Tag Archives: travel blog

Music That’s Better Than Goa Trance (especially whilst chillin’ in Goa)

Without music, life would be a mistake.
Friedrich Nietzsche, the ultimate nihilist

I’m currently based on Agonda Beach in Goa for two weeks, taking a much-needed breather from all the urban madness of Bombay and the touristy back-n-forthing from visiting sites one “should” see, like the World Heritage Site, the Ellora Caves.

Buddha carved into a massive cave at Ellora

The Ellora caves are about 10 hours from Bombay and are definitely worth checking out if you have a few days spare on your itinerary.  Be prepared for a lot of inter-travel travel, however.  Once you get to Aurangabad you need to take a rickshaw to Ellora and a car to Ajanta to see the two sites.

2 million tonnes of stone were dug out of the mountains to create these buildings in the Hindu section of the caves.

It took a lot out of me to travel by train from Igatpuri to Bombay (directly after 10 days of silence and meditation), Bombay to Aurangabad (which was *freezing!*), and finally back to Bombay (23 hours in the train, not to mention all the taxis, hotel checkins, and fancy footwork).

In the midst of all this frenetic movement, I find myself in month 8 of being on the road . . .

So a lot of my time is spent thinking about an imaginary home I have in my head . . .

. . . even if I did have the pleasure of meeting a group of very sweet local girls traveling 26 hours to compete in a folk dance competition . . .

Good luck, girls!

The hair that really broke this camel’s back was the freezing cold rickshaw ride where our evil driver refused to stop for a warming chai *or* to purchase a shawl (clearly, he had a different shawl connection 30 minutes up the road where he would get a cut – of absolutely nothing, as it turned out, as I refused to support his devious plan).

Gr.

Thanks to this man, I had a chest cold from hell for a good week . . . but I’m letting it go (;o)) and finally coming back to the world of health . . .

Breakfast picnic of champions: coconut meat, strawberries, figs, dates, cashews, almonds, bananas, orange, apple, grapes. Yes.

You may not think Goa is the kind of place to go for some healing and chilling out.  It is, afterall, the birthplace of some of the most drug-induced head-numbing music of all time, the infamous Goa Trance.  (I’m not actually going to put a sampling of that music on my site, but the link is there . . . if you dare ;o))

Goa is massive, home to over 22 beaches where two million tourists make their way for sunbathing and partying every year.  A former Portugese colony, obvious mostly in the architecture and relaxed attitudes toward drinking and two-piece bikinis, Goa is a sweet break from the rest of a sometimes unforgiving India.  You can choose to hang with any number of European and American lemmings up in the tour package beaches, stuffed to the brim with high-end hotels and ripoff dining – just like home, except . . . in India!  On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got backpacker delights so gentle on the wallet, you might end up staying a few months on top of your journey.

Bombay to Agonda, 634 km.

I’m catching up on work and relaxation on the south side of Goa in Agonda, a sleepy stretch of sand, lined with relaxed restaurants serving freshly caught seafood, and a few odd clothing and general shops along the way.  No clubs or late-night bars.  And definitely no Goa Trance!

My hotel of choice is Cupid’s Heaven, where the cook and manager are friendly 20-something homeboys from the Punjab.  It’s a three-story hotel with solid walls and good plumbing (rare in India!) and the balconies facing the sea have a gorgeous view of the sunsets.  It’s a super comfy, super relaxed vibe, no thrills or fills, but I’m paying a third the price of the more popular make-shift huts on the beach.  Definitely the budget traveler’s pick!

Wee river just along Agonda Beach

Between papaya meals, logo designing and afternoon writing sessions I’m slowly getting back into a healthy body.

Yay!  Bike rides to Palolem!

Buffalo grazing beyond cross. Taken between Agonda and Palolem beaches, Goa.

Morning runs with some very sweet sounds . . .

. . . along the Agonda shores . . .

Makes running a helluva lot more enjoyable ;o)

Meditation sunsets!

