The Journey Begins ~ India 2023

Karin and I board the Delta ~ KLM flight from Boston to Amsterdam an hour before departure. My new Osprey backpack, which I chose for its compact profile, already feels heavy. The plane fills slowly, and we find there are many center rows completely empty, so once the plane is aloft, we snag a row each and plan our rest. After a quick dinner, I make a pile of pillows, cover myself in a blanket, and I’m out. This is only flight one of eleven we’ll take in six weeks, so four hours of uninterrupted sleep is a blessing on the beginning of this journey.

As we approach Amsterdam, the neon red sun is rising. I catch this snap as we taxi to the terminal:

Our 5-hour layover begins with a black coffee and a perfectly crisp croissant with butter and jam. We chat for a bit, then find a nook to sit and check emails. I lay down on the green vinyl couch and fall fast asleep. Karin has to shake me to wake me. Our departure gate has changed, and by the time we get there, it’s a pile up. Our section is already boarding, and we are miles from the top of the cue, so we wiggle up and pass through. Thank goodness. It’s a full flight and the overheads are bursting long before boarding is complete. I am in a window seat behind Karin with two Indian men to my left. It’ll be 8 hours to Mumbai on the inside, and I know I’m going to have to pee at least twice on this flight, so I make friends with my neighbor, Rajat, who immediately asks if I’ve been to India before, followed by his wondering about my favorite Indian meal. He tells me to try Pav Bhaji and Vadapav. I write it down, and a few minutes later ask if I can get by to go to the restroom.

We touch down in Mumbai on time at 2:15 am, but the plane is chockablock full, so it takes an age to disembark, and by the time we get to customs, the lines snake around in long coils and don’t seem to be moving. We have 3 hours ‘til the next flight, so neither of us is concerned, but then we learn our connecting flight is taking off at a different terminal requiring a taxi or bus ride. Karin asks a customs attendant about the wait line and if there is a way to expedite our getting through to our connection. We are directed to a different line with a half dozen or so people ahead of us (which was like a dream when looking back on the crowd of easily a thousand travelers all waiting in the snake coil). 

Ahead of us is a couple who can’t seem to get through customs. They have to do their fingerprint images over and over on the little machine. The customs agent barks commands. By the time we get up there, another 15 minutes have gone by. No movement in the coil to our left. Three tries and my fingerprints are finally accepted–I’m through! Then Karin. We literally take off through duty free, which forces you to wander in a zig zag through chocolate and perfume. People stroll leisurely, but we need to book it, so we carve our way through, and sprint out of the main terminal to the bus lot. The driver and baggage attendant care nothing about our attempt to make our connection, and in fact say we have “plenty of time,” but by now it’s 4 am and our next flight is at 5. No worries, I tell myself as Karin and I sweat in the pre-dawn heat. Another 15 min, and the bus finally pulls out, packed full with foreign nationals just like us all trying to catch connections. 

By the time we get off the bus, the “Go First” check in line is out the door. We report to the ticket counter, and the receptionist tells us the gate is already closed, but tells us to “cut the line,” and get to the front fast. No one bats an eye as we again maneuver our way through the thicket and up to the MP checking passports and boarding passes. Karin doesn’t have an official pass, and I don’t have a seat declared, so once we are through, we run to the next counter, cut the line, and the girl calls the final gate to hold what we think is the boarding gate while she prints us tickets. Another sprint, and we are directed to get on another bus (yes, another bus), which takes us ALL the way back to the International terminal to board our domestic plane. We had literally left the main terminal 90 minutes before, took a 10 min. ride to the domestic terminal, only to get a boarding pass and get back on a bus to our origin point. Only difference is that we board the plane on the tarmac. The most ridiculous time wasting travel situation I’ve ever seen. And this is normal. Once we are in the air, I look back to see the lights of Mumbai over the wing.

An hour later we arrive in Goa as the sun rises and our cab driver, Sarvesh, greets us with a smile and immediately takes Karin’s pack, and off we go. The air is thick with dew, and we drive into the morning with the windows down. Statues of Ganesh and Shiva sit on the dash, so I know we’re in good hands.

Sarvesh takes us to the pathway to our hotel in Mandrem, but it turns out to be a different place than Karin remembers from her previous trip, so we get back in the car and proceed to Morjim. The hotel is under new ownership and has a new name, but we stay anyway, and decide to give it a try.

