It's been nearly 3 weeks since I packed up my belongings, including my pooch Rosita, and left my Mexican home of 5 months, for the streets of New York City. Thankfully, I spend the majority of my time in quieter neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and only travel to Manhattan for appointments or when I sometimes teach a class at Kula Yoga in Tribeca. Getting used to the energy, noise and the amount of people around has been quite the transition, but one that I've gotten better at now that I've done this before.
Rosita was a champ throughout all of the flights and layovers. We were treated like VIP's at the Atlanta airport, having an escort the entire way through from customs to baggage and through security. So many people think it's difficult to transport pets from another country, but it's quite simple really. If you have the necessary paperwork, you've contacted the airline in advance to reserve the space and understand the policies, it's easy. She fit in her bag, right under the seat in front of me and thanks to my animal intuitive friend in San Pancho, Barbara, we were prepared for the journey. I was more worried than I should've been because it was my first time transporting an animal, and I love her like a child so naturally, I was concerned about her. But after so much loving attention from airline/port staff and fellow passengers, I realized that my worry was unnecessary.
Once we arrived and settled into my first location, I had a few good cries, it's always hard landing back in a big, challenging city with no real place to call home. It was cold, rainy and I was on my first few days of a 6 month stretch back in America. Having given up my Brooklyn apartment last year, I now move around, staying at different places taking care of pets or gardens, or sometimes just sleeping in an empty bed or couch. It's not sexy having to lug your stuff around, biking between your storage space for things you need, and spending money on car services, so yeah, it can get stressful. But more often than not, I get to enjoy quality time with animals or friends, in a completely lovely area, enjoying local culture and am usually tickled pink by all of the different people I get to interact with, especially with a dog or two by my side. I started out staying a couple of nights with my friend and fellow yoga teacher, Jess, who lives near the East River in the Columbia Waterfront neighborhood, near Red Hook. She's met Rosita and like most people, fell in love with her, so it was the best place we could land.
I took it easy my first two weeks in terms of not over-working myself, and instead giving me and Rosita plenty of downtime to adjust, sleep and play. After Jess's place, we transitioned over to Boerum Hill, where I stayed in a gorgeous brownstone with a family, who's dog and garden I care for often. With Mom traveling for work and Dad and kids busy with life, it was my job to make sure their dog, Tuki, was well-cared for. The dogs and I enjoyed walks to Prospect Park for the off-leash hours. I used to walk this area of the park daily when I lived a few blocks away from 2009-2012. I would stare longingly at the dogs playing freely, wishing I could have one of those too. I honestly thought it impossible at that time in my life, I was barely keeping my head above water and had a hard time imagining having enough resources to provide for another animal. Having a cat for 8 years in NY was not easy, most people don't want to share their living space with an animal if they don't have one already and a dog would really be hard as they require much more care.
The other dog, Tuki, was a pro running around the lawn, teasing and barking his way to happiness with other dogs. Rosita was enjoying the off-leash part, as that's how she lives in Mexico, but she's still a bit shy around other dogs. She'd just rather run up to people and get free pets. After a lovely 12 days at the Brownstone with a backyard and garden, we went back to Jess's place for 2 days, and then another friend's couch in Park Slope for 1 night, and now I find myself in Historic Clinton Hill, for a week to care for another dog and 2 kitties. The architecture and local scene are making me wish I had lived here at some point in my nearly 10 years here. Hmmmm.
I'm relieved that Rosita is managing it all like a seasoned traveler. I've been racked with guilt that I've taken her away from such a sweet life in a little beach town to a crazy, concrete jungle with no real home and plenty of change to deal with regularly. But like me, she just needs a little time to adjust and she's fine. She's so mellow and sweet and as long as she has me, some yummy food and a good bed, she's happy. Rosita, the other dog, Sofia and I walked to Fort Greene Park this morning to enjoy their off-leash hours, and Rosita is starting to get the hang of teasing and playing, although she always resorts to following me or finding a kid to elicit pets from. She adores little children, probably because they're the same size and they're generally sweeter than most adults.
I've learned how important it is to make time for self-care and do something non-yoga related when I have some down time. One of my favorite ways to do so is to enjoy some of Mother Nature's magic at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and last week I got to enjoy it with my friend, Inari, who was visiting from Minneapolis. It was literally raining Cherry Blossom petals as we entered the gardens, and the blooming peonies were heavenly. This week, I booked discounted community hours at a local day spa, CityWell, enjoying their hot/cold treatments (steam, sauna, hot tub, hammock, cold shower) for just $25 for 2 hours. It takes the edge off and has me back to my happy place in no time. I also meet incredibly interesting people there. When you're both in a bathing suit camped out in a small sauna, you might as well get to know each other. I've meet artists, healers, authors, academics and travelers, a great way to spend a morning in Brooklyn before heading back out into the jungle.
