Category

Narratives and Encounters

Where do I start…

Let me tell you a short story first. In the early 1990’s my grandfather used to work for the army and he was sent to Thailand to source wood for import. He fell in love with Thailand and was returning almost every single year. In 2010, he took my sister and I on our first trip to southeast Asia. We ate lots of tropical fruit, got massages every other day and browsed the night markets like our lives depended on it.

I would say I really liked Thailand but I had no idea that I would go back and completely fall in love with it. I should have known better since I’m very much my grandpa’s daughter.

Fast forward to 2017, I “accidently” taught a couple of yoga classes and that was the first time I realize that I would like to teach. My fanatic search began for 200 hour trainings but everything I found was either badly timed, way out of my non-existing budget or the worst of all: had a meh curriculum.

A friend of mine recommended that I check Dice and Briohny, mentioning “great practice and teaching in Thailand,” that’s all. After checking the Bryce YTT my reply was, “It’s perfect, too perfect, but unfortunately expensive.”

Photo Credit: Lenka Minarikova @zgungphotography

If you’re based in Egypt or earn in Egyptian pounds, you know how the devaluation of the EGP kinda fucked us all so I decided not to give it much thought because I didn’t want to feel bummed about it. I still checked Briohny’s online classes and for some reason, this specific training wouldn’t leave my mind.

I registered, got my acceptance letter, started my payments and bookings, and everything started moving way faster than I anticipated.

You know when something just feels right? Everything was falling into place and whenever I had doubts, more things would fall into place. Even my period shifted to right before the training and right after!

I took off to Thailand a couple of days before the training because I wanted to rest and deal with any jetlag before the training starts. I spend 48 hours in Bangkok and then took a flight to Koh Samui.

Ps. I’m covering Bangkok in the next blog post.

 

Bryce 200 HR YTT

The Basics

The training was 20 days with a day off every 5 days or so.

The daily asana practice was anything between 3 hours to 4, if not more.

Kirtan and pranayama were practiced for at around 30 minutes daily.

Philosophy, business, anatomy, alignment and practice-teach were covered over the remaining hours of the day.

We were staying at Absolute Sanctuary, Koh Samui.

Key People

Briohny aka Bri: I started practicing some of her Alo yoga videos on youtube to try and decide if this training is for me and I actually went because of Bri. I can’t tell you what it is exactly but I just felt comfortable knowing that she’s there and one of the lead teachers. Bri’s practice is strong and therefore she’s the queen of adjustments and preventing injuries. She’s also very knowledgeable about the business of yoga as well as philosophy.

Dice: I didn’t make an effort to know more about Dice before booking the YTT. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to relate to him so I just didn’t really know a thing about him except maybe his name. Dice turned out to be everything you wish a teacher (and friend) would be. He is extremely approachable and down to earth. His flows are strong and he is one of the biggest zero bullshit people I have ever met probably. I still cry when I remember kirtan mornings with Dice.

Mathieu Bouldron: Do you know how some people can embody a practice or a belief? Mathieu is Yoga. He is a walking and talking yogi, he lives its values fully (for what appears to me) and he is a phenomenal teacher. He was mostly teaching philosophy and led practice a few times. His signature yinyasa flows are gold.

Emily Torockio: I didn’t get to know Emily during our first few days but when I did, I realised I wish I had gotten to know her earlier. Emily was assisting and adjusting a lot but she also organised so much during the training. Emily’s adjustments in class where on point. I would actually know it’s her adjusting me without looking! On our 17th day, Emily led a badass hiphop yoga class (which I sadly couldn’t make till the end because of wrist pain) but loved. She challenged my thoughts about the traditional outlook on yoga.

Dean Zeller: Dean is an acroyoga teacher who was partially present during the training. He can fly you, literally and metaphorically, even if you zero acroyoga background. His presence, though, added immense value. The kind of value derived from things you didn’t know you want or need or could bring you that much joy.

Extras

Now, I am not like most people in terms of asana practice. Poses fascinate me but I didn’t always care for getting there. The asana practice might actually represent the least ambition I had when it comes to yoga. In a way, this was good because I was always excited for the philosophy, business and anatomy classes. But so much has changed since then and the asana practice is now climbing my yoga ladder. To be honest, though, I had no doubt that I wouldn’t make it till the end of the training because of the 4+ hours of practice. My own strength surprised me and a lot of that strength was derived by being immersed and surrounded by a group of people who wholly believe in you 24/7 for 3 consecutive weeks.

