Why everyone should know about Permaculture? You are responsible!

Engaging in Yoga and Meditation sure does have its perks, well if I want to put it that way!

Over the years, my rendezvous with nature has been quite overwhelming, satisfying, mind-boggling and filled with an insane urge to get to know myself better.

Lately, I have been wanting to get closer to nature. I am not talking about travels and treks which I am engaged in already, but this is a calling, deep within to be in touch with the Earth.

Sounds ridiculous eh! Can’t explain to a tee but I wanted to play with soil, mud, plant saplings, grow them and be a part of its growth in a small way.

I have been close to plants all my life, thanks to my parents who are ardent lovers of plants and of course gardening! We have had a garden with innumerable plants each serving its own purpose. The number of plants at home have reduced over the past few years owing to my parents’ physical ailments but we sure have enough to tend to and care for! Dad surely does start by giving the scientific name of the plant and explains everything completely, whenever I ask him a small question about a plant or gardening per say.

So with my passionate folks I have learnt a thing or two about the beautiful beings and it feels like I have grown with them and around them.

But I haven’t quite engrossed myself into the art of planting / growing / tending to them.

Thanks to my inner calling and a suggestion by my friend to do this workshop on Permaculture, I was ready to get my hands dirty the right way! 😉

So this workshop was conducted at the Art of Living premises. This was my first visit to AOL and it was quite a refreshing walk through the premises and to the far end of the ashram where the Permaculture workshop was being held. I crossed by Goshalas (Cow-sheds), banana plantations and numerous fields. The path was narrow, muddy but of course endearing!

The workshop was very interesting and the best part was that we were taught how to make the soil bed with many layers so that moisture could be retained. We also took part in composting, harvesting cabbages and sowing seeds. I wouldn’t want to reveal much about the workshop because I want you to go and experience for yourself if you plan to attend the workshop!

So let me talk a bit about Permaculture.

It is ‘Permanent Agriculture’ which is a means of creating sustainable living by using the natural resources in an efficient way and making use of the resources in hand to the best of our ability. There is no usage of pesticides, artificial chemicals in the process of Permaculture. The produce is obviously fresh, healthy and sumptuous when consumed! 🙂

This would be in line with ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!’

Permaculture can be done by anyone and anywhere. Be it be in homes, businesses, farms, apartments, community centers, yards, window boxes, waste lands etc.

According to my experience, if one is willing, the art can be learnt easily but one can become proficient only by getting involved in the process and continuing it time and again!

The best part about Permaculture is we can grow our own vegetables, fruits, plants etc. at no massive costs but at a minimal or negligible cost!

I feel Permaculture is an art that everyone should learn and experience.

As city dwellers, we have overlooked the importance of Agriculture, plants, food grains and more so farmers. Farmers take pains to get the produce on time or in innumerable cases seek death! We think anything can be bought but the stark reality is that there is dearth of water, natural resources, fertile soil and in a decade or so we might have to beg for water / food grains.

With Population being on the rise and growing by the minute, with the natural resources depleting, we might have to count days for an apocalypse! I am sorry to term it that way but it is the truth staring at us and we have been overlooking this matter.

Let’s get responsible and start using resources in the best possible and minimal way. We are a speck in the universe and one of the species in this wide world. At the rate of our ignorance and greed, we are surely moving towards the inevitable!

Wake up! Let’s use our resources in a better way. Permaculture is an art anyone can learn. Don’t let your identities, likes and dislikes get in the way, for life is more than that!

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Isha Vidhya School: A ray of hope to the li’l angels!

“Teaching children is an accomplishment; getting children excited about learning is an achievement!”

It was a bright sunny day as we drove from Bangalore to Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. We were a group of 20 odd people visiting the Isha Vidhya School.

After about 2.5 hours, the bus took a turn from the highway and headed towards a dusty narrow road. The landscape was a treat to the eyes; green lush fields of paddy and mustard flowers paved the way. There were a few huts, small houses, a few distance away from each other. By and by we came across small villages and then moved further ahead into wilderness. The rolling hills, big trees were a constant companion along the journey.

