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.