Morjim is a bustling little town with beach bars and seaside restaurants that open onto the sand, and although our quiet little retreat is on the other side of the busy street, once the heavy bass beats begin at 1 pm, we quickly realize we’ve landed in the party zone.

The beach is lined with shade huts and chaises upon which are scantily clad sunbathers from Russia. They clearly own the beach; even the street signs and menus are duo-lingo Indian and Russian. By the time we lay down our heads just after 8 pm, the music is full tilt across the street. Regardless, I fall into a deep and long sleep. 11 hours later we awake to sunshine and crows. It’s our goal to practice yoga at least once a day, so we head to the shala, roll out a pair of mats, and practice as the sun rises. It’s hot by 8:30 am. We finish with a half hour meditation, then head to breakfast.

Our waiter brings us a bowl of fresh fruit: watermelon, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, and dragonfruit. We order masala omelets and share a plate of aloo paratha. Oh and an espresso, which I mix with a cup of hot water to make a short Americano–just enough to brighten me up on this beautiful morning in Goa.


The Warrior in You

All week @ Dragonfly Yoga Barn I’m weaving in Warrior 2 pose to our Flow classes. Today I opened class with a message about how we can learn to find the strength and stamina to reside in our personal power and to consider what it is we “stand up” for, while maintaining a softness that allows us to be at ease and to do our work from a heart-centered place. What is each of us here to do on this planet, anyway? Standing in Warrior 2 (or residing in any pose for that matter) gives us a chance to practice what it means to maintain a sense of ease and to remain steady and grounded even when we are under physical and / or mental stress.

At the Ganges, Rishikesh

I shared a version (as there are several) of the mythological story of King Daksha, his daughter Sati, and her husband Shiva, the lord with the matted hair and dreadlocks, blue skin, a man deeply connected to Nature and preferring to hunt and meditate than socialize. Daksha had never been impressed with his beautiful Sati for marrying such a distasteful character with his weird skin and crazy hair. Sati stayed true to herself, however, and created a beautiful life with Shiva, despite her father’s dismissal.

My photo of a mural in Varanasi: Lord Shiva

On the occasion of this story, the King prepares a huge sacrificial celebration and invites all the deities but chooses not to invite his daughter and horrendous husband. Sati finds out and asks Shiva to accompany her to the party to confront her father, but Shiva stays behind not wanting to anger Daksha with his presence, while Sati stands in her own power and marches confidently into the party to confront her dad about the lack of invitation. He taunts his youngest child, unloading his litany of reasons why Shiva is a horrific beast of a husband, who is more like an animal than a man. While her father and his company of guests laugh and jeer, Sati, in silence and with strength, and fully prepared to separate herself from her family to stand in her truth, walks past her father toward the sacrificial fire, sits down on her own, and in deep concentration and focus, immolates herself by her own internal flame and dies in front of the array of esteemed guests.

When Shiva hears of his dear Sati’s death, he is overwhelmed by grief, confusion, and an anger that becomes a rage. He explodes into unfocused action, ripping dreadlocks from his head and throwing them wildly to the ground at Daksha’s party. Two swords erupt from under the earth where the dreadlocks land and form Virabhadra, an avatar of Shiva that stands with blades drawn overhead in Warrior I stance, ready to slice heads and dominate the guests with his anger and ferocity. When Virabhadra opens his arms wide (Warrior 2), he takes aim, pointing his swords out across the horizon and focusing his intense gaze. Swiftly, he moves to Warrior 3 and slices heads from necks with the whip of his blades, including King Daksha’s own head, which rolls on the ground, leaving Sati’s father in a heap beside her own burned body.

It takes a while, but eventually Shiva reabsorbs Virabhadra into himself and can see the horror his avatar created. He immediately regrets the severity of his uncontrolled anger and power, and he wants to make amends. Have you ever felt like this? When your anger was in the driver’s seat, making it impossible to connect with your heart, your “true North” as they say? In our heart of hearts, there is no room for anger and violence; that place is reserved for love and only love. Standing in Warrior 2 gives me a chance to contemplate this reality. One of my favorite of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is 2:46: “Sthira Sukam Asanam,” or to embody poses with both steadiness (effort) and ease (comfort and openness). For me, the “pose” this sutra refers to is every posture we make, both physical or mental, both on and off the mat. Is there too much physical effort or emotional struggle? Is there too much softness or a lack of will? Can we be strong and joyfully confident and yet empower others through compassion and with empathy? I believe we can.

