Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year


All one's moments gather to a wave
Passing in a rolling swell of tears,
Passions too immense to name or save.
Yet New Year's is a crest on which to sing,
Now poised between the future and the past.
Each awaits what course the fates may bring,
Winds that never touch the things that last.
Years turn and turn with an hypnotic grace
Even as the depths of life lie still.
Although above one cannot silence face,
Remember that below the divers will.
anonymous

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday

Hannukkah Blessing verse I
Borukh Ato Adoynoy
Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom
Asher Kiddeshonu Be-mitsvoysov
Ve-tsivonu Lehadlik Neyr Shel khanuko
Bessings to everyone this season,
Peace.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter

Winter Solstice, is the time the sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn. It occurs the first day of Winter. On this day (December 21 or 22) in the northern hemisphere the sun is farthest south and the length of time between sunrise and sunset is the shortest of the year. In the pagan tradition the solstice is also know as Yuletide, Alban or the Arthanthis holiday and is celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. Traditionally one would light a Yule log. It's lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash. As time passed the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it, burning candles were placed on it. Evergreen, holly, ivy and the mistletoe were important plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. Mistletoe was especially venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac. (Magically -- not medicinally! It's highly toxic!) Other customs of the holiday include weaving 'Brigit's crosses' from straw or wheat to hang around the house for protection, performing rites of spiritual cleansing and purification, making 'Brigit's beds' to ensure fertility of mind and spirit (and body, if desired), and making Crowns of Light (i.e. of candles) for the High Priestess to wear for the Candlemas Circle, similar to those worn on St. Lucy's Day in Scandinavian countries.
Happy Solstice may your Winter be warmth of hearth and spirit.
Peace to all,
Miss. S.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Solance



Solance

Solace did I seek within your arms,
and haven calm you were
when all around us raged the night
and seas as high as mountains
threatened with their roar.

Enfoldment of silence
and a stillness born of ages
did I feel from you,
so patient your acceptance of my tears and
of my youth,
you questioned not,
just stroked my hair,
your breath the tides,
the hush of nightwind
caught in stately elms
oh how you soothed me,
healed me of the days -

In your remembrance,
a gust of rain
the window holds at bay.

Silvia Hartmann

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Bright Light

Cisco
October 10, 1995 - December 2,2008
I will always love you my dearest.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blessing


Leaving soon for the holidays. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Blessings,
Miss. S

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Peace Prayer





To one who has been long in city pent
To one who has been long in city pent,
’Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with hearts content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel,—an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.

John Keats (1795–1821).
The Poetical Works of John Keats. 1884.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Something for Everyone

For anyone who may be grappling with a loss and have small children in their homes I would like to strongly recommend the Fall of Freddie The Leaf by Leo Buscaglia. "Freddy, a maple leaf, is born in the spring, and grows to know his fellow leaves and his surroundings. Although leaves superficially look the same, he learns and appreciates the subtle differences between himself and other leafs. He admires a larger leaf, Daniel. Daniel has a deeper understanding of life and death. He helps Freddie understand each of his phases of life. Finally, Daniel explains death and letting go." This simple story is both comforting and accessible in communicating the natural cycle of life. It's often difficult to find the right words or level of explanation and this book is quite skilled at helping children understand what occurs to all living entities. Its also a great comfort to read.
Blessings and be well,
Miss. S.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Specialist

Cisco my Love
Today Cisco and I went to an oncology specialist. We sat in an overcrowded waiting room. I walked in and started crying. I wasn't alone. This is not a happy place. The vet went over Mr. Cisco's recent tests, ultrasound and gave him another physical. This unfortunately will not be our only visit. Were due back in next week for more testing. Once testing is complete we begin treatment and we'll be back on a regular basis through the Winter. I am electing to use both a traditional and holistic approach. I am now looking for a holistic veterinarian. I have a referral for someone 1500 miles from home. I'm searching for something closer. Cisco is a major part of my life and an integral member of the family. The goal is to make him comfortable, pain free, as independent as he would like too be, and without fear. I cannot... will not... allow this to reduce him to what he is not. This is a courageous, brilliant, proud, alpha Springer Spaniel and so he will remain.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November 12,2008

Cisco aka Mr. Cuddles and Lola aka My princess
My sweet Mr. Cisco had a follow up at the vets today. He has not been feeling well and the news is not terrific to say the least. I'm going to take this one day at a time. Tomorrow is our anniversary, eleven wonderful years together. He's thirteen years old now. Time moves so quickly. I can't remember what it was like before him or what a day would be like without him. Sometimes in life your given a gift. An indescribable wonderful gift. You better take it when it comes, because I don't think it happens twice.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Seated Spinal Twist

