If you missed last week’s dharma talk in the 90 min classes, I shared a story that was sent to me by a student (with her permission) about the Greenbelt in Staten Island. Here’s what she had to say in her own words:
“My dad, an environmental journalist, grew up on Staten Island and got his start working at their local paper, the Staten Island Advance. During that time, there were Moses-era plans to put an interstate through the Greenbelt, which sparked local action to preserve the open space. My dad covered it all, and it was probably the first land preservation work he ever did as a writer (now that’s all he does). “Save the Greenbelt” was the slogan, postered all over Staten Island. I even have one of his old t-shirts that says Save the Greenbelt. In the newsroom, it became an adage, “Save the fucking Greenbelt” you might say with an eye roll, as if to say, “just get the job done,” if somebody was complaining or exaggerating (intoned like, “ah, get over it”).”
This story fits in perfectly with the Jivamukti Focus of the Month – Spiritual Activism. If you’d like to read this month’s focus, written by Jivamukti Yoga co-founder Sharon Gannon, you can find it here.
While the first part of the essay focuses on veganism, the concept applies to any cause you are fighting for – whether it’s saving a natural habitat, or fighting for social/civil rights, or protections during an epidemic. (read last 3 paragraphs if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing!) “To think well of another and to want that person’s happiness, even though you do not agree with the person’s current thoughts and actions, is the key to spiritual activism.”
The next Jivamukti in Paradise retreat will be in Roatan, Honduras, January 11 -18, 2020.
A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot.
firstname.lastname@example.org for registration or questions
Pricing: Single $2400 Double $2100
What this includes (a lot!)
2 yoga classes/day and meditation with April
7 nights lodging
Welcome cocktail party
3 Vegetarian Meals/Day
Round-trip airport transfer in Roatan
A/C option in all rooms
Daily Maid Service
Full Access to all of Retreat Center (see link below)
Unlimited Sea Kayaking
1 Snorkle Trip (some of the best snorkeling/diving in the world)
Las Sirenas sunset Cruise
Hike to Picacho Peak
Additional excursions/spa treatments
ROOMS AVAILABLE (11 Rooms Total):
• There are 4 single rooms (or Double if you are sharing a bed) • 4 more rooms that can be single (1 bed) or double (2 beds) • 3 rooms with two beds each
• Retreat Location- Paya Bay Resort https://www.payabay.com (I recommend looking on a computer rather than phone – easier to navigate) • Airport – fly to Roatan (RTB) • Travel time from airport to retreat center – 1 Hour • Closest Towns – 15 & 30 minutes away
I have the great privilege and humbling honor to lead this year’s annual Jivamukti Yoga Memorial Day Retreat at Ananda Ashram, located in Monroe, NY, May 24th – 27th 2019.
We will spend the weekend exploring asana and meditation, while diving deeper into spiritual teachings that can support our health, happiness, and sanity. Best of all, we will be doing it together in a beautiful place. This retreat is not only a gift to yourself, but to everyone you know, and to all beings.
Each day we will rise together for meditation and asana class, then meet again in the afternoons for further exploration through asana, study and song. We will enjoy delicious vegan meals prepared for us with love. There will also be opportunities to study Sanskrit with the amazingly gifted teacher Bharati, and to participate in the ashram’s acclaimed evening programs.
It is often impossible to move forward in a new way without first taking a step back. The retreat is an opportunity to get in touch with our Jivamukti lineage, part of which came through Ananda Ashram founder Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati. By unplugging from daily life, you have the opportunity to steep in your practice, and to suspend unhelpful cyclic thinking.
Semi-private accommodations $595, pre-register before May 1st $625 after May 1st
Dorm Room accommodations $535, pre-register before May 1st $565 after May 1st
Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York, is a Yoga retreat and spiritual-educational center just over one hour from New York City, founded in 1964 by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (then Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.) as the country center of the Yoga Society of New York, Inc.
Located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, the Ashram provides a serene, natural environment with woods and meadows surrounding a lake. Accommodations are simple and meals are vegetarian.
