Divya Krishnan, featured yogi

What are you doing for yourself this Wednesday evening? Divya Krishnan offers a Beginners mind yoga practice. Ananda Yoga. Wednesday’s from 7-8pm at the Ballard Community Center. You are invited and all are welcome! It’s drop in/donation, or sign up online for a month of Wednesday’s classes for a mere $20 activity fee. https://apm.activecommunities.com/seattle/Activity_Search/yoga-18-and-older/6612

I highly recommend it! Divya’s the loveliest person and such a skillful poetic and comedic yoga teacher!

A perfect day, any day spent with Divya!

Slow Food

What did you do in Switzerland? What did you see in Europe? Well, we spent much of our time eating together lunches and dinners. It’s a really lovely experience, to be part of an family full of constant activities, with the heart around the hearth.

The meals slowly evolve as we eat. Through anecdotes from the day, and investigations into the taste of a certain cheese the mealtime and communion unfold. The stories are all true of the French gastronomy: the importance of eating well and eating together.

The salad might be made once the first course is eaten. Would you like some salad? Of course everyone does. The home made olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing is a Swiss staple in my mind. So good on a simple butter lettuce with leaves left large. Perhaps a ripe tomato. Perhaps not, simply plain. Someone wants more omelette? A second egg is scrambled. The cheese course is nothing formal. Someone asks for cheese. Which kind? Perhaps several are produced. The cheese is passed around, the rind being cut in the process. Then more water is drunk.

The meal is convivial jovial light hearted and very busy, lots of activity, everyone bubbling with conversation. An hour passes easily in this manner, even for the midday meal when the children come home from school. The chopping, cooking and table setting as well as the washing up and putting away are community affairs and bookend the meal.

In between meals go shopping for fresh groceries. We walk or drive past a diverse array of neat fields growing the fruits and vegetables we find in the stores and buy for our table. The farmers are often seen out tending their crops. We discuss and plan future meals like we’re co-conspirators colluding on a special event with exciting gossip. The results are delightful. The simplest meal can still be the foundation for something beautiful, delicious and the framework to build a contented life on. It’s the original Slow Food. A perfect holiday, I’m glad I spent it with you!

Memory Lane

Here I went to school in Brig at Kollegium Spititus Sanctum as an exchange student during my gap year 1995-96. To the left of my right earlobe (shown above) is the window from our classroom where I basically spent 9 months of daydreaming. I spoke no German beforehand and the classes were taught in German. Outside the classroom all the people spoke local dialects “walliserdietch”. In the classroom I was enrolled in the “Languages curriculum”: German, French, Italian and English. I think the “Latin Curriculum ” would have been just as obscure to me and possibly more useful for my later years of medical school. The only class I really understood was Math! Ah, maths, the universal language! I still recall the moment of mirth in comprehension that the word “root” was also a word with two meanings in German when we received instruction on square roots. I recognized the word “Wurtzel” from plants, trees, orchards and vineyards, and found the [] surprising and amusing!

Today we returned on pilgrimage. Lake was duly impressed!

In the afternoon we walked in The Goms Valley and had a lovely dinner outside at the Source du Rhône Restaurant which is literally at the origin of the Rhône River. Tonight I sleep at my host parents home with the rushing sound of the Rhône River just a few meters out the window. My trip down memory lane is filled with good stories and we’ve just added a new chapter!

Zone alluviale de l’Aubonne

Lake loved it so much on Tuesday that we came back again today. A 20 minute bicycle ride through the farmland and vineyards brings us to the public access beach of Lake Geneva below Allaman. From there we can go by foot exploring the lakeshore and then following the Aubonne River upstream. It reminds me of where I grew up in the Quinault Valley, so both Lake and I were thrilled to be exploring this nature on a day like today. Beautiful! The main difference is here there are the various value added civilities of pleasant passerby’s speaking French and many with puppies!, and all wishing us a Bonjour! We’re just 30 minutes by train from Geneva, 3 hours by train from Paris, and bounded by vineyards, wheat fields, potatoes, onions, apple orchards, rock querying, marina with active fishing adventures ongoing, and all very well attended to and maximally and sustainability productive. We are enchanted… a truly perfect day!

