of course, I did manage to lose the power adaptor that I oh so cleverly hid from myself a few months ago. I have a habit of doing that…putting things in places that I think will be the perfect spot so I won’t forget it and then I promptly do!

The process of flying across the world is kind of a drag, but the end result is always worth it. We did a quick little practice at Mysore today and are now packing up and I’m relishing my last avocado for a few weeks.

Our number one trick for avoiding jet lag is to fast during the entire flight. It makes you super spacey, but I swear, it really works! You start fasting 2 hours before your flight and you keep your fast until you arrive at your destination. Once there, we try to eat whatever meal is happening at that time. I drink herbal tea and lots of water during the fast. If you are going on a long trip sometime, I definitely recommend trying this. Basically the fasting helps readjust your circadian rhythms just like light exposure does.

Anyways, off we go.

Blessings.

Frances

Introducing: Roots and Wings Jewelry

Roots & Wings Logo033

I am absolutely thrilled to present Lila’s first sponsor, Roots and Wings Jewelry!

Over the next few weeks, I will be introducing you to the wonderful, creative women and their companies who are so kindly sponsoring Lila. Each of these companies offers products that I personally love and respect. These are companies that care about health, creativity, beauty, wellness and individuality – the kind of values that Lila is all about.

I hope you will get to know my sponsors, check out their websites and support their work. Thanks so much for helping Lila grow!

Roots and Wings Jewelry is lovingly handcrafted in picturesque coastal Oregon by Ashley Mersereau.

web6

Ashley is one of my dear friends from college and is seriously one of the most creative people I know. When we traveled together after graduation  in Australia and Thailand with a few other girl friends, she always had her sketchbook, journal and camera handy to capture images and write reflections of our adventures.

JBailie-blackberries-081312-9395

Ashley is a nature girl. She was raised by the ocean in a small town in Oregon. She loves to hike in the woods, walk on the beach, grow flowers and fresh vegetables in her family garden and then cook delicious, nourishing food with this bounty – she’s a bombshell in the kitchen, I can attest to this. Her love of the land, the ocean and the whole energy of thePacific Northwest shows through in her artwork.

JBailie-Manzanita-061312-2480

Ashley is one of those people I can turn to when I need a reminder to view the world with an open heart and a sense of wonder. Her art – jewelry, paintings, photographs – are instilled with a gentle optimism and appreciation of the “good things” – the hot cups of tea on a rainy afternoon, the giggly potlucks with friends, the salty ocean breeze in your hair and the happiness of being present each day for a creative and healthy life.

JBailie-Manzanita-061312-2398

To catch a glimpse into her world stop her her personal blog at Roots&Wings.

To browse her lovely creations, please visit her Etsy shop Roots and Wings Jewelry.

And then be sure to look at the dreamy photography blog, Soggy Roots, she co-creates with her partner, professional photographer Justin Bailie.

_MG_0443

I’ve posed a few questions for Ashley to help you get to know her and her beautiful artwork better.

 Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A.:  I am inspired by so many things all the time.  The natural world, the shapes and patterns I see in my daily forays into the forest and beaches of my home on the Oregon coast are a constant source of inspiration.  Patterns and designs in fabric, tribal jewelry, photography, and even something as simple as the slant of light through my kitchen window in the evening, might spark an idea or creative moment.

_MG_8571

Q:  What are your favorite materials?
A:  I love working with metals, especially copper, there is something really satisfying and exciting about the different shapes that metals take when hammered and worked with.  I work as much as possible with semi precious stones and am really partial to turquoise, chrysoprase, amethyst and peruvian opals.  I love incorporating found objects when possible, as well as leather and wood.

_MG_6041

Q:  How does your art reflect your philosophy on life?
A:  I love this question!!  For me, making art and being creative is so much more than just a job or a hobby.  I believe that the best way we can contribute to the world is to be the most true, authentic, happy version of ourselves, and for me this means creating art and bringing beauty into the world.  My jewelry is bright, dramatic, and hopefully will make the wearer smile.  I personally think you can’t discount the importance of beautiful things in the world.

_MG_4729

Q:  What’s your number one personal tip for health and happiness?
A:  Simple; find what it is that you love to do, what makes your soul sing and your heart feel fulfilled, and pursue it.  Sometimes this can feel hard and complicated, but keep doing it anyways.

web5

How great are these answers? Can you see why I love this gal!

Thank you Ashley for your support and taking the time to share your work with us.

Thank you dear readers for being here and making Lila happen!

Blessings and Love

Frances

Photographs by Justin Bailie and Socheat. Thanks!

Top 12 Posts of 2012.

 

Can you believe this epic year is almost over? 

It’s been an awesome one for me, but I’m ready for 2013!

Dear readers, what would you like to see more of on Lila blog in the coming year?

I would love to hear from you.

Here’s a list of the most popular/my favorite posts from this year.

