Amazon Colombia.

I have reached the village of Putumayo after long hours on the direct local bus from Bogota to Putumayo. 12 hours drive, after having spent more then 20 hours flying across the Atlantic ocean and over the American territory.

Situated in the far South of Putumayo Colombia, The Cofan tribe has settled their finca on the side of the river banks. The land can be reached only by traditional boat or canoe, situated half an hour away from the village.

 

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After two days resting in a small hostel, and appreciating the local food at the restaurant nearby, I finally meet the Cofan family at their home in town. I was invited to share the local dish, rice and fish as well as fried bananas for desert.

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The next day, I have helped the Cofan family to move out of their home in town to get to the feet of the amazon forest. It has been madness experience, loading beds, sofas, furniture kitchen equipment, clothes, food basically all that you could take with you when moving out off your home, only instead of transporting it all in a truck to your home you will have to unload the truck and move everything into the canoe!

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It started raining, the water levels started to rise, therefore we tempted the shortcut trough the river, getting the canoe true very narrow arms of water leading closer to the camp. our bamboo sticks helped us keep the bushes away and balance of the canoe. We went to areas of the amazon that are rich in natural beauty and wild life.

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The cofan people are very strong minded people mostly jungle guides, and hunters. They mostly maintain their area of the rain forest generating revenue with eco-tourism, tours, and includes the novelty of staying over night to Cofan huts. Some tribe cultivate cocaine and you can see me standing in the middle of the field. Most cocaine leave are used for health purposes, they are burnt in low fire, the blended until turned into powder, and this powder can be added to your meal or inhaled giving you power and strenght as well as a remedy for stomach pain. They developed a profound understanding of the nature, especially the medicinal plants and poisonous plant that are very evident in today society. The age is spreading all over Europe and further. It has a large impact on the westerns and their society. People are more and more going true a phase a movement I will call it “movement of healing”. Hopefully this will bring peace on our beautiful planet.

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The experience I have shared with the Cofan family away from the tribe was unique of its kind. it was an adventure of a lifetime through the jungle areas of South Colombia, Putumayo.

 

 

Yoga asanas for Golfers.

Many people underestimate what it takes to be a golfer. Golfers are competitive and every detail matter during a competition. To execute a perfect swing, it requires optimal movement and this is why yoga is the best match for golfers. The swing requires power, fluid control, mid back mobility, a wide range of motion in the joins, and hip rotation. With a strong foundation, golfers find balance, core strength and mental focus.

The golf swings requires stability of the hips, and flexibility of the thoracic spine. The swing starts from the lateral to the vertical to the rotation movements of the trunk in only few seconds. It is a great deal of focus and calm to be at the top of the game. Having a slight advantage over the competition can make all the difference. Yoga is what you need to improve and end the day with a very enjoyable sensation on the course.

Golfers whom have followed my yoga sequences have noticed a change to their swing. The swing become easier, lower back pain is released, balance is increased, and find calm within themselves.

Yoga has all that is required to help golfers gain strong muscles and spinal support. Because in golf the swing is one sided, the muscles can develop unevenly. If the golfer develops strength and length in both side of the body, this will help counterbalance and increase performance.

Yogic breathing techniques are essentials in helping golfers develop the acuity to be present on the course and connect body mind with the breath.

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When golfers have limitations in their mid back and hip, they compensate on the lower back and knees and this can sometimes create injury. Some of the following postures will help you get a quick warm up, a better preparation and better concentration during the game.

Here are some postures to benefit the most.

Utkatasana, chair pose with twist

This asana promotes twist in the thorax and the spine, it stabilize the lower back activate the gluts and encourage ankles and knees strength and core in the legs.

Instructions:

Stand with your feet together, big toes touching, and knees together, but avoid rotating your hips externally. Keep the hips square, and keep the knees over your ankles. Exhales as you sit back, tail bone tucked in, and place your arms with palms together in front of your heart. Draw the shoulders back and down and open the chest. Hold the position, as you inhale, activate your core for stability.

