Sweet cave homes along the train route to Xi’an.

Shaanxi Provence is home to ancient cave villages!

When we woke up on the train we had the chance to see a few cave homes passing by our window. And some great examples of earth bermed green house gardens!!

(Cave articlelink to cave pictures)

When we got off the train it was pouring rain. Luckily our hotel was only two blocks away! We stayed here. (Xi’an hotel link) The hotel was in a great location for exploring Xi’an and it was such a relief to have a nice room to shower off our train ride and just unwind and relax a bit. Xi’an had a very good vibe and we really enjoyed exploring the city.

A tough day trudging through the rain due to mom getting us on the wrong bus!!

Our stay in Xi’an was short but sweet.  We loved our hotel.  it was close to the train station, metro line, and the bus line that takes you to the Terra-Cotta warriors. ( just be sure to go to the East Side of the train station)  We had a little mis-hap the day we decided to go see the warrior dig. We had read about the bus and it seemed we knew (ok I thought I knew) which bus we needed to take. It was pouring rain so the decision to jump on board was a bit rushed. After about 30 min of riding the bus and checking our position on google maps we realized there was no way this bus was going where we thought it was going. We decided to get off and walk to the nearest metro station to get us back in the vicinity of our hotel. We ended up having to walk about a mile through Xi’an in the pouring rain. After our 2 hour detour through the city we managed to find ourselves back at our origin. We realized the buses to take us to the Terra-Cotta Warrior site would be on the east side of the train station. We jumped on the correct bus and were at the Warriors within the hour. Considering our detour and long walk through the rain I wasn’t sure the kids were going to be up pushing on, but they were great. And once we arrived here was the view…

 

Seeing the Warriors was a highlight of our time in Xi’an. Experiencing ancient history uncovered and brought to life was awesome.   The history of our world always manages to humble me. I have only recently become a fan of history and the stories of the world. But understanding how the world of humans was shaped helps me understand and accept our seemingly endless pattern of evolution and destruction. The quote ‘those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it’ seems to ring true the more history I read. One thing that gives me hope when observing the patterns of history is the gift of yoga.

I am enjoying the study of yoga philosophy and its transmutation over land and time through the teachings of Buddha and quite possibly Jesus. It is really interesting to watch the evolution and personalization of philosophy and religion in different parts of the world. Being able to view the present through the eye of the past allows me to gain perspective and hope for the future. We can learn to make better decisions for ourselves and for our species if we are willing to take the time to study our own self, to understand our fears, hopes and dreams and to realize we are not so different from those we dislike nor from those people of thousands of years past. If you are curious about mythology and whether your story is ‘unique’ to the world have a look at this list.    It is just a quick glance at some of the Universal Myths that many of us are familiar with. 10 Universal Myths Link

And that ends our time in China. We had a nice uneventful train ride back to Beijing and transition through the Beijing train station. We hired a taxi to take us to our airport hotel and we were up and heading off for our flight to Bali at 2.30AM. Unfortunately Vivian had contracted a cold virus and was not feeling well. While we were in the baggage check in line she had to throw up and threw up again in the security line and then again once on the plane. Luckily, she is well practiced in the art of throwing up, she was a real trooper. Hopefully she is the only one who gets this cold ……

Until next time.

                  Stay present,

            and enjoy!

Yogatravelmomma

                               

中國北京

Beijing, China

Until next time,

Stay Present!

and Enjoy.

Yogatravelmomma

 

My experience entering the country of China was exhilarating and terrifying. I had many nightmares leading up to our China travels. I talked to many people who had traveled to China and I read a lot of reviews from travelers. I knew we would have a great time and be blown away by the history,  be facing massive amounts of people, traveling independently we would have little trouble if we stuck to seeing the ‘big tourist’ locations, and we would probably get stared at a bit.  When we landed I was feeling uneasy, but hopeful I could face this beast and find the joy that lies in exploring this powerful place in the world. The history of China is so ancient, complex and vast it is hard to wrap my head around. As we entered the baggage claim teeming with people I had to step back and work to breathe. To my surprise Leo (the shy one) had no problem finding his way to the front of the baggage mob to retrieve our bags. Nice.  I knew traveling would challenge us to open up and learn in different ways. It was great to see Leo stepping up and taking charge of his personal space. I relaxed a bit and realized it wasn’t all on me, we were in this together. And the learning taking place was going to happen in ways I wouldn’t have expected. 

