My friend Alexandra has recently started a great blog called I Love Yogis. I Love Yogis is a site dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the global community of yoga teachers. The founding intention of the I Love Yogis project is to glorify all the hard-working, big-hearted teachers in the world who have the best interests of others at the center of their life’s work. While not everyone’s dharma is to act as a yoga teacher, we can all certainly cultivate yogic qualities and appreciate those who live their lives in service of those qualities. The belief is that the more we converse around these traits and the people who embody them, the better to aid the shift in global consciousness and keep the snowball of love rolling.
I am honored that she asked me to participate in this project. As each new interview unfolds, I am constantly awed by the different answers and perspectives, and all of the ways we find our Selves in the practice of yoga. If you are interested in reading my interview, I thank you for taking the time to if you choose and welcome your comments, as always.
This is well overdue, but I do have a good excuse… as I have been busy becoming a new mom and riding the waves of each new day as they are all an adventure of their own. (And that’s my disclaimer.)
A few months back, my friend Jenny, and also the founder of the Your Soul Style project, asked me to answer a few questions about my own personal style and how I have come to it over time. Your Soul Style is an online blog and platform dedicated to the ‘soul style’ movement, which is about self-expression through the vehicle of style. It clearly stands behind the notion that the most important thing to remember when developing your sense of style, is that you are at your best when you are truly being yourself. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment and strive hard every day to be the most authentic version of myself. When I am trying to be something I’m not, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin and that shows in how I walk, talk and carry myself. Can you relate? How do you present the best and most genuine version of yourself?
To quote Jenny, “Mika has found the perfect balance of work and life, which for her are essentially one in the same. She has embraced the uncertainties of life with grace, poise, courage and strength and inspires others professionally and personally with the wisdom gained from her introspective experiences. Her biggest accomplishment happened this past October, when her and husband Ryan welcomed their son Jonah Mason Oakes into the world. She is glowing particularly brighter these days. As a brand new mom, she continues to welcome each new day with a lesson to be learned, a challenge to be conquered and emotional growth to be had. She is the epitome of soul style.” You can find the full article here.
This past week, I was reminded of an important lesson… too much of a good thing, is never a good thing at all! I do my best to practice the act of moderation as a part of my daily lifestyle, but sometimes while practicing with the best intentions, my vision gets blurred.
On Wednesday, my family and I went out to celebrate my mother’s birthday. We dined at a delicious Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side called Pappardella. This restaurant, over the last few years has revamped itself… I don’t know for sure – but it seemed like there was a new chef, there was definitely a new menu and plenty of mindful options for the more health conscious diner. There were grass fed meat options as well as an entirely gluten free (GF) Italian menu! People like me… and possibly you (if you maintain a GF diet) hardly ever get the pleasure of enjoying (and devouring) a “traditional-style” Italian meal.
Well, we did certainly that on Wednesday evening….. TOO MUCH so! We ordered the GF garlic bread, GF Margherita pizza, GF pasta with mushrooms in a delicious white wine and olive oil sauce and ANOTHER GF pasta dish with tomato, mozzarella and basil sauce! Clearly this wasn’t all for me, and we all shared, but it seemed like I couldn’t get it into my mouth fast enough! I wasn’t consciously thinking about the fact that I might have been eating it all too quickly, and definitely didn’t pause to think about how it would make me feel afterwards… Almost immediately after dinner I felt completely stuffed, uncomfortably full and borderline SICK!
It comes back to the basic, but hard to manage “all in moderation” theory. It’s okay to splurge, in fact it’s important to listen to your cravings once in a while, but when you are not used to stuffing your face with heavier foods (even if they are GF)! it’s imperative to take it slow! Even if you are choosing to indulge in your meal of choice for an evening, moderation is a practice that should be maintained.
Although the meal we had was deliciously amazing, the way I felt afterwards took away from the experience as a whole… and even the way I felt the next day effected the experience too.
Bottom line – splurge, indulge and enjoy…. but just do it in MODERATION! Eat your hearts out and have a great weekend.
As a NYC based yoga teacher and massage therapist, there are times when I feel lit up and on fire with my work and my place in the world… there are also other times that I don’t feel that way so much. It all comes back to the very basic principles of self acceptance, I believe. (So easy, right?) More like YEAH RIGHT… In my opinion, self acceptance and accepting where we are and when we are where we are, are some of the very basic but extremely hard tasks to take on.
