05 August 2005

india travel forum

If you are interested in India travel, check out (see links). Anything you want to know about travel in and to India is found there. It's an awesome website where people post all sorts of questions about India and you get equally awesome answers. Check it out...

the official countdown

The countdown officially begins today.

Four weeks from today my journey to the heart of yoga begins. Four weeks from today I step on a plane to travel overseas for the first time in my life. Four weeks from today, my life will change forever.

I don't want to sound too dramatic, but I know my time in India will transform me. I've been preparing for this trip for approximately a year, but I know nothing can prepare me for the moment I step off the plane in Chennai. India will smack me in the face like a wet, smelly towel.

Something has drawn me to Ma India, something more than the desire to study yoga, something inexplicable. More than one emotion is percolating at the same time -- fear, nervousness, excitement, love, passion. All those emotions rolled up together like kittens in a basket, piled one on top of another, inseparable; sleeping, yet ready to explode at any moment.

It is like when you meet someone again who was in your life a very long time ago, someone whom you loved and never forgot, and suddenly they reappear. Those initial moments of seeing that person again after so long -- fear, nervousness, love -- suddenly everything comes pouring out of your heart, and you are drawn, for an inexplicable reason, never to be the same again. You feel that it is a culmination of something, but you don't know what, and you don't want to know, because it doesn't matter. But it is also a new beginning. Hold your nose, close your eyes, jump right in, whatever happens, happens, om namah shivaya...

I've been told that my trip to India will be as if I am "going home". Who knows? Karma is karma, and our past karma works itself out in mysterious ways. All I know is that it is not because I want to go India, I have to go. I must go, at this particular time of my life, there is no question about it. Something deep in my cellular level is drawing me closer and closer and there is no turning back.

28 April 2005

No Sleep Til Mysore

Here is another blog written by Chicago yoga instructor, Cara Jepsen, about visits to Mysore and studying with the father of astanga yoga, Pattabhi Jois.

The real deal...the good, the bad, and the ugly. Watch out for those flying cockroaches.

01 April 2005

paz yoga

"Paz" is Spanish for "peace". "Peace yoga" sounds like a beautiful concept to me, and in my humble opinion, what yoga is really all about. Yoga is about peace, healing, transformation. I won't get into the differences between "health club yoga" and "traditional yoga", because I can assure you that one group of students I have could not care less. They don't come to class wearing $90 yoga pants, or have leather yoga mat bags, or wear chakra balancing anklets. In fact, they don't even own yoga mats and could not tell you where to buy them. But they are my favorite yoga students because they totally understand what yoga is really all about and they all got it on the first night of class.

My karma yoga at a domestic violence shelter. I teach once a month to the Hispanic women's support group. Some women understand English, others do not, so I have a translator for my direction. This in itself is interesting and amusing. We have lots of laughs when we go from la mesa to la gata then to pose of a nina to el perro.

These women are not shelter residents, but they come once a week for instruction or support regarding legal, financial, or job issues. They see me only once a month. But if you saw these women meditate, you would think I was leading a vipassana retreat. I do not have any other students who are more concentrated and focused in their goal for inner peace. When I teach my other classes and notice how some students lie in savasana with their eyes wide open staring at the ceiling, or tapping their fingers, or looking at their watches, I think about las yoginis mexicanas and their peaceful faces. It overwhelms me.

These women have been emotionally and physically abused. Some have left their men, some have not. All have children they are trying to protect. But when they come to see the "yoga lady", they know that the 90 minutes is for them, and no one else. Maybe it's the only hour and a half they've had for themselves all month. No one asks me about fancy poses or about getting a yoga butt. They ask me how to breath. They ask me about the Divine. I always tell them to go inside and find that true Self, the Self that they were born with that no one can ever take from them. The Self that no one can hit or call stupid or call a whore. One young women told me that she saw herself bathed in a white light, standing outside herself, watching herself meditate, and how happy and calm that made her feel. I told her how beautiful that was, that some people who meditate for years never see things like that, and she started to cry. Afterward the group leader told me that this woman has a little girl who keeps asking mommy why she goes back to daddy after daddy hurts her. I have not seen this woman since that night. I hope she is still bathed in the white light.

They ask me if yoga can help them with their aches and pains and whether yoga can diminish their big bellies left over from having children. They love doing Fire Series, but they love going inward to find that true Self even more. I tell them that my teachers in India will show me many ways to help them. I've explained to them how KYM teaches a theraputic yoga style, and that when I return I will show them everything. They've told me, please come back from India, we want the yoga lady here, because after class we feel happy. Now it's time for me to cry.

Yes, I will come back to show them what I've learned, because I have been where they are now. Paz yoga, healing, and transformation, por mis yoginis mexicanas.


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.