The Community Shows Up To Talk About Service, Committment And Giving
Gift-giving is a way to share our love. As we head into the holiday season, we can consider our relationships with each other and with the Earth as we choose gifts of all kinds that perpetuate sustainable relationships.
Cyclist / Yogi / Volunteer
Joni Yung aka The Accidental Yogist, thinks that there aren’t enough hours in the day to pursue all her addictions to the fullest — her overwhelming need to take every Yoga class at every Yoga studio in town, chant at every ecstatic kirtan, volunteer at every Yoga fundraiser, answer every KCRW pledge drive phone call, eat at every twittering food truck, attend every Hollywood Bowl concert, ride in every bicycle community event and run a marathon in every state. Until she finds a way to instantly teleport herself from one corner of the city to another, catch her in action as she cruises around town on her lime green bike in search of her next adventure! You can read about all her exploits on her blogsite, blog.accidentalyogist.com.
Her Gift Guide
Joni is wearing clothing from the Vyana Yoga collection. Yogi Helena Zera’s custom line features soft cotton, striking colors and patterns and even some Yoga bling, making great gifts for yoginis and youngsters. Vyana also has the unique Hasta Pada Yoga Belt with built-in lopps and straps, perfect for Yoga on and off the bike. vyanayoga.com
Fingerless gloves by Indigenous Designs. They’re fair trade, made from an organic cotton/tencel blend, lightweight and perfect for a chilly LA morning ride to Yoga class.indigenousdesigns.com
Jade Yoga Mat. It’s often precarious to bike around town with a Yoga mat in a bike basket, but it can be done for those who want to travel on pedal power and eschew rental mats. jadeyoga.com
Three Minute Egg starter kit. These innovative Yoga props are a playful egg-shaped block with contours perfect to stretch out the spine after a long day on the bike and their easy-on-the-hands shape supports a variety of poses. threeminuteegg.com
Libre Tea mug. With a built-in strainer to make hot tea from loose leaves and a screw-on cap that seals liquids in, the insulated BPA-free Libre tea mug goes from bike to bus to Yoga studio to the Hollywood Bowl for all occasions. libretea.com
Divine Organics Sacred Cacao raw cacao nibs with energy to fuel long bike rides and powerful Yoga sessions. Found in Santa Monica Co-opportunity, Whole Foods and other health foods stores. Distributed by Transition Nutrition.
A trip to the Yoga Journal San Francisco Conference in January, 2010. Joni recently brought her bike to the Ojai Yoga Crib for her first-ever Yoga retreat. Yoga Journal conferences offer forty teachers over five days and includes asana, meditation, trance dance, speakers, community and more. Yjevents.com/SF10
Ojai Mala hand-tied by Michael Reidenger, made with semi-precious gemstones and lots of love knotted into the 108 prayer beads. ojaimalas.com
Yogi / Surfer / Chef / Environmentalist
Matt Rothert’s car-free life (he bikes, walks and skateboards almost everywhere) is a combination of surfing, Yoga, cooking and sharing food, commitment to service work and connection with God and The Source. Julie Rader first opened his heart to Yoga practice and now he teaches a weekly Yin/relaxation class at The Green Yogi in Manhattan Beach (thegreenyogi.com).
He expresses his passion for sharing love through cooking by working as a chef for cateringbyleslie.com and participating in a Yoga cooking club where members share light and healthy dishes made from locally grown organic produce.
Matt gives back teaches surfing and provides ocean therapy to kids who have never seen the ocean and veterans returning from war zones with the Jimmy Miller Foundation (jimmymillerfoundation.org). He has taught Yoga to impoverished and homeless kids at Camp Harmony (unitedinharmony.org). He has traveled to Ecuador with the Tandana Foundation as a volunteer and is planning to return next year to Ecuador and go to Africa (tandanafdn.org). He is also currently organizing surf/Yoga/service excursions.
