Forces of Nature – Fall 2013

Photo taken at The Montage Hotel, Laguna Beach
It’s easy to get caught inside your head with everyday responsibilities and tasks. For me, I must escape into nature to reconnect with my body and spirit to create deeper, more meaningful connections with those around me. This season is a time to practice peace and serenity. Think of your peace place and go there…a local beach, park or patch of grass. Take off your shoes and let your feet breathe. Let your eyes wander through nature, noticing the vibrant colors that are always there in this Eden. Watch the birds take flight. Adopt the pace of nature – her secret is patience.
Travel to your Edge: Aloha Spirit!

Rainbow over Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu
My husband and I try to visit Hawaii once a year to restore, rejuvenate, and replenish ourselves. The clean water, warm sun, fresh air, and soft sand ignites a child-like playfulness that allows us to simply reconnect to the basic elements of nature. This year our trip was especially needed because I was in a car accident that shook me to the core. It resulted in frequent head and neck aches, not to mention nervousness about driving in general. Typically, I would flip upside down into a fun yoga inversion to change my perspective when I’m down. Sadly, I couldn’t practice yoga due to my neck strain, which put me in a negative place. It was challenging to be positive. I asked the universe why the accident happened. It wasn’t even my fault! I felt bad about the damage to my 6 month old car, the injuries endured by the families involved, and most of all – the person who was at fault. I had such compassion for her; I was still angry at the situation, but I felt sorry for the guilt and regret I read on the her face that night. My emotions kept me in a negative loop and I knew I had to break it!
Photo taken at Hanauma Bay Park, Oahu
Stepping off the plane in Honolulu started the healing process. Hawaii’s slow natural pace was what I really needed to reconnect with myself. I stopped asking why and simply accepted the accident for what it was. I filled my days with activities I enjoyed: swimming, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, walking, shopping, and resting. I started to feel like myself again- excited about life and grateful for each moment. Then, I did my personal yoga practice for the first time in a while. A personal yoga practice is special. It is something one typically develops after quite some time practicing and studying yoga. For me, it’s a true moving meditation. My mind checks out and my body moves and holds and breathes and opens where it needs to. It’s an intuitive process of unfolding. I finally let the car accident go from my body and mind. After my return home from Hawaii, I’ve kept up my positive perspective by a daily practice of gratitude and reflection. When something positive happens, I say to myself, “Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God”. In my meditation and yoga classes, I teach that gratitude is the best way to shift from negative to positive. Sometimes, one also needs to change the scenery. If you are ever feeling down, I recommend  going some place new and making a gratitude list to acknowledge the gifts in your life. I’m grateful for my trip to Hawaii, the reminder to accept all things for what they are, and the power to move forward at a pace of peace. Aloha!
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It Began in Africa

South Africa!
Travelling is an important part of fulfilling my soul. It helps me understand how and why we are all connected. A recent trip to South Africa shifted me in a deep way; so, I’m dedicating this May 2013 Newsletter to that magical place! This summer it’s time to change your surroundings and renew your joy for life. Enjoy!

