WHY! Yoga Road Trip Days 51 – 58

Croatia – what can I say, heaven, heaven on Earth, so quiet, so serene, so relaxed was the island where we convened that I will let the video do the rest.

Ashtanga morning in the early AM overlooking the ocean, Thai Massage all day with various teachers and incredible students, vegan food all day, fish and beer in the evening filled with jokes and laughter provided by yours truly and Howard Evans who became my very good friend. Our approach is so similar in that we both see that body work, and especially thai massage is to help connect us to the larger energy that bonds us all. Call it as you wish, but as we let go, attune to our clients, and let them guide us into relaxation everything comes into place.

I am including notes I had written down on my ferry ride at the end of a very long day in the air…

Rather than starting with the breath taking view of Zadar’s shore line, let us for a moment take into consideration that my body’s sleep cycle has been on a havoc for the last 3 days.
I left Cincinnati, Ohio Sunday at 4:30pm and drove till 1:30am, talking to my best friend Dave till about 2:30, laying my head to rest in the folded back section of my car.
The evening was super hot which made for a sweaty broken sleep that only lasted till 5:30am.
Shaking off the sleep dust with the excitement of getting ready to go to Croatia later in the afternoon, and just getting out of my boxed container which has served me so well in the last 51 days, taking me all across the country, I started driving back to the city at 6am, arriving at the magical hour of 9:30am.
It is important to follow this clock time zone for a moment, how else can you have a sense of what my body is going through at the moment?
We all know what it is like to sleep, we adore it, we love it, and most of us usually get at least 6 or more hours every night.
I for one will be ecstatic to get 6 hours sleep this evening.
But let’s get back to the tale, the gypsy adventure tale.
Completing my yoga practice, I parked my car on the side of the left side of the NYC street, exactly as I had it planned in my head. It is 12:30pm, just as the left side of the street was being finished cleaning.
The parking spot is just downstairs from my Aunt and Uncle’s NYC apartment. So cool is the spot that I had picked that you can even see it from the 7th floor balcony of my grandfather’s apartment on the opposite side of the street. This latter coincidence is the universe’s way of nodding its head in positive affirmation. That one was not planned, not even in my head.
I complete all my laundry, even washing my dry yoga mat, which found itself slightly damp from my morning practice in the newly humid conditions of the bright sun shine filled day of NYC. As a side note, we had spent the last 3 weeks in the city under the veil of clouds and breezy weather. In fact, ever since we crossed the Mississippi on day 16 or so we had less than a handful of fully sunny, warm days.
I did not realize the time as I was shaving my head and taking a shower, getting ready for my European Thai Massage gathering adventure, and thus when I got out of the shower and looked at my computer, I was horrified when the time read 1:49pm. My flight is at 4:10pm and the drive to JFK airport is at least 45 min, and that is without traffic.
I get dressed in a hurry, kiss my family, and rush downstairs, running to the main street.
There is a yellow cab in my sight, and the middle aged Punjabi Indian cab driver engages me in conversation right from the start. Mainly because he heard me say that I had wished I had organized a flight to Israel from Croatia as I inform Bibiana that I am safely in a moving vehicle that will take me to my next departure point. It seems his first cab driving job was under an Israeli man name David Cohen, who he learned a whole lot from.
NYC traffic on this Monday afternoon is threatening to keep me at home, or at least so it feels that way as we get onto 125th street which takes you to the I-678 – the highway that connects all the Eastern airports (La Guardia, JFK, and there is another one I saw). I feel lucky to be in this cab, as he quickly veers off and goes south to 123rd St, which teaches me a new short cut on getting to the highway.
Yet the highway itself is also backed up.
I figure I have till 3pm, I need to be at the airport at 3pm, that gives me an hour, which should be fine, right?
Right! I tell my mother when she calls. I always deal with things in the last minute, and while the average person gets overly anxious, worries and tenses, by this point in my young life, I know this is who I am, and what’s the point of getting all worked up about? Trust and everything will work out.
Granted the last time I needed to create such calm trust in the universal force of getting me where I want to go, where my gifts are intended to be shared was when I went to work in Thailand. On that day, I left Iowa and my flight in Chicago was canceled, threatening to throw off my Amsterdam leg of trip. I had in my possession then a new book I had ordered just a few days before, a book by Reverend Wing Fu Fing called “Fuck, YES!” On the recognition that we should say Yes, to all things in life, with the awareness of taking all the responsibilities that word carries. Needless to say I made all my flights, and even got to see my beautiful friend Jenny who was waiting for me in the Boston Airport to shower me with her love, sweetness and physical empowerment.
I learned that day the power of trusting in the higher power.
Plan, and follow through on your end, and the the Universe will follow through on their end.
The cab and I make it to the airport at 3:01pm.
I run to the nearest Delta counter and waiting patiently, though with intention, for the lady to complete handling the situation she was immersed in with 2 older gentleman who had to minimize the contents of their checked luggage. It was 3 minutes of calm intensity as I can see the long line stacked behind the security check point line.
