Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yoga is my religion.

I don´t think of myself as religious. But I suppose if I had to choose one, I would choose yoga.
Does that count?

A few years ago I was attracted by the asanas, and I thought that was all that yoga was: poses. Now as my whole self is being drawn into yoga I am learning so much more.

This diagram nicely sums up the 8 branches of yoga .
CLICK to make me bigger
(for a further breakdown see:

 I feel as though yoga is often viewed only as a class you can take in a studio to get a workout. While we all love our ado mukas savasanas (down-ward facing dogs), this is actually just one branch of the yoga tree that is properly known as Hatha Yoga. Hatha yoga holds many benefits practiced on it´s own as it promotes flexibility, tones the body, enhances vitality, cultivates balance, and calms the mind. But when practiced in addition to the complete yoga lifestyle, the benefits are limitless...

 Yoga is a belief system; equipped with it´s own unique set of codes, creeds, history, symbols, practices and way of connecting with the Divine. In some translations the sanskrit word is translated as "union of the self with the divine."

When practicing all the branches of yoga and nuturing my own tree of life as a yogi, everthing changes. It transforms my mentality which in turn transforms my reality. Socially, Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually, yoga has the power and ability to affect it all. As I have become more in touch with my practice I can see how I am begining to view the world and myself as an entity in a different kind of light.

To sum it up, I treat myself with more love and respect and I treat all living things with more love and respect. I thought that I was doing this well before, but really during my plethora of free time here I have been able to explore myself on a deeper level which has provided me with the opportunity to dive into yoga all the more.

With this I have seen some things that I choose to turn away from before.
Things like my thoughts about others, even strangers that pass by on the street. I can be so quick to judge sometimes. Things like my diet and listening to my body. What do I need as fuel right now and how much of it? My intentions: are they of truth and created from positive motivation? The way I sit down. Is my spine in happy alignment with the rest of my body? Or am I hunched over and ignoring the building of pressure in my lower back and between my shoulder blades?

My yogic journey is a fresh one and the path is unfolding step by step as all do. I am grateful that is has been and will continue to be a path of incredible knowledge and growth, both for myself and the world. I believe every little thing ripples out and affects much more than is even possible to account for. From a smile shared with a stranger to a word of forgiveness from a loved one. It all matters.

Yoga for all.
I have yet to figure out the grand mystery of life and what it all really means (stay tuned a breakthrough may be coming :) but what I do know is that I am HERE NOW. Not sure for how long, not sure what comes after, not sure exactly why: but for now in this very moment I am given a choice. The same choice I have each day when I rise out of bed and in each moment as I am going through my day. I choose how to lead my life, knowing that my decisions, actions, thoughts and intentions affect much much more than myself.

Enjoy this moment and leave it more positive than when you entered it. Enjoy this life and leave the world more positive than when you entered it. One way I can reach this each and every time is by spreading the love- to all living things, including myself. It feels oh so good to my soul, which is always a good sign to be followed. And one good way I have learned to spread the love is via yoga. The restraints, observances, poses, breathe, withdrawl of the senses, focus, meditation, all leading to a state of oneness.

Day by day.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

The City is my Teacher. The Nature is my Preacher.

I must say first, Welcome to my mind. I have this desire to remember everything that I do in this unique time and place- from coffee drinking to skydiving (well almost). What I write here is thoughts to myself and memories to keep safe. And it is a joy to share.

*** It´s ok to just look at the pictures too :)

Everyday I think of something to write about, something I want to share with you or something I want to record so I could then have the liberty to let it slip from the forefront of my mind. I have been filled with a whole new sense of gratitude and desire to go-do-see-try. Recently, I have been so busy filling my time with living; experiencing new things, people, places, foods, ect. that I have failed on keeping record.
Live first, write second I say! But here I am. Taking a Kí day and resting, writing, and breathing.
 All things in moderation right?

Here it goes, a trip down memory lane.
Some highlights include:
Mendoza Wine Country for Spring Break
Visit to Recoleta Cemetery
Fútbol Game
and Tandil Camping trip
Paved with pieces of stories and bits of wisdom collected along the way...

March 6th
Find a place to relax.
(I unwound in my favorite cafe. The whole top floor to myself. Feels like a tree house.)

March 7

Find your place in the sun.
March 8th

I began the day with a wonderfully challenging yoga class via buena onda yoga. And the studio is very very close to my house! Upon walking out  I saw a pile of English used books for sale. I found "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (2007) written by Dominican author Junot Díaz. A big 20 pesos (5 bucks) and a new book to enjoy!

Then my book and I explored all the parks within a half hour walking distance from my home. Four parks in total, each equipped with it´s own style, vibe and purpose. I found a favorite.

