Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


5 Comments

A Series on Affordable Natural Beauty Tips: #1 Sugar and Lime

IMG 1988 A3R10sept pp

The last few months I have been experimenting tirelessly with using natural ingredients as cosmetics. As more and more unsafe, unhealthy and unnatural ingredients are found in everything we use from shampoo to face wash, I feel it is more important then ever to start steering away from these products and shifting more towards all natural choices. However, I don’t think it is necessary to spend a fortune on store bought natural cosmetics either… can we get by with making our own? I have been trying myself and have discovered a few things that are working well for me that I would love to share with you. Keep in mind that every one is different and as such, the products we chose to use on ourselves should reflect our own individual needs.

1: In the Shower with Lime and Sugar

lime

sugar

I was upset when arriving in Mexico a few weeks ago to discover that I had left behind my St Ives apricot scrub… devastated actually. It is a great product that I have used since I was a kid and though not 100% all natural, it is a great product that works for me. Exfoliating the skin is an important part of keeping the skin young looking, refreshed, and clean. It is how we remove all the dead skin from our body and make room for the new skin to shine!

I went to a local “phamarcia” here to see what I could find and ended up talking to a really sweet older women about what product to use. I told her I was looking for a natural exfoliator…with out hesitation she said, “Just use sugar and lime!”

She claimed that by putting sugar in the palm of my hand and adding a few drops of fresh lime juice, then rubbing it together that I would have an amazing all natural exfoliant. As soon as I got home I tried it and I loved the way that my skin felt after. By insuring that you remove all the excess sugar with a good rinse there is no worry of aggravating the pores in the skin. All that happens is that the slight abrasiveness of the sugar combined with the acidity of the lime, unite and act as a really wonderful cleansing exfoliator.

So for my first post in “A Series on Affordable Natural Beauty Products” the ingredients and the process is super simple:

Lime + Sugar + gentle scrub + rinse = totally clean and refreshed skin…

Enjoy!

—If you happen to have a natural beauty tip that you would like to share, I would be happy to hear it, try it, and share it! Thank you so much… 😉

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

Advertisements


8 Comments

UNIVERSE, answer the following questions: NOW!

A rant from my heart and spiritual based solutions that work…

Where is my life going to happen? When is my life going to happen? What am I going to do!?

Where? London? Moscow? Rishikesh? LA? Denver?

When? This week? Next month?  Next year?

What? Yoga teacher? Mosaic maker? Mother? Student?

Sheeeesssh! I feel upside down.

IS-TaoziTreeYoga-Blog_090911_0011

It was due time I post an original, thoughtful post. I haven’t known what to write because, honestly, I’m up in the air, upside down and inside out… Uncomfortable. I have so many questions about life and, what will become obvious from this piece; I am getting impatient for the answers.

 The first 4 weeks of utter life uncertainty I understood. I got that it is “all a part of the plan”.  I saw that the universe was dishing out an uncomfortable hand and to accept it in kind, but now, I am getting tired. Uncomfortable… incredibly. Tired of waiting on the answers. Where? When? What? We have been waiting in this middle ground of complicated unknowingness for a long time. And time is ticking away (visa concerns with my fiancé who is British). Too long this wait has been! At least according to my earthly schedule, way too long. In God’s world I realize it is all, still, just as its supposed to be.

 (Rant begins) Listen, after nearly 2 years of globetrotting I am ready to stop, to settle. Those of you that have seen me recently, know this. Travel shmavel. The adventure has been fun. Amazing, Incredible. Stupendous. Thank you God for it (really I mean that from the bottom of my gut). But please… please can it be over? I know we are not supposed to pray for selfish things but I think I can be of better service to humanity once I have friends I can see on a regular basis, neighbors, and all that other normal stuff! Blogging has been GREAT (Its been a year by the way so HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TAOZI TREE YOGA!) I have loved sharing with people, getting feedback and just getting to know people better…. But honestly, I can’t teach a great asana class or have some coffee with all of you, as much as I’d love that.