There is more to the story (of course, there always is), but I’ll close with brevity and say that an available goat becomes Daksha’s new head, and with Shiva’s help Daksha is reborn with humility, as well as respect and admiration for Lord Shiva, gratefully calling him Shankar (shan / sam = happiness  + kar / kara  = cause), as Shiva restores good fortune to Daksha, whose former hatred severed him from his daughter, just as his head was severed from his shoulders. He had lost connection to his heart–clearly both men had done so. The two clear their bad blood through humility and forgiveness, and as Shiva lifts his dead wife into his arms, he weeps as he wanders back into the wilderness.

But what of Sati, the one who stood up for herself and her husband, and ultimately, what is right and true? Thankfully we don’t have to set ourselves on fire to demonstrate our love and compassion. For me, Sati is the true essence of Vira = Hero + Bhadra = Friend. I remember her when I stand in Virabhadrasana. She is the strong and compassionate warrior I want to be.

Who and what are you willing to show up for on your mat and in your life?

As in many of the Hindu stories, multiple characters come back to life, reincarnated, often with new names, and this is the case for Sati, who reincarnates as Shiva’s second wife Parvathi. But that’s another story 🙂

My point in telling the story is that we humans are often tested in this life. We have opportunities to be strong, to stand up in the face of challenging situations and people, to work hard to move through whatever is our current challenge, learning the lessons we are here to learn and hopefully while maintaining a sense of grace and ease. We breathe. We stay to do the hard work it takes to grow and evolve. While in the “fire” of the posture and in our day to day lives, we are tested and may feel the well of anger or fear or confusion rise up, but we stay despite the inner turmoil. We dig deep, remain rooted and connected to the Source, and by doing so we become polished, transformed, move closer to our true essence, with an opportunity to rebirth ourselves with greater clarity, more compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and others, and igniting a deeper sense of purpose for our walk on this planet.

with Shiva at the Isha Temple in Coimbatore, India

This is my hope this week as we explore the challenges of Warrior 2 and all poses. If you’ve been rolling out your mat, thank you for showing up. Next time the pose could be a little harder–held a little longer. Are you ready? I think you are. All you need to do is show up for yourself and see how your Warrior story unfolds.

With love and many blessings,


© 2022 Dragonfly Yoga Barn

All images in this post belong to / were created by the author.


Essential Oils for Winter Health Class

DATE: Wed. Dec. 17th

TIME: 9:30 am, after yoga class!


TOPIC:  Have you ever wondered about how to use essential oils effectively and which ones are beneficial for your health during cold and flu season?  Sanja Chambers and Katie O’Connell will offer an informational session on Essential Oils for Winter Health, including individual oils and blends created for respiratory wellness, emotional well-being, and even how to cleanse your environments of bacteria and viruses that lead to sicknesses we are often exposed to during the Winter months and year round!  Join us for a short presentation on how to begin or deepen your practice with essential oils!

RSVP:  It is helpful if you rsvp so we have enough materials for all who attend. All are welcome, whether you rsvp or not! rsvp to: dragonflyoga@gmail.com


RDC Yoga Retreat~Lock in this year’s rates for 2016 NOW!

Dragonfly Yoga & Rockywold-Deephaven Camps Present
Relax & Renew Yoga Retreat
Thursday, June 9 – Sunday, June 12th, 2016
with Katie O’Connell, E-RYT 500
Candace Renfro Kayak

Energize and nourish your body & soul with daily yoga classes, meditation and pranayama, T’ai Chi, wholesome food, optional day hikes and kayaking, and time relaxing on beautiful Squam Lake. All activities are included in your investment. Do as much or as little as you like!

All-inclusive 4-day/ 3-night retreat: $695 (this is the 2015 Rate–Book by Sept. 15th to lock in rates for 2016!!  After this, rates are subject to RDC’s regular annual increase). All rooms have twin beds, shared baths, and are in one of Rockywold-Deephaven’s beautiful lakeside lodges!! 9 meals, lodging, kayaks, daily classes & workshops, and all taxes included. Check-in 3 pm on Thursday, and check-out after lunch at 2 pm on Sunday. Optional extras include licensed massage therapy, Reiki, and Thai Yoga Therapy. Request a roommate or let us pair you with a new friend! Some singles available on first come-first served basis. Some private cabins available upon for an additional rate–please inquire: dragonflyoga@gmail.com

REGISTER NOW for BEST Availability!  Spots are going quickly in Greenwood Lodge!
RDC Registration 2016 
Mail form to: Dragonfly Yoga, 280 Bennett Street, N. Sandwich, NH 03259