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Santa Rosa


Amy Charnay is based in Santa Rosa, Sonoma county California. She teaches aerial yoga and practices herbal medicine and Nutrition. On this site you will know more about her services as well as upcoming events.


The Herbal Jet-Setter

Amy Charnay


I recently returned from 3+ weeks in Europe and many clients, friends and colleagues are asking how it is possible that I am back at work the next day after 20+ hours of taxis, shuttles, airports, trains and airplanes and a nine hour time difference.

I'm not going to lie, I am a bit tired today, but totally functional unlike how I used to feel after such extensive travel. I love to travel and half of my family lives in Europe, so I have figured out ways to make it work for me! I am happy to share my top travel tips & products with you...

Hydrate your whole body on the inside as well as the skin and sinuses. Air quality in airplanes is, well, disgusting. It's full of germs and pesticides and it's very dry. I have three essential hydrating practices I do on the airplane: 

First, I spray down my seat and surrounding areas with Kamberra tea tree spray. I love this product because it is both hydrating and anti-microbial. Usually my neighbor wants their area sprayed as well which is even better! I also spray my face regularly during the flight with this product for the same reasons. A DIY recipe is to simply add 10-20 drops of tea tree (or your favorite skin safe & antimicrobial essential oil) to an 80ml spray bottle bottle filled with water.

Add a few drops of oil to your sinus cavities to keep them hydrated and the delicate tissue capable of protecting you from germs. Banyan makes one of my favorite nasal oils, but a drop of olive oil or whatever culinary oil you have on hand will also work.

Drink water! I know, it's annoying to have to get up multiple times to pee, but that's also really good for your body when sitting for such extended periods of time. I aim to drink half my weight in ounces of water and get up to pee every few hours. While I am up I stretch for 10 minutes as well. This makes a huge difference. Bonus if you can add flax or chia seeds to your water for their hydrating properties. 

Help your body get into rhythm with the new time zone ASAP. From California to France, this means 9 hours later. So, for example, when I arrive around noon, it's midnight in CA. I haven't slept much on the plane and I am tired. I immediately drink a cup of coffee and spend the day outside walking (preferably in the sun) and enjoying the new surroundings. I do not lie down no matter how tired I feel! I mean, if your feet hurt, by all means, have a seat and put your feet up but do not go to sleep if you can avoid it.

Try to stay awake until at least 8pm. I drink another cup of coffee if I really need it to stay awake. Be sure to eat lunch and dinner, if you can. Then, 1-2 hours before bed, take melatonin. My favorite brand is herbatonin - a plant based, bio-identical source. Take one cap every night for at least 3-4 nights until you feel fully adjusted to the new time zone. Repeat when you return to your home time zone.  

Support your immune system and your gut. One of the most common travel related complaints is of people getting acute sickness, usually respiratory or gastrointestinal. Of course this is common - we're exposed to new germs and unfamiliar foods and our systems are stressed. One of the best ways to support your immune health it to support the gut! Here are my favorite gut health products: 

Support your digestion with enzymes to help break down foods and/or bitters to help stimulate your digestive fire before meals (hello, apertif!). This is important because your gut operates on a bio-rhythym so your new time zone is confusing when the new 7pm dinner time is 4am back at home when your GI has scheduled rest and is not used to preparing for food with digestive juices, stomach churning and intestinal motility.

Enzymes such as Intolerance Complex are perfect for those with food sensitivities to gluten, dairy and more. And, one of my favorite bitters blends is Gut Love Bitters.

Address constipation. My preferred method is by taking magnesium which draws water into the bowels and thus promotes bowel movements. It has the added benefit of relaxing the body, including muscles that may be tired and crampy from the stress of travel and increased walking. I love CALM and it comes in convenient travel size packets, though I prefer to pour some from the large container into a smaller, travel size container, to reduce packaging waste. 

Consume probiotics and/or fermented foods. Most of us know by now the importance of the beneficial bacteria in the gut for digestive and immune health. I seek out fermented foods in my new location and take probiotics daily. Jarrow formulas makes a great shelf stable option called EPS 25 billion.

Activated Charcoal. This product is so useful that I always have it in my purse. It definitely saved me from food poisoning when I was in India and ate some very questionable food. And it has helped me recover more quickly from food poisoning when I got sick in Mexico as well. It adsorbs undesirable compounds in the gut from toxins to alcohol to histamines. If you eat something questionable or drink too much alcohol, take 2 caps before bed with a glass of water. Be warned that you may notice very dark black feces! Bonus: open a cap and use it topically as a paste mixed with water on blemishes and bug bites. 