After about 3-5 kms, the bus stopped in front of a huge building. And the board read…

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I was amazed to see such a big lovely building against the expanse of fields and hills. As we entered, the principal, staff and few students gave us a hearty welcome!

The entrance hall had a beautiful painting of Sadhguru and the Principal did share a few thoughts and vision on Isha Vidhya school, the unique methodology in the curriculum, the innumerable scholarships and of course the stories of bright young kids.

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We were ushered on a school tour guided by a few student volunteers. The excitement and the warmth they put forth while explaining to us about the school, classes and just about everything was truly heartening!

I can’t quite fathom how happy and gleeful these kids were in each of the classrooms we visited.

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The school follows their own methodology from Kindergarten to 4th Std. This is quite an endeavor as many post graduate students come and study regarding the unique methodology and practices taught in the school!

The school has a Math Lab (which obviously was something new to me) where the Math concepts are taught practically with designs and materials. They also have a Computer lab where students are taught on the basics of computers and to make photo stories etc. A student showed us a photo-story of his family and school and it was very creative!

We had a glimpse of their Art and Craft class, Library and also Science labs.

The teachers too seemed to be humble, enthusiastic about the children and very grateful for being a part of Isha Vidhya.

The corridors and classrooms were equally decorated with puzzles, stories, English quotes, alphabets, Tamil alphabets and certain unique concepts were put up on the wall which had me racking my brains for I was learning something new right there.

We later had a tour of the school kitchen where sumptuous, nutritious lunch is prepared for the children everyday. They use the resources in a sustainable manner and the vegetables, grains are grown in the farms nearby. We could not see the farms presently owing to water shortage. The lands are dry and it is a stark reality which needs to be addressed.

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On the whole, it was an overwhelming experience to see these children from poor families in the nearby villages, interact with us and talk about everything from science to computers to art to yoga to things galore!

What really struck me was – these children are the first ones to get educated in their family and they are so talented, humble and so driven to learn more. And they deserve to be given all the opportunities to realize their true potential!

This was quite a beautiful experience to see the children smile, greet you time and again and so eager to show you around on what they are learning.

There were kids everywhere bidding us goodbye as we left the school premises.

shwethakrish, shoepenlens, ishavidhya
Children bidding us goodbye!

Isha Vidhya is a non profit initiative by the Isha Foundation for educating and empowering the rural children in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. There are currently 9 schools in Tamil Nadu run by Isha Vidhya. Through the support of innumerable volunteers, donors, village communities the schools are creating a strong foundation for the children in education and making them employable on par with any student.

It is an amazing endeavor to be able to provide affordable and high quality education for our future citizens who will take on the world!

If you are willing to visit this school, do let me know or DM me.

Lastly, if you want to donate or raise funds for Isha Vidhya, please go through the below links.

  1. To raise funds or donate – https://letzchange.org/nonprofits/isha-education
  2. If you want to support Isha vidhya, you can be a part of TCS 10k run or Majja run. Link- https://registration.procamrunning.in/tcsworld10k/registration.php
shwethakrish, shoepenlens, isha
The team which visited the Isha Vidhya school

Am I lucky enough to travel?! Aren’t you?

‘Oh you are so lucky, you are traveling?’

‘I don’t know how you do it!”

‘You are living the life!’

‘Keep traveling while you are single! I don’t think I can’

‘You are young, travel more!’

‘You are freelancing, right? You have the time! I don’t have the time with work’

Hmmm, these are a few of the responses/ quip I get from strangers, acquaintances and friends!

These are quite amusing yet annoying at times because it is not big a deal!

So here goes, I am going to give away the other side of the story….. not to make it sound boring or scary but for the fact that traveling is possible by anyone and you need not be lucky but passionate!

