World of Cherie

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Ultrarunning, traveling, writing, and adventures from the RD of the Burning Man Ultramarathon.cherie[email protected]
Updated: 2 years 31 weeks ago

What to Pack on Your Yoga Retreat (or Yoga Teacher Training Program) in India

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 8:11pm
Before I went to India for the first time for my yoga teacher training, I was a little clueless about what to pack. The bulk my trip I spent at my yoga teacher training and other yoga intensives. My second trip was spent at a prenatal teacher training, and traveling to see friends. And of course, I still didn’t learn, and packed poorly, and oh well. I’ll survive with a heavy poorly packed bag. That’s life, I guess.
Yoga retreats everywhere require slightly different packing lists. Feel free to read this if you’re going somewhere else, knowing that much of what is on here is specific to India.
  • Yoga mat. Most places have mats, but a lot of the time, they’re dirty, falling apart, and/or smell terrible. They’re heavily used. I brought a Jade Travel Mat, and stowed it in a Gaiam bag. The Gaiam bag has two pockets, so I stored mat cleaner and a rag in one pocket, and a strap in the other.
  • Mat cleaner. No one had any but me in my training program, and I was glad to share with my group. You can make your own. Get a small spray bottle and put 10-15 drops of lavender and tea tree oil each. Fill it up ⅔-¾ of the way with water. Top it off with witch hazel. Cap and shake to mix. I brought little bottles of tea tree oil (great also for pimples and bug bites and a good antiseptic) and lavender oil (you can sprinkle it on a dank pillow for a pick-me-up) so you can make more as your trip goes along. I used a very small spray bottle so I used less lavender and tea tree oil and didn’t use the witch hazel when I was on the road.
  • Anything to make your practice special. I like to put my mala beads and a crystal off the corner of my mat to provide focus.
  • Face wipes. I wish I had packed these my first time, when I was sweating like a pig. These would have been nice for times I wasn’t able to wash my face in between practices. You are rushing around a lot, and odn’t always have time for a shower like you’d wish.
  • Sweat towel or bandana. I wish I had packed this. Some training programs provide, but most don’t. If it’s miserably hot like it can be in India, this makes practice easier.
  • Sports bras. Comfy good ones.
  • Yoga tops. Depending on where you are, a sports bra might be all. But bring baggy loose non-revealing short sleeve tops if you are in certain ashrams, and tank tops should work elsewhere. Bring long sleeved shirts for night practice so you don’t become dinner for the mosquitos.
  • Yoga bottoms. Depending on where you are going, shorts might not work. In Goa, shorts were so necessary - it was miserably sweaty grossly hot and short shorts for yoga (I love my Athleta ones) were great. In some ashrams, dress is sattvic….so baggy pants. You can buy the harem-type baggy yoga pants for pretty cheap in India; in some ashrams, even yoga tights are not okay. You will prob sweat a lot and they will be gross.
  • Scarf. It will cover you during savasana, provide coverage if a top you have is a bit revealing, keep you warm, and they’re fashionable in India.
  • A sarong. You can sit on the beach with it, it can work as your top sheet (Many places do not have a top sheet - just a bottom - so if you’re grossed out like I am, a sarong is great), it can be your blanket on a plane, it can be a cover-up. Sarongs are indispensible.
  • A reusable water bottle. While you can’t drink the tap water in India, a lot of places have purified water (for free or for a smaller cost than buying a bottle) that you can fill with your own bottle. You also might buy large botles of water and refill from there.
  • Snacks. Think about things that won’t melt and that will travel well: different bars are great, small, and take up little room in your bag. You can buy things like nuts and dried fruits in many places, but if you’re going to an ashram straight away, you should pack some of these too. Many retreats and yoga centers only have meals at certain times, and you might starve until breakfast, or in between. Also, the food might not be so delicious. Snacks will keep you sane.
  • Melatonin. Helps you sleep at night and helps with jetlag.
  • Sleep mask. Ear plugs. Who is your roommate? Maybe it’s some bugs...just ignore them.
  • A journal to write yoga notes in. For neat sequences, taking notes during lectures, etc.
  • Soap to wash your clothes in. I just use body wash or shampoo, saving on space, but this is critical. A lot of ashrams and yoga centers are in the middle of nowhere. You have to wash your clothes by hand in buckets and hang dry them in the room. Also, it makes more sense to pack only a handful of yoga clothes and wash them repeatedly. With the extra space in your bag, you can buy more mala beads and bangle bracelets.
  • Sunblock and bugspray. You might not need either of these things, but especially if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’ll appreciate it.
  • Extra soap. You will be showering more than you planned.
  • Any kind of lotions or essential oils that help you relax. Practicing asana for long hours every day is exhausting...Some lavender essential oil mixed with almond oil (carrier agent) will be nice to rub on your wrists before your savasana. Or Tiger Balm for sore muscles can be lovely.
  • Kindle or books to read. While you’re in class nonstop, it might seem, on those rest times, you probably don’t want to be reading yoga texts. Pack something else.
  • Unlocked phone. You can get a SIM card at various phone shops. If you have an Indian friend, they can get you a SIM much faster; otherwise, you might need two passport photos. It depends. But you need an unlocked phone (or you can buy a cheap one).
  • Slip on shoes, ideally flip flops. In India, you can’t enter many meditation halls, restaurants, or shops with shoes on. Flip flops (cheap ones) are best to leave outside in the front. I specify cheap ones because so many people get their shoes’s best to not be too attached (aparigraha) to anything, and if you are, leave it at home.
  • An open mind. Not everything in India is as pretty as the pictures. Be prepared for trash, horrid smells, and mind-blowing poverty. But also be ready for kindness and warmth, vibrant colors, diversity, and so much fun.
Categories: Radreffies' blogs

