musings on spirit tour of India…

This February I had the pleasure of taking my dear friends Vivi and Eraj from Greece, along with a group of their students form NYSY Yoga Studio, Athens for a Temple Tour of India. We were about 14 altogether and we began our journey together in Chennai. After visiting the Shiva Temple and the Vivekananda House, we got on the road and visited Mahabalipuram’s Shore Temples and Five Chariot Temples. In Pondicherry, we spent a night exploring the town and then the amazing eco-village, Auroville and its Matra Mandir. Onwards we went, to Chidambaram and the Shiva Tandava Temple, Kanchipuram and the Mango Tree Temple and onwards still to Tiruvanamallai, the home of Ramana Maharishi and the Arunachala Hill I have named my seva project of Yoga & Ayurveda offerings…
Once back in Chennai, we were in for a most unusual experience. Supposed to catch a short plane ride to Varanasi to spend Mahashivratri in that most sacred city, we were instead destined to fly to Bangalore, sit on the plane, hop to Delhi, sit on the plane, hop to Lucknow and, it being dark now, get on an old bus and drive 7 hours to end up the next morning in Lucknow! Below is the poem that came out of it:


Chennai, early morning of Maha Shivratri
An easy ride to the airport with well crafted plans
At the counter, a first hint of what is to come
The unraveling takes place, patiently directing us
To catch up, breathe, hold, plunge, let-go, then:
What is His wish? Because there is little doubt
Who is orchestrating this, the symmetry is uncanny
So then the parts to play: good cop, bad cop
Watching it all as the parts are spontaneously revealed
Phone calls, texts, a stern matriarch who takes no shit
Their turn to play good cop, bad cop, tables turned
They win, so we can let go, relax, surrender
So much arises on this crazy, nonsensical
Plan of theirs, which they truly are convinced
Is the only way, and we are in for a ride.

 Jet Airways to Bangalore is bumpy and sudden
Great finessing by ground crew: easy off, easy on
We sit and watch, this is not a dress rehearsal
Not wishing to be mere spectators, we act out importantly
More phone calls, check the group, where is the promised food?
Then we are on our way to the next stop, my stomping ground
Delhi is approached with peace prayers and chants to Shiva
And it occurs to me: pleas to Brahma take forever to fructify
Pleas to Vishnu are about achieving His abode
But prayers to Shiva are never denied, as He knows
Our secret wants, He panders to the ego’s will
Creates such strength of it that we flounder in desires
Ravana conquered all the worlds, his insane appetite
Is mirrored thousand fold today in our Hitler-s and such like
Shiva gives to those who ask, till they beg for a Rama
To end their ravenous hungers, eating up all other egos, ages
Swallowing smaller fish, minions in millions, even the very
Earth, Water, Sky fall prey, as the demons seek Salvation
Or the Destruction of the very Lord, Who alone can save them,
By fiery astra-s, astral missiles armed with Spirit-s of Devata-s,
Consuming, burning, devouring, even hungrier than us all

 But now we touch Delhi, softly we take off again
Onwards to Lucknow, a city with childhood meaning
We will pass briefly through it onwards to Varanasi
It is another short ride there, ending in dusk,
Knowing little of what lurks in the shadows
Led to an unlit bus, again it is about who is in control
From the airline rep being all business to the world weary
Munni Bhai, straight from Bollywood casting, with bleary eyes,
Reeking of paan and yet he drives us onwards confidently
On crazy Indian nighttime roads filled with truck drivers
Railroad crossings, countless speed bumps on the highway
What is it we can do now but sing to Shiva Himself
On this wedding night of his; he knows where he wants us
And it is not in a hotel room in Varanasi but instead
On an old bus singing his praises all together, each one
With his or her thoughts but willing to let this unfold
The surrender is part exhaustion and part exhilaration
But the witnessing is in each one’s eyes, which are
Trained upon me, looking for signals that can explain
This madness adventure as it is in sense that we seek
Our understandings and acceptances, the unknown
Must remain an enigma, the moment needs rationale

 Varanasi appears gradually, it is now that quiet before dawn
Dogs are awake and there is stirring in the new day, Shiva’s wedding
Now belongs to last night, now the wedding city calls us
To rest, in a hotel I will never again stay in
But for now, it is welcome as the journey ends.

