Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas fun conundrums..

Well Christmas is fast approaching and I've done exactly what I set out not to do - I've let it slip.

Yes, there have been little slips, tiny trips, when you're heart skips a beat for a moment, and there have been big comedy slips, straight up into the air and down onto the bottom, à la  cartoon banana skin stylee...

I won't go into the details but naturally, as I slip, so has my yoga practice.

I ended up going along to the class in Paddington today with Eileen, but I spent the entire practice feeling guilty... Guilty for having had one glass of red wine more than I'd intended which spiralled into a paranoia that Eileen/my mat-neighbours, who are all but 4 inches away from me, would be able to smell my mild intoxication - not that it was from last night but from the last few nights which have just been building and building.. I am so ready for a rest, for a few days off... But then it's Christmas and we're going away and then we've still got Christmas celebrations to come, and then it's New Year, and honestly - it seems not to stop, but then I love it, but then I don't want anymore.  My mind flips between feeling like a reluctant teenager who has just been dragged onto the dance floor by my uncle.. Let it stop! But the next I'm hands in the air, like I just don't care, letting looooose....

So do I just embrace it, let it go? Or do I try any reign it in...?

It's fun, okay dancing (with or without your uncle) is not necessarily fun - a sore fact which I learnt at my staff Christmas party on Thursday - I might be able to get my legs behind my head, but I have zero co-ordination. I can't dance for toffee and I feel paranoid and I don't like not being good at something, a fact which my dancing efforts showed me - I thought Christmas was meant to be fun...

But I digress.. slightly

These few weeks are what they are, after all. At least I'm doing some yoga, still managing to get some work done, walk the dog - I'm just not doing it with quite the same 'purity'...

It's like everything is tangled together in this great connected ball. When all these aspects are falling into place, and I feel connected to what I'm doing, I'm feeling productive, practising well, eating healthily, drinking less, writing my blog posts and I'm bringing all of me to it, it's like the ball rolls smoothly; when things get knotted, out of balance, the ball jumps around, unpredictably. My ball is a bit jumpy right now, but that's okay. Mostly it's happening in my mind anyway, from the outside I think my ball is rolling okay.

Christmas is fun, so I'm gonna embrace it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A great week = no posts!

Yes, I've realised my creativity feeds off bad experiences.

But this week I've been a whole new me. I've been positive, I've  taken bad experiences in my stride (locked myself out of house AGAIN! hubby has been out of town so it's been full on with Conan, and left my phone at home all day on Thursday when was due to meet people in the evening) - I mean I know these are not bad bad, in the context of life, but they're the kind of incidents that would bring out my twitchy narky side. But no, I've felt busy, productive, the sun's been a-shining. I've been hanging with my boy down the park and it's all been good.

But sadly, dear blog, it means I've not felt inclined to write a post.

Why so?

Well, I'm not going to flatter myself, oh go on, maybe I will. But they say most comic geniuses are depressives (have you seen that movie Festival about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - seriously depressing).. hahahha. BUt there's certainly something to be said for laughing at misfortune. I mean nobody made a joke about a beautiful sunny day, or the sound of children laughing without turning it, if not dark, at least a little dusky. Does this mean if I'm going to write when I'm feeling happy (and I agree it doesn't have to be funny or lighthearted) will it have to be serious, earnest prose? Gee.

Monday, November 15, 2010

the lightness of being

It was one of those days yesterday.

Well I say that, but in fact it wasn't one of those days. It could have been.

Usually when I leave the house in the morning to walk the dog, I do the checklist: Wallet, dog bags, ball, treats, keys.

But for some reason I only got to treats... So I was there in my dog bag looking for the keys, no keys.. Maybe I left the backdoor open - no, I remember locking that. Maybe there's a window. No.

For some reason, instead of going into a fizzing panic (as I'd usually do) I felt like an ocean-swimming breaststroker. Long and steady strokes, gliding smoothly through the waves. I calmly picked up the phone to call hubby, but he didn't answer. So instead of leaving a flustered 'call me NOW!' message, I laughed on the phone, said 'oops' or something to that effect and continued walking the dog.

I mean what else could I do.

Though usually when people, faced with challenges, shrug, laugh and tell me 'well, there's nothing I could do' I'm usually skeptical. I tend to think 'who really believes that? Who really feels calm, positively resigned when forced to have their day sent into chaos'

I wonder if it's a control thing. Because I tend to get my knickers into reef knot over this kind of thing usually. So I called hubby and he (sensibly) suggested I call the real estate agent, which I did. And bless them (usually I'm spiking up like an angry hedgehog even thinking about speaking to the estate agent... samskaras, eh) but they were so nice. They laughed, they said 'ah, that must have been a good start to the day for you. Come along and pick them up.' And there we were, chuckling together over my misfortune.

I mean, it took a few hours to sort it (lashing rain, ordering a $17 cab etc) but I just kept on swimming my calm breaststroke

You see, when you try and see the lightness in life, it all falls into place.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dealing with disappointment

It's not easy being disappointed is it? Especially when you're disappointed over something which you can't really blame anyone for (blame = negative emotion anyway so should not be doing 'blame') but at least with blame you can feel somewhat vindicated. That loser messed things up for me. Or I blame myself, which kind of makes the sting a little less stingy.

But in this instance there's nobody to blame - not even myself.

I was planning on going to Mysore to study at the Ashtanga Yoga Research institute. THE place to study my yoga in India. It's one of those 'must do' pilgrimages of the ashtangi and I was perfectly poised and ready to go in March (you need to give four months notice of your intended stay). Except that I logged onto the site today and they said, 'SHALA FULL' - so literally if I wanted to go 1st of March I should have  sent them an email on 1st November.... what's the date today.. 9th November. I was 9 days too late.

The thing is I guess i was hoping to 'do' this before I get too old, start having babies, whatever. The timing was perfect, but I guess these things are here to teach us that life doesn't always go according to the little plan one cooks up in one's little head.

In some ways it's quite liberating when the ball doesn't bounce where you're expecting (my head is packed full of doggy metaphors these days so bear with me) - it shakes things up and forces you to try other things, make quicker decisions, throw yourself into another path.

I've realised I don't deal with disappointment very well so this is maybe my chance to learn from it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday - Same same but different?

Blown the cobwebs away this morning with a great yoga practice and have come away with another little lesson.

So my lesson really started on Sunday; after the steely, determined rain during Sunday I decided to go to yoga in the evening to get out of the house. I don't often do this as it has, in the past, meant I'm quite tired and leaden for my Monday morning practice. But, I was bouncing, flying, landing softly, yet strong and consistent. So, like everything in yoga, there's the eternal capacity for surprise. I mean the surprises are not huge, but then nothing in yoga is huge, you're really operating in this subtle, oh so subtle space, where the progress is minute, and the practice evolves slowly, it's like you're watching one of those wildlife documentaries where they've slowed down a leopard chasing a gazelle. 

So, with this idea in mind I'll try and keep my capacity-for-surprise candle a-burning. It's so easy just to think about your week as if it's just another same same week. Wake up Monday, do yoga, have breaky, play with doggy, have lunch, more work, teach class.. But this Monday (like every Monday) is going to be (and should be) different. This week I'll bring a new attitude, a dollop of surrender and a lot less guilt.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So so tired

Keeping my little fella entertained, whilst teaching and trying to come up with creative ideas for some writing pieces is starting to take its toll. I'm feeling tired. Oh so tired.

