Follow my yoga quest at home and on the road…

Canyons, cats, and new friends…


Communing with nature in Red Canyon, nr Bryce Canyon, Utah

America is blessed with many amazing natural wonders. Bearing in mind the number and spread of these wonders, whilst planning my current visit to the US, it was a challenge to decide exactly where to visit. After some research I decided to spend 10 out of 41 days in the USA, visiting the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, and Zion.

I have been very interested to note how pet friendly the US is, eg the ability to take pets on board domestic flights – whilst complying with well defined guidelines, many places I have stayed have been pet friendly, pets on leads (usually dogs) are allowed in certain areas of some of the National Parks.

Leo - the cat who came to see the Grand Canyon

Leo – the cat who went to see the Grand Canyon

In an earlier post, I mentioned my two much loved feline friends. Whilst travelling I miss these little guys, however I know they are in safe hands at home, and I always carry them in my heart. When I am on the road I welcome the opportunity to interact with animals (providing it is appropriate) and I must admit I have a bias toward cats…

I had a happy surprise whilst walking along the south rim of the Grand Canyon when I noticed ahead of me a girl sitting on a wall, with a cat sitting on her lap. The pusses name was Leo. He was stressed from the attention he was receiving. Not wanting to increase Leo’s anxiety level, I asked permission to take a photo – which was generously granted, and I quickly carried on my way.

Awesome to meet Leo in the amazing Grand Canyon πŸ™‚

One of the many things I enjoy about travelling is the great people I meet along the way… Whilst in Bryce Canyon I met a lovely lady – Linda Stevenson – who was from Ohio. As we chatted, we discovered that we were both yoga practitioners, and that Linda was also a yoga teacher.

Meeting someone new is special, meeting someone new in an awesome place like Bryce is very special – meeting someone new who also shares the love of yoga is extra special πŸ™‚ Please go to Linda’s website to find out about Exhale Yoga.

Wishing Linda safe and happy travels. Hope to take asana practice with you one day.


Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Monument Valley

Monument Valley


Yoga Las Vegas! Yoga paws and marshmallow mats

I have heard it said that the hardest part of asana practise is getting on to the mat – my biggest challenge today was getting the mat to stay still πŸ™‚

20 April 2013 – today I chose to make my asana practice in the gym of my accommodation in Las Vegas.

imageOn this trip I am not travelling with my own yoga mat. The gym has exercise mats, however they are of the thick and spongy variety, as opposed to being thin and sticky. The gym floor is inflexible with a lightly textured, non slip finish.

I brought a set of Yoga Paws (YP) with me – I purchased the YP a few months ago with the idea of using them in lieu of a mat when travelling. I decided to use the YP for the first time today.

Working with the items available to me, I proceeded with the Ashtanga Primary series sequence.

Oh – also, I have woken up with a head cold – or maybe it is an allergic reaction. Whatever it is, I find it difficult to breathe through my nose, so I continue, mouth breathing. And, by the end of Surya Namaskar B, I was able to breathe fully through my nose – yippee πŸ™‚

I started my practice using only the Yoga Paws (YP). As this was first time I had tried them, of course, there were some blatant differences between “naked” hands and feet to partially covered hands and feet. I am going to use them on several more occasions before I give my verdict.

In the interim, a couple of points regarding today’s use of the YP:
– when rolling over toes from Chaturanga to Upward Dog the tops of the feet could not gain purchase – as they would on a mat – and because the fabric tops of YP slipped on the floor. I modified, ie stayed on my toes rather than rolling over to the tops of my feet
– palms and fingers could not make “usual” contact with floor due to bound edge of YP. Of course, hands will not make usual contact because of the cut off glove design of the YP, however the bound edge of the garment takes this to another level

imageI worked through to the end of Surya Namaskar B using the YP. For standing/balancing asana I did use not YP or mat. At Paschimattanasana I moved on to the gym mat. Because of the spongy/elastic properties of the mat, during the first vinyasa, on jumping back into chaturanga then attempting to push through to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana my hands and feet moved in opposing directions. It was like practising on a sheet of marshmallow – LOL πŸ™‚

At that stage I decided to abandon the vinyasa for this practice, and to make a break between each side, and each posture, by making easy cross legs and pushing up off the mat.

It was an interesting and rewarding practice, interlaced with a little humour.

I have heard it said that the hardest part of asana practise is getting on to the mat – my biggest challenge today was getting the mat to stay still πŸ™‚



Tranquil Space – Washington DC

imageI found Tranquil Space via a Google search. I really liked their website layout, and content. They have two venues in Washington DC.

I registered online, and booked and paid for a place in the Open Flow class with Kelly Tobin at Tranquil Space, Dupont Circle, on Wednesday 17 April, 8-9.15pm.

The online booking system is user friendly for bookings, and cancellations.

I arrived at Tranquil Space half an hour before class start time, and entered the premises through their retail area, where they sell a range of clothing, yoga mats, jewellery, etc. I introduced myself to the receptionist, who asked me to complete a form/waiver, then gave me a tour of the multi level facilities. I was also given a Tranquil Space welcome pack.

They have a variety of practice spaces with names such as earth, and sky. Behind the retail area, there are seats where you may rest, and enjoy tea and cookies. There are Yogi and Yogini change areas.

The room where my class was being given was located on the top floor of the building. There was space for around 15 mats – the floor was marked with silver stars as a guide for mat placement. Bolsters, rugs, blocks and straps were available to borrow. I hired a mat for US$2. Casual class cost was US$19.

