Sedona before sunrise
As the title of this blog; Travels of a Yogi might suggest, I travel. A lot. And I love it! (Why else would I write about it, right?) I love to see the World, meet new people, make global connections, and of course, do yoga anywhere and everywhere I can. After spending a fascinating week in Sedona, AZ with Tiffany Cruikshank/Yoga Medicine studying the anatomy, dysfunction and application of yoga in relation to the hip joint I excitedly extended my trip to visit another yoga friend, mentor and teacher, Leeann Carey, in Los Angeles. I love spending time on the West Coast! Cool breezes, sunshine, walks by the beach, healthy food at your fingertips…and sunsets of course!
500/1000hr Hip Module
Sedona, AZ May 2016
As I embarked on the next leg of my journey from Phoenix to LAX, I must say, the security lanes in Phoenix were probably the quickest, smoothest ones I’ve ever been in! I really couldn’t have asked for anything more! And then, there’s LAX. Oh, LAX! I have such a love/hate relationship with you. I love that you have such amazing access to the world! So many cultures and diverse backgrounds coming together in the same place, at the same time, for such a brief moment before moving on to our next adventure.
Majestic Sedona Mountains
It’s a bit of organized chaos as people hug loved ones good-bye, check their bags and begin the hustle toward their gate…but first, security. I recall the morning of Sept. 11th as I stood in my living room watching the Today show and seeing the second plane hit the Twin Towers. It was surreal. It was as if time stood still. On top of that, we were only about an hour from Shanksville, Pennsylvania where Flight 93 went down. These events have forever changed history and the way we travel. Having been to many foreign and third World countries that have much more lax security measures, I am grateful for the security and TSA that we have here in the U.S. working hard to keep us safe. As a military Mom, I applaud the efforts our country is taking to protect us.
Redondo Beach, CA
As a seasoned traveler, I do my best to follow the rules at the airport in order to have the smoothest experience possible. I typically approach the agent with boarding pass and ID in one hand, while in the other, I’m usually already holding my shoes, computer and my quart-sized Ziploc bag filled with my toiletry items (all less than 3.4 oz, I might add.) When I finally make my way to the x-ray belt, I am rock ‘n and roll ‘n and ready to go. I am completely aware that millions of people travel each and every day and the number of passengers entering security gates is enormous and I know you have a big job to do. But can we go about it in a kinder, gentler way? Please? The female TSA agent at LAX was literally screaming at people, in their faces, to get out of line forcing them to measure their carry-on baggage in the metal luggage template before allowing them to proceed. I absolutely appreciate them enforcing the size regulations, especially since the overhead bins are consistently overfull, but no need to scream in someone’s face. No, I’m not talking about projecting one’s voice so people can hear you in a loud environment. I’m talking full-on screaming and pointing as if she were a Drill Sergeant. Maybe in a past life she was, but this is not the time or place for that- especially since everyone there is being well behaved and compliant. Then, as you are herded like cattle through the security lane, the next step is to basically disrobe down to your unmentionables. (On occasion, I have considered just showing up in a bikini or see though body stocking just to see what the reaction would be.) Barefoot and almost naked, I make my way through to the x-ray scanner. Feet wide, arms up overhead I am commanded to stand perfectly still, yet again, I am again made to feel like a criminal- as if traveling was a crime! As I move on, through the security mill, I am then patted down. Really? I’m hardly wearing anything? Go ahead. Cop a feel. I hope it was good for you. And sure, while you’re at it, feel free to wipe down my itty-bitty 11” laptop and test it for who-knows-what. At this point, I feel as though a decontamination room may be next on the agenda! Finally! Free to go. As I gather my belongings, I hurry to throw my flip-flops on my feet, grab my computer and my small carry-on bag and scurry off, head down as if it were an early morning walk of shame except I did not reek of stale booze and was not wearing the clothes from the night before; although, if I had, perhaps I wouldn’t feel quite so tweaked by the encounters of the day thus far.