Our hotel was located in the center of Chengdu (link to our hotel) , within the first ring, and it had a wonderful old but updated sense. The neighborhood we were in was right across the street from one of the most popular Sichuan Opera venues and the street was lined with the old style Chinese architecture. (Hutong information)   Mind you the buildings are relatively new, but it was fun to see the old style Hutongs are still in existence amongst the giant high rise buildings and large chain hotels. The Hutongs are old and come with some of the problems with aging buildings (if own a home you can imagine) they are a unique and dying part of a new modern world. Often run by families for generations it is becoming harder and harder to compete with big chains.                     (Hutong article)

Over the next few days we managed to find a city park, use the subway and even ride a public bus. When we talked to the kids at the hotel front desk about riding the bus to the Panda sight they looked at us like we were crazy. But from what I had read others had made the journey with their children via public transportation so I thought if they can so it, so can we! And we managed, but it was a bit scary and I was extremely grateful to have my iPhone with maps!! 

The highlight of our time in Chengdu was definitely the Panda Research Base. It was much larger and well developed than I had imagined. We spent about 5 hours wondering around. The day was rainy and cool and the pandas were mostly outside. We managed to catch the keepers feeding a few of them which was quite entertaining. The pandas were adorable! And really were a blast to see in person. After our day exploring Pandas we returned via public transportation. We manage to travel during rush hour and got smashed in the subway. We opted to get off the subway which meant a 2mile walk back to our hotel. It was exhilarating and exhausting. 

As we ended our time in Chengdu I felt a bit more at ease, but still very much on guard. I enjoyed getting out to see the sights but felt so relieved to get back to our room where I felt I could let down my guard for a moment. Then I would panic about what to do if there was an earth quake. (and there was one after we left!!) I woke up one night and had to locate the consulate on the map. I oriented that place and realized we could walk there. I was able to go back to sleep. The interest in my children by strangers, especially my daughter had my stomach in knots. I didn’t feel threatened but I couldn’t help feeling overly protective. I was very aware of our being ‘foreign’ and I felt vulnerable and often a bit scared. This isn’t a bad/good comment simply a reflection of how I felt. It made me wonder how many people feel that way in the world. Unsafe, unwanted, foreign….  It reminded me of the need to extend my smile and my heart no matter what. There is no knowing what people are going through.  The sense of relief and well being that came when one person was willing to look me in the eye and extend a smile was priceless. I felt hopeful. I felt like it might be possible to survive if one person was willing to help us. It was a poignant reminder of my humanity, my vulnerability, and the power of kindness.

Links to our Travel Destinations

Sichuan Opera

We had a great time at the opera! It is like a variety show where many different acts come up on stage to do a performance. There was a really fun variety of shows and the kids really enjoyed the entire performance. We would definitely reccommend for families and it is not necessary to get a seat in front all the seats seemed quite good.

Giant Buddha at Leshan

This sight is an hours drive from Chengdu. It is surprisingly expensive to do the hike and boat ride. We had to choose one so we opted to do the boat ride. It was an awesome site to behold. I wish we would have had the money and energy to do the hike as well. Maybe next time…

 

Sichuan Museum

This free museum had enough to entertain and educate us on some of the history of the Sichuan province. Chengdu has it’s origins as a stop along the ancient silk road trade route. Reading a bit about that history tells me although the appearance and locations may change their is much similarity in our lives today as with our fellow human beings living here 5,000 years ago.

I love history.

 

We are off to Beijing!

Until next time…

 

Stay present and

 

Enjoy the moment!

