Saturday, December 1, 2012

How the locals see it

I made a trip up to the top of chamundi hill this morning, as a friend had run all the way from the shala and through the city, then around the winding road to get there, as a way to fundraise for Odanadi and Operation Shanti.  He did a great job, running faster than expected and raising a fair bit of money for his cause.  The girls that I went up with (4 ladies in a rickshaw going up hill... we didn't move very fast...) had been drinking chai all morning so when we got to the top, and had congratulated Trevor, we went off in search of a toilet.  Well, we found one, with 3 doors and gentleman sitting outside collecting 5 rupees per person for the privilege of using the loo.  The three doors were ladies, gents and then this one...

and now we know what the locals really think about the western style toilets!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Click!

Just a fun rickshaw photo I took while playing with my camera settings.  The 'punk' effect is working well for this one...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mosh pits and yoga don't mix well

There is a funny phenomenon on Friday and Sunday mornings in Mysore, before the guided classes.  Huddled outside the gate at 4:25 AM (shala time) about 80 yoga students jump when Prakash (Sharath's gatekeeper/babysitter/friend/?) comes stumbling bleary-eyed down the steps and unlocks the gate to let the rabid mob in.  As soon as that gate is open a millimeter, the mosh pit begins, sans music, sadly.   It is an un-nerving experience at that early hour, and it is a bit incongruous with the fact that we are all meant to be going in there to do some yoga.  Where is the ahimsa in elbowing someone out of the way, just to get your favorite spot, front row center?  Jeepers.  The 6AM bunch is a similar experience, but they are lined up on the shala steps instead of outside the gate.  Lucky for me, I get to avoid this exercise in ridiculousness altogether on Sundays because the intermediate class isn't full at the moment, so even if you are the last one in the door, there will be a spot left.   And quite frankly, I couldn't care less what spot I get, any day of the week.  Sharath has eyes in the back of his head, just like mums do, so wherever you go in that room, he sees you, even when you think he can't possibly be looking.  The whole issue of getting a certain spot is quite widespread in the shala, and I have been there myself, truth be told, but I can't figure out why. My second visit in particular, I was quite attached to a spot in the third row, but why I liked it so much, I have no idea.  On Mysore practices now I wait for the mosh pit to push it's way up the steps and walk up behind them without any worry of errant elbows, and I try and avoid a spot in the front row, just so that I don't have to worry about any ticktock vs stage conflicts, but other that that, I go wherever.  There is a growing group of people waiting out the crowds, so maybe eventually it will be a small group of frothing elbowers, and a big group of people waiting back, saying, "no madam, after you,"  "no, madam, I insist, after you!"  How nice would that be.  Really and truly, mosh pits and yoga don't mix.  Each at their own time fine.  Mixing?  Not correct method.

In other mosh pit news, I went in to the city yesterday to go to the bookstore, and made a trip through Devaraj Market.  On a Saturday afternoon, this is a slightly crazy thing to do.  The crowds in there are at maximum capacity.  It makes it easier to avoid the multitude of young men trying to sell you bangles and scented oils though, and I managed to mosey through gathering less attention than normal.   There is a small stall selling old prints of deities in the back corner of the market, and I made my way over there just to look, but managed to find a very love-able Ganesha print that looks like it is from long ago.  It came home with me, so facing the chaos was well worthwhile.

Three weeks left on the clock for this trip.  That is a limited number of mosh pit avoidance moments left to be had, although going back to Bondi in December may mean facing something similar on the beach...  what to do?

  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Boomboomboom!


 
Dipavali is here!  Good thing I brought lots of earplugs, because the mayhem after dark will be going on more or less all week.  A few days ago I went down to the local elementary school where they sell firecrackers and rockets and had a good laugh at their inappropriate signage, which has become even more inappropriate since I saw it two years ago. 
 
One word stands out quite a lot... I would have thought they would put more emphasis on the word fireworks, and less on the name of the brand... but that is just me.

I only bought the sparkly fireworks, not the firecrackers that are just loud and make me jump every time they go off.   I want pretty colours and lights!  Too bad I already used them all up... will have to go shopping for more this afternoon, as tonight is apparently the day for the big spectacle.  There will be a lot of yoga student zombies wandering around Gokulam the next few days... not much sleep will be possible!

Yahoo!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not just bats in the cave

My first trip here, I was shown how to do neti pot, pouring a warm saline solution into one nostril with your head at a certain angle so that it can pass through the sinuses and come out the other side.  It is something I do fairly often when I am living somewhere with excess pollution or dust, when I have a cold, or when my eyes have been irritated.  When I am in Mysore, my eyes get very irritated, and there is a whole lot of pollution and dust, so the neti pot, and the sutra neti come out quite often.  The stuff that comes out of my nose can be quite alarming, and today was no exception. This morning I was up early, made coffee, and then boiled some extra water for some pre-practice neti action, and once I got started, I was in for a surprise.  First side, no problem.  Second side, some resistance; the water did not want to go through.  A little sutra neti on both sides (threading a thin tube up the nose and catching it out through the mouth, essentially a sinus flossing procedure, as satisfying as flossing the teeth), and then another round of neti pot on both sides.  I was doing my last big "farmer snot" nose blowing technique to get all the water and boogers out, and what comes blasting out of my left nostril, but an ant.  An ANT.  It must have crawled in there at some point when I was sleeping, and apparently the inside of my nose is not a good habitat for ants, seeing as how it was dead, but I have to say that I couldn't be happier to have it out of my nose and down the drain.  If there was any reason to keep up the neti pot, this is IT. 

Memo to the ants of Mysore:  stay out of my nose!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Halfway

Tomorrow I go re-register for my second month at the shala, and it feels a bit strange to know that it also marks the halfway point of the trip.  My other three visits have all been for three months each, so this seems like a mini-trip in comparison.  Part of me is dying to go back home to Sydney, and be back in my life, but the time practicing in the shala here is so very sweet that I wish I could stay forever.    Or be here in the mornings for practice, and then be home again for the rest of the day.... is time travel an option? 

I have joined the level one Sanskrit class (for the second time), and somehow, surprisingly I am actually understanding what is being taught.  The first time I came, I took the class, but missed one or two classes due to some tummy issues, and then was completely lost the whole rest of the course.  My pronunciation is nowhere near perfect, and I don't know the whole alphabet, but what is being taught is sinking in instead of going way over my head.  Yahoo!

Practice in the morning is really something special.  That room is one of my favourite places in the world, stinky carpets and all.  Even when you have an agro/heavy breathing/malodorous neighbour, which doesn't happen all that often, you can feed off everything else that is happening in the space and soak it up instead.  Sharath has been teasing me nearly everyday that my arms are too weak, and he is very right, they are, but the are so many little changes, both mentally and physically, that even if it isn't yet visible, some strength is coming.  Slowly slowly. 

For the first time this trip, a couple of weeks ago, I went into a temple.  Many temples actually, all the ones on the way up Chamundi Hill.  I had been hesitating to go in and participate, because I am not Hindu, and also because I know there are specific ways to do things in temples, and I don't know how to do them correctly.  A friend who has also been here several times gave me a quick run down, and after my first misplaced kumkum, somewhere rather off center, everything was fine.  The attitude about foreigners participating in festivals and temple activities is so open that I don't know why I was worried in the first place.  There is a lovely Ganesha temple just across from the chai stand, right here in Gokulam and as he is my favorite of the Hindu deities, I might start taking in flowers more often. 

