Thinking I can fly, should I jump from the cliff?

Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 01, 2010

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Where I stayed
New Bhandari Swiss Cottage

Flag of India  , Uttarakhand,
Thursday, April 29, 2010

This entry is in three parts.  The first is about writing, the second two are about Yoga, I hope you enjoy the story.  Until we are out of Rishikesh, there is no possibility for uploading photos.  Hopefully when we reach Amritsar or Dharamsala there will be an opportunity.  Enjoy the stories.

Writing a Travel Blog, notes from a writer in transition:

Writing a travel blog is like no other writing I've done.  I'm not sure if it is easy or hard, simple or difficult, I guess it is all of the above.  The easy part is wealth of material to write about.  The hard is having the time in my incredibly not busy schedule to fit in time to write ( I say not busy, but my mind spins with thoughts constantly).  The simple is that I write every day, translating thought to written word gets is simple when you do it daily.  The difficult is choosing what to write about.  If I had to put a number on it, I can write about 1% of my insight on 1% of my experiences.  That means I have the capacity to write about only 0.01% of what is going on with this trip if my math is right.  Not much is it.  I wish at times that I could writie it all down, a continuous commentary of my travels from my mind to paper (keyboard).  Many of these blog entrees start on paper and finish in the computer, some are typed directly into the computer, no editing process.  It's just not possible to have the continuous commentary.  I have to balance my time.  In my brain I am a writer and I love to write stories down, that is why I take the time to do it.  It thrills me to include all of you in this adventure, to whatever amount I am able.  But most of my time is spent experiencing, engaging, talking to people, planning, preparing, plotting with Misty our next steps.  I can't possibly write it all down.  Almost completely absent from the blog is the interaction between Misty and myself.  Of course this interaction actually dominates our daily life.  We have a thousand conversations everyday.  These conversations are shaping, reshaping, defining, redefining, creating an outline of our lives, and shedding the lines we thought defined us as individuals and as a couple.  So the big question, how do I reconcile this obvious omission of the daily experience?  The truth...I can't and I don't.  I have to accept that this blog is incomplete in many ways.  There are gaping holes in it and I don't have to explain them.  I use the word "I" as I write the blog, but in most cases it could easily and probably should be replaced with "We".  Many of the thoughts shared here start in Misty's mind and many in mind.  We have shared this adventure in the deepest way, traveling together, having many of the same experiences and sharing our thoughts and ideas as completely as we are able, all along the way.  We are a good team, we work daily on communication, each day we do our best to understand each other better than the day before.  Each day, we allow for the possibility of change as best we can, each moment, we try to listen.  If there is another way to make a partnership work, please let me know, but this seems to be the key.

If I could I would share this fantasy, continuous dialog of my mind with you all.  I am sure it would get boring at times, and surprising at others. So I do my best to write about the events and ideas and insights I most want to write about, that is what I can do.  On top of that i try to choose events that share the feeling of our experience and of the country we are currently in.  It doesn't matter to me to be completely different from every other travel writer, It also doesn't matter to me to stay completely within the lines either.  You may notice my liberal use of proper grammar and punctuation.  I do so to share more of my thought stream, straight from my head.  This may also be spiked with a rebellion from technical writing which has been the bulk of my writing experience through school and work for the last 10 years.  Of course I am thankful for all that writing experience as well, it is why I can complete a thought on paper (keyboard) and tell a story through to some semblance of a conclusion.  The conclusion in this section is, I like to write and I hope you are enjoying reading.  If you are wondering where "Misty" is in this blog of "Misty and Mark Year in the World", realize she along with me is in almost every sentence.  If I could I would share much more than 0.01% of this adventure with you.  If you are intrigued by some of the experiences shared, maybe you should come out and see for yourself, never a time better or possible than now.

