Spa Girl Abroad: Kalani Oceanside Retreat

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Greetings from Kalani Oceanside Retreat

A hidden haven on the Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawai’i, Kalani Oceanside Retreat is nothing but a pure escape to the jungle at it’s finest. And your off-the-grid experience can be as luxury, or as rustic, as you’d like it to be .

From modern cottage to treehouse to big ole’ hale (Hawaiian for ‘house’) to glamping with wi-fi, Kalani has it all.

Indulging in massage, sauna, a full schedule of mind-body activities, plus wandering an endless jungle trail surrounding the property makes Kalani one of the rare places on earth I’ve never wanted to leave. What’s great about Kalani is you can be as social or introverted as you wish…the community feel is thriving, yet plenty of solo time can be found to write, reflect, meditate. It’s a writer’s paradise, quite literally.

The food you ask? Incredible. The kitchen caters to everyone from vegan to paleo to the kid who loves Lucky Charms (you’ll probably find the organic version here, though ;). Three times per day, a conch is blown which lures Kalani guests and their hundred or so volunteers head to the most beautiful buffet that rivals Whole Foods (get in line early or show up on the late end to avoid waiting long). Plus, you’ll undoubtedly graze on tropical delights such as guava and starfruit that fall from trees here.

I was first introduced to Kalani when I attended a 30-day intensive yoga teacher training at the retreat center. Kalani’s feels much like a second home to me, and has been my go-to getaway spot on the islands ever since. E como mai (welcome) to my one of my second homes 🙂

Would love to hear about your experience at Kalani, and/or retreat centers like it, fellow Spa Girls and Guys! I LOVE discovering new retreat spa centers. I’m heading to Bali next month…send me your tips!

Mahalo (thank you) and Coconut Kisses,

Beach Girl Abroad

Spa Girl Abroad: Sanctuary Thailand

DSC01093It’s not simply the fly-ferry-longtail boat journey to The Sanctuary
Thailand
that will leave you wanting to disappear into this lush jungle-beach ‘alternative’ resort forever (and ever…).

(Don’t worry, you can also arrive by speed boat…check out the spa’s website for further info 🙂

Longtail Taxi Boat

Longtail Taxi
Boat

I adore Sanctuary Thailand! In wintertime, I found myself dancing around a moonlit beach bonfire, rocking in the New Year alongside the most eccentric and varied group I’d ever met: de-toxers and re-toxers, jet-setters, yogis. During my summer visit, I loved the young, health conscious, and flashpacker (upscale backpacker)-solo-traveler vibe.

The Sanctuary Thailand boasts a full-service Spa and Wellness Center, a full-on yoga and meditation schedule with classes held in a gorgeous open-air shala over looking lush jungle, accommodation ranging from mat-on-floor dorms to luxury tree houses, a delicious restaurant, and a Wellness Center offering a comprehensive detox program.

spa time for a thai massage

Spa time!

Gorgeous houses and private rooms are scattered throughout the jungle-beach property. Several accommodation-spa-yoga packages are available.

I’ve stayed in the gorgeous dorm above the restaurant for 200 baht per night ($4!), and in the Wellness Center’s Detox Dorm during a week-long cleanse.My 5-day detox (3.5 days fasting) was a less than $500 and included dorm, cleanse, my “last meal”, plus yoga, spa treatments, and unlimited steams (the clove-spiced steam room before or after a thai massage is to-die-for!).

the dorm gets a clean up

Dorms at Sanctuary
Thailand

The Wellness Center not only offers 2-14+ day detoxes, but also sells Kombucha, wheatgrass shots, and hosts plenty of reading material which can be enjoyed from any hammock or cushy chair on the property.

The restaurant’s menu includes tasty and healthy food which would appeal to any Modern Day Wildwoman (or man). You can order anything
from Thai to Indian, vegetarian to meat-eating with salads, salmon,
and steak. I indulged plenty in the Raw food section which not only
caters to detoxers, but anyone! And trust me, raw food tastes
especially delish during the hot Southeast Asian summer. I sampled
raw treats like “Not yogurt” (blended raw papaya, full of good-for-you enzymes) to “Raw Pad Thai” (made with raw radish) and raw soups.

Raw Pad Thai

Raw Pad Thai

striking a pose<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
like the good ole days in LA LA la

Coconut kisses,

Beach
Girl

Connecting head and heart.

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Overlooking Topanga Canyon during Moksha Festival.

Moksha: liberation. 

The shift began on Kauai in June, then continued on through early July, around the time I began questioning The Physics of the Heart. On a 2am whim, after returning home from a rare night out, I decided on living abundantly and doing something new and nourishing. I booked tickets to Moksha Festival, a yoga, ayurveda, and music festival in Topanga Canyon, California. I didn’t know where I’d stay or where it’d fit in my budget, but something told me to just trust the flow. When in California…

I found a yoga teacher’s discount (score!), then remembered an older brother-type good friend and past colleague lives in Topanga. I e-mailed him about recommendations on couchsurfing/camping. Turned out he and his lady were heading to Laguna Beach the very weekend of Moksha and needed a cat sitter. How’s that for divine timing?

