Yogi and acupuncturist Amanbir Singh, of NYC’s Golden Bridge studio, shares a simple breathing technique to help you find balance in times of flux.
The autumnal equinox last weekend ushered in a period of change, as we transition from one season to the next. And while the back-to-school vibe of fall is a welcome refresher for the senses – and the social life – it can take a minute to find our feet as the Universe rearranges itself around us.
This simple and relaxing kundalini meditation is designed to balance the body, mind and soul, to help establish equilibrium in your life in times of change in as little at three minutes.
Sun, sand, palm-trees and organic produce as far as the eye can see… yep, it’s L.A. baby…and we’re hitting it fast & hard. Welcome to 36 hours in L.A. Numinous style. By Raquel Griffin.
Okay before we even get started with our Los Angeles travel guide: TIP #1. As lovely as L.A. is her traffic is legendary so to beat the gridlock blues we suggest you make like the locals and plan your pleasure-seeking based on what side of town you’re on: which means EAST SIDE (Silverlake, Los Feliz, Echo Park, Hollywood) vs. WEST SIDE (Culver City, Venice, Santa Monica, Topanga, Malibu, Pacific Palisades). Though not a hard and fast rule it definitely beats having to endure a 2-hour round of car karaoke while you’re stuck on the 101. Trust us on this one.
SATURDAY – EAST SIDE
10AM: Tarot Reading at HOUSE OF INTUITION (Echo Park)
Billing themselves as “space of love and light specializing in spiritual guidance,” set yourself up with a stop at The House of Intuition. Located in a sweet cottage nestled above a busy street in Echo Park what the House lacks in size it makes up in services…from Astrology, Aura and Chakra Balancing, Reiki, Animal Communication, Sound Therapy and Meditation all your spiritual needs promise to be met within its walls. Need to know why Fido won’t cozy up with you and your new beau? Crown chakra feeling a bit off-center? Grab a session with any of the reputable readers & practitioners here and get it all taken care of. Easy.
For every gal who has ever dreamed of raiding Stevie Nicks’ wardrobe, this one’s for you. Steeped in 70’s Cali goodness, TAVIN stocks an impeccably curated selection of boho-gypsy gear perfect for your witchy-woman-festival-girl-tour-de-force look…tambourine not included.
There’s teepee inside. It’s a clothing store ANNNDD there’s a T-E-E-P-E-E inside…only in L.A. and gosh darn it we LOVE that. Filled with a gorgeously curated selection of hand crafted items from local artisans like the shop’s owner, jewelry designer Kathryn Bentley, the Dream Collective aesthetic is all about embracing primordial forms and influences from indigenous cultures. Whether choosing an evil eye cuff from Kathryn Bentley’s collection, a card from Thunderwing Press or a pair of Cali-cool handmade leather sandals from Beatrice Valenzuela, at Dream Collective curating a magical, mystical lifestyle lair is all in a day’s work.
A cute little sliver of a shop in Silverlake, The Eco-Apothecary is a stroke of brilliance. Filled with handmade Sulfate Free, Paraben free, Vegan and Organic home, bath and body products, the store’s large selection runs the gamut from detergent to hairspray and everything in between. Products are sold in bulk and you can bring a bottle and filler’ up or you can purchase one of the hundreds of colorful glass and BPA free plastic containers sold at the shop. And if that weren’t enough you can even take a whirl at creating your own signature fragrance with the extensive selection of handmade essential oils on hand…Ooh la la.
2PM: Thai Massage Yoga @ THE RAVEN SPA (Silverlake)
If you’re in need of some LA style pampering The Raven Spa & Healing Center is the place to go for the Thai yoga massage of your life. Guaranteed to melt stress and leave you feeling like a blissed-out bowl of jello, this signature treatment gives new meaning to the term “afternoon delight.”
Housed in a gigantic nondescript warehouse, Shareen Vintage is one of the most glorious vintage experiences ever. Actually the words vintage orgasm come to mind. Lined wall-to-wall with dresses, skirts and blouses from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, a knowledgeable member of Shareen’s sales staff will be assigned to you to will commence whisking you thorough their extensive collection while piling clothing up as you go along based on their sharp style assessment. Once you have your goods you’ll be given a “spot” to disrobe in what looks like a giant vintage living room. Since this place is strictly ladies only, the act of playing dress-up quickly turns into a party, with fellow customers randomly coo-ing and ahhing over each others wares. A couple of things to know before you go: 1) There are no “dressing rooms” so if you’re a little shy about stripping down to your skivvies we highly suggest you bring a slip 2) There are no price-tags. Each item is priced at the moment of sale by Shareen but fear not, prices mostly range from $20-$80.
This amazing in-the-cut organic/vegan/macrobiotic Japanese hotspot tucked away on the third floor of an indoor mall in Little Tokyo is the perfect place to re-stock your tank while showing your tastebuds just how much you really care.
9:30AM: Morning worship @ AGAPE SPIRITUAL CENTER (Culver City)
If you you’ve ever watched the film “The Secret” then you’re familiar with Dr. Michael Bernard-Beckwith, founder of Agape Spiritual Center. Described as a “trans-denominational” church all are welcome at Agape, even atheists. Agape is all about “creating a community and a practice that is the embodiment of evolving consciousness” or what they like to call “new thought-meets ancient wisdom”. With pre-service meditation time, guest speakers like Marianne Williamson and “sermons” that often focus on our role as infinite beings co-creating reality, to say that Agape is not your momma’s church is an UNDERSTATEMENT. Add in a house band that serves up some serious guitar riffs and a choir that covers the Rolling Stones and you have the quintessential “church” for the new age. Hallelujah.