  1. For starters, being single doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities, family, commitments and work. At the end of the day, I have to work around these for being able to travel. My toughest times have been at convincing my folks for my travel! 😉
  2. I am not rich that I can afford traveling now and then. I have to work, earn and save for being able to travel and explore the places galore. Trust me, my bank account balance hasn’t seen a decent amount in the past couple of years! I am not kidding! Security is far far away!
  3. Being a freelancer, doesn’t mean I am free! It means that I take up work according to my pace, situation and variety and the amount of work involved etc. And of course it is not a fad and is more than a 9-5 job; considering multiple commitments, clients, projects and being a one-woman army is quite tasking!
  4. Age doesn’t have to do anything with travel! If you are interested and want to really explore a place, just get out of your comfort zone- you will surely be able to do it! Well I have seen elderly people from across the globe take to traveling from all walks of life. The smile and gratitude on their face, inspires me to keep traveling  forever- like even when I am way tooooo old!
  5. Frankly, I am not lucky. I am grateful for the things I have and work towards making the best of what I can do and go traveling- for it is my passion! If you are passionate about traveling and exploring the unknown- I am sure, you already know- Luck doesn’t have anything to do with it!

So,  I haven’t written the above because I found the statements/responses offensive but for the fact that ‘I am not lucky’ but I do work towards getting what I want.

I am blessed and grateful to make the best of what I have with utmost passion and reverence!

Or in other words, we are all lucky that we are in this beautiful world! What you make of it or how you explore all depends on what you really want!

Well, next time you think about wanting to travel, think of how passionate and focused are you for wanting to do it(nah nothing about luck) and just get on with it!

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Life a Circle / Spiral?!

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PC: Pinterest

It has been a while since I blogged. Well, a lot many events, travels and work have kept me away.

Well here I am today pouring my heart out!

Lately, I am feeling that I am back to the same point where I started ? That is a question on my mind and I can’t find the answer.

I know I have grown a lot, changed mentally, spiritually, even physically and understanding life in a completely new perspective or must I say experiencing life in a different way.

But somewhere deep down I feel I have come back to the starting point, it feels like I am starting everything anew and now. It does feel great!

From a spiritual perspective, we tend to grow and move ahead spirally transcending into the dimension unknown! Well, this is something entirely intriguing and gives room for more exploration.

Well, maybe I am moving ahead; my understanding of life has changed, the way I lead my life has changed, relationships/friendships (some have nurtured, some I have let go, some I am beginning to understand the shallowness/depth), the dilemma between reality and illusion or in another words thinking illusion as reality still boggles me about living my life. Well all of these sound very complex but trust me the way I look at things are somewhat clearer.

Well, you must be thinking what gibberish is this all! But I can only hope that you reach a point in your life when all of this makes sense.

Well, I don’t think I have answered the question I started the blog with. Because I am still unsure but all I know is I am better equipped to take on another circle of life.

What has your journey been like? Have you ever felt this way before?

 

 

What life was and what life is….

When all that you thought about life, turns out to be a mere illusion

When all that you idolized turns out to be a mere sham

When all that you strictly adhered to, turns out to be mere supposition

When all that you put up on a pedestal, turns out to be a mere perception

When all that materialistic possessions you gathered, turns out to be Ego driven

When all the love you gave and received,  turns out to be a mere commodity

When all the security you gather through job, relationships, turns out to be fear driven

That is when you question your existence, your purpose, your path

That is when you realize that there is more to life

That is when you look inward

That is when you feel one with the universe

That is when you know love is divine

That is when you resonate with the other beings

That is when you JUST BE!

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Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

A trip to scenic Kolukkumalai and Meesapulimalai

With a week left for my friend’ and my birthday, we decided that Munnar is the place to go. We found a decent stay in Suryanelly, 20 km away from the Munnar town, through Airbnb. After an exhausting travel of 14 hours from Bangalore, we reached Munnar only to be welcomed by the lush tea estates and bountiful rains.

A quick breakfast at Saravana Bhavan gave us the energy to get to our home-stay in Suryanelly. We found a warm friendly Share-Auto person who took us to the home-stay  and enlightened us with places to visit in Munnar. The ride was beautiful. The tea estates were a treat to the weary eyes. After a quick picture and two we reached our home-stay. It was more than what we saw in the pictures on Airbnb and we were elated.

We enjoyed rest of the day, lazing around, watching TV, drawing and reading books. The next day we ventured out to explore the Suryanelly town and we had to book a ride to Kolukkumalai tea estate which happens to be the World’s Highest Organic Tea Plantation. We found a very genuine person(a travel guide cum driver) who gave us a short itinerary on the things that can be visited in and around in a day. After much contemplation, we gave a positive nod for him to take us along in his Jeep.

