Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nesting, teaching kids to chant, and imaginary fish hooks.

These last few weekends I have been feeling the urge to putter around the house and be crafty.  I think my weekday schedule is crazy enough that I need a very quiet day to recover from it every now and then, and Saturdays have been my only opportunity of late.  This morning I made pancakes again (it is beginning to turn into a bit of a ritual!) and have spent my day being rather domestic indeed.  I baked a coconut pumpkin loaf this afternoon and have crocheted a toque/beanie and a half.  I am having a table at the local farmers market in two weeks time, and seeing as how the weather is cooling off and the mornings (especially the super early 4AM practice mornings) are feeling awfully winter-ish, I think hand crafted one of a kind toques will go over great!  There is a stash of about 20 tucked away at the moment, but I would love to get through at least another 10 or maybe even 15 before market day on June 11th.
In yoga land, things have been progressing.  I have taken on teaching the kids, the teens, and a beginners course all on my own, and so far it is going great.  Trying to reign the kids in to focus and actually learn some yoga on a Friday afternoon is probably the most challenging, but yesterday I made a discovery: chanting is the secret weapon to success.  We spent a solid 5 minutes at the end of class chanting different things, parts of the shanti mantra, oms, and then picked flowers from the garden for the Ganesha statue in the hallway.  It is pretty sweet to see them all tied up in padmasana (aka lotus for any readers not fluent in yoga talk), hands in prayer position chanting devotional hymns in Sanskrit and then hunting down flowers for a deity.    My own practice hasn't suffered from all the hours assisting and teaching classes, if anything it has been the opposite.  On the days when I am really exhausted and rolling up to the studio at a quarter to four in the morning to practice before assisting I have been able to rely on floating through on my breath and even if my limbs feel like lead, my bandhas have been there for me.  Some of the poses in second that I thought I would never be able to do are all of a sudden just happening, and when I stopped thinking of karandavasana being all about shoulder strength it all made sense.  Nothing to do with the extremities, all about the pelvis.  I am imagining someone with a fishing rod above me and they have hooked my tailbone and lower me down slowly so that I articulate through each vertebrae and get my padmasana resting on my arms with a fair bit of control.  Coming back up takes a bit of help, but I have a feeling that given a bit more time it might actually be possible.  When I first saw this I laughed and thought that there was absolutely NO WAY that my body would ever develop the power required to pull it off, and wasn't terribly worried about it, because that part of the intermediate series seemed ages away.  Even this past trip to Mysore when I ended my practice the posture before and got to watch I thought there was no chance..  At that point I was still face-planting when I tried to balance in pincha mayurasana, so the skepticism was pretty logical at the time.  Now it is here and it isn't nearly as bad as I thought.  Bambi has been one of my nicknames since I started yoga (think of the ice skating scene in the Disney movie), so that this is possible is pretty incredible.  Maybe when I can come back up on my own I will make a video.  I might need proof of this one.  Then the test will be to see if I can make it happen in the led intermediate class next time I end up back in Mysore.    
Better get back to crocheting, market day is coming soon.....

*Funny.  I spell checked this entry and the suggestion for padmasana was parmesan.  Not quite the same things.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Birthday Pancakes!

On the weekend I got the chance to celebrate my special Kiwi's birthday, and because he didn't want to do anything big or flashy (no birthday cake, no party...) I tried to make it a special day in my own little way.  We have gotten into the habit of making pancakes together most Saturdays anyways (the only morning I'm not waking up to an alarm at a shockingly early hour), but I upped the ante a little and made a huge batch: buckwheat, vegan, and heart shaped, with a sparkler candle on top.  I got this recipe from another blog that I don't really read, I just hunted down vegan pancakes on google a few weeks ago and this was the winner, just because it looked both yummy and easy.  It was a nice start to the birthday boy's day, and didn't make him feel silly... I know how much I hate a big hullabaloo on my birthday, so I didn't want to cross the line on that one for sure.   Got to love how making someone else feel special makes you feel good in return!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


This week marked two years since Pattabhi Jois passed away, and it got me to thinking about the idea of parampara, or the idea of transference of knowledge from guru to student.  Pattabhi Jois was known affectionately as Guruji to thousands of yoga practitioners around the world, and even after leaving this existence, his legacy of Ashtanga Vinyasa continues to touch people around the globe on a daily basis. Many modern yoga instructors take his teachings and put their own personal stamp on them, embellishing and modifying until the core of the method is a minor afterthought, but the global community of dedicated practitioners somehow continues to flourish. Homage is paid to Guruji every day that his students step onto their mats and practice this method in the correct way, with devotion and surrender, and the hopes of connecting to something greater than themselves.  The last few years of my life have been marked by this man, and although I didn't have to opportunity to be his student firsthand, I am filled with gratitude to be able to receive this knowledge from those he taught personally.

"If we practice the science of yoga, which is useful to the entire human community and which yields happiness both here and hereafter - if we practice it without fail, we will then attain physical, mental, and spiritual happiness, and our minds will flood towards the Self." 
K. Pattabhi Jois

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blessed Unrest

"How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one's culture but within oneself?  If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox.  One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse.  There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions.  You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light."

Barry Lopez