Archive for the ‘Hot Springs’ Category

Slideshow from the Land of Fire and Ice

October 23, 2018

The following slideshow is of our recent yoga retreat in Iceland. It is a trip I hope to offer again and again.  The slideshow is set to the music of the Icelandic group Low Roar and the song playing is called Breathe In.  The words go well with the experience of being in the Land of Fire and Ice.  The melody seems to carry the mystery and stark beauty of the landscape.  Most of the photos in the slideshow are mine, but a few come from some of the other photographers in our group.  I believe all the photos capture the light that is unique to Iceland!  Being so far north, the sun’s rays hit at an angle, which, when captured by camera, makes every person holding a camera appear to be an extraordinary photographer.

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We did yoga every morning and every evening, though you will not find a single picture of our yoga sessions.  We immersed ourselves in our practice.  In our yoga sessions, we became warriors, molten lava, geothermal energy, and pure rays of northern light.

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It was a pleasure to see friendships deepen and new friendships forged.  As the week progressed, everyone in our group appeared to become more luminous. Was it the relaxing and cleansing aspect of the yoga practice?  Or was it the hot springs?  Or perhaps it was the hiking?  Could have been the pure spring-fed water we drank directly from the tap? It was probably a combination of all of these ideas and more.  All I know for sure is that the retreat was a great experience, one that I will never forget.

Turn up your speakers for this 6 minute slideshow of our retreat in Iceland:

Iceland: Yoga in the Land of Fire and Ice 2018 from Fran Gallo on Vimeo.

http://www.frangallo.com

 

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So Much Gratitude

January 3, 2016

I meant to send this blog post out on the last day of 2015. However, I had the stomach flu! This seems to happen when I am in Mexico or always around the holidays. (And, yes, I had my flu shot!)

So here it is, already the New Year 2016 and I am sending out a collage/retrospective from last year 2015. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for all the people in my life. The photos do not include everyone dear to my heart and I wish I could include more more photos! However, the photos capture some peak moments from last year, mostly yoga events I organized or took part in.

Love and Thanks for helping make 2015 unforgettable! My heart is filled with gratitude for 2015. Thank you for being a part of it!

Happy New Year! May 2016 be a year filled with love, good health, dreams fulfilled, creativity, and happiness!

Turn up your speakers and take in the fun, excitement, and fullness of living life (darn it if this collage cut off some lovely faces…sorry!):

Click to play this Smilebox collage
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This free picture collage made with Smilebox

Yoga in Iceland

October 9, 2015

I have not yet written about Yoga in Iceland.  You might think it odd that there are no photos of the indoor yoga classes, which were held twice daily in a warm room near our cabins, but I prefer not to take photos while I am teaching.  In fact, it is nearly impossible.  It is the furthest thing from my mind because when I am teaching, I am focused on guiding the class into a thoughtful safe sequence of movements that invites everyone to go deeply inside themselves.

We, did, however, take plenty of yoga photos while out on hikes and day trips, which you will see on this blog post.

Backbending

Back bending

It is strange to plan a retreat for so long, so far in advance, to look forward to it, to dream about it, to wonder, to plan for months, and then suddenly to have it behind me.  The retreat  now is a part of my life experience, an experience that I hope to repeat, one I will never forget, and one I will forever hold in my heart.

Dancers on Ice (the glacier)

Dancers on Ice (the second largest glacier in Iceland)

Over the past two weeks, I made a commitment to write daily posts. Somehow I carved out time to pump out blog posts on schedule, but I think the posts were short on words due to lack of time or energy and I hoped the photos would speak volumes to the powerful beauty of Iceland. Now the reflective time comes, and it is time to talk about the most integral part of the retreat: the yoga!

Every day began with yoga.  And we did yoga in the early evening before dinner. Morning sessions were more active, giving us energy for the day ahead. Evening sessions more yin in nature, more restorative, a way to unwind after a full day of activity and exploring or after a calming day at the hot springs. Every session ended with a 15-minute meditation which was either done seated or while lying in shavasana. Sometimes I felt like jello while teaching the evening sessions, especially after a day of soaking in the hot springs. Often I felt hyperactive as I seemed to have absorbed the volcanic and geo-thermal activity we passed along the way during our hikes and outings.  I do not think I was alone in feeling very energized by all the seen and unseen energy around us!