Find your park.
Plaza Libertad.
Where children play and lovers lay.
The grass is green and the environment clean.
Perfect for yoga or reading a book
Come on down and have a look
March 9th

Find your creativity,
and let your friends know you care.

MENDOZA: Wine Country for Spring Break
What: Nectar of the goddesses
Where: Mendoza, central argentina prime for grape growing
How: Bus and bike baby
When: Mar 9-13th
Who:  73 UC students and you would wish you too
Why: ¿Por qué no?

Mmm... me encanta vino. There is so much to love:
The culture that creates it
The sweet juicy dusty straight from the vine baby grapes that start step one of the process
The way it brings people together
The delicate process in which you are meant to introduce yourself to the wine:
Look, smell, swirl, smelll, taste, disfrutá
The way it can taste like anything from cherries to wood to dry to smooth.
The way it gets better with age.
The way it is not a means for getting smashed,
but rather a medium to be enjoyed by adding to your meal and gathering.
And the way it makes me feel warm- from my core to my interactions with others.

March 10th

Work for each other.
Work for the fruits of life.
Work for your desires.

Work for chocolate.

March 11

Be in nature.
Be a Lover,
and Be Loved.
Be Present,
before the train of life passes you by.

Be Daring.

Be open to Vitamin D and Laughs.

Be exactly where you want to be.

Befriend a stranger.

Be accepting of love from all places
(even if it is from the bus driver...)

Take Chances
and drink from the fountain of youth.
Take a bath in a sulfur spa.

Take your own way.

Take a moment to support local economy.

Take time to reflect.

Take the opportunity to come together.

March 12th
 Today I was going to go skydiving. I had my deposit paid, rallied up 6 girlfriends to go too, we were ready to rumble at 7am and then... the man came and said "sorry ladies there is a storm." So... we waited around for a few more hours hoping the storm would pass, but it didn´t. Oh well, I guess it wasn´t mean to be here and now. One day I will jump out of a plane :)

So my friends and I settled for bike riding to the nearby wineries instead. Not a bad switch. Less exhilerating but more delicious!
Get on top of it.

Get Educated.

Get Organized.

Get Excited.

Get Crafty.

Get Cozy.

Get Silly.

Get Full of Color.

Get fresh air.

March 13th
(no pictures but a moment of great accomplishment for me)

As I was walking home after the bus back from Mendoza, a sweet little old lady came up to me and asked where the movie theatre was. AND I TOLD HER!
Sounds simple enough, but
1. I understood her
2. She understood me
3. I actually knew where it was!

After she smiled and said gracias I walked on and did a little victory dance (literally in the sidewalk). That was the moment that marked the passage from tourist to citizen. Hello Buenos Aires, I am LIVING HERE!

March 14th
Solo exploration of a nearby church and cemetery. Followed by a picnic in the park with friends.

Pews temporarily removed for mopping.
Even the church has to get cleansed from time to time.

Out of Death comes Life

"At the 24 anniversary of your birth,
your parents and sister miss your absence in pain."

Continue on.


After leaving the Recoleta Cemetery I found this man...

And then he found me. Creepy Clown.
(Can you see where his other hand is???)

Monday Merienda Potluck Picnic in the Park

Surround yourself with good food and good people.

March 15th

Some of the best ice creams in the world
with some of the best ladies in the world.

and watch your step.

March 16th

New Teacher
with wild white-board writing skills.

 March 17th

Chocolate numbs all pain.

and after a sufficient amount of sugar and deep thinking...
(see previous blog post for details)
March 18th

I woke up today with an enlivened spirit. Since I pushed the submit button on my yoga application everything fell into place. Before that night I had been self diagnosed with a minor case of home-sickness. Adjusting to my new support circle and this entire new way of living in Buenos Aires. That is a big deal. It is a lot to undertake and without my usual realease of family and friends by my side to cheer me on, without my running trails, my cookie making partners, my sunset to look at, ocean to dive into or even my clean air to breathe- I began to keep little things held up inside.

But something happened that night at 2am. I put my worries to rest and just let it all go settle somewhere beyond my body, mind and soul. I switched my focus from what I was missing to the bountiful supply of all I was being offered.  I allowed myself to fully envelope the incredible enviroment, people and opportunities open to me. Here and Now.
I had been having an wonderful time in Argentina up to this point of course, but today was really a defining moment of fully fully embracing my life here. Funny thing is that once I was excitied about living life here and now, I had SO SO much to be excited about! New relationships began to unfold, new opportunites arised and my natural disposition was much more relaxed and joyful.
Sometimes we have to begin leading the life we want to live, in order for our path to unfold into that life we have been dreaming about all along. The power of our mind is beyond understanding. Your mind forms your reality. If there is an issue, try changing it in physical manifestation (making a "real life" change) and if that doesn´t work, the only choice you have is to adjust your mindset and the way you view it.

