Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yogi Favorites (3) ~ How to make Sprouted Almond Milk

Why sprouted almonds? Seeds and nuts contain vital energy forces that enable them to grow into trees and plants, given the right conditions. With the life essentials of water and sunlight, inhibitor enzymes built in to protect the seed are released and begin to germinate, increasing the power and bio-availability of vitamin and mineral content. 

Note: During germination, the skin becomes toxic, so always peel your sprouted almonds! The germination process transforms the chemical composition of the almond, giving it a nutritional profile more like a living plant than an inert seed. 

Sprouted almonds are anti-inflammatory, diabetic-friendly superfoods packed with protein, fiber, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins - the perfect Dharma yogi food! 

Here is how make it - easy, a little time consuming, but 100% worth it every time.

1 ½ cup sprouted almonds or brazil nuts
4 cups filtered water
3-5 dates 
1 Tbs vanilla (or fresh vanilla bean seeds)
Pinch sea salt, agave, honey or maple syrup to taste

It takes about 10 minutes to peel the sprouted almonds. Hold the large end in your finger tips and squeeze, the nut slips out of the skin pointy side first into your palm. Rinse after peeling to remove any lingering toxins from the skins. 

About the dates, if you remember to do it, soaked is better, if dry however, they soak themselves in the milk after blending and dissolve away leaving only skin that falls to the bottom.

Pour the nuts and water together into the blender. Close the lid and blend on high for a couple of minutes.

The better blended the more nutrition you will gain from the nut pulp.

Any linen type cloth or very fine cheese cloth will do for straining. It doesn’t have to be a bag but that will make squeezing it easier.  Make sure your bowl is large enough.

Pour the milk through the cloth into the bowl.

When the sprouted nut meal pulp is still in the cloth you can dip, wet it again and squeeze with your hands. This will yield more of the vital essence of the nut. You can add a little more fresh water into the bag as well to help with this.

You can also pour the milk through a second time, again its like squeezing milk from coconut pulp, the more you work it, the more comes out of the pulp. Once you’ve done this to your satisfaction, then you are ready to pour the milk back into the blender without the pulp now, and add the dates (pitted), vanilla and salt.

Store your Almond Milk in a glass container and shake well before consuming. It will last three plus days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Text: Lana J. Lee & Amy Stinchcombe Pictures: Amy Stinchcombe, Enid Johnstone
Recipe Source and Sprouting Instructions: The Dharma Yoga LOAY Teacher Training Manual

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tapas for Teachers

By Liz Schindler

“Yoga is the path of purification of character and conduct (the cleansing of one’s physical and mental nature) wherein the highest state of reality and truth may shine undiminished in the hearts and minds of all beings." –Sri Dharma Mittra

©Jeffrey Vock

 My Life of A Yogi Teacher Training Training wasn’t all rainbows and kittens! Well, it was mostly rainbows and kittens, but also a whole lot of tapas. Tapas is perhaps the most transformative of the niyamas, or personal disciplines, set forth by Patanjali in The Yoga Sutras as well as the basis for the “path to purification” that Sri Dharma Mittra refers to in his definition of yoga.

According to the LOAY manual, tapas is defined as heat, austerity, or burning away impurities through self-discipline. Tapas was at the beginning of my transformative journey and it fueled my passion to learn and grow and to push through self doubt. Tapas caused the deepening of my physical practice throughout the intensive ten days, fueled by my own fire and sweat. It was tapas that drove me to the training, got me through it, and forced a change in my body, mind and spirit.
Sri Dharma Mittra is referred to as the teacher’s teacher and for good reason! Sri Dharma is the perfect shepherd to the trainees because he didn’t only show us how to teach yoga classes, he shared his limitless experience, knowledge and wisdom.  The morning pranayama and spiritual discourse sessions were the highlight of my day and I cannot stress how challenging but rewarding the breath work was. I soaked up all the information on the kriyas, mantra, chakras, bandhas and mudras.  

