10 February 2016

Why Be Miserable When You Can Be Happy?

As I write this, I’m sitting under a mosquito net with a sunburn on my back. I’m sharing my beach hut with countless spiders, and I have another extremely long day tomorrow (7-9:15: Mantra, meditation, asana; 9:15-11: Yoga sutras over breakfast; 11-1: Anatomy and adjustments, 1-3: Break to eat lunch and study for tomorrow’s homework, 3-4:15 Vinyassa Yoga; 4:15-7: Break to study more and pick up laundry; 7-8:30 Restorative yoga; 8:30-10 p.m. Dinner and yoga discussion on yama and niyama) -


So many of us get stuck. We think routines and unhappiness are normal. We think forgetting our dreams is the norm. We think about placing the Fresh Direct order, how to carefully chop organic cilantro, about filling my bike tires with air before bike commuting to a job that undervalues us, about picking up groceries, about paying the bills on top and Burning Man once a year and suffering the rest of the year.

Really, life shouldn’t be like that.

I got super comfortable in my content routines: ultrarunning, the gym, amazing yoga, reading library books, working at home, my CSA, my cats, and of course, Wayne.

But what about where I wasn’t content? Where I wasn’t comfortable? Why was I putting up with that?

I’m so eternally grateful that I left a job that didn’t value me or develop me or invest in me. I was heartbroken at leaving because I believed in it, and in me, but eventually, like any relationship, one person can’t do all the work. One person had to leave.

It took me a while to get the groove of my trip - but now I’m here. And I’m at the best part.

I want to teach yoga. I love learning about yoga all day. I love geeking out and discussing the yoga sutras with other yoga geeks. I love trying to perfect my asanas. I love waking up on the beach, in a culture where creativity and dreams and art and culture are encouraged. I love being valued. I love being intrigued. I love being stretched, being pushed, being opened, and experiencing the adventures.

It was far too long where I wasn’t having intellectual discussions, I wasn’t being challenged, I wasn’t being let to grow.

If you’re unhappy and holding back because of fear, please don’t. I was so scared for so long.

My life is so very different now. It’s full of adventure, exciting, fun, and yogalove. I’m learning about myself, yoga, and the world. I forgot how amazing it feels to be happy.

I thought being miserable was the norm.

Don’t settle. There’s more to life than this.

09 February 2016

Hampi: Backpackers' Paradise/Ghetto

As I'm writing this on my last few hours in Hampi, I'm looking at the river, some ruins, a temple, and am getting eaten alive by bugs. Good times here.

I was urged by a coworker to go to Hampi. She found it so magical. I think it's a special place, but I didn't fall in love the way some did. I stayed on Hampi Island, which is a backpackers' paradise or ghetto, depending on how you look at it. There are tons of Israelis and lots of partying - despite the fact that you're not supposed to drink here, I saw heaps of people drinking, and smelled lots and lots of weed - definitely one of my least favorite things to smell, so I wasn't too thrilled about that. But there's lots of great ruins to see, yoga, reiki, chill restaurants to relax with a fresh juice or a lassi.

I arrived after the night train from Mysore, my first night train so far. The journey itself wasn't that horrible, but I woke up a million times. What time is it? Did I miss my stop? Is my stuff all here? Is my purse hidden under the sheet and around my body still? Then I took a rickshaw to the boat, waited for the boat, and then walked until I found my guesthouse.

I got a cup of chai (caffeine desperately needed) and then ordered breakfast. While eating, an Argentinian guy came in and said he was going on a bike tour of the ruins. That sounded rad. I invited myself, and Patricio and I were soon off in the heat. I barely had time to pee and change my clothes.

We met at the temple and then began a super hot journey. The guide kinda sucked, but the ruins were great. We took lots of photos, learned a little bit. Then we split from the guide and Patricio and I biked to Vikkela Temple and saw a few other ruins. It was past one and the sun was blazing and we ran out of water. Eventually we found more, but it got to the point where we were like, "Oh, there are some more ruins..." and would bike in the pursuit of water.

