Archive for November, 2008

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The Amazing Coconut

November 20, 2008
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Te Puah, Majita's father breaking open morning coconuts. As you can see, his traditional tribal Polynesian tatoos are quite amazing. They were put on the traditional way, hammered in wtih a piece of bone and a stone. Ouch!

The greatest food gift of this whole trip to Bora Bora that I’ve been virtually surviving off of is the fresh young coconut. Young coconuts are comprised of amazing, electrolyte and mineral-filled water and soft meat that you can scoop out easily with a spoon. The soft spoon meat has a remarkable ability to restore oxidative tissue damage and within the fiber and protein is one of the most healing and skin beautifying fat substances on the planet

During the day, I share them with my local friends on the various islands that comprise Bora Bora. They use long sticks with hooks attached to pull them down from the trees, as young coconuts have to come straight from the trees. Or sometimes the men climb up the trees with their arms and legs and get them themselves (killer abs!). At night I ask the super sweet locals around my hotel to get me a few and help me open them. I have a blender with me, and have been making coconut (water and meat)/spirulina smoothies pretty much every night for dinner. Amazing!!!

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I’ve noticed that many of the local men are extremely muscular with perfectly shaped muscles and flat bellies. Many of the local women that live on the smaller islands also have bodies that are perfectly balanced and gorgeous skin. Of the families I’m close with and have been hanging out with a lot, the men told me they drink on average 5 young coconuts a day. The women usually have 2 or 3. I myself am having about 3 a day.

I am more convinced than ever that coconuts are a magical food. In India coconuts are considered a very holy food and are used in religious ceremonies. In a yogic sense, the layers of the coconut are meant to represent the layers of our self: the green, thick outer coating is the outer, physical ego, the hard, hairy brown shell is the mental ego, and the inner, pure white meat and water that has been filtered for 9 months represents the real self. It takes a long time and a lot of struggle and work to get to the real self, so the 9 months of creating the purest water on earth is representative of all the karmic reincarnations that one has to pass through. During my yoga training with Dharma Mittra, Shiva Prasad, who is the food guru, told me that coconuts are one of the most enlightening and spiritually purifying of all foods. I asked Te Puah, Majita’s father pictured here, if he thinks/prays to God a lot. His answer was, “All day, every day.”

Young coconuts, while not pulled down directly from the tree, can be found in the US. In New York I eat about 5 a week, as I get a whole box of them in Chinatown. I really recommend incorporating them into your diet by seeking them out at your local health market- to increase your strength and beauty. You can eat them plain or use them as a base for smoothies. You will feel and look great!!

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Lessons from a Little Yogi

November 16, 2008

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Her full name is Te Mana Fenua Roa, but her nickname is Majita. Actually, I got in the habit of calling her “Bebe,” since her parents lovingly referred to her by that as well. Her family lives on the island where we are shooting most of the yoga video.

I have spent many hours these past 2 weeks in Bora Bora with Majita, and have come to experience the living teachings and spirit of a little yogi. We communicate in French and by a lot of body and facial and mental language. Her intelligence and insight were very jarringly apparent when I first met her. At our first meeting she insisted on trading an almost empty, old tube of lipgloss with the pinker lipgloss I had. She gravely assured me that my color was definitely more for a girl and her color suited a woman more. Who am I to argue with that!

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When I say Majita is a little yogi, I don’t mean in the sense that she practices asanas (poses), though we sometimes like to do some poses together! I am referring to the fact that she is aware of a higher spirituality in every moment. She is intuitive and enlightened in some way, and it is apparent at her early age of 5. She is confident and curious. She goes to any stranger right away, and is completely open-hearted. She shows affection and love readily and strongly- just like her parents. She laughs often and is never too serious or takes life too seriously- just like the yogis teach. Her moods are always happy- unusually so for a child, and she never gets cranky or angry or grumpy. I even confirmed this with he parents- that she keeps her equanimity at all hours of every day, even bedtime. She is joyous of all simple things- and for no reason at all.

I am very grateful to have met this little yogi. This 5 year-old child embodies the most simple but profound teachings of yoga in her everyday life. What an amazing teacher for me!

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Stingray Puppy Dogs

November 13, 2008

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I had a really crazy experience.  I was with a few girls staying here at the hotel. They said their friend told them to take a boat out for feeding and swimming with the reef sharks, and that I should come with them. I’ve done that before in Thailand, and it was pretty fun. So us 5 girls got in a tiny speedboat and we sped out of the lagoon of Bora Bora towards the open sea. After about 20 minutes, the water got remarkable shallow again, so it was about 3 feet and you could stand up. Suddenly, the boat driver, who hasn’t said a word to us the whole trip about what we would be doing, starts singing in Tahitian. From the front right of the boat, in the far distance, a dark cloud underwater started approaching. Swimming together as a tight-knit pod, when they came up to the boat I saw that they were about 50 enormous stingray! While mantarays have billowy, floaty sidefins, stingrays swim along the bottom of the ocean flat in a hard shape.