Imagine a sleek, gourmet vegan and raw restaurant, now plop it down in the middle of a hip locale like Venice or Larchmont and what do you get? CAFE GRATITUDE. Created in Berkeley and recently expanded to Southern California, CAFE GRATITUDE is all about delivering dazzling dishes with a side of positive affirmations – plates are printed with statements like “I am Humble” and “I am Open Hearted.” With a menu that’s beyond healthy and a waitstaff that’s beyond attractive, it’s no wonder this has become THEPLACE for the kale and green smoothie set. And did I mention they have coconut bacon? A couple of tips on the menu: 1) Make sure to order a cup of “I am Immortal”…STAT. Made with Reishi, Shilajit, Ormus, coconut milk, raw honey & cinnamon..it’s a Cafe Gratitude love affair in a cup 2) Be prepared to want everything placed in front of you including their beautifully decorated “hamsa” water jugs and “What are you grateful for?” dishes. 3) Save room for dessert. Now, this might seem obvious but it’s easy to get side-tracked here. Trust us on this one. You’re welcome.
1PM: Some reading time @ THUNDER BOLT BOOKS (Santa Monica)
Thunder Bolt Books is by far one of the best spiritual bookstores we have EVER set foot in. Though a small-ish space, Thunder Bolt is packed ceiling to floor with every spiritualist book you could imagine…from obscure titles you could swear were “only available on Amazon” to newly released must-haves. What’s also refreshing is that works from all traditions are welcome here, so expect a great range on everything from Catholicism to Voodoo. And if that weren’t enough they’ve also got a fabulous $5 used book bin AND the biggest single cut crystal in the WESTERN HEMISPHERE. Yep. It’s pretty awesome. And if you’re nice, the super sweet and knowledgeable store manager Bobby might just pour you a cup of tea and you two can just kick back and shoot the breeze.
** Not open Sunday, but worth checking out if you’re in Santa Monica: THE HOMEOPATHIC PHARMACY
Staffed with amazingly knowledgeable homeopaths, this place is an alternative health junkies dream. Got something that ails you? From herbs to salves, to standard & hard to find homeopathic products they’ve got a remedy for EVERRRYYYTHING. **RECOMMENDED PURCHASE:Net Remedies #9. Like Rescue Remedy on steroids, it’s a super potent homeopathic cure-all for everything from cold & flu, to overexertion, neuralgia and anxiety. It’s like the perfect first-aid kit in a bottle that’s also small enough to fit your purse….and who doesn’t need that, right?
3PM: More vintage shopping @ HIDDEN TREASURES (Topanga Canyon)
Tucked away in the hills of Topanga Canyon, like something out of a dream HIDDDEN TREASURES is a vintage lover’s Shangri-La. In a time when the term “vintage” has become almost synonymous with unbelievably high prices, Hidden Treasures is an anomaly…an amazingly well-stocked (Kate Moss & Lenny Kravitz are fans), fairly priced vintage-store where you can still find pristine 20’s dresses and gorgeous buttery 60’s leather jackets attrue vintage prices (items range from $20 -$150). But don’t expect the “curated” 5-items-on-a-rack experience here. The selection and the space are expansive so be prepared to dig. It’s also worth checking out the $10 bin out in front – a quick look might yield a serious score. And don’t forget to ask Mary Bee, the store manager, about the “back room” because what you see in there might just render you speechless.
6PM: Kundalini yoga @ GOLDEN BRIDGE (Santa Monica)
A sweet intimate spot and the newest outpost of the L.A. Kundalini mecca that is Golden Bridge (yes Demi Moore’s studio of choice), this is the perfect place to get your good vibes on. Plus it’s Gurmukh, people…It’s G-U-R-M-U-K-H.
8:30PM: Dinner @ MATTHEW KENNEY’S – M.A.K.E. RESTAURANT (Santa Monica)
Home of the pitch-perfect fine dining / raw food experience, super-star chef Matthew Kenny’s M.A.K.E. Restaurant is as good as it gets. Can’t get enough M.A.K.E. in your life? Well there’s an app for that. Matthew Kenny’s got an “Everyday Raw Detox app” featuring 100 recipes for healthier living. Now how smart is that?
10pm: Cocktails poolside @ the BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL (Beverly Hills)
Seal in the high vibes of your visit with a nightcap at the Beverly Polo Lounge, not only the epitome of old school Hollywood glamour but meeting point of some seriously positive ley lines. According to L.A. psychic Aiden Chase; “There’s an energy field in the land here that supports wishes and dreams. The city’s natural ‘good vibe’ energy, from the Hollywood Hills to the ocean has supported people’s dreams from actor to entrepreneur for over 100 years…” And, interestingly, Chase pinpoints the Beverly Hills Hotel as “a huge power center” of this energy. In fact, “if I’m having a bad day, I will go there, meditate in the gardens and feel much better. I always have my meetings at this hotel, and they always turn out successful.” So kick back with a mojito and get your manifestation station on. A whole City of Angels will be listening.
As Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī, a.k.a. Amma, celebrates her 60th birthday today, the Astro Twins Ophira Edut examines the chart of the Hugging Saint – a woman who was born to heal the world.
Walking through New York City’s East Village, I recently spotted a red bumper sticker plastered to the curb bearing the words “Love is telepathic.” Groovy sloganeering aside, there’s one person on this planet who would probably agree. Her name is Amma, and she’s hugged 33 million people all over the world. That’s right—hugged. Ordinary people like us, from all walks of life, stand in line for hours for a magical if momentary embrace from the woman whose name, given to her as a teenager, means “mother.”
With seven planets forming a six-pointed star in feminine signs this July (a grand sextile, in astro-terminology), there’s no surprise our world is crying out for mother energy. The planet and its inhabitants need nurturing, compassion and connection like never before. So when The Numinous asked me to analyze Amma’s chart for her 60th birthday, I couldn’t say no.
