Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
Times are hard. Uncertainty looms ahead. What can we do? We can take one day at a time, be productive, find ways to keep grounded and positive.
With all this in mind, I decided to take my practice outside, find a nice patch of grass and just flow! For 35 minutes I just let things go, let the moment dictate my sensations and my next steps.
So this week’s theme is “Flowing to the Future”.
It’s not just a name. It bears profound resemblance to what we are facing. Moments of difficulty, moments of imbalance. What do we do? We self-correct, we take it down a notch or re-adjust our course.
So as you flow through this totally improvised 35 minute session, expect the unexpected and enjoy! Remember to course correct when you need to – drop knees in Plank Pose, find Child’s Pose as many times as you need to. And just have fun.
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. I have no idea what lies in store. A long bicycle ride? Staying home a lot? Blogging? But I will let it flow … embrace whatever is in store …
I hope you too will “Flow to the Future” …. 🙏🏽❤️
Link to YouTube video below:
Two of my favorite activities are bicycling and yoga. So I decided to combine them and take my yoga mat out for a spin!
Enjoy this video of my jaunt by the American River in Sacramento. Doing yoga outdoors by the river was amazing.
It was also a reminder that it’s ok to get creative and modify one’s activities to try something different. I truly had a blast and I encourage you to slow down a bit and think of ways to do things differently.
Especially you cyclists out there keeping an eye on your Strava times! Ditch the app and breath some fresh air on a pause to do yoga! Bici Yoga is my new favorite activity!
Check out a 5 minute clip of my adventure below and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel “Yogamatique”.
One Hour Session Uploaded To YouTube
This is a one hour class that is the perfect combination of building heat & strength (Yang) and cooling down mindfully and relieving stress in body and mind (Yin).
I put this together with a lot of thought so that you can all begin the weekend with a great feeling! I hope you enjoy this.
Even if you are a beginner I encourage you to try this routine. I have labeled most of the poses and go through the minute actions required to benefit from the poses and movements so this is a great way to familiarize yourself with some yoga terminology as well. Before you know it, you’ll become a yoga geek like me 😉🙏🏽.
Here is the YouTube link below. Please do subscribe so as to keep getting the uploads and also support my new endeavor “Yogamatique”, the yoga boutique 😀❤️.
I left Buenos Aires for Cali on August 7th by way of Bogota. I had an entire day in Bogota and being the biking aficionado that I am, I decided to take a tour of the city with Bogota Bike Tours.
Some great graffiti! The National Museum
I had done the tour in 2017, but I never get tired of visiting the sites in this city and having a guide and being on a bicycle is definitely the way to go. I say that in all seriousness – there are parts of the city where you don’t want to be stuck without an escape route. A bicycle and a pair of strong lungs are my ticket to safety … anywhere … Having said that, these sites we visited are quintessential Bogota and a must see.
Among them are the graffiti lined streets, the fruit and vegetable market and we even made a mad dash through the red light district – a somber reminder of the often unseen reality.
We also stopped for some amazing coffee at a coffee roaster’s Cafe de la Fonda .
Cafe de la Fonda, Bogota
And last but not least we played Tejo, a Colombian game where you throw huge steel discs on to targets set in mud/earth that explode (yes there’s gunpowder involved). Welcome to Colombia!
Playing Tejo and having Poker
After the bike tour I had a great meal at “La Puerta Falsa” in the Candelaria neighborhood. I had Ajiaco and it was to die for! It’s a regional soup with chicken and you have it with corn and avocado.
Having Ajiaco at La Puerta Falsa
And since I was in the neighborhood and had the afternoon free, I took the teleférico (cable car) up to the Church of Monserrate at a height of over 10,000 ft, giving you an amazing view of Bogota all around. It is indeed named after the Monastery of Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain.