One of the other things I was so concerned about is the occasional acroyoga practice. As you might know, I am not a big fan of acroyoga because of an injury that has ruined so much for the past 3 years. I am definitely not blaming it on the acroyoga practice but at least I know that my fear is, in a way, “rational.” Having said that, even the acroyoga practice was fun and this is due to the friendly approach of Bri, Dice and Dean.

We covered so much more than I expected.

Asana, pranayama, kirtan, alignment, practice-teach, anatomy and philosophy? Check

Yoga and teachers around the world? Check

Prenatal yoga? Check

Yoga for the elderly? Check

Business? Check

Even pop music? Check

Coconut ice-cream? Check

One of the things worth mentioning is that there were occasional surprises that truly picked us up when we needed something extra to keep going.

Now, there’s so much more I can share with you but this post would end up being a small book so instead, I’ll share some excerpts from my journal during the trip.

But before I do, you ask: Do I recommend this training? Yes, without a doubt. If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them so leave a comment under this post, email me via the contact page or find me on social media.

A couple of reviews that I found great as well were by this post by Zgung and this podcast episode by Kevin Boyle.

Now I leave you with my thoughts during the training…

 

June 1: “No expectations” and “intimidating.”

June 2: “Handstand practice on the first day? Really? Twice a day? Everyday?”

June 3: “I intentionally look for distractions to avoid certain things…” referring to the practice.

“I do this with people. If someone bothers me, I’ll just walk away, I’ll find an excuse to avoid confrontation” reflecting.

June 4: “Today I was introduced to my new check in buddy, Charlotte. I love her! My first check in buddy was Sylvia who I loved as well! The evening ____” I think I was too tired to write.


June 5: “Day four.

I can’t believe I’ve come so far.

Today, I woke up energized.

During this morning’s meditation/visualization, Dice asked us to visualize the face of a loved one. I felt the tears run down my face. I was upfront so close to Dice and I was worried he’d notice.

After opening our eyes, I realized that I’m not the only one who cried. In a way, it was comforting. Did I feel less weak or did I feel collective weakness?

During breakfast, I expressed my frustration to Dice. I feel like I was mean and harsh and just a total bitch. Lovely!”

June 6: “The morning practice: WOW!

We were lined up shoulder to shoulder and in two lines facing one another. We worked together, leaning on one another, literally, while listening and screaming our lungs out to songs like Lean on me and Stand by me.

Phenomenal. I’m happy, energised. I feel at home.”

June 8: “Bri, I appreciate you.

I appreciate you more than I know how to express it.”

This was probably after she opened up or during one of the business classes, which I truly appreciated!

June 12: “The pain in my hips. I don’t have words for that.

I’m glad though.

I’m glad it didn’t push me to the point where I’d get emotional.

I’m glad it didn’t drive me to quit.

Tapas, the third discipline of the niyamas.

Motivation, determination, pushing through. Am I finally learning to practice tapas?

I’m in pain.

I was in pain during the evening yin practice but I pushed through.

Tomorrow, I take rest.”

June 15: “My wrist hurts, child’s pose.

Oh, left hip, oh, oh, oh. I’m out of here.

I observed quite a bit today during the morning practice. We created the corner for what we called the elderly. I don’t know if that’s inappropriate or offensive to anyone in any way but for us it was funny.

Today was the first day we study anatomy. I’m still finding it hard to understand the muscles.

Evening practice was partner work and acro. I mostly practiced with Emma, which I thought would be hard because of the size difference but it was amazing.

I based for her and Mascha a lot. It was actually fun and I had no back pain at all which I guess (or hope) means that I was properly aligned.

After class, Dean said he’ll give me my birthday flight and it was amazing! He really knows his shit and so he made it very therapeutic.”

June 18: “I invite you to revisit our first night here.

Do you remember how different this room looked?

Do you remember how different it felt?

How did YOU feel?

Were you excited? Intimidated? anxious?

Day 2: Do you remember your first check in buddy?

Day 4: You were introduced to your second check in buddy.

Day 5: Dice’s visualization of our loved ones.

Day 6: Hello Mathieu! Standing up side by side, lean on me.

Your first day off.

The beach.

Yin.

Mathieu’s last day.

The soreness, the hugs, the laughs, the cries.

Chanting our hearts out.

