Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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A Series of Natural Beauty Tips: #4 Salt Water, Almond and Lavender Hair Spray

If you, like me, have naturally wavy or curly hair…this is a truly magical product that you can make in your own kitchen. For me, my hair never looks better then after a hop in the ocean. The salt water seems to have some sort of magic that grips my curls, with a light crunch, while making the hair soft and shiny… ocean love

Magic I tell you. As fall creeps in, it may become less likely for a jump in the sea, or if you are in a land-locked state like sayyyy, Colorado, it’s very unlikely until the next holiday.

Do not fret. By spraying some of this magic salt water, almond oil, lavender hair spray in… we can maintain that fresh from the beach look …all year round.

I recently discovered this trick while talking to another girl friend who has the most beautiful natural curls ever. She told me she had bought a salt water hair spray from the store…. so naturally, I looked into buying a bottle myself. I was shocked at the prices… $20 dollars for a bottle of… salt water? Isn’t salt water free (70% of the planet is covered in ocean)? I realize that for the last few decades people have been making bank from simply bottling regular water, it was only a matter of time before salt water hit the shelves.

$20 dollars though? Hmmmm…. I knew immediately I could handle this on my own. After some research and experimentation I came up with my own recipe that I love, and would like to share with you!

Ingredients:

-1-2 tablespoons of Sea Salt (Himilayan Rock Salt will work also)

It has been said that using salt on the hair, can potentially dry it out, which has some validity, and that is why this spray has almond oil in it (see below).

However, the simple fact is that it adds body to the hair while holding the  curls with the slightest “crunch”. The magic alkaline properties of the salt seem to get into the hair and tell it to look fabulous (not scientifically tested). This has been my experience at least.

By using salt from the sea, you also have the added benefit of a connection to nature while in the office or where ever you may be. I love the feeling of carrying the ocean with me. And by using Himalayan rock salt, the beautiful pink salts from west asia… you see where I am going with this… spiritual connection time in your curls…

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-1 tablespoon of Almond Oil

Almond oil continues to grow in popularity as it is an incredible moisturizing product, all on its own. What makes almond oil win over other oils in the case of a salt water hair spray is that it has the ability to bind easily with the follicles of the hair. Thus it easily gets inside of the hair cuticles and deeply moisturizes it. This adds a very nice, natural shine.

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-5-10 drops of Lavender essential oil

First of all, lavender oil has a stimulating effect in the skin, thus when the lovely oil hits the scalp, it spurs hair growth. It is also a powerful antiseptic which can help treat dry scalp, or any other possible bacterial issues. Mostly though, it’s moisturizing for the hair and the scalp making it another counter product to the dryness the salt may create. Greator still…it smells…amazing. I realize that “smells amazing” is a personal opinion and that some people hate lavender, in which case using mint instead would have many of the same benefits.

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Spray bottle:

A spray bottle is needed to get all the other ingredients spread nicely and evenly through the hair. I recommend a bigger more powerful bottle as I have used tiny bottles (which are cute and fit nicely into my purse for a great “on-the-go” curl pick me up) however, a bigger bottle with some oomph would work best.

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Obviously, as the spray has two different types of oil in it, it needs to be shaken up before sprayed on the hair in order to get the oils to dissipate from the top of the water. This process is easy enough, just shake the bottle! Spraying the hair when out of the shower after the hair has slightly started to dry works best for me. I flip my head over, spray, scrunch, and tad-daa!… amazing.  Using the spray on dry hair works fine too! It helps bring the curls back together, feels refreshing and smells great. Enjoy!

*** Please visit Taozi Tree Yoga on Facebook for details on Taozi’s travels, teaching schedule, and more inspiration!***

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Lessons from Zanzibar… and other beaches around the world.

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After our recent trip to Zanzibar… one thing is obvious. There is so much to be learned from the ocean and its shore. Every time I visit one, some lesson seems to find me.

