Planting our future meals

Planting our future meals

 Envisioning our feasts

I love this time of year; when all the envisioning we did in the winter, of the goodness we want to feast on during the summer months, goes into motion :). For the past few years, at the beginning of spring, the hubs and I have been starting our own seeds for our little garden patch. I absolutely love watching them go from seeds in dirt, to little seedlings peeking through, to full on shoots ready to be picked up for a new season in the big leagues–outside!

Deciding every year what to plant is so hard…since we only have so much room….and time :). Tomatoes, squash, greens, peppers, herbs, berries…yum! These categories are just the tip of the iceberg; picking out varieties from there is a whole other ball game! For instance, the Tomato family is quite big; it’s not just one Mr. & Mrs. Tomato…it’s Cherry, German Johnson, Golden Jubilee, Sunsugar, Green Zebra, Hillbilly, Cherokee, San Marzano….and the list goes on and on…and on. I’m learning that that’s the beauty of starting from seed….the sky’s really the limit!

Getting our hands dirty

Growing up I was never the gardening type…the idea of getting my hands dirty was not too high on my priority list. But then I married a boy who loves playing in dirt and has an amazing green thumb. The first year we were married I wasn’t an eager beaver to get out there but over the years I’ve grown to love the process–even the weeding :). There is something magical about gardening, like painting; weeding is like prepping your blank canvas, picking out seeds is like picking out your colors and then planting your garden is like slowly adding color to your canvas…

The difference is, a garden is a creative collaboration with nature that has so many moving parts outside of our control…sometimes seeds don’t take, some weeks are super dry and some are super wet, and then there are hailstorms or freak frosts that come early or late in the season. But, for the most part in my experience, the sun and the rain and all the other elements seem to work in harmony so that we end up with quite a feast.

Waiting for their arrival

We just planted our babies this past weekend…and now the waiting game begins :). Can’t wait to share pics of our bounty + some new recipes this summer :)! Do you have a veggie or herb garden? What did you plant this year? Leave a comment below…would love to hear what fresh delights you will be enjoying this summer.

Lots of fresh, green love to you,

Kajal

 

Nature’s bounty: a pantry for home remedies

Nature’s bounty: a pantry for home remedies

cilantro parsley tea, spring cleanse

Using Nature’s Bounty for spring remedies

It’s starting to feel like spring….the grass is turning green, the flowers are blossoming, the bird’s are chirping….and I’ve started sneezing :). What about you? Does the pollen, fresh grasses and the blossoming beauties in your neck of the woods get you sneezy and stuffy?

Several years ago, I attended a really great workshop by Jen Jensen and Phil Madden of Sonoma Valley Acupuncture and Herb Center called Wellness 101: Spring Remedies. In their usual, customary style, Jen and Phil shared a wealth of information:).  My biggest take away from that afternoon was on the importance of taking time to do some kind of internal spring cleanse. They explained that by taking the time to do a gentle cleanse in the spring, we can better support our liver to get ready for the summer when our body is busy helping us stay cool, fight allergies and keep active.

So this weekend, I plan on starting a mini-cleanse by indulging in my favorite Spring time ritual, sipping Parsley Cilantro Tea. Jen said that doing something as simple as making this fresh tea and drinking it everyday for a week can really help to gently cleanse your system. I’ve done this for the past few years and I have to say, it’s an awesome home remedy!

Everyday Wonder Herbs

As a kid I never understood why my mom and grandmother topped everything off with cilantro; dals, curries, homemade breads, you name it and it probably had cilantro in it :). But now as an adult, I have great appreciation for the amazing herbal knowledge that my ancestors had. They knew nature’s bounty was more than just for satisfying the belly, but contained great remedies for overall well-being.  Both cilantro and parsley have a wealth of nutritional properties and together these herbs contain vitamins and minerals that are amazing for fighting disease and for preventative healthcare…..