Good morning!

Good morning!

Dancers all over Iceland!

Dancers all over Iceland!

As a group, I sensed we all felt similarly influenced by our surrounding environment and by our various activities.  I taught each unique session by feeling my way around the seismic activities of the heart, body, and spirit of each group.

Glacier Yoga

Glacier Yoga

Trees on Glacier!

Trees on Glacier!

And more trees on glacier!

And more trees on glacier!

So many trees in Iceland of all places!

Bet you didn’t think there were this many trees in Iceland!  (Actually, there ARE trees and reforestation is currently going strong in Iceland.)

FUN!  Both groups were so much fun to be with.  Here we playfully span two continents over a rift where you can have one foot on Europe and the other on North America!

FUN! Both groups were so much fun to be with. Here, we playfully span two continents over a rift where you can have one foot on/in Europe and the other on/in North America!

And where else can you do splits across two continents??

And where else can you do splits across two continents??

During Week I, I attempted to do a Hot Spring Yoga Session at the Hidden Lagoon.  It was an unusually warm and sunny day for Iceland.  Orvar said it was warmer than any one day they had last summer!  It was perhaps 60 degrees out. Add to that the very warm water of the Hidden Lagoon.  After about 15 minutes of doing yoga in the warm sunshine while immersed in hot spring water, we had to break up the session and  get out of the water to cool off and re-hydrate.  During Week II, I led a yoga session at Laugarvatn,  another hot spring.  The water was probably just as warm, but the temperature was cooler outside so most people could tolerate this hot spring yoga session better.  If I lived in Iceland, I’d hold all my yoga sessions in hot springs.  I have never seen everyone looking so flexible and having so much fun!

Hot Spring Yoga

Hot Spring Yoga

Boat Pose is much easier in the water!

Boat Pose is much easier in the water!  Yes, you still have to use your core.

My favorite photo of the Hot Springs Yoga Series.  They look so blissful!

My favorite photo of the Hot Springs Yoga Series.

Tree in Hot Springs

Tree in Hot Springs

Throughout the sessions, I read and reread the following to my classes, words that shaped the soul of our yoga sessions:

In this land of Vikings
Can we be sure to do all the Warrior Poses?

In this Land of Sagas
Can we have some Poses with Stories?

In his Land of Hidden People
How can we bring forth some Color and Mystery?

in this Land of Fire
Can we Generate Heat and Energy
And Molten Movement?

In this Land of Ice
Can we Activate Slow Power
And Quiet Transformations?

We seem to be Flying Warriors here.  Exhilarating to do yoga in Iceland!

We seem to be Flying Warriors here.  Exhilarating to do yoga in Iceland!

Warriors on the Glacier

Warriors on the Glacier

Warriors spanning two continents (they have one foot on Europe and the other on North American, standing over the continental rift!)

Warriors spanning two continents (they have one foot on Europe and the other on North America, standing over the continental rift!)

Yes, I think I succeeded in leading yoga sessions which spoke to the above themes. Like the Icelandic people, who are so shaped by their environment, I felt each yoga session I taught was shaped by our collective experiences in Iceland, the land of Fire and Ice.  I saw incredible transformations in individuals as well in myself. These past two weeks have been outstanding and I hope to repeat the retreat experience in Iceland again!

Archer Jeff

Archer Jeff

Dancer on Wooden Bridge

Dancer on Wooden Bridge

Hard to ground feet on ice, but we did it!

Hard to ground feet on ice, but we did it!

Icelandic Horse Pose

Icelandic Horse Pose

Dancing near the Water Fall while Balancing on Wet Stones.  I look serious here for a reason!

Dancing near the Water Falls while Balancing on Wet Stones. I look serious here for a reason!