She finally looks at me and when I give her my passport and itinerary she informs me that I am so lucky, I only had 2 minutes left before the computer would close all check in. And it would not have mattered that my wife, in her flight experience intelligence had checked me in on line.
Since I did not have a printed boarding ticket, had I arrived 5 minutes later, I would be ‘up shit creek’ as the saying goes.
It is sure nice to sit on the ferry, at 4:19pm Croatia time, drinking a cold Karlovacko beer and writing this, yet the close calls would not stop there.
My flight to Moscow went without any issues. I found myself crying in all three of the movies I watched, each of them dealing with the same universal subject – ‘Love.’ Yet each discussing it from different perspectives. Be it “Single Man,” “The last Station” or “The Young Victoria” all three made the heart expand in the wonder of life. I recommend you watch each of them, and while I could write a unique critic on each one, there is no need in this forum. Suffice to say I watched too many movies and got very little sleep, even though my physical body has been operating on merely 3 hours of disrupted sleep. I believe I sneaked in about an hour of shut eye time, who knows maybe 90 minutes worth before we landed.
My next flight from Moscow to Zagreb is scheduled to leave at 12:00pm, so you can imagine how I felt when I looked at the computer screen at some point between my movie marathon and read the flight map information – we were scheduled to land at 11:26am.
That does not give me any time at all to get off the plane, find an attendant, have them take me to the ticket counter to get a ticket and direct me to the gate itself. I exercise mind control and order 3 small bottles of Bailey’s. It seems liquor is no longer free on international flights, just wine and beer and as I already had 3 full glasses of red wine, I needed a sweet, chocolate taste to follow the sweet mind over matter principles.
When I wake up from my slumber sleep to a banana and a granola bar (my special breakfast meal) I ask the flight attendant what she thinks I should do. She has no idea, though she did confirm what my heart was saying “don’t trust the monitor.” We will land before 11am, which should give me an hour.
Back to the one hour trust. If you have an hour before you flight, you are good to go. You could even cut it to 50 minutes and still make it.
Remember my first caution though, if you are the type of person to tense rather easily, I highly recommend planning better.
Indeed I do make it to the transfer counter at the Moscow airport. Seems I am the only one from my flight who is not staying in this ancient city, which from above has rolling greens fields all around, with the towering building that make up the city itself out in the distance under a cloud of haze. Moscow is no different than any other city you see from the air. Polluted, towering, and filled with people. The surroundings strike me as unique though. I realize that I always had an image of Moscow being cold and dry, possibly even barren, and yet it is blissfully green, with lakes and agriculture, interesting small neighborhoods and architectural housing.
Though my boarding time is 11:20am (which is 5am Eastern time, I am now officially on 90 minutes sleep for the last 24 hours, and raking up to 5.5 hr sleep for the last 48), and my flight leaves from the newer airport which is just 5 minutes away by bus, I am asked to sit at the nearby chairs to await the attendant who will follow me to my flight. The time is 11:15am.
At 11:25am a small group of Russian speaking travelers is instructed to sit in the same area that I am in. For a quick moment I begin to worry and walk up to the counter, only to be met with an irritated (why she would be irritated no one knows, after all in the last 30 minutes she only had to deal with me, the new group already has all their tickets) looks at me and comments “you’ll be fine.”
I sit back and exercise my mental powers. At this point I doubt I am not getting on the plane.
I make my flight.
A short 2 hour flight, with my body fighting to pass out. Indeed I must have fallen asleep for a duration of it, which makes it that much harder to shake it off, but I can’t let go of my concentration. I have one more plane to catch, and more importantly, I have to rush from the Zadar airport to the ferry station to catch a boat at 3:20pm if I am to make it to the Island today. And I do want to get to the Island today. That is the reason I have only two carry on bags. I am traveling light.
Which serves me as I rush through the Zagreb airport to domestic departures.
I hope you are slowly appreciating the deeper meaning in this long tale. Trust. Set your intention, follow through on your intention, but then trust! Stay calm, both in the heart ad in the mind.
I did not need to rush, not only do I make it to the gate by 1:20pm, at 1:30pm the flight is delayed 20 minutes. We are now leaving at 2:20pm.
Let me give you a picture before the tale ends.
Originally my flight was at 2:00pm, landing at 2:50pm. According to the ferry schedule that was emailed to me by the organizers of the gathering, the last boat to the Island today is at 3:20pm. Apparently it is a holiday and thus the schedule has less boats and ferries reaching my destination. I was told that the drive from the airport to the ferry station is short and I should be fine with my 2:50pm landing time.
With a 2:20pm departure, I ask the attendant at the counter what are my chances with the new itinerary. She tells me there is no way.
An English speaking family over hears my conversation and they tell me that there would not have been a way for me to make the ferry even if I landed at 2:50, suggesting it is a good 20-30 minute ride, as the airport is actually far from the main city central.
