Op-Ed Thinking of giving up red meat? Half measures may end up increasing animal suffering

18 Oct



4–week–old Leghorn chicks in Valley Center, CA. (Los Angeles Times)


Peter Singer and Karen Dawn

To animal protection advocates, a pledge to eat less meat is good news. Even a small step like Meatless Mondays is generally better than nothing. All too often, however, aspiring ethical eaters choose a favored animal or two to exclude from their diet, without actually reducing their total animal consumption. Despite good intentions, they may end up increasing animal suffering.

Many people, for example, swear off pigs and cows but continue to eat chickens and fish. Perhaps they categorize animals into those they eat and those they keep as pets; mammals, with their fur and their “windows to the soul” framed in long lashes, may seem more like the latter.

Replacing pigs and cows with birds and fish, though, usually leads to the slaughter of many more animals, because, with a few exceptions, birds and fish are smaller. If you were to eat a pound of beef a day — say a huge steak or four beef patties — you might take a year to consume a single animal. If you were instead to eat a daily pound of chicken or salmon, you might eat hundreds of animals per year.

Birds and fish are not demonstrably less sentient than mammals. People who have rescued turkeys report that when treated as pets they respond as such; they enjoy attention, affection and mental stimulation. Anybody who has spent real time with backyard hens knows that they have individual personalities. And while many of us were taught that fish have memories of only a few seconds, scientific experiments have shown that they can remember the location of a hole in a net many months after first learning about it. They can also recognize faces — one another’s and ours. Divers tell stories about, and have filmed themselves petting, friendly Groupers who swim up to them.

Few people are aware of the level of suffering experienced by a single bird or fish killed for human consumption, which is shocking even before that suffering is multiplied by the hundreds a person might eat in place of a cow or pig over the course of a year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture interprets the Federal Humane Slaughter Act as not covering birds. That means that 95% of land animals slaughtered for food in this country are excluded. They may have coverage under individual state laws, but that is far from sufficient. They are commonly thrown around, stuffed into shackles, and have their throats slit while conscious. When killing blades miss their necks, they are tossed alive into the scalding water of defeathering tanks. A recent Washington Post article reported that approximately 1 million turkeys and chickens are boiled to death every year.

While the differences between the nervous systems of fish and other animals has long been used as the basis for the argument that fish do not feel pain, recent experiments have left no doubt that they do. Fish who have irritants injected into their lips will rub their lips incessantly against their tank walls — unless those irritants are accompanied by pain relievers. So when a fish spends three days on a hook attached to the mile long line of a fishing vessel, that fish is probably spending three days in agony — and that’s before the fish is hauled onto a deck to die slowly of suffocation.

Marine mammal admirers may not know that dolphins, sea turtles and whales are killed by those fishing lines and caught in fishing nets. Further, the crisis of overfishing that depletes our oceans robs fish-eating animals of their food. Dead penguins wash up on coastlines, their bellies empty. When the fish are gone, the animals who depend on them cannot order tofu instead.

Crueler still than a diet that simply kills animals is one that also causes them egregious daily torment. In the U.S., most laying hens are still kept in battery cages, each hen crammed with four or five others in a space so small she is unable to stand up straight or spread her wings. She will live for at least a year in conditions worse than those that most of us find hard to handle on a five-hour flight across the country.

Though conditions are slightly better for hens in California, where traditional battery cages have been banned, the law does not require that hens be released from cages, only that the cages give them enough room to stand up and spread their wings. They may still live in stacks, showered by the excrement of the hens above them, and deprived of the ability to fulfill their natural instincts — to sunbathe, dustbathe and raise their young.

Even cage-free eggs generally come from hens who live in massive barns, choked by ammonia fumes.  Though hens raised on pasture, the highest welfare standard, enjoy better conditions, they produce a negligible percentage of eggs in the United States. As there are no federal laws regulating their slaughter, their lives can end in horror. “Spent hens” may be thrown live into ditches and buried by bulldozers.

We recognize that people may avoid red meat on environmental grounds. Research suggests that pound for pound chicken is responsible for less environmental degradation than beef. Though some people may snicker about the impact of methane, or “cow farts,” the warming potential of methane is 30 times that of carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, a diet that is responsible for hundreds of times more suffering is not made ethical by producing a lower level of greenhouse gas emissions.

Anybody who gives up red meat on environmental grounds should also consider the methane emissions of dairy, as well as its local pollution. California’s San Joaquin Valley, responsible for a fifth of the nation’s milk production, has some of the worst air quality in the country. And dairy has built-in suffering. Mammals do not give milk until they give birth. People who work in the dairy industry report that mother cows will bellow for days for calves who have been carted off to veal crates. Veal calves are the waste product of the dairy industry.

We understand that most people are not yet ready to eschew all animal products and embrace a vegan lifestyle. But while substituting one meat or animal product for another may do more harm than good, making half of your meals plant-based is a superb half-measure. It’s not hard. We aren’t the only ones who think that Just Mayo’s plant-based mayonnaise tastes just as good as Hellman’s regular. And last year, when Whole Foods mistakenly sold plant-based “chick’n” in its regular chicken salad, not a single customer complained.

Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and the author of “Animal Liberation.” A selection of his short essays “Ethics in the Real World,”  is out this month. Karen Dawn runs DawnWatch.com and is the author of “Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals.”

source http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-singer-dawn-vegetarian-half-measures-20161016-snap-story.html


Lady Ruth is Back in Geneva

12 Oct



We hope to see many of you!


love always,



sky-clad sadhus …

4 Oct



1 Oct img_3290

A blessed “black moon” and Blesssed Navaratri everyone

On this very auspicious day, the very knowledgeable Manorama shared this blog

Today the Durgā festival known as Navarātrí starts. This Fall, the festival dates are from Oct 10 to Oct 11.
This is a special time as it reflects the shift from a more outward movement of energy to a more inward movement. So take this time in your practice to start to pull in and feel more on an inner level.

Navaratri is a festival devoted to the goddess in all her aspects, especial Durgā Mātā. The goddess represents protection, benevolence and support and much more. When we sing her praises through chanting mantras, or when we meditate on her, we draw that protection, light and goodness into our lives.

If you feel drawn to participate this year here is a simple Durgā Pūjā you can do each day during the festival.

A Luminous Soul
Simple Goddess Pūjā
By Manorama

1. Purchase fresh flowers (red or white)

2. Purchase a fresh piece of fruit that you’ll make as an offering.

3. Clean your altar or sacred space.

4. If you have a Durgā murti (statue)
you can bathe her in buttermilk and fresh water. (Vegan option: Use coconut milk and fresh water).

5. Place fresh flowers in a vase and place near the murti.

6. Place your offering of fresh fruit near the murti.

7. Say this mantra 9 x’s:


I offer my respect to the goddess Durga, who is the force of protection, beneficence and luminous light.

8. Place a fresh tea light in a holder. Light the candle and place it in your right hand. Wave the candle clockwise 3 x’s around the image or murti of Durgā. (If you don’t have either a picture or statue of Durgā you can then wave the light in the same manner symbolically).

9. Sit quietly for 9 minutes and feel
the light within you.

*Note: in Pūjās everything that you offer or work with during the ceremony should not touch the floor, so be mindful of that.

Also do not use your cell phone at this time or become interrupted (unless there is a emergency to attend to). It is a quiet focused time where you are paying respect to the energy of the goddess and feeling her support and light.

Happy Blessed Navaratri Everyone!
May it be a time of healing and deepening into connectivity with the goddess and with your soul.

Love & Light,

The beautiful artwork is made by Nitya Pat Collom.

Copyright 2016 Manorama, Sanskrit Studies


Sharon Gannon in Berlin

5 Sep


Yogis, friends,

This is a unique opportunity to study with my guru, Sharon Gannon, the co-founder the jivamukti Yoga method. And Berlin (the most vegan friendly place in the world) is just next door.

I’ll be there, will you?

More details?

