Marrakech

Orange trees…purple flowers… birds singing… beautiful gardens

Spices…herbs for nutrition…terracotta

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B-R-I-G-H-T-O-N

In  only a 45 minute easy train ride from London, you reach Brighton, where the old time charm of an English beach resort and the once thriving entertainment hotspot of the 1920s collides with today’s cutting-edge indie culture. Come into town and explore the winding streets framed by Victorian-era white homes and vibrantly painted doors where all roads lead to the sea…

Beach and Sunshine

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Ok, ok, we are still talking about the UK here, the land notorious for its grey skies, constant rain, and chilly winds.  But if the sun is trying its best to peek through the grey clouds in the London sky, you better believe it’s shining bright in the UK’s favorite beach city. The beach is Brighton. And Brighton is the beach.  Anywhere in town, deafening but welcomed sounds of seagull caws start before dawn and the fresh sea breeze reaches far and wide to leave the taste of salt on your lips.

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But it’s most beautiful in the dark winter, when deserted and ignored, for that is when existing where the earth meets the sea is most profound.

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Brighton’s western pier, now just a skeleton,  floats out at sea.  It’s nostalgia for once being the epicenter of the whirling entertainment scene in the 20s but no longer after a fire,  still emits its larger-than-life energy in its bold iron existence. Today, slackliners and the like practice their skills at this part of the beach.

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Redefiners

While some may label Brighton people as hipsters, I prefer to think of them as Redefiners. They aren’t the type that wear prescription-less, thick, black-framed glasses and flannel shirts as they ride their fixie around town.  Not one person can be boxed into this now trendy version of being “alternative”.   Circus performers, yogis, comedians, Buddhist meditation leaders, academics, musicians, and many people who almost certainly would object to being labelled anything specific at all – everyone, is unique with their own set of interests; yet, all those who move to Brighton come for a good reason. They are all in it to be happy.  Passion for life and engaging with mindful experience is the unifying element that binds us all together.

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Indie music incubator

If you’ve been lucky enough to be in town for the Fringe Festival, England’s largest open access arts and music festival, you know that Brighton is the hub and incubator for UK’s indie music scene.  On any stroll during the day, any day of the year, you’ll see fedora-wearing kindred spirits musing around with french horn cases.  Wait for the night and explore the winding laines.  Follow the sounds of some folk music into an unassuming bar. You’ll be surprised how beautiful are the sounds of the casual night performers. Their passion for poetry expressed through chords, scale, and tone inspire and enlighten our states of being.

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Gastronomy: Gourmet and Casual Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants Abound

The lifestyle of Brighton lends itself to a culinary scene based in local, farm-to-table, sustainable and socially conscious eating.  For the date night, you can explore dedicated vegetarian restaurants that serve award-winning, local, seasonal and  truly delicious vegetarian food that even obsessive meat-eaters will love.  If you’re just strolling down the bustling and winding laines on an afternoon, you’ll find  buffets of sustainable vegetarian entrees.  Sit down at one of these cafes and sip on an almond-mylk latte as you watch the people pass by. Breath in the life energy of Brighton and let it pulse through your spirit.

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Since this is still the UK, we cannot ignore the cornerstone of British culture – the Pub. Usually eating at a pub means fish and chips but in Brighton, there are vegetarian gastro pubs. Try something from their ever-changing seasonal menu or stick to classics, like a Falafel board. But whatever you eat make sure you flush it down with one of the many local Sussex Ales on offer almost everywhere.

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Hoop and acroyoga jams

When music festivals were still just jamband-based, the beautiful hooping girls in the back of the crowds at the open air shows were usually go-go dancers in bikinis with shaggy-hair boots.  Now, hoops can be found on the waist of any music lover at a festival – and –  on the Brighton beach. Every Friday, hoopers and acroyogis join forces to jam on the Hove lawns at the water to drink in the sunset upside-down or twirling around, feeling free.

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Hooping in FP shift dress with rainbow and sunset

Hooping in my FP shift dress with a rainbow and the sunset

With permission from Mandy Fletcher

With permission from Mandy Fletcher

Pop-up classes for fire hooping, double- or triple-hoop hooping, sequencing for hoop dancing and more run all week long every week through the hooping community to keep the community and passion thriving.

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Trapeze

Hanging upside-down twenty feet above the ground in the middle of your Thursday afternoon leaves you with a rush of blood awakening your every vessel,  an adrenaline high from the fear of suspension,  empowerment from the strength needed for the climb, and a deep belly laugh afterwards.  Trapeze (think silks, rope, static trapeze) culture is thriving in Brighton.  Acrobatics is like yoga high off the ground. Classes back in DC ran upwards from $55/class; in Brighton, its an affordable 5 pounds for a therapeutic and nourishing rush.

With permission from The Circus Project

With permission from The Circus Project

My first Trapeze

My first time on silks

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Open air vintage markets and coffee shops in the North Laines

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Known as the “Antiquing Capital of the World”,  antiquing is a lifestyle here in Brighton.  There’s some order to the chaos of these nooks and its a lovely experience to lose yourself in the possible stories behind every dusty trinket and the smell of old books.  In between the antique furniture stores, which will sell anything from old IKEA book shelves for a few pounds all the way up the genuine antiques for several hundred, street vendors set up shop all day on Upper Gardner Street. You’ll find used and collectors books and vinyl, vintage clothes, local designers, local artisans and jewelers, and all kinds of treasures.

