Saturday, 20 August 2016

Packing tips for the Journey into the Himalayas Yatra 2016

Hemkund Sahib (photo credit)
In five days, I'll be taking the flight out to Delhi, India and proceed up north to Haridwar to begin the sacred journey into the Himalayas with Yogi Amandeep. The trip is a yogis path traveling to deep esoteric scared sites for a total of  twelve days.  The first three days will be in Haridwar (314 m or 1,031 ft elevation) to visit shrines dedicated to Baba Sri Chand and Guru Nanak and to celebrate the birthday of Yogi Bhajan with a lineage holder of Kundalini Yoga.

From Haridwar,  we will be driving for a total of 11 hours visiting Rishikesh, Shankracharya along the way to Gobindghat (1,828 m or 5,997 ft elevation).  From there begins the trek on foot to Gobindham (3049m elevation) or what is called Dev Bumi, the realm of beings of lights. where we will be setting up camp.

The final destination  is Hemkund Sahib (4632 m or 15,192 ft), described as "the spiritual nerve of Mother Earth,  the source of all life on the planet that sustains the balance of the polarities and the electromagnetic field of the earth." Where the nerve ends is the 10th gate of mother earth, an energy vortex center.  The glacier lake is a healing lake that has the power to heal on many levels. The site is surrounded by seven snow-clad mountain peaks named after the seven primal sages known as Sapta Rishi. It is said that the first yogi science was transmitted to them on these peaks by the deity Shiva himself.

There will be a lot of trekking, yoga and meditating on this trip. The weather report says that Haridwar will be warm at 24-degrees centigrade, Gobindham at 12-degrees Centigrade and Hemkund Sahib at 3-degrees Centigrade; and to expect definitely some rain. We were advised not to bring cotton garments. Apparently cotton kills, when it gets wet or damp, it could cause hypothermia.

So, here's my packing list:
Himalaya Checklist (photo credit)

- Footwear. I have my Salomon X-ultra GTX gortex mid-cut hiking shoes with sturdy soles. Wool socks. Vaseline since I don't have wool liners to keep my feet from getting blisters. Slippers and extra pair of walking shoes.

- Layering. This recommendation is from Dr. Peter Rivera , an avid ultra distance runner and mountaineer, who I initially consulted for altitude medical sickness (AMS). He said to start with a good base layer which can either be from polypropylene, capilene or smart wool. He said that the secret to keeping warm is for "the base layer to fit like a second skin". He warned that I will sweat even when the environment is cold so breathable fabric should be used. The next layer is a technical shirt (dri-fit) that hugs the body to keep the warmth in. The third layer is a soft shell jacket which should contour the body. And lastly, a shell jacket and pants if it is too windy, snowing or raining.

- A wool or synthetic beanie and a UV baseball cap.

- Two pairs of gloves, a fleece and waterproof gloves.

- Shawl, scarf and a neck gaiter.

- Flashlight and head lamp and extra batteries.

- Water bottle and hot thermos for yogi tea (I'm crossing my fingers that the camp will serve this).

- Yoga mat and sheepskin for the daily kundalini yoga and meditation.

-  First Aid kit: antiseptic, wipes, bacterial ointment, anti-allergy meds, cetamid (acetazolamide for altitude sickness), antibiotics, ibuprofen, kinesio tape.

- Others: climbing pole, sunglasses, trail food, glucose, hand sanitizer, toilet paper. :-)

Altitude sickness is life threatening. I did experience altitude sickness in June at the Summer Solstice Kundalini Yoga festival in Espanola, New Mexico at an altitude of 7,000-feet.  The symptoms are: headaches, difficulty breathing, cold extremities, dizziness, disorientation and vomiting. The organizer is quite strict. If anyone exhibits these symptoms, the treatment is to go back down to lower altitude where more oxygen is available and the symptoms may be alleviated in a shorter time.

According to Yogi Amandeep, the mountains in the Himalayas are some of the few surviving mountains that are still living and can be used for meditation. He said "the history of ancient India states that whenever the hunger for truth is sparked within an individual, he/she will take the path that leads to the Himalayas." I am grateful to be given this opportunity to join the Yatra and meditate in the Himalayas in my lifetime. I pray that I seek the truth within, and come back transformed and transcended during this 12-day journey.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Training for the Sacred Journey into the Himalayas 2016 Yatra

with Yogi Amandeep in Guru Ram Das Puri in New Mexico
It was three weeks ago that I  received an email from Yogi Amandeep that I can join his yatra (pilgrimage), the Sacred Journey into the Himalayas called "Siri Hemkunth Sahib - the 10th Gate of Mother Earth, 12 days of transformation and transcendence."

I've been to the Himalayas before - at the foothills, in Rishikesh last year when I did the Stress and Vitality training module with Gurumukh and in the Nepal side in 2001 when I climbed Annapurna.  I've always dreamt of going to the Himalayas and follow a yogis path though, meditating inside caves, trekking in the snow, surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

I only found out about the yatra when I was at the Kundalini Yoga Festival in Espanola, New Mexico last June.  I really wanted to go because the trip was everything I dreamt of doing plus a visit to Siri Hemkunth Sahib, a place known as a vortex center and revered as a sacred space which has powerful charged fields of consciousness.

