Monday, December 31, 2007

Day 2: Juice Feast/Eating 100% Raw

Its only day two and I'm feeling financially stressed by the juicing. Its a lot of work too! I'm sure once I become a pro, it'll be much quicker. I think that 50% juice and 50% Raw Food will be my route. I am going to follow Natalia Rose's book: The Raw Food Detox Diet to guide me. The only food I've eaten since Saturday evening is hand full of raw almonds. I think I'll have a big salad for dinner and snack on some raw nuts and a Lara Bar tonight. I am bring some bottled 100% vegetable and fruit juice to my Dad's, since I'll be staying the night and I'll need breakfast! So far, so good. More updates soon! I'm doing a photo journal each day too, which I'll post in a few weeks.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day 1: Juice Feast

Today is my first full day of juice feasting. I am drinking 20 oz. of the following juice as I type this:
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 leaves of kale
  • 1 head of celery
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 inch of ginger
  • 1/4 lemon
This juice is not as palatable as last night's. I am wondering if it is too many ingredients. It has a strong taste and smell. Maybe I'll get used to it. I think its the celery that is sticking out the most. I have to say that it is odd to think that I am drinking this many vegetables and fruits at one time. I hope to go to the store today and pick up some supplements. Here are a couple websites that are guiding me along the way:

I'm off to teach yoga this morning! I hope this juice will give me some extra energy!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Juice Feast Begins!

I'm back and I'm starting a juice feast tomorrow morning. For the next 21 days straight I plan to only drink vegetable and fruit juices, courtesy of my new Breville Fountain Plus juicer (a Christmas present from my husband). I will take a weekend break when I visit the Sivananda Yoga Ranch and evaluate at that time whether I will return to the feast the following Monday. I started this evening with the following juice:
1/4 inch of ginger
4 carrots
1 apple
It's delicious! More details to come tomorrow morning!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Yoga Classes at Baltimore Yoga Village

I thought that Baltimore readers might be interested in checking out the Traditional Hatha yoga classes that I am teaching at Baltimore Yoga Village . My classes are appropriate for students of all experience levels. Plus, most of the classes (the one hour classes) are only $10 and you can always just drop-in. Baltimore Yoga Village is located in Hampden at the Mill Center (3000 Chestnut Ave, Building 15 Baltimore, MD 21211). There is a parking lot on Mill Rd. for students. Please send me a message if you have any questions. Hope to see you soon!

My classes are listed below.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Traditional Hatha Yoga 7-8 AM
Before you begin the busy day, this hour long class will bring balance, flexibility, and relaxation to the body and mind. Including pranayama (breathing techniques), Asanas (steady postures), and a long final relaxation, this class is taught in the tradition of a disciple of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnu Devananda, who brought hatha yoga to the West in the early 60s. This is a simple and meditative practice.

Traditional Hatha Yoga all levels 9:30 - 11 am
A class based in the Sivananda lineage of traditional hatha yoga - teaching proper breathing, relaxation, and yogic exercises for stretching and strengthening mind and body. This class is appropriate for beginners as well as experienced yogis. Come only with an ready and open mind.

Traditional Hatha Yoga all levels 6:15 - 7:45 pm
This class will explore the 12 basic asanas including inversions, forward bends, backward bends, and twists - as well as some variations of the postures to create a challenging and meditative class.
Traditional Hatha Yoga all levels 12-1 PM
Including pranayama (breathing techniques), Asanas (steady postures), and a long final relaxation, this class is a simple and meditative practice for bringing health to the body and mind.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Kitcheri, Ghee, and an Ayurvedic Consultation

On Thursday afternoon, I visitied Melissa DiRito at Seed's Wellness Center for an Ayurvedic Consultation. I had been on the raw diet for a few days and it was working well, but I needed more dietary guidance. I was also curious about which vitamins and herbs were best for my needs. Melissa spoke with me about my physical and mental condition and examined my tongue, eyes, and pulse. She determined that my Vata was elevated and causing my Pitta to also rise, which was causing some of the symptoms that were concerning me at the time.

One of many helpful suggestions made by Melissa was to follow an Ayurvedic diet. Since my Vata is agitating and increasing my Pitta, she counseled me to follow a Pitta-Vata diet. She also gave me a kitcheri recipe from the Ayurvedic Institute website and suggested that I eat kitcheri for lunch and dinner, and drink a breakfast shake (almonds, flax, banana, mango, sunflower seeds) in the morning for three days, while I transition back to some cooked foods. Here is a picture of my first Kitcheri creation:

I spent Sunday afternoon preparing the Kitcheri and the Ghee. Making Ghee was another first time experience. Ghee is created by heating unsalted butter in a special way. Here are a few of the benefits of ghee, according to the Ayurvedic Institute:
"Ghee is a digestive. It helps to improve absorption and assimilation. It nourishes ojas, tejas and prana. It is good for improving memory and lubricates the connective tissue. Ghee makes the body flexible and, in small doses, is tridoshic."
You can check out both recipes through the Ayurvedic Institute's website here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Raw Food, Ayurveda, and Kris Carr's Blog

I've been feeling pretty blah lately and I have a hunch that it has to do with my diet. I've been going a little overboard with candy, cupcakes, cookies, and any other form of processed sugar or baked good imaginable. This weekend was the worst sugar crash I've ever had. I needed a clean slate, so I decided to start a raw food diet (for at least a week).

Of course this diet started with a trip to Whole Foods to pick up some veggies, dried and fresh fruit, raw food bars, and hummus (which is already cheating because the chick peas are cooked, but I had to make this exception). There are a lot of resources on the web for raw food eating. Here are a few I've been checking out:

Raw Food Life
Living and Raw Foods
We Like It Raw
The Sunny Raw Kitchen

Its been a little over 24 hours raw and so far, so good. No sugar crashing today. I'll keep you posted.

On another note, I've become quite interested in Ayurveda (the sister science of Yoga). Since arriving home from the ashram, Ayurveda is everywhere I turn. If you are curious about your dosha (, Deepak Chopra's website has a helpful and quick dosha quiz. I have spoken with individuals who follow Aruyvedic practices and found it life-changing. I'm also very insterested in Panchakarma, which according to the Ayurvedic Institute is "...a cleansing and rejuvenating program for the body, mind and consciousness. It is known for its beneficial effects on overall health, wellness and self-healing." There are five daily Panchakarma treatments, practiced for five to seven days. If you would like to learn more about Panchakarma, click here.

