I awoke with a blue sky in my face. Sun felt like sun again and the heat filled every single part of me, the light was every part of me. What a world of strange shapes and colours and sounds, a painting in motion, an ever changing piece of art in every sense, sometimes tragic yet shapeable. Pavement covered in dirt seems like gold, why? The bitterest of tastes are welcome and the sweetest are cherished. Nothing goes overlooked, nothing goes unappreciated. Every inanimate part suddenly seems to breath and pulse with life although it may not have seemed to before. It came alive because you chose to see it is living, ridding of illusions and letting a clear image be shown. There is so much space, there is so much energy, embrace it, it can be easy to forget.
Words can barely describe my recent trip to Guatemala, and I never expected it to be what it was. Through my travels and supported by it’s beauty and culture, amazing people and places, I was knocked down by sickness and brought to life again, met the most amazing people, hiked volcanoes and trudged through caves, saw sunrises and sunsets in places that I will never forget with new faces that have impacted my life for good. Here are some of the highlights and favorite photos of my journeys in this beautiful country, I hope they inspire you to go for yourself and experience your own Guatemalan adventure!
1. Exploring the streets of Antigua
I love colonial towns, and Antigua is one the nicest ones I have visited thus far. Old churches, cobblestone streets and heaps of shops and restaurants to check out in the day, as well as some good bars and live music to see at night. I was lucky enough to spend New Year’s here, where the street were packed and the celebration was on in full swing. As the clock hit midnight I watched from a rooftop as fireworks encircled the entire city. If you don’t get too trapped into going out there are some awesome day trips and hikes to do through tour companies that are decently priced and super fun!
2. The Good Life at Lago de Atitlan
This was a place many friends had told me to visit, and for good reason. The vibe at the lake is not to be missed, a hidden gem in the mountains only accessible by winding roads and well worth the journey. I spent the most time in San Pedro, which is full of awesome restaurants, a couple must-go bars, reputable Spanish schools and thanks to the super ‘naturalist’ crowd it draws, a life saving health food store. Sunbathing, swimming in the lake, hiking, beach partying and lots of good music surrounded by a little family was how I spent my days. Only word of warning, be cautious of taking good care of yourself and perhaps look into Grapefruit Seed Extract if you want to save yourself some trouble, I got quite sick here, and unfortunately it’s a common occurrence. I don’t often stay places for 3 weeks, but San Pedro felt like a temporary home. Want to learn Spanish? Highly recommend Maya B Spanish School. If you are looking for a more relaxed vibe and hella cacao ceremonies, check out San Marcos, easily accessible by boat from the San Pedro dock!
3. Indiana Jones’ing and Jungle Lovin’ in Semuc Champey
Hands down one of the coolest and most fun experiences ever. Pretty broad yeah but seriously, Semuc Champey is the shit. It was a bit of a deathride to get there, stuck in the back of a tiny bus for like 10 hours and fearing falling off a cliff, but once you get there you’ll forget about the bus and let yourself enjoy the beauty and good times awaiting. I stayed at the infamour Zephyr lodge, known for it’s party atmosphere and complete with a bunch of Aussies but worth staying at, even though it’s a tad more expensive than some other accommodations. The town of Lanquin where most people stay (also where Zephyr is located) is quite small but I actually checked out a dope market with some great tamales. Many of the people here didn’t actually speak Spanish but a dialect of Mayan, and being out here really felt as close as many beaten path travellers get to off the grid. Semuc Champey itself is about a 45 minute truck ride away. It’s crystal blue pools and the nearby caves will take your breath away. Talk about jungle love, this place blew my mind. Australia day was pretty fun here too, and gotta love an infinity pool.
4. The Serene Ruins at Tikal
Almost didn’t make it to Tikal, but if you’re going to see some ruins, I highly recommend visiting. Tikal is located near the city of Flores, so most people stay here and take a tour out in the day to the ruins, as we did, with a super informative and enthusiastic guide and a good sized group. We explored the ruins with our group and individually and what really struck me was how peaceful it was. No giant crowds like Angkor Wat, and with the guide providing in depth info about the ruins, flora and fauna, I felt I got the whole time travel experience. We watched the sunset from one of the highest formations, as is has done for years and years over the Mayan Empire. Magical.
