One Hundred Eighty

yearofyogaJuly3A Year of Yoga: July 3, 2014

Pose: Warrior 3 Variation

Location: Gardens at Palace of Versailles

Today we all took the train out to Versailles. This was one of Lulu’s “must sees”. It was quite crowded and we had to wait in a long hot line to get into the main palace. C took off to check out Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet while the rest of us were herded through the palace. It’s really beautiful and insanely opulent. Not hard to see why the working class of France hated this monarchy. The gardens really were the most beautiful part.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Seventy Six

yearofyogaJune29A Year of Yoga: June 29, 2014

Pose: Low Tree

Location: Inside Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Yesterday the girls walked around the Old City of Barcelona with B’s mom while we started packing up the apartment. We’re really having to pare down our luggage now. Today is our last full day in Barcelona and we still have not gone inside Sagrada Familia. So today we went down early to beat the lines and heat. It was worth every cent. The inside is magical and hard to describe. You really just have to see it for yourself. I chose a tree pose for this photo because Gaudi designed the inside beams to mimic tree trunks and branches. If you ever visit Barcelona, this really is a must see. The hype is well deserved.

Photography Credit: Momo

 

One Hundred Sixty Five

yearofyogaJune16A Year of Yoga: June 16, 2014

Pose: Mountain Pose

Sanskrit: Tadasana

Location: Casa Mila La Pedrera; Barcelona

C left yesterday but D is still here! Even though we’ve been here almost a month, there is a lot we haven’t seen. Barcelona is the city of Antoni Gaudi, the famous Catalunyan architect. You can’t go far without seeing something he designed, built, or influenced. So today we decided to explore one of his most famous buildings; La Pedrera. Absolutely gorgeous.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Fifty Eight

yearofyogaJune8A Year of Yoga: June 8, 2014

Pose: Triangle Variation

Location: Barcelona Cathedral – Barri Gotic

Had our first look at the Gothic Quarter today. By now we have seen a lot of beautiful cathedrals. We have seen a lot of beautiful cathedrals. But they are still impressive somehow. Tonight our friend C arrives! Looking forward to a little bit of Cali here in Barcelona!

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Forty Three

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A Year of Yoga: May 24, 2014

Pose: Tree Variation

Location: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Palau Nacional, Barcelona. Now that we have been in Spain for a few months and done a lot of traveling, we have gone into budget mode. In my research for free/cheap things to do in Barcelona, I learned that this museum offers free entrance on Saturdays. Lulu and Momo haven’t really been out in the city since we arrived in Barcelona, so today I dragged everyone out to do some exploring. We took our first metro ride. I have never lived in a city with an underground and I’ve never really vacationed or traveled in a city with an underground. So I’ve been a little nervous about getting lost on the metro….but it was super easy and now I think every city should have an underground. (I’m sure there are some cities with not so nice undergrounds, but Barcelona’s is really good).

We brought a picnic lunch to Parc Miro and the girls played on the playground. We then walked over to the national palace where the museum is housed and spent a little time checking out Catalunyan classical art. (The modern section is closed for refurbishment). Brandon has a much higher tolerance for classical art so the girls and I explored the outside of the palace while he took his time inside. As you can see from the photo, it is incredibly beautiful.

Photography Credit: Brandon

One Hundred Forty

10346229_10202762399995243_8496102458586137545_nA Year of Yoga: May 21, 2014

Pose: One Legged Chaturanga

Location: Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. Today I got my first look at Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The tourist taking a pic of me is hilarious. No, don’t look at the incredible building designed by a genius right behind you. Some crazy lady doing yoga in the street is way more interesting.

We live a 5 minute walk away from this Barcelona gem. It’s a little surreal to think that this place is sitting in the middle of a residential area where people just go about their normal lives. There are kids playing in the park in front, people watching World Cup in the pub across the street, moms pushing strollers, folks carrying grocery bags and staring at their cell phones. Hey everybody in Barcelona, that’s an amazing piece of architecture and history right in front of your face….just look up at it. It’s odd to contrast that with the multitude of tourists who can’t stop staring at it, but mostly through a camera lens. I’m guilty myself of not always looking up. Traveling has been a reminder to look around and notice the beauty that surrounds us….even if it’s not a famous piece of architecture.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Thirty Nine

IMG_4606A Year of Yoga: May 20, 2014

Pose: Twisting Forward Fold

Location: Gracia, Barcelona. Today was our first full day in Barcelona. We spent most of the day resting and recovering from our weekend adventure and move to a new city. We slept in, did some unpacking and organizing, a little grocery shopping, etc. It is always fun moving into a new home and figuring out where things should go. We were a little disappointed to see that this house wasn’t as fully equipped as our home in Sevilla had been. We had to add things like dish towels and a spatula to our shopping list. The house is great though. The girls each have their own room and there is a lot of space for people to spread out and relax. Having the space is also nice as we will be having guests with us in a few weeks.