How can we continue to find our passions in life? As some days do tend to feel more inspiring than others, what do you do on the days where you’re left feeling uninspired? Do you have places you can go or people you can see or even blogs to read if you’re needing a little bit more UUMPH?
I’ve come to realize over time, that sometimes it feels like a seasonal thing… while other times it might feel more personal based on what’s happening in life specifically during a given time, or maybe it might even feel hormonal… With all of the above being said, it’s hard to switch a feeling off when it comes around, whatever that feeling may be.
I have worked endlessly to try to understand how to avoid these feelings, but they are natural. It’s important that we have tools to access in our toolbox so that when emotions surface, we can learn to rise above or take ourselves out of whatever we’re feeling. After all, E-motions are just that – they are feelings that run through us. They don’t stay, and they are never the same from one minute to the next. That’s sort of the beauty of it all.
A few things I like to do when I’m feeling uninspired or like a need an extra jolt of something…
1. Search for new music – creating the perfect playlist for a class really gives me great pleasure. Music in general lifts me up when I am feeling down… so I put on a good song, play it loud enough to cover up the thoughts in my own mind and see how that works.
2. Read an inspiring quote or passage from a spiritual text or book I know will have the words I need.
3. Talk to a good friend about what’s going on. Sometimes just a listening ear, and to feel heard is enough to let whatever is passing through move on.
4. Listen to my body and my mood. I try not to force myself to change or do anything at all. I remind myself that this, too, shall pass and not to be too hard on myself.
We all do the best that we can on a daily basis. Trust that you are doing your best and don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s in the quieter, lighter moments in life that we can look back on the darker moments and remind ourselves that it’s no so bad.
“It will all be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer
Over this weekend, I had six wonderful ladies over at my place for a little dinner soiree. Of the many (and few) things we have in common, we have our India experience in common. Funny enough, ever since I have returned from my trip to India, I have been processing, learning, digesting and thanking my lucky stars that I was able to share and more importantly be open to that kind of an experience in the first place. The others shared in my sentiments about not exactly knowing what to make of the trip… but knowing that it was something profound. “IT WAS AMAZING”… but those three words can only truly be understood by all that were there. And for all of us, for different reasons of our own, the trip seemed to come at a time in our lives that we were simply meant to be there together for those moments in time.
Friday night was a little piece of India in New York. Some of us hadn’t seen each other since the trip, but it didn’t feel that way at all. We were together again, recapping the experience – some of our best moments, our worst moments, and where we all are today. Not to mention some chanting, which felt really good and I only have opened up to that recently.
Each of these women inspire me, light me up and make me feel thankful that I was able to connect and find a deeper level of that connection within myself again. Connecting is such an important part of life… and though we all have it in us, it’s sometimes hard in our daily lives to find that depth. Routine takes over, life gets in the way… and it’s amazing to stop and refuel and feed your soul with inspiration, heart and friendship.
Karma means to do. It refers to the universal principle of cause and effect and can be practiced through selfless service. In modern day terminology, it can described as volunteer work. As part of completion of my 500 hour yoga training with Sri Dharma Mittra back in January and March of 2011, community service and/or Karma yoga was one of the requirements. There are several ways one could meet the requirement, and at the time, my choice and intention was to donate my time to a local animal shelter in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, BARC. As life and busy days have it, that never ended up happening… and throughout, there were moments of anticipation in knowing this was something I still needed to complete.
Fast forward to summer of 2012. A little bit of a background, I have always been a seriously huge cat lover. My sister’s cat Kali is now referred to as my niece whom I cannot get enough of, I grew up with a cat, Pebbles… and also had a cat throughout some of my college and post college years… Izzy. Unfortunately, my husband Ryan is allergic and the desire to adopt a new little furry friend has never quite been possible.
About a month or so ago, my karma yoga project literally knocked on our door. In the adjacent backyard to ours, we found a mother cat and her three kittens. There, she had cleverly found a safe place for the birth her kittens and where she could tend to them in the early weeks of their lives. There was no way I couldn’t have done something about this. Treading very carefully at first, each day I began checking on them several time throughout the day… as I was a total foreigner in her eyes, the mama got scared and protective of her little ones and all ran into hiding. I then began feeding them twice a day at a certain point and that was when they realized I wasn’t there to hurt them, but only help them. Our friendship and trust began there… and it’s as though I was meant to care for and help these cats in need.
