Posted in Health, Life, Mind and Body, Personal Challenge

Personal Challenge: The Salt Studio in Pasadena

This week I celebrated my one year work anniversary and it dawned on me that I have neglected this blog during that time. I still strive to try something new every day–this job helps–but I haven’t shared my experiences. Now I need to play catch up and write about some of these new experiences and places that I have checked out this past year. I am going to start with The Salt Studio in Pasadena.

It was a year ago when my acupuncturist, Dawna Ara, recommended The Salt Studio to help with my asthma and sinuses. As fate would have it, The Salt Studio was within walking distance from my Pasadena apartment. I called to schedule an appointment and they told me about an open house event where I could reserve a spot for myself and a few friends to come and try out the salt room for free. Of course I booked the appointment and brought three fellow allergy sufferers with me to the open house.

When we arrived, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had imagined it to be like a cave-like sauna with salt on the walls and we would just sit on benches. There were images on the website but I thought they were just stock images. I was happy to learn that I was wrong. The adult salt room is like a relaxed beach setting. There are comfortable reclining chairs and the salt on the ground reminds you of sand on a beach. The lights are dim and there is soft, melodic meditation music that filters throughout the room. One of the owners, Diana, explained the process and described the sensors in the room as well as a hole in the wall where the salt vapors would enter the room. After she answered questions, she closed the door, we reclined and drifted off into 20 minutes of sensory heaven (**note that a normal session is 45 minutes. These sessions were shorter for the open house event).

From that one introductory 20-minute session, I was hooked on salt therapy. It was relaxing. It helped my breathing. It helped my sunburn. It helped me get rid of a sinus headache. I left that open house with a package deal for five sessions to be shared with my friend and her two sons. I also bought a salt inhaler, a salt lamp for my office and some moisturizer. The Salt Studio explains halotherapy (salt therapy) and the benefits on their website.

My friend and I started to go regularly with her 4 year-old and 2-year-old sons. We would conduct our sessions in the kids room. This room is bright and colorful, designed for a playdate at the beach as opposed to the relaxing beach spa in the adult room. They have plenty of toys for the kids (and kid-like adults) to enjoy.

I still frequent The Salt Studio as often as I can and when needed. The 45 minute session in the adult room is heaven on earth. I have gone in there with a sinus headache that would disappear before the end of the session. In addition, they will give you a warm shoulder wrap and a soft, comfy blanket to make your session even more relaxing. I am constantly recommending The Salt Studio to friends and co-workers and I am looking forward to trying out the other services they offer.

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Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Tourism

Personal Challenge: The Bunny Museum

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I am still doing my personal challenge to try something new every day (not every thing is worth writing about).  Today, I saw a posting about The Bunny Museum in Pasadena.  It would be open from 3-6pm.  Since this was on my list of strange things to do in Los Angeles, I decided now would be the time to check it out.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t too far from my apartment in Pasadena.  And apparently I wasn’t the only one interested in checking out this museum today.  It was pretty packed with families, tourists and bunny aficionados.

The Bunny Museum is located inside the private home of Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski.  You can’t miss the house.  There is a bunny fence and a giant bunny shrubbery that looks like it was carved by Edward Scissorhands.

They do have several real bunnies hopping around the house filled floor to ceiling with bunny artifacts of all kinds.  Some were cute, some funny and some that might give you nightmares.  This has to be the world’s largest bunny collection.

They have open houses on every holiday where the entrance fee is $5 per person, children under age 4 are free.  You can also call to schedule an appointment any day of the year.

But if you are not sure if this one-of-a-kind museum is worth a look-see, just listen to Elijah Wood.  He created several TV Spots for The Bunny Museum via Funny or Die.  Or check out their website for more information by clicking here.  If you are anything like me and you are curious about the unusual attractions in a tourist trap like Los Angeles, I would recommend checking out The Bunny Museum at least once.  Add it to your travel Bucket List.

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/e84316bcda/the-bunny-museum-tv-ad-with-elijah-wood

Posted in Entertainment, Life, Music, Personal Challenge

PasadenArt Weekend

This weekend is a celebration of Art, Food and Entertainment here in Pasadena.  Known as PasadenArt Weekend, a series of events focusing on art, entertainment and food kicks off tonight with ArtNight.  For more information, check out the websites for PasadenArt Weekend, ArtNight, Art of Food, ArtWalk and the ArtRhythm.

Last year, as I started my mission of trying something new every day, I attended this yearly celebration.  I wound up a little disappointed and frustrated with my choices for ArtNight. You can read what I wrote about my experiences during last year’s ArtNight here.

The following day held my favorite part of the Weekend activities, the Art of Food event at the South Lake District Farmers’ Market.  I enjoyed it so much that I missed the ArtWalk event that also took place that day.  Read my take on last year’s Art of Food here.

I missed the majority of the ArtRhythm event that took place on the final day so I guess that is something that I will have to check out this year.

Posted in Southern California

Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, TODAY April 27th

I know I haven’t written a post in a while …. life happened.  But for anyone who is in the Los Angeles or Pasadena area, today is the annual Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, starting at 11am.  I am going to try to make it down there to check it out since I have never been to this parade before.  For more information, check out their website.

