My Comically Spiritual Experience with Kundalini Yoga

My infinite quest for new experiences and recent involvement with Yoga, brought me to try a new form I’ve never heard about – Kundalini. I went to class equipped with no background information but rather with an open mind and open heart (I learned this approach from a kind Brazilian human resources contact just before I moved to Brazil).

The first thing I noticed was that most student were dressed in white, and some had fur rugs lying above their yoga mats. I then was welcomed by “Jason” (or pick any other typical name), who was a white american male in his mid 40’s or so. Jason’s face was covered with a giant beard and he was dressed in a white pajama (or what my Indian friends would call Shalwar Kameez)  with a white turban adorning his head.

Class was held in cross-legs sitting position. The first exercise required us to sway our upper buddy in circles, breathing in on the forward part and breathing out on the backward part of the circle, in the typical yoga fashion.

Then things got much better. After a long speech about letting go of stress (yoga is all about therapy, only much cheaper), we spent about 10 mins clapping our hands together and on our knees. Think “We will Rock You“.  The next exercise involved bringing our elbows to our body and flapping them back and forth like in the chicken dance. I was watching the 70+ gentleman sitting in front of me batting his elbows like a little rooster and it was when I started looking for the hidden camera. Shortly after, the entire room was filled with laughter so  I was happy to discover I was not the only one finding this situation completely absurd.

Hand swinging like window-washers followed before we reached the best part of the class: Jason put a rhythmic song on and we began drumming on our yoga mats. Then we were instructed to close our eyes and swing our hands and release our rib cage as much as possible with the sounds of music. I had too much fun doing all sorts of arabic dance moves or pretending I were a modern dancer. Of course I had to peep out (bad me for not focusing on my meditation) and then had to hold myself from  laughing at the sight of fifteen middle-aged looking like they had a Tourrete Syndrome.

We were then guided to enter inner hypnosis as Jason played the giant gong for 10 mins or so (“folks, please take out your hearing aids if you have any..”). I couldn’t get into hypnosis because I kept trying to remind myself all that happened in the class so that I could write about it in this post. Perhaps next time.

Class ended with us pretending to throw water behind our backs with our hands, while chanting “Wahe Guru Wahe Jio“(all I recall is mantra of  “ecstasy”)  for about 10000 times, followed by singing “May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You“.

I believe I now have all the required tools to start my own cult. Who wants to join?

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Breaking the glass ceilings 101

A conversation with a female friend at a male-dominated and highly competitive company in a very competitive industry went down like this.:

Friend: Grobby, you would be proud of me. I had two days of meetings this week for managers in my dept. it was 16 men and me. When I saw the invite I was kind of startled at the lopsidedness. I know it’s a male-dominated industry but 16 to 1?! Come on!

And I was mad but didn’t plan to say anything. But I ended up changing my mind and prepared a little something to say, and I challenged everyone in the room to take a look around – 16 to 1 — and we can do better than that. Be aware. We’re obviously missing out on talented people and to have only one female who is in any kind of mgmt role just doesn’t look good and isn’t good for our company or our work

Grobby: “Woooooww!!! I AM super proud of you!!  And what was their reaction?”

Friend: It was mostly positive. There were a couple people that said there aren’t as many female applicants or they try or something (being defensive) but overall people agreed

Friend: And the HR representative who was presenting to us (and a woman) said she really appreciated my making the important point, and that she had actually been a little taken aback at the #s. And that this has been a conversation topic recently for her with senior manager of how to get more gender diversity.

Also that she just had an exit interview with a woman who left and said a big reason was she didn’t see advancement opportunities for women as there are VERY few women in top positions at the company

Grobby: Tell her first to stop calling us diversity. Women are not diversity. They represent MORE than 50% of university graduates. They are not some underprivileged sector of the population. For your company they are a huge talent pool which it is not taking advantage of

Question no. 2:  I would ask her is – what are the characteristics that get people promoted in the organization

Friend: And there are a decent – not great, but so-so — number of women at the company. But not in leadership roles

Friend: I also presented this challenge. Google did a study of its workforce (following complaints and anecdotes) and found that women in the same position were paid less and women with same experience and education were in lower level positions than their male counterparts (on average). I think my company should do the same thing. I’m willing to bet that women in same role – on average – are paid less

 Grobby: You totally should. This is almost industry standard by now to do these kinds of studies. Pressure your HR.

Friend: Anyway we’ll see if my comments have any effect. I think the message really needs to be drilled to senior management 

Would you, the reader, have the guts to bring this important topic to discussion with your superiors? You SHOULD because they could be surprisingly supportive. And if they aren’t, perhaps it’s time to look for another employer.

The real humans of my life – Boulder

The past weekend, I headed up to Boulder area, to visit a long time college friend, chef, and blogger, Shru Troup. Even though she doesn’t think so, she is quite an inspiration to us all. She and her husband left their fancy schmancy jobs and promising careers at a New York investment bank to start a new life in Colorado. They are both very happy, enjoying the outdoors, hiking, biking or skiing in their spare time. Shru did culinary school and one day she will publish her own cookbook for modern vegetarian and vegan cuisine (stay tuned and in the meantime check out her recipes on her blog). She also recently decided to explore the world of food trucks.

Shru driving "Tina"
Shru driving “Tina”

I had an exciting day at her work, operating a Mexican food truck, fondly nicknamed “Tina”. We started early in the Comida restaurant in Longmont, preparing all the ingredients with the very dedicated and funny kitchen stuff. I learned to use the deep frier as I made tortilla chips for the first time in my life.

After three hours of preparation and loading the truck, we headed over to a nearby office park. It was freezing cold but we served those tacos and quesadillas like champs. The brave customers, who came by despite the below freezing temperature, showed real dedication as well.

When we came back, Shru spent 2 more hours scrubbing out the truck because that’s just the clean freak that she is. After this, she “took a break” preparing 2 different desserts (pumpkin Pie and cinnamon ice cream), as she is also the pastry chef of the restaurant.  All the while, I was recovering from all the hard work by sipping margaritas at the bar or chitchatting with her colleagues.

The rest of the weekend was quite busy between celebrating my birthday by skiing (I still remember how to, surprise!) at Keystone, hiking in Estes Park (where I was supposed to spot some Elks but saw none), checking out the Boulder yuppie/hippie scene  and eating some great home cooked food (love having chef friends). I also got to try Nepalese food for the first time at the AMAZING Sherpa’s restaurant in Boulder. It was also very interesting to read all the interesting posters and check out the photographs around the restaurant. I learned for example that Katmandu (Nepal’s capital) is Boulder’s sister city.