The Three Doshas of Ayurveda

According to the system of Ayurveda (the "knowledge of life"), every person is comprised of 3 energies that govern the functions of the body. These energies are the doshas, and are referred to as the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas, respectively.

Each dosha maintains a set of certain qualities, both when in balance and out of balance. What's more, because each person is uniquely composed of these energies, Ayurveda stresses an individualized approach to health and wellness that starts with an understanding of your own doshas (while everyone has all three energies, one or two tend to dominate).

Vata: The Energy of Movement

Vata is the energy of movement. It is made up of the elements of Ether (space) and Air, and those who are Vata by nature take up the characteristics of these elements. The Vata dosha regulates movement in the body,  including circulation, breathing, and your heartbeat.

Vata heavy individuals tend to be thin, talk and think quickly, and always seem to be doing a million things. When Vata is in balance, it's a great source of creativity and vitality – music, art, and storytelling are just some examples.

However, when out of balance, this dosha is the source of fear and anxiety. It can cause one to be excessively impatient, distracted, or feeling like they're constantly in pain. Like the element of air, Vata heavy individuals may wrap themselves in so much energy (or, obligations) that they eventually exhaust themself.

To balance against Vata, practice grounding, stabilizing asanas. Value slowness and centeredness in your actions – take your time! Each foods that are warm, heavy, and mildly spicy, and be sure to get plenty of quality sleep.

Pitta: The Energy of Transformation

Pitta is the energy of transformation. In Pitta, Water and Fire elements come together. This dosha controls the metabolic functions in the body, including digestion, absorption of foods and nutrients, and body temperature. It also is the source of transformation for our mood and thoughts.

Individuals heavy in Pitta tend to maintain to a medium build and tend to excel in things with a competitive edge, from sports to politics. They also tend to be leaders, attracting people in a paternalistic fashion. When in balance, Pitta encourages contentment and intelligence.

When Pitta is out of balance, individuals tend to 'burn out.' Stress, high body heat, acne, rashes, and eye irritation are all symptoms of imbalance. To combat these, individuals should attempt to remain calm, cool, and grounded. Eat cool, heavy foods and complement your diet with extra fruits and vegetables.

Kapha: The Energy of Fluidity & Structure

Kapha is the energy of rigidness – both in terms of little or low rigidity (fluidness) and high rigidity (structure). It's made up of the elements water and earth, controlling growth and immunity in the body. This energy also supplies water to the entire body, providing moisture for the skin and organs.

When heavy in Kapha energy, individuals tend to be heavy and strong, both in mind and build. They tend to avoid movement and favor stableness. This dosha is also associated with a  forgiving, loving attitude and personality – these individuals are often the "glue" that hold things together.

When out of balance, kapha propagates grogginess, fogginess of mind, and lethargy. It can lead individuals toward insecurity and envy, while also preventing them from enacting change. Combat this by encouraging laughter, eating light vegetarian foods with little to no oil or fats, and enjoying light, brisk exercise like cardio or yoga.

What Your Energy

Take a moment to reflect on these qualities and how they relate to your own life and personality. By understanding the make up of your energy, you should work to constantly maintain balance. Ask yourself what symptoms you tend to experience often, and try a few of the suggestions that are included for each dosha. From asanas to dietary changes, aligning yourself wiht your energy can open up the door to healthy, happier living!


Going Off Grid, Part 1: How it Began

This article was contributed by Robert Richardson, environmentalist and arborist who has planted over 1 million trees in the last 50 years. He currently lives, studies, and maintains forestry in the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon. 

A few years ago, my wife and I made the choice to go off grid. Since then, we've adjusted to different degrees of the autonomous lifestyle, but our goal remains to be completely self-sustainable.

Off-grid, sometimes referred to as OTG (off-the-grid) is a term used to describe a style of living without use of public utilities or conveniences, such as municipal water supply, sewer services, power and other utilities.

A Partnership with Eyes for the Wild

Its a certain kind of character that chooses to live without electricity and plumbing, and that's just one of the innumerable reasons why I married my wife.

We met online in 1997, and prior to meeting, we 'd both led "successful" lives, by anyone's measure of what 'success' might be. But, as fate would have it, we were both single when the online dating thing was just starting to be a hit. Her sister was 'man shopping' online that night and found the profile with my picture and brief bio. Not taking it too seriously, I had posted (as a bit of a joke), that my 'soul mate' had to be willing to live in a Teepee.

To quote a wise, old Sioux Chief I saw in a Pierce Brosnan movie, “Men become what they dream, so dream wisely.”

