Magenta, emerald, aquamarine, and violet powders were sprinkled onto our foreheads, cheeks, chins, and noses! Blessings of light and love, warmth and goodness, flowed upon willing recipients here at Fun Yoga on the Bay. Anita brought this tradition from her homeland, and she looks forward to sharing this fete with fellow yogis here in San Diego each year during March. Together we welcome the changing of seasons, springtime and all the colors of life. Symbolic of flowers, the colorful powders used during Holi Festival all around India, and neighboring countries, explode onto faces and clothes of joyful celebrants. Everyone frolics in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. It is believed that the combination of different colors take all sorrows away and makes life more colorful.
For this week's yoga theme, we went on an imaginary colorful journey to India. We began in a seated Bound Angle reminiscent of a seated meditating figure in the Pachupati seal (one of the first pieces of art found in Ancient India along the Indus Valley). With our feet pressed together, knees wide, and spine tall, we practiced clearing our minds and coming into the present moment with deep breaths. Then we moved through fun poses like Cow, the holiest animal in India, Hanuman Splits and Twists (in honor of the monkey god of loyal servants), Shiva Dance (a balancing flow between Big-Toe Pose and Eagle), and Elephant Squat for Ganesha (the god of wealth and education).
My idea of a cleansing Sacred-Ganges-River-Pose involved flowing through High-Lunge and High-Lunge-Twist. This powerful movement not only brought strength to our legs and core, but also released tension in the shoulders while rejuvenating the spinal sponges and inner organs.
Holi has many names, such as: Festival of Spring, Festival of Colors, or even Festival of Love. In the modern western world, it could be compared to exchanging Valentines and Easteregg dye and partying like Saint Patricks Day.
Differing regions have variations and myths relating to how this festival came about. For example, some say it is from a flirtatious game that the gods played with each other. Others say there are tales of magical robes, bonfires, and karmic cycles. The end of winter, along with longer and sunnier days represents our relationship with Light, Good triumphing over Evil. Further, Ayurvedic medicine reveals that many of the colored powders are made from healing herbs like neem, kumkum, haldi, and bilva. They are meant to bring immunity and protection to those they cover. Anita stays these herbs can protects against disease like the chickenpox.
I first encountered this holiday in Nepal in March of 2017. Just before we donned our rucksacks to begin the trek to Everest Base Camp, our guides announced that today was a very special day in Nepal, Holi Festival. They opened up hands revealing red powder (cornstarch, and food die) and sprinkled uneven dabs on our foreheads and cheeks. Initially, red was the only color everyone used because of the flirtatious love story between Krishna and Radha.
As we walked through the center of the mountain town, Lukla, children came out with waterguns to squirt us. Through the bursts of water, they supposedly sent their sincerest wishes and blessings. I’m sure it was also very fun for them to aim, fire, and watch our reactions as we squinted and shook with surprise. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children, and elders.
Celebrating Holi Festival today means that millions of people rejoice in the light with songs, dances, sweets, and the company of friends and family. The temporary nature of the colors point to the illusory nature of the material world. Just as flowers bloom and disappear, so do these colors soon wash off. We must pause and live in the NOW, appreciating all of our blessings before they are gone.
Me and a sweet camel in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
In April of 2017, I had a 10-hour layover in Cairo, so I stopped into Giza to explore the Great Pyramids. Pyramids are thought to be extremely sacred in many cultures around the world. Many churches are built with pyramid-like steeples and ancient pyramid constructions can be found not just in Egypt, but also in South America and parts of Asia. Feeling an intense energy of excitement, I later learned that significant sites like this one, and many other sacred palaces, royal burials, or megalithic structures of the ancient world, are built on specific intersections of geologic ley-lines called tuleric lines of electromagnetic currents.
"I am tired of seeing people fall for the illusion that a dead tortured bird and a bunch of sides served at some family gathering is the proper way to be thankful. Many people in the world right now would be thankful for a cup of rice or a peanut butter sandwich to eat, yet in America, we have to promote death and gorging ourselves to show we are thankful."
A year and a half ago, I experienced an awakening relating to the food that I put in my body. Becoming vegan is not a fad diet. It’s not about my waistline. It's about a lifestyle of mindfulness, knowledge, and kindness. Yoga philosophy has Eight Limbs to practice on the Path to Enlightenment. Enlightenment is about awakening to the truth and knowledge. One of these limbs is about Universal Morality, Yamas. This includes kindness, Ahimsa, to all beings.
Saying hello to animals along the Camino de Santiago 2018
What does ceremony mean to you?
