Ode to the Oak, and Tree Pose

This poem was read by a yoga teacher at class I attended recently. I enjoyed it. Maybe you will too.

The Oak Tree

by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew

After class, I asked the yoga instructor about it and she emailed it to me. Who knew you can get so much out of a free yoga class at REI!  I didn’t think about the poem again until a few days later when I was stopped in my tracks at the beauty of this oak tree.

Oak Tree

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Wanderlust 108 San Francisco

The World’s Only Mindful Triathlon

Yesterday I spent the day at Wanderlust 108 in Golden Gate Park, which is a spinoff of the Wanderlust festivals that take place in the world’s most beautiful mountain resorts. The Wanderlust 108 bills itself as “a field day for your mind, body and soul. . . vibrant community, self-awareness and inner peace. Community instead of competition? You can’t beat that.” There’s a 5K in the morning, followed by 75 minutes of yoga flow underscored by a DJ.  Then a 30-minute guided meditation to complete the mindful triathlon.

Wanderlust Festivals tour trucks

Wanderlust Festivals tour trucks

Speedway Meadows Stage with DJs, Yogis and Meditation gurus

Speedway Meadows with more than 1,000 people

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Mindfulness Manifesto, Part 3: Yoga

How Healthy Eating, Walking and Yoga Can Provide Lifelong Balance

Continued from Part 2, Walking

Healthy eating and fitness through walking provide a strong foundation for the body and mind. At the apex of this triangle is the practice of Yoga, which unites the body, mind and spirit.

YogaMindfulness

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Yoga as:

  1. Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation
  2. A system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being

If we look closer at the Sanskrit word yoga, we find the root word “yuj” means “to unite.”

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Mindfulness Manifesto – Part 1

This is the first in a blog series on the mindful practices of healthy eating, walking and yoga. I wrote this essay for a UC Berkeley online writing workshop and I wanted to share it with you now because I begin yoga teacher training this month.  I’m grateful  that my journey has led me to this new dimension of wellness, for I am about to embark on my 100 mile Camino next month.   I’ll continue to share the great things I discover about the Camino, but on Mondays I’ll highlight mindful practices that I truly believe in.

Mindfulness Manifesto – Part 1

How Healthy Eating, Walking and Yoga Can Provide Lifelong Balance

Over the past few decades, medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and chronic stress, have increased in America, despite the good intentions and recommendations of organizations like the American Heart Association and the Food & Drug Administration. In 2009, 145 million people—almost half of all Americans—live with a chronic condition.1  Ironically, these conditions are also among the most preventable of all health problems. It is time for us to take control of our own health and well-being! By incorporating a few simple daily habits of healthy eating, walking, and practicing yoga, one can avoid expensive doctor visits, dependence on medication, and the use of stimulants, ensuring a lifelong balance of good health and wellness. Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events in March

Lake Merritt Camino Walk

Saturday, March 5, 2016
10:30 AM – noon

This is an informal gathering that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. The group meets at the Lake Merritt Pergola on the east side of Oakland’s Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and starts walking at 10:45 AM in a clockwise direction around the lake.
More details


NorCal Pilgrim Blessing Ceremony and Potluck

March 12, 10:30 am – 3:30 pm
Newman Hall, Berkeley

For those of you attending the Pilgrim’s Blessing and Potluck on March 12th, the  program schedule was emailed to NorCal list subscribers and shared on the Facebook event page.

Blessing of the Pilgrims Ceremony

We will take a Camino Class of 2016 group photo and a photo of all attendees.

RSVP required by Friday, March 11th so we know how many chairs to set up.
Email NorCal@americanpilgrims.org and let us know if you will walk the Camino in 2016 and need a scallop shell for the blessing.

