Lately I have been doing my own thing when it comes to yoga. I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and never walk into my yoga room. My style of yoga was brushing my teeth and taking a shower. This became my only form of asanas. Not what many yogis would call yoga. But for some reason I have not wanted anything to do with any form of yoga. I would just shake my head “no” when I would walk into my yoga room at home and grab something out of my closet. I know this is not the way of a true yogi. For the last six months I would call it “burn out”.
This week I have decided to gently get back into my practice from the beginning and find out why I had burn out towards yoga. Today I have found myself in Licolnshire, Illinois for some work. Lincolnshire is a very nice suburb of Chicago. I come here once a year for production work with our clients.
The first step to my daily practice started with just rolling my mat out and sitting for a while. The cool breeze came in off the pond that my hotel overlooked. With my back door opened I could see and feel the nature from my mat. I figured now is the time for me to start over with my practice. I stood in samasthiti and began my Ashtanga practice. With five sun salutation A and then five sun salutation B I noticed my body has definitely changed for the worst. I was not focused on my breathing nor was I able to go as far into my poses. But I understand it takes time and I will dedicate my days to it. After an hour of my primary series, I finished off with my meditation. Right then I knew that this is what I have been missing for so long. Minutes have become days now and I could not be happier.
To take my practice further I found an Ashtanga yoga instructor not too far from my hotel. Good news is that I had a car and could drive anywhere. I found North Shore Yoga that had a class taught by Tricia. I showed up to the studio where I found myself taking the class with her alone. I always love being able to get a one on one practice with a yoga instructor because I need help. Lots of it. Tricia started teaching Ashtanga within the past few years, but haves her own practice for many years. Tricia started our class with the normal OM and opening prayer. Vande gurunam bla bla bla. I’m not going to bore you with stuff. Tricia said, “Let’s do 5 Surya Namaskar A and 3 Surya Namaskar B”. I was totally getting into it but again my non-flexible body was having problems bending in the direction that my mind wanted it to go. A funny thing happened next. I took the wrong foot forward in the forward lunge part of Surya Namaskar B. I just chuckled and accepted that its been awhile. Tricia was great helping my alignment in the standing poses. The sitting poses became more of a “What can I do?” We took baby steps with many modifications of the poses. Tricia was helping me along and she was great. We tried some poses that I had no way of getting into but I tried. Tricia was wonderful and had the patience and time to extend the class 20 minutes to assist me. After it was all over I laid in savasana with a big smile on my face. I was very thankful for Tricia’s time and by my own progression getting back to where I belong. That is my yoga practice.
Tricia thanks for being that instructor that really helped me and took the time to work with me on my modifications. You are a big help towards helping me with my new yoga journey.
Posted in Yoga studios | Tagged ashtanga, Ashtanga yoga, chicago, lincolnshire, marriott, namaskar, north shore yoga, northshore yoga, om, primary series, samasthitih, starting over, surya, tricia mcleod, yoga | Leave a Comment »
Las Vegas is not just about gambling, homeless, and alcohol. For the last couple of times I have been in Vegas I have wanted to meet Sunny at Just Breathe Wellness Center in Las Vegas. But every time something diverted me away from the class. Whether it may be work or just exhausted from the day. Today, I was determined to walk the 3 miles to her studio and take a yoga class. Sunny opened up her studio last year and has done a great job with teaching and running her studio. She says it was very hard at first but I think she is finding a good balance between teaching and owning.
Just Breathe is a different approach to the normal yoga class. First, Sunny had installed carpet on the floor instead of the traditional wood floors. Second, she uses sensory in the sounds of the gong or the many singing bowls she has laid out around her mat. Third, it is a very comfortable place to hang out afterwards drinking tea and talk to the students. Her lobby has a big couch and massage chairs. Not something you always see in a typical yoga studio.
