Full Moon Sunday

Guiding a practice of Moon Salutation to start each class – starting tonight and throughout the entire week.  This is to mark a subtle shift in our consciousness this week to honor the divine feminine within, mother earth that grounds us and the blessed motherly love and care all around in this Universe !

Look up at the night sky and feel the lunar energy.  Capture some of that shimmering translucent lightness to carry you throughout the week – the steps are lighter, our minds no longer dull or overly heated, the hearts no longer heavy but lighter, our shoulders … burdens lifted, yielding our whole being a bit lighter, and our breath, that breath … satisfyingly light as feather, fluid and effervescent… natural and effortless.

I am offering a heartfelt prayer –  for the mountain fires, the hot heat to subside and may the lunar energy give us all cooling refreshing relief so needed for balance and clarity.

I am recalling a yoga teacher mother and daughter pair at the teacher training Judith H. Lasater’s taught five years ago   – when the participants each stood up to briefly introduce ourselves, the daughter stood up to introduce herself as a yoga teacher teaching a group of firefighters … her husband being a firefighter, she just happened to start teaching them … and years flew by apparently.  She said her first yoga teacher was the mother in law – and they had shown up together to this training – it was so joyful to see them that I still remember  them.  I thought of her and I thought of all the firefighters and  the level of courage they muster each day to fight all these hot spots in Northern California.  Gratitude for those who saves forests, mountains and many many lives.

Here’s the California Fire information:  5-6 hot spots surrounds this rugged beauty … it’s still pristine but depending on the winds, the air quality is affected.  All over,  over 10,000 firefighters are on hand to battle and manage the fires.  Luckily Mt. Shasta is still an oasis as a local eatery advised that if we just drive up the mountain from altitude 4000 (the town of Mt. Shasta) towards the peak of 9000 ft, after about 10-15 minutes drive, we will come to a place of clarity – the air is clean up there he said and you can see for miles and all the peaks he said dreamily.

Guess we have to climb the mountain.


Noting – When the air is thin with higher altitude, you just have to breathe more deeply – it’s yoga:)

Mt Shasta concert

Given by a famous Lyre harp musician, Miyuki Ikesue, who at the 80 years young of age, hailed all the way from Japan to Mt Shasta.

Here’s a postcard photo as smokey visibility blocked the view of magnificent Mt Shasta … the forest fires in the Northern California unfortunately means smokey visibility. It was such a touching gesture Miyuki sensei and her entourage from Japan offered a prayer for recovery hand restoration to the fire ravaged communities in California.

Beautiful Amazing Graze sang by a lovely vocal from Japan she invited to share the “stage”.

My plan to be part of the audience was quickly changed when I found myself serving as an interpreter.  Ms. Ikesue introduced each piece with a little story … sweet and moving.(and I get to interpret them into English for the American audience – feeling responsible to get it just right !)

🎤 microphone was made available but decided to forego it …in favor of acoustic rustic sounds. In midst of grove of trees, the woodsy town center was cozy … perfect for her selection of lullabies and another selection from her nature theme CD (sounds of frogs, water brooks … from Aso region in Kushu)  – “circle of life”.

Q&A session followed immediately after the hour long – no break – solo concert where she not once looked any any sheet music – In awe of this lady who charms the audience, not only with her music but simply being herself.  She’s an adorable 80 year young artist !  The audience, upon hearing the music box like melodies were entranced – absolutely, by the hypnotic sounds but at the Q&A session, they were further charmed by her authenticity in how she lives her life. She’s humble and … she’s full of laughter.  Some asked how long she’s planning to continue with her travels around the world to share her gift, to which she laughed joking she’s getting too old and ready to call it quits and just stay in Japan and soak in a hot spring.  To questions about her family, she was adoring her grandchildren and very proud of her sons, both in the music field – one a well known Gospel (yes, Gospel! He might have been the first one to really bring that genre to the land of the rising sun) musician in Japan.

She’s a breath of fresh air – an inspiration as we listened to her story that she only took up this instrument when she was in her late50’s and now at age 80, she shares her love for this special instrument, which has served as her “passport”, enabling her to travel and perform all over the world.  She’s been to India apparently over 6 times, Ireland too, it’s second time at Shasta … wonder where else she will visit this year?

Here we are 🎶 singing Happy Birthday as her 80th birthday cake is presented to her as a surprise – I’ve got my yoga arm !  Thank you K-san for taking these photos. A beautiful vegan cake was baked by Kiyoko Usugi of Mume Farm and presented with singing students and the audience joined in in chorus.  She’s a delight and so loved by anyone who meets her. The energy of joy just ripples out from her soul, channeled by her strumming and voice.  When she speaks, she’s less ephemeral and really truly down to earth with cute humor. Okay, so she’s 80 but she’s super cute !

This is a photo I took from my pilgrimage in spring this year to Mt Shasta – yes, this year … yesterday from the same spot, no more mountains are seen.  What should we do when the beauty is hidden from view?  Believe.  Just because we can’t see it does not mean it does not exist – Just because Mt. Shasta is shrouded in clouds and smoke does not mean that it’s not there – it’s very there there.  Have faith and a little uplifting music like that of  Teacher Ikesue ‘s will help along that path of clear vision amidst the smoke.  It’s a re-connection with the moon and the sun and the majestic mountain within.

Shinrinyoku & Cacao

What was sobering surprising fact upon the tour of Muir woods is that … California retains only 3% of the redwoods today.  That’s right – 3%; not 30 % but 3% remains.

Had two beautiful visitors from Japan this week … where do most tourists want to visit while in the Bay Area? At least I helped check off few off their list: Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge; super fresh sandwiches (sour dough for sure) or colorful wraps (rainbow colored:) in Sausalito overlooking the blue waters; drive the winding road to Muir Woods, hike then onto Mill Valley for chai latte and eyeing this new chocolate bar I have never seen before – only in Mill Valley – “Cacao Meets Yoga”?  Had to read up on Elements chocolates – it’s no dairy, no refined sugar – sweetened with raw honey – based on Ayurvedic principals to upp the Prana quotient … enticing, isn’t it?  As I looked up the product, here’s a blurb from their homepage which convinced me that even though I had sworn off chocolate bars for some time, this can be an exception ! Definitely sounds like a yogi copywriter:

All Elements Truffles products are made with all-natural, locally-sourced ingredients that increase prana (life force energy) and support the attainment of balance in mind, body, and spirit. All chocolates are made with three staple ingredients: Raw Cacao Butter (Peruvian Criollo), Raw Honey, and Organic Raw Cacao Powder, along with our specially-crafted additions. Our Peppermint Inflused with Lavendar Bar, for instance, contains Peppermint Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Organic Lavender Flowers and Himalayan Sea Salt. We don’t use “natural flavor” because our flavors are truly from nature.

Sweet !

After the little break from the hike, I took the lovely guests back to Berkeley! Then onto the stop-and-go traffic back to the Peninsula … easily over 100 miles logged in one day just showing this beautiful Bay Area to international guests.  They had actually cancelled their trip to Yosemite due to the forest fire (so sad) so here I am trying to makeup to appeal to them that – yes, California is beautiful (as long as mountains are not on fire !)

So much driving by this amateur tour guide – while there was a lot of hiking in terms of exercise, what does one do with so much sitting driving and your hips and right and your back is aching and your shoulders are full of knots?   Yes, it’s time for yoga:)