The Buddha Spotlight: RYT & Holistic Health Practitioner – Dana A. Smith (Pt. 1)



Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith

Namaste ya’ll!

The Buddha Spotlight introduces you to Certified Yoga Teacher (RYT), Holistic Health Practitioner, Intuitive Counselor, and Author of Yes, Yoga Has Curves, Dana A. Smith.


Goddess Mena Love:  Why did you decide to open a yoga studio?

Dana A. Smith:  I was inspired to open a yoga studio after I had outgrown teaching in my home. I wanted to reach more people but couldn’t do it out of the basement of my home. I set the intention to have a space that would better allow me to serve my community and through a string of miracles I was able to open my studio in 2008.


Goddess Mena Love:  Explain Jiivana Yoga.

Dana: Jiivana Yoga (pronounced Jee-Vah-Nah) is actually a style of yoga created by me. I’ve experienced many wonderful styles of yoga and found that there were pieces of each that really resonated with me. I had been facilitating yoga teacher training for 4 years and realized that in order for me to teach my trainees in a way that was authentic to me I had to create my own style of yoga. My yoga practice led me to Thai Yoga Massage, which led me to Reiki, which led me to Life Coaching. All of these modalities allowed me to grow mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically and I wanted my trainees and my students to experience something similar. I didn’t want them to rely solely on coming to class to heal or even coming in for a Thai Massage or Reiki treatment. I wanted to teach others how to create a strong foundation to grow and feel empowered by what they were learning. For me yoga is life and I searched for a Sanskrit word that translated Life and Jiivana was that. I went further to break the word Life into an acronym – Living Inspired and Fearless Everyday. My belief is that we should be inspired in life. The things around us should inspire us, motivate us. We should be courage enough to release fear (f.alse e.vidence a.ppearing r.eal) and flow in light everyday.

Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith


Goddess Mena Love:   Do you find it hard to expose yoga to African Americans?

Dana:  I wouldn’t say it is hard but in some instances it has taken a lot of work to dispel the myths and educate on what yoga is and what it isn’t.


Goddess Mena Love:   What advice can you give to people who are afraid to integrate yoga with their current belief system or religion?

Dana:  My advice would be for them to let go of fear and lean what the true essence of yoga is. Yoga is a healthy system designed to align mind, body and spirit. It isn’t reliant on any religion or belief outside of you believing that you have the power to shift your life for the better. Education is key! Most people new to yoga have not idea of what it is and how it can help them. Giving them the history and purpose of yoga goes a long way in making others feel comfortable in practicing.


Goddess Mena Love:   Do you have any tips on yoga and fertility?

Dana:  The key to yoga and fertility is balancing the sacral chakra (home of the womb) and the heart chakra (the true brain). The mind is also a powerful thing and as the quote above states you have to believe it (that you are fertile, supple and a vehicle for life) in order for it to be so. I’ve worked with quite a few wonderful women who were getting over womb issues and infertility issues. I always have them to start out with forgiveness exercises (for self) and then advise them on ways to balance the sacral chakra.


Goddess Mena Love:  Finish this statement.  Yoga gives me access to…..

Dana: Yoga gives me access to my unconditional joy.

Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith


Goddess Mena Love:  What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from teaching yoga?

Dana:  I learned that people are much stronger than they give themselves credit for! I also learned that I can be a positive force to facilitate change in others.


Goddess Mena Love:  Can you explain Thai Yoga Bodywork and the benefits?

Dana: Thai Yoga Bodywork (also known as Thai Yoga Massage) is an ancient form of therapeutic healing. It combines acupressure, energy balancing, stretching, and yoga asanas. There many are benefits of Thai Massage. It increase flexibility, range of motion and energy level.

Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith


Goddess Mena Love:   You have a variety of ongoing workshops at Spiritual Essence Yoga, with so much to learn and teach, how do you decide what workshops to provide?