Cilantro is a powerful antioxidant, digestive aid, a great source of iron and magnesium, reduces minor swelling, disinfects and helps detoxify the body, stimulates the endocrine glands (great for someone like me that has Thyroid Hashimoto’s), lowers blood sugar, is a natural antifungal agent for skin disorders (like eczema), contains immune-boosting properties, acts as an expectorant, helps with cramps & regulating periods, is great for the eyes and last but not least, helps promote healthy liver function.

Parsley kills bacteria, has high doses of vitamin C that assists with better absorption of iron, dissolves cholesterol, is a natural diuretic (which helps eliminate excess water for your system…great for weight loss), assists with regulating menstrual cramps, helps balance hormones and purifies the blood,

Who wants to do a Gentle Spring Cleanse?

So starting this weekend I’ll be sipping on Cilantro Parsley tea for 7-10 days (April 23- May 2) and would love to have you join me. There’s just something so communal about  cleanses and the idea of getting ready for the warm weather and all the lovely blooms that will be coming and going from now until the fall together.

All you need is a 1 bunch of cilantro, 1 bunch of parsley and water (the recipe for the actual tea is below). I generally make about 4 cups of it in the morning and then sip on it throughout the day….in addition to my usual routine (meals, movement, work). And then after the initial 7-10 days, I continue to enjoy the tea sporadically throughout the warm weather season.  It’s pretty simple and super refreshing.

I’d love to hear if you’re joining me, let me know in the comments below and make sure to join our facebook group, Wholesome Soul Living. Our facebook group area is where we’ll be sharing our Parsley and Cilantro tales :). Lastly, if you know of any other great home remedies for the spring/allergy season, please share below!

Happy Cleansing,
Kajal

Cilantro Parsley Tea
Author: 
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Parsley, washed and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup Cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4½ cups Water (the ½ cup is for water that will burn off during the process.
Instructions
  1. In a small pot combine water, parsley and cilantro.
  2. Bring to a boil and strain.
  3. Enjoy warm or at room temperature all day.
Notes
Great to sip on through out the day. For best results in the spring, sip throughout the day for 7-10 days in a row.

 

Chaitra Navratri: A special kind of New Moon

Chaitra Navratri: A special kind of New Moon

Honoring the Divine

Today is the start of a new moon, that falls in the “special variety” of new moons. For those of you  not familiar with the Indian Lunar calendar, it is the traditional calendar by which yogi’s have observed holy days & festivals for thousands of years. This new moon, falls in the month of Chaitri and signifies the beginning of a 10 day period of time called Chaitri Navratri; a festival for honoring the various forms of the divine goddess.

My meditation teacher, Shri Anandi Ma has always recommended doing extra practices (meditation, japa, yoga, pranayama) during these days as the “flow of spiritual energy is strong” and very supportive for making progress spiritually. She’s always stressed that the amount of “extra practices” is always dependent on your schedule and what’s realistic for you.

Watering your roots

Some years, my yogi friends and I take the ten days off from work and create a 10-day, self-retreat. And other years, I’ve fit in a few extra practices in the morning and replaced evening lounge time with time on my asan (meditation cushion). It’s really up to you, but ideally keeping the same time and same practice everyday is most beneficial.

Our self retreats include anywhere from 4-6 hours of japa (mantra recitation), 1-2 hours of pranayam (breathing techniques) + meditation, some hatha yoga (asanas), lots of spiritual reading, yogic fasting (don’t let the word fasting deceive you :)–yogic fasting is full of all sorts of deliciousness)  and silence. Yes, silence….that means no phone, no emails, no talking… just a lot of retreating to your core, to water your roots so that your soul can flower :). It’s amazing how quiet and calm the mind can get when you turn off the outside and focus on the inside.

Glimpses of the Divine

This year is obviously one of those years where I’m not able to do a self-retreat, but will definitely be fitting in extra practices in the morning/evenings and enjoying some yogic fasting foods. Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a lovely Navratri filled with many glimpses of the divine.

xo,

Kajal

Filling Your Space with Joy

Filling Your Space with Joy

I just read a great article this morning in Oprah Magazine by Life Coach Expert, Martha Beck, called “Interior Decorating For a Happier Life”. In this article she shares her thoughts on how “Your surroundings are an expression of your inner state. You can’t change your life without changing your stuff, and you can’t change your stuff without changing your life”.