I myself have never been hugged by Amma. I came to the Manhattan Center while she was in New York City, saw the long line, and my impatient Sagittarian nature overrode my desire for a spiritual squeeze. Full astro-disclosure: with my stiff Capricorn rising, I was secretly relieved. I once became notorious for being a “one-armed hugger,” and if I can get out the door with a wave instead of an embrace, I’m good. Yet, I also think it’s because I’ve spent too many years trying to be “serious” and responsible, trapped by my own stoic body language. I’m probably starving for affection, and will be the person who bursts into tears the second I meet her.
After hearing raves about Amma’s healing touch, I came to regret my moment of impatience and uptightness. I have certainly felt her radiant love telepathically since then, just seeing the glow she’s given friends, hearing about her incredible presence, and of course, by looking at her astrological chart. Now, I’m gonna have to let go of my silly stance and let myself experience Amma up close. Until her next visit, it will just be through the planets in her horoscope wheel…which is kind of an esoteric embrace in my world.
Here’s what stands out in Amma’s birth chart to me:
All you need is love: Sun in peacemaker Libra. Amma, not surprisingly, is a Libra.In fact, she has four planets in the sign of unconditional love, peace and harmony. Libra rules relationships and interpersonal matters, and perhaps this is why Amma can stay awake 22 hours on an average day, giving hug after hug. In my experience, many Libras don’t really like or need to be alone—in fact, they thrive on the energy of other people.The planets Amma has in Libra are the Sun (her identity), Mercury (communication and touch), Neptune (healing and compassion) and Saturn (authority and stability). No surprise she can radiate sacred, comforting Neptunian energy but also has the dignity given by heavyweight Saturn. The combination of glamorous Neptune and serious Saturn has the marker of someone who is, in essence, a professional healer or empath.Naturally, she’s so much more than that. While she’s got her arms wrapped around the world, Amma also runs a huge, largely volunteer-run non-profit that serves orphanages, hospitals, programs for widowed and elderly people, and builds homes for the homeless worldwide. Since Saturn is also about building and structure, no surprise that she her giving also takes on concrete form.
Amma’s moon sign is steady, salt-of-the-earth Taurus. The moon governs our feminine energy, and shapes the kind of mother women will be (even if they are spiritual mums, like Amma). Set in sensual Taurus, the most grounding and affectionate zodiac sign, Amma’s moon sign gives her the power of healing touch.
Playful, yet dignified: Amma has a regal Leo rising. According to her sources, Amma was born at 9:09 am, which dictates the ascendant, or rising sign, in the chart. The rising sign rules the “face” you show to the world, the first impression you make, or your appearance. Amma has the beauty, presence and passion gifted by a Leo ascendant. Her expressive face, radiant smile and protective Leo hugs are all part of this chart factor, too. Leo is ruled by the Sun, the giver of vitality and joy. As a result, Amma’s “hugs” are probably more an exchange of life force energy—or a transmission of her own abundant supply of it, awakening people from feeling separate, isolated or alone.
Energized by giving: she has Mars and Venus in Virgo, the sign of service. Energizing Mars and love planet Venus are both in Virgo, the helper and healer sign. Perhaps this is also why Amma stays awake for the majority of the day giving. With Mars here, she’s energized by her acts of service—and says as much herself. Venus adds palpable love, beauty and harmony to the equation. Both are in Amma’s first house of fame, making her a public figure for her work.
Mother to society: revolutionary Uranus is in Cancer, the mother sign. Uranus is the cosmic liberator, in Cancer, the sign of the mother and nurturer. Nestled in Amma’s eleventh house of groups, humanitarian work and social reform, she has indeed become a virtual mother to the world.
A karmic destiny to serve: North Node in Aquarius, sixth house of service. The north node (destiny point) in Amma’s chart is Aquarius, the zodiac’s humanitarian sign. It’s also in her sixth house of service. Her south node (past life karma) is in regal Leo, in the twelfth house of compassion and healing. This indicates that she’s had fame and fortune in past lives, and doesn’t need to live a life of luxury this time around. However, she carries the energy and fullness of having experienced the pleasure of material riches in former lifetimes. She is abundant, rather than lacking—although she spends her life hugging, the residual Leo energy also helps her avoid lapsing into the “martyr mother” role. Amma is not quiet, invisible and suffering silently. She’s the buzzing center of all the action. Aquarius is the sign of groups and communal living, and Amma lives her entire life in a crowd. She’s a leader, the hub of her many charities that run without her being present.
So here’s a 60th birthday hug, 33 million strong, to Amma. I hope one day to experience an in-person hug from her.
When handbag designer and shamanic healer Amelia Powers was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of brain tumor, she rejected conventional treatment in favor of treating her cancer with CBD. Ruby Warrington hears her story. Portraits Philip Volkers.
Next Sunday, it will be 18 months to the day that Amelia Powers underwent “debulking surgery” for the aggressive brain tumour that had manifested, seemingly overnight, on March 28 2012. She had gone to bed alone that night, sobbing, “that deep, quiet crying that you don’t do very often,” upset after an argument with her then boyfriend. Waking in the middle of the night with what felt like a migraine coming on, she discovered, to her distress, that she had vomited in her sleep.
The sickness persisted, along with the headache, both of which she attributed to the “migraine.” It wasn’t until she woke up in an emergency room in Bologna, where she had travelled on business for her luxury, bespoke handbag line (despite having difficulty reading the departures board at the airport) a few days later, that the full force of what might be happening to her hit. Confused and alone, she travelled home to face the worst possible prognosis – this was a grade three anaplastic astrocytoma, the most dangerous form of brain cancer, from which the median survival time – with treatment – is 18 months.