Dana:  I base my workshops on what my students say they need. I love to talk to my students and see how their practice is coming along and what is going on in their lives.


Goddess Mena Love:  How important is it to change your diet while living a more spiritual life?

Dana:  Changing my diet from a mostly processed to clean eating really changed my spiritual health. Eating healthy allows me to be more at ease and helps to increase my energy.


Goddess Mena Love:  What’s your favorite song/movie? What kind of music are you listening to right now?

Dana:  My favorite movie is actually the Color Purple. The story of struggle, perseverance and forgiveness is powerful to me. Fela Kuti is on heavy rotation on my iPod. The songs sing to my soul deeply.




© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved





The Buddha Spotlight: RYT & Holistic Health Practitioner – Dana A. Smith (Pt. 2)


Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith

Goddess Mena Love:   How did you become of aware of listening and being guided by your intuition?

Dana:  I became aware of listening and allowing my intuition to guide me when I basically hit rock bottom. The things that I told myself I must do and how I must do it (rooted in ego) failed time and time again and while I was the end of my rope I decided to let go and let God. To trust in the blessings sight unseen. It took no time for things to shift in my life. I learned that the “little voice” was actually a big and powerful one that was there for guidance if I would just slow down and trust.


Goddess Mena Love:  How long have you been practicing Usui Reiki?

Dana:  I found Usui Reiki in 2007.


Goddess Mena Love:  What are the benefits of receiving reiki treatments, regularly?

Dana:  Reiki is a wonderful tool for stress relief. One of the greatest benefits in my opinion is that it works well with all other traditional and holistic healing therapies. Reiki helps to balance the mind, body and emotions, helps to relive pain, and supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself.


Goddess Mena Love:  What have you learned from your clients from practicing Usui Reiki?

Dana:  I’ve learned that the key to healing is letting go. Letting go of anger, fear, guilt, past hurts and even the ego is the key to healing. I often get clients who are referred by their doctors and they don’t know what to expect or believe. I’ve also learned that the body is intelligent and the perfect system for healing if we take care of it.

Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith


Goddess Mena Love:  Do you have any personal reiki stories, that’s made you smile?

Dana:  I have quite a few stories that make me smile. The ones that really stick with me are those clients that are dealing with chronic issues, such as insomnia (sleep is when the true healing happens). One of my clients is a firefighter. He was dealing with a long bout of sleeplessness and was referred to Reiki by his doctor. He made it very clear that he was only there to see me because his doctor referred him and at that point he was willing to try anything. I put him on the table and he spent at least 10 minutes telling my why Reiki wouldn’t work and why he wouldn’t be able to sleep. 30-minutes into our session he wasn’t only sleeping but snoring loudly!


Goddess Mena Love:  “The practice of moving your body starts to move your mind” is my favorite quote by you. What’s your favorite quote?

Dana:  I am blessed to receive inspiration from all sources. My favorite quote is “you’ll see it when you believe it” by Dr. Wayne Dyer. In order for great things to happen we must first believe they are possible in order for them to manifest.


Goddess Mena Love:   What is the biggest life lesson you learned so far?

Dana:  The biggest lesson that I have learned so far is that I CAN! I can be exactly what I want to be in life. I can be free from stress, fear, anger and anything that presents itself as a roadblock to my happiness.


Goddess Mena Love:  Tell me more about your book, Yes! Yoga Has Curves.

Dana:  YES! Yoga Has Curves is a testament that there is no such thing as the perfect yoga body contrary to public belief. It displays the beauty and tells the inspirational stories of 45 beautiful women. Many have been practicing yoga for several years and were, like me, disappointed at the lack of physical variety in popular yoga media.

Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith


Goddess Mena Love:  Tell me more about your 4th annual yoga, meditation, and healing retreat?

Dana:  Each year we plan a yoga getaway with our students, friends and family. It allows all of us to get away and totally immerse ourselves in yoga and meditation. This year our them is “the beauty of balance” and we will focus on techniques designed to balance chaos with bliss, something that is greatly needed without students.


