Sup mountaineers! Did you know that yesterday was International Mountain Day? In 2003, the United Nations designated 12/11 as International Mountain Day. A day meant to encourage the international community to organize events at all levels in order to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development. Of course, with all the crazy going on this month, we missed it. We missed national letter writing day too, but I’ll fill you in on that another day. Anyway, this year’s theme is Mountain Cultures: Celebrating diversity and strengthening identity. From hiking the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, to climbing Mt. Agung under the stars, to trekking the Annapurna Circuit, I’ve experienced enough mountain magic to be hook. Mountain spaces are sacred, enchanting and come with an immense feeling of satisfying insignificance like I’ve never experienced elsewhere.
If you’ve ever wandered high up into the mountains, you will have noticed that remote mountain villages are home to ancient cultures and traditions. These traditional lifestyles are largely determined and linked to sustaining a living in harsh and remote mountain landscapes. Isolation helped to create and maintain immense diversity between villages and allowed these cultures to stay intact. Of course, as decades pass, mountain populations experience change and culture loss through migration and urbanization.
Whenever I experience remote mountain life, I’m captivated by the use of land, for farming, raising animals and capturing fresh water. Mountain people are so in tune with their unique environment and how to properly respect it while gaining what they need to prosper. Mountain people’s deep respect and attachment to the land quite often has religious ties. Mountains have commonly been revered as the home of deities throughout history because of their fresh water sources and their seemingly close proximity to the sun. It’s no coincidence that you often see crosses, pilgrimage sites and places of worship high on mountain tops.
Obviously I’m quite conscious of my place while visiting mountains. I’m always a guest, a traveler, an ambassador of society at large and therefore I take my role very seriously. As much as possible, I strive to find community-based tourism that I can support. Tourism that will help maintain the culture, not parade it around and inevitably degrade it. I also distribute my dollars broadly to local people. Spending a little bit here and there, not a bunch in one place. Lastly, I ensure everything I hike in with also comes back out and of course I respect the ecosystem by not wandering off trail. As a visitor to these spaces, I have a big responsibility in ensuring these ancient cultures continue for future generations to experience. Hiking into mountain villages is like stepping back in time. It’s absolutely breathtaking and there’s no way I can aptly describe it, but maybe these images from the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal will help a bit.
I’m planning a trip to Nepal for October & November of 2017. Want to join me on a trek?
Namaste. Ready for your yoga retreat? Freaking out because you’re so excited and don’t know what to pack? Sweet. I gotcha covered. You basically need nothing except a great attitude, but I’ll round out the list with a few other essentials.
Ever since posting about my experience at Rishikul Yogshala’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in Nepal, I received emails from prospective students asking, ‘WTF do I pack?!’ and the answer is so simple. You don’t need much. Imagine what you take to a yoga studio each time you go to practice. Imagine all the things you leave at home. Now pack accordingly.
Yoga Teacher Training / Retreat Packing List:
- Yoga mat
- Drink bottle
- Hand towel
- Full sized towel / yoga towel if you use one
- Light blanket or sarong (this is really more of a travel in general must, but it’s very useful if your retreat is going to incorporate Yoga nidra or if you get cold during savasana.)
- A few yoga outfits – whatever that means to you.
- Slip on shoes – flip flops or something similar since you’ll be slipping in and out of your shoes each time you enter the studio.
- A notebook and pen
- A light read or an ipod with some calming tunes. Sometimes you’ll need to fall asleep (teacher training starts early!), but you’ll still feel energized from all the asana so bring a tool that drifts you off to dreamland.
- A snack to quell hunger at inconvenient times. I usually take raw pine nuts, almonds or walnuts or a box of these fig bars.
Things To Leave At Home:
- Extra Work (including your blog, sorry!)
- Social Media & Your Love of Wifi
That rounds out the essentials. Here’s the complete Yoga Teacher Training Packing List that I used specifically for the Rishikul Yogshala 200hr YTT in Pokhara, Nepal.
If you are contemplating a yoga teacher training, I highly recommend Rishikul Yogshala.
PEOPLE! I’m officially a yoga teacher. What does that mean? Well, last night I registered and paid my dues with the Yoga Alliance. The Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. Basically registering with the Yoga Alliance gives you credibility because they review your certificate of completion of course work and all that other good stuff. It’s a seal of approval and something to make you sound super official when you prance into a studio looking for a job. I haven’t started that part of the process yet, even though if you recall, one of my New Years resolutions was to teach a class by the end of January. Lay off, I have one more week!
Should I pursue a yoga teacher training?
With that mini hurdle (shelling out $105.00 for a figurative stamp of approval) out of the way, I’m feeling pretty official over here and I wanted to share my experience beginning to end with you just in case you’re contemplating a 200 hour course. First you have to ask yourself all those hard questions like, “Am I willing to put my body through mild forms of torture for 28 days?” “Am I that into yoga?” “Do I plan on teaching?” “Do I value my self practice enough to pay upwards of $2,000-$4,000 to improve it?” All these extremely valid questions that honestly, I did not ask myself until after I put down the $200 deposit with my school. I just went for it and then my mind threw all these questions at me immediately after I confirmed my payment method. That’s how I handle life altering decisions, you too?
