Beth on the bungee swing

My New Year Fun in India: From Night Club to Adrenaline Rush!

This was a special New Year’s celebration for me. It was my first one in India and I was blessed to spend it with Kirti, my boyfriend for the last 11 months. He got into Rishikesh on Saturday night and we wasted no time in finding something fun to do to ring in the new year. We headed back to Anna’s Café hoping for more dancing, but this time they had a drum circle going on instead. A few other guys were playing the digeridoo and the result was a beautiful tribal sound that almost left us in some sort of euphoric trance. At the stroke of midnight, the starry night sky was temporarily interrupted with a fantastic display of fireworks. 2016 instantly became history and we welcomed 2017 with open hearts and a special kiss.

On Our Way to Jumpin Heights

The next morning, we were up early to catch a taxi up the mountains to the famous Giant Bungee Swing at Jumpin Heights. It’s a lot like a bungee jump only the harness is connected to your chest instead of your feet. Also, instead of just bouncing up and down you are swung way out over the Ganges River. We were really looking forward to the experience and were in good spirits.

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My class at Rishikesh Yog Peeth

2 Weeks of Intensive Yoga Training at Rishikesh Yog Peeth: How Do I feel?

Before I came to Rishikesh Yog Peeth I had never done a single yoga class in my life. Now I intend to make yoga an important part of my everyday life. In only 2 weeks I have observed a few major changes in my mind, body and spirit, so much so that I only want to learn more. I know now why it is a lifestyle. Here’s how I’m feeling.

Stronger

I thought the only real way to strengthen my muscles was by lifting weights in a gym. Boy! Was I wrong! I didn’t realize that the best way to build strength is by simply using your own body weight. There are so many yoga poses that once held, build your muscles. A good example is the tree pose. Stand with both feet together. Now lift one leg and press the flat of your foot into the other thigh. (Be careful not to press your foot against your knee). Now lift your arms straight over head so they are next to your ears. Engage your legs and arms and core so they are tight and maintain your balance. Make sure you are standing straight. Tuck in your butt and take 5 long deep breaths. My legs started quivering on the second breath, but I know it’s because it’s improving my strength and balance. I see the tone in my muscles already.

Christmas at Rishikesh Yog Peeth

Christmas in India: My Weirdest Christmas Ever

I was watching a funky looking Indian Santa Clause shake his fake balloon belly on the dance floor when it hit me. It was my weirdest Christmas ever. While all my friends and family were enjoying turkey and opening gifts in America, I was spending my Christmas in Rishikesh, India.

It all started out as a pretty traditional Christmas Eve. My yoga ashram, Rishikesh Yog Peeth, decorated the courtyard with Christmas lights, played classic Christmas music for us and lit a nice bond fire. They even had a small Christmas tree set up. It was a really lovely start to the holiday weekend.

Unexpected visit from a friend

My phone rang and it was Kirti. He surprised me with an unexpected visit and I was delighted to spend Christmas weekend with someone special. I wouldn’t be alone after all!  We wasted no time heading out on the town to find some festivities. Someone told me that Anaa’s Café was having a nice Christmas celebration so we climbed into a taxi to go check it out.

Monkey Playing on Rishikesh Yog Peeth

Feeling Overwhelmed: My Initial Experience at Rishikesh Yog Peeth Ashram in India

I was in the middle of a downward dog pose today when I felt tears filling my eyes. Our instructor was slowly counting to ten, very slowly, and I couldn’t hold the position any longer. I collapsed on my yoga mat, frustrated and feeling like a failure. My whole body ached. We were on our third hour of yoga for the day and I had never done yoga before. A whole host of emotions were overwhelming me; anxiety, fear of failure, feeling homesick, along with emotional and physical exhaustion. I wasn’t sure I could push on and then a sweet young girl holding the pose next to me quietly asked me if I was okay. Those few kind words encouraged me. I somehow managed to dig deep within myself to find the strength to finish the class. It’s the little things like that here that make all the difference. Isn’t that the truth everywhere? There are 60 of us going through this program together, but individually we all have our own personal challenges to overcome.

 

Getting There

Getting here was a trip, quite literally. My driver drove me the 7 long hours from Delhi to Rishikesh. He stopped to ask for directions 6 times, although I had given explicit instructions to his boss on where we were going and who to call for directions on how to get here. Finally, my driver gave up next to a foot bridge that our car obviously couldn’t cross. I called the nice people at Yog Peeth and they sent one of their workers over on a scooter to get me. We managed the impossible by stacking two large suitcases, an overstuffed backpack, me and my handbag all on the back of his little scooter! I wish I had a picture of that, because it was India at its finest.

Yoga students gather besides the Ganges River

My Year in India: It’s Negative Impact on My Health & My Exciting Plans to Improve It

I have an amazing announcement!  I’m going to do something outrageous and way outside of my comfort zone! Wondering what it is?  Well keep reading.

This year in India has been brutal. Seriously, it’s been the hardest year of my life, surpassing even my two divorces and the death of my mother in 2004. Never mind all the cultural differences, demanding work and loneliness. Each of those challenges has been exponentially compounded by a single factor, my diminishing good health.

