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December 2017

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Year End Musings

December 28, 2017

 

Hello Friends/Subscribers/Yoga Enthusiasts/Family (virtual & otherwise)/Students!!!!

The year started with my hair dark, long and straight.  As the months went on I got bored and decided I wanted to add depth to otherwise staid hair.  I got some streaks put in.  After a couple of weeks I decided the streaks needed something more and I added fuschia (Manic Panic Hot Pink).  This is the perfect analogy for the year.  What started as another year of classes turned into much much more.

This year has been about immense growth both on and off the mat.  Two months in Pune were challenging and difficult.  The teachers remembered me from last year but that didn’t stop them from literally swatting me into correct alignment.  It’s true, there’s no success without a bit of hardship.

The Dengue fever which followed soon after was my first experience with illness.  The weeks after that recovering was a time full of experimentation, a bit of fear and slowly getting back on track.

My website went live and brought all my interests under one roof.  So if you want to read what I have to say you’ve only got to click on a link.  If you want information about classes, you can just scroll to that page and if you want to drop me a line, you can do that very conveniently too.  From blogging/vlogging with no clear plan, I started to look for a clear structure.  The task became easier with a friend of mine coming on board and encouraging me to use my grey cells to focus on growth.  All the new content on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube (which I hope you’re enjoying) is a result of that.

As students we’ve seen excess weight shed, clocking more running miles, making long term diet changes, instinctively making better food choices, taking ownership of your fitness, introspection, more meditation minutes.  Together we’ve done runs, 108 Suryanamaskars on chilly mornings, post class breakfasts.  We’ve done an amazing and one of a kind retreat away from the rigmarole of life deep in the heart of nature. We have inspired each other and been inspired by each other.  We have watched each other collapse on our mats and then also watched as we pushed ourselves up to move ahead.

This is my last blog for the year and I’m so grateful that we’ve made a connection/continued being in touch this year.  This past week has been about reviewing the year and making plans for the next year.  I hope 2018 brings lots of good health, positivity and abundance into your life.

See you next year!

 

 

 

Travel

Three Offbeat Things I Did in Coonoor….

December 21, 2017

…and you should too.

I love the hills.  I love the weather, the vibe and the people in the hills.  I feel my skin takes on a special glow and my mind a rare calmness when I smell the hill air.

So it was only inevitable that I would take my parents for a vacation up in the hills.  Although we are from the Uttrakhand hills, I haven’t spent much time there.  But I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Nilgris.  I was in Coonoor a couple of months ago to participate in a run.  This past weekend Coonoor was colder, quieter, prettier.

 

We didn’t have many days and I wanted my parents to love the place as much as I did. So I wanted to do something different and memorable.  Also, I have an affinity for all things weird, offbeat and quirky.  So, without further ado, here are three offbeat things to do in Coonoor.

  1. Hit up a local and badger them for information.  There’s no better way to really get the vibe of a place than by hanging out with a local.  You end up hearing fascinating personal anecdotes and hopefully getting an interesting story or two.  My favorite kind are the scary ones and I was #sorrynotsorry to find out that there aren’t any ghost stories in the hills around Coonoor.  In fact, the lone deserted house that I was so sure was haunted was only up for sale…and not because it was haunted.  We were lucky to meet Zubin Contractor, resident and Coonoor expert.  From tea factories to how Eucalyptus oil is extracted.  From the history of the five tribes of the Nilgris to scenic walks around town, Zubin had us covered.
  2. Visit Acres’ Wild, Mansoor Khan’s cheese making farm, complete with its own gowshala and geese in a pond.  I had been to this property years ago on a cold and foggy day.  This weekend it was nice and sunny and we were there to find out how cheese is made.  We were given facts and figures, shown the apparatus and the equipment and had our questions patiently answered.  We came away with a few packets of their delicious cheese.  (You know what you’ll be served if you drop in for a visit.)
  3. Visit the cemeteries.  We went to two cemeteries and they were beautiful.  An old one with centuries old tombstones and a beautiful statue of an angel.  The other one we visited had graves from World War 1 and was maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission.  Although slightly creepy, its in cemeteries that you get a sense of an era long gone.  Of the aesthetics and beliefs of the time.  You actually get a sense of the individuals that lived and walked in the same pathways centuries ago.  It brings history to life.

