24 April 2017


Backpack Review: Trail 20 by Salomon

Since I've been run commuting a lot lately, I decided to get a bigger backpack for my runs. Running home usually requires a bag just big enough to store my outfit for the day, but running there requires space for work clothes, toiletries, towel, snacks, phone, work iPad, even snacks.

I bought the Salomon Trail 20 - I was mainly attracted by the large amount of space. Last week, I ran to work with way too many things - clothes, down jacket, jewelry, a thermos of oatmeal, a carton of yogurt, a muffin, a clementine, basically, the world. My back was so tired. When I got to work, I weighed myself. I was 13 or 14 more pounds than I normally was - that is how heavy my bag was.

But it held it all.

The waist clasps in two sections. I wish it would let it get a little tighter. One side has an open pocket. I've stored things like pens, sunglasses, iPods/headphones, gloves, hats, tissues, Kind bars, etc. Nothing has ever fallen out, but at the same time, you probably don't want to put something precious there. The other side has a zippered pocket. I usually keep my work ID, my metro card, my phone, and a zippered pouch of jewelry (paranoid I'll lose my grandma's jewelry if it is stored elsewhere.

The bag itself just really has one big compartment. There is a sleeve where I stick my Kindle and any papers, with a little pocket on the outside of that (where I have been putting my wallet). Then, it goes rather deep. You can really fit a lot more than you'd think. Sometimes, I'm doing the backpack version of sucking in your breath to zipper a dress. Only once did it pop open.

There is also a clasp along the chest. To counteract shifting and bouncing, I pulled this strap lower in the middle/below my chest, which is not super comfortable, but better than the bag bouncing.

​There are two large mesh pockets on the outside. I typically stuff plastic bags (for sweaty running clothes) and a thin tote bag in here. Sometimes I also shove the majority of my towel (and it stays that way until I get to work and pull it out). Once, I even ran with a thermos of chai. They are surprisingly sturdy, but I expect that through time, they'll become stretched out. But for the past three months, they've been pretty sturdy.

They don't have bungee cords like a lot of bags. I actually miss this quite often. (On my other packs, I tend to keep a safety pin on the straps, and then I can shove clothing, pin it in, and not worry about losing it.) This is one of the main negatives.

The other negative is that this doesn't exactly fit my frame. I am on the smaller side (in dress sizes in the US, I usually wear a 2 or a 4) - I have a narrow frame and short torso.​ This bag bounces and shifts. Because I got the bag in the winter, I didn't notice it quite so much as I had more layers on. Now, as summer is approaching, it's more noticeable and not so comfortable. 

I generally wash it fairly often - it doesn't hold the stink too much, but last week, when I ran four days in a row, I was fine wearing it home from work in a dress, but definitely washed it as soon as I got home.

Would I recommend this? If you have a slightly wider frame (I'm not talking fat even - more if you have broader shoulders than I do), you would find it more comfortable. While I miss the bungees, the infinite-seeming space in the bag is appreciated. And the mesh pockets are great.

For trail running or longer runs, this could definite accommodate a bladder. 

19 April 2017

Bombay, Bombay

So when people say, "Bombay," the generally mean "Mumbai," but none of my friends, not those that live there or elsewhere in India say Mumbai. Every time I did, they'd gently correct me, "Oh yes, in Bombay, they do have amazing restaurants." 

So Bombay.

I only had a super short visit here, but I planned on doing as much as I could.

I arrived at night, and basically, checked into my room and crashed. Or that was my intention. Instead, I arrived there, and room number one was noisy and the lock was broken on the door. Room number two smelled like cigarettes. Room number three I just accepted. The chain was broken, but the deadbolt worked, and they upgraded me to a fancy suite for my trouble. Oh well.

I crashed out completely, then woke up a few hours later to meet Amit for a run. The head of Unived, India's first running nutrition company, he's super friendly and interesting. His wife Monica, who I also met last visit, was in America for a visit. He complained of being sore and I told him how my goals were not to poop in my shorts, and we ended up running slow and easy and relaxing. We followed our run with some walking, and then got some coconut water to drink straight out to the coconut. Nothing more refreshing....

Then a shower (obviously) and food...And I went off to a yoga class. It was a fantastic traditional hatha class. I went to YogaCara last time I was in Bandra, and loved it. The teachers are excellent. It was probably one of the best classes I had been to: discussion and questioning and asana and the teacher was great. Ganesh is phenomenal, and so is Radhika.

After, I hopped in a taxi across to go to Colaba. I ended up buying a zillion more bangles that I had no business buying, and went to a bookstore to try to find a book I've been dying to read that I can't find in the US. No luck. 

Hopped back into a taxi and went back to Bandra....ahhh....had a quick shower in my room, dumped off my stuff, then got in a tuktuk to head over to Juhu to the ISKCON temple. Here I was at home, chanting, "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama." After chanting and watching for a while, a monk began chatting me up. He spoke excellent English and knew the Bhakti Center and was a student of Rahadnath Swami. We began talking abt his book and it was a pretty interesting conversation. He gave me some pamphlets and books and his email address (yes, Krishna monks have email addresses).

I had dinner after the buffet opened and the food was much more than I wanted, but pretty good. I needed less than normal because I had been so hungry that I indulged in two samosas before. Yum.

Another tuktuk back to my room....repack my bags, shower again, and omg, I have to leave for the airport in a few hours.

I slept fitfully and got up too early - and was off to a journey back home!

My heart feels like a part of it will always be in India. I know it's not for everyone, but it's for me, and I truly love it. I want to go back before I've even gone. And I constantly say, "Next time I'm in India...."