1.) Fri. 07.10.2016 11:15-13:45 @ Jivamukti Yoga Kreuzberg, Oranienstr. 25
2 hour JIVAMUKTI OPEN XL CLASS with Sharon Gannon
 followed by ca. 1/2 hour Satsang/Q+A

2.) Fri. 07.10.2016, 19:30-22:30 @ UCI KINOWELT Colosseum, Schönhauser Allee 123
“What is Real? The Story of Jivamukti Yoga” European and German Red Carpet Film Premiere Reception & Screening with vegan apéritifs, finger food by The JiVamukti Canteen and followed by Q&A with Sharon Gannon, Jules Febre + film director Jay Mac present

3.) Sat. 08.10.2016, 12:00-18:00 @ DELIGHT RENTAL STUDIOS, Saarbrücker Str. 37
JIVAMUKTI YOGA WORKSHOP DAY with Sharon Gannon + Jules Febre
(includes approx. 1 hour break at ca. 14:30).

4.) Sun. 09.10.2016, 17:00-19:00+19:30-20:30 @ JIVAMUKTI YOGA BERLIN (Mitte), Brunnenstr. 29
JIVAMUKTI OPEN XL CLASS with Jules Febre followed by Satsang also with Jules

WORKSHOP LANGUAGE: English. Participants should have a basic understanding of English as there will be no translation.

YOGA JOURNAL magazine has called her an innovator in yoga. VANITY FAIR gives her credit for making yoga cool and hip in the West. FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE praised her for having made yoga, for the first time ever, presentable to Western urban dwellers: 

Jivamukti Yoga Berlin feels so blessed to have Jivamukti co-founder Sharon Gannon back again so soon for a very special Jivamukti Yoga workshop weekend on occassion of the German and European premiere event of the new Jivamukti documentary “What is Real? The Story of Jivamukti Yoga”. These events are not to be missed and, as in the past when Sharon came to Berlin, we do expect a good amount of people from all over Europe for a very special celebration of the Jivamukti community here in Berlin.


On Friday morning, you can enjoy a rare chance to take a classic (yet slightly extended to 2 hours) Jivamukti Open XL class taught by the co-founder of the method. So we guess this could be called a Master class (not meaning it is only for masters, but just taught by a master in her field and still open for all). A rare chance to experience how a Jivamukti Open class is taught right from the source. After the asana practice, there will be a ca. 1 hour Satsang & Q+A.

For Friday evening, you have the chance to still get tickets for the European and German red carpet premiere of the new Jivamukti movie “What is real? The Story of Jivamukti Yoga” with Sharon Gannon, Jules Febre and the director Jay Mac present. For more information on this great movie check http://www.whatisrealmovie.com 

On Saturday, a Jivamukti Yoga workshop day from 12:00 until 18:00 with Sharon Gannon and Jules Febre will leave you blissed out and charged up with new knowledge. Expect new inspiring input on yoga asana taught the Jivamukti way but also new insights on the main philosophical aspects and yogic scriptures that Jivamukti Yoga is based on. But most of all, expect a vigorous asana practice as only Jivamukti Yoga can be. All of this direct from the source, the co-founder and main force behind Jivamukti Yoga: Sharon Gannon, accompanied by Jivamukti master teacher Jules Febre.

On Sunday, Sharon Gannon is off to Munich and Moscow, but we are extremely happy that Jules Febre will teach the 5pm Jivamukti Open XL class as well as the 7:30pm Satsang at our studio in Mitte to phase out the weekend nicely.

This is undoubtedly THE highlight of 2016 for all European Jivamukti Yoga practitioners and teachers (and those interested in becoming such) as well as yogis and teachers of all other styles and backgrounds of yoga. A very special opportunity to celebrate Jivamukti history on occasion of the movie premiere with the international European Jivamukti Yoga satsang. And a great chance to deepen your Asana practice, detoxify your body, heart and spirit, and to obtain a profound spiritual experience with the founder of this internationally recognized and practiced method of Hatha yoga.


Ready to sign up? Here (scroll down) http://jivamuktiberlin.de/events.html






4 Sep

09_Sept-Whats-the-UseFocus Of The Month – September, 2016

shariram surupam tatha va kalatram yashashcharu chitram dhanam merutulyam
manashchenna lagnam guroranghri-padme tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim

Even if you have good looks, a beautiful lover, great fame and mountains of money, if you are unable to bow at your teacher’s lotus feet—What is the use? What is the use? What is the use? What is the use?

Shri Adi Shankaracharya from Guru Ashtakam

Thousands of years ago, as a way to encourage his students to realize how precious their lives were, the Buddha invited them to imagine a vast and deep ocean with a golden life preserver floating on its surface. The Buddha then asked, “How rare would it be for a turtle living at the bottom of the ocean to peek her head for a breath through the middle of the golden life preserver just at the right moment?” In unison, the students answered, “Indeed, it would be very rare.”

Life is that rare and precious. It is so rare and precious that we wouldn’t want to waste it. This invitation to not let our lives go to waste is what this verse from the “Guru Ashtakam” is calling for. When chanting this verse, we embrace worldly life and the desires that accompany our human birth: a healthy body, a loving partner, heaps of money to cover our rent or mortgage and do the things we enjoy, a successful career, respect in our social circles, knowledge that is not only book-based but experience-based as well. This prayer gives us the permission to recognize and accept all of that without judgment or harshness, but it also comes with a warning.

If we always keep ourselves busy, acquiring and attaining all that comes and goes without being genuinely open to learn, to practice and to transform ourselves, what is the use of all we have acquired? Without our minds intent on “uplifting the lives of others,” as my dear teacher Sharon Gannon would say, and without allowing ourselves to be overcome with humility, devotion and a feeling of being part of something greater than ourselves—a lineage or a community to cherish and celebrate—then what is the use of all we have attained? What is the use—tatah kim?

We all lead very hectic lives. It can often feel like we are wandering aimlessly without a focus or purpose. The Sanskrit word samsara describes this feeling. It means “same agitation” lifetime after lifetime (sam means “same,” sara “agitation”). It’s a feeling of being stuck at the bottom of the ocean, in the lower realms of existence, not being able to see where we’re going. It is said that humility and devotion are like the two oars of the boat of sadhana (conscious spiritual practice) that takes the student across the ocean of samsara.

Humility requires accepting that everything is in flux, that the things we acquire and attain come and go. Hence, humility allows us to embrace impermanence and to remain open to the inevitability of change. Humility cuts through our resistance and our crazy urge to remain in a protected bubble where we get only what we want, where life unfolds only on our terms. Humility softens us to the point where we can move with fluidity and show up for life and its unpredictability. Humility grants us the openness and courage to move in a direction that feels purposeful.

Moving in a purposeful direction, we inevitably begin to feel a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves. The English word humility is derived from the Latin humus, which means “earth, ground, soil.” When we place our forehead on the earth, on the floor in front of an altar, at the feet of a teacher, when we bow to the circumstances of our life, we humbly offer something of ourselves and acknowledge our longing “to be”—to be an instrument, to be of use, to be part of a community of men and women who honor the earth, celebrate life and have devoted their lives to practice and share methods that will stop us from wandering aimlessly in search of things that will never feel like enough—the perfect body, the perfect lover, the perfect career, the perfect house, the perfect investment.

A guru is anything that removes (ru in Sanskrit) this common misunderstanding (gualso translates as “misknowing” or “ignorance”). When we devote ourselves to recognizing that our life experiences—the birth of a child, the loss of a job—can clear away our confusion, can be our guru, we become struck by the poignant clarity of how precious and rare the life we share with every sentient being is.

The practices of Yoga are designed to nurture humility by encouraging us to cultivate kindness, compassion, connection and receptivity no matter what is going on in our lives. Through practice, our devotion to all that is guiding us to stay on course and to remain open will naturally arise from within, reinforcing our understanding that a life well lived is a life that puts us in touch with something larger than ourselves and allows us to get out of our own way. This very notion can shatter the limited and fixed view of ourselves, of others and of the world. Such a life is rare and precious. Such a life will indeed never feel wasted.

—Rima Rani Rabbath

On becoming vegan…

3 Aug



Fantastic 2012 « Kwita Izina » poster in the streets of Kigali – Rwanda

Early life memories, Yoga and Vegetarianism

As children, my sister Jeanette and I would regularly entertain our friends wrapping our legs behind ours ears, though at the time, the word “yoga” was completely unknown to me. We very much liked to mimic Michael Jackson’s mesmerizing moves as well (remember the break-dance?). It was only when, in 2000, I was pregnant that I attended a yoga class for mums-to-be. I found the class boring, New Age kind of a thing, and never went back to that center. A few years later, I attended a more vigorous yoga class. It was a revelation, I felt like I was six years old again; not as flexible as I had been then, but still as blissfully happy. The practice made me high, I was in love! A few months into the class, I noticed that my chronic lower back pain had disappeared .

