29 March 2005

let me introduce myself

I've always considered myself buddhist -- that's right, buddhist with a small "B". Buddhists who deserve a capital "B" are the Dalai Lama, Lama Surya Das, Thich Nhat Hanh, people like that. They are the heavy-hitters who deserve a capital "B". I'm just a little ant at the bottom of the yoga mountain. Hindsight made me realize that I was a buddhist in high school in the late '60s-early '70s, only at that time I didn't know that my beliefs could be called Buddhism (with or without capitalization). For one thing, I always believed in karma, particularly when my friends and I were called "hippie commie freaks" by no-necked acne-scarred football players. You know the type -- the ones who would harass you during lunch, throw food at you, then ask later if you could score some pot or acid for them. "They'll get theirs someday," I always thought. Karma, what goes around comes around.

I om'ed with Allen Ginsberg at a party (how groovy is that?), and drifted in and out of yoga and meditation practice during my university years. But for some reason, yoga, et. al. just didn't stick to me back then. Who knows why? Timing, I guess. I wasn't ready. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Karma. It was only when I commenced a serious yoga and meditation practice that everything suddenly clicked. It is said that yoga helps you discover or re-discover your True Self. All those books I read what seemed like a hundred years ago finally made sense. All the words from the guru-led lectures I had attended came back to hit me right in my third eye center. The Me That Used to Be finally came back home. I started re-reading all my old buddhism books, and dived head first into my new yoga philosophy books, devouring everything. Now my old/new brain could wrap itself around the Five Precepts, attachment, non-attachment, karma, self-inquiry, non-duality, the Gita. Now I knew why Ginsberg om'ed because I heard it during meditation. . . and it was bliss.

My western astrologer told me that my chart contains some heavy spiritual stuff, things that will not come to fruition until I am past the age of 51, things that will only keep getting stronger. A vedic astrologer told me that in September 2005 (when I will be in India) I will fulfull my desires, and from 2008-2010, he talked about "divine grace". What does that mean? Who knows? Keep handing me those big grains of salt. I just go with the flow.

So at an age when many people start thinking about what they will do when they retire, I feel that my life will start when I journey to the heart of yoga. Naive? Maybe. Stupid? Possibly. Reckless? A little. I wouldn't have it any other way.


28 March 2005

so ya wanna go to india?

Check out this excellent story by Chicago yoga instructor Cara Jepsen in YogaChicago. Everything you want to know before you go, getting there, what to pack, etc., etc., etc. You can bet I'm using it for my checklist!

25 March 2005

no turning back

My yoga journey has officially begun with last week's purchase of non-refundable Lufthansa tickets to Chennai, India. Such a deal from, $1400 RT from Chicago to Chennai. Now it's just purchase travel insurance, get a new digital camera, maybe some new luggage, get my shots, and visa.

I started planning my India trip about one year ago. I am a yoga instructor and I told my husband -- much to his dismay -- that when it's time for me to go to India, I'm going, and nothing or no one is going to stop me. That time has come, and I'm going in September.

I researched various yoga schools and ashrams in India, but nothing felt right until Chicago yoga instructor Helen Snow wrote a story for YogaChicago about her trip to Chennai and her studies at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, the yoga school of T.K.V. Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of modern yoga. This is it, I thought, I found my school, and I sent my deposit last summer.

Last summer was also when I saw Helen again. We were in a teacher training together in 2003 at Chicago Yoga Center . When I read her story I emailed her and said "you probably don't remember me, but....", and I asked if she could tell me all about the school and her trip. She invited me over, and the more she told me, the more I wanted to leave for India the next day. She told me a few weeks ago that she wants me to try on her salwars that she bought on her trip, so that I can wear them when I'm in India -- "my Indian clothes miss India", she said. By the way, this is my first trip overseas, and I'm going alone, at the fabulous age of 51.

Peoples' reactions to my solo trip to India have run the gamut of fear and dismay to envy to excitement. Some people think I will never come back. Many people are perplexed as to why I would even consider going: "can't you study more yoga here?"; "why do you want to go to such a dirty country?"; "you're going to crap your brains out for a month!"; "you want to see Indians, go to Devon Avenue! (or a 7-11); "are they on our side in the war?" Even people who are regular yoga practitioners have their doubts. But I know this is something that I have to do: at this stage of my yoga life, I know it in my heart and I feel it in my bones.

FearTalk, that's what I call it. I will have none of it. Some of the suburban women I know have told me, "I'm afraid to go into Chicago, I can't imagine going to India alone!. Aren't you afraid?" FearTalk....maybe that's why so many people live their lives in quiet desperation, to quote an American Transcendentalist.

I've been told by an akashic record reader that when I go to India, I will "disappear". Not literally, but that I will melt into that world as if I were going back home. Who knows? Maybe that explains my visions in meditation of an old woman in an orange robe with long, curly grey hair sitting in meditation on the steps of a temple. So ha. All things happen for a reason, there are no accidents.

So come with me on my yoga journey via this blog. But check your FearTalk at the door.