Friends. Community. Home. I am craving it. I am ready to stop travelling like this.  Not ready to give up the adventure, but living out of suitcases and boxes? Yes I am ready to stop that. A different bed every week? Lack of stability? 2 YEARS!!? Does that make sense? I mean I want a SPICE CABINET for goodness sakes. (Rant over).

 Now that we are at home “waiting” my symptoms resemble that of stress and anxiety (can you tell? Haha)… How could echem-echem (clear my throat) I…Miss Taozi Tree Yoga be anxious? I mean we are yoga people. Practice every day, load up on veggies, and even meditate! So what is going on here?

The test. A test. One of many tests. Can I decipher the message inherent in our uncomfortable state of affairs? Can I see that God has laid this out in front of us to see how we handle it? Ummmm. Yes. Yes I can.

life is a test

 Honestly. I can. But it is a process and this is how it goes:

 I see the “problem”. I need to first see the root cause of my stress or anxiety, in this particular case, it is uncertainty and fear about not having the answers to some key life questions. I can clearly see how this fear swells up particularly when I am in an “Earthly” spot.  Fear of the unknown and impatience combined with a growing list of things to do for our wedding (getting married in Mexico in 4 months!), while attempting to get organized for the big move to… oh yeah that’s right, we have no idea. Lots going on, lots to do. Lots of “stress” and “anxiety”.

Here is the good news and I hope it can inspire some of you. Yoga. This is what I do. Getting a CLEAR perspective on reality. Uncertainty and stress is caused simply from my limited perspective on the situation and I can change my perception. Here is how.

 ACTION.

DESPITE the uncertainty and the awkwardness of it all, I can DO things to change the way I feel. I can take ACTION. And I do. I am. I do all the things I know I am supposed to do to stay centered and to remain confident in myself, especially at a time like this. Here is a list of the PRACTICAL things I have been doing to stay as calm as I can and to enjoy the process regardless of how up in the air is all feels.

MEDITATION.

Here are a few different specific things I may do at altar to help relieve the stress and get a clearer perspective on my own realty.

  • Thinking HAPPY THOUGHTS! I have had enough of these thoughts :“I am worried, I am stressed, I am scared…” rolling endlessly around in my head. I honestly believe that the seeds we water are the seeds that grow. So if I am thinking the same negative thoughts over and over, they will continue to get bigger. In my meditation I can make the effort to create a positive mantra. “I am right where I am supposed to be and I am happy. I am so happy and grateful for the uncertainty and the unknown! I am thrilled about it. ;)”

  • I smile gently to myself. By turning the corners of my mouth up and breathing deeply into my soul. My body automatically thinks, “Oh she is smiling so she is happy!” And then it carries this happiness deep inside. Faking it works. Trust me.

  • Visualizations. Lately it has been on getting GROUNDED. With all of this travelling and flying around the world. With all of this uncertainty it is more important then ever for me to sit right where I am at. In the moment. On the ground. I feel myself heavy and rooted to the earth and then the power of the earth streaming into me. Then I visualize my outer self looking down on me gently with compassion. With out fail my perspective on life gets cleared. I am here to breath, to practice and to be of service.

crash test dummie

 SERVICE to others.

 This can be tough as we have been on the road so much. How does one be of service in their day to day life? IF you are lucky enough to be in one specific spot (lucky you 😉 here are three potential easy things you can do to get you out of your own head.

  • Getting a commitment at the local jail to offer yoga classes or art classes.

  • Getting a commitment at the local “old peoples home” if there is one near by and just go hang out with any one who is approaching the end of their life that just needs some love and attention. I guarantee you will forget your woes and feel much better about what is going on in your life.

  •  Make a casserole for a friend in need. If you have a friend that is sick or has something crazy going on in their life, you could offer to deliver them a home cooked meal. This will give you plenty of time to cook loving food in your kitchen and deliver it with a smile, and it will make their day!

service

 TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

  • GREEN FOOD! Perhaps consider a fast of some sort? I told this to my sister Leah a hundred time when she was getting ready to leave Uganda. LOAD up on veggies. Lots of them. So many. This combined with serious water will make you glow from the inside out and you will just feel better.