OK, so this was not taken in Goa, but this is Goenka-ji (and his wife, Mata-ji), who is responsible for spreading the Vipassana meditation technique I've been using here. This was taken after a private interview I had with him - luckyyyyyy. :o)

To celebrate my return to health (which feels an awful lot like freedom) I wanted to share a few songs from artists that keep popping up on my journey so far.  They’re much more appropriate for the vibe than the manic music that was born in this sunshiney international party destination (well, Goa is known to be a bit mad, but the beach I’m staying on is pure chill) – there’s no accounting for taste ;o)

One of my favorite artists of all time, Alice Coltrane . . .

Advertisements

Manhattan Setu Bandhasana (Bridge!)

(still very behind on this series, but always fun to take a look back at where I was four months ago …)

Oh, New York.  America’s bridge to her slightly more sophisticated sister (if only due to age), Europa.   Where the weak and weary masses were once so welcome, they came by the boatful to build themselves a shiny new American life.  Boasting over 800 spoken languages, it’s the most linguistically diverse city in the world.  The selection of gustatory delights is pretty impressive as well . . .

Herself on the eve of New York's worst hurricane in who knows how long, 2011

Where you can catch a subway 24 hours a day, where countless authors and musicians have sojourned for inspiration, and you can bet money you won’t be disappointed with your bagel or pizza order.  8 million people living in 305 square miles of sea-side urban sprawl  If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

My favorite personal New York story (so far) was the time my best friend and I went to see a free showing at Showtime at the ApolloI’ll preface the whole thing by noting we were 17 years old at the time!

We arrived in Queens when it was already dark and the line to get in went for blocks and blocks and blocks.  Blocks of chicken joints and pawn shops.  And we were the only non-African-Americans in sight.  We felt pretty cool.

As we stood in line, taking it all in, this little Puerto Rican chic comes up to us and asks if we wanna get into to see the show early.  At first we thought she was trying to steal our spot, but then her camera crew caught up with her and we decided it was worth a shot.  So she takes us back to the venue, snaking in and out of massive crowds, leads us over to the entrance in the back and straight into the building.  We were in!

Shot from inside the Apollo, back in the day...

Alright ladies, we’re gonna sit you down, and after the amateur show we’re gonna bring the cameras round and ask ya’ll what you thought.  Sound good?

Totally in awe, we were taken to our ninth row seats and enjoyed an hour of the worst dancing, singing and standup we’d ever seen.  Oh, the hilarious things we wanted to say!

That ventriloquist guy should see if he could maybe switch positions with his dummy, cuz it could hardly get any worse!

Was that a song she was singing or an imitation of a woe-struck chicken?

But when the big cameras and lights caught up with us after the evenings (rather embarrassing) performances, we could hardly muster, “Yeah man, that was cool.”

Ah, to be 17in the Big Apple.  So much sass and so little sophistication!

Thankfully, after the embarassing encounter with the bright lights of entertainment, we were treated to Montel Jordan’s dancer being taken away in an ambulance from an asthma attack . . .

. . . and Lord Tariq and Peter Guns getting one better than a standing ovation: the in-house impromptu partay.  Everyone in the joint got up, rushed the stage and got down to their anthem . . .

This leg of the Friends and Family Tour takes me back to the world’s culture capital to visit the very same friend – as well as a former colleague and soul sister from Japan.  I actually ended up re-connecting with a surprising number of old friends and acquaintances, part of the reason why I chose to explore bridge pose (setu bandhasana) just under the Manhattan Bridge.

Ze Pose

In its basic form, bridge, Setu Bandhasana (or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), can be done by any beginner who isn’t suffering from a major neck concern or back issue.  Start with the feet hip distance apart, knees bent, hands just a few inches from the heels of the feet, arms parallel to the torso.  Tuck the tailbone and press the lowerback into the earth to start feeling your core muscles.  This also helps to protect your lower back further into the pose.

Two bridges on a sunny NYC day

On an inhale, lift the hips and press the feet into the earth, as if you’re trying to straighten the knees.  To bind in the pose (the ‘bandha’ part of the Sanskrit name) shimmy the shoulders down until you can grab onto the ankles.  Hold here for as long as it’s comfortable.

For intermediate practitioners, the pose can be explored more deeply with all sorts of variations and props.