If you grew up in a western society like mine, perhaps you think of ceremonies as formal acts of conventions and etiquettes, performed without deep significance, but with much elaborate pomp. We celebrate events like holidays, birthdays, baptisms, anniversaries, and weddings with traditional cakes, balloons, flowers, food, cards, and fancy clothes accompanied by physical rituals like sprinkling water, saluting flags, opening gifts, blowing out candles, first dances, vows, walking down the aisles, exchanging rings, etc.
However, sometimes we lose touch with the why.
What are we trying to accomplish with this ceremony?
What is the intention?
What is sacred and how are we growing through this?
Throughout the last several months, I’ve explored many ceremonies related to my intentions of deeper sacred connection and personal growth. Ceremonies can be an individual experience, or one to be shared with a loved one, group of friends, or a larger community as a tool for transformation and healing.
In The Book of Ceremony: Shamanic Wisdom for Invoking the Sacred in Everyday Life, Sandra Ingerman describes, “Performing ceremonies creates a bridge between the material world we live in and the world of the unseen, the divine, the power of the universe.”
While walking the Camino Frances, the most popular route of the Saint James Pilgrimage in Spain, I encountered a special opportunity to practice, Pratyahara.
Often times, this is the forgotten limb of the 8 Limbs in Patanjali's Path to Enlightenment. It means to control what we take in, or to retreat from the sensual world of temptations. Imagine a turtle pulling it's head and limbs back into it’s shell.
Have you ever heard the old wise saying, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We are so accustomed to ongoing sensory activity that we don’t know how to keep our minds quiet. If we don’t discipline our senses they dominate and disturb us with their endless demands. The senses are like holes in the vessel of the mind. Although we are constantly surrounded by distractions, this form of meditation is about recognizing how we let these stimuli affect us.
Pratyahara is about the right intake of the sensual experience. Strong sensations dull the mind, and a dull mind may lead us to act in ways that are insensitive, careless, or even violent. Just as junk food makes the body toxic, junk impressions make the mind toxic. The body benefits by fasting from food, just as the mind benefits by fasting from sensations.
Did you know that the elements are one of the most universal insights in ancient philosophies?
In Sanskrit they are known as the pancha-maha-buthas, the great states of existence.
Each time we ground, flow, transform, or breathe, we are connecting with the earth, water, fire, and air.
Have you ever felt suspension...hanging or floating, waiting for an action or response?
Did this instability and movement bring feelings of anxiety or excitement?
When you approach an obstacle in your life, how do you choose to accept this bump in the path?
Are you frozen with fear, or joyful with curiosity?
“Haven't you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security,
Have you heard of the fountain of youth?
A fountain is a source or origin of a desirable quality. Youth is the quality or state of being young, especially as associated with freshness, energy, resilience, and vitality. Is there such a thing as an origin of vitality? Most of us associate aging as the opposite of youth, when we become boring, tiresome, or wrinkled. Can we reverse, pause, or slow down the aging process?
"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination, nor both together, go to the making of a genius.
So much love at Cafe Gratitude!
Did you know that deep in the heart of all of us is a source of pure, unconditional love?
The Greatest Love is free flowing timeless love with no limits. It is the love that a mother can feel for her child. It is the love we read about in poems. It is the love we long to have. Although most of us have experienced different forms of love like romantic affection, comradeship, appreciation for family and friends, have you tapped into the unconditional love is the highest form? It is extensive, true, and eternal.
While trekking through the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, on my way to Everest Base Camp (March 2017), I came across this sign, Lovism.
My heart was filled with warmth as I contemplated this term.
Surrounded by striking trees, mountains, and sunshine, I realized that love is everywhere all around me. I felt an intense warmth and gratitude for nature as well as my life and body in this place, at this time.
I remembered Rumi’s quote,
Did you know that symbols and architecture of many ancient civilizations imply a synchronistic source of higher inspiration?
There are some close parallels in the meaning and formations of pyramids of the Ancient Maya to the Pyramids in Ancient Egypt and the serpent sculptures of MesoAmerica to Angkor Wat in Cambodia (Mayan Yoga).
December Nights at Balboa Park
With the winter holidays approaching, do you ever take the time to notice the world with a unifying perspective?
Are you open to beliefs from people that practice different customs than you?
Are your traditions in line with your evolving values?
Tradition refers to beliefs, objects or customs performed or believed in the past, originating in it, transmitted through time by being taught by one generation to the next, and are performed or believed in the present.
Years ago, I was kicked out of a dance club while yelling these words at the security guard, “Let me move my body!” We were being packed and roped into the center of a room and some of my curves drifted outside of the imaginary lines. Okay, there were some actual ropes, but it felt arbitrary.