I arrived to her studio to attend her transformative yoga class. She explains this class incorporates chanting, kundalini, and some singing bowl meditation. I was looking forward to this. I laid my mat out in front of hers and talked to her while many people started flowing in. By the time the class had started there were around ten people, all on their mats ready for the class to begin. Sunny started with breathe of fire, ujjayi and other pranayamas. For the first ten minutes we focused more on the breathe and less on the asanas. I agree that if you start your practice with pranayama then your practice as a whole will have a certain rhythm. Next, we transitioned onto some simple sun salutation variations. Just by raising our hands up from mountain pose and then onto a forward bend and back again to mountain pose while focusing on our breathe. Afterwards we moved into traditional sun salutations, crescent pose, and warrior poses. I was getting back into my old groove of my yoga practice. Inhale move, exhale move. Before to long I found myself kind of zoning out from her instructions and doing my own pace of the poses. It was something that I look forward to when practicing Ashtanga at home. Just the free flow of breathe and movement together. We finished the class with some inversions and savasana. But it was not the normal savasana. While her students laid on their mats Sunny walked around with the singing bowl making a vibrating note that is hard to explain. Then she started using the rest of the 15 or so bowls surrounding her. With a soft hit of the gong behind her I knew it was all over and time to sit up.
Sunny I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you. I am sure whatever path you take we will run into each other again. You have a kind heart that is looking for a new way to help others. I hope you take that challenge because many people need what you are giving.
If you are ever in the Las Vegas area and need yoga. Do not hesitate and take a short trip to Just Breathe Wellness Center. 5333 S. Arville Rd., Suite 206 telephone 702-553-6819. It is the closest studio from the Las Vegas strip.
P.S. Thank you to the woman that took time and drove me back to the hotel. I really appreciate it.
Posted in Yoga studios | Tagged ashtanga, breathe of fire, chanting, just breathe wellness canter, kundalini, las vegas, meditation, savasana, sunny, ujjayi, vegas, warrior, yoga | Leave a Comment »
We woke up feeling much better than we have for the past four days. It was our first whole day in the Chitwan National Park. We are staying at a hotel that has heat, in room shower, and wifi. But the wifi only works when it wants to. Overall I am very happy with this hotel and they have 24 hour tea service. We walked over to breakfast in the hotel and I ate a normal meal. Eggs and toast. Our first task of the day was a canoe ride down the Narayani-Rapti river. We floated to an area where we got out and walked through the jungle. It was very relaxing. We came across an elephant breeding grounds around two miles from our start. They had many young elephants that were born this year that they are raising. Our group arrived just as they were taking the elephants out for a walk and to clean them in the river. We walked with them as they took these big animals across the jungle. They happily got in the river where they fell over in the water. The trainer washed the elephants top and bottom as they do everyday. We then came back to the hotel for lunch. After a meal of chicken curry and rice we headed for an elephant ride. I certainly have never been on a elephant ride and was very happy to do so. Four of us entered a basket structure that was strapped to the top of the elephant. All four of our butts bearly fit as we sat there waiting for the elephant to walk. An elephant ride is not the most comfortable animal to ride. You sway back and fourth as the animal walks up and down hills. The ride was definitely worth it. It lasted over an hour and was a lot of fun. After getting the elephant back to the starting part we took many pictures with her. After me and my father posed for the pictures, we all packed back into a truck and headed back to the hotel. Dinner consisted of more curry and some saag. By now my father is just wanting a normal american meal that does not consist of curry. He is not a fan of curry anyway. After dinner we were just to tired to even make it to the native Nepalese dance. So I said good night.
Today is the day we head back to Kathmandu. We woke up early because my father is not feeling very good. He has a bad cough and it may be getting worse. The air quality is so poor here in Nepal that many people wear a mask over their mouth and nose. I think he might have got a nasty sinus infection. After a shower we headed to breakfast and to get on a bus to Kathmandu. Now I must take a minute and explain a bus ride in Nepal. You get on and pray while hanging onto your life around the winding mountain roads. And I am serious. A few days ago they had a motorcycle with two people fly off the hillside and today I saw two different vehicles being pulled from 400′ or more below. Many locals say this is the most dangerous road in all of Nepal. I could just see it now, two americans killed in a bus accident in Nepal. Every turn was really breathtaking and not in a good way. We finally arrived into Kathmandu seven hours on this ridiculous bus ride. We finally arrived at our hotel and our guide took us to dinner at a restaurant that only serves dal baht. I think I can see my father just cringe at the sight of this dish. But I love it. We drank some beer and ate more curry while watching a stage show at this restaurant. It was very fun. We ended the night with some yogurt and walked back to the hotel for bed.
