My Life in Words
Tips, travel, yoga, mentoring, life, and everything in between.
Dragon fruit is a fruit of the cactus plant that grows in the tropical and subtropical areas which includes Asia and Latin America. It has a yellow or red peel with green scales on it, which are spiny, inside a white, magenta or pink flesh and it has many tiny black seeds – the overall shapes resembles a dragon and hence the name Dragon fruit. Dragon fruit provides a number of essential nutrients and has some potential health benefits as well. The other name of Dragon fruit is Pitaya (1).
16 Benefits Of Dragon Fruits:The two risk factors for heart diseases are having a high level of oxidative stress and stiff arteries. Consuming dragon fruit help us to improve these conditions.
1. Dragon Fruit Lowers Your Cholesterol:Dragon Fruit is low in cholesterol content and has no unhealthy cholesterol fats that harm the human body (2).
2. Dragon Fruit Is High In Fats & Proteins: Dragon Fruit consists of a small amount of healthy monounsaturated fats because the fruit contains many seeds in its edible part. The seeds and the nuts in the dragon fruit contain fats and proteins (3).
3. Dragon Fruit Is A Rich Source Of Fiber: Dragon fruit is also best known for its cleansing properties of the digestive system. The fibers in the fruit help to get better bowel movements. It is also a good solution for constipation (4).
4. Dragon Fruit Is A Natural Source Of Antioxidants: Dragon fruit is a natural source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help out a person from any free radicals that cause cancer as well as unwanted health damages (5).
[ Read: Bitter Gourd Health Benefits ]
5. Dragon Fruit Prevents Arthritis: Dragon fruit helps to decrease the irritation of joints, so it is called as an anti inflammatory fruit. The symptoms of arthritis are alleviated once the swelling of the joints are reduced (6).
6. Dragon Fruit Improves Your Heart Health: The greatest of dragon fruit advantages if for cardiovascular health (7). It decreases bad cholesterol levels from the body and then increases good cholesterol levels. This fruit is a good source of mono saturated fats which helps to keep our heart in good condition.
7. Dragon Fruit Helps Control Diabetes: Dragon fruit contains a high amount of fiber that helps a person stabilize his blood sugar levels. It also avoids sugar spikes that are often observed after eating high glycemic index foods. Therefore, it is good for a diabetic patient though you should consult your doctor before consumption (8).
8. Dragon Fruit Fights Signs Of Aging: This fruit is a rich source of antioxidants (9). It helps us to fight free radicals in our body. It also helps to slow down the aging process after the free radicals are reduced. Due to this, the skin looks young, flexible and tight.
9. Dragon Fruit Helps In Weight Management: Dragon fruit is low in calories. It is also a rich source of fiber (10). Therefore, it helps us to feel full after a meal without adding extra pounds. It cleans and improves our metabolic system thereby helping us to maintain a healthy weight.
[Read:Benefits Of Mandarin Oranges]
10. Dragon Fruit Prevents Asthma: Dragon fruits contain high amounts of Vitamin C which strengthens the immunity system (11) against and helps fight against respiratory disorders like Asthma.
11. Dragon Fruit Is High In Vitamins and Minerals: Dragon fruit contains high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2, and B3. It is also rich in many important minerals as iron, calcium, phosphorus (12). Apart from this, it contains a good proportion of protein, fiber and niacin and last but not the least, 80 percent water. Hence you can easily call it a ‘super fruit’ that helps in enhancing nutrition and corrects body ailments. Not only that, dragon fruit can be a vital ingredient in your daily beauty regime even. Dragon fruit seeds contain unsaturated fat and fights bad cholesterol.
12. Dragon Fruit Face Pack To Fight The Aging Process: To prevent premature aging, you may apply a dragon fruit facial mask once in a week. To make this mask, take half of dragon fruit and make a smooth paste out of it. Mix one tablespoon of yogurt to it and apply entire face and neck. Wait for 20 minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water. Owing to its antioxidant properties this facial mask effectively slows down aging progression of cells.
13. Dragon Fruit Face Pack To Treat Acne: As dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C, it is really useful for treating acne. Take a quarter of dragon fruit. Make a smooth paste out of it. Apply it on affected area. Rinse off with lukewarm water once it gets dry. Apply this regularly, if possible twice a day for best result.
14. Dragon Fruit Face Pack To Soothe Sunburned Skin: Take one tablespoon each of dragon fruit juice and cucumber juice. Add one tablespoon honey with it. Mix these well in a bowl and apply this pack on sunburned skin. Let this face pack stay at least for half an hour, so that it can cool your skin. Rinse it off with lukewarm water and continue with ice cold water.
As dragon fruit is rich in vitamin B3, it soothes and moisturizes dry sunburned skin. So next time you suffer from sunburn, don’t forget to apply this pack. The dragon fruit juice also works as a wonderful sun shield. Before going out, soak some cotton ball into some dragon fruit juice. Apply it on face. Allow the skin to absorb the juice and wash your face with cold water. This will protect you from the harmful effects of UV rays.
15. Dragon Fruit Face Pack For Bright Glowing Skin: Take a dragon fruit. Scoop out its flesh. Make a smooth paste of it. Apply it on face, neck, and on the rest of your body. Let it absorb in your body. Take a shower. Do it twice a week.
16. Dragon Fruit Juice Treats Coloured Hair: Dragon fruit juice works really well on chemically treated hair and coloured hair. Apply some dragon fruit juice on your scalp. Wait 15-20 minutes. Wash your hair with shampoo.
How To Eat Dragon Fruit? The best way of enjoying a dragon fruit, is cutting it into two halves and eating its creamy pulp by scooping it out with a spoon. Chilled dragon fruit juice is really tasty and refreshing. You may also use dragon fruit as an ingredient in your fruit salad. A delicious dragon fruit smoothie can be tried as a healthy treat in the evening instead of French fries or burgers. Here is one simple recipe, which you can try at home.
Dragon Fruit Smoothie Recipe:Blend one cup dragon fruit pulp, one banana, one cup of coconut water and one teaspoon ginger paste all together in a mixer grinder. Pour the mixture into a tall glass. You may add a dash of lemon if you like. Sprinkle some cinnamon powder on it. If you don’t bother about any extra calories, you may even add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It tastes heavenly.
How To Choose Dragon Fruit?Avoid buying over ripe dragon fruit. Over ripe dragon fruits have too many blotches on it. So you can easily identify whether the fruit is over ripe or not. You also should not buy those dragon fruits, if you find them in dry condition. Bright and even color dragon fruit is best to consume. You can also buy dragon fruit jam and make your tasty sandwiches with it.
After reading the various benefits of dragon fruit, I am sure you will not mind adding this wonder fruit in your diet. Do share your comments below.
Dragon Fruit Key Ingredients And Nutrition Facts:Dragon fruit is a good source of nutrients which are very beneficial for our health. It contains high amount of Vitamin C as well as iron, calcium, Vitamin B, potassium, fiber, other vitamins and minerals.
NUTRITIVE VALUE PER 100 G OF DRAGON PRINCIPLENUTRITIVE VALUE
Total Fat 0.61g
May 14th – Had Yao, South Krabi, Thailand
I’m currently sitting in my room at Beach Boutique Resort in Had Yao. I found this resort on Agoda.com as I was looking for a place to stay having stayed in Aonang for a week. I wasn’t intending to stay that long in Aonang in fact I wanted to go to Koh Tao to do level 2 open water free diving but the training was an extra $200 out of my budget that I couldn’t afford so I opted to come south to Had Yao.
Bangkok – A week ago I was in Bangkok wondering where my next destination would be. I really wanted to go to Myanmar but I am on a budget and though there are budget travellers out there such as myself, and my quench for another stamp on the passport was yearning, I knew financially I couldn’t afford it. Plus it was too much work to go get a visa at the embassy, then book a flight or take a bus. I was lazy and I wanted simple within the price range. The bus would have been $100 round trip but the visa would be $15-30 dollars followed by hotel. I looked into the hotel prices and I thought maybe a 5-day adventure there would be great. I looked into tours to make it easier as I had about two weeks to explore. Unfortunately the tours were 7-9-11 day tours and I had to be in the gulf by the 19th. I’m sure it could be done but if I had another 1k to splurge on, I would of done it. However, given that I am enrolling in Thai massage training in July, part of my savings would be going to that. I opted out of the notion.
Other options – Since I knew I wasn’t going to Myanmar, I needed to come up with an alternative. The first idea that came into my mind was Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao. I was keen on Koh Phi Phi because I have yet to visit, and Koh Tao for Blue Immersion free diving training. I already completed my level 1 free dive training on Koh Tao back in October 2013 and I was keen to do level 2 for the challenge, mainly for breathing. That was my intention, initially. With some research, feed back from a few people, mixed reviews and suggestions as to where to go, cancellations on Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Lanta, I booked a $32 one way ticket to Krabi on Thai Airways (can you believe it?) and decided on Aonang based on a friends recommendation and how friendly it was with my budget. When I landed into Krabi, I grabbed a strong espresso, finally withdrew money from my account for the first time in months, hailed a taxi and off I went.
I booked a room at Silver Sands Suites, which was situated off the main strip and I couldn’t believe my eyes, they had a Mexican restaurant! What a fantastic surprise, and with a bit of sarcasm, of course there was a Mexican restaurant now that I’m working on being a vegetarian. Well, luckily with being vegetarian, comes with saving a few dollars. I was ready to spend a few days in Aonang seeing that it seemed low key, with not too many drunkards wandering around making fools of themselves. The hotel I was staying at was extremely laid back and I liked that it was off the main road with a few places to munch on food close by. I opted to stay a few more nights.
Over the course of the week I went to Railay Beach, did the Phi Phi Island tour and of course had to make it to Phi Phi Ley where the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed. What a cluster fuck that was! I think the Administration for Tourism should limit the amount of boats and people that go on to that island for the sake of keeping it pristine. The first 15 minutes I was there, I was already standing in the shade looking for my boat to get back into, simply because the amount of bodies roaming gallivanting the famous island was making me claustrophobic and it’s not even close quarters. This is just my humble opinion.
Half way into the tour, I noticed another solo traveller and we ended talking quite a bit. Her name was Jacquelyn from Vancouver who originally came with a group of people, but decided it was best for her own sanity to go off on her own for a week of solo exploration. She and I exchanged info and I said if we don’t link up it would be ok and I wouldn’t be offended, as I understand how nice it is to have some alone time.
The next day I hired a scooter to check out Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi close to the airport, had a 45 minute delay do to the mid day shower, but I managed to find the place, climbed 1237 steps to the top and over look the mainland that grasped the view of the gulf islands as well as all of Krabi and then some. I spent a couple hours up there, sparking a conversation with a trio of adventurers who were staying in Krabi town. It’s wonderful to have such substance in a conversation of the experience you gain traveling abroad. When they left back down the steps, the weather improved and the clouds subsided so I took more footage of the big Buddha with a smile on my face before heading back down myself.
When I left on the scooter, the way back to Aonang I’m sure is easy if you’re a frequent traveler on the roads, and obviously I am not. I pulled out the map a couple times configuring my route when I realized Waze was on my phone, but the battery was low. Well, I guess I’ll have to wing it somehow and I did. I ended up going onto a longer route back to my hotel, which, ended up being a blessing, as I wanted to scoot around Noppartha Beach the next beach over from Aonang. I took the long route and what turned out to be called the ‘Romantic Road’. The road was magnificent and serene, lined with lush grass and trees. The road itself was smooth, well manicured, and it took me through small Muslim-dominate towns sprawling with laughter. I’m sure many tourists have taken this road before; to me it was a backcountry road where I seemed to be the only foreigner embracing its essence. However, as I did get closer to the beach, I was starting to see a couple of white folk here and there but for the most part, I was the only chick on a scooter wearing a baseball cap and not a scarf. I’m glad I took the long route.