Perhaps this wasn’t my finest moment, but in retrospect, I believe there was some divine insight to this riddle of authenticity.
This spring at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, Jivamukti teacher, Jules Febre, led a Hip Hop Asana class along the Ganges River and encouraged us to let loose and travel around the space, moving our body however it wanted to move. My face could barely find room for the smile that was brimming past my ears. My limbs encountered no boundaries and my hips whirled to infinity.
“With amazing creativity, we can design our lives and become the driver of our destiny. No matter what difficulties we may find ourselves in, we are able to change them and create them anew according to our choice.”
"In time and with water, everything changes."
“You’ve lost weight!”
I’m surprised at how many people notice and comment. I’ve always been pretty comfortable with my weight and size. Trimming down was not my motivation for starting this juice fast, but after three weeks of a liquid-only diet, I must say I do feel lighter and some of my pants are feeling quite loose.
A monster is a threatening force, usually found in legends or horror fiction, that is often a creature of strange or terrifying shape, and may produce fear or physical harm by its appearance or its actions.
Well-known monsters in fiction include Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, werewolves, mummies, and zombies, yetis, sea-monsters, and dragons.
We carefully tied the scallop shells to the backs of our packs. When pilgrims carry the scallop shell it represents our personal journey, the sacred path that we must take within. Starting on the outer rim of the shell, we try to find our way back to our center. Many pilgrims along the Road to Santiago wear the scallop shell to identify other pilgrims. When we see other scallop shells, we are reminded of why we are walking. Even though each person has their own story, the shell itself represents the many different spiritual pathways that lead to the same place. We are ultimately bound together by this oneness of the universal center, the spirit. On a more universal note, scallop shells relate to travel and movement.
Over the past hundreds of years, pilgrims would also be given food at churches and other establishments, and a scallop shell scoop was the measure for the food they would be donated. Further, this symbol guides pilgrims on the way, as a milestone marker pointing you in the right direction, and can provide reassurance at some points that you are still on the right path, The Way of Saint James.
A combination of diverse elements forming a more or less coherent whole, perhaps as piece of art or picture produced by arranging together small pieces.
It is often used in decorative art or as interior decoration. Most mosaics are made of small, flat, pieces of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae.
As my flight arrived into Krabi, Thailand (March 28, 2017), I was surprised to hear an announcement, through the intercom, advising tourists to respect the feelings of the Thai people, following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a man seen as a father-figure in the country.
Diiiinnnnnnggggg, Ding, Doooooonnnnongggg, Dong, Diiiiiinnnng, Doooooooonnnnnnng...
Rings of purple and gold outlined a bright white glowing circle. The white light grew, expanded, and faded out as a new outlined circle appeared in the center and began to expand as well. Although my eyes were closed, my entire body was filled with vibrations of warmth, love, and joy. A blissful smile expanded across my face.
Digital Artwork by Hannah Faulkner
At this first annual Elysia Yoga Convention in Amorgos, Greece in April 2017, Yoga and Wellness leaders from around the world gathered to resonate together under a high frequency. Lying in the open space of sound, I felt a deep connection within my body. My mind was clear as it allowed the sound to penetrate every cell of every organ. This alignment was not only taking place within my body, but also within the whole room as David Kennet swarmed around us with crystal and metal Tibetan singing bowls, chimes, and dynamic shamanic chants.
Tiny hot fragments massaged the heel of my foot, then the arch, ball, and in between my toes. My calf muscles extended and tightened with each step. Suddenly, the refreshing edge of the vast sea snuck through my feet and ankles, bringing my awareness to its icy trace. From admiring the organic wind and sea layered auburn, ginger, and beige rock formations, to the contrast and patterns in the black and white sand, my attention was once again redirected to the sparkling stones all around me.
After a long day on my feet, the first thing I want to do is to rest them. Whether I’m trekking 10-20 miles a day with a heavy backpack, teaching, serving tables at a restaurant, or even sitting and writing, my body craves relaxing restoration. My favorite pose to recover and heal from a long day is Legs-Up-The-Wall and it can be practiced almost anywhere that you have access to wall and enough space to lay your back down against the corner. You can add blocks, blankets and bolsters to feel more supported and increase your energy through a back-bend, but the basic posture itself does miracles inside of our bodies.
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
Fun Yoga On the Bay
Travel the world with me through yoga!
These themed lessons are fun for all ages and levels at Mission Bay Park.
See the page, Park Yoga, for more information!
Lessons from Abroad