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When you need to refuel, the farmer’s market is in a little backyard just around the corner for some fresh local meat, fish, baked goods and produce.  Pick up the brown wicker basket and fill it with the delicious yields of greens and juicy fruits from the local farmers as they tell you about their farm.

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Nature

Within a 20-minute drive or longer bike ride into the lush English countryside with rolling hills that emit nearly a chartreuse color in springtime, you’ll see quaint thatched-roof cottages, natural stone walls and cobblestone paths. Venture further into this English “jungle” and you’ll be an explorer in  unadulterated and magical farm lands populated only with sheep and the occasional cow.  Fortunate enough for you, the Brits know how to drink, and one can easily explore the countryside with intermittent breaks for a pint.

Trails not to miss:

Seven Sisters: After passing long grass fields filled with sheep and channels of water, you encounter steep white cliffs dropping off into the dark blue churning sea that will fill you with fresh air and inspiration while still providing a grounding that only nature is capable of.  Rocks overgrown with kelp and seagrass covering it like long hair.  Sand worms squiggling in between your toes as you wade in the warm ocean.  The sun’s warm rays nourishing your body as if it’s nature’s hug. Sheherd dogs jumping in and out of the water channels leading into the ocean, shaking their coats in a happy frantic. Warm misty sea air tasting salty on your lips.

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River

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The Downs: Rolling hills covered in lush mantis green grass and windswept trees. Wide open spaces. The south downs way trailing over the ledge of the rolling hills like a seam in the landscape. Views of the sea in one direction, and English cottages and farmland  below in the other direction appearing so far away as if its a modelized landscape. Views for miles in all directions, and yet you are alone.

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Art:I:Curate

Art:I:Curate

A friend has recently launched an inspiring and engaging new platform for emerging artists, putting the power in the hands of the viewer:

“A new global community of art curators and collectors. Explore, vote for, and share art”

Yoga Studio review: London’s TriYoga

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Walking into TriYoga’s space in SoHo for a 7:30am Open Flow Vinyasa class, I immediately felt good energy. The space was small but suited just fine for a desk and small shop. I’m always hesitant when I see a yoga clothing boutique in a yoga studio, but that is just what studios do. I always enjoy, however, the book collection as it usually is an indication of the yoga style and “mission statement” so-to-say of the studio (they passed my book approval).  The yoga room was bright with warm early morning sunlight, and a small Buddha statue faced us. The light color wood was decorated with purple studio mats, purple straps and purple blocks.   The gentle, slow-paced voiced teacher opened with inviting us to transition from doing to being. The theme of the lass was “Fire of transformation”: our practice on and off the mat is a fuel for transformation.  We should practice bringing everything into our lives- including doubts and fears- and alchemize it through our practice.  She asked us to invite the breath in unconditional support- no matter what is happening in our lives, including challenges, new invitations- as the breath is the thread that supports us.   The class was focusing on transformative poses of backbends, with a particular focus on the upper body.

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Pros: A small, peaceful and intimate space, yet one of the most popular

studios in the city with three different locations in very convenient spots of town gives it a high rating. They offer great workshops with well-respected international teachers (Donna Farhi and Annie Carpenter are hosting workshops there this month), and have well-trained teachers not only in asana but also the yogic philosophy.  My teacher had a wonderful voice and presence, and referred often to yoga philosophy such as working on tapas, and inviting us to acknowledge the subtle energy body through the flow of prana. She also provided great moderations for injuries.

Cons: No music (some people don’t prefer music but I enjoy it during practice), no hands-on assists, the open flow class wasn’t as “open” as I would have liked (much more suited for beginners, although any class can be made to any level by the student but ideally options for advanced poses are guided by the teacher).

Check out their schedule and locations here!

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Smithsonian + Yoga history! Crowdfunding Campaign

Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, is creating the world’s first exhibition on the art of yoga: Yoga: The Art of Transformation.

This will be the first exhibition for displaying the visual history of yoga, including 100 masterpieces of Indian art, prints and films.

Want to support this awesome initiative?

Ways to get involved:
– Signing up for their newsletter through the  F|S online portal to get the latest updates on exhibitions and programs.
– Sharing your enthusiasm with #artofyoga and @FreerSackler on Twitter and on the Facebook Freer|Sackler page.
– Visit the Yoga exhibition website and support the public programming that will bring the exhibition to life.

Amsterdam from my iPhone

Typical street in Amsterdam

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Love the tree growing up out of the cement and into the building

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Canals at night

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Bicycles are the mode of transport in this town.

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I wasn’t kidding…

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Tulips=Netherlands

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Crossing the sea to the Noord

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Restaurant after a walk through post-Apocolyptic Noord

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Having some mint tea

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Street Art

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graff

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Bus art (no these weren’t people’s homes)

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flower pottire

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