on the mat: Prana Shakti ParaYoga Master Training at Flying Dog Ranch

Following my Instagram last week got you another round of vegetarian meals, yoga mats and training manuals shots. It could only mean one thing: I was off at another ParaYoga master yoga training session — this one in Carbondale, Colorado.

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My yoga-teaching partner-in-crime, Kevin (pictured in the last photo in the collage above), joined me for another adventure out West. I had never spent much time in the state (other than a layover at the Denver airport), but I can now say that Colorado didn’t disappoint.

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 Our rental outfitted with our own ranch and horses. Best homeaway.com property ever.

So while we enjoyed all that the valley near Aspen had to offer, we had work to do. The 5-day “Prana Shakti” Intensive lead by ParaYoga’s founder, master teacher Rod Stryker, was just as stimulating, inspiring and educational as the other sessions I’ve experienced. (He is the same teacher who lead The Four Desires immersion we attended in Cincinnatti in September 2013 and the Tantra Shakti master training we attended in California this April.)

The intensive description from the ParaYoga website: “Prana is the force of life. In yoga it is everything essential. Without its grace, transformation would literally be impossible. The science of Prana (Prana Vidya) is the knowledge of awakening the fullest potential of yoga and life.“ 

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The time spent at the Flying Dog Ranch (pictured above – from my IG) were more than just a “yoga retreat” even though it might sound like one: every morning started off with some sort of grounding practice (meditation and/or chanting mostly), followed by a lecture then an extended practice with asana, pranayama (breath work) and meditation.  Our lunch break — which was catered by Rod’s wife’s catering company — was filled with some of the best vegetarian meals a yogi could hope for, plus plenty of opportunity to connect with the rest of the ParaYoga community members (something I greatly appreciated and felt a tad bit lacking during our visit to Berkeley this spring). We’d then come back for another four or so hours of lectures, group work and more practices for the afternoon. As you could imagine, there was a lot of information to soak in.

Five days and thirty pages of handwritten notes later, I put away my notebook (vowing to bring my MacBook next time), considering all the lessons of what this practice of yoga, tantra and ancient teachings meant for me at this time in my life.

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As you can imagine, it’s hard to figure out which of those many lessons to start with after completing a training like this. You want to come home and implement everything immediately. That awesome sun salutation variation you learned during a kundalini practice. The various ways to manipulate the breath to help move energy. How you can take your rekindled excitement for your own personal practice back to Cleveland with you.  

But to start, the lesson from this training that will be easiest to implement/recommit to was that thought follows energy and energy follows thought.  That would be a #whatyoubelieveyoucreate FTW.  Change your thinking. Change your world. It’s that simple. But first, let me start with Northeastern Ohio. Watch out, Cleveland — I’m coming for ya…

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why I might never leave the Oregon Coast

…or why going to Portland for FitBloggin’ was the best decision ever.

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I’ve been lucky to be able to travel my fair share, but never made it to this corner of the United States. And I probably wouldn’t have if FitBloggin’ wasn’t moved to Portland for 2013. And looking back I was uncertain if I’d be able to make the trip, I’m incredibly grateful for making the commitment to attending, presenting and opening myself up to another conference experience. (more on this next week)

But then the idea to make it an epic vacation happened. Having Hans fly out the last day of the conference. Searching homeaway.com until I found a vacation rental called Heart of the Hill, owned by the incredibly helpful Ron and his wife Kate. We rented one of the studio-type offerings (one big room with bedroom, living room and kitchen in one; with a full bath) that boasted an epic oceanside view. The boast was well-earned as we watched Fourth of July beach fireworks from the rental’s porch last night.

While staying in Oceanside – a sleepy, out of the way beach community – we did our best to hit up as many towns as possible: Netarts (a quiet beach and closest grocery option), Tillamook (some of the best hiking, cheese and ice cream), Cannon Beach (our favorite beaching location), Astoria (the Goodies house!), Pacific City (one happening place to be for Fourth of July) and Lincoln City (not as… ahem, expected).

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But as expected, Hans and I loosened up. We took each day as it came to us. We welcomed each opportunity for adventure – a new hiking path, a new restaurant, a new road to drive, a new local resident to meet. Being less organized and more flexible was the best planning we could do to prepare for this trip. And in that lack of planning (and very limited cell phone service) we have found peace in this quite, unassuming place called the Oregon Coast.

I’m hoping to take that way of being back to Cleveland with me.  Less stressing about planning out every moment of life. More embracing it as it’s presented to us. It’s the best (and most useful souvenir) I could bring home.

(sort of) wordless wednesday: PDX and the Oregon Coast

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at the Mark Spencer Hotel

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Sunday night dinner at The Original

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happy hour on the 30th floor at Portland City Grill

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sights around PDX on my birthday morning

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touring the wineries in Washington County

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sun salutations on the beach in Oceanside

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a study of Hans on the beach

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 eating all the dairy in Tillamook

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how we drove to Astoria to basically eat dinner, visit the Goonies house and cross the border into Washington

More on Friday. Until then, connect with me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

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