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“Stingray….Stingray,” the driver told us. The first thing that popped into my head was that in Australia you are told to swim away from stingray when you are diving, because they have their dangerous stinger. And then I thought of how Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, had died when he swam over a stingray and it got agitated and its stinger pierced his heart. Hmm. Even though I learned that the driver feeds them pretty regularly, they are still wild animals that live in the ocean, NOT ones in a tank at an aquarium. Their predators are sharks, so when they are jolted their natural defense mechanism is their stinger. “Come in!” the driver said, who was already getting in the water. He feed them some fish, and was very affectionate with them. It seemed very safe. So four of us got in the water. “Don’t step on their stingers,” our driver said once we were in, and “Don’t touch.” They look like aliens, with flat heads and 2 holes for a nose. As soon as you get in, 10 or so swarm around you, nuzzling you. Their skin feels like wet silk massaging past you. At times there were a few around my feet, several around my legs and back, and a few jumping on the others’ backs to nuzzle my face. They had a very playful, puppy dog like energy.

It was a really intense experience being in the middle of the ocean with so many huge stingray swirling around you. I was focusing on breathing slowly when they weren’t tickling me and I was laughing. After a while, I wanted to go back into the boat. Though I knew they were pretty docile, their enormous stingers were also swirling all around, which started to get quite creepy. I was barefoot so to get back to the boat, I shuffled my feet so I wouldn’t step on one of their stingers. When we were driving back it was one of those, “Did we just do that???” moments. In all my travels, I’ve never seen anything like that, except for here in Bora Bora. Amazing!!

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Ya Na Naaa!

November 10, 2008

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I’ve been to a lot of gorgeous places around the world, and Bora Bora definitely is up there. At first, I was worried about the setup which entails a few hotels on different islands around Bora Bora- I didn’t want to be trapped just where the hotel and the hotel people are. But I’ve been able to take the boat to other islands, some where only locals live.

I knew my French would come in handy one day! The locals here speak French and their native Tahitian. They are amazing and so full of love. I have fallen in love with one family in particular. I am here shooting a yoga video, and I asked this family’s permission to shoot on their island. It is totally natural, with just a few family members living in stilted huts. I’ve been hanging out with the family, including their adorable 5 year old daughter Mana, for hours a day. I’d much rather be eating coconuts and fruit with them all day then hanging out at a fancy hotel. 🙂 They live simple and very happy lives. As always, the local people have so much to teach me and is the best part about traveling for me.

Hope all is great en Amerique. Talk soon! A bientot.

Yoga Video 1

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On The Road again

November 6, 2008


So here I am, in the midst of a fairly long travel jaunt. 2 hours early to JFK airport, then 5 1/2 hours to LA from NYC, a 2 and a half hour layover, then 8 hours to Tahiti, a 2 hour layover, then 1 hour to Bora Bora, then a boat ride to an outer island. Over 23 hours of travel.

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Who’s complaining though?? The long journey will be well worth it- as I’ll be shooting my first yoga video for my company, Envision Beauty, in friggin’ Bora Bora!

But how to cope with the journey itself- in terms of food and supplies. People often ask me what I eat when I am in transit. The first thing is that unless I have to leave at 6 AM for a flight, I always practice yoga before I leave. I feel so much better about myself if I have done my physical asanas and had a chance to meditate before I go. Otherwise, I feel like a slug sitting on the plane for so long.

Before I leave, I down an enormous green juice or smoothie (depending on how rushed I am), to fortify myself with as many readily available antioxidants as possible to protect against all the radiation from air travel. I supplement that green juice (juice not smoothie was the case for this trip), with raw hemp protein (which has lots of raw plant protein and fiber so I stay full longer), bee pollen (for extra enzymes and bioflavenoids), maca powder (for B vitamins and to give my endocrine system a boost), and spirulina.

Here’s what I tote along, to avoid eating the horribly processed airline food (reheated and microwaved and dead as dead can be, sucking our precious enzymes to digest it that we so desparately need to deal with the rigors of travel) and the extremely limited choices in the airport terminals:

  •  Sprouted bread (Ezekiel or Hemp) sandwiches with raw almond butter and organic apple butter
  • Figs- #1 blood cleaner!
  • Soaked almonds- I gave them to the girl (my new friend Bridgette!) on the plane seat next to me, and she couldn’t believe how much better almonds taste when they are soaked and sprouted. Plus the enzyme content increases 300%+ !!
  • Organic Greens+ bars- I like the chocolate flavor. These are the only kind of packaged bars that I advocate eating. They are made with spirulina and algae, so there is plenty of healthy protein and fat to feel satisfied and stave off hunger. I much prefer them to sugary, date-based raw Lara bars.

That’s it! I keep drinking tons of water 20 minutes on either side of eating my snacks (so as not to dilute my digestive enxymes), so I don’t get dehydrated and bring on “false hunger.” At LAX I did see a decent looking sushi place, so the only food I bought  was a raw seaweed salad and a tiny avocado roll. It was easy for me to sleep on the flights because I didn’t feel bloated and weighed down with gross food. In fact, I feel great!! I highly recommend always thinking ahead and packing your own travel snacks for long travel.

A bientot! Talk soon from the beautiful isles of French Polynesia. ☺