Hannah Faulkner on Everest Base Camp Trek 2017
Bright white relief letters wrap around the black painted boulders. This script pops out at me, but at the same time blends in with the contrasting snow-capped mountains and dark shadows cast from the bright sun. My Everest Base Camp Trek Guide points out these Mani stones that repeat the sacred chants, especially the most popular mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum.”
Wishing you New Year Goodness!
Sshin-nyen haoww (Mandarin pronunciation)
The Chinese culture is unique because it is not only one of the oldest civilizations in history, but also the longest continuous culture that has lasted for over 5,000 years and is still going today. The ancient Chinese people had invented paper and printing press that led to development of calligraphy and literature. They have made some huge contributions towards other notable inventions like the compass, umbrella, drums, flutes, harps, seismoscope, noodles, silk clothing, bank notes, acupuncture, and irrigation.
Every year, people of the Chinese culture from all around the world, celebrate this time of year with good luck rites, house cleaning, family feasts, and fireworks. The next few weeks are set aside as a time to honor household and heavenly deities as well as ancestors. Unlike our western Gregorian calendar, the Chinese calendar runs in accordance with lunar-solar observations; therefore, the date for the new year changes from year to year.
This year, it starts on January 22nd. Celebrations will occur the day before and continue until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the new year to decline the darkness of winter and move into the night as a community with human-made light. People create paper lanterns to symbolize the sun, light, warmth, and a physical prayer to the Sun for it to come back. Lighting lanterns is a way for people to pray that they will have smooth futures and express their best wishes for their families (China Highlights). This marks the beginning of Spring. After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down.
According to tradition, people must stay up late on New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year, and then to let off fireworks to scare off ominous spirits and Nian, the New Year dragon monster. Chinese are careful of their actions on these two days as they will prophecy their upcoming year. In the first five days of the New Year, people eat long noodles to symbolize long life. On the 15th and final day of the New Year, round dumplings shaped like the full moon are shared as a sign of the family unit and of perfection (History.com). One legend states that hanging your hopes for the coming year on a Wishing Tree (synonymous with good luck and fortune) will encourage your dreams to come true. Further, some Chinese people refrain from regular routines such as hair and laundry washing in honor of the water god, celebrated on these days.
This blog post honors the magnificent teachings of Acharya Shunya in her book,
Roar Like a Goddess:
Every Woman’s Guide to Becoming Unapologetically powerful, Prosperous, and Peaceful
Her teachings originate from the ancient sacred texts called the Vedas.
“The vedic scriptural lineages, published today as the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur veda, and Atharva Veda proclaimed equal opportunity for men and women in education, profession, marriage, and spiritual choices. They called for equality in everything from leadership to inheritance and made no social prohibitions on women’s secular and spiritual advancement.”
Diwali, Festival of Lights, is the largest and most celebrated holiday in India and surrounding countries. The word comes from the Sanskrit word “deepavali”, which means “rows of lighted lamps." Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness by decorating household spaces with lights, fireworks, and small lamps called diyas. These small earthenware lamps, filled with oil, are lighted and placed in rows by some Hindus along the parapets of temples and houses to remind oneself to let your light shine. Let positivity conquer over negativity, goodness over evil, wisdom over ignorance, hope over despair, love over hate, happiness over anger, fear, or sadness.
Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is believed to roam the earth on Diwali night.
“Lakshmi’s radiance is golden, shimmering with an inner light that lights up the whole universe, a thousand suns.”
On the evening of Diwali, people open their doors and windows to welcome Lakshmi, and place Diya lights on their windowsills and balcony ledges to invite her in.
“All cities are jealous of Paris, but Prague is the envy of Paris.”
Prague was coined “The golden city of 100 spires.” In the 19th century, 104 towers and spires could be counted from the coexistence of the buildings, sculptures, and monuments of ten centuries that adorned the skyline. It was one of the only European cities to evade bombing in WWII, therefore countless well-preserved castles, Baroque and Gothic cathedrals still stand. Further the world wars and communism halted most mid-20th-century additions. UNESCO arrived just in time, in the early 1990s, to extinguish any plans to ‘develop’ Prague’s city center.