Lastly, I can't get the documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer out of my head! Since watching the movie, I've felt more inspired to ditch harmful products and foods that most people don't think twice about eating or using for personal care (I know I didn't!). Kris Carr's blog is packed with insights that will challenge your everyday habits. Its easy not to notice the harmful chemicals in the lotion, soap, and mascara a lot of us use everyday. Carr makes a thought-provoking point about these habits when she notes in her blog, "
Check this out, the largest organ in our body is our skin. What you put on your body, you literally absorb. So if you wouldn’t drink a bottle of Jergens, then don’t put it on your body because your skin literally drinks it in." The website is filled with inspirational and helpful information too!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Crazy, Sexy Cancer on TLC

I just caught Crazy, Sexy, Cancer on TLC and it was an incredible documentary. Totally inspiring and mind-boggling. Here is a small blurb about the film:

"With experimental treatment as her only option, Kris searched for answers where there were none. She traveled throughout the U.S., interviewing experts in alternative medicine as she tenaciously dove head-first into a fascinating and often humorous world of holistic medicine.

Along the way, she met other vivacious young women determined to become survivors. She also met cameraman/editor Brian Fassett; they soon began a romance that finally culminated in a September 2006 wedding. As Kris' amazing journey unfolds, she realizes that healing is about truly living rather than fighting."

Her journey repeatedly touches upon the philosophy of mind, body, and spirit found at the Sivananda ashram. I was a crying mess at the end, not out of sadness, but from pure admiration and naked truth. Just watch it! Click here to learn more.

The trailer is fantastic too! Click here to watch.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Smart Woman Articles

I have scanned and uploaded my Smart Woman articles to a web album here. There will be a new issue on stands very soon!

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm Home!

It was an amazing month at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch. I will be updating the blog soon with some of my journal entries. I've been home for a couple weeks and I finally feel clear-headed enough to write. And I miss writing! My goal is to eventually divide my time between writing and teaching yoga. This means that I am going to be more proactive about finding new writing opportunities and working consistently on my novel. The past couple months have provided a lot of writing material. I'll end this entry with a picture of me on my head in the Catskills. It sums up my experience pretty well...

PS- I teach at Baltimore Yoga Village on Monday Tuesday and Wednesday 7am, Wednesday 9:30am, Thursday 6:15pm, and Friday 12pm.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Three Days til Sivananda TTC...

Here I sit, observing a game of Nintendo Wii, realizing that these are my last few moments in civilization. Plus, tomorrow I say goodbye to my new husband for five weeks. Despite these things, I am still excited about starting TTC on Thursday. Actually, I'm really excited.

Thursday was the last day at my previous job and I had no regrets walking out the door. For the first time, I'm taking a chance and doing what I truly want, rather than what I am supposed to do. I'm embarrassed to say that I underestimated the support of friends and family. I thought everyone would think I was crazy. Once in a while, I still get the response, "Don't you feel like your wasting your education?" and all I can say is, "no".

I've kept up my practice since leaving Baltimore to visit family for a few days and its kept me centered and focused on TTC. Again, the importance of a home practice!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day Eight: The Peacock and Scorpion

I've discovered the second best spotter (after my husband of course) is my front door. The past few days, I have been focusing on scorpion and peacock. Although I still need the door for support, I've been practicing the second to last step of scorpion, lifting my head up toward my toes after flattening my hands and forearms on the floor. As you've seen many times before, my goal is this:
I can't emphasize how much my home practice has changed my yoga asana experience. As my mother-in-law says, "Once begun, half done."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

11 Days until Sivananda Teacher Training

I'm not proud to say that I took a couple days off the TTC challenge, but I'm back on the mat tomorrow. I had my last Sivananda class at Baltimore Yoga Village on Thursday before the TTC because BYV is on vacation this week. I felt good about the practice and ready as I can be for the course. Actually, I can't wait to get up there. Simultaneously, I realize that I'll miss my freedom and the amenities of Baltimore, not to mention the people (especially my new husband). The newest challenge added to my practice is the peacock. I can raise my head, but not my legs. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The two-week challenge...

Last night began my two-week TTC prep challenge. Luckily, I have a supportive husband that spots me while I try to achieve these lofty goals. I can't stress enough the importance of a home practice. I always have my Sivananda Companion to Yoga beside the mat and I follow the asanas in the easy to understand chart in the middle of the book. The illustrations and descriptions/instructions are very helpful. Although attending class regularly is just as important, it is amazing how much progress you can make if you supplement classes with your practice at home.

I focused on scorpion, crow (transitioning into headstand), and cobra (working towards king cobra). Having my husband for a spotter helped me overcome my fear of falling and find my balance without worrying about injury. I am working on the first step in achieving cobra, by beginning with a traditional headstand but then bending my knees and arching my back to find a balance. I found my balance for a few seconds at a time, but I am still wobbly. After building confidence in the first step, I will look up at the ceiling and use my hands and forearms like big feet.

Next, I worked on transitioning from crow into a headstand. I've heard of people breaking their noses after falling out of crow, so I put a pillow in front of my face for safety and confidence. After a few false starts, I guided the top of my head to the floor with my knees resting on the backs of my forearms and palms pressed flat on the floor. Suddenly, I was back where I started the first time I tried headstand! I could tell that my abdominal strength was lacking and I would have to work everyday to get my feet up into headstand with only my palms and crown as support.

For the first time, I tried king cobra, thinking that it would be a lot easier than it looked. Then my husband told me that my feet were a couple feet from my head and I realized that my spine has a long way to go before my toes touch the back of my head. One of the best lessons I've learned in the process of learning yoga (which I'm sure will never end) is that I am capable of achieving things I never thought possible, if I work hard and stay committed.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Change in Plans...