And I promise I will write more later.

Posted in Life, Personal Challenge, Spirituality

Ichima & Shambhala: Personal Challenge, Day 109 (1.3.13)

This morning I woke up with incredibly sore abdominal muscles.  I never even broke a sweat yesterday during yoga but I must have gotten one hell of a workout because I am feeling it today.  So I had to change my original plans of hiking a new trail to something a little less active.

With a craving for sushi, I decided to check out Ichima in Pasadena.  I usually see a packed parking lot every time I drive past it on my way to Ralph’s but I have never stopped in to check it out.

When I walked in, there was no one there to greet me and no menus to look at.  I was just planning on ordering take-out and I am very glad that I checked out the menu online because I was never offered one inside.  Someone finally came over to assist me and when I said I wanted take-out, they simply asked me what I wanted.  Not knowing the complete menu, I just went with staples like the teriyaki chicken, miso soup and a sushi roll.  They instantly corrected my order, “Oh, you want Bento box combo.”  I had no idea what that meant but sure.  He said it included the chicken, rice, salad, miso soup and sushi.  Perfect.  I waited for about 10-15 minutes and I was on my way.  Overall, it was pretty good.  The sushi was OK but I still think that Sushi Dan is the best sushi in town.

After Ichima, it was off to the Shambhala Meditation Center of Los Angeles.  On Thursday nights at 7:30pm, they offer Intro talks free to the public.  Since I enjoyed the meditation session and video on New Year’s Eve, I thought it would be a good idea to check out the scheduled talk about the healthy mind, healthy body and healthy community.  The speaker, Jon Ransohoff, is a senior student who spoke more about meditation, contemplation and the need for a healthy community.  There were many people who were first timers at the Meditation Center and a few others who were there for the second time, like me.  Jon began with an introduction to the Shambhala meditation techniques.  I had learned the techniques on my first visit but was happy for the review and to hear another instructor’s perspective.  He then lead us into contemplation meditation, a first for me.  Then we partnered up to discuss our contemplation, practicing healthy communication and active listening skills.  Aside from meditation, Jon mentioned that being an honest communicator and active listener can create better relationships with the other members of our community, our friends, our family and our partners/spouses/significant others.

All in all, it was an interesting and “enlightening” evening.  Now I am just going to do some stretches and take a hot bath to soothe my sore muscles.

Posted in Endometriosis, Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Spirituality

Learning Self-Awareness Through Yoga: Personal Challenge, Day 108 (1.2.13)

A while back, my acupuncturist, Dawna Ara, mentioned I should check out The Awareness Center in Pasadena during my personal challenge to try something new every day.  She mentioned that they practice Kundalini Yoga and that it could help me with the effects of Endometriosis.

A year and a half ago, my doctor realized that I was compensating for my Endo pain on my left side by favoring my right side.  My balance was off and over time, my right side became so much stronger than my left.  In fact, I couldn’t even balance on my left leg any longer and I was even walking differently.  I had started physical therapy but it was too costly.  Plus, my physical therapist had me doing the majority of the exercises on my own.  I was actually using my Wii and Yoga training through the Wii Fit.  But after my car accident last May, I stopped working on my Endo pain therapy and had to spend months focusing on recovering from my injuries on my neck and back.  Now that my neck and back are doing better, I can go back to focusing on my Endo management.  (I also need to work on losing the weight I gained from the depression following my accident).  Since Yoga was helping before, I figured I could start doing it again.  But this time, instead of only using my Wii and at home Yoga DVDs, I decided I would try out some classes.

Following Dawna’s advice, I went to The Awareness Center website to learn more about the Kundalini style of yoga.  According to the site, the history of this particular type of yoga is as follows:

Kundalini yoga is considered the most comprehensive system of yoga at is combines meditation, prayer, asana (physical postures), and pranayama (breathing exercises). “Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” This poetic metaphor refers to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, enabling us to merge with the Universal Self. Yoga, literally translated as “divine union”, happens when the individual and universal consciousness are merged. The Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism that date back to the fifth century B.C., provided a written description of Kundalini, although the oral tradition dates back even further. For thousands of years, this sacred science and technology was veiled in secrecy, passed along in the oral tradition from master to chosen disciple.

Kundalini Yoga was never taught publicly until Yogi Bhajan, Ph. D. challenged the age-old tradition of secrecy. In his compassionate wisdom, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969. Since then, it has spread all over the world. He wrote, “I am sharing these teachings to create a science of the total self…It is the birthright of every human being to be healthy, happy and holy.” The master of Kundalini Yoga, and head of the Sikh faith for the Western Hemisphere, Yogi Bhajan also founded 3HO (The Healthy, Happy, and Holy Organization), a worldwide non-profit foundation that offers classes in Kundalini Yoga, meditation, vegetarian nutrition, and healthy life choices.

Kundalini Yoga was designed for the householder: those who live in the world, who have families and jobs, and who want to balance the inner and outer world. Kundalini Yoga fits the busy lives that most of us lead. It is effective, efficient and easy. People who practice Kundalini Yoga say they can feel changes in the body and psyche within a few minutes, and experience even deeper changes through regular practice. Although it can be practiced religiously each day, yoga is not a religion. A more accurate description of yoga would be to say that it is an ancient science.