Back at the guesthouse, I took a bucket shower and felt way better.

And then Patricio saw me as I was heading out to yoga. He joined me at Funky Monkey, where we did yoga outside. The bugs were awful (they're terrible in Hampi; it's humid and on a river) so savassana was a bit difficult. Then we got food at the hostel and hung out.

Many guesthouses in Hampi show movies at 730pm; I opted instead to chat with Eden, Bird, and Campbell. I told them about quitting my job, the fear I had had, how unhappy I had been, the struggles with my trip. We shared secrets and talked about life challenges. The kind of amazingly personal thing you can find oh-so-quickly while backpacking (or ultrarunning or at Burning Man).

The next day, I got up early. The electricity was out, again. (I later learned it’s turned off every day from 6-7 a.m. and p.m., those times being rough estimates - it’s often quite a bit longer.) I went to an ashtanga yoga class, and then talked to a swami (later, he became MY swami) about doing Reiki Training. I went back to take a bucket shower, eat, and then, did Reiki Training.

I’ve had an interest in reiki for a while. I attend a bunch of yoga classes where it’s offered during restorative asanas, and I thought it might be a good skill to have if I wanted ot teach yoga. So why not learn it? I love the idea of learning to harness the power of energy.

I spent most of the next days days in Reiki Training; learning the history; the process; the practical and the theory. Swami was an interesting man who lives here only in the coldest months (and right now, it is NOT cold….I am a sweaty mess!); his ashram is near Agra, and he’s there from March-November.

It’s hard to explain; I guess I’ve always noticed energy and wasn’t sure how to use it. I’m excited to learn how to harness it to heal, but I still have more work to go. I’m hoping to study Level II somewhere else in India...perhaps in Arambol or in Varkala. And then maybe master level, someday?

Then I went and did more ashtanga yoga, and sweated like crazy through the Primary Series. Barbara would be proud at how well I’m jumping back!

My days were filled with reiki, yoga, fresh juices, walking around, lazy chats, writing.

I’m not in love with Hampi, but I’ve certainly enjoyed my time, and am excited about my new Reiki knowledge. I’m getting eaten alive by bugs, so I’m ready to move on.

04 February 2016

Travel Is My Job

I’ve struggled on this trip: I’m suddenly unemployed (How freaking scary!), my life feels pointless (What is the point of travel anyway?) and full of lots of inconveniences (rickshaw drivers trying to rip me off, delayed buses and flights and trains, the smell of burning trash, my ATM card not always working….), and confused if I’ve made the right decision.
Well, I have. It was good I quit my job and came to India.
Here’s how I finally came to that decision.

First of all - I was so unhappy at work. It was making me sick. Despite trying to change my situation, I just could not. No matter what I did, nothing changed. It got worse. And I felt worse. The reality is: if I had stayed, things would continue getting worse. I needed to leave to be happy.

When I was at the amazing five-star brunch with Barbara, Henrik, and Jen, I was overwhelmed by all of the food. “OMG, this all looks so amazing. How can I possibly eat it all?”
And somehow, a voice popped into my head. “Cherie, your job is to eat. You will eat. This is your job.”
And I did. I ate a lot. Because when something is your job, you take it seriously.
I realized, for now, travel is my job. My job is to see cool places and do lots and lots of yoga and write a lot. My job is to live my dreams. My job is to figure my life out. (I realized I WANT to write as a career; I’m not sure how, other than the small freelance jobs I’ve been getting….) My job is to meet amazing people. My job is to try tons of different food and eat lots of amazingly delicious food.