Spinal Twist

Autumn is an excellent time to ground the body and gather strength for seasonal changes. These changes are numerous and can be difficult on the body. The weather turns colder, daylight saving leaves us with fewer sunlight hours and shifts our routine, and for many of us there is more time spent indoors, in a car commuting, increased obligation on a daily basis, and fewer opportunities to get outside and breathe the fresh air. This can leave many of us tired, fatigued and sluggish. Increased rest, a stable diet and setting a regular routine with an emphasis on slowing down, breathing and a mindful practice can help increase our stability and prana. A routine sleeping pattern is essential and will help increase our stamina and ward off change of season fatigue. I've often heard its good to try to get to sleep by 10 p.m. but alas this may not be possible for everyone. I suggest rolling up the sidewalks by 11 p.m. at the latest if you can manage it. Between 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. the liver is purifying while you’re sleeping. Cleansing the liver increases energy levels, detoxifies and cleanses the blood stream, reduces inflammation and degenerative diseases., helps facilitate a more efficient immune function, and helps with weight control.

Seated spinal twist in any variation is an excellent asana to incorporate into your Autumn practice. Sit on the floor with the legs extended straight out in front of you. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the floor on the outside of your left leg. So you are crossing the right over the left. You can stay here or you can bend the left knee and bring the left foot towards your buttocks. Bending the left knee can sometimes pull on the hips and back so use caution. With your left arm hug your right knee into your chest. Stretch your right arms out in front of you with the palm facing the floor. Sit up straight and on the exhale twist from your navel and look as far as you can over your right shoulder. Your right hand can be on or off the floor as long as you do not lean into the hand. With each inhale sit up straighter and on each inhale gently twist a bit more from the navel. Hold for five to ten deep breaths. Repeat other side. If sitting this way bothers your back try sitting on the edge of a cushion to lift your hips up higher then your knees. I suggest 30 seconds on each side.

Benefits of seated spinal twist are numerous; this asana stimulates the liver and kidneys. stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck , energizes the spine ,stimulates the digestive fire in the belly, relieves menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache and according to traditional texts awakens kundalini.

Peace to you all this weekend.

Jai Bhagwan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

or anyone else you want to,
but just do it
VOTE!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gomukhasana



The Cow Face Posture (whose original Indian name is Gomukhasana) in Yoga is suitable for toning the muscles in the arms, legs and back. To assume this pose Place your right arm at the back, bend it at the elbow and lift the forearm upwards. Next, lift your left arm over the shoulder, bend it at the elbow and place the left hand at the back below the neck. Try to lock the fingers of both hands behind the shoulder blades with your head upright. This asana is quite intense for many of us and should be practiced only after a warm up. Initially and often for a long time after one may not be able to connect the hands in back of the body. Use a towel or strap to assist. The hands may be placed at the base of the spine and the axis of the head with a towel or strap in between. This modification gives 100% benefit without causing injury. Remain in this final posture breathing normally for about 15 seconds, 30 seconds or one minute. Start slow and increase with time. Since the posture is not symmetric, repeating the above steps by interchanging the words 'left' and 'right' will ensure that both sides receive a stretch.
The Cow Face Posture (Gomukhasana) helps in mainly developing the arms (biceps, triceps and brachioradialis), and trunk (latissimus dorsi and pectoralis major). It increases strength of bones and flexibility of joints in the arms. The total expansion of the chest helps the lungs and heart, whereas the complete extension of the spine helps the back.

Practice this posture only after a good warm up and begin slowly. Many of us find this asana difficult and uncomfortable. Go slowly and be gently with yourself. Time and patience are essential when practicing Gomukhasana.

Shine bright and be well!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Crank up the heat and clean the house

The beautiful and amazing Sianna Sherman
demonstrating a backbend.

Autumn is a great time to crank up the home fires and clean house before the snowy cold days are upon us. Backbends and twists incorporated into the practice are most beneficial in the Autumn season. Backbends open the heart chalkra and invigorate the body. As daylight decreases many of us find our energy has diminished somewhat from the Summer and need a little extra lift. Twists are a counterbalance for the spine after practicing backbends. Twists wring out toxins stored in our abdominal organs adding fresh oxygenated blood back in. This squeeze and soak action is nourishing and strengthening, preparing us for the long cold days ahead.
Backbends bring flexibility to the spine and build strength along the muscles of the back. Benefits include stretching the quadriceps (front of thighs), opening the groin area, stretching the chest and opening the shoulders. As a result of stretching the front of the body, the lungs, liver, stomach and intestine are lengthened which improves the efficiency of these organs. Breathing is also easier and posture is improved. It is helpful to prepare for backbends with postures that open the shoulders, quadriceps and hips. After a backbend, counter pose with a gentle twist or if you prefer downward dog.
Twisting poses are excellent when trying to maintain health, cleanse the body or return to a healthier state. Benefits of twisting include stretching the muscles of the back and chest, adding flexibility to the hips, improving digestion and massaging internal organs. Twisting poses rotate the torso vertically the length of the spine. There are two factors to remember when engaging in twists; One is a sense of foundations. While one side of the body is twisting the other side must ground itself as a counterweight. Use props such as blocks when necessary to help maintain a counterweight. Second, when twisting, work on maintaining a long spine. In the beginning this may not be possible. As you continue to practice lengthening the spine, the back will strengthen and there will be an increase in range of motion making the spine more flexible and amiable to stretching out. When engaged in a twist the abdominal organs are compressed and contracted. As the body moves back to center the organs are released adding fresh oxygenated blood in while squeezing out toxins. This is both stimulating and cleansing for the organs.
Next time we'll explore Gomukhasana, an excellent way to open up the shoulders and heart while preparing for backbends.
Be well,
Miss. S