Kicking back in Topanga Canyon nest

Kicking back in Topanga Canyon nest

My friend’s Topanga nest is of Topanga Canyon boheme tree house, sunlit, lotus fountain, saged-spicing the air goodness. What a nest to roost in the midst of a shift. If the festival wasn’t going on down the road, it would’ve been worth it to simply stay there all weekend!

Funny thing about the fest: I was more absorbed in the subtlies of this yoga thing than the movement. Yes, I practiced asana with some awesome famous teachers, but more so, I fully absorbed myself in the subtle, deeper knowledge thrown my way.

The Psychospiritual Basis of Disease and Healing, an ayurveda talk by Dr. Shiva Mohan, particularly struck me. From the moment Dr. Mohan began speaking, I was in full absorb mode. She’s dynamic, passionate, and one can just tell she is living what she’s talking about: ayurveda + connecting your heart’s intentions with your head’s.

We learn as we study yoga more deeply, whether it be through reading, yoga teacher training, yoga philosophy groups, or if we’re lucky, our teacher weaves it into asana: every life experience, past and present, has an energetic input. Each input leads to certain habits in the mind, or samskaras. Samskaras are our teachers, we repeat patterns over and over again until we catch ourselves and stop. In order to liberate ourselves from the samskara cycle, we must become aware of our irrational thinking.  Our tendency to succumb to stinking thinking based on our ignorance, ego, craving, aversion, and/or fear (avidya, asmita, raga, dvesha, abhinivesa).

I ate up every word of Dr. Mohan’s ayurvedic medicine talk. Besides a food mantra to keep us airy-type folks grounded and healthy (“warm, moist, cooked, spiced”), she said something so simple as time drew near that summed up the poignant talk.

To paraphrase Dr. Mohan: “Connect your head with your heart. Check what your head wants, check what your heart wants, pick the one in the heart and make your words and actions align in all chakras”.

English? Follow your heart, make a plan with your brain, and execute with your entire body and soul.

Further…

“Chant the Gayatri Mantra, long form. Each verse activates a chakra, from root to crown. Long form Gayatri Mantra. ”

I’ve chanted Deva Premal‘s shorter Gayatri Mantra over and over again, but long form? Hmm. So, after some research, and an e-mail to Dr. Mohan double-checking the validity of my findings, the long form was in my hands. I wrote it in my journal, and began singing it along with sun salutations on the morning sun-lit back deck of my Topanga Canyon nest. It’s been a daily song ever since.

Dr. Mohan, thank you for this reminder to knock it off with the samskaras, follow our hearts, act and align accordingly.

Om bhur

Om bhuvaha

Om Swaha

Om Maha

Om Janaha

Om Tapaha

Om Satyam

Om tat savitur varenyam

Bargo Devasya Dhimahi

Dhiyo Yo na Prachodayat

Kirtan and Yoga overlooking the Canyon

Kirtan and Yoga overlooking the Canyon

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$436.50 Flight Credit to…

As result of totally switching gears last Fall, I have a flight credit with Hawaiian Airlines for $436.50. It expires on September 4 of this year.

Grounding myself in tadasana, mountain pose, during today’s early morning sandy stroll before a juicy-full day, I visually absorbed the pure beauty of a school of dolphins and wetsuit-clad dapper dudes alike surfing the morning glass waves.

Contemplating the thought of an upcoming trip to the islands, an unfamiliar thought crossed my typically gypsy-footed mind:

I don’t need to go anywhere right now.

I’m pretty darn content. My life is bursting with the simple pleasures that keep Beach Girl Abroad happy: family, friends, community, sharing my passions with the world through teaching yoga and writing, enough space when I need it, intellectual stimulation, daily communion with nature and it’s expansive ocean only a block away. I’d say I’m on a good path towards santoshacontentment as described in Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutras.

A warm, strong Santa Ana wind kicked up during my block-long walk home, gusts not unlike the warm Fall tradewinds that’d breezed along my skin in on Oahu, Maui, and Big Island. Ah, the perfection of a California morning like today’s. On a day like today, I don’t particularly feel like going anywhere.

…hmmmm.

The wheels are turning.

One last island, Kauai, that I’d left unexplored.

Oh, and my birthday is coming up during the first week of June 😉

Unexplored Territory: Kaua’i

What a nice way to feel.

Just the possibility of taking a trip.

Getting quiet and listening to my intuition on how to proceed from here…

Aloha.

xoxo

Beach Girl Abroad

Capturing Your Essence: Asian Superfood Soup

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Continuing to channel the good juju cultivated during my stay in Asia, I’ve created another Asian dish. Superfood veggies such as red cabbage, chard, and kale make up the bulk of this soup. Dried black fungi are a cancer-fighting superfood well-known in Chinese Medicine. Fermented Miso gives a little protein, satisfying umami taste, and healthy probiotics. Avocado and toasted sesame oil add omega-3 fats for a happy brain, and a whole egg adds additional satisfying protein and choline for brain health.