Travel to your Edge: South Africa

Our trip started in the beach town of Camp’s Bay, taking a jaunt down to the tip of the world at Cape Point, and then an extended stay in the bustling seaside City of Cape Town. No trip of mine is complete without sampling the local wines; so we headed to the wine regions of Stellenbosch and Franshoek. The food in South Africa, by the way, is incredibly tantalizing. And people really take their time to chew, chat, and sip. After several days of wining and dining, we headed to the bush and that’s where my shift began.
Savoring the freshest fruits, veggies, and meats from the property’s farm, our safari dinner led to conversation around an open fire. We decided to stand up to better gaze at the full moon sky when we heard a sound that rattled the bottom of our bellies.  Although our safari adventure had already been saturated with the sounds of elephants, kurus, antelope, impalas, baboons, rhinos, water buck, buffalo, snakes, leopards, hyena, monkeys, and birds, (among others!) I had yet to hear the lion’s roar. It was less of a sound, and more of a deep-bass vibration. The sound of the lion completing its kill echoed throughout the night and struck my core; connecting me with the depths of the earth and the power of mother nature. I will never forget that feeling.
Just before we embarked for South Africa, my grandfather passed away. I loved him very much. At his funeral, the chaplain spoke about the seasons of life- birth and death – a continuous, and sometimes painful truth of our existence. The next day we found a group of four female lions basking in the sun. We were so close, we could hear them breathe and their throats rumble. I looked into the eyes of one lioness and I felt a deep tug at my heart as my eyes filled with tears. In her eyes I saw beauty, strength, fear, life, and death.  I saw my grandfather. It was as if I saw the universe in one glimpse and I wondered if that’s what Arjuna saw in the famous Bhagavad Gita.
The reality is we are all in a continuous cycle; contributing to the ebb and flow of dark and light matter, low and high vibrations. South Africa is a place that allowed me to disarm; to truly move from my soul center and feel from my heart center. It stripped me of all the cloudiness that can keep one from seeing beauty everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, if you are large or small, if you are black or white, where you came from or where you are going. South Africa welcomes the truth of all beings. Read below to learn about the importance of women & water!
Water & Women
Clean water is a global issue. Some of you know that I am a water resources consultant, which means I work with counties, cities, and water districts to fund and plan projects to protect our water supply and clean our waterways and oceans. As a technical advisory board member for the ThirstProject, I’ve supported fresh water wells built in 12 countries around the world. We’ve decided to focus our efforts on providing water to all of Swaziland (an African country adjacent to South Africa) by 2020. Access to clean drinking water is imperative for communities to thrive in terms of health and financial success. South Africa is similar to most third world countries in that women and children spend hours each day fetching water. In fact, many children don’t go to school because they need to assist with domestic chores at home: walking miles to fill buckets of water at dirty watering holes, then carrying jerrycans back home to spend the day boiling water to sanitize it for washing, cooking and bathing. You can imagine the health implications as well, in a continent where HIV/AIDS is as widespread as diabetes in the states. South Africa has a system where their shacks (homes) have large green water tanks on their roofs that are filled by a truck coming by and refilling them for a fee. Although there is fresh groundwater (mother nature does the best job of cleaning water, allowing it to infiltrate through the soils and then storing it in underground cavities known as aquifers), there are few water wells, if any, to access it. The ThirstProject, like many other non-profits charged with providing clean water, provides the engineering, installation, and monitoring of the groundwater wells. They even include GIS (geographic information system) programming to map the exact location of the wells to ensure proper operation. They also educate the women on how to operate and repair the wells. Yes, the women are the heart and soul of African communities – no women, no water. Since we all share the same water that was here when the dinosaurs existed, it truly is our global duty to conserve water and protect it as a public resource, if not a human right. You can find out more about the ThirstProject here: website or facebook.


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Embarassed to Om – Article Published in Elephant Journal

Have you ever felt embarassed to Om in yoga class? Read my article to calm your fears!


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Article in the San Fernando Valley Bar Association Magazine

Feeling Stressed? Read this article on Meditation for Stress, written by Yoga & Meditation Instructor, Joey Soto and Family Law Attorney, Vanessa Nellis, published in the May 2012 Volume of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association Magazine. Learn some tips on how to de-stress at work!

download pdf

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Joey on “Ask the Expert” Series with Brittney Castro: Yoga & Meditation Video

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Balance – Yoga & Nutrition! Guest Blog by Nutritionist Courtney M. Walberg, RD, NASM-CPT

Balance can be defined as “a state of equilibrium, equal distribution of weight and mental steadiness or emotional stability. It is a habit of calm behavior and judgment.” I met Joey Soto early one morning after a workout at 24-hour fitness in Santa Monica. Our conversation flowed, as we both agreed on having a “healthy balance” of nutrition and fitness in life. Joey focuses on the balance in yoga and meditation/breathing exercises for the mind, while I, as a Registered Dietitian, focus on the balance of nutrients your body requires daily through foods and beverages. Also, being a Certified Personal Trainer, I focus on implementing a fitness plan that can work in conjunction with your nutrition plan to suit your lifestyle.