It is very nearly time for bed, or at least I have a fairly severe case of the eye rubs, so at 7PM on a lovely Monday evening, it is time to get ready for bed.  The street dogs have been doing choir practice right outside my window around 2AM, nearly everyday, so the stupid-o-clock wake up has been shifted earlier than necessary.   Thank goodness for coffee. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday morning rambling

I have been neglectful with blog posts lately, partly because I am not sure I have much to write about, even being back in India.  There hasn't been a lot happening for me here this trip, I have almost been using it to recover some energy stores after the busy few months I had in Sydney before arriving.  Things have been happening, I mean, it is India, so there is always something going on, I have just been choosing to participate in less and spend more time resting and enjoying some solitude and quiet, with the occasional outing thrown in.  Dasara festival happened last week, which meant there were many days of pujas and then a big parade in the city, but after experiencing the parade and seeing the elephants all decorated and dressed up a few years ago, I decided to lay low this time around and just hang out in Gokulam.  Boring, I know.  Diwali is coming though, and I doubt I will be able to resist the firecrackers, so I will be getting festive soon.

Practicing here is always something special, and this trip has been no exception.  How to describe what it is that makes it special is very difficult to articulate, and I have probably tried to do so in previous posts on previous trips, so I won't stumble over words trying to come up with a good explanation this time around, but that room holds some magic for me.  In one very heartfelt conference last year Sharath said that he still misses Guruji everyday, but he feels him in the shala, that his presence is there, and that as long as we keep practicing, he is with us.  Maybe that explains it all.

There has been some interesting buzz around the internet lately about the Jois Foundation and their program for teaching kids yoga in school, and how some parents are reacting negatively, with the feeling that the program is a form of religious indoctrination.   It is an interesting thing to read about, because, in my humble opinion, yoga is not a religion in any way, shape or form, but it is a spiritual practice that invites you to have a deeper relationship to whoever or whatever you personally believe in.  Call God by whatever name you like, but surrender to something bigger than yourself.  And, while I am throwing my two cents in, having taught kids yoga before, lets just say it is challenging enough to teach them postures and keep them interested, so I can't imagine there is too much philosophy talk happening in those school programs.  Hopefully it turns out well over there in Encinitas.

The other interesting buzz I have been hearing is about the presidential election in the USA.  Now, please, I am not American, but as a (lapsed) Canadian, I suppose what happens does affect my country.  It is baffling how much international press American politics can gather, but what amazes me even more is that this sounds like a close race.  If the population of America is roughly 50% women (I am guessing?), why any of them would vote for someone who wants to make them second class citizens is beyond me.  Obama certainly hasn't had a perfect track record, but he is so much a better option that if I had a vote, it would undoubtedly be for him.   It seems like the yoga community in general is of the same opinion, so hopefully they all get out there and cast their ballot in the right direction.

Anyways, it is a lovely Saturday morning here in Mysore, so I am going to go and enjoy it.  Oil bath and maybe a breakfast adventure.  Might be a good day to get out of the house a little bit!

Off I go...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Elusive Creative Genius

 
Every now and then I watch one of the TED talk videos, and this one on the elusive creative genius really caught me.  Watch and enjoy, it is worth the time; she is one clever lady!
"Ole!’ to you, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)
 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bondi Badass Bunnies Update

The bunnies in Bondi that I had blogged about a few months ago had been on a bit of a hiatus, but just before I left Sydney, a whole new litter popped up near my house.  Many new characters, but my personal favorites are be the pirate and the superhero.  I have heard through some comments on my other post that these little guys have a name: Fuuki!  If anyone happens to be interested, look up Fuuki on Facebook and you will find out all about them. 
 
Too bad I am not in Bondi now to see if they are still multiplying!  I can't imagine Fuuki turning up in Mysore!
 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Here we go again...

I woke up about 45 minutes before my alarm went off this morning, my eyes snapping open after a fairly restless night, because today I need to attend my first led intermediate series class of the season, and there are many many butterflies fluttering around in my belly.  The intermediate class is nothing new for me, I have been in there the last two trips, but something about it still scares the bejeebers out of me, and there is really no rational reason why that would be.  When I was first here, I remember seeing some of the intermediate and advanced students practicing as I was sitting in the lobby, waiting to here Sharath's 'one more!', and thinking that there was something pretty incredible about these superhuman feats that they were pulling off on a daily basis.  Some of the postures looked truly impossible, and the calm with which they were completed was even more incredible.  These were the big kids, so to speak, and I was one of the little kids, and it didn't cross my mind that I would one day be doing some of those superhero moves too.  The thing is, I get the feeling like I am still one of the little kids, in the room with the big kids.  What does it take to be one of the big kids?  Something tells me it is, more than anything, time.   So I will go, sit on the steps with a ball of nervous tension in my belly, edge my way in to the shala when the primary class is finished, and when Sharath calls us through the vinyasas, I will breathe.  Inhale, exhale.  Somewhere during the surya namaskara, I will relax, but next week, more fear will come.  A samskara to work on, me thinks.

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back in Mysore!

Back in Mysore yet again, and it feels fantastic to be here.  I have spent the last two days in a bit of a sleep deprived daze, running around and catching up with some old friends and trying to get settled in, but what made me really feel like I am truly HERE was the first practice in the shala.  My start time is 6 AM, which feels neither early or late, and just being back in the space, among all that energy, is pretty incredible.  I cruised through primary today in a state of complete happiness, and get two more days of easing in before I get thrown in to the led intermediate class on Sunday.  I am a bit nervous just thinking about it, only because I know just how hard it will be.  Rumor has it that the intermediate group is much smaller this year, which means there will be less room to hide.  Yikes!

Mysore (or at least Gokulam, haven't ventured into the city yet) remains much the same, granted I was only here six months ago, so there hasn't been a lot of time for changes to take place.  The coconut stand is still in it's place, the chai is still sweet enough to make you wonder if diabetes can happen in a single cup of tea, the rickshaw drivers all still hang out on the same corner hoping for business, the cows still wander the streets.  I am looking forward to going for a wander with my camera and catching some of the beauty that surrounds me. 
More updates soon...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ahimsa

I have been lent some reading material by a friend of mine, a large stack of back issues of 'The Sun', a literary magazine from the US, that is free of advertisements, and rich in thought provoking short stories, article, quotations, and photographs.  Each issue has a section called the dog-eared page, selections from works that have deepened and broadened the editor's understanding of the human experience.  One of the issues that I am borrowing features excerpts from 'All Men Are Brothers' by Mahatma Gandhi, and what Gandhi had to say on the idea of ahimsa piqued my interest.

He says:

In it's positive form, ahimsa (not doing harm) means the largest love, greatest charity.  If I am a follower of ahimsa, I must love my enemy.  I must apply the same rules to the wrongdoer who is my enemy or a stranger to me as I would to my wrong-doing father or son.  This active ahimsa necessarily includes truth and fearlessness.  As man cannot deceive the loved one, he does not fear or frighten him or her.  The gift of life is the greatest of all gifts; a man who gives it in reality, disarms all hostility.  He has paved the way for an honorable understanding.  And none who is himself subject to fear can bestow that gift.  He must therefore be fearless.  A man cannot practice ahimsa and be a coward at the same time.  The practice of ahimsa calls forth the greatest courage.

And another gem:

Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable. 

Some nice thoughts to start to week, no?