She goes on to explain that when you fill your space with joy, you lift your spirit, too. So now instead of filling her space with meaningless objects and piles of debris, she takes the time to fill her rooms with things that “energize and delight” her. There are several elements that make her feel at home:

  1. Artwork– She’s a “megafan” of Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion….so she surrounds herself with wall art and statues her as a reminder to live from a place of unconditional kindness.
  2. Vision Boards– these self-made collages hold her deepest desires and subconsciously remind her of the intentions she’s set out to manifest.
  3. Spirit Guides– These are books that calm and feed her spirit until she feels much braver than she believes she is.
  4. Love Pictures– photographs of friends and families that provide emotional warmth and light
  5. Her Menagerie– inspirational things that aren’t objects but living breathing beings….humans, dogs, horses, squirrels and birds…creatures that each remind her to keep enjoying life, whether through playing, resting, feasting, cuddling, rambling and rejoicing.

 

She ends by posing a series of questions…

“When you look at your home, what kind of self-portrait do you see?”

“Do the things around you spark happiness?”

 

If your answer to the last question is “Not really”, her advice isn’t to throw everything out, but to start decluttering and adding a few new things slowly, one area at a time. Maybe start with a cluttered dresser and clear a space for a small vase with fresh flowers, then move to your bedside and add a framed picture of that makes you smile, then maybe move to your bathroom and add a little something on the wall that inspires you daily to live intentionally or add an inspiring quote to your fridge. The long and the short is, that before you know it, “one day you’ll wake up enveloped by your own most compassionate, wise, creative, loving self in three dimensions and living color. In every way possible, you’ll be at home”.

So, what kind of things do you fill your home with that spark happiness for you?Leave a comment below…I’d love to hear from you!

Xo,

Kajal

Recipe for the happiest people

Recipe for the happiest people

Deep Rooted Happiness

As I get ready to celebrate, my “OMG, I’m almost 40!” birthday–I turn 39 years old next week :), I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness. Not momentary happiness, but the kind that is deeply rooted and not swayed by: material possessions that come and go, misunderstandings that inevitably arise as you engage with those around you or by negative Nelly’s, fear mongers and self-doubts that surely have a way of coming to the surface as you take risks and enter new stages in life. I’m talking about the kind of happiness that you catch a glimpse of in very rare and special people. Their happiness not only leaves an impression on your heart forever but lights you up when you think about them. In my opinion, to know even one person like this in a lifetime is a blessing that provides a treasure trove of wisdom to learn from.

The Magic Ingredient

For me that person was my grandfather. He was so happy and content that you could often catch him laughing in his sleep. It’s not that he had an easy life; on the contrary he had a very hard life, filled with enormous challenges, a lot of hard work, great risk and many adventures. In reflecting and studying his happiness, what I fundamentally have learned is that the magic ingredient was not a person, place or thing, but the perspective and attitude that he greeted the world with. 

In the late 1940’s he took a leap of faith and moved to Africa at a young age with his brothers to explore business opportunities and start a new life. Over the next two decades, he not only built a family food business, but also got married to a  beautiful, strong woman with whom he had 8 children with. With eight mouths to feed and educate, the funds were always tight in their household, yet my grandfather was known to never think twice about giving the $10 he had in his pocket to a stranger or friend in need. He had faith he would be taken care of, so he always gave freely and put those around him before himself. 

Then at the end of the 60’s, when the dictator, Idi Amin came in power and went on a rampage to throw out and kill all Indians in the areas, almost overnight, my grandfather and the whole family had to abandon the home, business and life they had built to flee to safety. His kids by then all varied in age; older ones left on their own, younger ones stayed with them. They all fled to neighboring country’s that were taking in refugees and helping them find new homes in different parts of the world.  But with no email, cell phones or even great telephone services, there was no knowing who was where. But he kept his faith strong and thankfully, all of them made it out safely and were reunited within a few years.