FullSizeRender-2Playing in Nyungwe, Rwanda; Headstand, sirsasana, 2016

I am an avid reader, so whenever I come across something that triggers my passion to learn more about it, I raid libraries and bookstores. Amazon says that the book “Yoga and Vegetarianism[1]” by Sharon Gannon was first delivered the first week of September 2009 (31 August – 9 September).

As a child, I had never taken any pleasure in eating animals and drinking milk. A story runs in my family about how my sister and I refused to eat fish saying that that whole grilled fish was “dead and staring at us”.  I cannot myself remember ever saying that, but I do recall how I always loved observing ants and being fearful that I might kill them inadvertently while walking. And so, it is perhaps not all that surprising that reading “Yoga and Vegetarianism” turned me vegan overnight.

Both my paternal grandparents were lifelong vegetarian centenarians. My grandmother – who we affectionately called Jjajja (‘grandma’ in Luganda, one of Uganda’s main languages) – was the smartest and most generous woman I’ve ever known. She used to claim she could identify meat-eaters from a distance. Jjajja despised fat people and above all lazy people. And she adored her grandchildren, who she found absolutely perfect, even – or especially – the picky eater little me.

I guess it is because of her and our special relationship that my not eating meat as a child was never a problem in our family. But, from their perspective, the most difficult to accept was my disgust with and refusal to drink milk. Worse, still, my sense of smell was very strong and my gag reflex was overwhelming at times; I could never stand the smell of fresh cooking milk (done as a way of pasteurizing it) invading the whole house whenever fresh milk arrived straight from the farm. My sister could blackmail me into doing almost anything she wanted by threatening to dip her buttered toast into her morning tea. My mother too devised all manner of diplomatic excuses beforehand for my anticipated refusal to drink the milk I was offered wherever we went (almost everywhere), while at home she did her best to keep butter out of my food.

All Rwandans, particularly the Tutsi pastoralists, consider cows to be sacred and their milk the most perfect nourishment on earth, especially for kids. But the culture around cows goes well beyond their practical benefit. People are given cows’ names; telling a woman that she has a calf’s eyes is the highest form of complimenting her on how beautiful her eyes are. Similarly, the shades of human skin colour are often described in analogy with cows’ skin-colours, and traditional dances mimic cows’ gait, with women’s arms raised to look like and to move gracefully – like cows’ horns, as feet stamp rhythmically to drums and song. Traditionally, a cow has always been regarded as the most generous of gifts, offered only on special occasions, or as the highest mark of gratitude and friendship. Thus, in this cultural context, not liking milk let alone rejecting it outright, and worse, openly saying so, was considered a severe anomaly.


Urunana, Swiss-Rwandan Ballet, 2015

Nevertheless, over the years, as a teenager and a young adult, I ended up eating certain sorts of cheese (those without the buttery smell), chicken and fish. But “my side stories” about the private lives of ants and the dead people on my plate were there; ready to resurface at any moment. Even when I had given up on chicken, I was an on-and-off unhappy vegetarian. Reading “Yoga and Vegetarianism” was such a relief and a validation from the first words of the book. Sharon Gannon dedicated her book to:

«To those who want to be free

To those who do not want to be hurt by others

To those who do not want to be lied to, who want to be listened to

To those who do not want to live in poverty

To those who are sick but want to get well

To those who want to know the purpose of their lives.»

The clarity of Sharon Gannon’s message literally brought me back together and opened me to greater compassion for all beings (but first brought me greater awareness of my own prior ignorance).

An unnatural order[2]

According to the psychologist Melanie Joy “In one week, more farmed animals are killed than the total number of people killed in all wars throughout history.” But how did it all begin? Why does this total insanity continue? Why does it not make the world’s headlines?

I did ask myself these very same questions in 1994, when my people were being slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands in broad daylight in Rwanda; even as the overwhelming rest of the world went on with its business in total indifference. I concluded then, that human beings are simply the most violent animals on the planet, and that compassion is, perhaps, one of the rarest qualities of our species.

Many researchers agree that the advent of agriculture and the domestication of animals was a terrible moment in history. This is what Jeffrey Masson writes about it: “The domestication of plants was accompanied by the domestication of animals. They happened more or less simultaneously. Except for dogs, who were domesticated much earlier, the earliest animals to be domesticated were sheep, goats, pigs, and cows (from around 9000 B.C.E.). Obviously, the original point of animal domestication had to do with food. And of course, to eat animals, humans had to exclude the recognition that they had feelings and could suffer in much the same way we do.” He continues: “People in early indigenous cultures (Inuit, Aboriginal, Amerindian, Maori, and so on) asked forgiveness of an animal before they hunted it down and killed it. Killing may have been necessary, but it was not casual.”

It is worth noting that the terms, “stock market” and “capital” all derive from this herding culture where wealth was in livestock. The Latin root word for capital is capita, which means the head of a cow, goat, or sheep (the first animals to be domesticated). The exploitation of animals seems to have served as a template for capitalism as we know it today. Tracing slavery back to its beginnings, David Brion Davis[3] (one of the world’s most prominent slavery historian) links it to the domestication of wild animals

So where do we start?

Whether we agree with Masson and Davis or not, we live in a time of global crisis.

In 2006, a UN report[4] identified livestock as the leading human contributing cause of climate change. Studies[5] and reports abound on the imperative to cut down animal products in order to mitigate climate change. As a species, we are collectively slowly facing the truth about animal industries – a topic that is generally hidden from our view.

The website http://www.killedsofar.com counts how many animals worldwide are killed for food. By the time I put the final point to this article, it counts 35 billions so far this year and 629 billions if we include marine life.

Many things have informed my views about food, animals and humans. I became vegan for ethical reasons and reflecting on my own relationship to other beings (not just other human beings) is a work in progress.

Eating a plant-based diet is the easiest, cheapest, and smartest thing that we, human beings, can do for our health, the planet, and the other animals.

Everyone, I believe, is trying to do his or her best. Among the many hats I wear, I am a yoga teacher as well as the mother of a thriving 14-year-old who has been a vegetarian since his birth. In the first capacity, my role is to provide education so that people will be more informed and make their own choices from a basis of knowledge rather than ignorance.

Over the years, I have seen a growing number of people becoming more interested in knowing exactly what was in their food; how everything in it was produced, and the impact of such eating choices on our living environment. My husband comes from a family of hunters, and for him, giving up on red meat and dairy products was a personal milestone. He has watched and recorded dozens of documentaries on animal rights and our vital environment. Thanks to his deep understanding of the stakes, our home is a vegan household.

With my son, we pride ourselves on making the most delicious vegan chocolate cake and pancakes.

FullSizeRender (2)

Louis’ Chocolate Nirvana

For my husband, it was important to find tasty meat substitutes. And all I can tell you is that the spicy tempeh[6] has never failed as a crowd-pleaser. Did I mention my mom was an incredible cook and a true foodie? Any cooking skills I have are from years of assisting her and being spoiled by my auntie who always sent me cookbooks for my birthday.


little me and mom, circa 1980/81

Learning how to veganize your favorite dish and/or to find a good substitute to dairy products if you’re hooked on them is a game changer.

Genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. If you are already considering becoming vegetarian or vegan, you only need to get started*. Don’t delay action, don’t overthink it. Some people prefer to set up meat-free days or to take a vegan pledge for a week or a month (there are many online support groups[7]). Make sure you set doable goals and even better idea,  get a friend to do it with you. The more, the merrier!