See more details on the Facebook event page. Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events in February

Lake Merritt Camino Walk

Saturday, February 6, 2016
10:30 AM

This is an informal gathering that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. The group meets at the Lake Merritt Pergola on the east side of Oakland’s Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and starts walking at 10:45 AM in a clockwise direction around the lake.
More details


Super Hike on Wildcat Ridge

Sunday, February 7, 2016
9:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Inspiration Point
Wildcat Canyon Rd at Nimitz Wy, Berkeley, CA

A 7-8 mile hike and yoga practice in Tilden-Wildcat Canyon Park, organized by the East Bay Hiking & Yoga Club. We will meet at the Inspiration Point at 9:30 am and hike down Nimitz Way towards Wildcat Canyon Park. We will have a yoga practice on the ridge and then return back to Inspiration Point. You’ll be back in time for the Super Bowl kickoff @ 3:30 pm!
RSVP on Meetup.com required to get last minute updates.


Mt Tamalpais Presidents’ Day Hike

Monday, February 15,  10:30 AM
With Dick Duker and his ski/ bike clubs – pilgrims welcome!

Enjoy all the shades of green during the winter on a hike around Mt Tam while enjoying fantastic views from every direction. The distance will be 8 to 9 miles with a leisurely pace.  After the hike there will be an optional beverage stop at the Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur.

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Intentions for 2016

Each new year gives us the opportunity to set our intentions for our personal, spiritual or professional lives. For me, this year brings the convergence of two of my passions, yoga and hiking, which I’ll be stepping up in a big way.

Creating this blog was the first step in giving me the courage to follow my heart and put myself out there.  I’ve met some wonderful people from around the world who all have a strong connection to the Camino. What I’ve realized is that everyone has a good Camino story to share —whether its their own, like Landon Roussel’s account in On the Primitive Way — or sharing another person’s story like Annie O’Neil does in her film, Phil’s Camino.

More inspiring stories are coming my way and I am excited to share them here on The Camino Provides. The purpose of this blog is an outlet for my lifelong mantra, “I love to share a good thing.”  Yet, there is something more powerful going on that is evolving in exciting ways, and acting with intention plays a big part of it.  Below are my goals for this blog, followed by my personal intentions.

When you know what you want, you put it out there to yourself/others/the universe and you act harmoniously with intention; it's freaking powerful

Photo credit: April Enriquez

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Camino and Hiking Events in December

One of the best ways to prepare for the Camino is to join one of the pilgrim events, hikes or workshops in your community. The Bay Area has a great variety of trails for peregrinos, new and experienced, to explore together. Continue reading

10 Ways to Hack your Yoga Practice

Long before I knew anything about the Camino, I started doing yoga. I loved how it made me feel instantly relaxed, as if I just had a massage. I decided that I needed this good feeling on a daily basis to relieve stress, slow down and breathe deep. I quickly became addicted.  If I didn’t do yoga for a period of 2 to 3 days, my upper back and shoulders  would tighten up, and my hips would feel sore at night. At times I would become grouchy. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment, so I would hit the yoga mat and the feeling of calm dissolved any angst. Stress melted away and life would become balanced again.

I am so grateful that I found this practice 17 years ago. My posture improved, my weight is under control, and I can deal with stress. While yoga studios are plentiful in the Bay Area, I have done most of my yoga at home where I can practice anytime. I’ve tried a variety of yoga workouts via Netflix, the library, or buying DVDs on sale.

Ultimate Yogi collectionMy commitment to daily yoga intensified in 2014 when I discovered The Ultimate Yogi practice with Travis Eliot.  This set of 12 DVDs includes a booklet, detox recipes and a calendar to track the routines for 108 days. Each practice is about one hour and many of them are great cardio workouts. A few feature deep stretching and one DVD has Pranayama breathing with beautiful gratitude meditation.

Everyone who completes the Ultimate Yogi program has significant results—the most noticeable for me were my arms became tone, I lost a few pounds and I gained more flexibility.  I completed my first round of 108 days of yoga while I was in Santiago on a tour of northern Spain. It was a huge accomplishment— a personal Camino of sorts, without the stamps.