Sunday Peace Prayer

October

Into the tail-feathered sumac
all light is absorbed
except for the red.

which crows its color
as the bird that wakes us
throws morning

from his throat
while he struts his plumage
among the leafy hens.

Elizabeth Tibbetts

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Part III The Culture

Local boy saying Hello as we passed by

Here it is the middle of October and I'm finally able to sit down and write a little about the culture of India. I tried when I first got home but found it too overwhelming and daunting a task. When I got back I had to report to work the next morning and every day it seems I'm making my way through lists, stressing out over something or struggling with exhaustion. This past Summer all the things I worry about and stress over evaporated as soon as I stepped off the plane in Mumbai. Partly due to the immense change of atmosphere but also the vastly different attitude of the people who lived, worked, loved and carried about their day to day existence around me. It would be fair to begin any discussion about India with the immense population and crowds. By the very nature of how many people are trying to get from point A to point B one has no choice but to slow down. I found myself slowing down and thinking more. At this point I'm supposed to say how refreshing and enlightening it was, but in truth, used to having everything in a Mcsecond, I struggled with my impatience and felt frustrated a lot. I wanted to do it quickly and be done with it. As time passed I was able to enjoy a slower pace and find peace in knowing I'll get there eventually. Unfortunately this feeling didn't last long. As soon as I got home it was time to ramp up. I've been finding it difficult to merge the slower pace of India with the frenetic steps of life in the States. I think I'm a little lost these days. That said here's some observations I made while in the land of Shiva. In the village and surrounding city nearly everyone gave a salute like the one the little fellow in the picture is giving my roommates and I. It may be a silent gesture or accompanied with a Hari Om which means God is All. This could be used as a greeting to say hello or goodbye. I loved that, if someone greeted me by saying God is all in the states I would probably cross the street and hope they didn't follow me but in India I found a giddy joyful happiness in the exchange.
The "can do" attitude was prevalent everywhere. It was always possible, and everyone was always willing to share information. The problem was it wasn't always possible and the information could well be totally inaccurate. Indians have a hard time saying I don't know and no that can't be done. This meant really needing a full understanding of all information from the beginning. I never heard the words I don't know or just plain... no. I would wait unbelievable amounts of time while people asked friends, neighbors and a passerby to find the answer. For example, "Excuse me madam do you know where Anands book shop is? Oh yes! Anands book shop. One moment please." At this point a long discussion in Hindi would commence via people passing in the street, the shop owner who's store you were standing in front of and someone on a cell phone saying, "Hindi Hindi Hindi Anand's book store.... tiga, one moment. Excuse me miss do you know the address of Anand's book store?" I shake my head no. "No... OK one moment." And so it would go, on and on. Eventually through discussion, consensus and just plain nosiness to find out why you wanted to go there, and what you wanted to buy with a suggestion to go to another place, you would finally get an answer. It may not be the answer you wanted or the information you needed but you would receive an answer. Satisfied, everyone would Hari Om and you were off usually in the wrong direction!
I have countless photos with people I don't know in them. Indians loved to have their photo taken. This crossed all barriers, age, socioeconomic classes and genders. Either people would ask you to take their photo, or they would gather in the photo when you were taking a picture of your travel companions People would see you were taking a group shot and just jump in. I have countless photos of my travel companions huddled together smiling brightly with three Indians behind them huddled together with equal bright, shiny smiles. Children would coming running down the road shouting, "One! one!" always wanting to see the digital photo they talked you into taking followed by hilarious giggles. On the day we took the photo of the little boy in the above picture we found a group of children playing. We all gathered for a good natured round of photos and fun. We were having a particularly great time taking pictures of one of our roommates posing with the kids when a woman with a large stick slowly and deliberately made her way toward us. She must have been................. really, really old, but brandished that stick like a swordsman. She was swinging in every direction lookin' to whoop some ass! There we were, six kids and four adults running from this woman and her flying stick. I thought "Wow! are you serious?" This would have been a 51a write up and a call to child services but in Tiwadi India it was just another day in the country. Young men wanted photos of you with them, which they would take from their cell phones. One of my fellow yogi students from Belgium had a friend who then found herself on the Internet, Sarah Palin style, in some compromising positions. After this, friendly boys who wanted photo's were polity refused. It also freaked me out that people would follow us when we walked around town. Not children, grown men. This happened to all the women when they were in town. This completely freaked me out and made me feel venerable and exposed. I never thought I would be one to understand how an entertainment star feels when they are stalked by the paparazzi walking in public but I do now, and I can honestly say its creepy.
Rickshaw drivers gave me a special delight. My roommate from Thailand and I would argue and argue and argue with the driver until we reached a fair price. I actually really enjoyed it. One day we had a particularly aggressive rickshaw driver. We argued and walked away. He followed us and we argued with him and a shopkeeper. We actually settled on a fair price , we all got in , he started up the rickshaw, exclaimed, "India is the best!" and we bounced down the road swinging to the sound of really good Indian music from his little sound system. Halfway through our journey he stopped at a gas station and refused to go any further till we paid him for the gas and a lot extra. An incredible argument followed. We were out of the rickshaw and in full force when Aom turned to to him and said, " can you take a picture." She gave him her camera and (three of us total) climbed back in and he snapped away. He smiled at the pictures and shared what he had taken with us and we all agreed they we very nice photos, smiles and and thank you all the way around. Aom then put the camera away and immediately what felt like an intermission passed and we started arguing again. Mind you this was an incredible fight we were having. In the end we came to a compromise with speculation based on the tunes played continuously during our journey. He even waited for us once we reached our destination and gave us a ride back to town. No hard feelings on any any one's part and of course before we parted , Hari Om, hope to do business with you again.
Welcome to India!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Peace Prayer