 

Friday, August 17, 2012

sweet simplicity

Life in Bondi beach is ticking along in a way that one friend of mine has labeled as 'sweetly simplistic.'  Maybe this is why I've had nothing to write about?  Not enough drama in my life perhaps?  What I have noticed lately is that I am getting a little better at rolling with the punches.  Last year when I had to move house, I resisted it and dreaded it, even though I hardly had anything to actually move, and had a great housemate to move with.  This weekend I will be moving house here, and it has hardly even ruffled my feathers, so to speak.  I live with a lovely family, and have more or less been adopted into the fold.  The mum and dad are near the same age as my parents, but their kids are 14 and 18, so I have slotted into the mix as a bit of a bridge between the generations, and get to be an independent adult, as well as a stand-in big sister.  Anyways, this family has been kind enough to ask me to come along with them, even though it means that quarters will be a bit cramped, and my lil sis will have to use the sunroom as her bedroom.  We aren't moving far, still in Bondi, and closer to all the essentials (work, the beach the organic bakery....) but I haven't actually seen inside the house yet.  Something tells me that if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for me.  Moving on to my kajillionth house address has never felt so easy. 
Another thing I have realized is that my life has been sweet because I have struck up a few fantastic friendships here.  Not only do I have good friends who I have quality time with over coffee and scrabble and trips to the farmer's markets, but walking home from work sometimes takes ages because I keep bumping into people that I know, and it is a great feeling to be a part of the community.  I don't think I will be turning into one if the infamous Bondi Hipsters anytime soon though, thank goodness, due to lack of  ability to grow an ironic beard. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is re-reading books for Grandmas only?

The way my schedule works these days, I have a few free hours in the middle of the day, and to fill this time I have been doing a fair bit of crocheting, a fair bit of wandering around the neighbourhood, and a whole heck of a lot of reading.  When I get home in the evening after teaching, I usually only really have a little snack and a cup of tea, a shower, and then it is usually more or less my bed time.  Going to bed at grandma o'clock is a good idea when you are getting up at verging-on-stupid o'clock.  A friend of mine has been teasing me about my grandma-ish tendencies, and when I mentioned that I love to revisit books that I have already read, that was another tick in the grandma behavior category. 

So I am an underage grandma.  Ok, I can live with that... there are worse things to be accused of!

Anyways, this Nana in training is reading the Life of Pi  by Yann Martel for at least the fifth time.  It is one of my favorite books, not only due to the quality of the writing, but also because of the way the story can be interpreted.  This habit of reading the same book many times has been with me since my childhood, and I don't know exactly where it started, or with what book, but there is something about picking up a familiar book and diving into the pages that have held you captive many times before that is a lot like catching up with an old friend.

In case anyone was wondering, the minor ninjury of last week seems to have been just a warning from the Ashtanga police.  There has been no residual pain in the spot where the crunch happened, but just as a precautionary measure, and also to help get rid of the cold that has been dragging me down the last few weeks, I have been practicing primary series this week.  A little yoga chikitsa to sort me out.  Next week I imagine it will be back to the usual, but it has felt good to ease off for a little while.

My brain is starting to get all fuzzy, so I suppose I had better stop blathering on and go take a Nana nap..... 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ashtanga Police

The Ashtanga Police are real.  Not in a sense that they drive around in a rickshaw and hand out fines for drishti violations or over-ripe cotton mat citations, but real in a sort of figurative sense.  Pretend that I didn't just contradict myself there.

People joke about the Ashtanga Police all the time, probably because there are so many specific details involved in the practice that many practitioners find it quite regimented, and more than a little strict.  Fair enough, there is a lot to remember, and people tend to be picky about the particulars.  Myself included.  Usually when a moon day comes around, I look forward to the day off, but this week, we had the lovely Mark Robberds teaching, and his schedule overlapped with the new moon.  After deciding to take advantage of his time here in Bondi, even though it was a moon day, I laughed to myself, thinking I should head to the shala in a disguise to help avoid the AP, but didn't think too much of it, deciding that I could take rest on Friday instead to make up for it.   I got into my practice, feeling fine, and made it all the way to my last posture, when the police caught up with me.  As I was taking my five breaths, feeling comfortable, at ease, there was out of nowhere, a crunchy noise from the general area of the back of my knee.  After easing out of the asana, assessing what was actually going on, I felt pretty much no pain, except for a dull sort of ache in the wiry tendony bits at the base of the hamstring.  I did the other side with no crunching, finished my practice, carefully, but without any need for modifications, and told Mark that I would consider it a minor ninjury instead of an injury.  This minor ninjury though, can be nothing other than a warning from the AP, telling me that I shouldn't be in the shala on moon days, or I will suffer the consequences.  Lucking for me it was just a warning!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Early mornings and asana breakthroughs

Yoga has ruined my ability to have a Saturday morning lie-in.  Poor me.  At several variations on stupid-o-clock this morning my eyes popped open, I scrounged around beside my bed for my phone (it is also my alarm clock) and squinted with bleary, sleepy eyes at the time, feeling like I had slept for eons and it must be time to get up.  At about 5:30, I gave up on staying asleep, and tiptoed downstairs to make a cup of coffee, so I could at least curl up in bed with a cuppa and a book.  That was over an hour ago, and it is still dark now, although the sun is finally on it's way up and there is some light in the sky.  My internal clock seems to be permanently fixed to wake in the pre-dawn hours; I can't remember the last time I slept past 6.   There are worse things in life though, it just means that I have to go to bed at the same time as the toddler in the flat next door. 

Speaking of yoga, I had another minor asana breakthrough this week.  Sharath had me start working on tick tocks not long before I left the shala on my last visit, and they seemed absolutely impossible for my wibbly wobbly body to possibly do, until the last week I was there, when I managed to sort it out two or three times per practice.  Then when I got back to Australia they disappeared.  To be fair, the 'tick' has been getting steadier and less spastic, but the 'tock' has been sighted only once or twice in the last few months.  Elusive, and really really frustrating.  Not to mention exhausting.  This past week however, it happened twice, and that may be a small victory, but it is a victory nonetheless.  Energy levels have been pretty low too, with extra teaching hours and the remnants of a minor cold to deal with, so I was a bit surprised to have any success there at all.  What I did notice though, is that it is a major exercise in concentration, more than physical effort.  The world around me sort of disappears at certain points in my practice; I get so zoned in to what is going on with my breath and my body that there could be tap dancing elephants beside me and I probably wouldn't notice, and for something as hard for me as these tick tocks, I have to be in that state of focus.  No citta vrittis, no drishti violations.  More work is needed.  Hopefully the tock doesn't go into hiding again.

So what to do on a Saturday morning in beautiful Bondi, when you've been awake for hours and the whole day stretches ahead of you?  A wee bit of blogging, and then on to making some brekkie (quite the novelty to get breakfast in before 11AM these days!) and a trip to the farmer's markets!  Apples and beetroot and kale, oh my!   

