What is it to be a Yogi?

PC: @LOLOANDTHELENS

PC: @LOLOANDTHELENS

by Crystal Woodward

As the Seasonal Yoga Living Immersion I have been imagining draws closer, my mind swirls with creative potential and the imagining turns to planning and action.  What is it to be a yogi? The best place to begin is with your own unique answer to the question; why do I do yoga? To this question there are as many answers as there are shades of a human.  I want to be healthy, lose weight, be happy, heal from trauma, try something new, find peace, experience ease in my body, manage stress and so many other heartfelt desires. Eventually with dedicated and prolonged practice, I believe these intentions lead us to deeper self-awareness.  This awareness begins in our outer most layer, our physical body. If you decide to continue pursuing yoga after this first step, the second, third and subsequent steps arise naturally. These steps become the road travelled on a literal Journey to Self, consciousness and potential moments of divine enlightenment. This journey will challenge and change you, ask you to be honest with yourself and clear the lens of your perception. Would you like to be a yogi on this journey? 

In my upcoming Four-Season Immersion I will share what I have gained on this path and offer you a way to become a living yogi.  Incorporating the elements and seasons in my daily posture, self-care and meditation practices are just a few aspects of the yoga tradition that I have woven into my yogi lifestyle. The Journey to Self is a journey in working on oneself.  To be a yogi first and foremost you need a consistent physical practice. Most of us need a moment to reconnect with and step back into our bodies. This is why yoga is most commonly associated with movement and shapes. The physical movements of yoga are a doorway into awakening the body to the flow of life force energy that moves within and links each shape together in a dance. 

A daily practice gives you an opportunity to check-in each day: how do I feel?  why am I feeling that way? what choices can I make to feel different? Immersion participants will learn two short home practices to balance the energy of each of the four seasons. These home practices become a part of your self-care toolkit. For example, when you have a lot of energy a solar heat building practice may feel inviting. On other days a slower, more lunar practice may feel more appropriate.  Sometimes we just need to rest and restore and on these days we can pull in a Yin or Yoga Nidra practice. The seasons also play a role on the style of practice to which we are most drawn. We are currently in the fire element summer season. We can literally feel the heat surrounding and coming off of us. Throughout the summer months of our journey we align with the water element to support us in maintaining balance.  A fluid and playful practice will help cool and soothe the overactive fire that can lead to irritation and sharpness in our attitudes. 

Much of the self-care we do as yogis is aimed to support ourselves through the continued work of our journey.  Most of these practices are quite enjoyable, full of self-love and leave you feeling good. These self-care rituals involve diet, lifestyle choices and self-study.  Journaling about your daily life routine is a form of self-study we will explore in the Immersion. With an understanding of your typical day you can begin to slowly add practices in support of your yoga journey. For example what changes to your evening routine will support your morning practice?  Do you need to go to bed earlier, get up earlier and/or have healthier lifestyle practice to feel better in the morning? To this routine we add self-love practices like oiling the body, tongue scraping and drinking warm citrus water. I will share just a few practices each season so that you can truly integrate each of these refinements into your daily routine. Something as small as drinking warm water each morning can take time to become as natural and basic as brushing your teeth.

As yogi we get much of our self-care practices from Ayurveda, yoga’s ancient sister science.  Thousands of years ago humans ate fresh seasonal whole foods and learned which foods and herbs could be used for healing.  In our modern age of fast food, preservatives, pesticides and prescription medication, a return to this simplistic way of living can feel like quite a shift!  Throughout the Immersion we will come together and cook a whole food organic meal for each season. By sharing the meal created with our own hands and sitting and talking yoga with other yogis a community is created. We all need allies, yogi friends that understand the awakening you are going through and people to talk to about consciousness and the bumps of the journey.  Trainings and immersions are a fun way to meet like-minded new friends!    

Lastly, the doorway of posture practice may lead you to philosophy and meditation, the primary tools through which we reach for enlightenment.  There are many different ways to approach meditation. We will explore Japamala mantra meditation, walking meditation and Yoga Nidra as techniques for sitting still with yourself, clearing your mind and dive into the depths of yourself. Together as a group, and in small groups, we will discuss yoga philosophy and concepts and continue to inquire into our ourselves, our reasons for practicing and just what this yoga thing is all about!

