Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Vow of Silence and Our Adventures in Athens

It's never dull around here--especially when it's our favourite day of the week! Saturday! Our day off. It started with this: A decided to do twelve hours of silent meditation. No talking, other than the occasional handwritten note and using this sign. And she did it! Way to go A :) As much as I admire A for her vow of silence, I have no plans to attempt this ever for an extended period of time. I like talking way too much!
A with her sign in English and Greek. Twelve hours of silence--you go girl!
15 minutes of silence left, but she can still bust a move with our resident skeleton!
 
Six of us yoga girls headed into Athens at 9 am this morning by train. Five of the girls got off at the Acropolis stop, and I continued on to Syntagma Square all by myself. Leah and I had already toured the Acropolis in the evening when I first arrived in Greece, and I really didn't think anything could top the gorgeous sunset views we experienced. I was pretty excited to spend my day wandering around the shopping district on Ermou Street. I'm doing a little bit of solo travel after yoga teacher training, and I thought making my way around Athens by myself was a good start. I'm proud to say that I didn't get lost once!
 

J and I riding the train to Athens
The high point of my day! A venti pumpkin spice latte :) It tasted like home.
I spent most of my time in the shopping district on Ermou Street. There is a great mix of European chains and some interesting little individual stores. There are beautiful buildings everywhere, such as this little church right in the middle of the pedestrianized street. My big find of the day was "flowy" yoga pants like our teacher Michelle and my friend J wear. I bought a black pair and a taupe pair in different styles (very inexpensive too) and L liked them so much we went back to get her a pair later! And to top it off, J found a great little store selling these pants and bought three pairs, offering one pair to anyone who was interested. I tried them on and loved them so now I have three pairs. I love J's style and I feel like the real deal in these pants! Thanks J :)
When I told my sister about my new pants, her first question was, "As in MC Hammer pants, Devon?" And after she saw this picture, I got told that I looked like Aladdin! Probably true!
I also spent an hour in the Athens Flea Market area. Lots of interesting little shops and junky touristy places too, with a fun and energetic vibe!
I met everyone at our favourite vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Avocado, and had some really yummy margherita pizza for lunch. The food is so amazing that you don't even miss meat, and they also have organic red wine. But no red wine for me :(
Delicious food at Avocado
 
And that's all she wrote for Saturday! I can't believe that we only have one more week of yoga teacher training, and then we'll be REAL yoga teachers! Our last week begins tomorrow, and Sunday is a more relaxed day around here too. I'm looking forward to restorative yoga and a nutrition class with our other teacher Becca. She is an American in Athens and a real breath of fresh air! Check out her Facebook page for her wellness business here.
Yoga Tip of the Day: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Source: Transformational Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Manual
Nadi shodhana means "alternate nostril breathing". This type of breathing benefits many stress-related illnesses, such as headaches, asthma, and heart disease. It calms the mind the mind and body and balances the nervous system. Alternate nostril breathing also balances both the nostrils, which are inversely associated with the right and left brain hemispheres. This leads to a more balanced personality and balanced functioning of both sides of the brain. As this practice calms and relieves stress, it helps with insomnia if done before bed. Nadi shodhana also prepares the mind and body for meditation.

Technique:
1) Sit up straight and comfortably with legs crossed and rest the left hand on the lap. Do not bend the head forward.
2) Test your nostrils. Which one is the most clear? Start your alternate nostril breathing on that side.
3) Use the right hand to place your pointer and middle finger between your eyebrows. Put your thumb on the outside of your right nostril and your ring finger on the outside of your left nostril.
4) Start with a complete exhalation, emptying your lungs of air. Close off your more blocked nostril (let's say it's the right) with your finger. Inhale deeply and slowly through your left nostril.
5) Close off your left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
6) Now inhale deeply through the right nostril. Block off your right nostril now.
7) Unblock your left nostril and exhale completely through the left nostril. You've now completed one round.
8) Continue this pattern for ten rounds to begin with.
9) End by exhaling through the nostril than you began with.
10) Let the hands rest on the lap and keep your eyes closed. Observe how calm the breath and mind are.

For a demonstration, view this video on YouTube.

 

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