70. strollin’ with a monk

March 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

walking meditation with a thai monk.  we walked. very very slowly. very very quietly.


69. joy ride

March 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

Hey guys.  I have something to confess.

The truth is that I’ve been cheating on you.  I’ve been having interesting insights and meaningful inquiries, but I haven’t been publishing them here for two reasons:

  1. I’m becoming busier because I’m actually starting to “live life” instead of consistently distancing myself and observing it from the outside
  2. If something does compel me enough, I handwrite my entries with pen and paper (I know, it’s like I’m going back to the Stone Age)

I also find it difficult to express and share some of the experiences I’ve been having during this yoga training because the most meaningful ones are usually ones that are just…inexpressible with words.  And even if I could find some phrases and explanations to capture these moments, they would detract from experiencing such fascinating experiences firsthand for yourself.

So for right now, all I can say is that consistent meditation is a great gift to give yourself.

I just hope I can keep it up when I leave the jungle.

…I’m not really in a jungle, but it does feel like it sometimes with all the monkeys and geckos and whatnot.


And. I may have few words but I do have images to share!  Here are three fellow yoga trainees:

K, a psychotherapist-lecturer-yoga instructor-author from Australia.  Accomplished and continually striving.  Deep eyes.  Amazing abdominal strength. Soft spoken, significant words.

S, a free spirited nomad whose home base is Germany.  In love.  Has experienced all kinds of love.  Used to sell crystals, “traveled until I wanted to go home,” unafraid.

KG, a recent college graduate from New York.  Spent a year teaching English in Korea, loves children.  Open-minded and independent. Bright smile.


Happy Monday everyone. Let’s make this week a good one :)

68. marketplace portraits

March 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

Last weekend we visited a local market. And, surprise surprise, I took some pictures.

Warning: if you are an avid animal activist and/or vegetarian, I recommend you skip over this post.

Veggie girlSeed ladyFrog manPig manSnoutsPiggy smile

That last piggy intrigues me.  He just looks so…satisfied with himself.  You rarely even see alive human beings look that happy.

If that dead little piggy can find such inner peace, we can too. All we gotta do is smile ^.^


Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  And if you aren’t having such a great day, just think of our piggy friend here and thank the stars that you’re a living breathing human being with a very intact head :)

67. i heart breakfast

March 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

Freshly sliced sesame seed bread

As mentioned in a previous post, I am absolutely obsessed with the breakfast here.  After four hours of meditation and yoga asanas, we have our first meal of the day set amongst a lush green backdrop or by the poolside and eaten in complete silence with the exception of the gentle clinking of teacups and the morning symphony of birds, geckos, and cicaidas.

Lounging around in silence during breakfast

The food itself is fresh and nourishing while uncompromising in taste.  Served as a buffet, breakfast includes fresh seasonal fruit (which include mango, pineapple, dragonfruit, and a bunch of other exotic fruits i dont know the names of), eggs, three kinds of toast, hot oatmeal, chilled yogurt, and an assortment of mouthwatering toppings ranging from golden raisins to tahini to the best marmalade you’ll ever taste.  Drink options range from freshly squeezed juice to an assortment of herbal teas.

Nom. Topping options for oatmeal and yogurt: white and black sesame seeds, black and golden raisins, and oats.

Even more nom. Options for toast: butter, citrus sweet marmalade, mashed strawberry spread, fresh pineapple spread, tahini, and honey.

My daily indulgence: a slice of toasted cranberry-walnut bread, layered with a bit of melted butter topped with a coat of sweet citrus marmalade and a hint of salty tahini. Every bite takes you to a place of delicious foodgasm.  I usually don’t like butter, but due to the conservative amount of fat used during lunch and dinner, I find myself reacting with unusual pleasure to my daily dose of morning lard.


We are required to maintain absolute silence in the mornings from 6:00 to 11:00 AM so breakfast time is unusually quiet for a meal.  I love it.  In my opinion, eating your meals in silence is one of the most relaxing and effective methods for self modulation and appreciation.  (Though today I was so hungry that I ungracefully scarfed down way too much bread and felt sick afterwards.  Haha so much for yogic mindfulness.)

Healthier heaven. Hot oatmeal topped with black sesame seeds and and an assortment of raisins.