Turns out that I will be leaving for Woodbourne, NY in 16 days for TTC. I called the Sivananda Yoga Ranch yesterday and they had an opening, so I took the plunge and enrolled in their September training. It is a wonderful feeling to know that I am so close to living at the ashram for a month and experiencing the challenge of TTC.

The next two weeks will be filled with PRACTICE, READ, and more PRACTICE! I found some beautiful pictures of the Yoga Ranch on If you're interested, click here. I hope to update the blog a few times while I'm there, but if not, I'll have lots to share in October!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm back

Last night, my new husband and I returned to Baltimore. We had a fantastic honeymoon in Vancouver and a beautiful wedding. I couldn't have dreamed the past week to be anything better. The past week was gluttonous to say the least and I have decided to ditch processed sugar the same way I ditched cigarettes and alcohol almost two years ago-cold turkey. I managed to practice yoga twice during the honeymoon, but tomorrow its back to class. Only a little more than six weeks until TTC and I want to be as prepared as possible. My goal is to acheive Vrischikasana (Scorpion) before leaving for TTC. I'll keep you posted on my progress and struggles.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bakasana: The Crow

Again, this is not a photograph of myself in crow, but you get the idea... At first, bakasana (crow pose) seemed even more impossible than headstand, but as I grew more proficient in headstand, I became more determined to conquer crow. I had my fair share of frustration and falling on my face, but slowly my tip toes came of the mat for a second, then two, then three, until I realized that the posture is more about balance than strength. My teacher kept telling me to look forward, focus on the balance, and let go of my fears.

Practicing at home helped a lot. As my wedding drew closer, I put a pillow on the mat to catch my face. I didn't want to walk down the aisle with a freshly broken nose. At the brink of complete frustration and self-loathing, my teacher stood next to me and demonstrated crow. I mimicked his moments and placement of knees on the backs of my upper arms (as if they were shelves). Finally, I felt the balance! Each time I work on crow I build my confidence and hold it longer. My new challenge is moving into headstand out of crow. There is always something new to achieve and discover.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Best of Baltimore

I hope you'll check out my post at About Baltimore and cast your vote in City Paper's 2007 Best of Baltimore polls.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Earth-Friendly Tips at Allie's Answers

If you are looking for ways to make your way of life more earth-friendly, without spending a bundle and completely changing your lifestyle, check out Allie's Answers. Allie writes daily about easy and enjoyable ways to modify your cleaning, shopping, eating, and consumer habits in ways that are better for the environment. You'll also be up to date on the latest eco-news. I feel more connected and positive about my environment after integrating Allie's tips into my life. I highly recommend checking out Allie's Answers! Here is Allie's bio from the site:

I’m a thirty-something writer who loves hiking, camping, and all things outdoors. I live on the East Coast with my husband, enormous dog, and three legged cat.

Not everyone can afford to trade in their car for a Prius, or install solar panels on their house, but everyone can be more mindful of their purchases and their actions. Going green doesn’t have to be complicated. It can even help you simplify and save money.

Going green is a learning process, and I’m here learning right along with you. Let’s adjust our goals, think strategically, and make a difference.

My New Technorati Page

Technorati Profile

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sirsasana and Article on Yoga Farm

Here is a comprehensive article on The Sivananda Yoga Farm. It is a good summary of the readings and conversations I've had over the past months about TTC and the Sivananada ashram experience.

Traditional Hatha Yoga class was fantastic last night at Baltimore Yoga Village. I've learned that I can achieve much more than I ever thought possible, physically and mentally. My biggest challenge has been fear, but through my teachers I realize that if I put fear aside I will find joy and peace.

I even held a headstand for a few seconds last night, which I would have never thought possible a few months ago. The headstand photo isn't of me or my class, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sivananda TTC You Tube Video

Vacation is over and unfortunately I was sick and unable to attend Kripalu. Luckily, they offer a credit, so I'll have the chance to attend in the future. I found this You Tube video documentary of a Sivananda TTC program in India. In case you are interested in a glimpse of life in an ashram, check it out. I am interested to hear your thoughts!

I've been posting a lot of blogs at and I hope you'll check them out too!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My New Blogging Gig- "About Baltimore"

I am very happy to announce that I am blogging for a company called 451 Press. I am writing the Baltimore Blog that you can view here. It is exciting to have a freelance job writing about something I love-my home. I hope that anyone reading this blog will check out my new blog that covers Baltimore on a bigger scale.

Only one week until Kripalu! I scaled down to a weekend program after signing up for TTC at Grass Valley Yoga Farm. I'll be participating in The Inspirational Teacher workshop with Angela Farmer. I hope it is a good warm up for TTC. Kripalu describes the course as:

"This workshop is an exploration of ourselves, our practice, and our teaching. We will explore asana and breathing in an intuitive, creative, and playful way, opening up new channels of energy that can change concepts of "right ways" and "wrong ways" to practice, and lead you to greater joy and freedom in yoga."

Starting tomorrow evening, I am on vacation for 10 days! I am going to fill it with meditation, yoga, writing, reading, spending time with BYV folks, and relaxing with my soon-to-be husband...only four weeks until the wedding!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

SmartWoman Magazine Articles (by me!)

The day began with a rejuvenating yoga class at BYV. I made it through the morning without a cup of coffee, but finally bit the bullet and walked to Artifact Coffee at noon. SmartWoman Magazine caught my eye on my way out of the cafe with my sweating cup of iced coffee. I noticed that it was the new issue! Quickly flipping through the pages, I found my "Something New" article on breathe books. After a quick read-through, I skimmed the pages again and found the Learning Column that I submitted:)

The next thing I knew, I was tearing down Union Street to my car in the sweltering heat. I couldn't stop smiling the whole drive to the Avenue. My first stop was Lovelyarns to show Sue the Learning Column. She was delighted! It felt wonderful to give something back to Sue, as she has been so kind and welcoming to me. I left a copy at her shop and set off down the street to see Susan at breathe books.

I stepped into the cool, air-conditioning of breathe books store and found Susan's shining face behind the counter. Again, it was a fantastic feeling to give back to someone who has spent time listening to my aspirations, interests, and troubles over the past six months and provided a special place to visit that is filled with tools for awakening the mind and body.

I floated through the rest of my day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Teacher I come!