The Cause of My Declining Health

Now to be fair, I can’t blame it all on India. Yes, the pollution is awful! I can taste it in my mouth and feel it in my lungs. I’ve developed a persistent little cough since I’ve been here, much like many Indians. I’m always hacking up phlegm and sneezing. I usually have at least three sneezing fits every day.

Aside from the pollution problem and its effect on my health, I haven’t been eating right. Indian food is very greasy and heavy on carbohydrates. The sauces (they call them gravy) are loaded with butter and oil. They use very few fresh fruits and vegetables in traditional Indian food. Slowly but surely I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve nearly gained 10 pounds this year.

I haven’t done a great job at exercising either, which also explains my weight gain. Usually I go to the gym and work out several times a week. Unfortunately, due to the time difference (currently 13.5) hours I often have conference calls very early in the morning or very late at night. Add to that the demotivation I’ve felt because of being away from my family and friends, feeling sluggish from a poor diet and my lungs being full of crap, and well, I’ve just fallen off the gym wagon.

Nepalese Man Resting in the Sun

The 5 Things That I Liked Most About the People of Nepal

Nepal is a beautiful country full of gorgeous countryside, fascinating cultural and a rich history. But my favorite thing about the country was the people. They left me with a lasting impression of peace, happiness and love.

They are happy

The Nepalese people were always so happy! They had big smiles on their faces and always gave us a warm greeting. According to Phycology Today “a happy person is someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest, and pride, and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness,anxiety and anger. Happiness has also been said to relate to life satisfaction, appreciation of life and moments of pleasure.” To me this has never been more evident than on the faces of the Nepalese people.

They are simple

This may be closely related to number 1. Perhaps when you don’t have to spend two hours a day commuting or have to worry about posting on all your social media it is easier to just be happy. The people that I saw were very poor. They lived in little shanties and were lucky if they had electricity. Yet they seem to genuinely appreciate what they have, instead of focusing on what they don’t have.

Himalaya Mountains in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal: A Hellacious Journey to a Heavenly Destination

Sitting in the airplane heading back to Delhi, flying high above the jagged snow topped peaks of the Himalaya Mountains, I realized I already missed Nepal. The five days had gone by entirely too fast. The beauty, culture and adventure had left a lasting impression on me and I was already thinking about the possibility of a return trip.

 

A couple of important things to note. Indians do not need a passport or visa to visit Nepal but they need a voter’s ID card and one other piece of ID. Also, if you are wondering if Nepal has recovered from the 2015 earthquake, the answer is both yes and no. There are obviously many buildings that were completely destroyed and still need to be dealt with, but not enough that it interfered with our trip in any way.

Kathmandu

We arrived in Kathmandu late on Friday afternoon and wasted no time investigating all the cool places within walking distance to our guest house. Sporting goods stores specializing in trekking gear are everywhere, and their prices were incredible! Kirti needed some hiking boots for our three-day trek and we were pleasantly surprised to find a pair to fit his large feet. There were also tons of great Napalese handicrafts. We had a particularly good time in a knife store admiring all the intricate kukri knives. They had a range of sizes, from pocket knives to huge swords. Each one was handmade and we were so impressed that I bought one for my own collection. It has a jeweled sheath and is absolutely stunning!

The magesty of Triund

Our Journey and Unforgettable Adventures in Triund India

I’ve been home for a week now from Triund and my legs still hurt. What’s worse is that my heart aches to go back. I think I may have left a part of me behind in those Himalayan Mountains. Triund does that to a person. It’s an experience you will never forget, and here’s why.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. The most beautiful places in India are the hardest to get to. Triund is a perfect example. Triund is basically a small camp area, about 10,000 feet up in the Himalayan Mountains. To get there, you have to first reach the town of Mcleodganj, India, then you must hike 9 kilometers straight up a mountain, which is why my legs still hurt.

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Rishikesh India: Much More than Yoga, Vegetarian Food and Shopping! 

Playing my wood flute besides the Ganges River, watching the birds soar high into the Himalaya Mountains, I felt like I never wanted to leave. Rishikesh does that to people. I know more than one person that has showed up in the quaint village only to decide not to leave. The town is brimming with visitors from all nations, creed and color, and most come for one thing, health. Whether it’s to enjoy the holy Ganges River, the many ashrams scattered throughout the hills, or all the vegetarian cuisine, it’s a great place to chill out and find peace with the world. 

Chandra Tall Lake in the Himalya Mountains

Chandra Taal Lake: Dancing with the Whims of Nature at 14,100 feet (Part 3 of the series)

I stood there feeling high, not from pot, although it was readily available in the area, but from from the sheer ecstasy of the profound beauty before me. Or perhaps it was the altitude of 14,100 feet that made me feel high. Whatever the reason, Kirti and I had journeyed by car, then by bus up Rohtang pass (one of the deadliest roads in the world) and finally hiked about 6 kilometers to reach the khajana (Hindi for treasure) of nature known as Chandra Taal Lake. The soaring mountain peaks and lush green fields surrounding the lake made it look like a painting alive with the whims of nature.