I’ve been making a slow-travel through California on this little trip home to the US. After a week of being spoiled by girl time and good cooking with a friend in Southern California, I hopped a train to LA and further north. There was a moment of adventure at the train station when I realized that the tracks there were closed and no train would be arriving. With only 10 minutes to get to the next station and catch my train, I had some luck with two guys and a pick up truck who generously loaded up me and my baggage and another poor soul who didn’t get the news of the closed station. We pulled up to the next station just as a train was getting ready to leave and breathed a sigh of relief that we would make our destination.
Perspective is everything. It’s well known within the yoga world that five minutes in a headstand will shake up your bad day and improve your mood. Yoga inversions move the physical body up side down, sending our feet reaching towards the sky and our heads rooting towards the earth. This change in our physical bodies gets our blood flowing to the heart, drains the lymph system, and invigorates our energetic body. It also uproots the emotional and thought bodies, subtly shifting persistent thought patterns to allow us to see through the illusion that is unhappiness and connect to shri, the true joy of the present moment.
Moving to Central America has created a change in how I define happiness. Our Western culture often teaches us that happiness equates to acquisition. Read: get happy by chasing your desires. I spoke here about how corporations launched a successful campaign on the public to convince them to buy what they don’t need. The reason that campaign had so much impact is that jumping from desire to desire is part of the One Human Condition. Read the rest of this entry
A practice I find myself constantly refining is a return to the present moment. The more I learn about this world and people, the more I believe that the secret to happiness is moving our consciousness away from the constant chatter of the mind and into the here and now.
I know I’m not revolutionary for thinking so. All of my inspirations essentially say the same. Whether it’s Patanjali saying “yoga chitta vritti nirodha,” yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, or it’s Ram Das reminding us to “Be Here Now,” this simple teaching is oft repeated by teachers throughout the ages.
This is a good an helpful thing. Because of the fluctuations of the monkey mind and the strong distraction from the present moment, we often need to hear something said multiple times in different ways before it sinks in and we can integrate it as truth.
I had this realization in the middle of a yoga class when a teacher was offering a refinement cue for Warrior Two. As I worked to ground my back heal into the earth and inner spiral my back thigh, it suddenly hit me that *this* is what my other yoga teachers had been trying to correct. It just took a different combination of sound bites and a mind unclouded by what to buy for dinner for the wisdom to sink past the thought bubble and into my body.
It’s no accident that I consistently return to the practice of yoga. Revelations like this on the mat reflect right back to life experiences. Read the rest of this entry
Teaching yoga in Central America means that I have few regular students. Most students are tourists in town for a week or two who decide to pop in for some yoga classes. I’ll ask people a little about their practice prior to our first class together to gauge their experience. I’ve found that I’m often then surprised by what I see on the yoga mat.
Many students tell me they’ve got a regular practice in power yoga or hot yoga and then appear to be beginner students as we move through our flow. My yoga background includes lots of viniyoga and anusara yoga, which are both practices with a strong focus on alignment and on keeping the body safe.
Another rainy day in Costa Rica.
Buckets pour from the sky, leak from the eaves and windows.
Cars dip heavily into muddy puddles in the street.
Dogs huddle close when the thunder strikes.
Each drop offers new life, fresh prana, lush green plants.
From sea to mountains, the clouds lower heavy.
Group yoga classes made magical by rain drops on a tin roof. Read the rest of this entry
I finally got to see the sun yesterday in this Costa Rican paradise. The heat and light transformed the town and brought the beaches to life. Still pristine, the ocean yesterday was peppered with people from all over the world enjoying their dia libre a la playa.
Today, it’s back to un dia fresca, with a bite in the air and lots of rain. I noted the grey crowds as I began my yoga practice this morning, looming heavy above the green canopy of the forest. Read the rest of this entry
Some friends opened up a lovely little cafe on the Calzada in Granada back in December and it quickly became one of my favorite haunts. I spent the hot afternoons in the cool shade, surrounded by relaxing music, cafe, and beautiful art. Cafe de los Suenos always offered tasty dulces and warm smiles.
One of the gifts of this world is that every person we encounter is a reflection. We are each a mirror for all the beauty and chaos encompassed deep within our hearts. We are each shining examples of our one flawed, shared humanity. When we notice a particular attitude exhibited in the people around us and it triggers a reaction in our own hearts, that is information telling us that we are holding a similar fear or emotion within that needs our attention.
This is the pretty roof of the room I call home these days. On Sunday, said room began to smell a little mousey. I cleared out all my things, shook out and then refolded each item of clothing and each bag and suitcase, yet did not find a mouse. My friend correctly guessed that some small animal must have crawled between the tiles on the roof and the bamboo on the ceiling before Spirit left the body behind. Unfortunately, there was nobody who could tear the roof apart for a day and a half, so the smell permeated the space I sleep and practice.
I can’t help but bring Kali to mind. Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction and time whose devotees dance in graveyards and spread themselves with the ashes of funeral pyres. Read the rest of this entry
Counting cordobas is a practice in staying present. A practice I sometimes find more difficult than my meditation practice some days. The thing about cordobas is they value 24 to the dollar, so you very quickly reach large amounts of money that you are regularly counting.
I can’t count quickly and accurately in Spanish, at least not up to high numbers. Perhaps someday. Let’s be real, I often don’t count quickly or accurately in English, either. I get distracted so easily during this task! Thoughts will intrude mid-count, or my ears will latch onto snatches of conversation occurring around me. Conversations in Spanish become harder to ignore the higher my comprehension level rises.
So I count and I practice. Each day at the start and end of my shift, I count and recount the cordobas. I train my mind to stay present on the number – in English, in Spanish, in the moment.
–Dog Walking— Read the rest of this entry