Who did you share them with?

How far did you come in 18 days?

You’re surrounded by people coming from all parts of the earth.

Diverse.

United by a love, need or want to practice something so ancient yet so new.

Diversity within unity.

Or is it unity within diversity?

If this isn’t magic, what is?”

June 20: “My heart is so full.

A couple of days ago I recorded a 9.5/10 on the happiness scale and that was only because my hair was all poofy from the humidity.

Today, I’m glad to report a record 10/10.

Happiness does not depend on your circumstances but solely depends on what you make out of whatever life throws at you.”

My minimalism journey started a few year ago. I had written about it some time in 2016 and that is what I would like to share with you today.

Note: If you are not interested in reading my old ramblings, scroll down till the last paragraph to read all about the challenge I am starting tomorrow.

Alright, here it goes:

“It all started with travel.

In June 2015, I traveled to Italy and Germany with a big suitcase. Five weeks later, I returned home and as soon as I opened the door to my room, I felt overwhelmed by everything I saw in front of me. More than 100 items of clothes hanging, more than 50 pairs of shoes underneath. 4 wicker boxes of sentimental items, 8 pillows, 50 books on the floor, 2 cameras on my desk, 15 makeup brushes that need cleaning and 20 pencils that need sharpening.

I have often walked into people’s homes and questioned the emptiness of the space but I never reflected those thoughts on their personalities. Were their homes empty because they lacked experience and authenticity? Or were they empty because their minds are neat and clutter-free?

People have often walked into my living space and asked about where I got certain items; most of which were items are collected during my travels. I had been filling my space with things I thought were a reflection of who I am.

In September 2015, I went on a last minute trip to Nepal with a carry on. I stuffed it with leggings, jeans, tribal-style loose pants, a few pairs of t-shirts and so much more. I wore 3 to 5 of the 20+ items I had.

Once again, I returned home and looked at what I own. I was horrified and it was one of the first times in my life that I started thinking about how I could live with much less. I thought that those things I own bring me happiness. I realised that this unplanned trip, this little hike in the forrest and being with good friends brought me so much more happiness than any of those items I own.

Within a few months, I packed bags and bags of items to giveaway. And then I had a brilliant idea; I decided to sell whatever I can and donate the money to charities I’ve been meaning to support. I made 4,000 EGP from thin air (or shall I say, rather heavy bags of clothes and accessories).

I immediately picked up a copy of the best-selling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and yes, it did change a bit for me.

In late December of the same year, I traveled to the UAE and India with a backpack. In fact, I got on the plane in Cairo with nothing. I picked up the backpack in Dubai and stuffed it with a few items of clothing that had traveled a few days before I did, with a friend.

I remember watching the New Year’s fireworks over the skyline of Dubai and thinking that my only resolution is: to have more. Yes, I was no longer chasing a world of less, I readjusted to want more, but more definitely didn’t mean more things. it was becoming clearer and clearer that I want more time with loved ones, more time to read, create and relax. More time to help others and more time to pursue the things I love. I wanted more space to breathe and more chances to learn. More also included material items, like more money for travel.

India ended up being a big lesson in spirituality. It shifted my perspective entirely and I came back a changed woman. It wasn’t a positive change but that’s a story for another time. The few incidents that took place in India forced me to let go. I did not really get a chance to think about what I want, especially in terms of material items.

When I came back to Cairo, I was mostly sleeping and de-cluttering. I noticed that my appetite for food was decreasing but I embraced it.”

And then my story ended here. It had been a roller coaster of old consumerist habits and fresh minimalist habits since then. I have more of a minimalist inside me that I reflect on my space. This is why, tomorrow, 1 May 2018, I start the 30-Day Minimalism Game. I had known about The Minimalists for years but it was not until January of this year that I started paying close attention to their writing and their podcast. The Minimalism game keeps popping up so I figured it is time I give it a try. The rules are simple. On day 1, you get rid of one thing. Day 2, two things. Day 3, three things and so on. I will donate, sell or trash (my environmental-self is judging me right now) the items as soon as possible. I can only this up for 28 days, because I travel on the 29th but well, there goes nothing!

Will you be joining the challenge?

 

 

I could be anyone…

The girl sitting in front of you in class,

The shy boy who lives across the street,

The woman working at the finance department who sips on orange juice all day,

The man you see walking to the bus stop with the headphones on weekdays.