Also, wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitizer such as this one by Clean Well. Or, use the tea tree spray from tip #1. 

Visualize how you want to feel. The brain is incredibly powerful and I used to spend much of my mental energy on the airplane dreading how tired I was going to feel in the new time zone. I'd get stressed about my inability to sleep on the plane and my thoughts about the physiology of the hormones involved in these important bio-rhythyms that control sleep, digestion, mood and more would through my mind as I prepared to feel crappy upon arrival. Needless to say, that was not helpful!  

Neuroscience has shown that the brain does not know the difference between a visualization and a real event. So, now, for several days before departure and on the airplane, I visualize myself feeling great in my new destination. My visualizations include waking up refreshed after sleeping well, enjoying walking and eating and feeling strong and happy. It's pretty incredible how effective this is. Give it a shot and let me know if it works for you! 


Amy Charnay

This recipe is based on one I stumbled upon in a paleo magazine years ago. It originally contained apples, sugar and orange juice. I altered it to reduce the amount of sweetener, used maple syrup instead of sugar, swapped out the apples for persimmons and used Meyer lemon juice instead of orange juice because that was what was in season when I first made it. It is so tasty and has been such a huge hit that I never tried it with apples, but I bet it would be delicious! This delicious cake is low sugar and contains gently heating spices that are perfect for warming up the body during the colder seasons. It also contains molasses to support health iron levels and healthy fat to leave you feeling satiated. And it's SO DELICIOUS and pleasing to the eyes! 

-  2 persimmons - peeled, cored, quartered and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 TBSP fresh Meyer lemon or Orange juice
- 1-2 (depending on your tastes, I use 1 Tbsp and it's plenty sweet) + 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup, divided for use (you'll see)
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (yes, it's worth it to grate your own)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature + more to grease the dish
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or other fruit puree (I cooked down & pureed 2 persimmons)
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round baking dish with a circle of parchment paper & grease the paper and the sides of the pan with ~1 Tbsp of coconut oil. 
- Toss the persimmon slices with the lemon juice + 1 Tbsp maple syrup in a small bowl & set aside. 
-  In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
- With an electric mixer in medium speed, beat together the coconut oil and remaining 1-2 Tbsp of maple syrup. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate all ingredients. Add the fruit puree and molasses. Beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat to combine thoroughly. 
- Arrange the persimmon slices in a circular pattern in the prepared cake pan - or get creative and create whatever shape you'd like -- your friends initials? A smiley face? It's your cake. You'll likely have a few extra persimmon slices - eat them! Spread the batter over the top of the fruit slices. 
- Bake for ~30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
- Allow cake to cool completely. Then, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a plate on top of the cake pan. Holding the plate to the pan with one hand and the pan itself with the other, carefully flip the cake onto the plate. Gently remove the cake pan from the cake and peel off the parchment paper from the top. Viola! Look at the beauty you created! Cut into slices and feel free to sprinkle with extra cinnamon before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Persimmons in baking dish

Step 1: Arrange fruit in baking dish

Finished baking!

Finished baking and ready to flip after cooling!

persimmon cake

DIY Herbal Spa Day!

Amy Charnay

I recently co-hosted a DIY Spa day with my dear friend and colleague, Nicteha (check her out crafty creations and services here. We had SO MUCH FUN and hope to offer this again a few times annually. Until then, I wanted to share the all natural skin care recipes that I whipped up so you can have your own delightful spa day at home, at the beach, or with your friends. Here are the recipes in order of use, enjoy! 

Before cleansing with the gentle exfoliating cleaner, apply plain Baking soda to your damp face and gently massage to exfoliate a bit more than just using the cleanser solo.

1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/2 cup Ground Oats
1/4 cup Liquid Coconut or Olive Oil Soap
1/4 cup Oil (Olive, Jojoba, Almond, etc.)
Essential Oils to scent. I used: Palmarosa, Helichrysum, Carrot Seed, Calendula & Blue Chamomile

Combine all of the above ingredients. Apply to dry face, massaging in a circular motion. Add water, continue to massage face and rinse. 


