Some Yoga Music Can Be Pure “GOLD”.


Let me start out by saying that I was not a fan of “Yoga music” in the early stages of my practice. You know what I’m talking about – Endless chanting from elderly men and women accompanied by instruments that no one has ever heard of. Well, that used to be my interpretation of it before I actually listened to it. I had heard it before, but not listened. And what is yoga music anyway? It can be anything.

When I first started my practice in Las Vegas, I did countless downward dogs to Hot Chip, Led Zepplin, Styx, The Killers, and Prince. But, that was because my teacher, Karen, loved rock music. When I moved to Los Angeles and started taking classes from Tony Giuliano, I found out very quickly that the music selections were very different than what I was used to. He liked the yoga tunes. I’ve been exposed to this new style of music for about a year now and I’ve discovered something…it’s just as amazing as any other style of music. But, you have to be open to it, and listen.

Last Saturday, I attended a special class at The Raven, that hosted an amazing singer, Steve Gold. I had heard his music pretty frequently during Tony’s classes because he would weave them in an out of his playlists. Steve’s music always resonated well with me. It has very melodic/folk/rhythmic feel to it. Umm…think Jack Johnson meets Shiva. :-) Listening to him on your ipod is great, but listening to him live is a whole other experience. His voice is amazing and almost travels through you, if you know what I mean. With his wife singing the harmonies on a few tracks in addition to the band, the musical experience was pretty surreal. He played new and older tracks for the entire 2hrs of class, which was pretty amazing. It almost felt like the music was carrying us to and from each pose. There was THAT much energy filling the studio! It was truly a blessing to have him come and perform for us. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

If you’ve never heard of Steve Gold…you’re welcome. Check him out on itunes right now!

Go on, I can wait… And let me know your thoughts!

Here is what I have on my “Yoga Mix” playlist that you might want to check out:

  1. Shantala-Hanuman Chalisa
  2. Wah!-Heart Sutra
  3. Shantala-Amba Parameshwari
  4. Mauro Sereno, Antonella Mutti-Om Chant
  5. Steve Gold-Om Namah Shivaya (Bigger Mix)
  6. Wah!-Radhe Savasana
  7. Krishna Das-By your grace/Jai Gurudev
  8. Girish-Kali Durge
  9. Krishna Das-Baba Hanuman
  10. Steve Gold-Let Your Heart Be Known (Electric)
  11. Sada Sat Kaur-Gobinday Mukunday

So you may have heard yoga music before, but have you listened to it?

 

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Bali or Thailand?

 

 

I’m starting the initial planning on another trip out of the country. A couple of destinations are standing out to me; Bali and Thailand.

The purpose of this trip is to have an adventure AND do yoga in a studio surrounded by nature. I’m not one to sit on a beach and sip cocktails out of coconut shells all day. I’d rather explore, go on hikes, be in contact with wildlife, and experience the culture. I’ve spoken to several yoga teachers who have been to Bali and they all highly recommended it. Or, they would say, “Thailand is great. But if you go to Thailand, you should hop on down to Bali before the end of your trip.”  I also had a co-worker who was just in Thailand and said I would really enjoy there too. So, I clearly have to do more research, but luckily I plan on going around next year. Which, gives me oodles of time to prepare.

A few questions that should be answered first:

  • How long should I stay?
  • What’s the best time of year to go?
  • Is this a solo trip or should I have someone come along with me?
  • Is there a huge difference in cost between the two?
  • Are both going to be able to provide what I’m looking for?
  • Which has the cutest monkeys?

I want to step out of this crazy city and connect with myself and other people in a sweet way. It’s a little more difficult to do that here in the states. Either destination would be amazing, I’m sure. But, I’ve had more people tell me stories of Bali rather than Thailand. So, we’ll see. I’ve started a vacation fund that already has $800. Not too bad so far!

If any of you have any feedback on these places, please share them with me!

Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions.

I want to know where to find the most amazing:

  • Studios
  • Ancient Ruins
  • Food
  • Villages
  • Monkeys
  • Men (Kidding..KIDDING!)
And everything else in between! I need your help to make this upcoming trip the best ever!
Love and Light!
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Who are you proud of?

I was in class today and some really sweet happened. Tony came up to me while I was in pose and said, “Great job, Justin. Very beautiful. You’re doing fantastic.” Or, something like that. I can’t quite remember his exact words because I started to melt and grin like an idiot. Tony is extremely encouraging and sweet to all of his students. But, today was little different. It felt like he was telling me, “I’m proud of you, Justin.” That is such an amazing feeling. It set my tone for the whole day.

After I received this compliment, I thought of Karen. Then, I realized something…I think of her a lot! With every move of my body, I could hear her saying, “Place your hands and go up. Flex your feet. Put and arch in your lower back. Shins in, thighs out.” By now, I’m sure you guys already know that this woman was a huge inspiration and mentor to me. She still is. Karen may be 4oo miles away, but I still care what she thinks about my yoga practice. I want her to see how her student is growing in strength, health and happiness. Without the proper foundation, things tend to waiver.  I try to stay steady in all aspects of my life to keep myself from falling over. So with every steady movement on the mat, it’s a dedication to her and to Tony. Without them, I wouldn’t be the happy, healthy, and sexy thing that you see today. ;-) They have given me the knowledge to do great things with my life. And dammit, I intend to use it.

