Sunday, March 19, 2017

From a post-partum mommy to yoga teacher - the journey and the learning

Yoga has been my daily go-to practice for over three years now and it's been a kind of meditation on the mat, nourishing me on an everyday basis. I wrote this little 'essay' about what yoga means to me while studying for my Yoga Teacher's Certification, and recently dusted it out from a dormant folder to share it with all of you. 

My son was born 3.5 years ago, and the birth and what happened right after, turned my bones into mush. Well, not really. But I did feel like my bones creaked, and I had aches and pains that I had never suffered from before. Suddenly, in those two weeks after my son’s birth (the post-birth period that’s considered so sacred and crucial in a new mother’s journey), my body seemed to go from being strong and balanced to achy and weak. I now understand the reasoning behind the ancient philosophy which recommends that mothers use this post-partum time to rest and rejuvenate.

So, in spite of exercising all through my pregnancy and eating nourishing foods, the post-birth trauma left me with a physical form that felt it belonged to someone so much older. My moods went out of whack - a combination of post-birth hormones and lack of sleep. And I piled on the weight quickly because I used to be perpetually ravenous after feeding an equally ravenous baby round the clock.

I got back to going for long walks and doing a bit of post-partum yoga. But as the months rolled on, I wondered if I’d ever get back even half the stamina and strength that I had before my son was born. I understood that body shapes change and that the birth of a child changes you in more ways than one. But I also wasn’t ready to accept this much-chubbier version of myself and didn’t quite know how embrace the person I had become.

That’s when I turned to yoga. I searched for yoga classes in our area and found none. I bought yoga videos but craved for more new routines. I saw online classes, but couldn’t understand the safe foundations for the poses. I was desperate to work with a yoga teacher, but when I couldn’t fine one where we live, I decided to become one. I worked from ground up.

So, I applied to the Aura Wellness Center of Yoga, a school of yoga that certifies prospective yoga teachers, both onsite and online. I studied with them for a year, sneaking in my classes and assignments during my son’s naptimes. I’d try to get up early in the morning, rolling my mat out for a quick practice. But the kangaroo kid that my son is, he’d soon wake up, scuttling down from the bed and rolling onto the mat for his own version of “Ogga”.

He’d often be napping on my belly, while I flipped through the course books and when awake, he’d be peering curiously at the yoga poses on the pages, commenting, “Aunty - Ogga?” (i.e. “is this aunty doing yoga?”).

I finally got down to doing my assignments for the course, when my son joined playschool. And it was in January 2016 that I wrapped up the course with a prayer on my lips and sent them to my guru at Aura Wellness.

As I look back at the year and what yoga has taught me, this is what I have to say:

Trust the process and take life one step at a time. (Easier said than done, right? I wrestle with this one every day)

When I enrolled at the yoga school, I was fired up to learn but hesitant about how I’d learn so many different poses. I was focused on getting the shapes right and was hard on myself when I couldn’t. That’s when my teacher told me to do the best I could and trust in the journey. To “take one step at a time without worrying about the outcome”. It worked like magic. I relaxed and learnt so much more, and understood that when this mantra is applied to life, it helps letting go of stress and enjoy this journey called life.

Be gentle on your body.

Like most women, I used to be hard on my body. And I was especially hard on myself during the first year after my son’s birth. I fretted over the extra pounds; I worried if I’d ever lose the weight. But through yoga, one pose at a time, I learnt to nourish myself with exercise that felt good. I learnt to create a daily practice with this gentle exercise and began to trust the wisdom of our bodies. Over this past year, I’ve lost the weight that wasn’t required anymore. I’ve got back a fair measure of my pre-baby strength and lost a lot of those aches and pains. I still wear a larger dress size than what I wore four years ago, but I don’t worry about it anymore. I’ve learnt to embrace the changes, to be gentle on myself, to treat my body with care.

Stay in the now.

When I started studying for my yoga teacher certification, I fretted incessantly about how I’d plow through the colossal amount of coursework. I would also worry incessantly about learning so many different postures and getting each one right. But just rolling my mat out every day and grabbing whatever time I could to practice a few poses daily, helped iron out those worry lines in my head. Just doing what I could when I could, unraveled those knots in my mind. It was a slow and gradual process, but a few months into my yoga studies, I noticed that I didn’t have as much difficulty in being in the now. That I was able to embrace the now, with its challenges and limitations and dreams, from a place of ease.