  • Try lifting one leg perpendicular to the earth.  Press the foundation foot evenly through the ball and heel.  The raised leg is straight, hips square – and you can play around with pointing the toes, balls, and heel of the feet to see which position feels best.
  • Shift the direction of the toes and heels clockwise and counter clockwise to experience how that affects the physical sensations in the pose.
  • If your balance is feeling solid, bring the lifted leg out to the side of the body until it’s parallel to the earth.  This should work the inner thigh and core, as well as your overall sense of balance.

This pose is great for the thighs and core, but you can also engage the arms and shoulders by actively pressing the palms into the earth as you lift the hips.  You may even opt to interlace the fingers and press both hands firmly down, walking the shoulders closer together.

For a more dynamic vinyasa version, inhale as you raise the hips up and arms up and behind the head.  On the exhale, bring the hips and hands back to their original positions. Continue with your own rhythm to your heart’s content!

It sounds kinda cheesy, but sometimes a yoga practice can really act as a bridge over troubled waters, so I couldn’t resist adding this song to the post.  Enjoy . . .

A few shots from around what could possibly be the next place I call ‘home’ . . .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From a Cafe in Mumbai

Just a personal quickie before heading off to the next course …

The Present

Sitting in the Basilico café in Mumbai’s tourist haven (and rather pleasantly tree-line colonial enclave), Colaba.  This moment epitomizes the pros of urban life.  I’m writing an email to a friend and catching up on my blog in a comfortable booth, eating a gorgeous salad, listening to some dubbed out Arabian tunes, and just out of the corner of my eye, as people stroll down the sidewalk outside, I can see taxi cab lights whizzing by to all kind of potentially-amazing destinations.  It’s pure comfort, health, sophistication –though some yogis may call it sensory-infused hell-on-earth ;o)

The "Make Your Own Salad" option allowed for 10 choices of ingredients. And the ashram feels a million miles away ...

As delicious as this (mushroom, endive, mescalun, sprout, broccoli, sundried tomato, asparagus, carrot, zucchini, hazelnut dressing) salad is, the best thing about this moment is feeling like I’m sitting in the eye of the storm.  In transition, moving from beach to meditation center.  No one is trying to charge me five times the price of a taxi ride down the street.  There’s no seemingly endless searching for the tourist office in the Victoria Station terminal.  I’m not checking bags, taking out a laptop, finding a gate, or filling out my passport number in a rather archaic-looking hotel recordbook.

Aaaah, I’m here, in a chilled-out, uber-modern Mumbai café.  Gushing with gratitude.

Synagogue and a designer Indian fashion boutique not far from my hotel ... making my way back from "buying train ticket hell" (with a smile on my face, of course!)

The Past

Which isn’t to say I’m not grateful for where I just came from!  I mean, sweet baby jesus, just take a look at some of these photos!

Tres romantique!

I’m from Hawaii and the big mama ocean at Varakala (where I just spend a week of New Year welcoming) was surprisingly impressive – then again, it wasn’t just the ocean giving off all that bliss.  2012 entered my vision in a tropical paradise (oh home sweet home, I miss you!), with amazing new yogi friends as well.

Burying Uncle Marvin!

Varkala’s stunning cliffside views are set to the backdrop of funky restaurants serving fresh seafood and home baked cakes at reasonable prices (compared to other holiday destinations, but not pretty pricey compared to Indian cities).   It’s just enough beachy vacation vibe, having just spent a month in an ashram … any more than a smidgin’ would have been too much stimulation.  Aaaah, contentment.

A good handful of us made it out to the beach together, where we all got our own rooms and danced in and out of lunches, beach bombing, yoga sessions.  We were like a mini-Sivananda village in the middle of the Varkala strip.  Meditation and pranayam in the mornings, rooftop asana – it wasn’t as hardcore as it would have been if we’d emerged from the ashram back to our lives in Europe and the States, but it was perfect integration for the holiday!

The Future

Well, it’s 2012, ya’ll … end of the world?  Beginning of something new?  These calendar markings are really no different from any other, but it’s a great opportunity to take stock and focus perspective for the next few chapters.  I’ve got my to-do list here in my journal, and you know it’s packed full of spiritual, academic, professional and personal intentions.  One of them also made it to top ten on my India intentions list as I took off from Dublin: fine tune discernment and increase focus.

Image I found online of the center ... here I coooome ...