Matt is wearing the beanie, paradise hoody and California pant all from Natural High Lifestyle. Clothing made from hemp, bamboo, organically grown cotton and rubber-based vegetal leather provide pesticide-free apparel good for you and the environment. The styles and colors in the collection are perfect for the surf culture. naturalhighlifestyle.com
Slogans such as “today matters” and “live passionately” on the environmentally-friendly Tees for Change (made from organic cotton and the company plants a tree when you buy a tee), make an environmental commitment visible. teesforchange.com
Since Matt and many enviro-surfer-Yogis already have stainless steel water bottles, the next logical reusable for a foodie who wants to leave only footprints is a Happy Tiffin. The Tiffin is a stainless steel, stacking, self-sealing take-out, carry-out and food storage containers; they even come with colorful carrying cases. happytiffin.com
Earth Footwear with a negative heel uphold the biomechanical action of walking barefoot in shoes. Vegan styles available. earthfootwear.com
Green Yoga Association Membership. A gift membership to an organization for yogis who care about the planet. greenyoga.org
Membership in Heal the Bay, a nonprofit committed to the health of Southern California coastal waters. healthebay.org
Shakti Mat is great to recline on after a morning in the surf, to ease aching muscles with techniques used by sadhus for centuries. shaktimat.net
Recovery bag from Get Earthed because sometimes we need to literally get grounded when we sleep to speed recovery time. getearthed.com
Manduka EkoMat because after a day in the surf, a practice on a fully environmentally-friendly, thoughtfully-created mat is the only way to go. manduka.com
The LifeBoard is a newly invented, portable flat surface for Yoga that can be put together easily and used anywhere to support the practice. getlifeboard.com
Goldstone Energy Alchemy bracelet by Aiden Chase. LA-based healer and intuitive Aiden Chase infuses this meditative jewelry with blessings to encourage attraction.aidenchase.com
Animal Activist / Vegan / Yogini
Those of us on a spiritual path have an even greater responsibility to be honest with ourselves about the violence we cause when we eat and wear animals. If we envision a nonviolent world, we can participate in the one that already exists by going vegan and practicing true ahimsa. There is no such thing as a nonviolent slaughterhouse. As we liberate the animals from their suffering, we liberate ourselves
Gift List: For giving a gift to anyone interested in bringing more peace and loving kindness into their own lives and into our world, check out some of the suggestions below:
Yoga and Vegetarianism, by Sharon Gannon. One of the first root precepts of Yoga is abstention from animal products. We have abandoned this most basic tenet in the West and this book beautifully explains its vital importance to our practice: jivamuktiyoga.com
The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone. A joyful book for anyone wishing to tread more lightly on our planet. Filled with beautiful photos, recipes and interesting information, Alicia Silverstone sweetly guides us to start from where we are to make big or little changes towards a more plant-based diet. A wonderful gift for everyone: thekindlife.com
The Conscious Cook, by Tal Ronnen. This is a stunning book with innovative and delicious recipes. An absolute must-have for anyone who likes to cook, vegan or not:talronnen.com
That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, by Ruby Roth. An enchanting, intelligent and stunningly illustrated book for children ages four through ten. By getting to know a cast of animal friends and their families, this beautiful book lovingly and candidly explains what happens on farms and validates a child’s instinct to be respectful and compassionate towards all beings, not just towards some. This is a gift that could be given to children or parents as it is an essential addition to every family’s library, vegan or not: wedonteatanimals.com
We can’t glow as truly beautiful and handsome when wearing products derived from pain, such as clothing made of leather and wool. LA vegan boutiques Humanitaire in Santa Monica, Eko Zone in Venice and Alternative Outfitters in Pasadena have fabulous gifts for all the women and men on your list: shoes, clothing, accessories, cosmetics, books, plus gift certificates and on-line shopping: shophumanitaire.com or ekozone.net or alternativeoutfitters.com
A candlelit dinner at the incomparable and elegant vegan restaurant Madeleine Bistro in the Valley or a cooking class with visionary Master Chef and Bistro founder David Anderson. Not-to-be-missed culinary experiences for both vegans and non-vegans: madeleinebistro.com