When I went to my guru, she said a few amazing things:
“Use your potential in the best possible manner.”
“Don’t regret your decisions. Everything is an opportunity.”
“We are born and we die. There is a gap in the middle called life.”
“Be positive.”
I realized I need to focus on sorting things out, relaxing, calming my mind, being happy, living life for me. I can’t live a miserable life. It just sucks too bad.
I need to stop living in the past. It was good I left a job that did not treat me life. I will have the space to curate my future.

When I went to the acunpuncturist (and this was what really pushed me), she said to me, “You’re unhappy.” And I said, “I’m not. But I was. I was very unahppy and I quit my job becuase of it and now I’m here.” But I realized my unhappiness was lingering and I couldn’t move on. So now I’m moving on and my unhappiness is lifting and there’s a bright, amazing future ahead of me. I couldn’t be happier!

I’m happy traveling. I miss everything back home, but less so. I know I’ll have moments, but for now, I’m enjoying life on the road. I’m enjoying meeting new people, taking tons of different yoga classes, write, see cool stuff, eat amazing food. I’m not going to do every single tourist attraction there is because duh, I want to also write and get to know myself and not feel like I’m rushing. I want to do reiki 1 if I can. I want to learn about myself, about life, and about the cosmos. I want to learn and live and be - and I want to be my happy self.

So here I am - a bit transformed, and all the much better for it!

Next stop - Hampi and happiness beyond!

Mysore: Not Enough Time in This Peaceful City

Okay, so yogic isn’t probably a word, but whatever, it’s filled with yogis and oh-so fun.
I arrirved in Hostel Zostel in Mysore, a hostel with a great vibe, lots of nice chill spaces, fast wifi, and a location close to some great tourist spots and dosi places.
After arrived, I grabbed my mat and headed out to yoga. There was Iyengar yoga at Mystic Yoga and I didn’t want to miss it. I explored Gokalum for a bit; it’s the part of town where the ashrams, yogis, and thus, Westerners are! There are lots of great shops and cafes and tons of yoga studios. Most of the studios require a month commitment, but Mystic does drop-in.
After yoga (I left a bit early), I head to the acupuncturist. She worked on my foot, but also some other stuff. She gave me some secret exercises to help my asthma, endo, and she also said my heart and kidneys were weak. I’ll try them. I’ll try anything.
The needles didn’t hurt that much, but my PT in Mumbai swore she was brilliant and she said she could definitely help me in a day. We’ll see.
At one point she said to me, “You’re unhappy.” She could somehow tell in my pulse.
I shook my head. “I’m not unhappy, but...I was really unhappy. My job made me so miserable and unhappy. I felt awful all the time. So I quit and now I’m here.”
I realized that my unhappiness was lingering; I didn’t know how to let go. I needed to do that. I’ve begun that process, of learning to be happy where I am at the present moment.  I needed to let go of the misery, of the stress, of living like I used to. I don’t need to live like that anymore. No one should live like that. I am here now. I will enjoy this now.
I almost started crying in there.
The rickshaw raced me back across the city and at my hostel, I learned where the amazing dosa place was. I ate three. The crepes were so similar to pancakes, I might have wept.
Three dosas for 100 rupees. (I didn’t have lunch!) (69 rupees=1USD)
At the hostel, there was great electronic music and hula hooping. So fun. I hung around, emailed, tried to do a bit of trip planning. I kind of know what I want to do, but I need to start making some plans for post-yoga training, post-Wayne.
I stayed up late because I wanted to be tired and ready to sleep for my overnight train to Hampi. I woke up at 5am, took a shower in a dribble of water (either boiling hot or freezing cold - I already miss Barbara and Henrik’s amazing shower!), and then headed to Iyengar yoga. My cabbie of course didn’t know where he was going, and as usual wouldn’t listen to me, but we got there, barely. FIrst was Iyengar, and immediately after I went to ashtanga. I did most of the primary series, though none of the inversions because it’s that time.
Then I went back to the hostel, cleaned up a bit (I did sweat) with some cold water, and ate breakfast at the hostel. Then I headed over to the Palace, but it was closed until 11, so I went to a market and had some bargaining fun over lots of bracelets. (Hey, Wayne, can you hang those hooks I wanted in the bathroom for bracelets? But make a lot more...I’ve been in India for a while now, teehee!) Then back to the Palace, which was nice, but no photos inside (and it was gorg in there, too bad!).
But hours left….what to do? I hopped in a cab back to Gokalum. I ended up chatting with an Aussie married to an Indian for a while. We drank coconut waters and ate the insides while we talked about love and life and traveling. She told me it was brave and wonderful I quit my job. Thanks. I love hearing that because I was so unsure for so long; so many people on this trip have applauded me.
Then I got lunch at a cute cafe and had an amazing smoothie with figs and dates and bananas and avocado and some other stuff. Yum. I had some food too, but the smoothie rocked. I chatted with the yogi next to me who is a teacher and just completed her 500 hour teaching. We talked about yoga, about teaching, about love and life. She was pretty awesome and I’m psyched we connected on Facebook.
After I found some amazing shops - Sadhu’s Shoppe, The SIlver Nest, and some other shops. I haven’t gone crazy in India, but um, now I did. I bought bags, shirts, pants, skirts….a lot of great stuff. I’m excited to have some new things to wear, but it will be a PIA. I had to email Wayne asking him to bring an extra bag. Yeah, plus all the books I bought, and my blanket, and I have extra books coming for the yoga training….
Then, I grabbed another smoothie at the great cafe, ended up talking with a girl from New York who was studying ashtanga yoga, and a guy who worked at the cafe who had lived in NYC for a few years. Nice.