Well, I have always dreamed of living off grid, and if you're thinking about going off grid, then you probably won't stop thinking about it until you have done it. I just wanted to be 100 percent honest about how I envisioned a soul mate.

Long story short, we've been together ever since. (And yes, we see the irony of using the internet to find a partner to share the dream of living off grid with, free and far from technology. But that's another story.)

Sustainable is Attainable (But Requires Work)

Is true sustainability attainable? Yes it is. There are hundreds of 'Intentional Communities' all around the world. Sustainable Living has become more than a catch phrase, having replaced the more stereotypical and perhaps negatively co-notated word for self-dependent community: the 'commune.' Regardless of what its called, more people are aware of their consumption habits and how they affect humanity.

So, as it turns out, the hippies were right, and other groups have taken notice: Not only does this movement now include those endearingly called hippies, but it also includes a new, extremely passionate group. Dubbed 'Preppers' and 'Survivalists,' this new group represents even more people that are seeking an off-the-grid lifestyle that is, most importantly, self-sustainable. This new cohort of sustainable living enthusiasts may have different motivations, but fundamentally, they recognize the same problem seen by their hippie counterpart, and seek the same solution.

For most, it seems unattainable, and therefore, not worth pursuing. And it truly is a hard decision. Few can conceptualize life without basic creature comforts, like sitting on a toilet, or keeping food cold in a refrigerator, and keeping clothes clean easily with a washer and dryer, let alone giving up their smart phones or 24/7 access to coffee shops and convenient stores.

But, when you remember that humans have only had these conveniences for little more than a hundred years, it easier to pry yourself away from this thinking. How did people survive without electricity? Do you think you can do it? What kind of lifestyle would this encourage?Every human being eventually craves comfort. Even seasoned outdoorsman have a limit to how long they can endure exposure to the rigors of surviving outdoors...right?

Start by Training the Mind

Next time you wake up in your cozy, warm bed and you have to pee – or worse - you're having a sudden attack of intestinal flu in the middle of a cold, snowy night, imagine, while you're enjoying the warmth and privacy of your bathroom - if you can - that you're outdoors in the middle of the night, there's snow and ice, holding onto a flashlight, walking to the outhouse, crunching snow and ice, then hanging yourself over a hole in the ground, private parts exposed to the breeze.

Exhilarating.

The first thing you learn as an off-gridder; the Toilet is the best invention of all time. As you can see, some adjustments in the margins of your comfort zone will need to be made if you're to detach yourself from modern society.

Consider your first off grid experience as an experiment; the whole purpose of going off grid is to learn. You've come a long way in learning about the real world. You've tried to make a difference (recycling, volunteering, marching in rallies), but all your best efforts have led to the conclusion that its not enough to just to know the truth and advocate for it. You want to live the truth. You don't want to be part of the problem and you're tired of living with hypocrisy.

The good news is that if you're thinking this way, you're already in the fourth dimension, so to speak. By simply choosing to be free of unsustainable and unnecessary habits, you have graduated from the herd of delusional, self consumed, non-productive, non-thinking, bicameral blind consumers who either cannot or will not choose to evolve. In a culture where your needs are inherently taken care of and desire is free to drive your mind, you've chosen to look back at how that needs are being taken care of and more importantly, the quality and ethics of that how.

Consider food.

The act of gardening, especially in the urban landscape, is an act of rebellion. The United States currently endorses a system of agriculture that encourages monocropping, the heavy use of synthetic and chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and the patenting of food – a system that values monetization and devalues sustainability.  The Garden Revolution is just one of the ways available to us for reconciling our industrialized relationship with the earth. And in this case, not everyone has to go off grid to experience the freedom of sustainable abundance. It can be done in a kitchen window.

Interacting with natural ecosystems (like when harvesting your garden) not only improves concentration and increases awareness, but simultaneously decreases our reliance on fossil fuels and monotypic landscapes of exotic species, which are both threatening the health of the planet as a global pandemic. It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

And because you want to change, you're part of the emerging (albeit slowly) evolution of self-awareness. A true revolution manifests only when we change our own behavior, in our own lives. It will not happen without a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

Is it worth it? Immeasurably.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself."

Edward Abbey

Ready to Read On? Catch Part 2 of the Going Off Grid


Going off Grid, Part 2: The Realization

This article was contributed by Robert Richardson, environmentalist and arborist who has planted over 1 million trees in the last 50 years. He currently lives, studies, and maintains forestry in the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon. Read Part 1 of the Series here.