I've been accepted into the Green Valley Sivananda Yoga Farm Teacher Training course! The course takes place October 3-November 6. It's a little scary, but I'm following my heart and I've taken precautions to cushion me when I arrive home in November.

I've posted a few pictures of the ashram. Since I've figured how to post pictures, I'm going to go back to past entries and add some nice photos.

Here is the typical day in teacher training at the yoga farm:

TTC Daily Schedule


Wake-up Bell
Satsang (meditation, chanting, lecture)
Asana & Pranayama Class
Vegetarian Brunch
Karma Yoga (helping in the ashram)
Chanting or Bhagavad Gita Class
Main Lecture
Asana & Pranayama (Teaching Techniques)
Vegetarian Dinner
Satsang (meditation, chanting, lecture)

"The regular and intense schedule will help you to develop the self-discipline necessary for you to practice on your own in the future. The schedule is for 6 days of the week – you get one day off for resting, studying, etc." (

Here is a photo of the cabin I'll be staying in (or one like this) with three other students. I am told that there is a bath house nearby. Below is a picture of the Krishna temple by the pond.
I feel peaceful just by looking at the photos. In the meantime, I have been working on my asanas everyday. I am determined to do a headstand as soon as humanly possible. My fiance has been helping me practice every day at home. I hope that by the time my teachers get back from the ashram in Quebec, I'll be able to do one on my own!

I hope to get involved with Baltimore Yoga Village's non profit project once I have completed my teacher training. BYV's webpage explains:

"Baltimore Yoga for Youth is a project of a non-profit organization, Fusion Partnerships. In 2006, Anjali Teotia, owner of Baltimore Yoga Village, began the Baltimore Yoga for Youth program, in order to introduce a series of Hatha yoga workshops for inner city school students and teachers as tools for developing inner calmness, mental clarity, and much needed stress relief." (

Sunday, July 1, 2007

My New Hammock Swing

My fiance gave me the greatest birthday present I've ever received this year...a hammock chair. He installed it on our back deck yesterday. It is pure relaxation and joy. It cradles your body, stretched out in your favorite position, swinging you slowly and gracefully. I could lay in it for hours. Its difficult not to close your eyes. If you could float on a cloud, that hammock chair takes you away on a big fluffy one.

This afternoon, I sat in it twice. It was a perfect summer day. There was a cool breeze, a few white wispy clouds and a bright blue sky. A hammock ride was a wonderful combination with my morning coffee (after an early morning yoga class at BYV). There are two humongous trees in our backyard and their leaves made perfect music with the wind. My second hammock ride included a reading session this evening. I am reading The Buddha In Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for the Self by Woody Hochswender, Greg Martin, & Ted Morino. A good friend of mine from BYV thought it would be a beneficial read for me. So far its fantastic.

I also took a trip with the fiance to Eddie's Market on St. Paul St. this weekend. It is a small market in Charles Village. We did all of our shopping for the week and it was surprisingly inexpensive. The produce was great too: Asian pears, mangoes, and blueberries! It was also nice to be almost the only people in the store. That doesn't happen too much at Super Fresh.

I am happy to report that I've been to yoga 6 out of 7 days this week. The Traditional Hatha class is my favorite and Vinyasa Flow is a close second. I am very interested in the teacher training at the Sivanada Yoga Farm in Green Valley, CA in October. I love yoga and everything it encompasses more each day. We shall see. For now, good night.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Search for Yoga Teacher Training...

My search for yoga teacher training began with residential programs recommended by yoga teachers. The Sivananda Yoga Ranch in Woodbourne, NY and Kripalu in Stockbridge, MA stood out to me the most at first. As I wrote about here, I visited the ashram in Woodbourne, but didn't feel like it was right for me. In two weeks I'll be practicing yoga at Kripalu for a week. There are two new ashrams on my radar at the moment. Yogaville in Buckingham, VA and Yogi Hari's ashram in Florida have teacher training programs in the fall. Yogaville practices Integral Yoga and Yogi Hari's ashram practices Sampoorna Yoga, but both styles are based in Sivananda. I would like to visit Yogaville this summer for a welcome weekend. Florida of course is not as easily accessible.

A friend and yoga instructor gave me some good advice the other day. "Have patience," he said. He also suggested that I focus on my practice for a few months before worrying about teacher training. I've taken his advice to heart this week, and pranayama and asanas have effortlessly worked their way into my day even if I don't make it to BYV (I even do a few Sun Salutations if no one is around in the bathroom at work!). Now if I could only stop trying to figure out how to swing it all and stay above water... In any event, tonight I'll enjoy a Vinyasa Flow class at BYV.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Baltimore City Teaching Residency

Thursday evening, I stopped at Ma Petite Shoe after visiting ReNew Organic Day Spa. The ReNew Spa Package was extraordinary.

My Dad loves chocolate, so Ma Petite Shoe (a.k.a Shoes and Chocolate) seemed like the perfect place to pick up a father's day present. After choosing a few decedent items for his gift basket, I started chatting with the young sales woman. Eventually the conversation turned to work and she told me about her acceptance into the Baltimore City Residency Program. In the fall she will begin teaching kindergarten at a Baltimore City School.

I was immediately interested and after grilling her more, the program still sounded fantastic. Baltimore City Schools has formed a partnership with Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame. If accepted into the program, residents participate in a four week intensive training in June or January before being placed full time as a classroom teacher. If working in a "high-needs" school, the teacher certification and Master of Education degree are fully subsidized. The next cohort will begin with training in January 2008. Needless to say, I looked into it.

I'll be at Baltimore Yoga Village after work today. I am going to take the Ahimsa Yoga class this evening, which BYC describes as "a flowing, intuitive and joyful practice that opens the heart and mind". After driving to Rochester, having a jammed packed weekend of visiting everyone we know, and driving home, I am relieved to be visiting BYV.

Maybe having a daily yoga and meditation routine in the morning would help me stay centered when I am away from home. I've felt myself go into a slump filled with negativity over the past few days.