Goddess Mena Love:  What’s your meditation destination?

Dana: Ahhh, a nice sandy beach with a huge palm tree and still waters.


Goddess Mena Love:  Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out on this path of awakening?

Dana:  My advice is to be patience and take things in bite sized pieces. Set an intention each and every morning to get closer to that which you seek. Check out your resources and stay connected to what feels right to you.


Dana A. Smith

Dana A. Smith



© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved

I Was In a Fight This Morning and I Won!!

Every morning I wake up at 5am.

Every morning I lie in my bed wrapped all up in that warm comfort.

Every morning I’m in mental battle with myself, with truly starting my day at 5am.

What do I mean?

So, my personal goal is to get my ass up every morning at 5am for some serious meditation and exercise to set the tone for the day. Every morning ego talks me out of staying up from 5am to 6am, while my boys are getting dressed for school.

At 5am until it’s time to leave to take the boys to school, I am awake, but still in the bed.

What the hell am I doing?

I’m being lazy.

I’m snuggling with bae.

I’m playing  Cookie Jam on my phone.

I’m staring at the ceiling fan.

I’m on Tumblr, Twitter, & Instagram.

I’m doing everything that I know I’m not suppose to be doing, while in the bed.

Let me just say this, being on this spiritual journey ain’t no joke! It’s teaches you to fully take responsibility for all of your actions and thoughts, not some, but ALL! For people, who are amazed and wanna pass judgment at the fact that I’m suppose to have it all together, I’m so sorry!

I know, I’m posting that I’m severely struggling with morning self-motivation and I’m suppose to be soooooo spiritual and have all this knowledge to help keep me afloat. Yeah, well,  you have no idea what being fully responsible for your soul is.  It is said that knowledge is power, when applied. I have the knowledge to take better care of myself, although at times it’s applying the knowledge to my life is where there may be a disconnect. And the disconnect is sometimes there, because I am resistant to change. And my resistance to change, has everything to do with my growth, my personal goals, and my alignment to what I desire. The desire for me to change unhealthy habits comes from the thoughts I desire  to align with. Everyday that I choose to live guided by my intuition is a process! So, I’m learning that within this process, I gotta be gentle with myself, even on those days that I don’t wanna do shit! Just being real!

6am comes up and it is now time to take the boys to school. I drag myself out of the the bed and drive them to school. I couldn’t tell you what passed me up on the roads, I don’t even remember saying bye to my boys today. All I kept thinking was getting back in that bed. The problem with the glorious thought of getting back in my comfortable bed, is that by the time I turn back into my apartment after dropping off my boys, I’m literally up, awake, and ready to start the day. For me to get back into my bed, is me forcing myself to be lazy.

So, I’m in the house now, walking slowly up the stairs, and this is what’s in my mind,

“Get dressed and go running”

“Get yo’ ass up under those covers”

“Let’s get fine for the summer, go running”

“I’m just gonna sleep for 15 minutes”

I sleep for 15 minutes, wake up with extra time to go running and make it back before my conference call, and thinking this,

“Sleep for the extra 15 minutes”

“Get up, let’s go running”

“Let’s just snooze until 9:30am”

“You have time, get up and go running, you can do this”

I get up, with an attitude, put my clothes on and walk out the door. I drive to the park, fighting with myself to get back in the bed. Sitting in my car at the park, every excuse to turn around was so available, but somehow I managed to get my ass out on that walking trail. With every step (walking), I griped. With every stride (running), I pushed myself harder.

My walk/run combo was completed in no time!

AND it was tough!

Who knows how it feels to motivate yourself when ain’t nobody else there to do it?!

And this is what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks, running for my life, for a better quality of life. I’ve managed to drop 5lbs, and some inches, too, because of this new fight for life! I hope that this post inspires and encourages you to do the same. I know how it feels to be stuck in that same routine of procrastination.