Doubling Up On Sweetness

And, at the age of 55, with no formal education or ability to speak the english language, my grandfather entered Canada as a refugee with my grandmother and a few of their children. At this point, my Grandfather could have become depressed, disgruntled, resentful or even a miser. But instead, he took the lemons that he was given and doubled his helping of faith so that he could continue to serve the sweetest lemonade in the form of kindness, generosity and inspiration.  As one of the hardest and diligent workers I’ve ever witnessed, he gave more money, food and love in generous portions to strangers and friends alike than anyone I know. And in return, he was blessed with another thriving business (that’s still flourishing today) + a lovingly, close-knit family.

Being Resilient

These are just a few examples from his life, but the point is that he could be remembered for the amazing business empire he grew from nothing, but instead what truly stands out for me is the resilience he had to get through the countless struggles he endured over his 90+ years. The magic of his resilience, resulted in a constantly, infectious, happy soul that was rooted in faith, kindness, generosity and love–the core tenants of basic yogic philosophy.  No matter what situation he was in, I always remember him as having a smile on his face, a deep desire to share what he had (money, time, food, a laugh) and an unshakeable faith in God and the assurance that he would always be taken care of. With that amazing attitude, he always produced the sweetest lemonade for himself and everyone around him to enjoy.

Creating Joy That Lives Well Beyond Our Years

So my recipe for the happiest people is not about having the best of everything, but making the best of everything. A mindset rooted in faith, surrender, kindness, generosity and love; virtues that not only help us keep marching forward but help us find the silver lining through all of life’s ups and downs. The best part, is that in turn, our joy leaves an impressions on the hearts of those around us that lives on well beyond our years. I hope that like my grandfather, as a collective, we have the ability to keep a positive perspective, share & love generously with friends and strangers alike and hold onto faith in God and ourselves, so that as our inner worlds emanate joy, we inspire others to do the same.

Have faith, let go and be happy, friends—-life’s too short to be otherwise. What kind of impression do you want to leave on the hearts of those around you?

Here’s to learning how to make the sweetest lemonade, EVER!  :).
Lots of love,

Kajal

The Greatness of Shiva

The Greatness of Shiva

EVERYDAY REMINDERS FOR STRIVING MEDITATORS

This Friday night is one of my all-time favorite nights of the year; Shivratri; a night dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Lord of Yoga, the ultimate renunciate. This hindu deity, known for his deep states of meditation, ability to destroy the ego and capacity to bring about extensive changes and transformation (inside and out) is said to reside at the summit of Mt. Kailash (in Tibet), where he sits in a state of perpetual meditation, along with his wife Parvati and his bull, Nandi.

I love gazing on images of Shiva because of all the symbolism that his form contains. On an external level, Shiva is known for his prominent third eye, a serpent around his neck, a cresent moon adorning his dreadlocks, the holy Ganges river flowing from his matted hair, a trident as his weapon of choice, and a little drum known as a damaru that accompanies him and his faithful bull, Nandi, wherever they go.

What do all the symbols around Shiva represent?

Well, as a meditator, let me share with you what I’ve learned over the years from my teachers, Shri Anandi Ma and Dileepji :).

THIRD EYE – While his two regular eyes represent the physical, everyday world, his third eye represents the Ajna Chakra and the spiritual wisdom and power acquired through meditation, that allows one to see beyond maya (illusion).

SERPENT AROUND NECK – The serpent represents the Kundalini, the source of divine energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine, until awakened. Once awakened, she moves in an upward direction, piercing various chakras along way until she reaches the Sahasrar chakra, thus leading spiritual aspirants to the ultimate state of consciousness.

CRESCENT MOON – There’s a long story behind this symbol, but the jist is that it represents the waxing and waning of the moon, the mind and the continuim of time, which when adorned on Shiva signifies the control over the mind and time.

