journal

Rough Starting in 2024

This year has been challenging in a new kind of way.

Mostly, this is due to a client deciding that they were just not going to pay me for a contract. Right when I was finishing up. It was really disappointing, because I was building this awesome new shed and had finished the framing for the roof and the walls and brought out the metal sheeting for the roof and some concrete hardy board for the walls, both of which were very cool new outdoor building products from Texas. I was ready to make a masterpiece. Then this person just decided that they needed to cancel; no real reason.

I worked on this project for over a month. The whole thing sits on a massive French drain that I built one top of 6 large footings. The shed’s infrastructure came out pretty good in the end, once another guy came in a finished it for less money. Unfortunately, I have no recourse because I still don’t have my landscaping license; which is bullshit to begin with. This whole ordeal is making me rethink getting back into the landscaping industry.

Licensing Difficulties

Earlier in the year, I had applied for a new landscaping contractors license and I was supposed to test in October, but I wasn’t able to find a reference. The state also tried to force me to change my business name to include “landscaping”, which is kind of a silly overstepping of the government. These regulations are supposed to help people somehow? The state of California, seems especially intent on preventing smaller businesses from even starting. Food is controlled; medicine is controlled (and by the way, mushrooms are still schedule 1, same as heroine!), poison from big companies is allowed, everything seems to have been over stabilized because of the military industrial complex

s need to stabilize the economy to sustain growth. You can tell that this system which has entrenched itself into the court systems has no interest in the commonwealth. The infrastructure, roads, power lines, etc are deteriorating pretty badly. They are also very poorly planned, scheduled, and constructed. At this point, it makes more sense for these companies to build things that deteriorate quickly because their contracts become more valuable. Similar to a car company making cheaper parts that you won’t notice. Regulation actually seems to be counterproductive in these areas. You’d think the government would want to spend more money helping the homeless and working on immigration rather than running sting operations and all of the infrastructure required to test and charge for landscaping licenses, maintain a board etc. It’s like the DMV charging a little bit extra every year. Why don’t our taxes cover DMV fees in the state of California? Why are paying the DMV fees at all?

These regulations are formulated so that larger companies, that are entrenched, have the upper hand when it comes to business operations. This is called regulatory capture and it is basically now a reality in many places in America. People that participate in the justice and court systems say that this is true of the courts as well, though I don’t have experience with this. It seems to be rampant in the divorce industry; there is an exploitation occurring.

This is a new age form of governmental monopolization, similar to the inefficacies of communism. It reminds me a lot of Paris when I was 20; it’s nearly impossible to do anything because of the amount of rules that exist! It’s happening in every industry as the military industrial complex expands; Dwight Eisenhower warned about this after WWII. So we can dismantle it, but it’s going to take a decade or more. But anyways, the state said that I had to have “landscaping” in my business name (which is nonsense, because I was already doing all kinds of things that normal people would not call “landscaping”.), including plumbing and some light electrical work. What is with the reference? No exceptions for college graduates, no talking to customers. Why do they even test people, these aren’t skills you can reasonably “prove” on a test. It’s just another system of government trying to control things that it shouldn’t. I’ve heard from a few contractors that the test is mostly about the business portion anyways; rules which the regulatory bodies decide on. Its a conflict of interest.

Resigning to let go and Move on

I have no recourse except to let myself be taken by this client. Kinda sucks. But overall it a good lesson. And now I want to get out of the landscaping industry. It’s a pretty sad situation, but things could be much worse. I still am very healthy, I am learning, I didn’t lose everything I own. But honestly all of this licensing and client nonsense makes me want to leave the state. Who do these people think they are? In many other states, there are literally 0 laws about landscaping. There are many, far more important issues for the government to focus on that could actually be productive for society. We need to figure out our rehabilitation, education, and prison systems. This should be consuming every last ounce of energy of the government and state.

