Saturday, September 30, 2006

Why you need ear plugs to come to India.

Or ‘Christ mate it’s about as peaceful as a dance party at Gallipoli here’.

It is fair to say that New Zealand, for better and for worse, is one of the quietest countries you could ever live in. Edging it down the pecking order in this regard perhaps are places like rural Mongolia and Antarctica (on a still day). But, of the better frequented and more familiar territories one might come across NZ is right up there in the silence stakes. In the same way this is no surprise to anyone it should come as no shock to discover that India is securely fastened to the opposite end of the spectrum. But what does this mean in practice?

Maybe I’ve become more attuned in the relative quiet of leafy Gokulam, surely the Acacia Avenue of India, but the sound of the neighbour sweeping/rotavating the front yard with a broom made from what must be high tensile steel wire while playing a recorded loop of Buddhist sounding chanting at 430am is a fairly good example of the noise levels attainable, even in the small hours and with minimal, relatively primitive, equipment. The ante is normally upped around 5am when, for some unknown, unseen but precisely timed reason their guard dog goes bonkers and barks its little Indian head off. For about 11 minutes. If you slept through the ‘sweeping’ and chanting (oh, and flobbing, otherwise known as hawking, gobbing or spitting huge amounts of phlegm out) then the barking definitely ensures you get to peel yourself a new retina for the day. Around 530am, with the sun coming up, the first traffic might buzz by – hooting helpfully as the nearest corner is approached to avoid any possibility of collision – and this will continue throughout the day. Awesome. No danger of oversleeping. Ta.

And this is in a super quiet part of a super quiet neighbourhood. Having said that it is still a lot quieter than where I used to live in London. And I do have it pretty easy really. Other people have almost continuous domestic incidents running next door to them, or live on a seemingly quiet but apparently vital intersection via which a large proportion of the city’s scooters have to pass each day necessitating a logarithmic increase in hooting frequency and thus volume.

I seem stuck in sarcastic mode at the moment don’t I?

Friday, September 29, 2006

womens' wrestling

Now that is something one does not get to see very frequently anywhere in the world. However, here in Mysore it is an annual event now as part of the Dasara celebrations.

There was a rumour circulating about the wrestling but I had to check it out for myself. After an early morning recce yesterday, which established a start time and entry arrangements (it is free), I assumed it would be heaving and so some of us got there early. Wrongfooted, as was evidenced by the empty stadium - only the police were early, including 4 women constables in khaki sarees, all of whom (except the women) were brandishing the power sticks otherwise known as bits of bamboo - we then loitered in the shade as best we could. The right hand side of the 'stadium' (capacity c. 1500) began to accrue a few newspaper-hat clad spectators and then, shortly after the appointed hour of 2 o'clock the first bouts got underway. Kites, of both types, circled overhead (and over the bare powerlines) in the clear sky, almost like vultures. Ready for potentially rich pickings to the untrained eye, but down below it was all about hand and foot speed, keeping the centre of gravity low and surreptitiously bitch slapping your opponent as hard as possible. The mens' bouts were pretty even and consequently lasted upto 15 minutes but when it came to the women, most of whom were probably around 16 or so, the bouts were over quickly. Technical levels were pretty mismatched across the regions in this national level competition for the women. But there was drama. With the Keralan VS Varamasuty looking like making it a cakewalk over the vastly underexperienced Bombay rookie LL 'lioness' Ganapathy from early on in the bout the tables were unexpectedly turned, and the crowd shocked into stunned indifference, when 'lioness' managed a throw on her opponent, which looked suspect from my angle and resulted in a hefty blow to the upper abdominal/lateral rib area (possibly bruising the Anterior Serratus muscle). VS managed to recover and put on a few holding moves before taking her revenge with a lightening leg swipe cleanly flooring the lioness. In a scene not remotely remeniscent of gladiator VS then hobbled to the edge of the mat having been declared winner but obviously about to collapse and give a bye to her next opponent. It's definitely the school of hard knocks for these girls.

Having got my India experience in for the day, and with everyone else I came with having already headed to the pool some 90 minutes earlier, I was totally sun blasted and decided to leave. On my way out though I bumped into more yoga people, sat with them and ate a coconut ball sweet thing or two before going 4 up with them in a motor rickshaw back to the leafy environs of Gokulam.

