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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

It Takes a Village…

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Most have heard the saying, “It Takes a Village,” and here in Varkala Beach, it is to haul in the days catch.  I was awoken yesterday morning by a melee of boisterous voices coming from the beach.  When I stepped out on my balcony, to have a look at what was going on, I saw about 20 men bringing in a huge fishing net, surrounded by a large group of onlookers.  Apparently, the way they fish here is for a man in a canoe to bring this huge net about 200 meters offshore. Then, the other men back onshore haul the net in to a call and response rhythm.  Once the net is onshore, with fish, calamari, and whatever else in tow, it is separated by size into large plastic colanders.  There is a broker who negotiates the price for the catch with the main fisherman, and then the others leave with some of the catch for themselves.  It was such an interesting process to watch, as there were also several women and young boys around, some seeming to help and others just there to be a part of it all.  I love how this is the morning activity for so many here, and happens most days of the week.

You can surmise from this story that I am no longer at the ashram.  About 5 days in, Dore really wanted to leave, and I was in agreement, so we finished the two week program and made our way to a lovely, simple resort called the Oasis on Odayam Beach in Varkala.  This is my first time vacationing on the Arabian Sea, and it feels so good to be by the ocean again.  Nice waves, just big enough to play in, but not dangerous, and it is off season here now, so it is very quiet and very inexpensive.  Our beachfront room is costing us 400rs or $8/night.  The seafood is deliciously fresh, lots of fish and prawn curry, and calamari tandoori.  The salads and juices are really fresh, and so far, knock on wood, been kind to our stomachs.  Thank you GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract, excellent for everything).  We had planned to stay 3 or 4 days, yet the casual laid-back atmosphere, and other friends from the ashram being here, has extended our stay to almost a week.  After the 5:20 wake-up call at the ashram, it is lovely to wake-up naturally, do yoga everyday at one’s own will, read, walk the beach, relax.  Yet, we have decided to leave tomorrow, continuing to head north to the ashram of Amma “The Hugging Mama.”  A night or two there, and then to explore the backwaters of Alappuzha and Kottayam, before we head east through Munnar and Tamil Nadu to the east coast of India and, specifically, Pondicherry.

My last blog had left off just before our 30 hour train ride south. It was actually a very easy ride.  We splurged for the 2nd best accommodations, so we had a 4 person air conditioned compartment.  It was a really nice change, leaving the city of Mumbai to view the countryside.  Big mountains, rice paddies, tropical trees, lots of water, and cows.  The first couple we shared the compartment with were traveling from Mumbai to open their summer home in anticipation of their children and grandchildren coming to visit with them.  Apparently, several train stations in India are known for certain tasty delights.  When the train stopped at one station, this couple bought us upuma sandwiches, basically a potato patty on a bun with a spicy/salty seasoning, and this (wherever this was) was the place to get them.  Their stop was about 6 hours into the trip, when they were replaced by a mother and son who were heading south for her niece’s wedding.  They too were very friendly and generous, and they are from Renigiri, supposedly famous for it’s mangoes.  She gifted us a can of mango puree, which we actually finally got around to having today, sharing mango lassies with the other people staying at the guesthouse.  They departed about 6 hours before we arrived to our stop, and we had the space to ourselves at that point.  Playing cards, reading, watching the countryside pass.  Here, people come out to wave at the trains as they pass by, with big smiles on their faces.

Upon arrival in Trivandrum, we negotiated a taxi to the Ashram, and after about an hour of driving through dusty winding roads, we arrived to the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Center in Neyyar Dam.  While checking in, we were informed of the many rules to be followed, and the busy mandatory schedule.  Since I’d read the website countless times, this was what I’d expected.  I was very excited, so looking forward to a dedicated yoga practice for a month, and the location was beautiful.  Our simple room was two beds, some shelves, and a desk.  They provided us with sheets, a pillow, and a mosquito net, which was definitely needed.  Our view was of papaya and mango trees, and tropical forest.  In the distance you could see a temple on top of the highest peak around.  We ended up hiking up their our last morning for an incredible view of the dam, lake, and mountains, and our morning meditation.  We had neighbors from Spain on both sides of us, one of the couples became our friends and are now at the beach with us.  There were lots of really nice people on the program, from all over the world, and many travelers to hear stories from and share tips with.  Yet, in the end, like many things in life, the ashram had it’s pros and cons.  The pros, in addition to the beautiful, peaceful location, and other participants, were the food (yummy vegetarian fare twice a day, as much as you wanted to eat.  Lots of coconut and fresh veggies) and some of the yoga teachers (there were a couple in particular, who really helped me to improve my yoga practice, 4 hours/day, especially headstand, shoulderstand, plow, and crow, all poses I’d been struggling with/working on for years).  The cons were some of the other yoga teachers who just were not good, and the director who completely lacked in spiritual leadership (it turned out it was a strictly Hindu program, but without explanation, they just expected people to blindly follow), as well as in educational ability (we had 1 1/2 hours of lecture each day, which just turned out to be incredibly boring.  The one thing I came away from the lectures with was that Siva created 840,000 yoga poses, of which 84,000 are meant to be practiced by people, the rest by plants and animals).  There were 2 days that the 8 limbs of yoga were touched upon, but not once the Yoga Sutras.  Honestly, in the end, I stopped going, as there was nothing expanding on what I’d already studied in Yoga teacher training and on my own.  Also, they had a way of treating everyone like untrustworthy children, which didn’t resonate with either of us, so we have moved on and are looking forward to experiencing other yoga in Mysore, Rishikesh, and other locations.