Taking Refuge at Bushnell’s Landscaping in Granite Bay

I decided that I needed to get a real job. To get some experience in the field working for someone that could vouch for me to get my landscaping licensing. To try to find mentor to help me to see into the future and decide if this would be a path for me. I decided to get a job for Bushnell’s in Granite Bay, CA. I needed to go completely legit, and work on my schooling to become some kind of engineer, designer, creator, whatever. Something involving computation, but also lots of math, modeling, etc. To be honest, I have been missing working with computers for a while and the recent advances in AI have me drooling to get my hands on some more advanced machine learning models. I am a giant data nerd and have been since I played WOW when I was 15. Don’t tell anyone ffs. I am currently taking math and physics classes online and it has been awesome. I also getting back into coding with python and data analysis, all of which seems to work and flow really well together. Soon, I’ll be learning more advanced biology, neuroscience, and cellular mechanics. stuff like that. I am going to stop doing as much labor and start working on designs. At the end of last year, I was considering buying a little walk on tractor.

Bushnell was very receptive to getting a new employee that had some experience landscaping, so I got the slightly more than full-time job working at the Nursery and for his landscaping company. It’s pretty nice to have a steady stream of working coming in, even though it is only maintenance. Refocusing on design is going to be great for me. I am also really hoping that Bushnell will sponsor me to test for my licensing. I am not a fan of maintenance work, I like making new things and installing, but I have come to appreciate the steady work on maintenance. I’ll do maintenance, but I don’t like it very much. I’d prefer to be repairing an irrigation system or adding drainage, or still my favorite of all time, planting plants. Soon, I’m hoping to get working on some larger projects with Bushnell and I’ll feature some of his work to show off why it’s awesome, and how his systems are designed.

This has been a fairly wet winter and I have spent a lot of time outside doing maintenance and fertilizing plants, I’ve been working a lot. But the work is much lighter than the construction work I was doing before so it’s not a big deal. I got sick a couple of times this winter, but it felt like a good sick, like it made me healthier to go through and experience the bacteria or viruses or whatever.

I had never done a liquid fertilizer before so I got to learn about nitrogen and spreading agents and humic acid and stuff. It’s really amazing what some fertilizer can do for plant growth and health. I am thinking of formulating my own mixture with liquid kelp and bat guano and experimenting with some nutrient enhancements. Different plants have different fertilization specifications so that is something interesting I will have a chance to learn and experiment with. Bushnell has some amazing work.

Leveling Up to Landscape Designer

Dave Bushnell’s work has an obviously superior quality to it; he has the ability to grow a plant from a seed and then install it into a client’s yard. You can see distinction in the end product. This control over the plant’s life gives him a somewhat unparalleled design ability to understand how plants can flow and grow together, which is the most important part of any ecosystem, but especially an ornamental landscape. The plants and colors need to fit together to move the human eye around the scene and generally you want the plants to exist together in a harmonious equilibrium. I have done a decent amount of designing in the wood-working and fencing and gate building fields as well so I can create entryways that invite and appeal and just can’t wait to be walked through! Complimenting areas with greenery, or specialized architectural features: stone walls, arches, stone steps, etc is a great way to enhance the enjoyability of a space.

Design is going to be the future of my landscaping business. In a few years I’m hoping to have 2-3 Tesla bots or similar running around doing landscaping and I’ll just focus on the planning and logistics of the planting, drainage, and irrigation systems that I install. I’ll also want to build rock walls, patios, decks, etc. all to create wonderful spaces for people to enjoy.

I’m not sure if I’m going to move to Texas or not yet; it is very appealing because of the law. California is going down, quickly and I do not want to be a part of any of what is happening here.

Delays and Updates for Eros Part 3

I was planning on finishing my album in the beginning of the year, but because I got a full time job working at Bushnell’s I’ve had time to think more about the last tracks and what I want to create with them. I have three more tracks that are coming out shortly here.