That evening Jacqueline messaged me on Facebook and said there was a really cool look out point to hike up to that we should check out and apparently it’s not for the faint of heart as well as a lagoon. I said I was in! When the following day approached I ate breakfast and headed back to Railay Beach to meet with her at her resort bungalow (which was lovely). We bought a smoothie along the way to Railay east beach scouting around looking for the entrance to this must do tourist attraction. It took us a couple tries walking back and forth trying to adhere what people told us, it seemed easy enough. We walked past the trail several times not having the slightest idea it was easy to miss if you’re not vigilant. Yet, once we found it, our little tails wiggled in excitement looking up at the rope in red dirt and entangled roots that fortified the climb. We both looked at each other in amazement and curiosity knowing this was going to be quite the climb.
As we begun to climb, we saw a trio of younger kids descending down and we asked how long it would take to climb up. Surprisingly they said it wouldn’t be very long and with the roots solidifying themselves as stepping stones encompassing rock and tree branches, we morphed into spider monkeys climbing up the mountain. I wouldn’t classify as rock climbing but we were definitely climbing what seemed to be a scene in Avatar! I attempted to hold the selfie stick to the GoPro to cover footage of the venture climb; that idea didn’t last long. I needed all limbs in this climb.
Once we got to the top, there two ways to go, the look out over Railay Beach or down to the lagoon. A couple dudes we crossed paths with said the climb up was the easy part; the climb down to the lagoon is where the games begin. WTF we thought?!?! We walked through a small patch of jungle, a slight descend down before reaching the real climbing, walls. There were ropes to climb down on, but this required patience and a little technicality. Anyone can climb up and down the rocks and limbs, you don’t need to harnessed by any means, however you do need to know your weight, and have patience finding your footage as some parts required a long stride or even a jump.
One by one there were a few parts along the way where you either had to go around, as some people needed their moment to regain breathe (perhaps confidence), and/or the way was so challenging, you had to wait your turn to climb. We eventually made our way down to the lagoon after about an hour of Avatar adventures before climbing back up. We hiked over to the other side to the look out point over looking Railay, which was innate for the full body workout up the peak. After dousing ourselves with photo opts, we climbed down and headed into the village for lunch and finishing out the day at her pool. It was a lovely day well spent and we were both quite pleased with ourselves. I gave her a hug and said, until next time as I walked back to the last boat back to Aonang Beach.
The next few days weren’t anything too exciting, I spent a day in my room relaxing, as it was quite hot to do anything. I took a few walks into town, had an ice cream (or two), and spent sometime looking into the water. I found a really cool area to practice yoga, as the sun would set, assuming it wouldn’t be littered with bodies. Of course, you can’t always get what you want right? I took a day trip to Hong Island that wasn’t worth the price, but it is low season. I swam into a posse of baby jellyfish at one point, got out of the water so fast, with whiplash of sensations in certain parts of my body. Apparently they enjoyed congregating in a certain area of the water hole on the island, and I thought I had scored a nice area with lesser bodies to spark up the GoPro for some underwater action. I was mistaken. Ended up just sitting on the beach as there were just too many people in the water on the other side and the water wasn’t clear enough for footage. Hong Island, beautiful but maybe hire a long tail rather then a tour.
I had another night or two to figure out what I was going to do and I still had Koh Tao on my mind, but as I checked my account and looked into places to stay, my account wanted to debate and I couldn’t win. I had to figure out where I was going to go next. Koh Phi Phi was in the back of my mind, but I spent a few hours there already and my friend had mentioned to me, ‘Unless you want to get hit on by neon tank top wearing back packing drunkards, you may want to consider somewhere else.’ Ok so where can I go for a few days (I put Koh Lanta off as the better half wants to visit and best to leave some places untouched)
I looked into Koh Jum as a new island to visit, checked out a few resorts, cheap bungalows but nothing was all too appealing. Cheap, but my thought was more, ‘Meeeehhh’ rather then ‘Ohhhhh yeah’. As I spent some time in my room doing some research I found a deal at a 3.5 resort in south Krabi called the Beach Boutique Hotel. It was going for $26 a night, with breakfast was $32. I looked into some reviews, saw a few photos, and the rooms looked decent though some reviews mentioned there’s nothing around. I thought, it’s a new place and it seemed relatively quiet with a 55% mark down, why not spend a few days a little isolated from humans. I booked 4 nights at the location and had made my decision I was going south but staying local. My time in Aonang was coming to an end and I was off to a new spot soon, I was looking forward to it.
When the morning came to head south, I hopped into the cab and we drove an hour around Krabi to reach Had Yao, where there are hardly any resorts. This is isolation and as I checked into my resort, I was the only guest that evening, which booked. The whole place to myself, epic!!!! I had the whole beach to myself as well, and I’m talking a few miles, maybe several miles. The water isn’t clear and sand isn’t white but to have the place to myself was more then pleasing. The breakfast I had included in my meal is a little weak; extremely weak actually, limited options, quite pricey as well. Whatever the regular price is for this resort, I know I wouldn’t pay, but the discount, it will suffice. I get to spend a lot of time with myself and that I am grateful for, relaxing by the pool, taking long walks on the beach, doing yoga. It’s my own personal retreat so not much to complain about apart from the limited breakfast and options on the menu. Tonight is my last night here, and I spent most of the day in front of the computer writing out this blog now. I check out tomorrow and will head back to Aonang for the night before setting off to Koh Samui in the gulf across the mainland. I’m glad I spent close to two weeks here in Krabi and I’m not disappointed I didn’t go anywhere else, I wasn’t in any rush to maximize a handful of locations on my stays. I was and am able to unpack my backpack for several days to explore a few bits and pieces of the Andaman Sea. Until next time… I’ll be in the gulf on the very island I visited in Thailand back in 2012, the island I fell in love with and still have the most love for, Koh Samui.
April 27th, 2015. – Rohtak, India
Today, I realized…how lucky I am to be a human on this earth. After reading my post on Facebook, I felt I sounded a bit narcissistic because I wrote of my life and the tragedy that struck Nepal. I felt to edit my post so people didn’t think it was narcissistic, but then as I stood repeating in my head of what I wrote, I felt suddenly sacred. I felt so connected to this earth, and how far I’ve come. Something in me changed as it ever does, but this was different. I went up to my room and began to write listening to some tunes when I began to cry. It wasn’t that I was the luckiest person in the world; it wasn’t that I was better then anyone, and it wasn’t as if my life had any more relevance to others. I realized the simplicity of one thing that goes beyond existence as whole as a world united. I realized as a person, a speck in gods country, a root in the earth, a leaf on a tree, a wave in the ocean, a single step in a journey, a cloud in the sky, a breathe taken, skin to rinse in water, a person to be loved. As I sat in front of my computer coming to terms of what’s happening in my life, did I then initially feel as I wept, the knees of my soul place themselves on this earth and bow down to thank the universe for the fact that I’m living on this planet. That I’m human, that I’m alive and that I am all that I have.
I also realized today, I was going through the beginning process of the 8 limbs without pursuing it, without trying to define it, without the intention to live by it, without any influence other then to influence myself. I cried because I felt my spirit melt down into the depths of the soil that layer our foundation as restless embryos of life, take it’s first breathe as somebody taking that first yawn of a dawn into a new day. Only my day wasn’t this morning at 7am, it wasn’t physical, it was purely esoteric, it wasn’t astronomical, and I can’t really signify as spiritual. You can say it was self-realization, but I’d like to say at the very minimal, realization of self. The flesh of your skin, and if only everyone single person could stop and realize, without any religion, without any barriers, color, beliefs, nor traditions to follow, but if everyone person stopped for a second and just held hands with the universe to thank no set being, or their god they devoted themselves to, just to say I’m lucky to be alive. That is worthy enough.
April 28th New Delhi, India
As I write this, I’m sitting on a couch at Coffee Bean and Tea leaf sipping on an ice mocha café latte at Delhi airport, comfortable and starring off into the incoming planes landing their wings of freedom, one by one onto the run way. Being here in this moment stands to be bitter sweet for me. I don’t know how I can describe my inner feelings this morning, I am in decompression mode to say the least. This trip hasn’t been easy, nor has it been too difficult either. Nonetheless, it’s been a deeply emotional trip I guess I can vehemently say because of facing some unknowns or even perhaps known, that I subsequently made sense of and cherish. I have found myself in India.
There’s so much I’m still on the verge of discovering and I feel as though as I’ve said many times over, the second half of my life I will be ok. I don’t know if it was to keep me going on this desolate path of resurrection or that my intuition never left a woman behind. This trip was trying on me, and out of the 13 years I have been traveling the globe, this morning as I packed my bag and went down to reception to check out, got into the taxi ride over to the airport, have I ever [I can honestly say I have never] been so happy to see an airport.
I wasn’t afraid of finding myself, and I wasn’t afraid to face myself, I definitely had fears and a lot of fears in life, but I wasn’t afraid to face to myself, or maybe I was? Call me Dichotomy at this moment rather then Desiree. This is how I know I have found myself, I stood at the cross roads of what life means without any verbalation (new word, verbal revelation) combined with lessons of forthright companionship with discovery.
Last night for the first time in nearly two months, I was able to speak to my love for over an hour on Skype as we both basked in solitude as one, romancing over life and love. We talked about sensory overload, the ways it triggers a person to react. I opened up a little of what I was and am going through without getting too bogged down with details and he understood, or put his self in my space to try and understand. We laughed, we gazed; I realized I needed him. For once I needed him and he was there, making me smile, allowing me to think and express, each word at a time. That beautiful man is my life and the universe must have plans for us on the highest of levels. I know it and my heart tastes his blood of purity and the essence of connectivity. He is helping me every moment understand what love means and I couldn’t be any more thankful or lucky, the luckiest to be given that soul. I’ve changed so much and I keep changing, reveled at the enhancement of personification. He is my Ida and I’m his Pin gala, together we are shushumna. I am no longer lost and I feel I have reached my nirvana.
I’m stronger yet more vulnerable, I’m wiser yet nowhere near wise. I am life.
When I first came to India, I was so pleased with myself to have made this journey. I was excited to see Veer and Claire again and Maahi their daughter whom I haven’t seen since the Philippines, and I wrote about it in my first blog. Veer and I traveled to Rishikesh together, leaving Claire and the family behind back in Rohtak. I felt ready to be physically transformed into a new yogini of strength and flexibility, excited to learn what I felt I needed to know to be veered as respectable yoga teacher. After six hours of traveling in a cab, and my stomach in my throat from the insane driving, six hours later, we arrived at AYM just in time for the opening ceremony. My bags were tossed into a room full of nothingness, a mattress as hard as the floor [which I’m use to as I slept on the floor back in San Diego] and I scurried up to the opening ceremony in the nick of time.
For the first couple of weeks I basked in the physical realm of being somewhere like India, the alleged birthplace of yoga. Why learn this anywhere else? I was determined to go to the source of enhanced learning and educating myself further in this passion that has been driven in me. I say allegedly because if you go back then the godfather of the 8 limbs, Patanjali, yoga was brought to the land, as we know of, India. Not to mention that I got to spend time with Veer who is a walking encyclopedia and an equilibrium of traditional to modern. He and I have always had in depth conversations about many topics alike and it was, for the both of us, a refresher to some degree. I can’t speak on his behalf but I do know him well enough to know that he seems to be going through a transition as well upon returning with a beautiful wife and two kids in tow, going back to square one with training people in functional movement.