  •   ASANA, running, swimming… walking… get active and do something physical that will take your mind off of the issue/stress at hand and focus the energy on making yourself feel better. By working your body out, this will lead to better sleep.

  •  SLEEP: If like many other people in the planet, when you feel stressed about something or under pressure, sleep may become a problem. By exercising and meditating, sleeping will be easier, try to get at least 7 hours a night… No one feels good with a lack of sleep.

 PATIENCE.

This too shall pass. By simply coming to terms with the fact that the one thing that is constant in life is change. The place you are at today that feel however it feels will inevitably shift and you in turn will feel differently about it. By perceiving the stress at hand in this way, you can see it impermanence and it loses its power. Patience is a key factor in this. Knowing that what our ideal time schedule may be, is not Gods. So we work with Gods with acceptance and gratitude and know that what ever is coming is exactly as God wants it.

 FAITH.

This is a tricky one and a faith in a power greater than your self is necessary for this to become a reality. The power can be whatever you choose it to be, but by believing that this power has granted you the blessed life you live and will take care of you no matter what, makes a big difference in the way we rise to meet life’s challenges or stresses. Again, I realize that this may be really challenging for people when they are in a particularly tough spot, or have no experience with the concept but I promise that is gets easier with time and with evidence of actually existing. By having the faith of a mustard seed, gentle shifts can occur in your life with the power to shake mountains. Practice, try it, have faith. Give up the struggle and give it over to this power so that you can….

surrender mexico city

 RELAX.

You are already exactly where you are supposed to be. Instead of approaching this entire distressing episode as a path to a goal that is somewhere else. I am meditating and eating greens and sleeping well so that I can reach point C, over there, far away where things are good. Avoid this thought pattern and instead approach the process it in the moment. Knowing that right now you are alright and  you are already exactly where you are supposed to be. Happiness is not a destination over there. You are already there.

 So after putting aside my stress and connecting with realty, I begin to see the real lesson more clearly;

 The lesson…

It doesn’t matter where you live or what you are doing or WHO you are doing it with as long as you do what ever it is you are doing with purpose, with love, and FAITH… So where does all this leave me? Right where I started, in a space of total uncertainty and “chaos”.  How do I choose to face it? With faith.

 God, I know you have us under your wing. I know that where ever we end up it is where you want us to be. I know it will all happen on your own time. I trust you God. I trust and trust and trust.

 Thank you for taking the time to read this.  I hope that my decision to continue to have faith inspires you to do the same. If there is anything in your life that feels uncomfortable or uncertain causing anxiety or stress… Can you try some of these simple suggestions? Can you give it to God too? Can you just have faith that it will all work out as it is supposed too? Let me know, I would love to hear your experiences, they will inspire me to keep on keeping on.

 Oh, and now I can answer my questions from the beginning of the rant:

 Where is my life going to happen? HERE.

When is my life going to happen? NOW.

What am I going to do!?  THIS.

*** Please visit Taozi Tree Yoga on Facebook for more on Taozi’s travels, inspiration, and yoga pictures!***


2 Comments

Hey! Hey! We’re the monkeys….

IMG_7792

I recall vividly the discussion with Peter Clifford last year in Bali about the one thing we practice yoga to relieve. Monkey Mind. We all suffer from the workings of our mind. A constant stream of thoughts that jump around inside of our heads like a hyper wild monkey. It is hungry and feeds off of the attachment to thoughts. With out awareness of this condition we  go through life latching on to whatever seemingly important thought enters our heads and then we instantly attract a gaggle of other jumping monkeys to join in. The thoughts will come regardless if you are aware of them or not, the trick is to let them go, only then the mind is tamed. The ultimate objective of yoga is to TAME the workings of the mental ‘chimpanzee’ through asana (postures), pranayama (breath), and dyana (meditation)… How appropriate it is for us that we are practicing the taming of mind surrounded by actual monkeys while behaving like the animals ourselves.

Don't feed the monkeys.

Don’t feed them. They will keep on coming.