As you exhale, rotate from the mid back to place your lower elbow outside of one leg. Keep your hips stable. Avoid spreading your knees. Use your bottom elbow to help you lengthen your chest and keep the palms at the level of your heart, the other elbow is pointing up toward the sky. Exhale, slowly draw your shoulder blade back and take a five gentle deep breath inhaling and exhaling true the nose. You can look up or down as long as your neck is comfortable. Gently come out of the pose as you exhale, come back to center and repeat to the other side.

Make sure your movement are slow and be mindful with the sensations in the body. Adding those poses to your workouts will help you develop mobility you need for an optimal swing.

Model A

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Sphinx pose

Promotes proper mid back extension, opens up the chest and shoulders and activate the gluts.

Instructions:

Lie with your belly down with your forearms onto the floor, with your elbows in line with the shoulders. Stay her if you feel sensations in your lower back, if your back allows you to go deeper, press into the forearms and lengthen your back. Move the shoulder blades down and keep the shoulder down and away from the ears. Keep your heels apart if your back is too tense. This posture helps you activate your lower back muscles, essential for thoracic spine extension. Hold the posture for five long deep breaths. Rest your forehead on the floor or make a pillow with your forearms. Relax the legs and the back. Breath consciously in these areas. Gently repeat for five breaths and rest.

Model B

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Bridge pose with variation with club.

Bridge pose stretch the thorax, the chest, the neck, the spine and the hips. It strengthen your back, the buttocks and hamstrings. It improves the blood circulation in the body and helps alleviate stress, calming the nervous system. It finally stimulates the lungs and improves digestion.

Instructions:

Lie on your back , bend your knees and place the soles of the feet on the mat or floor. Bring the feet close enough to your tailbone so you can touch your heels with your fingers.

Engage your core and quads while tucking the tailbone and lifting the pelvis into the air. Stay here with hands pressing on your club, and placed just at the base of your thighs. Push through your chest while maintaining a strong foundation in the legs and gluts, to protect the lower back. if you feel comfortable you can reach one leg up as you inhale, and then press back on the earth, to lift the opposite leg upward. Keep the neck long and breath out tension. Gently come out of the pose by lowering down the hips to the ground.

Repeat the movement on each legs 5 times, do not forget to use your breath.

Model C

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Shoulder mobility

Shoulders are important in the golf swing because they help you control where the club is at the top of your back swing, and generates power true impact, and helps you with the position of the club at the finishing position. We know in golf most injuries are the shoulders, so here is a warm up that will help you with mobility.
Instructions:

Lie on your left side, and rest you head on a block or towel. Bring your knees in line with your hips, and your tibia in line with your knees to 90 degree angle. your arms are in line with your shoulders. left hand palm facing up. Place your right hand on top of your left hand as you exhale, and as you inhale open the right arm up and back until your arm touches the ground behind you. Keep both shoulders on the ground and press the knees together so they don’t separate and so your posture is kept aligned. Exhale Draw you right hand back to join your left palm. Repeat 5 times on each side.

Model D

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These postures are shown by models, myself and by AAA PGA GLOBAL GOLF COACH, Benjamin Goacher, one of my loyal client, I have been coaching since the beginning of the autumn season 2018.

For more information Golf city Sports Benjamin Goacher click here https://golfcitysports.com/pga-pro-benjamin-goacher
Testimonial of Benjamin Goacher:

Yoga will help you, and in all discipline, you will have to add your skills as a golfer in the movement. You may want to consider hiring a personal trainer such as Camelia to guide you and help you achieve the most efficient swing possible.

May you be at the top of the game for this season.

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Namaste

Yoga Tutorial: How to use Props?

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Props can help you find more freedom and space as well as stability in your postures.