A Dream Realized

We arrived for our first off grid caretakers gig in the Umpqua National Forest in the middle of the night during an ice storm (just the latest one of my many good ideas). A quick Google Map search showed the remote location was near old growth in the national forest. Perfect.

The several families that lived in this small intentional community relied on a spring fed water system that had frozen solid. The sweet voiced elderly lady on the phone said she had no one to help her get the water running again. I was quick to jump at the opportunity to start a real off grid life, and help these nice people as well.

With the dream of a sustainable, peaceful life within our reach, we left our comfortable three bedroom central heated home. Our best friends, with whom we shared the house, were quite familiar with our beliefs and plans to go of grid, but were shocked that we'd leave midwinter during a hard freeze. We convinced them we knew what we were doing and excitedly prepared for our next adventure. We left early in the morning and drove all day, hoping to arrive before dark.

A freezing rain had turned to snow, making the last 20 miles nearly impassable. As we climbed in altitude, it became apparent the weather report of snow accumulations of a few inches was off by a foot. Not sure we would even make the cabin, it was clear it would be dark, and we'd be stuck once we arrived.

Finding the roads in a snowstorm was made more difficult because no one had driven on the road in months, so there were no tracks or even ruts to show the way.

Inching our way up the mountain on the edge of our seats and slowed to a crawl, we finally we found a mile marker verifying we were close. A few miles further, we found the mailbox with the family's name, and broke down laughing (even crying) from relief that we'd made it.

It was just a few more miles I thought, as we came to a bridge, that, curiously was not noted on the map. Not able to stop fearing I'd get stuck, I pointed and accelerated, hoping to cross the rickety old bridge quick enough that it would not feel the weight of the truck.

My wife winced and grabbed my hand, and closing her eyes, said, “tell me when we get to the other side!” I tried to sound confident, squeaking out a “No problem” as we crossed the bridge, cringing at the creaking strain on the timbers below us. A few long seconds later, I exhaled in relief – we made it. I was tempted to give my wife a high five, but thought it best to not let go of the wheel.

Freezing, then Euphoria

Turning onto the final spur road where the little cabin was located, I pushed the throttle hard and plowed the last few hundred feet. Once the cabin appeared in the headlights, I looked for the best place to park. I had a choice, plow in straight and be stuck until spring, or turn uphill, then roll backwards and hopefully steer it so we were pointing out. I was already thinking about the possibility that we would want (or need) to leave the mountain.

We grabbed a few things and let ourselves in.

It was colder than a meat locker inside. No firewood. No propane. Mice had been the only occupants for, apparently, several years. We hurriedly brought in our blankets and basic necessities. We used some paper and a few small sticks found in the closet to get a small fire in the tiny, pot belly stove.

I realized my first mistake was assuming there would be firewood.

A search outside revealed an ample supply of woody debris and slash but it was too wet to burn. Further into the woods I found a stump with enormous diameter, an old growth douglas fir tree. I knew this remnant from a logging era long past could still provide one more thing to me, and I needed it desperately.

The center of the stumps was rotten, wet and mushy, but the thick bark was still rock hard and surprisingly dry. Our fingers growing numb in the cold darkness, with our clothing becoming soaked in our near frantic effort for heat, we used our hatchet and peeled off chunks of bark from the old stump and soon had a small supply of precious, highly flammable fuel.

Because old fir bark is packed with pitch they burned fiercely. Once we had secured our fire, we saved the fire starter for morning and set out to gather gather armloads of wood, frozen but decent enough to burn once it dried out.

Once we had a pile inside the cabin, my wife held the flashlight while I cut branches into small pieces with my handsaw. After several hours of dizzying blowing, huffing and puffing, we had a hot crackling fire and enough wood cut, piled and drying to keep it going.

As the cabin thawed we boiled a cup of tea and looked at each other, the reality of our surroundings set in with a smile and a sigh. Exhilarating.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

John Muir

A Reflection on the Choice

Many years and many experiences have tested our determination. We still live in the Umpqua, working hard everyday to grow our own food and eliminate our reliance on the industrial power grid.

The things we miss out on in 'town life' and on the television, internet, etc, have little to no place in our world. The things we have in great abundance here in the wilderness have replaced any need or desire for material possessions or ease of convenience, or social acceptance or approval of our way of life.

Living off grid is a discipline. Life follows the seasons, the cycle of the sun determines your activities for the day. Planning, producing and preserving the harvest, observing the seasons, adapting to a life of abundance. There is not enough time in the day to worry about anything else.