I know that in my yoga practice when tiredness sets its weary sights on you and your legs feel leaden and you're ready to stop, it's a case of mind over matter and when that next knackering chataranga pops up I'm telling myself, 'stick with it, bring lightness'

But, as with so many things off the mat. It's not that easy to remember to do this in real life.

He prowls around looking for things to entertain him, and once he's tired of his toys (which takes about 3 minutes now) he sets his sight on the remote control, my shoes, the sofas, the rug in the lounge. I already took him down the park today and he's played around with all the other bigger dogs, he's had a sleep and now he's back on the trouble trail, headed for destination Deep Trouble. And he looks at me with those reproachful eyes of his saying 'You're no fun, I'm bored"

I knew that having a dog would be a lifestyle change, and down the park I'm all breezy sweetness; "oh yes, this little monkey is so much fun."

But now, in one of my more weary moments, I'm just busting for my old life back again.

Even to be working full time and having some adult stimulation.

Anyway, whinge whinge whinge. It's all I feel like i do on here.

Sorry guys. Trying to keep the yoga focus. Another chataranga coming up.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are we being over-motivated?

Earlier today I was reading a post on Copyblogger which quoted Madonna:

 Better to live one year as a tiger than a hundred as a sheep.
~ Madonna
It was a fairly rare moment for me to read an entire post, but I was catching a few minutes to myself between working,  games of ball, training and treat giving.

You see there I was lying across the sofa with my iPhone at 11am (feeling very un-tiger, Madonna - sorry) drifting vaguely through the numerous blogs and newsletters I've signed up to, and I fell upon this one. And, listen up folks, I actually read it through - start to finish.

I've noticed that my approach to  newsletters mirrors my attitude to life, albeit a quite smudgy, splattered mirror... or would that be life? I subscribe to so many websites, blogs, e-newsletter and, like a large pan of porridge bubbling over with good intentions, I have this heady idea that by signing up to this blogger's amusing insights on life, it will broaden my horizons, expand my mind, make me funny, witty, interesting and every other cliche of well-intentioned betterment.

Mostly I just hit delete before even opening the email.

And then I feel guilty, mildly ignorant. Do I not care about the world? Do I not want to improve myself?

Naturally, since I don't read that many of the many newsletters I sign up to, I pick carefully those which I do. I'm usually drawn to ones with enticing subject lines, like this Madonna one - 'Madonna's 6 Secrets to Personal Branding Mastery'. In fact Copyblogger do this amazingly well. I mean check out these for starters:

Ernest Hemingway's Top 5 Tips for Writing Well
3 Steps to Turn Yourself from Good to Great

And, for mains, my personal favourite...

How to be interesting

But that's where the crusade towards personal greatness ends. If you're lucky I'll skim one post very quickly. If you're really lucky I might read it through to the end, kind of. The most luck you're getting is that I'll read it and pass it onto someone (most likely my husband).

I will never... I repeat, never, act upon any of the advice.

You see the thing is, I think I'm getting a bit weary of being 'motivated' by everything I read.

I mean I've heard that Madonna quote a few times, though I must say I didn't realise it was Madonna who said that, and sure, she's amazing. She is a Master. She's success embodied and undressed.

She's also scary. I mean I've never met her, but I reckon I'd whimper at her feet with my tail down, rather like Conan was at the dog park today. He's learnt his place. Maybe I need to learn mine.

 I just think that there's so much focus on finding the 'answer' externally, through books, websites, seminars, inspiring lists of things I could be doing more of and better. You can marinate too long in these heavy 'sauces' of advice until suddenly you crave something light, lemony and simple.

I want to stop reading so much (and, as you know, I'm reading a fraction of what I could be reading) and start actioning at least something. I want to take nibbles rather than great greedy mouthfuls of advice, and season it lightly.

Next blog post I read I'll try take their advice rather than chew it over on the sofa for 12 seconds before going back to my sheep-like slightly flawed, but surely quite normal (?) life again.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back on the yoga train

...That is the teaching yoga train. Choo choo!

It's been so difficult to concentrate lately, and I've not fully connected with my teaching for a couple of weeks now. Coincidently since I got back from the UK and acquired a four legged fluff ball ('powder puff' as the vet called him!) It's like my puppy has soaked up all my brain juice in that big fluffy cloud of a coat of his. But I'm feeling it coming back.

I taught three classes over the weekend and I'm right back into loving the teaching. Loving it.

Sometimes you've just gotta jump back into it to realise how much you enjoy it.

It was a back to back Saturday morning class to start with, which is 3 hours of non-stop teaching. It's pretty hardcore, mainly because you're so concentrated and focused and of course yakking, for a full three hours. I was pretty sick of the sound of my voice by the end, which was sounding ever-croakier by the minute. But in fact I felt so connected with what I was doing by the end of the class that I didn't really even notice.

Then last night I taught again. Just 10 students and they all knew the sequence really well so there was a great flow and energy in the room. I started the practice off with a sitting breathing practice, whcih I rarely do, but should do more often. Just listening to the breath and becoming aware. Then I got the students to consider an intention for their practice and to keep that throughout their practice.

I have no idea if they did that (though of course at the end of the class I reminded them to reflect on it) which was odd, because I still have no idea if they did. Yoga teaching can be so feedback-less. It's like you're setting people off on a journey to a completely unknown place, like a far, dark corner of the moon, and you've no idea where they're going or what they're experiencing. In fact it's all a bit like that, even when giving adjustments, you've still got little idea of how much they are enjoying it and how much they're being polite.

Anyway, I'm not concerned with these things. I'm just happy to be back teaching and getting some focus back. Without being too dramatic, (okay I'll be a little bit of a drama queen) but I felt as if I'd almost disappeared in a puff of.. err powder. But I'm hauling it back in now and feeling a little more happy.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A thought whilst my boy sleeps

Yep, I'm stealing a few blue squeaky ball-free moments to update you bloggy. Well, the invested hours appear to be paying off (a lesson in 'tapas' - dedication and commitment)

My protege is now:
  1. Pretty much toilet trained. Aside from the occasional accident. Not sure if my neighbours are starting to find my high pitched 'go peeeeee! good boy' a little gratey yet? 
  2. He sits
  3. He gives his paw (actually he gives both paws, one after the other)
  4. He comes
  5. He brings
  6. He drops (this is stretching the truth, he drops when he's given a treat and spontaneously one in five times, but it's a start)
  7. He rolls over
  8. I'll get it on video soon and then I promise I'll shut up about the dog.
I was writing a piece on the Qi blog about how dogs can teach us more than we know about yoga and my friend, who is staying with us at the moment reminded me of another aspect of this. I touched on stuff like how it makes us more present, and of course my example above of how he's teaching me to be patient and accept that 'all is coming' (thanks Pattabhi Jois - funny how relevant that foreign sounding phrase is these days).. but anyway my friend reminded me that sometimes when I feel anger and frustration with Conan (like now when he barked in my face, little monkey), after things have cooled down and he's frantically licking my face, like it's a tasty ice cream, I find him so easy to forgive. 