Before heading back to the stay, we explored the nearby tea estates and had a lovely stroll through the scenic roads.

The following morning we left quite early so that we could catch the sunrise at Kolukkumalai mountain range. The ride was pretty eventful as it was a bumpy ride all throughout. We did get a massage naturally.

Well, as we reached the mountain ridge, there the sun was climbing its way up and we were mesmerized by the spectacle. I felt on top of the world to start my birthday filled with wonder. After taking a few shots of the sunrise and the mountain ridges we took to a spicy breakfast as in spicy Maggi noodles and omelette.

Sunrise at Kolukkumalai, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Sunrise at Kolukkumalai

After a while atop the scenic mountains, we hiked to the Meesapulimalai mountain. With winding paths and ridges we made it to the gorgeous peak. We were on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The panoramic views, the gushing wind and the mind boggling silence had us glued to the place. We then trudged back to the jeep.

Scenic tea estates, ShoePenLens, Shwetha Krish
Scenic tea estates

 

 

We went about a tour of tea-making at this beautiful estate. A guide told us about the entire process and also involved us in few of the steps. It was quite heartening and hilarious as well.

At the World's Highest Organic Tea Garden
At the World’s Highest Organic Tea Garden

 

Post lunch, we headed to our home-stay to freshen up. An evening of Kathakali was waiting for us. We were happy to be the curious audience at this program. I had always felt scared seeing those colorful faces on TV as a kid but today I was here, right in front enjoying their performance.

 

After the lovely performance we headed to our stay for a relaxing night by the stars.

The next morning we went towards Thekkady and visited the Spice garden. We were educated on the various benefits of the spices. The short trail in the garden mesmerized us in a spicy way. Later on, we whizzed past lovely bridges between the tea estates.

It was a nice tour and after some shopping we headed for our bus to Bangalore.

Well all in all, it was a beautiful trip where we rejuvenated our tired souls 🙂

The beauty of the mountains spell binds any traveler any day.

Team Indus, a private startup launching a Rover to the Moon this December 2017!

Team Indus, a private startup launching a Rover to the Moon this December 2017!
An Inspiring story to share – Team Indus, a private startup launching a Rover to the Moon this December 2017!
 
Kudos to their indomitable spirit. More about them on my blog post.
 
Hoping for #HarIndiankaMoonshot soon 🙂
 
#TeamIndus #inspiring #ShoePenLens #spacetechnology #aerospacestartup
 

Trek to Kheerganga in the midst of Parvati Valley

Trek to Kheerganga in the midst of Parvati Valley

It has been a year already since the gorgeous Parvati valley happened to me. Situated in Himachal Pradesh, it is one of the beautiful valleys along the mighty Himalayas!

Parvati river along the Parvati Valley, Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Parvati river along the Parvati Valley, Kasol, Himachal Pradesh

The trip to Himachal Pradesh last year was an adventurous one in every way- a road trip across the state, stopping by the scenic woods at Dalhousie, soaking in the serenity at Parashar lake, hiking up the Dhauladhar ranges and Parvati valley with thoroughly enjoying the roar of Parvati across Kasol- ‘Amsterdam of India’, Manikaran and quaint Tosh.

The trek to Kheerganga which is at 9700 feet is a beautiful one. The trek starts from Barshaini, a small town near Manikaran in the Kullu district at a height of about 7200 feet.

The trek of 14 km starts near a hydel project at the confluence of Parvati and Tosh rivers. The trail passes through small villages and cafes.

Confluence of Parvati and Tosh rivers at Barshaini, Himachal Pradesh, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Confluence of Parvati and Tosh rivers at Barshaini, Himachal Pradesh

The vista opens upto the gorgeous Parvati valley lined with pine trees and one can hear the roar of Parvati all along the trail.

After a lemon drink at one of the cafes we( my friend and the guide) hit the trail with a zing of energy.

A lemon drink by the Parvati valley, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
A lemon drink by the Parvati valley

As I saw the last of the villages lined with wheat fields, the trail opened up to a small clearing which happened to be the Rudranag waterfall.