GANGES RIVER – The holy ganges river is known as the holiest river in India and is personified as the Goddess Ganga. The story says that Shiva was asked to break her descent from heaven to earth as the force of her fall would have flooded and wrecked havoc rather than help the inhabitants of the world. So the Ganges flows first through Shiva’s matted locks and then from there he lets her gently flow out so that devoted souls can bathe in her waters and purify their souls.

TRIDENT- The trident in his hands represents several things, the most important being the trinity of supreme divinity which oversees the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance and destruction. Brahma is known as the creator, Vishnu is known as the preserver and the Shiva as the destroyer/transformer.

DAMARU (drum)- The damaru represents the heartbeat of life, the cosmic sound of AUM and the process of creation.

BULL- Nandi, Shiva’s bull is not only a great devotee of his, but is also his trusted vehicle and represents truth. He’s a reminder of the strength and power that comes from living truthfully, righteousnessly and harnessing the infinite consciousness that lies within you.

Celebrating Shiva

So to honor his greatness, many yoga studios, meditation centers and hindu temples locally and abroad celebrate Shivratri in various ways. Some partake in a day of yogic fasting, some enjoy all-night chanting, while some prefer just meditating. No matter what, devotees enjoy carving out the time to pay homage to Shiva with the hopes of getting a chance to experience his greatness and be blessed with a deepened yoga and meditation practice.

If you’re in Northern California, Dhyanyoga Centers will be hosting an all-night event filled with chanting + meditation this Friday, Feb 24 from 9 pm to 7 am. And if you live elsewhere, google Shivaratri events near you….or invite some of your favorite yogini/yogi pals over for a little late night yoga, chanting, meditation and chai :).

Happy Shivratri!
Lots of love,

Kajal

 

 

 

Yoga, Politics and the Womens March in DC

Yoga, Politics and the Womens March in DC

I don’t generally talk about politics on my blog, however, it’s hard to look the other way when the past few months and especially the last few days have been such a pivotal time not just in American history, but world history. And, as a yogini and artist, I do believe these are the times when we should do our practices regularly, but also stand up, speak out and come together.

BEING A VESSEL

As a yogi I remind myself daily, “you are not the doer, merely a vessel for the divine to work through you”. These words have always provided me with perspective, faith, humility and a gentle nudge to let go of whatever was sitting heavy in my heart. Yet, since November, it’s been hard to fully wrap my “mind” around how universal morality of truth, compassion, generosity and peace was being pushed aside for dishonesty, greed, selfishness and deep-seated aggressions. At times I’ve felt like I was losing my faith in humanity.

Then this weekend happened.

COMING TOGETHER

A coming together of millions, standing together in peace, love, compassion and kindness. A large part of humanity saying we don’t want to live in a dark world, where fear rules and immorality dominates. Can you believe 3.5- 4 million Americans rallying together, without a single arrest or outburst of violence? It’s phenomenal.

THE POWER OF THE YAMAS (universal morality)

As I’ve been reflecting on the past few days and what it all means, I see this outpouring of love as an example of yoga at it’s best. Patanjali, the father of the Yoga Sutras, explains that the very first limb that a yogi must learn are the Yamas that represent Universal Morality.  Five basic characteristics that remind us that our fundamental  human nature is that of compassion, generosity, honesty and peacefulness. Which, if tended to, purifies human nature and contributes to the health and happiness of society.

