Tulum through Tim Miller’s eyes — and computer

Tim Miller is at his Maya Tulum teacher training right now, and so it is no surprise that the sights and sounds of the place dominate this week’s Tuesdays with Timji post:

It’s high season down here weather-wise, mid eighties during the day and high sixties at night.  The Caribbean water is a deep turquoise color, close to eighty degrees, and a pure pleasure for swimming, body surfing and snorkeling.  A white sand beach stretches for miles to the south, dotted with small retreat centers and restaurants.  The skies at night are spectacular, so clear that you can clearly see the three dimensionality of space.  The rooms at Maya Tulum are built Mayan style, with conical thatched palm roofs.  We are close to the elements here—the ocean, the wind, the rain, and the various critters that drop by—geckoes, iguanas, crabs, etc.

[snip]

Three more days to go here.  Tomorrow, after lunch, some of us are going snorkeling in a nearby cenote.  A cenote is a body of water where an underground river has been exposed by a caving in of a small section of land above it.  There are hundreds of cenotes in the area of various sizes and levels of desirability.  Tomorrow’s cenote is one I was introduced to last year and my favorite to date.  You can swim for a quarter mile in cool, fresh water teeming with many different varieties of fish.  Then, if you like, you can walk across the road and dive in the ocean where you can go snorkeling again in a coral reef.

Tulum really is a wonderful place to experience a yoga retreat, as Tim says in his post. It’s luxurious in a very simple way. And Tim, from what I’ve experienced and what I’ve heard from others, is always at his best.

And Tim at his best is as good as it gets.

Posted by Steve

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Interesting travel review of Mysore, Ashtanga Yoga Institute

It’s not every day that a travel report features Mysore and the Ashtanga Yoga Institute. So this caught my eye.

It’s from something called India Travel Portal. A few highlights:

The country has been acknowledged as the official inventors of yoga, and with more and more popularity of the art, even tourists are coming here to the land, to have a rendezvous with this practice and to get acquainted. The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute is one of the top 10 Yoga and Ayurveda Institutes in the country, and through its modern practices it is a huge hit among the masses.

Location of the Institute:
The popular Institute is located in the Mysore city, 235 8th Cross,  3rd Stage Gokulam, in the state of Karnataka, and was established to promote the yoga practice, in a more modernized version by K. Pattabhai Jois, who learned his yoga skills from the renowned 20th century yoga guru Krishnamacharya. His form of yoga is more popularly known as Power Yoga these days.

[snip]

Higher level practices:
With the basic asanas and teachings of yoga, Ashtanga yoga has some higher practices as well, which has helped it earn the name of Power Yoga, meaning the one that works instantly on any ailment. Some of these practices are bandhas, the internal body locks through muscle contraction; the nine form of drishtis or gaze which is essential to develop focus; and thirdly mantras, the Sanskrit verses which gives it the traditional touch. These three practices are the unique features of Ashtanga Yoga.

[snip]

A week or two in the Institute, learning their teachings, understanding their concepts and experiencing a spiritual world available nowhere else, Ashtanga Yoga institute will give you an amazing comfortable and leisure time on an Indian holiday.

Here’s what the site says about itself:

Planning to travel India? Have a guiding experience into this magical World with Indiatravelportal.com, which tells you all about the diverse cultures, the charming languages, the exquisite mountains and the enthralling deserts.

Here you can read about the best places to visit, the best time to visit, the best things to do and the best things to shop, and thereby acquainting you to a land of ethnicity and traditions.

IndiaTravelPortal introduces you to the most popular tourist destinations in India, along with the best attractions and accommodations.

I’m not sure that it sounds all that authoritative about the Institute. But who am I to say?

Posted by Steve 

Debating whether to return to Tulum with Tim Miller

Bobbie and I have been talking all weekend about Maya Tulum.

Should we go next year? Why didn’t we go this year. Could we really go both to Mt. Shasta and Tulum during the same year?

We don’t know yet.

Tim Miller
Tim at a recent teacher training.

I’ve been trying to nail down what, precisely, the difference is between the two. In Shasta, one of the attractions is that Tim is, also, on vacation — more or less. He still leads practice in the morning and runs “Asana Doctor” in the afternoon, and he’s the de facto leader of hikes.

It’s definitely more relaxed.

Well, sort of. Because it may be impossible to get more relaxed than Tulum. If you want, you never have to put on shoes, you never have to go much more than a few hundred feet and you’ll have your yoga room, your palapa, the beach, the water, food. Everything you need.

I don’t know if it says more about me than about either trip, but what really is standing out is: I still have my car in Shasta. That seems to represent that as isolated as the Shasta trip is, you’re still here. With Tulum, you are gone, gone, gone.

My argument for Shasta has been all the friends we’ve made. The argument for Tulum: It’s something new. (Well, new for both us together.)

In short, we don’t know. At one point, we were for sure going to Tulum. (Well, unless some trip to India materialized.) Shasta? Well…

I know it made me look back at my photos from Tulum. This Facebook album should be viewable. If not… umm… I don’t know what to tell you! Maybe: Go yourself!

Posted by Steve

If it’s Saturday, we must be in Maya Tulum

Today, Saturday, Jan. 28, is the first day of Tim Miller’s teacher training retreat in Maya Tulum, Mexico.