The Anusara community has given me a sense of purpose again. They have shown me more support and love than most of my family ever have. I’d rather be on my mat than sit with my relatives in Winnie, Tx…any day! I have met some amazing people over the last year and a half, and they have taught me quite a bit. The least I can do is get into these poses and hold them for a few breaths. When my mentors take notice of my progress, it’s a big deal to me. It means that my countless downward dogs and forward folds meant something. It makes me feel proud.

It’s difficult transforming a skinny, depressed guy – into a toned, smiling machine. And, for that, I’m proud of them!

 

D.C. Birthday…Round 2

 

So, I’m going to Washington D.C. for my birthday in a week and staying for four days. I’ve been to D.C. about 5 or 6 times because my ex was living there when I met him online 3yrs ago. I was in LA at the time. We had an online romance which turned into phone calls, visits, moving to Las Vegas together, buying cats, buying horses, matching mini coopers, owning a house, loving, fighting, breaking up numerous times, police involvement and THANK GOD THAT IS OVER! Oh…I’m sorry.

 

Despite all the crap that happened with the ex and me, I always enjoyed going to visit him in D.C. There is a lot of history and beauty within that city. This will be the first trip back to the city without him. And, almost 2yrs to the day since I have been there. During my prior visits, I acquired a friend in the process, Dell. We always stayed in contact during and even after the breakup. I got him in the divorce. :-) I still consider him a great friend to me. Very sweet, funny, eccentric and an overall good person. Just like all my friends. So I’m super excited to see him and meet his partner of 2yrs, Sam.

 

 

The last time I was out there, I was turning 30. And, I have to say, it was probably one of the crappiest birthdays that I can remember. My ex and I flew out there to see his friends and to celebrate. Which ultimately led to: Him seeing his friends, making the trip about him, and us getting into a fight.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Dell and Sam are super excited that I’m coming to visit; as they should be. ;-) And, I’m really excited to get out of L.A. for a minute and reconnect with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. Dell says he plans on showing me the parts of D.C. that I haven’t seen before, and making this birthday experience UH-MAZING for me. This time ’round HAS to be better, right?  I was going to try and take a yoga class while I was out there, but I have a feeling I’ll be liquored up most of the time. So, we’ll see.  Some time away from L.A., work, and my kids will do me good.

I’m not saying that scooping litter during my birthday isn’t important…but a guy needs a break sometimes. Damn!

I’m sure this will be a birthday to remember.

Dell, Sam – I can’t wait to see you.

 

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Ripped abs? Nah, I’d rather have wine and chocolate.



 

Let me start out by saying that nothing (and I do mean NOTHING) is what it appears to be in Los Angeles. When people move here, most of them get so caught up in body image and what you’re SUPPOSED to look like. But, that’s only because the city pushes advertisements for changing your appearance. I swear to god, if I see that “1-800-Get-Thin” commercial one more time…(Shaking my fist). Everyone that flies into LAX are greeted in an interesting way. They are subjected to billboards upon billboards of advertisements for lap bands, weight loss diets, plastic surgery, and lawyers. So basically, we’re telling visitors, “Welcome to LA! Only pretty people live here. And, if you’re not…here’s how we can help your ugly ass!”

There are a lot of beautiful people here. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret…MOST of them are really fucked up. They’re either assholes or have some psychological issues. To come across a really beautiful person who is beautiful on the inside as well, is rare. You’d probably have a better chance of finding Nemo. And, I have to admit, I got caught up in all of that. Santa Monica boulevard in West Hollywood felt more like a runway than just a street. I felt like I was being judged all the time. Gay men can be vicious bitches! Lol. I even joined a gym (which I hated) to fit in and get my body the way it was supposed to look. I became one of those fucked up people. I did it for the wrong reasons and I still felt shitty about myself, despite my tight body. But, I was in my twenties and I wanted to “fit in”.  It was work, gym, depriving myself of foods I loved, flashy clothes, and being sassy to everyone. Well, that’s just stupid. I guess you don’t have to be happy with yourself to tolerate this city. But, it sure does help.

With all of that being said, I do like Los Angeles. I just see things differently, I think. I don’t care what people think of my clothes or my body anymore. Because I’m happy with my self image. I think if you deprive yourself of the things you love, you’re setting yourself up for failure. My yoga teacher said to me, “There has to be balance in all aspect of your life. For instance, you can eat what you want, in moderation. And, since you’re doing some sort of physical activity, you’re toning your body.”  I’m not a “no carbs, only veggies and water” kind of a guy. I love bread, cheese (I’ll fuck up cheese), chocolate, and red wine. I think most  yogis understand this balancing act. We work hard on the mat, so we can enjoy the foods we love. Therefore, we’re happy all around. Toned and happy is sexier than ripped and unhappy.

