Writing and editing

I like having pregnant people in my class. I like that they have to break all the rules. They get to bring water in, and I always shuffle students around so that they get the cool spot by the door. Often the cold wind created by leaving the door open in the middle of winter makes the room unbearably cold for everyone else – but no one says shit. And I think that is sort of funny and great. I like that they modify and skip poses, and the people beside them are extra paranoid about bumping into them. I also sort of love that the pregnant people breeze through this luxury like it has been that way for them.

Just to be clear, and this is not intended to be a story about how I walked five miles to school everyday in my bare feet, Sharath never gave me a good spot in the room when I was pregnant in Mysore. It vexed me to NO END. Like, WHY are you punishing me by giving me a spot right next to the swinging/baby smashing door of the men’s stinky bathroom? I never asked, but I am sure I rolled my eyes as I waddled over in a huff.

The other day, I was driving on a busy, fast-moving road and a pregnant woman started to jaywalk. She walked slowly, with her eyes fixed on the other side. As she approached the left lane of cars whizzing by, she held out her hand. She held out her hand in a “talk to the hand” fashion. The cars immediately stopped. And she made her way across.

When women tell me that they have 100 children, I sort of understand. I would also like to direct traffic with the wave of my hand, so I know why you would want to have that power over and over again. I suppose the swollen feet, the weird poos and the (yikes) baby you get at the end of it are not as enticing to me. But the ability to shut down rush hour traffic and still be a bit of a huff? Awesome.

Because I write this blog and I teach, and  – well – I have waddled next to the men’s bathroom in Mysore and busted out a practice, I often get asked about what a woman should do in her practice when she gets pregnant. Here is my top three suggestions:

1. Sleep: Oh I know it isn’t a bank that you can just deposit in for a month and then withdraw everything and leave it empty for two (twenty) years. But do you really want to be thinking about how you COULD have slept and didn’t?  I am saying this like I am going to really change a first time mom’s mind about how little she will sleep. But whatever, that is why you have another kid. So you can really sleep less and think about what an idiot you are.

2. Eat Out: Have you ever taken a 6 week-old child to dinner. It is easy! They just sleep. If you made the mistake of not going out to eat while pregnant you have a couple months to do that before you pick your restaurants based on the play area, or for us, whether or not they have a fish tank.

3. Talk on the phone with someone other than your mother: When the phone rings, my son says, “Grandma!” Yup. It be like that.

I have other suggestions, but you will have to come to class. Or read the book I am co-writing – which should be out in umm…. 2060.

Sometimes I feel the urge to say to pregnant ladies, “just you wait.”  But then I remember people saying that to me and wanting to show them the pregnant traffic-halting hand of doom.

Stan: I am so tired!

Some mom: Just you wait. You are going to be so tired.


Stan: Practice is hard when you are pregnant,

Some other mom: Just wait until you have a baby. That is really hard.


Stan: I can’t believe how little time I have.

Another mom: Just wait, you won’t have any time for the next fifty years!

You know what? I did wait. And you know what else? All you bitches were right. But I am going to do my best to not utter those words. No one wants to hear how much it is going to suck. And really, it mostly doesn’t suck at all. Mothers, I am asking you to bite your tongue when those “just wait’ words come bubbling up. Let’s enjoy how the pregnant people part traffic and students with a wave of their arms.  Smile as they sip water while we have to bind in Marychasana D.

When the baby comes out we will get to say, “Enjoy every minute!”

Stan: I don’t know if people are too interested in my New York post

David: Well there isn’t anything about yoga in it. They probably don’t know what to say.

Stan: Well, there’s the baby…

David: You should post the family picture with Sharath. That will put New York in context for everyone.

The Lead up to the Family Sharath Portrait:

Here is a picture that Tova took for us. We handed Sharath The Baby and he started crying (baby not Sharath). You can see the look of fear and distrust on Holden’s face.  The picture before that, which I won’t post because I think I look stupid in it, has Sharath holding the crying baby while the rest of us, oblivious, are smiling at the camera. Sharath has this look, that he actually often gets, like – “How did I get here?”