What has your yoga practice taught you?

Join the conversation at our Facebook Page.

And if you’d like to know more about our gentle health practice for women, head over here.

#yoga #yogapractice #yogaformoms #yogameditation

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sari Love in New York - Meet the eclectic Kavita Srinivasan Rao

I'm grateful to have 'met' a whole bunch of interesting women through my sari blog. And today, I'm happy to introduce you to one such sari pal - Kavita Srinivasan Rao, a designer who creates up-cycled jewelery and writes poetry.

Please tell us about yourself – what you do, where do you live, your interests, family.

I used to be an IT-finance consultant once upon a time, but that seems likes ages ago. Now, I design and make (up-cycled and sustainable) jewelry, and dare to call myself a full time poet. I devour books and I love to dance - be it Kathak, Bharatnayam, Salsa, contemporary or good old Bollywoodesque. Music enthralls me, any time, every time. 
I live with my husband in an electric and charming New York. 

I absolutely love your sari style. How would you describe it?

I would like to call it casual, bordering on traditional, with hints of chic and bohème. The latter is perhaps a result of the poet in me. 

What kind of saris do you enjoy wearing, and what kind of occasions do you wear them for?

Cotton cotton cotton! And then, a little bit of silk. I dig sarees with texture. I like them thickish, roughish, heavy, and definitely unstarched. The khadis, linens, malkhas and Kotpads give me goose bumps. So do raw silks and tussars.
These days, I find myself wearing saris to every place, from parks to pubs, from pujas to parties, and even on no-outing days. 

Do you wear the sari the simple way, where you use what you have to create new styles or do you enjoy a more decadent style, with different kinds of blouses/jewellery/footwear?

I often find myself draping saris the regular way, but there have been a few times when I have experimented. My experiments are usually a result of the absolute need for convenience, or some sudden curiosity. I make it a point to never repeat a blouse-sari pair. Wearing the same sari with different blouses/accessories gives me the feeling of newness. Repetition tends to bore me.

What’s an interesting way to accessorize the sari (without splurging on jewelery/accessories), as per you?

If the sari demands attention, give it some. A pair of my favorite earrings and/or chain, or a fancy nosepin usually complete my ensemble. A jhhola and my tattoo have been my favorites. Winters here demand jackets. That's when one needn't bother with any other accessory. There could be times when the blouse screams love. When that happens, I give it just that. And oh yeah, I do believe matching is overrated - well, usually anyway.

What’s your best tip for those who love the sari, but are hesitant about wearing it more often?

Wear it once, then wear it again, then wear it the third time - in quick succession. After that, I promise you, you will feel like doing it again, and again... And this, I say from experience. 

Anything that you’d like to add?

She will embrace you in her warmth, and will lend you her immeasurable elegance. Love her, she will love you back like no other. 

Thank you Kavita for joining us on this blog for a sari-licious chat!

For more sari chats and posts, join us at our Facebook Page.

And hey, while you're there, do check out our new project especially for women  right here.

P.S. We're looking for a web designer to help us tweak the blog pages. It's a short assignment and if you are a web professional or know one, please leave a comment with your contact info. thanks!

#sarilove #sari #saree #saristyle

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3 of my favorite body care products in March

Over the past year, I’ve been slowly replacing chemical-laden body care products with handmade, gentle and natural alternatives. We make some and buy the others from entrepreneurs or self-help groups across the country. The idea is to own fewer products, but cherish the magic in each little bottle, box or jar that we source.

Fresh, handmade, sourced from small businesses and most-importantly, crafted with earth and body friendly ingredients, this month's goodies are making me feel good :).

I’d love to share three of my favorites this month (every month, I’ll share a few of my current fav things).

Disclaimer: I’m not being paid to recommend these products.

Apricot body oil from Aarohi: Like bottles of liquid gold, these nourish my skin in the dry and not-yet-summer days. In a season, when olive oil becomes too thick and heat-inducing to apply, and coconut oil seems a bit too light, this sunshine-yellow apricot oil with its faint aroma of crushed apricot seeds is like a slice of heaven. Cold-pressed and made by women in the hills near Nainital, this oil is a good alternative to store-bought lotions.

