Writing and editing
category: Pregnancy
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David and I went for a walk after dinner tonight. I brought the camera, I wasn’t sure why until I saw this by the train tracks just north of our house. I’m not sure how it got up there. Either a superhero threw it, or the bike has ghostly powers and climbed up by itself after getting in a fight with its owner. Whoever owns that bike is going to be a little sad, because I think it will take a pretty Herculean effort to bring it down.

I don’t know why, but a bike in a tree feels like spring. There are buds on the trees already.

I got a package from my great friend Genesee in the Yukon. She and her 2 dog teams sent me a little pink top, which I am wearing to hold my skinny jeans up. The top reminds me of her, and makes me a bit wistful to hear all of her incredible adventures.

Spring is a good time to get into some trouble. Anyone pulling on trouble’s braids? Any good adventures planned?

I had another moment of chest-clutching pain coming up from my third urdhva dhanurasana on Sunday. I think it is my bad posture during the day, pulling my shoulders together in front of my chest. I am becoming a droopy flower. I had the same thing a couple of weeks ago and I was able to take a few breaths and continue, but this time I could only do my three closing. Anyone had any experience with this? Suggestions?

Today was a moon day, so we did lots of things that I had been putting off, including going to IKEA. First of all, sometimes I think I am from a different planet when I go to places like IKEA. There were huge billboards all over the parking lot advertising a lunch special “Meatball plate with a soda”. On the ad was picture of a plate with a bunch of meatballs, like little constipated turds, in a pile next to a brownish coloured glass of soda pop. Seriously. Why?

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. The whole place is a giant shit maze. The further I go in, the more I am convinced that I have to get crap I don’t need. When I get to the end, whatever I think I wanted is out of stock, and I realize I just drove 45 minutes and walked through a shit maze to buy a package of napkins.

We passed by the children’s furniture. There was a one room decorated for a little girl. A small wooden kitchen set was against the wall next to a pink plastic bed. Scattered around were strange, exaggerated shapes for tables and drawers in pinks and reds.

“That looks like a prison for fairies,” said David.

I read in the paper today about a French philosopher who believes that women should drink, smoke and eat seafood during their pregnancies. She believes that our bodies are being co-opted and our rights taken away by the fact of our biology and a return to natural child-rearing (breastfeeding, making the baby’s food, cloth diapers). And having those choices decided for us, limits our freedoms. Pregnancy is a prison for fairies. Your specialness, is unavoidable and obvious to everyone. Commenting or not commenting on the state of your body, it is still acknowledged as you tie yourself closer and closer to your kitchen set. I can’t imagine how eating seafood or using formula will change that fact.

David keeps telling me that I need to soften my practice. I feel like I can’t let go of that feeling I get sometimes on the mat. It is me and baby, we are both in my body feeling graceful, limber, limitless. free.

(photo credit: kinoyoga.com)

Kino MacGregor comes to Toronto in two weeks, and I am pretty excited to study with her. She is the hardest working woman in the yoga business: her DVDs are incredible, her writing is beautiful, her practice is from a different planet… I love that she is so committed to the tradition. It should be a fantastic weekend.

Last fall, I wondered if I would still be practicing and how I would be feeling when Kino arrives. But baby and I are totally up for the challenge, in fact, I can’t really imagine stopping my practice. It has become such an anchor for my inexorably changing body.

Hosting out-of-town teachers is certainly a perk, but it can be a source of anxiety – will the teacher be happy? what will the teacher need? and will the students like the workshop? I don’t really feel that way at all about Kino. Her philosophy is really in line with what David teaches at AYCT, and I know the students will love her. Also, she is a pretty lovely person.

When Sharath came into town, we were just so grateful that he rescheduled and hopped across the ocean from London before going back to Mysore, that we didn’t think too much about the fact that we just had a couple of months to organize. I remember a week before he arrived, I started feeling a little panicky: What on earth are we going to talk about with Sharath for AN ENTIRE WEEK?