And yet, here we are on Skype, where we have been meeting regularly across time zones since March this year, for me to document her story, and; “there’s nothing wrong with me!” she cries. “I do the Royal Ballet workout every day, I eat no meat, sugar, wheat or dairy. No alcohol. My body is rocking. I was told 100 percent I would die from this, but I feel in perfect health, perfect alignment. I feel…” she drags a hand through her shiny black hair, cropped short after her first round of chemo “…beautiful. According to them, I should be at death’s door.”
Instead, she is up late, preparing to display her latest collection of handbags in the window at Fenwicks for London Fashion Week – alongside names like Rupert Sanderson, Preen and Richard Nicoll. The bags are starting to really take off, but; “I just want them to be a platform so I can talk about this,” she turns her head to show me the bald patch she refuses to cover up. “I want to be able to talk about how we really heal.”
Because, having repeatedly refused further chemotherapy and radiation to treat her illness, Powers is the latest figurehead in a groundswell movement towards alternative therapies for cancer. In the States, “cancer thriver” Kris Carr has built a mini empire on her story (she is winning her fight against a rare strain of liver and lung cancer through diet alone), while here in the UK Lord Saatchi presented the House of Lords with his Medical Innovation Bill in December last year. Following the sudden death of his wife Josephine Hart from ovarian cancer, he described chemotherapy as “medieval, degrading and ineffective”, and wants doctors to have the choice to offer alternatives.
At present (speaking about his wife); “what you have is a situation where a woman is first tortured and then dies. Why? Because that is what’s required by law.” Not that it’s the doctors’ fault. “Everybody’s doing their level best. But they are inhibited by the prospect of a trial if something goes wrong.” This despite the fact that one doctor admitted to him that an estimated one in 10 people are killed by their cancer treatment.
Powers says she knew “their way” would kill her after one round of chemo. “My skin crawled like it was alive. I lost my hair, had two epileptic reactions. They also put me on steroids because my brain was swelling through my skull.” Met with only more of the same from her doctors, she decided to seek her own alternative. “I found a video on the Huffington Post of a man whose eight-month-old had the same tumour as me. He had treated it with Cannabis oil, and the tumour shrank in four months. Side effects? All it did was make her sleepy.”
More internet research led her to a man she calls the “Wizard of Woodacre,” a 70-year-old healer based in California manufacturing the cannabinoid tincture CBD (the psychoactive constituent THC has been removed) which she’s been taking daily since. Over email, her “Wizard” explains the legality of what they are doing; “In the State of California it’s legal. However, it to the Feds it remains a schedule 1 drug, in the same category as heroin – and supposedly with no medicinal value. Hopefully I’m a small enough operation that I’m under their radar.”
With over 500 clients, including one 37-year-old oncologist, the Wizard says inquiries rocketed after Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary on medicinal marijuana aired last month. He has faith that his treatment – which is harvested and blessed in the light of the full moon – “we work on an energetic and spiritual level in addition, and give thanks to the spirit of the plants in the Native American tradition” – will be made legal in his lifetime.
On a very practical level, nutrition is coming to be seen as key in cancer treatment – and prevention. On the Wizard’s recommendation, Powers has switched to a completely alkaline diet, while Laura Bond, who’s blog, Mum’s Not Having Chemo, is being made into a book that’s out in November, says that all her research has shown quitting dairy to be “the final piece in the healing puzzle” for many people. Having interviewed over 60 experts around the world for the book; “sugar and dairy are known as the ‘cancer accelerators.’ Your doctor won’t necessarily tell you that, which really shocked me, but it’s just not in their remit.”
“It can be difficult, because most physicians do not have specialist knowledge of alternative medicines and so may not feel able to supervise,” says Professor Susan Short, one of the few oncologists who would talk to me for this piece (Powers’ own doctors declined to comment). Again, this leads to “fear of litigation,” says Bond – meaning it’s safer to stick to the company line, despite the fact; “the standard treatments we offer are not as effective as we’d like,” admits Short.
She thinks only around five percent of patients refuse chemotherapy, and that while “alternatives provide hope for a better outcome, few have proven benefit. But this approach can make patients feel more in control.” And yet, as ever, she wants me to know that “the agents we use offer the best known approaches to treatment.” People like Powers and her Wizard would disagree. “About 25 percent of my clients have complete healing, 40 percent a moderate healing. These are approximate numbers, but I think they are better than the numbers for most chemo treatments.”
Of course, very limited clinical trials into medicinal marijuana have been done. Conversely, according to Cancer Research in the UK, any type of chemotherapy is tested for ten years minimum before it’s used on patients, while they also point out that the reason clinical trials of medicinal marijuana are limited is because its effectiveness can’t be proven.
But after an MRI back in April appeared to show that her tumour had been stabilized (i.e. there had been no further growth) Amelia was positively floored by her doctor’s reaction; “her answer was, ‘if you’re not going to take our treatment, then please carry on with what you’re doing. I’m really sorry that I can’t give this to you’.” In her eyes, this represented a major victory.
But when a further scan, in July this year, suggested that perhaps there might have been some growth, the prognosis left her reeling. “My doctor said; ‘in our opinion the chemo and radiotherapy didn’t work. But we think you should have a proper go with it.’ Here I am, with my hair gone, my teeth in a mess, periods which are just coming back. They all agree with me – the chemo is palliative. He even admitted; ‘Most patients chose it because they panic’.” Rather than upset, she seemed angry. “In hospital all I hear is negatives; ‘this isn’t working, it’s growing, you are not going to live from this, nobody does, we can’t do anything for you, we don’t know what to do…What the hospitals offer isn’t healing – it’s fear.”