Tomorrow I’m off to Igatpuri, home to the largest Vipassana center in the world.  I’ll be experimenting with a ten day silent meditation course I’ve heard amazing things about – “it totally healed me from a trauma I experienced five years ago,” “it really helped set up my meditation practice in a more disciplined way,” “I love it.”  I’ll be doing a before and after video so I can see the difference on screen as well – maybe I’ll put it on the site!

Here’s to a magic 2012, full of dreams realized, vibrant health and lotsa love . . . .

Alrighty, it’s getting late and I’m still a bit fuzzy from all the travel today (and I just realized, the last seven months of being on the road!).  I’ll be out of touch for at least 10 days now, silent, contemplative, and who knows what else.  Watch this space for a review!

In light . . .

Christmas on the Road!

Just a quick update to all my friends and family … HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I’m on the road from Madurai where I just finished my second yoga teacher training and will be spending the next chapter on the south coast of India.  We have a group of about eleven yogis and we’ll be celebrating our graduation, bringing in the new year, and appreciating the beaches for the next week or so.  Woo hoo!

Now that I have some Vedantic philosophy and the Baghavad Gita sorted out (a bit of a joke, that book could be studied for lifetimes!), I feel ready for a break.  During the course, I also finished a fabulous book on the history and cultural context surrounding modern postural practice.

A mini-review and personal blabberings on it all can be found on Yoga Lovin’.

Pictures soon to follow … but first … a Christmas train adventure with the yogi crew in India.  Wow, writing that out sounds absolutely surreal.  I love my life!

Big Hawaiian Hugs to all my loved ones out there …

Gettin’ Down(dog) in Baltimore

It’s not the first city on most people’s “must see in America” list, but Baltimore has a lot more to offer than whatever you’ve seen on The Wire.  No, it’s not all drug deals and corrupt cops up in here, despite the series’ realistic aesthetic and gritty dialogue (gotta love it).

Baltimore’s undergone a major evolution in the last ten years, and most of the city has a surprising charm, in architecture, quirkiness and down-to-earth vibe of the people.  Not to mention America’s biggest free art festival – Artscape!

Two of my dearest friends are currently calling this city their home, so it was a definitely a “must see” on my Friends and Family Tour list.  I spent the week visiting my host’s favorite munching spot and taking in some local Bikram (in the white-trash-funky Hapden) and Hatha (both of excellent quality, though the receptionist at Charm City Yoga was so uptight, I wondered how accurate the name of the studio really was . . . ).

In the featured image, we’re perusing the free art outside one of the many art schools in the city . . .

When I found this odd little dog statue, I couldn’t help but bust out in a downdog myself (I assure you, the postures in this article series become a lot less literal in future!).

Since I’m writing this article from my second go at a yoga teacher training, I’ll share with you a report on the posture I did in my first teacher training course in 2007 at The Yoga Connection in Tucson, Arizona.  It may be far too much detail for the non-yogi reader, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

(AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
adho = downward
mukha = face
svana = dog