Nevertheless, now there are over 500 spires, so people refer to Prague today as “the golden city of 500 spires” or “the golden city of 1000 spires.”
“Yoga is like music.
The rhythm of the body,
the melody of the mind,
and the harmony of the soul
creates the symphony of life.”
– B.K.S. Iyengar.
When I think about Vienna, Austria, I automatically want to step into three-quarter time waltz (which was originated here) like the scene from the Sound of Music- when Maria gets swept away by Captain Van Trapp and they waltz at the grand Viennese Ball for Baroness Schrader.
Vienna owns up to its name “the music capital of the world”, at least for classical music, as it served as the home and setting for Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, and Brahms to create some of their most famous compositions. More famous composers have lived in Vienna than in any other city!
“Every dog must have his day.”
~ Jonathan Swift
Dog Days are historically associated with the hottest days of summer and the period following the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, from July 3 to August 11 each year in the Northern Hemisphere.
“What the flamingo teaches a child...
is that gravity is not just a limitation,
but also a possible partner in an intriguing,
potentially joyful game.”
– John Burnside
It’s summertime. A time to splish and splash and balance like our friends the flamingos. Flamingos as spirit animals relate to personalities who are flamboyant, fun, very expressive, and surrounded by like-minded people.
“You were born with wings.
Why prefer to crawl through life?”
Have you ever encountered bliss
by spinning around
I remember moments from my childhood, particularly when I was dressed in a ballerina’s tutu, standing in a field of grass, when I felt overcome by the desire to twirl. I relaxed my arms and closed my eyes as my feet shifted in a rhythmic pivot through the cut grass. The air gently massaged my skin and love flooded my being as I took continuous steps of letting go.
Often times in our culture, we are trained to stay safe. Elders discourage us from this action by saying, “You will become dizzy and fall and hurt yourself!” Choosing safety sometimes means giving into our ego’s desire to survive. But, through the action of spinning, we tap into an even greater aspect of adventure and surrender to a greater loving force.
“Close your eyes,
fall in love,
As the most famous love poet in the world, a thirteenth century man, Jalal-ad-Din-Muhammad Rumi, commonly known as just Rumi, found poetry, music, and dance as paths to connect with God, or the Divine. With roots in Islam, he expanded and taught the universality of all religious experience with the goal to achieve ultimate union. Similar to the message of the great prophets Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus, he imparts that through the journey of life, if the seeker turns towards the truth, grows through love, and abandons the ego then, he or she will find truth and arrive at peace. Then, the seeker can return from the spiritual journey with maturity and love to serve all of creation without discrimination of nations, classes, races, and beliefs.
During his path to find this enlightenment, he started whirling as a type of dance. It is believed that as he whirled, his followers would record the poetry that sprang forth from within him. Rumi himself whirled for thirty-six hours unceasingly and finally fell, because the body could not spin anymore. But when he opened his eyes, he had transformed into another man.
Palm Sunday celebrates the laying of palm leaves in front of Jesus’ path, as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, from the Mount of Olives. In Ancient Rome, a palm frond, and even the tree itself, is one of the most common representations of victory. Victory signals an end to a conflict, therefore, the palm developed into a symbol of peace. The donkey is also a symbol of peace, whereas the horse is a symbol of war.
Carnival is a Catholic influenced European folk culture holiday celebrated all around the world. It’s an opportunity to indulge and have fun before the forty-day period of fasting for Lent.
To fast is to choose to go for periods of time without eating and/or drinking. Modern-day practitioners choose what they would like to give up, such as meat, caffeine, chocolate, or alcohol. Although some more serious believers will consume only water for this entire time period. In effort to deepen their spiritual practice, many Christians choose the time period of Lent, leading up to Easter, to observe the forty days that Jesus fasted in the desert.
Fasting is also a unifying practice of many ancient cultures including Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. Fasting usually involves a moral commitment to purify the body and soul as well as increase God-consciousness. Now, modern-day science is confirming its power to transform us by boosting the immune system and detoxifying the body, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
As many of us enjoy a long weekend due to a holiday off of work, some of us pause to consider why.
