Practice time at the Pyramid

The outer work can never be small if the inner work is great. And the outer work can never be great if the inner work is small.
~ Meister Eckhart

20160204_110208It’s amazing to think I’ve been here two weeks already at Pyramid Yoga Center–about to start my third. In some ways it’s as if I’ve been here forever, and on the other hand, the time is flying by. The days have been rich and full with practice. We start each day before sunrise, and with our flashlights, head down to the open air studio to begin our morning pranayama (breathwork) and meditation. The first session starts at 5 am. We’re up before the birds and get to hear them waking up chanting the new day into being. I love listening to the early morning… and all the creatures singing their hearts out, from the geckos, to the crickets, to the Thailand hummingbirds, it’s a real symphony of life out there. Needless to say, yoga in the jungle is extraordinary.

Five am is actually starting a little late by yogic standards. Four am is traditionally prime time for yoga and meditation. I think David is taking it easy on the group, but that doesn’t mean he’s not up hours before our first class doing his own practice. He once said he starts each day with 3 hours of breathwork before yoga… wow. Talk about yoga lifestyle. Anyway, after the 5 – 6:30 am breathwork, we meditate until 7, and then begin our hatha yoga until 8:30, when we break for breakfast.

Oh and by the way, it’s nice to be having breakfast again. At this time last week, I was 2 days into a 7 day cleanse which involved fasting followed by several days of just juice and vegetable broth. This is also very traditional. Yogis throughout the centuries have been conducting and recommending different types of purification and cleansing rituals to help promote an optimal state of wellbeing.

20160203_172135In one of David talks last week he mentioned how bringing the body into a state of wellbeing promotes a sense of happiness. He said, “It’s your responsibility to keep your body in a good state. We want to add yoga to our lives in order to improve well-being, which will in turn improve our self-image as well.”  When we feel good and we feel good about ourselves, we tend to be happier and more content. Such a simple formula, but most of us in the modern world have a hard time taking the time we need for ourselves to exercise the body and calm the mind. It is more common than not for people to prioritize their needs last, and let ourselves be swept up day in and day out sitting in the same position, barely breathing, only to wonder later why we are not feeling well physically and emotionally. This tendency without a doubt has a cumulative effect which weekly yoga classes can help us with, but really our classes are meant to encourage us to take care of ourselves on a daily basis. Although it’s true that I have made my whole life about yoga, I must say that it is really nice for me right now to take some time to myself in a supportive environment that is dedicated to the practice of yoga throughout the day with guidance and inspiration. David reminds us that “every deep breath is a step forward on the evolutionary path.” I am so grateful to be here.


Read more

Interesting TED talk – How sound can “shatter” cancer cells

Chakra Yoga is an interesting and comprehensive practice of yoga that involves 9 forms of yoga and many different practices to increase health and well-being. So along with the Hatha Yoga on the mat, we also study and practice the use of sound, and then observe its effect on the body. We use sounds, chants, seed sounds, and mantras intended to have a certain effect. This ancient practice can be found in many cultures dating back even before the 5000+ year history of yoga of India as there are some who say that sound was used as a tool in Ancient Egypt. It is interesting to even consider how we call the immensity in which we live the uni verse… the one song.

We live in a world full of sound, and rarely do we take into account its impact, let alone begin to use sound for health and well-being. Even our innermost thoughts are a type of sound seeing that we “hear” them on the inside. Perhaps you can sense how the quality and type of thoughts have an impact on the body. This is slowly becoming much more accepted by mainstream medicine.

So all that aside, I just wanted to share this super interesting video about the use of sound, and how it has been shown to literally destroy cancer cells.

Shattering cancer with resonant frequencies: Anthony Holland at TEDxSkidmoreCollege

Enjoy. Feel free to comment below if you like.


Read more

Settling in here in Koh Phagnan

imageAfter arriving in Bangkok, I did end up spending two days in a hotel simply to adjust to the time and the climate. It was really wonderful to just rest, and a nice way to ease into a completely different culture. I have to admit, I did assume that some of the Thai people I would run into would know even just a little bit of English, but I was wrong. Any little excursion or exchange I had with anyone but the hotel staff was just a big game of charades. Still I found it all very interesting (including waking up to the sound of a rooster–in the middle of downtown Bangkok?!) and by the third day, I was ready to find my way to my final destination, the island of Koh Phagnan.

You can either take an overnight bus or a plane, then a ferry to get there. So I booked a flight to Koh Samui, and I was on my way. One more day of travel and I was looking forward to putting my bags down for a while. Again, yoga proved to be really helpful because I really did have the strength to carry all three bags, as well as having the awareness of when to put them down, and how to carry them properly so that my body felt balanced and cared for. But after my fourth plane, a ferry, and a back of a pickup truck taxi, I was ready to put my bags down–I had arrived at Pyramid Yoga Center!

20160121_182918I am now in a nice bungalow on the property I can call home for a couple of months, and I’m settling in. The first order of the day is to rent a scooter so you can tour around. I have experience riding scooters, so I was really happy to secure one for 100 Baht per day ($4). With the scooter, I began to explore right away. Koh Phagnan is quite a popular travel destination. Each month, over 30 000 people from all over the world visit the island. The biggest attraction is the famous full moon party. Pyramid Yoga is in the North West, and thankfully at the opposite end. It’s quieter in the North, but really the whole island is very beautiful. It’s only approximately 20 kms across so it’s very small and its perimeter is dotted with tropical blue/white sand beaches lined with amazing beach side restaurants. All the Pad Thai you could ever want and fresh coconut water… so wonderful. The center of the island is mountainous and impassable, so you get a view of pristine mountains of lush jungle from almost everywhere you go. Just wow.

I am careful on my scooter though, since there is sand, fallen coconuts, and lots of dogs (for some reason) on the roads. So I’ve been doing about 40 20160122_181754km/hr and that suits me just fine. It’s been a lot of fun, but the other night, after sunset kirtan on the beach (yes, I did say sunset kirtan on the beach), I ran out of gas on a dark little road while leaving the beach. For some reason my gas gauge wasn’t working, so there I was stranded. It is situations like this where you really get to learn about yourself and how you might handle something. Despite being still jetlagged and in an unfamiliar place, in a challenging situation, I just decided to relax and trust that I could just go get some gasoline (they sell bottles of it on every corner for the scooters) and bring it back to fill up the tank. So that’s what I did, and I even got a blister from the walk because my shoe was new. But I took it all in stride until I got back to the scooter and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to open the seat.

Now, I was tired, it was dark, and I just didn’t know what to do…. I was examining every aspect of this little scooter, but I just couldn’t lift the seat to get to the gas tank underneath. Just before I was finally going to give in to stress, a young couple from New York come down the road out of the darkness and I asked if they knew how to open the seat. They didn’t, but boy they tried. At least I didn’t feel so bad for not figuring it out myself, but we finally decided that we should push the whole bike into town and find someone who could open it. On the walk, I got to know a bit about Vivien and Eugene. They were such a sweet couple, and so helpful. I realized right there that it is precisely through the hardships that opportunities and amazing moments can shine through. I was touched by their kindness and generosity, and it was through the contrast of the situation, that goodness got to shine a little brighter. I must remember this story, so that I can look for these opportunities when stressful situations arise.

So don’t panic, and enjoy the ride.
More to follow.

Read more