April 30th, Bangkok Thailand
Throughout the time I was there, I made a conscious decision to speak minimal, I wanted to observe and take in everything. Since I know I’m introverted by nature, I was compelled to open up and observe since there were 23 people from all over the world who had their own set of perceptions and interpretations of yoga. Some of the batch have been there for 4 weeks already going through the 200-hour program and transitioned into the 300-hour batch. Veer and I came as individuals and I wouldn’t go as far as saying we were a team, but in place of Claire, I was yin to his yang energy. He’s intense, he’s passionate, he’s full of extensive knowledge, he’s also still young and I can see the young tendencies of wanting to make points. Ultimately he’s still the same, just a different tone. There are certain few types of people who can see past his tenacity of yoga, and to know him on a more intimate level of family orientation. I felt as though the universe put us on the same path of training at the exact time at the same exact place without ever conversing about it. As I’ve said in the previous blog, coincidental?
During this cavalcade of personal progression, many elements presented themselves that were beyond anything I had anticipated, beyond the aspects of what we think yoga is. Times where stars aligned to meet other souls on their journeys, indicating that something so precious has been given in the most incomprehensible manner that we either see or don’t see. Processing is direction I take flight in more in my life nowadays. I seem to observe and process more versus make instant gratifying decisions based on my wants, or ego trip. There were difficult times internally as well and I’m sure many others may experience aspects in this life, which can test your character of gratification, eradication and/or both. I learned a lot more off the mat then I did on the mat or in the class session. I can’t put everything I learned in chronological order in the six weeks I was in Rishikesh or the 8 weeks I was in India. I will only write about what I felt conflicted about pertaining to life but also to express my deepest of gratitude to life, as we know it.
I’ve been to 43 countries, and I’d prefer not make any discerning judgment on any country, they all have their pros and cons. I’ve lived in the Philippines twice and despite it being a third world country, it has its riches in the masses. Yet, of all countries I’ve been to this in this lifetime, I never questioned humanity as much as I questioned it in India. I questioned life, I questioned my path, and I questioned supreme consciousness while simultaneously kept a massively open mind. I watched as people took pilgrimages to the Ganga, Kirtans all around the ashram, cows wandering the streets and even into my hallway at my school, which gave birth to the motto ‘Chill as a cow.’ I watched, I looked ahead, I fell in love, I felt alone, content, confused, emotional, whole hearted, empty, somewhat disdained, drained, happy, connected, disconnected, growth, regressed, fulfilled, submerged, empathy, indifferent, consumed, fooled, impartial; the list goes on. While reading those words I just wrote, it’s a complete contradiction to every word, ups and downs and that is the truth. The more and more people spoke of how they felt, the more and more I felt quiet.
May 4th, 2015 – Bangkok Thailand
For people who truly want to submerge themselves in yoga, Rishikesh is the place. All around I heard conversations of yoga, I made a conscious act not to get too involved in conversations about it, I didn’t want to hear of it, I didn’t want to hear what or how to do a posture, repetitive speeches of the depth of yoga, the intensity of being a spiritual gangster. Basking in the delight of being there completely confused was enough for me to take in, the last thing I wanted to do was to hear it when I’m eating my meal or having an intellectual conversation with someone. I get it, we were all there for yoga immersion, and it has a profound effect on a person [clearly from what I am writing on myself as well]. I sat and stood silent looking off into the distance most of the time, not because I didn’t want to engage in the conversation, simply because I’d rather just observe. I was practicing meditation and detachment.
I want to share what I am learning based on silence, not based on boasting as we have enough of it on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. I, admittedly, don’t like to post many photos of my practice on my Instagram, but if I want people to believe that yes, I do guide others and yes I do have a personal practice on and off the mat then unfortunately word of mouth doesn’t make a point, unlike photos do. Crying shame to a degree do you think?
I call myself a Yoginista just like a barista, a fashionista, etc, because that’s my trade. I follow suit to what I deem fits. It’s my lifestyle, and we’ve all heard you are what you manifest. I didn’t dream to become a yoga instructor, I didn’t follow my dreams as some may view it, I had no idea I would become this, who I am today. It’s been a long drawn out process with highs and lows, emotions and physicality. Over the past few years I’ve been hearing more and more this inner voice which at times scares the sh*t out of me as well as encourages me and as I’ve said before, a dichotomy and a contradiction. It’s a beautiful curse to see both sides to every scenario, as I understand reasoning which gives way to that open mind of filtering and acceptance. It’s also a deceptive barrier as well as some people misconstrue the reasoning and logic as being overly passive, non-defending, one sided for being both sided, evasive, the list can go on and that is something I’ve had to deal with time and time again.
I know first hand, being both sided can be a negative connotation to other points of view, even security of their own judgment. That is fine, to each their own. I’m not as passive as one will think I am, I’m just highly discerning and observant. So when it comes to yoga, off the mat, I have come to accept that I see reflections in everyone including myself. I’ve witness people speak negative of others only to be merely talking of their own actions and not own up to it, because they can’t see it. I’ve been put in the middle of situations where I didn’t want to be because of others actions and rather then be one sided, I choose to stay neutral which has been held against me. Yoga has taught me it’s ok to be silent and I don’t need to post elaborate yoga poses all the time to prove I get it or be one sided to an argument I don’t see the cause in. Silence and starring off into the distance is better at times.
The unification is internal, it’s beyond what we think of it to be and more and more I find myself convinced I am not a yogi, because in the reality of it, I’m only a yogi in training, a constant practice to the 8 limbs. What’s fascinating about it as I write this, combined with what I did learn in my yoga therapy course is in fact, we have the ability to alter our perceptions continuously and heal ourselves. We literally can heal and fix ourselves from the inside out, but it requires so much practice and modifications. There is no one way, there are many ways and as Lao Tzu has said, ‘Believe in the way’. I’ve come to realize I practiced:
Aparigraha - Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth.
Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. We should only take what we have earned; if we take more, we are exploiting someone else. Aparigraha also implies letting go of our attachments to things and an understanding that impermanence and change are the only constants. Again, I am unintentionally being one of the 8 limbs.
Now here’s where the contradiction can be apparent, I like nice things. I like harmony, I like a nice place, I have a nice car back home in the states, I have nice things in my storage unit, I’ve been to nice places, and I do at times like to stay in nice hotels. It’s not everything though, it doesn’t define me as whole and that is something my companion I have now, genuinely loves of me. I’m frivolously pragmatic. I definitely have been so very lucky in this life to be given such amazing opportunities, to see and experience such luxury of material. Yet, I’ve known my struggles too along this path, and another leaf of the path I’m on is:
Santosa - Contentment - Modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have.
To be at peace within and content with one's lifestyle finding contentment even while experiencing life’s difficulties becomes a process of growth through all kinds of circumstances. We should accept that there is a purpose for everything - yoga calls it karma – and we cultivate contentment 'to accept what happens'. It means being happy with what we have rather than being unhappy about what we don't have. So can you ask yourself are you really content with not keeping up with the Jones?
What’s the point of this all and how does it tie into my time in Rishikesh? I’m noticing more and more in abundance my renunciation to the world in a delicate manner layer upon layer as I am becoming and processing the 8 limbs. There’s no rule to say it should be practiced accordingly, as stated previously, it’s not in chronological order. I came to sense the power of higher self and the truth for which it stands upon the being of renaitré [reborn]. Yes, I felt the old me died there, and as my plane took off to ascend into the clouds above, did I feel reborn again. It was a profound feeling, I cried starring off into the horizon because I knew something happened to me that no matter how I could explain it, majority of people may not get it. I got it, I understood, and I realized; I was yoga. My companion spoke a great metaphor in regards to explaining. He said it’s kind of like an elevator, even though you may be on the 11th floor some will be stuck on the 1st floor and refuse to go up. I appreciate that metaphor, one of the many reasons why I choose the right path, for me. Clarity.
When I reflect upon my time in Rishikesh, I recall going to an astrologer for the first time and hearing what he had to say of my life. Apparently this astrologer is re known all over and again, I wanted to see what he had to say with an open mind. He asked me what I wanted to know, and I said I don’t really have questions just curious what you have to say. He told me to keep writing; that it was good for me and things are going good in my life and will be good. I felt relieved to have heard that. It was a brief reading compared to others, who, wanted to know what color to wear, where to live, what stone to wear. I remember walking in a girl had a pen and paper out asking so many questions about her brother, and what was good for this and what was good for that. I just sat there and said I’m open to whatever.
A few weeks after this reading, one of my batch mates from Argentina offered Aura readings and I was keen to experience that. At first she did a group Aura reading that was exquisitely diverse to each person in the group. She would go around for approximately 5-10 minutes of each individual and describe the color of the rose that represented that person. She would then tell of what she saw, and when it was my turn, the color of the rose was orange and grey. It was accurate in terms of how I felt inside to many aspect of life, so much that I wanted to decipher more on a personal level. We set up a time together reading outside in the garden for an hour. Again, I had an open mind as she asked me what I wanted to ask about. The only thing I wanted to know of was about my present relationship, to which she said she couldn’t really break down because it required the other person to be present.
When she began to go through my chakras, she would go through one by one and read what she felt. I should of recorded the session because I can’t interpret what she said to me through blogging, and quite frankly since it is a personal reading, let’s just say that rather then depicting to others of maybe wasting my time, it wasn’t a waste of time at all. Of course, some of what she said, I felt inside but majority of what she said was enlightening and solidifying to what seemed to be transmitting in my life as it was. These types of sessions a lot of people don’t believe in and I understand; I am hesitant at times. Yet, for her to tap into my reflection and convey the essence of my inner connection with the divine whether it is; positive or negative, there was nothing negative about it. It was assessing each channel on a compelling level, that spoke in a decreed manner of which I felt was quite accurate. Things I had to work on that I was already working on subconsciously, stuff I had to open up to, and so on. I’m extremely happy I asked her to read my aura and whether some may cry wolf of that type of hocus pocus, it was all worth it.
It’s taken me nearly a week to write this out, as I’m a concoction of complexity. Throughout the years of writing, I’ve had a terrible case of writers block, partly in fear due to my last relationship and also to truly express the thought process that wires my brain on how to band together all creative avenues to relay cognitive expression. I’ve basically spent the last 6 days hold up in a studio in Bangkok decompressing and decoding what I went through and conveying it to the readers and ‘yogis’ alike. Surely I’m not the only person to undergo such an internal transformation but I wasn’t trying to transform, I wasn’t on this journey to be something, I wasn’t trying. This transition in life started years ago and despite fighting it the past years, I finally truly gave into that soulful voice that push me. That’s when I guess I can say I woke up, I truly rose to the dawn of a new era let alone a new day. To say I died in India and became reborn, or ‘found’ myself, even the ‘awakening’ is difficult for others to fathom. It’s crazy talk, I sometimes scratch my head and wonder WTF happened and am I explaining it thorough enough for others to take a step back and evaluate what they may be holding on to or scared of or experiencing themselves. Clarity was becoming more and more assuring to just be able to say I’m so lucky to be alive on this planet, that’s fruit loop enough. The ascending wisdom beyond what we think is prevalent to what is actually relevant.
May 5th Cinco De Mayo – Bangkok Thailand
There’s a lot of toxicity out there in the world and whom we surround ourselves with plays a vital role in our development. I apparently knew I had to go to India, and sacrifice a lot in the advancement of figuring things out. I decry my own surroundings that are distractions back in San Diego to resuscitate my inner contentment even if means I need to stir clear of many distractions, even of the bandwagon. Some people even perhaps family see me differently as I personally choose to be different for the sake of my wellbeing. Some may think I’m off the deep end, but even if I am off the deep end, I know I can swim in the deep.
