My Life in Words
Tips, travel, yoga, mentoring, life, and everything in between.
Have you ever been curious as to what goes on in the life of a pilot? We see them walk up in uniform, black designated carry on in tow, primped and ready to steer the flying vessel that gets you from A to B. For years I personally wanted to find out about the life of a pilot, garnering a stockpile of questions to ask about the logistics of flying, domestically and abroad, but never really thought I would end up dating one. Now all my curiosities have been satiated.
Fortunately I have been able to travel the world over for many years, and now, with the good fortune of having my beloved at the helm of a jet liner. To experience the life of a pilot is something I admire. Yet, to say it’s an easy life to be a pilot or being apart of a flight crew is something we shouldn’t look blindly to. When duty calls, they need to absolutely ready and steadfast when making sure the plane gets to a destination. With that being said, allow me to share our trip to London.
Tom and I had just arrived back from spending a week in Budapest, which we quickly learned, is an absolutely fantastic city with rich cultural history. It became arbitrary [on my end at least] to have chosen Budapest not knowing how deep the past tyrannical blood runs through the veins of such a city. A strategic battleground for the Soviet and the Nazis, Budapest acquired a moment in history where their livelihood was nearly relinquished, all because of two egomaniacs and their push for imperialism. Budapest, a must do.
We just touched down back in Michigan and we knew there would be a chance he would have to fly that week in the event a pilot couldn’t make it in time. On call duties - suitcase packed ready to take flight when the call comes in. As we spent a few days in Michigan, he mentioned that if there was room on the plane I could come in tow. So naturally being the avid traveler and adventurer that I am, I too, packed a carry on, ready, and willing.
Tom was on call for a day, and so far it didn’t look like he was going to be summoned. We kept an eye on the schedule tracking the flights departing out of Chicago throughout the day. The last flight was scheduled for 10:20pm en route to London and at about 2:00pm we were thinking he might be in the clear. We met up with a friend of ours in downtown Kalamazoo for dinner at 6:00pm at a really neat restaurant where I had a glass of wine and Tom, did not. Though he was on the tail end of his call time, he wasn’t going to chance it. That’s why I love that man. After dinner, we went to another rooftop bar where we watched the sunset in the distance in what looked like pastel water colored mural bleeding in the sky.
We left downtown Kalamazoo on our way back to the house at 9:00pm assuming he wasn’t going to get called. His window was until 10:00pm so the percentage of him being called was at ten percent. Well, we walked in the door at 9:15pm and sure enough American Airlines rang his phone requesting his presence to man the plane from Chicago to London Heathrow. We checked every flight that day for room in case I was to tag along and luckily we did check this flight earlier that day for options. He kissed me and said he had to go, and I asked, “Aren’t I going?” At first his reply was he didn’t want me to feel obligated to go, and asked if I was sure I wanted to go. We all know the answer was yes. The two of us got into the car and off we drove to Chicago.
It takes approximately two and a half hours drive [with no traffic] to reach O’Hare, central time. It allotted us time to get there safely since we were on eastern standard time, not having to push the departure time further out for the already perturbed passengers (Little do they know all that goes into pulling an on call pilot from another state readily available within a short time frame). I put him in the passenger seat enabling him to input information and look over logistics while I focused on the road. Tom put me on the list, but was unable to check me in since we were already inside the two-hour mark for boarding. Ok, how can we go about this situation? Call the co-pilot who is already in the cockpit programming the computers and ask him if he could go to the ticketing agent to work some magic. Better yet, how about the supervisor being present. Luckily the supervisor was indeed present and magic happened. The boarding pass generated for me to pass through security when we arrived, easy right? Not quite.
Tom and I finally arrived at the time the plane was set to depart. Scurrying from the parking structure into the terminal, the place was desolate with no security gate open. There were a handful of humans around consisting of random flight attendants, terminal workers, and cleaners. We asked where we could go to pass through security and were instructed to proceed to the farthest point of the terminal for the only security clearance. As we walked up, it was only for those with lanyards to be granted access and I was a civilian. Tom obviously dressed in uniform (looking handsome I may add) easily passed through, but I was declined.
Now Tom is not the type to pull the captain card out when flying (unless it’s obligation), or even as a civilian. It is only when it is absolutely necessary will he puff up his chest and utilize his position. In this case, after traveling so far, it was deemed appropriate. We told the agent I was a passenger on the plane, he was the captain of the plane, and the plane won’t leave unless I’m on it. The agent called his higher up and explained the situation to which he allowed me through but I was to be pat down before being fully admitted to clear, and by a woman. I told Tom to go ahead to the plane and I’d catch up. If it didn’t work out or it was taking too long, to just leave me behind and I would drive back to Michigan. Fortunately, there was a female TSA agent that came to pat me down and not too long after, I ran like a puppy learning how to run through an empty terminal.
The plane was situated at the farthest point of the terminal, of course in the longest concourse, towards the very end. I could see Tom up ahead in the distance, walking at a comfortable pace while I’m the only person in the terminal clinking my boots running behind. (If you could imagine, I was trying not to laugh at the same time being a pure witness of the scene). There she was, the Dreamliner parked waiting for captain Tom Huitema to take over. With no other planes around, passengers boarded, crew ready, and at this very moment, we were only twenty minutes passed the scheduled departure time.
Tom had just boarded the plane as I ran up to the ticketing counter. A handful of staff members were closing down, printing out the final count and the supervisor, a tall Sikh Indian named Raj whipped out the master key to the door of the jet bridge and in I went. As I sped walked down the jet bridge, I was greeted by the smiling flight attendants saying, “Are you the Uber driver?” Alas, as patient as they were it was time to get the show on the road. “Yes, yes I’m the Uber driver,” I said with a smile on my face as they directed me to my seat.
When I finally sat down, the guy sitting next to me said, “You’re late.” I could tell the passengers were slightly annoyed and I understand why, no one wants to wait on a plane, no one wants a delay. As I began to get comfortable, I turned to him, slightly loud enough for others to hear [knowing they are wanting] some sort of explanation, I replied back, “Yeah I just drove your captain here from Michigan, sorry.” His demeanor quickly evolved and his condescending remark morphed into a curious and grateful expression. In a nonchalant manner, I filled him and the passengers behind me in as to why we were delayed. Their frustration turned into appreciation and said I deserved a first class seat. I replied with, “I’m just happy to be on the plane and there was a seat available.” No later than ten minutes, Tom came on the intercom introducing him self, giving a brief explanation of the delay, and reassuring the passengers we’d be in London within minutes of the scheduled arrival time. By 11:00pm we left Chicago O’Hare.
From Chicago O’Hare it’s a quick fly over to London, approximately six hours and forty-five minutes. In the years I have traveled, it is quite difficult for me to sleep sitting up. The flight attendants took great care of me, and when I did manage to dose off, Tom came up to say hi. He was on his break and informed me on where to go after we deplane at LHR. If you’re an avid traveler, you’re aware most flight crews have a different procedure than civilians. He told me where they were staying in the city and later on one of the flight attendants came to me with the hotel name and underground stop. Upon arrival, I quickly saw Tom as I left the plane, gave him a hug and kiss, breezed through customs, and headed to the underground.
As I began my journey on the underground, sitting in the carriage observing humanity interacting with their phones, I reminisced of my time well spent in the city. The musty smell of the stale seats, the notorious ‘Mind the gap,’ the breeze of the tube shooting through the tunnels like the old bank monetary transactions, and the constant labyrinths giving way for our agendas to reconvene into the abyss of bodies above the underworld.
When I was nineteen years old, I began traveling to London frequently and it became my second home. Every time I landed at Heathrow airport, there was a routine and a familiar feeling. Staying with family in west London to the point where I practically lived there. I had stuff there at home and my go to would be, “See you next week.” I spent more time there than I did back in California and as much I loved London, I simply grew out of it.
