Kitty Dreams & Street Scenes (Morocco)

Morocco cats asleep

As I depart for the land of ice, I thought it only appropriate to share just a few more photos from last year’s adventure in the desert oasis that is Morocco. By the end of the trip, one of the running jokes was all of the photos of cats that I had on my memory cards – to this day I still refuse to apologize for a single one! Morocco seems to be a land of cats and I love it all the more for that reason. (smile) I’ve included a few of my favorite kitty shots – and a few of my favorite street scenes too!

 

 

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Climbing Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain, Imperial County, California, art, desert

I’d seen photos of Salvation Mountain for years, especially on Instagram, and had always wanted to go. I knew it was in California, but only recently discovered that it was just off I-10 on the way to L.A. from Phoenix. To think I’ve been driving right by it all these years! So when a camping trip to Joshua Tree NP came up last month, I seized the opportunity to have a bit of a weird and wonderful road trip with a stop by this lovely attraction.

Salvation Mountain is the brainchild of Leonard Knight. Located just east of the Salton Sea (and about 30 minutes south from I-10) in Imperial County, CA, this outdoor artwork is 50 feet high and 150 feet across, made of local adobe clay, and has one glorious and profound theme – love.

The mountain is maintained largely through the efforts of volunteers who show up with paint, brushes, and a helping heart. A public charity was established in 2012 to help with maintenance and preservation of this unique gem – Salvation Mountain, Inc.

You can follow the yellow brick road up the mountain and you can also wander through the connecting “grotto” to see various other works. All the colors were so vibrant even on a cloudy day, I can’t imagine how beautiful they must be in the desert sun!

Personally, I admit that I wanted to visit Salvation Mountain because it did just seem so weird and colorful and fun. It was a location that demanded to be seen and, well, photographed. What I didn’t expect was the sense of joy and peace that I felt while there. I was like a child roaming some oddly fantastical museum/playground. It’s kind of hard to describe really. It made me want to pick up a brush and help preserve this desert beauty and, frankly, if I hadn’t been on a bit of a schedule with the camping trip, I probably would’ve done just that. The people who were there doing maintenance were super friendly and more than happy to spend a few minutes talking about the history and goings on of the project. And although it is a very Christian-themed space, it didn’t actually feel overwhelming. It just felt, well, loving. (smile)

Salvation Mountain, Imperial County, California, art, desert

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance, Dance

drummer, First Friday, Phoenix

DJ, First Friday, Phoenix

First Fridays in Phoenix aren’t all about traditional art – there’s plenty of performing art to be found, watched, heard, and participated in. The experience truly is a feast for the senses and well worth checking out if you’re ever in town! (First Fridays occur in downtown Phoenix the first Friday of each month.)

This week’s challenge is “dance.”

Happy weekend everyone!

Hot Yoga: 3 Essential Things To Know

yoga mat, Mindfulness in Plain EnglishWhen I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my doctor went over a long list of treatment options. After some ridiculously scary incidences in the past, I will generally try just about anything to avoid taking meds, so luckily my doctor was cool with me trying the holistic approach first. At the top of that list was hot yoga* – the idea being that the heat helps the warm up process and makes things easier on your joints, muscles, etc.

Considering I live in the desert where temps are regularly in the 110+ area, I thought this was a bit crazy at first, but I decided to tried it nonetheless. I mean I enjoy yoga, and goodness knows I’m acclimated to the heat, so I figured there couldn’t be any harm in giving it a go. Color me surprised at how well it worked! And, as it turns out, there’s an advantage to the outside heat – there’s a less drastic immediate temperature difference, which allows your body to acclimate in a much gentler manner. I still think I’m crazy every week about halfway through the class, but the overall benefits have made the insanity worth it. (smile) Those 60 minutes are both physical and mental therapy, so I see it as a double win!

*Hot yoga refers to yoga exercises performed under hot and humid conditions. One of the best known types is Bikram yoga, but there are several other forms. Thanks to Groupon I’ve been able to try a wide range of options, and I have generally found them each to be fairly comparable in terms of atmosphere and work out. The methodology is a bit different though, so find what works best for you.

yoga mat, yoga towel, water bottle, hot yoga, yoga

Hot Yoga Essentials

Other than the temperature difference, there are a few other subtle differences between yoga and hot yoga to be prepared for. A few of these I had to learn the hard way, so I thought I’d pass along the knowledge in case anyone else may be considering a hot yoga practice.

1) Equipment is Key. As you might imagine, it gets pretty hot and sweaty during hot yoga sessions. Wear light clothing, preferably moisture wicking. You’re there for you, so try to put aside any self-image issues and dress comfortably. It may take a couple of classes to get comfortable, but less definitely becomes better. (smile)

Also invest in a good mat and non-slip towel. A regular towel works fine, but I’ve found that the non-slip yoga towels really make a difference in holding certain positions. I recommend bringing a smaller towel as well just to wipe the hands and forehead once in a while. A lot of hot yoga studios provide mat cleanser, but if not I’d suggest you make your own or buy some. Use it often, trust me you’ll be glad you do!

2) Food & Water. If you know you have a hot yoga session waiting for you after work, try to pay closer attention to what and when you eat throughout the day. Lighter, healthier foods will help prevent feeling heavy and/or nauseous during class. On that same note, try not to eat anything for 1-2 hours before class.

Possibly the most important thing to focus on is to hydration. Start in the morning and keep drinking all the way through class. And by hydrate, I mean water, tea, etc., not the sugary sodas and definitely not beer (one of those hard learned lessons). Always have a water bottle nearby in class and don’t hesitate to use it.

3) Pace Yourself. Usually a yoga studio has levels. Even if you’re a pro yogi, if you’ve never tried it in a heated room consider starting in the beginner’s class. Don’t be afraid to modify your poses so that they are most comfortable to you and don’t hurt yourself. You’ll improve over time and feel much better about the experience.

If you feel yourself getting light-headed or dizzy, don’t be afraid to take a break. Go into child’s pose (balasana) or corpse pose (savasana) until you feel better. It’s generally not recommended to leave the room, as the temperature drop can make you feel worse. If you’re in the right studio, no one will judge you. It should be a safe space where everyone is too concerned about holding their own eagle pose (garudasana) to pass judgment on anyone else. (smile)

Do you practice hot yoga? Anything other tips & tricks??