Balance in regards to a stable weight can be related to the simple equation: calories in= calories out. However, this is not as easy as it sounds! There are many things that affect weight including genetics, age, height, activity level, sleep, and stress. That is why I’m here as a Registered Dietitian to help you understand which foods are healthy and the recommended portion you should eat them for a state of “equilibrium.” Nutrition is very individualized and I do not believe in a “one fits all approach.” We are not robots and therefore are not expected to eat perfectly everyday or participate in max intensity exercise daily. I believe it’s important to enjoy life and “live it to the fullest!” Moderation in all things is key to a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Are you craving a piece of chocolate or cookie, seeing that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner?” I recommend that you have a small piece! If you deprive yourself, you’re likely to find yourself overeating a large meal (or the dessert your were originally craving) later. I love the dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and turbinado sugar from Trader Joe’s! (If you haven’t tried them, I recommend that you go buy them today and you will not be disappointed!). The serving size is 13 almonds, however you only need two or three max to satisfy your craving in a healthy way (i.e. this dessert is high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats which help to lower your bad cholesterol). Another healthy “sweet tooth suggestion” is to try ½ of a warm oatmeal raisin cookie and pair it with a scoop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and fresh blueberries on top. The photo at right shows my balanced healthy breakfast of egg white vegetable omelette with avocado and fresh berries!

I encourage you to shift your focus to eat mindfully and focus on the here and now experience of eating including sight, flavor, texture, the amount of food and thoughts/feelings you have about it. I believe in treating your mind and body RIGHT! If you give your body the right nutrients, it will thank you. More importantly, when you are craving something, it is a sign that you aren’t getting enough of something else (i.e. signs of inadequate total calories or protein or heart healthy fats, antioxidants, water, etc.). Our bodies are smarter than we think and will send signals to notify us of these needs. Life is about enjoying nutrition and giving your body the “healthy fuel it needs” to carry on through the day. You will be more focused, efficient, have more energy, better blood sugar control and maintain a healthy weight when you eat “balanced meals” (small, frequent meals containing whole grains, lean proteins and heart healthy fats) throughout the day. Eat “treats” in moderation and maintain self-control. I recommend to pre portion your “treat of the day” out and then put them away in the cupboard or fridge. If you eat something like chips or cookies out of a bag or box in front of the television, you will likely lose count of how much you’ve eaten and feel overly full before you know it, not to mention the calories add up quickly! Mindless munching is common at night while relaxing after a long, stressful day. People oftentimes turn to food as comfort or as a reward, when it should never be viewed as this. Treat yourself to a massage, a manicure and/or pedicure, walk with your pet, a yoga class or game of golf, tennis, soccer or basketball with friends.

With the combination of a physical balance in yoga with Joey Soto and a nutritional physiological balance of food/beverages and looking at “food as medicine,” I believe you will reach the perfect equilibrium (hence the name of my business- Nutrition For Body And Mind). Please don’t let the stresses of the world or life, knock you off your feet! Many people make “losing weight” or “joining a gym” part of their New Years Resolutions. I recommend you shift these “resolutions” to goals that can fit into your daily lifestyle. Make SMART goals!

To find your life balance, schedule a nutrition consultation or personal training session with Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer, and Founder of Nutrition For Body And Mind ( Healthy Regards!  - Courtney

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Interview with Jessica Carrol: The Benefits of Private Yoga

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Trading Jealous for Zealous! (Published @

This past Holiday Season, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be jealous. I have so much gratitude for everything in my life. Yet, I find myself feeling jealous of others’ achievements and wondering “Why can’t I do that or have that?” I decided to sit and to investigate why that is. My yoga studies have taught me to explore the thinking mind and the feeling body.  I pondered what jealousy is all about and dove deeper into what I was feeling.