View of Bogota from Cerro Monserrate
The next morning I caught my flight to Cali and thus began round two in this amazing city. I was again staying at the Hostel Pajara Pinta in the neighborhood of San Antonio. I had my own private room. The hostel option is a great option because you have more communal areas such as the kitchen and dining areas, so it’s a great way to meet people and make new friends. That’s how I met Laura and Raul at breakfast one day. We ended up chatting for more than 2 hours. You see Raul Senior, their dad, was an avid cyclist and had started a bike club in Baranquilla where they live. The club’s name Biela Quilla is a play on words base on their home town of Baranquilla. Raul Senior was an upstanding member of society and he encouraged everyone to pick up a bike and ride to stay healthy. He was also a bit crazy, and would ride to far away places like Santa Marta and Cartagena. I can totally relate and my eyes lit up listening to stories about their father.
Sadly Raul Senior had passed away from cancer a few months prior. Laura and Raul were in Cali attending a national bike summit where their father was being honored. I was moved by their story and their devotion to their dad. Laura must have sensed it – she took one of her Dad’s bike jerseys out of a backpack and gave it to me. I was speechless. And honored. I promised her I would ride to the top of Mission Peak in my hometown of Fremont wearing it. A month later, on September 12th, 2019 I kept my promise and rode up to the summit of Mission Peak wearing Raul Senior’s Biela Quilla jersey.
Mission Peak, Fremont
I hope to visit Laura and Raul in Baranquilla one day and go on some rides with this wonderful bike club Biela Quilla.
The next person in the cast of characters is Paula. Paula is a friend of one of my cabin mates (from NY) during my trip to Antarctica eight months prior. So now Paula and I were connected by way of NY and Antarctica. Such is the beauty of traveling, never missing an opportunity and keeping an open mind.
Paula immediately invited me to a birthday bash for one of her friends. I got to hang out with local Caleños, other Colombians and a few foreigners from Greece and Germany. It was a really fun time. And I was immediately accepted into the group.
As luck would have it, this was the start of a week long music festival called “Petronio de Alvarez Music Festival”, fondly referred to as just “Petronio”. It was way more than a music festival – it was a celebration of Afro-Colombian music, food and culture. More than 100,000 people descended on Cali for this festival from all over the world.
With Paula and Soffy at Petronio
I made plans to meet Paula and her friends at the venue for Petronio, the first night I went (and there were many!). I almost didn’t find Paula. The network was so jammed that our messages were delayed by up to 15 minutes! And it didn’t help that we were moving with the crowd … but we eventually found each other and we had a great time listening to the music and dancing it up! I met Soffy, Paula’s friend that night and the three of us had an awesome time. We ended up leaving at a decent hour and getting dinner with some of their friends. I would be easing into the Petronio gently (many more nights to come!). And I had found my tribe in Colombia. I adore Soffy and Paula.
I repeated the festivities in Petronio a few times with my new found friends and one night we ended up going to an after party. I can say with certainty that the after party was even better than Petronio itself.
An entire street in a residential area transforms itself into a street for music, dancing and food. People actually move furniture around, offering their homes as part of this event. I think we left this venue at around 8:00 am. The energy just keeps you going and you cannot help being a part of it.
For the next few days I focused on my yoga practice and La Pajara Pinta had the ideal space for yoga on the second floor terrace. I made a few more friends and some folks joined me for yoga. One of the goals of this trip was to examine the role of yoga here among the locals as well as the travelers. And I was pleasantly surprised. I see Cali as having great potential for being a place to host future yoga retreats!
With Just a few days left of Petronio I went one more time with some fellow travelers from the hostel. It was a blast. I took advantage of the great seafood and I had a crab dish which was to die for! I could get used to Afro-Colombian Pacific influenced dishes!
This was the last night of Petronio and it did not disappoint. We all had a blast, made some local friends and danced the night away!
Right Photo: With Garcia, Alex, Soffy and Andres
Part of my extended Cali Tribe
And yes, we did go to the after party one last time!
Next stop Buenos Aires round two! Zig-zagging across South America! Watch for the next episode!
NEW UPLOAD TO YOUTUBE!