In our efforts to help rescue (now known as) Mama Juno and her three Chipmunks – Alvin, Simon and Theodore, I did a ton of research online and after several failed attempts in finding a shelter, I reached out to a woman named Kathryn Walton. She is the Founder and owner of The American Street Cat, a non-profit organization born out of her love for cats that is dedicated to minimizing the stray cat overpopulation in Brooklyn and the greater NYC metro area. She helped us safely trap them all, get them vetted and helped provide the care they needed. The kittens all received a clean bill of health and were adopted and fostered this week!!! Sadly, mama Juno doesn’t have such an easy road ahead of her. She was diagnosed with a heart condition and also has FIV (equivalent to HIV for humans). It’s not the FIV that is of concern mostly, but her poor little heart. She will be monitored and given proper care and diet throughout her life… and she is a lucky little lady even with her health issues.
I have learned and felt so much throughout this experience. I have had moments of anxiety, in not knowing how to approach these cats, moments of extreme sadness for their hard lives and moments of utter openness in my heart of wanting to give and provide as much as possible for their little souls. The majority of the moments lie in this desire to give. I have learned so much about the stray cat population as a result, and also learned about the different dilemmas cats face on a regular basis. Our work wouldn’t have been possible without Kathyrn, and she is one of the kindest souls I have ever met. Her love for cats is beyond love, and her endless efforts to help and provide for them is overwhelming. Her non-profit strives every day to continue helping cats in need, if you have a warm spot in your heart for animals and care to donate to her fund, you can donate here. www.theamericanstreetcat.org/donate
These adorable little kittens are in serious need of a home! We have been feeding them for the last week and they are growing stronger and less timid as we approach them. I would be happy to help in getting them wherever they need to be, and helping find the best place to take them for their shots, etc. Please message me if you or anyone that you know would like to adopt one of these cuties!
Did anybody get caught in the rainstorm yesterday? I did, and it was amazing… Those that watched it from a window said how fierce it was, but walking in it while shuffling onto the next place in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan was different. Feeling the thunder rock the streets of NYC, and continuing onward anyway and not caring that I was soaked, felt empowering.
When the weather pours in, literally, life proceeds in a different way. For that one moment or length of the storm we all take pause to recognize the shift – either hoping the heat will break, thanking the fact that we’re not caught up in it or simply recognizing nature’s beauty.
Have you ever encountered “the perfect storm” in your life? Be it with your emotions, your job, your relationship? When emotions take over and things pour out one way or another, that’s when shift occurs. It gets to that point where what you’ve been doing is no longer working, and you must go through the process in order to find change.
For the last several days in my own life, I have had a version of my own perfect storm. There was nothing that changed so severely, but realizations that surfaced that I needed to observe. For the last week or so, I have been processing and processing and trying to come to some sort of sound decision so that a shift could take place. As I slept on it, (or lost sleep on it rather), talked it out with trusted friends and family, the clouds faded and my heavy quality seemed to lift. Like a perfect storm, it’s literally like the sky broke open in my own heart and poured out into clearer skies. It felt cleansing and eye opening both at once.
It makes you stop to think for a moment, it really is all about perception. Is the storm a drag? Is it preventing you from going and doing something? Is it just a natural part of how things happen when shifts (either in weather or in perspective) need to occur?
Do you ever get sick of the music you are listening to? It’s always nice to switch it up. See below for my newest yoga mix. Enjoy!
Loud and Clear – Gregor Samsa
Destined for Great Things – The Assassination of Jesse James
Chilled Cream – Blank & Jones
Love in Tangiers – One Cool Fossil
Narayana – Masood Ali Khan
Fuse Box – Monsoon Wedding Soundtrack
Voice – DJ Prez
Bustelo – Ratatat
Ante Tus Ojos – Federico Aubele
Cinderella – Hooverphonic
Belle – Jack Johnson
After the Storm – Mumford & Sons
Where is My Mind – It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Goodbye – Lost in Translation Soundtrack
Give Up the Ghost – Radiohead
Green Arrow – Yo La Tenga
Opus 37 – Dustin O’Halloran
Dark Temple Revisited – Tibetan Gongs