SAT May 25 8am – 9am Light Breakfast (coffee, tea, toast) 9am Morning Meditation and Fire Ceremony 9:45-10:45 Scripture Studies with Bharati 11:00-12:30 Jivamukti Yoga Asana Class w/ April 12:30-1:30pm Lunch 1:30-3pm Break
2:30-3:00 pm optional walking meditation in woods w/April 3pm – 5pm Jivamukti Yoga w/ April 5:30-630 Dinner 7:30pm-8:30 pm Ashram Meditation Program 8:30 pm North Indian Vocal Concert with Deepak Kumar & Naren Budhakar
This past Sunday, September 21st, 2014, I joined 400,00 others in the People’s Climate March in NYC. It was the largest of it’s kind, and amazing that so many people care about the future of this Earth we live on. Unfortunately, it was covered by only one news network, and only for about 23 seconds.
People’s Climate March 2014
One of the reasons for the lack of coverage is very same reason why I marched: our major “environmental” organizations, like GreenPeace, 350.org, etc., refuse to acknowledge the biggest cause of our environmental decline: the animal agriculture industry. The farming industry in the United States essentially runs our government. This industry has so much power in our country, that even high profile people like former Vice-President Al Gore, are afraid to talk about it. In fact, animal rights and environmental activists are the #1 offenders on the FBI watch list, rather than the actual bad guys.
It is estimated that at the rate our population is growing and the amount our word eats animal based food, we will only be around another 50 years or so. In 50 years I will be 84…I’d like to see the world last a bit longer than that! The farming industry is not only affecting the air and water we need to survive, but also killing off our natural wildlife. If you get excited when you see a fox or bear while on a hike, you better take advantage of it now, because natural wildlife won’t be here much longer.
There are a few things you can do:
The first is to educate yourself: watch the movie Cowspiracy. The movie highlights the fact that the largest cause of environmental decline is being hidden by all major environmental organizations, and our government. You can learn more about it here: http://cowspiracy.com/.
#2: Eat a plant based diet. It is completely possible to live a healthy, happy life on a vegan diet. Even if you are pregnant and/or raising children. Milk produced by cows is for their calfs to grow up into big strong cows! And if you love ice cream and cheese, you can get amazing tasting nut based ice cream or tapioca based cheese – it tastes the same, I swear! And you don’t even have to eat soy if you don’t want to! Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga School, just released a new cook book called Simple Recipes for Joy. There are over 200 vegan recipes in the book, even things like meatballs and spaghetti and manhattan clam chowder! I happened to have helped make the food in pictures in the book and tested recipes before publishing! You can order it here: Simple Recipes for Joy
Please feel free to comment or ask questions. Here are some facts that are posted on the Cowspiracy website, all completely research based. I have a copy of the Cowspiracy movie if you are in the NY area and want to borrow it.
LOVE, PEACE & VEGETABLES!
The science and research done on the true impacts of animal agriculture is always growing. The statistics used in the film were based off the information below.
We will continually update this list with further resources as they become available.
Although there may be fluctuations in numbers from year to year and from researcher to researcher, the fact remains that animal agriculture, as a whole, requires tremendous amounts of resources and is a leader in environmental degradation.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined. [i]
Fao.org. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment.
Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.
5% of water in the US is used by private homes.
55% of water in the US is used for animal agriculture.
Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.
Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.
This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US. [v]
“What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.
It was a Thursday night in October, and I had about fifteen minutes to waste before teaching a class, so I was playing in the boutique at Jivamukti. All of a sudden Sharon came out of the office looking for me and asked me to take a seat on the bench. I had no idea what she could have wanted. She started telling me about the long-awaited cookbook she had been working on and that it was just about finished. All that was left to do was photography of some of the dishes featured in the book. She knew about the cookie company that I own, and the vegan cooking that I do, and wanted to know if I would like to come up to Woodstock to help prepare the food for the photos. We would head up to Woodstock on Tuesday morning, and come back to the city on Wednesday night. My heart just about leaped out of my chest! Of course I would love to help! I just had to ask my mentor, Gayatri, if it was ok if I missed our Basics class on Wednesday night because I was in the middle of my apprenticeship and had an assignment to teach. And then Sharon said, “Oh, you already have a commitment. You should stay with your mentor. If I have a commitment I stick to it– I would never back out of something I already said yes to. I’ll figure something else out.” And this is true – if Sharon says yes to something, she does it! It is a true testament to this cookbook and everything else she’s ever done! And with that, the most amazing opportunity was given to me, and then taken away from me in less than 5 minutes…
I told Gayatri what happened, and of course she would have allowed me to go! But I wasn’t going to say yes to Sharon, and then ask, in the case she said no! Gayatri said she would mention something to Sharon and see if it was still a possibility. Unfortunately Sharon said she already figured something else out, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought…
Three days later, on Sunday, I was at my friend’s baby shower when my phone started to ring. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer. A voicemail was left, so I decided to check it out. “Jai Sri Krishna, April, this is Sharon Gannon calling…” I almost dropped the phone, and had to listen to the voicemail a second time. I excused myself from the table and called back immediately! She said she could still use my help and she spoke to Gayatri asking if she could borrow me for a few days. Would I still like to come up to Woodstock to help out? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing (or that I was even talking to Sharon on the phone)! I said yes without a second thought – how could I say no to cooking along side Sharon! The plans changed slightly and I had to go up on Monday morning rather than Tuesday, so I left the baby shower early and spent a long night familiarizing myself with the recipes I’d be preparing.