Revisiting and teaching at my studios has been a real treat. It's been wonderful to reconnect with such strong and awakened communities. And while I feel more confident every year that I teach, I still get nervous when I step into teach a class when I return to NY to resume my schedule. While the people are just as awesome and interesting here in NY, the energy and expectations are much different than those I face in Mexico. But, I enjoy this duality and the challenge keeps me focused and inspired to keep learning more and trusting in myself. I had the honor to teach on Mother's Day, one class held at Prema Yoga in Brooklyn. I adore this studio and booked a cellist, Kirsten McCord, to play alongside me teaching.
We had a great turnout, several friends and new students attended, and I used the opportunity to present a Root Chakra theme for the class, exploring our ancestral patterns and energy found at the base of the Spine. It was a powerful class, I spoke about my Grandmother, whose independent spirit helped her move past a torturous childhood with an unstable mother, who emotionally abused her and had them move 18 times by age 18 because she would never pay rent and would just wait to get evicted and move onto the next hole they'd call home.
My Grandmother said education kept her going through all of the uncertainty and after her kids were grown and her husband passed away, she finished her college degree at 72 and completed her Masters at 84. She was productive all throughout her senior years, traveling to Tibet and China, writing and editing for the local paper or books of poetry, she was known to petition the City Council in St. Paul to expand Skyway hours to serve residents better, and she also managed to get the City to prepare and delegate land in Mears Park to local residents, who could adopt a small garden area, and plant and care for whatever they wanted to grow. She kept going, worked hard, and achieved so much more than was expected from a woman born in 1915 to parents who couldn't manage the business of life.
She continues to inspire me even though she's passed, and her vision and character were passed down to my mother, Mary, who raised 7 kids (5 bi-racial and adpted when it wasn't the norm), and she went on to get her Master's degree with 7 kids under the age of 12. She'd put me on the back of her bike and we'd ride to the University of Minnesota campus everyday where she'd drop me at pre-school so she could attend classes and achieve her dreams. I have some strong women in my family, and I'm fortunate to learn from them and carry on their spirit. I was grateful that many people shared their thoughts, feedback and thanks after this class, and it once again reassured me that I'm supposed to be doing this, even though sometimes I'm scared as hell to walk to the front of the room and share from my heart.
Yoga is more than physical practice, and when someone gets just a taste of that, the moment is awash with opportunities to understand themselves in ways they never have before. Being a part of that process fills me with joy, and I'm so relieved that I get to do something I love in life that makes a difference, even if it's sometimes small in the grand scheme of things. I'm easily bored and the study of yoga, it's anatomy, history and philosophy provide a fascinating adventure that has brought so much abundance to my life, and I'm grateful.
Photo Credit: Iris Cienfuegos
The hottest ticket in town each March in San Pancho are the live shows put on by Circo de los Ninos. 5 sold-out nights of acrobatic amazement from an incredibly brave group of children, who've trained for months to showcase their skills and tricks. It all began 5 years ago when the founders of Ciruqe de Soleil came to live in San Pancho and started a circus school for kids, ranging in age from 8 to 18 years old. You'll see a mix of local, Mexican children working along side kids from Canada and the U.S., as they train to master the trapeze, trampoline, hula hoops, tight rope, and more. I was lucky to attend last year and it was easily the highlight of the season; such a magnificent, professional and fun show that rivaled any previous Cirque de Soleil show I've seen live. I was lucky to score a ticket again this year to witness these 52 kids from all backgrounds performing together. It's hard to wrap your head around the fact they aren't professionals, touring around selling out shows, but rather a group of dedicated, big-hearted kids living in a tiny town in Mexico. With the support of their families, community and hardworking volunteers they can learn the importance of focus, dedication, teamwork, and courage while having fun with friends. New to this year's show was live music performed by the impressive Youth Orchestra from Puerto Vallarta. The dozen or so kids mastered their instruments, and even sang, clapped, snapped and laughed along to create a beautiful, fun and catchy live score to the 20 or different acts in the show. At one point, I was reminded of the ignorant rhetoric the 45th President so infamously spewed during election season, and all I could do was shake my head and hope that the word continues to spread about the beautiful communities that are found in Mexico. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, there are so many beautiful people here in Mexico and I'm grateful, yet again, to be able to experience such pure joy, brought straight to my heart by these kids and volunteers. Gracias Cirquo de los Ninos, hats off to each of you!