I've also started a lacto-vegetarian diet. It's been about two weeks without meat and I don't miss it. My next step is to start cooking meals from my new Ayurvedic cookbook. One step at a time though. All this change and activity is wearing me out. When we arrived home Sunday night, I was overwhelmed by the housework that had piled up and our new family member- a tuxedo cat named Sweet Pea.

All day Monday I was fretting over cleaning, catching up with my online writing course, grocery shopping, and taking care of Sweet Pea. Then a co-worker gave me a lift home and reminded me "not to sweat the small stuff". Her advice struck a chord with me. I delegated shopping to my supportive fiance, decided to put my writing first and only cleaned the first floor of the house. I'm still tuckered out today, but I'm proud of my progress.

I know that yoga tonight will put me more on track and I'm excited about trying a new class. Until then...Namaste.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Baltimore Yoga Village, Kripalu, and Rochester, NY

It was wonderful to be back at Baltimore Yoga Village yesterday. Interesting and kind people are always walking through the door. Last night, I met a yoga teacher who is interested in starting a nonprofit. He holds a yoga class in addition to his other classes, that donates all of the profits to a charity. It only make sense to form a 501 c(3) that would be tax-exempt. I was thrilled to be able to share my knowledge of nonprofits and point him in the right direction (hopefully). The Foundation Center has a cooperating collection in Baltimore that holds free classes on nonprofit management, has helpful staff to answer questions and help with grant searching, and numerous other print and online resources. It just makes you feel good to know about people who are finding creative ways to support charitable causes.

This evening I am visiting ReNew Organic Day Spa. My thoughtful future step-mom gave me a ReFresh Spa package, which includes a Renew Classic Facial, a Therapeutic Massage and Ancient Hand Ritual, as my bridal shower gift. I can't wait!

Now that I've signed up for the Build Your Yoga Practice Program, I am meeting people who have visited Kripalu every time I turn around. At BYV, one of the instructors described Kripalu as "Yoga Heaven". I have also been told numerous times that the food is fantastic. This is another experience that fills me with joy every time I think of it. There are so many enriching new aspects of life that have trickled in over the past six months. I'm very thankful.

Another exciting gift is joining our family in a few days. A black tuxedo cat named Momma (we are trying to think of a new name for her) is coming home with us after our visit to Rochester, NY this weekend. My future sister-in-law contacted us after Momma visited her animal hospital from Habitat for Cats (which I didn't know existed before). I hope that Thomas adjusts well to his new friend.

I'll be back to write more next week. Until then, Namaste.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Healing Touch Level 1, Burlington, and Sivananda Yoga Ranch Visit

It has been quite an adventure over the past four days. I left Thursday afternoon for Tarrytown, NY to visit with a friend and break up the trip to Burlington, VT. Friday morning, I set off for Burlington while listening to Deepak Chopra's Buddha: The Enlightenment on CD. The trip flew by, especially when I reached the tranquil state of Vermont. There were cows, goats, beautiful black birds with red streaks on their wings, and I even saw a mare cuddling with her foal at one of the many farms along the way. I love that Vermont does not allow billboards.

My dear friend in Burlington lives on Lake Champlain. The mountains surrounding the city add to its awe inspiring beauty. To top it all off, there is a bustling pedestrian mall in the city center that is filled with shops, restaurants and street performers. Needless to say, we had a wonderful time and ate delicious food!

Friday evening was the first of three Healing Touch level 1 class sessions I would take that weekend. The students were mostly women, half of them nurses, from the age of 20 and up. To begin, we sat in a circle of wooden chairs surrounding a chakra circle, which was filled with symbols and candles representing each of the seven chakras. Our teacher, Kathleen, started the class with introductions and after a guided meditation, we jumped right into the energy work.

Kathleen and her helper demonstrated each technique before we paired up and practiced on each other. The other students were from diverse backgrounds, but we all found common ground in our desire to learn about the healing arts and our positive and open minds. It is amazing how quickly you bond with people in a situation where you are connecting with them through positive energy and physical touch (although physical touch is optional and all techniques can be done without it). We were also constantly sharing our feelings and experiences with the class. Everyone listened and respected each other at all times, which created a comforting and encouraging atmosphere. By the end of the three days, I was ready to practice the Level 1 techniques on my friends and family and incorporate the principles into my life. I can't believe there are four more levels!

The most difficult aspect of the class was trusting my own experiences. At first, I would feel something, for example another student's energy field, and immediately question myself. It is still difficult to explain my experiences to anyone who was not in the class or is not involved with energy work. My left brain keeps saying, "are you crazy?". But as the weekend progressed, I discovered first hand that energy work reduces physical, emotional, and mental stress.

It was sad to leave Burlington on Monday, but I knew that I had taken a big step in my personal and professional development through my visit. Deepak Chopra kept me company on the way home as he read the rest of Buddha: The Enlightment on CD. The question of "what's next?" gnawed at me and I kept having to re-listened to Chopra each time my mind got stuck on this question.

Yoga and the Healing Arts are my main focus at the moment. Baltimore Yoga Village is fantastic, but I want to experience and live yoga daily and intensively for a period of time, as I've discussed earlier in regards to visiting an ashram. Sivinanda Yoga Ranch and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health are top on my list of possibilities.

As I approached Saratoga Springs, I realized that I was not too far from Sivanada Yoga Ranch. I pulled off at the Saratoga exit and stopped at the nearest gas station to buy a map. Woodboure, NY was about 30 miles away, so I found my route in my new Atlas and took off for Sivananda. The drive itself was enough reason for the detour. It was exhilarating to explore this unknown territory on a whim. There is nothing like following your gut to stimulate and awaken your mind to the limitless possibilities of life.

Budd Road was a bit difficult to find, but after a few wrong turns, I was on my way up a steep hill to the ranch. I pulled up a dusty road to find a small parking lot next to a greenhouse and a large vegetable garden. It was so silent outside the car that I carefully closed my door to avoid making any noise. Walking up to the registration office, I looked around to see blue open skies filled with gigantic white clouds in every direction. Inside the main office, a staff member gave me a map and sent me off to explore on my own. I walked through the middle of the grounds up a large hill to one of the temples. On my way I saw: a large old house converted into a dormitory, outdoor yoga studios hosting one-on-one yoga training and meditations, students sitting in big wooden chairs overlooking the rolling hills, a large indoor yoga studio, an outdoor eating area, and tents scattered on the hill past the dorms.

