Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

Two minute meditation

August 10th, 2016

I like to meditate. I've always been attracted to spirituality. Training to be a yoga teacher enhanced my desire.

The June 15, 2016 issue of TIME magazine wrote, "A new study found that while most people pick up the practice for exercise or stress relief, many people say they keep it up for the spirituality." The exact sentiment was repeated again in the July 4, 2016 issue (page 18.)

I would even meditate for two minutes in the wee hours of the morning before I went to work at KHON2. It would be 3:30 a.m. and I would stand outside by my car and look at the night sky, visualizing a positive outcome to the day.

It grounds and centers me. Now that I'm housewifing it again, I have more time to do it for longer than two minutes.

In times of devastating stress, I've relied on spirituality to carry me. Sometimes, I only had myself to lean on, and that had to be enough. You have to be your own resource.

I've always felt teaching this to my daughter would be a good tool for her toolbox. She's old enough to start. Understanding that she's nine and her attention span will be short, I am keeping it to two minutes for now.

On the first day, I prefaced, "Let's do something new together. I'm going to teach you to meditate. It's going to feel boring now but it will help you when you are grown up. If you're stressed out it will help you feel better."

"But I can just come home and talk to you about it," she countered.

"Well, if Mommy's not there," I clarified.

"Then I'd just come home and hug Inca," she revised.

I love that kids think today is forever. I kind of wish some parts of it would be, like this.

There's a lot of different ways to meditate, but all of them share the common idea that you calm your mind and not think about your To Do list or how you're going to solve some problem.

I told her to think about a nice color and try to feel how that color makes her feel. We sit on yoga mats and stretch a little first (yoga's purpose is to prepare the body for meditation, so with Olivia, I do a very abbreviated version.)

Then we take three deep breaths and I set the timer. I enjoy it. Olivia is fidgety, but she tolerates it for me.

I like doing this with her, and I really hope in the long, long run she'll embrace it and learn to benefit from it as I have.

Maui: Banyan Tree Bed & Breakfast

June 8th, 2016

There's a lovely bed and breakfast retreat in the middle of Makawao that my daughter and I found to be a wonderful place to stay for all our Upcountry activities. We found it completely by accident and feel lucky to have stumbled across such a great place!

Cato the cat at the office.

Cato the cat at the office.

The Banyan Bed and Breakfast Retreat, originally built in 1927, is a historic plantation house formerly owned by Ethel Baldwin of the famous Baldwin family. She married Henry Alexander Baldwin, a sugar cane plantation manager, US Representative of Territorial Hawaii, and one of the earliest leaders of the Hawaii Republican Party.

The center of all the cottages.

The center of all the cottages.

Ethel Baldwin lived here from the early 60's until her death here on property in 1967. Incidentally, her granddaughter was Mary Cameron Sanford, former owner and publisher of the Maui News.

Marty Herling

Marty Herling

Fast forward to 1998, when the property was up for sale. Marty Herling was a San Francisco restaurateur with a three decade history before that as the owner of a construction company. He was looking for change, and fell in love with Maui on a vacation here.

View of our Hibiscus Cottage.

View of our Hibiscus Cottage.

He bought it, and converted it into a bed and breakfast, with seven individual cottages and suites. The largest is the Historic Plantation House which can be rented as a a two, three, or four bedroom house.

All the rentals have their own entrance, private bathroom, and kitchenette. Breakfast is served every morning to guests of the suites and cottages, so you dine privately in your own space. It's quite lovely.

He chose to keep the charming plantation feel when he remodeled the property, and it's something Sanford, who he says he kept in touch with, thanked him for.

Herling's past work experiences all fold nicely into the skills needed as a bed and breakfast owner; his personality is perfect for a job that requires one to be a people-person.

"I love it. I love when new people come and I can help share a slice of old Hawaii with them. I love that this is a spiritual place where people can reconnect with nature and themselves," Herling says. "It's important to me that I create a sense of community, be a part of the community, and give back to the community."

He has a calm, quiet persona, but once you get him talking, he's a fountain of spirituality, with conversations somehow all revolving back to his study of Hindi wisdom. He practices Vedanta, a school of philosophy that stems from the Vedas or Hindu scriptures.


Yoga philosophy is derived from the Vedas, so it's this connection that made it a natural decision for him to build a 700 sq. ft. yoga and meditation studio, accessible to the guests as an amenity. (It's popular for yoga retreat groups.) You know I love that! It's fully equipped with yoga props and an audio/video system.

Pool, early morning.

Pool, early morning.

Large banyan, monkeypod and jacaranda trees create a peaceful, shady oasis amidst the many fruit trees, flowers and sunny, wide open lawns. Several swings and hammocks hang from the trees offering comfortable private places around the two acre property.

My daughter loved the 50' salt water swimming pool and hot tub, with gorgeous, sweeping views of the Maui landscape.

Herling's own mother came to live at the property at the end of her life. Addled with dementia, she stayed here in hospice.

For this reason, it was important to Herling that the facilities be handicap-accessible. There is a stand-alone handicap accessible full bath in the plantation house, and the two bedroom, two bath Sue's Cottage (where she lived) is fully handicap accessible. The pool and yoga studio are also handicap-accessible.

Hi, Cato!

Hi, Cato!

Herling lives on property with his family and two cats, friendly Cato and skittish Popoki. I knew it was going to be a good stay when the first thing we saw was the cats. Olivia and I are big animal lovers.


We spent a lot of down time just hanging out in the room, walking around the grounds, playing in the water, and being in nature. It's so peaceful and quiet, with just the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees. Nights are completely dark and restful. It's the perfect vacation: just the way Herling hopes to make his guests feel.