What type of yoga? Which school? When?
Okay, so you’ve decided to pursue the training. The next step is figuring out the type of yoga, the school, and scheduling that’s right for you. What type of yoga do you enjoy and value most? What would you like to pass on to others? For me, this was simple, I absolutely love vinyasa flow yoga, which also falls under the ashtanga title. Basically it means linking the body movements with the flow of one’s breath. It’s fluid and beautiful and it’s the right type of yoga for me so there was no question that I would pursue a school specializing in ashtanga/vinyasa. Then I thought about scheduling, you can either take a course that meets every weekend for a few months (most U.S. schools offer this type of scheduling), a split course where you practice hard for two weeks, take a break, and then gather again for the final two weeks, or you could do it all in one shot, which is what I did, with a 28 day intensive 200 hour program. Scheduling comes down to your personal way of life; I knew I wanted to focus completely on the course, so I knew weekends wouldn’t be best for me. Last, but surely most important, you should think about where you’d like to be trained and who your yoga gurus will be. Do you have an allegiance to a specific studio? Have you been inspired by a particular teacher over the years? I knew I wanted to learn from people who lived a yoga lifestyle every.damn.day. not simply a fit individual who practices asana (the physical/exercise portion of yoga) three times a day. I was firm in wanting my yoga teachers to be of Indian decent, the birthplace of yoga. I wanted an authentic eastern experience so that the yoga I was being taught was as close to the source and truth as possible. Continue reading
Hello, hello, here we are again, in the throws of autumn, spiraling towards
winter hibernation. From time to time, I like to share my seasonal uniform. I tend to wear basically the same thing every day. In the spring, I rocked this duster daily, in the summer I lived in my bull’s cap and this vintage bathing suit I found at a thrift store, and this fall it’s all about my new poncho. Whether I’m walking dogs, taking photos, or curled up in my office chair working from home, I’m living inside this beautiful poncho. Who wouldn’t want to wear a blanket all the damn time?!
I have always admired ponchos, but I never found the right one for me that is until about a month ago, when I was supposed to be shopping for a dress for the final ceremony at yoga teacher training. I’m hot, exhausted, and stopping in every single store I see looking for a dress. Nothing special, just a dress, preferably plain and flowy, but nothing looked right then I see this poncho peeking out of a dark corner of a store full of yak’s wool and knitted mittens. Not exactly a dress store, but I shuffled out of my shoes and went inside anyway. As I’m sifting through the rack and telling myself the last thing I should buy on this eighty degree day is a yak’s wool poncho, I see the perfect one. I pull it over my head, do a little twirl and that’s it, I’m sold. After a few rounds of bargaining, I paid the agreed upon price of $12.50 and I’m the newest owner of the most perfect poncho in Nepal. I skip all the way back to the hotel with the poncho tucked safely in my bag. I won’t wear a new dress for the ceremony, but I will wear a new poncho every single day of autumn.
You can probably tell that I wear these jeans every day too. I bought them a couple years ago to replace my old favorites. Besides the jeans and the poncho, I’m usually wearing some type of basic tank top or simple t-shirt. Every outfit needs a sensible pair of shoes (I can hear Katie laughing in agreement..) and these Merrells are my most favorite for fall. I just realized I bought them three years ago and they are honestly in the same condition (maybe a little dirtier) as the day I walked out of the store. These Merrell boots hiked up a volcano in Costa Rica, ran across deserts in Utah and crossed the Thorong La Pass in Nepal – so sensible they are. Hope your fall uniform keeps you as cozy and comfortable as this get up.
Each month we share our Seasoned View. Snapshots of nature and daily life taken by the Seasoned sisters. Find last month’s last month’s here.
Oi. It’s dark outside and it’s 5p.m. even though this happens every year, there’s no way I can get used to it. To offset the outside, I’ve been sprinkling candles about and making my living room a bit more cozy for fall. In Nepal, most of the landscape was lush and green, but during the Annapurna Circuit trek, there were two days that looked distinctly like autumn. Here are some of the snapshots I took. Enjoy!
You can upload one or all of these photos to use as your desktop background or even as phone and tablet wallpapers. Simply click on the download link below each photo and save the image. Enjoy!
Click for shrub scenery. Click for Annapurna Peaks. Click for her horse. Click for horses. Click for suspension bridge. Click for Yak Kharka.
Hope you enjoyed this month’s Seasoned View. Have a great week!