It has been a several years since I’ve explored the city and as I sat in the tube, I realized there were so many places I never went to explore. Por exempla, the area I was en route to meet my main squeeze was Kensington Gardens. How could I miss Kensington? The answer being I was a west London girl and as we all know, when you live in a city, you don’t really explore it because you’re not in the tourist mentality. Furthermore, everything was in the central part of the city and I would go into the city for fun and do all the normal living activities where I was based, East Acton.
When I finally arrived at the designated underground, I walked out into a quant yet bustling area of Kensington. With my suitcase in tow, I entered the hotel lobby and there he was sitting waiting for me. He too had just arrived from the airport, chirpy, yet exhausted. I wanted to hit the ground running, but the body was telling me otherwise. The decision was made to go up and take a nap prior to cruising around town. I couldn’t sleep. We figured one hour would be enough, but my bug eyes closed for a maximum of thirty minutes and I was ready. He puts up with me.
Making our way down from the room, we stopped by a pub attached to the hotel where it seemed to be the crossroads for yanks and the sorts to congregate having a pint mingling amongst one another. Tom and I took a quick lap around and continued on into the streets in the direction of Hyde Park. We both have busy lives despite taking mini holidays with each other so it was nice to spend extra time with him for another quick adventure. We strolled through a few posh nooks in and around the area on our way to Hyde Park. With it being September and in transition from summer to autumn, the weather was favorable with a moderate temperature. We held hands walking through the collected enthusiasts enjoying their free time shy of dusky skies, enjoying a Sunday fun day.
Walking across the park with no particular direction, we began to feel rather exhausted. The short two-mile walk put us through such a grueling and rigorous exercise, and we felt it was imperative to rest somewhere in company with quenching our thirst. We began our desperate search to find a place that would be a safe haven to relic in such necessities of life. Just moments before we were to collapse on the road, wondering where the next drink would come from, an intriguing mirage of dark wood, a few chairs, tables set up outside, a corner entry, and a sign that said, “PUB” allured us from our long journey. Bequeathed upon us was a gift from the heavens above, and without question, we entered the doorway to a satiating array of beverages and captivating smells that tickled our nose hairs. The pub even offered up grape juice, to which I knew, we have been blessed.
Tom and I hung out at the pub having an early drink of beer and wine. He felt it would be rather insulting if he didn’t have fish n’ chips while in England, and being the appreciative man that he is, a kind fixing bestowed upon our table. Add a few spices in conjunction with tasty condiments, and the plate didn’t last long enough to garner an Instagram appearance. We felt complete for the time being and off we went back on our pilgrimage across Hyde Park once again taking in the sights and sounds of humanity enjoying their early evening amusement. It was nice to feel the day turn into night as we observed the sunset melting away into the dark blue skies.
When we arrived back at the hotel, our window to wander about was slowly dwindling. I was gifted a bottle of wine from the lovely flight attendants, and of course we didn’t want it to go to waste. He had to be in bed in a few hours to collect an appropriate amount of time to sleep and be fresh for the return back to Chicago in the morning. We had a glass of wine while prepping in the room for our evening meal at an Indian restaurant. Tom had visited this restaurant before on a previous trip and initially, he had that restaurant mind, but we ended up walking down the road to another Indian restaurant. It was within the same distance in the opposite direction, which was absolutely tasty. I love Indian food. We made the most of the afternoon and the weather contributed to such an afternoon of strolling through Kensington for a mini getaway. It was time to cash in our Sunday fun day adventure and crawl into bed.
The tentative plan was to fly back on his flight to Chicago in the late morning, but the load wasn’t looking too promising. My other option was to take the last flight out at 5:00pm in the evening with nearly one third of the plane vacant, meaning I was guaranteed on with a damn good chance I would have a whole row to myself. I opted for the latter. We got dressed, packed our belongings, and made our way to the lobby where he was being picked up with the rest of the flight crew while I decided I was going into the city to walk around.
Now picture this, here’s a six foot five blonde hair blue eyed [handsome] captain going down to meet his flight crew who were all in uniform. Along with this captain, is his girlfriend next to him who is five foot five in a tank top and shorts, having a little pep in her step, carrying a small backpack standing around with a group of airline hostesses and the pilots. Just picture it, because we found it to be rather amusing. I gave him a kiss and said adios as I scampered to the underground with Covent Gardens in mind, my old stomping grounds. As I arose from the tube, the recollection of memories nudged my heart.
It has been fourteen years since I’ve experienced the cobble stone streets of this trendy hamlet. With no particular plan in mind other than to meander the streets, maybe have a coffee at a café, I found an H&M to which was perfect as I recognized the ticklish sensation from the slightly chill breeze. Usually, as one does when shopping H&M, I came out on top with a yellow sweater and a paperboy hat that I couldn’t pass up. Dressed with a bit more pizazz to enhance my ensemble, my journey carried me to Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, down to Buckingham Palace, and across St. James Park. Here I was again, older, and seeing it with the same eyes but carrying a different perspective, I checked my Google map and it showed a few underground locations to make my way back towards Kensington. I reflected on the distance I’ve come to manage already, and I figured, “What the hell?” and carried on for another hour walking.
By this time it was noontime and I felt a bit hungry to some degree but not enough to stop anywhere. I simply wanted to keep walking and see how far I could go within the time frame. I couldn’t use my phone cause I don’t have international (unless on Wi-Fi of course) services, but I paid attention to the direction I was going and as long as I found an underground entrance, it would be no sweat. Nonetheless, I did not want to cut it close heading back and checking into the flight in the event of any hiccups. After another hour of walking, I played it safe and found an entrance to head back to Kensington Gardens to collect my suitcase at the hotel and make my way to Heathrow. Security at Heathrow is quite lengthy and it was in my best interest to be there a couple hours before hand.
There I was, hanging out in Admirals club, finally eating some food, and doing a bit of reading. When it was time to head to the gate to get my seat, I walked up the agent and said, “Heard there’s room in the back, how’s it looking?” Not only to my delight, but rather, many others, the flight was half full. I would go out on a limb in saying it looked like half the plane had a whole row to themselves. Tom had several hours to wait as our plane was bringing up the rear. Chicago traffic is rather horrendous and daunting anyway, so he didn’t mind. When I landed, it was easy breezy through Global Entry and my chauffeur came in a moments notice. We bypassed the traffic as I flew in around 8:30pm and off we went, driving into the night back to Michigan. Twenty Four hours later.
First installment - Budapest
For years, I have been drawn to explore the city of Budapest and there has been no reason for me not to in the past other than just not putting forth the effort. Earlier this year, Tom and I initially made a plan to travel back to the island of Roatan to see friends of ours tie the knot. We talked about going even though we weren’t cordially invited (by all means that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want us to come, they are ‘the more the merrier’ type of people, we kind of invited ourselves). Tom and I discussed it and opted out so we would be less stress on them having to accommodate, and we would go see them in the future when things settled down. Our plan became no plans, but Tom’s employer gifted all employees two free, guaranteed space, tickets to all their destinations which needed to be utilized by the end of the year, so back to drawing board we went.
We wanted to go somewhere new where we could use our points and miles accumulated over the years to ball on a budget. Budapest had been recently added to the list but only as a once daily seasonal destination out of one departing gate – Philadelphia. What started out originally as a few days, turned into six nights in Budapest, from six nights in Budapest turned into two weeks with a week in Michigan after. We did some research and found two great hotels within our budget, points, and miles, [nice hotels mind you]. From there, we booked our tickets on the flight, and bada bing bada boom, it was set.
I met Tom in Philly from San Diego while he flew in from Chicago. Our plane was set to take off at 6:20pm and due to the long line taxiing to the runway, the plane ended up overheating. We were literally on the runway when the captain decided we needed to abort the mission just seconds after increasing thrust, quickly scurrying off the runway. He informed us the plane had excessive heat and they either needed to investigate the situation right there or return back to the gate to get engineers to dissect the problem. Due to the lack of declining heat, we returned back. Luckily Tom being a pilot, explained to me what caused the over heating and why.
