written by Monica Stoutenborough, PuraVegan Owner
Ten years ago I never would have believed that I could feel this amazing. In fact, I didn't even realize just how bad I felt until I started feeling GREAT! I was 30 years old, beginning to gain weight, accumulate a variety of medications, suffered from regular migraines, and serious digestive pain. In spite of all that I thought that I was healthy simply because I was a vegetarian. Boy was I wrong. I was surviving on processed vegetarian food that was lacking in nutrients but abundant in calories, cholesterol, additives and lots of words/chemicals that I cannot pronounce.
In 2007, I took the plunge to eat a healthy oil-free plant based diet and it was a real shocker. Before I knew it my migraine medication had expired because I wasn't requiring it, my digestion pain was gone, I lost 30 pounds and felt like a super human! My weight loss took place over many months, but the relief from pain and discomfort was almost overnight. I felt like I discovered something that was too good to be true and became the office health nut at my job.
After learning that I had the power to decide how my life would be, I tried some other changes. After taking yoga classes at a resort in Jamaica I told my spouse that I was going to do that as well, helping us afford to travel by trading my teaching services. Within one year I completed a yoga teacher training and was taking my family on a trip twice a year in exchange for teaching yoga at beautiful resorts
I wasn't satisfied there though. I loved my job in corporate America, however I felt a pull to help other people create the life that they were capable of and craving as well. I finally left my stock brokerage job and here I am at PuraVegan sharing this lifestyle with as many people as possible. If you currently feel like I felt 10 years ago, stagnant, uncomfortable in my own skin, knowing that I was capable of more, then know that YOU have the power to create the life that you want as well.
Through meditation, stress management, exercise (yoga and walking for me), and diet I found that I was less affected by my surroundings and more content with life. I was less reactive to my circumstances and able to find acceptance in what I couldn't change in the moment, bringing me more peace and happiness. I also felt that my former lifestyle was aging me and that I was able to slow that down and at times I felt I was reversing some of the damage done to my body from stress and unhealthful foods. My mind felt clear, my emotions more stable and my relationships improved from this.
In assembling the amazing group of employees and teachers at PuraVegan we have built a team of passionate, positive, health focused people that want to help YOU. Please come in and try a class, the food, check out some of the books in our shop - many of them were motivators and catalysts for change during my transformative period and that is why we stock them.
I teach a donation based 30 minute Intro to Meditation class every single Tuesday evening at 5:30pm. If you cannot afford a donation for that class I am personally inviting you to attend anyway. Bring a friend. I don't care how healthy you eat - if you are stressed out your immunity is still compromised. It is time to take care of yourself and your whole body. Do not think that you have to be affluent, skinny, perfect or anything other than what you already are to start living the life that you desire. Your time is now - and we at PuraVegan would love to help support you on your path to feeling AWESOME! You start from here and now.
This is for our meditation students that would like a guided meditation for at home. Kim Eng guides you through a ten minute breath focused meditation.
"Take Action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention." ~Dr. Steve Maraboli
It's December, do you remember what resolutions & goals you set last January? Did you accomplish any of these goals, make progress, or forget about them by February? If you fall in to the later category you are not alone. According to Forbes Magazine only 8% of people are successful in achieving their New Years Resolution. Here's the thing, intentions are great to get us started, but action is what gets us where we really want to go.
You've heard the saying 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. Of course most of us 'intend' to better our lives each New Year by eating healthier, losing weight, quitting smoking, or exercising more. But we seem to either lose sight of, or just get worn out by, the work that is required to make a real lasting change in our lives. What if we took resolutions and intentions out of the equation and just focused on one thing, one action step that we can take each day to move us closer to how we want to be? Instead of saying to yourself, "2016 is the year I will lose these extra pounds!", what about saying 'I will do one healthy/new/scary thing each day!' Would that take some of the pressure off yourself to clear some huge self imposed hurdle, to break it down to a daily goal? After all, small 'wins' can snowball and help us build momentum to keep moving in the right direction.
I believe in being kind and compassionate to yourself. I also believe in stepping outside of your comfort zone to stretch yourself, to grow, to evolve and maybe even surprise yourself. We can start to make change in our life with something as simple as spending 5 minutes first thing in the morning in silent meditation, just allowing ourselves to breathe and set the tone for the day. Or how about going to bed at night with a guided loving-kindness meditation online to end the day with gratitude. Maybe you don't feel ready to come to a yoga class yet, but you could check out some short beginner yoga videos online in the comfort of your home. The simple movement and breathing can actually start to shift how you live your life by allowing you to really honor your body and spirit, to really listen to what you need.