Each Friday we share some tidbits from our week. We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same. You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned
Sarah here :
I’m back! Well, almost. I’m sitting in the Qatar airport waiting for my flight to JFK to take off. I’ve been traveling by bus, taxi and plane for 24+ hours by now and I still have at least 24 more to go! Channel the travel gods for me and make this a smooth and speedy return. Until I’m sitting on my couch with Catahoula Cash, I’m certain to be looking out the window missing all the beautiful friends and teachers I’ve met during this trip. Each time I travel it’s hard to say goodbye, but I’m officially deeming this the most heartbroken I’ve ever been while waiting at an airport. Sometimes you meet some really special people when you least expect it and saying c-ya later to them can really break you down. As I move further and further away from Nepal, I can feel the distance widening from my friends in Nepal, but….
Katie here :
And that’s where Sarah’s internet failed her. We’ll just have to fill in the rest of that sentence for her. I’m assuming that it goes something like this:
“As I move further and further away from Nepal, I can feel the distance widening from my friends in Nepal, but the distance to my family, especially my two uber-cute nephews, is shortening, and that feels so good.”
“As I move further and further away from Nepal, I can feel the distance widening from my friends in Nepal, but did you know that Nepal spelled backwards is Lapen?”
“As I move further and further away from Nepal, I can feel the distance widening from my friends in Nepal, but who needs friends when a PSL is waiting, you know?”
“As I move further and further away from Nepal, I can feel the distance widening from my friends in Nepal, but now they’re #internetpenpalsforlife.”
Who knows, but I’m sure she’s glad she wasn’t able to finish her two bits! 😉
In other news, the boys and I are going to spend this weekend getting halloween costumes ready, making our own homemade PSLs, and hopefully spending a good bit of time outside. What are your plans?
Let’s work together to keep our rivers and oceans clean. Here’s a recent post about our favorite biodegradable shower products.
Happy World Rivers Day! Hopefully you’re in close proximity to one and can easily enjoy some cool river water today. I’m still in Nepal, a country racked with rivers that are fed by beautiful snow capped mountains. The raging rivers in Nepal power a whopping 80% of the country’s electricity. Nepal’s three major rivers are the Kosi, Gandaki and Karnali. Pokhara, where I’m currently living, is near to the Seti Gandaki or White River. Below you’ll see photos of the white river during a yoga teacher training group outing.
We ventured ninety minutes outside of Pokhara to hike and visit the hot spring on the White River. This was actually last week during Clean Up The World Weekend. My group helped pick up lots of litter at my request. It was a great bonding experience because none of the Nepali people could fathom why we were picking up trash with our bare hands and insisting we put it in the van and take it back to the hotel. You can see my Indian asana teacher (in all white) carrying a box we found on the side of the mountain, which we then used to pick up more trash along the White River.
While we did our best to collect trash there is obviously a lot left to be done in Nepal and all over the world. The river I visited in Kathmandu was absolutely trashed. It’s no wonder since it runs through a city that is home to over a million people. It was quite a surprise to me though because my guesthouse receptionist describe it as an amazing natural area. You could say I was a little disapointed when the local bus dropped me off here.
Then there is the Bagmati River, the one in which cremated remains of hindus are tossed into. While it’s easy to judge those who use rivers differently, it’s hard to tell if we would act the same if our country’s standards for water cleanliness were different or almost nonexistent like those in Nepal. We learn from those around us and if your piers are washing their clothes in the water and throwing the detergent wrapper downstream you will almost certainly do the same thing. One of my favorite books growing up was A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry. It’s the story of native americans and europeans working together to restore a river that had been heavily polluted. I honestly think that book was my first introduction to the concept of water pollution and realizing that whatever you do upstream will have a consequence downstream. It still baffles me that some people don’t realize storm drains lead to rivers and oceans. It’s never too early to educate your children (or even your adult friends!) about the importance of fresh water and the way we interact with it.
Hey travel bugs! I’m extremely amped to write this post full of tips about saving money for travel because I’m in the midst of a big savings year right meow! I have a huge trip planned for the end of 2015 and if I want to make it a reality I need to keep it at the forefront of my consciousness. For me, a big part of successful savings starts with being mindful of it. If I’m always thinking about the trip and being frugal, I’m much more likely to skip the little extras: the cup of coffee, the random tank top, the $4 bar of delicious dark chocolate, you get the picture. This post applies to any big ticket item you want to save for not just a trip. Maybe you want to splurge and get a fancy new DSLR (and by you I mean me), or pay off a huge chunk of student loans, or put aside money for your snazzy wedding, whatever you’re planning, you can save for it and these tips can help you!
Step One: Estimate Your Travel Costs
First things first. How much do you actually need to save? I get questions like this all the time: ‘how much should I save for a cross country road trip’ or ‘how much do you think I need for two weeks in Brazil’ and at first these questions seem unanswerable, but in truth, they’re pretty easy requests and they can be worked out with a pen, paper and a tiny bit of research. The short of it: what I need for a cross country road trip is probably not what you need for a cross country road trip. Why? Because we all have different lifestyles and ways of traveling. That’s why it’s important for YOU to estimate your own travel costs and don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.