The capacity of rising heat in our particular type of plane has a limited shelf life to handle increasing temperatures. Combined with a prolonged line of planes getting to the runway, it struck out in the ability to take off without a hitch. These particular planes need to get started, push back, journey a short taxi out, and get in the air in less then thirty minutes, especially in such a heated climate. Luckily, with only a two-hour delay (could have been worse), no malfunctions to the computers, an ample amount of fans to cool the system, semi-patient full flight of passengers, it was rebooted, and all systems go. Shortly there after, we were en route to Budapest. (A normal civilian passenger POV)
‘To elaborate, the captain had to return to the gate due to a FWD E & E overheat message on the display. It’s the area that contains all of the essential electronics for flight – from autopilot to navigation equipment. The fault will only reset once the area cools (or is cooled). The normal and alternate fans within the equipment bay couldn’t handle it due to the heat coming from the equipment and the outside air temp.” (El Capitan Tom Huitema, 787-Dreamliner POV)
Upon arrival into the city, we noticed the stark difference from the bustling exuberance of Pest to the seemingly more antiquated allure of Buda across the Danube, decorated with a historical cache of monuments perched alongside the hill.
Driving up to our first hotel, I mentally took note of where I wanted to lay boots on the ground [as Tom often refers to in regards to my nomadic wander] of all places that pique my curiosity. The one way road carved up through the small town nestled at the base of the hill towards the top passing Matthias Cathedral, and to our sweet benefit, situated just a few steps away, was the Hilton Hotel Castle District. Tom and I checked in, tired from the trip we opted to engage in a siesta before meandering around in the afternoon.
Stay Tuned for the 2nd installment and a few more photos!
Do you pray when you eat your food? Ask yourself that. For some readers and listeners, they may very well execute the deliverance of graciousness and gratitude in the ritual of nourishment. The one thing I find myself relapsing back into the deepest addiction, is the privilege of having a meal. Unfortunately, throughout this month long trip I recognize I have omitted praying prior to intake.
People, who know truly know me, know I love to cook. We’ve all heard the saying, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen,” and you’re damn right it is! It’s my personal palace, my play station, my work place, my church, and I don’t need anyone to remind me what I should be doing, I enjoy doing. It’s not uncommon for me at times to tell some people who congregate, “I love you, but you need to get the f*&^ out!” Of course, coming together and providing the occasional chuckle whilst rinsing vegetables, picking cilantro off by hand, the random nomination of a worthy assistant, and choosing the appropriate glass of wine is welcomed on all accounts. Choice is being able to test riding seasoning, keeping timing in perfect balance with percolating the right smells to attract your flock of hungry hungry hippos and the grand finale is being able to lay it out in the nearly perfect portion for the gatherers to feast upon. I call the shots when I’m cooking, and your place is to wait patiently.
When it is all said and done, phones away, computers away, it’s time to relish in the love that has been poured into a display of color and texture. By all means, I am no Gordon Ramsey, Rachel Ray or the late Anthony Bourdain looking to capture the minds and aw of people around the world. When it comes to cooking and the privilege of taking time to cook, and eating what I want to eat, I bow down to the incredible gift I have been given, and simply put, is knowing I was given a choice. What a privilege it is to have choice, and this is why I chose to take the time to write this blog. I am lucky enough to choose and for that I pray.
I must confess, throughout this month long hiatus I have slacked in praying prior to my meal. I’ve cooked several meals whilst staying at friends houses along the way, ate like a queen at all inclusive resorts, sipped wine and spirits in a catalog of watery platforms, yet I forgot to pray. Cooking and praying prior to a meal, of any meal should be recognized and I apologize to my inner soul for the lack there of. I have been given choices to indulge; do you recognize that when you look at your meal?
Whether you have cooked it or not, acknowledging the very basic, yet penetrating, privilege of having choice. So many people out there do not have that privilege. As recent as yesterday after I sat down outside to eat, watching the boaters breeze by, feeling the warm air massage my skin on a Sunday afternoon in Michigan, the gift of being present gave way for a reminder of how lucky I am. I had a choice to decide what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat, where I wanted to eat, and how I wanted to eat. Something so miniscule, so collective in our daily lives and taken for granted on so many levels. There are people out there who have no choice, or one choice, eat whatever is being forced, served, or starve.
In buying organics, organics have a shelf life so fresh fruits and veggies need to be utilized in a timely manner. When going out, my eyes at times talk a load of shit to my belly when it comes to options, so I do my best to stay rational between the two so one doesn’t feel defeated in the game of fully loaded. There have been many instances in my life where choice was not the option and I had a choice to eat or starve. I remember when I was young being forced to eat disgusting dishes of crap involuntarily, yet spell bound of other crappy choices based on my perceptions of deliciousness. I didn’t learn from my parents, I learned on my own because now I have better grasp on choice as well as the privilege to do so. This stands along side praying as well.
Praying prior to a meal, and I’m not talking about always bringing your palms to hearts center, saying dear heavenly father. We all respect and recognize gratitude in different forms though I trade off between speaking out loud or quietly to myself. My go to when cooking and eating is as simple as, ‘Thank you lord for this privilege of being able to sit down and having a meal in front me. I am thankful and blessed I was able to choose what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat, and I recognize many people out there are not as lucky as I am, I am blessed. I am so freaking lucky I have a choice to say yes or no.”
The bottom line to this blog is simple, recognize the gift of choice in deciding the when, what, where, and how of nourishing your body. It can be said out loud, quietly to yourself, hands held, hands in prayer, a daily sermon of acknowledgment, whatever you come up with that is appeasing to you. There are many people out there in the world who do not have this privilege, a gift that tends to be overlooked based on the perception of abundance as well as healthy options when in fact it is not always the case in many parts of the world.
Thank you for reading and until next time!
Wow it's been less than a month since we finished our Summer YTT program at Reach Yoga in Pacific Beach and I'm so thrilled for the new instructors, some whom are already teaching! To say it's humbling is an understatement, it was a privilege. Do you remember your YTT? What was your experience like? I remember when I first enrolled in my 200 YTT program, it was in Hatha Yoga here locally in San Diego. I never imagined I would be in the position now to share what I learned then, and even now as I took on the role to lead at Reach Yoga. Every batch is so very different and I garner so much knowledge from each person who shows up and accepts the responsibility of taking on the training. It's not easy, and yoga isn't meant to be easy. However, we flourish in unintentional ways, we grow in small pieces, we inspire, we become catalysts for those around us by setting off a dynamite of energy, glowing energy. As a lead instructor it is my duty to be the best version of myself, to offer myself, to be open in guiding as well as learning from all the energy we create in the batch and I am so thrilled for our recent Summer batch as they continue to embark on their journey as instructors.
With that being said, our Fall YTT is just around the corner! Starting October 8th for another 10 weeks, another set of students will take on the responsibility of enduring this journey of self discovery. Our method at Reach Yoga, combined with our Vinyasa Flow helps to guide students in developing awareness, thought provoking, and pillars of transformative interpretations of oneness and how are all connected. It's important to celebrate individuality as well as community when going through this training and I'm eager for it to get under way. You never know what anyone can bring to the table when they walk in for their first introduction session, and who they become. It's exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time!
Here are a few photos of our summer batch and it's not too late to sign up if you're here in San Diego. We start October 8th, there is still time to enroll! So don't hesitate to email me directly or email@example.com and be sure to write in the subject line "FALL YTT enrollment."
OM SHANTI .
Leaving off from Sunday in New York.