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Peace, love and veggies,

Jeanine (I insta food pics too )


*A short list of resources

Must Watch Documentaries on Youtube

  1. Earthlings -The Full Documentary Unedited
  2. TEDx Talk:  Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choice

Environmental documentary: Cowspiracy – http://www.cowspiracy.com/


  1. The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell
  2. The World peace diet, Dr Will Tuttle


  1. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: http://www.pcrm.org
  2. One green planet: http://www.onegreenplanet.org
  3. Easy vegan recipes: https://lisasprojectvegan.com


[1] Yoga and Vegetarianism, The Diet of Enlightenment by Sharon Gannon

[2] This is the title of a major book by Jim Mason: An Unnatural Order, The Roots of Our Destruction of Nature

[3] Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World by David Brion Davis

[4]United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report “Livestock’s Long Shadow”,

[5] From the World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/why-eating-less-meat-is-the-best-way-to-tackle-climate-change/

[6] Spicey tempeh recipe https://nook.barnesandnoble.com/products/9780698170117/sample?sourceEan=9780698170117

[7] http://7dayvegan.com



3 Aug

08_Aug_Universal_CompassionAugust, 2016


Focus Of The Month – August, 2016

Shri Krishnah sharanam mama
I take refuge in the all-attractive Lord who is the true identity of all being.

Sharanam means refuge. This beautiful initiation mantra from the Pushtimarg tradition in India invites us to seek refuge, particularly when we are driven by strong emotions. Anger, hate and fear close us off to love and compassion. Seeking refuge means having the capacity to step back and to use particular tools or techniques—in this case, the repetition of mantra—to protect us from reacting immediately. Instead, we engage the mind with something calming, which buys us time and gets us back in touch with our true essence: boundless love and compassion, Krishna. Resolving a situation from this place yields much more constructive results. It means responding instead of reacting. It gives us the ability to stop cycles of violence and the escalation of conflict. Even if the other party refuses to cooperate or feels threatened, taking refuge in the mantra cleanses our heart and spirit, and moves us from separateness toward oneness.

Mantra transcends the calculating intellect and awakens a feeling of love and sweetness, gradually melting away the hard walls we have built around our hearts. The vibration of the Sanskrit language has a profound, transformative effect on a cellular level. Yogi Bhajan describes how chanting mantra affects our electromagnetic field and brain patterns, the master glands and even the stability of the blood. Mantra can totally remake our psyche. Asana and meditation practices have similar effects, inducing a mental focus and an energetic shift that become stronger than habitual, conditioned, reactive behavior.

Every major spiritual tradition agrees that love and compassion are the most important qualities for sustaining and protecting life. Each tradition has a figure who embodies perfection in love and compassion. In the Hindu/yogic tradition it is Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. He is often depicted as a child whose disarming qualities inspire us to love without inhibition. In Buddhism it is the supreme bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara, who made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to postpone his own Buddhahood until he has helped every one of them achieve nirvana. His mantra is Om mani padme hum, meaning that, in the same way that the lotus flower grows out of the mud, compassion is often deeply understood through great suffering and huge spiritual challenges. In Christianity the iconic figure is Jesus, whose story holds many parallels to Krishna’s. Krishna was born in a prison, Jesus in a stable, and both had to spend much of their lives in exile. Through the practice of sincerely contemplating these divine, enlightened beings, we do our very best to awaken their luminosity inside us, and to tailor our lives according to their examples.

Sister Chan Khong, a Buddhist nun ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh, endured unimaginable suffering during the war in Vietnam and has become one of the most outstanding living embodiments of compassion in our times. Although she had a degree in biology, her main mission was always to feed the hungry and the poor. What makes her service even more powerful is that she has had to serve anonymously, under a false identity, so as not to put the recipients of her aid in danger. Many times she risked her own life, dodging bullets and bombs while riding her bike through the streets of Saigon. One day, after a bombing, the streets were littered with dead bodies, and the government did not clean them up. The community of monks, nuns and peace workers took it upon themselves to remove the bodies and give them a proper burial. They could accomplish this extremely difficult task only by seeking refuge in the breath and in mantra. When boat people started drifting ashore in neighboring Southeast Asian countries, those governments ordered them pushed back out to sea, where they would eventually drown. For Chan Khong the first priority was saving lives, and in order to circumvent senseless rules and inhumane practices, disguises had to be used, laws had to be challenged in nonviolent ways and violations of human rights had to be reported to the international press. She was exiled from Vietnam, separated from family and friends and expelled from countries that did not want their cruelty exposed to the world. Sometimes she would be overwhelmed by strong emotions and start sobbing uncontrollably, until she remembered to take refuge in her breath. She and her sangha practiced walking meditation to learn the art of calming their feelings before taking action. From this practice came the ability to understand and have compassion for the people committing atrocities.

Compassion is a big word that is often trivialized. Most of us have been conditioned to be selective about our compassion. We may be able to express some degree of compassion to our family and friends but are unconcerned about those who live on the other side of the world, don’t look like us, or speak a different language. Chan Khong describes returning to Paris after being expelled from Singapore and being appalled to see people eating, drinking, laughing and enjoying life in cafes. Did they not know that their fellow human beings were drowning at sea? Through the practices of Yoga we learn that compassion does not discriminate. As PeTA founder Ingrid Newkirk says, “Some people seem to think that our compassion is a limited commodity, like a cake with only a few slices. » –


Ruth Lauer-Manenti in Geneva — Jivamukti Yoga with Joanna & Jeanine

21 Jul

Dear yogi(nis), friends, Our beloved teacher and Jeanine’s mentor, the one and only Lady Ruth is in town next week. It is a rare opportunity to study with a very experienced teacher and rare human being. Make sure to book your spot https://www.asphere.ch/events With love and love always J&J

via Ruth Lauer-Manenti in Geneva — Jivamukti Yoga with Joanna & Jeanine

Guru Purnima

19 Jul fell

Tuesday, July 19th 2016 is the full moon of the guru, also known as  Guru Purnima

Manorama explains that: «  This celebration is marked in July because in India the rainy season happens at that time. It is said that teachers and students can’t easily move when the heavy rains come so the opportunity to bond and set a good course of study together is present during this time of year. It is for this reason that July has become known as the month of the guru »

In the Jivamukti lineage as well, the July Focus of the month essay is about the Guru Mantra.

Yesterday, the open class I taught was dedicated  to all the great teachers in our lineage and I read a story from the Jivamukti Yoga book.  The whole chapter is worth reading thoroughly.  Here is a excerpt from it:

A month later [after Shri Brahmananda Saraswati’s passing] we returned to Ananda Ashram. After midnight, as Sharon was heading to her room to go to bed, she decided to meditate for a few minutes in the main room where Shri Brahmananda often sat to teach. His simple seat was still there, as he had left it. All the lights were out; just one candle was burning. Again, Sharon felt that longing to be close to her guru. She rested her head on his seat and once again, those mysterious sounds rushed in. She picked up her head, thinking perhaps she was hearing water running through the pipes in the house. She heard nothing. When she put her head down on the seat again, she heard exactly the same sounds that she had heard emanating from his body. Shri Brahmananda was once again giving her his timeless message that we are all beyond the body and mind; we are the vibration of the I-AM.

We close every Jivamukti Yoga class with this chant acknowledging the guru:

Om Bolo Sat Guru Bhagavan Ki Jai Victory to God, the only real teacher.

God and Guru are the same. When we experience God in a teacher, the devotion we feel is transformational. Guru can remind us of God. We are thus reminded of our own divine nature.

Regularly, I play Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati’s CD « Chanting sanskrit » and especially the guided meditation that closes each CD. His OM always shakes me. Through his powerful voice, I feel the potency of his being, beyond physical form. But sometimes, I forget these precious gems.

Last February, I caught a very bad cold. I was coughing so hard I couldn’t sleep. Sitting was relatively comfortable so I propped myself up with as many pillows as I could find and played the meditation very loudly. For the whole 7 minutes it lasted, I did not cough. Then I thought, it was just a coincidence. I repeated the experiment three times. My cough had stopped. And I was finally able to sleep through the night (after three sleepless nights in a row). The February Focus of the Month was about the healing sound of yoga. At the end of the essay, Jules Febre (who wrote it) asked the question:  «  Why do so many yoga classes start and end with Om? Why is it considered a healing sound? Truly the best way to find out is to start chanting Om, because as Sharon Gannon says, “ through repetition the magic is forced to arise.” »

From other worlds,  Shri Brahmananda Saraswati gave me an answer and manifested a miracle. It took me a bad cough and a certain hopelessness to not being able to sleep, to remember the teachings. Why was I so blind? I could only laugh at myself.