Saturday, July 7, 2012

4 Years Already?

Somewhere in the last few weeks I hit the four year mark of having a daily yoga practice, and it is also in the last few weeks that I have really started planning for my fourth trip to Mysore.  It is hard to believe that so much time has passed, and it is mind blowing that I have been able to spend so much time studying in India.  The trips back to KPJAYI have all had a different feeling in the lead up.  The first time I was a more than a bit scared, travelling for the first time to a developing country, jumping head first into a practice that I had only been doing for a few months and knew next to nothing about.  The second trip was something I anticipated for months, as I spent the year leading up to it practicing alone in my living room, and the thought of being back in the shala with all the energy and more importantly, my teacher, kept me motivated on the days where actually getting started seemed impossible.  Heading back last time, I looked at it as a respite from the gruelling schedule I had been maintaining as I tried to save up enough money and do my three months of farm work to qualify for a second year working holiday visa in Australia.  The prospect of getting up at 3AM, going to practice, and then coming home and snoozing for a while seemed like a total vacation, as strange as that may seem.  The excitement for going for this fourth visit isn't to the same pitch as it has been in the past; it feels more like going home.  I don't really consider Mysore as a home, truth be told, mostly because I don't know that I could ever really hope to understand the complexities of Indian culture, and as much as I love Indian food, after a few months eating it, all I want is something without any trace of masala, and crunchy without being fried, but there is a degree of familiarity that makes living there a few months at a time pretty easy.  There is also less expectation of some sort of result each time that I go.  The first trip it was a running mental dialog of ... I will learn yoga, I will learn chanting, I will make heaps of friends, I will try new foods and love them all, I will have some sort of intense 'spiritual experience', I will evolve into an entirely new and improved person (ha!!),  I may be ripped limb from limb in a rickshaw accident, chances are good that I will pick up at least one parasite, etc etc etc.  The list of expectations could go on and on and on.  The funny thing is, almost all of those things did happen to a certain degree (no rickshaw accident thank goodness), but I didn't realize at the time, so while I was there I was constantly searching for a life altering epiphany and not seeing it.  Going now, the expectation is more along the lines of... I will learn, and I will drink a lot of coconuts.   Pretty safe bets really.  And all the other experiences that come up are just (mostly) pleasant surprises.  October is still a way off, and I have lots of  important things organize in the meantime, a flight and a visa for example, but I can't picture there being too much drama in the lead up.   More than anything, I am just happy to have the chance to go and be a student and soak up as much as possible. 
Four years of practice, not very much in the grand scheme of things, but what a beautiful time it has been.  Five years ago I was still in the dance world, living in Calgary AB, working in a pottery painting studio part-time, and in a daze of pain most days.  So many new experiences since then, so many changes are there. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Guru Purnima

Pattabhi Jois was born on the full moon of July in 1915, so the full moon yesterday marked his birthday, and what a day for a man who came to be known Guruji to be born.  The full moon in July is also a festival day, Guru Purnima, and to quote Tim Miller's blog, Tuesdays with Timji, Guru Purnima is a day when we express our love, gratitude, and devotion to our Guru, and remember the significant contribution that he/she has made to our lives and the lives of many others. It is also traditionally a time for us to reflect on the past year and to recommit ourselves to the spiritual path taught by our Guru.  Tim is someone I have not yet been fortunate enough to meet, but I highly recommend his blog if you have the time/opportunity to read it.  So that being said, honour your guru, celebrate the full moon, and well, now that the moonday is over, listen to Guruji: do your practice and all is coming.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Oh Canada.

Today is already the 2nd of July in Australia, but in Canada, it is still the 1st, which means many Canucks will be celebrating the day that our country came to be.  I haven't done anything to really honour the occasion, but a friend of mine posted this video on FB and I liked it so much that I thought it appropriate to share it.  It is a very clever and creative rendition of the national anthem, played entirely on beer cans and bottles.  I don't partake in the beer drinking that seems to be such a big part of canadian culture, but I love the ingenuity of how they put the song together.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kumare

After my last post on questionable teachers, and making fun of the new Yoga Teacher Barbie, I thought that I would try to say something nice in my next post.  Maybe write about something a little more thought provoking.

But.

This morning I saw a link to a trailer of the film Kumare.  This guy pretends to be a guru and winds up with a following of people believing everything he says.  It looks absolutely fascinating. 



This is something I would definitely like to watch in full.  There are people who go out into the world and call themselves gurus and gather a following in earnest.  This spiritual skeptic does it as a social experiment, just to see if it can be done.  I am dying to see how his followers react when he exposes Kumare as a character, an entirely put-upon guise.

It also makes me appreciate the parampara of Ashtanga yoga.  

Any thoughts?  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Questionable Teachers


That is an interesting asana Barbie.
There are certainly a lot of dodgy yoga 'teachers' around these days, something we are all aware of, but a new yoga teacher has hit the scene, and I am really questioning her credentials.

Wonder what style of yoga it is that Barbie teaches?  I could see her being into something anusara inspired perhaps.  I hope she doesn't get into any sort of romantic scandals if Ken starts attending her classes. 

For the record, I was never a fan of Barbies as a little girl.  Maybe that explains my distaste for her as a yoga teacher.

One last thought, and maybe I am being too literal here, but pretty well the only real qualification one needs to practice yoga is the abilility to breathe.  Barbie, plastic as she is, probably can't.  So if she can't practice yoga, how on earth does she manage to teach?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bondi Graffiti:Badass Bunnies

A few weeks ago, as I walked to work one morning, I began to notice a few little bunnies popping up and the sides of buildings and parking meters, and over the next few days, they began to multiply, like, well, rabbits.  These aren't your usual cute and fluffy type of bunnies, no, they are sort of hipster badass bunnies.  They revolve around a few themes, take a look.
Boozing bunny

Puking bunny (too much boozing, I suspect)


Suicidal bunny

Skater bunnies

Parking assistant bunny
 There are probably at least 25 of these little critters around the Bondi Beach area, and sadly, some of them have either been scraped off or are peeling off after getting rained on all week.  They are pretty cute though, and there is something nice about them not being too permanent.  Maybe in a few weeks there will be yoga bunnies, rock band bunnies, or surfer bunnies, who knows?  I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bondi Graffiti: Love is all around us

There is heaps of graffiti in and around Bondi Beach, and a lot of it is just the silly tagging that people go around doing, scrawling an illegible name across a building or fence, but there are some themes I am noticing as well.  I'm going to make this into a few different posts, but today I'll keep the focus on the love graffiti.



Hard to tell in a photo, but this was a soldier with hearts coming out of a gun, until someone sprayed yellow all over it...



Love dog walking?
There are a few bits of 'love' street art that have been painted over since I decided to photograph them, but it seems to be a pretty common theme.  I would count the 'project love' in the sidewalk as part of this collection as well.  (If you don't know what I am talking about check out the post from a week or two ago.) 

Coming soon: Bondi Bunnies, Words of Wisdom, and Murals.   

Sunday, June 3, 2012

16: Moments

This is a beautiful, beautiful video that I saw a few days ago, and it keeps coming back to my mind, so I thought I would share it here.  It is only a few minutes long; take the time to watch it.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Project Love

When I first moved in to this neighbourhood, and was exploring all the different ways to walk to the beach and to work, and discovering which streets have more trees and less traffic I came across these two words etched into the sidewalk.

I find myself walking down this stretch of road more often than necessary, and it is a very dangerous way to walk, due to the organic bakery with it's wide open doors and the aroma of cookies and bread and coffee wafting out, how to resist stopping for a treat?  Anyways, I see these words and I always fall to wondering about who took the time to do it.  Did they mean project as a verb?  Did they mean it as a noun?  This little bit of sidewalk graffiti fascinates me every time I see it.    Project Love, whether as a verb or a noun seems like a good idea to me.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

G'day mate

The Australian accent is fantastic.  It is playful and cheeky and colourful, and there is an awful lot of it getting absorbed into my manner of speaking.  So many words are shortened, so much slang is there, and so many r's are missing in action. 

For example:

This arvo, I had an avo and a cuppa and then went to the op shop and got a jumpah in good nick, and it was a bit expo.  (Arvo means afternoon, and avo means avocado, but they sound exactly the same.  Cuppa is cup of tea or coffee, op shop is short for opportunity shop (second hand store), jumper=jumpah=hoodie, in good nick means in good condition, expo is expensive.) Phew

Some more words/ phrases you hear a lot:
Heaps, I reckon, far out, darling, bubba, ta, cheers, no worries, bogan, tucker, and there are more, I just can't think of them at the moment.