Posted in Yoga studios | Tagged beer, bus, bus ride, canoe, chicken curry, chitwan, chitwan national park, elephant, kathmandu, nepal, river | Leave a Comment »
Today is the last day of our trekking. It was very challenging going down hill on the steep rocks. After two hours of my knees aching we made it to the road to Nayapul. We were very happy to see the road because It meant it was time to relax our joints. It was a leisure walk to Birethanti, town next to Nayapul, where we had lunch. This was the last dal baht on our trek also. It was also the best dal baht we have had on our trip. I ended up getting a few refills of saag, aloo, and rice for all my hard work. We walked up our last hill to the taxi and drove to Pokhara. When we arrived in Pokhara Ramsing asked if I would like to join him and his wife to the underground. I asked “the what?” He said the underground. Not really knowing what to expect I said yes. When we arrived to Hotel Tulsi we agreed to meet in the lobby in ten minutes to go to the underground.
Ramsing grabbed us a cab after a quick clean up and headed to what I found out was caves underneath Pokhara. I was thinking something different when he asked to go to the underground. These caves were very dirty and musty with water dripping from the ceilings. Ramsing had a flashlight and pointed at the ceiling of the cave. Their were thousands of bats all over the top within ten feet from me. Unlike the caves in the U.S. we were able to explore the many passage ways and walk freely without any guidance. I finally crawled through a very small hole at the top of the cave to exit. If I would have had another plate of dal baht I would have not fit. But I made it out of the cave with many Napalese people clapping for me at the exit. They were impressed with the small opening and pushing my body around the rock out of the cave. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel for dinner and sleep.
Today we are heading to Chitwan via a bus. Our bus is going fast and bouncing all over the place. Which is making my stomach do loops. So I am not feeling so well. My throat is getting sore from all the pollution in the air and I am getting home sick.
We finally made it to Chitwan animal reserve. We looked at some elephants but that was all for tonight. It actually begins tomorrow morning. But I am glad we made it safely after our crazy bus ride.
Posted in Yoga studios | Tagged chitwan, dal bbbaht, napelese, nepal, pokhara, yoga | Leave a Comment »
Day 6 of my Trek in the Himalayas
Today was not a day that was in my favor. The temperature in the lodge room could not have been above 50 degrees. I froze all night underneath two huge blankets and two layers of clothing. The sherpa wanted to watch the sunrise on Poon Hill. So I woke up at 4:45am to start my hike. A very steep climb around one mile of stone stairs upwards. The temperature had to be way below freezing and the wind was strong. After standing around for thirty minutes the sun began to surface. Many people from all around the world were there to watch the sun rise above the Himalayas. The rays from the sun hit the snow capped mountains and they began to sparkle. We stayed another 30 minutes after to sunrise and then headed back to the lodge for breakfast.
After eating a big breakfast, we headed out for our trek to Banthanti for lunch. Banthanti was a four hour trek that was half uphill and then half downhill. The downhill was terror on my knees. Every time i stepped down on the rocks I could feel my knees impacting with force. I was really hurting myself every step. We finally arrived for lunch in Banthanti. After we ate it was finally ready to climb again to the top of the mountain area Tadapani. The hotel I am staying tonight is called Hotel Grandview. I didn’t care about the Grandview as much as I wanted a real bathroom toilet and a nice hot shower. They had both and I quickly partaked in both of them. I am sure this trek will get better as the days pass by starting with this hotel. I am posting pictures of the early morning Poon Hill trek, the walk down to Tadapani, and my finish at the hotel Grandview.
