Thursday, October 25, 2012

2012 Update - Blog has moved!

Hey Hey!  It's been a while since the last time we've connected.  Since I returned from my TripnASIA, I started another blog called JourneyIntoYoga which as been as the name implies... is all about Yoga. Reading through my old blog entries here took me on a trip down memory lane. It's really cool to look back and see what an impact my trip back in 2010 has affected my entire life.
In less than a month, I am preparing to go on another trip, this time to South America for 3 months. The plan is to document my travels and yoga experiences at

Feel free to swing by and check out what I've been up to.  Looking forward to reconnecting.

Peace & Love,

~Philly ~

Monday, February 7, 2011

Closing Ceremonies


It has been a while and I have to say I am FINALLY starting to feel settled and comfortable back in my own environment.  It has been such a rewarding experience to finally have the time to look over the ratty and worn journals that I have carried with me for the past year.  Finding these treasures and gems captured in writing which I hold near and dear to my heart.

We’ve got a passion.  It’s called peace.”


  It has been an amazing journey and now that I have had a couple of months to reflect I am eternally grateful for the experience.

Every bit of effort, resistance I had in going away, every single penny that I had spent was totally worth it.  And I am so thankful to have had the luxury to experience the experiences felt.

There was no sacrifice. Even the most difficult times were there for a reason.  I am so lucky to be on the path I am on.  So lucky to be surrounded by authentic people who are so supportive and loving.

What more can I ask for?

Since I have been home, I have been keeping myself busy.  I’ve started teaching yoga which has been a journey unto itself.  I very much wanted to keep the yoga alive in my life and was experiencing a struggle because Vancouver is known to be a competitive place for yoga teachers.

I’ve started teaching at a gorgeous day spa called Befresh.  It’s located in a funky up and coming part of the town in Gastown Vancouver.  The owner, Marco is super cool, has an amazing artistic vision where the sky is the limit.  He is on it in terms of promotion, and is really excited about starting a yoga program with me.

I’ve also started working in Internet marketing and social media at October 17 Media.  It’s a really flexible job that I absolutely love and allows me to teach yoga.  I feel I am learning so much!  Web marketing is such an interesting IMG_8008area to be in right now, and the owners Tamara and Brenda are amazing to work with.  They are so full of integrity, and embody a passion in what they do.  I’m really excited to be a part of this company.  I think the common theme in all my endeavours is I really like the idea that I can help people and make a difference in some way.  At October 17, I truly believe in the service that we offer and that we can help businesses create a buzz, and generate more business which is really exciting!

And my third area of work, is at The Eatery.  The Eatery is a cornerstone in my life.  It has been there for me during all my ups and downs over the past five years.  It’s a really cool place to work, there’s a camaraderie there with the staff that has been unmatched in any job I have ever been to.  It’s like a family, but with way cooler parties! The food is amazing, and Randy has been so amazing in allowing me to come back after spurts of travel, and always being a guy I can count on for a good reference no matter what.



This week I am auditioning at YYoga which I am really nervous about.  The process is really intense but I am sharing this with you – so hopefully you can send some positive energy my way.  I am thankful even to get an audition there because they have really made a name for themselves in just a few years.

And I figure the experience is invaluable. So even if I don’t get on right away, I’ll be able to learn and come back at some point.  Enjoy the journey right?


In my moments of reflection, I just really wanted to throw out a few shout outs to people who were really important to me in my journey.  I figure it’s appropriate for a last entry into my travel blog.

Lily, my teacher who I learnt so much from.  Your enthusiasm and passion for yoga is infectious.  Thank you for being so patient and loving with me, while still staying true to what you believed in your practice.

Sebastian Bruno – Thank you for awakening that playfulness in me with Acroyoga.  Those were amazing times we had together.  Thank you for being a solid source of support during my yoga training, you were always a great source of light no matter what the situation. I really do cherish your presence in my life.

My yoga colleagues: You were like family to me.  Thank you for your energy and all that you contributed to the training.  I feel a special bond with you guys, and I feel it even more strongly now that I am home.

Kate & Lily – You guys are my yogini sisters and I am so grateful that you came into my life. So many great laughs and so many great moments!  My heart warms at the thought of you.  Kate, thank you for your yoga flow playlist, it is invaluable to me.

James -  Thank you for being you and having my back no matter what.  I appreciate you and your amazing humour no matter what the situation.  I can`t wait to see you this month!