Go wrestling!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yesterday was a birthday - as I showered I remembered it was mine, which felt great, but then I actually forgot that fact even when discussing another birthday with a lovely kiwi lass while at the swimming pool later in the day. The other birthday was that of the Cave Swami who lives, in a cave somewhat predictably, half way up Chamundi Hill, a local landmark with a 1000 step climb to the top. CS apparently puts on an annual lunch for those who wish to attend. As it was it was chucking it down monsoon stylee all afternoon and then most of the night. I had my anatomy etc course to attend so did not get to bask in the birthday aura of the Cave Swami. In the end, having had a great day, I remembered over dinner that it was in fact my birthday too. This evening will have to do so the plan is to have a bit of supper with a few devotees at a quiet local place.

Om.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Taipei personality

Normally I’m terrible with names. For some reason though, at the moment I am really onto it. I just need to meet and be introduced to someone and I remember their name immediately. Of course they almost always forget mine and have to ask the next time we meet at breakfast/lunch/wherever. However since everyone else is forgetting theirs it doesn’t matter. It all evens out. It’s just pretty handy for me. A Good Trick to have.

Today is the start of Desara, which I believe is a festival to mark the start of autumn in these parts, and so the next 10 days or so are filled with all kinds of festive things. I have yet to research what exactly but there is a good website which I will investigate and post here (as you will see my understanding of the meaning of the festival was way off the mark). I also learnt from an Israeli Sanskrit scholar who is here furthering her studies that my teacher’s name, Sharath, actually means autumn. Not surprising since he was born on September 29th, just 4 days after me.

Yesterday went to the Southern Star hotel to sit by the pool for a couple of hours. It is a totally dull hotel, devoid of any charisma and with stunningly slow poolside service. There are other options and I will be exploring them, although it’s a useful backstop.

Next week I will be attending a short course over 5 evenings, run by K from California who is a practitioner of Structural Integration, a form of bodywork known as Rolfing after the woman who devised it, which will present western Anatomy, Kinesiology and Physiology of the musculoskeletal, respiratory and nervous systems as they relate to the eastern practice of yoga. This is a) because it sounds really interesting and K is very articulate and knowledgeable and b) because I think a better understanding of these areas could help to avoid injury problems down the line and help me to understand some of what I might be doing to myself physically by doing this particular activity. That’s pretty important. I was also chatting to K about doing a course of SI and may do so in the future. One of his little pitches is that a course of Rolfing can allow your body to move as far in 1 year through the asana practice as it would normally take 5 years to do. Now that is some claim. Wanting to get to the ‘next step’ is a common theme one encounters when hanging out with ashtanga people – the next series, asana etc – but a valid question is why? There is no substantive answer unfortunately. Often it comes down to wanting to feel like there is some sort of ‘progress’ and thus a ‘reason’ for doing something that can be very demanding. Progress to what is unclear and I point to a previous post of mine as a little rejoinder. Nonetheless, it’s there and it’s around when discussion turns to ashtanga. Anyway, the 5 years into 1 thing fits in with this neatly and so will no doubt appeal to a lot of people I have met here who really want to get onto the ‘next bit’ of their practice. Let me know what it's like when you get there.

Hot house. Now that’s not a phrase one mentions too often in polite company round here. There are some very competitive people who do ashtanga. I would only say that one can quite patently take the student out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the student. Some nationalities are more prone than others, at least to my untrained and subjective eye….

There’s also the type A personality (or Taipei personality as I saw on an airline billboard advert for flights to Taiwan out of LA) thing which plugs right in to all that. As a confirmed B student with occasional flashes of As – because again what’s the point? Show me and I’ll do it. My motivation probably comes most from the gaining of autonomy rather than anything else - who comes from a family of type A A students, I think I know kind of what I’m talking about in a homespun way.

Lunch time. Dosa with coconut chutney, masala sauce and a fried chilli. 20 rupees.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Got a flatmate until my mother arrives - which is pretty nice. T, from California. Also investigated yoga teachers for mum - there is one right round the corner, the most recommended one, having asked a few people. She needs to commit to 2 weeks though - will she do it? I think she should. Ha! haven't even spoken to her about it yet - she may read this before speaking to me even...

