Episode 71 – My Favorite Books on Yoga and Spirituality
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In this episode Rachel shares her all-time favorite books on Yoga and Spirituality. She dives into the words that came along with her on adventures, the stories that supported her, and the passages that changed her life. Books often represent so much more than the paper they are made out of. To Rachel, her books are sacred keepsakes that are filled with little notes, letters, and pictures that tell the story of what she was feeling as she held these books in her hand.
Do you have books in your life that you return to again and again for many different reasons? From “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass, Pema Chodron’s “When Thing’s Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times” to Rasha’s “Oneness”, join Rachel as she shares the personal connection she has to her favorite books and stories from her own life inspired by each one.
[001:34] Hi and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations With Yoga Girl. I am so excited to be recording this podcast. It has been, actually, three whole weeks since I sat down just alone to record a regular old episode of From The Heart: Conversations With Yoga Girl. The last two weeks we had the fifty-plus beautiful women from my Yoga Teacher Training sharing stories on their Inner Critic and their Inner Best Friend. So, two weeks in a row, it’s been a really different type of podcast, and the response has been so beautiful. It’s, for sure, not the last time that I invite a big group to come on the show in that way. It was just absolutely heartfelt, and again, a big thank you to every woman who shared a little piece of their heart that day.
[002:21] For this week’s episode, this is one of the most requested episodes of all-time, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to record this. Today I’m going to share with you my all-time favorite books on yoga and spirituality. So, I think actually the reason I haven’t recorded this podcast earlier is because it requires me to, first, number one, gather and pick my favorite books. I have a huge library, like a whole wall of books in my house, and it’s just really hard for me to choose just a few. And also it requires me to be structured and, like, talk about things in a really structured way, which I’m not great at. However, I’m really excited to share these books with you. I have them all, like a massive stack in front of me. I have 20 books in front of me. I don’t think I’m going to get through them all, so I’m going to try to start in the order of importance, of just, you know, how they’ve completely supported me on this journey, or in some shape or form helped change my life.
[003:23] So, before I dive in, let’s just, in the spirit of this being From The Heart, let’s all take a deep breath in … and out … So, speaking completely from the heart, before I dive into my stack of books in front of me, how am I doing right now? [Deep Breath] I … I’m tired, you guys. I just, I’ve gotta come right out and say I’m tired. I’ve had a really intense, not just an intense month with teacher training and retreat and that class I taught in New York, it’s been a lot of work and I haven’t slept a whole lot this past month. But, it’s been a long spring, and I feel really tired. I shared it on Instagram yesterday that I was just feeling a little bit depleted, like I’m looking for my off switch so that I can come down from this high energy, you know, never stop working type space that I’ve been in for the past five weeks.
[004:25] A beautiful, beautiful person just reminded me, like, “Hey, don’t forget about Project Alone Time.” It wasn’t that long ago that you were, you know, sitting at home recording a podcast in complete, absolute peace and calm. And I said, “Oh my god, yes! I need to get back to that place.” And then she wrote, “You’re just a sunrise away.” And it just … thank you, thank you for sharing, all of you guys. You know, I read every single comment that anyone ever shares with me. I really am present with it all. So, thank you for helping me with that.
[004:58] I’ve been sleeping in these past couple of days. Just, I feel like I need to catch up on sleep, but tomorrow is my sunrise day, and I’m just excited to give myself time to land. And actually, recording this podcast right now on these books, is super, super helpful, because … Yeah, the stack of books that I have in front of me right now, they are books that I return to again and again and again, for different reasons. They have all been in my life for years, some of them for a really long time. Someone was asking if I read, if I read on my Kindle or on my phone … I don’t. I know, you know, it’s a really good thing to be more environmental and to save on the paper, but when it comes to these books, books that completely have a really dear space in my heart, just I need to hold that physical book in my hand. These books, specifically, I have made notes in them, there’s little letters and, like, they’re almost like little keepsakes. My most special books, I keep things in them that mean a lot to me, like poems and quotes and pictures of my loved ones, and I love opening a book at random and then just finding a little piece of my heart in that book. So, if you’re a Kindle person, totally, you know, go with that, enjoy that. But there is something about finding a book that just blows a piece of you open, in a way, that I like to hold that energy in my hand.
[006:21] Also, I couldn’t read these books on a phone. It’s a totally different mindset. So, my phone, of course, represents work and sometimes stress and social media and the doing side of my life. When I drop into meditation, which actually reading these books oftentimes is, I need to be as far away from my phone as possible. So, I highly recommend finding a great bookstore, and if any of these books speak to you, just yeah, seeking them out so you can hold them in your hands.
[006:58] Let’s see where I want to kick off. I’m going to start at the top of this pile with a book that I, just, I recommend again and again and again. We have it at the top of our reading list for our Yoga Teacher Training even though it doesn’t really have anything to do with yoga philosophy or anything like that. I mean, a little bit, but I don’t think it’s a book you normally see on a standard Yoga Teacher Training reading list. But this book helped change my life, absolutely, helped change my life, and it’s “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I know many of you, I’m sure you’ve heard about this book or you’ve read this book already. It’s one of those books that I find will make its way into your life when you’re totally ready to receive and understand it. So, my mom gave me this book. I think I was 16 or 17. It was before I had ever … I hadn’t really embarked on this path at all. I don’t know what sparked her giving me this book. But I read it, I think I was a teenager, I read this book cover to cover, fully read it, and it did nothing for me. It just, it didn’t do anything. It was like a book that I read, and it talked about finding the present moment, and I didn’t understand it. I read it anyway, but … I remember putting the book down like, “Ugh, that was like a waste of time.” (laugh) In a way. It just wasn’t the right time for me to absorb the wisdom and the teachings of that book.
[008:33] Then I think maybe two years later I had just … I was just about to leave for Costa Rica, and I had been to my very first meditation retreat, and I was sort of opening my eyes and my heart and my mind to the idea of, the concept of meditation, which was so foreign to me. I remember finding this book again, it was somewhere in my room, and I just kind of … I felt drawn to it, and I just kind of picked it up and I opened any part of the book, I just opened it right down the middle, and I read the first sentence at the top of the page that I randomly opened, and it just … (laugh) It shifted something in me. Before I knew it I was sitting down and I was reading the book from the first page. Every page that I read, every paragraph that I read, changed something inside of me. It absolutely, totally did.
[009:27] And I ended up bringing this book to Costa Rica when I left Sweden for the very first time, and I was traveling with two friends, backpacking, I had this giant backpack full of stuff I didn’t need on my back, and this was the one book that I had brought. I remember this book being a total … It was a conversation starter everywhere I went! I remember my friends Sarah and Christina that I was traveling with, they were making fun of me and this book because everywhere I went people would want to talk to me. They saw I was reading the book, I put the book up on a coffee table or like at a café, if I was sitting somewhere having a coffee, and people would just gravitate to me because of this book. They’re like, “Oh my god! You’re reading Power of Now! Wow! Has it changed your life?” And then everywhere I went I just found myself completely immersed in spiritual conversations with really amazing people, just thanks to this book.