A year ago, it was me getting on a plane, yoga mat in tow, and heading for Cancun.

The beach out front of Maya Tulum

Today, it’s me asking: Why aren’t I on a plane to Tulum again? The answer may range from “I’m stupid” to “I’m really stupid.”

Bobbie and I have talked about our both going together — we’ve gone separately, she in 2008 and I in 2011. For both of us, the trips were amazing.

I won’t try to wax too poetic about it. I’m not sure words do it justice.

Instead, then, a quick list of what I remember, what still stands out:

  • The people. The group of 25 or 30 was full of some wonderful and amazing people, several of whom I’ve kept in touch with — and it’s been a year. I know a few, at least, are coming to the Confluence. I hope we repeat the night out drinking tequila.
  • The water. One of the best Savasanas ever was a “continued” one — done in the practice room and out straight onto the sand for another while and then into the water. (I also realized toward the end of the week that there was better bodysurfing down the beach. Some fun shore pound.)
  • Being barefoot. I wore shoes twice all week. Once to go to the ruins and the other time when we went out to a nearby bar. And the latter of those I was overdressed with shoes on. (And by shoes I mean sandals.)
  • Wearing not much else, either. Shorts, bathing suits, T-shirts. Simple.
  • The food. I have to throw a plug in for the awesome, mostly vegetarian and always fresh cuisine. I was even able to stay mostly raw.
  • The total change of pace. Tulum for this beats even Mt. Shasta. Everything slows down. You’re thinking about your practice, you’re open to the experience, you’re aware of your surroundings. Or at least I was.
  • The Mahabharata. I finished reading Ramesh Menon’s version while there. Bhisma’s death scene was enthralling and deeply moving.
  • And, of course, Tim. All those reasons why would be another blog post — or even another blog!

OK. Hold on. I think I need to run and catch a plane.

Posted by Steve

San Francisco’s airport opens first-ever yoga room

This one’s a little off-the-Ashtanga-mat, but given that I pass through San Francisco International Airport fairly often, it seemed worth passing on to you.

Image via MSNBC

The airport today has opened what its spokespeople say is the first-ever room dedicated to yoga in an airport.

According to an airport press release, the opening is happening right about when this will get posted, about 11 a.m.  in San Francisco.

Here is what the release says:

Airport Director John L. Martin will formally open the Airport’s first-ever Zen Room on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. The room is located in Terminal 2, post-security, adjacent to the Terminal’s Recompose Area.

MSNBC has a bit more on the news:

“The room gives modern travelers a space that fosters and supports quiet and reflection. Those aren’t emotions that people typically encounter at the airport,” said Melissa Mizell, design director for Gensler, the Terminal 2 architecture firm that also created the yoga room, in a statement.

[snip]

“Relax passengers between flights? Help them find balance in the crazy world of travel? How wonderful!,” said nurse consultant Anya Clowers of JetwithComfort.com.

“Airports like SFO get it,” said Greg Principato, president of Airports Council International – North America. “They are looking at the big picture and meeting the needs of travelers by offering products and services that contribute to their overall comfort.”

If you want a sign that yoga is going mainstream, this sure seems to be it. And it beats doing yoga in your seat or the aisle of the plane, right?

Posted by Steve

Sunday conversation: Where to go beside Mysore?

It's a really, really big place.

This past week, we joined the online conversation about going to Mysore. Yes? No?

Something I’ve noticed bubbling under the surface of the discussion seems to be this question: If not Mysore, then where? (And, by extension, with whom?)

We’ve obviously hitched our wagon to Tim Miller. This summer there will be extended time with him again, one way or another. (Details to be worked out following intense negotiations.)

Are there are other places to go, though? Other teachers hidden away somewhere worth a week, or two, or three?

Posted by Steve

Let’s check back in on the Confluence’s hotel

Way back in July — when this whole Ashtanga Yoga Confluence thing was heating up — we checked in on the conference’s hotel. Meaning: We did a quick review of the Yelp reviews.

Today, we’re going to add a little more context, this time via Google’s reviews.

Map of the Catamaran

Admittedly, the Google number — 30 and counting — is a smaller sample than the Yelp back at the time, which was 94. That’s climbed to 107, and the overall Yelp score seems about the same: 3.5 out of 5 stars. The main complaint? That the rooms are a bit outdated. If you like tiki-like atmospheres, though, you might be in for a treat.

Google’s average is the same: 3.5 out of 5. It looks like it is dragged down by a few bad reviews, which I imagine is true of most hotels. (We all know those really bad reviews can be by competitors, too. Of course, you have to suspect the really glowing ones.) People seem put out by the parking fee on top of the room rate. Another 1-star review made the mistake of coming to the area for the Fourth of July — yeah, it’ll be loud then.

Judging from both Yelp and Google, I think can assume your room won’t be the fanciest you’ve ever stayed in, but the location is awesome and it sounds like the staff is pretty nice. (You can figure they’ll be running around trying to handle all of us Ashtangis.) I suspect it will give us a nice “we’ve escaped someplace exotic” feel.

That sounds more than good enough to me. (And I’m still hoping to surf.)

Posted by Steve