Following an abusive 14-year marriage, Amelia has done extensive research into the theory of quantum healing – in simpler terms, the power of positive thinking. And this represents another important aspect to what she is still convinced is her recovery (she has decided against any more MRIs, preferring to base her decisions going forward on how she feels). Working with the Shamanic healer Wendy Salter (“I call her my Yoda”), she has developed her own connection with spirit and says she has undergone deep energetic healing of this and past lives to try and treat the root cause of what she believes now has been a self-inflicted illness.
“I know that this was my body’s reaction to the negative emotion from my marriage, as well as unresolved issues with my family. My brain exploded from it,” she states. And it was only finding the strength to contact her ex-husband (“I hadn’t spoken to him since I walked out”) and send a “stream on consciousness” plea to her family to stop sweeping their issues under the carpet (“they have since all started coming forward”) that she feels the deep healing that needed to happen has begun. “I need love to heal,” she tells me, awash with emotion. “And what I’ve also realised is that this love is in ME. It’s not the love that comes from a man. Here I am, alone at 40, no children, dealing with all this, and I feel like I’ve found…nirvana.”
And it obvious to me that the woman I have come to know in some ways intimately over the past six months, embodies her next statements fully; “I’m not afraid of anything. I’ve accepted death. I don’t know how long I’ve got, but I’m at peace with that, I’m not in a desperate place.”
When Laura Bond was doing the research for her book, she found several common traits among the people who had managed to beat cancer on their terms – the ability to overcome the fear around death and dying being one of them. “Which is easier said than done,” she admits. “There are practical steps, like mindfulness, being rooted in the present and not getting caught up in catastrophic thoughts about the future. Also, being out in nature, where you always feel part of a bigger picture.” She also found one doctor who told her that the simple faith that what they were doing was working “creates a sense of relaxation, and that’s when healing occurs. If you’re living in a place of fear, being pumped full of adrenalin and cortisol, these conditions just aren’t conducive to healing.”
Essentially, many of the alternative therapies people are experimenting with (and let us never forget that this is only experimentation, a personal choice, taking your life in your own hands), are not about the same “military measures” we find in hospitals. More often, it becomes a case of learning to live with cancer, but to build up the immune system to manage it – the opposite of chemotherapy, where the immune system is destroyed along with the malignant cells, to be rebuilt again.
This also means that many of these measures – from changes in diet, to the massive doses of vitamins that help some people find relief – can also been seen as preventative measures. “Cancer is presented to us as such a shot in the dark,” says Bond, “but there are so many thing you can do to lessen the risk – meaning your genes don’t have to determine your destiny.”
Last week, the morning after our last Skype session, Powers sent me a text message; “Bergdorf’s and Neiman Marcus want to buy my bags. Guess I will be seeing you in New York!” And I remember the other thing that linked all Laura Bond’s cancer thrivers. “It’s unbelievable the pressure people have been put under, and so a lot of survivors share a tendency to rock the boat. They were unafraid to question what the doctors were telling them, and not be intimidated.” To the doctors who want to tell Powers there’s no proof what she’s doing will work, that there’s no way she’ll be coming to visit; “they also told me I shouldn’t be here now. So I’m your proof, aren’t I?”
This story also appears in the UK Sunday Times Style magazine.
NY-LA fashion label by former stylist Jaclyn Hodes
In nature: a wave, followed by a wake
In spirit: a wave of kundalini energy, leading to awakening
“It’s a collection that doesn’t scream ‘eco’ – it just is,” says designer Jaclyn Hodes of her fledgling label AWAVEAWAKE. Having featured recently in Vogue and been picked up by buyers at Opening Ceremony, the line’s conscious credentials are hopefully; “something felt, if what you see is just something beautiful. I’m not trying to be super conceptual, but hopefully there is a sense that’s there’s something more behind what are essentially quite simple designs.”
The AWAVEAWAKE aesthetic is sort of Courtney Love circa the Cobain years, meets Buddhist monk. Oh-so-very now age. Cut long and a lot on the bias, and manly from silk, colours for the S/S 14 line (featured here) were inspired by a trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand, with titles like ‘Sprit Peach’; “it has a very specific vibration, a little Hari Krishna I guess.”
All dyes are natural and done in Los Angeles, where Hodes spends half her time. “We were working with a natural dyer in Portland, who was able to get the truest black I’ve ever seen, like she was actually doing some kind of black magic. But she was too expensive…”
A former stylist, Hodes’ career shift to designing came as part of her Kundalini yoga teacher training; “(my teacher) Gurmukh told me; ‘if what you do is not aligned with this path, it’s probably not going to work for you.’” Fashion had always been “a guilty pleasure,” and styling “very much illusion shattering,” but “I was still very attracted to it.”
At summer solstice in 2011, “I thought I would move to Santa Fe, set up a store and start selling slip dresses. And suddenly everything fell away and the next thing I know I’m making them, doing a presentation and being featured in Vogue.”
As for the design process, “I try not to get too clinical about it,” but there is some serious positive intention going on here. “In Sikhism there is a sound current vibrating in all creation, which is why mantra is so important,” she says, giving a clue. Meanwhile, at the SS14 presentation there were candles and incense, “it was all an offering.”
All of which will appeal to a certain kind of customer for sure. And for everybody else, these are just beautiful clothes.
We fell down an IG rabbit-hole and discovered this incredible photo shoot by Ashley Featherston, a.k.a. The Feather Junkie. Yoga + crystals + trippy visuals. What’s not to love, asks Sophie Teakle?
The Feather Junkie launched in 2010 after Ashley purchased her first pair of real feather earrings (“not the $5 ones you get at Forever 21”) at the Wakarusa festival in Arkansas; “These feathers were nothing like I’d ever seen or held before. They moved freely as I did and I instantaneously felt love and happiness in wearing them,” she says.