My skills at redirecting my mind and my system have been honed after years of traveling and dealing with such events (I had missed more flights than I wish to write about, staying on airport floor or simply having to spend the money to deal with the consequences, while also being carried on the calm waters that make every thing work out in the end, and in the end, everything always, always works out. The only question is how you respond to what life hands your way), and I allow myself to relax with the thought of spending the night in this new city. What else can I do?
I begin to imagine how I’ll do my practice, walk around a little and sleep.
The one hour flight goes with ease, and again I catch about 35 minutes of musical sleep (i.e. Music in my ears through my iPod, my eyes closed and my mind turned off, if I was dreaming I can not recall. I was chanting internally to Krishna Das version of ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ which I am trying to memorize (I have the first 4 lines out of 48 on my tongue), and maybe that gives me a deep sleep entry. I open my eyes to a breath taking view of water and green cliffs, the coast of Croatia lies underneath me in beautiful algae blue patches, mountains giving way to coastal towns, and multiple islands and water ways spread out as far as my eye can see. The flight attendant has a water bottle in hand, and I ask him to pour me a glass. I know I was sleeping when I see that he picks up a couple of trays of food from the seats in front.
The plane lands at 3:15pm.
I am not giving up.
Remember, never give up, follow through all the way to the end, and deal with what ever happens at that point.
Trust the universe all the way through.
Thus, rather than relaxing and choosing to just head to town and find a hotel, I rush and run out of the airport.
There is a man standing in front, then again, there is a man standing in front of every airport you will ever land on, usually there is more than one though.
I need to get to the ferries.
“taxi?” he asks.
“yeah, taxi.” I smile. “let’s go”
“You think I’ll make the ferry to the Island of Vela Iz?”
“Vela Iz? Oh yeah, no problem.”
“from your words to my reality,” I walk fast, causing him to walk fast. Who knows maybe I’ll make the 3:20 after all. Though a voice in me tells me that there might be other ferries, even though the schedule I have suggests that there are none.
Coastal towns, I realize as we walk to the cab, all have a very similar scent in the air. It is a very calming and familiar feeling, which makes me smile. I look at the mountains in the distance which I saw from the plane, getting a sense of this European section of Earth, and as we drive it is hard to appreciate the human architecture amidst the rolling hills and fauna of this country because I suddenly realize that I have no clue what the financial matters of this country look like. I know the universe is taking me on an abundant path, and I feel very wealthy, both in money (I can’t buy a house yet, but still, I can eat, travel, and pay for my family’s needs) and in ‘time’ (I have not worked a structured job in years, enjoying creating my own schedule and thus spending lots of time with my family and friends), yet the meter in front of me read 50.00 just to start the trip.
I had stopped at the ATM when I realized I had time in Zagreb so I would not have to get any money before rushing to the cab and had taken out 300 Kuna, though having no idea what the conversion rate is.
Still, 300KU feels like a good deal of money, which means that 50KU feels like a great deal to just sit in a car. And the meter is speeding itself in increments of .50KU every second, literally, with every second driving I am watching the meter go from 50 to 60 to 100 in less than 5 minutes. As I try to find out what is going on I realize that the driver has very little English, and while I am sure he is not trying to rip me off since the meter is obviously like this, I need to know. He claims that $1 is 5 kuna, which means that my cab ride started at $10. Now that seems rather expensive, wouldn’t you say?
A 10 minute cab ride from the airport to the ferry will cost me $40, where I paid $50 for a one hour drive in NYC.
Once we pass the 120 Kuna I was able to drop back to the soft mental perspective, and simply focus on my ability to catch a ferry.
I am dropped off in front of a closed ferry station next to a restaurant and the cab driver tells me to ask the people in the restaurant.
Trust. Remember, trust. Learn to listen to your inner heart more.
Why? Because the two servers at the restaurant told me to walk right back to the ferries we passed.
I can see that one of them had already pulled out, and I sprint the 500 meters back to the ferry and with a short breath I ask the guy at the beginning of the ferry, who seems to me like he is about to close the lift if he knows where I might catch a ferry to Island of Vela Iz.
“Right here,” he says, motioning me to get on board quickly.
“I don’t need a ticket?” I look over at the open station.
He simply motions me to come up.
My heart is joyous, yet my head is still a little unsure. After talking to the two servers I realize that this country has very little English in the tongues of the locals, but I get the same answer from the guy driving the boat, as well as from the bartender.
I sit down with my beer, open my computer, and at 5:26pm, 11:26am Eastern time, I am about to get off the ferry and be at my destination.
Trust, and all will be ok.
I trust that even tough I have no clue where to go on what looks like a rather large island (and the word Veli means big) I will find the gathering group and make it to a warm and cozy bed at some point tonight.
I only have to decide if I want to do my yoga with two beers, and two days of no sleep under my feet.