As I reached the shrine at the top of the hill, I waited for some sort of feeling that would tell me that this was the place for me. It wasn't that I got a bad feeling, it was just that I didn't feel drawn to stay. I wanted to know that "yes" this was the place for me to study yoga intensively. After walking through the grounds a bit more, I left Sivananda and headed home. Although I don't think that Sivananda is the place for me right now, I would like to revisit this possibility in the future. I could tell after my short visit that for someone in the right frame of mind and place in life, the experience would be life-altering.

After mulling over the situation and bouncing ideas off my Burlington friend over the phone, I decided to give Kripalu a call. This morning, I received the reassurance I needed to move forward and register for one of Kripalu's week-long programs. Speaking with the Teacher Training Director sealed the deal. Caroline spoke about the philosophy of Kripalu and it connected with something inside me immediately. Kripalu describes their philosophy below:

"While grounded in yoga, it is important to understand that Kripalu does not espouse a narrow or sectarian mindset. According to the Kripalu tradition, yoga is an honest and unfettered inquiry into all practices, philosophies, techniques, and approaches that produce thriving for individuals, families, communities, societies, and the planet. This “non-denominational yoga” includes perennial wisdom gleaned from all the world’s religions and spiritual traditions, together with the amazing knowledge gained from science, psychology, and contemporary researchers. It also includes healing techniques drawn from traditional, allopathic, and complementary/ alternative medicine that help individuals heal and return to high levels of functioning.

As an institution, Kripalu is dedicated to yoga as a rigorous, non-dogmatic, and non-sectarian inquiry into the core issues of life. This kind of truth-based inquiry inevitably frees us from fears, fantasies, and distortions and produces positive ways of being that generate beneficial results. To support rigorous inquiry and dialogue, Kripalu operates in accord with a set of core values that includes: a commitment to authenticity, radical self-trust, the courage to fully express one’s self, and unconditional positive regard for others. Embracing these and other values is a proven way to move toward the state of integrated functioning where what you think, feel, say, and do are aligned and in synch." (

I am visiting Kripalu in July to participate in their "Build Your Yoga Practice" program. I am also very interested in their teacher training program and studying Aryurveda, but I'll make that decision after completing the week-long program. Registering for the class filled me with excitement. There is a lot more to write about, but I'm still tired from the long weekend. Time for bed.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

If At First You Don't Succeed...

I've dabbled in yoga for at least five years, but it never clicked. For some reason, I've tried it again and again, each time in a new city or studio. I think the reason that it is sticking now, is that I am building a foundation of principles that support and nurture the practice of yoga. For the first time I want to integrate yoga into my daily life and work towards becoming a teacher. I have never been as deeply immersed in meditation than the past two Vinyasa Flow classes I've taken this week. Last night was the second and it was fantastic. I couldn't believe the progress I had made from the first to second class.

I was looking forward to visiting Baltimore Yoga Village all day yesterday. Ever since I stepped into the place I haven't stopped researching and thinking about yoga teacher training and retreats at ashrams across the country. After checking people into the new Wednesday 5pm class, Anjali and I sipped hot chai tea and talked about the Sivananda Ashram in Woodbourne, NY. Anjali explained the benefits of the Sivananda approach, which is summarized on their website:
"The course covers Asanas, Pranayama, Meditation, Mantra Chanting, Vedanta & Yoga Theory, Bhagavad Gita, Mantra Meditation, Kriyas (cleansing exercises), Yoga Diet, Anatomy & Physiology, and more. By the end of the course, the beginner and advanced student alike will possess a solid foundation for teaching Hatha Yoga, will have developed a personal Yoga practice, and will have increased self-discipline and harmony of body, mind and spirit." (

I'm hooked. Of course my western brain says, "Be practical! You can't just go to some yoga retreat for a month and start a whole new way of life! What about the bills? What about your responsibilities!?". So my challenge is to figure out if this is the right path for me and how I can make it work. My dream would be to participate in the Sivananda Yoga Retreat Teachers' Training, teach yoga and continue to learn and grow my yoga practice in Baltimore, continue training through the Healing Touch Program, and explore other practices such as Aryurvedic Medicine. I hope that by writing this down and talking about it, I am sending vibrations out to the universe that will help me accomplish these aspirations.

One of my first steps in achieving these goals will begin tomorrow. I am taking off tonight for Burlington, VT for the Level 1 Healing Touch Class. I can't wait to write all about it when I get back on Monday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Vinyasa Flow Yoga at Baltimore Yoga Village

The thunderstorm couldn't have come at a more perfect time. As soon as I arrived at Baltimore Yoga Village (BYV), the rain started to patter on the roof of the converted mill. Anjali showed me the ropes for a while and we chatted about BYV's unique and enriching events coming up this summer. Many talented teachers will be visiting the studio this summer in addition to the experienced teachers holding regular classes. Events will cover everything from family dancing, to drumming workshops, to Sitar and Native American Flute Concerts.

After working with Anjali for a couple hours, I experienced the talent of BYV's yoga teachers first hand. Deborah Quirk teaches the Vinyasa Flow Yoga class on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00. There were about eight people in class. We started with a short meditation, during which my feet kept falling asleep. Hopefully yoga will improve my circulation.

The majority of the time we worked on a series of poses that grew into each other. Baltimore Yoga Village describes the class as: "Students progress through a step-by-step progression of postures, which develop into a challenging and flowing sequence.". By the end of the class I was sweaty from head to toe, my heartbeat was elevated, and I was fully focused on the movement and strength (sometimes weakness) of my body. The symmetry of the poses helped me realize the large difference in strength of the right and left sides of my body (left being much weaker).

Deborah was encouraging and clearly communicated each movement. She also pointed out modifications for the more intermediate poses so that everyone could participate. Deborah also took time to work more in-depth on the cobra pose after noticing many students practicing the move improperly. Her suggestions were very helpful and prevented my from getting frustrated, discouraged, or hurt. The stretching and closing meditation was especially enjoyable. I was surprised when this portion of the class began because the 1 hour and 15 minutes had flown by so quickly. Not once did I feel self conscious. Everyone in class was focused on themselves and Deborah always gave me an encouraging smile when I wobbled or fell off balance.