Yogic teachings honor the biological mother, as the first guru;  guru literally means, dispeller of darkness. Not only did my mom give me life but her departure (she abruptly left us on August 30th 2010) was an invaluable life teaching. We truly never know when and how death will occur. The journey of the loss and the gain can be a deep cycle of growth. May we all learn from it. The yogi strives to live an impeccable life, always ready for “he whose date and time of arrival we do not know”. For the realized yogi,  the time of death is a conscious departure. In sanskrit Mahāsamādhi, literally means the great merger.

Shymdasji took his  Mahāsamādhi reciting mantra and dedicated his life to the teachings of the path of Grace. He had me fall in love for the Pushti Marg’s sacred texts and sounds. I am forever indebted and grateful to him.

I honor and respect Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati , the gentle swami Nirmalananda, the great Sri K.Pattabhi Jois;

Deep pranams and love at the feet of Radhanath Swami Maharaj. His last book « The journey within » is a treasure for every seeker, irrespective of her or his faith.

I feel so fortunate to have found teachers I can trust. They have and are still affecting my life very positively:

Lady Ruth, my adored mentor;

My teacher Yogeswari, a force of goodness in this world;

Our precious teachers Padma (Sharon Gannon) and David Life, I look at them and my heart is filled with awe and love.

Yes, it all comes back to love. The Love of God. It is the true ground of being.

Aside from my home altar, I carry with me always my prayer beads, a book, a recording, a small gift, all those are little reminders of love. We have embarked on a sacred journey, the journey of remembering our eternal, divine souls. May we never miss an opportunity to say « Thank you » to these high beings and saints who have touched our hearts.

As we rise in love, may our know-it-all-ness, our fears, our doubts and our lack of faith gradually melt.

To all of my teachers, I bow and say: Thank you for being in my life and for the many miracles of your love.

In gratitude always.


Happy Birthday David Life

21 Jun



Photography: Sarah Keough; from the wonderful book ©Yoga at Home by Linda Sparrowe


What is the reason we’re here?

I hope the hell it’s not to be the same, not just to be the same (…)

My worst dilemma in life is: Why after all this time, can’t human beings stop killing each other?

I mean, you and me, we would sit down and we would agree.
We could even take a vow not kill each other, between us, since we know each other and yet…

It seems so simple but it’s just not a simple thing (…)

Human beings identify so much with their bodies, and their chachkas and their property; and they would defend them to the death.
And therein lies the problem.

– David Life (August 10th, 2014)

Happy Continuation Day beloved Davidji

You make this world a better place to live in.

With love and gratitude beyond words,

Your devotee,



June’s Workshop — Jivamukti Yoga with Joanna & Jeanine

27 May

via June’s Workshop — Jivamukti Yoga with Joanna & Jeanine


Azahar Foundation – Rwanda

26 May

Here is a glimpse of what we have been doing in Rwanda.

With love and deep gratitude to all of you supporting the work of Azahar Foundation


Story 16: India Man Plants Forest Bigger Than Central Park to Save His Island

17 May


I will continue to plant until my last breath…cut me before you cut my trees – Jadav Payeng


6 May


Narayani Namo’Stu Te
With my head resting at your feet Ma,
I offer you, my sincerest love and respect.

Saturated in the lap of the devi, the divine mother. Held close to her bosom, her heartbeat, your heartbeat, syncing together… into the veil you pursue and find the blessed rhythm. Lift your courage and glimpse the lost art of yielding, of receptivity, of deep listening awakening to its time, through you, in you. The time of the mother is here.

The Divine Mother Goddess

Listen in silence to the cave of your heart, you’ll hear the sweet jingle of feminine ankle bells that conjure images of swaying feminine form with curving lines. Enter her abode, it’s nature in all of her glory. Here you will find you have entered the sacred hall of the mother goddess.

When called, through chant, that goddess enters the temple. She comes for adoration, for recognition, for receiving the offering. The mother will tell you that this recognition we extend, is not for her, and she is right. Through it we receive the blessing, the force of protection of glorious union with pure energy that resides within us all.

Origins of Manifestation

The devi was realized as light that sparked, cracked and sprang forth from the wish of each god. Through their sacred wish, she rose and lit the sky manifesting for us, in us, through us. Through lore we learn that the gods unified their light together in one form, and that became known as the devi. She is the collection of luminous rays manifested from each god. Brahma, Visnu, Shiva and the other gods wanted to appease their suffering devotees of demons so they brought their light together for supreme protection. The gods gave some light from their form, light of their thigh, light of their eyes, light of their arms, light of their weapons, light of their knowledge, light of their feet and the great goddess manifested as the collection of the gods’ brilliance. The gods’ sent her forth to resolve ignorance in us, and so that we could once again feel oneness.

Root of ‘Devi’

In Sanskrit, the root Div means to shine, or light. Devi derives from this root and symbolizes compassion, protection, yielding, gentleness, fierce slayer. As form, she is woman. As embodiment, she is all emotion, raw, and receptive, messy, fierce, protectress, curving, weaver of the maya and all that is measurable. To move about with ease in this world, we must make offerings to her.

Growing Up

Growing up with Guru ji, I was ever immersed in teachings surrounding the cosmic mother. Was it tantric? Not so much. It was more that Guru ji was a devotee of Durga Ma and wanted to share his discoveries. The story goes that during some very difficult time in his life, he turned to Durga Ma for mercy and support and through his singular puja and respect, she granted him blessings and helped him through that turbulent time.

Since then he was deeply devoted to her. In Guru ji’s private apartment rests a small altar that invokes the mother goddess. She is surrounded by rock formations of power along with the vibration of endless sacred chants which were invoked just for her.

Who is the Devi?

She is Durga, Sharada, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kali, Parvati, Lalita, Ambika, She is Vidya, Bhavani, Nirmala, Dark and misty like the moon she is Gauri, White creativity, knowledge itself, she is Saraswati.

As alignment and beauty she is Shri, Lakshmi. As protectress and loving mother whose battle cry is the sweet breath and rhythm of mantra she is Durga. Wild, she rides with skulls clanking as a necklace around her neck and hands spread out swords at the ready, she is Kali. Pure without any lack of clarity, she is Nirmala. As knowledge of all, she is Vidya. As Parvati, she reflects devotion and singular focus to her lord.

Compassionate Lalita granting soothing glances to all who are lucky enough to come under her vision. As the mother of the world and consort to Bhava, she is Bhavani. Becoming embodied in the world as Sita. She is the determiner of the great Lila, the play of the entire universe that all must pass through. The winding ganga river that nourishes civilization is her gift to the world. She is kundalini rising in us reaching its union within. She is you. She reflects the purpose of your life, embodied. She is the bridge between the manifest and unmanifest. She is the tenderest part of your being.

There’s nothing like feeling the auspicious protection of Mother…

Wearing a delicate reminder of Cosmic Love is the perfect gift this Mother’s Day. Choose the Ma pendant from Surya Jewels with hand-written Sanskrit, embossed in silver.

*All references to Guru ji, refer to Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati in this article.
**Devi means Mother, Goddess, Light.
***Murti means form, statue.
****Maya: illusion, manifestation, enchantment, force of love.

© 2016 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama

original article http://ayurvedanextdoor.com/devi-divine-mother-goddess/

Remembering Prince

2 May



On April 21st 2016, the artist known as…. has left this world.

Prince is best known for hits like “Purple Rain,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “When Doves Cry.” But his songs were about more than partying. Prince was a long-serving vegan and a strong advocate of the abolition of the abattoirs. His song  « Animal Kingdom » from the album «The Truth» is very poignant. Please read Karen Dawn’s beautiful tribute

Prince was an activist and a secret philanthropist. If we may say, Prince was an example of a real karma yogi. Doing good, serving goodness, just for the sake of it.

Few individuals live up to their name, but Prince actually did. He was  better at being human than most of us are.

These days I can only listen to his songs in repeat mode. I am so grateful for the soundtrack of my teen years… Not only because indeed « Sometimes it snows in April » but mostly, because Prince’s massive life lesson was  you better live now  (Excerpt from « let’s go crazy » )

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s ’cause
We’re all gonna die
And when we do
What’s it all for?
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your doors

On June 7th, 1958, a legend was born. His parents named him Prince Rogers Nelson

We remember the musical genius, the humble and compassionate human being.