Unfortunately, Yogi Amandeep told me that the yatra was already full and the registration has been closed since April. He made me hopeful when he said that he'll see what he can do when he returns to Canada on July 4.  I was relentless when I got back to Manila, emailing him to inquire if there's by any chance, any space left.

I was elated that after a number of emails, I finally received an affirmative reply. Of course, I was also panic-stricken knowing that I only had a few weeks to prepare for the climb. The website emphasized "This is not a tourist trip... it's a sacred journey into your higher consciousness. Participants should be physically fit and should be able to walk and trek long distances." The website also recommended to do some prior training  such as walking, hiking, bicycling to get in shape and stressed "you'll be climbing at high altitude."

This is the itinerary:

Aug 25-27   Haridwar 314m altitude
Aug 28        Rishikesh to Gobind Ghat 265 km by road, 11 hours; 1,828 m altitude
Aug 29        Gobind Ghat to Gobind Dham 13 km by footpath 4 to 7 hours; 3,049 m altitude
Aug 30-31   Gobind Dham to Valley of Flowers 5 km by footpath 2 hours; 3,500+ m altitude
Sep 1-3        Gobind Dham to Hemkund Sahib 6 km by footpath 2 to 4 hours; 4,329 m altitude
Sep 4           Gobind Ghat to Haridwar
Sep 5           Yatra ends at 12 noon

Summer Solstice in Espanola at 2,133m altitude
The altitude is the most difficult part with the highest at 4,329m (15,000 ft). When I was in Espanola, I was down with altitude sickness on the third day. The elevation was 2,133 m (7,000 ft). I felt dizzy, my throat was parched and I had difficulty walking. I was given homeopathic remedy and rested.

You know the saying that goes everything's right when the universe provides. Well, that week I found out I can join, I immediately looked for a gym to train in. There was a cross functional gym right across the yoga studio where I teach in Podium. I inquired and was taken aback with the one-on-one coaching fee. That same day, I was with JP, my osteopath friend,  who I see for my monthly TMJ maintenance tune up. I told him about my predicament that I needed to train fast and at the  same time, safely without costing me an arm and a leg.  He said that he's been training with Coach Francis Capati in my hood and he'll ask if he can accommodate me.

ewith Coach Francis 
The rest is history. Coach Francis is heaven-sent!  His workouts vary from conditioning,  strengthening and endurance. The Coach would at times don a 20-pound weighted vest and clasp a 5-pound weight on each of my ankle (see right photo). He said that the weighted vest would simulate carrying a backpack load and the ankle weights to increase resistance, the higher the climb, the heavier  the load will feel especially at a high altitude.

As of today, I've seen him the last three weeks, seven times already and I was able to include a hike for 11-km to Mount Makiling's mud spring.  I've purchased an all terrain treeking shoes, a Salomon X-Ultra GTX mid-cut shoes and a 10-liter day Osprey pack which I now put on when I train.  Although, now I'm deliberating whether I should get high-cut shoes to protect my ankles.

At Mount Makiling
I've started out at 112 pounds (weight recorded on July 14) and I'm now 115.28 pounds, gaining some muscle weight. I've started to consume rice everyday and taking BCAA (branch-chain amino acids) to aid in the recovery process.

I have four more weeks to go before the yatra. I'm planning to hike Mount Makiling tomorrow targeting peak 2 and add more climbs the following weekends.

With Coach's training, carbs now in my diet and logging more sleep [as coach insists to do by the way],  I do pray that I make it up to Hemkund Sahib at 4,329 m. That's equivalent to 500-floors! So help me God.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

How Kundalini Yoga brings out your Inner Glow

Since I purchased my first gong in January this year and completed two gong classes in Hong Kong, I've been bringing my gong with me. I stumbled upon this article written by Kara Ortiga who apparently was in one of my classes at Life Yoga in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. I'm sharing it here. Thank you to Kara. :-)

MARCH 06, 2016
How a Kundalini Yoga Class Can Bring Out Your Inner Glow BY KARA ORTIGA

This month, we here at Preen are determined to work on our fitness. Be our witness (see what we did there?) by checking out our motivational #fitspo stories on new workout routines, the low-down on healthy eating, and the latest in athleisure every week—you know, just about everything you need to get those pulses racing.  
It was, in my head, one of the most unusual yoga classes I had ever attended, beginning with a discourse on the significance and meaning of the full moon, followed by some astrological trivia, and then chanting.
It’s not exactly what you’d expect of a typical yoga class, but the results, to be felt almost immediately, are also not quite like any other. The exercise merges yoga postures with meditation, breathing exercises, and incantations. You will be asked to hold your breath, clench the area near your sex organs, and suspend unique positions. At one point, you will find yourself rocking your body back and forth, moving your butt up and down while standing on tip toes, all while focusing your gaze on the tip of your nose (and not to be embarrassed when it seems like you’re cross-eyed). You will end the class in meditation, lying on your back for about five minutes while the teacher walks around the room striking a gong. But these seemingly odd exercises are actually a practice that cleanses your mind and body.