Why I Love Iceland

October 8, 2015

I love Iceland for its people who are sincere, open-minded,  free-spirits, honest, laid-back, creative, kind, funny, and gentle.  I love Iceland for its diverse geography.  We saw everything from blue glacial waterfalls, colorful lichen, black lava rock beaches, wide continental rifts, precariously balanced boulders, a crater lake, soothing hot springs, smoking volcanoes, steaming geysers, bubbling fumaroles, fast flowing rivers, green fields, treeless mountains, and massive glaciers to wild cliffs and moss growing on lava rocks!  How is that for a long descriptive sentence?

Sweet Icelandic horses and woolly sheep adorn the country side.  Within one day, we could experience sunshine, dramatic clouds, hail, rain, dew, gusts of wind, and rainbows.  And the Northern Lights!  Yes, for the first time in my life, I saw the deep-night light-show up in the sky looking like a fantastic laser show.  Wow!

And where else do you have Little People and Hidden People living happily among the mossy rocks and hills and villages?

Add to this magic, two groups of yogis with whom I would gladly travel the world!  Each individual did their part to make this trip truly unforgettable!

I believe the slideshow will continue to vouch for Iceland’s intense beauty.  The photos are mostly mine, though some were taken by fellow yoga retreat participants.  The photos combine Week I and II retreats.

View on full screen if possible.

Turn up the volume to hear some music from the Icelandic group, Sigur Ros.  The music is very evocative of Iceland’s spirit.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Hiking in Fludir and Soaking in the Secret Lagoon

October 5, 2015

I am home now!  Have a few blog posts that will be coming out because there are still photos and ideas to share.   Here are photos from a hike in Fludir and a visit to the Secret Lagoon.  What can I say?  We had a magical day as you will see from the photos.

But I have to say, it sure is nice to come home to sunshine and October warmth!  Feels like a summer day here in Seattle after being in Iceland!  We left Iceland on the first day of snow in the lowlands and came back to a 72 degree day in Seattle!

Anita climbing up on our day hike. I noticed she was never winded, just relaxed breathing the whole way up (we hiked about 40 minutes up and admired the views from the top for a while before hiking back down).

Anita climbing up on our day hike. I noticed she was never winded, just relaxed breathing the whole way up (we hiked about 40 minutes up and admired the views from the top for a while before hiking back down).

We probably saw at least one rainbow per day. On the hiking day, we saw many. Here is one from the view at the top on our hike.

We probably saw at least one rainbow per day. On the hiking day, we saw many. Here is one from the view at the top on our hike.

Einar and his son making their way back down. Einar is co-owner of Minniborgir Cottages and he drove us all over for the second week. His son is adorable!

Einar and his son making their way back down. Einar is co-owner of Minniborgir Cottages and he drove us all over for the second week. His son is adorable!

My best shot from the viewpoint! Look at all those shades of green!

My best shot from the viewpoint! Look at all those shades of green!

Bundled up! It was cold up there. We were always prepared for the weather.

Bundled up! It was cold up there. We were always prepared for the weather.

Hearty 6 year old!

Hearty 6 year old!  He was always ahead of the group!

Soaking in the Secret Lagoon!

Soaking in the Secret Lagoon!

One of my favorite moss shots! Moss growing over volcanic rock at the Secret Lagoon.

One of my favorite moss shots! Moss growing over volcanic rock at the Secret Lagoon.  It’s as soft and fluffy as it looks.

Love this place, the Secret Lagoon. Best of all the hot springs visited (for me).

Love this place, the Secret Lagoon. View looking out from the hot springs. Best of all the hot springs visited (for me).

Wrapping Up and Starting Over

September 26, 2015

OMMMMM

All is well in Iceland.

Rick is safely here with me here at Hotel Holt in Reykjavik.  Yes, some participants from the first group are still here and the second group has arrived and are, by now, all ensconced in their rooms at Hotel Holt in Reykjavik!  Week II Yoga and Hot Springs Retreat officially begins tomorrow morning with breakfast.

Just got back from the Blue Lagoon.  Even though all I kept hearing about was how long the lines would be or how crowded it would be, the visit to the Blue Lagoon was really worthwhile!  The water was an incredible turquoise blue.  The weather was extremely windy and raining and the water a pampering warm 38 degrees C (100 F).