The Monday following I googled a Forever 21 to buy a few items for my stay because the weather was a bit colder then I had anticipated and I didn’t want to bring cold weather clothing en route to the Caribbean. Luckily Irina had a few jackets I could barrow for the time being. It was a 2.5 mile walk up Broadway to get to Forever 21 and I had more then enough time to walk. Just after Irina scurried off to work, I left shortly after to familiarize myself with Manhattan.
I headed north and took in the hustle and bustle of a New York minute watching people rush off to work, buying their breakfast donuts and coffees from the street stands, making their way on foot in the local commute with an umbrella, phones, and earphones. To my pleasure, I found a 24 Hour Fitness along the way, which was a bonus. Eventually I found the Forever 21 (yep I’m not boujie) I spent an hour rummaging through the clothes, trying on a few items until I finally felt satisfied with what I had.
Previously, I looked up Yoga to the People for locations and times. I saw on the schedule a noon Power Vinyasa class at a location relatively close to where I was that was in contingency. I decided to look up Dharma Yoga Centre and their class schedule also had a noon class as well for 90 minutes. Decision made. The studio was approximately 1.5 miles away from where I was, a tad further but not entirely a stretch. I calculated X amount of blocks walking at X pace to get there in the knick of time. It was cold, wet, raining, dreary, and I was, loving the atmosphere. I had nowhere to be other then on my way to Dharma to get in a practice.
When I arrived, I walked in like a little kid in a chocolate candy store. I was excited, I finally made it to this studio I’ve heard of, read about, saw on the television, and there I was. Dharm Mittra the owner and master teacher was not around during my time frame unfortunately. No worries, I was still so excited to be there, to be at this space that has such a invaluable reputation. The front desk staff was kind and I could tell it was going to be a great session, just by hearing the chanting from the previous class as I walked in. There was something about this studio I immediately fell in love with.
The energy spoke to me and I was eager to be a student all over again, more so than Y7. People started piling into the space in all different directions, grabbing props, yoga wheels, blankets, blocks, chit chatting amongst others. I placed my mat down in a corner tucked in the back so I could see the entire space. It’s a very basic studio, no showers, or hip music playing. To me, I felt like I was definitely in a New York yoga class simply by the array of beings that came together in this space. It’s interesting to accept the notion that this was east coast vs west coast, traditional but not. I don’t get classes like that back in San Diego unless it’s Ashtanga based or Rocket.
We started in standing of traditional Surya Namaskar A moving into B with only the name of the poses. No cookie cutter cueing, just get your bum right into it and move. Our teacher was male, slim, seemed young, perhaps early 30’s. Strong of course with standard inner strength in flexibility, giving me the impression he only teaches this particular style. His voice was dry and that of a master teacher. There is an essence of demeanor from different styles of teaching and many programs teach their YTT’s to be embracing, soft, and inviting. He was not. He was not mean, nor harsh, he was matter of fact, and that’s what I liked. He had a drawing distance to his teaching methodology and that has always been my go to in practice. I feel personally, that is what makes a master teacher; a slight separation of camaraderie but not entirely unapproachable.
Throughout the 90 minute session, I received everything I was quietly feening in a practice. The Dharma sequence is attractive yet intimidating. Like a beautiful human walking into a room that has all the sex appeal and qualities of a well-rounded person, only to have you question yourself. Of course I couldn’t nail every advance posture like I use to before, taking into consideration I just don’t practice that hard anymore. Nevertheless, because of the environment I submitted myself to, my inner yogic practice was heightened and I’m glad I took the initiative to make it to Dharma.
Studio Review - Modest, Enlightening, Big Space
From the elevator you walk into the small area to take shoes off. Lobby is of moderate size, plenty of Dharma souvenirs and other yogic essentials, beads, malas, how to books, etc. The look is not hip or up to date and that's what makes it what it is.
Changing area - Two curtained off areas for men and women to leave their stuff.
Bathrooms - Small, basic, no showers
Main room - Very big, plenty of props to use.
'New York concrete jungle where dreams are made of’ - Alicia Keys.
It has been approximately nine years since I visited NYC, and this time I managed to stay for five days. People love New York with its scurrying lifestyle, hip and trendy bars, joints, neighborhoods, and active movement. It is active and I would say as I walked around the city, I felt like an ant moving throughout a steroid injected ant farm people watching while minding my own business. David Bowie once said, ‘You can have a normal life in New York.’ You can, but it depends on your definition of a normal life.
So, why New York to yoga hop? Well, I flew out there to visit a girlfriend of mine whom I met in Jamaica a few years back at the eco-retreat I teach at from time to time (Go Natual (www.gonaturaljamaica.com/). We keep in touch regularly through Facebook, and face time. She met up with me while I was in Thailand a couple years back and offered the invitation several times to visit her in New York. After two years, I finally made the effort.
Staying true to my name ‘Traveling Yoginista', I was keen to check out a few yoga studios that I have heard of to get a feel of the environment and get a practice in. The glory of travel is to experience yoga on my own terms, and there are times I don’t go to any yoga studios, and practice alone. Then there are times I just soak it all in at different locations. Tasting the different environments altogether. Though I coined the name ‘Traveling Yoginista’, it doesn’t make me any different then of those who travel and teach as well. I have said many times over, we are all Traveling Yoginistas.
I started writing this blog on the last day of my trip to NYC and I’m currently on a dive trip on Roatan Island, off the coast of Honduras. It’s a nice quiet night here with a settling breeze coming from the east. I met up with my boyfriend in Miami en route to the island, and booked a week stay at Tobri Divers, managed and operated by a lovely couple that I met in Thailand in 2013. But, let’s get back to the yoga in NYC.
I flew to New York on a Saturday morning from San Diego arriving in the afternoon to visit my girlfriend, Irina. I took an Uber pool from JFK and met two other passengers who happen to be from San Diego as well. We talked about growing up and traveling abroad, agreeing how many people in San Diego (and I’m sure in many other parts of the country and the world), people don’t leave the comfort of their surroundings. After an hour or so picking up and dropping off in Brooklyn, I finally made it to the financial district to Irina's place.
It was wonderful to catch up and the first thing we did was walk over to a Russian bathhouse about a ten-minute walk from her place. Interesting place it was as you walk down a few steps into a mediocre lobby to check in and grab a key. I have to say though, for the price you pay, it’s a gem. Nothing bourgeoisie about it; and that’s precisely what made the place quite awesome and worth every dollar. It had a bar slash café slash restaurant slash plastic outdoor (apparently indoor too) chairs slash you can order whatever you wish in your bathing suit seating area that was not segregated from male to female. Russian plaques and signs were hanging all over the walls, TVs, a concoction of foreign languages being spoken, primarily, you guessed it, Russian.
Apart from the slash after slash after slash all in one dining area, you also had your set of different sweat rooms from Russian to Turkish to traditional sauna as well as a selection of steam rooms, topped off with the ice drop to psych out the body; there was also a full size pool and a Jacuzzi, all underneath a building. To top off the bathhouse experience, a VIP room with dark lighting and sultry 90’s era booths for your ultimate night out. Surprisingly there were quite a bit of people there and it was a fun time. Irina said it’s not as busy as it usually is and I’m sure glad it wasn’t because the amount of humans that were utilizing the fun zone was enough for me.
We started out by ordering food at the bar, then went to the Jacuzzi for 30 minutes followed by eating our meal in bikinis and towels in the café, grabbing a glass of red wine, moving onto the saunas, and a steamer for a night cap. Overall, I have to give this place a 5 star rating not because of the fancy décor, but purely by the come all be all invitation of enjoying yourself offerings. I definitely would like to go back, that’s not a bad way to spend your Saturday night.
The following day, Irina took me to a place called Y7 in Soho which was the first yoga studio experience. She mentioned it was her favorite place to practice because they play hiphop music during the practice. I play some hiphop songs when I teach, but not full on. We jumped in a Via cab and took the 10 minute jaunt over to the studio and unfortunately it was full at 10 am. The girl at the front desk said for us to wait just in case a few people don’t show up and we could get a spot. In the knick of time and at the last minute, Irina and I were able to get a place in the dark room to begin our practice.