A stabilizing inversion, downdog balances all 7 chakras and all 5 ayurvedic elements.
Preparatory Poses
  • Plank Pose
  • Uttanasana
Basic set-up
  1. Ask if anyone has migraines or high blood pressure; ask if anyone has wrist pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  2. Come onto the floor in Table Pose (on your hands and knees). Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders; they should be about shoulder-width apart or wider.
  3. Stretch out as though you were going into child’s pose and pause before your tailbone touches your heels.  Feel that stretch from the palms of your hands, up your arms, down your back and to your tail bone.
  4. Now, back into table, spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
  5. Draw the upper arm bones more deeply into the shoulder sockets and spread the shoulders apart as you press the lower arms toward each other.
  6. Curl the toes under and on the exhale, slowly lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor.
  7. Lengthen through the arms and spine, creating a straight line of energy from the wrists to the pelvis.  Press into the earth, engaging the hands.  You will feel your triceps contract, and a stretch in your latissimus dorsi.
  8. Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders.  Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone, creating space between your blades and your neck.
  9. Keep the head between the upper arms, or let it hang like a fruit, gaze toward your navel.
  10. Do a few small cat-cow sequences to find the perfect balance in your neutral back line.  If you have tight hamstrings, please keep your knees bent and your pelvis tilted slightly toward the navel.
  11. As necessary, start to “yoga walk” or “walk the dog,” knees bending with the breath.
  12. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toard the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.  Really feel that lift of your sitting bones to the ceiling.  You should be feeling a deep extension and lengthening through your body’s V-shape.
  13. Breathe into the pose.
  14. Now, if you’d like to move into full extension of the pose, with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees if you can, but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
  15. You will be feeling a stretch in your hamstrings and the biceps femoris.
  16. If you like, activate the chakras at the balls of the feet by spreading the feet wide and drawing energy up from the earth.
  17. (With each inhalation, envision the pranic energy entering your Chandra chakra and spiraling down into your Vishuddha, Anahata, Manipura, Swadhistana and Muladhara chakras, pausing at the kriya center, then spiraling back up.)
  18. Allow any sound to emerge as the throat opens, releasing energy from the neck and head and relaxing the nervous system.
  19. Allow deep stillness to spread throughout the nervous system even as the body remains active, and know this place of balance and integration is a part of the process.
  20. At this point, you have three options.  Option one, if you are ready to release from the pose, please do so slowly and mindfully, dropping your knees to the ground and moving into child’s pose.  Option two, you may stay in the pose, breathing deep into all the corners of your body.  Option three, if you’d like more of a challenge, step your right foot closer to the center of the mat, in alignment with your head, and lift your left leg, engaging the gluts, keeping your hip square with the earth.  It doesn’t matter how high you get here, but feel the energy shooting out of your body from your tailbone, energizing your gluts, hamstrings and ankle, and shooting outward at the ball of your feet. When you are ready, slowly release the left leg (same on other side).
The pose is sometimes entered into from supine pose, and calls for the crown of the head to touch the earth.
Modifications & Props
  • Arm Prop: To get a feel for the work of the outer arms, loop and secure a strap around your arms just above your elbows. Imagine that the strap is tightening inward, pressing the outer arms in against the bones. Against this resistance, push the inner shoulder blades outward.
  • Shoulder Prep: If you have difficulty releasing and opening your shoulders in this pose, raise your hands off the floor on a pair of blocks or the seat of a metal folding chair.
  • Dolphin Variation: practice with the forearms on the floor, parallel to each other.
  • Eka Pada: To challenge yourself in this pose, inhale and raise your right leg parallel to the line of your torso, and hold for 30 seconds, keeping the hips level and pressing through the heel. Release with an exhalation and repeat on the left for the same length of time.
Variations
Deepen the Pose

To increase the stretch in the backs of your legs, lift slightly up onto the balls of your feet, pulling your heels a half-inch or so away from the floor. Then draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis, lifting actively from the inner heels. Finally, from the height of the groins, lengthen the heels back onto the floor, allowing the outer heels to touch the ground first, then the inner heels last.

Partnering/Adjustments
  • A partner can help you learn how to work the top thighs in this pose. First perform Adho Mukha Svanasana. Have your partner stand behind and loop a strap around your front groins (or they can use their hands), snuggling the strap into the crease between your top thighs and front pelvis. Your partner can pull on the strap parallel to the line of your spine (remind him/her to extend the arms fully, and keep the knees bent and chest lifted). Release the heads of your thigh bones deeper into your pelvis and lengthen your front torso away from the strap.
  • A partner may also stand in front of your back and press down (gently at first) onto the hips, ground your feet deeper into the earth.
  • For a more intimate adjustment, have your partner lie down onto your back.
Common Mistakes
  • Concentrating on straightening the legs too much
  • Not engaging back muscles
  • Wrenching of the neck
  • Rounded lumbar area
Benefits
a.      Physical
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort when done with head supported
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis
  • Calms the brain and nervous system
b.      Psychological
  • Helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Creates integration and balance between the upper and lower body
c.       Spiritual
  • Energizes all seven chakras
Contraindications/Cautions
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or any wrist/shoulder pain, start with modifications
  • Diarrhea
  • Pregnancy: Do not do this pose late-term.
  • High blood pressure or headache: Support your head on a bolster or block, ears level between the arms.
Subsequent Poses
  • Standing poses
  • Uttanasana
  • Headstand

References:

Yoga Journal (www.yogajournal.com)

Yoga Teachers’ Toolbox, Joseph and Lilian Le Page

Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar

Varanasi’s Final Surprises

Purna Nataraj, one of the asanas on my 'to-do' list. Nailed it on my own ... for 60 seconds only ... practice, practice, practice!