Words that make me giggle: (essentially anything with an r)
Here (heah), hair (haih), beer (beah) surf (suuf) yarn (yahn).... you get the idea

What's even funnier is that often words with no r end up sounding like they do, for example yoga starts sounding like yoger. 

Little things too like instead of saying you've been at the beach, you would say you've been down the beach.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be condescending.  I am just fascinated, and have been really enjoying the colourful additions that I have noticed slipping into my own voice.  Part of the fun of traveling is seeing all these little variations in language from place to place, and playing with different ways of communicating. 

Crikey!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sharath's Conference Demo

Sharath doesn't demo very often, but he did at a conference this past March.  I had already left Mysore, so I didn't see it in person, but it is pretty amazing to see even on youtube.  Let the boss show you what he means by bandhas.



Lucky he didn't tip over.  No mat on those tiles... risky business!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guruji

Today marks three years since Pattabhi Jois passed away.  What a profound impact this man had on the world.  Sending gratitude and respect to Guruji; his legacy lives on.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Breath of the Gods

A trailer for what looks to be a great yoga documentary! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Superhero moments

I don't write about my actual practice very often on this blog, partly because I don't think it is all that interesting, and partly because it isn't really something that I dwell on outside of the time that I am practising, but every now and then something noteworthy happens that seems relevant enough to write about.  A breakthrough or a revelation of some sort that, to paraphrase Kino MacGregor, allows the impossible to become possible.

A lot of what goes on in an ashtanga yoga shala, to an unknowing observer, would look like some sort of ninja training.  People do absolutely mind blowing things with their bodies and they do it with a degree of focus and ease that make it look extraordinary.  Quite frankly, a lot of things that happen in the practice are nothing short of extraordinary.  When you begin, the simple things are really hard.  You learn to focus, you learn to breathe, you keep repeating those same things over again, day after day, watching the subtle shifts in your body as things begin to unlock and you start to get to know the inner workings of your own unique instrument, and then you learn something new, and it is really hard.  You may look up at some point, and notice the person beside you doing something that looks like it will be forever out of the realm of possibility for you, and watch on in admiration for a moment, but then you remember your drishti, and get back to your own practice.  Sooner or later you get to that asana yourself, and maybe for a while it is indeed impossible, but then with time, breath, patience, and maybe a helping hand or word of advice from a teacher, small inroads are created, and then one day... poof! You have discovered a potential within yourself that you failed to believe ever existed.

The arm balancing postures of intermediate have been that mountain for me.  When I first saw karandavasana, I thought it would be the end of my asana journey in ashtanga, because it appeared to be the type of thing that required a nearly superhuman strength, something I most certainly do not have.  Yet here I am, practicing beyond that.  This week, my energy levels were a bit low, and there were no expectations for any major asana breakthroughs.  Yet on Monday, as I prepared my arms for pincha mayurasana, I thought to myself that it was time to try jumping up with two legs instead of lifting one leg at a time.  The worst that could happen is that I would tip over, not such a big deal.  So up I went, both legs together, bent in with my heels to my bum and my knees to my chest, but believe it or not, I stayed, and straighened up into the full pose for a steady balance.  Karandavasana next, so I tried it again.  Success.  Tuesday morning, same time, same posture, wondering if it was just a fluke, but nope, up I went, steady and balanced.  Wednesday morning as I wiped the sweat from my forearms and prepared to enter the pose I thought it would be interesting to try coming up with two legs straight, like you are meant to do for the tick-tocks at the end of practice (something else I am struggling with).  Much to my surprise, it worked.  When I came down, I felt as though I should tie my yoga rug around my shoulders like a cape for the remainder of my practice (I didn't actually, but it was tempting), because it was the best superhero moment I have had in months.  Thursday, it worked again.  The impossible became possible when I managed the posture in a very tentative, bambi-ish sort of way that somehow got a pass from the boss to move on the next postures, but it happened all over again when some sort of intelligence blossomed within my body to allow the possibility of doing these same poses in a way I thought only accessible to the incredibly strong.  And I certainly don't fall into the category of incredibly strong, more into the category of undercooked spaghetti (as opposed to the overcooked spaghetti that I was when I first started).     

It is amazing how with an ashtanga yoga practice, doing the same set series of postures day in and day out never gets old, never gets boring. There are always shifts and changes happening in the body, physically and energetically, that leave you making new observations and discoveries.  New possibilities emerge, and the limitations you have set for yourself are proven to be completely unfounded.  The days that you start out thinking that it might be worthwhile considering geriatric yoga instead of this crazy hard and focused  ninja/superhero business can sometimes turn out to be the ones where you find a profound moment, not just physically, but in terms of the citta vrittis as well, those fluctuations of the mind that are so hard to turn off.  When things are harder than usual, because you are stiff, or tired or ate too much dinner or have stinky/heavy breathing/space hogging mat neighbour, you have to go more inwards, and when you go more inwards, and find that moment of complete quiet, and sometimes, a very surprising breakthrough will happen, that brings you back out of that quiet, marvelling at the fact that a new realm of possibility has opened up before you.  Not only is the physical achievment something, there is a glimpse of the depths of stillness in the mind when you are so entirely focused in on the present moment, and the vastness that exists in that.   

Guruji certainly summed it up well when he said 'do your practice and all is coming'.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Extraordinary Life

My life is extraordinary.

I came to this realization the other day when a representative from Landmark Education came to speak to all the staff at work about the forum, and how it can help you to create possibilities to lead an extraordinary life.  Back in the days when I worked at lululemon in Victoria, I participated in this course, and it gave me some things to consider, especially in terms of the way I communicate, but looking at it now, after establishing my yoga practice, it isn't necessary.  Daily practice allows you to see all the very best and the very worst of yourself, what you choose to do with it is entirely in your own hands.  Keep running through the hamster wheel of samskaras?  Reacting instead of responding time after time?  Yoga allows you (ok it allows me, can't speak for everyone here...) a certain omniscience to observe all the patterns and filters and tendencies that prevent me from being a better human being, and eventually, over time, these rough edges are polished and shined and come out of the maelstrom with greater subtlety, more grace.  Looking at what the Landmark program offers in terms of the yamas and niyamas is also really interesting, because it upholds the element of satya (truthfulness) very well; it is basically a no bullshit (pardon my french) allowed experience, but it leaves a lot to be desired in the elements of aparigraha and santosha (non-greed and contentment).  Looking at my life now, it would seem absolutely ludicrous to start asking for much more than I already have.  My job allows me to share something I love, and work for a really rather small number of hours a day.  I have seen and experienced more places and cultures in the last few years than many people get to see in a lifetime.  A walk from my doorstep to the beach takes less than ten minutes, and that beach may be crowded, but it is clean and well cared for.  How can I ask for much more?  Being in a meaningful relationship would be nice I suppose, but maybe now isn't the time.  Being closer to my family would be nice as well, but a time and opportunity for that will present itself, I am sure.  My life is not perfect.  Not by a long shot.  But so many possibilities are there.