Rudranag waterfall, Kheerganga trail, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
Rudranag waterfall, Kheerganga trail

A small bridge ahead paved way to a steep trail. The woods were spooky yet beautiful. After trudging up the rocky spiral trail amidst the woods which had a fairy-tale wonder to it, we had reached the famous Kheerganga.

The roar of Parvati along the Kheerganga trail, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
The roar of Parvati along the Kheerganga trail

Kheerganga, is a spectacular meadow where Shiva- the Adiyogi happened to have meditated for about 3000 years. The meadow is surrounded by lush green and snow clad mountains.

The hot springs of Kheerganga are best known for their healing properties and there are two separate hot springs area for men and women.

Hot springs at Kheerganga, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
Hot springs at Kheerganga

After a trek of about 3-4 hrs one can relax in the spring and rejuvenate oneself. The meadow is a bit commercialized with camps, cafes and stays. It could turn off any trekker looking for a tranquil space in the mountains.

The camps and stays atop Kheerganga, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
The camps and stays atop Kheerganga

After spending the night in a tent, viewing the splendid mountains, we were off to Barshaini to head to Tosh. More on Tosh at Quaint little Tosh

The view of the mountains from Kheerganga, Shwetha Krish, Shoepenlens
The view of the mountains from Kheerganga

The trail is absolutely beautiful lined with pine trees, serene captivating meadows and that makes this trek all the more worthwhile!

Tadiandamol: Home is where the Mountains are…

Tadiandamol: Home is where the Mountains are…

A good conversation on travel kinda ends up in going for one. Well got to be lucky in a way! Thanks to my fellow travelers.

Tadiandamol was just that, a plan made in a jiffy and lo and behold we were at the cosy coffee estates of Coorg in no time.

After an overnight bus ride from Bangalore to Virajpet, we were ushered by the chill air of the mountains. Our next stop was to Kabbinakad via Napoklu. We got a ride, after a wait of two hours, through beautiful estates and climb up the scenic mountains..

The path leading to Honey Valley, Coorg, Shwetha Krish
The path leading to Honey Valley, Coorg

Our home for the next three days was at Honey valley, at about 4250 feet which turned out to be an haven nestled in the lush coffee estates and forests. The Jeep ride from Kabbinakad to the homestay is an adventurous ride as it takes one through bumpy, slushy and steep curvy paths.

Cottage at Honey Valley, Coorg, Shwetha KRish
Cottage at Honey Valley, Coorg

A light breakfast energized us in no time and, we enjoyed the serene place with just about doing nothing. We strolled a bit along the estate. We found flora, frogs, butterflies and of course 3-4 dogs who were constant companions throughout our stay.

As it rained, we took to the confines of a small balcony facing the mountains and then made to the comforts of our bed. The day ended with card games, chatter with the rains playing a splendid tune.

The next day was slated for our much awaited Tadiandamol trek.

Tadiandamol(Big mountain) is the highest mountain in Coorg at about 5740 ft. It is a part of the Western Ghats range and is the fourth highest mountain in Karnataka state.

Owing to the rains and wild elephants, we had to take on an alternate route much before the Forest Guest house. As we hiked through the forests and winding paths, it felt as if we were the only four on the trail. After 2 kms, we hit upon views which were mesmerizing. The trail through the lush green grasslands were picture perfect. Not to forget the picturesque trail through the thick forests for about a mile. The weather was chill and it was drizzling. Thanks to that we weren’t that exhausted.

The trail, Tadiandamol,Coorg,Shwetha Krish
The trail, Tadiandamol,Coorg

The hike up the last mile was sheer beautiful. With rolling hills all around and the puffy clouds making their way on a beat, made the climb all the more worthwhile. We stayed at the peak for about two hours. We were lucky enough to see the vast greenlands, beautiful valleys, thick forests and curvy ridges when the clouds unveiled the canvas!

The trail ahead-Tadiandamol,coorg, ShwethaKrish
The trail ahead-Tadiandamol trek,coorg

The feeling of being one with nature is quite unexplainable till date. The silence of the mountains, a gusty tune of the winds, the whispers of the grasslands is just too divine.