Apparently, big cats. Sharath was charming, laid back, and a little sleepy after being on the road for a month and subject to various time zones. Sleepy, happy visitors are really just the greatest visitors in the world, and with Paul and Rachelle Gold around with their rockin’ Canon camera – the visit was such a breeze. What’s more I learned quite a bit about tigers. Sharath has an adorably geeky knowledge of tigers, and he is a member of an organization in India that preserves tiger habitats and protects tigers from poaching.

The best day we had with Sharath, Rachelle had organized a car to drive us to Niagara Falls. The five of us went on the Maid of the Mist. We all put on plastic blue shapeless rain coats and stood clutching the side of the boat as it drew closer and closer to the horseshoe. At a certain point, the mist became more of a steady stream as the boat fought against the rush of water coming down the falls. Eventually, it was like someone turned a cold hose on your face for about 10 minutes. The woman next to me was screaming the entire time. It was fantastic, there was so much energy.

After 20 minutes the boat returned to the dock. We got off, soaking wet and wide eyed. Sharath turned to us, dripping water and his face framed by tightly-tied blue plastic hood.

“Very good experience.” he said.

The four of us exhaled.

Another heavy, heavy practice today. My arms are starting to get so tired from all the vinyasa. It reminds me of when I first started doing led vinyasa classes and I wondered why anyone would bother doing a vinyasa on both sides. Like an off day, I keep waiting for that heaviness to pass, but it is persistent and seems to get exponentially worse with every week. I like the idea of being able to run to catch the subway, or to zip up the stairs to grab something I forgot. Every movement is becoming a calculation: how far, how long, how important is it really? Two more months. People tell me it will whizz by. I am beginning to understand that look very pregnant women get a few weeks before they give birth. Like whoever they used to be has receded into the background temporarily, and they are now just waiting for their moment.

I heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time in months. I can feel kicking and movement, but there was something really reassuring about hearing that faint little drum. The midwife squeezed my belly and found the head and the spine.

Ok, I talk to the baby all the time. I tell it to settle down or that everything is going to be fine. David likes to put his mouth up to my belly and calls out, “Whoooo is in there?” But the midwife talked to the baby in this new way, as though the baby was participating in a conversation with her.

Midwife: (looking at my belly) Oh, why hello there!

Baby:

M: (squeezing just above my pubic bone) Oh, that’s your head!

B:

M: (still just looking at the belly) Did you have a good vacation?

B:

M: I think you had a really nice vacation too.

B:

M: Nice. Very nice.

My midwife is cool.

categories: AYCT, Pregnancy
tags: , ,

Today, Jeffrey looked out the windows at the sky and said, “That is a beautiful grey.”

But today felt like a slow moving, heavy grey day. I know it is spring, but the weighty, tiredness in the air made it seem like mid-November. It is Tuesday: inauspicious, no-pose giving, too close to the beginning of the week, not far enough towards the end of the week, all purply-grey Tuesday. I heaved myself around my mat this morning, and I have been stomping around carrying my belly for the whole day. The floorboards sink and creak under my feet.

I wonder if tomorrow I will feel a little springer? If the green shoots in the garden will cancel out the grey and make if feel more like March again. Maybe I will call it a day now, tuck myself into bed and listen to the sounds of our towels rolling around in the dryer and the cat softly pad-padding up and down the stairs. I’ll fall asleep with a book still in my hands, a sentence carrying me off on a dream. Sshhh…don’t wake the pregzilla!

I ate too much Buddhist Chinese food last night and I woke up in the middle of the night panting like a dog. My practice was equally as weird and uncomfortable as my sleep. I felt heavy, thirsty, too-full. Gross.