And now Ancestor. May his homegoing be peaceful and full of music





Jivamukti May 2016’s FOM

1 May 05_may_mothers_love


Focus of the Month

05_may_mothers_loveApril, 2016

A Mother’s love

Om sarva mangala-mangalye shive-sarvartha-sadhike sharanye tryambake gauri Narayani namo’stu te

I salute the three-eyed Divine Mother, Narayani, who brings total auspiciousness and who fulfills the desire for liberation. Realization arises with her blessing. She is the world itself. Only through the experiences of life can the soul be perfected. Honor this gift, your life, bow to mother Nature.

Durga Saptashati, chapter 11

According to Hindu and yogic philosophy your first teacher and guru is your mother—the creation of your life is that guru. Each of us has a different relationship with our biological mother. We probably experienced conflicts, disagreements and misunderstandings with our parents or guardians from childhood on, and some of these conflicts may not even be resolved to this day. Teachers come to us in many ways and in many areas of our life. This first teacher was our mother by birth as the Earth is our mother by creation. To appreciate the power of creation is to see all life as valuable, not just human life, but also the life force that flows through all living beings.

The planet Earth itself in Hindu philosophy is referred to as the Mother, Divine Mother or Ma—she is the creative aspect providing the air, food and water for the survival of all the beings who inhabit her. If we look at our current relationship with the Mother we may see similarities in our relationship with our birth mother. There are times whenwe clash, times when we ignore her and times when we do things that we know will upset her. However, through both our birth mother and the Divine Mother we are undeniably linked to the source of our life. In Hinduism the Goddess has many incarnations. The embodiment of the Goddess is the link between the role of the mother and the Divine Feminine, or Shakti.

The love of a mother is unconditional. She knows that by virtue of our existence we will cause harm to her—yet she continues to nourish and support us with all her heart. Each year thousands of forests are being cut down, oceans, rivers and lakes are polluted and giant holes are mined into Her. But it is not only the Earth herself who is exploited; itis also her nonhuman inhabitants. For example, human consumption of dairy products necessitates the forced impregnation of dairy cows, whose babies are taken away from them soon after birth; then those cows are impregnated again so as to continually produce milk. The resulting milk, which was meant for their babies, is stolen by humans and sold for profit to other humans. The exploitation caused by the dairy industry stems from the belief that the Earth and her nonhuman inhabitants are commodities and not divine beings and are valued by their potential monetary worth instead of valued for the connection to that force that flows through each and every one of us. We can agree that life is sacred, yet many of us still tend to value some lives more than others, human lives more than nonhuman lives.

What is needed to change this sense of ownership that is occurring with the Divine Mother—and return to a place of harmony with our true creative aspect—is to accept, acknowledge and honor all life, all aspects of the Mother, in whatever form She takes, whether human or nonhuman animal, plant or spirit. The yogi strives for a mutually beneficial relationship with all of existence, with all those who share in the experience of living on this planet as wellas throughout the entire universe. Honoring and respecting the power of the Mother, seeing Her as a living being—as a goddess—is to move away from separation and closer toward union with the source of our creation.Jai Ma!

—Doug Whittaker


If you’re in Geneva….

13 Apr

Don’t miss out!




and keep an eye on our blog for more details..

with love and smiles,




Story 15

24 Mar






story 14

23 Mar


Sweet memories

26 Feb

Sharon Gannon’s Magic Ten Asana Sequence and Why We Must Practice with Love

1 Feb


original article  https://yogainternational.com/article/view/Sharon-Gannons-Magic-Ten-Asana-Sequence-and-Why-We-Must-Practice-with-Love

My practice is something I do for God. Period. In my life, I want to live for God and so I have to make that real. I have to toughen up. I have to discipline myself to do things that I might not feel like doing every day to just get over me. (What do I want to do? What feels good to me?) After sixty-three years, I don’t want to keep that attitude going on. I want to move away from it, at least ease up on it. In bhaktiyoga, everything you do you try to think of God before you do it. As soon as I’m conscious of being awake, I’ve trained myself to remember and talk to God. Make me an instrument of thy will. Allow me to be your servant. Use me today so that I can bring happiness to others; so that I can enhance this world, not just be a selfish taker; so that I can increase your bliss. If God is sat chit, mostly ananda, I’m into increasing that ananda, God’s bliss. That’s what I want to do, that’s what I’m devoted to doing. I have my own personal way of making my offerings to God every morning.

I do asana in the afternoon. Asana is the way to deal with our karmas. Our bodies are made of our karmas. I have to be comfortable in this body in order to be able to let go of my fascination with me as this mortal personality, this ego being. I have to first of all feel at ease with me. Asanas help us to do that. But the body is a conglomerate of the residue of all of our past relationships. So it’s therapy. When I sit in the morning and do my eight rounds of japa (mantra) meditation, I don’t want to be distracted by thoughts about other people and issues that I am dealing with here or there. So doing a short asana practice, some kriyas and pranayama, helps to clear all that out first. And then I can meditate quite directly and keep my mind on God. Why do I do that practice every morning? Because it feels good. When I don’t do it, I don’t feel good and I don’t like to not feel good!

I have to be comfortable in this body in order to be able to let go of my fascination with me as this mortal personality, this ego being.

If I’m rushed for time, I do my practice mentally. If I’ve got to get on an airplane and I’ve overslept and a car is waiting for me and I haven’t done all those pujas (offerings to the deity), I’ll sit in the back of the cab and I’ll do the whole thing in my mind. That’s when you know that the practice has borne fruit. You know exactly what comes next. You don’t really think about it. It’s become part of you. Okay, I wasn’t able to do those eight rounds of japa, so I’ll do it walking down the street, in the subway, in a cab. I have found a way to do that. I can do my magic 10-asana sequence (see below) in about seven minutes! You can find time.

You cannot practice without love. It’s got to have love in it, romance in it. It has to turn you on. It would be stale and boring to me if I were doing it only for myself. I’m doing it for God, for my teachers; the prayers in the practice are integrated with the names of my teachers. There’s magic in the name, in God’s name. When I say the names of my teachers, they are instantly with me and suddenly I’m not just me by myself doing a routine. I’m checking in with those other beings. All the love that I have is rekindled, every single day. From other worlds. Simultaneously. I do a full 90-minute asana practice in the afternoon and I always, always do it with music. The sequence that I do, and have been doing for years, doesn’t vary. Sometimes I’ll spend a longer time in some poses on some days, and other poses on other days, but it’s basically the same.

Sharon’s Practice Advice

You have to want to practice at home, and you have to want to make the practice part of your life wherever you are. You’re not always going to be able to go to your favorite neighborhood yoga studio, so you need to be able to take yoga home with you. Start small! Meditation is daunting to people when they hear that someone meditates for an hour. Oh my! Do I have to do that? No. Just sit, for one minute. Close your eyes, let go. Breathe in, breathe out. Do that for a week. Set a timer. And then the next week, do it for two minutes. The point is, just do it. The key word is doable. Home practice shouldn’t be a huge, goal-oriented thing. Pick something that’s within your means.

Sharon’s Magic 10-Asana Sequence

I’m on the go so much that I needed a practice that was doable, one that could also prepare me for a longer practice, like my meditation practice. I’ve been doing it for about fifteen years now. There are ten pretty simple asanas that anyone can do—in ten minutes or less. Of course, you can modify if you need to.

1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
10 breaths

2. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
10 breaths

3. Malasana (Garland Pose)
10 breaths

4. Teepee Twist
5 breaths each side

5. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
5 breaths each side

6. Ardha Purvottanasana (Half Upward Plank Pose)
10 breaths

7. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
25 breaths

8. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) variation
4 breaths

9. Parsva Urdhva Hastasana (Side-Bending Upward Salute)
1 breath each side 4 times

10. Spinal Rolls
12 to 16 breaths


Yoga for a good cause

26 Jan


azahar2This will be an all levels Jivamukti Yoga class / Tous niveaux pour cette classe de Jivamukti Yoga

english / français

You may also wish to discover the two organizations we work with in Rwanda:

The wonderful Agahozo Shalom Youth Village and Indego Africa.

They rock. They are changing the world, one young person, one boss lady at a time.

With love and gratitude,


Where you stop helping others and where you stop growing is the same. If you have an idea of how to help someone, even if it is a small thing…carry it through”. – Lady Ruth (Ruth Lauer-Manenti)




Story 14/366

14 Jan image

The problem with the “Work hard play hard” mindset

Story 13/366

13 Jan image

This will put a smile on your face

I had a very similar experience recently ..