Battle for Mars is the newest and last track of the EROS Part 3 album; it has two version, the long version and the shorter version, each of which has a unique flavor. I have spent about 5 months on these pieces of music so I hope you have a chance to enjoy them. I’ll be uploading the album to Spotify for a release date on the 1st of June. I’ll post an article when I release the album, but for now you can enjoy the track on SoundCloud, its out there 😀

Yoga as a constant force

Mediation and yoga have been very important for me during this tumultuous time where I get myself out of this little situation. After having that client cancel on me, I was fuming and I really had no way to vent the energy. Yoga was tremendously helpful; it helps me to process emotions. I generally do lots of exercise to move through deeper kinds of feelings like what I was dealing with at the end of last year. Yoga and my movement practice are a very important refuge and it always comes in handy. Breathing control is always very useful. It still took about a month to get over; but without yoga I think it would have taken me much longer. Now I am just getting refocused on the path to wherever new job as an opportunity to get back into my practice and start documenting more of my findings, as I do think that yoga is a form of science and that we should be using it to ameliorate our mental health. Think of it like breath science and thought training, focusing, something like that while exercising. It is a very interesting phenomenon. I’m looking forward to teaching this week, so see you at East Wind if you get a chance to take my class.

Yoga has helped me in a huge way through this whole process. Its really helped in letting go of holding any grudges.

I’ll be creating more yoga content soon here, once I cool down from working all the time, which I am still doing to get myself out of this silly debt.

Rough Starting in 2024 Read More »

A Little Trip to Big Sky Country

Congratulations to the newly weds Aislinn and Roy Brown!

I was in Big Sky country, aka Montana a few weeks ago to celebrate one of my best friend’s wedding. Aislinn is from Alaska, I’m not exactly sure where, but she talked a lot about Juneau so for the sake of this article, we’re just gonna say she’s from Alaska. We went to Gonzaga together and then L’institute Catholique in Paris where we both studied French for 9 months.

The Adventure Crew in France

The whole group of Gonzaga students in Paris got pretty close and went through a lot of very interesting adventures as we traveled through Europe together (there were 13 of us). This included some trips through the rest of Europe, both organized by the school and by ourselves so we got some good chances to travel and see the world. We also became friends with a lot of foreigners, mostly British folk because of the lack of language barrier.

College ended after another year back in good ol’ Spokane, Washington and Aislinn went to law school after. But she visited me in Boston with Nathalie and Molly and Brian and I got a chance to visit her and meet Roy in DC during her second year. Molly and Brian were part of the Gonzaga in Paris group and Natalie stayed at the same foyer as Aislinn and Molly. I think Natalie was doing an internship at the time, but I kinda forget.

Into the Treasure State

A bunch of us from the Paris group headed up to the wedding in Montana, including Anna and Kelly/Kelly’s fiancé Greg. Molly and Nathalie met me at the Missoula airport and we all hitched a ride with Kelly down over to Helena, where we had an AirBnb.

This is one of the few weddings I’ve ever been to (I think maybe 5 so far?) and I was pretty stoked to spend some quality time with my best friends from college. Before I knew it, the wedding ceremony was over and we were on a bus out into the middle of nowhere for the reception, where I got my hair cut (I’d been growing it for 5 years) and spilled wine on my shirt within 5 minutes of getting my first glass (I hadn’t even taken a sip yet!).

The wedding reception was super fun, but I get tired really early nowadays so I was basically passed out at midnight and on the bus back to the AirBnb. Fell asleep around 2, on the floor (I like to sleep on the floor for my back).

I haven’t been able to travel like this in quite a while, so I’m very grateful to be able to see a new places and fly on a couple of planes. There’s nothing quite like spending time staring out at the clouds and the land from an airplane, or seeing a new landscape that you’ve never seen before from a car. Montana was beautiful and the name ‘Big Sky” is definitely appropriate for the area that we stayed in about an hour north of Yellowstone.