We lay on our backs in darkness and silence for five to ten minutes at the very end of class. The only thing I could hear were the birds outside and the last of the drizzling rain. I forgot that there was anyone else in the room. I forgot I was even breathing. Deborah ended the meditation by ringing a soothing Tibetan metal bowl and we sat up at our own pace. It meant a lot to me when Deborah approached me after class and asked about my experience.

For the first time, in I don't know how long, I slept for eight hours without waking last night. My dreams were vivid and long. I'm looking forward to going back to BYV on Wednesday to help out at the studio and take the Vinyasa class again.

PS-I bought a handy Gaiam yoga bag at Bikram Yoga Hampden during lunchtime yesterday. It has enough room for my yoga mat, yoga clothes, keys, phone, and wallet. There are also beautiful handmade yoga bags made from silk saris at Baltimore Yoga Village.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Baltimore Yoga Village

Visiting Baltimore Yoga Village this afternoon opened up a number of exciting opportunities to learn and be a part of a special place. Yoga Village is in a renovated mill at the Mill Center. It is one of the smaller buildings that is part of the complex. Walking down the driveway between the mills I felt like I had discovered a peaceful haven in the middle of Hampden. Pradeep welcomed me as I walked into the center and explaioned that I was there to see Anjali. The "community room" (a term I will use to identify it) has cathedral ceilings and two walls are covered in windows. There are a few garmets and books for sale and an elevated area to the right that has a couch and chair for reading or chatting. There are also many community books that are available for borrowing. The space has an organic and tranquil atmosphere.

Anjali met with me a few moments after I arrived and we settled into the the reading area. We discussed many things such as our paths until now, my motivations for wanting to participate in a work exchange and the inner workings of Yoga Village-where they are now and how they might grow. After chatting for a awhile, Anjali gave me a tour.

The yoga room is also a large space with cathedral ceilings, except this room is painted a soothing yellow-orange color. Also, similar to the community room, it has the original mill doors and tracks on the ceiling. The history and preservation gives the space a wonderful energy. There is also a smaller room off the other side of the yoga room for massage therapy and acupuncture sessions.

The longer Anjali and I talked and with each new person I met at Yoga Village, I felt more excited to be a part of the place. There are many special events and visitors that come through the center and Yoga Village organizes yoga vacations to an Ashram in Quebec. I'm sure this place will give me many things to write about.

Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine and Mill Valley Garden Center

Lunchtime brought me once again to breathe, this time interested in the Lacto-Vegetarian diet mentioned in the Yoga Village website. The young woman working (I wish I knew her name), pointed me in the right direction and gave me some great advice. I picked up two books: Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine by Harish Johari and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Hopefully these books will point me in the right direction as I talk to more people and visit places like the Mill Valley Garden Center and Farmer's Market (also recommended by the young woman at breathe). My goal is to buy as much food and goods as possible from local vendors. I'll be back soon to write about my visit this afternoon to Yoga Village.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yoga, Ashrams, and a Used Book Store

Sunday was filled with discoveries. Around 11 I walked up to the Avenue to stop at breathe books and Inspired Serenity. breathe didn't open until 12, so I visited Sherry and replenished my supply of Lemon Chiffon Rooibos tea leaves (it makes wonderful iced tea!). I was happy to have the chance to talk more with Sherry about Yasodhara Ashram Yoga Study & Retreat Centre in British Columbia. It sounds like a dream. There is even a Karma Yoga class that invites young adults to live and participate in meditation and yoga for free, in exchange for working at the ashram. Now I have to figure out how to fit it in...

Learning about this opportunity led me to look for centers like Yosadhara closer to Baltimore. I stumbled upon Yogaville. The Yogaville Welcome Weekend Program sounds like the perfect opportunity to get a taste of life at an Ashram. After researching Yogaville, I found somewhere even closer to home called Yoga Village. Although it is not an Ashram, Yoga Village has a lot to offer and is only a mile from my house and my office. I am meeting with one of the owners tomorrow after work to discuss the possibility of a work exchange. Helping out and practicing yoga in a peaceful place filled with people who strive to live consciously sounds good to me.

Back to Sunday's adventures. After visiting Sherry, I stopped at breathe books to pick up a few CDs. Susan helped me select
Guided Mindfulness Meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Seven Metals: Singing Bowls of Tibet by Benjamin Iobst, and Deepak Choprah's new book Buddha: A Story of Enlightment. Choprah's book on CD should be perfect for the ride to Burlington for the Healing Touch Level 1 class next Friday. I've been listening to the Seven Metals CD multiple times each day since I bought it. It is soothing and helps me stay in a positive mind frame. I've listened to two of the four CDs in Iobst's Guided Mindfulness Meditations. Both CDs are very effective, but also challenging. I am working up to finishing an entire 45 minute meditation. The other two CDs are Yoga Instruction, but I haven't tried them yet.

On the subject of meditation, I heard about the Baltimore Shambala Center a few months ago and have been meaning to attend their open house on Thursday nights. I actually just looked up Shambala on Wikipedia and found out that it is a Sanskrit
term meaning "place of peace/tranquility/happiness". Wikipedia also explains that "Sanskrit is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. It has the same status in Nepal as well.". Good to know. I guess there is an Ashram in Baltimore. Which leads me to one of the books I found at Salamander Books on The Avenue.

After lunch today at Soup's On, I ventured into the used bookstore across the street. I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent selection of books on homeopathy and spirituality. I picked up: Essential Oils: A Basic Guide by Julia Lawless, Aromatherapy by Vivan Lunny M.D., Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual In Everyday Life by Judith Lasater, Ph. D., P.T., and Shambhala:The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa. I've skimmed all of the books and I am most excited about starting Living Your Yoga.