Tranquil Space mantra

Tranquil Space mantra

The space was warm – I guess around 27 deg C. The class was a series of asana flowing one to another, often using vinyasa to transition. Kelly moved through the room giving adjustments as she went. Music played throughout the lesson. I was saturated with sweat by the end of the class – I was glad to have bought along the recommended towel.

My energy levels are a little low ATM as I have had a “bug” for over a week. This class was a wonderful opportunity to practice with Santosha, and use my energy wisely.

Thanks to Kelly, and Tranquil Space. I hope to visit you again some time πŸ™‚


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Ishta Yoga – Upper East Side, New York

I discovered Ishta Yoga online. I also read a review on Yelp and decided it sounded like a yoga space that I would like to visit whilst vacationing in New York.

I registered with Ishta Yoga through their website, and also booked a place, and paid for two classes in advance, ie Wednesday and Thursday, 10 and 11 April, at 7.15am. Ishta has two yoga spaces in New York, ie one in Upper East Side and the other in Downtown. I chose to attend the Upper East Side venue, which was a 20 minute walk from my hotel.

The Upper East Side venue is located above a shop, and is accessed by pressing a buzzer, and the receptionist or teacher opens the door for students. They have a changing area, and space for personal belongings.

imageAs I was attending class on a casual basis I hired a mat for $2, and the fee was US$22 for a one hour class. Bolsters, blankets, blocks and straps were available.

The Wednesday class was lead by Cindy. There were three students (including me) taking the class. The Thursday class was lead by Lindsey, and there were 5 students in total. The space can hold up to 20 students – the floor is marked accordingly for placement of mats when space is at a premium.

Both classes were open vinyasa, and students were encouraged to work to their own level of the asana practice.

I enjoyed the instruction of both teachers. They both provided gentle adjustments. I found the enironment and instruction were conducive to achieving a sense of calmness. I felt tired from travelling and jet lag, and felt I practiced with contentment.

I noted two interesting events during my practice – one, whilst lying down on my back, and moving the arms in an arc from beside the body to above the head, as if for the first time I noticed how much the body stretched and elongated. I have undertaken this movement on many occasions before but had not previously realised how much the torso stretches. Perhaps I was more present on this occasion.

The second event noted,Β which was like a light being switched on, was whilst in downward dog Lindsey mentioned that if the index finger and thumb were pressed into the floor rotation in the upper arm would be felt. I would have been told this before on many occasions, however it was as if this was the first time I had actually heard the words, and I really felt the rotation πŸ™‚

During the class with Lindsey she read a poem, which I loved, and I would like to now share it with you…


Many thanks to Cindy and Lindsey, and Ishta Yoga


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Hiking Yoga in Central Park, New York

Dairy House, Central Park, NY - daffodils in bloom, leaves budding on the trees...

Dairy House, Central Park, NY – daffodils in bloom, leaves budding on the trees…

I am visiting New York, NY, for 6 nights – arriving Sunday pm – departing Saturday am. I researched possible yoga sessions prior to my arrival – one of the groups I found online offer a combined hiking-yoga class. Why not? I thought … Enjoy the NY spring weather + Central Park + asana practice = delicious recipe πŸ™‚

Upon further inestigation I realised that the classes in Central Park, NY, are run on Saturday and Sunday only. Therefore, on this occasion, my arrival and departure times would not fit in with class times available.

This industrious squirrel took a break from his scurrying to look at me looking at him :)

This industrious squirrel took a break from his scurrying to look at me looking at him πŸ™‚

Nonetheless, i went for a stroll through Central Park to enjoy the beautiful spring weather – daffodils were in bloom, and blossoms and leaves were unfurling on the trees.

For anyone interested in finding out more about Hiking Yoga please use this link

To fulfil my yoga quest whilst visiting NY I booked several classes at Ishta Yoga … More about this shortly πŸ™‚



Yama Yoga Studios in Doha, Qatar

imageAs-salam alaykum – Peace be upon you

I have been visiting Doha, in the State of Qatar, for five days on a business trip. During this window of opportunity I was grateful to align spare time and scheduled yoga classes so that I could attend a yoga class at Yama Yoga Studios.

On Wednesday 3 April I attended a “heart opening” vinyasa class lead by Sama Davidson. Sama introduced herself to me before the class and advised that I, and one other student only would be taking the class.

The temperature in the studio was around 30 deg C. This was due to the warm weather in Doha, ie not because the room was artificially heated. I am not accustomed to practising in warmer temperatures and began to feel nauseous and light headed part way through the class. These feelings quickly subsided by sitting back in Balasana. I was shortly able to continue with the remainder of the class with no further issues.

imageSama provided subtle adjustments during the practice. And, I was most grateful to Sama for headstand and wheel assistance, and advice.

It was not necessary to book a place for the class. Mats and props were supplied, along with a hand towel. The cost was QR60 – around A$20.

For information regarding class times, descriptions, locations, etc visit http://www.yamayogastudios.com. Telephone + 974 6690 0964.

Lovely to meet, and take asana practise with Sama


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Santosha, the second Niyama

Chloe lead the “anything goes” class at Treehouse Yoga on Saturday 30 March. On several occasions during the class, Chloe used the word “santosha” – encouraging students to accept where they were in their practice – not to compare or compete with themselves, or others. To be content with where they were in their practice.

At the end of class I asked Chloe about santosha. She explained that santosha was a Sanskrit word – the second Niyama and that it translated to contentment.

I later found an interesting article in the online Yoga Journal that discussed santosha, from which i particularly liked the following quote –

One of the guiding principles of classical yoga philosophy, santosha has been described as a “peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires”

Many thanks to Chloe for leading a lovely asana practice and for introducing me to santosha πŸ™‚


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