Archive for the ‘Yoga Retreats abroad’ Category

Autumn Haiku Encore

December 9, 2016

As Seattle stands tall, bundled up against freezing temperatures and braced for the current snowfall,  I write this year’s final Autumn Haiku Encore.

As before, you will see a haiku poem followed by a photo/photos inspired by the haiku.  The haiku and photos appear in the order I received them.  The first one below is the Basho haiku Kevin received:

The smell of sake,

and the waves,

and the wine-cup

-Basho

Kevin put his photos into a collage

Kevin made this collage using his photos

Who was this sake-loving, nature-observing, student-of-humanity poet Basho?  Basho lived from 1644-1694.  He was born near Kyoto to a samurai family.  He abandoned the samurai warrior status he was born into in order to become a poet.  Over time, he was regarded as one of the greatest poets of Japan. As a poet he is credited with elevating haiku to a highly refined art form.

Once he became a poet, Basho left Kyoto for Edo (Tokyo) and became a haiku master (Sosho).  His name was not always Basho.  He was born as Matsuo Munefusa.  Over the years, he wandered all over Japan in search of imagery and composed poetry based on what he observed.  He also practiced meditation.  He was unconcerned with money matters, but was able to establish a small cottage in Fukagawa, Edo (Tokyo) due to a generous monetary gift from an admirer of his art.  At his cottage, Basho was gifted a banana tree, which he planted in his garden.  The banana tree, called basho-an in Japanese, became his favorite tree and he decided to name himself after it.

JD received the following haiku written by Issa, a poet and Buddhist monk, and was able to find a great old pine tree to go with it:

It has aged indeed

The pine tree that I planted

Now autumn’s ending

-Issa

300 year old pine tree

300 year old pine tree  “Of course this is a picture of the 300 year old pine from the Hama-Rikyu Onshi-Teien waterfront garden in Tokyo.  Alas, Tokyo had no real signs of Autumn, much less Autumn ending…

Here’s another angle, and a sign that tells about it being planted 300 years ago. Perhaps the Shogun who had it planted stood here many years later, at the end of Autumn, and reflected on this haiku...

“Here’s another angle, and a sign that tells about it being planted 300 years ago. Perhaps the Shogun who had it planted stood here many years later, at the end of Autumn, and reflected on this haiku…”

The sign in the above photo says, “The pine is named “300-year Pine” because it was planted in 1709, about 300 years ago, when the sixth shogun, Ienobu greatly repaired the garden.  Its majestic form, praising the great work, is reminiscent of the old days.  It is one of the largest black pines in Tokyo.”

And I watched Kim as she searched for her frog!  Luckily, Kim found two photos to go with her haiku:

The Old Pond-
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

-Basho

,,,

“The pond at Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion”

and below, the frog friend who lives in the garden at the Kimono Dressing house

“The frog friend who lives in the garden at the Kimono Dressing house”

A note from Kim: “What I really wanted to submit was super difficult to photograph. It’s more of a mind picture and it is metaphorical. We all experienced it, many more than once. It is the image of the gaijin (foreigner) wearing the bathroom slippers OUTSIDE of the bathroom. That never failed to make a splash and produce the “sound of water”!

Wendy found a unique way to represent the following haiku by Basho via her photo below.

It is deep autumn

My neighbor

How does he live, I wonder

-Basho

deer

Wendy wrote the following: “From my photo attempts to represent one of Basho’s last written haikus (translated as ‘Deep Autumn” or “Deepening Autumn”), I chose this (above) photo from Miyajima Island.

I don’t think Basho was thinking about deer when he wrote this haiku, but I imagine that he hoped that readers would look broadly outward while finding personal connections in his words.”

Below: Wendy’s photo of the autumn foliage.  This photo is not enhanced in any way.  The colors are just as we saw them!img_1609

Yoga: I Love Light

November 21, 2016

Whether he is in Japan or back at home, every morning Don wakes up at 4am and does his yoga practice.  At the end of his yoga practice and meditation, he recites the following mantra:

I am a child of light

I love light.

I serve light.