The Journey to Lonavla

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 8:00pm
You take a train and a train and a train and a train and a plane and a wait and a plane and a taxi and you are there. That’s all. It was the G train and watch two trains pass and then an M train and an F train and an E train and an airtrain and an airplane to Kuwait City and a seven hour wait in the airport and an airplane to Bombay. Welcome back to India, girl. Welcome home. It was a long, difficult journey. I slept most of my first flight, lucky to have a row of seats to myself. The airport wait was long, and then a Jamaican-American began chatting me up. He was friendly, but then said that he was conservative sometimes, and passed a not-very-nice transgender comment and I began ignoring him. Back to my Kindle. I was excited on the flight to India, especially when the flight attendant learned how long my journey had been. Immigration. Baggage. Customs. At the gate, I began looking for my taxi. And looking. And looking. Finally I asked a security guard to call. He did, and apparently, the driver was almost there. I met the driver, who took me to the car of another driver, and then I was on my way. My driver was driving a bit erratic. We stopped for chai, which was amazing. Then we drove a bit more and he told me he hadn’t slept. Oh, great. Another hour, another chai. He also got pakora in between two rolls - delicious. And then, another 10k, and we were at Lonavla!
Categories: Radreffies' blogs


Sat, 03/18/2017 - 1:23pm
A cheap flight, with a six hour layover in Kuwait....okay, I can do that. I'll survive.

I spent the time people watching, chatting with other travelers, reading, writing....I noticed an obvious lack of women...most of the women I saw were covered up (those who weren't were in transit like me....but these were few). Most of the men were dressed all in white, head to toe....sometimes people stared at me, with my pink and blonde hair, hot pink hoodie, and clearly looking out of place. But I'm a friendly face. Sometimes they talk to me. Sometimes they ignore me.

I tried to leave the airport - was going to head to the souq. But they said I couldn't leave. So it's here. 

It's almost like America. There is a Shack Shack, a Starbucks. There are some clearly American men - they all look like former military, prob here in Kuwait or the Gulf, working in the oil industry. They look like they took the wrong exit on the higway back home....dressed the same, acting the same. It must be weird to live in a culture that is so different from back home, so you try to keep your home culture because that's what your coworkers have in common...

It reminds me that we're all in transit. Even if we're not actually going anywhere, we're in transit of our lives.
Categories: Radreffies' blogs

Now and Next

Sat, 03/18/2017 - 1:18pm
Sometimes life is hard. No, it always is. But sometimes it's harder than other times.