Thank you Jen!

be good, do good !


Story 12

12 Jan

I could listen to Shyamdasji all day long.

There is a single essence that permeates everything … To taste that essence that exists everywhere and is also within every heart, is what the Bhakti Yoga experience is about. Everyone who understands it will love it. Because Bhakti promotes in you, the thing that is most important, which is the joy of your own soul.Shyamdas-ji (1953 – January 20th, 2013)

.. however a blessed soul may be, she is definitely accepted. Within the Path of Grace, Hari does not judge the actions of the soul; she is uplifted through the power of grace. The soul’s spiritual dharma is to take Hari’s refuge. Shri Mahaprabhuji says in his “Krishna Ashraya”,
“I pray to Shri Krishna. He uplifts everyone who takes His shelter.”
In the Path of Grace, the main thing is Krishna’s grace and not the worthiness of the soul. Those who take refuge receive grace – Excerpt from 252 Vaishnavas, translated by  Shyamdas-ji

For introducing me to the practice of Āśrayarefuge; for the gift of mantra, for his contagious love of God, for his eternal teachings … I am forever grateful to Shyamdasji.  Shyamdas was a great bhakta. He was the embodiment of Hanuman. He was a saint. He showered love on Earth.

Radhe, Radhe!


Story 11

11 Jan

imageThrough the practice of deep looking, we can identify the positive seeds that we want to water every day, and train ourselves not to water the negative ones. ~

Thich Nhat Hanh


Story 10/366

10 Jan


Story 9/366

10 Jan

Walls of kindness




Story 8/366

8 Jan

image“An Odd Couple” taken by Roger Stonehouse in Bagan, Mandalay, Burma. January 4, 2012.


Story 7/366

8 Jan


Excerpt from ‘Salt’ by Nayyirah Waheed


Story 6/366

6 Jan image

“Life is but a dream we renew each day. It is up to us to infuse this dream with light, and to cultivate, as best as we are able, the ways and habits of love.
Those of great heart have always known this.
They have understood that, as honorable as it is to see wrong and to try to correct it, a life well lived must somehow celebrate the promise that life provides. The darkness at the limits of our knowledge — the darkness that sometimes seems to surround us — is merely a way to make us reach beyond certainty, to make our lives a witness to hope, a testimony to possibility, an urge toward the best and the most honorable impulses that our hearts can conceive.
It is not hard. There is in each of us, no matter how humble, a capacity for love. Even if our lives have not taken the course we had envisioned, even if we are less than the shape of our dreams, we are part of the human family. Somewhere, in the most inconsequential corners of our lives, is the opportunity for love.”
Excerpt From: “Simple Truths.” By Kent Nerburn


Story 5/366

5 Jan


Story 4/366

4 Jan

A story from Krishna Das 

KD and Maharajji
The love that I felt coming from Maharaj-ji when I was with him in India was so extraordinary and unusual because it kept flowing. It didn’t come to me if I was good, and it didn’t stop flowing to me if I was bad… and he knew everything. There was no way that I deserved this love. Of course, that’s the nature of Grace; no deserves it. That’s why they call it Grace. It comes to us when we least expect it – when we are more at the end of our rope and can’t see how we can go on anymore, we turn a corner and there it is. We trip and fall, and we’re in it. Grace surrounds us all the time… It is the true state of the Universe. As Suzuki Roshi said, “Come walk with me in the rain. But don’t hurry. It’s raining everywhere.”

What keeps us away from the gentle rain of Grace? It’s our endless obsession, all day long, with I, me, mine. We wake up in the morning and start writing “the movie of Me”:  What am I going to do? Where am I going? How am I going to get there? Is this enough? Is it too much? What’s going to happen? What am I going to wear? How do I look? Does he like me? Why Not? All day long. The move of Me. We write it, direct it, produce it, and star in it. We write review that we read, and get depressed! Then we go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. I’ve seen it so many times. And still, every time I turn on the TV, there it is: me, myself and my stuff.

Gradually and inevitably spiritual practices like chanting remove this subjective version of life by slowly dissolving the attachments that keep us feeling separate from the people around us, and separate and cut off from the beauty that lives in our own Hearts. Everything we do in life is connected to everyone and everything else.

As Maharaj-ji said, “Only when God comes to reside in our hearts can we really serve people.” There’s a goodness, a beauty, and a love that lives in our own hearts.
~ Krishna Das  (from book «  Chants of a Lifetime », a lovely video conversation https://youtu.be/m946LhDQcoU)


Story 3/366

3 Jan


story 2/366

2 Jan image

“Every time I hold a drum I feel like happiness is going to kill me”  – Kasiva Mutua, drummer


Happy new year!

1 Jan Dogs (and cats and cows) are people too!

Happy 2016 good people!

It has been a joy to connect with you via this blog, on the mat and many other places around this little planet of ours.

The month of December was one full of celebrations and happy surprises of all sorts. In Paris, a few days after the terrorists attack, a policeman took the metro with me, to make sure I reach destination. Friends and family flew in from afar to celebrate my birthday (a sweet friend cooked us a gourmet vegan dinner); our son turned 14; I flew to Rwanda for a cousin’s wedding and more lifelong friends’ reunions. At every corner, I was reminded that this world is filled with good people, doing truly good karmic work.

This January 2016, the Jivamukti Focus of the month is “Remembering goodness“. I will do my best to share with you here, a good story a day.

Yoga scriptures teach us that yoga is the practice (sadhana) and it is the goal (union with all that IS). They teach us that no lasting peace, or happiness or health can ever exist at the expense of other beings’ suffering.

I wish us all to never miss an opportunity to be kind; to do our best and to keep trying because it’s a practice not perfection:

«  In this path, no effort is ever lost. » Bhagavad Gita II:40

«  Whatever a great man does the same is done by other. Whatever standard he sets the world follows. » Bhagavad Gita III:21

Thank you for believing that kindness – towards all beings – will bring success.

Our first « good story of the month »is brought to you via PETA:  Compassionate fashion . Listen carefully.

With gratitude and love always,












Irène Grosjean

24 Nov


Last workshop of 2015!

20 Nov


Oh Spirit, guide me

27 Oct

Jivamukti Yoga with Joanna & Jeanine

“ There are only three things required to become attractive to the Spirit Guides. First, you must believe in Spirit as an aspect of the Creator. Secondly, you must be able to understand the advice of Spirit. If your Spirit Guide is not a human you may need to be able to understand the touch, smell, gesture, color and sound that other animals communicate with. Finally, you must desire to meet your Spirit Guide very much.” – David Life, Excerpt from the Jivamukti Yoga October Focus of the Month “Spirit guides”

When I first read the October Focus of the Month’s title “Spirit Guides”, I asked myself: How do I even begin talking about these things with the cosmopolitan, western urbanites who attend my weekly classes? In essence, the focus is simple: Spirit Guides can be everything and they are everywhere around us; if sufficiently attentive, we can communicate with them…

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1 Oct


I have come to realize that the disastrous effects of the denial of death go far beyond the individual: They affect the whole planet.  Believing fundamentally that this life is the only one, modern people have developed no long-term vision. So there is nothing to restrain them from plundering the planet for their own immediate ends and from living in a selfish way that could prove fatal for the future – Sogyal Rinpoche , The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Please read on There’s a Bigger Emissions Scandal Than Volkswagen

We’re baaaack!

22 Sep

Source: We’re baaaack!

Jivamukti Yoga September 2015 Focus of the Month

1 Sep

Samskara-saksat-karanat-purva-jati-jnanam. By bringing unconscious drives into conscious light one knows the existence of previous lives.
Yoga Sutras III:18
Upon dissolution of the body, the Self principle does not perish. The body is a manifestation of Self principle. The knowledge one has acquired and the character one has gained will accompany one into future lives. Higher future life depends on higher karmas of past and present. Birth and death merely mean union of individual self with a new organism and separation from the old organism. –Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

The transmigration of the soul, or even the existence of the soul, is not universally believed. It is said that in India, indolence is the result of a belief in reincarnation and in cultures where there is no common belief in reincarnation; a kind of desperation is the result. The tendency of the soul is to become locked in an Möbius strip-like cycle of birth and rebirth – life after life of the same deluded suffering. This cycle is called Sams̅ara. The soul can free itself from delusion and rebirth by becoming aware of karmas (the actions we take,) desires and attachments, and their resulting effect on the liberation of the soul from Sams̅ara. The soul then only reincarnates as a choice to renounce liberation and return to a body in order to free others from suffering. The soul that lives to liberate others is called Jivanmukta. It’s a tricky situation. A story is told of a sage who had achieved realization, who at the moment of death saw a deer run past his hermitage. “Oh, how beautiful, how wondrous,” thought the sage, as he was filled with admiration of the deer and it’s integration with the natural world. That attachment caused the sage to be reborn as a deer! All kinds of unfulfilled desires and attachments to pleasurable experiences pull the soul back to experience those things once more. “If only…” is a life sentence.