Nothing to do for a Little Time

I got a little break from having to do anything. It was much needed for my yoga instruction, probably even healthier for my yoga practice and then probably was most essential for my landscaping work. Not having to dig any holes for a week was really nice. I got to recharge my batteries and get ready for more work! And everyone needs a little break from reality sometimes 🙂

I got a chance to see some wildlife during the trip, including some red-tailed hawks, a golden eagle, and some deer (so far) like 3 bison and a moose and her daughter. The flowing River outside of the Rainbow Ranch in Big Sky was breathtaking and getting a great view of it from the room is definitely a first! No bears or anything ridiculous either, which was nice.

Good Food and Good Company

We did a decent amount of hiking and got to eat a lot of midwestern comfort food, on Monday the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill and a pretty fancy last night at Horn and Cantle. Wednesday I spent the day flying back into town. Got to hang out with Nathalie until I left and got back around 9 o’clock. I think we left the hotel at 8:30am.

So it’s definitely not easy to travel to Montana, its quite a good distance away, but the nature and less populated spaces made it really easygoing and picturesque.

A Little Trip to Big Sky Country Read More »

scaling back teaching yoga

Scaling Back Teaching Yoga

Recently I have come to the revelation that I simply do not have enough time during the day to get the things done that I want to get done. This includes my recently started landscaping business, my music and this blog. So I have decided to do a little bit of scaling back teaching yoga and my yoga instruction schedule.

I want to spend more making things like EDM tracks and working on beautiful landscapes. My creativity is something that I feel I have to cultivate actively. I want to spend more time making things like this vector image below that is now my site logo. I also haven’t gotten as much time as I’d prefer to practice yoga on my own.

Elliots world logo
Elliot’s new blog logo

As much as I love teaching yoga full-time, it is an enormous time and energy commitment to teach even one class a week. Right now, I am teaching 7. So, I have decided to cut back on how much yoga I instruct namely my Friday evening class in Auburn.

Lately, I have gotten very focused on quality. I am producing less EDM tracks and spending more time with the tracks that I release. FlyBy, my most recent dubstep track, is a result of this. I have also felt the desire to teach fewer classes for quite a while, so that I can get deeper into music and landscaping. The same has happened with my writing.

This is the LAST WEEK I will be teaching the 5PM FLOW @ EW Auburn on Fridays.

We have a new teacher coming in to take over Friday night. I am excited to free up my schedule for more time to DJ and Landscape. Although scaling back teaching yoga is not easy; I am conflicted about it. However, I do think that the East Wind Auburn Community will be very happy with the new teacher. She will be an excellent addition to the studio.

Teaching Yoga is still my passion

Hopefully, I will continue to teach yoga for the rest of my life. But I don’t want to limit myself while I am young and able to do more physically. And let’s be honest, yoga is not the most lucrative endeavor on planet Earth. To survive comfortably as a yoga teacher, I need multiple jobs. That’s why I started landscaping.

Why I Love Landscaping

Back when I first started teaching yoga, I remember getting very discouraged with the state of the world. Most of my frustration stemmed from changes in the climate and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. Landscaping seemed like a good way to create change in this area, and still does. I enjoy choosing plants that will thrive in environments. I try to create miniature sanctuaries for life within the yards that I design. Ideally, all the plants work in unison to support each other. The design and plant selection aspects of landscaping are my favorite!

I missed yoga today (10/24) because I was supposed to be working in the Bay Area

on a big landscaping project. I might have to work on it this Friday(10/26) instead, so if you are planning on coming to my classes on Friday this week, there may be a sub (they will be great, promise!). I don’t like getting subs, but it is unavoidable as I work on this job that requires a good amount of traveling.

Sorry to my students for scaling back yoga teaching, I hope you all understand why!

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new year fireworks

New Year and New Resolution for the Future

2018 Happy New Year

New Year of Music, the Eros Album, and Getting into Playing Live Shows

I am working hard this new year on an album/Live show experience that will be a couple of years in the making. The music itself is forming pretty quickly, but will require a bunch of visual work to bring to life the world that I am creating. Also, Ableton is releasing a new version of Live soon in the new year. That should make my creativity spike in February or March.