 

The yamas are broken down into these five characteristics:

  1. AHIMSACompassion for all living things. The word ahimsa literally mean not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever. Ahimsa is, however, more than just lack of violence as adopted in yoga. It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things. It also has to do with our duties and responsibilities too. Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm.
  2. SATYACommitment to Truthfulness. Satya means “to speak the truth,” yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa. This precept is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community, or government, and that deliberate deception, exaggerations, and mistruths harm others.
  3. ASTEYANon-stealing. Steya means “to steal”; asteya is the opposite-to take nothing that does not belong to us. This also means that if we are in a situation where someone entrusts something to us or confides in us, we do not take advantage of him or her. Non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to that intended, or beyond the time permitted by its owner. The practice of asteya implies not taking anything that has not been freely given. This includes fostering a consciousness of how we ask for others’ time for inconsiderate behavior demanding another’s attention when not freely given is, in effect, stealing
  4. BRAHMACHARYASense control. Brahmacharya is used mostly in the sense of abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya does not necessarily imply celibacy. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. Rather, it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth. Practicing brahmacharya means that we use our sexual energy wisely and to regenerate our connection to our spiritual self. It also means that we don’t use this energy in any way that might harm others.
  5. APARIGRAHANeutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth. Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. We should only take what we have earned; if we take more, we are exploiting someone else. The yogi feels that the collection or hoarding of things implies a lack of faith in God and in himself to provide for his future. Aparigraha also implies letting go of our attachments to things and an understanding that impermanence and change are the only constants.

HOPE & LIGHT

We’ve definitely seen the opposite of these tenants being acted upon by tyrants that have wreaked havoc in large and small countries. But, we’ve also seen them put into action by visionary activists and leaders, like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.. Proving that deep shifts can take place when compassion, generosity, honesty and peacefulness are the instruments that people choose to break walls down with, rather than weapons that inflict pain, create divisions and ultimately cause destruction.

 

Whatever lies ahead, I know “the road will be long”, but I am hopeful and inspired knowing that the Womens March and other sister organizations are following suit of these great leaders and being a beacon of hope and light.  Because as Dr. King so beautifully said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.

With lots of love,
Kajal

 

Hope, Unity, Compassion & Love

Hope, Unity, Compassion & Love

What a week. So many emotions. If you’re attending a march somewhere around the country tomorrow, please feel free to print this poster, share it and carry it proudly. I’ll be attending the march in DC and look forward to showing that HOPE, UNITY, COMPASSSION and LOVE are the pillars of this country. #artistsforlove #whyimarch

With lots of love,
Kajal

Top 10 Yoga-Inspired Spiritual Classics

Top 10 Yoga-Inspired Spiritual Classics

FEEDING MY SOUL

When I started my spiritual quest in college, my appetite for spiritual insight, wisdom and inspiration was insatiable and I devoured all the spiritual books I could get my hands on. Reading about saints, yogic philosophy, and recipes on living a yoga-inspired life was like nectar to my soul.

Over the course of the past 20 years, I have read MANY books, but these ten classics are the ones that have a special place on my bookshelf and that I still turn to often. Each book is a touchstone, that reminds me of the magic and beauty of yoga & meditation and just how grateful and I am for my practice.

SHAPING MY WORLD

If you get a chance, I would highly recommend checking out some…or all of these recommendations :). They have each played an integral role in shaping my world, and continue to provide much light, direction, warmth and nourishment through the deep valleys and windy mountains that my life adventures take me on. I hope that they can do the same for you. So, without further ado, here’s my list…

Top 10 Yoga-Inspired Spiritual Classics:

  1. This House is on Fire, as told by Shri Anandi Ma
    This biography of Shri Dhyanyogi, the kind of Indian saint who only exists in legend, provides tales of his exploits—at 100 years old he could walk faster than any of his followers—that are intertwined with his spiritual teachings. After 80 years of solitude in rural India, Dhyanyogi came out from seclusion to teach in India and the United States. Tales of the gentle yogi facing down tigers, battling hunger and thirst, and traveling through the treacherous mountains and scorching deserts of India are all told here. In his unending desire to be a resource to followers, Dhyanyogi is known to have said to his followers, “This house is on fire—loot all you can!”—referring to the wisdom he had and how little time he had on earth to impart it.