So there you have some highlights of some crazy times down in Guate. So much left untold, so much still to discover. Muchas gracias!
What parts of Guatemala have you visited? What were your favorite parts or crazy things you experienced here?
For my first time in California, I was lucky to make it out to some beautiful places, see the touristy stuff and eat some really good food. So here are a couple photos of my little trip to the sunshine state. Check out these spots if you’re ever in the hood!
1. Venice Beach
Strolling down the boardwalk while people watching and taking in the view of the beautiful Pacific definitely makes for a good day in the sun. Full of crazy characters and at least a couple attractions that will catch your attention, this stretch of beach is famous for a reason. The sunsets are also beautiful.
2. Echo Park
This lil’ gem calls for a picnic on a warm day, to just lounge in the park or take a lazy walk around the fountain, or if you’re feeling up to it, rent a paddle boat and laugh at how classic it is to ride one of those on a little pond. They have a nice little coffee place and the food is meant to be tasty as well.
3. Hollywood Boulevard and ‘the Sign’
On top of actually gazing upon the well known white block letters that loom over the hills of Hollywood, driving up here makes for a nice view of some nice houses, and walking in the park itself is a good little hike. There are trails that take you through the hills, and the Griffith Observatory up at the top is an interesting place to check out with killer views. Hollywood Boulevard was just fun for the funs sake. Shoe shops and tourist traps with a sprinkling of gnarly ‘costume’ stores, blinking lights and Zach Galifinakis look alikes. Saw a couple sad Cinderallas in there too, most definitely an interesting place to check out. Get a drink or two but as with most touristy areas, you’re paying for the location here.
4. Calle Olvera and Little Tokyo
If you’re in the city (LA), these are a couple cute spots that you can go lurk to your hearts content, mow some sushi in an authentic hole in the wall or wait in a long promising line for taquitos. Both spots featured unique tiny shops and restaurants and are fun to look around.
Been to California? Tell me some of your favorite spots to check out!!
As I prepare to jet off on another leg of the great journey the excitement of packing the trusty ol’ travelling backpack fills me with joy. The constant narrowing down of everything you think you ‘need’ until it all fits comfortably into your turtle-shell carry all is a task I am well acquainted with and as annoying it can be, it is always good practice, of travel and of non-attachment.
I told myself this time I was taking nothing. I want to be able to hop on and off of buses without the fear of breaking my spine or dreading trekking up any sort of hill with my oversized pack. I will wear the same outfit for months. I imagine my backpack as a lovely floating green companion with a few shirts and a toothbrush, until I realize that unless I’m on naked and afraid, there will be a lot more than that. I’m going for balance here. So here is what I’ve narrowed it down to, quite painlessly actually, the guts of my pack which will hopefully be more ‘I can evade dogs and run fast with this!’ than ‘holy shit my knees are broken.’
One outfit would be light but ultimately impractical and boring. Sitting in an airport freezing in tiny shorts is at least better when you have a light sweater. Obviously it’s easier to pack light when you’ll be in warm climates, but terrain and environment can vary drastically.With clothes it’s best to stick to basics and things that are multipurpose. That scarf? Now it’s a vest..or blanket..or skirt. Scarves are where it’s at.
So here I have:
5 tanktops (they’re small)
2 pairs of yoga shorts
1 pair of leggings
1 sarong (like scarves, can have many uses)
2 hats and 1 wool buff
2 pairs jean shorts
a clump of bathing suits and unds
Not so bad. I can honestly say scarves and my rainjacket have saved me numerous times, pack them! Also in this photo is my travel hoop (need) and hammock. Hammock’s a little heavy but can come in very handy and oh so comfy.
As for shoes, I typically end up with none or well worn flip flops, but there’s always a part of me that pictures myself hiking epic volcanoes and hoping for something a little more sturdy. The boots are a bit of an exception. These aren’t exactly something I would highly recommend bringing, but I love them.
This part is where shit gets heavy. Previously I’ve travelled without a computer ( I didn’t actually own one at the time) but I just prefer to have it, especially if I plan to keep this ol’ thing pretty up to date. Then cameras, cords and chargers are added into the mix. As long as electronics are all kept compact and organized they’re really not bad to travel with. Also pictured here is the ESSENTIAL yoga mat and handy dandy journal. Not pictured here: Gopro and accessories.