Why is it so hard to forgive and accept humans though. I mean I'm sure I'm not the worst person for this, but I do admit that there are times when I hold a mini-grudge with people who, ultimately don't mean it, they're just different. Like Conan, their minds are slightly differently attuned. 


Thanks Conan, thanks Nads

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slippery fish: An outpouring on loss of perspective

All this stuff I'm meant to learn from my yoga just seems to slip away when I'm faced with real life challenges.

It's all well and good applying things in a nice, easy and controlled environment, but now I'm faced with a reality. In this instance I'm stuck inside when the sun is shining like it's been held hostage in dark cave and has now finally been released. It's beautiful out there. But in the name of good mothering I'm here, with my little Conan who is more restless than a toddler on Coke (Coca Cola... please!), with the attention span of a hyperactive goldfish.

And I'm questioning everything.

Was this puppy a good idea?

Can I cope with this new life?

I'm trying to live in the moment. I'm trying to enjoy the journey and find endless fascination in his every move whilst keeping a good degree of apathy and aloofness so he's not mollycoddled.

But it's consuming my every thought.

I need to get some perspective.

I was supposed to  teach my corporate class this morning (we usually meet on Wednesday mornings but they needed to change this week.) It was in my calendar but I'd forgotten to set an alert so i blissfully slept through this morning until I got a call at 8am from the girl there. It immediately dawned on me. Shit. "I'm so sorry, so so so sorry" a torrent of apologies and excuses poured forth. Of course she was fine about it, but it made me realise my head is firmly not in the moment at the moment.

I had forgotten about the importance of concentration. Right now my mind skates and slides around like a slippery fish between your fingers. I've lost all sense of perspective.

I know it's a bit of a downer this one. Hey, I find it hard to write when everything is blissfully happy, perhaps this blog is my release. Who knows.

Perhaps here is where i find my perspective.

I'd love to do some yoga right now. It's really been helping me lately to manage the chaos of thoughts and doubts.

It's all about the boy. But what about everything else....?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Enjoying the journey

I've always found it kind of annoying when people tell me to 'enjoy the journey' - it's like when people tell you to 'relax' or 'don't be shy'. It's easier said than done aye.

After the most perfect few days with my little monkey, Conan, I'm starting to feel my patience fray (or rather shred) like an old towel.

"Conan, down boy, get off the towel!"

I mean you read all these books, you speak to people in pet shops, vets, pet trainers and they tell you: if he's bad you ignore him or correct him with a simple 'ah ah' and then finally you confine him. If he's good you shower him with praise.

Yeah right.

This would be a typical 1 minute in the life of.

I'm sitting at the computer in the kitchen. Conan comes staight over and sits on my feet, all big puppy dog eyes. "Good boy" i say... then, excitement mounting he attempts to jump up "uh uh" i say, and down he gets: "Good boy." I walk to the fridge, he's tags my ankles as I walk then he's is in the fridge with me. "uh uh". no response. "Uh uh" I say again. Still no response "Uh..." and he walks away. "Good boy" I say then he starts to crouch slightly as if about to pee "Uh!" I say louder and usher him outside leading him to his toilet pad. Nothing doing. Then he's chewing the plant outside. "Uh uh" nothing. I throw a ball around. He chases it. "Good boy."  I ask him to come. He runs the ball inside, chasing past my legs and into the lounge, just as I get there he's chewing the rug. "UH UH" nothing. I decide to ignore him and go back to the kitchen. He follows after me. I say 'sit' he sits. Good boy I stroke him and get him excited, he's licking my face. I'm back at the computer, he runs towards the lounge again. I try to stop him by shutting the door. His head is almost jammed (though of course it's not) "uh uh" - no response.

Okay, that's probably the minute up.

Thank goodness for these pizzles (pig's penises) he writhes in an aphrodisiac fuelled ecstasy. Rolling on his side, his back, covering himself with the scent of the pizzle - who knows what these things contain,  but they sure do work... Long enough for me to write this post.

It's so much fun. But it's also so tiring. I feel he's learning more and more, as I am, by the day; but the more he absorbs of this new life, the more he learns how to work me out. I need infinite patience; i need to learn to marvel at the minutiae. We made some progress today. 2 x pees outside. This is good. I need to remember to enjoy the journey as he is.

A rare moment of calm

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pup dilemmas

I'm back!

I've taken a half hour 'separation anxiety' timeout from Conan. Apparently because I'm around the house a lot there's a chance he'll get anxious and cause havoc if ever I go out so you've gotta get them used to it by putting them in a room on their own (or a crate) and letting their whimper, howl, whine, scream wash over you. Never has the phrase 'you've got to be cruel to be kind' resonated so much! I've stuffed my tired brain with all sorts of dog psychology and concluded that, err.... I don't know.

So, the first few days with Conan....

Conan. Conan, meaning 'little wolf' in Irish.

It's taken a long time to get to the name Conan. We've been through the lot: Roy (hubby's fave, but not mine - i mean, can I really shout 'Roy' across the park? This handsome fella deserves better....) Then there was a 24 hour Lupo experiment ( Lupo means wolf in Italian) but somehow it felt wrong and forced. Paco (liked the Spanish name vibe) but never took. And Larry, named after Larry David, but again not sure, the boys liked it, but they also liked Roy. So finally we settled on Conan, which was the name given to us by the breeder. It's not that we've been unoriginal but out little man is so true to his name, strong, handsome, howly. I mean he doesn't look like a little wolf here - he looks like a teddy bear but that's the thing I'm realising about puppies, they're irresistible and that's what makes them so "down dog" difficult to train.
Conan, our 9 old week Border Collie - to pick up or not to pick up?

There appears to be two schools of thought:

1. The crate them and isolate them, eat your dinner first and assert yourself as pack leader but praise them well when they've done something good school of pup psychology

2. The love them to bits and cuddle them lots school of pup psychology (which is also what the breeder told us), and which I'm doing lots... (as per the picture)

....Until I met a friend of a friend last night who told me, "you can't pick up a puppy - it'll send the wrong message, you're elevating his status." Obviously this friend of friend subscribed to school of hard knocks number 1.

It's all a bit confusing to be honest. I'm trying a bit of both at the moment, so he's been separated, he's calmed down. It's working. There's quiet in the house.

But BCs are very sensitive and apparently if you don't make then feel reassured they'll develop anxiety as well.. But then if you let them rule the roost they'll also

I'll keep you posted.

Never have I been more present. This is real yoga.

If you've got any advice for me, as a new and loving mum to a beautiful pup, please feel free!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When you've run out of things to Google....

I was on the ferry on the way back from one of the corporate yoga classes I teach in the city and had 30 minutes to kill. They’ve recently introduced free WiFi on the Manly ferries so I thought I’d take advantage and waste some time Googling randomly on my iPhone. One slight problem… 

I had nothing I wanted to Google.

This was a very rare and depressing moment, as if I'd reached the end of ambition; no ideas, no projects, no interest in world affairs, nothing... though I remember it happening once before in one of my more idol office jobs. What shall I Google today, I used to think on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thurs… ?

In the end I just checked the Guardian, wrote a couple of emails and, well, it was fine; I filled the 30 minute journey. On the way back home I stopped off in my new favourite Manly café (Cartel on Belgrave) for a fruit salad and a cheer up from the cheery folks there and as I sat down, there was Australian Vogue magazine literally beckoning me with one of its headline articles: ‘Losing your ambition?’ it wrote… ‘You’re not alone.’