I added krounchasana and ustrasana back on. They felt great after primary, I don’t have the cahones to try laghuvajrasana quite yet. I know that pose screws with a lot of very able practitioners, but it never bothered me until I was about 5 months pregnant. It was starting to get a little hard to pull myself back up, but nothing major. Then one day – I came up a little – and then flopped back down on my head. I laughed, tried again, and it was even worse. Up until I left for India, I would make horribly dramatic grunting noises before David or Shara would take pity on me and help me up. For two weeks before I left for India, I started going down staircases backwards because of the agonizing burning feeling in my thighs.

I recognize that the issue that led to this problem has become somewhat exacerbated, but I am hoping to not get involved in laghu-drama this time around. I will roll the dice maybe Wednesday or next week, depending on what David says.

In Today’s Paper

I read about a study today that claimed sad movies effect babies in utero. So, David and Mercedes did a medley of Sound of Music songs for me and the baby. Mercedes did a little interpretive dance to go along with “Do, a deer, a female deer.” It was quite good. I’m not sure if the baby could totally appreciate it without seeing the dance. Oh well, she has two months to really perfect it.

I also read about Steve Cooper, who in 2006 was unemployed in suburban London and found his calling after a trip to India revealed him as the reincarnation of Bahucharaji, the hindu goddess of eunuchs. Apparently, the similarities are uncanny, and even his Hindi friends back in England would comment on it from time to time. Here is Bahucharaji – with a rooster horse – fun!

And here is Steve:

Personally, I don’t see the resemblance. But Steve believes it is true, and so do a large group of followers. I’m not so interested in the truth of the story, but I love how quickly and absolutely someone’s life can change. In Goa a few years ago, Sharath spoke about dharma. Mostly his own, but he also talked about the dharma of his students many of whom want to be teachers – and he quietly pointed out that many of them shouldn’t be. The questions around dharma were so charged in that room filled with westerners. “How do I know my dharma? When will I find out?” Like somehow dharma actually means a great career choice , and knowing your dharma is equivalent to finding the perfect job. Sharath seemed a bit baffled by all the emotion around the idea of dharma. I wondered if part of his dharma was to be a career counsellor for westerners.

But I like that good old Steve just seemed to fall into that idealized version of what we think of dharma. He couldn’t find anything he liked, went to India for a vacation, and bingo bongo he’s living with a bunch of eunuchs, blessing infertile women, and loving it.

I’m not sure where Steve is now, I assume his tourist visa has run out, but I hope he is still at it. From the articles, I read about him, he seemed very suited to his new position. It is one thing I miss being in India. All those “what should I do with my life, my work” questions have “wait and see” answers. Doctor, lawyer, actor, novelist, yoga teacher, husband, mother whatever you think you might be –  if you never end up doing it, it wasn’t your dharma to begin with.

My wise friend, Sandra, once said to me, “You can’t go on every ride in the fair.” True that.

Last night, I woke up to screaming. It had been so quiet all week, I thought maybe I was conditioned to sleep through anything from India. But no, the neighbours came home from vacation last night to scream at each other. There was more screaming today, “GETOUTOFMYHOUSE!!! GETOUTOFMYLIFE!! GETOUTGETOUTGETOUT” On and on, at the top of her lungs for a good 10 minutes. Five minutes later I could hear them laughing.

I wonder what would compel me to yell that at my husband? I can’t imagine we would share a joke a few minutes later. Does it really work that the more terribly you behave all the time, the easier it is to forgive you? I know it is harder to really listen to someone when they scream. Maybe if she whispered it, he (son or husband) might actually go.

Yoh brought back toe socks from Japan for David and I. I love her toe socks, but I’m not sure how they look on me:

They make me feel like I have monkey feet. That is nice. But if I really stare at my feet, they also look a bit creepy. Toe socks are surprisingly difficult to put on. I must get some lessons from Yoh.

Today, I taught my first class since India. Not sure if Sharath would be too impressed, but I made it through. I like teaching and the group was so focused this morning – I found myself lifted up by their good energy. I am lucky that Oliver subbed for me while I was away. He is a great teacher, and I’m pretty sure he lifted my numbers! After teaching, I cleaned, cooked and sat around.