After I completed the 108 day challenge last year, I went back to some of my favorite yoga DVDs that I had missed. However, within a few months away from the Ultimate Yogi, I went back to some of my favorites from the collection: Detox, Yin, Cardio, Strength and Cross Train, which is available on YouTube. I even missed Travis’ southern drawl (he sounds like Matthew McConaughey). I recently decided to commit to the 108 day challenge again, to get me through the holiday season. I am currently on day 71 of my  Ultimate Yogi 2.0.  I learned to customize the practice based on how I’m feeling, my schedule and how to adjust the intensity.  Now that you know the background, below are some tips for anyone interested in taking the 108 day Ultimate Yogi challenge. Continue reading

Yoga for Hope Festival in San Francisco

Yesterday was a beautiful summer day in the Bay Area, complete with sunshine to warm the tourists, and a strong breeze to assist the many sailboats cruising around the bay. Yet for me, it wasn’t exactly a typical summer day.  Three of my interests converged: yoga, the Camino and beer.  What does yoga have to do with the Camino de Santiago? For my Camino, a lot.  And beer? Also a strong Camino connection, but I will explain this in part two.

My morning began with a subway ride to San Francisco to participate in the Yoga For Hope event, a tradition I have enjoyed over the past few years.  I was surprised to see sunshine when I emerged from the Powell St. BART station at 10:15 am, as it was overcast in the East Bay (usually it’s the other way around.) I headed up to Union Square, found a spot to place my yoga mat near the other yogis who made it by the opening bell ceremony.  I quickly joined the asanas (pose sequences) led by the first featured yoga teacher.  To my delight, her playlist included some of my favorite funk songs like Parliament’s Flashlight and Lakeside’s Fantastic Voyage.  Then the DJ played Digital Underground’s Humpty Dance.  Imagine about 200 people in the center of SF’s shopping district, moving in unison to these grooves.  Some tourists started to bounce along to the beat while others mimicked our poses and took photos.  A few onlookers scratched their heads.

IMG_0091

Behind the stage at Union Square with the DJ and yoga teachers

California-San-Francisco-Victory-Dewey-Monument-Union-SquareAfter that incredible warm-up, I knew it was going to be a good day. More teachers took the stage for 20 minute cycles to lead us in various asanas while the DJ played  groovy playlists.  When I was in the upward-facing dog pose, my view was Tiffany and Company. In right-side plank pose, the posh St. Francis Hotel.  In left-plank I saw Nike and construction scaffolding, and in downward-facing dog, I could see the upside down versions of Macy’s and the Cheesecake Factory. When we finally settled into shavasana (relaxation pose), I looked up to see the Goddess of Victory statue. She’s a beauty, and just look at that balance!

I was grateful for my yoga practice for allowing me to be comfortable despite being surrounded by shopping temptations, city chaos and gawkers. As we were all lying down in meditation with the sounds of bells and downtempo chill music, a homeless guy walked by and yelled “Ha – Ha – wake up people!”  I chuckled to myself at the irony of that situation and said a little prayer for him, and for those who are suffering.

I also went out of my comfort zone to try Acro Yoga with some Om Power teachers. I am an experience junkie, so I gave it a shot.  This move was a practice in strength and trust. Luckily I didn’t fall because that yoga dude was tall!

IMG_0094       Acro Yoga

YogaForHope2015The yoga sessions ended with a celebration for the funds raised, totaling over $45,000 to benefit patients with cancer, diabetes or HIV/Aids. So far I raised $160, or 64 % of my $250 goal.  Tax-deductible donations can still be made online for this excellent cause.  Help me reach my goal and I’ll be forever grateful.  I will be paying it forward by leading yoga sessions on the Camino for pilgrims to help minimize injury caused by long-distance walking.

When I left the event, I stopped at one of those big puffy heart sculptures at the four corners of Union Square, Hearts in San Francisco.   Tony Bennett actually designed this one and named it “America’s Greatest City By The Bay.”  I heard his famous song in my head and definitely felt the love for this beautiful city.

Hearts in San Francisco

Tony Bennett’s heart sculpture “America’s Greatest City By The Bay”

After these yoga events, I usually get lunch and a cappuccino at Emporio Rulli, then stop by my favorite stores, Desigual, Uniqlo, Sephora and The Body Shop. But after three hours of yoga, I was a thirsty peregrina on a mission. I attended The Beer Mile event on Treasure Island and met one of the founders of Camino Brewing Company.

Namaste, Cheers, and Buen Camino!