Although I haven't even started practicing yoga on a regular basis, I was intrigued to learn about the yogic diet on Yoga Village's website. Yoga Village describes the diet as a "lacto-vegetarian diet, rich in proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The yogi carefully discriminates between qualities of food items by using the categories of the three gunas: Sattva (clean/pure), Rajas (stimulating, disturbing, active), and Tamas (sluggish).". The Sivananda Yoga Website notes that: "One who seriously takes to the path of Yoga would avoid ingesting meats, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, coffee, tea (except herbal), alcohol and drugs.". The only two things that would be difficult for me to part with are chicken and coffee. I hope to learn more about this diet first-hand at the Yoga Village.

Thats all for now. I am brewing a huge pot of peppermint and green iced tea right now and looking forward to settling in with one of my books. I'll be back tomorrow to write about my experience at Yoga Village and whatever else I stumble upon on the way.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


The second chapter of Gary Zukav's book, The Seat of the Soul, was perfect for starting the day. Since starting Zukav's book and reading some similar theories, I pause to reflect each time I create a judgmental comment or thought. Turns out that I do this a lot. Not only do I create my own negative judgments, but I attach myself to other people's negativity. It is difficult to keep these feelings and thoughts to myself, but I am determined to do so. The Seat of the Soul is giving me the framework and perspective to make these positive changes.

Basically, karma is governed by the third law of motion: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Zukav gives examples of this principle by explaining: "The person who intends hatred for others experiences the intention of hatred from others. The person who intends love for others experiences the intention of love from others, and so forth." (Zukav 40). This way of thinking is similar to Abraham-Hicks' explanation of the vibrations that people give off to the universe. Often when I catch myself saying something negative, I imagine that I am infecting my life and the world with my own negativity, which makes it easy to correct myself or stop before I say or do something I'll regret.

Zukav also explains that: "Every cause that has not yet produced its effect is an event that has not yet come to completion. It is an imbalance of of energy that is in the process of becoming balanced. That balancing of energy does not always occur within the span of a single lifetime." (Zukav 41). I am intrigued by the idea that some of the "injustices" that we see in everyday life may be a result of actions in a past life.

I felt relieved and calmed when Zukav noted: " There are personalities that are selfish and hostile and negative, but even in these cases we cannot fully know the reasons why. These are hidden from view. That does not mean that we cannot recognize negativity when we see it, but we cannot judge it. That is not our place." (Zukav 43). Often, I talk about other people's actions and comments that I believe are "wrong" or "negative", only to realize later that I have increased the negativity and presence of their actions by sharing it with others or thinking about it. I try to figure out why a person has acted a certain way or made a particular comment and it only makes me feel worse about the situation. On top of that, who am I to judge another person's actions and what is it about myself that I need to justify them? Letting go and focusing on my own actions and words is a lot more empowering and uplifting.

It's not easy taking on these challenges and changing the way I think and speak, but with each passing day I feel more positive and less stressed. Zukav and the other authors are helping me on this journey.

I am on my way to breathe books this morning. My trip to Burlington on Friday for the Healing Touch Level 1 Class will be long, so what better time to listen to some helpful CDs covering the same principals and challenges I've been talking about in this blog? I'm sure that Susan will have some great suggestions.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Early Saturday Morning

It's a cool Saturday morning in Hampden, probably one of our last. Soon the humidity and brutal heat will set in, but for now I'll bask in the chirping of birds that I hear through the open windows and screen door. Last night was the first time we powered up the A/C window unit. I hate to shut the windows, but the nights are become more sticky each day.

The house is quiet. T-Tom is stretched out on the living room floor, soaking in a stream of sunlight. The future in-laws are in town this weekend. We spent the yesterday checking out the wedding site, strolling down the avenue, peeking into antique shops and sipping iced tea and coffee on the porch at Soup's On. While sitting on the porch, Susan was walking by and stopped to tell me that SmartWoman will be stopping by breathe books to take pictures for my article. Very exciting!

Today we're off the College Park to visit my future brother-in-law and take a trip to Union Station for some window shopping. But for now I have a quiet house for a few hours, to read, write, and relax. I am reading The Power of Now and Seat of the Soul, but focusing on Seat this week. Zukav is reinforcing many of the principles I've learned from Aurora at breathe. Especially when he writes, "From the point of view of the soul, all of its incarnations are simultaneous. All of its personalities exist at once. Therefore the release of negativity that occurs in one of the soul's incarnations benefit not only itself, but of its soul's incarnations also." (Zukav 35).

I am torn by the main difference I've noticed between The Power of Now and Ask and it is Given. The Power of Now recommends only focusing on the current moment because nothing else exists, while Ask and it is Given discusses manifesting your desires by imagining your desired future. I go back and forth between these practices. I have not finished The Power of Now, so maybe I'll have a different perspective later. For the time being I enjoy a little of both and I suppose that what really matters is finding what works best for you.

I was walking down The Avenue a few weeks ago and ventured to the other side of Chestnut. I discovered Inspired Serenity, a new shop specializing in "hand crafted items that support artists and artisans around the world", a wellness center upstairs with two massage therapists and a licensed therapist, a Zen garden, and delicious loose leaf teas. Aurora from breathe had mentioned that a shop would open in Hampden that would be a place to practice Healing Touch, so I couldn't wait to venture inside.

I pushed through the front door and met Sherry, the proprietress. She offered me a cup of freshly brewed iced tea. The lemon chiffon roiboos was refreshing and had a hint of sweetness. After introducing myself, she and I sat and chatted in two hand carved wooden chairs. The next hour flew by while we discussed the Healing Touch Program, her spiritual and professional experiences on the west coast and in Baltimore, and my spiritual and professional aspirations. I've already been back to the shop to visit Sherry and buy some Roiboos tea. This time we discussed the book I've been reading, The Secret DVD, and the calming "Hindu and Buddhist chant and kirtan music" playing in the shop. Sherry mentioned something she heard while watching Oprah one day. A guest mentioned the saying, "resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies." It resonated me and I shared it with a few special people that I thought would appreciate the wisdom. A few days later, a good friend emailed me and said that she had heard the same saying and wanted to share it with me! I know that I am meant to observe this wisdom and I'll think of it each time a feeling of resentment bubbles inside.

As I open myself up to these new ideas and ways of thinking they flow more easily into my life. I'm so thankful that I've started this journey.