Some have asked us to come work for them, offering generous monetary compensation, if we would just come down off the mountain.

But to us, the money we would make is not worth the price we would pay.

They ask, "Is living off grid worth it?"

We decided we could not afford to live any other way, and we've never looked back since.

"In wildness is the preservation of the world."

Henry David Thoreau


How Spring Cleaning can Add a Spring to Your Step

Winter has nearly come and gone, and most likely, the tidiness of our homes have gone with it.

Traditionally, the cold season demotivates many when it comes to sticking to their regular chores. The frigidness of a season dominated by the Kapha dosha inclines one toward a more sedentary, low-energy lifestyle. This can lead to the accumulation of stuff around the home, specifically dust and other tidbits of messiness.

So whether you're driven by the thoughts of a warming season, the tradition of spring cleaning, or just want to tidy up around the house, it's important to reflect on how cleaning and tidiness can affect more than just how your home looks. It's true: beyond the aesthetic benefit a clean house can provide, it can also help boost mood, improve immunity, and inspire creativity.

Your Environment and Mood

Humans are innately sensitive to their surroundings. We pay astute (even if its unconscious) attention to the sights, sounds, smells, and stimuli provided by environment, and it can have drastic effects on our mood. It can motivate us, inspire creativity, encourage more social connections, and reduce our stress levels when positively organized (free of clutter, clear way finding, and access to nature).

In ancient Chinese philosophy, this phenomenon is known to be governed by Feng Shui. Literally meaning "wind-water," Feng Shui deals with the relationship between humans and their environment, and how that relationship affects overall well-being. Feng Shui is healthy when there is an open flow of energy in your home. This deals with both clutter of "stuff" as well as clutter of other stimuli, like noise and light.

The takeaway: A positive environment can mean a positive mood, and that means a better quality of life!

Your Environment and Immunity

Your home is also a haven for good health. This is most often the case because of what a clean home is not – mold and dust, for example, can contribute to chronic conditions like asthma and allergies.

Mold grows in moist, warm atmospheres, and it's aerobic in nature, meaning it requires oxygen. Under the fridge or in entry ways (where you may track in rain or snow) are just some of the areas that mold may begin to grow. Long-term exposure to mold is unhealthy to anyone, and symptoms can range from mild to severe, including sinus congestion to headaches to asthma. The elderly, young, and those with respiratory conditions are especially susceptible and can experience more severe symptoms.

Dust is a common nuisance, but in severe amounts, it can be the source of serious disease – most seriously, ophthalmia, which can result in total blindness. In more moderate example, dust can aggravate breathing and cause sinus and respiratory problems. Dust is a build up of allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, and small particulates, and areas with little air flow are especially prone to collect dust.

The takeaway: By regularly cleaning your home, you can help avoid dust build up as well as proactively prevent and reduce the likelihood of mold in your home, and this means better health!

Get a Jump On Your Spring Cleaning

While the official start of spring may still be a few weeks away, now's the perfect time to get a jump on your spring cleaning. Get proactive about organizing what's accumulated over the winter months, and start to identify any areas that might be especially tough. Most of all, start to motivate those you live with start thinking about spring cleaning too. With concentrated effort, cleaning the house top to bottom doesn't have to be a burden!


The Sour (And Sweet) Health Benefits of Citrus

It's perhaps one of the most common household cures for the common cold: vitamin C.

Most often administered in the form of citruses, like oranges, grapefruits, or citrus juices, most people have heard the good word behind benefits of citrus fruits, both in combating the cold and helping prevent the cold. But when it comes to the science behind the vitamin, the research is inconsistent. Several studies argue the prophylactic effects are minute, if any. And, despite this author's own preference for whole food, more natural solutions to the body's ailments, it's always best to look to scientifically demonstrated evidence.

Sour grapes. Or, in this case, oranges.

But that's not to say citrus fruits aren't a powerful source of nutrition that support a spectrum of impressive health benefits. In fact, while they may not be the cure-all some tout them to be for the common cold, citrus fruits may have farther reaching benefits, even potentially affecting the body's ability to combat more severe illness, like cancer.

Vitamin C, Potassium, and More

Let's start at the beginning: the nutritional profile.