In other news, tomorrow is a moon day- so no yoga. Weirdly it turns out that with Sharath we do practice on Saturdays which means that I could have ended up doing 7 (gasp) consecutive days of practice. Surely that is illegal I am hearing you saying. Nope. Sharath has spoken.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

OK, the first rule of fight club etc…but I don’t think the following ‘reflection’ really counts because it concerns a sort of peripheral/meta issue, at least as far as the asana practice goes and doesn’t go into the ‘ow my hip ached when I tried to insert my coccyx into my left eustachian tube while gazing toward the event horizon’ kind of category. ‘Reflection’ because this concept itself implies some sort of contemplative review of an accumulation of experience but in reality the little nugget to follow is nothing more than a blogflection based on a few transient emotions occurring in a heart beat. Blogs are immediate, but appear reflective, and thus allow regurgitation of notions, synapse flashes and semi-thoughts under the guise of reflection. A blogflection.

Today was only my second practice here. The weird thing is how much anxiety I noticed arising as the time approached. I am not used to practicing in a shala as there is not one in Hawkes Bay and, particularly for the last few months, I have been practicing at home, when I want, whenever I want. I’ve really enjoyed this. Where did this anxiety come from? It has to do of course with the newness, the unfamiliarity and the sheer fact of being here. Oh yeah, and ego…

On the other hand, in savasana I had a good giggle to myself about something. Can’t remember what though.

Priority number 1 tomorrow – enjoy the practice. Enjoy the sweat, enjoy every stretch, enjoy doing the things that come and enjoy trying to do the things that don’t. Enjoy.

had breakfast with a couple of folk from practice. Kiwis as it turned out – go kiwis!

Monday, September 18, 2006

early early

For those people who read ashtanga blogs this may all sound a bit familiar but, whatever, it's all local colour....

It’s still dark outside and there is a surprising lack of any noise at all from outside. Not that Gokulam is particularly noisy even in the day. People buzz around on mopeds and the odd fruit or kitchenware seller passes by with a friendly shout to alert the neighbourhood to his presence but that is it really. The absence of any noise at all at 430am is more surprising because normally when in ‘the tropics’ one would of course expect to hear nature doing its thing. Insects and frogs, that might make quite a cacophony, usually create a vivid, pulsating eventually subconscious backdrop to sleep. Here there is nothing.

When we landed at Bangalore I noticed the altitude on the ground was nearly a thousand metres. Mysore is only a little lower at around 700 metres (I think). Thus the air is cool from evening onwards at this time of year. In fact the climate is pretty much perfect. Daytime highs up to 25Cish, 24 hour lows perhaps 17-18C with quite low humidity. It’s easy and very liveable here as the tail-end of the monsoon ebbs away.

So maybe the fact of this relative coolness means that insects and frogs prefer to provide their soundscape elsewhere.

This being India there are of course many other animals shuffling, trotting, sauntering, climbing, fluttering, flapping and skittering their way in and out of the picture. Yep, bony holy cows chewing plastic bags and shitting in the street but also the odd gecko on the bathroom tap. From my hotel window in Mysore I watched a small troop of monkeys, like small children at a bit of distance, shin down the drainpipe on a peeling nicotine coloured wall across the vacant and overgrown lot. Now I am in my apartment in the leafy and very pleasant ‘suburbs’ there are flocks of green parakeets wheeling around the rooftops and the odd sow with her piglets cleaning the streets of the detritus of which there is an endless supply. A little note from the landlord comments on a few of the finer points of inhabiting these few rooms, such as buying detergent so the maid can wash the clothes and turning off lights when going out. There is also the remark ‘Drop tissue paper after use into a small plastic bag. The cleaning lady disposes of it through the scavengers’. Obviously the use of toilet paper is a European oddity resulting in the buildup of expended sheets. Indians are far more eco-friendly. Who are The Scavengers then? This is a little reminder of the fact that, unseen and beyond the cosy confines of Gokulam, there exist microcosms and communities covering the full spectrum of biodiversity that depend entirely on the waste of others. In other words another person may find a use for our used toilet paper.