After a hearty meal, we headed back to the base camp. Just as we got into our Jeep the clouds gave way for a heavy downpour. We paid a visit to the Nalknad Palace, which happened to be hidden between the mountains. It is a very old palace built in 1792 AD and was the last refuge of the Kodagu kings.

We ended our day relaxing, singing and enjoying the rains.

My companion while doing Yoga, Honey Valley Shwetha Krish
My companion while doing Yoga, Honey Valley

Honey Valley estate is very beautiful and obviously away from the humdrum of the city. It was the first homestay in Coorg and started its services way back in 1994. It is surrounded by coffee estates all around along with pepper and cardamom trees. The homestay and the surrounding area is just warmly splendid. One take a peaceful stroll or meditate(which is what we did) or just about enjoy the natural setting.

Honey valley homestay, Coorg, Shwetha Krish
Honey valley homestay, Coorg

After a lovely short stay we left the beautiful Honey Valley estate the next day only to drive back to the city but with renewed energy.

The article is also published on Shwetha Krish Website

Info:

  • Honey Valley is near to Kabbinakad which can be reached by Virajpet via Napoklu. Link: Honey Valley Coorg
  • Bangalore to Virajpet is about 270 kms and has numerous bus services from Bangalore.
  • Tadiandamol is a beginner’s trek, fitness is any day required. Leeches are galore in the monsoon months from June-August. One can wear leech socks or carry enough salt.
  • A guide is needed when one takes the route through the forests especially during the monsoons as wild elephants may meet you on the way.
  • The trail starting from the Forest Guest house is pretty comfortable and can be done without a guide’s assistance.

Well, the joy of being a part-time yogi!

I remember three years back, my first tryst with Yoga turned out to be a sour puss. I used to go to a certified Yoga practitioner in the vicinity. The classes were held in the evenings and I drudged my body twice a week to all the weird poses and stretches. My body ached and mind did wallow in the stillness for at least a while. But, it seemed a boring affair after a month that I quite stopped going all of a sudden. With all due respect to the teacher, I felt Yoga was not for me.

Yoga, PC: Instagram
PC: Instagram

About six months back, I apprehensively went through a course which indulged in Yoga and Meditation too. Quite surprisingly, I took to it like a duck takes to water. Well, maybe I needed to be ready to take on a Guru who would light the path; the path of realization! This happened well in time or should I say at the opportune time for things were clearer from then on.

I write about this not because I want to propagate Yoga or want everyone to take on Yoga, I am sure you are wise enough to decide for yourself!

Adiyogi
My recent visit to Adiyogi, ISHA Yoga Center, Coimbatore, India

I want to put forth a few simple things or thoughts that have changed me for the better over these few months of practising Yoga.

  1. I have felt an amazing sense of freedom irrespective of what my situation is.
  2. Life is beautiful and miraculous; you would agree with me if you have touched upon the inner journey.
  3. We are all travellers on this Earth. Birth and Death are mere pit-stops.
  4. We have come here alone and going out alone; prestige, wealth, fame, societal norms won’t travel with you- they are not important.
  5. All the treasures and answers are within you. Mind and Body are merely there to assist us in the simple transactions of life.
  6. The purpose of life on this Earth- Know Thyself, while you are at it- enjoy what this world offers.
  7. Compassion and humility are the keys for a better life.
  8. An action arising from the very sinews of the Infinite makes way for a more truthful and healthy life.
  9. Being ever engrossed in Sadhana be it the work you do or simple acts of service or just being meditative( your practises, your work, your hobby) gets you on the path of the divine.
  10. Most importantly, live in the moment for this is the now!

I have just mentioned a few thoughts that have ran across my mind now. But there are more subtle and amazing things which I have not expressed as I want and hope this journey for you is as intriguing and mind boggling as it has been for me.

Well bottom line, Yoga has changed me in and out. My whole perception has changed and it has been a significant revelation and it makes me want to enjoy this life to the fullest!

Phew, this International Yoga Day I am talking about the beauty of Yoga and the miracles of life that it augments; I quite cannot believe this 🙂 Well let’s call it a miracle too!

 

Rumiquotessoul

 

Do you practise Yoga? How has been your journey? Enlighten me…..