 

Yogatravelmomma

 

“We are fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance”
Japanese Proverb

 

Kionsakionsen

Things I love…

  • Clean air, beautiful green mountains and harmonious architecture 
  • Organization
  • A social contract that requires you are aware how your every action will affect those around you
  • the blend of old and new, elderly on bikes, moms with babies on bikes, and wonderful food…
  • Toilets with heated seats and bum washers!
  • Trendy unique women’s fashion!

Things that are hard…

  • Figuring out which side of the sidewalk I should be walking on 
  • Ordering the food I want without using a picture
  • My complete lack of language skills
  • Feeling like I am breaking some kind of rule every time I turn around

 

 

 

 

Going International…

As we got on the plane for our flight to Japan I was in the red zone on the anxiety scale. All those months of planning and reading were going to be put to the test. Would we make it through the airport and manage to find our hotel!! Do we have the proper documents? Will we manage to find our way! What in the world are we going to eat!!

Well, my anxieties have been put to rest. Travel in Japan is seriously a breeze.  If you enjoy organization and logic the way Japan is laid out will make your heart sing. The food is wonderful and easy to come by in restaurants or the local 7-11. 

We have seen a few of the temples in Kyoto and managed to take the train to Nara and Kinosakionsen. I won’t bore you with descriptions of how beautiful and amazing everything seems to be, but I will say if you have the opportunity to travel to Japan, DO IT! 

 

More Pictures and Videos here..  

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Japan Favorites

Kinosakionsen

Spa Hopping

“This sweet little mountain town offers 7 different hot springs to enjoy. They are all within walking distance and there are lovely little shops, pubs, and  restaurants along the way to refresh yourself. Check it out here

Kinosakionsen

Nara

Deer and Giant Buddah

“This is most likely the kids favorite place in Japan so far. They are in love with feeding and petting the deer of Nara. I find it a bit annoying to have deer chasing me and pooping everywhere, but once I witnessed the joy and happiness the deer brought the children I got on board. And I love giant the giant Buddha 

More on Nara

RAN Kyoto

Traditional Music Variety show

“We found this gem shopping the Tripadvisor website forums. Although on a Monday night the crowd was  small the artists managed to put on a great show. Leo got up on stage to have a go at some traditional drumming! I loved the flute music. We also learned one instrument was made of ‘cat leather. Yikes!”

Here is a link to more about RAN

Kiyomizudera

 

Kyoto Sites

“There are so many wonderful sites to visit in Kyoto. We have only scratched the surface and honestly the kids can only handle so many temples. I guess we will have to do it a second time. If I can swing it we will be sure to come back in the fall to see the colors and festivals.”

Here is a great resource for travel in Kyoto

Inside Kyoto

 

Hawaii was not on my list…

I had been to Hawaii and so had Eric. We thought is was a nice place to visit but we were not convinced it was a ‘must see’ when traveling the world. Our children felt differently. They had heard so many stories about being able to swim in the ocean without wetsuits and how lovely it all was they insisted we stop.   So I said sure. O’ahu it is! 

I didn’t want to be in the city so we found a quiet older condo on the east coast of the North Shore. For our requirements it was fantastic. We bought groceries and made all of our meals. We have only splurged for shave ice, fresh coconut water, macadamia nuts, and chocolate. No ‘excursions’ were made that cost money. We were blissfully happy to walk out front of the condo and swim. Snorkel gear was provided along with boogie boards. We have a rental car and have just enjoyed exploring the island, hiking, swimming, and absorbing the aloha that seems to be infused in the air.

Hawaii has found a place in my heart.   We mostly insulated ourselves and found time to just be. I did not do much yoga asana, but found time to do savasana daily. Savasana is translated corpse pose. To me this means the deepest kind of relaxation. Letting your mind, body and spirit to rest in the place between wake and sleep.

It is the kind of rest I needed after all we have done these past 8 months.

 

 

Tomorrow the adventure continues as we take our first international flight. We land in Tokyo at 5pm on a Friday. I am sure it won’t be too busy! 😉  Luckily I thought through that one and booked a hotel at the airport for the first night. The next day we will be ready to organize our JR Rail travel and head to Kyoto. I hope to be able to hold some of the calm peaceful feeling I have right now. A week in Hawaii is good medicine. I will be holding this place in my heart. Mahalo Hawaii for supporting my savasana. 