There are great ways to use blocks, blankets, straps, bolsters and incorporate them in your practice. The more you incorporate tools, the better you will see the results. Let us start with our best friend, the yoga mat.

Yoga mat

An ideal yoga mat should be light in weight, natural fabric, easy to clean, and non-slippery. You can find many type and different colors on amazon.com and choose the one that suit you best. There is no need to spend a fortune on your mat, but if you are getting serious about it and want a good quality with points of alignments to help you with your posture, check here. 

This is a helpful resource on yoga mats that my friend at reviews.com team recently put together. 16 mats were put under strenuous testing, and recommendations from few certified teachers found that this is exactly what they need for everyday  practice.

Straps

There are many ways to use straps for opening the body, the shoulders, the legs, and helps you hold poses with less effort. Straps are great for lengthening, stretching after a long day sitting at the office or when you feel stiff. A great example to open up the shoulders is as follow: Stand up in Tadasana, (standing posture), hold on to the strap with both hands wider than the shoulders. Inhale, take the strap over your head and bring it behind you as you exhale. Bring the strap back over head and repeat few times.

You can use the strap as a support for any pose variation.

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Let’s take an example for Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III pose). Stand in Tadasana, Hold the strap on each end behind you. Step one heel on the strap. As you inhale lift up through your sternum and engage your upper back and shoulders with straight arms. Lengthen the side of your body, as you lean your torso forward and lift your leg up to warrior 3.

Straps are useful to keep alignment while performing balancing postures. Whether you are trying downward dog, wheel, or crow pose, the benefit is the same. If the elbows tend to go out toward the side, loop the strap around your upper arms to keep the hands and arms in line with your shoulders. This will considerably re-enforce your arms strength and alignment.

Another pose Utthita hasta padangusthasana, (Extended hand to big toe) is challenging and tests your physical and mental sense of balance. This pose can be performed only when your mind is calm and when you do not try to achieve the shape. Use the strap and loop it around your foot, and keep the distance between the foot and the hand as close as you can. The strap encourages you to feel stable and in line. You can practice the stretch lying on your back as shown.

Straps are fairly cheap and they come in various fabrics, they are durable only the buckle material varies. I use the metal one as it holds the strap better when you loop it, it is stronger than the plastic ones, but it is often presented in white color and get stained easily.

Blocks

Use Blocks for proper alignment and for adjustment in your posture. They can be very useful in your practice. Blocks are essentials for beginner practitioners and for advanced yogis. They are often used when the flexibility is not quite there yet, as an example for Trikonasana (tringle pose) if you do not reach the floor with your hand.

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Open your legs slightly wider then your hips, turn your right foot out to 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Raise your arms parallel to the floor with the palms facing down.

Inhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane right leg, Press the outer heel firmly to the floor. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lenghten the tailbone toward the back heel.  Gaze down and rest your right hand on the block. Stretch your left arm toward the sky, in line with the top of your shoulders. keep you head in a neutral position or turn it to the left and gaze softly to the left thumb. Using a block for Extended triangle pose, can be useful to find better alignment and flexibility.  Use your breath as a tool in your practice, and feel the muscles engaging in this posture.

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Another helpful way to use a block is when you perform Eka pada rajakapotanasana, (pigeon pose) especially if the rotation in your hip or knee is not available. Place the edge of the block directly under your sit bone. Just like the forward fold, the block encourages a forward tilt of the pelvis and bring the body in proper alignment. It is best that you place your elbow to the ground so you do not feel too much pressure in your pelvis and if the opening in the hip is too intense. You can also use a blanket, or a bolster and place it under the sitting bone of that leg. Supporting your sitting bone will allow you to release the weight of your body and will increase your comfort in this posture. You will be able to breath more easily and deeply producing a calming effect on your nervous system.

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A simple posture such as Baddha konasana, (easy sited posture), can be difficult for some with tight hips. You can support your knees with block on each side of each leg, so the weight of the legs doesn’t pull too hard on the inner thighs.