[010:16] So, holding this book in my hand right now, this is the same book that I had then, it’s … First of all, it’s totally falling apart. (laugh) It’s dog-eared, the little cover, it’s like peeling, the front layer of the cover is peeling off since long. It has stains of stuff in it. I don’t know if food or chocolate or something. And I don’t know, it’s stuffed with things. I have so many things in this book. I open it right now, there’s a black and white picture of my dad when he was 22 years old in this little tobacco shop that he owned when he was young. That’s in there. There’s a photo of me doing a handstand, 9 years old with a beach in Latvia with this amazing sunset in the background. There’s a picture of my best friend who passed away, Andrea, it’s in here. Her and I spent countless hours just with this book, reading and re-reading paragraphs and just, you know, burning Palo Santo. I just smile thinking about it. This book, for me, it also … It has a lot of history for me, because I brought this book with me through every phase of life. And I’ll go through, you know, I’ve read it cover to cover so many times, and then I’ll put it aside, and then sometimes it would be a year and I don’t touch this book, and then I gravitate toward it again, and I just open it at a random page, and it’s just exactly what I need to hear in that moment. I read it a lot when I was pregnant, especially at the end of my pregnancy, again, when I felt so anxious. Like time was moving so slowly, and I was just impatient and feeling miserable, just waiting for this baby to come, re-reading The Power of Now allowed me to drop back into my body again and again. I would find this anxiousness kind of disappear into worry, and, “Oh my god, am I ever going to have this baby? What’s happening?” And the book would help me center again and again.
[012:12] So, if you haven’t read the book, Eckhart Tolle, he’s … I really suggest just go to YouTube, if you don’t have the book in front of you right now, just go on YouTube, search his name, and listen to any of his talks. Hearing him speak is really calming. I love his accent, it’s just … you know. And look at him right now, look at pictures of him or videos of him from like 20 years ago, the man does not age. I swear, it’s weird. So, Eckhart Tolle, he’s a German man. I think he lives in Canada now. I’m not sure. And underwent this complete spiritual transformation, when he was in his late 20s and he was depressed and kind of suicidal, just not living a very happy life. He writes about this in the book, I’m not going to give too much away. The book is not about his own personal journey. It’s about … yeah, it’s about his teachings. I don’t think he even calls it his teachings. It’s just the realizations that came to him through this spiritual awakening.
[013:24] I love how so many genuine spiritual teachers … I always say, “If you have something real to say, you’re not going to take 35 books to say it.” You know what I mean? There’s spiritual authors out there that, just every six months, there’s a new book and a new book and a new book, and it just feels really commercial to me. Eckhart is one of those people that more states, like, this is sort of transcribed through him. It’s not just his ego wanting to put out a book and put his own teachings in form. But it’s universal, and it’s something that deep down we are all already aware of. It’s just we need to cut through the layers of ego in time to get there.
[014:06] But anyway, his moment of big spiritual awakening was he was living under immense pain and despair and anxiety, and he had a thought in the midst of this darkest, darkest time, and the thought was, “I cannot live with myself any longer.” As he thought this, “I cannot live with myself any longer,” he had this massive realization of, “If I cannot live with myself any longer, who is this ‘myself’ that I cannot live with?” Like, I and myself, are we two different people? Is it two different parts of me? Who is this “I” that can’t live with “myself” anymore? This realization of, oh, there’s a part of me that thinks this thought, and then there’s a part of me that’s on the receiving end, or in the back of that. Just sort of blew his mind open (laugh) and he had this realization of ego and of time and of finding our way to the present moment is the only way to escape suffering and pain. This whole book is little tools and wisdom and learnings on how to end the delusion of time and the delusion of ego by again and again practicing the art of being here, and being truly, truly present here.
[015:29] The teachings are just so … Okay, so, hopefully I’m not butchering this for anyone right now, I’m sorry if I am. I’m just sort of giving you the little recap of this book that’s so profound. You absolutely have to read it yourself. But not only does he share these immensely spiritual pieces of wisdom that, you can read and re-read the same sentence again and again, and it can take some time for your body to digest it, just the truth of it. So often I’ll read something, and it clicks on really deep level as something, like, “I know this as truth.” My mind gets in the way and thoughts get in the way, but I know this as truth.
[016:13] So, read it. And then in between he provides really great tools of how to make our way into the present moment. Tools like watching the thinker, so becoming aware of the thoughts as they pass in the back of your head, not identifying, like seizing to identify with the thoughts and with the judgmental mind. Things that are just really helpful, especially if you are moving through a difficult time. How can we, you know, disengage with that, like we spoke about the past two weeks, the Inner Critic, if we identify with the Inner Critic, yes, life is going to be immensely difficult, everything is going to be a struggle. So that first step toward liberation, or toward making peace with the present moment is to dis-identify and to recognize the thinker or the thoughts as something separate from the I, from the I am.
[017:08] So, before we move on to my second book, I want to share just a little quote from The Power of Now. It goes like this, “Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now. Otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your nonpeace, your nonpeace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there. It will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” So, yeah, I’m not going to share more than that, but please, please, please, like, seriously, yeah, this is my top 3, for sure, for sure. If you haven’t already, go read it.
[018:03] The second book that I’m going to recommend, and this one is like … it’s as high, this has a shared number one spot with Power of Now, for me. I hold it so dear to my heart. There’s something about this book, it’s hard for me to explain, but for me, in my own experience, personally, my heart flutters more. I don’t know how to explain it. Power of Now, for me, is very related to seizing, like, it’s very related to the Inner Critic and to seizing those judgmental thoughts. There’s something about mind and stillness of the mind that, for me, relates to Power of Now. This next book, for me, is all heart. It’s all heart, it’s all love. “Be Here Now,” by Ram Dass. Ram Dass! He’s my main squeeze!
[018:56] If you’ve heard me talk about Ram Dass in prior podcasts, you know I have sort of a quasi-love relationship with him. He’s 87 years old, and I have a major crush on him. (laugh) My husband is aware, he’s accepted it. I just love him so much. I could tear up; I’m tearing up just talking about him right now. I’ll look at photos of Ram Dass and I want to cry. That’s just how much my heart, just, I don’t know, I can’t explain it.
[019:28] Be Here Now is a remarkable book. It’s just, it’s so special. I’m holding it in my hands right now. And this is an interesting story for me because … this book, I read it before, but I didn’t own my own copy. So, I knew about this book, I read it before, and I actually had two students of mine that came on a retreat in 2012 that gifted me this book when they left. Jessica and Alex, I don’t know if you guys are listening. It’s just having this book … Being gifted this book completely helped change my life. So, I had read it before, but not my own copy. I actually don’t know whose copy I read before that, but I didn’t have my own at home.
[020:15] Ram Dass is … I will listen to his talks, like, you can find them on YouTube, just literally, you don’t have to be picky or selective, just listen to anything the man says. I can listen to his two and a half hour talks, like, before I go to bed, I’ll fall asleep with his voice in my ears. If I’m feeling stressed or anxious, or if I’m having trouble sleeping, he’s just so genuine. He’s … I love him! So much! (laugh) Yeah, I’m at a loss for words because of the love I feel for him and his teachings and his big, big heart.
[020:57] Be Here Now is an interesting book. The book is divided into three parts. The first part is, what he calls is the “least significant part,” but it’s really interesting to hear. His life story is absolutely amazing. He was a professor at Harvard, a very successful academic, had tenure at Harvard, and a lot of professors underneath him. Was just very successful in the academic world. And always sort of felt like he … like things haven’t quite clicked, for him, so to speak. The 70s came along and he started experimenting with psychedelics, so with different variations and forms of LSD, and had, I think it was his first LSD experience, he had a massive awakening while high. Complete awakening where he realized his purpose in the universe, oneness, that we’re all one, it’s all love, this beautiful awakening. And then, of course, as the case is with drugs, psychedelics, is when the high is over you come down. And coming down was this very, very hard moment for him. Having found god, having found enlightenment whilst on this drug.