(Apologies for all these recent blogs being quite journal-y!  I’ll get back to articles and creative thangs once I have more time for research/editing!  For now, just the updates …)

One of India’s great lessons is how to be unattached – unattached to time-related goals, unattached to particulars in how you like your food or accommodation, unattached to order, the list goes on and on.

Originally, my “to-do list” in Varanasi looked a little something like this:

  • Find my way to full expression of asanas: purna nataraj, scorpion, hanumanasan variation (grabbing ankles), pranayam practice . . .
  • Complete a seva for Varanasi, clean Ma Ganga
  • Keep up with the bloggy blogs
  • Finish a chapter in my online philosophy course
  • Build website for yoga business in New York
  • Work on Rajuji’s website for OM SHANTI YOGA NIKETAN

Guess how many I actually completed!  One. Just the one. With the help of my teacher (Raj Kumar Vajpayee Yogacharya), Rachna at Gandiv and Mr. Madhok of Jago Banaras, we successfully offered seva to Varansi through a cleanup event that seems to have made quite a splash in the city.  As a direct result of this “to-do,” five surprise experiences blossomed instead of what I’d originally planned:    

1. Held an official press conference for the seva event and was later interviewed on a local TV show.  If I’d known this would be such a media-heavy trip, I’d have brought nicer clothes.

The seva event! 200 people joined us (along with a crazy amount of press!) ...

2. Am being featured in a book called “Yoga Planet” by a Swedish journalist and yogini (like me!), Magdalena.  She and her photographer Jonas took quite a few photos at the studio and hopefully my advice on where to practice asana, pranayam and meditation will be finding its way into the pages of this one!

One of the photoshoots for the yoga book, Alok on the right doing some crazy bidness...

3. Was honored by members of Varanasi’s community at Kashivishwanath Yog Peeth, where media and guests were scheduled to be treated to mantras by four young women at a local Sanskrit school.

Rajuji, Rachna, me, Alok and Jyotsana at Kashivishwanath Yog Peeth.

4. Recorded a show for Sunbeam School’s East Meets West program, where I played the role of . . . Oprah!  Ha!  Actually, come to think of it, I was voted ‘Most Likely to Have a Talk Show’ in the second grade . . . so maybe this debut wasn’t such a surprise!

The school where I did a voice recording as Oprah. Facilities were *impressive*!

5. Wrote, narrarated and somewhat hosted a documentary about the seva project and where India stands in the global green movement. Whether or not the production company will actually make the documentary happen, only time will tell . . .

An early morning shoot ... after a lot of disorganized chaos!

Dev Depawli and partner yoga were two other surprises I feel lucky to have experienced.

The second Depawli, full of lights, yummy street food and music!

So, just a few asana photos, articles and websites to show for my hardwork in Kashi.  But more importantly, Imade some very good friends who I know I’ll be seeing again in future.  And, at least according to the people I’ve spoken to so far, helped ignite a fire in this city that will continue to burn – projects and programs are being planned for well into the future.

I love you, Varanasi!

Hours after the long Ganga cleanup ... whew!

Now, on to Madurai for 4 weeks of my teacher training re-do (a lot of this is review for me, but necessary for the advanced course in February – check out the Sivananda curriculum to see what it’s all about!)

The ashram doesn’t have an internet connection sadly, and I can’t make outgoing calls.  But I am on my mobile!

Not that we have loads of time in the day …. I’ve been busy with this (rather ambitious) training schedule:

  • 5:30 am: Wake up
  • 6:00 am: Satsang (Meditation, chanting, lecture)
  • 8:00 am: Asanas
  • 9:00 am: Anatomy and physiology
  • 10:00 am: Wake up
  • 11:00 am: Karma Yoga (helping out with chores)
  • 12:00 pm: Bhagavad Gita or Kirtan
  • 2:00 pm: Main lecture in philosophy or anatomy
  • 4:00 pm: Asanas and pranayama
  • 6:00 pm: Dinner
  • 7:30 pm: Satsang (Meditation, chanting, lecture)
  • 10:00 pm: Lights out

But keep tuning in for updates, and drop me a hello if you have any suggestions for future blogs from India.  Love!  