Katie – My Canadian travel partner. Thank you for being there for me and being my guide, my sister, and best friend abroad.  We shared so many good times, great shopping and drunken nights!

Gelareh – My best friend and soul sister.  Thank you for being so supportive and proud of me every step of the way. I didn't`t see you for the entire year but I always felt your presence.

Jen – My sister.  You are so sweet and I appreciated how you have always been there for me.

Farshad – Thank you for being such a great lesson in my life.  You  have been so generous and encouraging of me on this trip.  You really pushed for me to start a blog, get a netbook and an SLR camera for the trip, which I wouldn't`t have done on my own coming from a place of scarcity.  But at the end of the day, it brought so much joy to my trip and I am so happy that I did it.

Joe – I don`t know you very well but I want you to know that you really touched me with the brief conversation we had at Geys bar.  I really felt your love and your genuine acceptance of me.  Thank you for being so awesome and I really hope that I will get to see more of you in the coming years.  You are so talented with your music, your photography and your general passion for life.  You are a true source of inspiration.

And finally to my fiance Sebastien.  Thank you for trusting me to go away without you.  You are a true picture of love and support.  We have such great times together, time has flown by so quickly while we have been together and it has been a great ride.  I look forward to growing old with you, harmoniously.  You are my best friend and true life companion and I love what we have together.


Thank you for following my blog, and sharing in my experiences.  It has been so amazing when you guys come up to me and remind me of an awesome part of my trip.

  I am going to be starting a yoga blog in the near future, and I hope to utilize all the social media elements that I have been learning.  So watch my Facebook for that if you are interested.



In gratitude and so much love,

xo phyllis

Friday, November 19, 2010

Living ashram life


I flew into India early in October filled with the anticipation of staying at the Anand Prakash Yoga ashram. My good friend Kate had stayed there previously for a few months and she had me convinced, that I needed to go to India and study there.  “India’s a place that changes you spiritually. Especially if you are really into yoga. “
Anand Prakash is located in Rishi Kesh, the birthplace of Yoga.  It is a small community where as my friend Rick had put it, “you can’t swing a cat without hitting a yoga teacher training.”   The yoga offerings were incredible and I enjoyed being immersed in a spiritual environment filled with like minded people.


Tapovan is where the ashram was located, a good 15 minute walk from the main part of town.  The Ganges river valley is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is considered the gateway to the Himalayas.  The wind and the prana carried from the Himalaya whistle down the river valley and blow out over this headland invigorating the Ashram area.  Prana is considered breath force or life energy, and our guru had told us that for this reason many people have crazy dreams while they are staying here.
While I was there, I had many crazy, intense dreams.  I would wake up with a start at 4:30 in the morning, out of breath and eyes wide awake.  And I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep.  After talking to other students who also stayed there, I found out that this was quite common.

Yogi Vishveketu ji taught us yoga every morning at 6 AM in the morning.  He was a super inspiring teacher, there was a certain charisma about him.  He was really playful, and told jokes all the time.  But there was something about his presence that just commanded respect.  He was a great teacher, he explained everything with patience and precision.  He would come around and do adjustments himself along with two other students.  There was a yoga teacher training happening at the time, and it gave the ashram a wonderful energy.  It was an absolute joy to take his class every day and hear his teachings.
Staying at the ashram required discipline though.  


Daily Schedule:

5:00 AM                     Individual Meditation
6:00 AM                    Yoga Class
8:00 AM                     Breakfast in Silence
8:30 AM                     Fire Puja
12:00 PM                   Lunch
4:00 PM                    Yoga Class
6:00 PM                     Dinner
7:30 PM                    Kirtan Chanting (Tuesdays and Thursdays)
9:30 PM                    Ashram Gates Closed
IMG_8429Sundays were Karma yoga.  Everyone in the ashram would get together to clean the ashram.  Karma yoga is when you do actions that do not benefit yourself.  Labour without fruits is what they call it.  Here is Sebastien pictured in the dining hall doing Karma Yoga. 
So we experienced total yoga immersion while we were there.  The food was all vegetarian and ayurvedic.  Also, because Rishi Kesh is a holy city, there are no alcohol or meat available.  However, there are certain places where you can get around this – such as High Bank.

While the rules and discipline were difficult to follow at times, both Sebastien and I agreed that we surprisingly enjoyed the structure of waking up early in the mornings to do yoga every day.  I was in yoga heaven because everyone seemed really into yoga and spirituality there.  We just really had to rush back on some nights to keep from getting locked out of the ashram at night!