There is going to be a story line behind it that I have been working on for a few months. I have written some great beats and even have a few near complete tracks. But I want to ensure that the tracks are all cohesive, so I am making sure to design sounds that I use across various tracks. This is my first concept album, so get stoked.

New Year Yoga and Ashtanga

Living in America and practicing lots of yoga at the same time is a difficult endeavor. Right now, I am getting ready for the New Year rush. The studio is going to be packed with awesomeness soon! When you throw teaching on top of that and a second job because teaching isn’t enough by itself, you have just enough to make someone completely exhausted.

I still practice yoga every day, but not for 2 hours or more, which is how I’d like to. First thing in the morning! But I still take a day or two off each week. I love just waking up early to the practice and breathing. And I’ve really started to miss India. There is something really special about going over there to learn yoga from the people who have experienced it as a part of tradition.

I have my first Ashtanga Workshop on February 3rd, so get ready! I am going have people sign-up beforehand and give out lots of information before we get started with the primary series.

More focus on Quality of Experience

Both in music and in yoga I try to focus on the experience of the person that has signed up for the time period and making their time as enjoyable possible. I am trying to do that while working on giving individuals attention and affirmation as often as I can. I also try to help people to understand the difficulty of what they are trying to do, but in the new year I will simply be continuing to work on connecting with individuals.

A YouTube Channel in the new year

My biggest New Years Resolution is to start a YouTube channel where I can share what I know about yoga. I  think that my knowledge will be super useful to people of all ages! Also, I have a lot of killer abdominal exercises.. I will be carving out a section of my website for this as well, so expect some changes soon.

Music everyday in 2018 is a given. I am recommitting to my daily yoga practice. And finally I want to try to post a blog article every day of 2018.

Happy New Year Everyone! Let me know about your resolutions/goals are!

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journal

Journal, Updates, and Developments for the Start of 2017

Dear Journal, 2016 was a long year…

For the past year I have been making music and teaching yoga for my full-time jobs. I haven’t written about it at all, but now I want to journal about it a bit. Although music doesn’t pay yet, yoga has become a sustainable profession for me. I can pay my bills now, which is fantastic! Teaching yoga is really a fun way to make a living. But my situation now is the result of three years of hard work that no one will ever see or appreciate in the way that I do.

How Did I Get Here?

In 2014, after I finished my teacher training, I began to teach yoga for free. I probably have journal articles on here about it. I had two karma classes a week and used those classes to get my teaching chops. I remember how nerve-racking a lot of those first classes were and how difficult it was to get the ball rolling with my confidence level, projecting and inflecting my voice, and figuring out how to teach people the yoga I had learned for the last 5 years or so. Now, I get to enjoy some of the fruit of all that hard work. I’m not out of the grind yet by any means, but I feel that I am being rewarded for all of the hard work in my past. Karma is nice sometimes.

Making it Work

Last year, many of my days were filled with landscaping and doing odd-jobs and such just to survive. I didn’t have much money after India and its taken me a while to figure out how to make money without feeling like a slave to some corporation. Now I am teaching 9 classes a week and am loving it! I believe very strongly in putting lots of time and thought into my art forms and the added classes will help me to get my classes to the quality that I want for my students.

Onto the Future and 2017

2017 is going to be a year of growth, even more so than last year. I am recording more yoga classes, planning on starting a youtube/instagram video/photo series, and make music all the time. Now I just have to find ways to travel a bit on the days that I can to keep myself exploring. That is the one part of my life that I miss tremendously and can’t wait to get back to. Exploring new places, things, and ideas is my favorite thing to do. The lack of travel is probably the biggest reason I haven’t been blogging as much lately; traveling stimulates my mind in ways that make me want to write and share my experiences.

