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Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category

I never thought I would spend much time in Wichita, Kansas. It just wasn’t a place that was on my radar. However, in the last two years I have found myself in circumstances that have required a few extended stays there.

My first visit to Wichita was over a weekend and included a Saturday visit to a diner, an airshow, a wine bar and a club. By Sunday I felt like I had done it all and after a wander in a more than dead downtown, I gave up and spent the rest of the day watching HBO.

However, a few more visits had me scratching beneath the surface and finding a community friendly to an admittedly hippie soul like mine. Here’s what I found so that on your next visit you can skip the HBO and hit the ground running.

Food and Cafes

While a few restaurants and cafes offer vegetarian or a “healthier” option somewhere on the menu (examples Public or Anchor) I found the real standouts to come down to Lotus Leaf Cafe and The Garden Grill. Both are located downtown and have hours that vary during the day with Lotus Leaf closing early some days and Garden Grill closing for dinner completely on some days. I suggest checking the website before heading that way. Garden Grill’s menu is strictly vegan and there’s often a buffet but I find ordering off the menu preferable. Lotus Leaf offers plentiful vegan and vegetarian options with meat options interspersed on the menu, making it easy to convince a carnivore to come with you if they are hesitant. Both have amazing smoothies and juices.

Speaking of juices and smoothies, I would be amiss to mention that Wichita now has it’s very own Whole Foods on the east side of town. I arrived in Wichita after a few days in Austin, Texas, where Whole Foods is headquartered, and I can’t say that the Whole Foods in Wichita is comparable in item selection to stores in say Austin or Denver, but it does offer a decent takeout selection and loads of other options.

If you are just looking for groceries (and perhaps you are a bit disgruntled at the Whole Foods scene), The Natural Grocer has been around a while in Wichita. Their takeout selection is not so great, but you can get all the yummy groceries and supplements your heart desires!

Yoga Studios

All that food got you geared up for a nice stretch? I hope so because holy crap, yoga classes in Wichita only cost about $10 US a session. Do you know how much they cost in Singapore? Anywhere from 25 to 55 Singapore dollars (that’s $18 to $40 US).

My previous trips to Wichita have had me spending a lot of time with Adrian and Whitney at Siva Yoga. Formerly located downtown, you can now find them in the just east of central neighborhood of College Park. While I enjoyed their flowy classes in a warmish 80 to 85 degree room in the past, this trip I was second trimester pregnant and the thought of being in a heated room, even if it wasn’t Bikram hot, made me want to gag. (Listen to your body, yo!)

This led me to the even more east of central studio, Central Yoga, which is named after it’s location on Central Avenue. First, I hit up the community acupuncture sessions which cost a mere $15. The sessions are drop in, so you don’t have to be exactly on time for Dr. Vicki Dukes, DC to align your qi with her tiny little needles. I left floating on air, came back the next day for a fantastic aligned flow class with Keriann and later that week for an awesome prenatal class with the very knowledgeable Sally Beckett. If you are more into alignment than warm flow, Central Yoga is a great option.

Shopping

If you’re looking to do some shopping, I’d skip the often bragged about Bradley Fair and check out Watermark Books, an independent book store in College Park and RELove, a shop on Woodlawn that sales repurposed furniture and also holds classes to teach you how to repurpose a great find yourself.

Outdoors

While I can’t say I spent much time in nature while in Wichita, I can say that the river area through downtown is nicely kept and good for a stroll or run.

Live music

Live music seemed to radiate from bars and restaurants downtown in the summer evenings. Try Oeno Wine Bar for a start with relaxed jams while you sip a Pinot.

That’s all I have for now on Wichita. Got a secret tip? Let me know in the comments. xx

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soulscape

A yoga festival? Yep, the people at In The Loop have organized one for tomorrow (Saturday 25 October) on Sentosa. They’ ve got all sorts of things planned for Tanjong Beach including sunset yoga, a yoga rave, organic food and even kiddo events. I’ve been chatting with one of the organizers and sounds like it’s gonna be super rad. Online sales are now closed, but you can still get tickets at the door.

Go have a look: http://soulscape.sg/

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Krishna Das was in town a few weeks ago. Two friends and I snagged the last few tickets. We followed the trail of flowing skirts and mala beads from Kings Cross St Pancras to the Camden Centre to find a rockstar style line. Actually there were two lines. One was for the VIPs; the special guests, studio owners and teachers who had front row tickets, and another line for us plebeians. I chuckled to myself at the incongruence of yogic chanting and VIPs.

We entered the building, settled on three seats together at the middle left of the hall and waited for KD to take stage. Whew, that was hard work.

As the building began to fill, the room became hotter and hotter. The girl in front of me opened a garlicky take out rice and began to eat. We tried our best to hold our collective yogic cool, but everyone was having problems. The girl behind us began to fuss over jackets being hung on backs of chairs and we were all trying our best to try and accommodate one another. The chanting desperately needed to begin.

