Category Archives: What We Love

You Can Do Yoga! A Beginner’s Guide

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As a self-proclaimed health freak and also dubbed as a hypochondriac by beloved friends and family, I dabbled in a variety of sports growing up: gymnastics, swimming, diving, soccer, cross country and field hockey. However, once the hey day of my athletic career ended in college I had to begin making the time to work out, time that was always carved out by “practice.” I tried to make time to run a few days a week and lift weights occasionally. But I didn’t feel satisfied. My body was still craving something more.

There is something for everyone when it comes to yoga! Don’t be intimidated by the “hippie stigma” it still carries.

(Before I begin the rest of this entry, I beg forgiveness where I digress back into my Indian Life just a mere month ago. Let me reiterate that these digressions serve to transition to a greater point and are not intentionally cathartic in nature). While in India I hoped to explore the many facets of yoga–I was sure I’d come back a guru at the very least. However, the reality of working long days and in a city suffering from the pangs of modernity where everyone was in just as much of a rush as I was was that I did not have time to explore yoga until the end of my time. Interestingly, I tried the most new-age of yoga practices, Bikram Yoga. Founded by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, the purpose of bikram yoga is to rid the body of toxins and bring newly oxygenated blood to organs. The room is heated to a sweltering 105˚ F in order to achieve such claims as well as give practitioners optimal flexibility. I found that I really enjoyed Bikram Yoga. I felt cleansed, strong and slept restfully at night (not to mention that the pesky tricep area on my arms seemed to be transforming almost overnight!). This, coupled with running a few times a week was probably one of the few times in my life when I looked, but most importantly, felt my best.

The Vedas are a body of ancient text based in the Hindu tradition.

Yoga practices are varied in nature, mostly because the art is incredibly ancient, dating back to 3000 BC according to one source. The purpose of yoga was to heal community members and the practitioners acted as religious mediators. The history of yoga can be classified into the Vedic, Pre-Classical, Classical and Post-Classical periods. During the Vedic period yoga was characterized by rituals and ceremonies, the purpose being to surpass the limitations of the mind. During the Pre-Classical period meditation began to become integral to yoga practice as influenced by Buddhism, while during the Classical period there was more of an emphasis on sutras, or defining the principles of the yogic tradition. Finally, Post-Classical yoga strives to teach one to accept and live in the moment.

The Beatles popularized yoga in the West during their stay in Rishikesh, India in the 1960s. Although crumbling, you can still visit the ashram they stayed at.

Although yoga was popularized as “bohemian” when the Beatles camped out in Rishikesh, India during the 1960s, there are many interpretations which means that there is something for everyone, from my Division 1 soccer playing brother to our elderly grandparents and relatives that are beginning to feel the effects of age. It is important to remember that yoga is journey; what works for you now might not work a month or a year from now. Our current circumstances, phase of life and emotional needs dictate which yogic practices our mind, body and souls need. It can be daunting to begin researching all of the practices out there, but it simply takes time to sift through the material available to us and take chances as we try new practices. Take this quiz below to help figure out where it might be good for you to be started!

YOGA QUIZ

Want to do something incredibly radical? Go to an ashram for a little bit. An ashram is a community living area, usually nestled in a bucolic, peaceful area where people come together to practice yoga and eat organic food. Rooms are small and simple, and the ashram is usually free of distractions so that guests can focus on meditation, journaling and reflect. I had the good fortune to end my time in India at an ashram in Rishikesh and it was an incredible experience. I felt amazing practicing yoga in group sessions for four hours a day, eating healthy sattvic** food, and interacting with people from all corners of the world. My ashram, called Anand Prakash Yoga, focused on a holistic practice of yoga, from challenging body poses to pranayama, or breathing techniques, as well as incorporating meditations and chants. I came away feeling well-rested and happy which was immensely important as I ended my time in India and prepared myself for my journey home.

This is what a typical ashram looks like.

However, take caution that yoga is not always cheap! Bikram classes can go for $20-$30 a class. Many times membership fees to yoga studios are $100+, depending on the plan. However, look for deals where you can. In New York City there is an organization called Yoga for the People which relies on donations only for class. Many times yoga studios offer deals, and almost always the first class is free. For example, in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, one yoga studio is offering a summer deal of $30 for thirty days of yoga. If you already belong to a work-out center, such as the YMCA, many of them provide classes without an extra cost. Or, check out the free podcasts from Yoga Journal, grab your mat and work out in the comfort of home, reducing your carbon footprint.

-Brittany

**Sattvic food is a type of yoga diet that leads to clarity of mind, leaving out what are termed to be “stimulants,” such as caffeine and salt.**

Sources:
http://www.bikramyoga.com/BikramYoga/about_bikram_yoga.php
http://www.yogajournal.com/
http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/beginnersguide/yogahistory.asp

My ashram:
http://www.anandprakashashram.com

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Inspirational Quotes by Women

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Jane Austen

“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.”

~ Jane Austen

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~ Anais Nin

“People with clenched fists cannot shake hands.”

~ Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

Ella Fitzgerald

~ Ella Fitzgerald

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.”

~ Virginia Woolf

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.”

~ Gloria Steinem

What We Love: Collage

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Hollie Chastain

As we prepare for our first Art of Yoga narrative textile workshop that starts TODAY we’re falling in love all over again with collage – paper collage, fabric collage and anything and everything in between. Artists far and wide, widely recognized and little known have used this technique for ages (the impulse to collect, recombine and transform draws on something deeply human, I think). Here is a sampling of what’s possible when you grab some left over fabric or paper, thread a needle or get down and dirty with a glue stick…From the famous French artist Henri Matisse, to textile artist Darcy Falk, to the mixed media artist and educator Deborah Snider to the paper and collage artist Hollie Chastain collage can empower us all!