I woke up this morning after sleeping a good 10 hours with a nice shower and a restroom. The mattress was thick and I could sleep with no problems. As I awoke, I grabbed my camera for sunrise shots of Annapurna South and Machhapuchre mountains. It was still below freezing were we are staying. I slipped a few times on the stones while trying to get the mountain sunrise shots. After 50 shots of the same mountain I decided it was time for breakfast. After a big breakfast of curry and bread we grabbed our backpacks and started our trek. I was hoping today was going to be a better day than yesterday and, it was. We descended all day down along a river and stopped for lunch and our hotel just after four hours. That was music to me and my fathers ears. My lunch again was Dal Baht. It is lentils, rice, spinach, and beans. I have been enjoying this dish since the first day I was here. Everyday at lunch me, the sherpa, and his wife eat this dish. I asked the sherpa whose name is Ramsing, “Do you eat dal baht a lot?” He said and I quote, “Everyday!” He was not kidding. Its every day and sometimes every meal. After lunch we went on a walk around this very small community and went to a Buddhist monastery. I took many pictures of the outside of the monastery but felt weird about taking some from the inside. We ended our walk with hot tea. An hour later to my surprise Ramsing got us a hotel room with a shower and a toilet. This was the first time this week to have my own shower and toilet. I was very happy not to share this with anyone else.
Today was me and my wife 20th anniversary of our first date. I am so happy to have met someone that understands me and can be so forgiving when I say, “I am going to be in Nepal for our anniversary”. Thank you to my wonderful wife! I love you more and more everyday. You are truly my lobster (a term from the show Friends). I tried to find a hotel with wifi. Not an easy task deep in the himalayas and when most people have no idea what you are talking about when you say, “Do you have wifi?” But at 11:30am my time which was close to midnight in Tulsa I found wifi. Gave the woman money for using it and tried to FaceTime my wife. But there were so many people around me and the poor connection was very frustrating. But I did get to say to her, “Happy Anniversary and I love you.” I cannot wait to be home again sitting by the fire with her and sipping tea. I miss you Wendster.
Posted in Yoga studios | Tagged dal baht, home, monastery, napel, poon hill, sleep, trekking, ulleri | Leave a Comment »
Everyday is an adventure here in Nepal. We started our trekking in the Himalayas. Not knowing what to really expect, we packed the best way we could. The Sherpa and his wife as the Porter picked us up at the hotel at 8:00am and we rode in a taxi to Nayapul an hour outside of Pokhara. We pulled out our suitcases from the cab and the Sherpa said do you have backpacks, hat, and flashlights. We said, “Kind of. We have suitcases not back packs.” So he roped together the suitcases and his wife the porter threw them on her back. We thought someone would drive our suitcases to the lodge and drop them off. We also thought it was not a trek some much as a long walk. We were very wrong on both parts. We were trekking in the Himalayas for real and the porter is going to have our bags strapped to her back for the next 6 miles uphill.
We started hiking around the base of the mountains and began to take a trail upwards over the river below. Thinking that this was going to be a leisure walk turned to a full on hike uphill. Miles of upward terrain of nothing but rocks and dirt. We arrived in Tikhedhungga around 2:30 pm. The Sherpa asked if we would like to spend the night in a lodge there or move onto the next city. We chose to move on and it was not exactly the terrain we were bargaining for. Extreme uphill with stones and intermittent donkeys passing by. The donkeys we found out were for people that maybe had a medical accident or for people that could not overcome the terrain. With in two hours of climbing my father was starting to get winded. We took many breaks and arrived in Ulleri just before dinner. It was a very challenging day and I was ready for food and sleep.
Our lodge that we were going to stay in had one public faucet for a shower. Yes faucet! And a hole in the floor as a toilet. The walls were made up of a linoleum product that was nailed to the wall. And the wall was just a piece of plywood. It was gross and hard to adapt to this environment. The Sherpa said to me, “This is the Himalayas.” Not what I thought it would have been at all. We had dinner and went to bed at 8:00pm.