She was soon making earrings for friends – “I wanted to spread the joy and peace they helped me feel” – and so something beautiful was born. Ashley’s site is stacked with gorgeous images like these to inspire your spirit journey, and as for the message of the feathers themselves? “Our goal is that these feathers help you move more freely through your daily lives and not to stress the small things. Everything happens the way it’s supposed to. You are exactly where you are meant to be.”
Read more about Ashley’s Crystal Yoga Visions below..
You say this project came to you in a dream. Does that happen often? “Not usually. Most the time I can’t remember my dreams, but this one was meant to be shared so it stuck with me.”
Who’s the girl, and how do you know her? “Missy Shaw, a.k.a. @SparkleOmYoga, was the model, and we know of each other from running in the same music scene. Believe it or not, Missy was also one of the very first feather junkies to get hair feathers from us at our first set up in Dallas, TX.”
What does your own yoga practice look like? “Yoga is something that has opened me not only physically but mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I started yoga to help de-stress but now I keep doing it for the peace and serenity it gives me…my whole being craves it. It has helped my life fall into place and has mellowed me out in so many positive ways, which I think is has to do with learning to listen to your body in the poses and your soul in the silence and appreciate your mind. In that reflection you see things differently.”
So crystals and yoga together – why? “This is something Missy and her boyfriend Forrest have been doing for some time now, nothing I had thought of until I saw Missy post an IG picture of her doing yoga around a crystal grid. I thought that was an ingenious idea. Incorporating the two is something no-one has brought to life before and something that not a lot of yogis have probably tried yet, but it seems like a natural progression to incorporate crystals with your practice. When combining two forces that have an underlying spiritual context the effects can be euphoric.”
You say you want to inspire people to “let their hair down and dance to their own music” – what does that look like to you? “Don’t mistake coincidence for fate. Everything happens for a reason so embrace it. Don’t look to your left and then your right to see what others are doing, or even if they are looking at you. Always do ‘you’ and happiness will follow.”
Spirit Junkie Gabrielle Bernstein is as famous for her fabulous outfits as her modern girl philosophy on living a miraculous life. She talks wedding dresses, turbans and shopping from an abundance mindset with Ruby Warrington. Portraits by Annie Powers.
So did you always dress like the fashionista babe we know and love from your Instagram feed Gabby? No – I used to dress like Mariah Carey, I’m not even kidding. Horrifying! It was like the tighter the better because I used to work out so much, I was like I may as well wear tight clothes. Also when I was building my business really wasn’t into spending money on clothes.
So that wasn’t something you ever used to of make you feel good about yourself? That’s a trap a lot of people fall into… No! I wanted to always look good, but I didn’t need it to be a designer brand, or some major fashion statement. But that changed when I met my fiance Zach. He has very, very strong interest in fashion, and he would take me to McQueen and Barney’s, and places like Costume National and Comme des Garcons – for me it was like going to a museum.
Was there a turning point when you got into high fashion yourself? I think that happened when I bought my first pair of Isabel Marant sneakers, which coincided with me starting to be in the mindset of like; ‘oh I can afford to buy them’, you know? And that was kind of like a big deal for me.
I remember those first experiences too – spending real money on clothes and feeling like ‘this isn’t going to completely bankrupt me’. It’s like getting into an ‘abundance’ mindset… Yeah! It was amazing. But really if you always shop within your price range you can always feel abundant – buying on credit automatically creates a feeling of lack. And if you’ve saved up for something special the energy is clean. I’ve also got to a place where spending $300 on one special piece makes me feel way more special that walking out of H&M with ten bags of cheap plastic stuff.
We’ve spoken about this before, but tell me about detoxing your closet from all the ‘plastic’… I was addicted to hi-lo shopping, and I had to recognize that it was an addiction based on my old belief system. My parents weren’t wealthy, so my experience of gifts and shopping growing up was all about quantity over quality – that was normal, but not right. When I was able to witness that I put myself on 90 days of no hi-lo shopping. And I’ve remained abstinent!
You must get loaned a lot of stuff these days too? I was introduced to one of my favorite designers, Camilla, through my friend Annie Ladino, a really great stylist in New York. She put me in touch Camilla’s publicist Denise, and then they just started loaning me a ton of stuff – amazing. Now I own so many of her kaftans it’s insane. It’s become a go-to look for me because it kind of works anywhere anytime, even though it’s more beachy and summery.
And it’s also so the opposite of the whole ‘Maraiah Carey’, in your face sexy thing. Exactly, yeah. And you know, I used to dress like super hippie at college too.
Really? Like what kind of stuff? Oh my god like, corduroy pants and Birkenstocks and all of that shit! Ripped t-shirts…
Sounds rad… Do you still have any clothes from that period? Do you get sentimental about keeping old clothes, or do you prefer to keep the energy in your closet nice and clean of memories? The only things I have from back then are like, the things I stole from my college room mate…she had great style, but maybe don’t put her name in this story! But in general I’m not sentimental about material things, I don’t get attached. You’re setting yourself up for failure that way, because at some point it will be lost, or break, and if it’s become so special there’ll be a sense of loss.
I think you’ve always been inspired by the way your friends dress too – right? Yeah, like my friend Elisa has become a sort of fashion guide for me. I just really like the way she puts herself together, so I started to buy what she was getting, you know. But it’s less about copying than enjoying and appreciating how somebody looks.
Some women can get territorial about their ‘look’ – what’s that all about do you think? That comes from a place of comparison and attachment to being uniquely ‘you’ – it’s a way for your ego to enhance your ‘specialness,’ as if only you can have that look. I say, when people want to dress like you see it as a compliment.