Considering I was writing the entire time I was on the ferry (about 90 minutes) it is only appropriate that before I go to bed I share the remaining expression of my day.
It is now 12:53am, how my body carries itself is a true testament to yoga and beer, and a little food. Oh wait, I forget the true crucial part, which is a larger energetic force that connects us all.
Remember how I said ‘Trust,’ right?
Well, I did land on the Island of Veli Iz, and in the back of my head I was wondering how the hell I would find the people I am meeting, yet I was not overly concerned.
Thus as I was walking off the ferry to look at cars leaving and one bus, I began to wonder where am I going.
I approached a man that seemed like he was coordinating something who motioned me to get on the bus and catch a ride into “town.” I was preparing to do that when a tall gentleman approached me asking if I was going to the Thai gathering. In fact, he had recognized my face while on the ferry, but did not want to disturb my work. With my elated heart, now with two beers in its system, scarce amount of food, I beamed at him that he should have totally bothered me, we could have had a beer together.
Turns out he is from Slovenia and he drove, so I hop into his Peugeot and ride into town. I am so lucky that he approached me since I had no idea the name of the hotel we are staying in. After asking a few people where it is (he was asking, I was offering gratitude that I did not have to do this myself), we made it to a beautiful quaint hotel, clean and rather spacious with large balconies directly by the water.
When I walk into my king size bedroom, and see the view of the ocean from my second floor window I can not contain my joy and smile from ear to ear.
I lay out my mat on my out door balcony, and with an hour to spare before dinner I complete the primary series of Ashtanga. One of my teachers pointed out that on days of travel it is best to just do the primary series.
While any yoga will do you wonders after a long trip, dinner, which is composed of carrot, cucumber, pasta and 4 pieces of country baked bread tastes so good. Especially with a company of new friends, one of them from Israel.
We take a walk to a local bar/coffee shop so that some people can have coffee, while me and one of the other teacher can have a drink.
It is a beautiful little village on the edge of the water where we are at, like you might see in old European movies.
I get to meet these people better, especially me, with my talkative attitude, and when we return, the last teacher, Arnold has just arrived, and considering he wants a beer, I oblige and head back to the same bar.
With lovely and engaging conversation on the shape of Thai Massage, physical therapy in Europe and how they are trying to imitate the US insurance policy, we find ourselves moving to a larger table when some students that Arnold had met on his ferry ride (had I missed the ferry I came on, there would have been another, in fact there were 2 more, one at 4:30 and the last one at 8).
The conversation drifted to Yoga-Thai Yoga-Acro Yoga, and if you know me, I share my experience and my thoughts based on my experience, and Pichet has healed himself through understating practice better, and Asana is truly designed to help you sit, which questions the Acrobatic movements that are often called Acro-Yoga, as well as refuting suggestion that Bikram or Ashtanga are bad practices. They are often done and taught in ways that leave people injured, but they are inherently the best practices in the world. Hopefully I was not over board. I can let down my guard when I am super tired and have been drinking for many hours.
After 2 more beers, the walk home on the quiet island is rather cold but uplifting.
Now at 1:13am, 7:15pm back in NYC I am calling it a night. I do have to practice tomorrow. The only question is how early….
———
The question was answered by. the breakfast schedule and at 7am I am out on on the flat rock over looking the ocean to practice. We will practice here every morning at 6am, where two other groups practice at 7am.
For those who can not stay up all night, drinking, laughing and enjoying life, and still wake up and do practice….you may want to stay away from the alcohol and the late night festivities until Friday night.
Remember the following tale:
An unshaven, dirty, bedraggled panhandler, with bloodshot eyes and teeth half gone, asks Paddy for a dime.
“Do you drink, smoke, or gamble?” asks Paddy.
“Mister,” says the bum, “I don’t touch a drop, or smoke the filthy weed, or bother with evil gambling.”
“Okay,” says Paddy, “if you will come home with me I will give you a dollar.”
As they enter the house, Maureen takes Paddy aside and hisses, “How dare you bring that terrible looking specimen into our home!?”
“Darling,” says Paddy, “I just wanted you to see what a man looks like who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and doesn’t gamble.”