At the moment of the death of the body it is essential to remember your true identity. Whatever fills the mind at the time of transition propels the soul into its next life. The most direct way to shift identity away from the dying body and toward God is to chant the name of God. It is a good idea to chant all the time because we never know when the moment of death may come! When Mahatma Gandhi was murdered, the final words on his lips were “Ram,” his true identity. When many people experience that final surprising moment of life their response is “Oh, sh*t.”

When the soul reappears in a new body most memories from past lives are erased or hidden. This is unfortunate, but even if we remembered past mistakes, it doesn’t guarantee that we wouldn’t repeat them. The accumulated karmas (actions) and the samskaras (impressions, talents or tendencies) transmigrate with the soul and affect the new life. Through Self-reflection we watch life through the eyes of the soul and bring a new level of consciousness into our karmas. We can become aware of the pitfalls and benefits of our tendencies through yoga practices that reveal those tendencies to us.

The law of the conservation of energy states that energy is never lost, it just changes form. The energy that was your life cannot be lost, but transforms into another form of energy. The transformation continues and life becomes life becomes life.

Your everlasting soul has appeared and reappeared in different lives, bodies, and times. The Atman is the name for the soul in Sanskrit. It is the subtle or etheric body that resides within the physical body. It has moved through thousands of bodies, places, and times – even on other planets than Earth, and in other bodies than human. It is your True identity and it is immortal.

If you are still undecided think about this:
If you believe in reincarnation and you are wrong – it won’t matter, because you died.
If you believe in reincarnation and you are right – you could direct future lives.
If you do not believe in reincarnation and you are right – it won’t matter, because you died.
If you do not believe in reincarnation and you are wrong – you can continue to suffer for countless lifetimes.

The choice is not really to believe in reincarnation or not. The choice is to continue to suffer for countless lifetimes or to begin directing future lives by how we act now. These good actions have an immediate affect on the world that we all share this lifetime.

September 2015 — David Life

Guru Purnima

31 Jul

Jivamukti Yoga with Joanna & Jeanine

Today July 31st 2015,  is a special full moon and Guru Purnima.

The Guru stotram, a traditional chant to the guru

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshvara, 
Guru Sakshat, Param Brahma, Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha 

is one of the many opening prayers in Jivamukti open classes.

We all emerged from the darkness of our mother’s womb into the light of life. Yogic teachings honor the mother, as the first guru;  guru literally means, dispeller of darkness. As we chant Guru Brahma (the creation principle), we give full appreciation to the fact that because we were born, our birth makes enlightenment possible in this lifetime. We include not only our parents but the shape our nose, the very bodies they gave us, the place we were born, our culture, all of that made us « suitable candidates for enlightenment ». As we invoke Guru Vishnu (the force of preservation), we acknowledge the entirety of our…

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Joshua Greene on Bhakti and Ahimsa

26 Jul

Ahimsa doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything, it means you do, in a non-aggressive way.
You participate, you take a role. And in fact, the ultimate fulfillment of ahimsa is not just you don’t do harm but you intervene when you see harm being done, in order to that should be stopped. So today, in a world we’re very much dependent on one another, actual non-violence is a very active socially engaged proposition. So that’s kind of the message of the Gita as well. ~ Joshua M. Greene

Fish facts

23 Jul

35 Fish Facts … 

We can do better.

if the oceans die, we die ~

Captain Paul Watson

Peace, love and veggies,



Unity, the movie

10 Jul


Take responsibility

8 Jul


1 Oct img_3291

Focus Of The Month – October, 2016
The long-haired ones, the sky-clad sages, wear only the yellow robes of dust. Along the wind’s course they glide when the Lord of life has penetrated them.

Rig Veda (10:136)
For a brief time in ancient history there lived a great Egyptian pharaoh who was known as Akhenaten. He was married to Nefertiti, the most beautiful woman in the world. He had daughters and one son, Tutankhamen—who was destined to become very famous, but that’s a different story.

Pharaoh Akhenaten was a religious reformer. He was satyagraha (satya = “truth” + graha = “to be grabbed by”). Akhenaten was so possessed by the truth, he might have challenged even Mahatma Gandhi in how far he took his commitment to satyagraha. His one burning desire was to be truthful—to allow Truth to exist and outshine all deceit. Akhenaten had radical ideas for his time. He believed in one God and worshiped that God as the Sun (Aten), who shines equally upon all and from whose light life is created and sustained. He felt that all of God’s creation should stand before God without artifice, naked, devoid of pretense. To this aim he had an aversion to wearing clothes. Clothes, he felt, were deceptive, as they covered one’s body, hiding it from God. Clothes caused riffs between people, creating a hierarchy between rich and poor, as seen in the clothes they wore. Akhenaten even extended his practice of satyagraha to his home. He removed all the roofs from the palace so as to be exposed, to insure that he was not hiding from the divine sun inside his man-made house. In order to spread what he felt was a practical message of truth to his people, he and his family would appear on the balcony of the palace naked.

When visitors from other countries came to the palace they were given the option of removing their clothing. One visiting diplomat from Mesopotamia wrote in his journal that the only negative thing he had to report from his visit to the city of Amarna, where the pharaoh and his family lived, was that he got the worst sunburn ever. Akhenaten’s philosophy and religious and political views were not popular among his people, and he was assassinated in his seventeenth year of rule.

Lord Krishna, an incarnation of the primal God Narayana from the Indian mythology, who appeared in human form on this planet more than 5,000 years ago, also revealed the importance of Satya and baring the soul. The story of how he stole the gopis’ (dairy maids of Vrindavan) clothes while they were bathing illustrates this. The gopis removed their clothes and entered the Yamuna River to bathe. While they were in the water, Krishna, picked up their saris and climbed a nearby tree. From there, he teased them, demanding that they come out of the water to greet him. The young gopis were embarrassed and sunk deeper into the water to hide their nakedness. However Krishna played the flute and transmitted the universal knowledge of our relationship to God which does not need any sort of artifical covering or hiding from truth. We can bare everything in front of God and get in touch with our own reality. The gopis heard the divine teaching, climbed out of the water, and were liberated from their false modesty, pretentiousness, and shyness.

Clothes are coverings. We are clothed in our gender, ethnicity, religion, prejudices, and mainly self-obsessed interests. The stories we tell about ourselves are forms of clothing. The unenlightened identify with their story—the story of their personality. They mistake who they really are for the layers of karmas they have accumulated—the outer clothes they wear. You know the popular saying, “Clothes make the man (or woman).” This does not have to be the case—each of us has the choice to write our own story. As we tell our story, we become our story. We can tell a true story or we can make up a lie—how truthful of a story will you tell?

The innermost soul of our being is made of ananda, “bliss.” This bliss body is covered over by many layers, all formed by karmas—actions we have performed. To purify our karmas, to cleanse our bodies, is the aim of the Yoga practices. Only through love and devotion to God can those karmas be purified. Once they are purified, we are no longer bound by those karmas. And we are no longer bound by our bodies, by the coverings over our soul, and we can stand naked, without any attachment to false identity, which arises out of ignorance, out of our past karmas. We drop the clothes, and the truth of our true self—happiness—is revealed.

Because of all the heavy cultural conditioning regarding nakedness, it may not be practical or safe to walk around naked on the streets of the world’s cities these days, although many sky-clad sadhus (religious ascetics) and Jain monks in India do. Underneath our clothes we are all naked. We can practice satya by shedding our attachments to our limited stories and become more at ease with our karmas. Yoga can help us to be comfortable, naked in the bodies that cover our souls.

—Sharon Gannon