Change does not happen overnight, but the person taking a short walk each day is literally going to be miles ahead of the person who stays on the couch. So take action today, THIS IS YOUR LIFE! Interested in trying out some basic yoga and meditation at PuraVegan to kick off the New Year? I'm offering a 75 minute Intro to Yoga Class on Saturday January 9, 2016. Check out the website for details, call, or sign up in person. In the meantime, I also encourage you to check out the Meditation & Yoga Nidra classes currently on the schedule. If you're ready to start now, we're here for you and we'd love to see you!
written by: Tara Beckmann
When you see or hear something about yoga, does it just seem like something that requires you to be young, flexible, thin, basically ‘in shape’ to practice, and that it is therefore, not for you? Have you seen posts on social media that make yoga look like more like a performance or a feat of contortionism that appears to put the body in terribly uncomfortable looking positions and just thought, ‘No thanks.'?
I’d like to help in any way I can to make the practice appear less intimidating, more approachable, and actually doable! My hope is that more people will see that yoga is a deeply personal practice, something you do for yourself, and that it can be whatever you want it to be, whether you come to our studio or any other, or simply decide to start a practice at home. Know that your choices are not limited to ‘hot' ‘power' ‘flow’ ‘vinyasa’ or whatever classes. You do not have to do headstands if that’s not your thing, and in fact, I highly recommend checking out beginner, basic, yin, restorative classes, or intro classes if you are indeed a newbie. If you haven’t practiced in a while, or maybe you used to run, hike, bike, weight train or whatever, and you’re just interested in getting yourself moving again, you might actually enjoy a Zen Yoga class with me. I used to weight train and hike, I love to move, and I’ve always been active in general.
As time went on though, the weights and the trails left me feeling sore, and not really in a positive growing pain kind of way. More like a repetitive use kind of soreness. In addition to that, I had always struggled with insomnia, anxiety and depression. I got sober and stress did not magically disappear, in fact it got a lot worse at times. I struggled with socializing and feelings of loneliness and isolation. For me personally, going to a yoga class became a way to be around other people, but not in a way that I felt obligated to talk necessarily. It became an opportunity to take ah hour long break from ‘reality', to check in with myself, to clear my mind by moving my body, breathing, and linking that breath with the movement. t’s a powerful tool for connecting to your own intuition, to find your own inner reserve and resolve, to get down on the mat and simply get to know your body. For all of these reasons, I decided to study so I could teach this practice to others to help them find a better experience of life in the way that it’s helped me.
My yoga practice gives me the ability to have a gentler, kinder and more compassionate relationship with my own body and mind. It is self care, daily hygiene, a time to work out the kinks in my system, both physically and mentally. It calms and settles me, and I can assure you that more times than not it looks nothing like an Instagram worthy post.
We all can quickly come up with a list of obstacles preventing us from taking time to exercise, prepare a healthy meal or relax, but the most frequent reason I hear is guilt. So often we feel guilty for taking action, time or money to do something that improves our health and/or happiness. I say hogwash! How can you be a patient and kind parent, spouse or friend if you are stressed out, run down, or operating on crappy fuel and junk food?
You owe it not just to yourself, but to your loved ones to take care of you! If you have ever flown, you know that each and every time you fly the attendants will remind you that in the case of an emergency you should put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Why is that? Well you can only go so long without oxygen right? You only have a matter of minutes before you will pass out. After you have passed out you cannot help anyone! In fact, then others will need to help you instead. So, put on that oxygen mask immediately, and you can be of service to the entire plane.
Is this any different than real life? I would argue that it isn't. It's likely that you have a number of others that depend upon you including children, pets, co-workers, family members, neighbors and others in your community. If you are neglecting to take care of your health, you won't be able to help anyone else for too long. If you are stressed out and under nourished it is a matter of time before you will exhaust yourself or even worse get sick. Long-term stress that goes on for years can have even more serious results such as chronic diseases including cancers and depression. But with a little planning you can take a few minutes for yourself and take action to feel great for years to come!
Here are some suggestions / reminders of ways that you can help yourself out:
These are just a few ideas, I think you get it. The main point is do NOT feel guilty about taking time for you. This life is a gift and so is your body. Take good care of it and reap the benefits of self care. .
winds of change,
time is ticking,
in your mind drifting,
forward you move,
towards your goals,
inward you move,
towards your soul,
may your spell bind,
all in your chant,
as atoms expand,
and molecules dance,
give you the power,
raised from sleep,
you call on the essence,
of inner peace
Poem by Sol Asar, Raw Foods Chef and Kemetic Meditation Teacher at PuraVegan Cafe. You can take meditation class with Sol in exchange for a donation on Fridays at 12pm, inside PuraVegan Yoga Studio.
How often do you rush through your entire day wondering where the time went and how it's already time to climb into bed? Or how many parents feel like the time slips away and their kids have grown up in the blink of an eye. We spend so much time "being busy" and doing things we think will pay off in the future, we often forget to pause and savor the current moment. Learning to pause, taking a breath, and participating in the present moment can have tremendously healing benefits and provide much needed breaks from our repetitive thought patterns (aka: stress).
What does it mean to pause? What do I do?