My First Yoga Workshop

I am going to do my first workshop in a couple of months at East Wind and am hoping to get a framework built for a class that I could do monthly (on the ashtanga primary series). Connecting with individuals in the yoga space and learning about their journeys is one of my favorite things about yoga. I am hoping that workshops will be a great way to spread my message to the neighboring studios and to expand the yogi community. My message is also getting clearer as I do more yoga. Fear drive us away from the peace that we all crave. My trip to India was intrinsic for realizing my teaching methodology; I am going to have to go back sometime in the next couple of years to continue to study myself. Although right now I have no idea how I am going to make that happen.

La Musica

Music is going phenomenally (check out my soundcloud). The sound is tuning in quite nicely; technical expertise is really starting to show in the tracks that I produce. My biggest improvements to make are working on composition. Melodies, Chord progressions, timing, verses, and vocals. I have one song right now, AUTO, that I am super excited about; I think it’s by far my best work yet. But I also think that with a new song every couple of months.

ElliotTelford.com (coming soon!)

I have decided to consolidate my websites/blogs into one brand. It’s simply too difficult to pay attention to multiple sites and all of the other shit that I have to pay attention to all at the same time. All of my music will be available on this website, very shortly. PadaYoga is changing to ElliotTelford.com, so I can have a more unified web presence. I will also continue to upload free yoga classes and music so there’s lotsa free stuff here.

The Wanderer Series

I will be finishing the wanderer (my first book) in the next few months as well. That will be available here, although I’ve decided to take the series offline until the book has been completed. In my opinion, it’s not fair to drastically change the plot lines, relationships, or the story in front of the audience, so I want to take it offline to work on it. It is my first book after all. I am also working on more music videos for my music.. which isn’t time-consuming at all. Not like it takes an hour to render, then an hour to upload, then an hour to process, or anything CRAZY like that… sigh

Someday, I will work with visual artists to make my music come alive, but today is not that day, nor is 2017 probably that year, though I hope it is!

The future of this blog is bright! Let me know if I missed anything 🙂

Elliot/the E.T.

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Upgrade

Upgrade Complete

I’ve just finished updating the blog to scale as it grows, as you may know I’ve been running out of space for all of my pictures recently, which isn’t good because readers love pics. Now I have a lot more space and the pages of the site should load much faster. I’m excited to continue writing and to tie the blog into more of my yoga activities. Please let me know if you experience any issues with the site, but with new hardware I’d be surprised if you find anything…

This comes at the perfect time, since I am right about to start ramping up teaching yoga classes in Sacramento and possibly in Roseville and other suburbs. I move into Northern oak park on the 15th so I will also be upgrading my living situation, which I am very excited about.

I use Synthesis for hosting, in case you are interested. They are a bit expensive, but I’m really hoping the performance increases will keep people reading on the site instead of bouncing with a slow load time. I’m excited to see how the site performs over time. (PS this is my shortest post ever, I need to do this more!) Enjoy your week!

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Ashtanga_Advanced_Series

Adjusting Ashtanga

I am a huge fan of the Ashtanga practice. The intensity, the discipline, the mindlessness, and the routine of the sequential practice makes it like a second home for me. I always know that there are mornings where I can wake up and work without thinking, push myself without thinking of how, breathing without having to plan for a destination. But there are some problems with practicing the Ashtanga practice exclusively.

The Ashtanga series were a prescription for Krishnamacharya’s Indian students, namely his most famous student Pattabhi Jois. Krishnamacharya made them specifically for 15-year-old Indian men that were training for hours each day and that didn’t have previous injuries, or probably a lot of other sports and exercise experience.

This means that Krishnamacharya had a specific purpose in creating this sequences for young and fit Indian men and that the sequence is optimized for the Indian skeleton and definitely not for the other types of human skeletons. This becomes especially apparent when westerners begin trying lotus pose, Kukkutasana, and the Marichyasanas.