This was not the best day for photos!  The winds were really strong and so was the rain.  These photos were taken from inside looking out at the lagoon. Actually I CAN’T believe that I forgot to bring my bathing suit (left it behind at Minniborgir Cottages since I will be back there tomorrow night and I only packed a day bag for the city)  and so I nominated myself to be the official photographer for the group…my plan to photograph the group in the Blue Lagoon back-fired because the winds were so strong that the Blue Lagoon was in “Lock-Down”mode, which means there was only one way to get  out to the lagoon and that was to swim to it through a small opening door in the water.  The winds were so strong that if you opened a door, it could fly off the hinges and hurt/kill someone, so every door was locked shut.  I took photos through the windows and at one time, begged a staff member to open a door for me so I could take a photo.  I somehow sweet talked the guy, and, against all rules, he opened the door for me, but the camera almost flew out of my hands and I nearly got swept off my feet!  He never let go of my arm. Quickly inside again. He tugged me back in!  The rain drops on the windows made for blurry photos, but I really wanted to post a little something on the Blue Lagoon!

Had I brought my swimsuit, I would not have taken a single photo, so it was meant to be after all.  I still have next week to go to the Blue Lagoon again, this time to soak in the water!

A few facts about the Blue Lagoon:

Features of the Blue Lagoon include a Waterfall (yes, you can actually sit under a waterfall!), a silica mud bath (you can smear the white silica mud on your face, let it dry and wash it off and rediscover a new face beneath the washed away mud), and a Sauna and Steambath  (how good can it get???).

Facts:

  • The amount of geothermal seawater in the Blue Lagoon is 6 million liters.
  • It takes 40 hours for the Blue Lagoon water to renew itself, in a natural way.
  • The distance below the surface to the origin of the geothermal seawater is 6,500 ft or 1,981 meters.
  • The lava field surrounding the Blue Lagoon is 800 years old.
  • The average temperature of the Blue Lagoon is 100 F or 38 C
  • The active ingredients found in the Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater are algae, silica, and minerals.
  • The deepest the Blue Lagoon gets is 1.6 meters.  Most areas, are very shallow!
The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon:  yes, the water really is this color…more blue than what my camera picked up through the window and the raindrops

Interior photos of mud masks

Interior photos of mud masks

The bus dropped us off near the trolls, back in Reykjavik

The bus dropped us off near the trolls, back in Reykjavik  (look how smooth their skin looks from the soak at the Blue Lagoon!!)

Very cool mural of Ganesha. The hand with OM is from the same mural.

Very cool mural of Ganesha. The hand with OM is from the same mural. (taken in a dark alley so the photo is not so clear)

Cute red house in Reykjavik.

Cute red house in Reykjavik.

Gentle Icelandic Horses and Soothing Secret Lagoon

September 25, 2015

About to leave for Reykjavik..our time here at Minniborgir Cottages has come to an end.  Must pack and get some breakfast.  So here are photos from yesterday with some captions.  Brevity at its best!

Sydra Horse Farm near Fludir: home of the gentle beautiful Icelandic horse I rode

Sydra Horse Farm near Fludir: home of the gentle beautiful Icelandic horse I rode

Pia and me on our horses. She rode Prince and I rode Gluntz

Pia and me on our horses.

Our riding guide Noemi, from Switzerland

Our riding guide Noemi, from Switzerland

Noemi's horse and countryside

Noemi’s horse and countryside (kind of hard to take photos while on a horse)

Such beautiful horses!

Such beautiful horses!

Sweet kitty at the horse farm

Sweet kitty at the horse farm

Picked up the others from their hike after our horse ride: Bev

Picked up the others from their hike after our horse ride: Bev

Did something rather unusual!  We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant for lunch.  Delicious.  Julie B can speak a little Ethiopian and made fast friends with the owner.

Did something rather unusual! We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant for lunch. Delicious. Julie B can speak a little Ethiopian and made fast friends with the owner.  Who would have thought to have this experience in Iceland??