Having said that, on first impressions Mysore really isn’t that hardcore. So far I have only seen one person asleep actually in the middle of the road (at least I assume he was asleep) and a couple of people missing limbs. There is a huge bustle and throng on the streets of course and the markets and parades of shops are all busy and well stocked. Compared to Madagascar for example, where a man with his left eye hanging out followed us around a market which more closely resembled a shanty town, where some of the better produce on offer were cracked, dirty and empty bic biro tubes and smoked rats, this all compares very favourably. Which is all to the good as I have no need of any travel rites of passage. I think I’ve had a couple of them in the past and they weren’t always that much fun.

In keeping with this I must say that it is extremely easy to come here, get to Mysore and find oneself a place to stay for a few weeks or months. In this suburb things are very much laid on for the yoga devotee. Local service providers appear in the hiatus between alighting from the auto rickshaw and fully grasping the handle on your laptop case to begin walking. They have it all worked out and can show you a few apartments within an hour or so, introducing the landlords and explaining the subtler points of drinking water provision or broadband connection in a flash. They know yoga students, who after all have been coming here in relatively large numbers for at least 10, perhaps 15 years. For a very small fee they will sort you out in no time at all with whatever might make life more comfortable and convenient.

My simply furnished two bedroom apartment, which has ensuite European bathrooms (I would actually have preferred to squat but beggars can’t be choosers), plenty of space and access to a terrace roof costs around GBP100/NZD300 per month including electric and the maid. The yoga is just under GBP200/NZD600 per month.

The apartment is mid-street, important because near the junctions people toot their horns when passing through, on the top floor of two and has similar apartments either side both of which are taken. I went and said hello to my neighbours yesterday. Good guys.

Yesterday evening (Sunday) I went into town, a 10 minute ride, and sifted around buying some adaptors and trying to find mossie coils and blankets. Had a bit of mutter paneer for dinner and then walked around some more to get a feel for the place, asking people the name of this street or that market and realising that the city is pretty manageable in size and scope. It is only 1 million people of course, tiny in Indian terms and ultra compact by NZ standards. Unexpectedly I also coincided with the highlight of the sightseeing week round these parts which is the illumination of the huge and impressive old Mysore Palace by (gasp!) 100,000 lightbulbs (ungasp!). It was pretty cool. I could almost sense the local electricity grid straining to keep up and I’m sure the street lights pulsed and dimmed as the palace lights went on. That is probably a very tired old joke in this locale.

Anyway, it’s just getting light now and will soon be time to get myself sorted for the first practice with Sharath

fight club

and the first rule is...?

So I won't.

Has anyone ever found that doing ashtanga means you end up with little knots in your underarm hair? Weird.

Also, practicing alone has many advantages. Fewer distractions, a more mindful practice being among them. Oh, and you can break wind massively with total impunity.

You can take the boy out of Kindy but you can't take the Kindy out of the boy.

Also, who on earth is reading this blog from Northern India? Are you having a good time dude?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sorted

It's pretty quiet round here. There aren't many foreigners around yet. Thus finding a nice apartment has been easy and the general vibe is very laid back.

Checked out of my hotel in town and got a rickshaw out to Gokulam, cool, leafy and where the shalas are, early this morning. The apartment is large, airy and on the top floor of 2 storeys, and it also happens to be 2 minutes walk across a small palm fringed park to the new shala where Sharath does his classes and where I will be attending, along with towel for buckets of sweat, scabby rubber mat and helpless expectation, as of tomorrow. The owners showed me their 'guest book' with names and addresses of all who have lived there and I was a little suprised to see the name of a yoga teacher who lives round the corner from my mother in Norwich. I knew she had been here as her blog was on ashtangi.net while she was here (I can't find it now). After living in NZ for 4 years I shouldn't be surprised by the small world factor. But I am. Other than Norwich yoga teacher there were many americans, a few aussies and brits and zero kiwis. No frenchies either....

Anyway, unpacked which took about 48 seconds, then did some yoga. Next I went looking for breakfast but got talking to S. Ganapathy, my landlord, who is a retired Ministry of Defence functionary. His unemployed, but highly qualified, son listened in while the lady of the house performed an unknown puja elsewhere in the house.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

dateline india

Things are never how you expect them to be - particularly countries. That is until I arrived in India. Definitely still in jetlag/arrival phase but the impression is living up to the stereotypes, good and bad - typified by the mixture of smells, from jasmine to dead rats rotting in the sun.