I bought a 50 ml bottle from the Dastkaar exhibition, and followed it up with another 100 ml bottle that I bought online.

The Soap Nut’s handmade soaps: Ever since I started using real handmade soaps, I’ve been a convert. Gentle on the skin and prettier to look at, these are a treat to use. While there are several small businesses that create and sell the most delectable soaps through their Facebook pages and websites, I’ve been buying mine from The SoapNut in Pune. In an assortment of colors and designs, Radha Kunke’s soaps are works of art. You can check out her collection here.

Bon’s Mosquito Repellant: I’m not sure if you’re the one mosquitoes home in on, but they sure follow me around every time I’m out at the park in the evening. And ditto for my son. Even after we apply store-bought anti-mosquito creams, sometimes we still come back with bites. So while a mosquito repellant is a must for folks like us, I’d been looking for natural alternatives to slather on. And I found exactly the kind of mosquito repellant I wanted – sans chemicals, made with natural essential oils and packaged in an easy-to-apply spray bottle. 

Check out Pondicherry-based Bon Organic's Mosquito Repellant if you’re looking for a soothing alternative that can keep the pesky lil insects away with the power of a medley of herbal and essential oils. These are safe for my little goblin too.

I bought mine from Bon’s online store.

What are your favorite things this month? 

And hey, come say hello at our Facebook Page.

#organic #greenliving #holistic #favoritethings

Thursday, March 9, 2017

10 Reasons why I write about the Sari

Do you want the honest truth? I never set out to be a sari blogger, let alone a sari wearer. 

Though I’ve loved the sari since I was a little girl, it wasn’t my go-to attire for many years. And when I did start wearing the 6-yards of elegance often, mostly for work assignments in the heartland of India and to rambunctious fauji parties, I never really consciously thought about the sari as more than a garment. Till I read an article about how the sari is dying a slow death, and how if we weren’t careful, it would end up being a costume than the tradition, story, heritage and history that it really is.

So, here’s the reason why I write about the sari – and believe me, it’s got very less to do with fashion.

1. I want to do my itsy bitsy bit in saving the sari from its costume-future. I mean, like Yoga and Ayurveda, we’ll soon have the West educating us about the beauty and benefits of the sari – and rightly so, if we aren’t very careful about preserving this piece of tradition.

2. I’d like to bring forth the story behind each sari. The stories of weavers toiling over manual looms in huts lit with lanterns.

Amy Aribam - a sari diva, mom and founder of ARIA Ethnic & Amaria

3. I want to draw attention to the fact that each sari really is a piece of art, not just a garment meant to hibernate in our steel trunks. Just look at the number of sari weaving traditions and styles across India, and each one is as intricate and beautiful as the other.

4. I’d like women to feel just as good in a sari as in a pair of jeans. For a long time, I’d get exasperated questions like “Why are you wearing a sari today?” or “Why not jeans?”, and I really couldn’t understand why the sari bothers some people so much. I still don’t. But you want my honest opinion – this graceful garment can only make you look better, not worse. So how does it matter where you wear it to!

5. I’d love women to embrace this garment – it really does bring out the best in you. (No explanation necessary, right?)

6. I want to do good through the sari. Can we share our saris with those who need some? Can we raise funds through saris? Here’s a story I did about this earlier.

7. I’d love the sari to be our ‘little black dress’ and our go-to garment. For parties and meetings, trips to the book store or a day at your favorite restaurant.

8. I want to say we do NOT need the right occasion to wear a sari. If you can wear a pair of jeans or your black trouser-suit to a red-carpet event or to the local café, then why not the sari?

9. I’d like to help those who want to wear a sari but are still nervous about it. Sari-wearing isn’t rocket science. A bit of practice, some accessories and a dollop of confidence, and you can absolutely rock the look. Here are lots of sari style posts.

10. Finally, I want You to be yourself in a sari. Not fidgety or nervous, anxious or under-confident. But the confident, happy, kind person that you are meant to be.

What’s your sari story?

Let us know below or join the discussion at our Facebook page.

P.S. A big thank you to Amy Aribam for sharing her sari photos so generously! Ladies, you'll be seeing more of this sari entrepreneur on this blog + a Sari Love interview is on the cards too. 