Later, we continued to Delhi and then I begged leave to rest before flying to Greece to teach there before returning home, a much richer man: so much treasured learning had happened on this trip.
Album of photos from the trip: Click Here

At a little off the beaten track Hanuman Temple


Greetings from India where the journey goes on…
Returning end March and a month in So CA means time spent w/my daughter, with dear friends and in teaching locally; from West Hollywood to Encinitas and San Juan Capistrano to Ojai ending up at the Sivananda Ashram in Grass Valley end April.
Perhaps we will cross paths along the way, dear friend:

MONDAY APRIL 4: CAAM Sponsored talk on Daily & Seasonal Routines of Ayurveda
at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center: 9:30AM-11:30AM
For information on this event, please call: 310.822.9642



Vinyasa Krama Cikitsa: A Therapeutic Flow towards Consciousness in Action.
$108 for series (SAVE $32) or drop in for $20 each.
In this seven class Series, we will access the flow of therapeutic yoga sequences and specific pranayamas to create an upward spiral of consciousness and energy and experience the trance like state known to yogins as the Antara Anga (The Inner Pathway)
This Series encourages all levels of practitioners to attend. The focus is on yoga therapy based on Ayurvedic principles of alignment of the body with the breath and the resultant settling of the restless mind.

7466 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca 90036 • 323-934-VEDA(8332)
Mon & Thurs April 4-28 Seven classes total.

Call Megan at 949.280.9968 to sign up. Please note, this is a Private Event & space is limited

Vinyasa Yoga Therapeutic Flow & Pranayama Package
w/Special Emphasis On Ayurvedic Principles.
Register with:
Michele Bollo 760-840-0414 ,
or Jutta Hecht,

Vinyasa Krama Yoga Class with Pranayama & Meditation
Saturday, April 16th, 1:00-3:00 PM

Vinyasa Krama Yoga is the yoga of sequencing asanas based on a fixed and logical purpose. In yoga this purpose is always the raising of the level of our consciousness into meditative and clear states. Thus our practice progresses from asana to pranayama to dharana: the first state of meditation. All else follows this sequence, even enlightenment. Reaching that shore is your choice!

Emotional Intelligence using Yoga, Ayurveda and Tantra
at Sivananda Yoga Farms, Grass Valley

In May the journey continues on the road: Medicine Crow Event, Grass Valley; Albuquerque w/Dr. Lad; 2 weeks of Treatments, Consults, Vinyasa Krama, Vinyasa Cikitsa & Workshops (including for the first time:cooking Ayurvedically) at the Shiva Centre in Salt Lake City! A true home away from home…these sanghas are growing… Jai Shri Lakshmi Ma.

Bajrang Bali


In India.
This one will be for the memory books.
It begins with a flight from Dubai to Delhi and the reminder that every Indian has a cell phone. A Sikh gentleman in line to board the plane is on a long distance call to India in Punjabi, natch. A large Gujarati family is on another trying to locate one of their party in the terminal. They send a young bhatija to look for her and end up holding up the plane on the ground 10 minutes. I am on my way home…

Indians rule the airwaves

…Needless to say, the kind Sikh gentleman ends up rather largely taking up the seat next to me….

The new Delhi International Terminal is truly a collection of thoughts, all grand but perhaps not so much in their execution as it looks very much like too many personal comments, each needing to mark its owners footstep in the cement…I think in the old days we called it a “hodgepodge”

After a day or two of being with family, I take an early morning car ride to Rishikesh. This ride is nothing like either of the last two times I had done this pilgrimage but that is in and of itself a whole other story.

I am here for the International Yoga Festival being held at Parmath Niketan. After greeting old friends at Parmath I take Shiva Rea’s class. It is surreal to meet her here as I am at the Festival accompanying my friend Mini, purely on a lark. I later take Marla Apt’s signature Iyengar session and it is good to see her too.