This moment of frustration was the prime time to practice my yoga breathing…inhaling and exhaling for an even 6 count as I simply observed this experience. I was clearly frustrated, but at the same time I knew that these measures were necessary. I knew that these people were here to ensure safety, but what I also know is that there is no reason for them to be rude, obnoxious, abrupt, commanding, acting resentful and as if we are putting them out. No reason for them to be in people’s faces, making us feel violated or intimidated for simply being there and traveling that day. After all, if we were not traveling, they wouldn’t have jobs. Be thankful. Be grateful. Just plain be nice! It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort…and it’s free.
Namaste, Miss Barista, namaste’.
While I made my way to get some coffee, which was definitely not free at $6 (way more expensive than my Starbucks caffeinated lusciousness), the barista topped off my morning joe with a heart. She didn’t have to, but she did. It didn’t cost her anything but a few seconds. For her thoughtfulness, the deliciousness she prepared for me, and the smile she brought to my face, I am grateful. Namaste, Miss Barista, namaste.
Welcome to Yoga Medicine Yin Yoga & Meditation Module!
The day after losing my grandmother, I boarded a plane for Thailand to participate in the Yin Yoga & Meditation module of my 1,000 hour yoga training with Tiffany Cruikshank. The decision to continue with this trip on the heels of this loss was extremely difficult and one that was made after heavy discussion with my family. Everyone was in agreement that my grandmother would not want me to cancel my training. We felt that it was beneficial that I saw her before she passed.
While a heavy heart was a major part of my luggage, I went through the motions of boarding my flights and taking a 38 hour trip. From LAX to Taipei, Taiwan, I noticed an overwhelming fragrance of perfume filling the cabin. I really didn’t think much of it other than that I was annoyed that someone would not think twice about dousing themselves in a strong fragrance before boarding an extremely long flight. I let it go for that moment as I popped in my headphones, watched movies that I had been too busy to see in the theater and took advantage of the complimentary wine service paired with the terrible airplane food.
As I boarded the plane from Taipei to Bangkok, I began to get settled in for another long leg. Earplugs? Check! Eye mask? Check! No-Jet Lag tablets? Check! Then, all of a sudden, I noticed it again. That smell. The overwhelming fragrance from the last flight. It was here again! I peeled off my eye mask and looked around, but no one in my immediate vicinity looked familiar from the last flight. I mean, what would be the odds, right??? Again, I really didn’t think about it much other than the fact that I was irritated that I was having to smell this fragrance for yet another flight. I felt a bit like I had just walked into Abercrombie & Fitch, but what could I do? 2 glasses of wine down, eye mask on, earplugs in, good night!
Mellow morning flow.
I groggily wandered through the Bangkok airport from 2:30am-6am before finally making my way to Koh Samui for the Yin Yoga & Meditation module with Tiffany. After everything that I had endured the week leading up to the retreat, plus the extensive traveling, I was so glad to be here. Not only did I need a shower and some decent food but remember, half of the clothes in my suitcase were dirty! (read about that in the last blog, if you haven’t already.) It was lovely meeting new yogis where were like minded and spiritually connected, but it was fantastic to reconnect with fellow yogis who I have had the pleasure of traveling with in the past.
Fellow Yoga Medicine yogi’s who I had the pleasure of exploring India with for our Seva project.
One of the things I have loved the most is making friends on just about every continent. Here, you see Australia, Sweden via Jakarta, Holland by way of Abu Dhabi, London and Norway, just to name a few! Practicing with this group brings a sense of peace, harmony and cohesiveness. Knowing that I had been through so much in the recent days, it was like having a family away from my own family.
Wind Chimes outside of the yoga shala.