#sari #saree #saristory #ethnicattire #sarilove #saristyle

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why today is a gift + a wellness plan

On some level and at different degrees, I’ve embraced the fact that a healthy life is a gift. That even the most ordinary days are extraordinary if we wake up to acknowledge and live this piece of truth. 

But the light of this truth ebbs and flows, depending on what’s on my to-do list, who has said what about me, where am I on that particular day etc etc. Our daily routines, the tug of war that we fill up our schedules with, the minutiae of chores and voices, often tarnishes this fact – this fact that our days are priceless gifts waiting to be unwrapped.

It’s easy to forget that there is so much joy and blessing in the smallest of things. Things like holding your child’s hand or waking up next to him; walking down the street to buy groceries; cooking and being able to eat a meal knowing that your organs will do what they’re meant to do. Each one of these experiences is even more precious than the diamonds twinkling on our ear lobes.

Like I said before, while I always appreciated this fact and am grateful for many things, I didn’t fully (and I mean 500% and more) appreciate the luminous quality of each day, till yesterday. As I spent a duration of time fretting about health concerns, tossing and turning, and mumbling to God about how much I love this life and the people who mean the most to me, I realized just how precious it all is. And how delicate too.

We’d like to believe that we have a good 50 years ahead of us to travel the world, spend time with our spouse, have fun with our kids, indulge in our hobbies, and do the things we’re most passionate about. Only to push all of these into cubbyholes labeled ‘Future’, while loading up our plates with frivolity.

Often, and without realizing, we fill up our days with inane chatter instead of meaningful conversations; false emoticons instead of honest bonds; scheming and manipulating instead of reaching out to do something that really matters; plans for the future while frittering away the time we have today. We run around like headless chickens in our quest for more – more money, more power, more popularity, more….(you fill in the blank), without checking if what we have now is enough. Without wondering if more of this will really improve the soul of our lives, the core of our days.

Today, as I sit here writing this post, I’m grateful for this moment. For being able to write, for being able to share, for being able to just be.

I’m grateful as I unwrap the gift of today and wonder how I can share this with you. And because good health is what adds that luminosity to our days, I’d love to embark again on this journey to add more sparkle to all our lives. Through my posts. Through my deeds. Through my health coaching.

Yes, what many may not know is that I’m a certified health coach and yoga teacher too. Till a few years ago (till my son was born), I worked with women, helping them create a life around wellness, while also creating more well-grounded days for myself.

So, here’s my plan.

I’m going to weave in well being with my sari style posts. (After all, a sari lifestyle is so much more about wearing a pretty sari – it’s about living more consciously, while honoring our roots and inner wisdom). So, there’ll be posts about health, nourishment, self-care and well being here on the blog.

I’ll be hosting a giveaway soon. So do stay tuned.

I may also begin sharing this wellness quest with a few of you ladies through one-on-one coaching (more on that later, but if you want to know more reach out to me at 

Till then, stay well and relish what you have now.

P.S. A big Thank You to Molly for sharing her illustrations! :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sari Love - Parama and her quirky, crazy, whimsical sari style

Hello Sari-divas! I can’t wait to introduce today’s sari love guest. A sari buddy I met through the very first sari blog post I wrote here (I featured a sari picture from Byloom and it turned out, she was the model), I’ve loved her unique sari style for a long time. Quirky, whimsical, fun, full of fervor, her sari style is totally like the kind of person she is. Ladies, I’m pleased to welcome Parama Ghosh Ganguly, a lawyer and artist from Kolkata, who I promise, will blow you away with her fabulous sari style.

 Please tell us about yourself – what you do, where do you live, your interests, family.

I am a lawyer and an artist from Calcutta. Born to a family of four generation of lawyers, I was almost destined to be one. 9 years into the profession, I could clearly see that law and I had an about-okay marriage and the mind strayed in love-struck alleys. The law firm job was like a rich husband who would sponsor my travels, stilettos and bags, but the heart longed to lose itself in the dimples of a starry eyed lover. 

In February, 2015, I took the plunge and launched my dream venture “Parama” (Narcissicus is my middle name). The love for handloom, slow fashion, handmade art and inspirations from every day words, pages of books, scenes from films, lyrics of songs made the project what it is. In the initial days, I was battling a full fledged law firm job in the day and creating stories on handloom by night. I am now consulting with a start up law firm for 3 days and use the rest of the days for my project.     