You’ll need:

1 cup dried black fungi (find at Asian market)
1 egg
2 cups-ish Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup-ish Kale, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 avocado
4 tbsp miso
1.5 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

Bring water to a boil, add chopped veggies (including dried black fungi) and let veggies cook until tender.

Add egg, allow to boil until egg looks cooked through (can leave whole or break it up in pieces).

Turn stove off. Add miso and sesame oil to pot and stir. Serve in bowls, add avocado to top of soup.

To your health! 🙂

Capturing Your Essence: Dubu Kimchee

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The past few weeks I’ve been seriously missing Asia. The landscape, the people, the inability to understand the conversations going on around me, the 24-hour markets, the endless hours wandering the streets exploring, the freedom

Recalling how healthy and energetic I felt, actually preferring Asian food at times (oh, and getting sick of it plenty, too…kimchi and I had a love/hate relationship), I looked up the nearest Asian market in Oxnard and proceeded to stock up.

A wise friend and Naturopath commented that subconsciously, I’m beginning to channel the essence of myself that I happened to find in Asia. The free spirited me.

A cartful of tofu (Korea calls it ‘dubu’), kimchi, gochujang (Korean Chili Paste), and ‘gim’ (seasoned seaweed), I came home and made a Dubu Kimchi meal on the stove.  How? Sautee kimchee and tofu, add some sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, add in some gim, and you have yourself a healthy meal of fermented vegetables and quality vegetarian protein.  Yum!

Also in the cart from East Asia? Dried Black Fungi (aka Anti-Cancer MEDICINE in Chinese Medical Wisdom) and dried wakame (a type of seaweed, good for the female system) to add to soups, and an enormous tub of Miso. I didn’t stop at Korean goodies, either. Capturing my essence, of course, I foraged flavors of Thailand and India (a land I’ve yet to explore, but have a feeling I will find some of my future ‘essence’), as well. Panang Curry Paste, Coconut Milk, Curry Powder, Tumeric…warming spices that  which Mother Ayurveda would highly approve. Next blog!

Be. Here. Now.

“This is the reason I’m back here. Now, I get it.”

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I’d left so much of myself here. I’m tied here. My past is here,

the happiness and the pain.

And I’d irresponsibly left it in a storeroom.

I’d traveled here and there, and everywhere, all the while

out of sight, didn’t necessarily mean out of mind.

Sifting through the storage unit, I was dutifully listening to the wonderful Hay House Radio App (download it, it’s free!), when opening a random box stopped me in my tracks. Opening this box was like opening a box of treasure.

I kid you not, gold light seemed to spill out upon opening my cardboard box of treasure…

It seemed I’d stumbled on a box of “me”.

Who I was before all of ‘this’, before the gypsy travelling, the yoga trainings and teachings (when I packed this box, most likely in a hurry before hopping a plane to Seoul, I’d recently become a devotee of Bikram, but didn’t even know what a Sutra was, knew I loved the chanting music played at Bryan Kest Power Yoga but no idea this devotional chanting is named ‘Kirtan’, and thought Ayurveda was some kind of mystical shampoo)…

The energy of the box encompassed “me” before travelling, just an early twenty something from California who loved collecting bikinis and laying out on the beach, exploring the Santa Monica and Channel Islands Farmer’s Markets, spending a day wine tasting in Downtown Ventura or Paso Robles, refurbishing furniture from thrift stores into Beach and Shabby Chic and listening to Classic Rock, dayhiking in Malibu…a young and somewhat naiive me… a ‘me’ before a massive love and heartbreak which would rock me to the core. The aforementioned which was the very impetus to make me question who I am, my reactions, how I relate to the world, get back to my roots and what makes me tick, and most importantly, teach me how it feels to be human and love. Love and the sheer pain of losing it–and I would never take this feeling back for the world. Anyways…I digress…the treasure box…

Although none of my friends would remotely call me a simple person, I have to say, this box encompassed a simpler time. Even my signature vanilla perfume was at the top of the box, along with a framed tear out from an inspiring book which quoted, “Every Day is a Good Day“.

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Treasure Box.

I had to revisit. Remember who I was. Remember how present, or not present, I was in each chapter of my life. This “letting go” couldn’t have happened in Hawaii, Asia, or elsewhere. I realize that now, it’s time to fully be here and live my life. The message is loud and clear. It’s come from so many sources all along. I’m heeding the advice now.

Live my life. Be here now. Be fully present where I am now.

And today, it’s letting go of my past by clearing out what’s mine in the store room. Old photographs, knick knacks, clothing, stuff. Most things are neutral, others bring joy, and some hold painful memories. Especially satisfying is getting rid of these things that leave even an inkling of an ‘ick’ feeling; keeping little scraps of things that give a ‘good’ feeling and select photos worth adding to the scrapbook reminds me how connection and love make the world go ’round (even when I feel like disconnecting for a bit to go in introvert mode).

Oh, and definitely keeping a few bikinis 😉

Hosting a yard sale this weekend, wish me luck!

Remember, out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind, whether subconsiously or conciously.

What have you not let go of, and how may it be affecting you? I want hear all about it! Leave comments below.

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