Geneva Moon Salutation

The weekend after we return home I’ll be teaching my first 30 minutes yoga series. Tonight after Lake fell soundly asleep in bed, I began to craft a beautiful arc inspired by the waxing half moon over Féchy.

Dr. Dhru introduced the Moon Salutation to many of us for the first time a few months ago during our Synergy Yoga Teacher Training. Here I riffed off of my poor memory of that series to create the Geneva Moon Salutation.

I began on the perch of the church yard overlooking the crescent that is Lake Geneva. With the moon above, the lights of France across the water, the vineyards of Vaud stretching out before me, the fresh mountain air and the crickets all around I unwound the day. The moon salutation of my interpretation is a cooling, soothing and grounding dance. This series is bourn of moonlight, yet can also create the moonlight effect on demand if the fiery dosha of pitta is in need of balancing.

If you’d like to try it, and see how you feel, here is the asana flow. It’s predominantly a vinyasa of standing postures so that you may practice it comfortably outside on the lawn, sidewalk, churchyard cobblestones, or elsewhere. I’d love your feedback! Breathe and begin:

Mountain Pose Tadasana, Extended Mountain Pose Urdhva Hastasana, Forward fold Uttanasana , Half-Dog Pose Ardha Svanasana, Forward Fold Uttanasana, Extended Mountain Pose Urdhva Hastasana, Mountain Pose Tadasana, Starfish Pose, Warrior Pose II Virabhadrasana II, Peaceful Warrior, Side Angle Parsvakonasana, Yoga Push Up Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward-Facing Dog Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Downward-Facing Dog Adho Mukha Svanasana, Warrior Pose I Virabhadrasana I, horse,

*repeat second side*

Mountain Pose Tadasana, Extended Mountain Pose Urdhva Hastasana, Forward fold Uttanasana , Half-Dog Pose Ardha Svanasana, Forward Fold Uttanasana, Extended Mountain Pose Urdhva Hastasana, Mountain Pose Tadasana, Starfish Pose, Warrior Pose II Virabhadrasana II, Peaceful Warrior, Triangle Pose Trikonasana, Half-Moon Pose Ardha Chandrasana, Triangle Pose Trikonasana, Yoga Push Up Chaturanga Dandasana, Upward-Facing Dog Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Downward-Facing Dog Adho Mukha Svanasana, Horse, Mountain Pose Tadasana, Dancer Natarajasana, Standing Tree Revolved Extended-Leg, Chair Uktasana, Eagle Garudasana, Sleeping Eagle, Mountain Pose Tadasana, Extended Mountain Pose Urdhva Hastasana,

*repeat second side*

Mountain Pose Tadasana. Close with gratitude. Namaste.

Bringing the Yoga Sutras to Life

Lake and I are having a day of casual adventure, just the two of us. We borrowed a bicycle and bicycle trailer to cycle down to the nearby shore of Lake Geneva. From there we meandered along the shoreline pausing at inciting little enclaves: picnic tables, pebbled beaches, wooded trails and leaf-covered marinas. By some miracle Lake fell asleep in the bicycle trailer on our way there, so initially he napped while I meditated, wrote and reflected on some books I’ve been reading from a shady spot on the shore of Lake Geneva, swans floating and grazing nearby. Here are my notes from the field:

The Autobiography of a Yogi brought the Yoga Sutras to life for me. Especially some of the more esoteric and difficult to grasp sutras. Like miracles. Organizing matter, as an expression of cosmic light energy, to heal the sick, bring back the dead and stopping trains. Advanced yogis have truly unfathomable powers as to sufficiently boggle the Western Mind. It sounds fanciful, improbable, impossible, but yoga instructs that it is possible and even describes how exactly (spoiler alert: it begins with meditation). Paramhansa Yogananda, in his autobiography, documents the richness of his and other gurus’ contributions to advancing human consciousness through yoga, as originating in India and has travelled to us in the West.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are the texts that prescribe and define the science and philosophy of yoga. Yoga is the practice of that philosophy as laid out in the step by step manual. Yoga is Sanskrit for “yoke” or “union” and it actually refers to harnessing your self to the oneness of God. As Yogananda eloquently writes, “yoga, the science of personal experience with the divine.” To cease the fluctuations of the mind and to exist in the present moment as your highest Self. The one that you are that is indistinguishable from God is the Self. Yoga therefore offers a pathway to transcendent living in the midst of the suffering that is inherent in life. And why is there suffering? Yogananda suggests it is to keep us from being blind and complacent. So that we will pursue our path back to remembering we are divine beings not separate from oneness with the cosmic One, the universal consciousness. The Yogi offers a behind-the scenes glimpse of the Yoga Sutra’s teachings as fulfilled potential as practiced by the masters.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a surprisingly slim volume actually, comprises four chapters containing 196 terse aphorisms written in Sanskrit as a poem historically learned and shared through chanting. The first two chapters of the “manual” introduce yoga, as in 1. Atta (and here we have yoga, let’s begin). The third chapter describes and instructs on perfectly concentrated meditation that being it can be practiced , one will progress not by magic but by step wise fashion to yield the fruits of the labor as also described. And the forth chapter narrates the kaivala, The emancipation of existing in one’s own essence.

Like any of the great texts that survive the ages and offer instruction on living, the yoga sutras are worthy of a lifetime of study. And as the Yogananda somewhat confidentially illuminates, a few of those lifetimes are centuries or millennia long when the person in question is an avatar, a very advanced yogi here to facilitate the teachings.

The Yogi points out yoga is not immediately accessible for everyone. For hardly anyone, really. For me it’s taken several decades to tackle their surface and attempt to swim into their depths. But the deep experience of yoga can happen in a moment and usually does. It is then life changing, as in your knowledge of the world has morphed into wisdom. Perhaps you have met a yogi who is illuminated, or sat in meditation and met God. These experiences may draw you in to seek a greater understanding of the depths of yoga. You may be called to investigate the history, context and deeper teachings. Then the yoga sutras are available to read. Even when you haven’t read them, though, you may have realized some of their truths. Take Physics, for example. You don’t have to grasp or enjoy a physics class to experience and appreciate concepts that are elucidated therein like gravity, acceleration, and velocity. You feel its presence. Reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or The Autobiography of a Yogi may not for everyone but as a scientist to physics, or a yoga teacher to the Sutras, it’s important to have that introductory series of instruction behind your degree. There’s at least an acknowledgement and understanding that the formulas exist.

Ciao Ciao Cow

This morning we said goodbye to the cows and this afternoon we said hello to the vineyards.

We translocated 13 minutes by car from Essertines-sur-Rolle to Féchy, from the home of one dear friend to another. Lake is having the time of his life. It is nonstop action with a constant supply of delightful new toys and playmates. I’m breathing the sweet Swiss air of peace and friendship and am happy.


Today would have been our follow-up appointment with the burn care team. The one that we were under duress to keep. Even so, I think we made a strong choice in coming here to Switzerland. Mostly what’s required with second degree partial thickness burns during recovery is diligence in observation and continued perseverance in the face of the daily wound care. Lake has been a great sport, more clingy to Mummy and quick to sob, but he’s also adjusting to many new elements including the time change as well as jet lag. All the while he’s been working on healing. As of today, he has only four patches which are not completely healed over and are still requiring bandages: chin, neck, axilla and dorsum of foot. In the evenings in between dressing Lakes wounds I am able to gaze out at the alpenglow on the French alps. When he wakes up in the night and I groggily go to him, I see the lights of France across the lake. It’s a picturesque setting for a convalescence.