So, do I need ripped abs? Nah, I’d rather have wine and chocolate.

 

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On The Boundary…


 

To say that I’m not a fan of Tori Amos, is like saying Rick Perry loves gay people. Both of those statements are ludicrous. I saw her on December 18th, 2011 at The Orpheum Theatre, in downtown Los Angeles. It’s a very old, charming venue where every seat is a good seat. I’ve also see her twice before, in LA and Houston. Jamie, who I’ve known since I was 8yrs old,  introduced me to her music in 1997. We used to sit on her brother’s back porch (the one attached to his trailer), and analyze Tori Amos lyrics. If any of you have listened to her music, then you’re aware that you’ll spend most of your time trying to decipher what the hell she is even saying. Then once you can understand the words, you have the figure out what they lyrics even mean. It’s metaphors on top of metaphors. It’s like peeling the layers an onion when you’re listening to her music. It can be a challenge to figure out the meaning behind it all. But, somehow it all comes together.

My first Tori concert was 10yrs ago with Jamie, in Houston. So, when I got the tickets for this past December, I thought it was only right that Jamie go with me again. Tori played a wide variety of new and old tracks, which were UH-MAZING! It was her, her piano, and a string quartet. She usually has a band with her, so this concert was a bit different. A “sweet” different. A few songs stuck out and resonated with me a lot. I actually began crying during a couple of them. God, I’m such a wimp! :-) About midway through her performance, she played a track that I had never heard before. It was an OLD song from back in the late 80′s when she was first getting started in the business. It was called, “On the Boundary”.

Songs can mean different things to different people. For me, it was a song about someone who is love with another person that is emotionally unavailable. I’m sure we’ve all been in this position before. And, if you haven’t…good for you! But, you probably will come across this one day!  You may care and love someone very much, but that doesn’t mean they have to feel the same. As messed up as that sounds, it’s true. The timing could just be off. I remember thinking a long time ago, “How is it that I put so much effort in someone, and care this much for them…and they don’t feel the same? I don’t get it! ”  It’s an odd feeling. It was a song that resonated with me a lot. As sad as the message is, the song is so beautiful…

 

Check it out!

 

The night was quite magical. The piano, her voice, the quartet…brought back good memories. And, I captured some new ones to look back at in the future. Tori Amos is one of those artist that isn’t mainstream and isn’t for everyone. But, the ones who are fans, really “get” her. Isn’t that why love who we love? Because we “get” them? Or is it because we think we do?

 

On the boundary, baby.

 

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Setting good intentions: 2012 is off to a great start!

 

How did you spend the first day of the new year?

I spent mine on my mat (of course). Well, 2hrs of the day anyway. My teacher, Tony Giuliano is a certified Anusara teacher. He is also co-owner of Yoga at The Raven, in Silverlake, California. I found Tony at an Anusara studio in Glendale when I moved back to Los Angeles in December of 2010. He took co-ownership of The Raven in the summer of 2011. And, like a dedicated  yogi, I followed him. I’m at The Raven a LOT. It has a very “earthy” and “warm” feeling to it. It’s VERY Tony, very sweet.

To celebrate the New Year, Tony gave us all a piece of paper in a envelope, and a pen. He asked us to write down three things: What we’re grateful for, the greatest challenges of 2011, and what we want to bring into our lives this year. My answers are as follows:

  1. I’m grateful for the people who love me
  2. My greatest challenge was moving forward after the death of my mom and all the extra drama that goes along with it
  3. I’d like to bring in love and more positive people. Because people with crappy attitudes don’t work for me.

Tony also brought in a live musician by the name of Yehoshua Brill. No, it’s not some indian chanting at us. He’s this hippy white dude with long, wavy hair, who lives in Venice, CA. It was just him and his guitar. He played for the full 2hrs of class. He was Uh-mazing! Click here to check out his FB page and links to his music. I guess you can call it “Yoga music”. It was slower guitar with notes that just tend to resonate well with your entire body (if you know what I’m saying).  The sound waves of the music hit your body and you could feel it. Does this make sense to anyone? I’ve been told that people who smoke pot and listen to music can have this feeling…so I’m told. :-)

There were over 20+ students in the studio that day, mat to mat. The energy in the room from all of the people, in addition to the music, was out of control! At the end of class, we all went into Savasana and Tony laid a single white rose by each of our feet. Yehoshua was still playing and I swear to god, I was levitating at one point. I have to say, it was a PERFECT way to start the first day of 2012. I left class(rose in hand) feeling refreshed and so happy. I thought to myself, ’2011 was about transitions, 2012 is going to be about moving forward and new beginnings.’ Those are my intentions for this year. What’s yours?

 

BTW, as lovely as all of that sounds, I felt it the next day. My legs felt like two Golden Retrievers…they were BARKIN’!

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

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