The night sleep was very hard because we did not have any heat in the lodge and I could here everyone talking in their rooms. I finally awoke at 5:00 am and grabbed my towel and headed to the shower. This is when I found out that the shower head was broken but the faucet worked. I prayed for hot water while trying to wash my legs. I did receive hot water after a couple of minutes of my praying to the hot water gods. After my shower I grabbed my stuff and headed outside to take some pictures of the mountains. But my battery on my camera was dead and I had no place to charge it. So I grabbed my charger and looked under the every nook and cranny of the lodge. I finally found one with ten things plugged into it. I asked the woman if I could please charge my camera battery because I wanted shots of the day. She said this was the only power plug for the whole lodge, but I could charge my battery. Yes again the whole lodge. One power plug!
After we ate breakfast we started our journey up the mountain again. Thinking today was going to be easier was the worst mistake I made. Hours after hours of climbing was totally exhausting. We arrived at Nangge Thanti for lunch and I ate everything I could for energy. I had three plate full of lentils and rice with a liter of water. We grabbed our bags and started our trek again uphill. We finally arrived at our next lodge in Ghorepani where I was surprised with WiFi!!!!!!!!! I could finally get some information about what was going on at home. Now I think I may take a shower with all the rest of the guests in the public shower. By the way this place does not have heat either. Just lots of blankets. Goodnight.
P.S. By the way we just lost power at the lodge also.
Posted in Yoga studios | Tagged ghorepani, himalayas, nepal, porter, sherpa, tikhedhungga, trekking | 1 Comment »
Day two was something completely different in Kathmandu. We had a yoga class above the 1905 Restaurant on Kantipath and tried to make it to Durbar square for some sight seeing. Our yoga class was exceptional from a guy named Bhupal at the Pranamaya yoga center. Not Pranayama yoga center. The way he brought all the asanas together in a perfect vinyasa was extraordinary. It was a perfect dance with breath. From one pose to the next as if it was choreographed. after the class I wanted to walk to Durbar square. That did not go exactly as planned. I walked down Kantipath and was looking for a street called new road. Where I am from the street names are very clearly posted. Not in Kathmandu. I took a wrong turn on Jyatha Marga and was caught in a crowd nothing short of a concert leaving the Madison Square Gardens. It was crazy. People yelling, cars honking, motor bikes swerving, and pedi cab guys telling me that they can get me to where I want to go. After getting lost on this street for an hour I made my way back to Kantipath and finally found New Road that takes me to Durbar square. But honestly, the people here are wonderful. They are not always just trying to get a buck from you. They actually want to help you find your way in the very kaos world called Kathmandu. But I did find the square and loved it. I talked to a gentleman that was explaining all the temples and what they mean. After an hour it was time to head back into the madness of Kant pass and go back to the hotel.
I have to say this place is very cool. All the cars and traffic to get along on the streets without lines or street signs on the road. People just drive and don’t seem to have accidents like people in the US. But after all the hustle and bustle I found my way back to the hotel for dinner.
This morning I woke up and got on a bus to Pokhara. I was not going to even write about this trip because I thought, “Who cares about a bus trip?” I was wrong! This trip was more impressive and exciting than any amusement park roller coaster. From 7:00am until 3pm I saw nothing but cars being pushed out of the way and motorcycles wrecking while my bus hauled ass down the street. The local Pokhara guy in front of me in the bus said, “you know this is the most dangerous road in Nepal?” Hell yeah I do know! It was unbelievable. I cant even explain the way we had to slam on the bus brakes because we wanted to cross a small bridge that could hold only on vehicle. Or the bus that ran off the road nose deep in a ditch. Or get this a wreck not to long ago when a bus ran off the mountain. This is one bus trip that will never be forgotten. But we made it to Pokhara safely.
After our bus ride I went to a bar and poured myself an Everest beer. It was great watching the sun dive behind the mountains. While people played in the lake below. But now I am going to bed.
Posted in Yoga studios | Tagged bus ride, durbar square, himalayan, hotel, jyatha marga, kantipath, kathmandu, nepal, pokhara, pranamaya yoga center, yoga | Leave a Comment »