As I finally leave this manuscript of a blog that is regurgitating to say the least, it’s a constant reminder that I will be an old kinder from the purity of my heart and soul. As pain staking as it can be sometimes in the foreign language I speak in the eyes of others, I speak only for myself and the journey of continuous exploration on this ride we call life. My life is a page–by-page story and the beauty of it is being written in every language, should you choose to pick one. Until the next blog of whatever it may be of, I set sail on the roads of travel.
I have always wanted to explore the riches of India, seeing it is the birthing place of yoga. But beyond that, the cultural diversity of each state, the poetic visuals of a language so highly regarded in its antiquities of evolution, Sanskrit. I have long to see the Taj Mahal to check mark the box on the bucket list, and walk on dirt roads infested with garbage, people, colors, cows, vegetables, Hindi shouting, bobble head moving, yoga, and being vegetarian.
As I write this now, I'm in Harayana in a town called Rohtak with the same family I lived with in Cebu, my Indian Jaat brother Veer who helped in my development of yoga, his beautiful wife Claire, their two kids and his family. I'm in a traditional Indian household where there's not just one family but a few living under the same roof, scholastic older generation spellbound of the Indian tradition, with a younger generation blending in, a caste system prevalent in it's place of society, and two foreign females, Claire and myself in a town where there is upper middle class, and lower class. It's the town you would see on the tv that runs economically sound but wouldn't be ever featured on luxury locations. These homes are homes to prominent doctors, lawyers, politicians, landlords, high fences, two to three levels, this is what you don't see on the television in highly viewed places of 'third world countries'. If there is anywhere to be quite honestly where I felt comfortable entirely with all I'm encompassing of India, this takes the cake.
I flew into Delhi late Sunday evening in the early morning of March 2nd, 30 minutes ahead of schedule via Munich on Lufthansa. I haven't flown Lufthansa in years, perhaps even a decade ago. I love that airline, I have always enjoyed Munich airport on it's efficiency, cleanliness, and they even have a relax pad with sleeper pods where you can rent one for 15 Euros an hour. On our flight to Delhi, the staff where half Indian and half German, and I got to use my German I haven't used in years! Simple stuff like water without gas please, thank you. Hey, not much but it was nostalgic nonetheless. The flight was smooth and upon arrival, I gathered my belongings at baggage claim, walked out, found my driver, and on the road we were in. If you would of seen the van I was in on our way, you would of laughed. It was a tiny mini van, and with one windshield wiper. What you think you'd see in asian countries.
I am in India.
It was hard to fathom at first that I had finally made it to the motherland of yoga, and I can see all of the mumbo jumbo first hand finally. My visa is only for six months and unfortunately I won't get to see all of it, but I am fortunate I get to see Delhi and on top of that, I'm with people I know from the Philippines. Veer and Claire had said they were going to come back to India when I was living with them back in 2013, and I said I would go to meet. In 2014 I lost touch with them and it wasn't because of anything bad, or falling out, I just went into introvert mode where I needed a reset mentally, and just stopped talking to a lot of people. However it didn't hinder a friendship one bit, because we picked up where we left off and it was like no time was missed.
Prior to meeting up with Veer and Claire, I spent two days alone in Delhi staying in Pahar Ganj, a backpackers hub. The first day I simply didn't leave the room as I was recovering from the trip, sleeping about 15 hours total. Jet lag kicked in as it's been so long since I've flown to the east from the east and not from the west. My room was $13 a night and it sufficed for a long sleep apart from the construction they were doing. I didn't care, I needed that sleep. The following day however, I went down and checked out a place to get a sim card, tried to find a map to tour around, but ended up with Amit whom had no idea he was to be a tour guide for me that day. He took me to get a sim card at some hole in the wall location next to my hotel and I'm telling you I was in a bazaar most people would not see themselves in, yet heaps of foreigners walking around since there are endless amounts of shops and low budget hotels. When I was finished getting the sim card, I told Amit he's coming with me so I don't get the run around and I'd buy him lunch. I gave him a few rupees as well, and he took me to the India Gate, took photos, and we also toured the Red Fort which was amazing. He then helped me get probiotics for my stomach so I don't get 'Delhi Belly' and then we went back to Pahar to drop me off at the hotel. He's slightly smaller then me and when I first met him I said I want a good experience in India, and I'm not afraid to punch someone if I need to. Actually I said I will beat someone up or him if I have to, so he and I had an understanding. He was great and I'm glad he was willing to go with me for a few hours allowing me to see Delhi with the help of a local.
After I got back to the hotel, I needed some food so I walked over to the other hotel where I met Amit and had an afternoon/dinner meal on the roof top restaurant. What a spectacular view it had of the hustle and bustle down below. I ordered pasta since knowingly next week when training starts, I will not get to eat some good ol' carbohydrates like penne pasta with cheese on top. I took full advantage of that. When I walked back to my hotel, one guy tried to chat me up on the short walk and I declined to do so. He wouldn't stop with suggesting I talk to him, so I turned around, looked at him dead in the eye face to face and said I don't want to talk to you. B*tch mode, have to be vigilant when you're alone. Soon after I got back to the hotel, I took a shower and rested a bit. My boyfriend was in Shanghai for the night so we skyped chatted which I was happy about as he was in a relative time zone, but we both were ready for some sleep so our conversation wasn't very long obviously due to jet lag.
The following morning I checked out at 11am and waited for Veer and Claire to come get me from Rohtak, chilling in the lobby reading the Autobiography of a Yogi. When Veer arrived, we gathered my stuff and headed to the emporium that sells designs of every state. There's a contrast to each area of the country when it comes to their furniture, clothing colors, fabrics, woods, statures, etc, it's quite profound when you see the difference in each. We spent a few hours cruising around before our journey back to Rohtak. Listen, I've seen traffic in my time but Delhi, Delhi traffic by far is top of the list of the most chaotic! I'm talking centimeters from each other when passing cars. If you have a weak stomach or anxiety, forget about Delhi. Just don't bother going to Delhi if you aren't open to the method of the madness on the streets. Not for the faint of heart when in the cars and in traffic of Delhi.
Now I'm here on Friday and we just finished celebrating Holi with getting colorful in the garden with colored flour. It's much safer for us to have fun within the compounds of the house as oppose to doing it out in the streets, especially for us females. The Rana house is so big with several immediate families living here, that really, we don't ever have to leave the palacio. Right now as I close this Indian blog, it's siesta time after eating a lovely home cooked meal (which is every day) wearing traditional Indian garb. I'm lying on my bed, looking to the right out the window hearing the sounds of a town closed for holiday but keeping the spectacle at bay, or at least on our blockade. There are several universities here in Rohtak, highly educated township about an hour outside of Delhi. Somewhere you wouldn't put on the top of your list because there isn't much historical value to an outsider coming to India, myself included. I wouldn't know much about it, but having been here for a few days, I am fully aware of the prominence it has in Harayana with the affluent beings who reside here.
The past few mornings I get up to practice some yoga, do planks, today I did squats, and lazy boy lunges to keep the juices flowing. I've practicing in the morning in preparation for training next week. Coincidentally, Veer and I are taking the same training in Rishikesh next week so it's wonderful how it all worked out! I couldn't be more grateful to come to a foreign land and end up in the house I am now. Recovery from a food coma is tomorrow and Sunday we head to Agra for some sightseeing at the Taj, before Veer and I leave next week to start our intensive. I'll keep posted next week or sometime down the road of the journey of this traveling yoginista.
I drink lemon water usually every morning and if I have ginger readily available in the fridge, I throw that in the mix as well. I shave off the out layer of the ginger, press it with a glass jar to maximize the soaking of hot lemon water for that lemon/ginger taste. When I spent my time in Jamaica, every morning the director would make us warm lemon water for our morning practice. She was quite pleased to know I too, have already had this habit of making warm lemon water in the morning. Take a moment to read below.
There are so many benefits to drinking warm water with Lemon juice in the morning, and for one it helps to eliminate the toxins accumulated in the body. It has Vitamin C which helps to boost your immune system. The lemon helps to neutralize free radicals [Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed, these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like dominos. Their danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage, the body has a defense system of antioxidants].
The Lemon fruit also has what are called Flavonoids. Flavonoids are best known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits as well as the support of the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Because they also help support detoxification of potentially tissue-damaging molecules, their intake has often, although not always, been associated with decreased risk of certain types of cancers, including lung and breast cancer. However, it is important to note that the amount of flavonoids required to provide the above health benefits is not certain, and there are some conflicting research findings in this regard. It's advisable to find a balance in your intake with bioflavonoids enriched with Vitamin C.
Ginger is also an important aspect when it comes to fighting cancer, nausea, anti-tumor activity such as lung, ovarian, colon, breast and skin cancer. Ginger inhibits enzymes in carbohydrate metabolism, increases insulin release and sensitivity as well help to stimulate the digestion in your body. Ginger also has been established to have a protective effect against diabetes complications in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system and eyes. Ginger is an added bonus to the delicious cup of warm lemon water in the morning and here are at least 10 different benefits you can get from drinking the tea in the am (Ginger optional, highly recommended):
10 Benefits to Drinking Warm Lemon Water Every Morning
1) Aids Digestion. Lemon juice flushes out unwanted materials and toxins from the body. It’s atomic composition is similar to saliva and the hydrochloric acid of digestive juices. It encourages the liver to produce bile which is an acid that is required for digestion. Lemons are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract. The digestive qualities of lemon juice help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, belching and bloating. The American Cancer Society actually recommends offering warm lemon water to cancer sufferers to help stimulate bowel movements.
2) Cleanses Your System / is a Diuretic. Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials in part because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Therefore toxins are released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy. The citric acid in lemons helps maximize enzyme function, which stimulates the liver and aids in detoxification.
3) Boosts Your Immune System. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds. They’re high in potassium, which stimulates brain and nerve function. Potassium also helps control blood pressure. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in lemons demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects, and is used as complementary support for asthma and other respiratory symptoms plus it enhances iron absorption in the body; iron plays an important role in immune function. Lemons also contain saponins, which show antimicrobial properties that may help keep cold and flu at bay. Lemons also reduce the amount of phlegm produced by the body.
4) Balances pH Levels. Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Sure, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they’re alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). Lemons contain both citric and ascorbic acid, weak acids easily metabolized from the body allowing the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize the blood. Disease states only occur when the body pH is acidic. Drinking lemon water regularly can help to remove overall acidity in the body, including uric acid in the joints, which is one of the primary causes of pain and inflammation.
5) Clears Skin. The vitamin C component as well as other antioxidants helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes and it helps to combat free radical damage. Vitamin C is vital for healthy glowing skin while its alkaline nature kills some types of bacteria known to cause acne. It can actually be applied directly to scars or age spots to help reduce their appearance. Since lemon water purges toxins from your blood, it would also be helping to keep your skin clear of blemishes from the inside out. The vitamin C contained in the lemon rejuvenates the skin from within your body.
6) Energizes You and Enhances Your Mood. The energy a human receives from food comes from the atoms and molecules in your food. A reaction occurs when the positive charged ions from food enter the digestive tract and interact with the negative charged enzymes. Lemon is one of the few foods that contain more negative charged ions, providing your body with more energy when it enters the digestive tract. The scent of lemon also has mood enhancing and energizing properties. The smell of lemon juice can brighten your mood and help clear your mind. Lemon can also help reduce anxiety and depression.
7) Promotes Healing. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), found in abundance in lemons, promotes wound healing, and is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage. As noted previously, vitamin C also displays anti-inflammatory properties. Combined, vitamin C is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of good health and recovery from stress and injury.