Also bringing the ukulele!!!
At the end of it all, I feel like I did a pretty good job this time around. All comes down to weeding out what you really don’t need, which will become apparent when you hit the road. And don’t forget the little things, like passport copies and padlocks, just to be safe.
Hope this was a decent insight on the art of packing, happy travels and be safe!!!
Stay tuned for posts on my upcoming travels and to see where the wind is currently taking me!
a new day
a new pattern
watch the particles collide
so close yet so far
do not resist the sun on your face
it is there for a reason
a changing of a season
doesn’t mean the same for everyone
as all our paths are unique
dancing and interweaving together
so much method in the madness
so lovely that it’s mad
many lifetimes to be had
let it all happen
let yourself be free
there is always more to see…
So I’m pretty pumped to say that I finally did it the other day and purchased a GoPro, a camera I have been hoping to get for a while due to it’s ruggedness and ease of use. In my opinion, everything should be waterproof and I can say I am super impressed with this purchase. My first time using it a couple days ago I just so happened to drop all my stuff in the snow, things that shouldn’t get wet, while the trusty GoPro shrugged it off and kept filming. It may become my new partner in crime. Even though I went with the Hero4 Silver with the back touch screen, I love that you don’t need to look at what you’re filming, you can just point it where you’re looking and the ultra wide fish eye will generally take care of the rest! (As long as you’re pretty close;)) So to test this baby out before it is up in the ranks of diving and cliff jumping, I took a nice walk in the park, in the snow, and captured a little bit of footage, clipped it up and added some music, to produce my first little GoPro video. It’s amateur, but as one who’s not very technically inclined, I’m pretty proud. 😉 More to come!
With a blend of spices, comforting apple pieces and the added crunch of nutrient rich nuts, these pancakes will help power you up on a cold morning. Use whatever protein powder you would like, but one with little flavour is probably best so the flavours of the apples and spices can shine through. I use a hemp protein powder that has a little bit of an earthy flavour to it and good texture. Do it up with some coffee or tea and you’re ready to go! The cinnamon in this recipe not only helps keep blood sugar levels stable, it is also a powerful antioxidant, just like apple skins, which I would recommend leaving on for this recipe! Just make sure the apple is washed well, and the texture will break down a little during cooking.
1/4 cup oats
1/4 protein powder of choice
1 tbsp. chopped nuts (walnuts, cashews etc)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
tiny pinch of cayenne
tiny pinch of salt
1 small apple, diced
1/2 tsp baking powder
Maple syrup or jam
In a pan on medium heat, caramelize apple chunks until brown and a little bit crispy in a bit of coconut oil. Combine all dry ingredients and add about 1/2 cup of water, add more if necessary to desired consistency. Mix in caramelized apples and let mixture sit for about a minute. In a bit of coconut oil pour batter in pan and cook evenly, until edges turn brown. Top with your favorite jam or maple syrup and have an amazing day!
In magazines, fitness videos, tv shows, at gyms, you name it, there is a constant theme about ‘the core’. In today’s society a lot of this emphasis is put on having a washboard stomach and a 6 pack with little to no fat covering rock hard muscles, but there is simply more to it than that. In fact, if we look at ‘our core’ as a whole, and as a whole a part of something even bigger, the term itself takes on quite a different meaning. Let’s start by looking at it anatomically in a western sense.
Our core area, or torso, includes pretty much everything from the pelvis up, to the intercostal muscles of the ribs and also the diaphragm. Not just the front, but the back and all they way around, the muscles, the skin, the fascial layers, all of it! Huge players in this area are also the iliopsoas muscles, which stem from the lower lumbar vertebrae and go down to the base of the femur, acting as major hip flexors and spine stabilizers. Key word here? Stability. It is not just having strong abdominal muscles we require, but to have an all around strength and flexibility to stay stable from our ‘centre’, from our spine, and have a firm base from which all other movements of the body can be carried out gracefully. Especially with repetitive movements and certain asanas, core strength is essential to complete these motions safely and effectively while still maintaining the integrity of the spine and surrounding joints. Walking, standing, sitting and laying down are all dependent on a functioning core centre for good posture and alignment, and keeping it supple and flexible is equally as important as strength.