Light is in me

protecting,

illuminating,

supporting,

sustaining.

I am light.

Don was recently on the Japan tour.  One morning I asked him to share the above mantra with us as we did yoga.  Of the 13 full days touring Japan, we, as a group, had 10 sessions of yoga.  As usual, I am unable to take photos when I am teaching.  But luckily,  Jeff (and Karin) got a few good shots!  I only took some of these photos.

The first set of photos were taken on our cycling trip in Kyoto.  That day we had standing yoga in Kameyama Park.  Since we had been cycling all morning, I told everyone not to worry about bringing their yoga mats along.  And since the ground was a fine white pea gravel, we also wore our shoes.  We called the class Standing Yoga.  It felt so good to take in the clean fresh air of Kyoto!

Debby and Marc forming a bridge of friendship.

Debby and Marc forming a Bridge of Friendship.

One more view of the Vol-Au-Vents (the name of a savory light pastry in France that means Fly With the Wind)

One more view of the Vol-Au-Vents (the name of a savory light pastry in France which means “Fly With the Wind”)

Happiness is the Bridge of Friendship. Ginger and Woody

Happiness is the Bridge of Friendship. Ginger and Woody (pant legs tucked in from the bike ride).

Our team magicians: Chiaki and Yukiko

Our team magicians: Chiaki and Yukiko

Last shot for the Standing Yoga in Kyoto: I think we look we belong to a scene right out of Saturday Night Fever.

Last shot for  Standing Yoga in Kyoto: I think we belong in a scene right out of Saturday Night Fever.

See what I mean?

See what I’m saying??

Then we have lots of yoga photos from the first Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn with Hot Springs/Onsen) we stayed at on the island of Shikoku.  The room we had was unbelievable!  It was like a ballroom/atrium combo with glass windows overlooking the city of Takamatsu.  We did yoga in the evening, just before dinner and the city lights made for a dramatic and lovely backdrop to our yoga class.  One more thing: I had access to chairs so we did yoga using chairs.  Amazing what you can do using chairs for yoga!

Camel Pose

Camel Pose (Kim in the foreground)

Forward bends using the chair

Forward bends using the chair

Revolved Triangles!

Revolved Triangles! (Bill in the foreground)

Deeper Backbends over a chair (Karin)

Deeper Backbends over a chair (Karin)

Resting Crocodiles!

Resting Crocodiles!

Resting crocodile

Resting crocodile

Deeply Relaxed!

Deeply Relaxed! (Jeff!)

And photos were also taken at the Buddhist monastery at Mt. Koya.  I think that may have been the best room ever.  The floors were made  of tatami mats. There is a nice sweet grass-like smell that comes with tatami mats, which are made of rush grass.  They are gentle but firm.  The room we practiced in was cavernous.  There were several heaters which kept us warm.  This is a good thing because it was pretty cold on the mountain at night. The monastery had a great feel to it. In the morning we watched the monks chant, pray, and do their fire ceremony.  It was very peaceful and meditative. I think their good energy permeated the yoga space.  And it was quiet. A very quiet room with great acoustics so my voice carried over strongly.

Side stretching

Side stretching

Windmill

Windmill

Trees at the Monastery

Trees at the Monastery

Flip Your Dog!

Flip Your Dog!

And lastly, we found that doing Warrior I-or any yoga at all- in our Kimonos was impossible! (Fran and Karin)

And lastly, we found that doing Warrior I-or any yoga at all- in our Kimonos was impossible! (Fran and Karin)

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

May 23, 2016

While in South India a little over a month ago, we really did take a walk on the wild side.  India is a land of extremes.  Summer temperatures can exceed 38 degrees Celsius.  Just two days ago, during one of the longest heat waves in India, India hit a record temperature of 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 Fahrenheit) in the north-western town of Phalodi.