Then off to the Secret Lagoon, the best of the hot springs so far, very natural setting, and deeply relaxing.

Then off to the Secret Lagoon, the best of the hot springs so far, very natural setting, and deeply relaxing.

Bridget and Bill soaking in the hot springs at the Secret Lagoon

Bridget and Bill soaking in the hot springs at the Secret Lagoon

I even did a session of Water Yoga (I think I may have a new career as a Water Yoga Instructor)..I only lasted about 15 minutes before I needed to stop, get out, get rehydrated and cool down.  the water was wonderfully warm and the day SUNNY!

I even did a session of Water Yoga (I think I may have a new career as a Water Yoga Instructor)..I only lasted about 15 minutes before I needed to stop, get out, get re-hydrated and cool down. the water was wonderfully warm and the day SUNNY!  (Fran and Karin)

Inimitable Day at Fontana Hot Springs

September 23, 2015

Yesterday was one of those days that’s hard to describe.  I was already wondering how I would describe the day, but then I looked at the fun and unusual array of photos and see that they will tell most of the story!

We started the day with yoga.  The focus of today’s session, in honor of the Vikings and to contemplate the concept of “Spiritual Warrior”,  was to work on the Warrior Poses.   Along with the Warrior Poses, comes the story of Virabhadra, the warrior who is born of flames to right a terribly wrong deed.  It was a powerful class.  My group of yogis are hard working and work well together.  Every day the yoga and the sound of Om becomes more powerful.

After breakfast we went to an off-the-beaten path thermal/mud foot bath that our interpreter, Lisa told us about:

raining and feeling the chill deep in our bones, most of us headed straight to a greenhouse structure where we found coffee brewing and a lovely sweet rye bread freshly steamed in an oven for 11 hours  the oven traps hot steam rising out of the ground…not a butter eater not a butter eater really not a butter eater…but icelandic butter is not to be passed up..a slab goes on the bread and the mouth waters before i start eating the bread…some brave souls go out and dig their feet into the hot mud..they have a blast and come back showing us their perfect tree poses: their feet stick to the ground!

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Happy Feet I

,,

Happy Feet II

Lisa, our interpreter, also tells us about another place we should experience.  It is like a museum where you can enter a room and it simulates an earthquake.  When the museum was being built, a huge rift was found in the ground and the rift is part of the large American/Eurasian plate drift. This is one of the few places where you can stand on TWO continents:

we enter the small room in small groups of floor..the door is shut and we begin to hear a rumble..and the building shakes and shakes and then it stops..it isn’t real so we sort of laugh, but afterwards, you realize how sobering it is to experience such violent tremors..iceland is the 6th best prepared country in the world for earthquakes…then we all go over to see the rift in the earth, the rift is covered by glass…julie, karin, and fran do splits over the continents!! and the whole group, playful as ever, does a crazzzzy pose

Um, I am not really sure what happened in the photo below.  I mean, I was right there, but I was staring at the camera.  My guess is that Julie N fell forward and Bridget was catching her?  Anyways, makes for an hysterical photo!

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Playful Warriors span two continents!

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Karin standing on two continents!!

..head choppin' splits across the continents!

..head choppin’ splits across the continents!

Well, what do you think they are?? They are eggs, of course!

What do you think they are?? They are eggs, of course!  They will be placed in the hot springs in hard boiled in a matter of minutes.

Brown bread baked in geothermal steam for 11 hours.

Brown bread baked in geothermal steam for 11 hours.

The Fontana Hot Springs is a blast:  there are several pools with varying degrees of heat…we all head to the hottest one and as i talk about breath jeff invites a young man into our circle..the young man is from portland oregon…we get very warm and brave the cold water of the lake and go in…we do this again and again…sauna and cold plunge..hot spring and cold plunge..someone takes a photo of us in the cold lake..will the photo capture the goosebumps?  we meet two women from belgium, an italian man with his french wife who live in paris sit with us in the sauna..i talk him into a cold plunge…he swears in italian..his italian is peppered with french and it’s the darnedest thing to hear him speak!

The sign...