---Started the day off by leading yoga in the park with friends and then...

Headed to lunch at my new favorite place to load up on calories and nutrition.
The Happiness House
(good name right?)
A big ready to go buffett that is charged by the weight.
Everything yummy and vegetarian!
Right by school and right by the park :)
---Thanks Alex!

Broke good-for-the-soul-bread (made with love by Tahnee)
with Tahnee and Jules on their terraza.
Plus some divine tomato, basil, chili, olive oil, goodness graciousness to put on top!

And that night I met up with some friends I made in Bariloche who live in BA! Just 3 porteños and I eating pizza, drinking some champagne (classy right?) and playing pool. Good to have some quality manly-man time. And... it was the perfect opportunity to live life like the locals! In a beautiful old house (house, not apartment which is basically all I have seen thus far) and talk in spanish the entire time. One computer technician, one studying to be a doctor and another massage therapist- and all were very sweet and helpful if I was left behind in the conversation. So much fun and great practice too!

Saturday March 19th

Night of the super full moon, and one of my most favorite days.

Up and out I went to meet miss Jules on the corner. While most students have purchased cell phones, I have not. I love not having a phone, and I want to take advantage of this time where I don´t need to have one. It has been one sweet breath of fresh air. As I waited for her on thecorner I felt very awkward. The little man in front turned green and I didn´t walk. Then the other little man to my side turned green and I still dodn´t walk. It is so silly but I was worried that people would be looking at me thinking "how bizarre, that girl is just standing on the corner." I felt nervous as if I was waiting for a drug seal in broad daylight. Then I realized, as with any situation, it is all in my mind- and I hold the power to change my reality.

So I took a breathe, reminded myself that no one really cares if I am standing in a side walk and I sat down on a door step. What a whole new experience it was. I enjoyed just sitting there, watching life, cars, dogs and wind blow by. Of course, no one even seemed to notice I was sitting there and I almost felt invisable. Just by changing my approach to the situation I began to view it as a social experiment and it was even kind of fun! In no time, Julia walked up and (silly but true) I could have enjoyed sitting there much longer.

But the day was just getting started and little did I know, this was a day to love.

Meeting up with lovely Tahnee we headed to one of my now most favorite places in BA.
Alex, King of finding incredible hidden in the wall treasures, led us to El Galpón: the organic market and co-op in BA. Hidden at the end of a long dirt alley and disguised in a big yellow shed, it is open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And it is amazing!

from the distance

from the outside

from the inside
To the far right you can see a purple sheet. That was "luz vitals"
owned by a glowing woman who made all sorts of wondrous bath and body profucts.
 I now happily own and regularly use: a jar of lavendar oil and 2 bottles of massage oil.

Eat the rainbow.
Mmm... So colorful and fresh and re-energizing!
Off to a perfect start, the day was sublime. Syncronizing energies and a constant circulation of love. Something to be experienced more than it is meant to be written about. A day I am grateful for and more so, the beautiful individuals who- with open arms and open hearts- cultivated the environment for a community to gather.

Sunday May 20th

Meeting with a friend from the block and his crazy cool buddy we ventured to a nearby park to have mate and enjoy the day. After hitting a volleyball around with a tree, we walked into this...

After standing for a moment in amazement and amusement, I walked over and talked to the tela instructors. The warm women gave me all the information I needed to know. I will begin next week!

That night I went to my first Argentine Fútbol Game!!! Wow.

Players are Gods here and fans are soldiers preparing for battle. We had to go through numerous police men before we could even hand over our ticket, and after the game we had to wait 40 minutes until all the fans of the visiting team had left the premises. (It is not uncommon for post-game parking lots to get very very dangerous. Sometimes deadly.)
Fortunately, I only got hit once.
Just kidding! Funny picture though :)
Move your arm front and back like so at a 90 degree angle while singing
"Ole, ole ole ole (name of your favorite team) x 2 and repeat for 4 hours.
Being a UCSB Gaucho myself, I have already had a few years to practice- apparently I had the motions down as a porteño standing behind me complemented me on my moves!

In the end...

Boca perdió 2-0 con Olimpo en la Bombonera. Luckily the Olimpo fans above us celebrated by throwing paper.

They have been known to throw other items such as bottles and bags of feces. I know, it´s horrible.