My friend (and spectacular hair stylist) and her husband have been in Barcelona for a week and are leaving tomorrow, so they invited us over to their place for dinner tonight. They rented an incredible apartment in a Mondernista building (the one in the photo above). The apartment is owned by a Barcelona architect who lives in the apartment next to the one they rent out. When we arrived at the apartment I was floored at how incredibly beautiful it was. It felt like walking into a museum. Everywhere you looked was some beautiful antique. We caught up a little bit with our friends and then we were invited next door to the architect’s home. We had a fabulous evening listening to my friend play their baby grand piano, touring the main living areas and the huge garden, talking with John Henry and his family about Barcelona architecture (among other things), and sipping champagne. I was disappointed our timing didn’t work out to spend more time with our friends here in Barcelona, but the one evening we got was a spectacular way to spend our first night in our new city.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Fourteen

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A Year of Yoga: April 25, 2014

Pose: Warrior 3 Variation

Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana 3

Location: Italica. Today we had another cultural calendar event to see the Roman ruins of Italica a short distance outside of Sevilla. Archaeologists have been slowly digging up parts of this ancient Roman city. There are still many active dig sites. The city was the birthplace of the Roman emperor Trajan, and home of the 3rd biggest amphitheater in the Roman Empire. The amphitheater was definitely the highlight of the tour. The above photo is from inside the walls where they would keep prisoners, gladiators, wild animals, etc. It’s a little disconcerting to think about the history of a place like this. Thousands of Roman citizens watching people get tortured for entertainment….it seems like Europe has a lot of history like that. It’s good for us to be confronted with it, think about it, and contemplate.

Photography Credit: Brandon

One Hundred Four

IMG_4966A Year of Yoga: April 15, 2014

Pose: Forward Fold

Sanskrit: Uttanasana

Location: Outside an unknown (but beautiful) building in Porto, Portugal. I love the random guy in the background. It depicts how there are constantly people around when I “stop, drop, and yoga” in public. I am by no means completely comfortable just popping into a pose wherever, but it is getting easier. Yoga is not just physical of course, but mental (and emotional & spiritual) as well. The mental part of this year long challenge has evolved into overcoming how much I allow what others think to control me; especially strangers. Of course, we can never fully overcome this. It’s a constant struggle. Sometimes I’m able to completely block out my surroundings when I try a pose in public. Other times I’m hyper aware of how insane I must look and I let it stop me from getting the photo I want. But what I love most about yoga; what attracted me to yoga in the first place, is the focus on practice as opposed to perfection. The focus on being accepting of where I’m at. The focus on not judging myself (or others). The focus on not allowing other people’s judgments of me to dictate my decisions. Hard stuff. I’m still an infant at some of this. But I accept that, knowing that growth is inevitable even if it’s slow.

We arrived in Porto this afternoon. Our apartment is amazing. The city is beautiful. We walked to a lovely pizza place for dinner and enjoyed the dessert and port as well. Had to stop for a quick yoga photo on the walk home! Looking forward to exploring Porto over the next couple of days.

Photography Credit: Brandon

One Hundred

photoA Year of Yoga: April 11, 2014

Pose: Kneeling Crescent Variation

Sanskrit: Anjaneyasana

Location: Balcony of Igreja de Santa Engracia. Today was our first full day in Lisbon. We started the day with breakfast at a cute cafe by our apartment and then embarked on a walking tour of the city. After wandering a bit down by the water and visiting a tourist information center, we took a trolley up to a high point in the city and then leisurely strolled down past many beautiful churches, plazas, and view points. This church/chapel building was one of our first stops. It was a few euros per person to enter, but it was certainly worth it for the view alone. I feel like I’m in a painting in this photo. We wandered to S. Jorge Castelo and had some lunch before exploring the castle. After the castle we wandered into Barrio Alto and found a pizza restaurant our travel book recommended. It didn’t disappoint. It was a long day of walking up and down the hills of Lisbon but it is a beautiful city and I could easily spend an entire week here.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

 

Ninety Six

IMG_3325A Year of Yoga: April 7, 2014

Pose: Pose of the Sage Marichi Variation

Sanskrit: Marichyasana

Location: Plaza Nueva by the monument to King San Fernando. Today we recovered from our incredibly packed and exhausting weekend; Tarifa, Morocco, Gibraltar, Donana, and the futbol match. I can’t believe how much we squeezed into 4 days. Now we have only a few days to get ready for Spring Break. Today I did laundry, ran some errands, and then had dinner with the Brits and the Study Abroad coordinator who is visiting from California and who happens to also be a good friend and colleague of my husband’s. Today I also found a Spanish thrift store and bought a second hand dress for Feria. It needs to be altered so now I have the fun challenge of looking for a tailor. Feria isn’t until the second week of May so I should have time.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