 

I hope if you are reading this and you feel like you could use some Aloha in your life….and you can’t quite swing a trip to Hawaii then make the effort to clear a space in your life for some savasana.  Find a time to play some really nice calming music or a background of ocean waves crashing, fire up the diffuser with a lovely calming scent (or a nice candle), find a spot on the floor to lie down (not your bed you don’t want to fall asleep), and allow yourself to just be, to just breathe, to feel your body laying down and resting, let the sound of the ocean and the smell infuse your being.  Allow yourself a moment to just be…. It is not only nice to do, it is necessary and it is one of the most important parts of yogic practice. You have been doing and doing and doing all day no need to practice more doing, practice being…. your body, mind and spirit deserve this kind of care. 

 

Until next time!!

 

Stay present,

 

Yogatravelmoma

 

It is time to fly.

The past 8 weeks have flown by! In that time we traveled to Colorado to see family, bought a house and moved all of our possessions to Nebraska, had weekends at the lake, drove across South Dakota for a wedding and managed to settle in to our new home and community. It has also been filled with days of reading about traveling abroad, booking and unbooking and rebooking hotel rooms, train trips, guides for driving us and many other interesting travel agent duties. I have had my share of anxiety and sleepless nights over our itinerary and how to make sure we enjoy our travels and remains safe. It is a challenge I have enjoyed on days and resented on other days. Similar to the practice of yoga, setting the foundation takes patience and work, but once you find some solid ground the play and exploration can begin. It is time to fly…

 

 

Whew!!

I am ready to travel around the world

So where are we off to first?? 

Check it out…..

Oahu

The kids are super excited to be kicking off this adventure with a stop in Hawaii. They have dreamed of swimming in ocean water without a wetsuit! We are looking forward to relaxing on the beach, exploring the island hiking trails, and of course some snorkeling. Not to mention authentic shaved ice and kona coffee!

As we travel I will post to social media using 

#yogatravelmommaoahu

 

 

Kyoto

We had to choose one place in Japan to center our travels and we chose Kyoto. It has so much history and beauty to explore. We will be using the JR Rail pass so we will have the opportunity to explore other areas close by…like the onsens (hot springs) of Kinosaki the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo and the temples of Nara. And the rest of the time we will be roaming the streets of Kyoto and stuffing ourselves with noodles and sushi!!

As we travel I will post to social media using 

#yogatravelmommakyoto

 

CHINA

Chengdu/Beijing

We kick off our tour of China in Chengdu where we will visit the Panda Bear Research Center, the Leshan Buddha, and take in a changing faces opera. Chengdu is also famous for its wonderful hot pot meals. Lets see how we do at exploring new spicy foods! In Beijing we will take in the many awesome temples including the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. We are also planning to see Xian via overnight train and the famous Terra-cotta Warriors.

As we travel I will post to social media using 

#yogatravelmommachina

BAli

REst and REcover

I am super excited about our touring of Japan and China, but I am already looking forward to the rest and down time we have planned in Bali. This is where I hope to energize my yoga asana practice and dive a bit deeper into  history and philosophy. This will be the time to slowly explore and catch up on our school work, writing,  reading, and possibly naps. We plan to spend a majority of our time in Ubud.

As we travel I will post to social media @

#yogatravelmommabali

 

 

 

And that will take us up to Christmas Day!

I will do my best to update this blog weekly!!

Please comment below with any questions you have or aspects of travel that you are curious to know more about. I will do my best to answer below or I will write posts to answer the questions you have. I would love to know what you are curious about…

Stay tuned.

&

Until Next Time….

 

Stay Present!

 

 

yogatravelmomma

 

We decided to try out our travel legs!

We are drove 2,800 miles in 12 days and traveled through 7 states.

South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, (a bit of) Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin,Minnesota, and back to South Dakota!!