Doing something with purpose makes all the difference. Doing yoga with purpose in these uncertain times can help you in many ways. It can help you get grounded, be more mindful and also get more out of your practice.
In the latest upload to my YouTube channel “Yogamatique” I offer a well thought out 35 minute session where the poses are held a little bit longer giving you a chance to find your purpose. You can pull back a bit or push farther (see intro video below). But having 3 or 4 breath cycles to work with gives you ample time to make corrections and if you struggle and fall out of a pose – just get back on the horse again.
Today is Friday – this is a perfect way to start off the weekend. Find some mindfulness, find some challenge, find some sweat … find some purpose!
Here is the intro and below it the link to the YouTube video.
Link to YouTube and the embedded video below. Please subscribe to never miss an upload!
I have been on the go for the last several months as some of you know. One of the things I missed the most was my yoga blocks. I was able to retrieve them a few days ago and used them during a live yoga class I taught by zoom a few days ago.
Props in yoga are meant to stabilize and make you safer. They allow for more growth. In longer held poses they make the poses more sustainable, helping you get more out of the pose.
Quit the notion that if you are using a prop you are weaker or lacking something. We all have different bodies and we all have different lifestyles, so our bodies react differently to yoga and we need to acknowledge that.
I put together several short snippets of my prop heavy class. There are poses without props here too. But check out how I taught my students to use blocks and a strap in the following poses. And if they didn’t have them they could use hardcover books and a towel.
Ardha Chandrasana, Forward Fold, Prasarita Padottanasana, Gomukhasana, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, Supta Baddhakonasana were just some of the poses we used props.
I hope you check it out! If you do – props to you! 😉
Here is the link to video in my YouTube channel “Yogamatique”. I hope you subscribe as well.
I also have a new instagram account dedicated to yoga @yogamatique. Please follow to get the latest posts on yoga related topics 🙏🏽😀.
You can check it out directly here too
Mountain Pose / Tadasana
In these uncertain times we are facing a lot of challenges. One of the challenges is how to stay centered, how to avoid restlessness and how to maintain our sanity. No joke. These are heavy times.
One of the ways I ground myself is with the simple pose Tadasana. It’s a double whammy because not only is it an amazing pose, but the same actions found in Tadasana are applied to most yoga poses.
I taught a class a couple of days ago via zoom. I had tremendous fun teaching Tadasana and then finding it in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), Plank, Warrior 1, Warrior 3 and more …
Check out this latest upload to YouTube where you can see 15 minutes of snippets from this live yoga class. You can follow along or take notes. I hope it serves you in one form or another.
Remember that sometimes the basics are the glue that binds. In this case Tadasana is it!
Check out the video here and subscribe to my YouTube channel “Yogamatique” to always get the latest!
Also follow @yogamatique on instagram where most of my yoga resources are found.
Having just had the most amazing five weeks in Colombia, I left for Buenos Aires on July 22nd with a full heart. I had a one day stop over in Chile and I spent it with my two favorite Chileans Christian and Natalia. I had met them in the Atacama Desert on a tour of the high altitude lakes Lagunas Miniques and Miscanti, almost three months prior.
But such is the beauty of meeting like minded individuals during one’s travels. If it’s meant to be, you’ll see them again! They treated me to a fabulous seafood dinner accompanied by a delicious Carmenere. We had the last three months to catch up on and it was a fantastic evening. Christian had his own really cool story. He left the corporate world to pursue his passion of making handmade leather products. Check out his wonderful line here www.atelierperpetua.cl .
The next morning I caught my flight to Buenos Aires, my home away from home. The next two weeks I spent teaching yoga, attending Spanish language meetings and reuniting with my friends. One day I went to La Rural with Leonardo. We scored some free Fernet and had some amazing beef at a stall. And of course, it was great seeing all the exhibits.
And we all got together at my favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires – Sarkis, serving Armenian food. Go figure! But it’s so good that it’s worth the 1 hour plus wait!