Monday March 21st

Originally planning on celebrating life via a week at the Rainbow Gathering we spent much time and energy of this week devoted to planning out that trip. One half hour before we were going to leave, the trip fell through. Long story short, we didn´t end up going. Dissappointed at first and then trusting that everything happens for a reason, it was still a wonderful weekend.

During our planning adventures we went to this car rental company way on the out skirts of town.

Having a birds eye advantage we could view the un-swimmable Rio de la Plata.
And from the other angle we could see the thick pollution covering the city like a blanket.
Being in the city it is hard to see the actual contamination, but it is there.
 "Buenos Aires" is not the most fitting name anymore.

Leaving Barrio Chino.

Tuesday March 22

On my way to school a van was pulling into a parking garage. I lookedat the driver to see if I could walk first or if he was going to pull in front of me. People get hit by cars so I just wanted to make sure. He signaled for me to cross and I did the standard head nod and semi hand wave signaling back "Roger that, thank you." Apparently I sent another signal. A few blocks later I hear this "Hola" from behind me. It was the man from the car! I didn´t get creepy vibes from him, which would be very easy to attract in a situation like this, instead it was all humorous to me. Oh the Argentine men. I am not trying to sound like I was the best thing that walked  by the sidewalk that morning, but he was all googly-eyed and apppeared mesmerized. He practically walked me to class, never stopped looking into my eyes or smiling as we spoke in Spanish the whole time.

While I dont know if I will see this man again, I must say I LOVE THE PASSION! Can you imagine? Going to park your car, see a woman walk by, hurry to park your car and then run after her on the street?!?!
That is insane in American standards, but here, it happens (although this is more on the extreme end even for porteños). I wish more people had the courage, ganas and drive to go after what they want with such determination! If you want it (or her in this story) GO GET IT! What is the worst that happens? You come back with no girl? That is just how you started off right? All you can do is win or come out even. Now I hope this story has inspired you to tell that woman she is beautiful, to ask that man out on a date, to hold the door open for someone or to be so bold as to chase the next best thing down the street!
I admired the gesture and naturally it shot up my ego a couple notches as well :)

After school there was another handsome man in the works...
Adrian Padilla is in Town!!! 

One of my dear friends and fellow 2008 class member from the island was studing abroad in Chile and now he was traveling through BA with a couple of friends! I got to play tour guide for an afternoon and take them to a few of my favorite spots.
Recoleta Cemetery of course.
I can go there time and time again.
It is like a maze where time itself is put on hold.
Then we went to possibly the best ice cream place in the world.
Address: Quintana 188
A 1/4 Kilo for everyone!
Although we ate most of it en route, a good amount was enjoyed as a picnic in the park.

Yes. That is a big red chair.
Me and my horrible sense of direction got us lost in my mind,
but then we were found by this neato architecture museum.

Dragon Ball Z left his ball for us to play with.

Me (left) and Kate (right)
getting our back bend on.

 Wednesday March 23

Started the rainy day off by laying my eyes on the largest croissants I´d ever seen!
No, I didn´t buy one.

After being tossed around as if stuck inside a washer machine, it was certain that Rainbow was a no go. Tragic but true. There was only one thing to do. Make good food with good people to heal the wounds and comfort the soul.
Brussel Sprout Burritos to the rescue!
Plus my most favorite salad with freshly candied walnuts!
How could you not feel better after a meal made of love like that?
Thursday March 24th
This Thursday and Friday are holidays (Argentina has A LOT of holidays...)
What are we going to do we said? Camping! So we went. Tandil here we come!
(that was the much simplified version of the story)

A Rainbow of our own.

Spontaneous trio, we decided just a couple of hours before the bus departed to head to nature!
Lets Go Play Ladies!

Friday March 25th 
Our campsite could have easily been mistaken for being in northern california.
Felt like a familiar environment. Camping was good for the soul - a break from city life.
Mother Earth is a Hippie.

Snuggle buddy 1

Snuggle buddy 2

In lieu of smores.
Don Quijote and the Windmill.

An old church.

The whole crew!
Eryn my host sister (fourth from the left) and 5 of her NYU friends welcomed us to join their campsite!


That night I woke up at 4:30 am and the fire was still going so I sat for a while. Alone with my mind.
My intention was to stay and watch the sunrise when all of the sudden- DOWNPOUR!
Rain came out by the buckets, so after ensuring the fire was out, I ran to my tent (silly by now as I was already dripping) and aimed to sleep until the morning light.

Saturday March 26th

Take down camp. Head back home. Shower and...
Celebrate Life!
With food.

With love.

and with sweets.

Mmm... all around a delicious evening.

Sunday March 27th

Rest day. Felt a tad under the weather.
But on the bright side, I had pleanty of time to write.