The class we took had 3 flows. We started with a build up of holding the postures, followed by another round of adding breath to movement. Once we picked up the flow, we were given 5-7 minutes to practice the flow on our own. That’s when the hardcore hiphop came on, and loud to add. Each flow was slightly different then the previous and due to it being so dark, everyone was in their own element and on their own pace. If you like hiphop, this is your place.
Y7 Yoga Studio – Soho
430 Broome St. New York
Studio – Loft like. Walk up a flight of stairs into a small lobby. Décor is minimal but airy and fresh with hiphop beats in the back round. The front desk is nestled in the middle of the space, and it can get crowded quite quickly due to the small space.
Bathroom/Shower – Only one shower and two bathrooms
Space – Lobby all white. Small but spacious and clean.
Room - Dark, candle lit with a huge “A tribe called Sweat” logo painted in the center. Probably holds 30 people mat to mat. Heated, hip hop music varies.
Class – Vinyasa Flow 60 minutes.
After finishing our class at Y7, Irina and I went back to her place to freshen up before heading out on the town. First we had lunch along side the river before heading over to One World Observatory to see the views on the only clear day I was in town. We went to Central Park (per the usual tourist and normal city folk do to), sat on the grass having ourselves some Ice Tea Lattes, walked around for a little bit before heading back to her place. The day ended with a lovely dinner for two Irina put together followed by some Hulu before calling it an evening. A little over 24 hours into my trip so far and it was just swimmingly perfect.
Until my next blog of another yoga studio experience.
This blog is dedicated for those who suffer from Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism. What is it? How does yoga help? I'm currently in Jamaica teaching yoga at retreat on the most eastern side of the island. Just recently we had a guest, who suffered from hypothyroidism. She was of Indian descent, early 40's, vibrant personality, well traveled (alone for that matter), and came to spend 9 days at the retreat. The first few days we did Yin yoga with a few other guests but as everyone left, she was the only at the retreat, so essentially she had personal care and private yoga sessions. She had gained weight in the waist area and wanted to get back into the swing of things increasing her metabolism, as well as getting back into her regular yoga practice. So, I had asked her if she would be my case study in regards to thyroidism and she was inclined.
Ok so what is Hypo/Hyper? What is the difference between the two let alone knowing what the thyroid gland is and it's functionality? The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits low in the throat, in front of the windpipe and just below the Adam's apple. The thyroid is apart of the endocrine system, a series of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissues, sexual energy, reproduction, sleep cycle, and moods. Each gland produces X amount of hormones that send and deliver messages to produce particular hormones for a function and/or multiple functions. In this blog, we are solely focusing on the thyroid, it's operational system of what is produced, how it's effecting the body and learning ways through yoga, to counter act when the thyroid fails to do it's work properly. I'm not going to really tap into the parathyroid function as it's not entirely conducive to the topic though relative. Keep in mind, I'm writing this blog for anyone and everyone to understand in the most generic terms who may be suffering from Thyroidism, and what are some of the ways to work with it, essentially to get the motor running smoothly again.
The main hormones that are secreted are the Triiodothyronine - T3 hormone and Thyroxine - T4. The thyroid first extracts iodine from food intake, combines it with a non essential amino acid called Tyrosine to synthesize the protein and thus, producing these two particular hormones. T3 and T4 then travels throughout the blood stream to regulate the metabolism.
Hypothyroidism - Slow Metabolism - Lack of T3/T4
No Fun. :-(
Hyperthyroidism - Fast Metabolism - Increased T3/T4
Again...... No fun. :-(
Here's where the hypothalamus comes into play. Though the pituitary gland monitors the thyroid, it's the hypothalamus who sends messages to the pituitary to regulate the thyroid if it's under active or over active. The hypothalamus will release the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone to the pituitary which will then activate the thyroid to manufacture more or less of the T3 and T4 if it's inconsistent. It's like when air traffic control informs pilots in an airplane they are cleared for the approach. The pilots then configure the airplane for landing. Although the thyroid is working regardless, the hypothalamus is the one to signal. Somewhat the easiest analogy I could come up with, hopefully you get the idea.
How does yoga help? Yoga is a science, and your body is a study. Here are some postures that have been known in the yoga world to stimulate the thyroid and combat any dis-ease in the body in regards particularly to thyroidism. Keep in mind, with the extensive research I have done, along with the case study, I have not seen any proven 100% guarantee or money back solidifying evidence that these postures, along with pranayama has completely cured thyroidism. I cannot stress enough, each person is case by case and it's up to the practitioner to take the initiative of doing their due diligence in combating this ailment by monitoring their progressions and of course, effort. It requires dedication to see results. With personal practice of mine, I have noticed with certain postures, such as the shoulder stand, it has decreased the excess skin around my waist with toning and provided me with fresh blood to the head, which felt invigorating.
However, I have had some students who do not feel comfortable in shoulder stand, and have rather felt it does not help, and also I have read some controversy of it leading to a stroke. I'm not here to debate either or sell you on my conviction, it's up to you to rectify what you think works in your position should you ever battle thyroidism, this is just case study, practice, research, discussing, and alternative avenues to taking (or along with) western medication. I believe, combined with some western medicine and daily routine of yoga, along with breathing and eating right,a person would be able to alleviate such dis-ease as thyroidism. I say dis-ease because it is construed with symptoms, and signs of various ailments or matters of the body relating to pathology. So if you see symptoms in ailments, your body is un - easing, it's not comfortable.
Ok so here are some poses that have been regularly assigned to such a topic, and of course you can add other postures that are beneficial to you as a sequence. Here's the thing to look for, you will read some poses are for both hypo and hyper. Some 'experts' may say I'm completely wrong, while others will agree. You will also read some poses are only for hypo and/or only for hyper. I'm listing all and making well rounded. Decipher for yourself my friends. After all it is your body.
Sarvangasana - Shoulder Stand - Chin lock, fresh blood
Contraindications - Menstruation, Headaches, Neck Injuries, High Blood Pressure
Halasana - Plow Pose - Chin lock stimulates the thyroid
Contraindications - Menstruation, Pregnancy, Neck Injuries
Setu Bandhasana - Bridge Pose - Chin lock stimulates the thyroid
Contraindications - Neck Injuries, Pregnancy, Severe Knee Injury
Pada Hastasana or Uttanasna - Forward fold - Chin lock, inversion
Contraindications - Neck Injury, Leg or Knee Injury, Shoulder and Back Injury.
Paschimottanasana - Seated forward fold - Chin lock
Contraindications - Diarrhea, Asthma, Hamstring Injury, Back Injury (Herniated disc), Enlarged Spleen or Liver.
Viparita Karani - Legs Against the wall - reverse flow of blood to the thyroid and pituitary gland. Restorative pose.
Contraindications - Herniated Disc, Glaucoma, Hypertension.
Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose - Stimulates thyroid
Contraindications - Spinal Injury, Pregnancy, Carpal Tunnel
Urdhva Danurasana or Chakrasana - Upward facing bow/wheel - Stimulates thyroid, invigorating (preferably for slow pace - hypothyroidism)
Contraindications - Headache, Carpal Tunnel, Back and Spinal Injury, Heart Issues, Diarrhea
Dhanurasana - Bow pose - Stimulates thyroid, invigorating gets heart pumping (preferably for hypothyroidism)
Contraindications - Hernia, Intestine Problems, Pregnancy
Ustrasana - Camel Pose - Stimulates thyroid
Contraindications - Neck and/or Back Injuries, High or Low Blood Pressure
Matsyasana - Fish Pose - Stimulates the Thyroid, Parathyroid, Alleviates Respiratory Issues
Contraindications - Neck Injury, High or Low Blood Pressure, Migraines and Insomnia
Bhramari Breathing - Humming Bee Breathing - Vibrations tickle and stimulate the thyroid
Contraindications - None
Ujjayi Breathing - Stimulation of Thyroid
Contraindications - Cardiac Issues
If you have weight gain, twisting poses are excellent for reducing size in waist, plenty of poses to look into for that. If you want to know, just email me or comment below and I'd be happy to suggest.