The sign at Fontana Hot Springs tells you not to dive…who would dive?  the water only reaches your knees

The hot springs is a comfortable 35-40 degree C.  It has been used for bathing since medieval times.  The geothermal springs of Iceland hare wonders of nature.  Icelanders have been enjoying their beneficial effects on ailments like rheumatism and skin conditions for centuries. Some say that hot springs contribute to the nation’s long lifespan.

great place!!!

great place!!!

the sauna!

the sauna..unisex..and yes, everyone wears swim suits..conversation between Bridget and Fran: “Oh, there’s a man in there!”  “Is he naked?”  “No.”  “Then we can go in.”

I do believe that's a yoni sans lingam next to Karin!

I do believe that’s a lingam (without a lingam) next to Karin!  (photo taken from the dining area as I had my late lunch)

a kiss for Fran

A kiss for Fran!!! (photo taken as I sat eating my late lunch…I was having so much fun I forgot to eat…extremely unusual for me to forget to eat!)

Delicious buffet at the hot springs

Delicious buffet at the hot springs

Lighthouse Lighting

September 19, 2015

It is hard to believe that yesterday, in the middle of driving all over Reykjavik, putting the finishing touches to the pre-retreat planning, Julie and I stopped at the beach for a stroll.  We were in search of some thermal foot baths we had read about on the internet.  We never found them, but we did come across the gleaming white lighthouse of Reykjavik.

And given that the weather was really nice, I was able to get some great shots yesterday.  It is fun to see these photos, because today we had driving rains and winds.  Did I dream up the sunshine? In hopes of getting some shut-eye, I will post these from yesterday and hope each photo tells you a story or two from this magical land of Iceland.

Reykjavik's Lighthouse

Reykjavik’s Lighthouse

Thank you, Julie Newcombe, for taking these photos of me!

On the Dock: Thank you, Julie Newcombe, for taking these photos of me!

Lighthouse I

Lighthouse I: Half Moon

Lighthouse II: Dancer's Pose

Lighthouse II: Dancer’s Pose

Another Point of View

Another Point of View

Beautiful coastline of Reykjavik

Beautiful coastline of Reykjavik

Seaweed

Seaweed

Lichen on the lava rocks of the black beaches of Reykjavik

Lichen on the lava rocks of the black beaches of Reykjavik

Breathe In Breathe Out

Breathe In Breathe Out

Geothermal Wonder

September 18, 2015

The yoga group is here!  So wonderful to have everyone together.  Late night here in Reykjavik, so words will be few.  Another sunshine filled day today. Julie and I drove all over the place tending to tasks and putting finishing touches on everything.  We were ever so relieved to return the rental car today!!!  It is so intense driving in a city you don’t know, in a foreign country.  (Marilyn, if you are reading this, it was almost as intense as driving in Sicily in our rental car there even though the driving is supposed to be easier here!)

And I have to add that late last night, at 10pm, while Julie and I were soaking in the hot tub at Minniborgir Cabins (where we will take the group tomorrow), we saw the Northern Lights!  Yes, Aurora Borealis lit us the sky with rays of light.  Very very exciting. My camera does not capture night images, so I just took it all in. Lasted about 20 minutes!  I hope we will see the Northern Lights again.

Kerid Crater Lake (photos below):

http://www.lakelubbers.com/kerid-crater-lake-2241/

Crater Volcano

Crater Crater Lake

up close, color unaltered

up close, color unaltered

depending on the light and clouds, the lake takes on different colors

depending on the light and clouds, the lake takes on different colors

Big Sky

Big Sky

Icelandic Horse and Mountain Scene

Icelandic Horse and Mountain Scene

Hidden Lagoon is a true gem!  We will be coming here with the group and there is hiking nearby: http://www.icelandairhotels.com/en/hotels/fludir/environment/secret-lagoon-at-fludir

Hidden Lagoon near Fludir

Hidden Lagoon at Fludir

Hidden Lagoon Hot Springs

Hidden Lagoon Hot Springs

And my silhouette seems to also have a halo attached to it!

And my silhouette seems to also have a halo attached to it!


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