-Devon


Henri Matisse


Deborah Snider


Darcy Falk


Darcy Falk

Japan’s “Comfort Women”

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When photographer Ahn Sehong’s exhibit in the Nikon Building in Tokyo was pulled, he blamed discrimination. The subject of his controversial work? Japan’s “Comfort Women”. The name is misleading, and in fact the term “Comfort Women” is actually a practice that is distinctly disconcerting. It refers to a group of women, victims who were forcibly taken from Korea and used as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Sehong believes his portrait series was cancelled because the Japanese don’t want to acknowledge the women. In fact, he believes the Japanese are purposefully trying to wipe away the history of these women. Like many nations, Japan prefers to keep this part of it’s history hidden from view. The thing we have to remember is that there is a reason that unpleasant and sometimes painful memories in the past shouldn’t stay hidden. We all need to remember so as to prevent it from happening again, and clearly there are still many other countries who could do with the example.

-Clare

For more information:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/05/world/asia/japan-comfort-women/index.html?hpt=wo_t2

What We Love: Language

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Language is a puzzle whose pieces take years to put together. It’s a monumental feat to learn a new one, and it requires many paradigm shifts along the way, from giving up the attachment to subject-before-verb sentences to learning to source sounds from parts of the throat you didn’t know existed.

Language is as much a part of culture as clothing and rituals, and even if you can’t find the time to learn a whole new tongue, knowing a few phrases can really help to discover different facets of a foreign society.

Here are just a few vocabulary words that are meaningful to Anchal. Understanding them gives some insight into our philosophy and traditions.

Enjoy!
Emily

Anchal – edge of a sari used to provide comfort and protection for loved ones.

Anoothi – an adjective meaning unique, extraordinary and exclusive. Anoothi is also the name of Anchal’s partner based in Ajmer. Their objective is to generate funds to benefit the
thousands of rural women living in poverty simply because they do not have a support system to empower them and help them realize their true potential. Check out http://www.anoothi.org

Choli – a midriff-baring blouse shell garment in the Indian sari costume

Kāli – “The black one.” Kāli is the name of the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment. She is also considered the goddess of time and change. Anchal’s partner New Light is headquartered in the same neighborhood as one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites, the Kali Temple (as well as Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying). www.newlightindia.org
Kantha – a type of embroidery popular in Bangladesh and in West Bengal, India.

Naari – woman

Namaste – derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of two words, “Namaḥ” and “te” (a
shortened variant of “tubhyam”). Namaḥ means ‘bow’, ‘obeisance’, ‘reverential salutation’ or ‘adoration’ and te means ‘to you’ (dative case of ‘you’). Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow to you” translated as “I bow to you.”

Sari – a strip of unstitched cloth, worn by females, ranging from four to nine yards in length that is draped over the body in various styles

(Explanations of vocabulary via Wikipedia and Anchalproject.org)

Beat the Heat with a Fresh Lime Soda

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In a recent email exchange with Jaimala, I received the latest report about the artisans in Ajmer and read this remark about the weather, “We are fine-as fine as one can be in 113 degrees!” Wow that is hot!

While the summer temperatures rise both in the U.S. and India, I am reminded of my favorite thirst quencher, a Fresh Lime Soda. It is a common street drink found in India and is considered the “supreme quencher of colonial thirst.”* There are quite a few versions but, ultimately it combines carbonated water and limes. Thereby becoming a better, fresher version of a 7-up.

Ahh, just writing the words puts a smile on my face. While traveling in India, Devon and I created quite a tradition of ordering multiple fresh lime sodas throughout the day. It became our go to jump start in the morning and our reward in the evening. I can, without a doubt, say it is one of my favorite things about India.

So tonight go home and treat yourself to this tasty and refreshing drink. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Fresh Lime Soda
2 tbsp. simple syrup (made by first boiling
together equal parts sugar and water,
then letting it cool)
1 1⁄2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
3⁄4 cup soda water
Ice cubes
Lime slice

(Note that this recipe can easily be adjusted to personal taste)

-Colleen

*A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food (Oxford University Press, 1998), author K. T. Achaya
**photo credit

MOMA’s “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream” Exhibition

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About a month ago, while staying in New York, Colleen and I had a chance to see the “Foreclosed” exhibit at MOMA. I thought I would share a bit about it and why we enjoyed it so much.

The exhibit explores the United States’s recent challenge of foreclosed homes in our difficult economy. Five interdisciplinary teams of designers were asked to investigate the idea of the American Dream, prompted by The Buell Hypothesis, an idea developed by Reinhold Martin and colleagues of Columbia University.

The Buell Hypothesis, at its most basic, argues as follows: Change the dream and you change the city. The private house and the city or suburb in which it is situated share a common destiny. Hence, if you change the narratives guiding suburban housing (such as that of the American Dream) and the priorities they imply—including spatial arrangements, ownership patterns, the balance between public and private interests, and the mixtures of activities and services that any town or city entails—then you begin the process of redirecting suburban sprawl.”

The principles of the architecture firms, MOS, Visible Weather, Studio Gang Architects, WORKac, and Zago Architecture led the five teams in designing alternative solutions to five unique sites. The teams created strategic solutions for the communities that went beyond building to rethink the connection between the natural environment and the built environment, pursuing new concepts in alternative energy sources, waste management and other operational programs. The exhibition itself displayed architectural models, illustrations, video interviews, and animations all of which contextualized the problem within each of the five cities. Here are a few images of the work.

So if you are traveling to New York before August 13, I highly recommend taking a few hours to stop into MOMA and check out this great exhibit.

-Maggie

For more information visit the “Foreclosed” interactive site.
(photos taken from “Foreclosed” site)