Now let’s look that the energetic body. The chakra, or wheel of energy, associated with core function is ‘Manipura’ or the solar plexus chakra. Traditionally a yellow color, it carries the element of fire, and is associated with the belly button, pancreas, adrenal glands and digestive processes. It is also called the power centre, and for good reason. In keeping this energy centre moving healthfully, we are creating a strong standpoint from which stems the courage, determination, strength and stability that are necessary in life, working in harmony with all the other aspects of our being that make us whole. In keeping this particular area healthy, we also maintain our ‘agni’ or digestive fire, the flame that fuels digestion and healthy elimination processes. We also foster confidence, drive, and a fiery energy, hence, the power centre. You can imagine manipura like a fireplace, fuelled by the appropriate wood (food) and given the right wind or oxygen (activity), our fire will sustain it’s warmth, light and energy without waning away into only embers. A block of energy, or too much of too little activity in this space, whether felt as physical (like a stomach ache) or emotionally, creates blocking in other channels as well, and can create imbalance through other energy centres and physical processes.
Luckily, we hold it it in our hands to listen to ourselves and carry out what is necessary to maintain a happy balance!
Feeling a little sluggish or fatigued? Digestion feeling off? Maybe just a little down in the dumps, or even a little too fired up? Try these asanas to balance and enliven Manipura.
**Note: Remember to listen to your body and be safe and mindful through all parts of practice! It’s more important to be in your own harmonious pose, not in someone else’s.
Downward Dog to Plank Rolls
Beginning in downward facing dog, keep the feet hips width distance apart and hands shoulder widths distance. Press firmly into the ground with the fingers, taking weight off the wrists. ‘Plug’ the shoulders into their sockets and aim to keep the body in one long line from the feet to the head, maintaining the natural curves of the spine. Inhale deeply. On an exhalation, press back to downward facing dog, keeping the knees a little bit bent. Draw the navel in towards the spine. Exhale fully. On an inhalation, press into the hands, round the shoulders and begin to ‘roll forward into plank, utilizing the sides of the abdomen and upper abdominal muscles to bring you forward. Once back in plank, hold here for a few breaths, focusing on the front and back body, and engaging Mula Bandha if this is familiar to you. (See this link for a great article on Mula Bandha http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-2583/Bandhas-for-Beginners-Intro-to-Yogas-Interior-Locks.html) Repeat sequence 2 or 3 times, however many feels comfortable.
Salabasana (Locust Pose)
Salabasana is a great pose to incorporate into your practice to supplement the emphasis that is normally put on the front of the body and strengthen the back! It also helps to strengthen the muscles around the sacrum, important for stability and injury prevention. Lay on the stomach and place the hands close to the shoulders. Slightly rotate the thighs inward and lift the legs and chest as you inhale, using the lower back muscles. Press the pelvis lightly into the ground and lenthen the tailbone toward the ground to protect the lower back and sacrum. Keep the chest open and the gaze soft. Hold for a few steady breaths and exhale to lower, resting for a couple breaths. Repeat 2-3 times.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Bridge utilizes the back body muscles and frees the front body for a liberating but gentle backbend. Begin on the back with heels close to sitbones and arms at the sides, palms facing down. Inhale, press into the feet and lift the hips up, lengthening the lower spine toward the knees. Only lift as far as it feels good! Keep the legs parallel and breath even. You can keep the arms at the sides or walk the shoulders further under the body and interlace the fingers. Breathe into the opening of the chest. Exhale to lower back down and rest the knees together for a couple breaths.
‘Rock the Boat’
Begin by laying on the back with arms out to the sides. Slightly rotate the thighs inward, and inhale deeply. On an exhale, keep a slight pocket of air underneath the lower back to maintain the natural curve of the spine, and lift up to Navasana or Boat Pose. Keep the legs bent or straight here. If you don’t come fully up to Boat Pose it’s all good! The important part is focusing on using the deep abdominal and psoas muscles to lift you up. Imagine that you are lifting from the very top of where the legs connect to the torso, instead of the tops of the thighs. Keep the shoulders back and heart toward the sky, and aim to maintain a soft jaw. Inhale and lower down slowly, taking the arms wider out to the sides, almost all the way down, then lift again. Continue to ‘rock the boat’ for 5 complete breaths.
