Friday, July 24, 2009

Unemployed, Need a Vacation, Like Yoga?

Check out this New York Times article. I've met many people here that would fit right into this article. Some taking a break to try and find what they want to do next in life, others laid off from their job because of the recession, and some who just LOVE yoga and the yogi lifestyle...Could this be you? Decide quickly because there just might not be space if you wait too long.

Hard Times Are Jamming the Ashrams

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yoga Yoga Yogaville...mmm, I'm hungry

So we actually do have access to the internet here, however I won't be using it frequently, as I want to get away for a bit from addictive technology. My experience here has been amazing so far, and I'm definitely learning a lot about the ideology behind yoga. It's actually quite a science, that goes much deeper than people would assume. I'm getting my fair share of time to practice meditation, as we do it around 3 times a day! I definitely need more practice until I progress though. This sitting still stuff is tough for me!

Today we have the encouraged option of fasting. Studies have shown that fasting helps to heal the body quicker, and keep it healthy. The body is able to put the energy it would use towards the digestive processes and instead use it towards healing and eliminating toxins. "Fasting helps you get better fast." I'm only past 1 1/2 meals...and already my mind has been straying a lot towards food. I've fasted before, and I can't say I enjoy it, but I definitely notice its revitalizing effects. It requires a lot of self discipline, and through time will strengthen this and give you beneficial physical results as well.

Well, I must keep this short since my fellow yogi comrades are waiting to use the computer...and I think I might go take a nap, keep my mind off of food. Om Shanti (meaning peace)

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Trail of Sublimity

Ever since I was, well, a fetus, I’ve been practicing yoga. Since before I can remember (literally), I’ve been getting on my dhanurasana (the bow pose) and twisting upside down into the shoulder stand. My mom took no time before introducing me to the practice, moving me right along with her. Me peacefully inside the womb, her making peace inside the world, supplely moving from pose to pose.

After I was born, my yoga exposure certainly didn't cease. While often times my mom would awaken by 5 o'clock to do a yoga session before us kids got up, there were still other times where she'd take me down in the "yoga room" to play, laying her yoga mat next to me and twisting into each revered pose, grasping for a few moments of peace among her racing kids. Getting on all fours with her belly to the ceiling in the bridge pose, I would pretend she litterally was a bridge, scrambling back and forth under her back until she'd eventually tell me she needed to come down.

As I got a little older, I was introduced to the actual poses themselves, in particular, the animal poses. Getting down on all fours, I'd come into the "cat" pose and belch out a loud RAWRRR; Pretending I was a lion, just as strong and sturdy as the pose. Or I'd raise my chest up into the cobra pose, sticking my tongue out and slithering like a snake, as though I was becoming the pose itself.

As for the meditation aspect of yoga, like any antsy kid, I couldn't just sit there, say a few OM's and then maintain a still peace (at least not for longer that a 20 second time interval). There were still so many parts of life I yearned to explore. I couldn't take even a few minutes to just sit still in a place I thought I'd already discovered. (As I grow older, although not getting bored with my outer surroundings, I see just how much of an endless pit of discovery the inner being holds).

However, as a kid, we did frequenly take walks, walks of which morphed themselves into a kid-friendly form of meditation. My mom would say, "Shh. Let's take a listening walk. Let's be silent and listen to all the sounds of our surroundings." And I'd stop for a brief minute and listen, until my attention would be focused otherwise and I'd start up my jabbering again, trying to explain the world to my mom, or in some cases having her explain it to me. Then, trying to steer my attention back to the quiteness of listening, my mom would say, "Let's count how many sounds we can hear." Then she'd get my full attention. The glorious appeal of making listening into a game, and for my mom, a few moments of treasured silence. This time I'd walk for a whole 5-10 minutes before opening my mouth, counting on my fingers all the different noises that I'd encounter. For even just a few brief moments, I would stop the rushing rapids of thought in my mind, and center my entire focus on the noises that surrounded me. This was my meditation. The only form of meditation of which I was able to tolerate pretty much all the way up until about a year ago.