Kundalini refers to the energy that is pent up at the bottom of your spine. And by practicing the techniques taught in this class, you are awakening this life force and making it flow to the crown of your head, releasing it at higher energy channels in the body. At Life Yoga Center in the Fort, where classes are available once a week, it is referred to as the Inner Glow class—a beauty yoga designed to arouse a healthy outer radiance by purifying from within. And this purification process will surely be felt.

In the middle of the class, during moments of stillness when you are asked to meditate, this is where you begin to feel the energy surging within—a subtle vibration will engulf your body, as if you’re floating on the surface of a calm sea. It’s a delicate out-of-body experience unlike any other. Remember that gong I was saying that the teacher plays at the end of the class? It’s my favorite part—the melodious striking of the gong sending soft waves through my body. After one class, you’ll feel lighter inside, with a more positive demeanor. You feel relaxed in a way that isn’t just on the surface, and this feeling, they say, can last for almost a week.
Rosan Cruz, who is the instructor of the Kundalini class at Life, maintains a fun and ethereal vibe in the room. Her instructions are conversational, and she encourages everyone to smile. Music is also a big part of every session, since you meditate to some soulful, pop mantra-filled tunes playing in the background. If you’re open-minded and looking to expel not just the fats from your body, but also the impurities of the mind, then sign up for Kundalini class. I’m a believer.
Life Yoga Center. Eight Forbestown Road, Burgos Circle, Bonifactio Global City. (02) 886-7500. (0927) 692-1199. For more information, e-mail and visit their official website.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Theta Healing Teacher Training with the founder Vianna Stibal in Tokyo

With Vianna Stibal in Tokyo, Japan
It was a dream come true for me to finally meet Vianna Stibal, the founder of ThetaHealing in Tokyo, Japan. I took the instructor's training course in Basic DNA, Advanced DNA and Dig Deeper from April 14 to 23, 2016.

I was actually surprised to see a hundred or so Japanese who were in the instructor's course. Most were re-certifying and the rest, like me, it was their first time.  There were also those who flew from Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and even, from Israel.

Apparently, ThetaHealing is quite popular in Japan. There are already two hospitals that are practicing and using ThetaHealing.  In fact, my sacred singing crystal bowl teacher based in Akabane, Hiroko Kato, told me that she studied Basic DNA.

With the graduates of ThetaHealing Advanced DNA
ThetaHealing is a form of energy healing modality. The practitioner goes into the theta brainwave state to facilitate a shift in the reality of the person receiving the healing. There are five different frequencies of the brain: Beta (14 - 28 Hz), the thinking and talking state; Alpha (7 - 14 Hz), the relaxed, meditative state and known as the gateway to the subconscious; Theta (4 - 7 Hz), the deep state of relaxation, realm of subconscious where a deep sense of spiritual connection and unity with the universe can be experienced; Delta (0 - 4 Hz), deep sleep, realm of the unconscious mind; and lastly, Gamma (above 40 Hz), the high mental activity state associated with insight and high-level information processing.

In the theta brainwave state, the brain practically slows down. This is the place where memories and sensations are held. It governs attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. According to Tools for Wellness, "Theta is the brain state where magic happens in the crucible of your own neurological activity. Theta brings forward heightened receptivity, flashes of dreamlike imagery, inspiration and your long-term forbidden memories. Theta can bring you seep states of mediation. A sensation of 'floating.' And, because it is an expansive state, in Theta, you may feel your mind expand beyond the boundaries of your body."

Furthermore, brainwave experts state that the 7 - 8 Hz frequency is the "optimal range for visualization, mind programming and using the creative power of your [the] mind begins" (source here)  The concept behind ThetaHealing is precisely this, to go to the theta state to use the creative power of the mind to create anything and change reality instantly.

Vianna discovered this modality, when she used the same technique in her psychic readings for her clients, to heal herself from terminal cancer.  Her technique is simple "Go up and seek God." This is where ThetaHealing differs with other forms of energy healing: it uses source energy, connecting directly to the 'Creator of All that Is' and thus, immediately witness the change taking place, affecting the four levels of beliefs - the core, genetic, history and soul levels.

With classmate Mio and Game of Life creator, Hiro Miyazaki
I was introduced to this modality in 2012 when I had a healing session with Sanaiyah Gurmamal. I then took her Basic DNA course in December 2012 and subsequently, enrolled in other courses.

The game changer was the Game of Life course. I signed up for this course in 2013 and unfortunately, events happened that prevented me from taking the course. One of the events was when I contracted dengue in October 2013. So, after two years of trying to take the course, it was only six months ago that I completed it. In fact, when I spotted Hiro Miyasaki in the venue, I went up to him, introduced myself and told him that his course completely changed my life and I'm no longer where I was six months ago.

I guess the Philippines will welcome ThetaHealing as a mainstream healing modality in the next five years or so. This is similar to my experience with Reiki. I remember taking Reiki in the early 2000s when it was still unheard of and pranic healing was common. Now, Reiki is so popular. I know it's possible, in just a matter of time, that everyone here catches up with ThetaHealing.  Vianna recommended to "teach enough people so we can change the planet."

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