WHY! Yoga Road Trip Day 48 – 51

Driving alone all the way to Cincinnati, OH was an experience. It takes more than one day, especially when you leave at 8 o’clock in the evening hoping to avoid traffic.

I drove and slept somewhere, waking up to practice, and completing my drive to the city.

Arriving in the early afternoon, I had a chance to connect with my host, Jeff, and see his wonderful house and enjoy the time away from the driver’s seat. I taught the same evening, and the group was so welcoming and excited, some of them had even watched my videos already.

it was to be a more advanced workshop, sharing nuances and principles of Thai, rather than teaching the dance itself.

I am really enjoying sharing western understanding to the practice with the ancient principles I value so much.

My new book ‘intergative thai’ will be a valuable resource tying and opening to discussion all the aspects of body work that can be found working in Nuad Bo’ran.

Jeff and I practices to Guruji on Friday night, making the value of Guruji’s DVDs that much more real and needed. Hopefully the community at large will appreciate the DVD production my friend and I are doing through www.ledgurujidvd.com

Driving all through the night to get to NYC in time to shower, change, practice and fly to Europe. This is truly a road trip!

WHY! Yoga Road Trip Days 39 – 47

I am grouping days again, mainly because technically we are not on the road any more. While we are not settled in our own home, we are fortunate to have a single location in NYC to share our time and energies from.

I had put out an ad in Natural Awakening NJ that I will be in town offering my services, though the response has been limited. I guess I am not that big of a personality that individuals will be excited about my skills compared with the skills of a locally trained Thai Therapist.
The owner of Natural Awakening who has watched my videos and has received other work before did appreciate my style and years of training, and thus I drove to see her at her home office and worked on her and a friend, who has never had Thai before.
I did convert yet another person to Thai.