Last fall, my friend and student, Kari, invited me to teach out at her friend's ranch in Eureka, Montana, located 7 miles south of the Canadian border. Having visited the Missoula area many times, I was excited to explore new territory with old friends from our Nicaragua retreat last Winter and new friends from her job. Our first night we were whisked away in a horse drawn carriage to the neighboring ranch, called Bear 10. We had no idea what a feast awaited us. More than 40 horses roamed the fields while the cattle was up munching in the mountains, and dogs ran around keeping us on task as we made our way to the main log cabin, built by their Amish friends. They had made a beautiful spread of food and drinks to welcome us and were such gracious, generous hosts. Montana suffered greatly the last few years from wildfires that lasted well into September, and the friends of the owners that served us dinner, had just finished evacuating their barns and homes, yet still managed to smile, laugh and treat us like honored guests. We toasted together and I vowed to return. I chose to come in June to celebrate the Summer Solstice there, as well as it's high season for wildflowers, which are thick and colorful making hikes majestic and memorable. If you like yoga and the outdoors, this might be the trip for you. Details in the ADVENTURE tab, and go dig those cowboy boots out of the back of your closet!
We had a lovely group of 10 yogis from NYC and 1 from Seattle join me and Jess Weiss at the beautiful hotel on the San Pancho beach, Paraiso Escondido. We filled our days with several styles of yoga and meditation, as well as traditional Mexican Temazcal ceremony, a healing Sound Bath, horseback riding on the beach, surfing and boogie boarding at secret beaches, open mic night in town and plenty of delicous, healthy and fresh food from our chefs and at local restaurants. Several yogis were able to squeeze in appointments with one of my healers, Nico, who blends Tunia, acupuncture and moxi bustian which has you in another realm afterwards. It was such a good vibe all week and we've added a week in March for 2019 if you weren't able to make it this time. See dates and info under the ADVENTURE tab. If you're someone who came along and wants new adventure, we'll be planning a European escape in Summer of 2019.
Last season, when I first visited San Pancho, I was told about a gifted healer and masseuse, Monika. I tried in vain to secure an appointment, but she was just too busy. This season, I was able to secure time and after receiving her delicious therapeutic thai massage, I was hooked. I generally prefer deep tissue but am often left underwhelmed. This was the answer my body was looking for. I feel a deep release from the intense pressure points and stretches, and made sure to book every few weeks. Lucky for me, Monika was putting together another training to teach the massage as she is certified through the ChiangMai School of Massage in Thailand. I signed up, completed my hands-on training and am now actively practicing on eager bodies every week. If you've enjoyed my hands-on assists in class, I have no doubt you'll enjoy a longer, personalized session with me. I look forward to helping you heal in the comfort of your own home. Contact me to schedule an appointment!
Hola from San Pancho!
It's been a wonderful 4 months South of the Border, with just about a month remaining before I venture back to NY. I've managed to stay quite busy with teaching and leading retreats, receiving my certification in Therapeutic Thai Massage, as well as taking care of my new rescue pup, Rosita. We met on a sunny, Sunday morning when she followed me on a beach walk. Fast forward a few weeks of longing to see her again, when her owners chose to give her up and I jumped at the chance to be with my friend again. My Grandmother always referred to my cat in New York City as my 'charge', always by my side looking after me. After she passed I was able to travel more and would foster pets here in Mexico. But they tell me now that I'm a failed foster parent since I fell madly, deeply in love with this gentle soul and adopted her. I feel much more grounded with her by my side and she's already been on several adventures with me; we've hiked the jungles and faced tejones together, she battled sea sickness to see mama whales teaching their babies how to jump in Punta de Mita, and she's made so many new friends at my retreats and around town. Soon, we'll head to back to Brooklyn where many new surprises await her. Thanks to San Pancho Animals and the woman who runs it, Karen Razza, an East-Coaster herself, who spends so much time and energy to make sure all the beings here in Mexico are well-taken care of. They spay and nueter hundreds of animals at their annual clinic and you see the difference it makes with barely any strays left in our town as well as neighboring pueblas. I hope you meet Rosita soon!