[022:14] He started immersing himself in actual … conducting clinical studies on the effects of LSD and the human brain. Looking for enlightenment, looking for that high, but for it to become permanent. And, of course, because that’s not how life works, always ended up coming down. Always ended up coming down. And after, I don’t know how long, a decade maybe? A long, long time of being very immersed in this world of psychedelics … gave up! Realized, “Okay, this is just not the way to enlightenment,” and no matter how much he took or how much he meditated while on the drug, or how long, how many days in a row that he continued. He would always come down.
[023:02] So, at the end of all of that, he ended up embarking on a trip to India with a friend of is, I can’t remember who that friend was. And while he was in India met a man who introduced him to his guru, the man who would become his guru, Maharaji. The story is just, it’s beautiful. You have to read it yourself, but his moment of enlightenment was meeting with this guru at the foothill of the Himalayas, this big man that was just kind of worshipped by the whole village, and people would come from afar to see him. He was so skeptical, very skeptical. Like, “Who is this guy? This seems bull shit. Why are they all worshipping him?” And had a massive moment of awakening when this guru knew all of the really personal details of his own life without of course having any way of knowing.
[023:58] There’s a talk, the talk is … I’m blanking on the name. The talk is, “Here We All Are.” It tells the same story, it’s just a talk of him sharing the same story as the first piece of Be Here Now, in his own words. I actually love hearing him tell this story more than I love reading it in the book. So, if you’re just interested in hearing his life story, it’s really entertaining and really quite remarkable. You can listen to it on YouTube right now.
[024:21] The second part of the book, which is the meatier part of the book, is From Bindu to Ojas. You have to turn the book around, so you’re not reading the book like a normal book anymore. The book is written vertically, like, you turn the book around. And it has different colored pages, and it has really beautiful hand-drawn artwork. It’s meant to … it’s meant to open your heart and quiet your mind. So, you can kind of turn the book around, open it at any page, like any page, like I’m just going to do that right now. (laugh) So, I’m just opening the book at total random right now. Be Here Now, Ram Dass, the middle part of the book. This has, the drawings are so beautiful, I can just sit and stare at the drawings. But, okay, this page at random goes like this, “Nobody is going anywhere. Nobody is coming from anywhere. We’re all here. We’re all here in eternal time and space. We’re always going to be here. We’re just doing [lila rasa] the divine dance, we’re dancing, and dancing, and dancing. Dance after dance in one body. In another body. And we’re all here, we’re all staying right here.”
[025:47] I get goose bumps because … I just, I love it so much. It’s just a really special book. And I love that it’s one of those books, like, you don’t have to read it from the beginning. Just pick it up, open it anywhere, and just take a moment to digest the page that you’ve opened.
[026:08] The third part of the book is called, “Cookbook for a Sacred Life.” Cookbook for a Sacred Life is Ram Dass’ actual tools and suggestions. Everything from how to take care of your body, how to meditate, yoga poses to practice, what to eat, what to put into your system, mantras, and just actual, like, a cookbook for a sacred life! Instead of the chapters and everything, it actually says in the beginning, it says, “Ingredients,” and you can kind of … Okay, what are the ingredients that I need for a sacred life?
[026:48] This book, yes, yes yes yes yes. It’s up there. Read it right now. What’s so beautiful about all of this, if you don’t have any of these books at home or the ability to read right here and now, but one of them is pulling at your heart strings, Be Here Now always pulls at my heart but I don’t walk around with that book everywhere I go … YouTube, it’s amazing! It’s amazing. You can find so much. Sometimes, like, listening to this spiritual masters speak can be really powerful. So Ram Dass, I mean, any of his talks, just listen right now. I’m hoping that … I’m really scared that he’s going to die soon. Hopefully he’ll live an even longer life, but I mean, the man is 87 years old, he’s in a wheelchair, he had a stroke … I really, really, really want to see him in person before, yeah, before it’s too late. He lives in Maui, and I’m hoping to go! I’m trying to plan a trip with Dennis, it’s just something that I feel really urgently. So yeah, more about that if that actually happens. But Ram Dass, Be Here Now, read it!
[029:13] So, the third book that I’m going to talk about is another favorite. This one, however, brings up a totally different feeling in my body when I hold it, because it’s a book that I come to only in extremely challenging times. So if, you know, Power of Now brings me peace of mind, Be Here Now just opens my heart, this book is a book … yeah, a book to come to in serious times of need and struggle. It sort of brings me this … not unsettling feeling in my belly, but it reminds me of the challenges that I’ve been through, the moments that I’ve held this book in my hands.
[030:03] The books is “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times” by Pema Chodron. I mean, you can tell by the title, When Things Fall Apart. It is a book that I highly recommend for anyone moving through grief, for anyone moving through death of a loved one. It’s … so Pema Chodron, I hope I’m pronouncing her last name right. God. I always thought it was Pema Cho-DRON, but I think it’s CHO-dron. So, she’s a Buddhist nun, and a really beautiful human being. Similar to this, I mean, she’s written several books, and her teachings are always the same, it’s to lean in to the suffering, which is a really kind of radical idea. So when we’re moving through something really heavy, something really difficult, our tendency is always to escape, right? How can I move away from pain? How can I be done with the sadness? When is this grief going to be over? And her teachings, I mean, they so align with my own knowing of what works, at least what works for me, is to sit with pain. So, to lean into suffering. So when we’re moving through grief, the death of a loved one, or separation, or a struggle of any kind, rather than “How can I escape it and immediately find my way back to happiness,” the question should be, “How can I allow myself to sit with this pain and let it burn?” So, knowing that our emotions arise when they do because they’re meant to be felt, right? Every time we avoid an emotion or we avoid pain, it’s going to come back and it’s going to come back stronger, at a later time. The body might accumulate the tension that we hold, the tension that kind of is created by not releasing the emotion, right? By sitting on the pain or the darkness, or whatever it is that we’re going through. So, the idea is that by sitting with pain, it transforms us. Eventually when we experience that pain enough, we’ve sat with those emotions enough, it will become transformed, and we will find that place of genuine happiness again, so that the only way out is through, not around.
[032:36] It’s a really good introduction to learning how to deal with our emotions, to learning how to sit with pain, and also recognizing the behavior that we already have in terms of how we always want to, you know, we wriggle around with discomfort whenever any sort of pain arrives, we don’t want to sit with it. This goes for little day to day stuff, also, not just big life-changing things like death and grief. Whenever we find ourselves in a place of discomfort in daily life, we try to immediately shift around and like, “Okay, wait I’ve got to be happy again. I’ve gotta be happy, I’ve gotta be comfortable, I’ve gotta be …” You know, so we’re constantly jumping around, never really settled and still with whatever the moment has brought us. So, the practice of, “Okay, here is [whatever it is], here is jealousy. I’m experiencing jealousy right now. Interesting. Alright, can I allow myself to sit with that? Maybe contemplate where it comes from, feeling that sensation and that emotion and how it sits with me and how it’s mine and not someone else’s. Rather than react or act out from that place, letting that emotion sort of lead the way.” And whatever that is, if sadness comes, we don’t always need a massive reason to be sad, sometimes sadness just arrives. How can I allow myself to let sadness be present for as long as it needs to? And there’s always that scary feeling, I think, in the back of our minds of, you know, it’s not comfortable to be sad. We want to be happy all of the time, but that’s just not how life works. If we were happy and ecstatic all the time, we would be completely manic. Life would be really, I think, unbearable with this manic idea of happiness. That’s not what life is meant to be. There is beauty to sadness, there’s a softness to sadness, a vulnerability to sadness that’s really beautiful, and that we need. So, when sadness comes, can I allow myself to feel that? Can I sit with that and not get so caught up in the thoughts about what has happened, or the thoughts of how I should feel, or what things should be like, but just recognize that sadness is here, and if I feel the urge to cry, then cry, right? If sadness is here, let myself feel sad, trusting that by immersing myself in that place of what’s here and now, it’s all going to pass, right? This too shall pass. Everything eventually passes. And I find from my own personal experience that the more we immerse ourselves in whatever is here this moment, the faster it passes, right? Especially those challenging moments.