I still struggle with sitting still, calming my thoughts, and trying to meditate. However, I am always taking moments, whether I'm on a walk or taking a run, where for a few minutes I take a "listening walk", centering my attention around one accent, one nuance in the large scheme of life. And for me, this is the preliminary stage towards full meditation, being able to entirely calm my racing mind, even if it is for just a few moments. When you stop to capture a sight, absorb a smell, listen to a sound, these are the moments where your mind is entirely freed of all other conflict, and is focused solely around one pure, tranquil essence. These are the types of moments that full meditation strives to bring a person to, without having to actually see a sight, pass a sweet smell, or seek a pleasant sound. This is the type of meditation of which I seek to learn, seek to be able to simply sit still, fully calm my mind, and just be immersed in total serenity.

I've just recently been trying to actually meditate. Some days its more of a chore than a hobby, but I push myself through those days because I think I need it. In today's go-go-go-go world, it's important to remind yourself to stop and take much-needed breaks. If you don't, one day you'll eventually run yourself down. I'm constantly on the go, constantly seeking new and fun things to do with each moment of my life. And just recently, I'm finally coming to the realization of the true value of meditation. After reading about how much it can recharge, elevate and elate one's self, I've decided it's something important for me to learn and practice.

I've also recently just got more involved and interested in yoga in general. Over the past couple years, I've developed a loose routine that I follow, one of which I find myself more and more frequently practicing. Since I'm also an avid runner, I find yoga to be a great way for me to stretch out and release tension in my muscles. I also find the breathing practices of yoga extremely beneficial right after a heavy, quicky-breathing run. On my off days of running, it's a great way to incorporate a less strenuous form of exercise that calms not only my body but my mind as well. More and more, I see the benefits of yoga and the stretching it encompasses.

A couple months ago, it hit me that I really want to learn more about yoga. The principles of yoga have been practiced in other cultures for years and years and years. It has been a miracle for some people, the miracle that gets people to the places they thought they'd never be brought. In essence, yoga is almost like a religion, a ledgend, or any other ancient philosophy, a philosophy of which I still know so little about. Yoga isn't just about the exercise or the peaceful "image" it's associated with. It's about the principles of doing good, helping others, and finding and creating peace. These principles are what I want to learn more about. Through my exposure of yoga throughout my life, I have already been able to see how fruitful yoga is, and how it can transform people into better beings. I want to be able to continue to grow into a better person, and I know yoga will be helpful in bringing me to that state. I also want to be able to teach other people about these very same concepts and principles. I want to show others how stress relieving yoga poses are for the body and meditation for the mind. I want to help others discover how elevating the principles of yoga are.

This is why I have decided to enroll myself into the Teacher's Training program at Yogaville in Buckingham, Virginia. Over the course of a month, I will gain a deeper understanding of yoga, and will earn a teaching certificate so that I will be able to teach others a basic understanding and practice of yoga. I want to share the wealth of yoga across the world. But first, I myself need to gain a further knowledge and plunge a little deeper into the fundamentals of yoga. I am excited to begin this month-long journey that may essentially bring me to a life-long path. I am always exploring the world, and this is just another part of my exploration. Yoga may, or may not, unfold a whole different part of life for me.

With that being said, I probably won't be updating my blog for another month or so. However, hopefully I will come back with lots of inspiration, motivation, and stories to share. Yogaville is a beautiful place. I will be immersed in peaceful surroundings of beautiful, mountainous nature and among beautiful, kind-hearted people. I'm sure this type of setting will give me a lot of food for thought. Until then, hang tight, stay peaceful, strive for healthiness, maybe try some yoga, and always remeber to get some fresh-air!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Fresh Refresher

Nothing tastes better after a long run, or anything physical outside on a hot summer's day than an ice cold drink. Usually water does the trick, but if it's just not hitting the spot, try this healthy, refreshing recipe, rather than reaching for a sugary-filled soda.

Watermelon Juice with a Splash of Mint
-1/2 a medium sized watermelon
-1 or 2 tablespoons of honey (to taste)
-10-15 leaves of mint
-3/4 of a lime
-7 ice cubes

Serves 3-4 people

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour over ice, sip, relax, revive.