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on,
and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings,
as now in October.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Love

Happy Birthday Baby
You make my heart go thump, thump thump!

Book Review

Tales of a female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman are the incredible true journey's of one woman's life. Gelman divorced in her forties and decided to take a trip to Mexico and study an indigenous village. She found true delight and enjoyment in the experience and decided to just keep going. To date Gelman who must be in her late sixties is still traveling. From Mexico, to Bali, New Zealand, Israel, India, Canada and every continent, country and Island that takes her fancy. On her website she states, "I am a modern-day nomad. I have no permanent address, no possessions except the ones I carry, and I rarely know where I’ll be six months from now. I move through the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities." I read this book during my travels throughout the Summer. I found it both inspirational and exhausting. During my travels in India I had the great fortune of meeting quite a few female nomads who had been on the road for years with few thoughts of really settling anywhere. I found their experiences rich beyond words and their attitudes toward life fascinating. I also discovered this is not a lifestyle I would choose to live. Although my love of travel will never diminish I find I'm firmly grounded to family, home and profession and it suits me well, with no complaints.
Many blessings and safe travels to all the ladies who travel this big blue marble. You shine bright and give us all inspiration and make the world a more humane place.
Peace and Love to you all,
Miss. S

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Looong week

I'm beat!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Butch and me have been talking it all over. Wherever the hell Bolivia is, that's where we're off to.


" I respect generosity in people, and I respect it in companies too, I don’t look at it as philanthropy; I see it as an investment in the community."
Paul Newman
January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumn

I have been so drained since I came back from India. This weekend as Summer turned to Fall the last of my energy just slipped through my fingers. Time to settle in, slow down, rest and rejuvenate. Time to find a tranquil space and just watch the leaves turn colors for a while.
Wishing you all peace, love and serenity this season.
Miss. S.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11/08

America
America - -for pilgrim sake,
and land once, of 'Native' soil
Allegiance pledged, of
conquest gained, from
Earth's borne spirits' bold.
America, Proud America
Our Earth, need not be harmed
when war tales are often told
and blood stained flags, unfold
America, we Love thee
of gifted Earth bequeathed
ne'er we forget, Democracy,
and all those enslaved, be free
America America
May true freedom be our Quest
Of Womanhood and Brotherhood
from shore to ocean sea.
'With Love and Compassion,
Wherever Earth Be Shared'
Please; 'Support Peace'
Louie Levy WW ll Vet