Yoga ON

Our days continue to be filled with yoga practice. Ah, a deep breathe, because it has been more refreshing than I could have imagined.  When I started my experience of yoga it was in 1994.  That year, I enrolled in a 12 week Introduction to Yoga class at the same time and school where I was attending a certification program for massage therapy.  When the class was completed, I believed it was little more than a class in stretching that included some interesting relaxation and breathing exercises.  The bulk of the stretching techniques I had learned as a high school wrestler (stretching in H.S. wrestling is no joke and shouldn't be considered lightly, we spent at least a half hour of each practice stretching).  You can take my limited experience with yoga in many ways, a limited teacher, a limited student, or maybe that is all that yoga is, a stretching class.  That is what I thought, I left the class figuring I had learned some techniques I might share with my massage clients.

Yoga has touched my life now and then in life.  My limits with it, seemed to have something to do with it's connection to "new age" culture in America.  Something I never really wanted to be associated with, but I have lived on the fringe of it for many years.  I know this because many books I want to read are found in that section of the bookstore.  Also, people in the places I go, such as "massage school" freely referred to themselves as "new age".  Yoga always seemed to be a part of this "culture", so I steered a little more to one side or the other, dabbling, but never truly investigating.  My neighbor in Olympia, WA used to do yoga everyday, every morning I would hear him, usually at least an hour before I intended to get up.  I'd attend an occasional drop in class. I owned my one yoga mat, but it was mostly a recreation, sometimes an exercise, but nothing more.

I arrived in Rishikesh, India, twelve days ago.  My complete understanding of yoga and therefore my ideas and understanding of the entire world has changed.  Yep, that simple, that direct, and that far reaching.  I can't say I know where it is all going, just that there is no going back.  I love these moments, they scare me, excite me, tickle me, they stir me up, of course yoga will settle all that. haha.  My consciousness, my soul, my spirit, whatever word you want to put on the part of you that is most truly you or me, I see it differently in this very moment.

So what has changed?  Why does this idea of stretching mean a change in relationship to myself.  What I have started to see is that yoga is actually a way, a practice to unite us with God, whatever your perception of the universal consciousness is.  Anyone who tells you that they practice yoga as an exercise, a way to increase flexibility, to get their energy flowing, to increase strength, feel healthy, increase the function of their immune system...they are not wrong and I am very excited for them.  In my view, the one flooding into my mind now, is that there is so much more.  Before I continue, remember, I am just a baby, just a baby in yoga, and just a baby in the development of my understanding of reality, the way things really are.  So with my little tid bits of vision I have had the chance to be in the presence of joyful people, a joy that permeates everything and everyone around them.  These people are yoga teachers.  Yes they teach yoga postures and breathing exercises, but these are only a couple steps on the path to understanding yourself and the world around you.  Stress relief is the side effect not the goal, it seems.  To understand further what I am learning, I've started to read a book a translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, called Four chapters on Freedom.  A couple other texts are Vedanta and Upanishads.  The teaching I am receiving and the book I am reading  is about living yoga, not just doing asana (yoga postures or stretching).  There are many stages or perspectives of yoga that include how you interact with society, and yourself, how to be of service and what view of reality will bring one understanding.  At this point I would like to blow your mind and set all of us free from any suffering in this life, but remember, I'm just a baby.  Oh, just to make it clear to anyone with big question marks in their heads: I am not converted to any religion, this practice although intertwined with Hinduism, does not require one to practice Hinduism, it is a philosophy of living, not a religion.

I am amazed at what I am learning.  I may still be sitting in the middle of the  "New Agers" or whatever, but I don't care.  The line, wall, whatever, it's broken.  I sit here, completely excited and simultaneously patient for the next lesson.  I can't even imagine what it is.  Class starts right now...

Levels of Yoga, practices beyond stretching, healing.

Warning:  If you don't want to read about bowel movements, even a little, stop here and enjoy a few peaceful deep breathes in the time you have saved by not reading this section.  If you do read the section, you too may pause for some deep breathes before continuing..............

I share this experience with you to share some more of my experience with and in yoga.  I don't generally feel the need to share such personal moments with the world, but being, thousands of miles from most of you, I feel safe in a strange kind of way.