[035:29] So, whenever we try to avoid and work ourselves around the pain, it’s still going to be there. It might translate as this sort of lingering feeling of discomfort that’s present for years, for most of our lives, this feeling of not feeling settled or feeling a little bit anxious all the time rather than, you know, if something big has come my way, can I sit and immerse myself in a wave of grief? And then after that, the happiness and the light that comes will be really genuine and longer lasting. At least that’s what I find.
[036:03] So, this book, Pema Chodron, it’s Heart Advice for Difficult Times, and it’s so true. So, yeah, I almost feel a little bit sad that when I hold this book I feel, like … as I said, I keep little keepsakes of things in all of my books. I’m going to see what falls out of this one. … Okay, so I have a newspaper clipping (laugh). This is actually funny. It’s a little newspaper clipping that I’ve torn out of a newspaper. It’s Bizarro, the comic, and it’s a woman holding a giant bear trying to enter some sort of, I think, post office, and the bear has a harness or a vest that says, “Service Animal, Do Not Pet.” And the woman says, “But he calms my anxiety.” (laugh) I think that was funny that that’s in this book.
[037:07] There’s about, I think, four or five little letters from students. I can tell that I brought this book with me to Thailand, 2015. That was the month of my mom’s latest suicide attempt. I remember I had this book with me already when that happened because I was reading it because I was moving through a lot of grief already. And then I had this book there when that happened with my mom. So it was kind of like this lifeline. So there was lots of little notes of gratitude and things from students that I had at a retreat that year. And then there’s a note. It’s like an angel card, I guess, with a quote, I don’t know where this comes from, and it says, “I trust that the universe gives me exactly what I need and exactly the right time. Everything works out perfectly.” [Deep Breath]
[038:01] And then I open the book a little bit further and there’s a picture of my best friend in crow pose. It’s just, it’s just … mmm. It’s hard for me to hold this book. You know, this is also true that the things that we hold onto in hard times, they tend to sort of take on that energy. So, I think that’s why I don’t come back to this book unless I am moving through something. But I’m holding it now, I get the feeling that it’s time to read it again, maybe read it when I’m in a good place. Will pick up different, I mean, we always pick up different messages and different pieces of wisdom depending on the space we are already in. So I think I’ll be re-reading this book this week. But, When Things Fall Apart, it’s an amazing read, if you’re going through a hard time, read it.
[038:57] Okay, and now I’m going to cry. So, I was just going to open a page so I could read you a quote from this book, and on the front page, of course, I’ve forgotten who gave me this book, of course, of course. It’s inscribed in calligraphy, it’s beautiful, and it says, “For Rachel, in honor of your dear friend and love. Waylon. Wedding Week, 2014, Sweden.” My dear friend Waylon Lewis, of course Pema Chodron is a student of Waylon’s own … I don’t know if Waylon, would you say that Trungpa is a guru of yours? I don’t know. But definitely his teacher. So … How could I forget that? Probably because it was a really, really shitty time in my life. But Waylon Lewis, if you don’t know him, he’s the founder of ElephantJournal.com, an amazing human being, and helped change my life by placing this book in my hands.
[040:04] Quote from this book. So, I’m going to read a piece that I have underlined and put little hearts and stars around. So, this paragraph, at one point in my life, meant a lot to me. It goes, “The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering, it does not mean that something is wrong. What a relief. Finally, someone told the truth. Suffering is part of life, and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move. In reality, however, when we feel suffering, we think that something is wrong. And as long as we’re addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up, or change it somehow. We continue to suffer a lot.” When we feel suffering, it does not mean that something is wrong. That is a relief, right? If suffering means that something is wrong, it means that it’s on us to change it, all the time, to always change sadness to happiness and fear to love and pain to joy. Suffering doesn’t mean that anything is wrong, it’s just a part of life. Sometimes we suffer, and when it’s done it’s done. And then we’ll suffer again.
[041:26] She also writes, “In a non-theistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation and the beginning of the beginning. You could even put ‘Abandon Hope’ on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like, ‘Every Day in Every Way I’m Getting Better and Better.” (laugh) “Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something. They come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold onto hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, and that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world. Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do. We could smell that piece of shit. We could feel it. What is its texture? It’s color? It’s shape? We can explore the nature of that piece of shit. We can know the nature of dislike, of shame, and embarrassment, and not believe there is something wrong with that. We can drop the fundamental hope that there is a better me who one day will emerge. We can’t just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It’s better to take a straight look at all of our hopes and fears, then some kind of confidence in our basic sanity arises.”
[042:53] [Deep Breath] So good, so good. So good.
[044:34] Okay, the next book I’m going to share, and I’m going to change up the order, a little bit of this. I know already by now I’m not going to get through my 20 books, but I want to touch on at least one or two books that are really specific to the yoga practice. So, the books that I’ve shared so far, Power of Now, Be Here Now, and When Things Fall Apart, they’re definitely very spiritual books, not super related to our traditional practice of yoga. Of course they are, in many ways, but I think when people are asking for yoga books, you would also like a book that speaks on Asana practice.
[045:11] My number one book on Asana is “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness,” by Erich Schiffmann. This book … honestly, it’s the first book I ever read on yoga. My first book that I ever read on specifically yoga. I don’t know if that’s why this book is still sticking with me after all of these years. Actually, I bought this book not super long ago because I never had … I had a book not gifted to me, but borrowed, from a woman that I worked with, actually, in Aruba, a really long time ago. And then I gave the book back, and then the book was at this kind of public café place, and I would … I mean, this was a decade ago. I would go back to this book again and again and again. And then I did something that I probably should not admit to on a very public podcast, but I took the book and I copied (laugh) the pages, on like a copy machine. So, for a long time, I read a version – Erich Schiffmann if you’re listening, I’m super sorry. I promise you I recommend this book to a lot of people. I hope many people have bought this book because of my recommendation, so I’m very sorry that I copied this book through a frickin’ machine when I was like 21 years old. If you’re listening, don’t do that. Super uncool. I just was living on this island, there was no bookstore here, I had no way of getting my hands on this book in a permanent way. So I copied the pages and for a long time I read this book from A4 pages that I had staples together. Which is, you know, not great. But it brought me a lot of clarity, when it comes to this practice. Now this is one of the books that I always recommend, it’s also at the top of our reading list for our Yoga Teacher Training.
[047:06] What speaks to me so much about how Erich talks about the yoga practice is that he has a really rare way of tying together the physical body with the heart of this practice, and with love. One of my favorite sections, he has a whole section on why to practice yoga. And this is like, if you’re a beginner to the practice or you’re contemplating practicing yoga, and you’ve heard it’s good for you, and people will tell you different things. They’ll say, “Yoga will make you flexible,” which is great, or “it’ll make you strong.” People say, “You can lose weight,” or, “You can do this, it’s fun,” you know, bring you peace of mind, meditation, there’s a lot of reasons as to why, and people will always tell you different things.