In this land of extremes, I learned about and saw a fascinating variety of animals.  We visited Periyar National Park, a dense tropical forest, a refuge for the native wild Asian elephants.  From a boat on Lake Periyar, we saw elephants come to the lake to drink one evening.  It was an exhilarating experience.  The anticipation of and then actually seeing the elephants in the wild, made us (those sitting near me and myself) giddy and silly, so much that the uptight French tourists on the other side of the boat were giving us dirty looks because they wanted “Du Silence”!  Of course, their disapproving looks only made things worse and we became uncontrollably giddier.  (Yikes, the French tourists ended up at our hotel that very same evening and I am sure they had very strong opinions about us when, at the dinner table, a cicada dropped onto one of my group participant’s clothing  and caused great alarm!  She had never seen a cicada before and had no idea what sort of insect was clinging tightly to her!)

On the following day, in the wee hours of the morning, we were led by three guides/naturalists through the dense forest on foot, where again we saw the elephants and a rich variety of wildlife.  The guides really knew their birds and animals, but they struggled with their English.  Still, they managed to teach us about the wildlife around us.  Later, I did some research on the wildlife of Periyar Park in South India. With the guides’ information and what I found on line, below are some fascinating facts about South Indian wildlife (wildlife habitat of the animals below ranges beyond Periyar National Park):

Dense forest in Periyar Natinal Park

Dense forest in Periyar Natinal Park

A wild Asian elephant:

  • They eat 130 kg-169 kg of vegetation per day!
  • In Periyar National Park, water hyacinth becomes an important food source for elephants when grass dies in the dry season.
  • The tip of the trunk is prehensile for easy grasping of grass and other leafy vegetation.
  • An elephant drinks 100 liters of water every day just to survive.  Tourists who come to Periyar Lake by boat can always expect to see the elephants come to the water’s edge in the evening to quench their thirst.
  • As you can imagine, elephants produce prodigious amounts of dung.  Butterflies feast on the dung, benefiting from the minerals found on it!  There were many colorful butterflies throughout Periyar National Park.
A clump of dry elephant dung

One of our guides proudly displays a clump of dry elephant dung

  • The adult females create a mobile fortress for the baby elephants.  This way, the calf stays safe from the Royal Bengal Tigers.  Mother elephants are fiercely protective of their young.
Baby is in the middle of the elephant fortress

Baby is in the middle of the elephant fortress

  • Female elephants gather to witness births and to witness the first steps of the baby calf!  The calf does not walk immediately, but within hours it will be walking underneath its mother in its early infancy, never losing contact with her body.
  • The elephants stay in herds because an extended family increases chances of survival.
  • A bull can weigh as much as 6 tons (the largest Asian bull ever recorded weighed just over 7 tons).
  • When compared to African elephants, the Asian elephant is slightly smaller and has smaller ears. Elephants are excellent swimmers, using their trunks as snorkels.

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Smooth-Coated Otter:

  • These Asian otters are larger than other otters and have shorter coats and fur-less noses.  We saw them swimming in Lake Periyar.
  • They are used for commercial fishing in Bangladesh.  They are bred in captivity and trained to chase fish into fishing nets.
  • Otters can stay underwater for 8 minutes.
Please Note: Otter photo is not my photo, taken from the web

Please Note: Asian Otter photo is not my photo, taken from the web

Cobras:

  • Happy to report I did not see a cobra in the wild.  I did not even see the occasional snake charmer working to collect some money.   Snake charmers are being outlawed these days.  A ban has been in effect since 1991, but only recently is being enforced by the government.  Apparently the government views snake charming as offensive to the culture, a bit backwards.  There was a news article that talked about how upset the snake charmers are.  Some 800,000 snake charmers are up in arms over the now enforced ban and recently took to the streets to protest the loss of their livelihood: article
  • Cobras are snake eaters!
  • The venom from one cobra bite can kill 10 humans.  I read one account that the venom from one bite can kill 26 people. Look on line and you will see a variety of numbers.  Even if the number were just one, it would be a terribly frightening statistic.  Cobra venom is neurotoxic and spreads extremely quickly throughout the bitee (I just made up that word..Cobra is the biter and the victim is the bitee!).