It's not technically my first time here though there has been about a 30 year gap between visits. I'm not really sure if the 4 year old who was lead by his parents through the streets of Calcutta, barefoot and stepping painfully on lit cigarette butts, really counts as the same person that is here now. Interestingly though there is lots that is familiar, in fact it doesn't really feel foreign at all - although I may have to revise that little assertion in a few days once the culture shock starts to hit home.

I lay on my bed in the hotel here in Mysore this afternoon reflecting on the fact that this for me is the start of a few months overseas - after the 3 months here I am spending 6 weeks with my mother and sister in Australia. That's all pretty exciting to contemplate. But so was the fairly ordinary prospect of lunch - a dhosa in the end. I'll be honest, it took me a while to bite the bullet and find somewhere to eat. Like most people I don't relish the idea of getting ill and my digestion has often been the first thing to complain after a change of location. Dhosa +3hrs now and nothing to report. Ya gotta eat.

The other thought that came up was - 'what am I really doing here?' After all, one can practice ashtanga next to a roaring fire in a bothy clinging to the side of a Hebridean isle, so why come here of all places? Maybe I'll cook up some answers to that one by the time I leave.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Uluru

Well, I have now seen Uluru. The pilot got the ok for a banking turn over the rock itself from Aussie air control and so we were treated to a peak from 8500m.

The preamble went like this (imagine hesitant asian/american accent)

Uh...we have ok from air traffic so..uh..if you look out the right of the plane in about 10 minutes you wiw be able to see Ayer's Rock.

Time passes.

Uh..we are about to turn..uh (plane tilts to right as half of the passengers scramble to the starboard side scrabbling to see this thing)..so if you..uh...stretch your eyes..uh..you wiw be able to see it. It's the..uh..big bit of rock sticking up with some green around the base.

No shit.

Other highlights of the 8 hour flight - the excellent video on demand system. Lapped it up. One episode of Kath and Kim turned out a cracker. Kel, having a mid life crisis on the eve of his 50th, arrives to take Kath out for a spin, in 'the latest pop-top roadster Daihatsu' (it's bright yellow and dinky) having just had his hair braided and highlighted.

Now at Singapore Changi Airport - a marvel of airport/shopping mall design.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Funky, jazzy reggae

Its the best. I love The Black Seeds - a really great NZ band. I know I'm repeating myself but I enjoyed their gig the other day in Napier so much.

Rolling, flowing lyrical reggae.

They have just released a new album - Into the Dojo. Their previous release, On the Sun, is a mini classic in my view.

Did a last early morning effort at Ashtanga Yoga Space this morning. 630am. I have to say that morning practice has rarely felt this good. Sometimes injuries help to slow things down a bit and allow more focus on a mindful approach to the asana. Perhaps the slightly higher temps here help a little, plus the bus ride is a chance to wake up, drink some water and let the hamstrings loosen a bit.

Showered at the shala, walked out the door to a perfect morning. Sydney is definitely a place one would be happy to return to time and again. Not sure about actually living here though.

Get the flight to Bangalore tomorrow around midday. Have decided to stay at the Hotel Empire for the one night there before heading to Mysore and starting to get things sorted there on Saturday. Apparently Sharath now has his own rooms, separate to the AYRI although not far away. The handover would seem to be progressing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

sydney side

so back to 23C and sunny - ahhh. that's why I love to stop over here.

nice practice first thing (getting in the swing for Indyah...) and then toast before some shopping for med kit and other necessaries for Mysore.

tactical clothes wash - the aim is to minimise the dirty stuff actually in baggage at time of check in.

shorts, a new t shirt and flip flops and time to go out.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

cold sydney blast

You can normally depend on Sydney weather right? Not this time. Cold, rainy, grey.

Got an early morning practice in after waking at 530am. Went to ashtanga yoga space on Oxford street which was fairly busy. The teacher Fiona, whom I had actually come across before on a previous visit to Sydney, was very nice and positive. The class was pretty active and the room is a good one with hard wooden floors and a pleasant feel, enhanced by the warmth and some good incense to eradicate any sweaty smells! This is Sydney after all - where the superficial is everything!