Sunday, September 7, 2008

India Part II The Yoga

Strength and beauty
Yoga instructor Kate ( left) with a teaching assistant

Preeshawn giving a demonstration


The incredibly bendable Anand
I went to India to study classical hatha yoga from where it originated. I wanted to learn the asanas, the mythology and the spirituality behind the practice. Greater insight brings a clearer sense when teaching, and this presented itself as a perfect opportunity to really expand my knowledge base. As an added benefit I have a boatload of field notes. As I stated in the first sentence I went to learn the origins of this practice and in doing so discovered where were going is sometimes more important than where we've been.
The program began with mantra and meditation before the dawn each morning. We start practice with mantra and meditation facing south looking toward the mountains and a picture of Shiva. In yoga one's practice should only face east or north. This ashram was one of the few places in the world it was auspicious to begin the practice south. That is because it quite literally faced a mountain where Shiva resides. After meditation we had a two hour class in the morning followed by 4 hours of lecture with a break in the middle for yoga nidra. In the afternoon we either prepared for our own teaching class or practiced karma yoga. This was followed by another two hour asana class and later Sanskrit or stories.
The yoga followed a sequence and a pattern which never changed. The belief was that yoga should be developmental. First you are lying down, then sitting and later you learn to walk, therefore the practice starts in supine,prone,seated and finally standing. You begin each practice with mantra and three omkars followed by two warm up exercises. We then moved on to sun salutations sixteen to twenty four usually. The sun salutations are accompanied by a very pleasant mantra before embarking on each one. The teacher mantra's and we respond. Before each asana or set of asana are two warm up exercises. Pranayama is always after the asana. The belief is the body is not ready or warmed up enough in the beginning of class. Breath work includes fast breathing, deep breathing and pranayama. Class ends with a mantra devoted to the universal mother, 11 omkars, three om shantih's and three asana.
Throughout the training I practiced 89 asana's, hundreds of sun salutations and several types of breath and pranayama exercises. In this training it was felt one should demonstrate the ideal position or as I like to say the full expression of the pose. (see photos above for examples of full expressions) I attempted many things I don't think I would have tried before this training. Some areas I simple declined knowing my body is not strong enough. For example, I cannot stay in unsupported headstand for 45 seconds to one minute. Sorry.... never going to happen... at least not without crushing my cervical area. And there lies the base of my problem with classical teaching. We were never given props, or taught how to assist the student. We were taught to give verbal correction with very little hands on and not blocks, straps, or blankets. They did teach modification but I found since we were being taught the ideal pose the modifications were fine for an intermediate or advanced student but I feel too difficult for a beginner. Each asana was presented with benefits and precautions. Some positions should not be practiced with certain diagnosis and this was clearly stated although no alternative was suggested. The ashram also preached no yoga before the age of 12 or after 50 years old, pranayama meditation and light warm up only. After 80 no movement only meditation.
East meets West....... I think we have a lot to learn from each other. The ashram taught pure classical Hatha yoga. The same yoga people practiced three thousand years ago. For me that was the problem. The form they were teaching hadn't evolved from the the time before Jesus was born. B.K.S. Inyengar - who incidentally will be giving a workshop at the ashram starting the 21st of September- is considered a bit of a wild man for his visionary and completely alternative approach to the practice. Iyengar at 93 years old is still one of the very few trying something different. The East has a deeper understanding and insight into the practice but I feel if you want to move outside the box you have to look toward the West. A proper warm up, modification (Kripalu), assistance (Baptiste), music in class, props, (everyone) new ways of presenting a class ( ie Yin, Forest, Anusara) using a wood floor rather than hard tile, opening the practice to a variety of diagnosis and disability (Patrica Walden), no age requirement (Peggy Cappy, Yoga for the rest of us) prenatal classes( Gurmukh).
I hope we can come together and swap stories. We need to.
Miss. S