1/3 cup Cosmetic grade French Green Clay
1/4 cup Raw Local Honey
1/2 cup Hydrosol (I used Helichrysum) 
1 Avocado
1 Tbsp Oil. I used a blend of Jojoba, Argan, Rosehip Seed and Evening Primrose Oils. 
Essential Oils to scent. I used: Palmarosa, Helichrysum, Carrot Seed, Calendula & Blue Chamomile

Combine all of the above ingredients and puree in a blender or food processor. After cleaning, apply to face & décolleté. Leave on for 10-20 minutes, then rinse, tone & moisturize


Combine honey, activated charcoal and a few drops of each: Rosemary verbenon, Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils. Apply topically on blemishes. 


I combined equal parts of Rosehip Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Evening Primrose Oil and Jojoba Oil and add Essential Oils based on your skin needs. I used: Palmarosa, Carrot Seed, Blue Chamomile, Helichrysum and Calendula.


Mist face with hydrosols regularly to hydrate and refresh. Check my shop page to purchase 100% natural, local hydrosols. I make them in small batches on my Herban Farm here in Northern California. 

Combine sugar or salt with carrier oils and essential oils to scent. I used organic sugar and a blend of Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil, Argan Oil and Evening Primrose Oil. Choose Essential Oils based on your skin needs. I used: Palmarosa, Carrot Seed, Blue Chamomile, Helichrysum and Calendula.


Spa Products

life changing bread, herbal style

Amy Charnay

Background: dry ingredients pre-mixed in mason jars.

Background: dry ingredients pre-mixed in mason jars.

Sometimes we simply want a delicious piece of bread! Have you heard about 'Life Changing Bread'? I had mixed feelings about it, but after a few years of playing around with the recipe, I have landed on one that I LOVE! My dietary goals are always to pack my day with vegetables, fruits, legumes, high quality proteins and good whole foods in general. I'm gluten and dairy free and finding a truly healthy bread substitute isn't easy. Well, here you go. Even my French bread-loving spouse loves this bread! It's deliciously moist & chewy and packed with nutrient dense and gut soothing super stars including flax seeds, psyllium husk and chia seeds. 

Here are a few more reasons why I LOVE this bread:
- It's nutrient dense, unlike most breads made of refined flour, so it truly feeds your body. 
- It's high in protein & fiber, gluten-free and dairy free. 
- It's mucilaginous properties soothe and support a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 
- It's loaded with fiber which supports healthy cholesterol levels and helps keep you regular -- a vital part of the body's natural detoxification process is shuttling toxins out via the colon. 
- It's easy peasy with little time or clean-up involved!

Enjoy this bread with a variety of added ingredients - olives, herbs, etc. Or top it with my dandelion pesto recipe, hummus, veggies, nut butters -- get creative! Post your favorite toppings below. 

Tip: Mix dry ingredients in quart size mason jars ahead of time and store in fridge or at room temperature, away from light and heat. When you want to make your bread, just grind dry ingredients (or not) and mix in liquid ingredients and you're ready to go. 

1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
½ cup flax seeds
½ cup hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups  rolled oats
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks
1 tsp. fine grain sea or Himalayan salt or 2 tsp ground seaweed
2 Tbsp Nettle leaf, or other dried leafy herb such as Moringa or Parsley
1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey or a pinch of dry stevia or few drops of liquid
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups water

1. Combine  all dry ingredients, stirring well. Stop here for crunchy bread, or blend in Vitamix for smoother texture (my preference). 

2. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. I use boiling hot water and add the oil so it melts easily. Fewer dishes!

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients in a bowl or directly in the silicone loaf pan. Mix very thoroughly until everything is completely mixed and dough becomes very thick (if too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top of the loaf with the back of a spoon.

4. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. 

5. Preheat oven to 350°F

6. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing. 

7. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

Bon Appétit! 


Paleo Lemon Lavender Coconut Muffins! Gluten Free, Dairy Free Delights!

Amy Charnay

Sometimes I just want a muffin! But, my body, like many bodies, doesn't generally do well on processed grains. Here's a quick and easy healthy muffin recipe. Enjoy! Recipe makes about 6 muffins. 

3 Eggs (I use duck eggs)
2 Tbsp Ghee or Coconut Oil, melted
2 Tbsp Coconut milk
1 Tbsp Honey or Maple Syrup (or substitute with a few drops of stevia for sugar free diets)
1/2 - 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Tbsp Lavender (or more, if stronger flavor is desired) 
1 Tbsp Lemon zest (or more, if stronger flavor is desired) 

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (add to liquid mix - see directions) 


1. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Grease or line muffin cups with paper liners. 
2. Whisk eggs, ghee, coconut milk, honey, salt and vanilla extract together in a howl until smooth. Stir in lemon zest. 
3. Mix coconut flour, baking powder and lavender together in a separate bowl. Then, stir dry mixture into liquid mixture until batter is combined. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups. 
4. Bake in the preheated oven at 400 degrees about 15 - 20 minutes, until the old 'toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin' trick comes out clean. 

bon appétit!