Ninety

Photo copy 3A Year of Yoga: April 1, 2014

Pose: Bound Side Angle

Sanskrit: Baddha Konasana

Location: Museo de Bellas Artes in Sevilla. What a hidden gem. Today’s cultural calendar event was a visit to the fine art museum in Seville. It’s practically in the backyard of the students’ dorms but it has gone unnoticed since we arrived. It doesn’t boast such famous works as the Prado or Reina Sofia, but it’s surprisingly large and full of works recovered from cathedrals and convents. It does boast a couple small El Grecco and Valasquez paintings. A fun fact is that Sevilla was actually famous for painting schools for a small time frame. The museum is housed in the former convent of the Merced Calzada. It was a nice afternoon although a bit rushed. I would definitely like to return and spend more time just enjoying the atmosphere and seeing more of the art.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

Eighty Eight

IMG_2712A Year of Yoga: March 30, 2014

Pose: Revolving Triangle Pose

Sanskrit: Parivrtta-Trikonasana

Location: Rooftop of Circulo de Bellas Artes (Circle of Fine Arts). We finally made it up here in our last couple hours in Madrid. On the first day here, our tour guide pointed out this building to us as a great location for a panoramic skyline view of Madrid. The first night we ended up heading to bed early but with definite intentions to pay a visit. We had a vague idea of where it was…somewhere on Gran Via close to our hotel. We figured we would find it. But Friday night we did not find it and ended up settling for the top floor of a department store that offered us drinks for US prices (read: expensive as hell). We decided we would do our homework, locate the place on a map, and return on Saturday night. One of the Brits (the study abroad company employees who organize everything for us….they’re awesome) told us exactly where it was and how to get there and said it was awesome and a must see. After dinner and drinks at Corrientes, the (rumoured) Hemmingway bar, we set out again, this time knowing exactly where to go. We arrived at 9:35 and were informed that they close at 9:30. Aghhh! It was starting to feel like it wasn’t meant to be. On Sunday we spent the morning at the famous El Rastro flea market where we froze to death and then decided to wait in the line for the famous chocolate at San Gines. When we were done with the chocolate we had a couple hours til the bus took us back to the train station so we decided to try one more time….and we made it! It was definitely worth it and I’m glad we ended up here on Sunday afternoon because the rain had stopped and we had some gorgeous views. Madrid is huge, bustling, loud, and exciting. I had fun for the weekend but I must say I’m glad our whole trip is not here. I do hope to return some day though. I could spend a whole week in the Prado and Reina Sofia alone. But until then, Adios Madrid.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

Eighty Seven

photo copy 7A Year of Yoga: March 29, 2014

Pose: Handstand/Downward Facing Tree

Sanskrit: Adho-Mukha-Vrkshasana

Location: San Martin Bridge in Toledo, Spain. Today we took a day trip out of Madrid, to Toledo. Toledo was actually the capital of Spain for a long time and has a lot more history and charm than Madrid. I was not prepared for the breathtaking river town. Even though it was pouring down rain and part of our city tour was walking, it was beautiful and worth getting a bit wet for. Our amazing tour guide took us through the city to the Cathedral which holds a decent amount of art, including many works by El Greco. April 7 is the 400th anniversary of the painter’s death so the city was preparing to celebrate. Our guide gave us some interesting information about El Grecco including that he was extremely ambitious but also a bit defiant. Although he was required to paint what he was commissioned to paint by noblemen and the church, he found ways to do his own thing. After the cathedral we went to see this famous painting by El Greco (who lived in Toledo), which is housed outside the Cathedral. The painting was amazing but there were so many rude people pushing and shoving to get to the front. Our guide asked us to form a human wall and not let anyone past us so that she could point out some important information about the painting. She had 3 different people yell at her for this. But she handled herself with incredible grace, kept her cool, and still made sure we had a great tour. After El Greco, we visited the Jewish temple that is thought to be the oldest preserved temple in Europe. Toledo is famous for swords, marzapan, and El Grecco. I could do without a sword (although some of the students bought small daggers….?). We did enjoy the marzapan and El Grecco though! What a beautiful city. Make sure and visit the photo galleries which will soon have more photos of Toledo.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

