Yatra 2015 Recap/Observations

First, this is the best money I ever spent. I am glad that I was able to afford it, I would not call it a vacation even though I enjoyed it tremendously and I made some purchases. I feel like this was actually kind of one of the highlights in my life so far. Nowhere does it say that learning and growing cannot happen between moments of austerity and levity, both permeated with corny dopey joy.

It was beyond wonderful to have this experience. India is a mother that hugs you so hard that you feel both the love and the tightness of the squeeze which makes it hard sometimes, but love is love. This land and it’s people felt like realizing you had long last relative you did not know you had. Robert Moses, Radha Kunda Das, and their crew are  among some of the most selfless enjoyable and stable people that I have ever met. I found so much back story and context for what I have been trying to do through practicing Ashtanga. And I found it here, through Robert, Sharath, Eddie, and the people and places they introduced us to. I found great peace being in Sharath’s and Saraswati’s presence. I don’t  just mean at practice or during conference. I know how it sounds but there you have it. 

I will say though that a Yatra or any other endeavor with 155 people is rather nutty. The logistics of feeding, guiding, transporting, and housing a group this size is unecessarily insane. I criticize with admiration, since they pulled it of with only one un preventable accident with a good ending.

I came to realize that even though yoga is a healing modality it is not a vaccine for bad behavior. I will repeat that I met the most joyful, loving, and equanimous people in this huge group. I also met a couple of the most careless conflict loving, racist and bigoted assholes ever, and I’ve been around. The mean and angry one knew every single chant by heart, and the racist bigot carried the Gita. Go figure. This unfortunately is the last sentence on this blog. Thank you so much for reading.

Wrong Preparations

I wasted my time preparing for Delhi belly, how to avoid stepping on shit, wondering if I’d remember how to cross a street were traffic doesn’t stop, and other sorts of nonsense that I came totally unprepared for the strong emotions that being on Yatra would bring. I dissolved into glad tears with no origin I can place several times yesterday. I was also unprepared for the kindness and generosity of the people of this land. I don’t want it to sound like mumbo jumbo, but I do feel familiarity with this landscape and i’ts environment. Not in the I’ve lived here before sense, but in the sense that this was the landscape of my childhood when we would travel to the country side, but not just. I still got it when it comes to crossing  the street with ongoing non stop traffic.     Oh, group practice? Lousy yesterday because like a fool I turned on the AC so high I woke up with a sore throught. This morning I woke up reluctantly for a 5 AM practice before we leave on a 7 hour bus trip, when I thought, wait a minute! I already practiced 6 days this week. So here I am maybe writing my last post before no wifi. 

P.S. The current in the Ganges is strong, the water freezing icy cold, and I will be doing it again my friend Marco and his partner up river.

Fun at The Lemon Tree

My roommate Annika is younger than my daughter. The hotel will only give us one room card so we have to share it. We are getting along famously and everyone I’ve met is awesome interesting and friendly. So glad to meet up with Michelle and we have chit chatted for hours! The group is big and it is going to get even bigger. Somehow tomorrow we are all marching out of here on foot with luggage and will get on the metro and exit on the same stop to the Delhi train station. I laugh every time I think about it. I have residual NYC public school teacher School Trip on the subway PTSD because I cannot stop thinking about leaving someone behind. It will be so nice to practice with others tomorrow morning.


Neiva,Colombia and HCMC/Saigon are way hotter than Delhi. Per my pal Kristen’s advice I hired a driver for the day and went everywhere! Thanks K. I was “upgraded to a ladies only floor at the ITC and there is a female security guard by the elevator at all times. There is also a complimentary cocktail hour so guess where I am right now? Did a little shopping and I will enjoy Bhukara tonight. P.S. Did my practice on the marble foyer of my room this morning, where I also discovered a thigh master and a min stair master in the closet! #ladiesfloor


So my friend Tony shared the new KPJAYI rule for admission to the main shala. The update is here. I was raised in culture where finding away around the rule was a sign of ingenuity with a  small  tiny smidgen stain of dishonesty. In other words an unattended farm stand on the road with can to leave payment would never work in Colombia, at least while I lived there. So my question is, how is that going to be verified/enforced?? Also, like her brother Manju, is Saraswati on the authorized list? If she is, then stay for 3 months! (okay I’m kidding) I actually think Saraswati should be able to grant certification as well. I don’t think the rule is bad for anyone with a sincere yoga practice. But it becomes the source of a status symbol for those with overactive, overexcitable Type A tendencies. My teacher is not authorized. She has a 20 year old daily practice, with some trips to Mysore before Guruji passed. I and most of her students would be delighted to study with Sharath’s Mom.


I lost my cousin Vivianne today. She was sick with lung cancer so I feel relief for her. I also feel fragile because as some of you know, cousins are your first playmates so death feels really real when it starts to happen to people whose face you have known  and recall at age 4, 8,12, 20 and 40. Our parents and their parents were already grown ups- their images change less in our minds. My mom and her two sisters had two daughters each. I am my mom’s oldest. I’ve been an old hippie since I was 12, and am now a yogi. My younger sister is a private banker. My cousin Martha is a Buddhist nun. She is the oldest in her family. Her younger sister runs a construction company. Vivianne was the oldest in her family. She was  a shaman and a healer. She saw things that we found fantastic and scary when we were little, but we asked her to tell us more even if we were pretty spooked. Her younger sister is an insurance agent.

Asking for A Friend

Not really. I had a small spontaneous party with like minded friends and neighbors which justified some huevos rancheros and a Bloody Mary around 11 AM. I had been looking forward (my piriformis in particular) to a castor oil bath, so I googled castor oil bath while hungover. Well wouldn’t you know that castor oil with a few tweaks is actually a hangover cure??? De nada, you few retrograde Ashtangis! Hahahaha.

Choir Preaching

If you are interested in reading things related to ashtanga, this is probably in your mail box too, waiting to be read or maybe you already read. I love blog entries with perfect timing. Reading this one feels as good as tiger balm or a salt bath if you are presently sore, or it can replicate the feeling of a practice that was enjoyed. I will also say perfect timing because doing your practice will never make the things that are wrong in society worse, or make your personal challenges and relationships deteriorate even more. Doing a practice is either neutral or beneficial. Will it make you feel  intense things? You know the answer to that. Your feelings and mine are not what defines when yoga is good or when it is bad. yoga is the ocean, You either have a difficult swim, a rough sail, or it was so calm that you could not surf.  It  just sounds weird and a bit silly to say that the ocean is bad because one of those things happened to you, but people have no problem saying yoga is bad when it is problematic. It is okay not to go in deep or far or for a long period, when the waves are too rough for you and you are not feeling your best. Or when the people playing in the ocean around you are horsing around and ruining it for you. It is another thing to say that you do not feel your best because the ocean is rough and the people in it are being annoying. This is not what Zoe is really talking about, but I thought I’d throw that in. I loved that her post applied to people who will never see second as well as to people rocking advanced A and B.