My life is extraordinary.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Food for thought

Last week I did something tremendously exciting.  It began with a bus ride, and then a short walk, and I found myself at the help desk of the Waverley Library.  The very helpful lady set me up with the form, and once I had filled it in, I was issued my very own library card.  This may not sound tremendously exciting to you, but I was over the moon.  Thousands of books, available for my perusing pleasure, for free.  Seven days a week.  How much better does it get?  A trip to the shops was also on my agenda that afternoon, so I restrained myself to picking out just one book, and decided to go with something I have been meaning to read for a while.
 idof-3
He describes at length the evolution of eating habits, from different angles, and marvels at the fact that food is something in need of defense at all.  What it boils down to is simple.  Most of what is available in the supermarket isn't really technically food, just a food-like product comprised of chemicals/sugar/other questionable substances, and we eat a lot of it.  Pollan looks at the ballooning waistlines in America, but elsewhere in the world as well, and notes that the inexact science of nutrition has been leading eaters away from common sense and cultural diets and also the pleasure of eating.  Looking at packets of processed "foods" can be quite alarming, to the degree that reading the label of a packet of pumpkin soup the other day actually made me feel a bit nauseous.  There were about 10 unpronounceable ingredients listed, including something that sounded like corn syrup and another that sounded like coffee whitener, before the pumpkin came along.  When I make pumpkin soup, there are about 5 ingredients involved, the first one being, surprise!  Pumpkin.  There was nothing that came as a huge revelation to me in this book, but it made me firmer in my resolve to avoid things in packets with un-identifiable components.  When I do go to the shops these days, I notice I am buying very little.  Quinoa, brown rice, oats, tofu, beans, olive or sesame oil, nuts, dried fruit, and not much else.  At the farmers market however, it is a different story.  Luckily there are two markets that I can go to during the week, so accessing fresh, local fruits and vegetables is no challenge at all.  Another notable comment that he made is that the quality of the food we eat is a reflection of the quality of the soil.  The higher up you go in the food chain, the more factors are involved.  If you eat a steak (moo!) and the cow had been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and fed a diet of grains, and that grain was sprayed with pesticides and the soil was dumped full of chemicals, how much of that is being passed on the the person putting a bloody piece of flesh in their mouth?  If the soil is nurtured (hello compost!), you grow healthy plants without the need for chemicals.  If healthy plants are fed to people, or animals, they will be healthy too.  It isn't rocket science.  The whole obesity and nutrition issue is spinning out of control in many parts of the world, but the solution is so much simpler than any diet program or exercise regime.  Michael Pollan has it pegged.  Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly Plants. 

Now off to the library for some more books, maybe I will live on the edge and take out two or three this week. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Warming up

Today I had my new favorite breakfast as mentioned in the last post.  It was delicious.  If I had a better camera, I would have taken a photo, although I don't know that it looked as good as it tasted.  Porridge isn't the prettiest of foods.

Also, yesterday a package arrived on the doorstep for me, 24 balls of organic merino wool.  In eight beautiful, natural colours.  My hands are about to get busy.  So much crocheting is going to happen.  Typing this post is actually a great crochet warm up.  Agile fingers are a must.  Hats and neck warmers and monsters coming soon.

This morning I stopped for a coffee on the way to practice, and the organic bakery near my house makes a mean long black. (Americano for my North American friends)  It is nice to walk in to a bustling local establishment on a crisp autumn morning, and be recognized by the staff, greeted with a smile, even when they are being pummeled by the morning rush, and treated as a regular.  They know my name, they know what I want.  Part of what is nice about staying in one place for a while is this sort of familiarity.  Cafe culture is alive and well in the Bondi area; everywhere you go there are little hole-in-the wall places where you can get a hot drink, and a snack, and the locals support these businesses fiercely.  Today is a public holiday, Anzac day, to honour and remember Australian and Kiwi involvement in military operations, but was originally to mark their efforts at Gallipoli in WW1.  Many people seemed to be up and about quite early, perhaps to get to various ceremonies or commemorative events, but an awful lot of people tied a stop at a cafe into their plans for the morning.  Usually the streets are quiet in this part of town until at least 8AM, except for the garbage trucks, which are exceptionally noisy.

Things are warming up in the yoga room as well, the attendance is picking up both in the morning and in the afternoon/evening schedule; the amount of energy and heat in the room is intensified with each extra person.  My evening classes have been a good mix of regular, established practitioners with brand new beginners, and the students in the beginners courses are absolutely frothing.  It is great to see them so excited about learning and breathing and exploring new avenues of movement in their bodies.  Teaching later in the day means that I have been starting my practice a bit later in the morning,  and it feels a bit indulgent after waking up at stupid-o-clock in Mysore to cruise into the shala at 7 or 7:30.  On a cold morning though, walking in to a room that is warm and steamy is gorgeous. 

Winter is coming, and cold weather is no fun, but with warm breakfasts, beautiful coffee shops, crocheting, and a job in a cozy room among lovely people who inspire me daily, I can't really complain. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Favorite Breakfast!

With the weather in Sydney getting colder as autumn creeps in, my body has been asking for really comforting, nourishing foods.  Last week I went to make oats for breakfast, and decided to get a bit creative.  If you want to best porridge ever, while the oats are cooking add in:
~one plum (or two if they are small), cut into manageable bite size bits
~cinnamon to taste
~a pinch of salt
~a handful brazil nuts (chop them up a bit if you want)
~one or two dried figs (also chopped up)
~a spoonful of chia seeds (you might need to add a bit of extra water because chia soaks up heaps of it)

Put all the extra goodies in when your oats go in so they have time to cook a bit too, and yum-o.  I had never considered having plum added into porridge before (I usually use apple or banana or berries), until I had some in a muffin a couple weeks ago.  It adds a really nice flavour, and with the figs in there, you don't really need any extra sugar or honey or anything.  Looking out the window at the rain bucketing down makes me think that this will most definitely be breakfast again today.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Without faith? Without love?

In the last few days I have read several blogs that delve into the topics of love and faith in practice, questioning the idea that one can actually love yoga, or that faith is detrimental in a quest for truth.  I don't normally think too much about these flare ups of interest in the yoga blogging community, as I am never sure that my opinions are really relevant to anyone other than myself, but this is a topic that I feel particularly strongly about.  My humble thoughts for you to read.  Or not?  Either way is ok by me.

When the idea of loving yoga is looked at as an impossibility, because of the gritty, challenging, visceral effect of the ashtanga practice, I look at something like my relationship with my family.  It is not an easy go, and 9 times out of 10, I wind up angry or depressed or a combination of the two when I go to visit them for any extended period of time.  (Sorry mum, I know you don't like hearing that.)Do I love them any less for bringing out a side of me that I would rather didn't still exist?  No.  It is hard, it is work, but it is still love.  If you look at the practice through a romantic comedy falling in love montage sort of perspective, then there is definitely no comparison.  It is to me the kind of relationship that asks everything of you, but in return, provides a strong, steady mind and body, and a way to burn through negative patterns and come out the other side, weary and worn, but with the courage and the fortitude to move forward.  I will say it loud and proud. 

I love yoga.

Faith is an idea that I have struggled with through childhood and adolescence.  As a child going to church didn't have anything to do with spirituality or God, but it meant singing and playing games in Sunday school.  When I got older, I was pretty cynical about the idea  of some benevolent being up in the sky watching down on the world as people die or starve or suffer.  None of it made sense.  No faith was there.  With the practice, I have somehow managed to set aside all that disbelief and find faith, because in ashtanga yoga, so much of the process is the responsibility of the practitioner.  You do these poses, in this order.  You make shapes, and you breathe.  Don't think, just do. Too much thinking, nothing happening.  Stop thinking.  Breathe.  It's possible.  Try this for yourself.  See what happens.  The idea of faith goes hand in hand with devotion (to me), and Sharath talks often in conference about the necessity of the two.  If you have no faith, if you can't dispel the disbelief, you will never allow the practice to work.  Without devotion, and dare I say a bit of love as well, you won't be able to get yourself on your mat, 6 days a week for an extended period of time, long enough to reap all the benefits of yoga.  I don't have a copy of the sutras on hand, and I don't have them memorized, but I know there is most definitely a sutra that states pretty well that.  Practicing for a long time, uninterrupted, with devotion is necessary.  Key ingredients.  The quest for truth is a common pursuit among yoga students, and the idea that having faith can be an impediment along to road to discovering what is true is something Nobel discusses based on a comment left on his blog.  He argues in defense of shraddha, as not an idea of blind, unquestioning faith, but as an anchor from which to explore.  He writes well, follow the link and read it for yourself. 

Practicing without faith, without, love, without devotion, would be a depressingly futile process to me.  If you are looking at just the asana, and only trying to get a bit of exercise, than maybe it would be ok.  Letting go of the ego, the sense of the self, and surrendering to something greater requires a degree of faith.  Can it be any other way?


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday musings, and a list

Some meandering thoughts today.

Last weekend I ventured out into the city right around the time I am usually getting ready for bed and watched the lights go out for Earth Hour.  It was really captivating to walk around near the opera house and the bridge and hear all sorts of people talking about which lights they thought would stay on or go off, or what other cities might be doing for the occasion.  It is probably one of the easiest global environmental movements to join, and seeing so many people involved and informed was really exciting.  A photo of the opera house just before the lights went down, taken with a very old camera, so please excuse the out of focus-ness...

And heck, I'll throw in a picture of the Harbour Bridge, and one of Luna Park too, just for fun...




Like I said, out of focus, but, with this particular camera, it is the best I can do with night-time photography. 

Memo to self: invest in a new camera.

Changing topics here entirely, getting settled in such a big city has been a bit of an effort.  I don't know anyone, and it has been a big adjustment after being in Dunsborough last year, where after about a week you couldn't go anywhere in town without bumping into someone you know.  A whole new chapter in getting comfortable in my own company, reminiscent of when I lived in Indonesia.  There are some things that I am getting to really like about Sydney though, so I will do something I don't often do, and write a list.

5 Things I like about Sydney

1. People on the bus will offer their seat  to anyone who looks like they may need it more.  Not only to really old people or disabled people.  I have seen this many times, on multiple bus routes, and it is nice to see that thoughtfulness is still alive and well.
2.  The variety of food available to purchase both in cafes and shops is fantastic.  After narrowly avoiding scurvy in India, my taste buds are demanding all sorts of different things, and it is easy to get sushi, or Vietnamese food, or all the ingredients for an amazing salad, or a fresh baked vegan muffin.  After 3 months of mostly Indian food, sushi tastes especially delicious, and I can't imagine the novelty will wear off soon. 
3.  The beach is ten minutes from my house, so if I wake up early, I can spend a few minutes before yoga watching the sunrise and the surfers, and breathing in the beautiful sea air. 
4.  There are a mind blowing number of things to do.  Next month there is a writer's festival happening, the contemporary art museum is free (haven't been yet, but plan to go soon), there is a wealth of history in the multiple museums in the city, and every time I look in the newspaper there are lists of different dance/theatre/opera/music performances happening at various venues.
5.  Multiculturalism.  Sydney-siders come in all shapes and colours and sizes and from seemingly all corners of the globe.  Being exposed to all sorts of cultures is deeply appealing to me, and it also means that as a foreigner, I am able to blend in to the crowd of non-Australians a little bit. 
6.  So I said it was a list of five things.  I thought of another.  It will be a list with a bonus entry: community.  There are so many things happening to draw neighbourhoods together.  Farmer's markets, 'grow it local' events, impromptu sing-a-longs at cafes.  (I have witnessed two in the Bondi area, maybe it was just chance?)   Pretty cool.

Changing topics again.

Practicing in a room with other people is a good thing.  Having a bit of space between your yoga mat and the next person's mat is also a good thing.  I miss the energy of being in the shala in Mysore, but am enjoying being able to take up a bit more space.  A job offer came to me from the Jois shala here, so that is where I will be practicing and working for the next few months.  More on that in another post.

Enough for one blog post I think.  It jumps around a bit, but I suppose after being a bad lady and not blogging for a couple of weeks, everything wants to come out at once.  

Next post will be more focused.  I hope.

Happy Easter! 


Friday, March 30, 2012

One man's junk...

I saw this video posted on Facebook the other day, and was really captivated by it, so I thought I would share it here as well.  Take the time to watch, it only lasts a couple of minutes, and it is pretty inspiring.  An ingenius use of something that was discarded as waste, and an example of what it means to literally bring light into people's lives.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bravo!

As I sit drinking my cup of coffee in the morning, I quite often check my email and read a few blogs, and it seems an appropriate activity to do while trying not to wake up my housemate.  Very quiet.  This morning I was quite pleased to see that my dad had sent me a message, something that has happened exactly twice (including today).  We get on really well, my dad and I, but our communication while I am away is limited mostly to us talking on the phone, or him reading my blog posts after my mum prints them out.  He is the type of guy who works with his hands, and has a great deal of knowledge in many areas, but has struggled with making sense of computers and email.  No so long ago, he got an iPhone, and the way that apple products work seems to make sense to him.  Seeing a message from his email address, with a short note, and a photo of my giant cat Munchkin trying to fit into a relatively small box, made my day.   Well done Dad, don't think you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and well done Apple, for making a product that is accessible and intuitive.  And well done Munchkin for making such a good effort to fit into a small box. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Exploring Sydney

There are many places that I have visited and felt right at home, but here in Sydney, there are few things that will take some getting used to.  I have been exploring the city a little bit as I get settled in, and anywhere in the center or eastern suburbs, there are flocks of girls and women slathered in makeup and wearing either scandalously short skirts/dresses, or shorts with so little inseam that you can quite often see the under bum cheek lines out the back.  My long, not terribly tight jeans probably make me look like some sort of religious/feminist/anti-modern fundamentalist, unwilling and unprepared to bare it all for the sake of fashion, and they certainly place me in a minority group.  But really, what would happen if one of these girls dropped their train ticket and had to bend over and pick it up?  The whole world would be seeing either their knickers or their naughty bits, without a doubt.  Truth be told, there seems to be a trend towards people either covering up everything in countries like India or Indonesia, or else there are places like here where women wear pretty much nothing at all, and in my humble opinion, finding the middle ground would be a much better idea.  Don't quote me as an expert by any means, but I imagine that there are a huge number of ladies in the city who would look better if they washed off all 5 kilos of makeup and fake tan.  And found clothes that fall into a category somewhere between mumu and pornographic. 

Minor rant, but who knows, maybe after a bit of time here, I will sport little skirts and exaggerated eyeliner too?  Can't quite picture it somehow.

In my meandering around town today, I also encountered something that I liked very much, not only half naked people that made me feel overdressed.  A small bookstore down Bondi Beach way, that houses both a plethora of used books, and a coffee/sweets counter.  Hurray!  Gertrude and Alice (http://gertrudeandalice.com.au/) is the name of this cozy little shop, and I will most certainly be visiting again.  The chai was delish, the muesli cookie was soft and chewy, the book selection was tip-top, and the mix of indie music playing through the shop created a great atmosphere.  Two thumbs up.  I picked up probably my 10th copy of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and spotted about a kajillion* other books that I would love to provide a good home for.
 