8) Freshens Breath. Besides fresher breath, lemons have been known to help relieve tooth pain and gingivitis. Be aware that citric acid can erode tooth enamel, so you should be mindful of this. No not brush your teeth just after drinking your lemon water. It is best to brush your teeth first, then drink your lemon water, or wait a significant amount of time after to brush your teeth. Additionally, you can rinse your mouth with purified water after you finish your lemon water.
9) Hydrates Your Lymph System. Warm water and lemon juice supports the immune system by hydrating and replacing fluids lost by your body. When your body is deprived of water, you can definitely feel the side effects, which include: feeling tired, sluggish, decreased immune function, constipation, lack of energy, low/high blood pressure, lack of sleep, lack of mental clarity and feeling stressed, just to name a few.
10) Aids in Weight Loss. Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. Studies have shown people who maintain a more alkaline diet, do in fact lose weight faster. I personally find myself making better choices throughout the day, if I start my day off right, by making a health conscious choice to drink warm lemon water first thing every morning.
The next time you wake up, cut up a lemon, squeeze the juice into a cup, perhaps some ginger shavings or small pieces, pure in purified water and bring pot to a little boil until the steam is visible. If you wish not to use a pot, a kettle would suffice well. It's not recommended to microwave the water but if you have to do what you have to do based on what you own, microwave can work.
Lavelle Training School
Pompano Beach, Florida
Yoga Bless Jamaica
Long Bay, Portland
Here I am, third day into my volunteering gig here in Jamaica, the Irie nation. Let’s take it back a few days prior to my pit stop in Fort Lauderdale at LTS – Lavelle Training Station. I’ve known Dean for about six years now and he’s one of my dearest friends so it was lovely to catch up with him and his first lady, Katarina, I call her Katness. It was a short trip to LTS, which is just north of Fort Lauderdale in Pompano Beach, I only got to stay a couple days versus a week back in August. Usually every couple of years I go down to hang out, and if I’m heading to the Caribbean, it’s a must do pit stop.
My flight to Kingston was on the 20th and I decided to spend holidays other then home for the first time, so why not at a yoga retreat in Jamaica volunteering my time as a yoga instructor with a dash of zumba/massaging as well. I was a little scared at first, and not to be mistaken for fear of traveling solo, oh no ho hoooo. Apprehensive more like it as it would be the first time I was away from my family during the December holidays and a good portion of them have birthdays in December. However, given the fact I am now 32 years old, I think as an adult I can make a decision to be different and do something different, which I usually do anyway.
I only spent a couple days at LTS relaxing and catching up briefly with Dean, Katness, and a few people other people I’ve met. It was now time to catch a jet plane to Kingston. An hour and half flight to Kingston from Fort Lauderdale, what could go wrong? I landed in Kingston, and the bags never made it.
After waiting around for awhile, I finally made my way to the service counter to report what didn’t come in. I wasn’t too stressed on it, in fact I wasn’t stressed at all about it except the length of time it took to get out of the airport since it was already after 7:00pm and I still had to travel to Long Bay Portland which is another hour and half away to the east. I met the driver, Leon, whom I dubbed, the Legend, so put it all together and it’s Leon the Legend. He pulled over for me on the side of the road for some good ol’ jerk chicken at some spot in a town along the way and it was some of the best chicken I could get my little paws on.
Since the road is a bit dodgy, relatively narrow with some pond holes, along with little to no lighting, it was going to take a little longer getting to Yoga Bless. Noooooo problem mon, I was in no rush mon and I told the Legend we can cruise. I took it all in gazing out into the night sky littered with stardust in the blanket of the infinite illusions and consciousness, the universe. It was as if the stars peered through in omniscient fashion for the world to truly be grateful for. We pulled over for a bit next to the water, it was all too calling of us not to. Prior to pulling over, the Legend (deserves a capital L) gave me the history of Jamaica and how it came to be today being occupied by the Spanish for so long and then the Brits. The legend also told me he’s named one of the best drivers in the Caribbean, before I knew that it seemed Legend was fitting from the get go.
I saw a shooting star circling around popping in and out of the shattered glass of reflection in the night sky, drifting my eyes down the milky way and stoned on the placid constellations. Leon and I hopped back into the car he called the chariot and we continued on with our journey to Long Bay. Once we arrived it was lights out for me, and waiting was a bed on the bottom bunk of two bunk beds with Tracy the caretaker on the fifth bed in the corner, toilet and shower outside, cold water only. Couldn’t see much but hearing the waves crashing against the rocky island just in front of the private beach shared with an American couple who owns the house next door. This is isolated heaven or as I call it, Jamaican house on the prairie.
Following day was mainly for getting acclimated as well as catching up on some sleep I didn’t get too much of the first night. I didn’t realize how tired I was and when the body asks for sleep, I’m inclined to honor that request. I ended up receiving a phone call from Jet Blue letting me know my bags have arrived, in Montego Bay. Not too friendly over the phone and because I had a lock on my bag, they weren’t going to release it nor send it to Kingston which was closer. I had to go to Montego to pick them up, and at first I just thought, ‘Really? Do I really want to make the journey?’ Then, like a blink of an eye, my mind was made up and I was committed. I told myself to suck it up and go on an adventure. So I took a shower, gathered my belongings and set off for a Carmen San Diego adventure of public transport and crossing an island Jamaican style. Maki, the director here at the Bless, she told me it’s pretty easy to get around, so I was ready to take on the day and onto Montego Bay.
It started out in a charter taxi where you hop into a white station wagon, sitting in between every shape and size with stops here and there. Making your way to Port Antonio and loading up into a shuttle bus holding nearly 25 Jamaicans if it can fit them. I sat back row, left corner, earphones on, and I was up in the corner bobbing my head jammin’ out like I was in some shuttle in a 3rd world country driving across country. Wait! I was living the shuttle experience. Yeah mon! Dirt roads, pond holes (bigger then pot holes readers), through the hills coming down into another town, luckily, no one got car sick. When the roads are wet, it’s like Mr. Toads Wild Ride.
We stopped at one small town to switch shuttles, and I was looking for a ride to Ochos Rios when I looked to my left and saw ‘white folk.’ They were Canadian couch surfers, a couple from Montreal coming to spend three weeks in Jamaica. They were cool to talk to and told me of their journeys along with cool apps on the phone to monitor your travels, and the joys of traveling seeing the world. We decided to take a charter taxi to Ochos Rios direct with no stops and had a great conversation along the way. I was meant to meet up with the owner’s husband, Zach as he was there for the day already and from there, I was going to go to Montego Bay airport to collect the bags. If it was just my bag, I’m sure my bag would of made it to Kingston, however I had a massage table with me and customs there like to add on their personal prices based on what they think. Since it was Christmas (mind you, this is heresy from people who live here), allegedly customs agents have a rep of tacking on their prices. I refused to allow them to open my locked bag, they refused to send them to Kingston or have them delivered (JetBlue and customs), so why not I just go to Montego and then file a compliant after? Make it an adventure.
The north side towards the west, the waters are much calmer and you can see some beautiful mansions perched on the seaside mountain hills. Coming into Ochos Rios, you can notice it starts to get more touristy and busy, lots of both locals and foreigners. I was meant to meet Zach at Ochos Rios Jerk Center and so the cab driver dropped me off, I said my good byes to the Canadian couple and went to the bar to order up me some food. Jerk chicken and potato wedges. Zach showed up about an hour later and I told him I needed to get to Montego Bay so we did a few errands and on we went. Going towards Montego are much more solid roads, the pond hole filled 1.5 car nearly 4 seasons in one day road we are on back on the east side clearly would not suffice on this side. The roads are smoooooooth, crossing over beautiful landscape, rolling hills, some all inclusive resorts, more developed then the eastside, but so far the east side seems to be the best side.
It took about an hour to get to Montego Bay and as I sat in the passenger seat talking to Zach, I noticed the sun slowly setting amid the distance and I said to him how grateful I was to get off my butt and take this journey to Montego as I get to see the massive star of fire burn into the distance. When we finally arrived to the airport, he dropped me off assuming it was only going to take maybe twenty minutes to collect my belongings. Nope that didn’t happen. I walk into a room with 30 people, majority Caribbean, and the rest from the states. Turned on my Zen mood tempo at that point with a room full of frustrated perturbed people wanting their luggage, some whom had been there since 1:30pm apparently and it is now 6:00pm roughly. I stood patiently and I mean p-a-t-i-e-n-t-l-y in the back slowly making my way to the window of opportunity to collect my two bags. It took about an hour or so until there was a slit of room to show my claims number from JetBlue to the rep. Finally! I was able to speak to someone, calm and collective, nice and even borderline brown nosing just because I see the ‘authorateé’ (cue Southpark voice now) the customs agents were flexin’.
By this time the room had finally gone empty, people finally got their luggage except for a few who were charged for whatever they had in the luggage. Poor woman had a suitcase full of stuff and they were charging her $280 USD just to get her luggage out. Bullocks! She ended up just leaving it. Anyway, enough about her, I was beginning to smell the roses just waiting patiently to collect my bags. I have to say seeing some islanders get fired up by how customs handles their belongings in front of everyone and have no say back is not fun. I can understand their frustration and for the agents to borderline take the piss out of the passengers, I just kept to myself until my time came after. Having a power trip speaks well for this situation of Jamaican customs. Needless to say, the main dude who was making the calls and documenting everything tells me I have to go pay the cashier who nonchalantly doesn’t know I’m standing in front of the window waiting for her to grace me with a fill out form. Oh that will cost me btw, 250 Jamaican [$2.50 USD] just for the form. Who am I to argue, I just wanted me stuff mon.
At this point, it’s 7:30pm and I’m texting Zach I’m nearly ready to walk out, oh but wait there’s more. Based on the head honchos observation of the invoice and what he thinks should be paid to the VAT or whatever equivalent to, I had to go back to the cashier after he sipped on coffee and read the newspaper while documenting my pick up claim. (Totally sarcastic he wasn’t sipping coffee or reading the newspaper but you get the idea). Now, back to the cashier to pay the VAT which was $100. Luckily the owner gave me some cash knowing this may happen and I tried to pay cash. Nope, only Jamaican money or credit card for it, so I slapped my credit card down and said, ‘Listen woman…’ no I actually didn’t. I just smiled and used my manners. Finally after 45 minutes of borderline negotiating, my bags were free to go. As soon as that window opened, I grabbed it and dashed to my chariot awaiting my presence in arrivals. We were at this point, ready to skeet skeet back to Portland, only 3.5 hours away.
I told Zach I’m not falling asleep on this journey back, we were in this together, my eyes on the road as much as his. Since he didn’t have a radio in the car, I grabbed my laptop aka ghetto blaster and ran that battery to 0% just 1 minute before we got back to Yoga Bless sometime around midnight. Quite the adventure, no high beams on the car, 97% of the trip back has no street lights, little to no suspension, cruising Jamaican style. As soon as we got back, I thought it was all worth the trip today to get my bags despite the inconvenience. I got to travel local style, eat some chicken in Ochos, meet some Canooks, saw a rad sunset over Montego, and a drive back under a blanket of stars on roads of Jamaica, back to the east side.
The next morning I was perky and content, my stuff is in my possession and I was ready to really enjoy my volunteering holiday teaching yoga and giving massages. There were only a few of us at the retreat and after our morning session of 30 minute zumba followed by 30 yoga then breakfast after. Shortly after breakfast, we packed our bags and headed to Reach Waterfalls where the man who walks on water is from. Byron is the guide who grew up on these falls so he knows the ins and outs of spider climbing this beautiful set of falls. I call him the guy who walks on water, because where he puts his feet on rocks, it just looks like he walks on water. That guy will hold three cellphones, two pairs of sunglasses and whatever else he can possibly manly handle with ease doing the Reach Falls Ballet, he’s the star. The guy is a great guide I just have to say so kudos to that man who can walk on water, Byron.
