Monthly Archives: September 2012

yoga and social awareness


September 26, 2012

This week’s topic: Yoga and Social Awareness

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Johannes Fisslinger, president of Yoga Health Foundation
Julie Kundert, yoga instructor and founder of The Ahimsa Festival
David Ezekiel, yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Conservation Alliance

Featured Music:
Nirvana Shatakam (Shivo’ham), Blue Spirit Wheel
Gurudeva Bol, Jaya Lakshmi
Eastern Promise, Dave Cipriani
Jaya Sita Ram, Geoffrey Gordon

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i’m on deadline with the magazine, and free time is a precious commodity i don’t have at the moment. so the blog post will be delayed until tomorrow. but it’s coming, i promise.

by the way, i’ve chosen this photo because i’m in it. and from what i’ve been told, i’m easy to find 🙂

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most yoga students think that yoga is all about the union of mind, body, and spirit — as in one’s mind with one’s body and one’s spirit.  but it’s more than just that; yoga is the union of one’s mind/body/spirit with that of every other being, whether it be a loved one, a neighbor, or someone clear across town. or even across the world. it’s right there in patanjali’s yoga sutras. want proof? click here to read more about it.

since this is the last week of yoga month, i thought it’d be appropriate to talk about how we can go about uniting ourselves with the rest of the world through social awareness.

i reached out to johannes fisslinger, one of the forces behind national yoga month and yoga recess, whose mission it is to bring yoga to children in their classrooms. i also invited julie kundert to talk about the upcoming ahimsa festival she produced to promote awareness about domestic violence and to raise funds to support the valley cares family justice center. and since all beings aren’t just humans but also all living creatures, i asked david ezekiel to talk about the yoga conservation alliance he created to support wildlife conservation.

by the way, many yoga studios around the country are offering a FREE week of yoga for new students. click here to find out more about this offer that ends in early october.

the ahimsa festival will be held at the park plaza hotel in los angeles on sunday, october 14th. click here to buy tickets or to make a donation.

julie kundert’s a yoga teacher but i forgot to ask her where she teaches, so i looked up her facebook page. you can catch her at various places in the conejo valley: yogaworks in westlake village, bodysattva in thousand oaks, and yoga upstairs and agoura power of yoga in agoura hills.

david ezekiel teaches all over the place, too, but on the westside: updog yoga in west hollywood, corepower yoga and maha yoga in brentwood, and santa monica power yoga in santa monica.

the music is an eclectic compilation from CDs i’d picked up along the way – at bhakti fest, from the musicians themselves, or both.

in keeping with the theme of awareness of the plight of others, i wanted to share a facebook fundraiser for a beloved brother in the kirtan community, geoffrey gordon:

As many of you may know, our beloved Geoffrey left his body on September 4th at 9:40 p.m. from a massive heart attack.

Geoffrey was returning home to Santa Fe from Sedona, where he had just received a standing ovation for one of his most exceptional percussion solos. Geoffrey was in a state of bliss throughout the entire weekend and shared his light and love with everyone.

We will miss him deeply.

Contributions to assist in the funeral and memorial expenses and to subsidize other financial needs can be given to his wife, Sandra Gordon, in memory of Geoffrey Gordon.

in his honor, i’ve chosen to end the show with a song from his album, breath of rama. one more beautiful voice has joined the great kirtan band in heaven.

(please excuse the hoarse voice and scattered brain… i was coming down with a cold and was feeling under the weather when this show was recorded.)


restore, renew, revitalize!


September 19, 2012

This week’s topic: Restore, Renew, Revitalize!

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Larry Payne, yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Therapy Rx program at LMU
Mahankirn Kaur, yoga instructor and author of “Three Min Start”
Mary Shriver, facilitator of Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises

Featured Music:
Ganesha Sharanam, Jai Uttal
Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung, Seda Bagcan
Ad Guray Nameh, Nirinjan Kaur
Que el Eterno Sol / Long Time Sun, Snatam Kaur & GuruGanesha with Gurmukh

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photo credit:

there seemed to be a major confluence of events coming up right around this week:

september is national yoga month.

september 16th is the start of rosh hashanah, the jewish new year.

september 19th is ganesha chaturthi, the elephant-headed deity’s birthday.

september 22nd is the autumnal equinox, when the day and night are of equal length. it also marks the end of summer and the start of fall.

add to that the oppressive heatwave that’s been lingering in the LA area, and it was clear to me that it was time to focus the show on something more restorative, something that would help calm mind/body/spirit and bring one back to balance. so that’s exactly what i set out to do.

and i’d like to think that i picked a winning team to be on the show this week!

first, i scored big time in landing larry payne, founding president of the international association of yoga therapists (IAYT) and the founding director of the yoga therapy certification course at loyola marymount university (LMU) here in LA.

i was also fortunate to bump into mahahkirn kaur, a kundalini yoga teacher i’d heard glowing stories about, including how she’d healed herself from a debilitating illness through the practice of bound lotus, and how she now teaches it to others to help them heal themselves. she’s also the author of a new book, “three min start” with simple techniques to help alleviate stress.

