Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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A Ugandan Love Story

Love is a verb.

It is about giving, and about letting go and sacrifice. This is what I have learned from my family and what I would like to share with you. This is from my heart and quite an emotional topic for me. My sister Andrea got married in Uganda last Sunday to a beautiful Ugandan man named Haril Kazindra.  It was spectacular… and an opportunity for our entire family to unite under the guiding principals of Love. My gorgeous sisters wedding and her relationship with Haril provides the backdrop for this love story of family, of the Pauline family.

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I am the oldest of four girls. My parents Geno and Pat Pauline are incredible people in their own ways. My mother is vibrant, energetic (an understatement), kind, and witty while my father is a soft-spoken, humble, generous teddy bear. Together they raised four incredibly different ladies.  Jenna, Leah, Andrea, and myself.

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After I graduated from college and moved to China in 2007, HUGE geographical barriers have divided our family. I was only in China for a year when Andrea and Leah (who have always been best friends) went Uganda together, spreading our family among three continents.  The US, Asia, and Africa. Since that time, getting all six of us together has been a rarity. When it does happen we do our best to fill it with quality time because when you live so far away, every minute counts.

Leah, Andrea and Haril have been together in Uganda for nearly five years working on developing and growing Musana, a miraculous community development organization. This summer their relationships will reach a crescendo. Andrea and Haril have been married. Leah will soon be leaving to pursue her masters degree. Musana continues to grow leaps and bounds.

Change is abundant.

People always ask us girls what our parents did to raise us so “international” or why we all “escaped” abroad. We were given a balance of freedom and love. I know it hasn’t been easy for our parents and yet, they would never say so. They have always trusted our judgment, our hearts, and above anything they have wanted to see us happy, regardless of what the consequences are for themselves. This is love. Andrea and Haril’s wedding in Uganda was an example of this. Let me explain…

My dad is nearly seventy and had only been outside of the US to Mexico before his daughters started migrating away. In the last three years he has seen China, Italy, and recently made it to Uganda. He made this trip so he could walk Andrea down the isle.

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My dad, having never been to Musana (due to health issues and some reasonable fears) finally made the trip 8,600 miles away from home. I know that this was one of the hardest things for him to do in his life. For my mom, who is full of energy and is constantly trotting around the globe, the ceremony wasn’t so difficult, but for my dad… I know it was hard. We are all aware of what this marriage means for our family. In order to see our Andrea, her husband (and their destined to be beautiful babies) we must travel the distance, and this will not always be easy. However, we are thrilled to see Andrea happy and to have gained Haril, an amazing man, along with his large, wonderful Ugandan family.

With the Pauline’s and the Kazindra’s uniting we have become a part Ugandan and them a part American. It is marvelous.

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We all welcome the change because of love. We are certain that God has a fantastical plan for Andrea and Haril in Uganda.

I have seen my parents act with the ultimate form of love by letting Andrea go with a genuine smile knowing that she is in good hands. Our family continues to operate in this way, loving from a far. It has been hard to accept that the natural state of the Pauline family is to exist thousands of miles apart… however, we have been taught so many valuable lessons about what love really is from the experiences we have had.

To end this love story on a superbly cheesy note… I love you family… and welcome into it Haril!  😉

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Welcome to Yoganda.

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Uganda is Yoganda.

Though most of the population here has no idea what yoga is, they are greater practitioners of its basic principals than any I have yet come to know. I believe it comes down to living simply, only with the true realities of what life is. We are here in Iganga, Uganda visiting my two sisters Andrea and Leah, who have been living here for nearly 5 years. They have been helping to start and run Musana Community Development Organization and it is seriously… seriously… a miracle place, destined for great things.  Our main objectives during this trip are to hang out, play, and love the kids while undertaking a gargantuan mosaic project in Musana’s church. We have been plenty busy, and with every day, more is revealed about the yogic nature of the people here.

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Every morning my fiancé Ross and I get up with the sun and slowly make our way to our mats on the main pavilion with a hot cup of gritty coffee. We practice our asana, pranayama and dhyana here as the sky changes through the vibrant colors of orange, pink and red. Slowly the neighboring teachers walk by with their children as they head out into the day. They pass us and watch with wonder. Our first day here a few of them asked if we were ninjas. I had a small meeting with some of the school officials to discuss my plans for the project in the church and the conversation immediately turned to yoga as their curiosity by our morning routine had been peaked. What are we doing out there in the morning? What is yoga? Why do we practice it?

 In response to these questions…sigh… really? Yoga is too big to be defined I realize. But an earnest attempt was needed none the less. How would I explain yoga to a group of middle-aged African men, who had never heard of it before? Breath, life, death, and spirit. Aren’t these the things that yoga is about? I explained that yoga was about rediscovering your breath or prana, your connection to life through breathing. I told them that yoga was about learning to see that our bodies are made of the earth and they simply house the spirit.  ‘Duh’, their faces seemed to say. It was all inherently obvious to them and they acknowledged that they were happy I was learning such things.

It was clear that they already had a natural knowledge of these spiritual things and once I got to know some of the children here… I discovered the roots of this awareness.  The children of Musana have been the greatest teachers I have ever encountered. The school is a miracle place. 280 students, 40 Ugandan staff members, and a community driven vision for self-sustainability, the project is revolutionary in terms of global service.  A majority of the children in school here come from vulnerable families, the street, or have no families at all. The fact that they have made it here is the first miracle, and the fact that they are so optimistic and happy might be the second. I have become particularly close to young Irene.

A three year old who has only been at Musana for three months. She was found in a village living uncared for with jiggers (a small burrowing bug that feeds off of flesh) inhabiting every finger and toe. My sister Andrea saw her and singled her out (of hundreds of needy kids she sees everyday) as in desperate need of care. Her father had passed away and her mother had disappeared. Thus she came to Musana. She is all smiles, all the time. Andrea says that she wasn’t like this at first as she was recovering from having all the jiggers removed… She is learning how to do things like brush her teeth and play with other kids. We watched her first ever real movie together, Jurassic Park, which was totally priceless (and maybe not the best choice for a three year old). Haha… It was awesome.

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 Santosha. Contentment.

They exhibit this every day. I have had the opportunity to spend time with them, to play yoga with them, and to just hold them. The lesson for me is that many of them are advanced yogis in disguise. At a young age they have had to start grappling with two of the biggest yogic principles. Abhyasa and Vairaghya. Daily practice and detachment.  Every day they have things they need to do, get food, clean their clothes… all to survive. Detachment from worldly things happens as a natural result of death being an as seemingly common occurrence as the cold.  It is amazing how much deeper the life style here, in the third world, drives one closer to these principles then living in the world of more… could ever do.

 So why is it that the people here at Musana naturally have an understanding of santosha, abyasa, vairaghya, life, death, and breath? I believe it is because this is what makes up their daily lives. Purely and with out distraction of meaningless things. They eat to live and wear clothes to protect their skin. They sleep under roofs to shelter them from rain and pray to offer gratitude to God for the blessings they have been given.  It makes me feel like we have things so backwards in the west. Though many of us are making valient efforts to become “aware” of our true natures… I wonder, it it ever really possible when we never go without? Is it possible when we come from a world so far detached from God and our natural roots that we have to go to yoga class or church in order to find them?

 I wish I had more to say about Yoganda. At this point… I don’t.  Life is simple. Life is beautiful. The children here inspire me to be content, and I am. The atmosphere is gorgeous. And this afternoon I slipped on a banana peel and it made me laugh.

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