©Jeffrey Vock

Yet there was still the element of tapas and the floor seemed to harden with each passing day and by day six easy poses were no longer easy. The pain of sitting with a tall spine (out of respect for Sri Dharma) was distracting at times but looking back I’m happy that I did it. It broke a mental barrier in my mind and got rid of “I can’t do this any longer” and replaced it with “I’m still doing this.” I read a quote somewhere that says “your mind will always give up before your body, just keep going” and I did.

The hard part was putting myself out there as a teacher and I cannot adequately express my horror as I taught my first Dharma I class to my group during the training. In contrast to my inexperience, my group was so advanced! Two of my group-mates had mothers that taught yoga and two others were already certified teachers. This was my first teaching experience ever and I was mortified. I remember my disappointment as I taught and how frustrated I was over the shakiness in my voice and the inaccuracy of my cues. But why was I so nervous? I had been falling on my sweaty face and loudly farting in front of these people for days! But suddenly their opinion mattered more than anything and I thought I was bombing it.

©Liz Schindler

After finishing my first practice teach (which felt like hours) my mentor Hannah Allerdice gave me an honest review of my teaching. She stressed her opinion that I would be a wonderful teacher because she could sense how much I cared about my students. At the time I thought she was just being kind, but looking back through my handy 20/20 hindsight goggles, I see she was on point. Because I care so much I was nervous and horrified while practice teaching. My drive to teach yoga stems from my gratefulness to all of my teachers for helping deepen my yoga practice and to open my heart. All I wanted then and now is to be able to share that same gift of yoga with my students.
By the end of the training I had more confidence in my teaching and a greater sense of sympathy for my own feelings. I made strong friendships and have new role models to look up to. I surpassed my own expectations and in turn have raised my self-expectations. The LOAY teacher training experience was truly life altering for me and I am forever grateful to Sri Dharma and all of his teaching staff. 

Liz Schindler found yoga during a stressful period of her life and has returned to it again and again for over ten years to calm both body and mind. After moving to New York and beginning to study with Sri Dharma Mittra, she soon came to realize her need to share her love of yoga with others. Liz is a 200-Hour Certified Dharma Yoga Teacher. She currently lives and teaches in Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why read the Dhammapada?

by Fay Inger

©Enid Johnstone

When reading through the Dhammapada, I found that many verses resonated with me and I wonder if this is because I read the verses with yogi colored glasses because I studied with Sri Dharma Mittra

When a modern day Guru such as Sri Dharma recommends a book, it makes it less obscure and more approachable. Certainly, many verses touched upon themes I learned in the Life of a Yogi (LOAY) Teacher Training program, and when reading, I imagined seeing Sri Dharma’s face with a glimmer in his eye! 

Because of the similarities between the words of the Buddha and Sri Dharma, it is no wonder that Sri Dharma recommends this text as an important read for any new or experienced yogi.

There is a misconception that you must be a Buddhist or a person on a spiritual path seeking enlightenment to study the texts. In reality, this text is an important read regardless of one’s religious affiliation, because it transcends religion. In fact, there is no mention of religion at all. The book is not about religion or a higher power; it is about empowering the reader to be his or her best possible version by realizing that all the power is already within. (As I type this, I am aware of the strong correlation with how Sri Dharma encourages students to find their inner Guru).

Jack Kornfield, who wrote the foreword of the Gil Fronsdal translation of the Dhammapada, himself touches upon this very concept in the introduction, where he points out the contrast between the opening verse in the bible and the opening verses in the Dhammapada. As the author points out, the bible “emphasize God’s role as creator and, by extension, our reliance on God’s power.” This implies that we are weak in God’s shadow. Conversely, the Dammapada reflects “the importance and effectiveness of a person’s own actions and choices.” This observation highlights how we are in charge of our own path and indeed, the masters of our own destinies. The entirety of the text is reminding us of this fact in every capacity and function.

As the Buddha points out in the very first verse, it is our minds. “All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind.” This sentiment reflects that Sri Dharma taught us that it is not we who are “bad,” it is our minds. It’s an important distinction, as it allows the individual freedom from our own thoughts and therefore actions - not to shirk responsibility of our deeds, but rather as a way to reflect on our own thoughts and regulate them before they turn into actions.