Finally KD entered the stage with Radhanth Swami, an American Swami whose book, The Journey Home, we had all been given a copy. After some introduction, the chanting began, then stopped so that Radhanth Swami could tell his story. And a big story he had. His tales of love and his times in India were very interesting, but not what the audience had expected from the evening. I tried to pay attention, but the heat was still unbearable and now the garlic was beginning to seep out of the pores of the girl in front of me. Radhanth Swami was describing being stuck on a severely overcrowded train in India where you could not breathe for 12 hours and I made a personal vow always to splurge for first class trains in India. How could I survive that when I could hardly deal with the smells I was encountering now?

Packed house for Krishna Das at the Camden Centre

Finally Krishna Das took control of the stage and began playing again. It was already too late. One of my friends was in her second trimester and couldn’t take it anymore. We went to the back of the room where a door was left open and ventilation was available.

I am so glad we did because as KD continued to play, we had the freedom to dance, greet others and, well, breathe.

Finally the Kundalini was rising. By the end of the night the group at the back had formed a community, and we were all a little lighter than when we began.

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“What have you been up to in London?” my soul sistah Kristen asks me. I point her towards my blog. “Um, so you’ve basically been eating at different restaurants and gone to a few museums?”

Well, not exactly.

We then dive into a conversation about what it’s like to be in a new environment, trying to create community, finding interests and the qualities of being alone. There’s no bluffing Kristen. About a year ago we were complete strangers. Then we spent a few weeks camping on the beach in Mexico meditating, practicing yoga and learning how to teach these skills to others for about 16 hours a day. It was full on. With that kind of shared experience, you just don’t do small talk.

My tent on the beach in Mexico.

I have struggled with this move more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some really cool people here in London, but I still miss the amazing friends and city I left behind. I didn’t think much about packing up all my possessions and shipping them across the Atlantic because, let’s face it, I’m impulsive. Of course, living abroad was always something I wanted to try, but sometimes the only way I get things done is to just not think about them.

I enjoy alone time. Lucky for me since I am getting a lot of it. I like deciding what I’m going to do, when I’m going to do it and for how long. I love idly wandering my way and exploring at my own pace, not having to justify it to others. Sometimes I indulge that part of myself too much and am left feeling unbalanced. After all, there is a part of me that is an extrovert and we all need community.

I’ve particularly been struggling to find a solid yoga community. I felt like there were so many talented teachers at my fingertips in Austin. I would attend classes with my regular teacher, but also drop in on “pay what you wish” classes at a local studio.

I’m now on a search for a teacher I connect to in London. My friend Mike asked me “Why do you need to go to classes if you are already a teacher?” My personal practice often gets stagnant without outside influence. I tend to practice the same asanas over and over again while avoiding others. It’s important to have an outside influence challenging you from time to time. I still have a lot to learn and will never be done. Although it will be different than what I had before, I’m sure I will find something fulfilling here in London. Unfortunately my patience gets the best of me at times and my wallet is light.

In my search, here are a few meditation and yoga outlets I have come across.

Life Centre in Notting Hill

The Life Centre has a wide variety of teachers, alternative therapies, and the sister nonprofit, Yoga Campus, puts on excellent workshops. I attended a powerful teacher training through them with Shiva Rea last June. Classes run £13 – £15. Community classes are £7 and take place once a day Mon-Fri. A first-timers 14 day trial membership costs £14 and is well worth the money.

The Light Cenre Belgravia

Similarly named, the Light Centre is located in Belgravia. It is more a broad alternative medicine centre than a yoga centre. It equally provides therapies like acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy and kinesiology. Some of these I whole heartedly believe can help people and others just aren’t for me. Classes run £7 – £11. I purchased a month’s off peak pass for £48. It allowed me to attend yoga, pilates, and qigong classes on weekdays between 9 and 5. This encouraged me to go as frequently as possible to get my money’s worth.

The London Buddhist Centre

I decided to take another route to the problem and made my way over to east London for a Monday night Dharma talk and meditation at the London Buddhist Centre. For a recommended donation of £5 you get a guided meditation and discussion. They even give you a tea and cookie break which is a very warming feeling that made me nostalgic for elementary school. The London Buddhist Centre has a whole slew of courses and retreats to attend. I recommend trying them out during a weekday lunchtime meditation class for £2 or a Wednesday night beginner’s meditation for £5. Of course you don’t get the asanas with these classes, but the more I practice the less yoga is about the physical postures. Besides, no one looked at me funny as I stretched and bent by myself between sessions on Monday night.

The LBC

Two other studios I have yet to try are Battersea Yoga and the very popular Triyoga.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Of course, they also say you fall in love when you aren’t looking and I think that’s a load of ca-ca. You’ve got to be open to it and put yourself out there.

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