Some days it is easy and I float through the day feeling Ommm-tastic and light.  Other days it isn’t so easy and after a few hours of class I feel exhausted from my over active mind. There is so much to think about these days… Getting married, moving “home” (wherever “home” might be)… what to DO with life… add infinitum.

Monkeys! Outside the classroom, with Veronica and I.

Monkeys! Outside the shala, with Veronica and I.

Monkeys inside the shala (normally unacceptable but they got in anyway) hahaaa.

Inside the shala (normally unacceptable but they got in anyway) hahaaa.

We literally spend 10 hours a day in our yoga shala. 10 hours! Some of it is sat directly on the concrete floor, some of the time we sit propped up in our castles built of bolsters, pillows and yoga blocks. We practice 3 hours of asana a day and have the occasional opportunity to “monkey” around with our postures. The majority of the time is spent listening to our incredible teachers, Baskar: yoga philosophy, Natwar: Anatomy and asana, and Roshon: an entertaining, heartfelt and spontaneous flow of anatomy and his personal philosophy combined. Each teacher has a unique style that we have come to love. For example, Baskar (philosophy) spends the hour of class time telling us fables or “short” stories that have a faint link to whatever sutra (from Patanjali’s famous Yoga Sutras) we are studying. Often the stories are hard to follow but we all hang on knowing that the punch line will be well worth it. He also has a repertoire of “jokes” that are hilarious (coming out of him)… he shares them at the end of class, time permitting… we LOVE them.

Roshan...

Roshan…

Natwar, our fabulous anatomy and asana teacher... shows us how its done...

Natwar, our fabulous anatomy and asana teacher… shows us how its done…

Monkey see, monkey do. Josh ;)

Monkey see, monkey do. Josh 😉

Baskar's lecture...

Baskar’s lecture…

IMG_7772

JOKE EXAMPLE: There were 3 ants walking along. The first ant said, “There are 2 ants walking behind me”. The second ant said “There is one ant walking behind me.” The third ant said, “There are three ants walking behind me”. Why did the third ant say this?

Answer: He was a baby ant! Intellectually unstable he was… there weren’t really three ants there… it was a crazy talking baby ant.

There are 10 of us from all around the world taking the YTT 300 together:  Hugh, Kristen, and myself (US), Veronica (Mexico), Ross (UK), Stine (New Zealand), Pricilla (Brazil), Naira (the UAE), Josh (Canada) and Chuu-I (Singapore). Then there is Faraaz, a young Indian man who joins us for our classes and has facilitated a number of his magical yoga nidra classes (yogic sleep). It’s a great group and the variety of personality types and styles of BEING have provided each one of us ample opportunity to grow. We help each other by simply being us…

Precious Naira.

Precious Naira.

Hugh, Stine, Ross, Kristen and I.

Hugh, Stine, Ross, Kristen and I.

Josh and Pricilla, "monkeying" around...

Josh and Pricilla, “monkeying” around…

The "gangsters" with Faraz, and Ross

The “gangsters”Pricilla and myself with Faraaz, and Ross

So far it has been a spectacular few weeks… as I write this we are sitting overlooking the Ganges River at Devraj Coffee Corner German Bakery. There are monkeys frolicking around the wires of the bridge and a few sluggish cows that have decided to take a wander across it, unaccompanied. Ross and I wonder what business they have waiting for them on the other side. Something interesting always happens while watching the Ganges… yesterday we saw a floating body, today we saw a dramatic bull fight on the bridge in which people had to jump out of the way to avoid being pummeled by the giant animals. Oh India. We sat down at the coffee shop next to a kind man named Jim, from Tampa bay Florida. He studied yoga at Sivananda Ashram here in the 70’s. A recovering human soul… he specializes in yogic therapy for people with addiction/mental health problems, we hit it off and had plenty of things to talk about. What a coincidence/blessing to sit down next to exactly the man I needed to talk to. We had a very moving conversation over looking the river and I had to say it was for sure a huge God moment.

Jim, Ross, and myself overlooking the Ganges.