Mini, Shiva and me on the Ganga

Marla adjusting Mini

A Panel on Women's Health: amazing yoginis, amazing participating audience

Over the next few days, and of course this is all over the Shivratri celebration, I get to talk once again to the Ganga. The conversation with this Goddess is now turning into a very intimate experience and it reminds me that if we pay attention everything in our lives reveals its purpose…even if it is years later. I am reminded that perhaps I am able to have this intimate tete a tete because I grew up watching my grandfather talk every Sunday night to God. First he would sing his heart out and then he would have the most passionate conversation with God and to me this was the most real part of him. Now, ever since she took me deep into her depths the last time I was here, ever since the Ganga filled my lungs with her sweet water and showed me a glimpse of her fierce Majesty, ever since the most intimate experience I have ever had, yes where the lines between sensuality and death disappeared into her mystery, I have been left yearning. Now I gaze at her in awe and fear. I am not ready for the second dip yet. I tell her so and she is back being a Holy River meandering through the mountains, valleys and sacred settlements.

The Ganga passing through

Here I sat to talk to Her

Shiva Shambho Mahadeva Shambho

After Rishikesh it continues as a personal sojourn to find roots and re-examine them in silence so as not to alter their value. This can be quite challenging as some of these roots require abandoning my Yogic/Ayurvedic life style. Again I am confronted with the sheer Intelligence of this Being called Nature/Ma/Universe/Shakti as she has been quietly preparing me over the last few months for yet another journey into my own psyche. I would like to say I trust you Ma, but I am afraid it will only open up another opportunity for you to teach me yet another lesson. And this trust, this perceived betrayal, this magnitude of Grace reveals past wounds that now seem trivial.
So, I teach a class in Delhi for Mini’s Yoga Studio and set up the groundwork for the next India Retreat to include a local contingency. Meanwhile I rest in the samskaras of family and watching the World Cup Cricket Events.
Soon, I head for Kerala and the next part of my own personal Retreat, now that I have my OCI card….yes, I am officially an Overseas Citizen of India!

At my Aunt's house watching the Cricket World Cup

TV Mania

The Grand Hyatt in Delhi

Layers of restaurants

Sharing tiny space on the streets of Mumbai

India's Honda Jazz: same as my new Honda Fit?!

Being in Mumbai, which to me will always remain Bombay, is again very much a personal yatra. This time I am with my maternal family. The old compound that housed the joint family I grew up in is now 3 separate properties, one a rubble waiting to transform into a 15 story apartment building. You cannot stop change. The separation from my present lifestyle is even more magnified here as I regress into the patterns inherent in childhood relationships, sometimes it seems completely untouched by the passage of time.

Evening bhajan (kirtan) in the makeshift mandir (temple)

An altar

Like my mother did, I love this painting

Family Dinner

Now, off to Somatheeram! Here is where we did the last India Retreat. Next one is now planned for Oct 2011…please stay tuned and do join us if you can!

Mumbai March 13, 2011

Like a Moth To A Flame


A moth dances with fire and light

Then it is in there…and still.

We dance with fire but never step in.

A moth is chasing its destiny

As we are running from ours

Into the same circles as ever.

Come to the light, to the fire

Let it burn you to a cinder

Taking your karmic body

A guru is like the fire

Transforming you to light,

What’s left is charred ashes

Perhaps the moth knows

The fire it seeks is enlightenment

All else is illusion

We seek our gurus in Temples

In Churches, Mosques and Holy Places

The moth ENTERS its heart

There is Fire where we fear

And Light where we know

The Fire is our Light.

The truth is always in love

Find it where you can

Then let it burn you.

The pathway to yourself

Is through your resistances

Through your hopes and dreams

Once burnt like a moth

What is there to fear?

Only the looking down

On the ashes you have left

Behind you as guides

To those who seek the Light

It is through Fire

The moth knows

Like a moth to a flame I go.

Puja on the Ganges in Varanasi