 

There are many blocks in the market to choose from, if you are a frequent traveler like me, I suggest you to go for the foams blocks as they are light, cost is around 6 euros. A better quality block, would be to use as daily practice, bamboo block, but they are around 15 euros each. Then there are the cork blocks, more solid and grip everywhere, but they are around 25 euros each. Ideally buy 2 blocks, to perform balances postures and hold your body evenly on each side.

Blanket

Place a blanket under you pelvic floor when you are performing seated postures, as example, Upavistha konasana, (the wide legged forward fold) will helps you to engage your lower bandha by lifting up the pelvic floor. This will strengthen your inner thighs and core. You can also bend your knees if you are very stiff or place a blanket under each knee if your lower back and hips are tight.

How to use a blanket for Sirsasana, (shoulder stand). Fold the blanket, Place it under the shoulders but not bellow the neck, place the head on the mat, and lift the legs for sirsasana. Using the blanket underneath this area protects your neck.

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Use a blanket for chest opening. Blosters can be expensive, so for a more budget friendly option you can roll up a blanket tight and place it under the back, in line with the spine, and lower down. Place yours arms in a T shape in line with your shoulders and the palms of the hands facing upwards. Breathe and relax in this pose for as long as you like.

I would suggest you get the Manduka Blanket made of wool, for the warmth and comfort during your practice.

Bolster

A bolster looks like a big cusson, it can have a rectangular or circular shape. It is used mostly during yin or restorative practice with the purpose of relaxing and help soften a posture and opens up the body.

A good use even at home is recommended for Savasana or Corpe pose. Savasana is the most important part of your practice, because this is when your body integrates all of the efforts you have made during the practice. Place a bolster under your knees and let the legs float freely. This will help to lengthen and create open space in your lower back and allows it to be connected to the ground.

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A good way to use a bolster is to perform supported back bends. It is an immediate heart opener that allows the shoulders the chest, and the abdomen to open and relax, while the head the neck and the back are fully supported. This will also decompresses the spine. If you do not have a bolster handy, you can use blocks and a blanket as shown.

 

 

Supported forward fold. Paschimottanasana. Forward folds are amazing the bring your awareness back into yourself, to center yourself and reconnect with your inner world. On the physical level is help lengthen and relaxes the muscles. It stretches the hamstrings, the lower back the spine, and reduces anxiety by calming the mind.

Sukasana or easy pose. A bolster is very useful here especially for those who can’t open the hips because of stiffness, and in this posture the knees won’t reach the floor. Sit on the bolster and notice the difference. Legs are open, hips are comfortable, lower back is supported and the knees are in contact with the ground. This is ideal posture for meditation practice and generally how one would sit for extended hours during yoga training or workshops. Yoginis used to sit leg crossed for long periods of time, and it can be very painful at times if your back is not strong and if your hips are not open. The bolster helps greatly.

Bolster can be costly so an alternative would be to opt for a nice blanket that you can fold tightly instead.

Yoga wheel

The newcomer in the yoga world is a narrow wide cylinder made of plastic, wood, or other materials. This tool is used to enhance flexibility, deepen stretches, and can be challenging for balancing postures. Follow a course where this prop is used for a safe and effective practice.

Use the wheel in Sukasana. (Easy seated pose). Place the wheel in between your legs, knees opened wide, and big toes touching. Place your hands on top of the wheel and roll it to extend the arms in front of you until your torso touches your thighs. You will feel a deeper stretch in your arms shoulders and back.

Supta sukasana, (reclined easy seated pose variation) is great for relaxing the shoulders with the assistance of the wheel supporting your chest. Tension is the back is relieved. Spine is lengthened. Rest the forehead on the mat. Relax and breathe.

Matsyasana or fish pose. Here the wheel helps with opening the heart, arching the back, and without straining on the neck or arms. Breathe and rest on the wheel comfortably.