Sponsor a turkey, cow or other rescued farm animal in your friend’s name from Farm Sanctuary: farmsanctuary.org
Let your friends know you care by pledging to explore veganism for thirty days. Sign up for this life-affirming month and you will be sent helpful information, tips and support via email. A fun and healthy challenge guaranteed to bring you unexpected joy and energy: goveg.com
Give the gift of friendship to yourself by adopting a cat, dog, rabbit or other furry family member from one of LA’s six high-kill shelters. The angels in these shelters are highly adoptable, sweet and loving beings who just need a hero to help them get out alive: laanimalservices.com
A Scent of Scandal candles are 100% soy wax, vegan, highly fragranced with delicious scents and racy names. The LA-based company actively advocates for the rights of humans and animals: ascentofscandal.com
Most make-up brushes are made of real fur. No thanks! A set of professional, animal-free make-up brushes from LA-based cruelty-free cosmetics company Branded J Collections. Their make-up is excellent too: brandedjcollections.com
The most beautiful swimwear I’ve ever seen comes from cruelty-free LA fashion designer Ashley Paige. She creates sustainable, animal-free knitwear bikinis and cover-ups suitable for a tropical Yoga vacation: ashleypaige.com
And finally, # 1 on my list: The greatest gift you could give your vegan friends this holiday would be your willingness to learn what happens to the animals we use for food and clothing. One of the best ways is to see the film Earthlings. It will be the most profound present you could give your friends, yourself, the animals and our planet: earthlings.com
Michael R. Mollura:
Yogi / Music-Lover / Composer
Michael R. Mollura lives music. He has been composing since the age of eight and has made a name for himself in the theater, cinema, TV, commercial and world music genres including composing for theater in New York and scoring short and full-length documentary films in Hollywood.
On Tuesday nights, he can be found playing harmonium at the Siddha Yoga Center and has accompanied a wide range of the kirtan artists making the circuit. This may be the first time he’s taken his harmonium up in a tree, but when he’s on the ground, he’s just completed an original feature length score for the soon-to-be-released documentary film Climate Refugees and is currently working on an original score for the feature film Reconciliation. Michaelmolluramusic.com
Michael is wearing gifts from Yoga Tribe and Culture’s organic cotton collection for men. Musicians need to be able to wash and go and feel comfortable. As a yogi, commitment to organic demonstrates commitment for the self and the planet. Huge amounts of pesticides are used in cotton growing, and when you wear the clothes, the chemicals can get absorbed into your skin. Go organic. yogatribeandculture.com
Organic cotton boxers from bgreen apparel. Bgreen is committed to organically grown fibers, nonsweatshop labor and locally produced items for sustainable business. We wear our underwear closest to sensitive areas of our skin, so organic matters. bgreenapparel.com
iMeditate with Erich iPhone App helps anyone carry inspiration and their meditation practice around with them, whether waiting for a gig to start or getting ready for the creative part of the day. movingintostillness.com
Unsurprising for a musician and music-lover, Michael’s gift list is full of music. His picks:
Beloved Chants by Shyamdas (White Swan Music): shyamdas.com
Ra Re Elements remixes of Omar Faruk Tekbilek (5 Points Records): 5pointsrecords.com
Love Songs to the Dark Lord by Bhagavan Das (Nutone Records): nutonemusic.com
Seeker of Truth by Yuval Ron (Yuval Ron Music): yuvalronmusic.com
Deva Premal and Miten Live in Concert by Deva Premal and Miten (White Swan Music): whiteswanmusic.com
James Bailey, LAc, MATCM, MPH, Dipl Ayu
Ayurvedic Practitioner / Acupuncturist
James is a third-generation healing practitioner whose life-long study of the healing traditions and practices of Oriental Medicine and Yoga inform his daily routine and reverence for life and relationship. He practices in Santa Monica, California. sevanti.com
Gift List for the Ayurveda Enthusiast:
A massage table since every household should own a massage table. If there’s a table at home, it makes it easy to have a professional massage therapist come over to the house regularly and in between, for family members to take turns practicing massage on each other to reduce stress, even giving the kids stress-reducing therapeutic massages (especially the kids).