Saturday, September 6, 2008

India Part I The Conditions

My Friend Bessy shopping in town
Settling back in, thrilled to be home, and feeling completely grateful for every aspect of my life. India was vast and life changing. In trying to wrap my head around all of it, I've decided to write about my experience in three parts, the conditions, the yoga and the culture. My reflections are personal and by no means meant to generalize the country or the people as a whole. Just a little snapshot from what I personally saw, heard ,and felt.
The majority of my stay was on an ashram north of Mumbai in the small village of Talwadi, about thirty minutes from Nasik. The areas surrounding the ashram are hills and rice farms. From the ashram you could walk along dirt paths through rice fields to the village of Trimbak where the Trimbakeshwar Temple is located. I arrived in a van from Mumbai with three other students. It was raining the day we arrived. This was to be a main theme which ruled our lives and psychological state. The monsoon pounded for 16 straight days before the sun finally cracked through the sky and our Psyche on August 17th for a total of 15 glorious minutes. Much of the time we were soaked, cold, and damp. The rains flooded the roads, blasted through roofs, and left us without electricity the majority of the time. Every living creature great and small sought a dry warm area. Snakes, scorpions, bedbugs, cockroaches, dogs, cats, cows, lizards, spiders and birds all vying for a dry spot. I learned quickly to inspect everything before I sat on it, climbed into it, or put it on my body. No hero here I used my net when sleeping! Keeping dry was nearly impossible. Clothes were damp and moldy and many of us had rashes, jungle rot on our feet and itched from head to toe. The washing machine was always full but rarely in use because electricity was limited. Hand washing clothes was a poor alternative because things took too long to dry, days and days, and by the time they did, they were covered in mold. Our living area had four beds to a hut/room with "western" facilities. This consisted of an outside toilet and a bucket for washing clothes and the body. In our initial room the toilet didn't work consistently and the system to heat the water wasn't working much better than the toilet. Eventually we had to evacuate that room due to pest problems. The new room had a bathroom in the hut, consistent hot water and a toilet that worked. Heaven!
Once a week we had a day off and were able to go in town if we liked. Nasik was a thirty minute drive from the Ashram. I loved my day off. My classmates and I would pile into an overcrowded jeep and head down a bumpy dirt road in search of a hot meal, Internet and basic commodities. Nasik considered a small town had a population of one million. When visiting I indulged in sinful delights such as coffee, spicy foods, and the incredibly clean and well working toilet in McDonald's. (which I dubbed the raj of toilets.) I bought things like towels, socks, toilet paper. and umbrella's. There was one large store for commodities called the big bazaar. Once after scoring packages of that elusive and rare commodity, toilet paper, I was sauntering to the front of the store, pleased and happy when I nearly tripped over a rat making an Olympic sprint past my feet. I screamed and ran to the front of the store, toilet paper flying behind me.
Crowded and overpopulated I got used to being just one more in the hustle and bustle. This swell of population consisted of people and animals. Many animals, lots of cows. Cows congregated at every corner, kibitzing, sleeping, shitting, eating and just in general living their lives as they saw fit. Cows are treated very well in India and from what I saw, often as a member of the family. In turn these cows had incredible personalities and characters. Affectionate, fun, communicative and all with definite individual personalities. The ashram had cows as well. One little fellow Krishna was quite young. He had lost his mother shortly after she gave birth. Krishna was quite comfortable with humans and would often trot up to the mess hall for a chapati and a little snuggle.
This of course was not sanitary but in my estimation cleanliness in general was pretty relaxed. Coming from America the land of the clean, cleaner and cleanest I was appalled by the standard of hygiene. I mean do what you want but consider the health factor... please!
When the rains finally gave way we could see where we were living. The surrounding areas was absolutely exquisite. Hills and mountains with dozens of waterfall bursting out of the mountains. Hunnaman the monkey king was born on one of the mountains so monkeys freely inhabited the area as well. Men and boys peacefully tending cows everywhere. Cows grazed outside the main hall where we practiced. Sun salutations and mediation with cows peacefully sauntering past. Morning sun was the most glorious of all. The dawn never ceased to fill me with a sense of a new day and renewed feeling of hope and peace. Everything so green and lush with the added benefit of fresh clean unpolluted air. Stunning India could bring me to tears and leave me speechless with its beauty.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Twenty hours later, most of it flight time and I've finally landed back home. This was the most amazing, frustrating, dazzling, irritating, gorgeous, confounding, earthy, grimy, resplendent place and I'm forever changed from the experience. "So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked." Mark Twain.
Good bye sweet India, blessings and love now and always.
Hari Om
Miss. S

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Almost Home



Just a few more days and I'll be on my way home.
For now I'll just say this was a very good thing to do.
I'm dreaming of home.

see you soon my lovelies....................

Miss S

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Travels

Yoga Vidya Dham
It's been a non stop blur of organizing, packing, running errands, having little breakdowns, putting more on the to do list, running around a bit more and writing notes by the front door that say things like, Take your Typhoid pill TODAY! I still have a list of things to do, some I must do and some which I probably won't get to, then I'm off to India. Preparing for this trip has been an event in itself. Today I have to go into work and finish a few errands then I'm putting it all aside and the little fishy and I are going surfing!
Merry travels everyone,
Shine bright and be a beacon of peace and light.
Miss. S

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Book Review


Always on the lookout for books to inspire young readers I stumbled upon A View from Saturday By E.L. Konigsburg. This is a great read for anyone, but particularly a middle school or young high school reader. A view from Saturday explores issues such as living in a single parent household, wildlife conservation, acceptance and understanding of people with physical disabilities and celebration of intellect. The story revolves around four characters, middle school age, living in a small town in upstate New York. The brilliance of Konigsburg writing is that she created characters with the exception of one, that are typical everyday students. From a viewpoint of soical status they are not on the outside trying to fit in, or in the inner circle looking out, but somewhere in the middle, trying to find solid ground. This is a good read!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shakti Mudra

Shakti Mudra

When I did my yoga teacher training we were placed into pods. The people in these pods were the students you would do your practicums with, gave your first classes to, and your peers who critiqued your work as a budding teacher. Ironically both my pod members have been to India. Danielle incorporated mudra work into her classes from the beginning. It was she who introduced me to Gertrud Hirschi's book on Mudras. While traveling through India she found this book and used the mudras to relieve ailments of the stomach and calm her nerves. Using mudras gave physical and mental comfort alleviating fear as she explored India as a solo traveler. Shakti Mudra has a calming effect on the body. Commonly uses as an aid in sleep due to its soothing effect. It intensifies the respiratory impulse in the lower chest area. If done too long or too often it may lead to lethargy. Best done three times a day for 12 minutes. Extend the ring and little finger and place together. The remaining digits are loosely bent over the thumbs, placed on the palms. Slow breath and focus on breathing into pelvic area. This mudra is best practiced in a comfortable seated position.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Overcoming my Fears