That’s right I thought, and in the peculiar way that magazines, newspapers and blogs etc. appear to correctly identify lumps, bumps and great tidal shifts in your thought state, let’s call them thought-fashions, (or do they create them…I ask?) to the point that you can barely recognise who is in fact The Creator of this particular trend. I mean, I thought I invented the skinny jean/the movement towards social media etc. Is this making sense?

Basically me and this magazine article, we were on the same page. So, what did they blame the loss of female ambition on?
  1.  The Internet – too much time to Google. Without the World Wide Web we’d still be cleaning the house on a Saturday morning (along with our men, we’re talking empowered cleaning here); wearing dynamic suits, just the right side of sexy professional; and going ‘above and beyond’ in our jobs.
  2. Children – this is fairly obvious, but interesting that one sprightly graduate who they interviewed (hands still sticky from holding her hot new degree in Business and Economics) described herself as ‘human capital’ – I love that phrase; so excessively, lavishly… self-assured. Whatever happened to shameless confidence in our abilities, ladies? Needless to say other the group of graduates who were mums were generally a much more ‘realistic’ (depressing) bunch. Although I’d hazard it’s not the kids’ fault, I think it’s age that knocks the stuffing out of us.
  3. Drifting: Not being able to articulate/discover the ambition.

Without wishing to get too feminist, I must say this third one resonated a little too hard. Ouch.  One of the ladies interviewed (writer for New York Times, so she’s doing alright by the way) described herself as always vaguely knowing she would be good at something but not able to work out what, which left her hating pretty much everyone (because they're potential competition of course) but also vulnerable, as she was simply being tossed along, thrown in every direction. 

Do men feel like this as much? Statistics show that women come out of the education system with better class degrees than men, showing bountiful promise in the workplace, wearing their smart clothes and their ‘can do’ attitudes. Then, a few years down the line you find them like flotsam, (“goods that are floating in the water without having been thrown in deliberately” - thanks Wikipedia) with no real purpose, thinking ‘I’ll just bob around here until someone gives me some’. They say to be truly happy you need to be following your purpose. Trouble is I kind of think I am following it but then I don’t really know what it is.

When you feel connected to your ambition it’s like you’re soaring; you feel connected to life, the people around you (rather than hating them in a pathetically vulnerable kind of way... hmm) and filled with this glow of promise. What’s stopping us from feeling like this?

I’ve decided I’m going to try and write a book. There, I said it. I’ve ‘articulated it’.

Just gonna practice some yoga, finish some jobs off and then… my first chapter awaits me. Yikes!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Resisting something

It's been a really shitty few days to say the least and so what did I do to make myself feel better? In true SATC style, I went shopping. Oh yes chick lit lovers, I checked myself in for some retail therapy. It's actually been the first time since my new life started that I've done a proper good old, completely unnecessarily frivolous expenditure and it's quite exhilarating actually. I'm waiting for the guilt, the cavernous emptiness, the creeping dissatisfaction and the mental retribution to hit me. But all this self flagellation isn't healthy. So what if I just spent $385 on a dress for a wedding; after spending $900 on removalists, $520 on cleaning the house, $150 on getting a small portion of the carpet relayed (including chopping a sizeable chunk out of the cupboard in the spare bedroom - it was like an episode of ER man seriously, life saving decisions had to be taken) and countless other house expenses, maybe I deserved a little black number to make me feel sexy. My shoulders are hunched up to my ears, I can't relax or sleep in this new place yet and I've STILL got no goddam fridge or washing machine and I'm freezing cold and I'm worried that when/if we get a dog that I won't be able to look after it, discipline it and be kind towards it,  and how are we going to fence in the garden and.... blah blah blah the list goes on. Basically I'm a bag of worried little bones rattling around and I'm being honest with you here because I can be. I could tell you, I'm just loving my new house, best decision we've ever made. Oh it's so nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of Manly but so far it sucks.

Yoga helped this morning. Thank you yoga. Rather than teaching my private class I practiced up at Yoga Moves again. We got there a little late so were sardined into a corner at the edge of the studio but actually that was fine (somehow I managed to overcome the pattern of behaviour that I need to have a good spot in the room) and I got into the flow quite nicely in spite of my numerous injuries (so different from Friday's experience). So after savasana it was like I'd wiped my dark and smudgy windows clean, and all was shiny and new again. Ahhh, and breathe.

But then, back to reality again and I hurled myself into the city to teach a corporate class at 8am and then off to Circular Quay to catch the ferry back to Manly so I could go back to the old house to pick up any tell-tale residual bits of carpet before the real estate agent came round (he'd called on the ferry to let me know the new tenants were going in to measure the rooms). Naturally I got there whilst they were there so who knows what they saw of the carpet shards. Should I have told the truth? Who knows, I object to the real estate agent (most likely, although this is surely a samskara of sorts) wanting to take our full deposit to replace an entire already worn carpet, so I needed to take some action but it feels like things are escalating out of control.

In the North Sydney Yoga Studio's August newsletter Angelika wrote an interesting article on the concept of resistance which resonated with me. She explains how we put up barriers in the path of our development:

"When life appears to be running smoothly, and everything is in it’s place, one can easily feel threatened when suggestions are made to do something differently. Sometimes change or even just the suggestion of change can bring up resistance in us. What if this change will make our situation worse? Even minor changes may cause us to lose our hard earned equilibrium!"

I can't help but feel there's some resistance going on with me at the moment. Like everything in yoga, you can draw from your experiences on a gross (physical) level to appreciate what's happening on a more subtle level - my injuries are starting to read like an ever increasing menu at Hypochondria Cafe. But they're real. Or at least they feel real but maybe they're the 'rocks' I'm putting in the path of letting go of some control. Here she writes:

"As soon as someone’s Yoga practice comes along well, and I can sense that the student is just about to rise to the next level of their practice, for some inexplicable reason (some sort of resistance maybe?) they can’t make it to class, or they get sick or injure themselves. All sorts of obstacles mysteriously appear that prevent them from evolving and taking that next step forward, thus paradoxically preventing their own progress. The mind is fearful of losing its power, so throws a few rocks in the way!"

 I'm not sure. All i know is that something is happening here and I don't fully understand it. I'm out of balance and there doesn't appear to be a nice little gift wrapped box of pop yoga philosophy to help me out here. Maybe I just need to keep on going. Regular and consistent practice. 

Oh who knows.

This post feels kind of floaty and amorphous, in fact it's a mess, but that's kind of how I'm feeling. Sorry all you avid readers, that's just how I'm feeling.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home sweet home

I’ve always had the sneaky suspicion that cheery expression ‘home sweet home’ is in fact deeply ironic; and this week/weekend has given a new depth to my instinct.

What a few days it has been, and it’s not over yet.

On Friday we moved, leaving our uninterrupted (except for the smears where I’ve attempted to clean the windows) panoramic ocean views for a cheerful Federation-style semi in Fairlight (to use real estate speak). 

Talking of which I’m nervously waiting a call back from the real estate agent today. After hmmming and scratching my head and generally panicking I’ve realised that satya (telling the truth) is the only choice I have in this situation. They are going to find out about 'The Stain' soon enough.

