Chanting, Ganesha, & the Magic of Yoga

Something amazing happened. Unknowingly, I took my first step onto the path laid out for me. 

 

I was maybe 21 or 22 years old. I was married to someone who had been keeping big secrets from me since the very beginning. My heart knew something was off, but my head couldn't figure it out. Knowing that you're being lied to, but not having any proof or any reason to believe it is a tricky situation. I was in love. We were riding this roller coaster together. Big highs, and even bigger lows. Sometimes I felt like I was losing my mind. Like pieces of me were getting lost along the ride. I floated on.


I don't remember how I found it. But somehow I learned about a group of yoga teachers that taught all donation based classes outdoors.  I found this great teacher and I went to her classes really regularly. Sometimes I was the only one who showed up. It was my therapy.


Those hours spent doing yoga in the park made me feel sane. They helped me see that there was so much more out there. And that it was okay to want more.


One day after asana practice she taught the group the chant to Ganesha. I had never chanted before. I had no idea who Ganesha was. I'd seen pictures of him before, but I never really knew who he was or what he represented.


She explained that Ganesha was the remover of obstacles. He is depicted with the head of an elephant and the body of a boy. His ears are large, for listening. His belly is large enough to digest any problems, any obstacles, anything that we can't stomach alone. He is often depicted riding a mouse, which symbolizes how light he is - free of any attachments to weigh him down.


Chanting felt... natural, but also other worldly all at once. I felt like this weight had been lifted. And it felt good.


Chanting opens up the most beautiful space around everything. This space is always there. Sometimes we forget because we're so focused on what's happening in our minds. When we chant, the sounds bring us back home to that space within.


After that very first chant to Ganesha, I had a strange almost out of body experience. Maybe not out of body, but certainly out of mouth. I went to the teacher after class to thank her and give a donation, and something strange came out of my mouth. I asked her where she trained to become a yoga instructor. I told her that I had been thinking of becoming one myself.


In fact, that thought had never crossed my mind. I felt like I had just lied to her. But to my surprise, she told me that she knew that I would do it. That I would become a yoga  instructor. Her faith in me gave me faith in myself. I let the thought linger. 

 

That night a friend of mine who is quite psychic read my tarot cards. The message could not be more clear. The cards told me that I was stepping onto my life path - the path of a healer. They told me to follow through with the thoughts that I had been having.

 

Sometimes signs are subtle. Sometimes they're so subtle that we may miss them. Other times, signs are neon

86109580-1ED5-424F-8C6A-66614B9DF044.JPG

Packing 101

I am gearing up for a one month backpacking trip through Europe! I leave in five days and I haven't given much thought to packing yet. This isn't my first long trip through Europe, nor is it my longest so I'm actually not worried about packing at all. In fact, I've made plenty of packing mistakes in the past so I feel super ready to never make those same mistakes again. At this point I'm kind of a pro - which is why I am sharing my do's and don'ts of packing for long trips!

 Montserrat, Spain 2013

Montserrat, Spain 2013

Do:

  • Check the Weather:

Get a solid idea of what weather you should expect in each place you're going to. This will help you avoid having clothes you never end up wearing. But also - pack layers in case the weather changes unexpectedly. 

  • Take Only a Backpack:

I took a three month trip to Europe a few years back and made the gravest rookie mistake of all time. I took a giant suitcase. It was the biggest hassle and such a pain to carry up and down steps ALL. The. Time. After a particularly long day partying in Croatia, I went to leave my hotel in this beautiful, old, but very lively area with super worn down stone steps wearing my favourite combat boots. I got about one step down carrying my giant suitcase before I slipped on the slick, worn stone steps and landed right on my tailbone catching the giant 50 pound bag in my lap... in front of several outdoor restaurants and tons of tourists.  You don't need more than a backpack's worth of stuff. And trust me, you really really don't want more than a backpack. I promise. 

  • Leave Some Space in your Case. 

Don't take a case, definitely take a backpack - but backpack doesn't rhyme with space. Leave room for things you'll want to buy. My last trip I started out all fine and dandy with my backpack...until I had to buy a second backpack to wear on my chest because I couldn't fit all of my new stuff. You already know you're going to want to buy things. I would definitely try not to buy too many things in each spot but leave a little room in case there's anything you really love or want to buy for people back home. 

 Cliffs of Moher, Ireland 2015

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland 2015

Don't:

  • Don't Forget an Adapter!

It's so much easier to get the adapters you need while at home than it is to have to go find them while traveling. Check to see if different countries you're going to require different adapters. For example, the UK uses different electrical outlets than the rest of Europe so you'll need both. There are also universal adapters which are super clutch. 

  • Don't Take Appliances!

 For starters, you don't really need them. I've brought hair straighteners and curling irons with me before and didn't even realize that they didn't work until weeks into the trip. Because I never even tried to use them. Oh and also reason number two why you shouldn't take them is they won't work. Sorry. Let your hair go au naturale for your trip. Many AirBnB's also have hair dryers anyway so if you really must use one you can probably find one where you're staying. 

  • Don't Sweat It!

Other than your passport, you can pretty much buy anything wherever you're going. If you forget toothpaste it'll be okay, they brush their teeth in other countries too. If you're taking trains everywhere, it may even make more sense for you to buy full size toiletries once you arrive, rather than buying mini ones to take on the plane and then just having to buy more once they run out. 

 

 Sevilla, 2013

Sevilla, 2013

inspiration.

Sometimes it's good to remember that inspiration comes with preparation. When I have no inspiration, if I push myself to at least set up my space- whether that means setting up my easel and putting everything into place and mixing paint, or making tea and getting a notebook and my laptop ready for writing - the simple act of setting up my space creates the right mood for inspiration to come join me where I am.

Sometimes you just have to start. Light a candle. Make it special. Dress a certain way to prepare yourself for it. Put on music that inspires you. 

When I was younger, if I so much as painted  my nails I would get struck with ideas for a new painting. If I tried to do homework, simply holding a pen or pencil made me want to sketch. But I think as we get older and we get more responsibilities, we become less inspired because it feels like there isn't enough time for creativity. Of course that's not true. Creativity fuels you. Creating can give you energy to do everything else you do with just a  little bit more joy. 

Let inspiration hit you. And if it doesn't, seek it out. Create space for it. Tell the universe " I'm ready". And let inspiration meet you where you are  

 

set yourself free.

So humbled.


One of my students today shared with me after my chair yoga class that she cries in closing meditation every time. She lost her son to a car accident in January and she takes care of her sick husband at home. She has nowhere to cry. She hasn't been able to grieve.


I could see her pain. I could see her confusion. She almost wanted to stop coming so that she wouldn't cry.


Two other women noticed her crying and came over to comfort her. These are the two self appointed "chairmen" of the class (it's chair yoga, get it?). And it just made me realize what an amazing little tribe I have. They support each other, they laugh together, and for many of them that class is the highlight of their week. And the three of us just talked with her about what was going on and reminded her that it's okay to cry, and why it's healthy to cry.


We release things when we cry. When we bottle up emotions they cause tension in the body, and sometimes they can cause some very real harm.


Crying sets your pain free.


Human beings are not meant to carry the heaviness of emotions with us. We're meant to feel them. Process them. And then, let them go.


And in doing so, we set ourselves free.

IMG_3071.JPG