Do you feel like you do that with people, in the same way that you’ve had lots of different guides, teachers and gurus in your life as well? Yeah. I think in every area of your life you can definitely pick up different things from people you find inspiring and make them your own…even Zach has been a great teacher to me when it comes to fashion. But again, it’s about taking those ideas and making things your own – constantly bringing it back to what is real to you, and not getting too into the comparison thing of thinking ‘I have to be like you’.
You’ve told me how you like to gift yourself also. Why is that important? When you buy something as a gift to yourself, the energy behind it is coming from a place of gratitude, as opposed to neediness. That’s when it becomes a gift, not an indulgence. A celebration of yourself.
So when do you gift yourself? Well around the time that I sold my fourth book I kind of had a little shopping party for a few weeks…
Oh, good! Yeah…but I have to be careful, because I can still find myself doing these weird, sporadic shops when I just end up with stuff I don’t need. I think a lot of women have this problem. So, I try to stick to only going out shopping with an intention, you know? You also said something once that really hit home for me – when you’re contemplating a purchase, ask ‘is there something else that will do the same thing?’
So what’s on your spirit junkie shopping list right now? Well since I got into Kundalini yoga I’m trying to buy more whites. Like yesterday I bought some white jeans and a turban online. The turban was from Venuis Turbans in LA, I basically just googled it!
Love it. I also got Zach some mala beads, which are for meditating with – it’s a necklace with 108 beads, which you count through your fingers as you chant a mantra. Usually when I’m teaching I’ll have a mala in my hand too, or if you’re like having a bad day you can just carry them with you.
Cool. I want you to talk to more about turbans, and why they’re important too… So, you when practicing Kundalini, you want to keep the energy you create in your body, that’s why you cover your head. From a personal perspective I also feel like I want to respect the sacred tradition – I feel like if I’m a teacher I’ve got to play by the rules. And I also do feel the difference. As you open your chakras, you can feel pain in your crown chakra. Like you can get headaches, or you can feel like, almost bruised on the top of your head – and when you wear the turban it feels better.
Almost like a little bandage? Why is that, that you feel sore? Because the energy is soaring through the top of your crown!
Okay wow. So back to the “whites.” Why? It’s about reflecting positive energy out into the world, whereas dark colors, and particularly black, can soak up negativity. So in general I have found myself clearing a lot of black out of my wardrobe. I just don’t feel that good when I’m wearing it anymore.
Did you wear a lot of black in your PR days? That’s the classic image of a New York City PR girl… Yeah, I think I’ve always worn a lot of black! And I love my black leather Acne jacket, it’s one of my most treasured items, but it can feel kind of like I’m wearing a dark hole, you know? It feels heavy. I’m actually thinking my new staple is going to be white jeans.
Good idea. What are your favorite denim brands? I like Citizens of Humanity and I actually don’t own a pair of Mother jeans yet but I love the way they look on people. I also really like Isabel Marant’s jeans, of course!
Now I’m interested to hear how else the contents of your wardrobe has shifted since you’ve began following a more spiritual path. Well apart from the white, I feel like I want to dress more beautifully, if that makes sense. I’m inspired by people like my Kundalini teacher Gurmukh, who always wears her turban and her whites, but might have a color she’s representing that day in her beads that is also reflected in a gem on her turban. She’s very artful about the way she adorns herself, almost like she’s dressing herself like a priestess.
Actually Gurmukh’s turban is really amazing. It’s outrageous. She hasn’t actually cut her hair for 45 years, and when she doesn’t wear her turban you just see this like huge bun on top of her head. It’s not dreadlocks, she washes it, but it’s probably down to her butt, you know?
Amazing. Are you going to stop cutting your hair as well? Absolutely not! But in terms of how I want to dress, in Kundalini in particular, it’s almost like a sign of respect for yourself and the class to show up really well dressed. I remember during my teacher training I was doing like a praktikum and I wasn’t wearing all white that day, and my teacher…
Sorry, what’s a praktikum? It’s where you take a fake class to practice. So I was teaching in front of my ‘class’ and I was being graded on it. And I didn’t wear all white that day and my teacher told me off! Even if you’re wearing wrinkled clothes, they’re like, ‘go iron your outfit!’ But it all comes from an emphasis on self-care. Yogi Bhajan was also really into jewelry and gemstones.
It’s interesting, in ‘The Doors of Perception’ Aldous Huxley talks a lot about how in visionary experience the world often reveals itself in this kind of glowing, jewel-like state. He thinks that that’s one of the reasons jewels have been so revered throughout history and why precious stones became precious. Because in some way they reflect to us the way the world was really made. That’s neat, that makes sense to me. And there’s also the energy and the healing properties of the stones. Gurmukh has told me I really need to get an emerald for my pinkie, because it’s the finger that represents the voice, the speaker, and the emerald amplifies the voice.
Nice. And I know we’ve spoken as well about the whole thing of living in your yoga clothes. Does that still happen? Yep! By day I’m in my yoga clothes which means by night I’m ready to get dressed up and go out.
Which is probably the reverse to how a lot of women dress! Exactly, but I love to get dressed up for my evening lectures for example. For that my outfits can really vary. I mean I’ve worn anything from a really wild Camilla caftan, to like my Isabel Marant fringe boots with like tight black pants and a top. Then other times I’ll wear something more conservative, like a Helmut Lang blazer and jeans. It really depends on the crowd and the overall vibe.
Totally. And what about how an outfit makes you feel? I feel really empowered wearing nice clothes. It wasn’t always like that, I didn’t always care, but I’ve realized that fashion can literally make me feel like a different person. Whether I’m teaching or lecturing, wearing something that will expand my presence is important.