A lot of the drive looked like this

And some of it like this…

Thoughout the trip we were surrounded by family and friends who gave us love and support which is imperative when you are drifting and homeless and on a bit of an Odyssey.  The kids had a chance to meet a lot of friends, family, and see a lot of country.

 

 State of Mind

It feels like we have been at this for awhile, but in reality we are just at the beginning of this adventure. So far things are good, but I can tell you after we returned from our 12 day road trip the excitement and adrenaline of all the moving, travel and planning wore thin and I was exhausted. I felt lost and scared and completely adrift.  I felt like I had made a huge mistake. I felt like I had asked too much of my family. I felt like an idiot and I couldn’t remember why we were doing what we were doing? What are we doing? Why are we doing this? What is this all for???? Why am I putting my kids, my husband, my pets, and my parents through all this stress!! I felt selfish and irresponsible.

As you might guess, it had been many days since I had done yoga. The longer I went without my practice the more the ugly feelings grew, and grew. Luckily I didn’t fall too far down the hole. I managed to find a morning or two to practice. My dad took me to a yoga class and I remembered to breathe. I sat and listened and then I knew what I needed to do. We drove to the place where we were considering planting our roots and started looking for places to live. This was not how I thought it would go. This was not the ‘plan’ I had laid out last month, but it is what needed to happen.

 We all need a place in the world to call home. For the past month I have overwhelmed my brain with all the possibilities in the world we could possibly decide to call ‘home’. My dreams and fantasies ran wild and free across the 3,000 miles we travelled. We could live there,,…or there….or there……or there….. or……. All the possibilities were wonderful and it was driving me crazy.

We went through the process of considering options and weighing the potentials with the realities of our current state of being. Then we drove to my dear friend Kim’s house where we were offered shelter, friendship and laughter. We again found ourselves surrounded by friends and family who shared themselves and their space so openly. Our kids ran and played in the country air and we sat to talk and catch up with old friends and elders. We took in the open space and the clean air and just took time to breathe. We left feeling refreshed and more optimistic about our choices.

For the sake of my children, my family, and my own sanity I made a decision to commit to a place in the world. It helps to have solid ground to stand on when you are jumping across a chasm. For some people traveling around the world with two children sounds fun, to others terrifying, and to some plain impossible.  I have a mix of all three of those feelings. I know it will be amazing and I know we will face challenges. We don’t really know how the trip will change us or how we will feel when we return, but I do know we will have a home and right now that makes all the difference.  Today I am sending love and prayers out to all those in the world who don’t have a home to call their own, who are adrift and wandering and feeling hopeless. I am staying present and thankful for this life and all the opportunities we have to live and share this adventure, and that we are blessed to have a place to call home.  And i hope you do too…

 

Until next time….

 

Stay Present!

 

Shauna

 

 

Until next week.

Stay present!

Shauna

 

It is snowing in May. What have we done? What were we thinking? How is this going to work? That is where my mind went this past week.  We had the opportunity to sink in and rest for a few days in a cabin we were gifted by my parents at Willow Springs Cabins near Hill City, SD. We were very grateful for the time to relax and unwind. The cabin was adorable and the surrounding woods were rich with the sounds, smells and visual delights of the forest. Here have a look……

During our 2 day stay I had the opportunity to reflect on all that had transpired the past 5 months and all we had in front of us for the next year. Frankly, it scared the *&^% out of me. This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. Once again Mother Nature is able to empathize best. It is spring,  flowers are blooming and it is snowing. What?! It is exactly how I feel. I am bursting with the energy and growth of a Spring day, and yet I feel the potential for a hard freeze at any moment. The fact that the snow fell gently and soon melted away helped to ease my discomfort and fear. ( a good hike in the woods and some rose tea with coloring also helped) This journey is sure to have it’s ups and downs. I imagine we will have our share of surprises, but what I have to remember is when it is all said and done the memory of the moments  we share together will be beautiful, even if it is snowing in May.