If I put my ear against a seashell what do I hear?  The sound of the waves, the spirit of the sea… a sense of calm.  I hesitate to breath; I want complete silence in order to uncover the mysteries within. When a simple moment is taken to be present with the ocean, the feeling is electric. Once I try to contemplate the vastness, the BIG-ness of the ocean I almost get caught up in the same sensations I might feel when trying to comprehend the hugeness of the universe. So. Big. So. Strong. So. Peaceful. For me it is by far one of the easiest places to learn more about myself and my spirit as I put the ramblings of my mind aside and pay attention to the calmness and the vastness of my “Creator”.

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As a Colorado girl, (a landlocked state in the middle of the US) my first trip to the ocean was when at 12 years old, my family took a road trip to La Jolla, California. I was smitten, but not fully present, thus incapable of connecting fully to my higher power. When my parents bought a place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I had my first exposure to the world outside of the US. I visited many times while growing up however it wasn’t until I was older, 22, that the ocean had a profound effect on me. One night while standing on our balcony at 2 in the morning, sober, I really saw for the first time how magnificant the ocean is. With the moonlight reflecting off of the bay… I felt a huge sense of calmness and magic. So incredible was my feeling that I recalled I would always consider it to be my first spiritual experience.  I remember standing there on the edge of the sea and feeling a “woooooowwwwww” sensation deep in my bones.

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 Since 2007, the year I voyaged to the other side of the planet I have had the pleasure of exploring the globe…beaches, beaches, and more beaches… The initial “wooowww” sensation is no longer an immediate reaction. I need to take a moment to really get present and pay attention. Then the “wooowwwww” effect takes place naturally and I start to see things differently. I start to learn anew.

 Last month a website that I write for, Cohabitaire, had an ocean theme. I hesitated to write immediately because I had a trip planned to Zanzibar. I wanted to wait and discover what lesson was waiting for me off of the Tanzanian mainland. The lessons are always found in the spiritual experiences I have while visiting a particular coast, while being present.

  Some of the lessons I have learned from beaches I have been to…

 China

I took a trip to Hai Shang, a small coastal town a few hours outside of Beijing by train. Here I learned that there are always interesting characters found on the coast (including camels), and also, not all coasts are created equal. Some have been destroyed by human development… In Shanghai, the human development is astonishing but it is so shiny and beautiful, it almost hides the blemishes created by the growth.

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Hong Kong

Wow. I have been to Hong Kong  many times for meditation retreats with some of my dearest girlfriends from Beijing. There is something magical about this place. Yes, you can see the amazing sky line and feel the incredible ambition of the human spirit for material growth, while at the same time, on the other side of the island lays a world of spiritual giants trying to get quiet and centered while in one of the worlds most bustling places. Lesson learned here, ask and you shall receive…

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Thailand

Fun. I have been to Thailand a number of times and this past summer Ross and I went with two of my sisters and we played, played and played. The lesson I learned here is that islands are a huge gift from God, to bounce around them is a joy, and to do so with people you love makes it all the better.Even if it rains…

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United Kingdom

Ahhhh, how cute! The lesson I learned here about the ocean is that quite often the coast matches the attitude of the people living there. Quaint, adventurous and lovely.

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Italy

History, color, and zest. I learned that Europe has a spirit of its own.

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Bali, Indonesia

Serious spiritual lessons were learned in Bali. While at a yoga teacher training my best friend died. The ocean was there with me and I learned that there is huge relief in talking to it out loud.. this is when my relationship with it really started to blossom. At this difficult time I found support in a handful of people who would love me and forever be my brothers and sisters… I learned that strangers can easily turn into our soul mates. Later, I pulled a meditation card here that read,

“The only God you will find at the top of a mountain is the God that you bring there.”

This hit me hard and has since been a concept I am constantly trying to remember.

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Australia

In Australia I saw that the ocean was highly loved and respected by its inhabitants. I saw a beautiful coast the likes of which I had never seen. So well taken care of and used for such important purposes like surfing, playing and praying. Here I saw that the human potential for maintaining its resources is higher then we give it credit for.

