Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


“Does my butt look big?” A yogi responds.

big butt

TRUTHFULNESS. According to Patanjali (the author of the Yoga Sutras) truthfulness, or satya,  is the second most important attribute to maintain in society. It is well known that telling the truth is common sense. However, the line gets foggy when the truth could potentially hurt someone, going against Patanjali’s first and most important attribute, ahimsa/non-harming.  These attributes, otherwise known as yamas, are in order for a reason and it is always most important to uphold any yama coming before the other. Thus… non-harming is always the priority over truth. So, do we always need to tell the truth? Yes. UNLESS  it is going to hurt someone.

This leads us to the age-old scenario of the uncomfortable question…  “Does my butt look big?”  (substitute any of the following questions here…“Do I look fat?” Do you like/did you notice… my hair cut?” “How do you feel about my parents?” “Is she/he prettier then me?” (DONT EVER ASK THIS) “Is this delicious?” add infinitum…)


Donna Farhi* says:

The yamas are broken down into five “wise characteristics.” Rather than a list of dos and don’ts, “they tell us that our fundamental nature is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.” 

Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness 
Satya means “to speak the truth,” yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa. This precept is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community, or government, and that deliberate deception, exaggerations, and mistruths harm others. 

Hmmmm…..    Really? While studying in India with Rishikesh Yog Peeth, my class was flabbergasted when we heard this come seriously from Bhaskar’s (our philosophy teacher’s) mouth. He said, “Don’t tell the truth if it is going to hurt someone… ever.” We all looked around quizzically… puzzled by our gurus meaning.

“Soooo, you want us…to lie?”  This obviously seemed like a huge no-no in yogic tradition.

No. You don’t lie. You say this….”My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear.”                  Got it? One more time. The correct answer to the question “Do I look fat in this dress?” Is either…. “NO. You do NOT look fat. You look BEAUTIFUL!” Unless of course, she doesn’t.

If it is after the holidays and she has put on a few pounds and you DON’T think she looks beautiful, you should not tell her this… because that would hurt her feelings (duh).  SO what you say is….


“My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear.”

If this brings on a surge of questions, simply reply the same awkward sentence again and perhaps again until she backs off. THIS approach is the most yogic. 😉

After fully believing most of my life that honesty is the best approach, no matter what… I find this hard to believe. I’d like to say that as a women, I want to hear the truth. On the other hand I want the truth to be that my man thinks I look beautiful. How do you want to be treated? With the truth no matter what? With a little white lie? Or would silence or the response “My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear “ suffice?


*Donna Farhi. Yoga Mind, Body, Spirit.  pg 7, 9


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India. A God Explosion in my brain!?


Anyone who has ever been to India has something to say about it. While preparing for this trip, I’ve heard it all. “The most shocking place I’ve ever been, it will totally blow your mind.” “It’s so colorful. All the senses are overloaded.” “You will love it and hate it.” (I heard this repetitively) “Be Patient” (Also heard repetitively) “Eat probiotics before you go so you won’t get Delhi belly.” “I didn’t get sick at all.” “The infrastructure is terrible and it’s dirty.” “It’s our motherland.” And my favorite came from Sir Dallas. He said, “When you arrive, let God explode into your brain.” I had to let out a laugh. A God EXPLOSION IN MY BRAIN!? Really? Thanks for not setting my expectations too high.

Green trees. Blue sky. Twirly swirly writing.

As we landed in Kerala after a 30-hour, 4 flight journey, from out the window all that could be seen were palm trees. An ocean of them. Gorgeous. Blue skies and green palm trees. The car ride to the Ayurveda school of Kerala was amazing. It seems consistent that the initial drive from the airport to wherever it is we are staying is always my favorite part about visiting a new place. Driving through the streets during rush hour (or perhaps its always rush hour) people chatting by their local food cart or chai tea guy, students walking down the sidewalk in their uniforms. And all the colors! Holy wow the colors… The saris on all the women, the children, the bicycles, the “autos” (similar to Thai tuk tuks) the weaving in and out, and the SOUNDTRACK. It seems that here is the constant sound of India… the jumpy jolly music from out of Bollywood… I also instantly loved all the swirly twirly writing everywhere, like an artistic child doodled all over the place. Incredible India indeed. If my initial impression could be pinned down into a sentence? It’s a bold, vivid place… all of the senses simply pulsate with life.