(Updated January 2016, San Diego for publishing)
Desiree aka Traveling Yoginista
Depression. Shameful word yet with so many convictions and interpretations. As it's been said many times over, it's all in the head, which is true. We have so many thoughts going through our mind, some 60,000 a day. Are you tired yet? And one painful experience many endure is depression.
Definition of Depression:
*A mood disorder in which individual experience extreme unhappiness, lack of energy, and several related symptoms
* Psycho pathogenic feeling of sadness; a decrease in vital functions
* It is also described as a feeling of down heartedness or psycho physiological withdrawal in the event of a perceived threat.
Here are the common causes of Depression:
* Unhappy relationships
* Loosing a loved on
* Failure at work
* Children leaving home
“Yoga is also something that can be very powerful in the treatment of depression,” - Dr. Turner.
Relate to one? Two? Any? All of the above? I have. I can relate. I turned to yoga because I was going through a rut in my last relationship which turned out to be such a blessing now in my life, and I'll explain later. However, from personal experience, there are days where, what I call an 'emotional storm' passes through and I just become down. I know for certain it's simply my thought process, questioning myself, and analyzing patterns that I am sensitive to. I turned to yoga and it has been my therapy on many levels but people also turn onto different avenues to steer away the state of depression. What I have learned in yoga therapy, as we had discussions and experiences, preventative measures us humans can put in place to help subside these elements of depression for a more conscious and constructive way of life.
Prior to signing up for my first certification a few years ago, I was emotional. I was lost, confused of my relationship and where I was going. My relationship which I thought was my savior was actually alienating me. One day, I walked into a workshop titled, 'Yoga for Emotions" led by a woman who went through depression herself and there were a few moments during this workshop where I just wanted to cry. I felt connected to this type of yoga, it was therapy for me mentally, which has led me to where I am today writing this blog. I'm not a professional expert readers and I'm being frank. I don't have scientific proof of having studied years upon years of the bio-mechanics and in the medical field. But what I can say, on my own behalf, in order to be balanced you have to be able to go inward and identify what it is that draws depression to you.
Take myself for example. Some days I'm easy peasy, very chill, and have an outlook like Lao Tzu, to believe in the way and what was meant to be will be. The drive I use to have when I was younger, that ego driven expression has taken a back seat. If there was something I wanted to make happen, I'd make it happen and no one would stop me. Does that not make me a go getter? Maybe to some body elses eyes. Yet, now in my 30s I feel, with the help of yoga, I have learned to witness what it is going on in my head and take the time to witness and observe versus react. I have also noticed with yoga on a mental aspect in observing others, the bouts of depression can hinder physical conditioning.
What is the first thing some people like to do when they are depressed? Eat and eat a lot, OR, hit the gym and hit it hard. With depression comes alter of ego, depletion of hormones that are suppose to help us feel invigorating. Some of us can go zero to 60 mph in 1.5 seconds to default the depression by going into the gym, pretending to be happy, brushing it under the rug, drinking, or blaming others. Look, lets face it, we have to deal with our dramas regardless and there are so many ways to do so.
Now as for yoga and depression, how can the yoga help prevent? Well first off, you have to be consciously aware of the 'disease' (dis - un ease - comfort) by what you do to your body, your mind set, surroundings including but not limited to who you surround yourself with. Secondly, how is your breathing pattern? I know we've barely touched on that aspect, but breathing is important. Controlled breathing is a wonderful aspect of knowing your state of mind. When you are depressed, do you smoke? Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit? Having been an ex-smoker myself, whenever I felt stressed out or depressed, I would smoke cigarettes for that oral fixation of physically feeling as if I'm letting go of what no longer serves. Then I was a habitual stoner, finding every reason to smoke week especially when I was depressed, to not think of the situation. I have since stopped smoking cigarettes from years ago, and I no longer smoke weed.
Having gone through yoga therapy certifications and learning the benefits of yoga, back bends are extremely beneficial for defeating depression. Invigorating movement of the spine, heart openers, chest openers, vulnerability turned powerful with the help of poses to deflect those triggers of depression. However that isn't the only key player, it's also identifying what it is that is possibly making you depressed, observing thoughts. Yoga means to yolk and combine so you have to be open to unifying these counterparts in order to alter the state of mind to release the right hormones, the feel good and rewarding hormones, like dopamine for one.
Furthermore, yoga is beneficial for depression AND anxiety applying both back bends and forward bends. Depending on what you read, research, education, asking Mr. Google, etc you'll see several different case studies and suggestions about what postures are reflective benefits for depression. I had a case study back in Chiang Mai that I will use as a great example. There was a student who suffers from both anxiety and depression as well as admitting being a melomaniac, otherwise known as bipolar. People who suffer from anxiety, forward bends are recommended for introversion and calmness. Back bends are known for a counter productive use of depression. However, with this particular study it was an opposite effect so keep in mind it is a case by case basis and it's important to realize this per a persons emotional stability. I'm only merely suggesting what I learned, personal experience and it's up to you in your yogic journey of what will work entirely for your sake as well as guide others.
Along with the back bends, breathing is also very important. Techniques such as Ujjayi - The Victorious breathe and Kapalabhati - The Fire breathe or Skull Shining breathe. The Ujjayi breathe is a highly common technique used in the physical practice of yoga, controlled diaphragramatic breathing with a slight contraction in the back of the throat. Kapalabhati is learned technique that may take longer to pick up on, though it does look seemingly easy. The control rather is what makes it a 'technique' and the awareness it provides you with. Below I have demonstrated alternate nostril breathing known as Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhana. It's closing the right nostril first breathing through the left nostril, close, and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right, close, exhale through the left, then inhale through left, close both nostrils and exhale through right. Universal breathing technique.
Here is a list of postures you can practice to help in depression, and of course other magnificent benefits to menstruation, blood pressure, anxiety, etc. This blog is primarily in regards to depression, and I encourage you to apply these poses and breathing techniques on the daily. Please don't settle in the conviction that it only applies to one disease. That's the beauty of yoga, it's universal. Knowingly, each person is case by case, practice to your liking. Alternatively, you can also provide yourself with props for modified versions. I've highlighted the physiological aspects of the pose in aiding towards depression. Again, modify per your practice and bodily capability. I will touch base on anxiety next, and of course you will see many and multiple similarities as well capabilities for that disease as well applying postures. Any questions, please feel free to email me.
One Love and Bless Up
Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose
Ustrasana - Camel Pose
Setu Bandhasana - Bridge Pose
Dhanurasana - Bow Pose
Viparita Karani - Legs Up Against The Wall
Anna Maya Kosha - Physical Body.
Anna - Food/Matter
The outer layer of Pancha Kosha starts with Anna Maya. This is the visible layer which man identifies with most consisting of shape, size, color, tendons, bones, muscles, blood, the 5 senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing, and seeing. It is the controller of cause, consumer, producer, feeding the physicality and a nourishment of earth matter.
When we pass on, we don't die. We transfer the vessel in which our soul resides in for a matter of time and when our physical body dies, our soul carries on to another dimension based on the birth and all attributes in conjunction of physical. In Yoga, the general public who practice identify with physical by asana, in order to feel and satisfy.
Prana Maya Kosha - Energy
Prana - Vital
It's the sheath the connects the Annamaya and Manomaya linking between the body and mind, interactive and dependant. It is the vital shell that is full of life. The pranic flows are in the blood, lymphatic and nervous circulation. Breath is a life-principle and is a controllable expression. Through the regulation of the breath (Pranayama) other bodies can be positively influenced. A disturbance in the vital energy may cause illness, and psychosomatic irregularities. People with a special ability in seeing another persons aura can perceive this body with their naked eye. Basically it is the principle of life that distinguishes between living and dead matter. It controls the urge of survival, reproduction, movement, and self expression.