[047:53] He talks about the why, why should we practice yoga, in really intricate ways. He’ll break down … there’s a chapter that breaks down, like, yoga will give you balance, will give you strength, it will give you flexibility. The way he just speaks on it, it’s really easy to digest even though it’s fairly complex. Then, the beauty of this is, so he shares how these three things, balance, flexibility, and strength will ultimately heighten your sensitivity as a human being, meaning that through the practice of yoga we become more sensitive to everything around us. So, for instance, and a lot of you might have experienced this, I definitely did when I first found the practice, after a couple of months of practicing I just realized I didn’t want to eat certain things anymore. It wasn’t this major, hard decision of like, “Oh my god I’m going to change my diet and do this and drink less alcohol and eat less sugar because I should be doing that, because it’s healthier for me.” No! It was just a part of, like, an end result of becoming more in tune with the body because of this heightened sensitivity. So when I teach I call it listening to the body, becoming very aware and letting the body lead the way, knowing that at the end of the day, whoever is teaching a class, whoever your yoga teacher is, that teacher should be secondary, right? You are your first teacher. You are the only one who truly knows your body. And when we cultivate this listening, this inner awareness of, okay, so what does it feel like to be in this pose, right? What does this shape feel like for me, this transition, this flow, this breath, and what do I need in this moment? What do I genuinely need? Do I need to deepen something here; do I need to back off? Do I need to modify? Do I need to invite more space? More breath? How can I settle in a place even if it’s bringing me some discomfort? So, similar, it kind of ties back to When Things Fall Apart, the book I just spoke about, we do practice that in our Asana practice all the time, the art of seeking out discomfort, finding that discomfort, and then choosing to stick around. That’s what yoga is, it’s sort of insane! We’re all kind of crazy. But we do that again and again. We find these poses that might feel tense and might bring us discomfort and like, “I’m so tight here, this is really … It’s hard to be here.” Like, yoga is not easy. But we don’t escape it, right? If we only did the poses that feel really great all the time and butterflies and rainbows and everything is easy, we would never advance in our practice. We would never really get anywhere. So it’s going to come back to finding those places of discomfort, and because we choose to stay, but not in a mindless way, it’s not like we’re forcing ourselves into places where we feel this immense pain and we force ourselves to go deeper and move toward injury, but it’s a very subtle listening of going, okay, discomfort is here. It’s not pushing me to pain, it’s not pushing me to injury, it’s not taking things too far. It’s not my ego pushing me to a place of I should advance in this pose, or I should do more crazy things with my body. No no no. It’s the absolute other way around. It’s cultivating this listening to the body, so you will know, right? You will know, it’s this inner knowing of, “This is a good place for me to stay in this pose,” if it’s a long hold, or whatever it is. Knowing that the more that we surrender and the more we lean into it and the more we let go, the more the body is going to open, which of course translates to the heart and the more emotional wounds, past pain will be able to release, because it might have been stuck in a pattern within the body, for example.
[051:38] So, what Erich Schiffmann talks about a lot is this heightened sensitivity, meaning that the yoga practice will eventually spill over from the realms of our mats into our day-to-day life. It might change our diet, it might change our health, meaning how we take care of ourselves, the things we choose to put into our bodies. It might change our relationships. That’s a really big one. We become more sensitive to all of life and we become more aware of, okay, wait, is this relationship, is it doing me good? Is it bringing me energy? Am I in a relationship that drains me again and again, when I’m the only one giving, but I’m not getting anything in return. Is it genuine? Is it authentic? Is there real love here? Suddenly things might start to fall away because of this sensitivity.
[052:24] The chapter that follows that is that all of the sensitivity that we cultivate through the practice eventually, inevitably leads us to love. And I just love that. He’s able to take the body, to take Asana and Pranayama and the breath work and just really specific ways in which we move and how the poses work, and translate that to love, which was, for me, the reason I come back to this book again and again. The reason I really … I’ll read from this book out loud in our trainings. And it’s old … It’s not that old. I think it’s from 2000, 2001, which I guess is almost 20 years! I guess it’s … you know (laugh). Does that mean I am old? Like, hello, no.
[053:10] In addition to that, it also breaks down what he considers the fundamental poses. I do not necessarily agree with … if you get really nit-picky in terms of the Asana portion of the breakdown of the poses and alignment and all of that, I teach fairly differently from that. So just take what sticks and what feels right. If you cultivate that listening within you, also when you pick up a book and a book tells you something, you will intuitively know what’s going to work for you. You’ll know something is truth and something as, you know, maybe something else. Something that just isn’t resonating with where you are in life right now. I think when I read this book the first time, because I was just such a beginner. I was copying these pages because I just loved the book so much, but I didn’t have it, I didn’t own it. I read the Asana portion of breakdown of poses and things, and I took it as law. Like, oh my god. Because when we begin, we start out with the practice, we tend to look at everything as black or white. What are we supposed to do? What are we not supposed to do? What’s a lot? What’s not a lot? What’s good, what’s bad? And I’ve learned from a decade of teaching that that’s just very rarely the case. Most of life is just one big gray area. Whenever I hear any teachers say it’s black or white, it’s my way or the highway, this is the only truth, this is fact, I get really wary, you know? Because I think a good teacher should not just … you know, shouldn’t just drill something in as black or white into their students’ minds, like do this, don’t do that, but rather cultivate this critical thinking of, okay, here is how I do it, from my experience, because I’ve come to learn that this feels good for me, right? Or that this works for the majority of my students. But do your own critical thinking. What feels good and what works for you?
[055:02] So, the way my teaching and my own practice has progressed in the ten years since I first read this book, not all the alignment of the poses fits for my practice anymore. But definitely the first part of the book, first half of the book that talks about why we should practice yoga, and sort of the intricate workings of the inner body and the internal body is super on point, super super super beautiful. It’s a really great read, really really really great read. And if you’re looking for basic tips of alignment and things like that, it’s also a really good book. So, read it, if you’re looking for a yoga book, read it.
[055:44] I’m going to read you a quote. Okay, I’m going to read you the part on love. So, the previous chapters he’s spoken about Strength, Flexibility and Balance, and then how this helps increase our sensitivity and self-trust. And here comes the first paragraph on love: “All of this becomes especially interesting as you notice how thoroughly your life is shaped by your thoughts and the way you interpret what’s going on. Every thought, feeling, and emotion manifests in one form or another in your body and in your life. As you become more sensitive to the inner feeling of who you are, you will notice this with surprising clarity. You will also learn a very simple truth; loving thoughts feel good, and unloving thoughts feel bad. Unloving thoughts are like self-inflicted poison darts, whereas loving thoughts are the natural response to reality when it is clearly perceived. This simple understanding will initiate a natural change of mind that will culminate in the primary and most important theme of yoga, learning to love and be loved. You will gladly allow the energy of love to circulate freely through you once you start feeling it. You will no longer be so afraid of love, at war with love, because it will feel so much better to be loving than not. In this way you will gradually become the conduit for love to shine through, unobstructed, undilated, pure, and perfect.”
[057:15] So that’s Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann.