Mahanarayana oil from Banyan Botanicals. This traditional blend is a mix of forty different herbs cooked into sesame oil. This hand-made oil is helpful for releasing muscular tension and joint pain and is great for massage. banyanbotanicals.com
Sarada’s copper and brass oil warmer and bowl which gently maintains oil temperature for self massage and for massage with family members or clients. Sarada also offers a number of oil blends, tinctures and Ayurvedic herbal bodycare products. saradausa.com
Frankincense and myrrh resin from Floracopiea. Burning frankincense and myrrh helps fumigate the air. The spiritual effect of the smell of these herbs is powerful as is their antimicrobial effect during cold and flu season. floracopeia.com
Teeccino herbal coffee. Regular coffee, whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, is acidic and disturbing to all three doshas according to Ayurveda. Teeccino is a blend of health-promoting herbs and foods such as ramon nuts, almonds, chicory, dates and figs. Flavors include almond amaretto, chocolate mint, hazelnut, mocha and java. teeccino.com
Neti pot. A daily neti wash is a traditional Ayurvedic and Yogic practice that valuable preventive medicine. A number of different companies make neti pots made from a variety of materials and of a range of shapes. Yogi’s NoseBuddy has a long curved spout and a salt measuring spoon. Yogameditation.com. Check out the Himalayan Institute’s selection (ceramic or corn plastic) at himalayaninstitute.com.
Yogi / Aspiring Mother
Elizabeth Isenberg (originally from Manchester, England) currently lives in Los Angeles with her best friends – her husband Zach and their two dogs, Macy and Ellie. She is the owner of Isenberg PR and works with nonprofits including Save Darfur and Events of the Heart. She is an avid supporter of the work of the ASPCA. Her personal goal is to be a mom. As she says, “My husband and I plan to adopt and but I would also like to have a successful pregnancy. I’ve had three miscarriages since November, 2008, and I have been working on becoming healthy in order to get pregnant. I have a quirky (sometimes painful) blog (cramper.blogspot.com) where I talk about my fertility journey over the last year. I want to break through the silence of women going through fertility issues. It is important that we share our feelings of grief and loss and learn to move forward. Think about it, almost every woman you know has been touched by infertility – either themselves or someone they know.”
Elizabeth is wearing a wrap jacket, pant and tie dye V-tank from Royal Plush. (The collection can be found at Fred Segal and Bloomingdale’s). royalplushclothing.com
Brenda Strong teaches Yoga 4 Fertility workshops (a must-go, according to Elizabeth) and has a new DVD box set the Strong Yoga Collection, with supportive practices especially designed for a woman trying to conceive. yoga4fertility.com
Soft-spun bamboo shirts from Instruments of Inspiration remind us that we are what we wear and the messages on our clothing strengthen our intention.instrumentsofinspiration.net
When we’re prepared, we attract what we’re calling in. Prepare the space with nontoxic Mythic paint from Kitty’s Paints and Greener Building Supply. greenbuildingsupply.com
Once someone gets pregnant, and stays pregnant, she’ll need items that support a positive experience before and after giving birth. The Pump Station & Nurtury provides resources and environmentally-friendly options (pumpstation.com). For pregnancy, we love Desiree Bartlett’s Prenatal DVD (produced by Acacia). desireebartlett.com. And if you’re looking for a gift for a pregnant or nursing mother, The Organic Pharmacy’s herbal nipple cream is made with the highest-quality ingredients to soothe and heal the skin.theorganicpharmacy.com
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.