After that met T for her lunch break then traipsed around the CBD to pick up my ticket from Singapore Airlines. They have the most stultifying offices - like something out of 2001 A Space Odyssey but without any of the glamour and much worse customer service. People dully staring into their screens behind a lacquered counter, seemingly riffling the keyboard randomly while several people, including me, sat with their queuing tickets waiting for no apparent good reason.

After that felt knackered and had to go back to the flat for a nap before going out this evening to see the Sydney relatives - who are very kindly picking me up from Bondi Rd.

Friday, September 08, 2006

departing for Indyah

Went out for a quick coffee with mates working at Alpha Domus winery here in Hawkes Bay. Having pretty much emptied my stuff out of the apartment I was feeling decidedly disconnected and like I was kind of floating around, filling in the last few days. Not doing any yoga because of ailments that hopefully will clear up pretty fast.

Tasted the 2006 Viognier that my mate Stu has made and just bottled - for those interested in such things it is a decided break with normal and previous Hawkes Bay styles of this wine - it is high on acid and sugar, much more citrus-like than stone fruit and altogether pretty good.

All I feel like doing these days is tasting wine. Drinking it just doesn't appeal. 2 years' work in the industry pretty much put paid to my wine 'infatuation', which had been simmering since I was finishing school really. Not important anymore.

Much like speaking French - you'd have to make it seriously worth my while now to spend anything other than a brief period of time in France. I did my degree in French and Business.

Also much like eating meat - which makes a much rarer appearance on the plate now than previously.

And watching TV (although films are still definitely OK!).

And making any plans for the future.

These things just falling away....feels pretty good.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Films - juicy docos

As the Napier Film Festival draws to a close I still have three films to see. In the last 2 days I have seen:

China Blue - this continues what is turning out to be a very good year for hard hitting, cutting edge documentaries. The makers have succesfully got up close to the lives of factory workers in Southern China making jeans for major retailers and buyers all over the Western world. They are often just 16 or not even, they frequently work 16-18 hour days and are so thoroughly and badly exploited it actually is hard to believe unless you hear it from their own mouths.

Painstakingly shot amid what must have been the most demanding conditions we are left with a bleak portrait of economic and social conditions for the masses in China today. 'Highlights' include a visit of the Canada/China commerce chamber from Toronto where one delegate comments, upon noticing the workers streaming up steps to their dorms during lunch breaks 'oh, how nice they can go back to their rooms to eat' (there are no staff dining facilities and the cost of the meals is deducted from pay); the comment by a French customer, buying for French government procurement, that 'one can get a good idea of how well the factories are run by how educated and honest the boss appears to be over dinner'; the continual postponement of payday until the wages are 11 weeks overdue and the workers are forced to mount a widlcat strike one lunchtime (strikes are illegal) whereupon some of the (14 year old) staff manage to corner and harangue the owner, who gives no quarter but does relent and post the wages sheets. They earn around 5c-15c (US) per hour depending on piece rates.

It's all very well bemoaning Chinese capitalism in action of course, but who is buying these jeans? Which of your clothes (and mine) has 'Made in China' on the inside label?

Next up was The Road to Guantanamo directed by Michael Winterbottom. Based on testimony of the Tipton 3, three British lads who went to Pakistan for one of them to get married, who then went on to Afghanistan and got caught up in the US invasion and overthrow of the Taliban. Detained and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay they spent about 3 years there. The film is a savage critique of US military power and abuse and a potent illustration of just how out of control some of their operations are, in scale, conception, aim and execution. With Kafkaesque brutality the men are pushed back and forward through the interrogation/torture system, completely trapped in a system that lacks the will or capacity to see that an error has been made. The dramatisation is intercut with interviews with the real people. They can hardly believe it has happened to them and indeed the story recounted is so harsh and painful that Winterbottom has had to use all his guile so that we, too, may accept that such mindless and xenophobic cruelty is possible.