Most notably, citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is considered an essential nutrient for human means, meaning it's required for normal bodily function but we're unable to naturally produce or synthesize vitamin C. Vitamin C protects the body from free radicals, and its also required in the synthesis of collagen, which helps wounds heal and holds blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bones together. For humans, we need to find good dietary sources of vitamin C, which generally isn't difficult (there's little vitamin C deficiency in the United States). In the past,

Beyond vitamin C, citrus fruits are also good sources of folate and potassium. Folate is a B vitamin that's undergone extensive research in recent years, and has been linked to healthy nervous system functioning, specifically in its role with messaging molecules that send signals throughout the body; vitamin B is vital to the integrity of genetic material.

Potassium is a type of electrolyte, and it too is required for the body to work normally; it helps move nutrients into cells, as well as move waste products out of cells. It's an essential mineral for the function of nerves, heart contraction, and some enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism (carbs are one of the main macronutrients we consume, and often represents a majority of American diets).

If that wasn't enough good news, consider this: adding a bit of citrus to your next cup of green tea (yup, tea) can help give staying power to antioxidants. Catechins, found in green tea, are a type of phenol and antioxidant, and while they display health-promoting qualities, like reduced risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke, they are relatively unstable in non-acidic environments (like our intestines). However, when citrus juices are added, catechins are recovered more than five times the normal amount; for the two most abundant catechins in green tea, vitamin C was found to increased recovery by sixfold and 13-fold, respectively.

Citrus Bioflavonoids

In addition providing a rich nutrient profile (and boosting our antioxidant recovery in tea), citruses are also an abundant of bioflavonoids.

Bioflavonoids, or flavonoids, are not required in the body and may improve health. Currently, citrus bioflavonoids are used to "treat diseases of the blood vessels and lymph system, including hemorrhoids, chronic venous insufficiency, leg ulcers, easy bruising, nosebleeds, and lymphedema following breast cancer surgery." They are said to work by acting as antioxidants, but also strengthen the walls of blood vessels. However, it's important to note that bioflavonoids as a supplement are extracted from citrus fruits, as the fruits naturally vary widely in their contraction and type of flavonoid contained.

Don't Forget Your Citrus

While having an orange or two may not help combat your sniffly nose, research has demonstrated that the complete nutritional profile of citrus fruits is one that should be paid attention to in your diet. If nothing else, it reinforces the adage that argues you should keep your diet colorful, varied, and full of natural whole foods.


An Ode to Spring

Spring is an amazing time of the year. It's in this season that life awakens from the cold, dreary days of winter, and the world slowly begins to warm. Life begins its bloom.

Remember that while winter is behind you, marked by the spring equinox on March 20th, you're still in a season dominated by the Kapha dosha. The Kapha dosha is the combination of the earth and water elements, and is characterized by cold, wet, and heavy energy. In the body, when the Kapha dosha is not balanced, this manifests as respiratory illness, mucus, and grogginess.

This March, we'll be focusing on how to keep yourself balanced, as well as how to revitalize your body, which may have been exposed to more caffeine, sugars, or fats than normal during the winter season.

Wake Your Body with the Season: Balance Kapha

To balance the Kapha dosha, engage in warm, light activities that engage your entire system. When eating, that means focus on lighter foods and integrate warming, invigorating spices like cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Minimize your intake of dairy, nuts, or added fats if possible.

For your practice, practice asanas (poses) that twist, turn, and stimulate your entire body and mind. Emphasize sun salutations as a way to warm and awaken your body, shedding the kapha energy of the atmosphere around you. Twists and backbends can also help you stimulate your kidneys bladders, helping cleanse the body from holiday feasting.

Here's a useful sequence to reference, instructed by Holly Walck:

Cleanse Body and Mind this March with Yogi Surprise

This March, Yogi Surprise is focusing on how to empower and inspire your practice, both for balancing your kapha dosha, but also for celebrating the gifts of spring and the summer months ahead. Give yourself a moment to reflect on the progress of the year, and remember to practice gratitude for both the successes and challenges you've faced. Take time to make those small adjustments and focus on your growth while also enjoying your journey.

Balance body and mind this March with Yogi Surprise:

Join Today to Get March’s Balancing Care Package


Patanjali, the Mahabhasya, and Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras are one of the most important texts in yoga, and chances are, you've come across a few sutras in your yoga classes or in discussions with fellow yogis. A collection of 196 sutras (which are aphorisms) compiled around 400 CE, the Yoga Sutras are a foundational text for Ashtanga yoga and are built around principles, like the Five Yamas, that are meant to guide a person on their journey through life. Patanjali, the attributed author, is known to have compiled sutras referencing older yogic traditions materials, making their production a codifying moment for yoga.