Mercedes’ arm is in this picture, but not the rest of her. This is not because of Tova’s photography skillz, which are quite good. I just didn’t think she would like that picture being posted. Alice has a nice picture that she took of David, Mercedes, Sharath and Shraddha here.

My yoga practice has been chugging along. I reached a point, post-pardum, where it didn’t hugely suck to relearn everything again. It was funny, because I was totally convinced that I would have to quit Ashtanga. Mostly because it is too hard. But I came home from New York and turned a corner. My body just started to “get” things again. Every practice seems like a treat – which will not last – but I am enjoying it. Yesterday I got a pose past where I was pre-pregnancy. Woot! Except that the pose is tittibhasana, so that sucks a little. Anyway, I’m back and it is awesome.

Yesterday, I had an *intuition* during led primary that I need to eat more. I told David when we were out for a walk and he said we should go get a dosa immediately. I ate a large bowl of oatmeal, idly, cookies, chocolate, 3 pieces of fried bread, miso soup, and brown rice with veggies and tofu.

This morning, I’m not actually sure that intuition was 100% correct.

Led primary was hard but fine. I held my headstand and uth pluthi, which made me proud and happy and deserving of a third piece of fried bread.

So, it is Yoga Spot Terror Chart time! Just to recap:

Booberry Severe Yoga Terror: Next to a door that opens suddenly and often and on the marble. Person beside you is always on your mat

Frankenberry High Yoga Terror: Squished between two tall angry students in Led primary.

Count Chocula Elevated Yoga Terror: Next to a busy passageway between the changeroom and the practice space. Person in front of you lands on your mat frequently.

Fruit Brute Guarded Yoga Terror: The person next to you insists on lifting their hands up to the side and almost smacking your face every sun salutation.

Yummy Mummy Low Yoga Terror: You are in the middle of the front row next to two small polite students.

Yesterday was absolutely Yummy Mummy terror. It really helps that I am not pregnant and I can direct my neurosis towards my baby.

I like the energy in the shala this year, but it always makes me miss the community we have in Toronto. I love the people I meet in Mysore – but occasionally there is a bit of attitude here that is kinda funny. I mean, I thought doing this practice would dispel any belief you might have held about yourself being hot shit – but apparently that isn’t totally the case all the time. I know it is shyness and nervousness most of the time and I should be a more forgiving.

Speaking of thinking you are hot shit, I was reminded of something by Liz’s comment in the last post. I had initially written, before editing to “I was paranoid that Sharath was looking at me.”, “Sharath was staring at me.” I realized after I wrote it, that I had no idea if he was looking at me or not considering my face was pushed up against my mat. Also, if he was, in fact, looking at me – most likely he wasn’t like, “Wow, can she do it?” But more like, “And then there was that cricket match…” Not that Sharath is distracted, by any means. But it is so easy to get carried away and put stuff on him that isn’t really there.

Do you feel like a poll?

Don’t feel like a poll? Here is a picture of The Baby in his new Indian bathtub.

David is slowly adding intermediate back on to my practice. It feels totally different to be backbending on my belly. That was one of the first things to go when I was 5 months pregnant after a few dumb attempts at shoving blankets under my shoulders and pelvis to create a little room for the baby.

When I got pregnant I was at yoga nidrasana and I had that kind of scrawny look people get when they are close to splitting and the practice is sort of devouring them. Getting into kapotasana by myself took a long time, and all of the leg behind the head stuff was hard won, so I imagine it will take me a while to get back to where I was. I’m not really in any rush. The front of my body needs to stretch out again after surgery. It still feels tight in backbending and my incision feels tender if I push too hard. Also, the longer my practice gets the more jittery I get about leaving the baby.