I was staying in an apartment in a less touristy part of Palermo and it was close to a cafe called Cafe Cortázar named after the famous writer Julio Cortázar.
I would spend hours in this nondescript cafe writing away. I became part of the city in this writers’ cafe. August is winter in Buenos Aires, so it was nice to sit with a “cafe con leche” or good Malbec and plug away. I was expanding my yoga ventures as well and was having success in my classes.
I had met two lovely sister Barus and Lucy from Slovakia during my travels in Cuba 2 years prior.
And they happened to be in Buenos Aires! I showed them around “my” town and we even saw opera at Teatro Colon.
Traveling is such a great opportunity to learn about different cultures and make good friends in far and distance places. And reconnecting with someone after a few years is the best. Respecting that human connection and giving it the value it merits is the ultimate reward.
Sure museums and landmarks and sites are great, but to me getting to know a people, how they live, what makes them tick … those are indelible!
So having my fill of joyous moments with friends past and present was great, but Colombia was calling again! And the August wintry cool of Buenos Aires sealed the deal.
On August 7th I flew back to Cali, in search of warmer weather and some yoga initiatives … How would they fare? Keep an eye out for Part 5 of my year of travels!
New Videos Uploaded to my YouTube Channel “Yogamatique”.
The playlist is titled “Feed Good Friday” as I made these four video clips on Friday. I went with the flow and came up with a challenging vinyasa flow, followed by three traditional Surya Namaskara B’s.
Next we have some fun balancing in Garudasana, Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Utitha Hasta Padangusthasana. We also stretch out the hamstrings in Padangusthasana and Parsvottanasana.
And the last video is a a cool down of sorts. We do Bridge pose 3 times, a twist, Happy Baby and then Savasana.
Here is the link to the playist (the stand alone embedded videos are found below too).
SURYA NAMASKARA B (3 ROUNDS)
BALANCING POSE & HAMSTRING CARE
BRIDGE POSE AND COOLDOWN
I haven’t written in more than a month. March 12th to be precise. A lot has happened since then, to put it lightly. But now I am back to chronicling my 9 months away from home, during the months of June through February.
The last article “The Journey Begins” chronicled my whirlwind tours in Chile, Bolivia and Peru over 18 days. By June 18th, I was ready for some rest and was heading to Colombia for more than a month. I was planning to chill out and call it my home for a while.
My first stop was Medellin. As luck would have it (good or bad, you decide) I was having some knee problems when I arrived in Colombia. The Colca Canyon Trek near Arequipa, Peru had done me in. Luckily I was staying at the NH Medellin Royal, not a bad place to be immobile for a few days with a nice pool and amenities. They even paid for a doctor to come out and examine my knee. A few days of 800 mg Ibuprofen thrice-a-day regimen and I was good to go! I realized I had needed the rest and the down time was great.
Once I felt better, I took a tour of Comuna 13 in Medellin. It blew me away! The graffiti lining the streets was so colorful and unique and each picture painted an elaborate story.
You see, Comuna 13 was once one of the roughest neighborhoods in Medellin and had the highest gang-related death rate in Colombia at that time. After a couple of decades of heavy violence during an era we all know about, when Medellin decided to turn things around, they did it with heart and conviction. Now Comuna 13 is one of the safest neighborhoods and I felt perfectly secure there. It is an example for other places!
Another day I decided to check out Parque Arvi. It was an adventure for me because I would be taking public transport all the way! That meant, one trip by metro, followed by two trips by cable car. Once again, expect the unexpected. One of the cable cars was out of service and we would have bus service instead. So I would have an unexpected bus ride through a dangerous comuna! Great. On top of that, the bus drivers drive up and down the hills like Formula One champs and sure enough our driver hit a parked car. Parked on a steep incline, in a shady comuna, with locals getting combative. It’s not exactly the most reassuring of situations. Somehow we were all able to leave unscathed when the next bus showed up and of course we crammed into it like sardines! And I finally made it to Parque Arvi.