 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

 

 

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;}

My “to-do list” in Varanasi looked a little something like this:

1.       Find my way to full expression of asanas: purna nataraj, vrshchkasana,

2.       Complete a seva for Varanasi, clean Ma Ganga

3.       Keep up with the bloggy blogs

4.       Finish a chapter in my online philosophy course

5.       Build website for yoga business in New York

6.       Work on Rajuji’s website for OM SHANTI YOGA NIKETAN

Guess how many I actually completed!  One. Just the one. With the help of my teacher, Rachna at Gandiv and Mr. Madhok of Jago Banaras, I successfully offered seva to Varansi through a cleanup event that seems to have made quite a splash in the city.  As a direct result of this “to-do,” five surprise experiences blossomed instead of what I’d originally planned:

1.       Wrote, narrarated and somewhat hosted a documentary about the seva project and where India stands in the global green movement. Whether or not the production company will actually make the documentary happen, only time will tell . . .

2.       Held an official press conference for the seva event and was later interviewed on a local TV show.  If I’d known this would be such a media-heavy trip, I’d have brought nicer clothes!

3.       Am being featured in a book called “Yoga Planet” by a Swedish journalist and yogini (like me!), Magdalena —–.  She and her photographer Jonas took quite a few photos at the studio and hopefully my advice on where to practice asana, pranayam and meditation will be finding its way into the pages of this one!

4.       Was honored by members of Varanasi’s community at Kashivishwanath Yog Peeth, where media and guests were scheduled to be treated to mantras by four young women at a local Sanskrit school.

5.       Recorded a show for Sunbeam School’s East Meets West program, where I played the role of . . . Oprah!  Ha!  Actually, come to think of it, I was voted ‘Most Likely to Have a Talk Show’ in the second grade . . . so maybe this debut wasn’t such a surprise!

Dev Depawli and partner yoga were two other surprises I feel lucky to have experienced.

So, just a few asana photos, articles and websites to show for my hardwork in Kashi.  But more importantly, I’ve made some very good friends who I know I’ll be seeing again in future.  And, at least according to the people I’ve spoken to so far, helped ignite a fire in this city that will continue to burn through projects and programs well into the future.

I love you, Varanasi!

Now, on to Madurai for 4 weeks of Sivananda teacher training.  It’s actually where I’m writing this blog right now!  No internet connection for me out here, sadly, and I’ll be incredibly busy with my schedule:

But keep tuning in for updates, and drop me a hello if you have any suggestions for future blogs from India.  Love!

Varanasi Eats & Making Chapati

I’m fully engrossed in projects out here, so I relish in the moments I share food with friends (or just enjoy  on my own)!  As it goes a day in the life of Jo looks a little something like:

5am ~ wake up to chanting

6-8 am ~ study for my philosophy course or practice pranayam

8-10:30am ~ asana & meditation

11am ~eat something small

11:30-2 ~ writing, errands, planning the Kashi Ganga Cleanup seva (community service river-cleanup), lila (divine play)

2-3pm ~ planning teacher training book and seva with teacher

3-5pm ~ asana

5-10pm ~ snacks, dinner, sometimes a trip to a temple with other students, or writing, errands, sangha at center

So please enjoy a small photo-presentation of the gustatory delights I’ve been partaking in during this chapter of svadhyaya, “self-study” (with a chapathi recipe to follow!) . . .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How to Make Chapatis

By , About.com Guide

Chapatis (Indian flatbread) are the perfect accompaniment to most Indian dishes. Learn how to make them with this step-by-step photo tutorial on making Chapatis. Don’t be fooled by the number of steps there are in this tutorial because making a single Chapati from start to finish, takes 1 1/2 to 2 minutes at the most! Chapatis are not difficult to make but the old saying “Practice makes perfect” was probably written for them.

All you need is:

  • 2 cups wholewheat flour
  • Water (Using yoghurt or milk will give you super soft Chapatis! See tip below)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil

This recipe makes roughly 12 Chapatis.

And a video tutorial, in case you prefer the visual stylee: