The other night I was working out at my neighborhood studio and the instructor said “Take a deep breath in and on your way up, breathe it out making a “Hssssshhhhh” sound. Following his instructions I started focusing on my breath and aligning my breath with my movement. However, before I knew it, my mind wandered away to a few different points in my past which have had a very profound effect on me in ways more than one.

In chronological order:

  1. It was the first month of my then new job, ~4 years ago and I was on a technical discussion with my engineering director. I started the call by asking him “How are you doing this morning?” to which he replied “I am doing great, I woke up this morning.” I chuckled a little and thought to myself, ‘Wow!! I’ve never heard that before.’ and went on to tell him “That’s a great way to start one’s day.” After the call it got me thinking about how we take our breath for granted. It could end at any time, yet we do not appreciate every morning that we wake up with that thought of gratitude, the thought of being thankful for being alive, alive to take another breath and yet another after that. Instead, here we are thinking about the day, work, material things, etc… My life hasn’t quite been the same since and I have him to thank!
  2. My mum and I were practicing Yoga together one morning and she observed that I was having some difficulty with flexibility and holding postures that morning. She asked me to go back to downward dog position and told me to close my eyes. Then she said the following, “Focus on your breath and as you’re trying to elongate your spine breathe oxygen into every little space you can, the little gaps between your vertebra and your joints, feel the breath as it flows through your body.” This has helped me so much, not just in my practice but also generally when I feel anxious, I try to breathe in oxygen to every part of my body and it helps me calm down.
  3. This past thanksgiving I attended my very first Vipassana meditation course (that deserves its own post). It was intense/brutal/life-changing for me. Amongst the few gems I took away from this course, one was – “Only the breath is real.” Goenka ji, in one of his discourses, said “Only the breath is real, everything else is a creation of our imagination.” That got me thinking once again about the profound truth behind that sentence. Of course, only the breath is real, everything else is a projection of our thoughts. The world we see is our perception, created from our thoughts, opinions, ideas and imagination.

Thanks to my meditation practice, I caught myself (my mind) wandering and brought back my awareness to my breath and my movement and fixed myself to the present moment and I came back to it now to share it with you all.

Personally, these incidents have been very eye-opening for me in so many ways and they apply not just in my daily life but have helped me evolve so much more. I’d love to hear your thoughts, feel free to share in the comments below.

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Letting Go Of Negative Energy

Bottling emotions and negative energy is never a good thing, but that’s all I knew for the longest time because I couldn’t voice my feelings. Some of you may relate to this and may be well aware of the effects bottling emotions  has on one’s physical, mental and emotional state. I just didn’t know how to channel those emotions or negative energy and it kept imploding. My healing journey began when I hit rock bottom. I realized the only way I could break free of this negative cycle and get out of this downward spiral was by healing, healing myself by accepting and loving who I was. I started meditating, exercising regularly and reflecting. Along my self-healing journey I learned not only how to channel negative emotions and energy but also to effectively and lovingly assert myself and communicate with loved ones at home and at work. Easier said than done! How exactly does one channel that negativity and prevent damage to their mental, emotional and physical well-being? It definitely took me a lot of practice, in fact it is an on-going process. Here are some techniques I find extremely useful:

  1. Deep, slow breaths or meditation  – this is a great way to prevent further damage to yourself, the other person and/or the situation. When you take a few deep breaths, it calms your nervous system down a bit and you’re able to think more rationally therefore preventing a rash, impulsive reaction. It prevents the system from getting in to a state of stress/panic which results in the body releasing cortisol. Taking time to cool off helps getting to a better more thought out perspective about the situation or person than reacting on an impulse thereby continuing to engage in the negativity. Meditation is a great way to bring our attention back on what’s real, what’s important.

10370894_10153332590228343_9150046986754423399_n2. Remove yourself physically/take a time-out, if possible from the environment/situation for the time being (or permanently) so that you can think clearly and be at peace with yourself, the other person and/or the situation.

3. Go for a walk/run,exercise, be outside, surround yourself with nature, breathe fresh air – walking or exercising releases endorphins; Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. Or may be even practice something creative such as painting or dancing or singing or listening to music, I find music very therapeutic.

src: Gratitude – I cannot stress enough on the benefits of being thankful for the people and things we have in life. When we take a moment to thank the universe for everything we have and everything we are in life, it not only puts a positive spin on our lives, but also reminds us to appreciate what we have and not take anything for granted. Have you ever thought of how many of us take our breath for granted? I used to, until I started giving thanks for the things I have in my life.

IMG_92015. BFF – Be around Friends and/or Family. Friends and family can be a great support system and their presence can also have a very positive effect on us. Surround yourself with positive, kind and happy people.

6. Attitude – We must always remember that our attitude in any given moment greatly impacts how we feel in that moment and in future moments. There are a lot of people out there who are fighting bigger battles than you or I and are having to deal with worse situations than we can imagine, when we think that our problems are the worst we should take a step outside of ourselves and take a look around, do a little reality check. We know life is not always tulips and dark chocolate… sometimes it’s about leaky roofs and lost friendships. You put a piece of tape on the roof, it still leaks, you seal the roof, it still leaks, you don’t give up, you come up with new ways to solve the problem… in some situations, you don’t give up, you fall, you get up and you try again. But in some situations, you have to let go. After decades of friendship, if one day a friend decides to end it all without giving you a reason or explanation, you reach out and try to understand why and probably also attempt to fix it, but relationships are like a car, all the wheels have to be moving in the same direction for the car to move, it requires constant steering to keep it on track. When all the elements are not in sync and not working with each other but in fact against each other, the car won’t move even though a lot of effort will be spent and that can be draining. Sometimes, you have to let it go and make peace with what happened.

7. Open and Positive Communication – After having taken the time to really think about things objectively and rationally, it may even help talking with the other person (if there is another person in the equation) about the things that bother you. However, it should come from a loving place and free of accusations. It should be about how you feel, this way the other person will not feel attacked and will not get defensive. There are a lot of resources online on how to communicate in arguments, fights etc..

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Vegan Chili – Wholesome and balanced (protein, carbs and fiber)

Two months ago, on a regular work day as I was busy doing my work things – solving problems, prepping for meetings, making prezos and replying to emails, I read a slightly unusual email, by “unusual” I mean the subject line had nothing to do with techie things, it said — Chili Cook-off in two weeks– I quickly glanced through it and went back to doing my work, however, a few seconds later, I couldn’t help coming back to the email. I thought to myself “Hmmmm, I do enjoy a good chili, but I’ve never ever made one myself, if I participate, this will be a great way to make my first ever vegan chili”. As I pondered over the decision for a little longer, I realized that more than anything I was really excited about cooking for my colleagues and I became aware of something I’ve always enjoyed and something that has always motivated me to cook — it’s to feed near and dear ones. That’s it, I didn’t care about winning, I was really excited to try out a chili recipe (I’ll admit I was extremely confident that it would turn out great mostly because I knew chili isn’t the most complicated recipe to experiment with and because I knew I was cooking to feed others — a lot of love and joy would go in the making of that chili. :)) Anyway, long story short, I won the people’s choice award! woohoo! In fact some folks came to me and told me that they enjoyed my vegan chili way more than some of the meat chilis they tried that day.

This recipe feeds about 6 to 8 people


  • 1 Tbsp organic virgin coconut oil (feel free to sub this with your choice of oil, I used this for its health benefits over some other commercially available cooking oils
  • 1 medium sized onion – diced. (I used a yellow onion)
  • 2 medium (not too fat) carrots – diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bell pepper – diced
  • 1 medium sized zucchini – diced
  • 2 medium sized stalks of celery – diced
  • salt to taste
  • crushed black pepper to taste (optional)
  • a dash/pinch of turmeric powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin (I used toasted ground cumin but either is fine)
  • Extra firm tofu or soy protein or any vegan protein you may choose to add (optional)
  • 2 serrano or thai chillies (optional)
  • 2 15Oz cans of light or dark kidney beans or black beans (I used dark red kidney beans and black beans)
  • 1 28Oz can chopped tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes to add that extra oomph! ;))
  • Chopped cilantro or spring onions or chives for garnish (optional)
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • If not making vegan version, feel free to use shredded cheese or sour cream or greek yogurt (healthier option to sour cream) for garnish
  • slice of vegan bread such as sourdough type to go with the chili (optional)


One of the many benefits of making a vegan chili (in addition to saving animals, saving environment, healthier option) is that unlike the meat version vegan chili does NOT require slow cooking for hours in a crockpot. It is very easy to make, you can easily refrigerate/freeze it and makes for a wholesome meal

  • Dice all the veggies and set aside
  • Coat the bottom of the pot with oil. Heat the pot over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, then add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic, green chillies (if you went with that option) and season with salt and pepper (I usually do not add all the required salt and pepper at once, I introduce it gradually). Cook until the onions are soft.
  • Drain the beans in the colander or strainer and rinse. Set aside.
  • When the onions are soft, add the remaining vegetables to the pot and season again with salt and pepper. Add cumin, turmeric and chili powder. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just starting to get tender (approximately 10 minutes).
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot, along with the rinsed beans.
  • Crumble the tofu (or soy protein or any other vegan protein you may choose to use – but in that case follow the cooking directions stated on the package) and add it to the pot.
  • Keep stirring
  • Finally, add water and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Gently simmer until the veggies are soft and the flavors have fused together and you can smell the delicious aroma of your hearty chili (about 10 minutes). Taste the chili and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Voila! Your vegan chili is ready to be shared with loved ones. Garnish it before you serve it.

Let me know if you try it out and also how it turns out if you follow this exact recipe.

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You And I And All That Is Around Us

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” – Herman Melville

I was going through some emails this morning and one of the emails I read started with this quote. I kind of understand and resonate with this quote. I say “kind of” because it left me thinking about the latter half, “..among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes and they come back to us as effects…” we are all connected, I am sure if you’re curious like me, you’ve been wondering about this for a while now, if we’re all connected, how are we impacting each other, how can we act consciously? Right? The world appears to be getting more hedonistic? It depends what glasses you have on. I always try to start with my assumption of people around me being like me and my experiences therefore are shaped by that instead of looking at everyone and everything with doubt and skepticism. Of course, sometimes people are not what we perceived them to be. Perhaps, we should start without any judgment at all? just observe from a neutral place?  Maybe that is another post.