Here’s a picture of me right around the time of conception. Look – you can play xylophone on my chest bones!

Now the only thing you can play on my chest is maybe pillow fight.

Mercedes is cool:

Driving to along Queen to pick up some merchandise for the studio, Mercedes pointed to man leaning against his ten speed bike on a street corner.

Mercedes: Oh! I thought that was a crackhead, but he is just a hipster.

Bwhahaha! Seriously, I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation or isolate myself from one of the six people in the city who didn’t vote for Rob Ford – but come on! Skinny jeans paired with ironic glasses and a beard? That look will not get you laid. Or maybe it will, in which case I need to have a serious talk with some hipster girls.

Ok. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I kinda love living where we do and listening to my neighbours blast “Jessie’s Girl”. It is a hipster-free zone. And if you think maybe someone might be a crackhead. Odds are…

Mercedes turned me on to 16 and Pregnant recently.

16 and Pregnant makes you feel super organized and on top of your shit, unlike most reality shows that just make you feel bad for watching and depressed about the state of the world. I get pretty weepy when the baby appears, as do all the grandparents (who are my age), which is nice. I hate to spread a bad habit, but if you go to the mtv.ca website under shows, you can watch all the episodes. You will have to scroll past such stellar shows as “1 girl 5 gays” though

Honestly, why haven’t I pitched a show to MTV yet? It seems like any awful thing that drifts into your head could be made into a program.

During pregnancy, I was quite into “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant’ about moms who go to the bathroom and a baby comes out in the toilet. Mercedes, the purveyor of good music and terrible television got me started on IDKIWP. That show is truly incredible, and I think the product of limited access to  health insurance in the US. I go to the doctor when my fingernails are too long, so half the show is spent in gobsmacked amazement that someone could ignore the missed periods, the weight gain, the nausea, heartburn and eventually the searing pain of labour for nine months.

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Postpartum Ashtanga Yoga Practice

It is a month since I gave birth and I have two weeks until the go ahead from my midwife to start exercising again.  I am doing all of standing first thing when I get up in the morning. I have just enough time to crawl out of bed, throw on a top and do a quick little practice in the morning before I am called to duty.

I have some twinges of pain on my right side when I do backbends from the surgery. I think that tightness will be there for a while. I am slowly accessing my strength again. It is funny, because I was lifting all that extra weight when I was pregnant and I carry the 12 lb baby around everywhere, but the strength you need for ashtanga is different. Often I feel like I have been repeatedly punched in the stomach.

I would sometimes have moms in my class that did not practice for a year after the baby was born and joined my level 1 class – something they could easily do before pregnancy. Most of them would get a bit panic stricken after the third sun salutation. I can really understand why now. Body memory or whatever is really out the door for the first little while, I think I will need to retrain my body for months maybe the next year before I can do what I was doing pre-conception. Mysore style will help with that. I don’t know if I could jump back into a led class without feeling a little defeated.

But then, anytime I start feeling a bit down about building up my practice – I remember: I’ve got the cutest baby in the universe!

Really, if I only do standing for the rest of my life it is the best trade off.

Now if I can only figure out how to get more sleep….


I gave birth to a 10 pound baby boy, Friday June 18th at 3:27p. Holden Owl Byrne. There were complications during the birth and I ended up having an emergency c-section. He is beautiful and calm, and we are definitely going to keep him.

I’m not sure how vegan babies get to be 10 pounds. The doctors were a little shocked when they pulled him out. Diana thinks my uterus is made of candy, and Erin thinks he is 8 pounds of Indian food. I think either is entirely possible.

So far, life is pretty quiet. I am healing from my incision, and Holden Owl is eating an enormous amount, sleeping and watching the world cup with his dad. As I write this he is napping, strapped to my chest all hot and sweaty.

The night I gave birth, Holden’s breathing started to get progressively more shallow. Because I had a fever and he had pooped in utero during labour, the pediatrician was worried that he had an infection or pneumonia. That night they took him to the NICU.  I couldn’t get out of bed until the next morning, and the next three days were spent dragging my IV back and forth to his little incubator where he was hooked up to monitors, an antibiotics IV, and a respirator. The culture in the NICU is really weird, I’ll write about it more when I have a bit more perspective. It was the most difficult three days of my life, I cried a lot, I was in a lot of pain, and both David and I were sick with worry and frustration. Coming home was the greatest. I spent the first few hours just sniffing the air and listening to the birds. Home is the best place to heal.

So, you get the pregnancy and the baby you need, but I think you might also get the birth you need. Because I maintained my practice through my pregnancy, most people said the baby would just fly out of me. I was sort of hoping that would be true, but it ended up being the total opposite.

With my lower half numb and obscured, my arms stretched out to either side of me, an oxygen tube up my nose, the largest, brightest lights I have ever seen, and an anonymous team of 20 masked professionals who I will never see again in my life – it wasn’t exactly the hippy love-in birth I was expecting. But actually, despite the hospital’s best attempts, the experience is so spiritually intense – it defies description. I felt uplifted, high. At first I couldn’t see him, I could only hear him crying and his crying sounded beautiful and adorable to me. Instant, unbridled love, mixed with this new feeling of nervousness.  Over the past two weeks I have felt equal parts hugely important and just an embodied vessel carrying the baby into the future.

Although, I don’t know if I am strong enough to go through the NICU experience anytime soon, I would gladly go through my labour and delivery again. Strange. I mean, I felt my uterus – warm and wet – being pulled out of me and placed on my tummy as they sewed it up. The whole thing is nightmarish, but it doesn’t touch me.

I love him. Who is he? It is glorious and complicated over here.

Practice notes:

Haha! As if!

I cried last week when David lifted me out of bed because my abodmen hurt so much.

I have managed to do some sun salutations for the past three days. I have no arm strength, and upward dog is tricky. It is nice to move again and fold forward without having a large belly in the way. My goal is to slowly add on standing, with no twists for my healing uterus, by the time I get to 6 weeks. Slowly, slowly.

How is it going over there?

I’m still here.

Practice this week was short, sweet and mostly at home. I did standing, baddha konasana, my baby-prep squats, and then backbends. It is sort of strange for me to launch right into dropbacks, because I don’t have a particularly flexible back. But for some reason, cutting out primary series really leaves me with a ton of energy to do backbends. I’ve been enjoying that part of my practice immensely.

After spending the entire day weeping and staring at clouds in a melancholy manner yesterday, I decided I needed to change things up a bit and I went into the studio. I miss practicing there and seeing my friends. it was so lovely to be in all that great energy again, plus I got an assist in utthita hasta padangusthasana and backbends. It was great.

On the baby front, I have been getting ultrasounds every second day. The biggest drag is that I can’t book an appointment, so I have to wait hours to get a walk-in appointment. I have been to three appointments and so far the receptionist has been polite enough to pretend like I have never been there before. The Russian ultrasound technician, however, hasn’t. “What? You are still pregnant?” she said to me on appointment # 2. “You must speak to this baby.” What is it about a Russian accent that makes you feel like even the most outrageous request is somehow an absolute requirement? “Ok,” I muttered. Me and everyone I know is talking to the baby constantly asking it to come out. I held the phone up to my belly the other day so Monica could have some serious words with it. But that night, I thought to myself, maybe the baby hasn’t come because I haven’t spoken with it yet?

On appointment # 3, I had a different ultrasound technician. She took 30 minutes to take pictures, which is an unusually long time. At one point she told me she had to get somebody – and I got really frightened. Ultrasound technicians are notoriously cagey. There are signs up at eye level all over their offices that say they cannot discuss any findings. As I’m lying there, covered with blue gel and beginning to tear up – I start thinking about the phone tree that will take place before I hear the news: from the technician to the receptionist, from the receptionist to my midwife, from the midwife to me.

