Reminiscing: My New Year in India 8 years ago….

•September 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

God bless Yahoo. Recovered: an email of 8 years, when  I lived and studied in India, at Bihar Yoga Bharati in Munger, which at times reminded me of Dominica in terms of foliage and food available.

Hi all

Well, thermals are in and bikinis are out!

I’m so glad my very co-operative sister Liz sent me a super warm TNF sleeping bag as I can comfortably hibernate whilst my class mates freeze You would think that living in a dorm with 9 other women would warm things up a bit but alas not. I got tired of lugging my laptop and peripherals up to Ganga Darshan so I applied to ‘sleep over’ for two nights over New Year’s. It was so nice i was treated like a long lost friend, given food and incense to make my new dorm feel cosy and spent New Year’s Eve eating chocolates that a friend scrounged off the Koren women who buy truck loads of food as they cannot handle the ashram fayre.

I have been giving in to my creative urges with varying degrees of success. I have now written two articles for the yoga magazine, one on maintaining silence and the other based on my old school motto ‘serviam’ = ‘I shall serve’ for the ignoscentes. The editor likes my pithy style and says I write clearly which I may say I did not do for the recent exams – results still pending.

i also participated in the New Year’s show. the theme was the five elements so most of it took place outdoors. As we have two circus performance on the short course it was quite a show. Delia, did amazing things with two pieces of red cloth tied to a high branch of a tree. we also had a fire show, Maori wailing. My role, if you can believe it was to play a didgeridoo which I had started to learn that very day. Talk about high risk strategy and play to your weakness – I play no musical instrument. I had originally been asked to blow a conch but couldn’t make it sound right so i gave up lest my lips fell off. I seemed to hit it off straight away with the didgeridoo  but it was not alright on the night. the sound that came out sounded like a cow fart and my friends started to laugh which meant I did which is a no-hoper for playing it. I was teased a number of people the following day.

My singing of Indian mantras or kirtan is a much more successful endeavour. I have been complimented on my accent and I shall continue to sing the scales whilst playing the notes on my harmonium – Billy Preston and Syreeta move over.

On New Year’s Day, Katya decided to paint my face in a style used for special occasions and this is the result. I had one male classmate come up to me bemused and say ‘what are those dots on your face for’ with typical tact. Katya also took this photo. Unfortunately she leaves for South Africa at the end of the month so I lose my portrait photographer. It reminds me of some sci-fi tv series where a woman had funny eyebrows. It’s Star Trek meets India. You can also see that although i am living simply and freezingly, I am still a walking ad for The North Face – it’s been the best non-bargain stuff I ever bought!

Later & HNY



Yoga and Meditation at Fort Young Hotel this week

•September 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I will not ask you to scale such heights during these yoga/meditation classes but it is an inspiring shot of my friend Tiff


Class summary this week

  • Mon 5 Sept 5.30pm-6.30pm –   NEW – Introduction to Meditation
  • Wed 7 Sept 5.30-6.45pm  –   Stress Management – unwind shoulders, back & pelvis
  • Thur 8 Sept 5.30-6.45 pm –      A more dynamic class
  • Fri 9 Sept  – 7am-8.15am  –     Restorative – energising breath work + Yoga Nidra


Please bring
– your body, whether stiff, self-conscious or alive is welcome.
– Where? Fort Young Hotel, Sky Terrace if dry.
– a yoga mat or you can rent one from FY reception for 2EC
– 25EC for residents or 15USD visitors



MONDAY 5.30pm – 6.30pm – Introduction to Meditation

It was only from living and studying in India for 2 years that enabled me to appreciate the depth to which the Western world lives in and is dictated to by endless mind chatter: fears, beliefs and identifications of our mind.
This has given me a completely different perspective on my former role in corporate finance, in which the quality of individual and collective minds shaping our global financial systems has led us to what we are now experiencing.
This class is designed to:

– simplify and de-mystify meditation.

– break down and break up some of the myths and false propaganda as to why people are interested in it,

– get you to experience what it does, and the pitfalls,

– and why some never seem to catch the meditation fever.


Meditation can use many objects which serve as the object of your attentionwhilst the real work goes on behind the scenes: body signals (breath/pain/thoughts/emotions), universal images, biblical passages, a leaf, trance-inducing herbs, candle flame, and mantra.


Meditation – Benefits – what’s in it for you?
Stillness (which is not spacing out!), peace of mind, growth, confidence, deepen your relationship to your God, and to remember your humaneness. It increases your capacity to pay attention to and see the link between what is going on inside reflected outside. And on a practical level, to help you be a master of your email, Blackberry and other gadgets where you may feel pressured to be permanently “on”.

Can yoga benefit you?
You can only tell if you come and experience it for yourself, not by reading about it or speaking to someone about it. It is not an intellectual path, but an experiential one.  It takes a willingness and openness to experience something which may initially take you beyond your comfort zone but where have you experienced anything of value that didn’t???

Yoga is not Indian, although much of this path was formally codified there, but universally practiced. Your body is the laboratory, and you are both the observer and observed, aided by your awareness and breath. It is a systematic process to unpeel that which separates you from being your most effulgent self and shattering the illusion that you are separate from life.

So consider this email as an invitation to experiment with how yoga can bring peace of mind, calmness of spirit and a release of deep-seated body tension which can result in illness if left unchecked. your quietness of your mind and the clarity of your heart. This dissolves emotions, instead of you spewing them onto loved ones and colleagues. So see your emotional intelligence grow on the mat, with your breath and body guiding you to your feelings, without voting or wishing it to be different.