For today, let’s be aware of every thought that crosses our minds, every word we speak and every action we take. I’ll share how that goes from my end at the end of the day 🙂

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Remembering You

You opened your eyes on a rainy June day

Our hearts melted and our smiles grew wide

Tears of joy expressed what words couldn’t say

When we saw you tucked in by your mama’s side

A mischievous boy with a twinkle in your eyes

Playing pranks and joking around, you never missed a chance

to make your sisters giggle with glee; around you, the laughter just flies

Gifted with many talents, you were the king of dance

You cheered people up wherever you went

Every soul you touched, you lifted it to happiness

Frowns turned upside down, time with you was time well spent

Oh! but the pain that was concealed behind

those twinkly eyes, that big smile and those dancing feet

Nobody said it was going to be easy; C’est la vie

Wish you’d reach out, perhaps because we never asked

We never asked, “How are you really doing? I’m here for you”

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Monday Motivation

Hi All! I am back from a week long Yoga retreat. I feel alive, rejuvenated and inspired. Riding on that inspiration and energy I am sharing the following quote by guru B.K.S Iyengar with you all. Maybe it is not Yoga for you, maybe it’s running or martial arts, whatever form of practice helps you look within is a great start.Yoga - Look Within

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Stretching, Why It Should Be A Daily Ritual

A few years ago, I injured my knee while trying to snowboard in extremely icy, packed snow conditions. After nursing black-blue knees for a month, I thought I was fine. However, last year after a couple of 10Ks and just 2 days of snow-boarding, my knee pain came back and it was brutal . Usually, I am very aware of my body and watch for signs it’s throwing at me. But this one kinda baffled me, after much deliberation I finally decided to get an MRI to make sure everything was in place. $450 later everything still in place turns out just the knee cap on my left knee was a little loose. After being prescribed 2 months of Physical Therapy (PT) by the doc I walked out of there happily, now knowing for certain that there was no reason to be concerned.

The first session was a detailed discussion with a senior therapist. She examined my knees, made me do certain movements and then assigned a therapist to work with me. I went in twice a week for two month. I was dedicated, never missed a session. I loved the staff there, right from the front desk, to the therapist and the assistants. They gave me great advice, tips and suggestions on what I needed to do in order to make the muscles supporting my knees stronger. This is where I understood the importance of stretching and strenghtening. You should follow your doctor’s or trainers advice, especially if dealing with any health issues. This is what I learned from my pain, my therapy, my healing process ultimately leading to a healthier and happier me. My goal here is to share my experience and current stretching routine with you, feel free to use any or all of it at your discretion.

Sports player or not, worker-outer or not, IMO you should stretch regularly (if not daily) to —

  1. Prevent injuries
  2. Speed up recovery process post workout or sport activity
  3. Keep the muscles and tissues in good working conditions
  4. Ease the pressure on various joints/Reduce physical stress
  5. Improve flexibility
  6. Improve blood circulation

There are many different methods of stretching and there is no one right way. Everyone is built differently and has a different lifestyle and most likely different goals, you must figure out what’s the best option for you. Here is what I do:

  1. Stretch EVERYDAY!
  2. Foam roller is my new best friend! Before you start letting your imagination run wild, for those of you who don’t know what it is, this is what it looks like (img source: google image search) —

How do you decide what type of foam roller you should go for? Well, for me, I had plenty opportunities to try out different foam rollers at my PT’s practice and picked one that suits my needs the most. You can either consult your doctor, or trainer or look up wikihow.

3. Foam roller is not the only way to stretch, I alternate between my new BFF and Yoga, which i usually refer to as my soulmate.. because for me Yoga is more than just exercising one’s body, it’s about getting in touch with your inner self… more on that in another post. I find certain postures such as

a. downward facing dog

Image source:

b. Upward facing dog

img src: google img search

There are many more postures you could practice based on your needs and physical fitness levels. My mum is a Yoga instructor and I learned Yoga under her supervision. It is very important that you know the right technique to avoid injury. It might be worth checking out a Yoga class.

Here’s a little humor to brighten up your day. What if Gandhi took a yoga class!?? You don’t know who Gandhi was? Perhaps you may want to read this -> Mahatma Gandhi, while you’re there, you may want to look up MLK too.

4. Getting regular massages — again this totally depends on your health conditions. I try to get a massage once every two months, usually deep tissue or a Thai massage.

Between my new BFF and soul mate, I make sure I get my daily stretching in. There are definitely times when I believe I am too busy to stretch, those days I do get my leg stretches in while waiting for the train or when I want to take a break from sitting at the computer. I also get my upper body/arm stretches in similarly. Don’t worry about what others may think, it doesn’t matter! You need to get your stretching in! That’s what matters!!!

I shall leave you with a video of a cute dog doing Yoga!

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