Those with strong and egoistic vitals tend to dominate and feel the need to rule the world, where those with weaker vital energy are seen to be followers. However, the strong egoistic vital energy can be foreseen as great obstacle in attaining a more spiritual path.
"All that exists in the three heavens rests in the control of Prana. As a mother her children, oh Prana, protect us and give us splendor and wisdom." - Prashna Upanishad 11.13
Mano Maya Kosha - Mind
Mano - Mind
The mind is comprised of the 5 organs of knowledge (nose, ears, eyes, skin, and tongue), the closest approximate to personhood. The mind is made up of thoughts, collectiveness, diversity, perception, judgement, reasoning, evaluating, comprehending, interpreting of 'I and Mine,' conceiving into thought, will, and/or wish.' The mind is the link between the soul and organs which helps in producing knowledge, pleasure, as well as pain, etc. Remember, the mind is like that of a magnifier, perceiving all enjoyments or pain which are not on a physical level but rather in three dimensions in sanskrit, the subconscious, the conscious, and unconscious.
Sankara likens it to clouds that are brought in by the wind and again driven away by the same agency. Similarly, man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and liberation, too, is caused by that alone.
'Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah' - Sutra 1.2 - The cessation of the fluctuation of the mind.
Vijnananmaya Kosha - Discernment
Vijnana - Intuition
Known as the understanding, harmonized mind, knowing, a elevated state of consciousness, and intellect. It has been said it is the capability of understanding the exoteric (refers to knowledge that is outside of, and independent from, a person's experience and is capable of being ascertained by anyone). The body is felt, the mind is experienced but not seen, the soul is neither experienced nor seen. Therefore with practice, particularly in yoga, the awareness in consciousness begins to take place. During the processing of becoming aware and awakened, the will begin to break through chains of actions and reactions, allowing the self to break free. Vijnanamaya gives a person the opportunity to step back and analyze the situation, understanding and accepting a different perspective. This is where insight becomes rather bestowed.
Anandamaya Kosha - Bliss
Ananda - Bliss
Made of pure love. The state of wholeness, of integration with the moment and with yourself, encompasses the inner sheath of anandamaya. This bliss state is usually experienced in fleeting moments, but can remain for longer periods. Importantly, anandamaya is still a sheath, a layer that can be peeled back. When anandamaya is peeled away, we reach atman—our very center. Atman is our direct connection with the divine, with the essence of all that is. It is our pure consciousness. Anandamaya pervades each of the previous outer sheaths, but is only experienced once we are able to peel the illusions of each sheath away to reveal our true nature. Anandamaya can be experienced in those moments when you are wholly immersed in that which you are doing—when you no longer separate yourself from your experience.
Marijuana, Meat, and Coffee. All things I enjoy or have thoroughly enjoyed. It's not to say I will never do all three again, I know my faults and at times we (generally speaking) will slip. I am however making a conscious effort day in and day out of not to do it. Submitting effort in each avenue of avoidance to stay on course of keeping my good habits, good.
I was not a big red meat eater. Going to the steak house with a cognate insatiable yearn for a Tri-tip or New York steak, wasn't my vice but I didn't mind it either. I have cooked steak and I enjoyed eating it. I prefer chicken if anything, and Iberian ham. I absolutely love a good piece of chicken with all the right anecdotes, all the succulents of good meat brought delightfully into my mouth while satisfying the carnivore in me. In fact, the three places where I have experienced the best chicken are quickly as follows:
1) Asolo, Italy - Approximately 12 years ago in a small Italian restaurant. Mild seasoning, a timely and patient waiting game for the main attraction to be put on the table. Divine piece of bird was eaten as the main course. Finger licking good.
2) Xiamen, China - November 2007 at 2am. Just finishing a gogo dancing gig with my girlfriend. There was a van sitting outside our modern village of bakeries, tea shops, and salons just below the apartment we were staying at. A cute little old man and a woman, could of been his wife or daughter, can't remember entirely. Obviously with no Mandarin on our end and no English on theirs, we somehow conveyed in exchange of hand gestures and trust of seasoning. Absolutely delicious piece of chicken.
3) Kingston, Jamaica, December 2014 - On my way to the retreat I was offered to teach at, there was a grill up on the side of the road in a town on the way to Long Bay Jamaica. I had told my driver that I was hungry and he asked if I ate meat, 'Hell yeah' was my response. We pulled over where he knew where to go, waited for about 10 minutes, and before I knew it, a 1/4 pound of chicken with a biscuit and seasoning was sitting in my lap. Top notch.
I have gone borderline vegetarian before on a few occasions, or have 'dabbled' with the notion of being vegetarian with moments of succumbing to the desire. It was and still is hard at times. When I do eat chicken, my personal recipe is chicken marinated in lemon juice, turmeric, rosemary, salt and pepper, slowly simmered to perfection that was just dandy to eat. That was my go to for protein and I began purchasing light meat from Steely Farms locally grown. Aside from chicken, Iberian Ham is my weakness, cold cuts as well. Weakness is the best word to describe it. Back when I use to travel to Spain regularly in my 20's, it would be such a desire to engulf in the tapas of fine Spanish meats. I never imagined I would take that step of becoming vegetarian. We are labeled after all, carnivores, and for the most part human beings need meat to survive, so we are told. But do we really? We evolved from being hunter-gatherers and those who indulge in meat, I have no problem with them enjoying it as I did myself. Despite being told we have evolved from hunter-gatherer, we have also evolved with eating greens far more effectively now with humanity being the way it is. We don't realize the abundance of nutrients are and can be surrounded with all on a conscious effort that we don't need to kill animals. So, personally, what changed in me? I will explain later.
I loved smoking weed, I engaged in my first puff when I was a teen, and took many breaks throughout the past 15 years. There would be months I would go without smoking Mary Jane, but I fell into the routine of smoking to relax, smoking for social gatherings, smoking to eat when I had no desire to eat, smoking to ride a skate board, smoke to smoke. It became a goal of mine to smoke weed in countries I visited. I claimed I wasn't addicted, and it was purely recreational. Yet, the recreational became habitual, and habitual became a necessity, then the necessity became a dependency. I had come to terms, finally, I was an addict.
There were times I did try to quit, but completely unsuccessful. It has only been a recent development of overcoming the dependency of mother earths goodness and I'm completely behind the legalization of Marijuana as well as it being beneficial to society. Some people do really need to smoke a joint and relax, laugh a little, be goofy, help to potentially eradicate cancer, seizures, and other health issues. So why did I quit and how did I? I'll explain later.
I LOVE the smell of coffee. The stifling euphoric scent of roasted imported beans triggering the secretion of desire was yet something else, I wouldn't imagine giving up. As my boyfriend and I discuss, there is something about the ceremony of coffee. Morning cuppa Joe, enduring. Mid day cuppa joe, riveting. Studying cuppa Joe, essential. Yet, recently (August) I opted to step away from the clasp of Joe coffee as his grip on my yearn was loosing it's effectiveness. What gives for all this?
Explanation on Coffee.
If any readers out there read my blog about the purge I went through upon departing India, I think it is partly to contribute. I also do fully believe in a conscious shift in looking inward to understanding the underlining admission to our habits. Although I discussed coffee as being the most recent habit/addiction I recently have stopped (I can't say I have fully given up permanently as I am in the trial and error stages, it is a process after all), there was primarily one reason why I did, Adrenal fatigue.