And in walks the Russian ultrasound technician. She takes the measurements in her usual brusk manner and then looks at me.

R. U. T.: Your baby is perfect. Just lazy. You can go.

I’m almost tempted to ask her if it is really mine, seeing as I am quite imperfect, and not at all lazy. But I stop myself,and instead spend the next five minutes wiping sticky blue gel off my clothes.

I found a picture of the baby and I the day we left Mysore. I thought I was soooo huge.

Sigh, I didn’t know how good I had it.

Here is a picture of me taken yesterday:

This one was taken the day before yesterday:

From my pictures, you might assume that I am always in the kitchen. That would be an accurate observation. You might also notice that the belly isn’t really round anymore, it is sort of lumpy and baby-shaped which is strange. In the first picture from Mysore, I had been eating gobi manchurian almost everyday. Sadly, I don’t anymore and the baby has used up all my gobi credit. Yesterday, I noticed that I can see my ribs before they disappear under the belly.

I finished reading The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker today. I loved The Fermata, but this one was much sweeter. I am an English Lit major, which means nothing, but I did spend a year of my life tapping out meter on worn out school desks. Even though every moment of that poetics class was like dragging my nose against the sidewalk,  with all that tapping I unwittingly became such a big snob about unmetered poetry, but an even worse snob about badly metered poetry – in particular iambic pentameter. What a life skill, I know – thanks McGill. But this book was all about iambic pentameter, and I felt my snobbery was somehow justified. Here is a little tidbit about sitcoms:

At some point you have to set aside snobbery and what you think is culture and recognize that any random episode of Friends is probably better, more uplifting for the human spirit, than ninety-nine percent of the poetry or drama or fiction or history ever published. Think of that. Of course yes, Tolstoy and of course yes Keats and blah blah and yes indeed of course yes. But we’re living in an age that has a tremendous richness of invention. And some of the most inventive people get no recognition at all. They get tons of money but no recognition as artists. Which is probably much healthier for them and better for their art.”

I wish I wrote that. It did make me feel sort of happy about my desire to write cheesy screenplays and articles about facials.

Critter Corner:

Baby Raccoons in our backyard! Big dum-dums!

I know that the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay people in the US military is really regressive, but unfortunately I’m going to have to institute the same policy re: pregnancy over here in Miss Stan blog world. Happily, unlike gaydar – which can be hit or miss – you can tell I haven’t given birth because I’m still blogging. I promise to post pictures very soon after the policy gets revoked!

I switched last week to a home practice after a bout of contractions on Sunday kept me housebound. I cut out my closing inversions this week. The baby’s head is fixed and is too far into my pelvis to be moved or turned around, but I felt like I didn’t want to give the baby any funny ideas about staying in here longer. This Friday, David told me to do standing so I wasn’t pushing too much energy up with all the primary vinyasa. I did standing and then a whole round of backbends. Really, all I want to be doing is backbending, forward bends are getting uncomfortable – even with my legs really far apart. I’m still practicing everyday, and I still really need it. Practice lifts my mood and works out all the kinks and sore spots from the night before.

I made a terrarium this week, inspired by my sister’s link on my last blog post.

I got the bowl at the dollar store, the cacti from a local flower shop for $4, and the rocks, soil and toys I found around the house. Making terrariums is actually a lot of fun, and they are so low maintenance. This one is a little boreal forest, but a gorilla has escaped from the zoo and he is scaring the oversized birds (made from fimo).

Mercedes made one too, with more of a wild west theme.

I want to do more. They make great housewarming gifts.

I went out on a date last night to a fancy vegan restaurant. I curled my hair, wore a mini skirt (Ok not so different from the usual) and everything. It was fun to be out even if the food was just OK. David said the food was like going to a really amazing huge party but there are only 1 or 2 interesting people to talk to. I ordered (gasp!) a glass of wine. I think this was the very first glass of wine I have had all pregnancy. I could tell because I started going on about which soccer teams had the best looking players (ie. who I plan on rooting for in the World Cup).