I love to write. I write particularly about Calcutta (about roadside tea, conversations, cinema, roads, statues of Calcutta, book fair, “Why Bengalis are God’s greatest gift to mankind”, among other things) and also about other mundane happenings that makes my life colourful. My blog, “Potpourri” can be found here:

My other interests would include Rabindranath Thakur, traveling, biriyani, reading, cinema, photography, thick milk tea, conversations with cab drivers, Farhan Akhtar.

I absolutely love your sari style. How would you describe it?

I would describe my saree style as “carefree”. It is an extension of my (eccentric) personality. It is second skin. I have often boasted and bragged about this and shall repeat it again.  I can drape any saree in three flat minutes. It takes lesser time than it takes for any man to get ready. This explains saree for me in a nutshell. It is as every day and as effortless as putting a bindi on my forehead or applying kohl on the eye contours.

I wear sarees for all occasions. To work, to weddings, to parties, to pubs. Being a Bengali and that too from Calcutta, saree is an everyday wear. I had first worn a saree (red benarasi) when I was six months old (for my rice ceremony). Saree is the most versatile of all pieces of clothings, according to me. It doesn’t overgrow your size, it reveals as much as it hides (and I find that the sexiest thing about a saree), it enhances your body contours in the most perfect way. The same piece of clothing can be perfect for an office meeting as well as for a fun party.

I’ve noticed that you wear some fun blouses. Do you have tips for sari aficionados about how to come up with unusual combinations while using what they already have in their wardrobe?

Saree itself is capable of making a statement as a stand-alone piece and perhaps does not require accentuating it further. However, any cake would look better with its marzipan flowers. My blouses are those sugar coated colourful roses. The first rule I blindly follow for any mix and match is: One should never overshadow the other. If you are wearing a traditional Paithani or a Patola, the saree itself is the statement piece. I would never over do the look with a “hatkey” blouse because the saree deserves all the attention. My point here is, stick to the traditional blouse piece that comes attached with the saree. For the less traditional ones, unleash your Pandor’s box of ideas.

I love fun motifs. I have umbrellas, ice lollies, dices, clouds, kites, crows, Pyasa-Guru Dutt-Waheeda poster and a plethora of quirky motifs on blouses. I love making appliquéd motifs on my blouses because they remind me of my childhood scrapbook.

So far as combining a saree with a blouse is concerned, I am not the best person to be asked. I don’t believe in matching. For me, except for traditional sarees, blouses and sarees are like a husband and wife. Mismatched, sometimes outrageously different yet they exist in perfect cohabitation. I have worn blue blouses with orange sarees (and a green bindi to go along with it). 

I have turned upholstery into blouses because the material was kidney-seeking expensive for a curtain but okay for a blouse. I have worn the sexiest of my blouses with the most mundane of my Khadi sarees. 

So my only rule is, throw away any rule book that comes handy. Combine your red and white Dhakai jamdanis with a frilled, traditional check Gamchha blouse or a Tangail with a brocade. Sometimes an overtly gorgeous Benarasi looks beautiful with a muted Khadi blouse.  And being a Bong, my unadulterated slavery towards sleeveless blouses needs to be mentioned too. A plain sleeveless blouse (someone called it a Bengali woman’s Bheectoria’s Secret) does wonders to any sarees and transforms any woman to a Super Hot Boudi in seconds.

What’s an interesting way to accessorize without collecting a huge amount of jewellery?

For a saree, a brooch is my favourite accessory. I keep on saying this. For all the Gari, Bangla, bank balance life forgot to bestow on me, it made it up with my collection of brooches. I have all kind of them. In metals and in fabrics. I make it a point now to tell the tailor to make a box out of the left over fabric saved after making my blouses. Sometimes, I often use natural flowers as brooches.

Flowers remind me that I love flowers on my hair too. However, my hair is a mirror image of its owner. Rowdy, unruly and unmanageable. So a neat bun and flowers around them often turn a Herculean task. But it makes a pretty sight.