I am one who fully supports mid day siestas, I not only appreciate little naps, I strongly believe it's vital and beneficial to the mind and body, psychosomatic relation. Rest is good for a reboot. Having said that, I do tend to get tired and/or fatigue during the day, so of course coffee is a great pick me up. Lately, within the past months since I have been in class, I have taken notice how chronic fatigue has become increasingly more prevalent feeling completely and utterly, wiped out.
I'm a double espresso throw it back type of gal, and since I've been noticing the fatigue, I thought perhaps I should up the load and reload. Well, I get the initial charge of a caffeine kick in the beginning of coffee intake for about an hour and in a sudden instance, the engines begin to shut down. When I would ride passed a coffee shop, I definitely could feel a trigger, that addictive click. I watched a video on endocrines and particularly watched a video on youtube with Dr. Berg who had a video in regards to Adrenal Fatigue. My sleep was off, and I felt completely depleted. Now I'm not doctor or expert, I can only be a specialist to my own body by analyzing how I feel in it's functioning format. He mentioned coffee being one of many ways it can cause Adrenal Fatigue, so I thought to myself, "Ok I'll give up coffee for a week and analyze my body." That week turned into two weeks, since I was successful of one week. That second week transitioned into a third week, and here I am going on my fourth week of no coffee, but instead rather Green Tea and Matcha Green Tea.
I have noticed the fatigue has subsided extensively and though I get my clock work siesta triggers, I don't feel drained, depleted, and/or lethargic. I've had no withdraws (at least I don't feel as if I have) I'm not moody, short tempered, and I have substituted a copious amount of green tea, which allegedly isn't a bad thing. Added benefit, it's cheaper at some places to purchase. :-) I have noticed my energy is more stabilized, and I'm not saying it's entirely based on the coffee intake, but since I've eliminated coffee, I do feel balanced. Maybe it's subconscious, the placebo effect seems to work, thus far. I can't say I'll never drink roasted ceremonial delicacies again, as of right now no less, it's in full effect. I made up my mind to completely stop drinking it and each week builds on the week before. From coffee to Matcha Green Tea.
Here's some great information on Matcha green tea.
Explanation on Marijuana.
Having been a habitual smoker since my teens with bouts of steadfast breaks sprinkled in between with some failed attempts to quit, I don't reflect too much on how I managed to quit, but more so as to why I couldn't kick it before and what was I holding onto. When I reflected upon my dependency, I had to come to terms I was using it for suppression on several levels. I understood that I had an overly active mind, and it also played into my self victimizing of thoughts and anxiety. On top of that, my mind was on hyper drive or remember everything to the point I wanted it to just, stop. I had felt for such a long time while not facing the false ego, that I desperately wanted to live in the moment. I wanted to decry all the intuitive confusion of my subconscious and the adhesively poignant derailment into a fix method of subdued present moment. I loved smoking weed but until I realized fully and accepted fully it was an 'in denial' clutch, I kept telling myself it was for leisure. There are factors as well, it helped me sleep, it heightened sensible elements, it helped being around certain people as a passive anti-autonomous way of dealing with surroundings. It was, a trigger enhancement for engaging partially to dynamic conversations when invited rhetoric was presented.
So how did I manage to quit? The day before I left India, I was stoned on hash and I said to myself, "That's it, I'm done." A mindful consciousness took over. Having just experienced a physical purge to now a conscious purge of what no longer serves for the betterment of myself, I had to make a choice and the choice was just. When I departed India, as I have stated in my recent blog about India, a part of me had died when I ascended into the skies en route to Thailand, and I couldn't even fathom the shift that took place. I just knew it was time and I haven't looked back since. I was able to just quit without any yearn, any desire. Even being around it, I have found that I was able to completely detach from a habit I was convinced I submitted to. Done and dusted. Who knows if I will ever dabble again, a test of discipline and regulated consumption. I say ever, because so much can happen and change in this lifetime but I was able to kick a habit as been said, 'Cold Turkey'.
Explanation on Meat.
In India, the family I stayed with, my bro/teacher whom I studied with in the Philippines was born into vegetarianism and I knew I had to give up meat for a couple months while living there. It wasn't bad and I thought for sure I was going to start eating meat again once I left India. It wasn't India that gave me conviction to drop meat eating. It was, albeit with the support of being in India, by watching a film which showed baby chicks being slaughtered by a tractor in a film called Samsara. After watching the film, I then somehow stumbled upon a few more articles of fois gras and how geese are tortured by being force fed into bloated bags of fat for pure pleasure of a supposed French delicacy. I saw how cows were hung on hooks in a factory in India. I thought how in the f*&^ can humans who are in this producing system have no empathy for such animals who cannot speak for themselves and I'm a f*&^ing hypocrite. I have to be responsible for myself and myself only.
More and more I was leaning towards sticking to vegetarianism and it was HARD. Quitting the weed, powerful victory. Quitting coffee, transcended into a balance of energy. To fully stop eating meat, was the hardest thing I have done and it's still difficult up until now. I have slipped a few times where meat has been in a few meals of mine, and I had to do my best to pick it off. I attempted to eat a Chicken Cesar Salad, took one bite of the chicken and I couldn't. I picked off every bit. There have been a few times I made a mistake where I thought something was vegetarian and it wasn't. When I left India and arrived in Bangkok, I knew I was in for a challenge as there is meat everywhere and I'm all about street meat. But I said, I had already started this process in India, let's see how long I can keep this up. It's been 6 months of hard discipline. I went on a frenzy for a few months of eating french fries all the time, all the time! I didn't feel different internally, I did feel like I was packing on pounds from the damn french fries! So I wondered why did I stick to it, and it really boiled down to, inhumane.
The way meat is processed, especially in the states amongst grocery stores and super markets, along with seafood. My country is sending off chicken to China to be processed and returned, the hormone injections, the process, baby chickens being completely slaughtered in machines, piglets getting intestines ripped out alive, or heads bashed into the ground, saddens me. As much as I love eating chicken, ham, and beef, I had to be responsible for my actions. Fish and crustaceans I can't entirely give up though it's no different to eating meat, something is being killed and injected with hormones. Hypocritical, yes admittedly and I'm making a conscious effort of being selective pescetarian to full vegetarian. Changing the diet is quite the challenge but can be done. I don't know if I'll ever go full vegan as I love yogurt and cheese, especially CHEESE to the moon and back, as well as eggs. Yet to give up my Iberian hams, my full monty sandwiches, beef burritos, and lemon turmeric chicken speaks volumes on my behalf.
Overall Feeling and Reflection.
I don't mind anyone eating meat around me, it's their choice nor smoking marijuana as well as drinking coffee. These conscious decisions have been made during a transitional shift I apparently was ready to do, at least for now. Here in Thailand fresh fruits and green veggies are in abundance, easy to purchase and relatively cheap. The real challenge is going back to the states and keeping the diet solid. Organic food isn't as cheap, but I know I can stick to not puff puff passing or cracking out on a coffee kick to come crashing down, I am optimistic of those conjunctions, at least. I have to take responsibility for myself and if I do fail, I do fail. It doesn't mean I can't make changes again and try harder the next time around. Though, if I have managed this far to stick to this new set of disciplinary actions even here in Thailand, then perhaps I can stick to it indefinitely.
In conclusion, for those who have read this and thought about making a shift or cutting a habit off, changing diet, or whatever it is you feel compelled to alter, what may help you further into a conscious shift, it can be done. Now, it comes down to why I chose to write this blog to share with others why I smoked weed, ate meat, and drank coffee. How does it benefit me by openly expressing changes, dichotomies, and blogging. I had to, I had to write through what has been toying in my head for a few weeks. Yoga is about body mind and spirit and all three play in formulation of each other to balance who you (I/we) are on this rock we call earth. Your senses become heightened, and your depiction of life is enhanced with the power of now. Now, you can make a change for the betterment of your soul so walk yourself through it and know you have the will power to do so.
In humanity I trust we can progress to full evolution upon the right path, case by case, one change at a time.