Beautiful curious child and mom.

A man hard at work.

Now, it is 7 days into our 10-week adventure.  We just finished a weeklong course on Aryuvedic studies. A HUGE field of study encompassing the last 5000 years of Indian philosophies from out of the ancient Vedas. A topic ranging from the theory of creation to all things relating to the medical and spiritual… A lot to cover in 7 days. It was worth a shot and I think it offered us a nice backdrop for the yoga studies to come.

Indian man chopping open coconuts.

Amazing women.

Off to school with precious smiles.

From what I understand, studying at the Kerala School of Aryuvedic Health Care for our first week here provided a gentle entry point. Outside the gates of the school there came the constant sounds of music, traffic, and the varying smells of fresh coconuts and burning trash. The school itself was filled with incredibly friendly staff. As an unaccustomed westerner trying to remember their names proved pretty impossible. I had to write them down. The names are SO different from anything I’ve ever heard. It’s a familiar feeling to me, like when I first arrived in China and was being introduced to Wang Ming Zhou and Li Jie Ayi and Shu Shu Zhu Sheng Fang… Say what!? Here the names are Ambvigha, Sharhanjo, Bvasandhi… plus they are all wearing the same brightly colored smocks! They all “look the same!”. Shame on me. Welcome the western mind once again onto another planet.

All week we were in class studying the ancient wisdom of aryuvedic medicine. The science of life. We have discussed doshas, medicines, therapies, and the history of the sages… we have had hands on practical classes learning how to give back, head,  and full body oil massage using spiced oils. I love how Ross and I were able to partner up in the afternoon and practice what we learned on each other. An unexpected fantastic relationship building exercise. 😉

Oil on the head. Aryuvedic massage 😉

All of us students practicing making plant massage bulbs.

Some of the other highlights included  a trip to the beach where we saw a Bollywood type film being made, the best part of that was seeing all the people gathered to watch… just staring. It was also interesting to note that most of the beach goers were men. A giant beach filled with Indian men. As the women are pretty conservative, none were to be found enjoying the waves or sun. When a naïve foreign beauty was caught emerging from the water it caused quite a scene as well, dozens of interested onlookers just stop and stare to the point you’d think there was a flying saucer or super celebrity. Ross made a few friends while I tried to stay hidden beneath the sun hat and glasses. We stopped at a nice ocean front cafe and enjoyed an absolutely delicious meal… a daily happening here. All vegetarian food and amazing.

People gathered to watch movie being made.

Men men men in the water…

Men men men on the beach.

We studied hard and spent lots of time discussing our doshas and diet habits with the other students. I love the discussions you end up having with like-minded people. One of the other students, a sweet British hippy girl named Kate (with the most amazing dreadlocks I’ve ever seen) and I really got along well… She even gave me my first lesson in Reiki, the art of using Qi through your hands to facilitate the universe in healing through balance. A bit much heeby jeeby for the first week or no?  We received our certificates from the wonderful doctor there and happily left the school on a high.

Graduating class of the month 😉

Ross getting his certificate from our beautiful doctor.

Ross’s certificate.

My certificate.

We took a car to Verkala beach where we will be attending a yoga teacher training for the next four weeks. I will be doing a pre/post natal course, (which I am sooooo excited about!) perhaps followed by some Ashtanga… while Ross takes his 200-yoga teacher training in Hatha yoga studies. We have seen the beach, the town, and met the gang (our teachers and fellow students) and believe we are in for a treat. What an amazing opportunity to learn and grow!

To conclude our first week here, I guess its simple to say that despite all of the pre-India talks a person could ask for before arriving, nothing can actually prepare a person for his or her own India experience. Maybe that’s one of the many things that makes this place is so magical?  All of the possible experiences to be had are so varied and so intense that everyone gets their very own India. I’ve loved the first week.

Is God exploding into our brains yet? Honestly… I don’t know… yet.