Reishi Roast Elixir + Chocolate = Healthy deliciousness

Amy Charnay


½ c coconut oil
¼ c cocoa powder
2 Tbsp raw honey, maple syrup or a few drops of stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional additions:
1 – 2 Tbsp Reishi Roast Elixir
1 - 2 Tbsp maca powder

Gently melt the coconut oil and add honey (with any additional optional ingredients). Whisk vigorously to emulsify oil and honey, for at least 1 minute, by hand or using an emulsion blender. Then, whisk in cocoa powder, vanilla and Reishi Roast. Pour into silicone molds and cool at least 15-30 minutes in freezer or fridge.  I like to sprinkle mine with a pinch of sea salt and some shredded coconut before cooling. Enjoy! 

Pouring into silicone molds. 

Pouring into silicone molds. 

Quality begins with good Ingredients. 

Quality begins with good Ingredients. 

Bon Appétit!

Bon Appétit!

Got chronic pain or illness? Want to try yoga but don't know where to start?

Amy Charnay

Guidelines for choosing an appropriate Yoga Class for people living in chronic pain…

Mindful yoga can be a very therapeutic practice for people living with chronic pain. It can help you remain or become more grounded in your body which can be especially difficult with chronic body issues such as chronic pain or illness. I wrote this blog post to reduce the intimidation of starting a new practice. While styles of yoga are important, I think the most important aspect is choosing a teacher that resonates with you. Someone who can guide you as the expert of your own body. 

What is hatha yoga? Most yoga classes are listed as “hatha” yoga. Hatha is a general term that encompasses many styles of physical yoga that includes asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), relaxation and meditation. There are many popular styles of hatha yoga that are taught at many studios, hospitals, and community centers. 

Where can I get more information? I recommend visiting local studios in your area online or in person to find out more. Search their website for styles that sound good and/or read the teachers' bios. You can also visit the Yoga Alliance website ( to search for teachers of a specific style. ALWAYS feel free to call the teacher or studio in advance for advice about classes or to ask about a specific teacher’s training. Below are some basic definitions and information about different styles of yoga and suggestions as to which styles tend to be most appropriate for those living with chronic pain or injuries:


  1. Gentle or ultra gentle yoga: just as the name implies this style moves at a slower pace and is appropriate for most students.
  2. Integrated Yoga Therapy: A therapeutic style that is usually gentle and focuses on the connection of the body, mind and spirit.
  3. Restorative Yoga: A restful and rejuvenative style that makes use of props and blankets to allow for passive stretching and deep relaxation. Wonderful stuff!
  4. Yoga Nidra: “Yogic sleep”. Not hatha (does not involve asanas). The teacher guides students through a relaxation focusing on the body and imagery and leads students into a state of conscious deep sleep & relaxation.
  5. Chair Yoga: Excellent style for anyone who is comfortable in a chair or who cannot comfortably get onto the floor.
  6. Viniyoga: a very comprehensive style that often includes asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, meditation, chanting, and more.


  1. Iyengar: this style may be appropriate – check with the teacher. Focus is on precise alignment and often uses props to achieve this, which can be a challenge. In general, I prefer to modify the pose to work for the body over using props. 
  2. Beginner/Level 1: may be appropriate, discuss with the teacher. These classes generally stick to basic poses and alignment. This can be a great place to begin. 
  3. Anusara: Heart centered style based in the Iyengar tradition.
  4. Integral Yoga: A meditative style consisting of a sequence of poses with occasional variations.
  5. Kirpalu: A flowing style that concentrates on the interplay of “effort and surrender”.
  6. Kundalini: Energetic style involving a lot of movement using the “fire breath”.
  7. Aerial Yoga: A yoga style that uses a soft fabric as a prop to support the body. It can be very gentle or highly athletic -- ask the teacher if you can't tell from the description. 


  1. Ashtanga: an intense aerobic workout. Most appropriate for athletic types.
  2. Bikram: athletic style done in a room at very high temperatures. 
  3. Power yoga: generic term for athletic styles of yoga.
  4. Vinyasa flow: Students flow from one pose to the next, often quite strenuous.
  5. Sivananda: Like Integral yoga, this style follows a sequence of asanas, but is often more physically challenging.