Prince tried to be helpful during the sitting around part of the day.

Follow-up:

Ruth brought up an interesting point for me about my last post. I thought more about the brushing my teeth thing. Certainly, practicing is not as easy as brushing my teeth. There is so much more involved to getting up, preparing food, putting on my yoga clothes, packing day clothes, driving to the studio, standing on the mat….. Practicing takes up so much more of my day, and of course I overthink and obsess. Of course, sometimes, I would rather stay in bed. I guess sometimes I would rather crawl into bed before brushing my teeth too though!

I think what I meant by the brushing the teeth thing is I don’t have the same internal questions that I used to have when my alarm goes off in the morning: “Is this good for me? Why do I do this? Am I seeing the benefits?” I don’t really question it at all. It makes it easier to get out of bed, but I don’t seem to reflect as much on the effect the routine has on my life. I’m not too sure which is better. I also liked being filled with gratitude and questions.

I’m sure once the baby comes, I will be weeping with gratitude and wonder to have the chance to be on my mat again.

I made it through another led primary today. There was certainly less adrenaline than in Mysore, but it was nice to waltz in right before opening chant. I could also lay on my side for a little while after class instead of Sharath calling out after the last vinyasa, “Ok go home, take rest!”

In Mysore, everything revolves around the crazy thing we all do in the morning. But here, we are a bunch of crazies who do something in the morning. Because yoga is an umbrella term in the west for general stretching, it is hard to communicate that what we do is a system, passed through a lineage of teachers. I often wish we could just call it something else. Most people can understand the tradition and system in Karate school, for example. But yoga is under a different set of rules in North America.

If I took a self defense class and learned a Karate move to kick a man in a padded suit, no one would say that I am a black belt in Karate.  I guess the same could be said of language. I may know the word for tomato is “pomodoro”, but that doesn’t mean I speak Italian. Yoga, like language, has a set of rules – a structure. If we decided to make up the rules of a language based on what felt comfortable to us as individuals, then it would render it meaningless or insensible.

Ultimately, kicking a dude in a padded suit might be infinitely more useful to me than years of Karate. And it might be way more fun to call a tomato “gooky goo”. I’m not trying to pass a judgement on yoga classes or their efficacy. It is great and very healthy to breathe, move your body, and connect with like-minded people.

David thought a better word might be meditation. The Ashtanga Meditation Centre of Toronto. Of course, that opens another can of worms because we aren’t sitting around cross-legged om-ing. But it might be closer to the truth, since the system is just teaching us to be stronger and stronger meditators no matter how flexible or agile we happen to be, whether we never bind in mari D or we practice Advanced A.

When I came back from India the first time, it was after years and years going to vinyasa classes – based on whatever happened to be in the teacher’s head at the moment. I remember talking to people about the tradition and feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude that I would start to get a little teary. I couldn’t believe the practice was there for me the whole time and I had brushed by it. After this trip, it feels more matter-of-fact. I practice this way, there isn’t really another way for me. It isn’t a strong, emotional attachment like when I went the first time. It is just part of a routine in my life. The funny thing is I am in a position where I speak to a lot of people about the practice. Some feel the same way I do, some have questions about its efficacy, and some feel very turned off by the idea. I’m always intrigued by the questions I’m asked. I rarely feel like I’ve said the right thing. It seems the further I go into this whole thing, the less I have to say about.

Sharath is right. It is like brushing your teeth. I just do it because if I don’t, I notice and probably other people do too. I’m trying not to smell. That’s about it.

So, a new name for the studio, with a new tagline:

“The Ashtanga Meditation Centre of Toronto. Try not to smell.”

Ohh… that’s good. It works on a few different levels.

Practice has been funny all week. I am pretty wobbly in standing, and I nearly brained myself coming up to standing from backbending yesterday. I think I am paying for all the travel and jetlag. It is wonderful to be back at the studio. The energy is very calm and focused. I feel safe. I can’t really imagine having a Yoga Terror Spot chart at AYCT. Next week, I will try adding some backbends from intermediate back on. I have been Miss Primary for the past two months in India, which was fine because of how much my body and practice has changed particularly in the last few weeks.