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India

Sitting at the most southern tip of India where three oceans meet… watching the sun rise up out of the water. Every cell in my body awakened and it was here I really felt the effect the energy of the sun has on our souls. I discovered why yogis get up with the sun. Additionally, it was while we were in India that my Grandfather came to me in my dreams the morning he passed away to say goodbye. We had a memorial service for him on the ocean and I learned that all things live and then return to the sea…

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Mexico

I moved to Mexico at 18 and partied, partied, partied. I hardly saw the ocean, which is part of the reason why at 22 everything changed. Since this time I have had a special connection with the Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta (in fact this is where we are getting married). For the last couple of years I have spent a few months here with Ross. When teaching yoga on the beach, having breakfast on the beach, and walking on the beach… life just seems to take on new form. We breath deeply and take it all in every morning. We watch the sun set into the bay every night. The lessons I have learned here recently are two fold 1) everyday is a new beginning and 2) the sun always sets and rises again.

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Zanzibar, Tanzania

Sand like none I have ever experienced…In the morning it is like flour and at night after the tide retreats it is like marshmallow cream. White sandy beaches that stretch on forever with teal blue water. I got into the ocean here and spontaneously sang my heart out. I felt soooo happy! The lesson I learned here is that this happiness is already withen me, no matter where I am in the world, whether it’s on the beach or on a mountain top. An advanced version of the lessons learned from Bali.

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There are so many spiritual lessons I have learned while visiting the ocean… is it possible to narrow them all down into one? I suppose it would be accurate to say that the one thing I constantly discover is more about who I am and my relationship to the world around me. What continues to blow my mind is that the lessons are never ending, thus, I will constantly be able to discover more about myself.  Of course this can be done anywhere, including my own living room (although I don’t have one just yet). It is just easier to see the power of the “Creator” when standing on the shore of a massive ocean or listening to the mysteries within a sea shell.ocean quote 2

***Please visit us on Taozi’s facebook page  for more on our adventures, yoga pictures, stories, and important health tips***


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Ghee Magic.

Peace, peace, peace…

Waking up every morning at 5 am, in complete darkness, to the sounds of chanting and the soft glow of candle light, one can’t help but feeling magic. I stumble into the kitchen with my eyes half-open to make some tea (a.k.a ….breakfast) before heading down to the yoga shala. We all head out the door, one by one, and down the street we go, the energy of the morning beginning to stir. As we make our walk to class, it’s dark. There can however be seen the occasional person, bare foot and dis-shoveled, meandering around with a long stick, perhaps accompanied by one of the many stray dogs. Not a walk I’d like to make alone. We walk past a large temple on the right. Through the gate and the large temple door the altar can be seen, a giant statue of Ganesha lit up by the hundreds of ghee lit candles. Ghee, a variation of butter, is used for EVERYTHING. I’ll explain more later. We continue the walk down the now familiar street and after passing the dead bat hanging from the telephone wire and the random cowboy sign on the side of the road; we make a sharp right down an ally and toward the yoga shala. Once making it in the gate and up the stairs we enter the world of chanting, meditation and asana. After we chant and connect to our breath we are launched abruptly into an hour and 45 min long inhale-in exhale-out moving mediation. Loads of vinyasas, chaturangas, forward folds, back bends, standing postures, balancing postures, inversions and more… all before 8 AM.

After the series is finished with a well deserved shavasana (resting pose), I begin my prenatal course. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from this wonderful school as possible.  Our teachers are amazing. Mahesh, the Mysore born Ashtanga teacher is a total character. Amazing man. Ellie, the beautiful Colombian wife of Mahesh is the primary teacher for the pre-natal course and she is a walking yoga dictionary. We constantly bombard her with questions all day long and she always answers with attention and care, if she doesn’t know the answer she politely says she will get back to us, and she does. Once we finish our morning lessons we all head back to the house for a cold shower (MAYBE a hot shower out of a bucket if I boil a pot on the stove first) and to prepare lunch.

Our large lovely kitchen.

