Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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Be Clean. Get Dressed.

Mr-Clean

Oh to be clean. Nothing feels better than climbing into some freshly washed sheets, still smelling of body wash from the bedtime shower. Cleanliness. The first niyama found in Patanjali’s yoga sutra is sauca, meaning cleanliness/purity. The niyamas are all about the way we behave behind closed doors. How do you treat and take care of your self? Patanjali provides five ways to maximize your life experience through self-care. Cleanliness, maintaining a sense of “purity” is numero uno.

My personal take on sauca or “being clean” encompasses three main categories. The physically clean, the verbally clean, and lastly takeling the daily “to do list”.  For now we will focus on being physically clean.

Physically Being Clean. One Day at a time in three parts.

First, before discussing the three ways to keep clean physically through out the day, I think it’s important to touch on the idea of abhyasa, meaning daily practice. Making an effort to change your behavior for one day is a great beginning, but unless you can string a few days together with your improved routine, you won’t see a shift in your quality of life, and honestly, that is what all this rhetoric is about. To inspire changes in our daily lives, repeating the same actions over and over again that will change our overall experience of life, thus leading us towards reaching our individual goals. Ok, enough babbling, onto the action steps to being clean.

1) Morning time:  In aryuvedic tradition there is a series of daily preparations one should make upon awakening which can be categorized with sauca. A few of the highlights are:

  • Get up 5:30-7 AM (it’s not that early guys)
  • Drink a glass of hot water with lemon juice (which I have a horrible tendency of substituting with a strong cup of coffee… a poor habit to be dealt with later) even green tea would be a good alternative to coffee
  • Use a Neti pot to clean your nasal passageways (this makes a huge difference in the clarity of your head! Especially if you are living in a house full of animals)
  • Give your self an oil massage to get the blood circulating
  • Move! Go on a walk, practice yoga asana
  • Be still, meditate, write, breath
  • Eat a healthy amazing self prepared breakfast

tea

neti

Exhausted girl making self-massage

Since being back in Denver I have made taking Haddie, our beautiful dog, for a walk around the graveyard (more on what that’s like later) before the session on my mat a part of the daily routine. I guarantee (I know from experience) that starting the day off pro-actively will set a positive tone for the entire day.   After the morning routine it is time to get ready. That means, get out of your pajamas and look good.

2) Look pretty:  I made a devastating mistake the other day by heading out to meet some friends in my  “dog walking” outfit. I have recently been in Mexico, constantly in my yoga clothes and beach attire. Rarely “getting ready”. Well, I learned quickly that this might not suffice back in the real world. If I want to be taken seriously I can’t get away with rolling around Denver in my scrubs. Additionally, I am a grown women now ( OMG), so I should start dressing like one, even if it is only for a simple coffee date with the girls. I can be a clean well put together yogi, because THAT is more likely to inspire the people I am surrounded by to follow suit, rather then showing up looking like as my grandpa would say, “something the cat dragged in”.  If I was going to be hanging around with people in pajamas, then my scrubs would suffice. Attraction rather than promotion.  I am NOT dissing publically wearing pajamas. In Beijing the word for people in pajamas is “P.I.P” (People.In.Pajamas: are commonly seen walking around the streets of Beijing, and many other Chinese cities, at all hours of the day). I just believe that when I go out into the world, it is my job to be positive, lighthearted and happy, to inspire others to do the same, if I look good, it’s just more attractive. Period.

PIP

P.I.P People in Pajamas… oh how I miss China! 😉

3) Night Time: I have to admit that after 18 months of basically living out of our suitcases, I haven’t been my cleanest self. I have at least had the decency to scrub my feet at night before getting into bed, black on the bottoms after running around town all day. Getting into bed seems to be my sanctuary of clean. I have my morning ritual of lighting incense, praying, and moving around and then at night I have another ritual. I LOVE to wash my face, put on my special lotions and creams, my pajamas, and then climb into bed with gratitude. Remember the long lost college nights of “partying” when you’d be lucky to make it into bed at all? (I kind of remember?) It feels so good to take care of myself at nighttime with love and to get clean.

So this is my personal take on sauca, at least the part about physically being clean.

1) Get the day started right 2) Look Pretty: get ready for the day like you mean it and try to look presentable, only because this helps inspire others, and lastly 3) End the day clean and with gratitude.

EXTRA CLEAN:

FLOSS! It is proven that people who floss live longer, because they have developed one healthy habit and this prompts the development of more healthy habits. This means that the benefits of taking care of yourself are exponential!  We have all heard it before. This is just a friendly reminder from your cyber yogini friend Taozi.

floss

How do you stay clean? How do you feel when you are nice and fresh vs. not (eeww)… Do you have any healthy morning tips that make a difference in your day/life?


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I’m Baby Crazy… in Dusseldorf

DANGER! THESE KIDS ARE TOO CUTE AND MAY CAUSE “CLUCKYNESS”*

*Clucky:The desire to want kids.