Presidents Day was created as a combination of celebrating the birthday of first President of the USA, George Washington, and the birthday of another notably important president, Abraham Lincoln, but has grown to extend honor to all of the 46 presidents.
While not everyone agrees with the politics and decisions of every president, many of them have led with some famous words of wisdom.
By taking the time to study words of wisdom and how they can help us deepen the connection between our little self and deeper self, we practice a limb of yoga from Patanjali's Niyamas called Svadhyaya.
It's part of the Eight Limbed Path to Enlightenment that means "to study the self." In his Yoga Sutras Patanjali states, "Study thy self, discover the divine." II.44
Here's some Yogi-like wisdom from the top ten most popular US presidents...
“Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.”
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the universe deserves your love and affection.”
In order to have success in relationships, it is important to love yourself. And I’m not referring to obsession with appearance and selfies. I’m talking about a relationship with our true inner self, the Divine within.
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
Our culture, and most cultures from around the world, try to send us the message that we need a romantic partner to complete us. According to ancient Patanjali and his wisdom imparted in the Yoga Sutras, one of the guidelines for ethical living (as outlined in the Yamas) is Brahmacharya. It means “walking with God.” Some cultures interpret this to mean celibacy, others say sexual integrity. It concerns moving away from the downward spiral of desire that manifests in forms such as addictions to drugs or chasing the opposite sex. Some interpretations suggest that when we do decide to come together in intimate relationships, they should align with our understanding of the highest truths.
Have you heard of the Fountain of Youth?
Haven't you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security,
Where living was not a struggle but a lasting delight?
Of course you have.
So has every man since Time began.
Always the same dream.
Sometimes he calls it Utopia,
Sometimes the Fountain of Youth.”
-The Lost Horizon
The mythology of the Fountain of Youth has been in our consciousness since about the 5th Century BCE. Floating through whispers of spiritual seekers, an eastern myth may hold this secret of long life. Legends spoke of a mysterious spring that would restore the youth of anyone who drank or bathed in its waters. Water is certainly a life enhancing element, but could such a water source have magical properties to turn back time?
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?
Happy 2022! New York is a symbol of freedom in the New World as tens of thousands of immigrants flock here every year. Further, for each new year, over one billion people worldwide prefer to witness a long-held tradition (since 1904- also the year of opening the city’s first subway line) from Times Square, often referred to as the crossroads of the world, in New York City.
A 6-ton ball, encrusted with nearly 2,700 Waterford triangular crystals and 32,000 LEDs, shines like a torch of the Statue of Liberty to usher in the newborn year. As the 12-foot sphere lowers at midnight, confetti and cheers fills the air for the world’s symbolic New Year’s Eve event. The concept of a time-ball dropping was initiated atop England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This allowed nearby captains of ships to precisely set their navigational instruments as the ball would lower at one o’clock every afternoon. Since then, over 150 time balls were set up and utilized worldwide, but few remain working today. The Times Square ball drop was closed to the public last year because of the pandemic, but now it serves as a symbol for returning to a somewhat normal life of stability.
In nature, things generally have rounded or uneven sides. The square can be seen as a symbol of civilization. Cities, like the largest metropolis in the United States, New York City, is built on squares and rectangles. These are the product of humankind taking action and building. They have right angles that represent order, mathematics, rationality, and formality. Further, the corner can be a representation of a crossroad. When something is ‘right around the corner,’ it suggests looking at something a different way.
‘Tis the season’ to open your heart and let love shine through.
Our heart organ and the space surrounding it, including the lungs, thymus gland, and thoracic spine make up an energy center that we call the Heart Chakra, Anahata. Chakras are a system of seven distinct wheels, centers of energy perpetually in motion, based on Ancient Eastern philosophy. These spheres of energy belong to the realm of subtle energy and each have their own color and vibrational frequency in the order of the colors of the rainbow, from red to purple and white. Located along the spinal column, they are associated with specific parts of the body, like the nervous system, organs and glands. At the crossroad of the material and the immaterial, the biological and the spiritual, energetic blocks and imbalances initiate mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual ailments. Healing and balancing the chakras requires awareness and knowledge.