The first evening of the retreat was taking place at the same time as my grandmother’s funeral back home. Needless to say, the practice was very emotional for me. At the end of the practice, I laid in the silence and stillness of savasana. As my body rested and absorbed the recent events I had encountered and the travel that I had endured, my mind was called back to the present moment by the sounds of large, metal wind chimes. Chimes similar to those that hung on my grandmother’s back porch. The porch that I spent many summers catching lightning bugs, swirling sparklers and rocking on her wooden rocker while watching the hummingbirds refuel at the feeder that she always had waiting for them. It was at this moment that it all came together for me. The wind chimes. The fragrance on the airplane. I realized what it was and why it was so familiar to me. It was Liz Claiborne. As in the red plastic triangle that we used to wear in high school. My gram used to wear it. Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first!) but I swear it was a sign from her. The perfume. The wind chimes. In my mind, it was her being there with me. Telling me that she was no longer in pain and that she was free and at peace. It was at this moment that I, too, felt at peace. In that moment. In my body. In my mind. Peace and tranquility. Despite the fact that we had beachside winds each and every day, I never heard the chimes again during my stay, yet the sense of peace and calm remained. Om Shanti, Namaste’
Finding peace and calm in Savasana
April 21st-27th, 2013 is National Infertility Awareness Week and according to the CDC, 6.7 million women under age 44 have impaired fertility. Who knew??? I certainly didn’t! At least not until it happened to me. Looking at me from the outside, having 4 children ranging in from age 5-20, you wouldn’t realize I had any fertility issues unless I told you. After having 3 uneventful pregnancies resulting in 2 sons and a daughter, we thought we were done with having children. Then, when our youngest was 4, we decided that something was missing. We assumed that getting pregnant would be easy- after all, I had already had 3 successful pregnancies. Not-so-much. Of course, I was older now, but even then, I was only 30 at the time which, I think we would all agree, isn’t that old! We tried from almost a year and nothing. Charts, temperatures, healthy lifestyle and still nothing. I couldn’t tell you how many ovulation predictor stick and pregnancy tests I’ve peed on! I could tell you the best brands and how much HCG (the pregnancy hormone) they detected. Then, we decided to see a fertility specialist. I then was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). At that time, we tried Clomid, IUI and still nothing. Our last effort was to turn to IVF. Of course, I had been doing yoga this whole time and meditating on it and “trying to relax”- yeah right! Tell anyone who says, “just relax and you’ll get pregnant” to take a flying leap! The more you tell yourself to relax, the more anxious you get! Even as a yoga instructor! Oh, and throw in ovaries that are normally the size of grapes that have ballooned to the size of lemons! That makes twisting postures all but impossible! And the hormones- oy vey! The daily shots that I would give myself would make my moods swing like Tarzan in the Amazon and cause me to break out into sweats as if I was doing Sun Salutations in a Bikram Yoga class!
Our first attempt at IVF was only partially successful. One of my ovaries (containing 11 eggs) was so large that it “flipped” behind one of my main abdominal blood vessels. This meant that the Dr. would have to go through the vessel in order to retrieve the eggs. Clearly, this would not be prudent, so he didn’t- this meant that I had to release all of those eggs on my own- talk about uncomfortable! The other ovary was cooperative, and it too, yielded 11 eggs. As the eggs were harvested they were graded and fertilized with my husbands swimmers. The eggs were observed for 3 days to see how healthy they were. At that point and time, we only had 9 of the 11 make it. Our quality or grade of embryo was some A’s some B’s. I had 3 embryos implanted and we waited. I’d go back for bloodwork in 10 days only to find that I had had a chemical pregnancy- something started to take, but then didn’t. We were devastated. How could I have gone from having no problem getting pregnant to requiring fertility drugs???