I arrived in Woodstock Monday afternoon and met the team of people I’d be working with to help prep the food – there was a “food stylist” who would plate the food for the photos, her assistant, and myself. There was also the photography team, and a handful of other people to help out. The assistant, Anna, and I would do most of the cooking, and some by Sharon. We had a full schedule of the order of photos/recipes and started baking that night.
Over the next two days the team and I prepared about 30 different recipes – soups, appetizers, salads, main courses, desserts – anything you can imagine. I tried to help out in any way I could. Although when I tried to wash the dishes, I was told by Sharon that my job was to cook and cook only, and someone else would wash the dishes. (Fine by me – although I love to cook, washing the dishes after is not my favorite thing to do.) Photos were taken throughout the house and the grounds outside, and although the temperature was starting to drop, the weather cooperated for the most part.
There wasn’t very much down time, but we would stop to have lunch and dinner, eating all of the food we had prepared for the photos. Sharon plated all of the food with great detail, and we would sit around the table listening to Sharon, David and Jules tell us stories about when Jivamukti first opened 30 years ago. If I did get a break, I would spend time in the garden with David in the chilly October frost, or watch him feed the deer.
After the photo shoot, I thought my job was done, but over the next few weeks, every once in a while Sharon would email me a recipe, asking me to test it out to make sure the measurements were correct before they went to publishing. I tested recipes like her chocolate ice cream cake, pesto and cheesy dipping sauce. How could I resist! They are all so wonderful!
I spent two days with Sharon in a way I never could have imagined. It was one thing to take yoga classes with her and have her as a teacher, but to cook with her in her own kitchen was something special. She is an amazing vegan cook and takes great care with each of her recipes. For Sharon, and all true yogis, vegan food is yoga. They are one and the same, and Sharon is a great yogi. I am blessed to have been part of this project and can’t wait for the world to experience her recipes! Thank you Sharon for trusting me with them! (And to Gayatri for “lending me out” for three days.) You can pre-order Sharon’s cookbook, Simple Recipes for Joy on Amazon here:
It isn’t often that pop-culture recognizes the schism that has been created between human and non-human animals. It is rare in fact. But the book and Broadway show Wicked hits the point right on. Most people know Wicked as the story of the Wicked Witch of West from the Wizard of Oz. If you haven’t read it, it is a fun and creative twist on a story we are all familiar with, but the book is also quite political, and directly addresses serious and currently relevant issues, like bullying, government lobbying, and animal rights…
In the Land of Oz, previous to Dorothy’s visit, Animals (with a capital A, meaning they were “with spirit”) held jobs, spoke the same language as humans, wore clothes (even with a bit of irony, like the tsebras who wore black and white satin stripes on the bias to their inborn design.) They were equals to their human neighbors. But there was a shift in political climate, humans somehow felt threatened, and the Emerald City passed a “Bann on Animal Mobility,” that they “should be seen and not heard.” Animals were no longer allowed to travel in the same train cars, those coming of age were no longer allowed to hold jobs, and eventually they lost their ability to speak. Similar maybe to how our dogs, by law, must be on a leash, or if they are barking in a building a neighbor might complain. They are cute to look at, but no one wants to hear them. ..