“Jealous” currently ranks in the top 20% of lookups online. Wikipedia defines Jealousy as: “an emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of presenting emotions such as anger, sadness and disgust. It is not to be confused with envy. Jealousy has been observed in infants five months and older.”

Wow! So much of jealousy is rooted in the anticipated loss of something. Jealousy isn’t about a real incidence warranting feelings of loss; it’s about observing something and facing how you would feel if you had it and how you would feel if you didn’t. It’s about projecting what you think you should have, but don’t because you feel undeserving.

As I meditated on my thoughts and feelings around jealousy, I realized that what I felt wasn’t a longing for what others had. It was insecurity and fear. I wished that I had the guts to act a certain way and to not inhibit myself while trying to achieve the things in life I so deeply desire. At the root, I wished I was fearless.

An incident with my family occurred this Holiday Season where I called others out on acting with jealousy, only to realize that I may have instigated the jealous flow in the first place! I asked myself why I felt this way. My answer was that I simply desired to feel included in Holiday Plans and validated by others. I took a moment to reflect on these deep rooted insecurities and my inner wisdom spoke, “If I continue to temper my dreams of traveling the world teaching yoga with feelings of unworthiness and the need to feel validated by others, then I am setting myself up for self-defeat.

Today, I will start shifting my thoughts by changing this feeling. I’m exchanging jealous for zealous. My zealous desire to travel and teach yoga is not about me at all, it’s about serving others and within the line of grace, there is no question of whether or not I deserve it or need to be accepted by others, rather, the question is: “How may I better serve others?” Removing the ego from the equation of life purpose allows one to reveal the truth:  Your thoughts aren’t you. No! Your thoughts are only what you decide to believe in and continually reinforce in your mind.  You are so much more than your thoughts. We are beings gifted with an inner light of inspiration that shouts the truth of what we are here to do. I feel it loud and clear: I am here to teach the gift of yoga to the world and to you. Where can you trade jealous for zealous in your life?

Read Published Article here ––joey-soto/


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An Interview with a Yogi Couple: From Peace Corps in Belize to Ashtanga in the OC!

Check out this video with Jenny & Gahtlin to see a great example of how yoga can be a part of travel, service, and a loving relationship!:

This video and other inspiring tips are included in my SotoYoga Newsletter.
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Holiday Yoga Class Schedule!

Hi Yogis and Friends!
Here is my yoga teaching schedule through the holidays. Come and join me! You know you need some yoga :)

• Thursday, 15th- 7-8:30pm Bodies in Motion, Westside (West LA)
• Friday, 16th – 7am-8:15am Naam Yoga Los Angeles (Santa Monica) Come and get a 3-day free yoga guest pass!
• Friday, 16th – 4pm-5:15pm The Yoga Collective(Santa Monica)
• Monday, 19th – 7am-8:15am Naam Yoga Los Angeles (Santa Monica) Come and get a 3-day free yoga guest pass!
• Monday, 19th – 6:1pm-7:15pm Bodies in Motion, Century City
• Tuesday-Thursday – Privates
• Friday, 23rd – 7am-8:15am Bodies in Motion, Westside (West LA)
• Friday, 23rd – 4pm-5:15pm Yoga Collective (Santa Monica)
• Monday, 26th – 6:15pm-7:15pm Bodies in Motion, Century City
• Friday, 30th – Out of town. I have a sub for my YogaCo 4-5:15pm class.
• Monday, Jan 2nd – 6:15pm-7:15pm Bodies in Motion, Century City – This week of Jan 2nd I’ll resume my regular class schedule teaching public classes Mondays (Bodies in Motion) and Fridays (Yoga Collective), with Privates Tuesday-Thursday.
Links to Gym/Studio Locations:
Bodies in Motion, Westside
Naam Yoga Los Angeles
Yoga Collective
Bodies in Motion, Century City
I hope to see you for some yoga fun!

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