[058:56] Next book I’m going to share with you I actually cannot find in my house! (laugh) Sharing this here because if there’s a friend or a family member who has casually borrowed this book and forgot to return it, I need it badly. The book I’m going to talk about next is Oneness by Rasha. This book is … it’s, okay, actually I was debating whether or not I should put it on the list even though it is one of those books that really helped change something in my life. It’s a book that I gravitate toward, like, all the time. Sometimes I’ll go to my bookshelves and I’ll just hold my hand over it and I’ll just see, “Okay, what feels like right now.” This book is one of those books that just continuously ends up in my lap again and again and again. And it’s really funny because I had, I cannot remember… Someone, when I first, before I ever read it, this was five, six years ago maybe, maybe more. Maybe seven, eight. People were talking about this book around me a lot. Oneness, by Rasha. I had heard about it. Someone when I lived in Costa Rica mentioned it. It was kind of this intentional community where I spent a lot of time, and they were passing this book around, and I just like, “Eh,” you know, I never felt that drawn to it. But people were just talking about it a lot.
[060:18] Then I went somewhere else, I went to the States to visit friends, and someone there was talking about this book. And you know if you’re in a space where you just hear a book mentioned a lot around you in different circles, that’s a really good sign that it’s time, you’re supposed to read that book. So whenever that happens to me, normally I’ll seek that book out. I’ll be like, “Okay, everybody is talking about this book, it means that there’s something in me that’s aligned with the teachings of that book.” So I’ll, you know, go to a bookstore and buy it, seek it out, just decide I’m going to read this book.
[060:48] The Oneness book was one of those books, but for some reason I never sought it out. I never went to buy it, I never asked one of my friends, “Hey, can I have your copy, or can I borrow it? I’ll give it back.” I just didn’t do that. So I had all of those people, different people in different circles, which was important then. Not just the same people in the same circle, like, if all of my yoga friends were like, “You have to read Oneness by Rasha,” I’d be like, okay, all my hippy friends like this book. But then I had other circles where people just were totally different that also were completely blown away by the book, so I really knew, okay, it’s a real thing. I can trust it.
[061:25] Then it was me and one of my best friends, Jessica, we embarked on this yoga tour that we did together, I think 2012 or 2013, around the States. I taught a class, I cannot remember for the life of me … Oh yeah, Santa Fe. We were in Santa Fe, Arizona, which is a beautiful place. I taught a class and at the end of that class a student walked up to me, she was like, “Hey, I just want to give you a little recommendation, I don’t know. You’ve probably read this book already, but I just read Oneness by Rasha, it’s amazing. I really suggest you read it.” And I was like, “Oh my god, okay. That’s it.” She was like the 10th person in a pretty short time to talk about this book. So I was like, “Yeah yeah yeah, oh my god. I know I have to read it. I’m going to go buy it, I’m going to find a bookstore, I’m going to go get it, for sure, thank you thank you for sharing that with me.” From there we went straight to the hotel that we had booked online, we were going to stay just one night at a hotel. We were … it was like a 36 city tour that we were doing, going from yoga studio to yoga studio, and Dennis was with me for some of us. It was the time that we got Ringo, actually, we got him on that tour. I had Ringo, he was a tiny little puppy, just a couple of months old, and we were driving this kind of crappy little car around the U.S., across so many states, it was really wild.
[062:41] Anytime we would book a hotel, we were totally flat broke, and we would try to find … There was no AirBNB then, at least I don’t think so. No, for sure, there was no AirBNB then. We would try to find quirky little places, either by recommendation, like someone would write us through Instagram, like, “Oh my god, there’s this really cool place, if you’re going to that city, you should stay there.” Sometimes random people from social media would invite us to stay at their house, we would do that. We stayed at this guy’s sailboat in San Diego. This guy that we’d never met who was like, “Yeah, I have a sailboat in the harbor, you can have it.” We were like, “Cool!” It was a really fun time. Then someone had recommended this really quirky, I don’t know, this special place that was supposed to be a cute little weird place to stay. So when we get there, and I remember the outside of this, it was like this little mini apartment/hotel that had maybe five apartments, or apartment-like rooms, and outside it was almost like an exhibition of just weirdness. It was super crazy. They had a whole wall that was covered in license plates and vintage stuff. From the outside it looked totally wild. We were going to go check in, and we hadn’t seen the space before, so we go inside, grab our bags, and I open the door to the reception, and literally the reception desk, the entire room of this reception, the lobby of this little mini hotel, was covered, floor to ceiling, with Oneness by Rasha. Like, hundreds and hundreds of copies of this book, Oneness by Rasha. Jessica, my friend Jessica, she didn’t know, we hadn’t talked about this book at all. My jaw just dropped to the floor, I was like, “What is this even!? How is that possible? The universe is like smacking me over the head with the fact that I have to read this book.” I asked the woman by the front desk, I was like, “Why are there so many …” It was like a shrine dedicated to this book. “Why are there hundreds of copies of this book?” There was a wall of just this book! She was like, “The woman who transcribed this book,” because Rasha is not … it doesn’t say that she’s the author of the book, but that she had dialogue with a universal presence, with divinity. She transcribed these principals for a new understanding of life. So it’s like she’s a medium of this divinity, and she just transcribed the book, she didn’t author the book. She apparently was a really close friend to the owner of this hotel, something like that. I think she was from there, I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know anything about this Rasha, because … has basically not taken credit for the book, at all. So it was just so interesting. So of course I bought a copy (laugh) immediately, bought a copy right away.
[065:42] And that copy has now disappeared from my house! I’m like, I know I read it a couple of months ago, like just a page of it, so it can’t be that far away, but yeah, if anyone has seen it, I’m going to go the studio and check it out also, because sometimes I bring books to the studio to share in class and stuff, I might have left it there.
[066:00] Anyway, that weird ass story aside, so, this book was transcribed, I think, 1998. It’s giving a new vision of the world. A new vision of who we really are and where we are headed. So, it’s written in this specific type of voice that just allows for a little bit of peeling away of layers of harshness, that peels away layers of ego, that Inner Critic, just reading this book, it will immediately put your Inner Best Friend in the front seat. It’s written in a really personal way, but it’s … Yeah, I honestly, I don’t know how … It’s just a book filled with spiritual teachings and metaphysical concepts and ways of change … It talks about Oneness, our oneness with the universe, as a whole, and that we’re all divine. It’s just one massive tool of transformation. Kind of like … Kind of like a map to enlightenment, in a way. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s just a very special book, that’s all I can say. Very, very, very special book.
[067:20] I’m going to read a quote from it right now: “The opportunity for you now is to breathe new life into the blessed creation of the self, through heart-centered focus. Then, to stand back and allow that identity, the scope of full expression, without the influence of past beliefs, feelings of limitation, or any of the dogmas you have accumulated in your travels.” [Deep Breath]
[067:53] Alright, for my next book, I actually … I have so many books by this person. I actually didn’t know what to pick. I didn’t want to pick five different books by the same author or the same spiritual teacher. So, I’m going to share three of my favorite books from the same spiritual guide, but really anything here is going to be good. I’m going to talk about Osho for a minute. Baghwan. I know there’s a lot of stuff and controversy in the air right now after Netflix released Wild, Wild Country. Wild, Wild Country is a wild, wild ride that describes The Farm, this ashram that was created by Osho’s disciples in Oregon long ago. So, Osho was, I mean, he’s passed away now. I talk about him all the time. I practice his meditations every single week. We do that dynamic meditations, it’s an Osho meditation, we do them in all of our teacher trainings, we do them once a week at the studio. It’s super transformational, and I have taken part of many Osho-based spiritual therapy groups that have completely helped change my life. Oh my god, more than any one book, the groups that I have attended and the retreats that I have done, yeah, it’s everything.