  2. The Living Gita, by Swami Satchidananda
    The Bhagavad Gita tells the story of how Arjuna, the great warrior, is seated in his chariot about to engage in battle, when he sees his own kinsmen and his revered teacher arrayed in battle against him, and feels that he cannot fight. It is then that Krishna, the Cosmic Lord, comes to counsel him. Arjuna represents the human soul seated in the chariot of the body and Krishna is the inner Spirit, the God within, who is there to consel him. Today we see humanity divided against itself and threatened with nuclear war and mutual destruction. No political means are adequate to deal with this problem, and many are driven to despair. It is then that the message of the Gita comes to teach us that it is only when we rise above human schemes and calculations and awake to the presence of the indwelling Spirit that we can hope to find the answer to our need.
  3. Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda
    This book is a beautifully written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. Profoundly inspiring, it is at the same time vastly entertaining, warmly humorous and filled with extraordinary personages.

  4. The Himalayan Masters: A Living Tradition, by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
    In a nutshell, this book describes the lives of 8 saints who lived in the Himalayan mountains. The struggles they went through and eventually attaining Self-Realization is truly a source of inspiration for all those souls embarking on the spiritual path. It gives new hope to thousands of people who have decided to embark on the yogic path. And answers common experiences faced by spiritual novices.

  5. Shakti: An Introduction to Kundalini Maha Yoga, by Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudhandas
    Describing the nature of the universal divine energy of Kundalini and its relationship to spiritual growth, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji, a great saint of India and a master of Kundalini Maha yoga, explains how to awaken this dormant energy in spiritual aspirants. In this new edition, Shri Dhyanyogiji shares his energy, wisdom, and technical knowledge of this sacred tradition, making it accessible to both the beginning and the more advanced student of yoga. Featuring helpful charts and diagrams of the chakra system and the 18 major nadis, questions and answers about meditation and the spiritual path, as well as encouraging experiences from students, this guide brings together knowledge that had been formerly unknown outside of this yogic lineage.

  6. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, by Vasant Lad
    Based on the ancient healing tradition from India that dates back thousands of years, The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies offers natural alternatives to conventional medicines and treatments with practical advice and easy-to-follow instructions. 
  7. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
    The only fiction novel on my list, this magical book combines magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery. Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

  8. Light on Meditation, by Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudhandas
    In “Light on Meditation”, Shri Dhyanyogi explains how meditation transforms body, mind and spirit. In his simple down-to-earth voice, he clarifies the meaning of Kundalini, the spiritual energy within us. This vibrant book provides a map for the spiritual seeker, offering clear guidance about how to deal with the victories and challenges along the path.

  9. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by Swami Satchidananda
    This valuable book provides a complete manual for the study and practice of Raja Yoga, the path of concentration and meditation. This new edition of these timeless teachings is a treasure to be read and referred to again and again by seekers treading the spiritual path. The classic Sutras (thought-threads), at least 4,000 years old, cover the yogic teachings on ethics, meditation, and physical postures, and provide directions for dealing with situations in daily life. The Sutras are presented here in the purest form, with the original Sanskrit and with translation, transliteration, and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda, one of the most respected and revered contemporary Yoga masters. In this classic context, Sri Swamiji offers practical advice based on his own experience for mastering the mind and achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony.

  10. Raja Yoga, by Swami Vivekananda
    This book is a little bit of a hard read, but is packed with such an abundance of wisdom on the practice of Raja Yoga. The method has been called the soul of all the yogas. The emphsis here in on the control of the mind through concentration and meditation. Raja yoga is also called the yoga of meditation. It is regarded as the psychological way to union with God. Rousing the Kundalini is the one and only way to attain Divine Wisdom. The rousing may come in various ways: through love for God, through the mercy of perfected sages, or through the power of the analytic will of the philosopher. Wherever there was any manifestation of what is ordinarily called supernatural power or wisdom, there a little current of Kundalini must have found its way into the Sushumna. Thus, what most people worship under various names, through fear and tribulation, the Yogi declares to the world to be the real power coiled up in every being, the Mother of eternal happiness, if we but know how to approach her. And Raja Yoga is the science of religion, the rationale of all worship, all prayers, forms, ceremonies, and miracles.

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