Eighty Five

photo copy 6A Year of Yoga: March 27, 2014

Pose: Wheel

Sanskrit: Chakrasana

Location: Palacio Real de Madrid – Royal Palace of Madrid. Did you know that Spain still has a monarchy? I did not before I moved here. We are in Madrid for the weekend and started off with a bus tour of the city center with a stop off at Plaza de Espana which holds the famous statue of Cervantes, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. This was followed by a private tour of the Royal Palace. This is an insanely huge palace and I think only about 1% of it is even open to the public. You are not allowed to take photos inside so this photo is in the courtyard. In the 18th century, the old palace burned down and King Philip V had plans to build the most elaborate palace in Europe. The palace was never finished according to his original plan. Something like only 25% of the original plan was actually built. That being said, there are still over 3,400 rooms in the place. Too much.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

Eighty Three

Photo copy 5A Year of Yoga: March 25, 2014

Pose: One Legged High Plank

Sanskrit: Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana

Location: Pink Church Plaza. Ok actually it’s called Plaza del Salvador and this pink church is called Iglesia Colegial del Salvador. We pass this church almost every day and so it has become a familiar landmark which we just call pink church plaza. This is one of the busiest plazas and is full of locals enjoying drinks in the before dinner hours. I guess we would call it happy hour. There are no other pink churches so when we get lost we look for this plaza and then we know exactly where we are. Tonight we were walking through here on our way back from tapas. Just as we were leaving we witnessed a roller blading flashmob…seriously. All of a sudden roller bladers just started pouring into the plaza led by a guy riding a bike pulling a stereo system in a baby trailer. There were several “leaders” wearing fluorescent orange and yellow vests and blowing whistles. The stereo was playing club music and everybody was dancing. Not choreographed or anything, but just like a roller blading floating dance club sort of thing. It was incredible. I got some video of it and plan to add a video section to the blog.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

Seventy Nine

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A Year of Yoga: March 21, 2014

Pose: Tree with namaste variation

Sanskrit: Vrksasana

Location: Just one of the many incredible courtyards at the Alhambra in Granada. Today was excursion number 2 with the students. We boarded a chartered bus at 8am and set off on the 3 hour drive to Granada. I was especially excited because our family rented a kick ass loft and planned to stay in Granada until Monday in order to take advantage of our proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountains. (Just like in California!) Also, this is the first trip that we planned on our own. I love the excursions that have been planned for us, but it’s nice to have an opportunity to do something a little more our speed and style…(i.e. nature). But I’m on a tangent. More about Sierra Nevada in the next post. Today we explored the Alhambra. The Alhambra was originally a small fortress and then built up into an incredible palace by the Muslim kingdom back in the 11th and 12th centuries. We got a wonderful tour guide, Israel, to walk us through the grounds and buildings and give us a very detailed history lesson about Granada being the last Moorish stronghold in Andalusia, and how it was here that Queen Isabel finally won her war in 1492. The history is sad (like all wars) but the architecture is truly spectacular. For more pictures of this beautiful place, see the photo galleries.

Photography Credit: Brandon

Seventy Eight

A Year of Yoga: March 20, 2014

Pose: Side plank with tree variation

Sanskrit: Vasisthasana + Vrikshashana

Location: Real Alcazar garden. Today’s cultural calendar event was a visit to the royal palace in Sevilla. Concepcion (pronounce – Conthepthion) was our tour guide for the palace and was extremely knowledgable and kind. We started our tour in the newer buildings of the palace which date back to the 16th century. Yeah, those are the newer buildings. We went back in time seeing each part that was built prior to the one we just saw all the way back to 11th century Muslim architecture. Apparently the palace is the oldest one in Europe that is still currently in use by a royal family. (Yes, Spain has a royal family). The real gem of the palace though is the garden. Of course I am always more drawn to nature and the outdoors no matter how impressive the architecture is. These gardens are expertly manicured with lovely fountains and pools around each corner. There’s a garden maze and peacocks wandering around. We didn’t have enough time for me to wander and enjoy all it had to offer. Hopefully I will get a chance to come back.

Photography Credit: Lulu

Seventy Four

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A Year of Yoga: March 15, 2014

Pose: Standing Mermaid

Location: The balcony above el purerto de Aragon at Plaza de Espana. Today was a day off for everyone. The first time we visited the plaza, Momo really wanted to row boats, so today we came back to do that. We’ve done a lot of exploring that is perhaps more interesting to adults and less so for 10 year olds. So we are trying to make an effort to let Momo choose some activities that she wants to do. She’s been a pretty good sport about being dragged around a bunch of cathedrals and historical city centers. She’s also looking forward to going to Isla de Magica (a water park) and the science museum. After rowing the boats we did a little more exploring around the plaza and wandered up to this balcony with a great view of the plaza.

Photography Credit: Brandon