Like when you can never get enough sleep and your injuries and illnesses aren't getting better like they should and when you're not getting enough sleep and it's too much, too much, too much....when you get up every day at 440 so you can practice yoga, because that's what saves you, and when love is so sustaining and everything can be too much and your side jobs are relaxing and everything is confusing.....

sometimes it's just nice to take a break.

My life isn't bad. Sometimes I just feel like I'm drowning. I'm figuring things out more and more and they are getting better. I like my days. I'm challenged. I'm passionate. 

I have two weeks off now. I could have spent the time, sleeping in, writing, practicing lots of yoga. And that does sound great, honestly.

But I like to do more. So I'm heading to India. A prenatal yoga course. Seeing some good friends. Some good running. Lots of paneer. 

I can't wait...
Categories: Radreffies' blogs

What if money were no object??

Sun, 02/12/2017 - 5:37pm

"Better to have a short life full of what you love doing than a long life spent in a miserable way." 
Categories: Radreffies' blogs

Conference House 6 Hour Race Report: Timed Races in the Freezing Cold Are Actually Fun

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 1:39pm
The Conference House 6 Hour Race was 32 miles of cold, sunshine, and friendship.  

I usually run a BUS race but whenever I can, but this time, I had my favorite yoga class that I teach: my Sunday Flow & Restore at Awakening. I usually include readings, meditation, sometimes pranayama - we open with short meditation, warmup, flow, and then totally melt into restorative poses. And I'll skip the class on occasion, but really didn't want to on this particular week. So I found this random 6 hour and signed up, despite having almost zero info.

I convinced my friend Jill to drive down from Rhode Island and run with me. She was struggling with a return/nonreturn to ultrarunning after a break (and ultimately, decided to take another break). I was worried about my tendon flaring up, and my training has been pretty minimal because of it.

NYC has been pretty mild this autumn. I've been biking everywhere and feeling pretty good about it. Of course, the weather plummets for the start of the race....

I got the start and realized, you idiot, the race is right on the water....which means crazy wind. Jill lent me a stinky windbreaker, which I was grateful for. 

The course was a two-mile loop, primarily easy trails.  The terrain was pretty easy - trails, but nothing technical, one baby hill. There were two port-a-potties next to the course, and we could easily leave drop bags. There were some pretty basic aid stations - they had M&Ms and kisses and pretzels (pretzels, that's all I really ever need) and I think clementines too. But I mainly had eyes for pretzels. They only had water in small bottles, which meant filling up your bottle was rather time-consuming (especially as it wasn't always readily available).

Nearly every time we ran through, the RD and timers would cheer us on. It was a really great feeling. One of the runners had the most amazing wife - she was out there, cheering us on, the entire time, with the kindest of words and a huge smile. The volunteers were great, and I felt like I was running in a small race of neighbors and friends.

The race started and I took off at a decent pace, not pushing too much, but not going too slow. I ended up chatting with this random guy, and we ended up spending the first 10 miles together. The pace was in the 8 minute range the entire time, and I felt good.

But I had decided I was going to run this one slow, for various reasons. I told Jill I'd run with her, and she tried to dissuade me. "I'm too slow. You won't want to run that slow." But I figured I'd run until I caught up with her (lapped) and then finish with her.

After 10 good miles, I passed her. I used the bathroom and then waited at the bottom of the little hill for her to reach me - and then it was like 22 miles of easy fun. 

Ultrarunning is more like hanging out with your friends sometimes than racing. Like, Jill and I could go out and drink wine and talk - but it was also pretty much the same as when we were running (except we complained about Jill's period and my stomach or whatever). Oh, and it was freezing, and I doubt I'd drink wine if I was freezing. Aren't you supposed to drink whiskey in the cold???

We finished. There were no partial loops, and we finished without enough time to go out and do another loop. That was fine. I got my plaque, I got my 50k coin (32 miles), and I got some pizza.

Jill and I headed back, and I questioned my sanity as to why I had avoided heat for the past six hours. But I felt so good - so amazing in that "this is why I love doing it" way.

Categories: Radreffies' blogs