I was really fortunate to meet up with Meghan, a fellow yoga teacher trainee who took the course with me in Thailand.  Meghan had been in Rishi Kesh for about a month by the time I got there, and so we had a chance to hang out for a few days before she returned home to Taiwan.  She introduced me to Govinda who teaches a Sivananda class, and because he is actually a doctor, he knows the body really well and challenged us with his yoga classes.  He got me in postures I never thought I would ever be able to do.

It was hilarious, because Meghan and I never really hung out in Thailand. Aside from the random group meal, or the yoga photo sessions. At one point she turned to me while we were shopping, and she said “Can you believe, you and me?”  It was really cute and I was so happy to have the chance to get to know each other better.  The thing about travelling is sometimes you end up hanging out with people of all different kinds of backgrounds and there is a flow, or easiness about it which is really cool to experience.


Through word of mouth, I found an amazing teacher, Sushil who taught an Ashtanga Vinyasa class.  This style really resonates with me because I love flow yoga.  He taught a really small class with a maximum of nine people at a time.  I enjoyed his adjustments and the challenges he presented me with each class.  After class, Sushil would hang out with us and drink Chai and talk about yoga.

So what I ended up doing was running around every afternoon, trying out different yoga classes in the afternoons.  In the time in between, I mostly read yoga books from the yoga library, took some hindi classes, did some exploring, checked out the waterfalls and the infamous Beatles ashram.  Oh yeah, and I did manage to get a massage in there somewhere.


This was my Hindi instructor Sachdeva Ji.
He was a really kind man who would make me Chai, and teach me basic Hindi conversation.  He had an interesting style of teaching which included slapping me on the back for encouragement, and kissing me on the cheek every once in a while which made me a bit uncomfortable but well, I let it slide because well, the guys like 60!  Before I left, I got really sick but I couldn’t bring myself to cancel my daily class with him, so I just sucked it up and went anyway.  This was on the last day,  and I was just barely kept it together.

So what did I think of my experience at the ashram?
I am so thankful for having the opportunity to study yoga in a place like Rishi Kesh.  I’m not sure I can articulate my experience to truly express how I feel.  I feel a change in my spirit, I feel an awakened curiosity in learning all I can about yoga through reading, meeting people and self practice. 
Physically I have noticed a change in flexibility and postural progression in my asanas.  Spiritually, I have noticed a big change in my meditation. There are times when I experience tears and sadness during my meditation.  There was one particular time when I was sitting  in easy pose, and I noticed my face felt wet, and i just thought maybe I just yawned because it was early in the morning.  And the next thing you know my face was completely wet and I was crying!  And then there are other moments where I feel pure love and joy.
All these things are totally naturally which have been described in meditation books as stored emotions and a process of letting go.  But it is only recently that I’ve experienced these things.  The biggest change is an awakening of my inner light, and experiencing an inner wisdom.

I know this sounds really crazy but I feel like Yoga has changed me.  It’s changed the way that I breathe, the way I think, the way I cope with stress.  It’s changed my goals, my level of spirituality, my way of being and I am so grateful to be on this path. It started off as a physical practice, and now its become a spiritual way of being.

 IMG_8216One night, Vishva had organized a Sitar performance at the ashram.  It took place in the yoga studio transformed by candle light and cushions. 
It was a magical night filled with beautiful music.  It started off with everyone closing their eyes and rocking to the music.  Then some people started laying down to enjoy it.  Afterwards, they picked up the pace and everyone got up and started dancing!  It was a really beautiful experience and a real treat.

I had the feeling when I left Rishi Kesh that I would be back.  It’s a place that totally resonated with me.  Who knows, perhaps after I have some teaching experience under my belt, I will go there for my level 2 training certificate?

Moments like these were so priceless, and I think they will forever be imprinted in my memory.


 Some teachers will say that you have to have practiced Yoga in your past life in order to practice it in this one.  Because not everyone can afford to do yoga, not everyone can physically do it, and not everyone is interested in it.  But if you have practiced in your past life, it draws you in like a magnet and you can’t escape it.

Travel, I'm beginning to find out can also be viewed in the same light. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trekking through the beautiful mountains of Nepal



A friend had once told me that it’s hard not to feel peace when you are in Nepal because every morning you wake up and the first thing you see when you look outside are the Himalayas. And also when the Nepalese greet each other, they place their hands in prayer at their heart centre and say Namaste.


