Journal, Updates, and Developments for the Start of 2017

journal

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.

Exhausted in Vietnam

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At this point, I am ready to leave Asia. This journey has been a long one; its been almost four months since I left sunny California to head to India.

India was rough; I got food poisoning 3 times, the third time for an entire week before I was able to get my hands on some probiotics and it was not a fun experience. I continued my Ashtanga practice the whole time and it was definitely an empowering experience, but one that I don’t ever want to experience again.

India became very peaceful for me. I was free to meditate for 3-4 hours a day and write stories and make music when I wasn’t meditating. Boredom was absolutely a big part of India and I was already excited to go back to work after a month. By the end of my time there I was so sick of the extra attention of being white and not having anyone to really connect with. When I’m on long trips like this, I always start to miss my family and friends… A lot.

My progress in the Ashtanga practice was unmistakable, but by the end it really wasn’t important to me anymore. Where was I going anyways? So now I can do full lotus, supta kurmasana, and I can pretty easily get one foot at a time behind my head; but so what? What does that mean for my life and my happiness? Absolutely nothing. I listened to Alan Watts a lot in India and my favorite quote of his was: “So when you have achieved enlightenment, so what? What now?” and that’s where I think I’ve ended up.

So by the end of India, I was exhausted. It’s not easy to live in a third world country; the boredom alone is enough to drive you a little insane. But then I headed to Nepal.

Nepal was a breath of fresh air and a nice rest for me. I stayed with people who didn’t hesitate to act when the quake happened; which I was very lucky to avoid. These guys enjoyed their lives so much and I met people from around the world that I had an absolute blast with. I stayed in the city the whole time because my budget over here was very strict; I came over with less than $3,000 for 4 months of serious travel and I’ve been to 6 countries, all of which are very poor.

After leaving Nepal, I was lucky enough to meet up with my girlfriend/best friend. She was a much-needed break from being alone. We planned to meet in Myanmar, but a technical difficulty with my flight on Biman Bangladesh airlines (NEVER fly with them if you can avoid it) left me stranded in Dhaka for an overnight stay in the airport.

I was lucky; a family that I met in the airport randomly and extremely kindly  offered to let me spend the night at their apartment. They gave me kindness that I won’t soon forget. Then, in my first real terrifyingly close encounter with extreme poverty conditions (which I was a part of for a solid day) where I begged for water and for help. A girl named Anna came to my rescue and helped me to find the family’s apartment that I had completely lost. Another stroke of luck and kindness that I won’t forget; neither will my stress response system.

After narrowly avoiding some terribly consequences in Dhaka, I was able to get a new flight to Yangon, Myanmar and was excited to see a tiny bit of westernization for the first time in months; sky scrapers, parks, and paved streets were never so beautiful to my eyes. And I got to see my girlfriend again, which was what I was really looking forward to. The culture of Myanmar was the easiest for me to cope with in Asia; people were kind and treated you like a human rather than a commodity. Bangladesh was the worst; people will absolutely take as much advantage of you as they possibly can and all of the westerners that lived there looked completely exhausted as a result.

We moved on to Thailand which was surprisingly touristic, but again nearly everyone was more concerned with your money than with anything else about you. It gets exhausting over time to have people trying to get from you and sell you on things. In Thailand, we visited Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, and flew from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Bangkok was not fun for me; it reminded me of a combination of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, but at least they were used to tourists.

Ho Chi Minh was far different from my expectations; most everyone in the city is trying to take your money by offering Rickshaws, taxis, even random scooterers will stop you on the side of the street and try to get you to ride their scooter. And people are always trying to please you, even if they are completely wrong. This is part of the reason I got so lost in Bangladesh; if someone doesn’t understand you, they’ll make something up that they think you want to hear. It’s frustrating to say the least.

So we took the night buses from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang, which was another breath of fresh air; kind of. Out hostel was amazing, I highly recommend Mozjo Inn if you are ever in Vietnam, the hostel alone is worth a trip to that city. We went scuba diving there and it was amazing! No license required.

Hoi Anh was next, which is an extremely touristic town and didn’t have too much history, though the influences of China and Japan were incredible to see.

Today, I am in Hue, which is a great city, but relentless. I am tired of the extra attention, tired of people trying to sell me things, tired of people who are trying to take money with a huge smile on their face. Most act like they want to know where you are from then are quick to turn around and try to sell you things. It’s nearly impossible to actually meet anyone over here, especially due to the fact that they view you as a commodity. We’ve exchanged some nice jokes with our hostel owner and a couple of waiters, but most aren’t interested in us unless we have money. Its disheartening to see, but it goes to show that human are the same; we love to idealize about the peacefulness of the East, but the truth is that its even more chaotic than America.

This becomes obvious when you pay your first 5 dollars to enter a Buddhist temple. Money runs the world now and its painfully obvious here with the amount of poverty that exists.

Surprisingly, just writing this article has made me feel a lot better. It’s so tiring to be harassed ALL the time. Sometimes, its nice to just be able to share a smile and continue on our separate paths. It’s also weird to miss America, but I know that this will pass, just like all things and I will be doing my best to enjoy these last few days to the fullest. But man, I am tired. Ready to meet up with my mom and sisters in Germany and return to the west… and I am very excited to come back and keep teaching yoga, making music, and to see all of the friends that I miss a whole hell of a lot. Its been a long journey and I am seeing the end in sight and am happy about it; a sign that I am where I need to be.

Please don’t take this as a negative review of Vietnam; this has just been a long, arduous trip for me, partially due to the budget, partially due to the amount of ground that I’ve covered in the past month and a half. But keep in mind that the people here in Asia will get everything that they can from you, just like in the rest of the world. I know that once I am in a comfortable bed again, I’ll look back with fondness on these hardship and eventually, I’ll want to do it again 🙂