It's simple. Put down the phone, or close your laptop. Look around and observe your surroundings. Look at the person you are with, or look at the sky, your hands or anything in front of you. Listen to the sounds, even if it is as simple as the hum of your refrigerator. Feel the sensations on your skin, or of your heart beating. Smell the air, or pause and notice the scent of your food before or in the middle of your meal time.
When is a good time to pause?
I think a better answer is when should you not pause, because you can almost pause any time. I do not recommend pausing when driving or operating machinery. Avoid pausing when engaged in activities that require your focus for safety. Otherwise most any time is a good moment to pause. Below are some examples:
By now you are probably getting the idea and understand some benefits of pausing. Now is a good time to get started!
written by: Gina Schneider (bio below)
Happiness is not an unattainable mystery emotion handed out to a lucky few. It’s more like car maintenance. Just like shaving and cleaning, happiness is easier to maintain with regular attention. The longer you let it slide, the harder it is to get back under control. Here are a few simple ideas to help you be and stay happy.
I have been asked so many times why we choose to offer yoga by donation at PuraVegan. How does it work? Why do we do it? Here is a little background on our offerings in case you haven't visited or don't know the story. Our little cafe has an adjoining small yoga studio that you access from the dining room. The studio is small, simple and modest. I'm not the best at decorating and I cannot afford to put in beautiful flooring (YET!), but I absolutely LOVE my little space. When you take class in our studio you are likely to hear blenders going in the morning buzzing with acai bowl goodness, or live jazz, african drums, or opera singers in the evenings from our next door neighbor, The Tavern of Fine Arts. Our studio holds a maximum of 15 students - and that is tight. Students can donate whatever amount they can choose.
When I first opened the studio in 2011, we charged class fees similar to other studios. At the time there were many other yoga studios in St Louis, however there were far fewer than exist today. We are in a neighborhood that has a very wide range of people with greatly varying economic resources. I'll never forget two experiences that led me to change over our model from a for-profit yoga studio to donation based.
The first month that we opened we offered all classes for free and they were packed! I remember one elderly woman that lived in the neighborhood kept walking back and forth past the studio window one day while I was teaching. I finally looked out to see that she was walking by to observe what poses we were doing, and then walking down out of my view to do the poses on the sidewalk. I stepped outside and invited her in. She told me that she always wanted to try yoga, but couldn't afford class. She had no idea that class was free at that time so I invited her in. She stayed after telling me that she felt intimated due to her age and physical abilities but wanted to learn more if she could save up the money. It pained me to learn that I had put a business in her neighborhood offering classes that could change her life, but she couldn't afford to continue.
The other story is of another neighborhood resident that saw our advertisement for a special one-time donation class we were offering. This particular guest would be considered by many to be very odd, however I felt honored that he chose us to help him begin his yoga practice. I observed some behavior that evening which made my heart sink. When class was over most of us hung around and socialized, including our new student. I witnessed people laughing at him, rolling their eyes at his ideas, and making comments and jokes at his expense. He definitely is a unique individual, and instead of celebrating that he was made to feel like an outsider. From that day on it has been my #1 aim to ensure that our classes are welcome to anyone and everyone.
I now know that I did not want our studio to focus on the ways to maximize profit, get into the most advanced postures, or to get the toughest workout possible. I think those things are great to explore, however I felt a need to provide a space for anyone to be part of a community learn and grow from yoga regardless off their background or financial resources. Our vision is to teach people how to de-stress, love themselves and breathe! We decided that all classes would become 100% donation based meaning that students offer whatever they are able to for the weekly classes. We provide yoga mats, blankets, blocks, straps and bolsters to help support you, and don't worry, your teacher will show you how they are utilized. Due to the structure of our studio model we attract a wide variety of people, which makes my heart smile! Students tend to donate anywhere between $5 and $20 per class. Just this week a student brought the teacher a specialty food item in place of money, because they were experiencing hard economic times. Another student has donated books to our library in place of cash.
Our classes vary greatly from teacher to teacher, as we don't mandate any sort of teaching style. We have been so blessed with kind and patient teachers at our studio. It takes a very special person to offer their teachings, offer their time, and to hold the space each week without any expectations of what they will receive in return.
So if you are still reading you probably wonder how teachers get paid. Our instructors receive 100% of the students' donations for weekly classes, whether the donation is made with cash or credit card. So now you probably wonder - how can we make money off of this? Well, we don't. We do benefit that many students will enjoy a juice or meal before or after class, however we could probably financially benefit more from using that space for a store or expanded cafe seating. Offering yoga to the community is our vision and has been since day one. As long as we have students coming we plan to continue with this model.
We want to change and improve lives at PuraVegan Cafe & Yoga and are determined to continue this path. Stress and poor diet is an epidemic in our culture and we want to help anyone that is interested to find balance and learn to manage their life through breath, food and community. Please join us!
written by Monica Stoutenborough
CLICK HERE for our current donation yoga schedule.