We had to take a month off before we could try again. At this point, we had 6 embryos left that we had frozen. If this didn’t work, I don’t know what we would’ve done. I don’t know that I was up to putting my body through the Hell of IVF again and pretty sure that my husband would need to be declared a saint for putting up with my chemically induced mood swings! At this point, I viewed this transfer as our last-ditch effort so I wanted to do everything I could to make it work. I was still practicing yoga and teaching on a daily basis. It was then that I decided to add acupuncture. I had never done it before and was a bit nervous as I am not a huge fan of needles, but at this point, a few acupuncture needles was nothing in comparison of the poking and prodding I’ve undergone thus far. I went for acupuncture twice a week and truly feel that it was a strong factor in the outcome of our story…
When it was time to implant our remaining embryos, the process was a bit easier since I didn’t have to have the egg retrieval again. At this point, we had 6 embryos frozen. Of course, then, I grapple with the moral side of the fertility issue and what happens if they all take??? I certainly wasn’t wanting 6, but I had faith that whatever was meant to be would be. On transfer day, only 4 of our 6 had survived the thawing procedure. Their grades were 3 B’s and one C; not great, but not awful. We transferred all 4 embryos and waited to see what hand fate would deal us. Blood tests followed with no signs of HCG. I had about lost my hope. Then, just when they were about to declare the transfer unsuccessful, my numbers started to rise. I was pregnant! But, I was cautioned by the Dr. not to get too ahead of myself because the numbers were rising slowly. My glimmer of hope began to brighten. My rear end felt like a pin cushion as I continued to give myself IM progesterone shots for the next 16 weeks to help support the pregnancy. In November of 2007, we welcomed out beautiful daughter, Elly, completing our family of 2 boys and 2 girls (no, we did not choose gender or anything extreme, we were just glad to have our final child). Since her arrival, she has been a joyful light in our lives on a daily basis. We lovingly refer to her as our “totsicle.” She is beautiful, smart and has an uncanny sense of humor. I look at her each and every day and realize what a true miracle she is.
For those women out there who struggle with infertility, my heart goes out to you because I’ve been on both sides of that fence. I know not everyone who tries to get pregnant or even resorts to fertility treatments will get pregnant and I can’t begin to imagine how that person must feel. And obviously, I can’t make any guarantees, but what I can say is that, speaking from my own personal experience, yoga and acupuncture helped me and it’s worth a shot for you, too. We welcome you to inquire more about the yoga and acupuncture services at ZGY. We are committed to supporting you body, mind and spirit.
Much love and Namaste’
Click here http://www.squidoo.com/national-infertility-awareness-week to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week.
By Lisa A. Muehlenbein, E-RYT 200, RYT 500
C.S. Lewis said, “This moment contains all moments.” It’s really true, if you think about it. Everything we have experienced in our lives prior to this present moment has shaped us into who we are today. Every moment has had a purpose…a lesson to be learned. The problem is, were we present enough to learn that lesson and apply it to our lives in order to live the best life possible? Our yoga studios hold the ability to enable our students to achieve a balance and presence of mind to be open to life’s lessons. Whether we are driving in the car, engaged in conversation with friends or drinking our morning coffee, we have the ability to be present and mindful in that moment and absorb what is going on around us. By being open and available to the experiences we encounter, we are able to learn. When we learn, we allow personal growth and development occur. So, take each moment and learn from it. Be present Be mindful. Be hOMe.
By: Leslie Lehman, RYT 200
One of the many definitions of the Sanskrit word “Namaste” refers to reflection and can be summarized into “the brightness in me reflects brightly on you.”
Every moment of our day we are constantly reflecting energy and absorbing energy. This energy comes from multiple sources; a few of which include our breath, food, ourselves, and others. Yoga focuses on embracing your positive energy and letting go of the negative energy.
Finding your positive energy can be a challenge, especially when you are upset, tired or uncomfortable. However, your mind is a powerful vehicle for finding the strength to find the positive in all scenarios. The alternative of allowing negativity to reflect from you is encompassing because it has a domino effect of absorption. When you reflect negativity onto one then they reflect that same negativity onto another and so on.You have the power of stopping the cycle of negativity by simply saying a kind word or giving a helping hand. Then your positive energy is passed onto the next person that person encounters.
Our mind feels the need to react to negative energy with the same negativity, however this only causes you pain and the rest of the world. When we chose to reflect positive energy versus negative energy we allow our world to be one of beauty and bliss. The negative energy is not absorbed and the tension, depression, and compression that is attributed with negative energy is not absorbed by the body, mind and spirit. Being positive as an intention for living every moment of your life is simple but challenging. Our minds our built to favor the negative especially in challenging situations. The power to focus on the positive allows our mind and body to reflect our inner beauty and spirit. Reflecting and absorbing negativity only harms the body, mind and spirit.
Take a few moments to visualize your energy in all scenarios of your life and see how kindness, joy, and compassion can brighten your spirit and enrich your life.