The Seasonal Living Yoga Immersion begins October 4-6th. This Immersion will offer you a strong foundation to work from and return to again and again on your journey to Self.  Early bird registration rates for the full Four-Season Immersion as well as the single Autumn Immersion end September 6th. Full schedule details and online registration available on the Shala’s website.  Stay tuned for information about free seasonal living talks at the Shala. Ready to learn more? Questions? Email Crystal to schedule a free 20-minute conversation.

Student Spotlight: Amy Carey

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What brought you to yoga?

I gifted myself a membership to a yoga studio for my 35th birthday because I saw yoga as a beautiful way to support my body and keep it strong and flexible for all of the outdoor activities that I enjoy; skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, running!  I was living in Mammoth Lakes at the time and felt blessed to have the eastern Sierras as my playground.  What I found in yoga was much more than a way to bring more energy, strength, and agility to my outdoor play.  I found a new way of “Being” in the world centered on the practice of presence and love.      

How did you discover the Tahoe Yoga Shala?

Seven years later I moved from Mammoth Lakes to Minden to start a family with my beautiful husband Cameron.  By that time I had completed a couple of yoga teacher trainings for the purpose of taking my practice deeper, and Yoga had become an integral part of my life.  One of my highest goals after arriving in Minden was to find a new studio space to enrich my life.  The thing that initially captured my interest about the Shala were the variety of class offerings (in particular I was excited to see both Ashtanga and Prana Vinyasa since these were the cornerstones of my practice in Mammoth).  I was also drawn in by the teacher bios and the connection I felt to the website and it’s messaging.  Even though the travel time is around 50 min from my house in Minden, I was inspired to give it a try.  

Brent happened to be teaching the first class I experienced at the Shala and I knew within seconds of the class starting that my soul had found home.  It was such a heart-felt coming home that tears started flowing when I expressed my gratitude to Brent after class.  Of course my tears were met with all of the kindness and compassion I could have hoped for.  Now, a couple of years after that first class, I’ve had the honor of learning from many of the great teachers and fellow practitioners at the Shala.      

How has Yoga Enriched your Life?

I believe that love is the most powerful force in the universe and yoga has provided me with a pathway to aligning with the vibration of love; a pathway to deeply loving myself, and a pathway to deeply loving all that is.  Yoga gifts me with the practice of presence.  From this presence comes the awareness of how my thoughts, feelings and emotions influence every cell in my body.  From this presence come the awareness that I have the power to cultivate what I need from within.  From this presence comes the practice of working with my breath, listening to my inner wisdom, and making moment to moment choices that get me back into alignment.  From this presence come the embodiment of what I choose; and I choose love!  

What advice would you give to a person interested in starting a yoga practice?

Have fun with it!  Make it ‘your’ practice.  Try to connect with whatever it is that keeps calling you back to the mat.  For me it helps to frame practice as a fun journey of trying new things with no attachment to ‘getting it right’.  Sometimes when I am trying something new it can feel a little uncomfortable; physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  So my advice to myself in those moments is to be willing to try, be willing to listen, be willing to become aware of what is coming up, be willing to have the deeper reflection, and be willing to give myself sincere compassion and love in these moments.  This is what makes Yoga fun for me.  It provides continuous opportunities to practice awareness, gratitude, surrender and flow.  And with practice, it only gets better!  

What do you most appreciate about the Tahoe Yoga Shala?

I love and appreciate so much about the Tahoe Yoga Shala.  I appreciate that my smile lights up when I think about the studio space.  I appreciate that my smile lights up when I think about the teachers.  I appreciate that my smile lights up I think about the community that practices there.  The Tahoe Yoga Shala literally lights me up with love!  