I don’t even know where I would start to describe the effects you start to feel during silent eating.  Listening to your body’s reaction as you nourish it, savoring each flavor while feeling the texture, and appreciating the culinary journey from soil to edible final product exponentially enhances a meal.  Though it may be the case that I enjoy silent meals so much because I feel uncomfortable with insistent mealtime chatter.  Heheheh…what I would do and claim to avoid awkward human interaction ^.^

I have a low tolerance for unnecessary human chatter, but I do love all encounters with kitty cats.  Like this one here, who determinedly stared at this plate of food before helping itself to a generous piece of butter.


Thanks for joining me for breakfast.  I wish you all the best :)

Morning journal session with a cup of tea


66. yoga props

March 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Here are some props we use during a yoga practice:

we pour flower petals over ourselves during the opening of a practice

mats. for obvious reasons.

straps to hook and tie ourselves into to increase stretches

blocks to balance on



…im kidding about the flower petals. i just think they’re pretty.



65. daily life of a yogi-in-training

March 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

Upward facing dog

The daily schedule of a monthlong yoga teacher’s training course:

5:30 AM – Roll out of bed and prepare for the day in a zombie-like state of grogginess

6:10 AM – Neti. we stick saline water up our nose with a mini teapot-like device to clear our sinuses.  I know it sounds unpleasant but it is quite effective.

6:20 – 8:00 AM – Meditation + pranayama + warm up exercises

Meditation circle

  • Meditation: exactly what it sounds like.  We sit in a giant circle and meditate.  Each morning a trainee rings the gong/bowl thing and opens the meditation session with a reading of his or her choice.  These readings are usually of the inspirational and/or old-age wisdom sort.
  • Pranayama:  Breathing exercises.  Even after my pranayama experience in India, I am still amazed by how creative people get with something as seemingly simple as breathing in and out.
  • Warm up exercises: hahahahaha…these are just great.  They range from quick and viscious karate-chop like punches to slow and syrupy hip swaying to swooping the arms wide and holding our breath as we repeatedly pump our stomachs in and out.  And this one time we yipped like a dog ^.^


8:00 – 10:00 AM – Asana practice.  This is what most people picture when they hear the word “yoga.”  Sun salutations/stretching/posing/downward dogging/etc.  These sessions can get pretty strenuous and continuously leave me feeling sore the following day.

Upward facing dog. Again. We do a lot of these in Ashtanga yoga.

10:00 – 10:45 AM – Silent breakfast. I love breakfast so much that I plan to dedicate a whole entry about it so just for now I’ll spare you the details :)

Rice porridge and eggs

10:45 – 11:00 AM – We gather into our small groups to practice and quiz each other on the sanskrit names for postures.  With names like utkatasana, ardo mukha svasana, chataranga dandasana, and utthita parsvottanasana, these sessions get really confusing really fast.

11:00 – 1:30 PM – Lesson and/or discussion about one of the following: yoga philosophy, anatomy and physiology, teaching methodology, and pose breakdown/adjustments

Instructor M draws the sole of a foot to visualize pressure points

1:30 – 3:00 PM – Lunch break.  After finishing your meal, you see people walking around in loops, laptops or smartphones firmly in hand, as they attempt to find the rare hotspot where the wifi miraculously decides to work.  Everyone usually fails.

3:00 – 6:00 PM – Another lesson or discussion, usually followed by practice teaching sessions

Monk chat

6:00 – 7:00 PM – Chant. Or finish up with lessons.

Adjusting Warrior Pose 1

7:00 – whenever – Dinnertime, usually filled with jovial company and, of course, delicious vegetarian food.  After finishing off a post-dinner cup of tea, people start heading back to their rooms to recover from the day with an early bedtime.  Sometimes there is a movie screening after dinner.

Poolside dinner to end the day

All of this happens all day from Sunday to Friday.  We’re free on Saturdays to roam around the city or just sleep in and relax.

My writing in this post is quite objective.  I consider it a bit dry. Oh well.