And then, back to the hostel and then to an overnight train to Hospet!

03 February 2016

Bangalore: A Place to Rejuvenate

So if you’ve been to Bangalore, you might be thinking, “What the hell was Cherie on that she finds Bangalore a place to rejuvenate?” Well, if you had good friends there, you might see it in that very way.
I met Barbara and Henrik in Mexico when I was supposed to run Caballo Blanco last March; we bonded over being vegetarians and cooked most of our meals together. They came to New York in April, and everything was crazy and last-minute that we ended up meeting for breakfast on a weekday at Egg in Williamsburg.
So when I first thought about doing yoga training in India, I began messaging Barbara (who had done ashtanga yoga teacher training two years prior). Though they’re Danish, they’re expats living in India. They’ve lived the expat life for 12 years now, living in Japan, Bangaldesh, Brazil, India another time, and maybe someplace else that I’m missing. Because Barbara can’t work on her visa, she gets to do awesome stuff like travel, study yoga, practice yoga all the time. She has a yoga room. I am so envious. And Henrik gets great heat training in India for his races; he’s thinking of doing Badwater next year.
So even though Bangalore didn’t sound like the most exciting place in India, I decided I’d visit to hang out with them. As my trip went on, the moving around from place to place, staying at dubiously clean hostels/guesthouses with limited hot water and not enough toilet paper really got to me. The people in India can be really wonderful, but then sometimes, people are rude, shoving, traffic is crazy, taxi drivers won’t stop ripping you off, the tourist sights can be disappointing or long lines or you pay 500 rupees with Indians pay 10 rupees….it’s tough. So I asked Barbara and Henrik if I could visit for a few days; they said sure, but Barbara told me that Bangalore wasn’t that touristy and four days might be a bit much and she was really busy. I basically said I was needing a place to chill for a few days and I could amuse myself. So she said, great, come on over.
I flew in and then proceeded to get stuck in an hour and half of traffic on the way to their house. That’s Bangalore’s signature characteristic: tons and tons of traffic. I peered out the window at the traffic. Ugh. I went back to reading my book on my Kindle instead.
When I arrived, Henrik was getting ready for yet another business trip and Barbara had just gotten home from yoga. They quickly set me up with wifi and we relaxed with tea for a little while. Nice. Then Henrik left and Barbara and I walked around. We had lunch, looked at some spots I could do yoga (She does it in an asthanga place where most of the classes require a 30 day commitment.), walked around a neat park and talked and had chai, went to this amazing bookshop, Blossoms, by her house, where I went in to buy one yoga book for my training program and came out with four yoga books. But I really will use them all, and they were SO cheap. Um, but, um, now my bag is way overstuffed. I had to email Wayne to bring another bag.
The next few days were lovely. I woke up and did yoga in Barbara’s yoga room; I used Henrik’s running stuff for PT exercises; I went to yoga at a studio by their house; I wrote while Barbara studied Sanskrit or caught up; we went to Yogistaan, a wonderful cafe with an amazing vibe and lots of different kinds of chai; we cooked together; their driver, Suresh, took me to the toursist spots (two art museums, neither of which are necessarily worth writing home about, and the botanical gardens).