To be a little more specific:  The studio is vibrant and healing.  With its large windows surrounded by nature and beauty, I feel the magic of being outdoors while being indoors.  I appreciate that all of the teachers hold a compassionate safe space for practice and expansion.  I appreciate that The Shala hosts incredible guest teachers and workshops to help students go deeper.  I appreciate the regularly guided practices of singing the Hanuman Chalisa, studying the Yoga Sutras, and Japa Meditation.  And the icing on the cake, I appreciate the heart felt connections I experience with the community that practices at the Shala.   

How do you Practice your Yoga off the Mat?   

My yoga practice off the mat is centered on practicing present moment consciousness and making choices from this state of awareness.  Just like my practice on the mat, it is not about being perfect, it’s about practicing.  For example, when I get triggered by something, I practice staying conscious with how I am feeling and what is coming up for me.  I practice choosing to pause in the moment and call upon my yoga practice.  I practice tuning into my breath and creating space between the triggering incident and my response.  I practice choosing to see what is being reflected to me as an opportunity for growth.   I practice holding my vibration in a state of love so I can respond in a way that is kind, honest and from a place that feels true and authentic to myself.  I choose to practice not going into states of powerlessness or reaction.  This is how I have been beginning to change things in my life and in the world around me: by practicing living my yoga, by practicing living in full alignment with the truth of source love that I am.  

If you were a yoga pose, which one would you be?

Natarajasana:  Lord of the Dance.

Joyfully dancing the dance of life, no matter the obstacles we face.  Choosing to let go of what is no longer needed in order to let in what truly serves.  The courage and strength to choose transformation through love!

Tell us something unusual about yourself - the wackier the better!

Ha!  From my earliest memories I’ve loved playing in my imagination!  I still love it!  I am a dreamer!  And when I go to that place of play, I often find myself talking to all of the beautiful things around me; seen and unseen.  I know…. Pretty wacky!





Donation Classes Benefit Gateway Mountain Center

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The Shala is proud to announce that the Gateway Mountain Center will benefit from all funds raised at its weekly by-donation class every Sunday at 5:30pm. This class is open to all-levels. All are welcome!!

Learn more about the Gateway Mountain Center by visiting their website…

Mission/Vision

Gateway Mountain Center is where youth of all backgrounds Learn, Heal and Thrive. We foster a sense of wonder, connection and inquiry.  With spirited, adventure-learning we help youth transform their self-awareness through connections with self, nature and community.

Core Values

Connection heals.  We look for ways to strengthen connections in mind and body, ignite passions, and engage the joy of discovery.  As systems thinkers, we understand that connecting with the Life Force heals, inspires, and teaches.


Disconnect Is The Problem.  Connection Is The Solution.  

Eco-Literacy. Scientific Inquiry. Mind-Body-Awareness. 

Adventure-Learning. Interdisciplinary. Holistic.

Humanistic. Integrated. Informed. Inspired.

The Power of Sanskrit & The Present Moment

Live in the present. The idea of living in the present moment is a common goal amongst us, especially yoga practitioners. We seek to be more mindful, more aware and look to the practice of yoga to help us achieve this. If we are not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, then we are immersed in the beauty of the present moment. That’s not easy to do! Our minds are so busy managing work, family, friends and life that finding ourselves really in the present moment is often short lived. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, tell us that yoga is citta-vritti-nirodhah. Yoga is the quieting of the vrittis (thoughts) of the citta (the mind). The practices of Yoga and meditation teach us how to find clarity, how to become more mindful, and how to connect to our mind through our body.  When engaged in the practice of Yoga we are learning how to live in the present moment. For example, most yoga teachers will invite you to connect to your breath. That simple instruction can help to quiet down the chatter of the mind and offers the opportunity to look inward and truly connect to the present. 

Often yoga classes begin and end with the sound of OM. It is said to be the primordial sound, or the sound of the universe, encompassing all sounds, and all of creation. When we chant OM we connect to the universe, to ourselves and to each other. Chanting OM helps to quiet the mind and come into the present moment. How can such a simple sound have such a profound affect on our mind? That’s the power of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the language of yoga and meditation; it’s a spiritual, vibrational language. It has the power, like music, to uplift the heart and soul. The sound of the Sanskrit language has the power to put us at peace and learning Sanskrit can teach us how to live in the present moment.  