To the new yogi, navigating the sutras can be a bit of a challenge and deciphering the meaning behind them can be even harder. What's more, the author of the works, Patanjali, seems to have many works attributed to him (such as Mahabhasya and works in Ayurveda). These works range over hundreds of years, which can cause confusion with the new yogi: Was Patanjali a real person? Or is it a name meant to symbolize something more?

The Patanjali of the Mahabhasya

If you come across the text of the Mahabhasya in your searches of Patanjali, you may be surprised with the lack of focus on yoga, and instead, the focus on grammar. That's because the author is different from the Patanjali of the Yoga Sutras, and we know this primarily because of the reference to the siege of the town of Saketa by the Greeks, which occurred around 120 BC. This work has been said to represent the tradition of Indian language at its highest form, and for any linguist, the it's a unique piece due to its focus not so much on syntax, but on the etymology behind the language.

For yogis, you'll likely find this text less useful than you'd like, though it does engage with philosophical underpinnings in language – the relation between words and their meanings, and the metaphysical motivations behinds words.

The Patanjali of the Yoga Sutras

The Patanjali of the Yoga Sutras, written some 500 years after the Mahabhasya, is arguably a different person, and is the Patanjali referred to when we speak about yoga. What's more, this Patanjali is revered in more mythic terms. While the Patanjali of the Mahabhasya is considered to have had undergone an incantation by the serpent Śesa, blessed by Shiva with the knowledge to write the text, the Patanjali of the Yoga Sutras has been deified to a greater extent. According to some legends, he was thought to be an incarnation of the serpent Ananta, the source of all wisdom. Some, who see the Patanjali of both texts as one in the same, combine the relations to Ananta and Śesa. In both cases, the serpents are often depicted as serving as the couch or seat for the god Vishnu (see article picture).

A Note on Eastern Historical Practice

So why is there a discrepancy in the two people, both named Patanjali? It may be an understanding influenced by a piece of writing by Bhartrhari (5th century). A Sanskrit author and grammarian himself, Bhartrhari spoke of an expert in yoga, medicine and grammar. However, this person is not named.

A separate explanation for the vagueness is that traditionally, eastern schools of thought avoided specific dates and people because "history" was not so much about factual evidences laid out in a timeline, but rather concerned the lessons and teachings that could be learned from them. People could easily apply a text to their life, relating it to the modern figures rather than thinking strictly in terms of the past. Consider how the Bhagavad Gita is written with a sense of dated history, but is actually treated as a dialogue. When you consider a third lore about Patanjali, which argues that he was born to Atri and his wife Anasuya and puts his birth to the time of the creation by Brahma, it may be that the name Patanjali may have been used on such foundational texts because of the significance the name carries; it is timeless.


What the Forest Has Taught Me

This article was contributed by Robert Richardson, environmentalist and arborist who has planted over 1 million trees in the last 50 years. He currently lives, studies, and maintains forestry in the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon. 

Beginning at a very young age, the urge to explore has always been an irresistible force in my life. As a child, my mother could not predict or control my compulsion to head directly towards danger at any given moment.

Pulled by the invisible lure of the woods, I'd be off into the wilds at first chance, instinctively knowing that freedom and nature were one and the same.

I knew even then that all of man's wisdom was worthless. Though hundreds of years and mountains of reading made us different, I already shared Montaigne's belief that "Anyone who made an intelligent collection of the asinine stupidities of human wisdom would have a wondrous tale to tell.. We can judge what we should think of Man, of his sense and of his reason, when we find such obvious and gross errors even in these important characters who have raised human intelligence to great heights."

I also never doubted my purpose; to get as far away from any 'authority' as possible. My parents noticed something different of course. Despite their efforts to civilize ad educate me, I left home and society with the sole purpose of exploring life sustained by abundance alone.

My God has always been nature. Not some invisible man floating on a throne in the ethos. Nature itself is God. My church is the woods. No timbers need to be cut for mighty beams or holy crosses. No pages pounded from dead trees for holy words to be written on. No stone carved into holy men bent prostrate to a vain god.

Blind as a zealot's faith though, was my compulsion to escape the world of man to a safe place and rid my eyes of any sign of his presence. A place I could listen to the trees, be soothed by their gentle sway and serenaded by the whispering breeze without distraction. Where I could observe the many beings of nature each, in their own way, imperturbably busy doing the real business of preserving and protecting Life on Earth.

My life's education has always been through observing nature. If I had to prove it, I cannot. I have no degrees or papers written, no honorable mention on the subject. My degree of knowledge is represented by my ability or lack of, to live without man's inventions. Man's greatest sin is thinking he can do better than nature; that he must improve everything.