Why have I bought so many copies of the same book you wonder?  Well, I have bought it and read and passed it on to someone in need of a great read more times than I can count, and more often then not, the person who I have lent it to wants to pass it on to someone else.  Most of these have been previously loved copies, purchased at used book shops, but it is pretty safe to say that I have never bought any other piece of literature that many times.  With all the re-locating I have done in the last few years, having a copy of the TTW on my bookshelf seems to make me feel more at home.  Why do I like it so much?  Something about the gritty realism that makes such a far-fetched idea into a completely plausible story, and the way the poignancy of love and loss are interwoven.  Just read it, you'll see.  Please don't bother with the movie; it is absolute rubbish.  Anyways, my bookshelf is still my suitcase for the time being, but that will no longer be the case as of  Tuesday when I get to move in to my new flat.  Tomorrow I get to pick up the keys.  Yahoo!   

*Interesting fact: when I used the spell check function, the word gazillion was suggested in place of kajillion.  But even if I am making up words and numbers, I mean a kajillion.  Niffenegger came up with a suggested replacement of Avenger.  Audrey Avenger sounds like the type of superhero who would wear a mask.  Wonder how she would feel about that?

Friday, March 16, 2012

A sigh of relief

It has been a while since I last wrote anything, but now that my feet appear to be on solid ground, it feels like the right time to get back at it.  Between leaving Mysore and now, I have passed through 5 airports in four countries, and have slept in one hotel bed, one hostel bed, and in spare rooms/tents with 5 different friends.  The generosity that I have experienced in the last few weeks is mind blasting.  If any of you kind people/families happen to read this, please know that I truly appreciate having been warmly welcomed, fed, and watered in your homes. 

Upon arrival in Sydney, and in the last of the spare rooms, my first order of business was in finding a place to stay.  On the way to the house from the airport, I was taken across the famous bridge, and driven around a little side street to see the equally famous opera house.  What a welcome to the city.  The first full day I was here I managed to get an apartment viewing appointment, and loved it, so Tuesday I will be moving into a flat where I hope to stay for a long while.  Too much moving around.  Yesterday I caught up with a couple of friends from Mysore who happen to also be in town, and spent a large part of the day walking and getting oriented in the city.  One of the highlights of the day was the brown rice sushi roll I had for lunch.  The subtle flavors were a refreshing change after 3 months of Indian food.

So a new leg of the journey begins here in Sydney.   On Tuesday I can shift into the flat, and hopefully from there I can really settle in to the city.  Some exploring will definitely be essential.  More adventures are sure to come.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Not goodbye, just see you later

Doing all the last day in Mysore running around while trying to stay calm and steady.  A very wise friend of mine has said the the way in which we transition will dictate the tone for the next phase, so I am trying to maintain a sense of ease and order to all the things that need to be done.  So many people to say thank you to, between the locals who work hard to make life comfortable for all of us yoga students, and the beautiful friends, and of course to the boss himself.  It feels good to tell someone just how much you appreciate them.  There are some people who I may not see for a while, but it truly feels like it isn't goodbye, just see you later.  Having a plan to come back feels good as well, hopefully I will be swept back into the warm embrace of Mother India again somewhere around next November, but who knows what the future will bring.  Good old Ma India and I seem to have struck a truce this time, no epic bouts of sickness, no rabid dog bites, and a firn knock on wood because I still have just under 24 hours until I leave the country.  Don't want to tempt fate now. 
One more sleep, one more practice, one more idly breakfast, and then I am off.  The dreaded travel vortex of doom is nigh, but with all this smooth transitioning, it should be A-OK.
So much gratitude is there for this time learning, assisting, struggling, growing, building awareness, making connections.  What a trip.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dosa Patrol


Yesterday morning a scooter/motorcycle convoy from Gokulam made tracks through town to Mylari Dosa for a Friday morning treat of buttery Indian breakfast and sweet chai.  The out of focus photos are to be expected, considering they were taken from the passenger seat of a moving motorcycle.  Talk about making a spectacle: yoga students on parade in Mysore.  The number of heads that turned as we zipped across town was unreal.
How many yoga students can you spy in this photo?  Bonus points for guessing all the different nationalities...


This other photo has nothing to do with dosas or Fridays, but I have noticed these words painted along the wall several times in the last few weeks, and it strikes me as something pertinent to the state of affairs in the world in general.  Stop atrocity, raise humanity.  Something about the way the light is inundating the photo added a completely unintentional ethereal quality to the picture that I couldn't have achieved on my little boxy point and shoot camera if I had tried.  Purchased in 2002, this little Nikon has served me well, but a high tech piece of equipment, it is not. 

A few weeks ago I posted about castor oil bath, and truth be told, the castor oil wipes me out something terrible.  My body is so depleted every time I use it that I actually dread the idea a little bit, even though Sharath and many of the long time students swear by it.  Being as sensitive as I am, I asked around and was recommended to try almond or sesame oil, and the difference is unreal.  Almond is best for me I think, but much more expensive, so it is maybe something I can do every now and then, but sesame oil is warming and nurturing and doesn't leave me a spaced out shivering airhead, so for a regular weekly treatment, it seems to be a good answer.  My skin and joints are very dry right now, to the point that I thought my armpits were going to rip yesterday in surya namaskar (OUCHIE!!!), so oil baths seem like a necessary practice, and I am glad that there is an alternative to castor oil that leaves me feeling functional.  

The hibernating has been working better than I expected.  People look surprised when I see them and they tell me that they thought I already left.  Ha! It is possible to be undercover in Mysore!  No poo conversations at the coconut stand in days!!!



 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Landmarks

Post #100.  Perhaps this should be a momentous occasion, filled with inspiring and profound thoughts, but more realistically it is just going to be more of the same meandering sort of things that I usually write. 
Yesterday was a big day here in India, a festival called Shivaratri took place, literally meaning the great night of Shiva, and there were devotees lined up for blocks to pay homage and devotion at the local temples.  One of the more popular legends for this festival is that it marks the union of Shiva and Pavarti, and that on this occasion, Tandava, the dance of primal creation, preservation and destruction was performed.  All night, pujas were reportedly happening, where people were offering fruit and flowers to receive a blessing on this auspicious occasion, but I was not up for braving the crowds, so this was underway while I was tucked safely into my bed.  

Another landmark: I have only one week left here in India.  Not much time to saturate myself in the magic of the shala before I go, but it feels like the right time to be transitioning back to the real world.  Part of me hates to go, but this trip has inundated me with new information and experiences, and it might not be possible to fully absorb or appreciate them while I am still here.

Since landmarks seem to be the theme of this post, I am going to throw in another.  My little nephew reached the ripe old age of four months just a few days ago, and I have yet to meet him in person, but I love him to pieces anyways.  He is pretty much the cutest thing ever, and little Hugo takes after me in his facial expressions for sure. 

I think I made that exact same face yesterday.  He might have slightly less hair, and slightly more chub in his cheeks than me, but the eyebrow articulation and eyes the size of saucers are exactly like me! 

This expression is also in my daily usage, it is the 'you're a moron' face.

Hugo and I look different here.  For one, if I open my mouth that wide, you can see teeth. 

Enough cuteness for one day, wouldn't want anyone's brain to spontaneously combust due to cuteness overload.

In other landmarks, it has been just over a year since I was last in Canada.  Maybe this amount of time, combined with a ridiculously cute nephew, is what is giving me the urge to go back. 

What will I do to fill up my last week in Mysore?  A few more trips to the secret breakfast place are most certainly in order, and I have every intention of drinking as many coconuts as I can possibly squeeze in.  One more led primary, one more led intermediate, on more conference and 5 more days of Mysore practice coming.  A few more crochet special orders are coming in, and there are a few more books at Tina's little lending library that I want to get my hands on.  There is no doubt that I will be back before I know it, so the panic of squeezing in certain experiences just isn't there.  Whatever doesn't get done will have to happen next time.
The week will be up before I know it.