The drive from California to South Dakota takes about 22 hours of solid driving. Of course when you are traveling with two children, two dogs, and a cat it can feel like 22 days.  Driving that long is a kind of  meditation. As we left the Bay Area I felt my mind relax a bit, mostly in coordination with the level of traffic on the road. The Sierras are still covered with snow, the air was fresh and crisp and my mind went down another notch. As we drove across the expansive flats of the Nevada desert my mind expanded and relaxed even more. The possibilities of life and what might be lay before me and all around. I imagined the many thousands of years of peoples who had traveled this same route. Some of those people were seeking adventure, some new opportunities, some escaping, and others just trying to find a way to survive. 

The open landscape of the Nevada desert gives way to the massive expanse of the Utah Salt Flats. (read more about salt flats here Utah Salt Flats) My daughter and I observed the water lines on the mountains and realized we were driving across the bottom of an ancient lake. It made me consider the age of the earth and how small, young, and tender the existence of the human race. Again my mind expanded to consider where I may have come from and where my molecules may go when this body can no longer hold my spirit. 

Once we made it to Salt Lake City the mountains appeared as a salvation. Hope for a more varied and complex life. I was eager to see more variety of shape and color on the landscape. As we left the Wasatch mountain range behind us and entered western Wyoming another vast expanse of prairie and plan opened before us. We headed north towards Casper Wyoming and stopped at Independence Rock to see the remnants of the tracks left by the Oregon Trail more often referred to as the Emigrant Trail. A vivid reminder that just a mere 200 years ago European Emigrants were making there way hopefully across this great nation to try and start a better life for themselves and their children. Thousands crossed and many died while in search of a place in this world to find a place to ‘be’.  (click here to read more about  Independent Rock/Emigrant Trail )  We climbed to the top of the rock to feel the 50mph winds trying to blow us away and realized you must have strength, courage, and roots to make it in this part of the world.

We were welcomed by a warm meal and friendship in Casper, Wyoming where my sister Briahna lives and had dinner ready and waiting for us. It felt so good to have family nourishing us and offering to let us rest and fuel up for the last 4 hours of our voyage. With a mug of coffee we headed out again across more expansive prairie. We were 2 hours from our destination when we had to make a final turn to the East. Looming on the horizon was a massive storm cell. 

We drove parallel to it and I started to feel a bit nervous. I grew up in the mid-west and I know that weather and mother nature are not to be taken for granted. We didn’t have cell service and I could not find a radio station. I looked at the massive system with lightening flashing every second and thought ‘what the hell are we doing?’ are we going to drive into that???? I stopped the car and asked Eric what he thought and he said are you crazy, let’s go! He figured it couldn’t be any worse than the blizzard we made it through at Christmas.  Ok then “Let’s do it!”

I have never in all my years in Nebraska seen a lightening storm like the one we drove through. The lightening flashed and struck down continuously for over an hour. I did a lot of chanting and praying and just kept on driving. We made it to the other side of the lightening storm about Hot Springs, SD and I thought ok we made it! One hour to go!! That is when the rain started, and not just a sprinkle. It was a down pour and it was like slush (luckily not hail!!) and again I had to work on breathing and staying calm and focused on the road in front of me. Presence, pure, sweet, and exhilarating.

About 10 miles from our destination the weather abated. The skies cleared and we landed safely in the arms of our home for the next 3 months. Dad and Becky were waiting for us with the lights on and doors open. We  made our way to our beds and crashed. 

It is just the beginning of our journey, but it was memorable and significant. I am often awed by the power of nature and her ability to present opportunities to see our inner journey reflected in the natural world.  This beginning reminded me that our journey this year will be full of many experiences.  And I know there will be fears to overcome, but I also know that if I just keep breathing and stay present and awake we will make it to the other side.  I also know that having a co-pilot who helps me see the beauty and excitement is priceless. Where I saw something scary Eric saw something beautiful and awe-inspiring. With his encouragement and faith I was able to see it too, even though I was scared I could experience the beauty and awesomeness of the moment. I think it bodes well for our coming year and all the adventures we have in front of us.

Till next week!

Stay Present,

Shauna

PS – the pictures of the salt flats and lightening are borrowed – I was too busy driving!!