Jim, Ross, and myself overlooking the Ganges.

Rishikesh, India.

Rishikesh, India.

Tomorrow it is back to class we go, heading into the final weeks of our India trip and also ending our year long global adventure. There will continue to be plenty of time for us to practice working with our monkey minds.  Just like when one gives a monkey a biscuit, it attracts more monkeys, the mind is the same, if you entertain one thought it invites others to follow. The biggest lesson I have learned so far is that I have a choice about whether or not to keep feeding my monkey mind. It has taken a long time but gradually it is getting easier to ACTUALLY follow my breath rather then jump onto any engaging or seemingly important thought that enters my mind. When I make the conscious decision to follow my thoughts, I know I can expect more hungry monkeys. Today I decide whether or not to feed the monkeys. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but today there is a choice. Thank you yoga.

Ross teaching a class.

Ross teaching a class.

Stine and Ross listen to Roshan intently...

Stine and Ross listen to Roshan intently…

Kristen and Hugh study up...

Kristen and Hugh and Josh study up…

Monkey waiting for class to start...

A monkey waiting for class to start…


6 Comments

Cheese: My greatest teacher. Yogic lessons from Italy.

Our enemies are our greatest teachers. One of my greatest struggles as a growing yoga tree and young American women is my relationship with food. Iyengar says that:

‘Food should be taken to promote health, strength, energy and life. It should be simple, nourishing, juicy and soothing.” He goes on to say, “Character is moulded by the type of food we take and by how we eat it. Men are the only creatures that eat when not hungry and generally live to eat rather then eat to live. If we eat for flavours of the tongue, we over eat and so suffer from digestive disorders which throw our systems out of gear. The yogi believes in harmony, so he eats for the sake of sustance only. He does not eat too much or too little. He looks upon his body as the rest house of his spirit and guards himself against over-indulgence.”

Hmmmmm. That’s all great and I get it. Also, I have a long way to go. Why? I love food. I LOVE Italian food. I decided to take this opportunity to try and find balance around my favorite thing about Italy…food. My greatest teacher.

Stereotypically, Italians eat pizza, cheese, bread, pepperoni, pasta, and ice cream. Stereotypically they like to drink, espresso, cappuccinos, and red wine. It is a fact that while in Italy, walking down the streets of both large cities and small hill towns alike, you are likely to pass bars with wines and coffee, pizza parlors, cafes serving pastas and cured meats, and panini shops. It’s my belief that stereotypes generally exist for a reason, and in Italy, they eat what you’d imagine. Of course it’s all amazing. Am I right?  As a practicing yogi finding myself surrounded by such treats provided me with a great opportunity to practice two important yogic principles. Santosa, and Brahmacarya. Santosa, a niyama, meaning the cultivation of contentment and joy and then Brahmacarya, a yama, meaning basic moderation around things we may over indulge in, sex, food, wine… To each his own. What do I like to overindulge in? As a recovering Kapha, my primary dosha imbalance, food. What kind of food? All that is Italian food, so clearly being in Italy was a great opportunity for me to practice balance. Although eating cheese, meat, pasta, bread and ice cream is widely accepted in many places the world over, they are all pretty much poisons for the body.  I love to eat. However I love my yoga practice and my health conscious spirit more. Therefore I constantly needed to practice both Santosa, and Brahmacarya. So how did this yogi handle the pasta rich environment? I ate the pizza. I ate the pasta and cheese and even the ice cream. I enjoyed the espresso and the chocolate croissant. And how do I feel now that I am on the plane heading out of Italy and into Germany? Excellent. Here are the simple ways I incorporated these 2 yogic principles in my life while in the land of wine and cheese….

1) Meditation and Prayer: Every morning I try to make my first (second or third;)) thought in my mind a prayer to my higher power asking for help through out the day to be the best yogi I can be. I tune into my inner self and ask to be light hearted through out the day and to enjoy the present moment. This was often a tough feat as some days it was 41 degrees Celsius while walking around stone monuments…with a large group of people with different speeds and opinions… Needless to say it was not always easy and I didn’t practice perfectly…But I enjoyed it very much soaking in every minuet and trying not to take any experience for granted. This is yoga to me.