We are not asked to blindly identify identify with the men - for example it seems crazy even to have gone into Afghanistan, let alone stay once they could see the country was being bombed - rather just to accept their actions on the grounds that however ill conceived, what happened to them subsequently was grotesquely unlucky and desperately sad. The next time you hear anyone described as Al-Qeada, Taliban, Hamas, Hizbullah and so on remember that it is rarely that simple. Jeez - I have a friend whose brother works for US military intelligence in Iraq. Sure would love her to see this one.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A lesson in yoga

It's been some time since I really had a practice during and after which lots of 'emotional' stuff arose. A lot of it was triggered by the fact that my Coccyx is more bruised than I thought and is proving to be quite limiting. Even taking rest in at the end is uncomfortable as a lot of pressure is brought to bear by the body's weight at the base of the spine. A few minutes and it just aches too much to remain still.

A lot of frustration seemed to well up and so afterwards I had a read through Matthew Sweeney's comments on the Chakras. The 2nd Chakra - Svadisthana - is located at the Sacral Plexus (Coccyx) and is where interaction of Emotion and Body takes place.

Reading further onto other sections I came once more to the following passage,

"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 more 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." p28 Astanga Yoga As It Is.

What really interested me today was how deeply rooted the layers of non-acceptance can be and how very intrinsically linked they are to the physical, within the body, and how from this set of circumstances can arise emotions and feelings echoing aspects of the sub- or unconscious life. And the best thing is that yoga can allow awareness of this - with a little help from a teacher sometimes.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I am a definite fan of ClustrMaps - I have my own which you might notice down the side panel of my blog. This has amazed me by showing that even an unremarkable blog like mine, swimming in the ether along with the estimated 50 million other blogs globally, is somehow being seen by people literally all over the world - Ireland, Chile, Canada, Western Australia! Cool.

As I am now only a week away from leaving for India things have begun to feel just slightly unreal, this is compounded by the fact that my practice has dwindled to nearly nothing due to snowboarding injuries. I am now very glad that I have chosen to go to Mysore for 3 months as this will give me ample time to settle and get some continuity going again.

I am also looking forward hugely to spending time with good friends in Sydney on the way over and also to spending some quality time with my mother who has decided to visit me in Mysore for a month - it's a lot easier for her to go there than come all the way over here to NZ.

Good old Hawkes Bay is definitely sending me off in style too - the weather is now glorious springtime, huge amounts of sunshine and warm too.

Had a little send-off on Saturday night in Havelock where I have been living since December. it ended up being a good mix of friends from my winemaking days and those whom I know through ashtanga here in Hawkes Bay. It was a fun get together. It has taken a while but (aside from the obvious absence of any kind of career presently) I am really feeling more and more settled here. Ironic I know since I am just about to go travelling for nearly 5 months but what the heck - it'll be good to come back too!

Friday, September 01, 2006

fun times

Had a couple of pretty low energy practices the last two days - I think the bruising to my coccyx is the main reason. Jump backs and throughs are impossible and the wrenched thumb also makes some of the Parsva Konasanas uncomfortable, Navasana is also out Even Shavasana is uncomfortable. All pretty good going considering I will be in India in 2 weeks.

The best thing? I'm still really enjoying the practices and so for the second time in a couple of months I have the luxury of being injured without being annoyed about it....haha!

Anyway, my packed social life continues this week - last night went round to J & M in their new house - they seemed a little shellshocked I think - partly because the house is so nice and both kids have their own rooms and there is a pool in the garden - but also because they felt like they had become 'yuppies', in a lighthearted way. It was a fun evening. They always come out with hilarious anecdotes about J's freaky family in the US which have me in fits. Why are American families often so amusing to outsiders? Its not the first time I have felt that hearing about, or getting to know, an American family is a little like watching a car crash, major surgery or something equally compelling, morbid and fascinating. Why are they like this? There is a different quality to American life when compared to analagous tales from the UK or the Antipodes. Something about oddly outlandish, extreme features of peoples' lives cloaked in often stultifying banality makes these glimpses irresistible. The Vet sister in law on the West Coast, overweight with a tatoo of Anekin Skywalker on her shoulder, who does nothing other than work and flick through the 1000 available TV channels in her free time. The DC based Aunt whose work consists solely of dog walking. See what I mean?

Tonight is more film action followed by supper at the best Thai restaurant Hawkes Bay has to offer (it is actually very good, and you can't say that often round here). Tomorrow is leaving drinks at a local bar.

I have already moved a lot of my stuff out, arranged to get phone etc cut off, redirected mail and so on. Easy!