So, we packed up our belongings, attempted to start the cleaning and got the boxes, furniture, other miscellaneous crap together, and as the last box was loaded into the van by ‘Junior’ (more on the removalist company later) he lifted up our plant from the lounge room floor and then the soggy looking placemat I’d cleverly decided to put this plant nightmare onto. And, yep, underneath the mat was one large brown, balding hole. You could see the exposed plastic where the cream carpet once was before I inflicted 12 months of watering and mould. It was like the aftermath of something horrific (in carpet terms); there was bloodshed, destruction, and oh, hopeless bollocks….. Just when we thought it was a smooth move.

On Saturday they do the prospective tenant viewings and the first thing your eyes dart towards is ‘Hiroshima’ over there… ahh, nightmare. What are we to do? Come clean? Write a note for the agent? Phone them? Of course we were panicking at the time, thinking about our deposit and how that would make a nice holiday somewhere or…. Well no point thinking like this. It’s royally fooooked, as they say in Yorkshire, not in real estate.  We took the coward’s option of course, and because the house was empty more or less, we couldn’t move any furniture to disguise it, so we quickly covered it was some empty boxes and waited it out.

So now I’m waiting for this dude to call me back and I’m feeling a little scared. I don’t know why, it’s irrational. These things must happen all the time, but I’ve always been such a good tenant I’ve never done anything so foolish and destructive to a property. When I finished Uni I actually took a job in a lettings office in Headingly, Leeds. I rented student properties in suburbs like Woodhouse and Hyde Park where kids have, I’m sure, prematurely-grown moustaches (because they’re only about 11), wield sticks and kick cars as you walk back to your house (or show your prospective tenants around). I remember though living in Woodhouse as a student and this element of danger somehow added to the appeal. Back in the late 90s, when we were living there, Tony Blair had said it was one of the suburbs in the UK most in need of urgent welfare. It was crime riddled, depressing, the poor local shop keeper, a Sikh man called Mr Ryan kept a massive Alsatian (and who knows what other defences) behind his till because of the countless number of robberies and threats he had each week. My housemates and I quite liked the bars across the windows, lullabied by the sound of car alarms going off, or the light beam of a police helicopter seeking out the Woodhouse thieves and assaulters among the cobbled back alleys typical of depression era housing in the North. Funny, we, a bunch of four 20 year old girls, just lived there amidst the crime and chaos, like happy, fearless dear in the jungle.

We’re in our new place now, though not without a huge fight with the removal company in which they actually physically threatened A after trying to charge us 7 hours when they said it would take 4 to 5 max, plus other ridiculous premiums they threw in. Stung by the removalist’s heavy-handed, Mafioso approach to business we spent the first night feeling kind of uneasy. I still do. We discovered again more cockroaches in the kitchen, this time it wasn’t the ‘Germans’ of the last place, who are quite small but numerous, it was the big fat ones that rattle when they walk. Then there’s the waiting for the fridge and washing machine – apparently we may have to wait two weeks now despite the guy in Harvey Norman telling us it was due in last week, hence our cancelling the rental of our appliances in the old place in expectation of new shiny fridge and washer. I am buying a bottle of milk every day just so I can have a cuppa to find the next day (or course) it’s gone sour.

I need to chill out but I feel on edge, a ridiculous irrational sense of fear and unease. It’s been good for me to reflect on these times and get some perspective on the dramas, to remember how fearless and carefree I was as a student. Who knows why our perspectives change so much. Maybe it’s because as we get older we cling to our life more; it seems more grim, hard fought, but also more valuable. Got to remember lila again, life’s comedy. The day to day dramas that happen seem to be there to test us, I envy those who can just laugh it off, not take it so seriously, and find perspective. After all none of this is the end of the world. The removal company are not going to throw a brick through our window out of spite – they got their money in the end; the carpet can probably be fixed without involving losing our entire bond (fingers crossed) and a couple of cockroach bombs (and if that fails, pest control) can put an end to the roaches. I’m sure I can manage to buy the food I need fresh, rather than store it in the non-existent fridge. Coincidently (or not!) on a physical level I’m having dramas too. The hamstring is still not on the mend; I’ve developed a deep pain in my left shoulder and, strange of all, my left big toe is so tender to the touch I can’t put weight on it which is really unsettling my balance in the standing postures. So, like my injuries I have to modify, overcome the series of hurdles and laugh about  it.

Ha sweet ha.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Out with the old

Yet again we're moving! It seems every year we up our stumps and it's that time again.

This week is gonna be c-razy with packing and boxing and organising and changing details and sorting and trying to fit in some work as well. I'm afraid I may be a little quiet this week alas blog.

Started off the packing yesterday and could see myself going into ruthless mode, I've already chucked six handbags, three pairs of jeans and seven pairs of shoes in the direction of Vinnies. I love it. It's a very cleansing sensation to purge, to rid yourself of clutter, although I do get a flash of.. will I need those shoes again one day...? I'm not too attached to my things though, luckily. My problem is more papers, books, I really find it hard to throw out magazines and stuff I've been sent by banks and other institutions... it kind of sends me into a mini panic, what if I need that at some point. But no, it's a pure lesson in detachment. I'll make do without, we don't need all this crap, we really don't.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A new day a new teacher

I went to practice with Sydney's only certified Ashtanga teacher, Eileen Hall this morning at her shala (which is really a boxing studio but nevertheless is quite nice). I had been to see her a couple of weeks ago but she wasn't there so it was her apprentice Mark Robberds (authorised teacher) and I'd really enjoyed it so I wanted to go back. 

Well, Eileen was scary. I think it's always quite difficult to see a new teacher because you learn to do things the way you're taught by one teacher and then another one comes along and tells you it's all wrong wrong wrong. Which was what Eileen told me.

There I was in kurmasana with my legs outstretched, feeling a slight weirdness in my hamstring (though less than I was feeling so it's on the mend) and a new strange sensation in my left shoulder, which was odd and she comes over and tries to bind me.

"What are you doing with your arms" (they were still outstretched)

"Err.." (thinking - being tentative, waiting to see how my body feels)

"Grip your fingers, you've got no consciousness girl. You new students coming from other schools with all your bad habits"

The shoulder was feeling okay so I yielded to her accusations and smiled to myself.

"Turn your palms and grip your fingers!" She shouts again at me

"I'm trying!" I laugh

And although this sounds a bit cruel, I did appreciate her pulling me up on a few things. As she said to me at the end I've got  a few 'sloppy' habits which I've probably picked up because I've had the same teacher for such a long time and he doesn't pick me up on things like that.

"Straighten your arms in ubhaya pascimottonasana" she bellows at me across the room!

At the end of the practice, she was quite different, softer with a wry smile. She told me 'You have to find a balance, the strength and the grounding and the lightness the balance.' I wasn't 100% sure what she meant, of course I know about the need to have the combination of strength and softness, but I wasn't sure what she was saying to me in terms of my practice. When someone (very senior and qualified in ashtanga) looks at your practice and casts a new light on it, sometimes it's hard to know what she means, I mean I practice and practice and think I'm doing the best i can but.... Maybe she's right, perhaps I'm unconsciously falling into patterns of sloppiness.

The thing with ashtanga is that we do it over and over and over and over again.