Started my adventure by catching the metro in Poblado
It was a nice park with a few trails and some nice bird watching. One of the highlights was having Sancocho (a Colombian soup and delicacy) by the side of the road. Life’s simple pleasures.
After 5 days in Medellin I flew to Santa Marta. I was meeting Bastien from France. We were cabin-mates on the MS Expedition bound for Antarctica in January 2019, just 6 months before. Bastien and I became good friends on that ten day trip to Antarctica. We were both going to be in the Santa Marta region around the same time by random coincidence. I had no plans to climb to La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) through treacherous terrain and weather again, having hiked there 2 years ago. Nor did Bastien have this on his radar of things to do. I brought this up with him one day. It was just in passing. I said it was a nice trek (read torturous). Before we knew it we were making plans to do the trek together. It was one of those exchanges with few words. You both know this is going to happen.
My trekking to the Lost City a second time was utter madness to many! I must have a forgotten how painful climbing up the slippery red clay was after a downpour, or how we crossed rivers that were waist deep due to torrential rain or how the the dampness of the jungle was so strong that my phone got destroyed.
Bastien taking the plunge; Slippery red clay after the rains
After spending the evening, reunited in Santa Marta, having some awesome Thai food and getting a good night’s sleep the night before, Bastien and I walked over to the Expotour office the following morning. We dropped off our luggage there and were ready for our 4 very long days in the wilderness of Colombia. We were going extremely light with a day pack so as to make this killer of a trek as comfortable as possible. So very few clothes and almost no outer layers. Except for my rain jacket – a futile attempt at staying dry, but it just seemed wrong not to have it. And of course socks. Multiple socks. Your feet and boots were going to get soaked. Be it rain, river crossings or just humidity. Do not skimp on the socks. 3 pairs at least 😉. I did have my Tevas for the river crossings and that was a life saver. I saw every one else cringe as they stepped on sharp rocks with their bare feet.
We had a nice group of people from the US, UK, France and the Netherlands. Bastien and I had plenty of time to catch up on the last 6 months. He was towards the end of his year-long world tour and I was just beginning my year off. So it was a beautiful time to cross paths again.
The 3rd day of our trek is when we had our final push to La Ciudad Perdida. We got up at 5:00 am, and after a hearty breakfast we started meandering by the Buritaca River, crossed it and then started climbing up 1200 steps until the Lost City appeared.
Ruins in the form of circular terraces of the ancient Tayrona civilization that are even older than Machu Pichu, kept appearing as we kept ascending.
And just like two years ago, I felt a spiritual tug and I could feel my mother’s energy all around. She was a big part of my taking this year off. She has passed away just two years ago. I was dealing with loss, with closure and self-healing. I feel her presence when I am around environments that are pure and beautiful. The Lost City in the midst of the Colombian jungle, untouched by modern civilization definitely was a force field.
And to top things off I taught a yoga class at the request of the group and once again, it was one of the most ethereal experiences. I feel privileged to have been able to do that.
After Santa Marta, Bastien and I headed to Cartagena. What better place to chill out than by the coast?
Cartagena’s colorful buildings; My street in Getsemani
We spent one night celebrating with some of Bastien’s friends from France and then he was off to San Andres Island.
I remained in Cartagena doing nothing in particular. One day I went to Playa Blanca by boat – a white sandy beach where I enjoyed some swimming, lounging around and some delicious grilled fish for lunch.
Where I was staying in Cartagena was Getsemani – a less touristy area, outside the “Walled City”. So every night there were people dancing in the streets, so never a dull moment.
I even made some new friends.
The great Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez
From Cartagena I caught a flight to Cali on July 1st. Cali is where I wanted to spend most of my time. I had visited Cali the year before but just for a day! It was an insane 24 hour trip from Bogota and it was just to visit my friends Natalia and Felipe, who I had met separately.
I had met Natalia while she was bartending in Buenos Aires and Felipe I’d met on a bike tour of Bogota.