According to the Buddha, our very experiences start with the mind! Is it any wonder, then, that when going into a situation thinking it will be bad, it usually is? To tie this into asana: if, before attempting a posture, the thought is, “there’s no way I can do that,” you are right and it will indeed be impossible to do.  Sri Dharma, in his infinite wisdom has said, “If you can bend your mind, you can bend your body.”  How liberating then to take ownership over your own experiences!

The verse that I believe sums up the blueprint to living the life of a yogi is found in Chapter two, verse 25: “Through effort, vigilance, restraint and self control, the wise person can become an island no flood will overwhelm.” This is a powerful lesson to heed, as it sums up so much of Sri Dharma’s teachings. The Yamas and Niyamas, making an effort in asana -- regardless of what happens around you, inside you are unchanged. This is essentially the same lesson from the Buddha to Sri Dharma just in different words! This concept is again reflected in Chapter 3 verse 38: “For those who are unsteady of mind, who do not know true Dharma, and whose serenity wavers, wisdom does not mature.” In essence, if you want to be wise, the reader is given the exact route to take to achieve wisdom.  It is through steadying the mind, finding your Dharma and becoming serene. And the ultimate goal is to conquer oneself. 

According to the Buddha: “Greater in combat than a person who conquers a thousand times a thousand people is the person who conquers herself.”

And if one is simple and does not wish to be wise or to conquer him/her self? The Buddha has a blueprint for this person as well: “Doing no evil, engaging in what’s skillful, and purifying one’s mind: This is the teaching of the buddhas.”

I find this book to be a perfect companion to Sri Dharma’s teachings for a student like myself who is across the country from the center, or for a student who has never participated in a LOAY teacher training. While the words are different, the direction and ultimate goal is the same. If it is mastery of the self one is seeking, then the Dhammapada is a text that will help set one on the right path.

Fay Inger is a 800-Hour Certified Dharma Yoga instructor living in Los Angeles, California. Fay is a private yoga instructor, writes blog posts on yoga and wellness and is learning nutrition to better help her students reach their health and fitness goals. As she always says, “yoga is a gift” and it is her favorite gift to share!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ten Great Quotes To Inspire You

by Sorsha Anderson

“You are never bereft of your inner guidance.” ~  Jane Roberts

“Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

“You are never too old or too broken.  It is never too late to begin, or to start all over again.” ~ Bikram Choudhury

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.  Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough.  We must do.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

“Any path is only a path, and there is no affront to oneself or to others in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you.  Look at every path closely and deliberately.  Try it as many times as you think necessary.  Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question - does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

 “A good stretch is like a yawn.  One doesn’t feel satisfied until it is complete.” ~ Unknown

“Knowing Love, I will allow all things to come and go, to be as subtle as the wind and take everything that comes with great courage. As my teacher would say to me, Life is right in any case. My heart is as open as the sky.” ~ from Kamasutra: A Tale of Love

“As with a labyrinth, you must sometimes move away from the place you long to be in order to eventually come to the heart of the matter.” ~ Sorsha Anderson


Sorsha Anderson is a certified Dharma Yoga Teacher who lives and teaches in Vermont.  She has been practicing since 1991 and worked with very gentle and restorative yoga until her 30's when she wandered into a hot and sweaty, but meditative vinyasa studio.  Neither a dancer nor gymnast as a child, and after having had two children, she surprised herself by balancing in crow for the first time at 36.  She never looked back.  Sorsha approaches each new pose with a sense of optimism and adventure and delights in encouraging others to try what only seems impossible at first glance.  She particularly enjoys teaching older women who are trying to find their way back to their bodies after a sometimes very long absence.  Sorsha is thankful to have found her way to the Dharma Yoga Center and makes the trip from Vermont as often as she can.  She offers gratitude for the beautiful physical and spiritual teachings of Sri Dharma Mittra.