Namaste is the recognition of the divine spirit (or soul) in another by the divine spirit in you.

    ”The God/Goddess within me acknowledges the God/Goddess within you.

    The Divine in me recognizes and honors, the Divine in you.

    The spirit within me bows to the spirit within you.

    I greet that place where you and I are one.

    I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace.”

Living Words of Wisdom

I remember thinking at the time that Nepal sounded so beautiful and magical, and it inspired in me the desire to take a look at this place and see it for myself.  And to be honest, I wondered if he was making it sound better than it actually is, that maybe these are things yoga people say to impress each other?

IMG_7953After fully relaxing for a couple of days, I can fully admit I was a jerk for doubting.  I treated myself to one of the best massages ever at Seeing Hands Clinic Lakeside in Pokhara.  This was the first time I have ever tried a blind massage and it was magical after our 5 day trek in the Annapurna region.  Blind people are often marginalized in Nepali society and the Seeing Hands Clinic takes in young blind people every year and volunteers from all over the world come and train them professionally.  65% of the profits from the massage gets put back into a charity for them.

When I heard this, it just melted my heart and I decided that was where I wanted to go.  They were very professional, and sweet.  My masseuse was a young 23 year old Nepali who checked in to make sure he was massaging at the right pressure.  When I told him he could go a little harder, he joked around by saying “oh you like it hard, hey”?  Cheeky fellow!  We had a few good laughs I definitely enjoyed his sense of humour and his skilled massage..

IMG_7930IMG_7399So going back to the trek, Seb and I signed up for a 5 day trek in the Annapurna region.  We wanted to do a mellow starter trek because neither of us have ever been on a trek before.  We hired a guide to take us through, and he was amazing.  We booked our tour through our hotel (Hotel Encounter) and was put with Chan Don.  He was the most amazing guide who became our buddy really quickly.  I just discovered that I absolutely love trekking.  Imagine walking through an area that has been untouched by cars and motorbikes.  Everything is transported via donkeys or Sherpas (a caste of Nepali people who carry things for you on their backs.)

I also discovered I love Nepali people, they are so unbelievably nice, kind hearted, sweet, honest, and they love to laugh and joke around so they’re fun to be around.


IMG_7852It was surreal, we hiked through the mountains, through small towns and villages, saw so many different plant and animal species, tonnes of waterfalls, beautiful sunrises and enjoyed a full afternoon hanging out at the natural hot water springs.  We even saw marijuana plants growing in the mountain tops! 

Of course it is illegal to buy or sell it, but we could totally appreciate the beauty of it growing naturally in the mountains.




 IMG_7426  IMG_7495 IMG_7500 IMG_7561 IMG_7582  IMG_7700 IMG_7708 IMG_7794    IMG_7836 







IMG_7893Well tomorrow our journey continues as Seb and I are flying out to New Delhi.  India is a part of the journey I am really excited about.  I am meeting my friend Megan at the Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishi Kesh to study more Yoga.  Rishi Kesh is where yoga was founded and I am enthused to study from some of the Indian teachers out there.  Sebastien is a little bit apprehensive about going to a “dry town” with no alcohol or meat but I think it’s going to be an amazing experience for both of us.









Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Great Wall of China

“He who does not reach the great wall is not a man!” Mao Zedong

The Great Wall was one of my biggest inspirations and must see attractions in China.


We were staying at Leo Courtyard a super social youth hostel in Beijing.  It was a perfect escape from the busyness of China.  They had a fooz ball table on the top floor, and “Buy 2, get 1 free” beer specials that we took full advantage of during our stay there.

This is where we spent many an evening meeting and challenging new friends to multiple games such as “The Holy Trinity” which were three super cool friends biking through China: Elaine (Ireland), Philip (France) and Matheo (Slovakia).


Anyway, I digress. 

When we saw that there was a “Secret Wall” tour offered through  the youth hostel, we jumped on it.  There were good reviews of it on Trip Advisor so we thought why not?  The Secret Wall tour is a section of the tour which is undiscovered by tourists, and is open to only our group of thirty or some odd people.


IMG_3794And so we set off and met the group at 7:30 AM in the morning.  We boarded a bus and rode for about 3 hours.  And it was quite entertaining on the bus, there was a Southpark marathon, non stop Southpark episodes playing on the D.V.D. including the episode where the “Crazy Mongrorians” keep attacking the great wall.