More at

Yoga training: Conclusion

April 27th, 2016

This was our last weekend in the teacher training course, and I've come to realize I'm not able right now to pursue a certification. I need to register a certain number of hours on the mat (alone and working with students) and I haven't the time or energy right now to do that.


Future yoga teachers!

"I loved training. It's been an amazing journey," reflects student Debbie Miranda. "I learned a lot about myself and how to be patient with myself. I've learned it's OK."

I loved it too,  but there are certain things I took to easily about the course, and other parts that I found very difficult. It gets harder to absorb new things when one is older, and also obligated to so many other responsibilities in daily life!

Me in crow pose.

Me in crow pose.

I like the intensity of study, learning about energy flow, breathing techniques, and the science behind yoga. I like the spiritual component, and opening my eyes to the larger lifestyle of yoga and Ayurveda. I like becoming part of a yoga community, making new friends who share a similar mindset with me.

I disliked the study of anatomy, which is extremely interesting but not easy for me. It matters, because I'd need to correct students' postures to avoid injury or to understand how a certain pose affects certain muscles.

I'm sure I could get into this in a different time of my life, but that time is not now, and I'm OK with that. I still really got value out of this course.

It empowered me to set up a home yoga practice which I can access at my leisure. It taught me about the power of intent, and that your thoughts become your actions and your actions become you. I'm more Zen, to borrow an American shorthand.


Most of the students will go on to get certified. Two have already completed their requirements!

Kazusa Flanagan is one of those two students who got certified on our last day of class and speaks to the transformative quality of the teachings. "Before teacher training, yoga was a hobby. Now, yoga is part of my life. I live for yoga."

Congratulations to the first in our group to get certified, Mitsue Sanami and Kazusa Flanagan!

Congratulations to the first in our group to get certified, Mitsue Sanami and Kazusa Flanagan!

Our teacher, Amanda Webster, was ever encouraging at my revelation. "You'll do it when you're ready," she pronounced. Yes, perhaps I will.

Amanda and me. Best teacher ever!

Amanda and me. Best teacher ever!

She still gave out the course completion certificates. When we finish the requirements, she'll sign it. It feels like semi-graduation! It was still exciting!

Now my challenge is to earn Amanda's signature...

Now my challenge is to earn Amanda's signature...

Until then, I appreciate having the tools to go forth and keep finding my balance. As Swami Satchidananda said, "We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves... We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil."



More about this yoga course at

Related blogs:


Posted in yoga | 4 Comments »

Yoga training: Metta meditation

April 25th, 2016

In yoga, we learned about channeling energy throughout the body to achieve certain responses. The poses you practice and the way it directs breath and energy through the body ignite that response. Certain chants and meditative practices after practice enhance that feeling.

Sometimes, it's heat and energy. Sometimes, it's restorative and calm.


Amanda taught us something called the Metta meditation, which focuses on finding unconditional love for self and others. I think it's beautiful.

Unconditional love is at the root of all major religions, so it's got to be the answer to move humanity forward. All those religions can't be wrong!

Here's how it works:

Take a few deep breaths to get centered. You picture five beings in your mind: yourself, someone you like, someone you are neutral about, someone you dislike, and all sentient beings.

Picturing one entity at a time, you repeat this phrase in your mind: May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be peaceful. May I be enlightened to my true nature. May I be free.

Obviously, alter the pronoun appropriately as you move through each person on the list.

It doesn't take long, and I've been doing it at least once a day. I've found myself calmer at the end of the process. Maybe it's because sitting quietly, breathing deeply, for five minutes calms me down.

Still, I like to think it's more than that. I like to think I'm having some kind of positive effect on a little corner of the world with my happy thoughts.

And anyway, didn't Gandhi advise you be the change you want to see in the world? So maybe it starts with me.

If you do this, how does it affect you?

Peace. Love. Have a great day.

Related blogs:

Posted in yoga | 2 Comments »

Yoga training: Emotion and the body

April 22nd, 2016

There's a belief that emotion is stored in the body. Pain that crops up is the body's way of manifesting physically what emotional issues you're dealing with.

Someone in class, for instance, is in perfect physical health with a vigorous exercise routine, but suddenly, when faced with an overwhelming life change, she says her knee would collapse, impeding her ability to walk.

She saw it as fear of going forward with life. In short order, she dealt with her life's changes, and the knee restored itself.

Disclaimer: we're not doctors, and please don't ignore your own pains in hopes it'll resolve itself the way my friend's did. I just like to mull the theory.

Yoga selfie! Hello!

Yoga selfie! Hello!

In yoga training, we focused one session on this idea and how yoga can resolve it, using hip opening exercises. The muscles in the hips help the knees flex, thus letting the body run or stand ground in traumatic situations, triggering the instinctual flight or fight reaction.

The idea is that instead of discharging this excess energy, humans often store it, which means we keep sadness in the hips. More than one yoga teacher I've talked to says it's not uncommon to see students crying on the mat during a class with many hip-openers.

I myself have experienced this. During times of stress, a series of poses focused on hip stretches seems to release unexpressed emotion - even those I already thought I dealt with. It's cathartic.

Some have postulated yoga is calming in and of itself, regardless of the pose practiced, because it's a chance for the mind to slow down and address the stressors without other distraction of daily life. My teacher, Amanda, says the hips in particular are our "attic" of emotional blockage, tucking away issues we don't want to deal with.

Whatever the reason, I find it a nice release. If you're so inclined, you might want to try a few hip stretches and see. Don't forget to coordinate your breath smoothly with the movements.

Did you try it and did it do anything for you? Do you believe emotion is stored in the body?
Related blogs:

Posted in yoga | No Comments »

Recent Posts

Recent Comments