I could be anyone…

And everyone.

In fact UrbanEarthlings has many faces but lets start with one.

My name is Amira. I’m a twenty-something earthling. If we’re friends on Facebook then you’ve probably seen pictures of me stuffing my face with Australian burgers, McDonalds fries or a big pepperoni pizza…

If we went to school together then you probably know that I didn’t stand out… I was pretty standard! Good grades, average looks, an average sense of humor… lots of friends but well… nothing out of the ordinary…

I always loved life though. I love the sea… I love animals without exception… I love food and new places and every thing that life has to offer…

So, as a young girl, my grandpa took me to the zoo, my parents took me to the sea world… we ate frog legs on lake Michigan and then my grandpa took me to Singapore and Thailand… more zoos and aquariums!

And then I was suddenly 20 and I traveled more often… I was still eating everything and anything… I tried lots of new things… I went to every zoo and every aquarium I came across… I had oysters at the Nord See, clams on the Balearic sea, tried camel burger in morocco and kangaroo meat in Germany.

I don’t regret much in life… but I wish someone had told me…

I didn’t know that my lifestyle contributed to so much suffering in the world…

During the past few years I changed a lot… from the books I read to the people I met. I was developing intolerance to animal abuse like no other, I’d cry over the dead giraffe at the zoo, argue with the man hurting the bleeding donkey and scream and yell and kick for the dead dog on the side of the road.

One of the first things that sparked my interest in veganism came in the form of… “The monk who sold his Ferrari.” Since reading that book, the raw diet was somewhere in the back of my mind and I’ve always known that I’d make it happen someday! After all, I will need to clean up all the junk that has been piling up inside my body… but I always though, someday… as if that someday can not be today..

On a cold February, two years ago, my mom and I were driving late and I saw a cat that had just been hit by a car, it was seizing and dying slowly… I screamed “stop the car, stop now,” She wouldn’t stop, she knew I’d go mad if I go anywhere near the dying cat. I was traumatized. I cried alone all night and I couldn’t speak properly for a couple of days!

On the 7th of March of the same year, my life changed. I spent the weekend alone with everyone I know out of town. I got up early, practiced some yoga and then made myself some pancakes with milk and eggs and of course I topped it with nutella. I put on a YouTube video and fortunately, I started binge watching “what I ate today” videos… I came across a link that said “101 reasons to go vegan” and I thought “hmm, why not?”

I started watching, not knowing that this is an hour-long lecture that would change how I viewed everything… within 30 minutes I was crying hysterically and by the time I finished I quickly started writing to Annie, the girl who led me to the video.

I have been on a plant-based diet since then…

Do I ever look back? No.

Do I miss meat, dairy or eggs? No.

Is there anything that I don’t like about the vegan diet? YES…

Why didn’t I know about how easy this is before? Why don’t we think about the source of our food? Why haven’t I been on a vegan diet since… umm forever? Why is this misunderstood? Why is it regarded as an extreme?

Being a vegan has been an eye-opening, life-changing experience for me and this is why I’m here. I have been gradually changing the way I live and I realize that there are so many people out there, especially the young ones, who are looking for this but do not know how to access it. I will share everything I know but before I do, I want you to know one thing… I have absolutely nothing to gain from this… in fact I have a lot to lose… I am only tying to win you over because I was YOU before and I only realized how glad I am that things changed, long after they changed.

But for me, this is not about food anymore. This is simply about existence.

So, here’s what to expect on the UrbanEarthlings during the next few months (or hopefully years)

  • Restaurant reviews and how to eat vegan in different restaurants around Egypt
  • Plant-based Recipes
  • Interviews with people who are trying to improve the quality of our lives
  • Veganism and Religion
  • Attempting to live a greener more sustainable life in Egypt including concepts like slow food, slow fashion and zero-waste
  • Eating vegan while traveling
  • Ethical, mindful or conscious travel
  • Animal rights and rescue donations
  • and a lot more..

If you have any suggestions or comments please feel free to contact me here. I’d love to hear from you!

Befriend UrbanEarthlings on social media and help us build a conscious green community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube!

I’ve also complied a resource page for you. You can check it out here!

 

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist; I am not a doctor, a certified trainer, a health coach or anything of that sort. Ever since I switched to a plant based diet, I have been reading and researching the topic from many aspects and everything I will be sharing will come from personal experience or else will be cited.

 

 

 

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