There are 7 of us living in the house and we have created a very cute family style cooking routine where every day a “team” will cook for every one. This way we aren’t all cooking everyday and we get to sample a number of different things. We have a big beautiful home, which no one was expecting, and a large black and white checkered kitchen.  There are plenty of little “friends” living in the kitchen which may take some getting used to for some. Keep in mind all the windows are open constantly (save for the protective bars) but there is plenty of space for the outside critters to join in the fun inside. A lovely girl, Ali, who is essentially my unknown sister from Beijing (same graduating class of 2004, same American princess background, and lived in Beijing for 5 years, just like me) she had an interesting experience in the kitchen when she woke up the morning after a rain storm, went into the kitchen to make some tea and felt burning on her feet, she looked down to find ants all over her lower limbs… yikes. They had probably come in to take care of all the fairy bugs who had come in to hide from the rain… Bugs, birds, bats, SPIDERS (We had a large one named BORUS, living in our bathroom for a few days) are simply to be expected. Not a big deal… just takes some getting used to. In a way our little friends add to our lovely household environment.  So far all of the food that all of us budding adults have managed to muster up has been amazing. When it was Ross and I’s turn to cook we attempted Mexican. It was YUMMY. Loaded with substitutions (yogurt for the sour cream, paneer for the cheese, and of course…no meat). We have also had pumpkin-lentil soup, palak paneer ( spinach and cheese), loads of marsalas, grated salads, fruit, and lassies (a yogurt drink).

Yummy Indian food…

Borus the spider…

In the afternoon we head back to the shala for more lectures, some pranayama and meditation. All of the classes have been wonderful and there has been enough information shared to write volumes. Perhaps I’ll attempt later. In this blog however I’d like to highlight the magical household ingredient that I have learned about since coming to India. Ghee.

Our yoga home…

What is Ghee? It is essentially the Indian version of butter, it is butter actually. They just make it more “aryuvedic” and healthy by boiling it and skimming off the top solid bits and then the remaining clear liquid is the purified butter or Ghee. Nearly 2 weeks have passed since arriving at the yoga school here in Varkala. I have heard, “just use ghee” at least two dozen times. Stiff joints? Put ghee on it. To much fire in the body? Use some ghee. Perfect yogi drink? Mix ghee together with milk and tadaa! Done. Skin problems? Rub ghee on it. Burning sensation in your hands? Rub them together with ghee. Food need to be a little more delicious? Add some ghee. On and on and on it goes. I love it. It floods every kitchen with the smell of butter. It lines the shop walls in plenty of different brands and jars. It seems to be the miracle worker here. It makes me happy because every one loves butter, at least I do 😉 The other day when we had a meandering drunk homeless man came around the house and was hanging on our shutters (a bit scary) part of me wondered if perhaps ghee could have helped us out of the jam? Instead Sonali, the beautiful  Indian women who is studying with us attempted to “shoo” him away with a broom while Ross encouraged us to pretend he wasn’t there. Imagining that if we pretended we couldn’t see him he would go away. This was incredibly awkward as we were all bustling around cleaning up after lunch and he was hanging onto the window bars right outside the dining room window looking in with curiosity. A very interesting India moment indeed.

To the train station…

Another unforgettable moment was when last week when we took a train to the Southern tip of the country to see where 3 bodies of water meet. the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Mannar and the Indian Ocean. We took a pretty sketchy ferry packed with people out to a beautiful temple on a small island. While visiting there we had a “dance off” Ali “dropped it like it was hot” and we truly (perhaps inappropriately 😉 ) entertained the locals with our laughter. We felt like little celebrities getting our photos taken with all the kids. It was a good reprieve from the days filled with yoga.

Beautiful little girl 😉

Liz, myself, and Ali my Beijing friend 😉

The temple.

Master Mahesh and his coconut.

There have been so many amazing things happening here. Yesterday we started even earlier and made it to the beach as the sun was coming up for some beach yoga. It was wonderful, a bit of a circus with the dogs and the fisherman hee-ing and haa-ing, but it was special to be out there enjoying daily life with the locals. Its Sunday now, exactly 2 weeks after we arrived in Varkala. I just found out last night that my Grandpa died. Crazy because he came to me in my dream last night. I woke up this morning knowing he was gone and he had passed quietly in his sleep. He was 95. Not a total shocker, but yet another excuse/opportunity to reflect on the deeper aspects of my yoga practice. Of course I’m sad, if any one asks whats wrong, I bet the recommendation will be to “just apply ghee” to my heart.

Ross showing off in Peacock…

Mahesh and his magic assists….

Beach yoga…

If you can focus here… you can focus anywhere…

My love.

Happy on the train… adventure to who knows where…