and to round off the collection of healers, i invited mary shriver, a tension and trauma releasing exercises (TRE) facilitator, to talk about how exercises that cause the body to shake can relieve pain, reduce anxiety, and increase energy.  i mean, who knew? and as a great tie-in to the show, there’s a new TRE-yoga hybrid called neurogenic yoga. good stuff.

it’s believed that many of the kundalini mantras are for healing, so i filled the time between interviews with healing mantras from new CDs i’d picked up from spirit voyage artists: seda bagcan, nirinjan kaur, snatam kaur, and guruganesha singh. and since it was ganesha’s birthday, i started off the show with a chant to ganesha from jai uttal. besides, honoring ganesha at the start of anything is always auspicious!

and while i’m sure all the techniques they’ve shared will no doubt help me restore and rebalance from my whirlwind lifestyle, i don’t think there’s any way they’ll help me with surviving the heat. although i do know of one deity who’s known to remove obstacles… assuming, of course, that heat can be considered an obstacle!

*** update: mahankirn’s three min start apps have been approved and are now available for download. there are currently six in the series: office focus, quit smoking, stress less, calm heart, good mood, and good mood in spanish. click here to access the stress less app and here for the FREE good mood app.

fall festival fever!


September 12, 2012

This week’s topic: Fall Festival Fever!

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Janet Marley, co-producer of Pranafest
Jesse Shannon, Director of Marketing and Communications at Rise & Shine Gathering
Shunyam, producer of Boston Yoga and Chant Fest

Featured Music:
Hari Om Nararayan, SuryaChandra
Gayatri Mantra, Breath of Life Tribe
Damhama Dam Ali (Ali is in Every Breath), Fanna-Fi-Allah
Jai Ma, Swami Mangalananda

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it wasn’t that long ago when attending a yoga workshop taught by a celeb yoga teacher was something to look forward to. or maybe even having a big-name wallah like krishna das or jai uttal lead a kirtan at your local yoga studio.

in time, someone came up with the great idea of not only merging yoga with music, but also curating an impressive line-up of yoga teachers and musicians and setting the whole thing atop a mountain or on the beach — and tada! the yoga and music festival was born.

omega ecstatic chant, wanderlust festival, bhakti fest. their producers all hoped to catch the attention of yogis in search of something new, something exciting, something different. and succeed they did.

maybe it’s just because i spend a good chunk of my time keeping abreast of all things yoga, but it seems like just this past year, yoga festivals have now sprouted up not just all over the country but even around the world. and they continue to draw large crowds of eager attendees.

it kinda makes you wonder why — are regular yoga classes becoming too ho-hum? are yoga retreats losing their excitement? are yogis feeling the need to amp up their yoga practice by adding in the destinations AND the celeb yoga teachers AND the big-name kirtan musicians?  is this just a fad? in other words, are yoga aficionados going to continue to be willing to pay $200-$300 for a weekend of yoga and music, not to mention the associated travel and lodging expenses?

as they say, only time will tell.

in the meantime, with all these yoga+music events cropping up across the country, it’s getting easier — and more affordable, at least travel-wise — to partake in the yoga festival experience, even if it’s for a shorter period of time with fewer big-name yoga teachers and musicians.

so this week, in my continuing focus on yoga month and all things yoga, i’ve decided to invite representatives from two first-time yoga festivals (pranafest in ashland OR and rise & shine gathering in santa susana CA) as well as a fledgling local one (boston yoga and chant fest in weston MA) to talk about their events on the show. we’ll talk about the when, the where, and the why. maybe even the how.

while researching upcoming fall festivals, i came across others such as the dallas yoga conference and music fest on september 14-16, the divine play acroyoga festival in san francisco on october 12-14, and the austin yoga festival on october 27-28. they’re all worthy of attention, but i could only squeeze in so many. plus some reached out to me, which always helps 🙂

i’d just spent the past weekend at bhakti fest, the granddaddy of them all as far as kirtan line-ups, and while there, i picked up some new CDs from groups i’d never heard of before, including: suryachandra from nova scotia, fanna-fi-allah from nevada city, and swami mangalananda from omkareshwar in india*. i also picked up a new pre-release CD from the breath of life tribe here in LA. it just so happens that some of these groups will be performing at the yoga festivals i’ll be highlighting, which is a perfect enough reason to play their music. the breath of life tribe will be at pranafest, fanna-fi-allah will be at rise & shine, and swami mangalananda will be at boston chant. and while suryachandra isn’t scheduled to be at any festival any time soon, we can only hope they will be.

* swami mangalananda’s chant is just one of many included in the compilation CD, ‘chants for the divine mother.’ proceeds from the sale of the album will help fund the running of the omkareshwar school in central india. to find out more about the school and buy a copy of the CD, click on this link: sri mata anandamayi ashram.

during the show, jesse shannon from the rise & shine gathering generously offered to give away TWO weekend passes to their premiere event. at this point, we’re still working out the details and rules, so stay tuned for updates!