Marina: 1 1/2 years old

Noah: 3 years old

Ross and I had the honor of spending the weekend in Dusseldorf, Germany with my pseudo brother Kevin and his family. I’ve known Kevin and his parents Peg and Keith (my heroes) from before I was born, he was the first person to hold me and he was dressed up as a clown.  It’s a long story for another blog. Anyway… Kevin moved to Germany 7 years ago for work and met the lovely Ute 6 weeks in (he said goodbye to his dreams of European bachelor-hood quiet quickly). Since that time they have had a whirlwind adventure into domesticity. The fast track into the land of grownups seems to be the trend among many of my friends. In Beijing my best friend got married and had a baby in the last year while a few others have a bun in the oven. I have always loved kids, babies, and small cute cuddly animals…etc. While some people prefer to stay on the opposite side of the sidewalk when passing buggies with babies, I prefer to stroll up and totally engage with the little tyke. Call me clucky if you want but I’ve been this way for a long time. Our weekend in Dusseldorf however, may have pushed me over the line from “Ahhhh aren’t they so cute… to- Wow. These babies are little miracles.”

Ross photo bombing Marina 😉

We arrived in Düsseldorf with absolutely PERFECT weather. Not a cloud in the sky and a totally mild temperature. Kevin greeted us at the streetcar stop just blocks away from his home. In each of his hands he held the small palms of his little German bundles of love. Noah, a tall, hyper active, electronic engineer, train fanatical 3 year old and his princess little sister Marina, 1 and a half…. The sight of him approaching took my breath away. You know when you see an old friend or family member and they have been transformed into an entirely different realm? Kevin was certainly a father and from what I learned that weekend… an incredible one. Noah took my hand like a total gentleman. He gave it a kiss and I felt faint ;). He proceeded to strike up a conversation in German, refusing to believe I didn’t understand him. This was the pattern the entire weekend. Too cute.

Ross trying to understand Noah as he jabbers away in German.

We went back to the house where Ute, his wife, greeted us in a towel, fresh out of the shower… she had a big grin and was apologetic for her towel state and simply as delightful as ever. We took a little rest in the back yard. I tried to play yoga with the babies, but they were more interested in the watermelon. Next we headed out into the city for an amazing weekend adventure. We basically followed Kevin and Ute’s weekend routine. We ate a complete German meal of curry worst and pommes (sausages and French fries) Kevin insists its health food ;). Next we play with boxes and balloons. Noah was infatuated with Ross’s camel back. He has been in a fireman stage and thought the portable water bag was amazing. Then we took a long walk by the river. Perfect day… no?

“Playing” yoga with the kids.

Watermelon time. On the mat. 😉

Fantastic 4.

Very bad yogi. 😉

Peek-a-boo!

Noah playing with Ross’s camel back.

That night we hung out at the house, read some story books to the kids and after they went to bed we stayed up late chatting. The next day was more of the same… A big German breakfast at their local diner, a walk to a giant fish pond, playing in the park, and ice cream on the front porch. The day took an even more cliché turn when they pulled out the baby pool and finger paints. At this point the kids were covered in ice-cream, sand, and paint. This naturally turned into bubble bath time. I never knew bubble baths and a hyper active three year old could be such a hoot. That night we had a pasta salad in the back garden lit by candlelight. After the kids went to bed the four “grownups” stayed up and I got to have some family time with them… we talked about Grandma Pauline and again reflected on how cool our family trip to Italy was.

Fishy!

Kevin and Noah on the “tight” rope. You can do it Noah!

Mmmmm…Ice cream….

Lovely Ute and baby…

Kevin and the kids playing “Rhino” in the back yard…

Pool time.

Beautiful!

In retrospect… there wasn’t any one thing that was spectacular or out of the ordinary about the weekend (perhaps the amazing weather). To Kevin, Ute, and the kids, it was just a normal weekend. For Ross and I looking in, we saw pure treasure. Full days of playing with the cutest kids one could imagine. Trains, paints, pools, and books.  Cartoons, ice cream, and bubble baths. Isn’t this what parenting and being a kid is all about? Of course it wasn’t totally perfect… there was the occasional afternoon tear crisis when nap time was looming… but Kevin and Ute brushed it off easily and walked through it with grace. By watching the family life in its reality I learned a few lessons. It brought me closer to the yogic idea of abhyasa… or CONSTANT practice. It seems pretty clear to me that having kids is the greatest daily practice one can undertake. I mean, it’s a never ending job. I didn’t see Kevin or Ute touch a cell phone or a computer the whole weekend (except for when taking the I-pad away from the kids, after their ten minuets were up…but that doesn’t count).

Ross and the babies watching cartoons.

On Monday morning we were introduced to the work week routine… an early morning rise with breakfast at the table, and then the run out the door to work. The family sat and had every meal together, complete with a little sing-song prayer while holding hands before eating… “Beep, beep, beep…”. Seriously. Very cute. Another admirable thing we witnessed was the balance between their work and family life. Kevin and Ute both walked into the kitchen looking super sharp in their work suits and we were reminded that they have this whole other life outside of the family. Cool. Rock stars in the office and then on the weekend they devote themselves entirely to enjoying their time with the babies. What great role models to prospective grown ups like us. The bottom line though is that it is hard work. From what we saw with Kevin, Ute and the kids, it can be an amazing experience, but it takes commitment. Yes, I’m still clucky, but I’m having the time of my life frolicking around the globe with Ross… for now we will get our dose of  fun-filled family weekends from those kind enough to let us join in. Thank you so much Kevin, Ute, Marina and Noah! Friends in Beijing, you are next! 😉