A 3:15am wake up call roused us to catch our plane from Kerala in South India, to Delhi in Northern India. We were ready! Let the next adventure begin! As we arrive in Delhi, we meet our guide who will accompany us throughout Delhi, Agra and Varanasi. As we navigate the airport to our driver, it is had not to notice that we are definitely in the minority here; as Americans, but as women as well. Many sideways looks from the men, that honestly, made me a bit uncomfortable. This feeling will serve as a reminder to me whenever I may see someone back in the States who looks different or out of place. Rather than balk or stare, a simple smile may serve as a simple gesture that can relieve a stranger’s anxiety. The lessons and reminders have been subtle, thus far, but grow in intensity as our trip progresses, but more on that later! We meet up with our other travel companions and venture out to see Old Delhi. We visited the oldest mosque in India, the India Gate and were given a “private tour” of a Persian rug store. I say “private tour” because we have been informed that the guides receive a cut if the people they bring in buy something.) After an authentic dinner that evening- and the first “adult” beverages we have had in quite some time, I might add—we head out into the streets to shop. The hustle-bustle and energy of Delhi is different from that of the resort-y, beach-y Goa or the relaxing, Ayurvedic rejuvenation of Kerala. You actually feel like you are in a real city much like New York. It’s quite refreshing, actually! In the markets, we find all sorts of different treasures from jewelry to stationery to journals. It is a welcomed change of pace from the retreat center in Kerala. On the move again tomorrow! Until then…
Greetings from the Somatheeram Ayurvedic Health Resort in Kerala, India! In previous posts on Facebook or Twitter, some of you may have seen me mention Ayurveda and asked yourself, Ayur-what??? Broken down, AYUR means “life” and VEDA means “science,” so literally, the science of life. Ayurveda is a scientific system that uses mostly plants and herbs to treat common ailments and to keep the body functioning optimally. Ayurveda is a form of medicine that is approximately 5,000 years old. In Ayurveda, every living thing is made of of 5 basic eternal elements:
These elements are present in each person, but to varying degrees. The elements are broken down into what is called our body’s “constitution.” The constitutions are then further broken down into what are known as Doshas. There are three Doshas:
Each Dosha carries different properties, functions and present themselves in different places of the body.
Vatta is the prime Dosha and steers the ship for the other two Doshas.
Vatta Properties: Dry, bright, cold, rough, subtle and minute, moving
Vatta Functions: Controls movement, breathing and natural urges, tissue transformation, motor functions, sensory functions, controls secretions and extretions, fear, impluses and anxiety.
Vatta Sites: Large intestines, pelvic regions, thighs, ears, bones and skin
Pitta Properties: Slightly oily, penetrating, hot, light, unpleasant odor, spreading nature, liquid form
Pitta Functions: Facilitates metabolism & hormonal function, regulates body heat & temp, helps digestions, intelligent, hunger & thirst, perceptive, color & complexion, anger, hate, jealousy
Pitta Sites: Naval, stomach and upper part of small intestines, sweat, lymph, blood, eye, skin
Kapha Properties: Oily, cold, heavy, slow acting, slimy, soft, stable
Kapha Functions: Gives stability and energy to the body, development of the body, lubrication, enthusiasm, sexual urges, forgiveness, immune resistance, attachment, holding, possessiveness, greed, accumulation, knowledge
Kapha Sites: Chest, throat, head, trachea, joints, stomach, lymph, fat tissue, nose & tongue.
Hmmmm…any of these sound like you How can you know for sure? You can visit one of my favorite websites and answer a questionnaire to learn what your Dosha is and how to care for it to keep you body in balance. More on our Ayurvedic treatments in my next blog.