As I rejoined the world of regular normal hot showers and clean quiet spaces (Their neighborhood has a lot of expats and everyone in their building is British but them.), it felt very Western. And wonderful. Sure, we’d eat dosas at night, but I had toilet paper too! And fast internet! I slowly recovered from travel overload.
I was supposed to leave on Sunday; Barbara suggested I stay until Monday as Suresh was driving her to Mysore that day and I’d get a comfortable ride in. I wanted to spend more time in Mysore than jsut two days, so I said no.
On Saturday, Barbara emailed a yoga guru and asked her if we could attend a chanting session on Sunday. She informed Barbara that we’d need to meet with her for a one-on-one first; Barbara asked if I wanted to go, and I said, “I guess. I don’t know. What am I doing? Yes.”
Basically, that’s my attitude a lot of the times here. I don’t know what I’m eating or what I’m doing, but yes, please. As long as it’s veg and no onions, I’ll be into it.
So I went to Samita’s house. We had yoga therapy. She had me lie down in savassana, and did a regulated breathing (4 to inhale while chanting om, 3 to exhale while chanting om), and then she took my pulse.
We talked about a lot. Some of it is too personal to put here, but basically, she picked up on how I take on too much. We talked about my inability to make and respect my decisions, and how I need to stop questioning what I’ve done and simply accept it and see it as an opportunity.
We talked so much. And then two hours had passed. She told me to come see her in the morning. I meekly responded, “Yes.”
I texted Barbara, “Just wow. On my way back.”
We went out for dosas.
“So what happened?”
“I’m not really sure.”
“But your’e going back?”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
And I didn’t. But I needed to find out answers.
I realized I was needing to figure out a lot of stuff in my life. Things felt really messed up and I was definitely too far to figure everything out right away. I needed prioritize, I needed to deal with some issues, and I needed to heal myself. Oh, and professional help wouldn’t hurt.
The next morning, I went back to Samita. Instead of talking, we did a practice that she “prescribed” to me, a routine that I am to do. It will help calm me, relax me. And I think it’s just what I needed.
Immediately after, I hopped in the car and met Barbara, Henrik, and their awesome friend Jen from SF at Leela Palace. We were having brunch at a five star hotel. Yes, I’m a backpacker.
The meal was phenomenal. It was one of the best brunches I’ve had in my life. We filled out plates with salad, enjoyed as our wine was topped up without us having to ask, shared food. During the dessert portion, I filled a big plate with tons of desserts and we shared. Henrik also went up and got a follow-up plate to mine, selecting desserts I had missed. It was truly wonderful.
And we were drunk. Um, no bus to Mysore. I’d go in the morning.
Instead, we rested, then Jen and I took a walk and chatted around the neighborhood. Then we hung out some more, I wrote a bit, and we all went to bed.
In the morning, more ashtanga yoga with Barbara (I’m starting to like ashtanga, actually….) and then, Suresh, their driver, drove us to Mysore and I got dropped off directly in front of my hostel. Wonderful!