[069:20] Path of Love, I talk about all the time. It doesn’t have anything to do with Osho, these groups, you’re not worshipping him. The beauty of Osho’s teaching is that there’s no guru. There’s no one on a pedestal. He says, “Anyone on a pedestal is pretending,” so you don’t bow to any single religion or person or teacher at all. But Osho was completely against any sort of institutionalized religion, any institution. Government, religion. Even the institution of family, which is of course a very controversial and radical idea. But this Netflix documentary, a lot of it is true, and it was totally wild and crazy, but it doesn’t speak anything on Osho’s teachings, which I found really sad. So, if you’re skeptical or just kind of wondering who this Osho person was, just pick up a book, that’s just my first and foremost recommendation. Just pick up a book. Read anything that he has said. You can go on YouTube; you can listen to his discourses or talks. It’s all surrounded around unconditional love. All of his teachings are on love. It’s just all about love. It’s really hard to read, it’s similar to reading anything that Ram Dass says or Eckhart Tolle says, you’ll read it, and at least for me it resonates as Truth.
[070:44] So, Osho actually, he didn’t write a single book, but they’re all transcribed from his talks and discourses and things like that. I have so many of these books, oh my god. He has a series of books that just talk on specific topics. There’s a book on courage, there’s a book on intimacy, there’s a book on joy, there’s a book on creativity, there’s a book on family, there’s a book on … If you’re at a bookstore that’s pretty vast and that has a lot of these books, just pick one that really resonates with you. The one I’m holding in my hand right now is Joy, the book on Joy. So it’s, “Osho: Insights for a New Way of Living,” and the Joy book is, “The happiness that comes from within.” That’s one of my favorite ones. There’s one on maturity as well, one on awareness. The one on Intimacy is really, really, really beautiful. The one on joy is … remarkable. Just so, so good. And the one that I really like is Love, Freedom, Aloneness. It’s more on relationships, which is really good. I have another one that I like that’s just called Everyday Osho, so it’s like 365 chapters, 365 daily meditations for the here and now. Again, you can open one page per day for a whole year, or you can just open a page at random.
[072:14] I’m opening one that’s just totally random right now. 154, on judging. “Judging has to be dropped. It is an illness that will never allow you any peace. When you judge, you can never be in the present. You’re always comparing, always moving backward or forward, but never here and now. Because the here and now is simply there, it is neither good nor bad, and there’s no way to tell whether it is better, because there’s nothing with which to compare. It is simply there in all of its beauty. But the very idea to evaluate it has something of the ego in it. The ego is a great improver. It lives on improvement. It keeps torturing you. Improve, improve! And there is nothing to improve. Whenever a judgment comes, drop it then and there. Drop it. It’s a habit. Don’t torture yourself unnecessarily.”
[073:08] So, 365 Daily Meditations. My god, and I’m opening this … as with all of my books I just have random stuff that falls out of them. There’s a picture of me, I think I’m … how old am I here? I’m like a little baby! I don’t know, not a baby, maybe like 18 or something. Yeah, these books are beautiful. So when it comes to a book, like an Osho book, I would suggest … there’s so much to choose from, so much that has been transcribed from his talks. Pick one whose topic really resonates with you. And if you are skeptical, that’s totally okay, you should be … There’s a lot of wild stuff that went on, especially from his students and disciples and all of that stuff. But, you know, read a chapter of one of his books and your heart will settle because the teachers are absolutely beautiful.
[074:02] The next book I’m going to share, I actually have two books in my hand right now. I have, A Course in Miracles in one hand and I have A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson in the other hand. A Course in Miracles is, like, a monster of a book. It’s a big, big, big book, and it’s not an easy read. A Course in Miracles is also a book that was transcribed, so through a medium, and it’s just … I have to just see how many pages is this? Uh … There’s like 500 pages, but written in like 8 point and the pages are super thin. It reminds me of a bible, a little bit, and in many ways it absolutely is.
[074:58] A Course in Miracles, there are so many students of A Course in Miracles who have written their own translations and their own reflections of the teachings, making them a lot easier to digest. One of those people is Marianne Williamson who is … I’m sure you know who she is. Absolutely gorgeous ray of light of a human being. My favorite book of hers is “A Return to Love.” I talk about this book a lot. So, “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles.” If you’re interested in A Course In Miracles, I would read A Return to Love first. Picking up A Course in Miracles, starting to read it at random, it’s a lot. So, Marianne Williamson just breaks it down in a super, yeah, in a way that’s really easy to relate to. So, A Return to Love is her own insights on the practical applications of the teachings that have come out of A Course in Miracles, how they can improve our lives and provide us with answers when we need them.
[076:03] Every chapter is … is just different. So there’s a chapter on Surrender, there’s a chapter on Miracles, on Relationships, on Work, Body … It is a book that you can kind of pick up and start, you know, you can open a chapter where you feel resonates with you, or you can read it just cover to cover. I come back to this book again and again. The copy that I have is so faded, you can just barely see the front cover anymore. Marianne Williamson is also, she’s an activist, she’s a person that, I find, a lot of these spiritual teachers and guides that I’ve talked about so far are a little bit inaccessible. Like, you can go hear Marianne Williamson speak. I think every week in L.A. she speaks. She’s an activist, she’s super active in fighting injustice in different forms, and you can relate to her in a really solid way. So I would definitely recommend reading her books. You can follow her on Instagram, listen to her talks. She’s a powerful woman (laugh), and whenever I’m kind of in the need of not just a little divine pick me up, but when I feel small … when I feel small as a woman, when I feel disempowered for any reason, she’s just a person that hearing her speak for ten minutes just brings me so much energy and power. Also, there’s so much truth in this book that’s just … hits me in the heart, almost in the gut. Always in the right place at the right time.
[077:43] Here’s a quote, I just opened the book at random. At least to me, I know when I have a book that just speaks Truth, complete truth, when I can open almost any page in the book and find something that resonates with me right away. You don’t have to look for the teachings, it’s just the teachings will find you. Here it goes: “God exists in eternity. The only point where eternity meets time is in the present. The present is the only time there is. A miracle is a shift in thinking from what we might have done in the past, or should be doing in the future. To what we feel free to do right here, right now. A miracle is a release from internal bondage. Our capacity for brilliance is equal to our capacity to forget the past and forget the future. That’s why little children are brilliant. They don’t remember the past, and they don’t relate to the future. Be us as little children, that the world might finally grow up.”
[078:45] Alright, the stack of books in front of me is definitely shrinking. I have four books in front of me right now that relate specifically to the yoga practice. As you can tell, so, my passion for these books, most of them are not on yoga asana. Asana for me is just a really small tool, and it’s limited. For me the books that really open my heart, my soul, that change something, they’re going to be books that are more centered around spirituality and less on the physical body. But I have another, yeah, there’s four books in front of me that have played a big part in my own practice and in my own teaching. Due to time I’m not going to dissect them completely.
