What encompasses a personal practice?

Students often tell me, “Oh yoga comes so easily to you.”

In every practice I take time to analyze where my body needs to work and try to think of ways to open it. Much of my practice is spent experimenting.

I videotape my practices to make sure the mind (what I think I am doing) and body (what I am actually doing) are on the same page.  Yoga (or as Prashant says, “Yog”), does not come easily to me.   I have to be very disciplined and make time to practice every day.  This becomes more important as I get older in order to keep the body and mind sharp.

This personal video practice is dedicated to B.K.S. Iyengar and his teachings, my teachers and Jyoti Hansa, AKA Snow Leopard, born Thelma Jeane Porter who reached out to me and touched my heart.


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Iyengar Sequence for Headache due to Congestion

supta virasana art

  • Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero’s pose)
  • Lying over cross bolsters
  • Uttanasana with head support (Standing forward bend)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana with head support (Downward-facing dog pose)
  • Prasarita Padottanasana with head support (Wide legged standing forward bend)
  • Viparita Dandasana on chair with head support (Inverted staff pose)
  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Downward facing tree pose – hand balance)
  • Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock pose- forearm balance)
  • Sirsasana (Headstand)
  • Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)
  • Halasana (Plow pose)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvanangasana with block support (Bridge pose)
  • Viparita Karani with blanket under head (Inverted action pose – legs up on the wall pose) 
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The Monkey Whisperer


As I sit here my kitchen acknowledging all of the things I should be doing, I decide instead to write another blog.

Galwar Bagh, the Monkey temple is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site in the town of Khania-Balaji, about 10km away from Jaipur, in Rajasthan. It consists of several temples and is set around a natural spring, waterfalls, and sacred kunds (water tanks), that create two-tiered pools where pilgrims bathe. It is believed that a Saint named Galav lived here and practiced meditation in an effort to achieve self-realization.

It is known as the Monkey temple in travel literature, due to the large tribe of monkeys who live here. The insanely intelligent and quite evil, Rhesus macaque.  They are so aggressive, that here they easily intimidate the larger Langur monkeys.  Interestingly enough, in Delhi, Langurs were trained to keep Rhesus monkeys from harassing people.  They were on guard for decades to keep out armies of the smaller monkeys that plagued Delhi, keeping order in the streets and the hallowed halls of parliament.

So, when I walked here with my friends and my guide, I was surprised to see no monkeys at all.

Our guide then introduces us to the “Monkey whisperer”.  He makes a few sounds, “Chahk, chahk, chahk”….and monkeys appear from behind every rock, every wall and every window from the temple.  They stare at us.  He calls again, “Chahk, chahk, chahk”, they begin to run down the rocks, walls and temple windows toward us.


He tells me to give him my peanuts and camera, and tells me to hold one peanut so the monkeys have to reach for it.  I do this while he takes photos.  I laugh as the babies reach and play.  I’m wary of the mothers; I have seen their wrath on my previous trip to India.


One mother comes toward me, what a face, not friendly, entitled, she wants the darn peanut.  I’m going to make her work for it, I hold it up, she stares at me in the eyes and smacks me right in the face!  Not surprised, I burst out laughing! I stick to feeding the babies!

grouchy mother

I see Langur monkeys waiting at the top of the temple.  I ask our monkey whisperer if we can feed them.  My experiences with Langurs has shown them to be a more peaceful and playful animal.  They have never stolen my food, shown me their fangs, or smacked me in the face.  They have only shown me how they play and how high they can jump.

They don’t disappoint!


Then, the Macaques race up the stairs to chase the Langurs away.  I ask the “whisperer” if he can bring them back. “No, they are afraid, they won’t be back.”

We walked back down and sat in the temple looking at the strings tied near the well and on the fence surrounding the tulsi plants.  He told me what they meant, their meaning has slipped from my mind. I can’t bring it back.   I watched the monks, I watched the sun fade.  I wanted to stay with the monks, to watch the pilgrims wash in the sacred kunds, to linger here in the Jewel of Jaipur.






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Jorbeer, India (photos may be disturbing to some, please use caution)


Strong dust storms, shifting dunes, and hundreds of cattle carcasses can be found in this remote area of Bikaner.   I stood for a long time, amazed at the scene, taking it all in.  I wanted to learn more about this fascinating place.

I found out that Jorbeer is a major source of food availability for vultures, about 20-35 carcasses are dumped per day by the municipal board and local townspeople.  They are placed here on the outskirts of town to help the dwindling vulture populations.


In the early 1990s, vultures of India and South Asia were among the most abundant large raptors in the world. However, within a decade, the populations of three species, White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Indian Vulture (G. indicus), and Slender-billed Vulture (G. tenuirostris), had declined so sharply that all three are considered Critically Endangered.

Extensive research identified the cause of the decline to be ‘diclofenac’, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat livestock. Any vultures feeding on the carcasses of animals recently treated with the drug suffered renal failure and died.