Once you go Thai Massage, you can not really go back to the other styles, unless you are looking for a rub down.

While there are a few individuals out there who truly understand how to enhance the working of the body through body work, Thai Massage achieves a level of balance and depth that any one can provide. Applying western application and being able to treat the body for the complications it is experiencing that day….that is the skill and artistic abilities of the therapist.

We enjoyed time walking, sitting in the park, eating at various restaurants, and simply connecting with family.

I have a long ten days ahead of me, between driving to Cincinnati, OH to teach Thai Massage, and turning around to drive back and catch a flight the same day to Croatia, where I am part of the European Thai Massage gathering, these last few days were a calm before the adventure, though I will be taking this adventure by myself, allowing my son and wife to enjoy the magic of NYC.

WHY! Yoga Road Trip Day 38

My wife is a chocolate lover and NYC is experiencing a growth in small choclate manufacturers that are making some artsitc and delicious creations.

We headed out to visit some of the city’s chocolate delights, while also visiting my grandfather down in his Brooklyn’s office.

Mast Brother’s chocolate offered us an amazing view into the art of creating chocolate from beans. How long they store beans, how they separate them and more.

I have not seen the Brooklyn Bridge in so long, inspired a Dharma Mittra like photo shoot.

WHY! Yoga Road Trip Day 33 – 37

I had all the intention of providing daily feedback while I was back in AZ for the first Sumit Yoga Retreat in Sedona, but we just had too much fun, so I have to recap for you all.

I arrived Thursday afternoon after driving my car to the JFK airport, picked up by my friend Sabrina who owns the Sumit studio in McCormick Ranch. We headed to see our good friend Christoffer and enjoy some tasty beverages and lunch option. While I discovered that someone stole my hard drive with almost a year’s worth of work on it, nothing can take away the joy of being back among good friends.

The following day, after teaching a Sumit class (something I have not done in over 30 days and I got stuck with sequence creating a joyful giggles in how I maneuvered through my mishap), a scrumptious lunch at Dayna and Sabrina’s favorite lunch spot we shot up to Sedona. a most beautiful drive, that had us arriving to the resort right around 5, to enjoy the high sun over the red rocks.

That was the start of a weekend full of laughs, yoga, pictures and hiking. Dayna, Sabrina and I formed a mini triage which was joined by Stephen the second night, who was a trooper and woke up on the last day to practice Ashtanga Yoga with me.

Christoffer had done the practice with me on Friday morning, out in his pool, so it was a beautiful experience to share my practice with new thirsty practitioners.

The retreat went fabulously well, some changes here and there, but amazing students, great energy and reception, and I only hope I get to do be in the next one.

WHY! Yoga Road Trip Day 32

It’s busy in the north city, busy and again cold and rainy. What’s up with rain?
Works for us because we can drive, and since I am flying to AZ tomorrow to support Sumits Yoga Sedona retreat, we decided to take it easy today.
Waking up and doing Yoga at home, allowing Leeor to run around the Apt and doing all the laundry that has accumulated in our trip.

WHY! Yoga Road Trip Day 31

We arrived late in the afternoon, relaxing with my grandfather and his partner, eating some great home cooked food, catching up and drinking some wine.

We woke up this, to a cloudy NYC day, but inspired to go check out Dharma Mittra’s advanced practice. I have never practiced with Dharma yet, though I know of his practice and his life work for quite a long time. Never my personal practice, I appreciate what he has done in promoting yoga and what he does to share the core of this ancient philosophy.

I was hesitatnt to drive in the city, where will I park, will I get stuck in traffic, yet all those questions were eradicated when I found a parking spot right in front of Dharma’s studio.

After practice we went to eat some hummus at a Lebanese restaurant which makes its own bread, and again we had a parking spot just around the corner of the restaurant.

Considering that the city is humid, I was super elated that I am driving. I usually fly and enjoy walking and taking the public transport. To drive, park and be mobile inside the city is by far more thrilling, faster and less window shopping.

I’ll be driving every day.