We had one day trip, for which we hired a taxi with 5 other women who were on the program.  We started at an elephant sanctuary and bathed a huge female elephant in the river.  It was so amazing.  What a beautiful docile creature.  She ate bananas from our hands.  To bath the elephants, they chop pieces off a coconut shell so you use the rough husk on their skin.  She seemed to love it, and it was very cool to connect with such an enormous creature in that way.  Then, we went to Ponmudi and climbed to the highest point in the state of Kerala.  From there, we were right near the border of the state Tamil Nadu.  The scenery was amazing tropical forest, so many layers of green, it was just gorgeous, and peaceful.  As we were on the peak, clouds rolled in to envelope us.  Next, we went to a beautiful waterfall and went swimming in our clothes in the pool below.  As women, it is disrespectful to show your bodies, if you do it may be mistaken by men as a come-on of some sort, so that is why swimming in our clothes.  The pool was so cool and refreshing, in a tropical forest.  Really great.  And then it started to pour.  Hello monsoon season.  We returned totally soaked to the taxi, and decided to just wring out our clothes, which were really already wet anyway, and then went to eat.  Delicous masala dosa, rice pancakes stuffed with potatoes and veggies, served with a couple different sauces.  And that was it for our free day from the ashram.

I want to say thanks to everyone for your comments and replies to my blog.  I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to answer each one of you individually, but I am grateful to hear from you.  Hopefully, at some point soon, the internet capabilities will be more consistent.  Until then, signing off…

 

 

 

 

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Posted in nature, Spiritual, travel, Yoga | 8 Comments »

2011-2012 Yoga Season Opens

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Hello, Yoginis!  I hope this message finds you well after a wonderful summer.

Yoga classes will resume next week, Monday, October 31st, at Parmer’s Resort on Little Torch Key.  ommPeace Yoga is expanding this season.  We will be offering 4 classes a week this season.  Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, 8:30-10:00, Vinyasa inspired, and Monday evenings 5:15-6:30, intermediate.
I am excited to introduce you to Claudia Gukeisen.  Claudia will be teaching on Monday & Wednesday mornings. A little more on Claudia:

Claudia has an M.A. in Education from NYU and has been an educator for over 15 years.  It was as a Montessori teacher that she began to bring yoga into the classroom and find how transformative it can be for children.

Claudia completed her yoga teacher training with Yoga on the Beach in Key West.  Her classes are Vinyasa, Hatha and Kripalu inspired, including Kripalu’s Yoga Dance.

I will be teaching Monday evenings and Thursday mornings.  The evening class is going to be an intermediate class, with a focus on more inversions, backbends, and binds.  If any of you are ready to expand your practice in this way, I will look forward to seeing you there.
Classes remain $15/class, a block of 5 classes $65, a block of 10 classes $120 *NO Expiration*
If you’d like to stay up to date on schedule changes do to weather, holidays, events, please LIKE ommPeace Yoga & Massage Therapy on Facebook.
Looking forward to seeing you on the mat.

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Time to Meditate

Monday, March 7th, 2011

I was sent this blurb today in an email from the Key West Tara Mandala, our local Tibetan Buddhist community.  I ended up reading the whole article because I often find myself in the position the author describes, feeling like I just don’t have enough time for my daily meditation.  The blurb reads,

What’s the biggest obstacle to meditation practice?
There are always obstacles to daily practice. Some are quite obvious: traveling, staying up really late, changing your schedule a lot. For the most part, I’ve found the difficult obstacles to be the ones that come from within, those mental tricks we all use—you know, it’s early, it’s cold, I can’t sit. The biggest obstacle is just the mind. You think you’ve got to get up right away and make some phone calls, or have breakfast, or go do this other thing. Your mind always tries to play these tricks. Things suddenly seem really urgent. For me the solution has been to create a schedule, to find myself some disciplined time, to just get up every day at seven no matter what. I’ve made a habit to get up, brush my teeth, sit—in that order—before I do anything else. And then, of course, after you sit you finish and you say to yourself, “What was so urgent that I felt I couldn’t sit?”
–Dan Rosenberg, from “Making Time to Meditate,” Tricycle, Spring 2001
Dan’s contribution to the article is on page 2, but the entire article is worth a read.  Hope you enjoy, and that it may inspire you as it has inspired me.

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Posted in Health, Key West, Spiritual, Yoga | No Comments »