On June 1st & 2nd I will offer the American Sanskrit Institute's (ASI) Level 1 Immersion at the Tahoe Yoga Shala. The method created by the American Sanskrit Institute uses yoga philosophy to teach you how to achieve present moment awareness. When the senses are completely focused on listening to the sounds, the sight of the alphabet, and the feeling of making the sounds then learning becomes an experience rather than a struggle. At first you’ll become aware of what thoughts (vrittis) are blocking you from experiencing the present. Then you’ll learn a technique for controlling where you place your attention based on the Yoga Sutras. This method has proven to help anyone who wants to learn the language and is a guaranteed way of learning. Even if you’ve never thought of learning Sanskrit, this method can help you to learn and master anything you put your mind to. The experience itself of participation in the Immersion is an experience of using Yoga to truly live in the moment. Vyaas Houston, the founder of ASI, says that learning Sanskrit connects us to the joy we experienced as children. It’s true, the joy and happiness of engaging the sounds of the language in this weekend Immersion can connect you to that peaceful, happy, live in the moment place you are seeking. That’s the power of Sanskrit. 

Learn More and Register Online HERE

Donation Class for Lake Tahoe Humane Society

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Katarra is a 10 year old pure bred Alaskan Malamute. She needs a home as an only dog as she is choosy about her dog friends. She needs to be kept on a leash whilst out walking and on a runner when left in a yard because like most Malamutes she is great at escaping.   Katarra is available for adoption at El Dorado Co. Animal Services – S. Lake Tahoe

Katarra is a 10 year old pure bred Alaskan Malamute. She needs a home as an only dog as she is choosy about her dog friends. She needs to be kept on a leash whilst out walking and on a runner when left in a yard because like most Malamutes she is great at escaping.

Katarra is available for adoption at El Dorado Co. Animal Services – S. Lake Tahoe

In the months of November and December, the Shala's donation based classes will benefit Lake Tahoe Humane Society.  

Lake Tahoe Humane Society Mission: “Dedicated to enhancing the lives of animals in our community through service, education, and, stewardship.”

Find more information on their website at www.laketahoehumaneandspca.com

Attend our weekly by donation (cash or check only please) class to support this resource in our community.

Ashtanga Improv: All-Levels on Sunday at 5:30pm with Laura

Spring Renewal

by Cali Bowman

Spring Renewal in Honor of the Spring Equinox

Spring is a time of renewal.  As the weather changes the snow melts into water and cleans away a layer of old, creating space for new growth.  Let us join in this natural process by gently cleansing the mind and body through attentive movement, meditation and eating habits.  I invite you to join me in spending a day or possibly even a few days cleansing. While cleansing, be attentive to your own body’s needs.  Add more foods or proteins if it feels necessary.  Make time for more rest and interact gently in your relationships and with the world.

Here are some practices to begin the process of renewal:

  • Cleanse your home.  Specifically removing, reducing or recycling any old and unnecessary clutter.  Dedicate a shelf or windowsill to defining beauty or simplicity in honor of renewal.
  • Reassess your products.  Observe if there are excessive chemicals, old make-up or unused products in your bathroom/shower.  This is the defined room for cleaning the body externally, so take sometime to make your bathroom a pure and cleansing space.
  • Spend some time de-cluttering your purse/backpack, car and even telephone.  Delete unnecessary messages and contacts. Disable unnecessary alerts, apps and other distractions.  Addressing the devices we use daily will aid in defining this as a time of complete renewal.
  • Cleanse your thoughts.  Note any recurrent self-talk and take the time to write down the most common statements you are making to yourself on a notepad throughout the day.  If these statements don’t serve you and are not moving you forward in life, than consider them toxic and make a point of gently sweeping them away whenever they arise. 
  • Drink several glasses of warm spring water throughout the day.  Occasionally add a wedge of lemon. Create a constant flowing river through the body for toxins to flush away.
  • While eating take a moment to settle in to the digestive process with silence and stillness.  Consider and taste all aspects of the food as you eat. Refrain from reading or watching TV.
  • When detoxifying the body opt for a vegetarian diet.  Reduce the consumption of processed foods and chemically treated foods.  Eat smaller portions, more often. If cleansing for multiple days try to maintain consistent eating times throughout the day.