Giant Squirrel:

  • Ok, so when the guide pointed out the Giant Squirrel up in a tree overhead, we didn’t understand him at first.  I truly believe the word “squirrel” is one of the most difficult English words to pronounce for non-native English speakers.  And besides, even if we did understand, the animal we saw up in the tree could not possibly be a squirrel.  We were in disbelief.  The giant squirrel is a beautiful creature.  It mostly stays up in trees, where it is safe from predators.
  • One single leap from tree to tree measures a span of 6 meters or more.
  • The Indian Giant Squirrel is only found in tropical forests.
  • And Indian Giant Squirrel has the cutest round ears and a “hand” with an inner paw for gripping.
  • They weigh over four times more than our common Western squirrel.  The Indian Giant Squirrel weighs up to four and a half pounds and the average squirrel we see in America and Canada weighs about one pound.
  • They are omnivorous, eating flowers, fruit, eggs, and insects.
  • An Indian Giant Squirrel group is called a “dray or scurry”.  We did not see a scurry of squirrels and I am relieved that our guides did not have to use the expression “a scurry of squirrels”
Indian Giant Squirrel (Photo is not mine, and was found on line)

Indian Giant Squirrel (Photo is not mine, and was found on line, but I wanted you to see its adorable ears and human-like hands.)

This is my photo of the Giant Squirrel

This is my photo of the Giant Squirrel

Macaques:

  • Found in Wikipedia: “Macaques have a very intricate social structure and hierarchy. If a macaque of a lower level in the social chain has eaten berries and none are left for a higher-level macaque, then the one higher in status can, within this social organization, remove the berries from the other monkey’s mouth.”
  • Their diets consist mostly of fruits.
  • The number one fruit for the macaque are the figs from the Ficus tree
  • Macaques can live in social groups of 30 members.  The leader is generally a female.
  • Males tend to the young.
  • Macaques can swim (and occasionally can be seen soaking in hot springs in Japan).
Yawning

I caught this one yawning!

Golden Langur:

  • They use all four legs and tail for balance.
  • The langur and the forest deer have a friendly relationship:  The langurs hang out in trees and disturb the red silk cotton flowers, which then fall to the ground for the deer to feed on.
  • The langur feasts mainly on leaves, but also eats fruits, grass, and flowers.
  • They live in groups of up to 40 individuals.
  • They are capable of jumping over rivers.  They can jump about 10 meters.  They have to jump rivers because they cannot swim!

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There are countless frogs in Periyar Park.  There were so many that we had to dodge them so as not to crush them under our boots.  There is also a seemingly infinite variety of birds in the park.  Here is a list I found on line (Some in our group got photos of the blue flycatcher.  It is other-worldly!):

Dee birding!

Dee birding!

About 265 species of birds can be seen in the park, including migrants. Endemic birds include the Malabar grey hornbill, Nilgiri wood pigeon, blue-winged parakeet, Nilgiri flycatcher, crimson-backed sunbird, and white-bellied blue flycatcher.   Other birds include the black baza, spot-bellied eagle-owl, Nilgiri thrush, little spiderhunter, rufous-bellied hawk-eagle, brahminy kite, great hornbill, Sri Lanka frogmouth, Oriental darter, and black-necked stork.

View link to see the variety of wildlife in the park (not all birds and mammals are listed in this blog, for example, we saw kingfishers, wild pigs, sambar, and spotted deer)

Frog Dodging!

Frog Dodging!  All those blurred black lines are frogs jumping (hard to see, but seriously, there were thousands and I am afraid to say that we stepped on more than a few).

We saw a fair number of cormorants and egrets.  The egrets eat fish and the many frogs we were trying so hard not to step on. The egrets appear to be the ambush specialists as they can stand still for hours and wait for a fish to appear.

Cormorants:

  • Cormorants are aquatic birds whose feathers are not waterproofed!  That is why they often perch with their wings outspread (in order to dry their feathers in the sun).
  • Cormorants have no external nostrils so they breathe through their mouths.
  • They cool off by fluffing their throats.

Termites:

  • Last but not least, the termites!  Some 100,000 termites can live in one colony.  They clear up dead wood and turn it into compost for the soil!