We got to the wall and proceeded with our 10 KM hike which lasted about 2 hours.  This picture was taken at the end of it, with big sighs of relief after hiking great lengths of dodgy wall and ten fortresses.

Yeah all in all the wall was breathtaking.  The hike was beautiful but it got a bit monotonous after the first half a hour.  There are areas of the wall that are so dilapidated and over grown with grass, eroded rock which led to me bailing (lightly) twice on my china bought sneakers.   I love hiking, but it was so hot!! My mentality during this hike was, well it’s gotta be done at least once in your lifetime.  The Great Wall has nothing on the grouse grind!

IMG_3805 Okay, but then get this, after hiking for 2 1/2 hours, drinking all our water and dying for lunch, we find out that our bus got caught in a traffic jam.  And we’re all thinking okay how does a bus get caught in a traffic jam when it had like 3 hours to come pick us up?  Well it turns out that the last time they had a big traffic jam like this, it lasted for 9 DAYS!!!  Well that’s China for ya!

So we sit by the side of a road for about an hour, before the guide decides well this is not happening anytime soon.  Let’s start walking.

We started walking in the countryside.  Then onto the highway, and we kept walking…. and walking…

    IMG_3809 We walked through stretches of highway with trucks loaded with all kinds of things: red peppers, tomatoes, bok choy, pigs, horses, cows, you name it. 


It was quite the experience.  The upside, though was there was water, and snacks available on the sides of the roads.  Everyone could have gotten really bitchy, but no one did.  Everyone shared their snacks, water, and laughed at what a crazy experience this was.  We hiked for about another 3 hours before we even got to the restaurant.  The walk on the highway took more time than the great wall.

IMG_3827 IMG_3833What was really shocking to me though, was that for a capital city that boasts the best university in China, people are not conscious of the environment at all.  People in the cars are eating snacks and just chucking them out of the window.  I was shocked, and could not believe it … people squatting under their trucks, so much garbage littered on the road.  I am so Canadian that way, I almost felt the urge to pick it all up!


This was our reward at the end of the day. While the food looks delicious, it was all cold and extremely unsatisfying.  The only thing that made it tolerable was the company and the beer.  Who thought I would ever say that? 

IMG_3698Anyway, nothing went as planned which I am realizing is the norm when you are travelling through Asia. And you always have a choice to go with it or go against it.  Going with it is much easier, which I realized at the end of the night as I was feeling filthy, covered in dust and entire body achy and dissatisfied with the food. 

But it’s a great memory, filled with shared laughter, friendship and culture.


I’m glad we did it, and would definitely do it all over again.

xx phyllis

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Boys DJ after the Shanghai Sandwich Shop


I'm trying to keep this blog up to date, but being in China for the past month has been getting in the way of keepin' it real time.  Right now I am writing from Kathmandu (I can never spell that right) in Nepal.  I am looking forward to going to Tibet for a week on Tuesday followed by the Tatopani trek - which is a trek through Nepal ending in some hot water springs.  But more on that later.

I am sad to say that the Thailand tan I had going for many months is starting to fade and that it will only be about three months before I am back in Vancouver.   Lately, the reaction to the response people have when they ask me how long I've been away (9 months), they have started asking me if I am getting tired of it.  I find that a funny question because I'm not tired of it at all.  I am enjoying myself so much, that it is a bit hard visualizing the transition I'm going to have to go through to adapt to a regular life again.  Usually I just laugh it off and say some people have babies, whereas I like to travel.  Depending on the demographic, you usually get a good laugh out of it or a bewildered look combined with the drop of a jaw.

Here is a brief outline of where I/we have been and where I plan to go for the rest of it:

1. Thailand
2. Laos
3. Vietnam
5. Thailand
6. Bali
7. Singapore
8. Thailand
9. Hong Kong
10. China
11. Nepal
12. India
13. Maybe Thailand or London  (If the finances allow!)
The best sandwiches in Shanghai at my cousin's deli
Logo - Night club
The guys played a wicked set which made me a bit homesick.  Ceebass & Abasi have a distinctive sound which I have missed going out in Asia.
My cousin with his awesome friends Mia and Mel, who are also from Vancouver but now live in Shanghai as well.
Stay tuned for our adventure to The Great Wall.  Got a little more than we bargained for on that one ...