Enjoy all the changes and feelings that arise during times of renewal.  Engage with any movement of energy by gifting yourself a peaceful bath or an elated walk when these shifts occur.

A sample meal plan for our day of cleansing.  

Early Morning Breakfast 6-8am

1 Grapefruit

  • option to add a drizzle of 1tsp Honey mixed with a pinch of Cardamom, Ground Ginger and Cayenne

Hot Tea- Nettle, Dandelion, Mint, Ginger

Brunch 8-10am

Quinoa or other grains such as Amaranth or Buckwheat

1 cup Quinoa

2 cups Spring Water or Vegetable Broth

I cup Fresh Cilantro     

2 whole Limes

2 tbsp Fresh Mint

2 tbsp Coconut Oil, Olive Oil or Ghee

1/4 Red Onion

Mineral Salt and Pepper to taste

*Boil the quinoa in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes without stirring.  Chop onion and mint. Add all other ingredients and mix with quinoa. Serve immediately warm, or refrigerate for later.

Steamed Vegetables

Include a variety of roots, stems and greens and create a beautiful array of colors.  Choose the the freshest vegetables available such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, chard, cauliflower, carrots and yams.   

Season with turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.  

*Save the vegetable water from the steamed vegetables and add sea salt or kelp.  

Early afternoon 3-5pm

Drink 2 cups of the vegetable broth created at lunch.

Dinner 5-6pm

Beet Soup

3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

2 cups Beets

2 cups cabbage

4 carrots

1 potato/yam

1/4 yellow onion

3/4 cup Dill

Mineral salt and pepper

2 tbsp sunflower oil

Fresh cilantro or mint to top

*Chop all vegetables and add ingredients into a pot.  Covering the ingredients with twice their height of fresh spring water.  Boil, than reduce to a simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours.

Hot Tea- Nettle, Dandelion, Mint, Ginger

*option to add 1/2 lemon, a splash of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 tsp honey

Click Here to Register for Cali's Spring Renewal Practice on March 20.

 

Donation Classes to benefit LVFF

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In the months of and February & March the Shala's donation based classes will benefit local organization, Lake Valley Firefighters Foundation. LVFF service programs include complimentary CPR certification, elementary school fire safety education, rescue programs and the purchase of specialized equipment for the support of the department and the community at large. Last winter LVFF hosted a "avalanche beacon basin" for community members to come and practice location and digging up lost beacons to mimic the emergency rescue of a partner trapped in an avalanche. Along with this program the department now fills avalanche backpack compressed air cylinders for free. 

Attend one of two weekly by donation (cash or check only please) classes to support this resource in our community...

1). Chanting on Monday at 3:00 p.m. with Kacey

2). Ashtanga Improv: All-Levels on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Laura

The Shala is proud to announce that in the months of December & January $535 was raised for local organization, Christmas Cheer, through our community's attendance in the above by donation classes. Namaste.
 

It’s In Our Sharing

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by Brent Grueter

A question.  What is life?  It is a question that we can all ask, but not always see the answer.  It is not simple, yet it is. 

I look to yoga for more.  The word itself means to yoke or make whole, to bring together or to unite.  What is it we wish to bring together?  Our mind, body, spirit, breath, emotions? How?

It's through our actions, our relationships, our communications.  We grow through everything that we do.  So it's not simply what we each do in life, but how we do it.  How we live.  Our ability to empathize.  It is our cooperation that has served us.  We may think that in understanding others and the rest of the world that we may lose our truth, but it is in our ability to love, care and listen to others that we can find our truth. It's in our sharing.  

I would like to talk about partner yoga.  It is not an alternative to your practice, but it is a great addition.  Playful, rejuvenating and connective.  A way to bring the peace, freedom and happiness of your own practice to others. By taking the time to trust and respect another, we can build communication and true listening.  This along with a gentle touch and gravity can help us release fear and pain. Working side by side with another connecting the breath, moving together and grounding down.  The practice can be simple or complex.  It can be a way to bring a partner, loved one, friend or family member into the light.