Give it a look over and make sure you haven’t missed anything good.

The Top 12:

1. My Yoga Teacher Makes Me Cry. Is that a Problem?

This was one of the most cathartic pieces I have written because it really helped me clarify my relationship with my Ashtanga Yoga teacher David G.

2. My Thoughts on Yoga and Your Moon Cycle.

This subject always gets people talking. Do you have a viewpoint or experience that you would like to share?

3. Why is Kapotasana Such a B*tch?

Thoughts on why this challenging pose is so revered/hated in Ashtanga and what I have learned from it in my journey this year.

4. Tips for Healthy Travels in India.

I’ve gotten sick on my adventures to India, but I’m getting more savvy with each trip over there and this post includes tips for all the herbs and practices that have helped me stay healthy while traveling.

5. Lessons Learned From Teaching at a Small Yoga Studio.

This post is full of reflections I gained from teaching at a small, underpopulated yoga studio in Virginia. My experiences there taught me to be a more adaptable, patient and self-confident teacher.

6. Love, Gratitude and Self-Healing with EFT

This post explains how to practice EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and why it’s been an important part of my healing journey.

7. Good Intentions, Bad Results and the Importance of Adaptability.

This confessional post shares some mistakes I’ve made with my food choices and unnecessary self-inflicted stress. I discuss the notion of adaptability and how sometimes the healthiest thing to do is let go go of the notions we have of what is “healthy” and instead just be easy on ourselves.

8. Celebrating…

This silly, photo-full post gives 10 reasons why I love Thad. This post was in honor of his first-ever half-birthday celebration.

9. Ashtanga, the Gym and Me.

In this post we get talking about whether just practicing Ashtanga is “enough” exercise or whether it’s necessary to supplement the practice with more cardiovascular exercise or strength-strengthening. Lots of great comments here.

10. Tips for a Balanced and Happy Home Yoga Practice.

2012 was the year I brought my yoga practice back home and stopped going to the studio regularly. This had its challenges but also helped me gain some important insights. This post shares what I learned about maintaining a regular yoga practice at home.

11. Blogs, Blogging Culture, Wedding Planning and Cyber-Jealously. 

Before I got rolling with this blog officially early this year (admission – Lila existed in another name and in a much smaller format in 2011), I knew very little about the blog world. I’ve learned a lot about this whole culture this year and there are parts of it I find totally absurd. That’s where this post comes from.

12. Confessions from Savasana.

In this post I admit how much I do not love everyone’s favorite part of yoga – relaxation! Good comments here from readers about what they like/don’t like from their teachers during savasana.

And as a final treat, just because it’s so darn tasty that, if I could, I would make one of these cakes for each and every one of you, dear readers….

The Super Healthy, Insanely Delicious Chocolate Avocado Birthday Cake! 

Thanks for sharing a great year with me.

So grateful for your continued support.

Here’s to a playful, healthful and joyful new year! Cheers!

Love and Blessings,

Frances

Blogs, Blogging Culture, Wedding Planning and Cyber-Jealousy.

I read this article today from Bitch magazine called “Better Homes and Bloggers: Are lifestyle blogs a new way for women to compare themselves and come up short?“.  I found it totally fascinating and it really got me to thinking about blogs and why I’m a “blogger” (as if! Seriously, I can’t come to call myself by that moniker yet when I’m really just an odd little bird with a computer and too much free time!).

I really see now that blogs can be an extension of the Social Media culture we live in in which everyone is trying to “brand” or market themselves.  Admit it, you’ve taken photos before just for the purpose of posting them on FB so everyone can see what interesting/beautiful/cool/fun things you are doing.  Yeah?  Me too.

Before I started athayoganusasanam, now Lila, I never spent a lot of time on blogs.  I would read EJ sometimes and occasionally peruse the internet looking at a blog or two if someone recommended a link on Facebook, but that’s about it.  To this day, I don’t “follow” any blogs with email subscriptions or twitter or anything like that.

But even so, when I started writing my own little blog I started getting sucked into a big wide world of yoga and lifestyle blogs all across the web.  It’s really fun and I learn a lot…but I also waste a lot of time.  I personally try to use blogs for the best of their advantage (for example – I haven’t opened a cookbook for 2 years because blogs offer me amazing culinary inspiration).

Here’s me being honest: I don’t read a lot of yoga-only blogs. I think many of them are quite boring and they don’t often pertain to me, or the posts are waaaay too long so I get distracted and move on.  Occasionally I find one and dive in and read a bunch of posts but then I sort of forget to go back and keep checking up on it. There are a few I look at regularly like Confluence Countdown and Nobel’s blog and some of the other ones on my blogroll.  But other than that I go for days without looking at yoga blogs.

Why? Well, I’m planning my wedding and honestly I would rather look at dreamy photos of chic, vintage weddings than read about how much your dropbacks hurt this morning or why you are giving up coffee.  Because my dropbacks hurt too.  Big deal.