Today I found myself a little panicked. My man came home yesterday. I was so happy to see him I bound out of the car at the airport, jumping up and down, waving my arms, feeling my heart full with joy. We have not had much time together as of late and I miss him. Unfortunately he has caught a little bug and is feeling under the weather. Oh dear this won't do! It's summer time and we live in the North where its cold and snowy most days. Warm days are for beaches and hiking and picnics and frolicking on grassy knolls. " No, no can't have this." Once home I immediately started to sift through the medicine cabinet looking for ways to blast this out of his system. "Take this, drink this, eat this!" I calmed and we had lovely dinner and I felt such happiness to have him home. By the morning he was feeling worse, much worse. By 10 in the morning it was official, he's down for the count. I made my way to an afternoon yoga class and all my fears came tumbling out on the mat. My fear of being sick in India. Alone and sick. My fears of snakes. Typhoid! malaria! diarrhea! My fears of being alone and sick, having diarrhea and tripping over a snake on the way to the bathroom in the dead of night! I was down and out on the mat, in a hot sweat of panic. Our teacher, Clair is an amazing healer in her own right. As we progressed through the class I listened to her tell us to take things slowly and allow them to be what they are. To accept where we are right now. I acknowledge this fright, and twice to my surprise I have found myself weepy. Slowly with each sun salutation and asana I found it easier to accept "I am that I am." For now that's the best I can do, just accept and move forward.
Namaste and peace to you all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Travels

Gotta Loooove the AT


When you wanna cool down


and have some fun and just get funky in the country!


Wishing you peace, love and a barrel of fun.
Miss. S

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sweet Summertime Blues

The Krip
Summertime, time, time, Child, the living’s easy.
Fish are jumping out And the cotton, Lord, Cotton’s high, Lord, so high.
Your daddy’s rich
And your ma is so good-looking, baby. She’s looking good now,
Hush, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby,
No, no, no, no, don’t you cry.
Don’t you cry!
One of these mornings You’re gonna rise, rise up singing,
You’re gonna spread your wings,
Child, and take, take to the sky,
Lord, the sky.
Janis Joplin

Monday, July 14, 2008

Relaxation

Just letting it all unfold
Yesterday I took a very relaxing class. I realize that I must be mindful of my practice at this time as I will be entering a very intense period of yoga soon. Somehow knowing what is to come has brought a huge block in my practice and my ability to organize myself and do what I need to do before starting this journey. I couldn't seem to get on the mat this past weekend. I had it splayed out on a perfectly lovely spot outside, and each time I looked at it I grew tired and weary. Just another thing to do. I arrived home and realized I truly need to spend a little time in my own dwelling just letting my mind unfold. Sunday I have the opportunity to take an advanced class which is challenging and once finished, fulfilling. I couldn't do it. Instead I took a very slow, methodical yin class. I could feel my body and mind begin to unwind and open. It's time to listen to what my body and soul need to do. Here's looking toward a productive and relaxing week ahead.
Wishing you all peace and tranquility.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Book Review



Aaaahhh yes! Sweet sweet Summertime with a beach blanket and a good book.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is one of those books with a big buzz that everyone talks about. In her early thirties Elizabeth Gilbert got a divorce and went in search of herself. She found herself in Italy, India and Bali. Each destination unpeeled a layer of the onion and allowed her to heal and become whole again. Although somewhat contrived as she was paid to do this rather than a spontaneous journey, there was a clear and important message. Happiness is possible for everyone. good thought, good message, inspirational read.

That's How the Light Gets In by Susan Rako Dr. Rako wrote a memoir of her years of practice as a psychotherapist. She's still practicing - I hope for many years to come- so I was a little confused why she would write a memoir, but no matter it was an excellent read. I was inspired by her holistic approach to therapy and her willingness to take from areas traditional and non traditional. As I work through my doctorate this book is a tap on the shoulder telling me I am not bound to only one area of thought, one box, one approach. Thank you Dr. Rako.

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult As I waited to board my plane a family with three teenage daughters were scrambling about repacking their packs and demonstrating that wonderful excitement we can have right before a journey. One of the daughters turned to her sister and said, " What am I going to do with this big book? Do you want it?" She didn't and I ended up with it. So began my Middle Eastern journey while reading a book loosely based on Dante's circle's of hell. This is a book about relationships with our children, rape, loosing a child, the black Psyche of misery in our own childhood and other really fun stuff like that. Why this book, in this place I have no idea but well worth the read.