I think this can be a great aspect of this yoga, because sometimes I feel like I completely fuse with the practice. I feel light, fluid contained within it and almost like I've left my body (to sound a bit wanky).Other times I'm not really paying attention. Going through the motions. 

Doing the same thing again and again gives you the opportunity to perfect and hone things, to discover new depths to postures which, if I were practicing another type of yoga, I might not actually practice again for a week or so (because the postures change week to week). I practiced Virabadrasana 1 today with a new depth. I mean, how can you discover newness in that posture which I must have done 3 million times. But I did. I found a connection in my front knee, hip and the sole of my foot, like I'd shifted my awareness into the sole of the foot which helped the femur draw back. Specific! Yes I know, it always is. How about bhujapidasana, I worked something internally which allowed me a slightly smoother transition onto my head. Again, what it was, I've no idea or the language to explain, but the subtle awareness required to understand and go deeper in poses, to progress, find that all important balance of softness and strength, blows me away. What's happening. It's like putting a magnifying glass on how we learn.

Anyway, I hadn't intended to post today, but I'm glad I did.

Sorry it was a bit technical, but it's what I felt like talking about today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Getting back into it

There’s a real strangeness to your home when you return from an amazing holiday. The kitchen, the TV, the sofas looking somehow mundane, too normal, like I’m expecting them to have changed colour or something but no, they’re just the same. There’s that ‘home’ smell of musty washing powder; it’s not bad, probably what most people smell when they come round, but we’re so used to it we can’t smell it. When you come back from holiday it’s like you see things new again.

I am sitting here in my pyjamas with my hair tossed up into a crazy whirl after one of those almighty heavy sleeps which leave your body embossed by the creases of the sheets. Over there my suitcase still sits, like a wide open mouth spilling out its contents, and I know I should get started with my work but...

It’s not 8am yet, I think I’ll have some porridge first.

My body is exhausted. Exhausted.
I got in from Queenstown last night. My plane landed at just after 5pm and I thought I want to do some yoga as haven’t done any since Friday. Can I make the 7.30 class? (I always do this and set challenges for myself which are barely possible, but just possible enough). Luckily I got past the customs beagle which is so cute you want to stroke it but know you’ll probably end up with some out of control fine/court case (watching a few too many Banged up Abroad episodes has created an irrational fear of sniffer dogs). What do I mean, luckily. I have nothing to fear. And through customs by 5.36pm, straight onto a train and I was in Circular Quay at 6.09 for the 6.15 fast ferry. Phew just made that, and it was plain sailing across the harbour into Manly. I was so hot still in my UGG boots and ski jacket and my face was stinging from the mix of the morning’s snow and fresh air, sweat and the desiccating aircon on the aeroplane which had turned my lips and nostrils red raw so I went outside to take in the cool frantic night air.

Back home I noticed my little purple flower-pot plant (I really should learn the names of things shouldn’t I?) which I bought at the Harris Farm market because it looked so happy was wilted and sad, its flowers like little dead crisps. I didn’t know what to do first, so I shovelled the first of the washing, socks, ski pants, essential undies into the machine, quickly showered off my body (no time for hair), ran my little purple flower-pot plant under the tap gently, though the water just ran straight through. I don’t know, will that bring it back to life…? I pulled on my yoga stuff and headed to the yoga centre.

What a strange class. Through my first sun salute I felt like I wasn’t in control of my body. I felt like I had no connection to what I was doing. But I persevered, hoping things would get more connected. I just felt more and more tired, every muscle and bone gently ached but I moved and moved. Finally savasana, and I felt like I was suspended on top of my mat, leaden but okay, satified. That gentle exhiliration of total exhaustion after 3 days of snowboarding and a strong yoga class. I took that feeling home and more or less passed out, sleeping and sleeping, my body yielding completely to the bed.

I dreamt of Gary, the silver/grey RSPCA tabby cat last night. In my dream he was no longer at the RSPCA and there were all these other, smaller crazed looking cats jumping up at me. I think I need to call the RSPCA and find out what’s happened to Gary, if anything.

And now, my porridge. The taste of home, of my funny little daily routine. I had muffins and scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning at the hotel. I mean those hotel breakfast buffets, however unappetising they look (and this one wasn’t too bad) are so hard to resist and they’re not healthy either.

And after the sleep with the sun flooding my kitchen, my purple flower, he’s looking better now too.

Back to the routine now. It’s getting easier.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New new new!

We've got a new place!

Yep, signed the lease and everything. We're moving out of NSW 2095 into, scary scary, NSW 2094. Surely a sign of my finer, temple-greying years.. It's kind of like in London when you go from zone 2 to zone 3 on the underground and sacrifice convenience for cleaner air, more space, less drug dealers (it's relative). In our case you can't argue with Manly's sea breeze and obvious drug dealers are not abundant, so it's space we're after, more to the point animal-friendly space. I checked out the locale yesterday and there's a lovely ye olde deli to buy fancy schmancy tapanades and venison pies etc and flyers advertising a plethora of mums n bubs social events... Yep it's proper Pramville! Just need the baby now.. Hmmmm.... Let's start with a cat.And now that I'm working from home I can justify becoming the mad old women with her cat.  We saw one at the RSPCA last week who I've got my beady eye on. Gary. Grey tabby with cat flu which apparently isn't too serious - just needs TLC and warmth, which he's not getting much of at the moment in the cat pound in Yagooma in Sydney's darkest, wettest West. Not cuddled him yet but I'm letting fate decide. If he's there when we get back from New Zealand next week then we'll have him. If he's not, then he's not meant to be.  What do you think?

So yes, a new place, a new four legged friend, and (hopefully) a  new start... as the next two weeks before the move are a good time to purge and give my ridiculous amount of crap to some one more needy.

So, if I am a little quiet over coming weeks it's because I'm either

a) Snowboarding - yay!
b) Cleaning inside the oven
c) Clearing out my wardrobe of forgotten items
d) Buying cat food

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Winter in the North Shore

Ahh Sydney in the winter eh. Really, is there anywhere else?

Hubby and I had a lazy Sunday yesterday with not much planned. I had to go to a photo shoot in the morning in Mosman for one of the yoga centres where I am teaching, so we drove together towards Balmoral beach where Andrew was gonna find a cafe to read his book whilst I got my pic taken posing in the sand (much harder than on the mat, i soon discovered). 

As we got across the Spit Bridge, Andrew took a turn too soon and we ended up on one Mosman’s back streets, skimming along the harbour’s edge and heading in the wrong direction, back towards the Spit. Running late already I was tempted to make some sarcastic remark but then... 

Easy tiger, hello beautiful! What an amazing wrong turn it was, I’d never explored this way before and the houses, the views, the soft winter sun as it hit the water was just stunning! Most of the properties here had expansive terraces, casually looking out over the harbour, as it winked and sparkled back at them, like a crazy diamond. As we turned a corner we could see the national park over towards Manly where deep sweeping greens leapt out from the lively shimmery turquoise and private wisps of golden sand lay at the foot of a handful of these... holy cow... AMAZING places. Do people really live there? Can you imagine? They made me think of the baddy’s house from a James Bond movie, only better.