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SAVE THE DATE (JUST IN CASE YOU ARE WONDERING, BELOW IS THE NEXT TIME WE WILL OFFER THE SOUTH INDIA TOUR.  IT’S A WAYS OFF, BUT GOOD TO PUT THIS TRIP ON YOUR RADAR):

SOUTH INDIA TOUR WITH DAILY YOGA FEBRUARY 2018

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Beautiful Mahaballipuram

March 26, 2016

OK..so much to blog about.  And I want to post photos so today you will mostly get photos.  The photos were taken yesterday at Mahaballipuram at the great Shore Temple and other monolithic temples and temples built of quarried stone.

Just finished a spectacular, energizing, exciting yoga session on the beach.  The yoga session was to the back drop to the Bay of Bengal which goes into the Indian Ocean.  Also in our company was a female dog, whom we named Shakti along with her male companion (unnamed) and two cows grazing and many people.  All this at 6:30-7:30am!  Those photos will come soon in another post.

Shiva's Butterball  (Shiva loved butter!!)  We were flocked by school students.  They were so well behaved, extremely energetic, and very friendly and loving!!

Shiva’s Butterball (Shiva loved butter!!) We were flocked by school students. They were so well behaved, extremely energetic, and very friendly and loving!!

Another view of Shiva's Butterball!

Another view of Shiva’s Butterball!

One of my favorite shots of the day...precious bejeweled feet of an 8 month-old girl

One of my favorite shots of the day…precious bejeweled feet of an 8 month-old girl

Granite Stone Carvings

Granite Stone Carvings

Carving at temple..Goddess Parvati is shown here (she is Shiva's consort).  She  sits on a lotus and is bathing!  An elephant trunk is above her showering her with water!!!  Utterly beautiful!

Carving at temple..Goddess Parvati is shown here (she is Shiva’s consort). She sits on a lotus and is bathing! Can you see the elephant head and trunk above her showering her with water???  Utterly beautiful!

Dee Hammer and the monkeys.  The monkeys are grooming each other.  Beautiful photo of Dee!

Dee Hammer and the monkeys. The monkeys are grooming each other. Beautiful photo of Dee!

Another one of my favorite photos of the day!!!  This little girl was playing hide and seek with her brother amid the giant granite elephants at the Shore Temple.

Another one of my favorite photos of the day!!! This little girl was playing hide and seek with her brother amid the giant granite elephants at the Shore Temple.

Elephants and their babies!  Depicted here with the massive carved temple wall of Arjuna's Penance.

Elephants and their babies! Depicted here with the massive carved temple wall of Arjuna’s Penance.

Another depiction of Arjuna's Penance.  Thousands of years old, sculpted 1400 years ago, we see Arjuna in tree pose.

Another depiction of Arjuna’s Penance. Thousands of years old, sculpted 1400 years ago, we see Arjuna in tree pose.

Cobras!

Cobras!

With Arvind Singh and Kelley McHenry, founders and organizers of our tour, Spiritual India Tours.

With Arvind Singh and Kelley McHenry, founders and organizers of our tour, Spiritual India Tours.

Tenderly milking a cow and hopefully saving some milk for the calf!

Tenderly milking a cow and hopefully saving some milk for the calf!

And a yoga pose for you. Fran and Karin.

And a yoga pose for you. Fran and Karin.

The temples are truly beautiful, even more beautiful with the lovely ladies in their colorful sari.

The temples are truly beautiful, even more beautiful with the lovely ladies in their colorful sari.

Everyone wants to take photos with us and us with them.

Everyone wants to take photos with us and us with them.

I am in love with this boy!

I am in love with this boy!

More photos with Karin!

More photos with Karin!

More....

More….I love India!  Need I say, we are so loving this experience.  And mostly, it is the people of India who make this place so precious!

Thoughts on Yoga in India

March 23, 2016

As Arvind said, “Your time here in India is not a vacation.”  And how right he is!  Time spent in India is a journey of the spirit, a journey into the vast heart of India.  We see, experience, and learn things here that stir us deeply and, slowly, we are transformed into a better version of ourselves.