Our biggest struggle has been the hat.

No… hat… No… hat!

He’s been quite adamant. I was at my wits end really regarding what to do. It is imperative with his fair skin and brand new tender healing skin that he wear sunscreen and a hat.

For a full year

said the physician team.

Here in the mountains the sun is also particularly strong. Lake was not convinced regarding the hat wearing, but he also didn’t want to stay inside by himself either. I really needed his cooperation and buy-in since he can simply remove it at anytime if he so desires. And he did vehemently desire No Hat!

After a prolonged back and forth that felt like it had no solution, I was rapidly loosing my patience. My friend remarked that she thought I was being extremely patient but I did not feel that way, quite the opposite. I had no choice but to see it through, maybe that presents as patience. Lake also had no choice but to wear the hat. We were both cross and irritated with our predicament. I decided what we needed was to change the conversation.

Let’s go say hello to the cows, Lake! Off we go, hats on.

Off we went down the lane to see the cows…


And he wore it the rest of the afternoon. I told him I appreciated how mature and courageous he was being. He can be very proud of himself, and wear the hat everyday when we’re outside. Thank you Lake, your precious skin and surely all the burn care team thanks you too!

Suryanamaskar: don’t leave home without it.

This morning I watched the dawn turn to day on Lake Geneva and the sun rise over Mont Blanc. After four days solid of rain, mist, fog, thunder, full cloud cover and white outs, the sun on the lake and mountains were a refreshing surprise. The day begged for a formal greeting, and a dozen classic sun salutations were naturally in order. Luckily they had fit neatly into my minimal luggage and I could produce and enjoy them on the spot, even in this foreign locale.

Suryanamaskar, or sun salutation, (elegantly demonstrated here by Donna Farhi from her book A Return to Wholeness) can be practiced in any environment, condition or time of life. In fact Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher Dr. Dhru MD, urges you to “Don’t leave home without it [your daily dozen sun salutations every morning].” For periods of many years during my twenty year relationship with yoga, suryanamaskar… that’s been the thread of my asana practice. Perhaps many of us would like to have a daily session with a private teacher or attend a 60-75 minute studio class. Then, however, we may find this is not feasible due to financial or time constraints. Practicing on, or off, the mat a sun salutation variation for about ten minutes each morning can be as or more effective than a once weekly or monthly intensive session. A short daily practice in your room at home provides a rejuvenating link to your yoga-mind intention. That alone can be a comprehensive practice or a diligent complement to your work with yoga teachers. Part of yoga mindset and teachings is that you listen to your inherent inner-wisdom teacher. A good morning sun salutation offers a beautiful platform from which to safely practice that. Nothing special is needed. An open mind-heart and tuning into your breath are nice places to begin, but if that is not immediately available to you, it will come in time from the practice. A perfect day, I’m glad I began it with my Self.

Ai Ai

One of our objectives in coming to Switzerland was to allow Lake a chance to practice his German and have some real utility for it. At home Lake’s way of saying “gentle pets” is Ai Ai. We thought he’d made it up. Then I heard my friends here saying Ai Ai as well. It turns out Ai Ai is the German way of gently admonishing to be gentle. I swear Luisa, his German au pair, denied knowing this so we’d reasoned he’d made it up. Sometimes you have to go all the way to Switzerland to uncover the truth.

Here’s a recent scene from home where Mr. Cat seems to approve and appreciate Lake’s command of the concept Ai Ai:

Meanwhile, also on the home front: the other two of our cats are still working out their emotions with the transition (addition of third kitty). It hasn’t been easy but as with most things in life, patience goes a long way towards graciousness. As it turns out, Mr. Silky seems to have a crush on Miss Kitty. He is, however, not always sattvic in his demonstrations. There are moments though where glimpses of a peaceful future come through. Yin and yang: