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?
A simple suspension bridge is a primitive type of bridge that is supported entirely from anchors at either end, leaving the center floating and susceptible to movement and sway. This type of bridge is considered the most efficient and sustainable design in developing countries like Nepal.
While crossing the seven iconic suspension bridges, along the Everest Base Camp Trek, I noticed a variety of reactions to this part of the journey.
Some people were clutching to the side wire with dizzying expressions. At the sight of an upcoming bridge, dread would begin to bead and surface in the form of sweat across their brow. “Not another one!!!” they would exclaim. Slow shaky step after another, it would take all their willpower and concentration to inch their way to the other side.
However, I felt a surge of excitement and wonder every time a bridge approached. I would feel like Indiana Jones running off on another adventure into a special place with ancient secrets. Each step had a bounce and jiggle on this wobbly terrain. I was so filled with joy that I would shake my hips from side to side, rhythmically stepping, as if dancing.
When we tap into our inner source of power and trust, the world can be our playground and the bridges, or obstacles, will follow our lead.
A bridge is a structure that carries a path across an obstacle. It is also something that is intended to reconcile or form a connection between two things, a means of connection or transition.
“I like to see myself as a bridge builder.
Bridges, by their very nature, ease the passage from one side to another. They symbolize union. Yoga is union, bridging our little self with our Higher Self. By practicing yoga asanas (poses), I bridge awareness into what is happening in my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. Sometimes I notice that I slide into a separation perspective of the ego, but then I rise again into a united perspective of oneness.
Bridge Pose is a reminder to focus on all of the parts in our body coming together as one.
In Sanskrit, Setu Bandhasana is pronounced as SAY-tuh-bun-DHAHS-ana translates to bridge lock posture. It stretches the neck, chest, and spine and strengthens the lower back, glutes and quads. The opening of the chest brings an increase in the lung capacity. This backbend is a significant way to find stillness, strength, and surrender of the Higher Self while reducing depression, stress, and anxiety (associated with our ego).
Considered a mild inversion, physically, this pose can give your relief from insomnia, headaches, asthma, high blood pressure, menstrual pain, thyroid problems, and digestive issues.
After a physical warm up, lay on your back with your knees bend and heels aligned, just a few inches from your hips. Parallel the outer edges of your feet with the mat and keep your knees tracking in line with your second toes. Roll your shoulder blades underneath you and away from your ears and lift your chin.
Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips six to twelve inches off of the ground. Send your tailbone towards your knees and engage your core to protect the vertebrae in your lower spine. Hands can press into the mat on each side of your hips, lift up to the sky in robot right-angled position, grip the edges of your yoga mat, or clasp together underneath you for a deep shoulder opening.
Take seven to ten slow deep breaths as you bridge your mental and spiritual awareness to all of this healing oxygen connecting life force energy crossing over to your physical and emotional body. Then, gently rest your hips back down on the earth.
You can also make this a restorative posture to relieve tension in your lower back and nervous system by placing a yoga block, at the medium or low height, just behind your tailbone.
“Life is the love that reaches out,
Along the Camino de Santiago, we cross many historic bridges that have aided pilgrims, in crossing obstacles, for hundred of years. This Meditative Yoga Pilgrimage not only connects our mind, body, and spirit, but also connects us to the many souls that walked this route before.
Pythagoras states, “Favor the walking stick of experience over the speeding cart of fortune. The philosopher travels on foot.”
The bridges along this route are made of all types of materials, from different eras, and were built with different motivations. Some are centennial, even millennial, others more modern. Some are more or less preserved, totally deteriorated, or restored in their entirety. However, each bridge shares one common denominator: to facilitate the passage for pilgrims.
“Bridges become frames for looking at the world around us.”
By observing these bridges, we are able to appreciate the value, meaning, and symbolism that they encompass. They have been and are a symbol of union, bond, relationship, and communication.
The extraordinary bridge that connects Puente de Órbigo (on the East bank) with Hospital de Órbigo (on the west bank) is the site of one of the camino's charming tales of a knight who was trying to prove his worth to his love. He challenged every pilgrim who wanted to cross the bridge with a jousting competition. Those who refused had to wade through the Orbigo River.
Puente de Órbigo, Spain
“Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls.
SEven Bridges Walk
Join me on a pilgrimage through San Diego’s uptown 7 Bridges Walk this Saturday, March 24th 12-3pm, as a preview of the Meditative Yoga Pilgrimage this summer in Spain!
This is your chance to ask questions, test out new boots, the weight of your pack, and explore some yoga and meditation along the way.
Please message me or RSVP here.
We will begin at Cabrillo Bridge, which used to span a small lake (now it spans the 163 highway) during the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
Walkers, bicyclists, and drivers share this bridge with antique gas-lamps, views of the cityscape, and the welcoming California Dome and Tower of the San Diego Museum of Man (I’m teaching a yoga class here about bridges on Saturday, March 24th 8:30am-9:30am).
The Cabrillo Bridge, provides connection and transition between Balboa Park and the Uptown area of San Diego. Primarily intended as a pedestrian pathway to the 1915 Exposition, it is nearly 1,500 feet long and nearly 125 feet high. The seven arches are each 56 feet across and are supported by fourteen hollow concrete pillars.
After strolling through the central square of this gorgeous city park, we will cross over the second bridge connecting the museums to the cactus and rose gardens.
The third bridge on Georgia street is under construction, but on our way to the most interesting and contemporary bridge of them all, Vermont St. Bridge, built in 1995 with words of inspiration cut into the railings and definitions of bridge stamped into the cement.
It savors the words of our beloved naturalist, Kate Sessions, that planted thousands of exotic trees in San Diego from seeds that she gathered around the world, "I am thankful that I wear comfortable shoes and walk with comfort all day long."