The following day I went with the New Yorkers, Irina and Vanessa to Boston Beach just after breakfast. I just showered, I wasn’t intending to go anywhere, but Maki (the director) said I should go for a couple hours to check it out. When we got there, the two had already made friends with the locals and took me to Charlie’s one stop shop, surf lessons, surf rental, souvenirs, marijuana, snorkel, home, etc.. I just had a nice shower and washed my hair for the first time in a couple days, so I opted not to go in the water because I wanted to relish in being 100% cleansed for a day. I told the girls I’d video tape them and of course everyone is hustling. Dem hustle, me catch quick. (Patois). I ended up leaving a bit earlier then they did back to the retreat to have some lunch, followed by some personal practice before I were to teach the 5:30 session and dinner to follow for Christmas Eve. The nights are mellow and I was happy to be at a small house on the prairie in Jamaica while the family back home were happy, sad, Merry, and reminiscent.
One year ago, my nana passed away Christmas Eve morning up in Riverside from a stroke. Christmas Eve is also my aunt’s birthday so I’m sure it was bitter sweet in my mom and my auntis household. I checked in with my mom to make sure she was in good spirits, and sent a message to my aunti to wish her Happy Birthday and support as it still affects them. One of the New Yorkers left back to city that evening (Wednesday night) and while Christmas day was uneventful, the mellow environment already was just a gift and blessing in itself. The next day I got to explore Long Bay that Friday after Christmas for a little bit on the cliff side while others went to the waterfalls and Irina was back at Boston Beach. I called my parents and wished them a Merry Christmas, read up on some Christmas wishes but had a quiet day on the Cliffside. More people were starting to show up after Christmas on Saturday as two were heading out followed by a few more until the first of January.
As I sit here writing this, it is now Monday the 29th and yesterday was relatively uneventful apart from having a full house with Zachs family in town from London. The farm is full and the room I’m staying in holds 5 so we are all bunking up Hostel style. One of the guests, Lioni from Paraguay who is actually Indo/Dutch is on a fast diet so she only drinks lemon/cayenne water and I think a couple other concoctions, while the rest of us are eating vegetarian. Today half went to the waterfall while a couple others went into Port Antonio. I opted to stay back today to finish writing this blog, taking in on having the place to myself apart from Inez cleaning, the two pups, Shiva and Rinding, and a beautiful sea with crashing waves in front of me. I took in the time to walk around and bask in the post rainfall crisp air, prancing around like I was the only girl in the world, but the innocence of solitude brings a sheer calmness within and heightens your reasoning to smile at yourself.
Yoga Bless – Long Bay Jamaica
Yoga Bless is a small retreat, it holds 10 people maximum and all foods are vegetarian, hand picked, hand made, home grown, exotic, combined and portioned accordingly to what is right for your body to appreciate. Maki the director is from Czech Rep but married to Zach, who is Jamaican and the rest of his family live in London. Apparently this was an Eco Tourism Resort prior to becoming Yoga Bless and Maki has spent the past few years traveling throughout Central America, Caribbean and other parts of the world gathering information to share as well as turning to Mr. Google for more information. We recently had a workshop talking about how to make your own facemasks, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Every meal is eaten at the table with everyone gathered around, we pray before every meal and don’t expect any dairy, breads, or anything processed. She makes all the coconut milk for our morning breakfast, we eat nothing but fruit on some mornings, and have a coconut every time. Lots of exotic Jamaican dishes, but it’s portioned so you have to be able to adapt to it, right food combinations. You will notice the difference.
Maki is passionate about eating right and breaking bad habits to turn them into newer effective habits to take back with you where ever you come from. She emphasizes as well that it’s not what she says, everyone makes their own choice, she encourages people to do their own research as well apart from what she explains during the meals. I noticed a bit of change in my energy levels, the amount of food I needed, minimal water, etc.. Yoga Bless shows you what it’s like to live as simple as you could without too many qualms about it. It’s a transition and you have to be prepared for it or easily learn to adapt. Maki has deep eyes, easy going demeanor. I admire her way of life, living by the sea with her two dog, Shiva and Rinding, Zach her hubby, and a little yoga retreat.
I came knowing I was to teach a couple sessions a day and do massage. Since we had a few new people arriving, my schedule was 7:30 am yoga (either Maki or I) followed by 8:45-9:00am breakfast. Then you have a couple hours and usually I get an hour to digest my food and then I’m doing a massage just before lunchtime if there are no activities planned. Then, there is lunch around 1:00-2:00pm, followed by an hour to digest, maybe a little siesta and then massage before 5:00pm yoga session. After yoga we eat dinner around 6:30-7:00pm and depending what people are doing, there is a video to watch or I just practice. Irina and I would practice after dinner a few times, and last night when everyone went to bed, I went out on the platform and did an hour of practice from 10:00pm until 11:00pm and then took a cold shower before going to sleep at 11:30pm. I had the place to myself at night, por que no? Tomorrow the majority of us are going to go on a field trip to the Blue Lagoon and I’ll probably head into Port Antonio to check out souvenirs after. I was set to leave the 5th of January but since I’m on a buddy pass, the flights look better on the 1st rather then the 5th so I’ll be going back to San Diego a few days earlier, better make the most of the next few days now.
As I begin to close this blog out, I have to say it is quite a blessing to be here and have a little piece of paradise all to your self with just a few other souls gathered from all over the world to go on a little retreat to practice. If you’re looking for a little getaway on an island, come down here and check it out. Long Bay is suppose to be the best area all of Portland but there are some many cool spots here on the island, Long Bay has beautiful rentals on the beach, desolate roads and small towns. Until next blog, stay Irie mon and Happy New Year!
*Update - January 1st, 2015*
The time flew at Yoga Bless, and I'm currently on a plane back to San Diego 36,000 ft in the air. Today is a new day with new beginnings. The last couple days, the group slowly became smaller but it was great none the less. The day before yesterday on Tuesday our group decided to take a field trip to the world famous Blue Lagoon which was only 15 minutes from where we were. I've been in the same room with the other four girls and we had Art, a 73 year music conductor along with us. He was a good sport seeing that all of us were in our early thirties laughing and giggling, he seemed to have a good time too with us. We walked to the nearest fuel station to catch a taxi wagon to the Lagoon, five in the back like sardines and Art in the front with the driver, no problem mon. What I notice when meeting the Jamaicans is they all ask, "How's your stay in Jamaica? Are you having a good time? Enjoy yourself here." Happy taxi driver seems to be the norm. He drove our posse down to the Blue Lagoon and I somehow became pack leader negotiating prices and getting things moving. When we unloaded the clown car, we opt for the bamboo raft and human motor to take us around the lagoon, and what a breathtaking serene piece of god's pie. The colors were vivid with a handful of majestic blues.
People can really just go to the dock and jump in, but collectively we all thought it would be a nice touch to get a raft and pretend we're Brooke Shields, a bit more authentic to some degree. We probably spent a good hour or so lounging around taking in the surroundings before walking up the small road to catch a taxi into Port Antonio for some lunch and shopping. We walked through the local markets before walking up to a rooftop bar/restaurant overlooking the town, and keep in mind it's not a huge town. Our meals were lovely, the coffees maybe a little too sweet but great afternoon togetherness as one big happy family with five ladies from one room and good ol' Art, mellow as can be, he made us look good vs. us making him look good. After lunch we cruised around for some shopping and the hustling is staple in Jamaica, nice people but things aren't cheap so don't go down thinking your dollar goes along way, only in a taxi it does. Overall it was a great day exploring around before heading back to Longbay for evening yoga.
So yesterday was New Years Eve and it was pretty uneventful. We celebrated by writing down what we wanted to let go of 2014, resolutions, forgiveness, affirmations, etc to write down and throw into a big bonfire on the seaside cliff, looking at the stars, eating peanuts, oranges, and drinking watermelon juice, total sober sallies to some degree. Art left us in the am to head to Kingston so it was down to the five of us plus Maki, Zach. Now I know Zach is an artist and has a huge following in Africa and Europe, but when he started playing guitar and freestyling a song solely for us underneath the stars, it was captivating. There was no where else we all wanted to be, other then sitting next to a fire under a bed of stars listening to a beautiful voice serenading us with his Rastafarian gift. Then he sang Stir It Up and it was simply a cherry on top followed by all of us doing Brahmari breathing for an extended period of time. Needless to say, we rang in the New Year as yogis or yogis in training sitting by the fire, border line sober sallies. :-) But, after the countdown and a bit of fire dance wiggling, we all went to bed not too long after. Keep in mind, we're usually in bed by 10:00pm on the usual as we rise around 6:30 am every morning.
Today I spent the day traveling from Kingston to Miami, Miami to Houston, and now Houston en route to San Diego. I was suppose to stay until Monday the 5th, but had to head back as the flights were quite full the next few days. I'm on a buddy pass on American thankfully, and when the option is to leave earlier rather then way later, got to do it. This weekend I'll be back to teaching at Reach and back on the grind taking home the fond memories, experiences, and the newfound kindred friendships I made with everyone. I have to say as person with some ups and some downs, I couldn't be more thankful to have experience the last ten days with great people, seeing transformations with a few beings as their practice progressed, seeing emotional releases, laughter, tears, and personal discoveries. Moments and experiences like these inspire me to keep moving forward in yoga and continue to strive every time of new discovery, making connections, seeing new places and planting seeds along the way. I hope these people were inspired as much as I was.
Here's to bringing in the new year.
A few years ago, I took a journey through southeast Asia to practice under all sorts of teachers, did a yoga retreat, learned heaps of how to become a solid yoga teacher after receiving my certification. I then spent nearly a year in the Philippines teaching, fine tuning my style, training with a well versed Hatha Pradipika Indian and Filipinos. When I came back to the states (mind you I still need to finish a few blogs I had started this year of my life in the Philippines prior to this blog), I didn't have a home studio, I was an unknown. Fast forward to October, I'm a manager at a small studio in Mission Valley named Hidden Gem Yoga and also a teacher at Reach Yoga in Pacific Beach.
Now, a friend of mine whom I use to work with years ago in Hollywood moved to Sydney, Australia a few years back and got certified to become a yoga teacher before me. From there, he now lives in London but came back to LA to visit friends and family so I drove up to see him since it's been years we hung out. Our plan was to catch up of course, but also take a yoga class together up in Santa Monica seeing that he knows a few heads up there who teach. I packed my bags and headed north for a few days back to la la land. This time, rather then partying and doing it up, it was about friends, energy, yoga.
It was Friday morning and my friend told me there was a class at YogaWorks under this teacher who is quite popular in LA and apparently LA is the scene for yoga. It was at the YogaWorks in Santa Monica, and I myself have never been to YogaWorks, knowing it is highly admired in the yoga world. I was keen to check it out outside the comfort zone of my home studios in San Diego considering it has such a highly valued reputation. I came with an open mind. But $22 DROP IN at Yoga Works?????? Dafuq?!?! Wow.