In good news, David and I saw my tattoo artist on the street and he told me I look like a python. Later, David told me my bum looks better just a bit fatter like it is now. I know in normal non-pregnant lady world, being told your bum is fat and you look like a scary reptile digesting a large animal would be cause to shut yourself in your room and seek revenge on all your friends for letting you out in the world looking like that. But I was totally pleased. Anyone who doesn’t say you look “Huge!” or “Ready to give birth!” within five minutes might as well be telling you that you are the next Helen of Troy.

Digesting python with fat bum, so hot right now!

What is the point of due dates?

Babies so rarely arrive on time. But pregnancy and childbirth are so medicalized now, you would think coming up with an accurate due date wouldn’t be just an arbitrary shot in the dark. If you should be giving birth anywhere from 3 weeks before to two weeks after – I think a due month would be a better option. I was pretty comfortable up until Wednesday. Everyday that passes my due date, I feel more and more unsettled. Is the baby really going to come? I clean everyday, in case it comes during the night and I can’t clean again for a couple weeks. The mood fluctuates between excited and happy to irritable and filled with trepidation.

Reading about the oil spill, I feel the same arbitrary decision making as with due dates: with a strange focus on cause and a rather shot-in-the-dark approach to fixing the issue. I have watched my kindergarten students dig, scoop and redirect puddles with similar accuracy and problem solving skills. The puddle is leaking out – block it with mud! throw a large stick over it! funnel the water into a new puddle! These decisions are made quickly, three or four children clinging on to twigs and plastic shovels in seamless compromise. Deep sea oil drilling with vast amounts of money, science and engineering standing behind it, it seems funny that no one thought of what might happen when it breaks. And the solution to the problems seem about as complex as 5-year-old water table play. Instinct is so powerful, but such a small voice in my head. The louder voices, the ones that fixate on the actual problems and the fallout, “They are screwed, we are screwed, why do I drive a car?”. Really this cognitive loop would be more effectively replaced with, “Well, I’ve got an old pair of shoes lying around – maybe BP can throw them down the pipe too!”

I had a dream last night that several of my teeth were black and rotting. I pushed the back of one with my tongue and realized it was quite loose. I tried to go about my day, hoping it would stay in my mouth, but I kept tonguing it over and over. At one point the tooth fell right out and I started to scream. “I can’t give birth without a tooth!” David was trying to calm me down. Staring at the big gap in my mouth, I felt ugly and out of control. “But I don’t have time to call the dentist.”

The best I can do at this point is ride out the emotional tidal waves of those big voices and focus on the little quiet voice: get lots of sleep, trust the process, and redirect cold water to your feet.

David and I made a little video on Monday of my pregnant dropbacks.  My second one is a bit jumpy but I’m too lazy and pregnant to get it perfect – so you are stuck with the honest (OK sloppy!) version of how I dropback everyday. The real reason to watch this is for the belly.

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My belly dropped this week. I can see it started happening on Monday because my shirt is riding up in that video. I’ve been trying to coax baby out by walking around the garden and bragging about all the flowers, shaking rattles by my belly, and raving about how soft and nice the baby’s bed is. So far, I’ve just had some new cramping feelings – but the baby hasn’t come out while I am sleeping or anything.

Mary, the midwife, told the baby on Thursday that it was time to come out. She told me that I should start eating lots of Indian food, have lots of sex, and lie horizontally to reduce the swelling in my feet when I watch television. David says I have the best life ever. But then, it seems to work out for him pretty well too.

Actually, David is the best husband ever. When I came home today there was a package waiting for me from David that he bought all stealth-like online.

So great! I’m not opening it until the baby comes and I have to lie in bed for 2 weeks. David says we can glean good child rearing tips from the show. I hope there are lots of extras on Daddy, the world’s best pitbull.