You may find other names of classes like 'mindful yoga' or 'yoga for stress reduction' or other creative names that give you an idea of the practice. These could be great classes too. 

REMEMBER: When in a yoga asana, do your best to steady the mind and ALWAYS keep yourself comfortable. And breathe.  That’s all you have to remember! Always take a break if you feel any pain or discomfort beyond a stretch. YOU are in charge of your body, not the teacher. I recommend going to class early to speak with the teacher about any specific concerns, fears, etc. A good teacher will gently guide you, never forcefully. Your #1 priority is to take care of yourself, not the feelings of the teacher. If the class doesn't work for you, leave. 

Dandelion pesto - your liver will thank you!

Amy Charnay

Dandelion pesto is one of my favorite foods! Try this recipe, your liver will love it! Let me know what you think. 

Place all ingredients in blender & gently pulse to maintain a course texture:

               1 bunch dandelion leaves
               1/3 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
               1/4 cup olive oil
               1-2 tsp truffle oil
               1 tsp truffle salt
               Juice from 1/2 lemon
               2-3 garlic cloves
               Optional: parsley or cilantro

The most delicious time of the year. . . cranberry salsa time.

Amy Charnay

Cranberry salsa

Fall and winter are my favorite food seasons. We still have loads of fresh veggies in Northern California yet it's cold enough to slow cook, bake, and eat lots of food in preparation for winter. One of my all time favorite recipes is built on a cranberry foundation. Cranberries are are available for only a very short season -- now. This recipe is always a HUGE hit at parties and it's delicious. Enjoy! 

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Introducing...Reishi Roast!

Amy Charnay

Lily Mazzarella and I began our herbal adventures together over 10 years ago while earning our Masters of Science degrees in Herbal Medicine. Along that 3-year journey, we trained with international leaders in the field and got a whopping education in clinical herbal medicine, herbal safety, Ayurveda and nutrition. Since then, we have run Herb + Yoga retreats in Mexico, meditated silently together for 9 days, moved out west to pursue our careers, and cooked up dozens of tasty herbal so delicious, so sustaining — and for us, life-saving — that we decided to bring it out to the world.

Meet Reishi Roast.

It’s delicious. Reishi Roast (RR) is a robust, perfectly balanced blend of antioxidant herbs, medicinal mushrooms and superfoods formulated to give you clear, focused energy and whole body support. RR is highly medicinal and nourishes the nervous system, balances energy and supports your adrenals, immune system and detoxification. It has personally given me, and many of my clients, more balanced, even energy, improved sleep and supported our yoga and meditation practices with its deeply grounding energy.

Reishi alone is a classic and revered tonic, once reserved for royalty to extend life and improve health. Reishi is feel-good support from the deep woodlands, so earthy and rich it was meant to be brewed. Studies have found it to contain more than 400 active constituents that lend to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

We went ahead and combined Reishi with other powerhouse herbs including chaga mushroom, chicory root, dandelion root, milk thistle and milky oats, Mesquite pods, Cinnamon bark, Cacao & Himalayan Pink Salt. We spent over 5 years on this process until we created a blend that tasted so delicious that we knew it was time to share it with the world. 

RR can be brewed with, or instead of, coffee turning your morning ritual into full-body medicine & lasting energy. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

For more info: 
Join the conversation here on Facebook and let us know what you think. 
Check out this article about RR by the fabulous Sweatpants and Coffee.
Purchase your own bag here at Farmacopia

Don’t like the taste of coffee? You can still experience the benefits of RR in these delicious RR brownie bites!

Reishi Roast brownie Bites:

¾ cup raw walnuts
½ cup raw almonds
1 ¼ cup pitted medjool dates, packed well
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp Reishi Roast
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
~ ½ tsp Pink Himalayan salt
Optional: 1 tsp rose water, neroli hydrosol or other light flavor.

1.   In food processor: process walnuts & almonds into a coarse, homogenous meal. Set aside.
2. Process pitted dates in a food processor until formed into a 'dough'
3.   Add to the food processor: ground nuts, cocoa powder, Reishi Roast, vanilla & sea salt. Process until ingredients are well mixed and clumping together.
4.   Coat hands in coconut oil, press mix into silicone candy molds and freeze. When frozen, remove individual treats & enjoy!  
5.   Store in airtight container in fridge or at room temperature.  

Nettle Soup - it's what's for dinner.