Up North

Although not nearly complete my home is no longer a disaster zone. For now, mission accomplished. While the man is visiting family in the lone star state Cisco, Lola and I are heading up North to see the folks. Bug spray in hand I fully intend to lay my mat down someplace quite similar to the grassy knoll you see here and just work out the kinks. right now I really need a personal sadhna. It's time to get on the mat and just let it unfold..............
Wishing you peace and love,
Miss. S

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Motivation

Jet lag is a real drag. Like my sweet princess here I have very little energy to do more than contemplate rolling over and falling asleep or just falling asleep. I have some serious organizing to do, but can't even begin until my house is clean. Right now its a disaster zone. Today my goal is to clean, get on the mat and teach my class.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Floating


My body is back but like this vacationer my mind is still floating. Here come the jet lag!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vacation


Hiking up North for a while.
Be well,
Miss S

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beach Time


Aaaahhhhh.  Happy dogs, happy children, happy adults.  A little breather in the midst of chaos.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Discover America Tour

I met my best friend for a hike in the woods with the dogs. While hanging out at her house I picked up a photo album and started flipping through memories. A long time ago before families, professions and mortgages we turned our tassels, grabbed our degrees and giddy with freedom headed out into the world. We had a plan, a map, and a tent. Drive cross country, discover America and then figure out what to do with the rest of our lives. We found a company looking for someone to drive a car cross country and deliver it to California. Perfect! We shopped around and found really good flights to Hawaii, even better! The car turned out to be a brand new upscale luxury automobile. Yes! The day of our departure we gleefully started hauling our stuff out to the curb. The owner, paranoid and mistrustful had locked the stereo in the trunk. After locking up the cars only storage area the jerk flew to Europe for the Summer. This meant everything had to fit in the back seat and no radio meant no traffic updates, weather reports, blues through the Delta and only our voices to serenade us through Kansas. The company jammed a trip tick in our hands and told us under no circumstances were we to veer even an inch from the prescribed route agreed upon. Our atlas turned out to be quite outdated with mention of camping spots that had long since closed down. We didn’t make that discovery for a while though. After packing, repacking and finally leaving stuff we really didn’t need (I used to be a notorious over packer) we headed out to discover America! We discovered many many things along the way. The Eureka tent was unbelievably well made, and survived flash floods in Kentucky, wipping winds in Colorado, and stayed relatively cool and was quite comfortable when perched by the ocean in Hawaii. We discovered why nobody wanted to set up their tent on a gorgeous mountain side in Colorado when the winds came and we nearly lost everything in the canyon. We found out just how many camp sites had gone under since the Atlas was published in the 70’s. We drove through a ranch in the Midwest called boot ranch and had a pack of dogs chase us while looking for one camp ground. We had an honest moment in Kansas. Yes it’s true; neither of us can carry a tune and don’t really know the words to any songs. We discovered Utah was beautiful, Kansas is boring, St.louis has the worst traffic and if we bent over really low when we played pool we could drink beer all night for free, as long as we kept playing pool. (Hey come on, we were 22) I discovered I was allergic to bees, C is the best driver on the planet, as proven by her ability to navigate unbelievable roads not made for cars or trucks and we are both incredibly frightened of being eaten by black bears. We also discovered how beautiful our country is and how warm, friendly and inviting Americans can be. We caught that plane to Hawaii. Good surf, beautiful beaches, great people. It was bliss. As the months passed our thoughts turned toward our future lives. Eventually we packed our bags and headed home again. C stayed for a holiday with her boyfriend, but we met up shortly, just in time for the snow, graduate applications and resume building. We were just two kids on the road to life. Yeah... happiness can happen with a can of spam, a sturdy tent and believing anything is possible.
Peace and love
Jai Bahgwan

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bronchial mudra

Bronchial Mudra
Spring with its many glorious virtues does have a few drawbacks. Excessive pollen in the air has had a few of us sneezing, scratching our eyes and feeling upper respiratory congestion. Bronchial mudra helps ease shallow breath and clears the bronchial tubes. Place the little finger at the base of the thumb, the ring finger on the upper thumb joint and the middle finger on the pads of the thumb. Extend the index finger. I feel this mudra is best applied in the beginning of a practice to ease breath or as a meditation as itself for 4 to 6 minutes. It can be applied to a variety of respiratory afflictions. On the emotional level this mudra is helpful with loneliness, isolation, sadness and sexual problems. It increases inner reserve of strength, decreasing fear, sadness, discontentment and exaggerated sensitivity. For those of us deep in pollen season it helps clear out the junk in our lungs.

So breath deep and enjoy!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A prayer for Sunday


That I lived more bravely,
And loved more deeply.
A backpacker

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Victory


I finally managed to get my paperwork right, my Visa was processed and I got my passport back. I really wanted to just stare at my passport and gloat for a little while but this was not to be. In a blink the light went out and it took the rest of the day to get things running again. Something was broken or cracked on my meter. Does that happen? Evidently it does. It's a good thing I was home or I'd be writing papers by candlelight tonight. So now I have a shiny new visa from India, a shiny new meter from the electric company and a car that still isn't fixed. Oh well You can't have everything!
Blessing to all.