Also, we go on vacation to take a break from the frenzy of city life.  A cozy little nook helps. It is important to find a comfortable home away from home to stay in.  Coonoor has many options and when dusk falls all you feel  like doing is putting on some comfortable socks and crawling under a soft blanket with a good book.  Luckily, I had the home away from home, the socks and blankets, a good book and family.

Food

You Really Wanna Drink That?

December 14, 2017

My parents have been visiting with me for the past couple of days and we’ve been going around sight seeing and exploring the Bangalore food scene. Before I leave the house I always double check that I’m carrying my water with me. You’ll never find me carrying those ridiculously small purses which can only hold a chapstick and a Rs. 5 coin. My bag needs to hold a large bottle full of water.

We don’t know conclusively how long a person can survive without water, but we know that its less than the time without food.  You’re are likely to die of thirst before hunger.

I’m surprised when I find out that some students haven’t had a full glass of water by the time they show up to class.  Which is 8 am!

  1. Start your day with a little warm water.  It kick starts your system, flushes out toxins and increases metabolism.  Hello weight loss!  Hello glowing skin!  Hello luscious hair!  Plus warm water is easier to ingest so you will feel like drinking more of it.
  2. Add a little something to your water for a little zing.  You can add: mint, ginger, cinnamon, lemons/limes to your water to increase the immunity boosting properties.  Make the H2O really work for you.
  3. Now, make drinking this healthful, flavourful water a calm, meditative morning ritual.
  4. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink up.  When your body actively indicates thirst, it means that the water volume in our body has already fallen below a certain threshold.  Basically, you’ve already started to dehydrate.  So if you find yourself drinking water only when you’re thirsty, your body is not happy.
  5. Have a sweet craving?  You might just be hungry.  Down a glass of water.
  6. Absolutely do NOT use a plastic water bottle if you hope to imbibe healthful stuff.  Plastic in water bottles contains many chemicals and these chemicals seep into the water over time.  You don’t want to be drinking this water because these chemicals will actually interfere with the hormonal balance of your body.
  7. Get a metal water bottle and never leave home without it.  I’m actually suggesting a good grade metal water bottle, not a bpa-free, environment friendly water bottle made of some-percent recycled plastic.  Get a metal water bottle.  In fact, I’ve been considering getting a copper water bottle for myself.  I’ve been seeing them everywhere and don’t actually own one.

The thing I see people defaulting on most?  It’s the water bottles.  It’s simply horrifying to see people chugging water from a ratty old plastic Bisleri bottle to quench their thirst.  Bottles that have been sitting in their car for days, with water of questionable integrity.  With all you do (or don’t do) for your health, do you really want to drink that?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a glass of water.

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Spine Is a Metaphor for Life

December 6, 2017

In the Ashtanga system of yoga as propounded by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, you practice backbending daily. In the closing series, you practice the Urdhva Dhanurasana followed by the Sarvangasana and Halasana.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Facebook, you know that I’m focusing on my backbends a lot these days. Backbends have always been challenging for me, and for this reason I favor forward bends in my practice. It’s easier to do the stuff that comes naturally to you.  But doing that which you know you’re not good at, now that requires real discipline.

I have forever intended to work on my backbends in my personal practice, but I never got around to it. But in Pune we devote an entire week of the month to backbends. So you see advanced practitioners doing the Urdhva Dhanurasana 108 times etc. There was one particular class that I feel changed my practice forever. My spine became accessible and I became open to the idea that I CAN do backbends in this lifetime. I resolved to continue the practice and I practice a back bending routine on most days. You can see a snapshot of a typical backbending practice in this video.

I often see students lamenting their inability to bend backwards (I’ve been there myself).  Over the years I’ve learned that when it comes to bending back, more doesn’t always mean better.

The flexibility of your spine can give you a clue about how you approach life.  Do you have a tendency to bend over backwards to accommodate people and situations ? Bending like you don’t have a spine can also be described as being ‘spineless’.  Conversely, are you unable to bend back at all?  Not able to be open to an uncomfortable situation or a different point of view?

In terms of yogasanas, a certain amount of resistance is necessary to execute the full expression of the asana.  A body which can fold easily at every single joint has to work hard to provide the counterforce to hold an asana steady.  So we see the inability to gauge the centre in Sirsasana and Natrajasana.  We see an inability to hold Parsvakonasana.

Being too flexible is not always a good thing.  Too flexible with your time, with your emotions, with your boundaries, with yourself…