Iguanas in the Audiance

Looking out over the ocean, the waves crashing lazily on the sandy beach, I did my Ashtanga practice this morning to a chorus of doves and songbirds. I rolled out my mat before the sun came up and as the day brighten and warmed, I watched as several giant iguanas emerged from the bushes to bask in the warm sun. By the time I finished my sitting series I counted six of them staring at me, their orange and green scales almost glowing in the sunlight.

I’m at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay in Mazatlan, Mexico. Karen and I left the ship in Colon City, Panama early yesterday morning (5:30 to be exact) and drove an hour and a half to the airport. We had a flight from Panama City to Mexico City, then a short layover and another flight in a small plane to Mazatlan. As we were flying into Mazatlan, the sun was just beginning to set over the Pacific Ocean, turning the water and clouds bright gold. It was beautiful.

In a last minute decision, Karen and I decided to rent a car for the week so we could explore the area and not be confined to the resort (that Nonny and Granda graciously offered us) where we would be staying. Map in hand, we loaded our luggage into the trunk and sped away toward Emerald Bay. The map was straightforward, but I should have known that Mexico is not. I wouldn’t say we got lost, exactly (it’s hard to get lost when the ocean is right in front of you) but we definitely didn’t go the way we were shown on the map. We had our own little private tour of the outskirts of Mazatlan. But, eventually we made it to our destination and stepped into the lobby of Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay. Let me say again, that I am not a resort person. But that said, I have been traveling throughout southeast Asia for two months and sleeping on my massage table for the past four weeks, so I have been looking forward to this for a long time. And it is by far the fanciest place I have ever stayed. There is a gigantic fish tank behind the reception and spouting fountains everywhere. The pools are beautiful and look right out over the ocean. Karen and I were shown to our room, which has its own kitchenette, balcony with lounge chairs, two comfortable queen beds, and a bathroom that is four times the size of my unit on the ship. I was in heaven. We dropped our bags (or rather the porter dropped our bags) and went in search of some dinner. There are thee places to eat in this massive complex and we chose the a la carte bistro. We shared a plate of nachos and chili rellanos, both of which were gigantic (and excellent), so it was good we decided to share. Exhausted, we walked back to our room, checked emails, then fell into bed.

We haven’t made many plans for the week, but I’m sure we’ll find some adventures as well as relaxation time on the beach. Today we need to do some errands, like shop for food so we can cook in our kitchen and I need to figure out how I’m getting to La Paz at the end of the week where I’ll be meeting the Sea Bird.

Learning Chakrasana and Practicing Forward Jump

We’ve been focusing a lot on each individual pose of the Ashtanga Primary Series in class and I’m slowly beginning to see improvements in my own practice. Today we went over Chakrasana, or backward somersault. Everyone had a turn at the front of the room with one-on-one help from Paul. It was a little intimidating, but very helpful. After class I also spent some time practicing forward jump, which Aoy, a friend from Bangkok, recorded. I included it at the end of the blog, so you can see what I’m spending 3 hours + of my day doing!

As for everything else,I think everyone is settling into the schedule and place. We’re becoming more relaxed and getting to know each other better. We had a free night a few days ago, so we watched The Fountain in the lounge area. It’s a good movie, but quite eclectic and mind-bending. On our (minimal) time off we go swimming in the pool or ocean, sweat in the steam room, study, and eat at the amazing buffet. One of my favorite (non-buffet items) is a fresh coconut, served with spoon and straw. First you drink the coconut water, then scoop out the meat. So delicious and all for $1.25! I’ve learned that coconuts are amazingly good for you, even though they’re high in fat. The oil helps fight diseases and viruses (including HIV), lowers the risk for heart disease, reduces cholesterol, aids in weight loss, among other feats. So eat lots of coconut!

Thats it for now… We have a day off on saturday, so hopefully I’ll be able to get out and see the island a bit!

PS – If you want to watch a really good movie about food and our food industry, check out Real Food. It’s very good!

The Yamas and Nyamas

I have a new blog! Check out my biking stories around the world at Two Wheeled Wanderer

Part of my yoga teacher training is learning yoga philosophy and so far we’ve learned some pretty interesting and useful things. My favorite topics are the yamas and nyamas – the first two subjects on the Ashtanga yoga eight limb path (yes, yoga is not all about the poses and looking good). The yamas are internal observations, or guidelines, and the nyamas are external observations that one should live by. Sort of like the ten commandments. I thought I’d share them with you since they make so much sense to me.

1. Ahimsa – Non-harming and non-violence to yourself and to others. This includes lack of action as well as action and refers to both physical and mental harm.
2. Satya – Truthfulness and honesty to yourself and to others. Don’t try to manipulate or cheat and be faithful to those around you. You can’t be both honest and deceitful.
3. Asteya – Non-stealing, non-greed, and non-jealousy. Earn your things and be respectful to other peoples property.
4. Brahmacharya – Respect the forces that make up your life. When your energies are depleted (sex is the most powerful drainer), your practice (or focus) becomes loose.
5. Aparigraha – Don’t take anything that is not needed and share what you have with others. Too much stuff clutters the mind, so only take what is necessary. As my teacher says, “half the world is hungry, and half the world is wasting.”

1. Saucha – Natural cleanliness and purity of the mind and body. Take care of yourself inwardly and outwardly. Be comfortable with who you are.
2. Santosha – Contentment with what you have (remember Aparigraha!) This is a settled feeling inside that does not depend on external things (like material goods, school, work, even friends and family). It also implies a sense of maturity and growth. Allow the outcome to be the outcome.
3. Tapas – Austerity with contentment. You don’t need to live in a cave and eat rice every day, but don’t be extravagant either. My teacher explains tapas as “reduction to an absence of complaining” about real physical discomfort.
4. Svadhaya – Self-study. Watch, understand, and improve yourself by observation. This is a continual mindset, not just an occasional exercise. Keep an open mind and learn from you experiences. Another favorite quote from my teacher is “silence is the best answer.”
5. Isvara Pranidhana – Surrender yourself to the higher power. Have a willingness to accept whatever comes no matter the outcome and don’t be attached to the results. In other words, have faith that everything is as it should be.

I hope you can take something from these as I have. They’re good guidelines to live by, but sometimes we get caught up in the details life and forget what is really important.