Monday, January 30, 2012


I will admit that I came to Los Angeles with some excitement regarding the abundance of yoga in "Rishikesh of the West," but the yoga scene here can be quite overwhelming. So many styles, so many teachers, so many studios, what's a yoga teacher/student to do?

Besides taking it an asana and a studio visit at a time, I have spent an unmentionable amount of time researching studios, styles, teachers, etc. Based on the information I have gathered I would like to propose a list of five necessary accomplishments for becoming a "famous" yoga instructor. That's obviously why I moved here, haha.

1. Have professional photography of you performing asana on a mountain or a beach or anywhere stunningly beautiful. We're not just talking any old forward fold either, it has to be either an arm balance or anything that makes you look freakishly flexible. You get extra points for less clothing, wearing mala beads and practicing whatever mudra makes you look the best.

2. Maximize your social media potential. You need at least all of the following: your own website, twitter account and facebook (personal and business). An optional, and  beneficial, extra is a youtube channel with instructional asana videos. Even just taking a few minutes to explain and demonstrate how to get into pincha mayurasana will suffice. Remember, less is not more in this case, and don't worry, the slight inflation of the ego is just a small sacrifice for reaching out to more students.

3. Be innovative and patent. Be innovative and patent. Be innovative and patent. I am sure you are the only person in the history of yoga who has practiced such and such. The more creative you get in this process the better; I would offer examples but of course I'm saving those for myself. 

4. Be part of a teacher training program or better yet, lead it yourself. This gives you more credibility and feeds your soul (and your bank account). Bonus dollars are awarded for leading this teacher training somewhere exotic, like Bali or the moon if that is a feasible option for you.

5. Get endorsed. It's preferable that this endorsement come from an eco friendly yoga clothing line or any other yoga related companies that sell props, mats, etc. Students want to know that you are 'living' yoga, which is reflected in your clothing, obviously. Well, clothing and what you eat, so a vegan gluten free raw diet is best. It's just good PR.

*Disclaimer: None of these will insure that you are actually a good teacher. ~namaste~

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Story of the Rings

Thomas left the states less than a week ago, which was only a week or so after we made the journey from Kansas to Los Angeles (Whittier to be more exact).  You would think that after nearly three years of various long distance patches (and hundreds of hours on skype) that the process of separation would be easier by now, but it doesn't really work like that.  Don't get me wrong, we handle it more maturely now than we did even a year ago, but the initial separation is still comparable to being punched in the stomach.  Well, I've never actually been punched in the stomach, so I guess I can't say, but you get the idea.  The worst part is that you know it's coming and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  Let me not digress too far in the "long distance" direction.

The good news of course is that we are on the home stretch of the long distance race, and the closer it gets to April the more excited I am to be getting married.  I know, I usually don't share things like that.  However, seeing as we're basically eloping, against the wishes of family and friends, I thought sharing some more personal details through social media would make up for it.  In case you didn't catch the sarcasm, I do realize that is a ridiculous proposal.  I'm very grateful for my understanding family and friends and their willingness to be respectful and supportive of our decision.

On that note, what I really want to share with all of you today is the story of our wedding rings.  I didn't want an engagement ring, which basically meant that I had to explain that again and again as people glanced at my left ring finger after hearing the good news.  I'll admit that it was mildly entertaining to see people's reactions.  Thomas and I knew that we wanted similar or somehow related wedding rings that were preferably hand crafted.  I suppose sometime last Spring we unconsciously put that particular intention out, but we never did any actual shopping around.

Fast forward to my time in India, where I'm feeling all "in line with the universe," where a vedic astrologer suggested that I wear a blue sapphire, where handcrafted fine jewelry is considerably cheaper than the west.  With these considerations, the idea of buying our wedding rings in India planted itself in my mind.  

I started looking around for local jewelers and ended up meeting a very interesting Indian jeweler named Om.  I made the effort to meet with him various times to talk about the price, design, etc., always over a cup of chai.  I started looking at the blue sapphires he had to offer, thanks to the astrologer bringing it to my attention but not really for the healing properties that he recommended.  As a side note, for that you have to buy a certain size based on your weight, the stone has to be touching your skin and you have to wear the stone on your arm for a few days to make sure it brings you good fortune, then it's made into a ring and on a certain day of the week you can start wearing it.  Anyway, to my surprise, I found one that I really liked even though I initially didn't imagine my wedding ring having any stone.

Thomas and I talked about it and decided to go for it.  I was hesitant at first, but I ultimately saw it as an opportunity to put what I was learning into practice by maintaining a sense of detachment from the outcome. So off to the ATM I went, which was somewhat risky considering I gave Om half the total, but I had met with him enough to trust him.  When he went MIA a few days later, I had a blink of a panic, but his friend next door kindly explained that Om had gone to his home village for a festival and would be returning the next day.  He did of course, we chatted briefly and he told me that the rings would be ready on Saturday.  That wasn't ideal, since I was leaving Rishikesh on Sunday, but he assured me that the rings were being made "shanti shanti" by the best local craftsmen.

As it turns out, they were made "shanti shanti" but Om and the craftsmen had a misunderstanding regarding the size.  Initially, when I went to pick them up on Saturday they were both my size.  Another blink of panic, more like a moment this time, and then Om assured me that it would be easily fixed by the time I left Sunday afternoon.  

Same size rings, Om in the background
I returned Sunday afternoon and only hours before leaving Rishikesh, I had both rings in the right size in my possession.  They are unique rings, and it doesn't bother me at all that the band is a little thicker than I wanted or whatever other small details didn't match my expectations.  Sometimes our expectations don't serve us well, and as long as we understand that we are free to not be "disappointed" by outcomes.  After all, it's just a ring.  I think we could all agree that although it's a nice outward symbol of love and commitment, it's only what's going on inside that really gives it meaning.  Try as we might to express love externally through material items, words and actions, can we ever really capture it's essence?  Maybe the best way to express love is not expression at all, but simply experiencing it.