It’s unbelievable to think that I can live somewhere so stunningly beautiful and yet so often I just go from A to B without really taking part in it or really noticing that 'nameless' space in between. I guess those self help types call it enjoying the journey. It was only because we got lost that I opened my eyes.
If only we could experience that sensation of discovery every time and really notice things.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My true nature - frustrated

I'm sorry blog, I've been a little absent of late but finally, after days of frustration I've uninstalled my vodafone connection and installed my hubby's Optus one from work. Not a good long term solution but will do for now. I know I talk a lot of my techmares but honestly, when you work from home and there's no tech guy at work who you can call when your computer snarls error messages at you, the only people you can take your frustration out on are: 

a) Tech guys at Vodafone - I am probably blacklisted there now. The polite approach was getting me nowhere. The angry psychotic approach has had limited effect as well, admittedly. Wilting sarcasm just made me feel bad..... But should I be satisfied after 10 days of receiving no call/ no support to be told someone will call in 72 hrs. Being pretty below average at maths I (slowly) worked out that was 3 whole days! Well say three days you cowards, why dress it up in finery by calling it hours! I can't manage three days without internet at home, it's like being told you can't have running water at home for three days. Or rather that you might get a call about your lack of running water in three days. Awesome.(And to that I add the clause that I know I'm very lucky to live in a Western society where this is something that people would be feasibly outraged by..)


b) Your nine blog readers. Thanks guys.

c) Hubby - but he's overseas again :(

Feel better now. I've vented.

But why does venting help? It's not very yoga I know. In fact it's totally un-yoga because we are meant to  be detached, observing, accepting what happens. But then Matthew Sweeney says in his book Ashtanga Yoga As it Is, that if we try and modify or challenge our natural tendency then we're living an illusion:

"True change is made possible when you are in contact with what is, when you realise what you are. It does not occur when you try to become something you are not. This is delusion. With the latter, there can only be a constant war between the desire for what you should be and what you are. This is one of the most troubling truths that most yoga practitioners have to deal with. No amount of asana or pranayama or meditation practice will make you a better person or hasten your development. Nothing will. For there is nothing better than being what you are right now.... Awareness is the only key ingredient."  (pg 28 Astanga Yoga As it Is)

So in this case, bitter sarcasm and blood bubbling frustration is my true nature. At least I'm aware of it I guess,

Feel like I'm thinking myself into a yoga corner again...! Help!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Floating effortlessly... hmmmm

Yes, the old effortless effort quality. It’s something which us yogis know all too well as we attempt to ‘float’ through to a seated position from down dog or lift our entire body weight off the floor in a cross legged position (known as lolasana)and 'drift' back. Floating, drifting! 'Effortless' is not the word, there’s a heap of steely determination, five long years of regular practice and a tonne of internal bandha* control and physical strength required. So when the teacher (and I’ve done it many times myself) says jump or float lightly through to a seated position you know at least 70% of the class are gritting their teeth and working strongly to get a glimpse of the requisite ‘mysterious’ internal strength. It’s easy to say it, it’s not so easy to do it.

Matthew Sweeney, in his book Astanga Yoga As It Is says when learning how to jump back and through, “try to optimise both the feeling of lightness (no strain) and strength. One without the other is an imbalance.” So teeth gritting isn’t going to work is it? And that’s exactly what I feel I’ve been doing lately. I’ve lost a little bit of the lightness and let the strength (good) and strain (bad) take over, leaving me unbalanced (exactly what a yogi doesn’t want to be). 

For the first couple of months of this New Life there was a certain amount of floating going on, I was somehow letting go of any external or ‘obvious’ effort but; like an eager-to-please duckling paddling madly to keep up with mum, my webbed feet were working double time. At least then I was managing to maintain some floaty serenity; now I’m splashing.

So, where’s all this going you ask?

Well as a new yoga teacher I feel this responsibility to be light, serene and to present effortless effort in all that I do. You know a good teacher when it all just comes together naturally; you’re taken along in the current of their class and you don’t even notice it. Who knows if anyone is taken along in my current, but today I made my first obvious yoga boo boo. It did not come together naturally at all. I was teaching a corporate class in the city at a market research agency where my sister works, and I had my alarm set for 6am to get the ferry at 7am and be there for 8am when my husband woke me up at 7.05 saying, ‘Claire, don’t you need to be up?’

Oh sh*t

So I leapt out if bed, called my sister straight away and apologised. What else can you do? But I feel like I let people down. Due to traffic and ferry times etc it wasn’t going to be possible to make it there for 8 or even 8.15 and they have to start work at 9. So I just had to say sorry again and that I’ll be there next week for sure.

So much for the effortless effort.

But of course, as my hubby said, these things happen. It’s the first time I’ve let anyone down (knowingly!) with a yoga class and at least now it will make me be sure to double, triple check that my alarm clock is properly set.

I am sure most people would agree but there's nothing worse than letting other people down (except maybe letting yourself down) and I did both. I’m tired at the moment, these are not excuses, but I guess I didn’t wake up naturally at 6 ish as I usually do 'effortlessly'; so I need to pull on some of that steely strength, the years of regular practice, and a bit more lightness, to take things a little less seriously. Occasionally we can’t jump through lightly, we mess up, I can’t let it weigh heavily on me.

*Bandhas are internal locks or seals are contracted or activated during yoga practice and which contain and control prana (energy) and heat within the body. The most common bandhas are: mula bandha  at the pelvic floor; uddiyana bandha located at the navel, lower abdomen region; and jalandhara bandha which is a tucking of the chin to bring about soft audible ujjayi breath.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A learning from the German

What a week.... I tell you what my teaching muscles are weary and so are my smile muscles (that's another one to add to my work in progress novel 'Manly Complaints' - a list of the most ridiculous whinges I hear from this little piece of paradise I'm fortunate enough to call home).

I mean, what a week.  I think I ended up teaching around 15 classes all up. So by the end of my teachathon I felt pretty standard up there. Fittingly, the week's teaching ended with a rather curious Level 2 ashtanga class which I was covering for my teacher. 

Level 2 means the students should be pretty familiar with the ashtanga primary series and have at least 6  months experience. Well it was 5pm Sunday evening, after an awesome 'Christmas in July' dinner with some pommy mates (turkey, stuffing, brussels, the lot) I had to take my turkey belly off to teach this class (no mulled wine for the yogi sadly). It's the school holidays and it was a suitably drizzly dank day (very British Christmas) so I expected a small class and thought, we'll whip through the sequence and I won't demonstrate at all (due to my turkey baby) which you can easily do with ashtanga since people know the poses. Too easy. And, as I thought, it was a small class, but that's where the meeting of my expectations ended.

There were two girls who were pretty experienced and two guys who I couldn't even describe as beginners. Well there was one, a  German chap, who'd never done any ashtanga, I think he'd probably been to one yoga class before in his life. He was fully tattooed up, massive arms, chest bared, like a man going into battle, a huge guy with a lazy linger of a smile which sat mischievously in one corner of his mouth.

So, I opened the class by getting everyone settled, legs up the wall, coming into their breath and body and then when we were about to start the sun salutes when he says: 'I can't understand you, can you please speak better?' 

'As in louder?' I replied

'No, you know, better, better pronunciation...'

So I thought, okay, English is not his first language, that's cool, I'll have a go at speaking more clearly. No problem.