Yoga Wheels are around 20 euros more or less, depending on the nature of the material used, simple or with graffiti. There are many poses you can perform with the use of the wheel and benefit from it.

These tools mentioned above are a support for you when you spend a lot of time by yourself and have no one around to help you with your Asana. They are very useful for beginners and I found to make great improvement using them.

So get ready and set yourself accordingly. Have fun and keep up with the practice! Namaste.

 

Deep in the blue.

Breathing and diving.

Very often, we find that gaining strength and body mass can help dive deeper, because when we have bigger muscles we can generate more air in our body. Each muscles are fueled by oxygen, and the harder the muscle works, the more oxygen it requires. To dive deeper and longer, you need to make good use of this oxygen, and in order to do so , you must be very calm and relaxed.

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Relaxation helps considerably to be a good free diver, that way you can be more aware of the messages sent by your body, for example, spasm in the diaphragm are the first signals letting you know that you are running out of breath and therefore time for your ascension back to the surface. But when you control your mind in being relaxed and calm you will notice that you are able to remain few minutes longer without drawning.

Yoga is one great way to improve your breathing techniques. We use the breath in yoga poses, so that we can integrate into the asana or pose with ease and focus. Some techniques can considerably help you during your free dive.

Pranayama, or breathing exercises, such as Anuloma Viloma known as alternate nostril breathing, will definitely improve your lungs capacity. Smokers who are willing to stop smoking, use this powerful technique. After some time, your body starts to heal by generating new cells. You can start with practicing “Ujjayi”breath, commonly known as “the ocean breath” or “victorious breath”. Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth).

Throughout an entire yoga practice, you engage, breathe, lengthen, release, and repeat in order to transition from Asana to Asana. Each of these movements helps build both physical strength in your body as well as the mental strength required to consciously flow from one Asana to another with present moment and full body awareness. Certain yoga poses can help you stretch and expand the chest, such as the heart open poses: camel pose, full bridge, fish pose matsyanasa.

Massages has been proven to promote health and wellness. Massage therapy helps reduce stress, helps body and mind to relax. Deep tissue massage focus on the deeper layers of the muscles and the fascia, releasing the muscles, and ready for wider movements.

Meditation is an other very effective technique to use to control your mind, therefore remain calm and serene while free diving.

As free divers, we must learn how to use our breath, how to control our mind and how to remain calm in every situation. Harder to say then to do, probably, but nothing is easy.

The first time I went under water for a free dive in Indonesia, it took me several dives before I could reach up to 20 meters deep without taking-in a breath.

Sensations are very powerful, it is the best exercise to learn to master your thaughts and stay in control of your body.

So get into it, start your practice, stick with it, and be a great free diver, or a great breather.

Diving and yoga are hand in hand practice, that changed my behavior and attitude toward life in general. In many occasions, deep diving has shown my limitations and strength. I am so grateful to breathe and live this magic adventure everytime I get.

Feel free to leave your comments bellow on how the yoga helped you with your diving and life in general.

Surfing – Breathing – Meditating.

I have been teaching yoga 5 years and surfing 10 years and I am still learning. When you are out there in the surf line up, you are fully tuned with your surroundings and completely focused on what’s going on around you, if you don’t, there are chances where you could easily loose control of your balance, control over the board and control over the mind.

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I use this example as an example for life. Steady rhythm, steady breath, steady mind and therefore steady life.

Yoga is a great example and find equanimity (balance) with the breath but also with the flexibility, the strength and focus. If you clear your mind from fluctuation you will progress more.

When I am surfing, I feel like my thaughts disappear and no other emotions evolve except full awareness, the sensation of the slide on the lip of the wave.

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Just like meditation, the visions and the sensations flowing from my chest through my arms and my spine are magical, a feeling of calm peace and freedom holds me.

“Yoga and surf are naturally flowing, one by the rhythm of breath and body and the other gets you tuned with the ocean and the waves. You can’t force it but only go with it, and fully be in the moment”.

Life…. you make it…. With faith, hope and discipline in your practice, you will be the King or the Queen of your own century.

Enjoy the journey.

How yoga promotes mental well being?

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “unite”. Union between the physical and spiritual, body and mind. Yoga brings a multitude of therapeutic benefits. Regular practice is an essential part in our life. Yoga existed many years ago first in India and found it’s journey to the western countries, it is now firmly rooted in our culture.

The Practice of yoga provides all the physical benefits, but it also helps in the mental aspects. Yoga self practice must be adapted with full awareness in order to benefit from the positive changes, to be able to relax and release anxiety and depression. Depression is mostly due to fatigue, and stress.

Yoga effectiveness derives from the ability to release tension and cortisol level in the body. The emphasize is on deep calm profound breaths to allow the body to relax at a cellular level. Yin yoga is ideal practice, as you stretch deeply into the connective tissues, where all the magic happens. It helps in releasing tension, and letting free sensations that may rise to the surface.

When you have control over the breath you have control over the mental’s state and ability to control situations. Yoga meditation teaches you to take time to reflect on your actual state of mind, to search deep in the self. Yoga practice is about self awareness, self understanding. It helps you clarify other parts of your life, such as work, family, friends, relationships, ect…

The more you practice meditation the more you will gain control over your life and realize the changes you desire. Daily practice will help you stay calm, focused and helps you reduce considerably your anxiety, stress or depression.

When you keep your body flexible you also keep your mind flexible. Do not let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free.

I believe that everybody should have a healthy and balanced life style, and this is why I encourage you people to change your life for better and consequently change the world.

This blog is the ultimate for self improvement this year. With love. Namaste.

Self discovery.

Helping self and others.

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I had a conversation last night with a good friend of mine who tend to be depressed and unhappy with all his surrounding, friends and people close to him as well as with his family.

We decided to meet an clear out some points about his perception on life. I asked him what was so terrible in his life to feel so miserable everyday? He enumerated few things that were going wrong in his life, then he continued talking until he unconsciously said, I do not love myself… I stopped him right there.

I do not have all the answers, but If I can help people in need to make them feel better with themselves, to show them how wonderful they are, I will. It is a way to heal people, but to me it is all about attitude and energy that you are willing to give. I know from past experience, the only one thing that heals every problem, is love. When people start loving themselves, they can reach toward self confidence, success, happiness, every dump on the road dissolves leaving a clear pathway for you.

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I told my friend it all starts with love, love yourself first if you want to find happiness. Change your habits, shift from an unconscious to conscious state. Our subconscious is filled with ideas and beliefs, we don’t recognize we have. These ideas guide us by making decisions. These ideas are guiding our behavior and opinions about the world. At time, they hold us back from living the best life possible, by sabotaging our efforts with negative taught. When you find one, observe and figure out if it’s worth listening to it or not. This is how we bring the conscious closer to the subconscious and continue on the road to knowing ourselves better.

Sometimes, we don’t know what we want, where to go, how to feel about certain situations, and sometimes life seem to be just so hard to cope. Make time to know what you want to do with you life, and try to know who you are. Integrate positivism and affirmations to uplift your mood. Slowly, you will see things coming back to you. You will attract everything you need in your life.

Life is a journey of self discovery, not only it is important to love self, as only love keeps the universe together. We can really and only help others when we love and care for ourselves. Love is compassion for self, compassion for others, a deep understanding of self and others. As a reminder for all of us, we need more love, and less troubles.

This world need to be reminded of the love it carries and it’s beauty. This world need to be respected, this world need to be taking care off, this world need to be loved. You can make a change, it is up to you. Remember that you have the power to switch the light on. Feed your subconscious mind with love and let that beautiful light become your reality.

Please feel free to write your thoughts or comments bellow about your self discovery and if this blog helped you in anyways.

Namaste.