If you are curious or interested in trying partner yoga please join Crystal and I on February 11th from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. 

REGISTER ONLINE HERE

FLASH SALE! 8 for $80!!

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This offer is available online only through Monday, November 27th.

Click HERE to purchase!

Please note that this promotion has a couple special considerations...

1. Limit one per member.

2. This pass is valid for 60 days only. Pass activates on the date of purchase.

3. Pass is non-refundable, non-transferable, and cannot be combined with any other discounts.

4. NO EXCEPTIONS

Thank you for making the Shala the vibrant community that it is! 

Namaste,

Shala Teachers & Staff

Ayurvedic Self-Massage

Massage is often considered a luxurious indulgence. But in fact, it is an important component of optimal health.  The sister science of Yoga, Ayurveda is a holistic health system for everyday life.  Abhyanga is the Sanskrit term used to describe Ayurvedic oil massage.  Among other things, the oil bath is a traditional Ayurvedic home remedy recommended to reduce excess internal heat particularly in the joints, liver and skin. This heat may show up in the body-mind as impatience, irritability, stiffness in the joints, redness in the skin, insomnia and/or indigestion.  Other benefits of Ayurvedic self-massage impart tone and vigor to the tissues of the body, stimulate the internal organs, increase circulation and decrease the effects of aging.

“In Sanksrit, the word “sneha” can be translated as both “oil” and “love.” In Ayurveda there is an inherent connection between enveloping the body in oil and enveloping it in love. Both oil and love provide a sense of nourishment and grounding. These qualities benefit the entire body, particularly the nervous system, and support the entire being - mind, body and spirit.”

Ayurvedic teachings recommend a daily self-massage, which need only take 15 minutes.  Pattabhi Jois, the Indian teacher who developed and popularized the Ashtanga Yoga method, recommended that students take an “oil bath” once per week on his or her day of rest. I have found it easiest to start this self-care ritual twice a month on the new and full moon day as these days are observed as rest days in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition.   

In India, the oil bath is customarily taken with castor oil.  Castor oil delivers the best results, but can be replaced by organic almond, sesame or coconut oil. You can purchase these oils at your local grocery or via a Ayurvedic lifestyle retailer such as Banyan Botanicals.  Banyan Botanicals offers a variety of specialized oils to support individual constitutions or balance particular conditions.

Here is a simple self-massage routine offered by Dr. Claudia Welch. Try doing this routine in the morning for a vital day, or before bed for a more restful sleep:

  1. Put about a 1/2 cup of oil in a 4 oz. squeeze bottle (I prefer a glass bottle).
  2. Warm the oil by placing the bottle in a mug of hot water.
  3. Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room on a towel. Consider choosing a towel that is dedicated for this purpose because over time the oil accumulation will ruin the towel.
  4. Apply the oil to your entire body.
  5. Massage the oil into your entire body, beginning at your extremities and working toward the middle of your body. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine, moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side. Massage the body for five to twenty minutes, with love and patience.
  6. Every so often, give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears and feet. Apply oil to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes. Oil applied to the head should be warm, but not hot. Put a couple drops of warm oil on the tip of your little finger or on a cotton ball and apply to the opening of the ear canal. (If you have any current or chronic discomfort in your ears, don’t do this without the recommendation of your healthcare practitioner). When you massage your feet and toes, be sure you don’t slip.
  7. Enjoy a warm bath or shower. Minimize the use of soap, and use only where needed.
  8. Wash the shower/bath area. The shower floor will be very slippery and the drain may be clogged a bit. Scrub the shower area well to avoid slipping and pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to keep it open.
  9. Rest over the next few hours, avoiding hard work, strong sun and swimming in or drinking cold water. Allow the body and mind to rest and rejuvenate for the coming week of practice, study, work and family life.

For the love of oil baths! ENJOY!!

To learn more about the benefits of Ayurvedic self-massage and view how-to videos visit Banyan Botanicals.