You cannot come to India and return home the same person you once were.

To deepen the transforming experience, we start each day with yoga.  We practice yoga outside in the early morning. The days here have been hot, but the early mornings are pleasant.  Here in Aurangabad, we do our yoga in a big grassy area near the pool. The yoga practice is grounding and peaceful. This morning was our third class together as a group.  Diverse as our group is, we all have the common thread of loving the yoga practice and seeing yoga as a vehicle to deepen our awareness of breath, of each and every moment, of the preciousness of life.  We all experience Yoga as Union.

Together we discover how yoga helps support us through the rigors of travel and helps keep us grounded and more alert throughout our travels in South India.  As usual, I have not taken many photos of our yoga sessions because I am too busy leading the classes.  Others, however, have taken photos and later I hope I can pull together a few yoga photos for the blog.  For now, I’d like to share with you the two readings I have read to the group and some photos I took of children today.

The first reading below is from today and makes me emotional. Sometimes I am impossibly hard on myself!  And I am not alone.  I am 100% certain of this. The reading below is a reminder to embrace ourselves.  It is a reminder to wake up to what is really important in life!

Walk Slowly by Danna Faulds

It only takes a reminder to breathe, a moment to be still, and just like that, something in me settles, softens, makes space for imperfection.  The harsh voice of judgment drops to a whisper and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race; that waking up to life is what we were born for.  As many times as I forget, catch myself charging forward without even knowing where I’m going, that many times I can make the choice to stop, to breathe, to be, and to walk slowly into the mystery.

And the second reading is a reminder to be content, to feel and express gratitude, and embrace simplicity:

Excerpt from Meditations on Intention and Being, by Rolf Gates

I have a prayer that I use to access santosha (the art of being content).  It is the simple statement, “Thank you for bringing me here.”  I began using it each time I took my seat at a 12-step meeting.  The prayer felt like sanity.  Then it started showing up everywhere. I would say it stopping on a hike through a forest. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

I would say it at the beginning of a yoga class.

I say it now at bedtime lying quietly next to my children, being the calm presence that helps them go to sleep.

These days I am saying it everywhere I go and it is more than enough.  There is nothing to be added or subtracted; I am content to say thank you.  Thank you for bringing me here.

The group photo in this blog is our lovely lively yoga and travel group at the Ellora Monolithic Caves today.

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And the children below are pure Jyoti (light) and Love.  Here is to bringing more light, love, and simplicity into your life:

m

d

s

s

Thai Massage in Mumbai

March 19, 2016

Yesterday was Spa Day in Mumbai!

Before our treatment!

Before our treatment!

Sometimes you stumble upon something amazing! That happened to me yesterday. I had THE BEST Thai massage ever yesterday at the Four Seasons Mumbai. Today, when I woke up at 5am full of energy, just out of curiosity, I did a search on “Best Thai Massage in Mumbai” and guess what popped up number one on the list? Yes, you got it! The Thai Massage at the Four Seasons Mumbai! The woman who did my massage was Tenzing, a Tibetan Indian woman from Dharamsala. Interestingly, Karin, also with me at the Four Seasons (along with Tone, Jodi, Dee, and Cindi), had a Thai massage around the same time I did by a different massage therapist and her massage was also the best Thai massage she had ever experienced.

Tenzing pulled and twisted and stretched and pressed and prodded my body until it went limp, until all my muscles relaxed and my bones went into alignment! She walked on me, kneeled on me, put all her weight on me. It was intense at times, and the resulting release pleasant! She never used her elbows, just her hands, her feet, her body weight. The treatment was never cruel, just intense and very therapeutic.

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And I have had a lot of Thai Massage, enough that I can make comparisons. Tenzing was able to sense when I could go further or when enough was enough without my having to say anything. And it was so intense that there was no space for TALKING or chitchat of any kind. At times, all I could do was focus, breathe, (grunt) and sweat….. She found pressure points I didn’t know existed! Pressure points in my calves, in my back, in my arms, in my neck, and in my head.