Of course, my favorite bridge is the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge that spans a hidden lush Kate Sessions Canyon and is the only bridge of its kind in the county. JoAnna and I were having fun with creating wave-like movement and we danced to hold our balance.
Next, one of few remaining wooden trestle pedestrian bridges in San Diego, Quince St. Bridge, built in 1905, was designed by city engineer (and Bankers Hill resident) George A. d’Hemecourt to allow residents better access to the Fourth Avenue trolley line. I love the book-share box at the end.
Finally, the First Ave. Bridge (the only steel-arch bridge in the city) was built in 1931, shipped to San Diego to be reassembled in place. This bridge offers spectacular views of the bay and Point Loma.
"The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create,
“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.
The other day a friend, Ashlee, told me that I must have been a cat in my previous life. She was trying to make sense of the phenomenon of why animals, and often times cats, are so attracted to me. But, I haven’t always been this way. I used to be afraid of animals and tried to steer clear of them for most of my life.
It wasn’t until I started doing yoga (Yoga One San Diego), that I’ve made a connection with these beings. The more I became centered and found inner peace and awakening, the more animals liked to be in my aura.
Two-year-old Stephen pointed and stumbled closer to these flighty creatures. Only stopping for moments to chirp, the birds at the ruins of Herculaneum, in Italy (April 2017), would float from room to room with an air of mystery and lightness.
Stephen’s curiosity was piqued at this concept of creatures that can both stand and fly.
Photo Credit: Nicoleta n Shawn Photography
When was the last time you marveled at these feathered friends?
" At once this disk of sky slid over the sun like a lid…
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution
A Pilgrimage is a journey for your spirit. Many religions attach spiritual importance to traveling to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their spiritual awakening, or of their connection with the divine, to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live, or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. These religious followers are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed, feel a magical presence, or to have questions answered. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.
Are you a pilgrim?
When I arrived in India in late February 2017, I was standing in the currency exchange line at New Delhi airport when a turbaned gentleman behind me asked what I was doing here. I told him that I primarily came to attend the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. He immediately warned me to not become a vegetarian. He urged me to not give up meat because a body needs protein. I found this response surprising as I thought that most Indians were Vegetarians, but I agreed with him as I thought that I did need protein from meat.
Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi, India
For most of my life, I ate whatever I thought tasted good. After working part-time at a gourmet French restaurant for the past seven years, I have developed a well-rounded taste for many meats, eggs, creamy sauces, cheeses, pastries, and buttered vegetables. I thought it was all fine in moderation as long as I drank plenty of water, slept enough, and exercised regularly.
However, one of my 2017 New Year Goals was to explore my relationship with food and experiment with what would help me to be the best version of myself.
Photo Credit: JoAnna George
“MMMEEEOOOWWW! NOO! Not again!"
Why are you packing your duffel bag and backpack? Anxiety envelops me as I start pacing back and forth. I jump on the bed, then on the table and back to the bed, desperately trying to signal to her that I’m not happy with this action.
"This must mean that you’re leaving me for another one of your crazy adventures! I hate change! Why can’t you just stay here with me and remain happy and comfortable?!"
Uh oh! Things have taken a suddenly scary turn. Why is the cat carrier out on the table!?!?
Suddenly, Hannah Half Moon picks me up and tries to shove me into that suffocating prison.
“MMMEEEOOOWW!! Put me down! I’m not going in there!”
I brace for my life, clinging to the perimeter of the opening. I engage all of my muscles in terror!
She then lifts me from that space in the back of my neck, that renders me immobile, and before I know it, everything I know fades from view as I swish side to side in this compact vessel. Step after step we descend down the stairs and into the car.
“MMMEEEOOOWW!! MMMEEEOOOWW!! MMMEEEOOOWW!!”
"I hate riding in the car more than anything! You must stop this nonsense now!"
Maybe if I keep screaming, she will change her mind, turn around and things can go back to normal. Abruptly, we stop for a moment and Hannah Half Moon helps her friend, JoAnna George, load the car with more stuff.
I don’t understand what’s happening.
Abruptly, we start driving again, but this time she opens my cage door and allows me to roam free.
I went straight for her lap, my favorite place in the whole world, filled with warmth, love, and affection.
This summer in San Diego, contemporary artists from around the world gathered to create an interactive experience called Wonderspaces. Through multimedia installations, previously only viewed at expensive and exclusive festivals like Burning Man, these visual and spacial involvements leave room for personal interpretation so that the viewer can grow and cultivate wisdom.
What does Light mean to you?
When I was a young child, my dearest memory was a bright white light. It was the first thing that I knew. Whenever I needed a reference of time at ages 2, 3, and 4, I would close my eyes and remember the warmth and joy of this light in the beginning. Surrounding the light were blurry faces that emanated love as they looked upon me.
Many years later, I was a teenager in the kitchen with my mom and suddenly this memory popped into my mind. I told her about this light as the first thing that I knew. Stunned, she exclaimed that I was born with Jaundice and I had to be placed in an incubator with a spotlight for up to three days after birth. This phototherapy or light treatment absorbed the light waves into my skin skin and blood to eliminate the excess bilirubin that causes yellow discoloring. Nowadays, parents with newborns that have jaundice are placing their babies near a window to absorb sunlight four times a day for 15 minutes each.
Now, I know light as my hero and source of love. It represents life, energy, joy, purity, and goodness. On the longest days of the year, the light seems to stand still in the sky.
Performing Sun Salutations are an opportunity for us to give thanks to the light in the sky and the light of our life and many blessings.
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
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My Paintings are now on Yoga Pants!
Fun Yoga in the Park
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