Wedding blogs have been like a gateway drug for me into the world of “style” blogs. Then Pinterest took my addictions and obsessions to a new level.  Wow – how amazing is Pinterest?!  You can follow my boards! Hahaha~  No, seriously, I mean it, you really can…just click here.

Pinterest is like epic window-shopping mixed in with some voyeurism, fantasizing and lots of longing for a gorgeous, perfect, DIY-tastic life.

Looking at a lot of other blogs I find myself thinking at times superficial and negative thoughts like “wow, I hope my baby is that cute one day and that I look that damn good after giving birth”….”she has really great legs, I wish I had more reasons to dress up and look super cute like that.“….”she is such a great baker….how come the muffins I make always sink down!”…”her life looks so glam and picture-perfect, I wish I was more photogenic, I hate my skin right now”….”they look like they have lots of really cool friends, why aren’t we more social?” (oh yea, I practice Ashtanga, I don’t drink and my partner is an introverted yogi-philosopher Hare Krishna – duh!)….”her food photographs are so much better than mine, why do mine look so yucky?”….. blah blah blah…you get the idea, right?  Exactly what that article says – women love looking at other women’s lives and comparing themselves!  (They never told me that high school doesn’t end after graduation! aaaaah!!!!)

Anyways, I’m rambling.  Just read the article.  It brings up some totally spot-on points about the whole movement of new DIY and nostalgic, stylized domesticity and how that relates to previous feminist movements.

After thinking about all this all day, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never be a darling and perfect lifestyle blogger.  At least I can’t imagine that happening as that would require me to develop loads of new skills and much more sunny attitude.  Sometimes people say things on my Facebook albums like “I want your life!” and it sort of makes me cringe.  I’m way too much of a cynic to present my life as a precious Feist song.

My life was always a bit too “Running with Scissors” and “Franny and Zooey” for me to now offer myself up as an exemplar of positive affirmations and domestic bliss.  So, I may post recipes, DIY ideas and pictures of my weekends with my tattooed punk boyfriend, but I can’t imagine that Lila will ever be a site for girls to look at and covet something they can’t have (gosh I hope not!).

I don’t fold my clothes and you should see the state of my laundry room!  Atrocious.  I break my food rules and I can’t follow a recipe to save my life.  I can’t do anything interesting with my hair and I totally blow at painting my nails – an 8 year old could do them better than I.  I don’t wear lots of cute high heels or headbands or change my jewelry everyday and wear “statement pieces”.

No,  not at all and that’s okay. Because as I look around at my spacious and clean apartment which is so tidy only because I grew up in a household that was always so freakin’ perfect that I’ve been conditioned now that if my place starts to get messy I will have a panic attack (thanks Mum! Hopefully one day I’ll be able to afford a cleaning lady 5 days a week too, but for now, I’ll just keep the visible places tidy and allow the cabinets and closets to go to seed), I count my blessings.

I have a lot to be grateful for.  I’m young, debt-free, mostly self-employed, healthy, and well-educated. I have an awesome partner who cleans up the messes I make in the kitchen and is appreciative of every dish I prepare him (whether it looks pretty or not).  I am supported by his love and his presence as we practice Ashtanga every morning together and meditate every evening side by side.  I’m privileged enough to have the flexibility to work jobs of my choosing, with an open flexible schedule that allow me to travel and explore.

So, who am I kidding? There’s no reason I should harbor any jealousy to the picture-perfect lifestyle bloggers out there, because I’m the lucky one.  Thank you very much!

Moral of the story: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Instagram!

To reward you for getting to the bottom of this ramble, here’s a link to a blog – Barbarazzi – that precisely captures everything one can make fun of in the yoga scene today (and yet at the core of their writing you can tell they love and honor the power and practice of yoga).  Check it out!  I lost my FY to this site for a full day.  He literally sat in front of his computer and laughed and laughed all afternoon.

Blessings,

F.

Introducing…Lila!

Image

athayoganusasanam just got a spring make-over!

Please welcome Lila!  Now conveniently located at http://www.lilablog.com – so much easier for you to remember and share, right?  Hope so.

Lila (pronounced LEE-LA) is a Sanskrit word translated as “play”, “sport” or “pastime”.  In Hindu cosmology there is the idea that this whole universe is the playground of the gods.

This blog is my little playground; a place where I can be silly, serious, philosophical, questing and creative.  I hope you enjoy coming here to play and learn.

I value your feedback, so please let me know how best I can be of service to you.  What are you most interested in learning here at Lila?  What do you want to discuss?  More recipes?  Do you want more photos?  Practice ideas?  Kundalini?  Ashtanga?

Thank you for stopping by!  Please update your bookmarks and blogrolls.   Spread the word.

Blessings and Love,

Frances