The result? I feel incredibly good. I thought I already felt good. In general, I live pain free and have lots of energy. Yeah, I feel little bits of discomfort here and there from time to time, like in my stressed elbows or in my overused shoulders, but with Tenzing, all these areas were addressed. I didn’t feel guarded at all as she worked on my weak points. I just let her do her magic and my elbows and shoulders feel amazing. Yes, this 54 year-old body feels like that of a lithe child! How could that be? I woke up this morning feeling on top of the world with the urge to write about this Thai Massage experience.

Honestly, a trip to Mumbai just to have a Thai massage with Tenzing at the Four Seasons Mumbai would be worth the long flight!

I exchanged notes with Karin afterwards and we both agreed on this being the best experience ever. Both of our therapists said they were trained by a professional Thai massage therapist from Thailand. They were trained together at the Four Seasons Spa Mumbai. On Facebook, Karin posted her selfie after the massage! She looked exactly how I felt:  disheveled, out of it, drugged, pummeled to a pure state of relaxation. Afterwards, we took taxis to an Indian restaurant. We all had treatments at the Four Seasons Spa and were feeling giddy, exhausted, relaxed. We had a nice dinner and then made our way back to our hotel.

So now, I am going to be in search of the perfect Thai Massage Therapist in Seattle. Now I know what I am looking for. I hope I will not spend the rest of my life searching for a Tenzing clone in my attempt to recapture the same experience in Seattle! If anyone reading this knows of a great place to get Thai Massage in Seattle, do let me know by commenting below!

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

Iceland’s Second Largest Glacier

September 22, 2015

Sometimes I wonder if we are the only people in the world who would go to the second largest glacier in Iceland while being all bundled up, walk around on the slick icy surface of the glacier, walk over the occasional piles of ash, and who would laugh and feel on top of the world in this unique environment.    I am sure others have done it, but it felt as if we were some of the few humans on earth enjoying the wonders of the Langjokull Glacier.

The drive over to the glacier was stunning.  Below is a photo of heather in bloom and two sheep dotting the landscape.

Heather and Sheep

Heather and Sheep

We were so bundled up that I don’t really think anyone felt cold.  How lucky were we that the sun was shining most of the day? It took an hour and 45 minutes to drive out to the glacier.  Every second of the bus ride was worth while.  The glacier looks like a frozen sea.  It is immense in size.    Views from the glacier were impressionable.

Bundles of Joy: Karin and Bev

Bundles of Joy: Karin and Bev

Walking on the glacier.  Here you can see the edge of the glacier.

Walking on the glacier. Here you can see the edge of the glacier.

To top things off, Orvar set up his barbecue on the edge of Langjokull Glacier and made hamburgers (plus veggie burgers for me and a few others).   We must have exerted a lot of energy to stay warm because we were famished by the time the hamburgers were ready.

basking in the sun at the edge of the glacier, eating lunch

basking in the sun at the edge of the glacier, eating lunch

Julie Newcombe has done and is doing an incredible job of helping to make this an unforgettably inimitable retreat.

Julie Newcombe has done and is doing an incredible job of helping to make this an unforgettably inimitable retreat.

The skies kept changing: sunshine, clouds, interesting rays of light, more clouds, sun again.

The skies kept changing: sunshine, clouds, interesting rays of light, more clouds, sun again.

And of course, with our bellies full, and our hearts warm from the new friendships forged and deepened, we did some yoga at the glacier.

Our motley crew of bundled up yogis

Our motley crew of bundled up yogis

Motley Crew of Bundled Yogis Part II

Motley Crew of Bundled Yogis Part II

Do you know how hard it is to do Dancer's Pose on Ice???

Do you know how hard it is to do Dancer’s Pose on Ice???

Serene unearthly landscape, it's time to go back to Minniborgir Cottages where we will end the day with a long yoga session, dinner, and a hot soak.  Ahhhh!

Serene unearthly landscape, it’s time to go back to Minniborgir Cottages where we will end the day with a long yoga session, dinner, and a hot soak. Ahhhh!


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