The Awareness Center
Our mission is to provide you with a practice and technology to feel comfortable in your
body, connected and expressed in relationships, fulfilled in your life’s work and at
peace with yourself. Through Kundalini yoga and meditation as well as many other transformational practices, we are here to inspire, uplift and empower you.

Established in 1974, the Awareness Center began as a 3HO ashram in Altadena, run by founders Dr. Santokh and Suraj Khalsa. Everyone remembers the big white house on the top of New York Drive. It has been through many changes over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant is the offering of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation to the Pasadena community. Anyone who has visited the center knows that The Awareness Center is a family. It still evokes a comfortable feeling of “home”, a feeling that leads students to deeper states of relaxation and renewal. The Awareness Center affirms that by using the body and mind through exercise, breath, and meditation, you can balance and revitalize your nerves and glands, clear past blocks, and bring harmony and peace to your life.

The Awareness Center is now owned and operated by Wahe Guru Kaur/Gisela Powell. She is committed to honoring the wisdom and teachings from the past and to expanding our Kundalini Yoga family well into the future.

The Awareness Center is located on Foothill Blvd, just east of Daisy.  I actually passed the building when I first arrived and then struggled to find parking, making me late for my first class.  But now I know, for the future, that there is two-hour free parking on Daisy and the neighborhood streets just north of Foothill.

Class had already begun when I arrived but I was escorted into the Yoga room and quickly set up my mat, trying my best not to disturb anyone.  I was able to step right into the warm-up exercises.  During the relaxation time before exercises, the Instructor, Helen, came over to welcome me and give me a quick introduction.  She told me that Kundalini Yoga isn’t about perfection or competition.  It is very loving and forgiving, you just do your personal best.  There is no judgement, just a chance to relax and get to know yourself better.  The class represented all levels of yoga and we could adjust it to meet our own needs.

This particular class had a lot of abdominal work.  During some of the floor exercises, I became very aware that my left side is still incredibly weak compared to my right side.  I struggled with some of the leg lifts, realizing I really need to get back to my Endo therapy.  This class definitely helped.

When class ended, Helen came over again to talk with me and tell me more about her classes.  She said that every class is different.  There are so many different poses, stretches, and exercises in Kundalini Yoga that no class is ever exactly the same.  Being a Libra who easily gets bored doing the same thing over and over again, I really liked the fact that each class would be different.  I also liked the whole non-judgemental vibe.  You didn’t have to worry if you couldn’t stretch as far as the others or that you were struggling when others were not.  Everyone was focused on their own exercises.  It was a very relaxing and welcoming environment.

I am definitely going to return and continue taking yoga classes at The Awareness Center.

Posted in Exploration, Holidays, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Tourism

The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade: Personal Challenge, Day 107 (1.1.13)

TOR_2013_RP_THEME_POSTER_WEBSince this was my first Christmas and New Years in Southern California, I figured I should participate in an annual SoCal New Year’s Day tradition, the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.  I have watched the parade on television since I was a child and this would be my first experience with the live, in-person parade viewing experience.  My California sister goes every year so she served as my tour guide.

For most parade-goers, camping out for premiere spots along the parade route on Colorado seems to be the norm.  There were campers, tents, even inflatable beds lining the streets of downtown Pasadena.  But according to my California sister, there is a better tradition among the locals that allows you to sleep in and catch the beginning of the parade on TV.

Around 9am, we left our Altadena homestead and drove down a few blocks to a nearby neighborhood.  We then walked over to Sierre Madre Blvd and made our way to an area that serves as the last block or so of the parade route.  When we arrived, People were still setting up lawn chairs.  The parade officially began at 8am but we managed to get settled just in time for the start of the parade in this particular area.  So even though it was packed and there were some “turf” battles going on, I was happy being in a less chaotic area than the main parade viewing area on Colorado.

Being at the end of the route actually turned out to be a great idea.  We saw every float pass by, every band perform, and all the countless others involved in the parade (including the pooper scoopers who we cheered for every time a group of horses passed by).  It was amazing how some of the bands even picked up a little momentum realizing they only had to march for one more block.

And of course it was amazing to see the Grand Marshall, Dr. Jane Goodall.  This wasn’t the first time I had seen Dr. Goodall in person.  I met her back during my days at USC when I took an anthropological class where she came to speak.  We read her books and watched countless videos of her research on Chimpanzees.  She looked amazing and is just as inspiring as ever.  In fact, she even inspired me to watch her most recent documentary on Netflix, Jane’s Journey, when I returned home after the parade.

Overall, it was an awesome experience that I will never forget.  I’m not sure if I could brave the crowds every year but it would be fun to go again using the same idea to start at the end of the parade route.  Though my California sister did say that I should do the “camping out on Colorado” tradition at least once.  We’ll see.  I think that would be something that would be a lot more fun if I could convince friends to do it with me, a little creepy if I do it alone.  But who knows what the future holds (besides a few hours to be spent on my parade pictures, which I will post as soon as I am done).

Happy 2013!!