Whatever the cause my be, I've found myself in a predicament.  Most traveler's to India at some point or another, end up with , you guessed it, "traveler's diarrhea".  So far, Misty and myself have not experienced this (not on this trip).  I figure it is still to come, later on.  So obviously this isn't going to be an attempt at a humorous story about not finding a bathroom in time, or finding it just in time, we are fine.  What I have found is very much the opposite for myself.  Never before in my life have I experienced this thing they call, constipation.  Never known this plight that so many have experienced before.  No longer can I say this.  Maybe it is all the Chai (milk tea) that I've been drinking (I'm a bit lactose intolerant), or maybe its the huge amounts of chapati (flat bread) that I have been consuming at each meal.  Maybe I'm reacting to all the people from the villages staring at me, in disbelief at the paleness of my skin.  The cause for me is unknown, yet the experience could not be denied.  By the way, I have changed my diet, focused once again on a dairy free life, with a limited amount of bread products.  Regardless of this for this story, no amount of massaging, no position or reposition returned me to comfort.  I started to wonder about hospitals, their proximity to me and how I could get their should my guts burst.  I'd never felt like this, what to do?  Laxative was no resort, I'[ve lived much of my life finding another way that inducing something with toxic chemicals...the pressure was building...

The answer came from a recently purchased yoga book and asana (postures) recently learned in classes.

Note: I do not endorse the use of the method described here unless you are supervised by someone who knows what they are doing.  I have used parts of this method before and I already know how my body reacted in regards to the practice.

The cleanse was listed in the book: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.  The cleansing is called a short intestinal cleansing or Lagoo Shankhaprakshalana.  First 2 liters of a salt water solution was to be created.  This is something I had done before and I already knew the ratio that worked for my body.  The intent is to create a solution salty enough that it would bypass absorption by the intestines.  The solution is ingested or drank I should say over about an hour and interspersed with a series of asana (yoga postures) that successively open valves and massage the intestines and the solution down through the entire digestive system.  Again, don't try this without support of someone that is farmiliar with the practice. 

The positions used:
Tadasana: palm tree pose
Tiryaka tadasana: swaying palm tree pose
Kati Chakrasana (variation): waist rotation pose
Tiryaka bhujangasna: twisting cobra pose
Udarakarshanasana: abdominal stretch pose

I did 8 rounds of these 5 positions in three separate routines.  a total of 120 postures during the one hour period in groups of 40 postures consecutively done at a time.

The capacity of my digestive system was stuffed and seemed virtually full.  pressure really building... I pretty much wanted out at this point.  An hour later, everything was flowing.  When I say flowing, you can imagine a rushing stream after a heavy rain.  Oh my, the relief I'd been searching for for days.  Another half hour of rest and I was eating lunch.  I was refreshed.  My attitude was no longer Shitty.  I felt light,  ready to run down the street and fly, not.  I felt light, but also slow.  The practice took much energy and the day has been spent fairly quietly.  So I still say, I haven't had traveler's diarrhea yet. Instead, my own induced experience.  Yes this is a level of sharing beyond what one might expect in a travel blog.  Feel free not to comment with similar or slightly different shitty experiences.

There are many types of yoga practice and many stages to yoga practice.  The practice of yoga we are studying is Hatha Yoga from the Bihar School.  Emphasis is placed on asana (postures, breathing, relaxation and meditation). Focus during practice can include attention on a certain part of the body, the mind, the breath or a spiritual focus.  Other popular types of yoga are Iyengar and Astanga, these systems focus more on postures, or continuous flow from one posture to the next.  If you are interested in yoga, I think it is best to try out a few teachers, a few types of practice, that said Hatha yoga tends to be slower, Iyengar tends to use props to help you do positions and Astanga is usually faster moving from one posture to the next.  Enjoy yoga if you can, you may find something there that is good for you.

Until next time......
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Uncle Al on

Sounds like you got yourself in a pretty crappie situation. Glad to hear you are once again light as a feather....:)

dromd57 on


Jeff on

Cleaning up the wreckage of our past seems to be a process necessary all the way to the cells of our make up. Your journey inward, even though you thought you have already been there, has revealed to you, that the real you, is here for the very first time....rejoice, and keep walking, wave once in a while, in case I need to taste, feel, or smell your spirit...namaste

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