If I learned anything from the forest, it is that trying to be smarter than Creation itself is the folly of mankind.

Western Thought and the Death of Real Forests

Foresters have spent hundreds of years debating environmental science, and from my observation, its all wasted time. Judging by the look of our forests, their research has been fruitless. Just look around at the effects of hundreds of years of clear cutting.

The ongoing mismanagement of our forests has arguably led to the collapse of the delicate silvicultural and water cycle models that have existed for millennia. All we do with man's knowledge leads to the destruction of nature. Lewis and Clark famously claimed there was more timber in the PNW than man could ever use.

Well, they were wrong. In less than 200 years we've cut it all and we're cutting down the 'second' growth now. I'm not against logging. I am against the politically driven agenda that ignores science.

Harvesting techniques allow the maximum yield inexpensively but the immediate costs to the environment are sever. Massive erosion fills streams with silt. Exposure of the forest floor to sunlight increases radiating heat raising air and ground temperature dramatically. Water temperatures in streams also skyrocket, killing off salmonoids, a critical link in the food chain from the the riparian areas through the estuarine and oceanic ecosystems. Clear cutting, slashing and burning exposes xeric soils that, once stripped of surface biomass, can no longer sustain the organisms and their genetic and biochemcial properties that support life in the forest. We are killing the forest.

You might say, but don't they plant lots of trees? Yes, but the practice of mono-culture reforestation is just a second major blow to the forest. Single species plantations are a huge mistake and another spoke in the industrial wheel of environmental degradation.

Taking key species of flora and/or fauna out of the forest destabilizes the entire ecosystem, common knowledge among scientists. However, ignoring the role of a seral progression, or skipping the intermediate stage found in ecological succession in an ecosystem is still an acceptable forest management practice in the PNW.

Lack of the understanding of fire has further contributed to mismanagement of our forests. Allowing timber harvest without holding timber companies responsible for the flash fuels they leave behind has led to inevitable super-fires. These unnatural conflagrations destroy what life is left including the mycorrhizae in the soil, a necessary fungi for grass seed germination without which, mulch cannot develop. Microrganisms do not form, the soil remains lifeless, leading to more erosion and eventual destruction of the entire water cycle system. All of this is freshman forestry 101: common knowledge.

Yet even with centuries of observation, forestry experts have failed to produce anything good or useful that has led to any change.

Forest Restoration projects, led by Eco-Saviors like Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wilderness have been successfully providing an alternative to antiquated forestry practices. Restoration is different from reforestation in that it focuses on establishing the entire ecosystem, not board foot profits.

Restoration sounds good, and looks good on paper. Millions of dollars are being appropriated by "restoration experts." However, the current total acres of actual restored forest are fractionally inadequate. A token effort, and not an excuse for the allowing the continuation of destructive practices elsewhere in the forest.

Just as it seems humanity is not evolving or learning how to stop war, poverty or sickness, we are not changing the way we use our land, water and air, as a resource.

There is irrefutable science that supports a permaculture revolution of global agriculture and farming. We certainly have the technology and the money to do it.

The Cause: A Lost Connection

Always remember that nature gives us a place to heal while we learn. To understand the lessons the forest has to teach us, one starts by learning how to be still long enough to observe and interact with the animals and the many things going on in the forest. Healing begins by releasing anxiety and inward energy and reversing to flow outwards, absorbing by observing. Learning begins by being open to the answers.

Be ready for the orgasmic reality that all your questions will be answered, if you haves eyes that see and ears that hear.

Asking questions and observing nature is how to learn. The wisdom of man is of no use. Not doubting ones relationship to the Earth and the birthright of health and happiness is the first step to believing in nature. We are truly free when we realize that health and happiness do not come from material possessions, but the ability to live without them. It is important to celebrate this freedom with ceremony, giving thanks for the abundance that flows freely all around us.

Only within the arms of creation, and in harmony with nature, will mankind thrive. Being thankful. Be full of gratitude. Having a desire to live in harmony is all that is required to be wealthy. No thinking, doing nothing. That's the starting point. From their we can observe the abundance that exists all around us.

All these material desires are connected to human miseries. To desire for self gratification is unnatural. To be content, is to be perfect in harmony. Nature in its pure form is perfect. The anchor is nature itself. When we become separated from nature, then we have no anchor. The nutrition manipulation and biological manipulation from national or international Pharma/Food/BioTech companies are degrading and impairing the human cognitive function and intellect, which may or may not be to keep the human populace suppressed, confused and oppressed. Imperfect and in need.