See you there?



Health + Wellness Expo 2011 highlights vegan delight a la Caribbean

•June 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Again, I was lucky to be involved in organising this year’s Health and Wellness Expo, with Terri Henry’s inspired choice to invite Chef Taymer Mason, a Bajan in St Maarten, author of Caribbean Vegan, to delight us with tasty, yes, I said, tasty, Vegan culinary delights.

It was a steep learning curve for an ambitious itinerary, creating multiple dishes in 3 locations, in addition to holding an Expo with multiple vendors, healers and workshops. Check out the site for some Highlights.

So sometimes we had to slow down and just breathe….

or just see things from a completely different perspective.

My yoga teacher, the resident dog, comes to check my posture.

There was time to sit back, gaze at the sea from Anchorage Hotel restaurant, and enjoy the macaroni cheese, doubles and wonderful chutneys with Yvonne Armour, a key sponsor of the event and a vegetarian for over 30 years.

Brunch Talk: The Waitukubuli National Trail as a rite of passage

•March 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It is not often that you get invited to lunch with people who contain such a wealth of history about Dominica. Today I was invited to a brunch at Snugs Corner, the first estate of the Shillingford family, who at their zenith owned 60% of plantation land in Dominica.

There was a mix of people: from Dominica, Ethiopia, France and myself, a Brit with Dominican DNA. The conversation led itself to the Wai’tukubuli National Trail, an idea conceived by Bernard Wiltshire whilst hiking in Britain with his daughter.

I was lucky to grab my video camera so check out his brief explanation of the spiritual purpose behind the trail..

Come “Pray The Devil Back To Hell” Doc Film at UWI Open Campus 24 Feb 2011

•February 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Teetee Weisel, a Liberian who fled the war with her family with two suitcases in 1990, now lives in Dominica. She has been a great source of inspiration and live commentary and will be a guest speaker, along with Calypsonian Tasha P, at the first showing of the film “Pray The Devil Back To Hell”.

We were on Matt’s show on Q95 this morning. Here is a link to the 15 minute radio slot where we talk about the film and Teetee’s fleeing Liberian and Liberian history.

This documents how ordinary women, Christians and Muslims, united their voices to demand peace when Charles Taylor and the warlords sat at the negotiation table in Ghana.

A powerful inspiring film that makes you wake up to where you are keeping silent……

It reminds you: you don’t need credentials (PhD etc.) to make a difference!

Where? UWI Open Campus, opposite Roseau Botanical Gardens

When? 7.30pm

How much? A minimum contribution of 10 EC

See you there!

The Beauty of Guiding and being Guided

•January 25, 2011 • 1 Comment


Well, you may have heard one of the growing stories of people who come to Dominica and set off with full optimism on a trail, and get lost, or worse injure themselves or lose their life because they did not listen to the locals about the perils of river currents. And sometimes for days.

If this is because you are being cheap, please stop. The cost is not worth it. Save your money elsewhere. This is a way to support the local guide community who have years of observing and walking those places you come to for just a day. I’ll get off the pulpit..



Now this came up for me personally over Christmas, when I finally had an opportunity to hike to Victoria Falls, Delices. Having spoken to Moses it was clear that Tiffany and I would have a hard time knowing when to cross the river FIVE times on the way up to the falls, so we let the guide take the strain. And I watched with quite mounting irritation, a French family deciding to be cheap and refusing a guide – I own the judgment- yet continued to come back to ask the way to go even when it was clearly signed. They ended up following us…..

Now, I guide people on their inner planes, and I know the joys and perils of that journey and how people do not appreciate my role in their transformation until they hit a boulder and they still cannot see it. So sometimes I admit you have to get lost, or even injure yourself, before you appreciate the joy of being guided.


Tiffany and I could just flow, grappling over the rocks, feeling the surge of energy moving though our bodies as we just enjoyed being present, connected, drenched and truly enlivened, which is I think what everyone is secretly or openly hungry for in life…

How much does it take to keep your behind clean and green?

•October 30, 2010 • 2 Comments

Here I am, aglow with two locally made products –  Emerald Touch loo roll and enchanting flowers from Roots Organic Farm, and I am starting to feel a bit uneasy.

Firstly, when I bought the loo roll at a store beginning with A, the cashier wanted to give me a black plastic bag. When I refused saying I didn’t want a whale or fish to eat it, I caught them off guard. The security guard was surprised, as he advised me to take one so as not to “let people know my business”.

I said I we all know we need to go to the toilet and after living in India for 2 years I have lost a lot of self-consciousness about bodily functions (I didn’t even use loo roll 99% of the time… and I dubbed the grove area outside the ashram compound used on a daily basis by locals as “Peristalsis Parkway” ).

And, Dominicans know your business anyway, and if they don’t, they make it up!

So we ended up engaging in a discussion about plastics, how they are disposed of (i.e. out to sea or burned), his awareness of plastic bag bans being enforced elsewhere in the world, and possible related illnessed and herbal remedies. (This conversation seems to be a recurring theme, as it happened in Breezy Mart as well last Sat- Mark just what have you done to me??). He concluded I was a very nice pleasant lady, Ceels looked on in amuse/bemusement and off we went home.

Secondly, just how water-intensive and polluting is an industry as this loo-roll making? I read an article about it somehow when the business was first launched. I feel the need to find out…..