Begin on the back with heels close to sitbones and spine long. Bring the elbows out to the sides and touch the fingertips to the ears. Bring the legs up to a 90 degree angle, flex the feet and inhale. As you exhale, extend the left leg and contract the belly as you take the left elbow to the right knee. Inhale back to centre. Exhale, extend the right leg and bring the right elbow to the still bent left knee. Inhale back to centre.
Laying on the back with the arms out to the sides, palms facing down, lift the legs up, feet toward the sky. Keep the stomach muscles strong and inhale. Exhale and take the legs over toward the right, as far as is comfortable, and inhale the legs back to centre in strong controlled movements. You can use the arms to help keep you the upper body on the ground. Align the breath with the movements of the legs. Exhale lower legs to right, inhale back to centre. If it is more comfortable, keep the knees bent to take pressure off the spine.
Tolasana (Scale Pose)
Start in a cross legged seated position, or if not crossing the legs keep them straight out in front. Sit up tall with a long spine and either tent the fingers beside the body or use the hands placed on blocks beside the hips. On an exhalation, press the hands into the ground, tighten the belly and use your core muscle to lift the legs off the ground, or as far as you can go, engage mula bandha. Hold here for as long as possible and focus on lifting up from the very root of the pelvis and keeping a steady breath. Exhale to release back down when ready and take a moment to rest the palms on the knees or out to sides, breathing normally.
This is a nice cooling posture. Laying on the back, tuck the knees into the chest and hold the shins or backs of thighs. Inhale and loosen the grip of the legs, lengthen the spine, and as you exhale, draw the knees closer in toward the chest and the navel toward the spine. Keep the lower back on the mat. Apanasana is great for balancing the lower extremities and deals with descending energies relating to digestion and elimination. Visualize all the stale energies that you have mobilized descending down the spine and leaving the body as you exhale. It’s ok to laugh.
Jathara Parivartasana (Reclined Supine Twist)
This is such an amazing twist to release tension from the spine and mid body, as well as the shoulders and chest. Be gentle with your body and allow poses to come gracefully and with ease. Laying on the back with the knees bent, heels close to sitbones, take the arms out to the sides, palms facing down. Bring the knees to 90 degrees and slightly shift the hips to the left. Inhale and lengthen the spine from the root all the way to the crown of the head. Exhale as you lower the legs over to the right, twisting from the mid section. If available, look over the left shoulder. This is a passive twist, and revitalizes the nervous system as you move spinal fluid and joint debris to make way for new and vibrant engergies. Breathe normally and allow a calm mind. Inhale slowly back to centre and repeat on the other side.
Sivasana (Corpse Pose)
Awareness is the key to core strength and flexibility. As you lay in corpse pose, allow the limbs to be held by the earth, the feet to hang out to the sides and the face to be soft. Close the eyes and breathe deeply, expanding the belly and drawing your attention to the area just behind your belly button. Visualize a warm yellow light radiating from this space and emanating to all parts of the body in a sphere. Keep breathing and feeling this warmth, seeing this light with your mind’s eye. Spend as long as you need in this place. Notice how your mind and body are feeling and what may have changed from the beginning of your practice to now. What feelings have been cultivated?
No matter where you are, no effort is ever wasted, and the best thing we can do for ourselves in asana practice is listen to our bodies. Remember to breathe, and never force anything that doesn’t feel comfortable. Be safe in your practice and have fun!
Running through grocery store isles and jungle trails
rushing down long highways
at the end I see the sun
Above stars flicker like embers in the coal
Laughter blows as wind
and tears are welcome rivers
glistening as they descend down wind touched cheeks
hints of magic on a frame
Banging drums and kicking until the fire burns away
from the grips of the night
reluctantly shying from sleep and then softly
accepting and rejoicing in it’s gift
anticipating secretly when the sun rises again,
burning with life
each ray a firework
and each moment it’s own big bang
the celebration roars on.