Amy Charnay

I love herbs. I'm surrounded by them from morning until night -- from culinary herbs & spices to tinctures, capsules and teas, herbs are a part of my daily life. One of my all time favorite herbs is Stinging Nettles. Nettle is a common weed and an excellent medicinal plant. It's a very nourishing tonic and it's neutral, meaning it's appropriate for just about everyone - it's not too heating or cooling and it's safe and for little Jimmy and Grandma too. In fact, the only risk with nettles is bumping into it while harvesting - those little needles contain formic acid (think bees and red ants) and are made for injecting.

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Aerial Yoga - a fun & therapeutic practice for every body.

Amy Charnay

A regular yoga practice can support students both psychologically and physically. Unnata Aerial yoga is a unique style of yoga that brings forth elements of detoxification, playfulness, trust and surrender, to name a few. Like any yoga practice, aerial yoga can be a physically challenging practice, a deeply restorative practice or anything in between, depending on your individual needs. Below are some of the benefits of aerial yoga: 

Psychologically both breathing and movement are practiced in a mindful way that facilitates relaxation and grounding, as well as strengthening focus and concentration. Anyone dealing with chronic illness, such as cancer, and the associated treatments, surgery, fatigue, and generally finding ones’ way through the medical system, can experience the deeply empowering and supportive practice of yoga. Through breath work, movement and surrender, aerial yoga can help cultivate a deep sense of connection with your body while also offering a way to take an active role in your recovery process and overall well-being. Stress is a key component in managing any health condition. Yoga practice helps students learn to better manage stress and, therefore, support the recovery process in a grounded, authentic way.

Physiological benefits are far reaching and include increased immune digestive, respiratory and endocrine function as well as lymphatic detoxification and strengthening and stretching the musculo-skeletal system. All forms of exercise are inherently detoxifying as the lymph and blood are pumped via muscle flexion and increased circulation. Aerial yoga is no exception and enhances the detoxifying properties by gently massaging the lymph nodes and making inversions accessible without stress or pressure on the joints. Lymphatic drainage assists in purifying the body from every day toxins in our modern world including chemicals often used in cancer treatment.

Deep breathing combined with improved circulation increases the oxygen-rich blood flow to cells replacing toxins with much needed nutrients.

Balanced movements help increase or restore strength, range of motion, flexibility and overall health of the joints, muscles and skin. This, combined with the nervous system benefits, may reduce pain and increase function. Many students report an increase in quality of sleep, sustained energy levels and, perhaps most importantly, a higher level of willingness to be with, and maybe even be comfortable in, their own body, mind and spirit.

I will be teaching aerial yoga in France in June at the gorgeous Puyssentut  - a retreat center and source of well-being and inspiration for people with cancer. 

An open heart in a damaged world.

luc charnay

One of the subjects I think about most is how to keep an open heart. With life so full of suffering, how do we keep our hearts open amidst the violence, poverty, injustice, environmental destruction, abuse and so on...?

I don't have an easy answer. It takes hard work, patience and a commitment to re-commit, over and over again even when we feel that we cannot possibly muster up the courage or energy to take another step, to trudge through the thick, viscous muck that we co-create. This requires daily practice. When we practice with the little things then we have a better chance of maintaining our ground when we're hit with something big: a death, a diagnosis, terminal or chronic illness, your partner packing a bag and leaving you on a Monday morning.

Spiritual bypass has no place in this deep work. We can't just hang on to and chase the good. Or blame another. It simply isn't effective and it doesn't keep our hearts open. True equanimity means being authentic and in touch with all of you: the light AND the dark, the sweet and salty. And, when we stay present to the most unbearable feelings and sensations we often find that they shift. They aren't just huge dark blocky masses, they have shapes and edges and possibly even a softness that can be explored with curiosity as opposed to pushing it away with all our mighty resistance. Nothing is permanent. 

There is a story from a fabulous book called 'The Trauma of Every Day Life' by Mark Epstein that helps me keep my heart open. It's about a Thai Buddhist teacher who held up a glass and said ‘Some­one gave me this glass, and I really like this glass. It holds my water admirably and it glis­tens in the sun­light. I touch it and it rings! One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already bro­ken, therefore every minute with it is precious.’”

This is the notion of impermanence. And, perhaps, with practice and patience we can all learn to keep our hearts open not despite of, but because of, the impermanence and inevitable suffering around us. Because, seriously, what else is there to do? And maybe we can start to enjoy each other a little more because for all we know we might be dead by tomorrow. Listen to Soko preach it...

And let me know, what do you do to keep your heart open?