I was surprised to find out that cattle, so honored in India, were given drugs. It doesn’t coincide with my picturesque view of cows wandering the streets of India waiting for their chapati. Apparently it was used to treat the symptoms of inflammation, fever or pain associated with disease or wounds.

The loss of vultures resulted in a sharp increase in the number of feral dogs around carcass dumps—the bites of these dogs are the most common cause of human rabies in the region.  A 2008 study estimated that, concurrent with the vulture die-off, there was more than a 5.5 million increase in the feral dog population.  This resulted in 38.5 million additional dog bites and more than 47,300 additional rabies deaths.


The drug, diclofenac, was banned in 2006, and recent surveys suggest vulture numbers have stabilized in India resulting from this ban.  Although the vulture population has stabilized, the numbers remain very low across the region and any recovery will be slow.

Seven different species of vultures have been recorded here in Jorbeer; however, I only observed the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) during my visit.  This vulture is classified as an Endangered species and is a year round resident of this area.

Egyptian Vulture.


Steppe and Tawny Eagles

ImageImageImageImageImageeagles jorbeer

Feral Dogs


Indian House Crows


Indian Cattle Egret


The scene

Imagejorbeer cow jorbeer2 jorbeer

These young men live on the outskirts of the dumping area.  They skin the carcasses and make leather products from them.  They sell these products to help provide income for their families.  

jorbeer young men 2 jorbeer young man 2 jorbeer young man

I would like to thank Indrajit Ghorpade for telling me about this place, and for helping me correctly identify the birds located at this site.

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Photo blog – The Institute

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varanasi wedding

During my travels through India, the topic of arranged marriages and romantic love kept cropping up as a subject of conversation.  The majority of Hindu marriages are still arranged by the parents, although this is changing in larger cities like Pune and Mumbai.  However, in Northern India this is still the norm. Here, most of the people never met their bride (or groom) prior to the wedding.

All decisions pertaining to the marriage, beginning with the choice of a partner, to the date and economics of the wedding, are taken by the parents of the respective families.  The marriages still must be of the same religion and caste.

Before marriage negotiations take any definite form, individual horoscopes of the boy and girl are evaluated to determine if the couple is suited to each other. These horoscopes are quite elaborate and much more detailed than our Western notions of zodiac signs and astrological compatibility. If the numbers don’t work, the negotiations come to a halt and a new match is sought after.

Were they happy?  Some were very much in love proudly showing me photos of their wives and children, while others said they just accept who they have been matched with and make it work.

One of my guides in Jaipur said,

 “Here in India there is no love so all our Bollywood movies are about romantic love.  In your country you have romantic love so all your movies are action films.”


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All great adventures must come to an end…

And as I sit here admiring the newly opened Mumbai International Airport, I realize my sneakers are still full of sand from yesterday’s camel safari :D.

A little of India is coming back with me.


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Camel Safari

Things to bring on a Camel Safari
• A hat
• Sunscreen
• A warm coat

Things I didn’t bring on a Camel Safari
• A hat
• Sunscreen
• A warm coat

Something you shouldn’t bring on a Camel Safari
• A head cold

Risky things you can do during a Camel Safari
• Sit in Sukasana on a camel
• Try to sleep on a camel
• Climb up bareback on the feistiest camel they have just to see if you can stay on.

Something you should always bring on a Camel Safari
• A sense of humor


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Karni Mata (Mother Karni) Rat Temple, Bikaner, India


Mother Karni is the reincarnation of the Godess Durga.  She is said to have performed many miracles as a child and throughout her life.

One story tells of a woman who asked Mother Karni to save her son who drowned.  Mother Karni argued with Death and won his soul, but she could not directly bring him back to his human form.  She saw a rat on the ground and placed the soul into the rat.

Once he lived his life as a rat, he would return as a human.  The rats in the temple are the souls of departed relatives waiting to return to their human form.

In the temple devotees feed them, chant for them, and pray to Mother Karni.  I was allowed inside the temple but there is a small area where I was not allowed. I could stand from the side and take photos but I could not enter.  I asked my guide why and he said that since I have eaten beef (the protected holy cow) in my life, I would not be able to enter.

I sat for a while watching the rats scurry past, one runs up my leg and explores the workings of my camera.  It crawls up my arm, investigates my hair, jumps down to investigate my camera again then moves on.

I listen to the chanting of the couple next to me.  A little girl comes over to me and asks if I can take her photo.

little girl rat temple 2 (683x1024)

I don’t see the white rat that symbolizes good luck.  I guess don’t need it, I’ve got all the luck in the world.

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Wandering the desert of Bikaner

As we wandered through the desert following a fox, my guide shows me a tree with berries.
Me: Is it edible?
Guide: Yes.

I eat it.

Me: That’s not very good.
Guide: Mostly only birds eat it.

I laugh.

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