I’m telling you, it’s time!

I just want to also share that I’m so grateful for the people that I’ve spoken to for The Buddha Spotlight! You all have inspired me to care a lot for myself. No one said living this life would be without tests, trials, or obstacles. It’s the growth through these challenges that I’m seeing, is the bigger lesson and moving forward to the life I really want to live!

So, If I don’t get up at 5am to start my day, just know that some day I will. But, I’m gonna for sure get my ass up and run, walk, and/or get that meditation in at whatever time of the day!


© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved

The Buddha Spotlight: Educator & Yoga Instructor – HawaH (Pt. 1)

The Buddha Spotlight introduces Hawah




HawaH is an artist, author, educator, yoga teacher and community organizer. In the year 2000, he co-founded One Common Unity, a non-profit organization that inspires a culture of non-violence through arts, media and music. He has released four books, two musical CD’s, and produced three documentary films. His fourth book, The Poetry Of Yoga, is a 2 volume anthology set featuring the writing of 300 yogi poets from 19 different countries and contain special forewords from Shiva Rea and Sharon Gannon. You can join him on his 2014 international yoga retreat and Buddhist pilgrimage to Nepal by visiting


(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Tell me about the retreat you’re apart of in Nepal.

(A) HawaH: This retreat in Nepal is a pilgrimage to some of the most breathtaking, beautiful monasteries that you’ll find in all of Asia. The scenery is majestic with the tops of the temples literally scraping the clouds. The pilgrimage will include morning and evening asana and meditation classes with me (approx. 3 to 4 hours a day). More exciting though is we’ll have audiences and direct teachings from Tibetan Buddhist masters, learning about this remarkable branch of Buddhism.  People from all over the world are signing up for the retreat (we only have 6 spots left—-it’s capped at 16 people), and this is my second time teaching yoga in Nepal. My friend Marty Kravitz is the organizer and she’s been living in Nepal for many years, and brings in different teachers every year for yoga “Nepal”.  I’ve personally been to Nepal 3 times in my life and India more than a dozen. My first time in Nepal, I did the Mt. Everest Base camp trek. It was an extraordinary, once in a lifetime journey.

(A) Goddess Mena Love: Is this retreat for all levels?

(B) HawaH: It’s for people that have been practicing some form of asana. You don’t need any Tibetan Buddhism background at all. This is a great introduction to Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. The yoga portion does require you to have at least six months of asana practice, so that you’re familiar with basic poses such as, downward dog, up dog, and warrior one. You also have to be in enough physical condition to where you’ll feel comfortable hiking a bit at high altitudes.


(Q) Goddess Mena Love: When is the yoga retreat to Nepal?

(A) HawaH: The retreat is October 27 – November 7, 2014.




(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Where can people get more information about this yoga pilgrimage to Nepal?

(A) HawaH: and on the home page you’ll see my retreat called, “Awakening to Freedom.” If you decide to come, we’ll be picking you up from the airport!


(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What style of yoga do you practice?

(A) HawaH: I was initially trained and certified in Sivananda over 10 years ago, which was my first deep immersion. My second certification is in Jivamukti yoga; in addition to that I’ve been training and studying for close to 15 years now. I’m versatile, the other styles of yoga that I incorporate in my teaching practice are a little bit of ashtanga, iyengar, and vinyasa flow.





(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What is the best thing about teaching yoga?

(A) HawaH: The best thing about teaching yoga is that I’m never teaching yoga. Yoga, to me, is more of an exchange, it’s interaction with other spiritually inclined, and motivated individuals who desire to penetrate into deeper levels of consciousness and awareness. For me, every time I step into the classroom, I don’t consider myself a teacher. I consider myself a tour guide, guiding you through the natural flow of movements with breath. Some people might view me as a teacher, but I don’t see myself as a teacher. I see myself like a partner in this journey with you.

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: When did you fall in LOVE with yoga?

(A) HawaH: Yoga, in the philosophical and Bhakti sense, has been apart of my life since birth. My mom is a Bhakti yogi, meaning she practices prayer, devotion, and chanting for hours every day. She’s been doing that for as far as I can remember.  When I was growing up as a child, I was frequently taken to India, which exposed me to many of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and Vedas. My uncle who resides in India now is a revered Swami. So, from a young age, I was exposed to his teachings, as well. In that sense, I think yoga is just apart of my blood. I think in another sense, yoga, as we know it as asana, is something that I kind of came around to in 1999 or 2000.  These were pivotal years; I was first introduced to asana practice by my friend Terence Ollivierra.


(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What is your daily spiritual practice?

(A) HawaH: I give thanks and gratitude, which is the anchor to everything that provides me joy and happiness. Before every meal, just stopping for a few minutes, closing my eyes and saying a silent wish for an end to suffering. I spend about 1 – 2 hours a day in my meditation and yoga room sometimes just staring at a candle. Working with kids is also another spiritual practice for me, and probably the compass to all of the above.

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Do you have advice for anyone interested in starting a daily meditation routine?

(A) HawaH: Yes! It’s a 5 letter word, “S-T-A-R-T”, start! It’s one of my favorite words in the English language. Sit down and close your eyes for 5 minutes a day. I can give you all these tools, but it’s all meaningless until you just sit down on your mat (or cushion), close your eyes and just see what comes up, watch, and observe. I would start right there! Take time out of your day to make time for yourself, and until you start that process it is all just procrastination. Once you start creating that time for yourself, there’s no wrong way, as long as you’re exploring and curious. A curious mind… is the best mind to have. Also, find teachers that you gravitate toward. Zone in on what kind of practice you’re into: a Bhakti practice, or a sitting meditation practice. Are you more drawn to an asana practice? It’s not all asana, in the West — yoga has been diminished and reduced to these hot yoga classes that are a real small fraction to what different paths people are on to attain a deeper spiritual realization.




(Q) Goddess Mena Love: You mentioned being born in this type of lifestyle, but what was the turning point for you to get started with your existing spiritual way of life?

(A) HawaH:  By getting on the mat everyday my life was transforming, and changing rapidly in a positive way. I was more calm and happy. I found a deeper level of contentment, less stress and anxiety, and found myself becoming more focused and creative. Sometimes I was amazed that I could do the same amount of work that use to take me four hours to, now in one hour! That was really powerful to me! I was witnessing one hour a day of my meditation and seeing results that it actually allowed me to accomplish so much more! All of those things contributed to my commitment to being disciplined in my practice.


(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Are you a vegetarian? Have you been a vegetarian all of your life?

(A) HawaH: I personally don’t like labels, but yet I would consider myself extremely close to a vegetarian.  I was brought up in a vegetarian household. The first time I had meat was probably in 6th grade. I remember the first time I ate Ham, and I had no idea what it even really was.  But we were at a weekend camp on a school trip and everyone else was eating it for breakfast in the morning and so I figured I should just give it a try to (partly at that time to fit in)… I started eating meat regularly around that time, not in the house, only at school, because of the lack of variety in school lunches. I continued to eat meat through college, until my junior year. This is a loooong story, but let’s just say that I was face to face with a chicken while in Vietnam, staring at her in the eyes, and I couldn’t bring myself to actually kill it. I had the knife in my hand, in a small hut staying with a family on the Mekong Delta, and they gave me the knife as an honor to kill the animal.  I froze there with them around me and was like, “Oh my God, what do I do!” I was scared, and didn’t kill the chicken that day, and never ate a land animal again ever since. It wasn’t because of what I learned about the environment, and how much better it is for world hunger, not because of exercise or hormones, it was because I couldn’t consciously bring myself to eat something I wasn’t willing to kill with my own two hands.

© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved


The Buddha Spotlight: Educator & Yoga Instructor – HawaH (Pt. 2)

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: How important is it to change your diet while living a more spiritual lifestyle?

(A) HawaH: Honestly, I think it is absolutely essential. When we look back at humanity, a few hundred years from now, there will be analogies of how animals are treated today in the factory farming business as literal slaughter houses… how animals are treated, there’s absolutely no excuse for it.  There’s no excuse to why we should be causing another living creature any pain.

I think that if anyone really wanted to walk the path of yoga, you have to take an honest look at the Yamas and Niyamas. The first Yama is non-violence (ahimsa). I think we can make a lot of excuses for ourselves, but if we’re putting that kind of pain in our bodies then there will be karmic repercussions. If you’re raising chickens in your backyards, killing it with your own two hands, and offering it to the spirits before advancing the conscious circle of life (the story has changed… we can’t be okay with being barbarians anymore), then I think it is more acceptable.  However, if you’re not doing that then I think it is hard for one to have a spiritual practice rooted in the Yamas and Niyamas.


Eating meat affects your asana practice, it effects your mental vastitude. So much is “riding” on your diet. Your diet is the fuel you put in your body. When an animal has been through so much pain and suffering, and you put that pain and suffering in your body, that karma is karma that you have to live with, it becomes your new living cells. The pain and suffering of those animals is what replaces dying cells in your body, so your new cells contain that. That is the harsh reality.





(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What is your favorite healthy comfort food?

(A) HawaH: I don’t know if it’s healthy! My comfort food is really good homemade bread, toasted, with olive oil, Himalayan pink sea salt, and nutritional yeast.

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: OK, fun question! If you could pick your favorite song right now, at this moment, what would it be?

(A) HawaH:  Off the top of my head, it would be Purple Rain by Prince. It’s been raining a lot in D.C. lately.


(Q) Goddess Mena Love: What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned, so far?

(A) HawaH: The life lesson that I am learning and totally incorporating, that’s immediate and really one that I’ve been instilling in my daily life is, not to do too much. The past two years I’ve simplified and I now say no, to so many things that I used to say yes to; all so I can have more personal time. I used to work well over 60 – 70 hours a week, running my body into the ground, and I noticed that I just didn’t have enough time to spend with my family and friends the way I wanted to. With getting older, I’m like,  “yo’, I’m not gonna save the world, you know, that’s just not possible”, but what I can do is a little something here in my community to help make it better than how I found it. I can be satisfied with knowing that I did my best with all that I had, and at the same time not beat myself up and feel guilty because I’m not trying to cure everything, and being ok with not being everywhere, not doing everything.

(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. Yoga gives me access to……

(A) HawaH: Yoga gives me access to serve. Seva in Sanskrit means to give back, or selfless service. For example, if you take care of an elderly person, volunteering your time, that’s seva.



(Q) Goddess Mena Love: Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out on this path of awakening?

(A) HawaH: I just finished an article about this called, 10 Tips For The Budding Yogi! To pick out the most important points is that yoga is so much more than physical masturbation. Yoga is a journey into the heart, a journey into the spirit, a journey into awakening and freedom. If you’re just practicing to get your ass looking tight and a six pack, then you’ve missed the whole picture. That’s my real advice to people who want to get started. Understand that this is a deep ancient practice that dates back thousands of years, and that it’s not just exercise.


Goddess Mena Love: Thanks HawaH, for taking time to speak with me!

HawaH: Thank you! And I appreciate you for taking time to do this important project! We gotta tell our stories, get more stories out, because our stories are important.




© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved

I’m Blending Every Damn Thing!

Super Green Papaya Smoothie





Chia Seeds

Raw Honey


Vanilla Almond Milk

*Because I like the gelatinous structure of the chia seeds when it’s combined with liquids. After I’ve blended all the ingredients, I add the chia seeds last, and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 min. While waiting, I’ll have some tea, so it doesn’t seem like I’m waiting forever to taste all of that goodness!

© Copyright 2014 – Goddess Mena Love. All Rights Reserved