I arrived relatively early to the studio and signed the waiver. The receptionist at the front desk was easy going and asked if I practiced. I told her I was a teacher from San Diego and a friend had recommended the class and I was to meet him at the studio shortly. I asked what the temperature was and she said it wasn't too hot, she sweats in this teachers class, it's an excellent class to attend and word has it it get's pretty busy. I was basing it on my mat as well because I only brought my Tapas Basic Mat that is about as jainky as it can be, and that's exactly what I told her. She did ask if I had a 'traveling mat' which I said yes I have six mats, and my best mat is in storage back in the Philippines so I use whatever. (I think a practitioner can use any type of mat, provided you have a towel). Anyway, I almost spent money on a new mat, and then I thought.....Why??? I'll make do. Then I almost bought a $40 shirt, and stopped to say, "Really Des?" Besides, I already dropped $22 for one class, yes I'm kind of cheap. Already intimidating price for the regular Joe Shmo, twenty two dolla? Good lord. Quality over quantity right? Well who knows anymore in the yoga world, let's be honest.
Since I arrived an hour early, I went next door to a cafe and checked email, ordered a double espresso while waiting, killing time, taking it all in that I am taking a class at YOGAWORKS. 'Do I check in and tell people I am here, or do I just drink my espresso and not check-in?' Silly verdad? But that's todays' norm. I opted NOT to check in and just humbly wait for the 12:45 pm class to start with this teacher who has quite the following and of course my Asian American Kiwi London imported counterpart, Michael Wong. When it was close to the time, I slammed my double espresso (I'm adopted European since I lived there years ago, I like it straight black and probably not the wisest decision just before yoga. Mistakes are to be made). I walked next door and saw Michael whom I haven't seen in years, we gave each other a big hug, laughed, giggled as if it like we just saw each other yesterday. Quickly, more people were arriving, and then I saw a guy who looked strikingly similar to someone I know. I asked Michael if he was the teacher, and he said yes. Then, the studio doors opened, rush casting call or yoga practice? Mission was to plant the mat in a good spot ASAP.
Michael and I parked up mid way in the studio, people had their locations, shirts off, Lulu Lemon attire, mats, yoga paws, yoga toes, the blissful mindset, I now saw the 'SCENE' in full affect. The teacher had tats, not going to lie he was a good looking dude, but also gave me that awkward feeling since he closely resembled someone I know. Whatever, I'm there to practice and I was a little wired. Rather then a calm and collective mind, I was ready to run 4 miles, thanks to that espresso. The class was packed. The teacher did not introduce himself, didn't ask if there were injuries, just stepped up to the top and we began. That's cool, cause other places I've practiced overseas, the teacher most of the time does not introduce him or herself, nor asks about injuries, etc... So I took note as I've seen it done over seas, but at some other studios they really emphasize introductory. That didn't bother me a bit. His demeanor was cool guy, laid back. He opened with Sun A and B to which we did partially on our own to some semi-mainstream edm music, loud mind you. I was sweating and shaking since my heart felt like it was about to pop out of the chest, and I haven't practiced under different teachers in a while as I usually just do a home practice or solo studio practice so I definitely enjoyed being a student and getting my yoga on. I kept looking over to Wong and said, 'I am WIRED.' I can feel the shakes, but my breathe wasn't choppy, I was still very much in control. He just laughed at me, but it didn't hinder my practice too much suffice to say I probably would of been better off not slamming a double just before. Again, mistakes.
Looking around to people wearing mala beads, again the LuLu Lemon, all the gizmos and gadgets of the industry, let's notice this yoginista. I had a $12 shit mat that no one would probably touch due the quality, a tourista towel that was bright yellow clearly imprinted SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, cheap shorts, sports bra, shirt off, and hair in a samurai bun. I looked the least hip to the rest of the posse, not to mention in the beginning of the class while others were practicing their handstands or warming up, getting into the zone; I laid down and kicked it. I was not part of the 'cool kids' club with my gear. Needless to say the class was a good work out as I bathed in my espresso sweat and achieved almost every pose I was aiming for. I couldn't nail a couple due to the race my heart was competing in, I just couldn't stick a pose or two but it's cool why bother? I kept the ego at bay and only made due with what I was capable of, but not eliminating what I know I'm capable of. My right shoulder lacks strength due to injury so every time I went from Uttanasana (forward fold) to plank, I opt to pike up, and then land one leg first floating into chataranga dandasana (four limb staff pose) in almost a modern dance like manner to control the breathe movement, then rolled back into a down dog. The teacher came to me and said my right shoulder dips in. I thanked the acknowledgement. I'm half blind people, and I'm a lefty, blind in the left eye. It's all about sensory now for this yoginista.
As the class came to a closing, everyone around me were blissfully resurrected as if this was their mid day siesta. People really loved the class, I took note. I took note on how the studios I teach at operate, what some studios expect, how good it is to have an open mind, what I learned overseas, what I gathered in this studio, what I can fine tune, what I get, what I don't get and what can I offer as a teacher, what I learned as a practitioner. YogaWorks has such a high profile reputation that honestly I didn't know what to expect from a teacher, but I did feel like I lost $22. Maybe because I am cheap, and they say you get what you pay for, but that's the question I asked myself, did I?
The following morning while I was keen to do it up with Michael going to a UCLA game, the very last minute I decided to opt out, and go for a hike. followed by more yoga in LA. I wanted to really understand the scene and why LA is known for the 'scene'. I did research on the top 10 yoga studios in LA and it was interesting to read up on them but I also trusted Michael's recommendations of yoga teachers and where to go. He told me to check out Bryan Kests studio, Power Yoga in Santa Monica. Donation based, SOLD! I have always felt yoga should be donation and if I were to ever open a studio, I FIRMLY believe in donation based yoga.
Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many people have said, you can't make money doing donation based studios, and I stand by my belief you can! Don't get me wrong, I love making money, let's be real - I'm American. But I am also an artist to my field (can I say that? I'm ballin' on a budget and live in a studio. I don't make a lot of money doing what I do, but I love it.) So when he said it's a successful donation only studio by someone who also curses and does it his way, I'M IN!!!
There were two back to back classes Michael suggested I go to and prior to that at 8:00am I decided to go on a hike in Temescal canyon just north of Santa Monica. Not ever seeing this trail before, I hiked my little bum two miles up, and two miles down to kill time. I felt fabulous, this was a good day to practice and solo adventure. When I was done, I hopped into my car and drove over to 2nd street, parked the car and walked to the studio. Whoa... Bryan Kests studio! Michael said he's a homie and of course I'm a fan of Kest. Not because of his practice so much, but because of the journey he took and how modern he is. That, my friends, is right up my alley. I've been told not to curse in class, but I do at times (whoops, it slipped out). I get his style, but I was there to do yoga not drool over someone.
The two teachers Michael suggested I take, were back to back and 90 minute classes which I love love LOVE! However, when I arrived to the studio, I was already 15 minutes late. Bugger.I approached the receptionist who was sitting there playing on her phone, she said I could walk right into the class and jump in anyway. I said I don't want to interrupt the class nor the teacher, but she said people do it all the time and it was no big deal. Fabulous! I ran back to my car, grabbed the jainky mat and tourist looking towel for round one at Power Yoga.
There are two studio rooms, and the one I was about to attend is the back room, with a neat little corridor outside, I dig it. My feet were dirty from the hike, and I looked like I, again, was a hot mess trying to be cool showing up fashionably late to class. Luckily it was just post Durga - Go, flexion and extension exercises so I found a nice little spot in between other practitioners and set up shop. Samurai bun in full effect. There was no music and the instructor had an accent either from South Africa or New Zealand. It was slightly heated, not too much and I was locked into my pranayama. My breathing stood out from the moans and groans other people were letting out. I thought to myself, 'Are we having sex in here?' I tried not to get distracted with the sensuality of other practitioners and remained in full effect of pranayama engagement. I was connected I was hooked, I wasn't wired off espresso, I was definitely tight from hiking, I got LOST in my practice and I LOVED it. My breathe internally heating me and I was sweating more then anyone around me because of it. I applied different techniques to reset my postures, knowing it's ok to reset the foundation to maximize transitions, keeping the integrity of the pose, whilst stabilization in both mind and body. I was able to maximize my practice as a full blown student this time around apart from the yogaworks the day prior. I enjoyed the teachers class, and it was the teacher that I enjoyed. He was anatomical.
After the class had ended, I put money into the donation box, waited for everyone to leave and made the effort to shake his hand saying thanks for the class. I mentioned I taught in San Diego and the studio was recommended by a friend, I just came from hiking and I was going to stay for the next class after. He complimented my practice and asked how I had so much energy to hike nearly 4 miles in the mountains and do a back to back. I said, I'll sleep in Sunday morning. :-) It was a short conversation with quality, then he left while I waited for the next teacher that Michael recommended.
When she came in, it was five minutes after the class was set to start. I started seeing people trickle in (I guess that's how they do it at this studio, fashionably late, totally laxed). I unfortunately, was not feeling the second instructor. I don't know if it was because I had a great physical and mental practice just before hand, or something wasn't clicking with her. Michael mentioned she was more philosophical in her instructing and had a great following, I just wasn't feeling it, something was off. Rather then try and push through, attempting the connection, I left. I paid my donation of course and took note of both sessions, both teachers. She wasn't bad by any means, just something was off with her energy and mine. No worries, maybe I'll take it again next time I'm up to give it another chance. The great thing about Power Yoga, is it's DONATION based and though I wasn't feeling the teacher, I gave money regardless and felt blessed to be able to be there that day to experience it over all.
So after experiencing both studios, different teachers, and different approaches, I drove home reflecting. Why is it that the scene in LA is so different then San Diego? Why is it that YogaWorks is so bloody expensive and I didn't feel completely satisfied? Why is it that I still firmly believe in donation based yoga? Power Yoga seems to do rather well keeping it donation, so why do people look at me funny when I have said before, if I ever open up a yoga studio, I want it to be donation based? Then I started reflecting on my teaching again, what can I hone in on that will satisfy everyone? I noticed a few things. Of course I'm not going to go into criticizing all three teachers, we all teach very differently. I came with an open mind, and an open mind allowed me to think of how I can improve my teaching. It's one thing to have a strong practice, it's another thing to lead. I, admittedly, do get torn at times of how to teach, and when I do teach a certain way, the energy I encompass to reflect on the class. What is it do I want to get across to the practitioners? That is YOGA, to question ourselves, to alter, to experience, to connect, to detach, to suffer at times, to feel lost and be lost while going on the journey.
Back in the Peens, most of the teachers go through YogaWorks or Dominique Renucci for training. I was the only certified Hatha teacher there and even back here in San Diego, I teach differently to other teachers I've been told, thanks to my training in the Peens and while in Asia. I don't know if I were ever be able to teach at YogaWorks, it's cool. I believe the universe will work itself out for me down the road as long as I keep at it, and continue to learn.
I work at a small studio in literally the heart of Mission Valley in San Diego called Hidden Gem Yoga Studio. Very small, intimate, a great little location where all types of people can come in and have a small class, feeling like their needs are accomplished and met. When we were first opening up, I put an add up on Craiglist for yoga teachers wanting to find the right teachers who had something unique about them and also their reason for turning to yoga. The response was over whelming with yoga instructors but also massage therapy. I collected the ones I wanted to review and took them to a meeting I had with the three other colleagues who were helping in the development of a wellness center. After reviewing all submissions, we narrowed it down to the A category B category and C category. A handful stood out based on their story behind it, one had an interesting certification under her belt that I particular was curious about. She wasn't in town for a demo as she was still back in her home state of Minnesota making a transition to San Diego. Because we were set to open the studio at the end of April and we didn't realize how many submissions we'd get, we ended up demo'ing two teachers, talking with two others by recommendation and the one in Minnesota via email. The submission from Minnesota was Amy Gist, with ten years in the navy, certified in Somatic Yoga and JOGA. (I'll get to the other teachers in the next blog)
What dafuq (a friend of mine, text me 'dafuq' before and I couldn't stop laughing so I use it) ?!? is JOGA??