So there comes a point when one starts to realize that certain poses simply aren’t good for their body. This is half-bound lotus pose for me. The reason is that my knees are simply not strong enough to stretch my hips as deeply as the stretch requires, even though my hips are very open and I have good alignment. At a certain point, we have to realize that the body is mechanical; it has very real limitations that you will sooner or later be coming into increased contact with.

In my first two weeks, I was injured in the Ashtanga sequence. Marichyasana B, I can remember the stress of feeling injured like it was yesterday, my lateral collateral ligament snapped and I heard a very audible pop while I was in the full pose with the bind. I quickly got out of the pose and finished my sequence, then went home to look up some rehab exercises for my knee. It took a couple of days of exercises and taking it easy to let my knee heal. Not a fun few days while I was healing.

I continued my full practice for the rest of the time in India, making adjustments and skipping poses when it felt right. I did some extra work to make sure my knee was stable and working properly and avoided walking too much to make sure that the joint was getting less stress. Slowly full lotus opened up for me while I was rehabilitating my knee, though there is still quite a bit of space left to create in my hips. The injury forced me to be more conscious of what I was doing, to not accept things as they were explained, in black and white.

What is the point of that story? Every body is unique, so how can one series work for everyone’s skeleton? It can’t.

I think that there are parts of the Ashtanga sequence that are almost perfect in their ideal succession, mainly the standing series of the primary series. There is something especially cleansing about doing the poses in that order, and the inversions at the end are simply magical.

Sunday, I taught my first class back in the states. It was great, it was easy to forget how much I love teaching yoga until I was in the room again with all the wheels turning. It was a hybrid style so we warmed up slowly, with a bit of flow including some low lunges complete with back-bends, and even an extended child’s pose. Then we moved into standing postures and the full Sun Salutation B sequence, holding warrior 1 for less and less time and getting into the full back-bend in upward dog. Then we moved into the entirety of the Ashtanga practice. Instead of doing floor stretches, we did a bunch of ab work and then moved into some final yin-type stretches. I loved teaching the sequence and it felt right for the class; music was slow and complimentary more than anything else.

So if you come to my classes, except a little flair of Ashtanga. It’s evolving into something pretty cool and I think that someday soon I might help to develop a new series based on the Primary Series. It’s all an evolution 🙂

Adjusting Ashtanga Read More »

mountains_w_path

Modena & Verona, Italy | Zurich, Switzerland | Paris, France

The past few days have been a blur of beauty, incredible meals, unforgettable architecture, and time to share with my sisters and mom. I think I will look back on these last few weeks fondly for a long time in the future; so much has happened in such a short time.

Two days ago, we arrived in Modena, Italy with the specific purpose of eating lunch at Osteria Francescana, recently named the second best restaurant in the world with 3 Michelin stars. I will write a whole blog about it later, when I have my blog’s storage situation figured out, but it was a 12 course meal paired with wines and quite literally the coolest and most luxurious experience of my life; quite a contrast to Dhaka, Bangladesh. We moved on to Verona for the night, had a great pizza, then left for an eight-hour drive to Zurich today where we ate yet another pizza. Zurich speaks German, but is an interesting mix of Italian, German, and a smidgen of French, though my French has been all but useless here. I am really looking forward to speaking my second language tomorrow when I meet up again with my best friend from Paris. He’s probably the biggest reason I was a French minor to begin with, then later decided to go all out with the major and switch from International business, so I could spend a year in Paris.

Suffice to say that I am very tired of traveling at this point, but also very happy to see some great friends over the next few weeks. It’s ironic how traveling comes in waves and you simply have to go with the flow, disregarding how you feel oftentimes.

I am excited to feel the French side of my personality return to the foreground of my mind; over the past couple of weeks adjusting to my family has done the same for some deep seeded aspects of my personality. The oldest sister is particularly responsible, but in the best way; she reminds me that I only have to be human and that there’s only so much I can do. Sometimes I can be too ambitious.