Absolutely. But do you ever have those days when nothing you put on makes you feel right? Like the hours are counting down to your lecture and you’re like ‘no, no, no.’ Have you got a go-to that always works? A good jumper is always a go-to. I have long ones, short ones, and actually if I were to buy anything new right now it would be more rompers because I like the way I can put it on and then I’m done. And I mean, even I had to go to a black tie wedding I think I’d wear like this Catherine Malandrino jumper I have.
Well speaking of weddings, how did you chose what to wear to marry Zach? This is like, the most important public speaking gig of your life. I take it you are doing a speech?! I’m wearing the second dress I bought…which it typical of the bad habits in my shopping style, like, get the first thing you see then go back and get it right! I wanted to wear something that was a real wedding dress, so I could feel like a bride. For anybody who wants to see it, we’ll be doing a #spiritjunkiewedding hash tag on Instagram. See you there!
A new booze-free club morning in London is all about creating a high-vibe start to your day. Louise Androlia dons her dancing shoes with her PJs…
Was it coincidence that as my Tarot reader was suggesting I start my mornings off dancing, I received a text from my friend Nico inviting me to his new ‘pre work’ rave, Morning Glory? I don’t think so. Fast-forward a couple of weeks to a 6.30am start to go raving.
Morning Glory is the new clubbing experience from events producer Samantha Moyo and bodywork therapist Nico Thoemmes. The event is held slap bang in the middle of Shoreditch, London, at The Village Underground and currently runs once a month on a Wednesday, from 6.30 until 10.30am. The idea is that you ‘rave your way into the day’ in a positive way, so that, fuelled by a good dance and maybe a pre-work massage you can head to work energised and uplifted.
The idea of going raving is usually my worst nightmare. I rarely drink and let’s just I’m more of a kale than a ketamine kind of girl. So although I loved the premise of the event, as I walked into the Village Underground and heard music, loud loud music, I was a little nervous.
But within moments it was very obvious this would be different. The room was alive, but in totally the right way. There’s a cloakroom so you can arrive in whatever clothing you like (pyjamas encouraged) and then get ready for the office before you leave. By 7.30am I was clearly a late comer, the club was completely full. I was immediately in my people-watching element, as all around me people danced in business suits, gym clothes and nightwear, as well as plenty of festival gear – fancy dress, wigs and sequins.
No alcohol is served, this is a Wednesday morning after all, and it’s definitely not about staying up all night and ending up here. But there is a coffee cart, if you need your morning fix, as well as a detox enhancing smoothie bar and four massage therapists on hand to stretch you out before work. There’s also a space at the back of the room with yoga mats for you to practise your own morning routine. I lay down for a perfect ten-minute back massage with Gulie Ismail…and then I went and danced.
The atmosphere on the dance floor was welcoming, with no chance of anyone describing this scene as pretentious. I can’t help thinking that of course it’s going to become a dating hot spot, and it’s certainly a healthy place to meet someone. I came alone and so many people made conversation with me. Instead of a very often awkward sober social scene, people were chatting freely.
As I write this I still think…but I hate ‘clubbing’. The thing is though, it was so, well, nice. Everyone was smiling, EVERYONE was smiling. The club was fully lit, so as I looked around I could see all the familiar sights, the wallflowers dancing in the corner, the extroverts on the stage, the couples in their own world, the socialites skipping round the venue. But there was no one crying, no fights, no one puking in the bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom, there was even a ‘Refresh Station’ table with Tea Tree body wipes, rose water and shea butter samples. No stinky clubbing toilets at this rave.
It felt like being at a really great house party when someone puts on Dancing in the Dark and it’s the best moment of your life, except with no hangover ahead. Pretty damn high vibe.
I caught up with Nico to hear more about his idea:
I have to dive in with this, because my first thought was WOW this is so a new dating scene. Have their been any ‘Morning Glory’ romances yet? “Possibly! Probably! MG would be the perfect place to find a mate. One sober person resonating with another. Too often people meet in clubs when they are inebriated in one form or another. At morning glory you are ‘you’, not you + booze/drugs.”
Currently this is a monthly event, what are your plans for the future? “Well we’re going to experiment with bi monthly events in London and then over the next six months expand into Brighton and Bristol, as well as taking Morning Glory into business conferences and seminars. Next year we want to fill Trafalgar Square or Battersea Power Station. We’re thinking big!”
I really felt a positive energy at the event (I can say that as an Energy Healer right!) Tell me some of your favourite moments so far? “Morning Glory’s success is built on the unbelievable positive energy that manifests in the room. It’s so electric and has to be experienced to be believed. Our best moment was listening to a guest who told she had jaw ache from grinning so much.”
The next Morning Glory event will be held on September 25th. Tickets cost £10 and are available here. You can find out more about the event at their website, on twitter and on Facebook.
As NYFW threatens to throw everybody’s material / mystical balance all outta whack, who better than model-turned-yogini-designer-author and Strala Yoga founder Tara Stiles to share the elements of her Mystical Life?
WHAT IS YOUR MORNING AWAKENING RITUAL? “If I’m in NYC I wake up at 6:30am to the sound of my husband, Mike, making our morning juice or smoothie. We drink that, then it’s off to Strala for the morning STRONG class. I either lead the class or take it, depending on what day it is.” Continue reading “MY MYSTICAL LIFE: TARA STILES”
As we head into a new season, what’s the back-to-school mood for your sign? Resident tarotscopes lady Louise Androlia dips into her deck…
Virgo – Five of Pentacles Happy birthday, my sweet friend Virgo. September is probably your favourite month and I want you to enjoy it! This is the first time we have had a repeating card in these ‘scopes. The Five of Pentacles made a visit to you just a couple of months ago in July. When a card repeats itself, sometimes it’s just hopping up and down trying to be heard, so please revisit the advice I gave you in July, but also think back to that month and see what might be echoing now. Continue reading “TAROTSCOPES: SEPTEMBER 2013”