I have really been enjoying being back in my own kitchen. We have had noodles with white beans and cold rice wraps, homemade soft tortillas with black beans and tofu sour cream, squash and kale soup. I love cooking. I bought a baby-sized head of napa cabbage. it actually hurts a little to pick it up. Mmm…napa.

Our Neighbourhood:

At the end of the block, there is a tattered grey house, split into three apartments. The top two are occupied by a large family. The bottom level has a very quick turnover. The landlord seems incapable of renting the basement apartment to sane individuals. At some point after two months of renting, a motley collection of furniture ends up strewn across the lawn and the old For Rent sign goes up. Today we met our new neighbour. Skinny with a large mustache, he was muttering to himself as he collected his bike.

Neighbour: No! No! Awwww. You fucker! How did you do that?

S: (Should I cross, should I cross?)

N: Little fucker. Hey! You guys have got to help me.

S:

N: (points at a fat grey cat) My cat got out. And you got help me get him.

S: Ahh

N: Oh no. Oh wait. Nope. Never mind. I think he is taking a shit.

S:

N: Wouldn’t want to interrupt. Hehehehe.

David, who didn’t break his stride or even look over during the entire conversation, spent the rest of our walk talking about living on a farm.

I drank tap water today. I brushed my TEETH in tap water. I made food on more than one burner. But I missed watching the sun rise over Mysore.

The flights weren’t as repulsive as I thought it would be. David got bulkhead seats, so I could stretch out. One bonus to being more pregnant than on the flight over, was that I had to pee every 5 minutes so I was walking around the cabin quite a bit. When we got to Heathrow, we had delicious miso soup and we tried to recreate the first picture of our trip.

Here is the very first picture we took:

Happy, calm – just after 6 hours of flying. Take a gander at the last photo of the trip:

No amount of miso is going to help. It took us about 15 tries to get this photo.  Flying is so gross. For the last leg of the journey two of the bathrooms broke, so all of us plebs were forced to wait in line to use the two remaining bathrooms that would give any Indian toilet a run for it’s money. I was close to storming the “Club World” (read: first class. I’m not sure why British Airways decided to name their first class after a tween clothing store in the basement of Dufferin Mall, but whatever) where two people are sharing a bathroom, however I have spent too long in India towing the class lines and I stood and waited impatiently with the other 100 people on the flight.

It was lovely to be back in the studio again. I loved seeing all of the yoga peeps again. I had a nice practice, but I think I pushed a little too hard considering my long journey the day before. I forgot I spent 24 hours in Quasimodo position staring at a tv screen the size of a postage stamp, and when I came up from my third backbend, my chest felt like it was cave in. I had to take a few minutes to recover, but everything felt great when I finished.

The house was so clean when we got home. It was almost eery. Mercedes must have dusted, vacuumed, and wiped within an inch of her life. She also made us cookies and apologized profusely for chipping a plastic mixing bowl. I remember when we used to tell visitors not to go downstairs because I was afraid there might be something dead under the layers of Mercedes’ clothes. Anyway, with the house so perfect, I was starting to feel a little strange. But then I looked in the fridge and there were only 2 jars of peanut butter. I don’t know why that made me feel better, because that sort-of means that poor Mercedes was cleaning, cleaning, cleaning constantly and just scraping by on a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. But it felt balanced somehow. I think  if the cupboards were filled with the most amazing food, we would have to rename her, “Mercedes, World Leader”. We might have to rename her that eventually, though.

I am happy to be home, it was great to speak to my parents, see friends, and get back to work. We are really feeling Dolly’s death all over again. I hope we can get used to making new routines without her and let go of our old routines. I made David go for a walk with me today around the block. The house just isn’t the same without her smiling face.