From my morning prayers I went to breakfast.

2) Breakfast: mmmmmm, breakfast buffets in Italy, what a joke. Meats, cheese, rolls, cakes, more cheese and meats, fruit, small tomatoes, yogurt, eggs, cereals… An endless supply of deliciousness. In practicing Brahmacarya or moderation to start the day, I’d load up on the small tomatoes, some scrambled eggs, perhaps even a slice of cheese, fruit…the good stuff.  I saved my carb count for later although once or twice I even had the breakfast of champions, the chocolate croissant and coffee, mostly in France when this was the only choice. By avoiding the heavy options at the buffet I felt energetic and ready to head out for the day.

Tomato and fresh cheese..

3) I only drank water. Sparkling preferably, soooo yummy. Soft drinks, alcohol… Nada. This is one area I’m pretty well disciplined with and I feel really good for it. Also, Italy is filled with water fountains pumping fresh clean water out incessantly. I took advantage of this. Of course I’m still a coffee nut, something I know I will have to kick my habit eventually, but not yet. By avoiding the empty sugars in juices, soft drinks, and booze I have lots of room for water helping me stay hydrated and feeling clear the whole day. Good girl 🙂

Never ending water fountain.

4) I ate the pizza, pasta, and cheese, whatever… When we were sitting down at a nice place, watching the world go by in cute ally ways, I really practiced Santosa, or contentment… And ENJOYED it. What is life with out a little indulgence? I’d like to think life is about being happy, joyous and free, in circumstances like this, and many others… I say go ahead and enjoy… It’s paradoxically important to practice Brahmacarya around all of the luxurious options available. Moderation. I didn’t eat the WHOLE pizza, or the entire plate of pasta… Or heaven forbid even the whole bowl of lemon gelato (which I was obsessed with) I avoided feeling guilty because I didn’t finish it all. I order the small, savor it and tadaa, offer it to the honey and then in the trash it goes. I’m not about to ruin a night of good sleep on an intense sugar high… But I’m not about to say no to a gelato either.

Italian pizza. Delicious.

Lemon Gelato. Amazing…

5) Asana (physical yoga practice) and hip circles. Yes I practiced my asana… No I wasn’t a nut about it, and this is another good yogic lesson for me. I got on my mat and got into my body. While in many tourist attractions I’d settle into what felt right to me. A warrior here, a triangle here, tree here…To any of the students I’ve had before they know I’m crazy about… Hip circles. Passed onto me from the great Pet Clifford… I do them so much it may be considered an awkward habit. It makes people I’m with feel uncomfortable when we are waiting in line and I’m revolving my hips around in large dramatic circles, really getting into the joints. Feels so good. Or how about after a long walk around the city? I’m not shy about getting into some asana on the sidewalk… My body feels it needs it!

Triangle in the Roman Forum.

To summarize: 1) I prayed, 2) I had a good healthy breakfast, 3) I only drank water (and the occasional coffee), 4) I ate it all and enjoyed it (Santosa) and I also tried to practice moderation (Brahmacarya) and lastly 5) I wasn’t shy about my asana in public.

Warrior 2 in the Coliseum.

In all honestly my weakest area was my asana. Did I play yoga? Yes. Every day consistently on the mat? No. I can hardly count a few warriors in the Coliseum a complete practice, (even though it was awesome). An eventual goal for me, to make the morning asana a part of my daily prayers…no matter what. I’ve been there before and I seem to move in waves. My time in Italy was a weak one on the asana front.  That being said… I’m not going to be too harsh on myself. I mean hey… I tried, I had the time of my life, I feel healthy and grateful beyond measure for it all.  Nothing wrong with that 🙂 Additionally, we are getting ready for a huge yoga trip to India. 10 weeks of solid yoga zone. Perhaps my subconscious wanted to relax a bit in preparation. Now we are in Germany for a week of friends, family, and more practice. I’ll try to enjoy every moment and continue to practice Santosa and Brahmacarya…