Goodbye friends :)

64. first impressions

March 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

flowers and candles during the opening ceremony

Hm.  I don’t even know where to start.  There are so many things I can write about but my brain is too over-saturated with new experience and disoriented from the change in environment for me to write coherently so bear with my bullet point first impressions:

1. as mentioned before, the resort is beautiful. and so lush!  the greenery is beautiful and the buildings (including our bedrooms, the yoga shala (practice area), the dining area, reception, etc) are very conducive for a yoga training.  i have pictures of my bedroom below but you’ll have to wait to see the cool shala — but its exactly what you would imagine when i say “yoga shala.”

my home for the next month

2. there are a lot of nature noises that i have never heard before and i swear there is a bird living on our ceiling somewhere.  also there are a lot of cat friends around.

i swear this cat started posing for me. quite an inappropriate pose -.-;;

3. i have a cool roommate who i will refer to as “roommate S.”  she’s a white girl and i haven’t had a white girl roommate since my freshman year of college so i was a bit nervous (without good reason though because my first white girl roommate turned out to be great).  but then i realized i wasnt nervous because she was white i was just nervous because she was human. i haven’t had a roommate since freshman year of college (though i did have apartment-mates) so i was concerned about sharing a bedroom with someone in general.  but roommate S and i jive well about living habits and we’ve had some good conversations so im quite pleased.

swimming roommate S

4. being here makes me miss my kolkata friends. i think its because the environment of chiang mai reminds me a lot of kolkata and i want to make friends with the locals like i did in kolkata.

5.  four words: ex-model French black monk.

6. 22 students. 21 females. 1 male. A LOT of Canadians (I didn’t even realize this many Canadians existed in the world). A couple Europeans. Very few Americans (actually, ZERO americans that are currently residing in the States). Oh and 1 Alaskanian. (Alaska deserves its own shout out because Alaska doesn’t quite seem ‘America’ even though it technically is.  I really like Alaska lady).  A lot of massage therapists.

7. 5 instructors: 1 quick-witted British (?) man, 1 gorgeous Spanish woman with bodily proportions to die for, 1 wonderfully uncategorizable nomad hippie who teaches us pranayama (breath) and song, 1 woman who was in a motorbike accident and has a lot of scars, and 1/2 of aforementioned ex-model French black monk + 1/2 another instructor to join us later (the last two are labeled “1/2” because they are here only on certain days of the training)

8. when hippie instructor started talking about “universal life force” and “the alignment of the stars and the moon” and “oneness” my intellectual haughtiness started panicking and yelled to me ‘go read a book about real life your brain is going to turn to love-peace-happiness mush in this place’ so i started reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, a Pulitzer prize winning book about the history of the world dating from ancient times and recounting the birth, rise, and destruction of societies and about economics/politics/evolution/agriculture/industrialization/medicine/blahblah …basically, the most anti-fluff book i could find to keep myself “grounded in the real world” and balance all the hippie-love heebie jeebies.

my antidotes to over-yoga-nization :)

9. …but sometimes hippie instructor says things that are wise. and it just makes sense.  and she is quite bright and disciplined, and obviously cares deeply about what she does. so…maybe i shouldn’t be so quick to judge unfamiliar ideas.

10. mosquitos love me. i even have a bite on my armpit. lovely.

11. internet is choppy. updating this blog is difficult – its like a total crapshoot here. sometimes i get lucky and am blessed with a 5-minute window of wifi to upload one picture so uh…updates may be slow, but i’ll do my best to keep you updated! :)

12. and i dont know if this is TMI but my uterus decided to drop an egg the exact same day i arrived in thailand. great timing, womanly parts. great timing.

13. i thought i’d lose weight here with this whole vegetarian diet but that is not going to happen. the food is too good! :)

lunch: fresh seasonal fruit, vegetarian curry with squash, yams, peppers, etc.; fresh salad with balsamic onion dressing, vegetarian spring roll with some kind of sauce. i know it looks like rabbit food but it is quite delicious.

14.  hokay internet dying soon so goodbye lovers and friends. i hope you know that i  send you positive heebie-jeebie-energy-waves of love and joy from thailand every morning ^^

oh and if you are my little brother please read the following: be good — wake up on time and always eat breakfast! sleep early and understand your lessons+homework as opposed to rote memorization. fighting!  i expect straight A’s, a clean home, and a well-slept + healthy-food-eaten brother when i get back :P

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