[079:30] One of them is “Yoga Mind, Body, and Spirit,” by Donna Farhi. That was the first book I read when I became a yoga teacher. It’s just, again, I mean, it’s … it’s just beautiful. It really just is beautiful. It’s a really good book for the fundamentals, the basics of the practice. She also breaks down asana, she shows different ways you can modify props and support and equipment that you need for the practice. She talks about the inner workings, she talks about alignment. It’s a return to wholeness for students of all levels and traditions. When I just started teaching this book was really helpful for me. Also in terms of learning how to cue a little bit better. And also learning how and when to use different types of cues, different mudras, and I think this was the first book that I really … I think this book actually helped me learn the basic poses in Sanskrit, actually. I think that was this book. It’s really easy to digest, easy to work with, and I just, I love Donna. We talk, actually, recent months we’ve been talking a lot because of the #MeToo movement in yoga. So I have a little bit of a personal relationship with her as well. But it’s just, it’s a really good book for yoga basics.
[081:02] She also dives into the principals of movement. Again, that inner listening of how we are the ones who are our own teachers, right? So we can take all of these learnings and tips and cues. At the end of the day, we have to stay present with where we are in the here and now, and Donna just breaks on the practice in a really accessible way. So, Yoga Mind, Body, Spirit, great book.
[081:27] Another book that I have to mention, I’m going to mention two right at the same time. So, “Light on Yoga” by Iyengar, B. K. S. Iyengar, and “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. Both, like, Autobiography of a Yogi is a great read. This is one of the few old school books that, like, I took this book to the beach. When I first got it, it was gifted to me by … I cannot remember who. I really should remember who gifts be books more. In Costa Rica, I read this book, remember, on the beach. I was living in a little shack. I was not a teacher yet, I was just super into the practice. It’s a really inspiring and captivating read, and it’s sort of like a staple in the yoga world.
[082:11] And Light on Yoga by Iyengar also. You will find this book on any reading list for any teacher training. It’s sort of known as the Bible for yogis. The book is full of photos talking about the postures and teaching you how to breathe. It’s just a really full guide into the teachings and the workings of yoga. For me, Light on Yoga is a little bit hard to digest. Like, it always has been. I remember the first time I read the book, I’m going to be super honest, I have read Light on Yoga cover to cover one time. It’s not a book that I pick up again and again to read in its fullness. However, I would go to the index and I would find specific poses that I wanted to learn more about, or specific breathing exercises that I felt like I hadn’t fully understood. It’s a really good book for if you’re looking for specific knowledge. It breaks down, like, every single pose, from A to Z. It’s not an easy read. I remember when I read this book, I mean the first time, I think this was probably my first year of teaching where I was like, “I have to have read this book, because everyone says this is The Bible of yoga,” you know, it’s quite hard to digest. I, still to this day, I’ll go to the Index, or to the Appendix, and I’ll choose something that I’m specifically looking to learn a little bit more about. We spoke about this the last podcast we did with Lara Heimann. There’s a lot of alignment stuff in terms of the old school teachings that I don’t resonate with at all anymore. A lot of that shows up in this book. So, let your body be your first teacher. It’s a good book to have, specifically for if you’re looking for specific terms and knowledge. It’s also where we come from, right? So, having read this book, it gives a really good look into where yoga was and the tradition of yoga, and also noticing the change and how it’s brought us to today’s world. It is a staple, but it doesn’t pull on my heartstrings or anything like that, but it’s sort of, like, a must read.
[084:24] I’m going to finish. Actually, Dennis was like, “Uh, are you going to talk about Yoga Girl?” So, in case you didn’t know, I wrote a book. It’s called “Yoga Girl.” Oh my god, I hear my baby downstairs which maybe means that you can hear her too. If you’ve read my book, that just makes me so happy and super grateful. The book that I wrote, I mean, it’s my first book. My second book is coming out next year, which is super exciting. Yoga Girl talks about my story. If you listen to this podcast, chances are that you have heard my story, even shared in more depth. I’ve also included my favorite recipes and some yoga sequences and poses that I find foundational to my own practice and my own teaching. A lot of people tell me that it was the first book that they ever picked up in terms of yoga and that it was really easily transition into the practice. I had just my pearls of wisdom and moments of epiphanies that I’ve had. There’s also fun pictures of Me and Dennis in the book. And I share some struggles and hardships and how it brought me to the practice, and the lessons that came from that. So, of course I have to mention my own book if I’m going to mention all my yoga staples.
[085:46] The final book that I’m going to touch on, and this is … This makes me smile. Holding this book in my hand just puts a huge smile on my face. It’s “Rumi: The Book of Love,” and it’s the translation by Coleman Barks. Rumi, I’m sure you know, Rumi … I feel like people are just like butchering (laugh) this poor man’s words. Rumi has become the staple of the Instagram person sharing an inspirational quote, which sucks, because it’s just a lot of the substance of the pure genius of Rumi’s heart is totally lost in social media. If you’re intrigued by Rumi’s work, get a book. Just pick up a book. Coleman Barkes, I think, is one of the people who translates so, so, so, so well. So, Rumi was a mystic and a poem … a Sufi … A poem? He wasn’t a poem, he was a poet. But a Sufi mystic. And his poetry is just … I don’t know. There’s something, like, erotic. Not erotic. Sensual. There’s something so sensual about the love that he’s able to convey through words in his poetry. It’s beautiful, and “Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing.” Doesn’t just the title make you want to wish you held this book in your hands right now? It’s so unbelievably beautiful. I’ll sometimes open this book, I’ll read one poem and sit down for meditation. It’s just … It does something to you. Let’s see if I can pick up a page, just open a page at random.
[087:45] I have goose bumps now, let’s see here. “Quietness. Inside this new love, die. Your way begins on the other side. Become the sky. Take an ax to the prison wall. Escape. Walk out, like someone suddenly born into color. Do it now. You’re covered with thick cloud. Slide out the side. Die, and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you’ve died. Your old life was a frantic running from silence. The speechless full moon comes out now.” [Deep Breath]
[088:49] I’m going to let Rumi be the last book that I share of this podcast recording. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll share in the description of this podcast just a list of every book that I’ve spoken of. Now, please share with me your own book recommendations. If there’s a book that you feel fit with this theme of the books I’ve shared so far, something that has completely changed your life, I’m always looking for new reads. So share them with me. Direct message me on Instagram or drop me a comment in the comment section. Super happy to … always looking for more, always looking for more. This is the path, this is the journey. But every book that I’ve shared today, I do come back to again and again. So, if one of them speaks to you, if you feel like you really resonate with something, just make that the thing that you do today. Go out and get that book and read it and watch your inner world change. Watch your heart open. Watch your mind quiet. [Deep Breath]
[090:00] Alright, my beautiful human beings, I’m going to share just a thing that I decided to do last week. If you’re listening to this podcast every single week, I’m going to start taking questions, maybe one question per week, per episode that I record. So, take a screenshot of you listening to this podcast, either a screenshot of the podcast app, or a photo of you listening, or a photo that has inspired you while you’ve listened, write a little caption, and then use the hashtag #YogaGirlPodcast. Then every week I scroll through the hashtags, I’ll pick someone at random, and I’m going to give you a call! Just a quick call on the phone, and you’ll get to ask me one big question that you want me to include in next week’s podcast episode. So, just one big question. Something that you want to know, a question that you’ve been sitting on, something you want to learn, and we’ll talk about that. So, I wanted to invite a new dimension of connecting with our community every podcast, because of how beautiful it was with the Inner Critic and having all of the girls on the show. So, take a screenshot of this podcast, post it to Instagram, use the hashtag #YogaGirlPodcast, and maybe I’ll give you a call this week.
[091:10] Thank you so much for listening. Next week, I’ll see you guys then!
[End of Episode]
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Parachute – parachutehome.com/yogagirl
Daily Harvest – daily-harvest.com (promo code YOGAGIRL)