On this visit I would miss Felipe – he was doing a study abroad for his doctorate in Chicago. I was happy I was going to spend some time with Natalia and her family. I settled into my private room with a bathroom at the Hostel Pajara Pinta in San Antonio. It was the perfect location. I could walk up the hill to the church and to a beautiful look out with an amazing view of Cali, in just a few minutes.
And I could also walk to the river and the Boulevard – where there’s always life, street vendors and music.
The hostel had a lot of hidden corners where one could just read or write. This is where I started writing my blog.
Cali proved to be exactly what I had sought. A quiet place to call home. I did a variety of things while there in the next 2 weeks. I went mountain biking in the hills in an area called Pance.
It was quite amazing. Very few cars around and lots of hills – just the way I like it. I went with a local guide Oscar who was amazing!
Another day I went tubing in the rivers near San Cipriano. It was a really great experience just floating down the river!
And we found a spot where we could do some cliff jumping. I’m normally not into that sort of silliness. But when the mood is right, I say “why not?”.
And riding the Brujita’s (which literally means “Little Witches”) was a thrill. Old rail lines are being used by motorcycles pulling a cartful of people. You have to see it to believe it. Here, I’ll show you what it looks like below. Basically you are straddling a long seat like a witch’s broom.
Cali is a walking city. I regularly walked from my hostel in San Antonio to La Hermita, a beautiful white cathedral.
One day I accidentally ended up on the road to Cristo Rey where there is a big statue of Christ. I just kept walking uphill and in a couple of hours I was at the statue.
It was a bit brazen as nobody walks up that road and in general one should not go through a neighborhood without first knowing about it. But everything turned out A-OK! But I did not walk back. I took a taxi.
I made some new friends while down in Cali and it was great just walking around town and seeing new sites.
Most of all though I felt very much at home in this place. Cali is a bit like Dhaka, Bangladesh. There are distinct pockets of wealth and there are the poorer neighborhoods. The architectural style of the posh areas resembles that of Dhaka – clean cut square looking buildings, painted mostly in white with a smattering of red brick every now and then. And the streets of Cali were a mess, just like Dhaka. The sidewalk would end abruptly as you were walking along. The weather was very tropical, similar to Dhaka, adding to a sense of familiarity.
I enjoyed these lazy Cali days immensely and many a time I would just sit by the balcony of the Pajara Pinta with a cold Club Colombia or Poker, writing away. Inspired by this fabulous city, hands down my favorite in Colombia.
Mid-July after two weeks in Cali I heard the beach calling and I headed to the Carribean island of San Andres. Still Colombian territory. I would be there for a week. I was lucky. The day after I got there Bastien was coming to San Andres from Providencia (another island that’s part of the San Andres archipelago)!
We would have one more night of revelry together! It was a pivotal moment in his journey as he was leaving for Paris the next day. It was the end of a year of self discovery for him. I was but 6 weeks into mine! We spent the evening talking late into the night by the beach. A few Club Colombias in hand. It was good to check in with each other. From Antarctica to the Lost City of the Tayrona … and now by the Caribbean paradise of San Andres.
The next morning we got up early, just as we did on the MS Expedition in Antarctica, and we did yoga. What a privilege, to seal off Bastien’s year of travels with yoga.
After Bastien’s departure I spent several days lounging around the beaches of San Andres. One day I went out on a sailboat excursion. It was amazing. It turned out to be a series of sailboats pulled through the water by a motorized boat. But the seas were amazing – El Mar De Siete Colores (the Seas of Seven Colors).
And my friend Cindy from Cali flew out to join me for my last few days. So that was an added treat! We went on the Aquario tour – a tour of Johnny Cay, Rose Cay & Haynes Cay Islands which includes a natural aquarium – some of the best snorkeling ever.
It was the perfect R&R right before my flight to Argentina on July 22nd. I was just as excited to be going to Buenos Aires, my home away from home…but Cali was tugging at my heart.
Would I be back soon? Watch out for the next post to find out 😉