To learn what Dosha you are, please visit: http://doshaquiz.chopra.com
Our quaint, little cottage at the Vivanta by Taj Holiday Village Hotel in Goa, India is flanked by two towering Banyan trees. With many branches and roots descending both downward and upward, they are beyond fascinating to look at. I am immediately intrigued to learn more. The size and stature of the Banyan is unlike any tree that I have ever seen. From the main trunk, many branches travel down toward the Earth seeking to create even more roots in order to gain more of a stronghold to support its massive trunk. Even more branches twist and wind upward as if reaching toward the sun for nourishment and future growth. As I revere this amazing monument of nature, I am immediately reminded of the parallels of this tree to our lives. We have our main trunk which is the foundation we are given by our parents. Then each of our experiences we incur on our adventures through our lives are translated through the branches like a superhighway of events shaping us into who we will become. Some of those branches grow into more roots, creating stability and a stronger base of support to help us weather any storms that may come our way. Yet, other experiences allow us to branch upward. To grow. To learn. To rise up from who we were to who we will become. It is said that the Buddha sat under a Banyan tree for 7 days to attain enlightenment. Perhaps we won’t be sitting under the Banyan for more than a few minutes or ever reaching enlightenment; however, it is hard to not be moved by the sheer strength and stability of this tree. Each day, each experience, each moment, we are moving in both directions. Creating stronger roots and developing organically into more amazing individuals. Just as the Banyan tree has done with it’s branches and roots, we will back upon our lives we will be in awe at how much we have done, where we have come from and who we are.
To read more about the Banyan tree, visit:
As you may have read earlier, I had written about my father. I lost him in October of 1993 when I was 18 years old after a year-long battle with cancer.
In that post, I had also mentioned that my father had lived in India as a young boy. After reading that, many people asked me about his heritage and his Indian adventures.
My father’s adventure began much earlier as an adopted child of very eccentric grandparents. As a little girl, I would listen to his stories about his life overseas. His father worked for the World Health Organization in a division that concentrated on the betterment of India. Because of his government affiliation, my grandparents, my father and his brother had the opportunity to live in places like India, Nepal and Tibet. This overseas adventure took place around the time he was 11 or 12.
He had told me stories of having a pet monkey and how the monkeys would run amok in the streets—I guess that is why I had to get 3 rabies shots—“just in case.” I remember one story of him playing outside and putting his finger in a hole and being bit by a pit viper snake. He would show me the scar on his finger as if it were a badge of honor.
As I mentioned, my grandparents (well, at least my grandmother anyway) were very eccentric. She had a houseful of eclectic wares that she had picked up along the way during their time overseas. Two of those items are significant to me to this day. One item is a brass Ganesh statue and a blue Buddha statue. If you have been to our studio, you will see the blue Buddha statue sitting by our front entry door. He is a bit worn, but that makes me value him even more as every time I look at him I think of my Dad and wonder if I would be into yoga and making this trip if I had never heard his stories.
The blue Buddha was too big to accompany me on this trip; however, the brass Ganesh is in my bag. He will be close to me the whole time. As I venture through cities where my father has gone before me, I know that he will be with me as well.
Well, it is time to board the plane! We are flying out of JFK in New York and will make a pit stop in Paris, France, then on to Mumbai for the night. It is about 20 hours of travel today into tomorrow, but I will update when I can.
Much love and Namaste’,
As we celebrate the transition into Fall, it is like saying goodbye to an oldfriend or family member. It’s hard to let go, but also reminds us that the road continues ahead of us waiting for us to embark on our next journey.
For me, it is hard to believe that 19 years ago this month, I lost my father to cancer. That loss taught me so much and helped shape me into who I am today. One of the fondest memories I have of him is listening to his stories of how he grew up in India. His stories were fascinating ones of pet monkeys and elephants and getting bit by a pit viper snake!
Well, for me, this fall welcomes the journey of a lifetime for me. I will be heading to India at the end of this month. I will visit places that my father had been before me. Even though he is not here, or there, I feel that he will be with me as I make this trip around the globe. I invite you to come, too. Just as I blogged while in Thailand, I will be blogging my way around the World. Come along, it is sure to be a trip that I’ll never forget!
Om Shanti, Namaste’