A balanced heart chakra is green in color and cultivates self-love, compassion, empathy, and a healthy immune system. An unbalanced heart chakra can experience physical ailments like asthma or difficulty breathing, circulation problems, upper back pain, immune system deficiency, or disorders of the arms and breasts. An underactive heart chakra can reflect shyness, fear of getting hurt, feelings of loneliness or being unloved, suspicion, possessiveness, judgmental, or antisocial. An overactive heart chakra can be overly empathetic, overly concerned, jealous, codependent, clingy, overly sacrificing, staying in abusive relationships, poor at setting boundaries.
La Dolce Studio interviewed me with the following questions:
How did you first get into pilates or yoga?
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
What is your proudest moment/accomplishment in pilates or yoga?
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Do you think there is any trait that all exercise practitioners share?
What is the most significant thing that someone much younger than yourself has taught you?
Do you like classical or contemporary pilates/yoga more? Why?
What advice would you give to people wanting to start pilates or yoga?
Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?
What is a 'hack' you have for success that most people don't know about?
How would you describe pilates/yoga in 1 word?
What's something exciting you're currently working on/learning that only a few people know about?
Most satisfying experience practicing yoga/pilates?
What are your biggest pet peeves about the culture/community of your chosen practice?
What is your favourite thing about the culture and community of your chosen practice?
Do you tend to use a lot of different equipment when you practice? Why/Why not?
Click the button below to view the answers on their site.
By Hannah Faulkner Roman
Let me start off by announcing that I am not Irish, nor have I been to Ireland. But, since childhood I’ve somehow worn green every year on Saint Patrick’s Day and as an adult found this day as an excuse to have a beer. Americans have celebrated the Irish saint on this day since at least the early 18th century.
St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century. As a teenager he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. After escaping, he later returned to convert the Irish to Christianity through establishing monasteries, churches, and schools. Many legends developed over the years, including how he used the shamrock to explain the holy Trinity. Likewise, the yoga trinity involves connecting the mind, body, and spirit. Today, this holiday honors St. Patrick's efforts to unite Celtic and Catholic Ireland through wearing one of the forty shades of Ireland's green, dancing, parades, drinking beer, chasing pots of gold, and making merry.
Through the following 10 Yoga Poses, I explore the meaning behind some common Irish symbols.
1. Four-Leaf Clover
The Shamrock is the national flower of Ireland. This three-leaved plant was used by Saint Patrick to illustrate the presence of God in the natural world as the trinity (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but in ancient times it was used in fertility rituals, to scare away snakes, to heal diseases, and to ward off evil spirits.
However, a four-leaved clover is not technically a shamrock, it is much luckier as they appear only once out of 10,000 clovers. The petals represent faith, hope, love, and luck.
This posture is also known as Star Pose, or Utthita Tadasana. It’s a variation of Mountain Pose. To get into the posture, stand with your feet much wider than your hips. Exhale to root into the ground and tone the muscles throughout. Inhale to lift the crown of the head, allowing the spine to elongate. Extend your arms out wide to gently open the chest. Relax the shoulders down and back while lengthening through the fingertips. Continue to breath calming in and out through the nose for several breaths, connecting with your good luck.
Vegetables, Meal favorites, Inspiration and more...
Don’t miss the recent Redfin article I was featured in: “Serene Tips for Designing an at Home Yoga Space” on January 21, 2021 by Alison Bentley
As many of us still work from home and the world is ever-changing, some of us feel like there’s no
escape from home. You might be looking for a way to relieve some stress with some peace and serenity in your home. The answer could be as simple as finding the perfect place in your house for a yoga space. Whether you live in a studio apartment in Seattle, WA or a large home in Dallas, TX, all you need is a little space and some calming decor for the perfect at home yoga space.
To help you get started, I, along with other yoga teachers from across the country, shared some of our
best tips and tricks for creating a peaceful at home yoga space with Redfin. Check out what we had to
say so you can so you can design a serene space for your yoga practice!
Find my advice and more on the link below
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.
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.