*** update: thanks to my guests for their generous ticket deals for listeners! ***

from pranafest in ashland, OR on sept 28-30:

Enter now for your chance to win a FREE 3-day pass to Pranafest (, the new Northwest festival featuring an all-star lineup of kirtan leaders and yoga teachers at an idyllic natural hot springs retreat center and spa in Ashland, Oregon.

Enter by SUNDAY Sept 23rd, and watch your inbox or the Pranafest Facebook page to see if you’ve won!  Earn an extra entry for each of your facebook friends who also enters the contest from a link you can share with them.

Click here to enter the ticket give-away contest

Click here to purchase tickets

from the rise and shine gathering in santa susana, CA on oct 19-21:

We have created a discount code for the Yoga Chat audience!

Enter the discount code ayogist on the Rise & Shine purchase page in all lowercase with no spaces

Code provides 10% off all ticket levels, including weekend passes, day passes, and Lotus Experience packages.

And we’re giving away TWO 3-day weekend passes with on-site camping passes!

To enter,

1. “Like” the Rise and Shine Gathering facebook page.

2. “Like” the Yoga Chat page.

3. Post a comment in the comments section below describing what your ideal festival experience would be – teachers you’ll take classes with, workshops you’ll attend, music you’ll listen to, maybe even friends you’ll go with!

4. For an extra entry, tweet that you’ve entered the contest and make sure you mention @rnsgathering and @yogachat so we know that you did!

4. ONE winner will be picked at random and will win a pair of passes worth $570! Good luck!

from the boston yoga and chant fest in medford, MA on oct 20-21:

Listeners can enter discount code meetup on and receive $25 off a weekend pass for the festival.

capturing the essence of yoga on film


September 5, 2012

This week’s topic: Capturing the Essence of Yoga on Film

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Ron Fricke, director of ‘Samsara’
Mark Magidson, producer of ‘Samsara’
Jahnava Hausner, producer of ‘Women of Bhakti’
Pete Hoffman, winemaker at Aum Wine Cellars and featured in ‘Aum: You Are What You Drink’

Featured Music:
Cebu, Michael Stearns
Modern Life, Michael Stearns
Devaki, Karnamrita Dasi
My Body is a Temple (Krishna Murari), Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits

* * * * * * * *

happy september! happy yoga month!

i don’t know if it’s just me, but there seems to be an abundance of yoga-themed documentaries catering to the growing yoga market these days. so i decided to highlight a few of those films in this week’s episode, preferably those just hitting the market. i started scouring the internet for these new releases.

while listening to KCRW last month, i’d heard that a meditation-inspired release, ‘samsara‘, had been selected for the august screening of matt’s movies, a film series curated for an indie film-loving crowd. at that point, i knew i just HAD to feature it on the show. luckily, it was also reviewed in the september issue of LA yoga magazine, so i had the article’s author put me in touch with the filmmakers, ron fricke and mark magidson. and the rest, as they say, is history.

at around the same time, a local yoga studio hosted a screening of ‘women of bhakti‘ (which, unfortunately, i couldn’t make), so i sent a request to the filmmakers via the film’s website, and soon after, producer jahnava hausner sent a message back and said she’d be happy to talk about the film.

still in search of a third film to round out the show line-up, i happened upon a film-in-process about yoga and wine called ‘aum: you are what you drink‘ and through a combination of social media tweeting, facebooking, and emailing, i got in touch with the film production person who put me in touch with pete hoffman, the winemaker from aum wine cellars who was featured in the documentary.

the guest line-up was pretty much in place two weeks before air date, so i half expected that after i’d finalized the music (from the films’ soundtracks), it would be nothing but clear sailing from that point on.

of course, right as i was about to cue up the opening track, i discovered that the CD player was emitting strange clicking sounds. and right as i was about to switch CD players, the phone rang. my first guests were calling in while i was in mid-transfer. while i was broadcasting nothing but dead air. and in that brief moment of madness, i completely forgot what i had planned to ask them. perfect.

there was another technical glitch later on that only those listening live would’ve heard: i thought i was playing music from my laptop but all that was coming out was dead silence. and just as i was about to troubleshoot the cause of the problem, my next guests called in on a conference call… and their phone connection was likewise problematic! thank god for lewis victor, another DJ who happened to be in the studio at the time; he figured out the solution to the sound problem while i tried to resolve the phone problem. and thank god for audio editing tools, because none of that ended up on the podcast! my apologies, though, to brandon ross, one of the producers of  ‘aum‘, who had to drop off the conference call just so pete hoffman and i could hear each other well enough for the interview.

and in one last instance of where-did-i-leave-my-brain-today, i forgot to intro the closing track of the show, which came from the soundtrack to ‘women of bhakti’. so here it is, belatedly — it’s ‘my body is a temple’ by gaura vani & as kindred spirits.

to give you a better idea of the films themselves, here are links to their trailers…

‘samsara’ – produced by mark magidson, directed by ron fricke, musical direction by michael stearns and mark magidson

‘women of bhakti’ – written and produced by jahnava hausner, cinematography by hillary tapper

‘aum: you are what you drink’ – produced by reading in the dark productions