I have a collection of junk jewellery to be very proud of. So proud that, I am not going to give them away to the next generations. In fact, my Will shall have a clause that all my junk shall be sent off to hell along with me when I die. My gold jewelry des not enjoy this unfaltering bias, though.
On a slightly more serious note, I have also realised that hoarding jewlery to accessorize them with sarees does not make too much sense. Even for myself, I wear the most favourite ones all the time while the others are treated as step children.

So choose versatile pieces that go with many. Also team up a saree with jewelry for the sake of love for it and not the compulsion of matching them.

What’s your best tip for those who love the sari, but are hesitant about wearing it more often?

If one loves saree, the best thing she could do to the saree is to wear it. The more you wear it, the more it turns friendly. I got married at 22. I was always cribbing at the way my mom or mom in law would drape sarees on me. So one day, I decided to come up with my own user friendly technique to drape one. It didn’t happen in a day. But when the saree and I became friends, we knew it would be a relationship of a lifetime. Saree has that effect on you.  The only way your acquaintance can turn into a happy bonding, is wearing them more often, as much as you can, wherever you can.

Here's where you can cruise over to Parama's clothing brand - Parama.

For more Sari Love interviews and Sari Style posts, head over here.

For more sari style updates, join us on our Facebook Page.

#sarilove #saristyle #saree #sari #handloomsari 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sari Love - Sadiya Kazmi and the soul of her sari style

Hello Sari-istas! I’m back with another sari love guest, and am happy to introduce Sadiya Kazmi, a social activist, fellow service wife and a friend. I love her casual chic sari style and the way she carries of her handwoven saris with elan. Like any fauji wife, Sadiya, lives and works from all across, and is currently based in Abu Dhabi.

 Sadiya, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Whatever I tell about myself has to be related to my love for sarees because whatever I do ,who I am and what I think is connected with my soul. And the word saree is just as much part of my soul and wraps up within its folds, everything I am and everything I do.

I take great pride in what I do - I am a social activist by profession. I chose this because staying true to oneself is very important for me in order to keep my sanity and honesty intact in my life. I work mostly with children and women, and take theatre workshops because that's what I am by nature and profession - a street theatre artist. My work allows me to share my belief and sentiments with. I choose social issues to portray in my theatre, something which I strongly feel about and love to spread this social awareness. It gives me immense pride when the concept is embraced enthusiastically by the people I work with .

And when I use words like enthusiasm, embrace, believe and soul, I feel like it's important to mention that I associate these with my love for sarees. I am married to an Air force Officer and I should give a lot of credit to my life as being a part of this organization that helped me build my confidence in wearing the saree the way I do today. I have been married for almost 19 years now and cannot imagine having embarked on this journey without tirelessly trying to prove that I can carry a saree and I love it.

 What does the sari mean to you, and what’s your sari style all about?

I stay connected with every saree I own because every time I drape it, every fold is an effort towards perfection and elegance that one needs to acquire as a proud Indian woman. It's the tradition, it's the history, it’s decades old of said and unsaid stories of women of all ages within the folds and weave of sarees. It's a part of our upbringing.

For me it's a part of motherhood , marriage, work and the people I spend most of my time with. The word ‘saree’ is confidence for me, which means when I drape it, the saree knows I will do justice to it. Which is why sometimes I like to wear it in an unconventional style and know my saree won't mind that. Although my favourite style of wearing it is the good old simple Indian style, where sometimes I can casually take the pallu and keep it on my shoulders in many folds.

 How do you accessorize your saris?

I am a silver jewellery freak so I love to accessorize my sarees with long silver earrings or a big pendant. But to let out a big secret and to be honest, till date the only thing I like to wear with a saree is a huge Red bindi. That's it. Let's stay true to the character of our 6 or 9 yards. I love wearing silks, mostly jute ,Tusshar ,Banarasi, Sambhalpuri , Bengal silk, Assam and Pochampally silk and Bhagal puri silk, which are part of my proud collection. Another favourite is a simple cotton saree, crisp and breezy, perfect for everyday wear.

 And I must mention the women who inspire me everyday with their saree style: Malini Muddappa, who runs studio Krsnah and Shobana Shanker , Sonal Sardesai Gautham ,Chandana Banerjee (thanks Sadiya) and most of all, Asma Raza my mother .

Connect with us on our Facebook Page for regular sari style updates.

#saristyle #sarilove #handloomsari #streettheatre #saree #sari
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...