The human animals decided they were “better-than.” One of the main characters, a professor who also happens to be a Goat, was conducting a research project hoping to isolate “some bit of the biological architecture to prove that there isn’t any difference, deep down in the invisible pockets of human and Animal flesh – there there’s no difference between us,” hoping that if he can prove that there isn’t any inherent difference between humans and Animals, the Banns could not be upheld. Government officials got wind of his project, and he was unfortunately murdered…
This book is fantasy, but eerily similar to our own real lives. Human animals have decided that we are “better-than” or superior to the other beings we share this planet with. Rather than sharing and communicating with our non-human neighbors, we have chosen to exploit them; using horses to pull carriages around central park, clearing hundreds of acres of trees to make room for a factory farm, or killing 45 million plus turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving. Even the way we refer to ourselves as our pets “owners” or “masters” rather than caretakers. But the majority of our population would rather not admit this is happening. My father, for example, LOVES animals. But when I try to get him to watch a movie about animal rights, like Earthlings, he refuses, because he KNOWS that animals have feelings and emotions just like us. But if he sees it, then it makes it true, and then he will have to change. And nobody likes change. ..
People in our society feel just as threatened as the characters in Wicked, because if they really saw what was happening to the billions of other beings on our planet, who are inherently the same as human-animals, they wouldn’t be eating meat and dairy. Our earthling counterparts are trapped in factory farms, literally on top of each other, never see the light of day, have their babies taken away from them almost immediately, and when they are sent to slaughter, very often they are still conscious when their throats are being slit, or they are dipped in boiling water. And it is in our Government’s “interest” to hide this from us. Rather than admitting what really happens, our food is advertised as pretty pictures of a cow with its calf roaming a grassy field of flowers – something that hasn’t existed in our culture in 50 years.
There was a point in human history when we communicated with nature, but we have somehow lost our way… and rather than progressing towards kindness, we seem to be regressing towards Avidya, ignorance. Like in the case of my dad – ignorance is bliss, right? (Yes, I just called my dad ignorant – but he is CHOOSING to be so)
But I have hope that this could change. In Swami Satchidananda’s translation of the Yoga Sutra, he states that “when the vow of ahimsa (non-violence) is established in someone, all enmity ceases in his or her presence because that person emits harmonious vibrations. If two people who have enmity between them come to such a person, they will temporarily forget it.” Can you imagine what would happen if we all practiced ahimsa? How amazing would that be? It’s time to wake up and to no longer be ignorant.
Chef April’s Tasting Menu: Pumpkin Apple Walnut Rice, Sauteed swiss chard with raisins & pine nuts, Tempeh Loaf Baked Sweet Potatoes & Apples and Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Pudding.
Gone are the days of festive holiday feasting on high fats, toxic sugars and processed carbohydrates. A richly indulgent and Vegan Thanksgiving table awaits you with cleaner, less acidic ingredients and more powerful/ superfood nutrients. Join Certified Ayurvedic Nutritionist and Holistic Health Coach, Donnalynn Civello CHHC, AADP and April DeChagas, Vegan Chef as we help you design your healthy Thanksgiving Day menu!
Come out and celebrate Thanksgiving with us as we invite you home to our table to discuss our nutritionally-sound and simply decadent alternatives to the traditional favorites! Bring your appetite! We look forward to seeing you!
SPACE IS LIMITED. Registration is required. Please reserve your space by calling Jivamukti directly at 212.353.0214. Registration deadline is November 21st. Cost: $75/person.
Cookie Devi is growing big time! Now in 8 different retail locations, you can find Cookie Devi cookies at Jivamuktea Cafe, 3 locations of The Bean, 2 locations of Pushcart Coffee, Sustainable NYC (ice cream sandwiches!), and beginning tomorrow at The Little Sweet Cafe in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn!!!
The last few weeks have been super busy, mostly working with Tamar Samir on designing the new Cookie Devi logo. After many Skype dates and emails between Germany and NYC, Cookie Devi is now official:
There is also a new Cookie Devi website, currently still under construction, but viewable with some information at http://cookiedevi.com
Also coming up! This Thursday, August 1st, from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. there will be Cookie Devi showcase at Pushcart Coffee on 21st & 2nd! If you haven’t tried Cookie Devi yet, now’s your chance! There will be free samples as well as boxes for sale.
Special THANK YOU to Tamar Samir for putting so much time and effort into this! You are the best friend, teacher, mentor I could have ever asked for! ♥
Yes, you read that correctly! Beginning tomorrow, Sustainable NYC (located on Ave A b/t St. Marks and 9th St.), will be carrying ice cream sandwiches made with Cookie Devi cookies and Lula’s ice cream! Beat the summer heat with an amazingly yummy treat!
If you need proof, here are my friends Ximena and Michael, and awesome SNYC manager Kira, enjoying mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate lavender cookies…