After a taxi, a wait, and a plane, I arrived at Coimbatore. I saw Ash almost as soon as I got off the plane - his flight had arrived a few minutes before mine. We had an excited hug in the airport, and I was excited to see that he had brought almost as much stuff as me. Ah, runners and their gear.

I hadn't packed as much stuff, because I didn't REALLY look at the weather until I was in Lonavla. Ash brought me a jacket and some extra long-sleeved shirts.

Coimbatore was hot. Humid. Ahhhh, India. I was melting already. We stopped by a friend's running shop, and it was cool to geek out and see all the Indian runners. The running community in India is SO incredibly welcoming and I would never have connected so much with India if it hadn't been for the runners. They are my favorite people.

We got food, and I'm proud to say we basically ate cheese for lunch. (File this under: reasons why I love Ash.) Then we drove to Ooty. I had it in my head that it was 30 minutes or so. Add 2 plus hours to that.

Still, it was fine. We caught up, laughed. I told him all about my yoga course and my job and then we got to our room. I was pretty tired after my long day (getting up at something stupid like 2am because of jet lag and an early flight) and then we just went out to eat, someplace "continental." I had actually been hoping for good Indian food - I had been so sick of all the boring ashram food, but this was amazing regardless.

The next few days were a blur. We drove around to different places - lakes, mountaintops, went running (my stomach was a wreck so the running was greatly reduced, sob sob), bought tea, ate paneer, watched running movies. It was just like hanging out with your best friend, only your best friend lives in another country, so you just chill and drink tea and talk.

I have to admit: I had a lump in my throat saying goodbye to Ash. He invited me in to his home and family and shared with me so much. If he lived closer, we would def hang out and run all the time. Now, I have to settle with rare occasions and WhatsApp.

18 April 2017

Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training in India

I had been wanting to do a prenatal yoga teacher training for a while, but had trouble finding one that would fit my schedule. And then - found this one at Kaivalyadhama Ashram in Lonavla, also known as Gandhi's ashram. But it wasn't really his ashram; it was just the ashram where his teacher was, and some actually say that Gandhi's ideas were his teachers. But a true guru shows the light within - and thus, Gandhi was merely shown the ideas he had in him all along. But, alas, I digress.

There were only eight women in my program, which meant for lots of time for all of us to ask questions, speak our mind, share, and get to know each other. I have heard of teacher trainings with 100, 200, more people in a yoga teacher training program. In my YTT200, we had five. I found that perfect. Everyone gets to share, grow, connect, explore.

In the program, there were five Indian women, a Russian woman living in Bahrain, a Romanian woman, and me. We all had our own styles, our own ideas, our own energy. The teacher was VERY theoretical - perhaps too theoretical. She was a yoga therapist, so came from quite a different background, but we all learned a ton.

Days were intense, as they typically are in these sorts of programs. 6:45 we began with a little chanting, meditation. We'd move into lecture or practice, depending on the day. There were guest speakers: Ayurveda doctors, Indian OB/GYNs, naturopaths, meditation instructors, chanting experts. It was nice to get the flavor of India...even though our teacher had lived in the US for 30 years.

There was also a yoga college at the ashram. The students seemed very focused, but at night, in there rooms, you'd hear them giggling as they chatted on their phones, hanging laundry washed in buckets on rickety rusty drying racks ready to soak up any sunlight that would hit them come daytime. There were also lots of people there for different courses. And some just came for "the rest." They would see Ayurveda doctors and practice yoga and eat the sattvic food.

Speaking of...I don't like sattvic food. I find far too often that it completely lacks flavor, food tends to be overcooked. I know, I know, some people love it and say it's great for you...but I was sad. The food in India was wonderful. My WhatsApp messages to Ash were full of complaints of the food.

Ashram life isn't for me. I'm more of a "study yoga on the beach in Goa." I don't want to party and drink and etc in Goa, but I like being around different things, like beach and bikinis. I was told by my classmates that I was "pushing" things by wearing leggings and tank tops. They didn't know that I really just wanted to wear my short shorts and sports bras because it was approximately 1000 degrees every single day.

One night, we all went to visit a local temple. It was amazing because my classmates were Hindu and taught me all about who each god/goddess was, why we were given certain Prasad, what the priests were saying...It kind of gave so much more meaning to everything. Pretty incredible.

After getting soaked with holy water, buying extra batches of the cookies they gave with Prasad, we went to the temple for dinner. For 100 rupees (about $1.30), we feasted like yogi queens. Everything was incredible, full of flavor, spices, even spiciness. I was in heaven.

Our final morning, we did a hike. It was beautiful and always special to be in India. There was a lovely view at the top, and then, we went to the cave where Guruji himself meditated. A lovely energy.

The last day was a typical ceremony of yoga in India: flowers, certificates, photographs, sweets. There was crying. The assistant was super sweet and told me, "You must come back! You must! You must! You are most welcome here in India!" We did a bit of crying and a lot of hugging.

And then we all went to the market. There was a flurrying in helping classmates arrange train tickets. I bought samosas for us to eat on the street. We bought random things: stainless steel plates and pitches and statues of Ganesha and armfuls of glass bangles and sweets we couldn't pronounce and grapes that tasted like nothing we ever had before. The chaos of the streets was a shock after being in the ashram for a week - and I loved it!

And then we went back to the ashram for one final dinner. I was so relieved to be leaving the next day, and eating delicious food w Ash. We all hugged each other and swore we would stay in touch...and for now, I must finish my final paper on Fertility Yoga.