16 Jun

Christopher Doughtery

When I moved to Los Angeles 17 years ago, a friend invited me to a Krishna Das concert. I didn’t know anything about him, so I was expecting perhaps an Indian classical singer with a sitar. Instead, I walked into a room of about 200 Western yogis—mostly Caucasian—sitting on the floor in front of a low-rise stage that held Krishna Das and about nine other musicians and singers. I took a seat in a sea of Caucasians singing and chanting Sanskrit mantras—with more than a few mispronunciations of the language. I remember feeling really confused and thinking, “What is happening? Where am I?” It felt very strange to be in this environment, as the only time I had experienced musicians sitting on the ground with a harmonium (an Indian keyboard instrument) and a tabla (an Indian drum) was at Gurdwara (Sikh temple) on Sundays.

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See also Sanskrit 101: 4 Reasons Why Studying This Ancient Language Is Worth Your Time

Although I was born in Toronto, Canada, my parents are both from Punjab, India, and they kept our traditions alive and strong. Back then I thought we were weird because of the way we dressed, did our hair, wore bindis, and sang our prayers. Growing up, I wanted to fit in so badly that I even wished to be white, blond, and blue-eyed during a teenage moment in which I refused to answer unless my family called me “Jenny.” Today, I feel sad for that girl who yearned to be someone other than her beautiful, unique self.


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15 Jun

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults live with mental illness, and nearly 60 percent of adults with mental illness don’t receive annual treatments. While mental illness shows up in differently for people, one thing is true across the board: you should never be ashamed of it.

See also #YouKnowMe: 3 Brave Yogis Sharing Their Abortion Stories After The Recent Ban

1. Mel Douglas

“I’ve had depressive episodes my entire life, although I didn’t learn that there was a name for that until I was 24 and finally saw a therapist for the first time. I was diagnosed with Cyclothymia, a mood disorder that causes mild-moderate depressive and hypomanic episodes. Learning this, so much of my life made more sense to me.

There was so much judgement I’d placed harshly on myself because I couldn’t understand that I was able to let go. My journey to healing started long before I found yoga, but I can honestly say that yoga has impacted my mental health more immensely than any therapist or medication has.

I share this because it’s Mental Health Awareness Month and because it’s the reason I teach. I believe we all deserve to be well and I hope that in my way, I serve my community’s wellness. 


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15 Jun

During their stay in San Francisco, Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt couldn’t resist swinging by Love Story Yoga for a practice and chat with co-founder and vinyasa teacher Stephanie Snyder. With more than 20 years of teaching experience, Stephanie shared her sage advice for modern yoga practitioners and instructors. 

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.

Watch also “I Never Paid for Yoga Until I Came to This Country”


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14 Jun

Last year, Yoga Journal ran a travel essay by a US-based yoga teacher who had visited India with his family. His account was not unlike many Western accounts of India and in the vein of what we call “poverty-porn.” In these stories, India is consistently described as a place where those from North America or Europe can “find themselves,” “surrender,” “find grace in poverty,” “learn tolerance,” “experience culture,” or “withstand an assault on the senses.”

In other words, for all too many white yoga practitioners, India is the other. It is the “dirty” escapist fantasy that leads to a “life-changing, transformational” experience for travelers.

Most tourists, even educated yoga practitioners, may not realize that this attitude perpetuates colonial and structural forms of racism. Structural racism, also known as white supremacy in the US context today, is not about individual acts. Instead, it is about the institutional, taken-for-granted privilege that makes it possible for a US citizen to easily acquire a tourist visa to India, when the inverse is next to impossible for the average Indian. In other words, structural racism determines who gets to go where and how. So, before you plan a trip, reflect on why you want to travel to India and consider the broader history and implications.

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14 Jun

Brandon and Lauren have never experienced a road trip tour like this before. They are quickly learning that being on the road can lead to unexpected stress and fatigue – that is why they are both making it their goal to stick to their daily routines. Gratitude to our supplement sponsor, Nature’s Way, for supplying Brandon and Lauren with products that harness the best that nature has to offer, helping them on their yoga and wellness journey across the U.S.

For more information on Nature’s Way, please visit NaturesWay.com.

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.


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14 Jun

Christopher Dougherty

From self-realization centers and asana apps to T-shirts featuring Ganesh or puns on namaste, the Western world is full of yoga consumerism. We have a lot to gain from this ancient practice, but we also risk losing sight of, and appropriating, the culture and tradition yoga comes from. Here, five teachers, researchers, scholars, and activists weigh in on modern yoga and how we might practice and teach with more integrity and respect. The answers—and even the questions—aren’t always straightforward or easy, but as Honor (Don’t Appropriate) Yoga Summit creator Susanna Barkataki advises, lean in: “As you read the stories that follow, you may experience many emotions. You’ll hear various powerful perspectives from folks with Indian heritage and the impacts these issues have on their lives, families, culture, practice, pasts, and futures. Read these stories with an open heart and mind. Your yoga practice has prepared you for this by teaching you how to hold tension, breathe, and then break through. As you read, pay attention to your breath, body, and heart.” Then keep reading for suggestions on how we can address these issues together.     


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14 Jun


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13 Jun

Brandon Spratt

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. 

Seattle was nothing shy of beautiful. As most people know, Seattle has a reputation for being overcast, cloudy, and rainy. Luckily for us, we arrived to bright, sunny days with hardly a cloud in the sky. While out and about, we even got a little sunburned! After a beautiful day of exploring Seattle, we headed to Bellevue, WA, where we uncovered more light, meeting Aadil Palkhivala and his wife Savitri. They met as teenagers in a yoga class in Bombay. That class was being taught by Aadil’s mother who, today, at 90, is Iyengar’s oldest living teacher!

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Originally from India, they founded Alive and Shine Center, which has been serving its community for over 27 years and their stories are fascinating. When he was only seven years old, Aadil started studying asana with B.K.S. Iyengar and was the youngest person to be awarded the Advanced Yoga Teacher’s Certificate from Iyengar at the age of 22. He also went on to get degrees in law, physics, and mathematics. 

When Savitri was 11 she had a serious head injury, as a teenager she was orphaned with the sudden death of both her parents in a plane crash and a few years later she experienced the murder of her sister. These shocking circumstances led to life-threatening illnesses and many near-death experiences. Her sincere desire for truth inspired her to create heart chakra-focused active meditations which she calls Heartfull® Meditation. She firmly believes that the aim of yoga is connection with the soul and the soul is the true healer of all pain.

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