Verona and Modena beckon return journeys; Italy is a city far removed from certain technologies and has a culture of presence and amiability. I would love to spend a month there at some point in the far future. Zurich does as well, but perhaps in a trip all to its own; if this journey has taught me anything, it has been finding the gentle balance between movement and stillness, activity and resting. I should simply do what my nature beckons me to.

Fatigue is setting in at the apartment in Zurich, but the city is beautiful. Even the gas stations in Switzerland are health oriented, we stopped today and got an amazing green salad, fruit salad, and sandwich before our salmon pizza dinner. I can truly say that I am getting used to the amenities and absolute luxuries of the western world once again, though there is a newfound appreciation that is unexplainable.

My New song is being uploaded now, head over to alienmusique.wordpress.com to have a listen. A new Wanderer post is also on the way, which I have not forgotten about, but am spending a lot of time on the next major section of the “to-be” book. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Dhaka Streets_1

Returning to the West

The past few days have been a difficult adjustment period. The accumulation of stress over the past few months was nothing short of monumental and I needed time to allow everything to process.

Budget traveling in Asia was fun, rewarding, and a life-changing experience. I would do it again, but I would have planned things much differently, spending more time in Myanmar rather than Vietnam and Thailand because of the touristic climates of the latter two countries. Vietnam is also particularly difficult as an American; there are massive amounts of propaganda about the war and people just aren’t excited to have you in their country. At least that was my interpretation of my experiences.

India was exactly what I needed; a combination of challenge and pure peace, allowing me to move far deeper into my yoga practice and mediation than I had anticipated. Nepal was a much-needed rest and I feel so lucky to have avoided the earthquakes and the devastation that they caused. Then Dhaka happened.

After I while, I realized that the east is so similar to the West; we are all essentially the same in our humanity and have differences and unique qualities that separate cultures, individuals, and groups of people. And in that uniqueness, comes a diversity that is relatively similar; there are always good people and bad people, people looking to take advantage of you and people looking to help you.

This is why perception is such an important part of the human experience; we base our decisions off of what we have experienced in the past.

Dhaka was so hard because of the way that their society is organized. People are willing to be completely wrong when trying to help you, as long as they can feel like they’ve helped you. They look up to white people and at the same time despite them. It seems that every sword has two sides.

Dhaka was probably the hardest day of my life, but it was also one that gives me the most hope. When people work together we can do anything we want. The way people worked together to help me was truly an incredible thing to witness.

I need to return to Myanmar because I was only able to visit Yangon, but the people were so nice. They went about their business until you came into contact with someone at a restaurant, or through whatever interaction and they were so kind. Far nicer than any country besides India, which I found to be somewhat similar. Thailand was close to Myanmar, but the people seem to be so sick of tourists. Though Bangkok is not really a city I am looking forward to visiting in the future, the north of Thailand was breath-taking and the locals were so nice. But I think they were as sick of the foreigner party scene as I was.

The came Vietnam, which I had always heard great things about. There is probably a lot racism against Americans because of the Vietnam war and the people seem to have taken on the victim mentality completely, like they are entitled to things because of it. And its hard to argue that they shouldn’t.

In the south of Vietnam I was scammed at every opportunity possible, there seemed to no stop to what people were willing to do for a bit of money. The only reprieve was from the people we were already staying with, who tended to be very kind and thoughtful and wonderful towards their clients. There were a lot of very nice people, but there was a lot of dislike directed at me for no reason by people in general. It was probably due to being American, which I think is obvious when I travel.

Coming back to the West through Berlin was great; the country is very in touch with its history and many of the exhibits of the wall in the city are completely eye-opening, full of facts and personalized stories, and bring the situation to life. It was nice to see both sides of the equation as well; how Hitler and the Nazi party came to power and why it was even a possibility in the country. A nice change from the one-sided propaganda in Vietnam.

Now I am in Prague, but spending the day recovering rather than traveling around. Two more days here should make for a lot of history and good food, site-seeing, and spending time with my family. I’m going to write an article on Berlin after this, so stay tuned for more experiences about the journey I am on.

 

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