We have lost connection with nature, and so lost our connection with other human beings. We have forgotten that All Life is Sacred, all life matters. But in nature, there is no waste. Support the web of life on the planet. Put your head in the right place and start thinking with nature. Only then can you witness the amazing transformation that is possible.

Freedom is a notion, a concept known only to the individual and their perception of it. Just as a Living Creator, whose Essence pervades the Universe as an Absolute Reality, can be known only through a personal relationship.

Just as Democracy is something that only exists in the minds of those who believe in it, as Dr. Obediah Harris President of the Philosophical Society describes Democracy, “...as an inherent promise of a fair world, an obscure vision, hidden, not visible to the normal eye but only visible to those who have that inner vision.”

Its time we open our eyes to the real meaning of freedom and get back to nature.


Win a Week-Long Retreat in Jamaica

Jamaica is a tropical paradise often associated with relaxation, ease of life, and the true element of freedom. Nestled in the Caribbean, the island is undoubtedly home one of the most fascinating and attractive cultures when it comes to open-mindedness and being yourself.

For March, we're delighted to feature Yoga Bless Retreats, a incredible yoga retreat center with some of the best reviews in the Caribbean. Let's take a peek!

Win a Week-Long Retreat in Jamaica from Yoga Bless

With an astute focus on revitalizing the body and soul, Yoga Bless Retreats are all about slowing down and getting back into balance. Too often, our busy lives can distract us from focusing on developing the self. After a week in Jamaica, detoxing and practicing yoga daily, Yoga Bless helps bring the self back into alignment. Yoga Bless features expert yoga instructors, skilled and patient with yogis of any levels. You'll find yourself among friends, good vibrations, and positive, welcoming energy.

Retreat highlights & what is included:

  • Daily special meditation sessions
  • Daily Hatha and Kundalini yoga sessions
  • Homemade face masks, body scrubs, and workshops on how to make them
  • Yoga Bless DVD with e-books, music and yoga sessions PDF
  • 3 main meals, healthy snacks, local fruits, and vegetables (normal, vegetarian, vegan, raw)
  • Unlimited fresh juices, coconut water, and fruits
  • Snorkeling accessories and Wi-Fi free to use
  • Yoga books, and natural healing and herbs books
  • 6 nights of comfortable accommodation in a dorm
  • Waterfall excursion
  • Airport transfers

The yoga program is designed to suit your level, from beginner to intermediate, for balance, immune system boost, weight loss, and concentration.

 Learn How to Win this Retreat >

 


Samana Retreat

Yogi Surprise Memebers Save $300!

First, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine the sounds of waves crashing in the distance and the trees of the rainforest swaying behind you. The warm sun wraps around you as a delicate breeze tickles the hair on your neck and inspires goosebumps…

It’s not paradise you’re imagining – it’s the week-long retreat in Costa Rica, put on by Samana Health Retreats, that you could win.

Win a Week-Long Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica from Samana Health Retreats

From daily ocean-view yoga to candlelight meditation, Samana Health Retreats is one of the finest yoga retreats in the area (and in our opinion, one of the most beautiful). Samana’s thoughtful, expertly trained instructors help you identify key goals, and over the course of a relaxing week, you’ll gain valuable skills to help better balance your body, mind, and soul. This package includes:

  •  One 45-minute personal health and lifestyle session (by phone) before departing for Costa Rica. We’ll discuss your health and lifestyle goals and challenges, and how you can get the most out of this transformative experience.
  • Seven nights accommodation at an exclusive luxury five-star private villa
  • Transportation in Costa Rica from/to Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) to the villa
  • Three delicious daily meals, prepared by our private chef. All food served in Costa Rica will be free of gluten, dairy, sugar and red meat. Other dietary requests will happily be accommodated.
  • Private boat charter on a 37-foot sport catamaran
  • Daily ocean-view yoga and meditation (ALL levels welcome)
  • Intro to yoga workshop
  • One acupressure session
  • One energy healing session
  • Health and nutrition workshops and classes
  • Gratuity
  • Guidance and support on how to maintain a healthier post-retreat lifestyle

Learn how you can win! (and continue below for a special announcement!)

All Yogi Surprise Members: Save $300!

As a special surprise for Yogi Surprise members, Samana Health Retreats is offering an exclusive $300 savings when you use code YOGISURPRISE. You’ll receive all of the incredible amenities listed above for nearly 10% off the total price!

Learn how you can win!