Strength training and conditioning for athletes, appealing already. I don't have an athletic back round, I did ride horses in my younger years and every thing else I learned along the way to where I am now. I'm alright at certain hobbies and sports. Anyway, it was the description she wrote and giving the back round of where it was developed and by who, it was something truly unique and I was keen to learn more about it. Fortunately Amy was on her way back to San Diego to live after spending sometime back home and her JOGA certification was in tow as well as Somatic Yoga. We asked her to elaborate more on the Somatic first, which she did a fabulous job at and then explained JOGA.
JOGA was developed by a woman in Canada by the name of Jana Webb. Jana moved to Japan for awhile a few years ago with her family and stumbled upon ISTHA (Integrated Science of Tantra, Hatha, and Ayurveda) yoga while searching far and wide throughout Tokyo for yoga. She told her story at our first US training after 4 days of constant physical practice, workshops, posture labs, and lecture. She waited until the end of the training to explain how she was able to develop this system throughout years of experience in many different fields. However, that will be for the next blog.
We loved Amy's spirit and her knowledge of what she was talking about, along with the passion of understanding different styles of yoga and body work. She was on staff and we integrated her classes into our schedule, knowing nobody has heard of JOGA and or much of Somatic Yoga, we knew it was going to take progress to develop. Intuitively I felt confident in this system, despite still wondering of the name JOGA, it was untapped and that was exactly what we wanted at the Hidden Gem. Gem yoga all around as we grow.
Stay tuned for the next blog.....
In 2012 I felt complacent. I had this RYT-200 certification in my hands for about a year after receiving it at a school in San Diego called YogaWell. I didn't know what I was getting into back in 2011 except that I wanted to understand yoga mentally and physically. I finished my course within a few months, which we were told it takes anywhere from 6-9 months as students were allowed to come as we pleased. Our course had a module design which was set up differently compared to most studios in San Diego. The key word here too readers is 'studios.' I went to a school where yoga was what you made of it, the learning, the process apart from the requirements under Yoga Alliance. There was no recipe, no heated studio training, no young fit athletic degree earning fitness trainee teaching you how to sculpt out and develop corporate-like practice. It was, 'here's what we are learning today' ranging from 3 students to 15 students per class. It was developed on the good faith of your intent to come in and learn. I opted for getting my course done with in 5 months. I showed up on evenings when no one showed up and because no other classmates would show up, the class was cancelled. It happened a few times or else I would of finished earlier then I did, but I can't complain of the speed I was able to get it done. Once I finished my documented hours, I had to develop a guide book on 25 asanas with photos, step by step instructing in yoga lexicon/lingo, present it to my E-RYT teacher for review along with my 10 practicums, 10 reviews of other teachers at different locations, and 3 workshops in order to receive my certification. I had such anxiety when I presented my book due to the fact that my main E-RYT was so critical in my practicums, I nearly cried after half of them. She had over 25 years teaching yoga, she was a Virgo so she was extremely analytical about alignment and making sure it was correct. When she did present me with my certification, she let me know that I was set out to be a good teacher based on my will of determination, participation in class, memorization of sankskrit, and soaking up as much knowledge as I could. The school however, does not teach you a sequence, that is up to you to develop and I was not ready.
Going back to the complacency of 2012. Something was missing in my connection with yoga, it wasn't tangible to me despite all the effort I put forth in getting my certification. I went to school at the time because I was having relationship issues and needed a balance, but it still didn't seem to do justice on me. I realized after I got my certification that I was sick of yoga. I turned to Pilates, Barre, Pole Fitness, Cardio, yoga was on the back burner. It helped me at the time while going to school, but not after. There were and are so many studios in San Diego that I felt I made a mistake choosing to go to this school rather then a Core Power YTT course or any other studio. [Keep in mind] Here in San Diego so many people are fit and it is somewhat competitive regardless of what anyone says. I didn't want to compete but I didn't want to follow anyone's foot steps either. Now, don't get me wrong about Core Power or any other studio training, they are ALL efficient, my school was efficient. It was different with the way they taught it because I didn't even understand what Hatha yoga was until I went in. Looking back now on my journey as I write this [I have said this many times over and will continue to say it], I am so glad I did choose YogaWell and where it led me today. When you receive your certificate, it's up to you as the practitioner to develop your own style and sequencing outside in the real world. It was up to me to make yoga what it would be to me and my interpretation of it. What was I to do? Well I wanted to understand yoga more indepth and needed to get out of dodge for a month or two to decompress my mind. I wanted to fall in love with it, to unify everything I was meant to unify and not feel as though I was inadequate by choosing a different path. So early 2012 I booked a trip to Thailand, did my research and found a retreat on Koh Phangan. Following the retreat I wanted to dabble in Thai Massage curriculum having a massage back round which I added to my trip as well. I had my trip planned for the most part in Thailand, and then where ever I went after was on a whim. The trip was booked for June/July and I was more then ready.
Throughout my trip I spent time at a retreat on Koh Phangan practicing under two different teachers from hailing from Spain and Germany. One had an Astanga back round and the other was Iyengar though she taught Hatha. I practiced in humid conditions overlooking lush jungle, walking to and from the retreat 15 minutes each way. After spending a week on Phangan, I went to Samui and spent another 6 days where I went to The Sanctuary and again practiced under different teachers from all over. I would ride my scooter 30 minutes each way to the Sanctuary practicing under a veteran Astangi who kicked my core ass with his teachings and another teacher from eastern Europe who taught Bikram. It was the most liberating feeling to have a mat on your back, ripping the roads on a scooter, practicing at such a resort style location. But my journey didn't end there. After Samui, I flew up to Chiang Mai to study Thai Massage at ITM.
By serendipity I discovered Wild Rose Yoga Studio in the old city. I ended up practicing there as much as I could while I went to school intensely for one week practicing under amazing teachers from all over the world. The style, the depth, the beauty of the studio was perfect even though I was exhausted. In one week, my body felt completely conditioned and challenged where I didn't want to leave. It wasn't like the studios back in San Diego, nothing was like the studios back in San Diego, it was the road less traveled and I was on it. Not only was I marching to the beat of my own drum, I built my own percussion line with the beats of multiple drums. I was sad to leave but I had to head to Hanoi to visit Halong Bay. (By the way, during this trip I stepped on coral so bad that it penetrated deep into right foot, cut my left foot up so I was walking with a limp since Koh Phangan and had an infection on my face).
The day I was scheduled to board my flight to Hanoi, I had a visa issue that unfortunately made me miss my flight and I had to catch an evening one after I had the visa issue resolved. However, prior to departing for Hanoi, I did my research on yoga studios in Hanoi finding only one, Zenith Yoga. When I arrived I wasn't quite sure where it was, but I had a map and was determined to get there. I was only in Hanoi for 5 days if I remember correctly and walked almost two hours to find this studio having not a clue where I was. Needless to say I did find it (off the map) and took my classes. I only took 3 classes there from an Australian, a Vietnamese who taught class bilingually, and a Canadian. I got my yoga fix and Halong Bay in so now it was off to Ho Chi Minh for a few days. The studio in Hanoi was nice and I'm glad I was keen on the adventure of walking to and from, day and night to the studio.
After arriving into Ho Chi Min, I didn't have a lot of time to explore as I was inclined to set out to Phnom Phen via the Mekong so I had to structure my time realistically. I unfortunately didn't find a yoga studio located near me in the city but I did go to a fitness gym that held classes and this particular class was a game changer. It was power yoga and I was in for an awakening. The class was full of Vietnamese in the ball park of 50+ attendees, the teacher was a track suit wearing Indian guy who walked in with a back pack, got onto a elevated platform, looked around the class that felt like a military drill formation. The first ten minutes of the class I asked myself, "What the f*ck?" Yes I was dropping the f-bomb in my mind. It was the most intense class ever and it wasn't even difficult to what you imagine it to be. What set it apart from all other classes I have taken on my trip and my entire journey for that matter was the authoritative nature of the beast. I nearly left! I wasn't sure if I could do this class where someone is counting down yelling. I finished the class, but I did walk out of there thinking, 'I think I just lost 90 minutes of my life just now because I don't even know what to make of my experience.' I wasn't disgusted with the way he taught either readers, he was a true Indian and this was a true power yoga class. No inversions no arm balances, but a physical challenge that mentally tested your detachment and interpretation of yoga. Not to mention the 50+ Vietnamese who chatted up like elementary children prior to the class getting started, but once he walked in, they were soldiers. Today, as I type this, with two years under my belt teaching and practicing, I would without a doubt take it again.
I didn't practice any yoga while I was in Phnom Phen and Siem Reap, Cambodia. I did some research as usual but there wasn't any place that seemed adequate to my limited time in Phnom Phen and/or Siem Reap. I spent only a day in Phnom Phen and a few days in Siem Reap. I also decided it was a genius idea to jump off a temple at Angkor Thom in sandals which nearly put me out. When I did this amazingly idiotic maneuver, I felt the pain so severely shoot up my right heel, I almost fainted or blacked out (which ever is the worst), thought for sure I broke my heel and completely contradicted my entire journey of being healthy and happy. I was now in pain and suffering. For the next few days I was loading up on pain killers, still opting to visit the sites (in shoes) but now my time was limited of walking around due to the vehement pain I decided to put forth on myself. Yoga was not an option and the trip was slowly and increasingly becoming a challenge. Hey shit happens right? This was a true test of what I had to understand about yoga overall.
After a few days in Siem Reap, I took a shuttle to Bangkok limping and dragging my bags across the border, in the airport and on the plane down to Bali. Back in Chiang Mai, the owner of Wild Rose referred me to a yogi who was in Bali and assisting a teacher in Ubud at the Yoga Barn. I was staying in Seminyak with an old buddy of mine who recommended I take the taxi ride and spend a couple days there. When I got to Ubud in the early morning and walked in to Yoga Barn, I felt like I found a yogic heaven. The assistant was a guy named Rusty who assisted Denise Payne in her power yoga and yin classes. Her power yoga class was nothing like the Indians in Ho Chi Min, it was challenging on a different level and fun. She was a teacher from Oregon who teaches regularly there at the barn and I took her classes as well as another class at Radiantly Alive just down the road. The class I took at Radiant was under another an American man this time who taught me about head stands which has helped me to this day with his subtle techniques. Keep in mind too I was loaded on pain killers but it wasn't going to stop me from practicing, especially in Ubud, Bali. I'll tough it out and I did.
When I returned back to the states after two months of traveling, I was eager to teach. I had a newfound connection with the journey it took me on and how it helped to mold me. I felt everything I learned in school and on my journey was relevant but not, it really didn't matter. I had the confidence to now develop my own style and feel at ease with it. However I didn't feel like I still was to be accepted with the style I was wanting to develop. I chose a different path to manifest that helped that compassion and passion. It really blew my mind how others taught, what I went through to find out who I was with my interpretation of yoga and the challenges I was able to endure on a whole other level. I felt compelled to spend hours picking music, picking asanas, and creating my own sequencing without someone saying it's not right. Who's to say what was to be developed is not right, each and every teacher opened every class differently, pushed me differently, interpreted yoga differently within the style they taught. Only a couple teachers who were certified under Mysore Astanga and Bikram followed what was to be followed, but others clearly made it to where I could relate. For the next four months, I spent time practicing and practicing and practicing, teaching a couple donation classes a week at a studio that offered pole fitness. I still felt slightly insecure due to so many people whom I knew opting for studio training and them working already within their program. But I didn't care because my next intention was to set out and teach overseas, to take it further with training, both in teaching and practice. Then a friend back in Cebu, Philippines put me in touch with Vaibhav Rana, his wife, and the Ashram..........