We went through the salutes and he clearly had never done one before. So I was right next to him, going through the up-dog, down dog, chataranga-motions, the Christmas sprouts and pigs in blankets nudging at my throat, threatening; but I carried on and demonstrated almost every salute, because he wasn't really responding to my clear-instruction endeavours.

In between demonstrating I was adjusting the students in down dog by placing my hands on their lower back and when I put my palms on his sacrum he lets out this funny little squeal and then, 'ahhhhhhh, oooooh' 

'Sorry were my hands cold?' I asked

'Oooh noooooo, it's just niiiiice'

I couldn't help but laugh, and nor could the other students in the class. I kept thinking, focus, this class is turning into a shambles, keep  the students focused. This is Ashtanga, it's meant to be serious business this ashtanga.

And so the madness continued... Of course it would.

We were about an hour in and I felt I had to say something. I needed to break the ice, pop this over-blown (slightly psychedelic) balloon we'd created here in this yoga-space. So I started laughing at an opportune moment and said:

'Man this is a funny class' 

It was like the air rushed straight out of the balloon, pure relief, and suddenly everyone was laughing. 

Well the yoga went out the window, along with the air. So much for coming into a beautiful yogic state of concentration and pure awareness.

Oh well. It was funny. 

Right at the end of the class, one last ditched attempt I thought 'I know - eye bags.' Those wonderful little lavender-scented bags of beans always help people to go inwards; maybe I can win back some focus here. Wonderful. Everyone can get fully immersed in their savasana. So I start handing out eye bags.

'I don't like eye bags' a booming voice replied.

Oh well, that's it, everyone was off again... 

Well, it was certainly a learning experience. I've never known a student to challenge the unofficial 'yogetiquette' of silence in class (or at least an appropriate quiet in those down-time moments or during postures, unless being spoken to one-on-one with the teacher) and I was so aware of these experienced students perhaps wanting and needing a good class.

I felt like I was patient with him. I hope I was able to give something to the other other students.... I still wonder if I acted 'correctly' and what else I could have done. 

Realising now there's so much more to teaching than standing up in front of a few people talking through the postures.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yoga burn out

I remember a few months back reading an article in the Australian Yoga Life magazine about new yoga teachers suffering from burn out, and I thought – that’d be nice, to teach so many class that you get tired! Well, this week, I think I might be starting to char. The promise of endless hours to chew over books and get inspired hasn't happened and instead I'm buzzing and fruzzing between the mat and the Mac to answer emails, write bits and blogs, and of course teach and practice. Okay, it's probably just this week because there are quite a few teachers away so I'm covering a lot (which is great by the way) and things will get back to normal again next week but I wanted to share my experience of this new lifestyle in all its colours, and this part is a kind of roaring, sports-car red.

I’ve created my own real life mini yoga olympics and last Friday was the opening ceremony, with a 6-8am Mysore practice (just the knowledge of the hours ahead sent lead through my legs) followed by a few hours emailing, planning classes, finding music, then at 10.30 – 12pm I taught again, then a bit more class planning, then I did my yoga apprentice program from 3 – 5.30pm, practicing again, then it was time for the Funky Friday Flow class at 6-7pm, then… err, did I miss lunch? It was an incredible day and I was fully immersed, focused, riding it… a prana high perhaps? Yesterday, another event; up at 5, taught two classes, off to the office, full day at office (8.30am – 5.30pm) then back home, sizzled up and omelette then taught 7.30pm class, sofa was yearning and then bed. Zzzzzzzzzz…. Up again this morning at 5.30, taught another class and… etc etc. Now I don’t want you to think I’m ungrateful or that I’m not enjoying every single minute. Because I really am. I am absolutely LOVING the teaching. To the point where, when I talk to anyone about it, I feel a goosey rush creep up my cheeks. They say it’s a calling. I’ve never really known what a calling feels like and if it gives you goosey cheeks a big smile (and little wee bags under your eyes), well I think I’ve found it.

But it’s interesting how it’s starting to take its toll on my body. After the full on Friday my back started to tighten and quiver. Uh oh. No more. Then I started to feel a twangy twinge across my left buttock into the injured hamstring and down the leg. My teacher suggested I see a chiro and sure enough everything started to pack up. In silhouette I looked like a lower case ‘r’, barely able to straighten my back and as I did, there it goes, the twingy twang. So my lovely chiro took one look at me and my alphabetty posture and decided it was all connected, as it so often is. A few sacrum clicks and some excruciating deep tissue massage into my psoas and I should be right as rain  in a few days. So, I’ve decided to slow it down a bit. I’m teaching tonight and first thing tomorrow, but in my own practice it’s gone all squidgy bolstery with nourishing, supportive blocks, lots of breath and less stretch. My teacher told me to try practicing at 70%, and breathing at 100%, apparently you feel as light as silky scarf. I’ll give it a go. Here begins another type of yoga.  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

It's the iPhone God's will

After all these amazing days I've been having lately I feel kind of relieved that things are starting to even out, to become normal. Because last week was the first time in a while I can honestly say 'man, that was a shoddy old week'.

Yep, it was really sucky one. After having no Internet access for three days, an infestation of cockroaches in the kitchen, a broken vacuum cleaner, and an ever-niggling hamstring injury, I thought by the end of the week things should start looking up. Well, our friend up there decided no, that's not quite enough irritation for one week and he turned things even more bitter and twisty. 

So catching the ferry into the city to teach a corporate class, I was chatting with my sister about the wonder of iPhones and checking out the new ‘books’ application she got when she upgraded her software. I mean how cool is it to be able to get real books on your phone. No more heavy tombs weighing me down, I carry enough block, strap and crap around with me as it is… Well it seemed a good idea until after an hour of downloading, I plugged my phone back in to find there was absolutely no data left on it. All phone numbers, gone; all notes, gone; every calendar entry, song, everything, a big fat gone. So… being a total luddite idiot I panicked and in a crazed frenzy of clicking I managed to ‘encrypt a password.’  Only vaguely understanding the meaning of the word ‘encrypt’ I then decided to see if this worked so I reconnected my iPhone and… A flicker of hope; it asked me to enter a password to restore the back up. What password? I didn’t enter one did I? After trying every possibly password I’ve ever used for anything, sadly, computer still said no.

As you know, I have a fiery pittary temperament so my instinct, after a quick scoot around various online support forums, the Apple website etc, was to start ranting and raging, which I did for an hour or so before bed; a tired, red-faced lunatic.

Then. A sparkly new day dawned.

Thursday came all shiny and new and I decided to try and find the positives.  Yogic surrender or ishvarapranidhana means to accept what comes as part of our spiritual destiny. It’s a principle I’ve always been attracted too as so often I feel I try to control life’s outcomes and how liberating to surrender to this type of fate, this supreme governing intelligence. which says “you are not in charge, leave it to Me.”

In fact a few people had said to me ‘oh how liberating to be free of all those phone numbers of people you’ll never call.’ Others said ‘ooh, a clean slate’.

Maybe this is what I needed, the opportunity to wipe things clean and connect with those people who really matter to me.

So armed with my castrated-phone; devoid of phone numbers and deadlines, dates, mates, and other (not that) ‘pressing’ matters, I decided to cut loose. Here are some pics from my phone-free weekend (taken with my iPhone of course)

Got a new app that takes pics which look like they're taken on an old plastic toy camera - gotta love the iPhone!