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Waiting for the light to change at Eglinton and Bayview last Thursday, we were talking about scheduling at AYCT when David suddenly yelled, “Noooo!” and leapt out of the car.

A small brown head was poking out from underneath the mini-van in front of us. David’s movement caused it to run under the mini-van beside us. As the light turned green, the van moved. Positioned perfectly in between the wheels, the receding bumper revealed a large fuzzy groundhog, looking anxiously around. He darted back towards the Metro parking lot. David got attitude for stopping traffic from a man driving a big white pick-up.

The city hotline robot for animal control directed me to call for a private company to remove the wildlife pest that might be destroying my property, or to call the Toronto Wildlife Centre or the Toronto Humane Society. The THS has been defunct for several months now, I mean you only have to be barely conscious to know that. I’m surprised the hotline robot hasn’t been informed.

So, I called the Toronto Wildlife Centre. The answering machine promised that someone would call me back in an hour.

TWC: So, was the groundhog injured?

S: No, not really. Confused, maybe. But it was just hanging out in a Metro parking lot.

TWC: Well, I see there is a park at that intersection.

S: Yes, diagonally across from the parking lot there is a school football field.

TWC: We only have one staff member, so we can’t really send anyone out to check.

S: OK. I understand. I just thought I should call.

TWC: Please do call if you see a SICK or INJURED animal.

OK. I am a little animal crazy, but I do understand that there isn’t a charity devoted to escorting animals back and forth across the street. However, it does seem to me that waiting an hour to return an emergency call about an injured wild animal or a wild animal that is about to harm you, might not be terribly effective. I guess you would really only need one staff member to clean up the mess.

Eglinton and Bayview is such a hideous intersection – an enormous McDonald’s on one corner right across from a little strip mall and kitty corner to a large parking lot. We pass by these ugly spaces everyday in our ugly little car. I’m not sure why our culture is so bent on making everything look awful and grey. I know it is his home too, but the groundhog looked so beautiful, so strange and out of place under the dirty light blue mini-van.

The next day we looked for signs of the groundhog as we drove by in our dusty little car, and we talked about him spending the night in the Metro parking lot. But there was no trace of him, just the parking lot, the McDonald’s, the strip mall, and all the cars big and small carrying people to work. And we kept on driving too.

Today’s practice:

Today I added on Laghu vajrasana again. David practically needed a forklift to haul me up again.

D: I think it has been too long. You might have waited a little too long to start this again.

S: …yeah…

D: What do you want to do? Stretch your front, or strengthen your legs?

S: I want to do Kapotasana.

D: (choking slightly) Umm. Well. I think that might be an intense stretch for you right now. I mean, just because you are almost due and you haven’t really done it in a few months.

S: …yeah…

My mom always says I was born sarcastic. But I think I was born stubborn.

Happy New Moon!

No scary childbirth educational toys at last night’s prenatal class, thank goodness. Just the little cloth baby with a plastic head that our teacher demonstrates with and then disconcertingly throws around when she is finished demo-ing.

She asked us what we remembered from last week’s session.

D: Well that placenta toy.

T: Oh yes, what did you learn about that?

D: It haunted me.

T: OK…. And what about you, Stan?

We practiced breathing and David practiced rubbing my back. That was fun.  We learned about epidurals:

Ughh. My last two experiences with needles have been a little crummy. When you are pregnant they test you for everything under the sun, syphillus, rubella – whatever – you name it. The second last blood test I had was at Women’s College Hospital and the staff were training someone new. Because the skin on my arms is basically see-through they used me as a pin cushion for a trainee. She was nervous and her hand shook when she put the needle in. She had to take several vials of blood for each test and she kept filling them up to the very top. At one point the supervisor came back into the room and yelled at her for making all the vials overflow unnecessarily with my blood. Great.

The last time I had blood taken, it was at the midwife’s office with the student midwife – who is also just learning. She made a bit of a mistake and blood started spurting both inside and outside the vial. Suddenly, there was blood running down my arm, all over her hands and covering the pillow my arm was resting on. We both started apologizing to each other as the blood kept streaming down. I had a bruise on my arm for a week. Pregnant junkie is not a good look – in case you were wondering.

I’m done being helpful to the medical community. I’m going to need a resume from the next person who sticks a needle in me.

David and I ate chap chae on Bloor after the class. I love chap chae. We ate at 9:30p. Because we always eat at senior citizen’s hour, we spent most of the meal remarking on how amazing it was that the restaurant was open and people were there eating as well.

Tomorrow, I am back to practice. I was so grateful for the break today. I haven’t taken a day off practice in over two weeks, because I did a fantastic mysore with Kino on Saturday (David calls this a “bonus practice”) and the Saturday before I took Oliver’s beginner class. I am teaching Oliver’s class this Saturday, and now I know how he tortures his students with extra holds in chaturanga. I’m hoping if I talk in a really low voice and pretend to be much nicer than I really am, his students won’t mind his absence too much.

Have a great Thursday back.

I’ve been very bad about updating this week. I reached a new level of tired in the past few days. Which means when I am not at work, I am sitting at home staring blankly at a spot three feet in front of me. I can’t wait to get my brain back. Maybe tomorrow’s moon day will help.

OK. So, Kino MacGregor is funny, smart and totally adorable. When we picked her up at the airport on Friday, it was snowing. The weather has been so well behaved lately, I actually felt embarrassed. But Kino is so gracious, she complimented the weather when it warmed up slightly the next day. Considering she lives in Miami, I thought that was pretty big of her.

Kino is very well-spoken, and she talked a lot about the demands of a daily practice this weekend, but also about her own struggles. It is nice to be reminded that someone with a beautiful and controlled practice, like Kino, has worked so hard for that equanimity for many years. Throughout the weekend, she would forgo resting or going out for lunch so that she could also practice and be prepared and open to teach.

Having a teacher that is also a student everyday is really special. I really appreciate that Kino can do this, despite her hectic travelling and general superstar schedule. I think if you get good at it, the role of teacher can take over personal practice. And while in other disciplines, this might be OK – football coaching or something, I just don’t really think it is the way yoga is supposed to work. Your yoga lineage is your guide, no matter how many students you teach yoga to, you always have a teacher. Submission is a big part of yoga, and if a teacher isn’t also a student -how can she or he understand this or teach anyone else how to submit to the rigors of a meditation practice?

I know I make it sound a little tiresome, but (at the risk of sounding negative or ungrateful) I practiced for many years with someone who doesn’t have a teacher and that was truly a tiresome experience. I was cast adrift just as he was. We were all just making it up as we went along, we all knew better. It wasn’t meditation, it was whatever we felt like doing. Like a never ending jam-band concert. And when I went to Goa and met Sharath, I was surprised that here was a teacher, who teaches thousands and thousands of people around the world, and he sits on the floor in front of them and would rather speak about himself as a student.

Kino is like that too.

On another note: when you are pregnant and you are running around doing stuff, you can sometimes forget just how funny you look. Here is very pregnant Mo helping very pregnant me at Kino’s backbending workshop. In my mind’s eye at the time, I thought I looked totally flat-bellied. I did wonder why everyone was pointing, laughing and taking pictures. Yay, ok. Now I understand.

Don’t drink the water at AYCT!

For those of you who don’t stalk the comment section of this blog (you are totally missing out!), Diana provided me with a picture the most disturbing childbirth educational toy ever. Bwhahahaha! I can’t. even. begin. with the picture of the doll giving birth. Don’t click!

I leave you with that image of a detachable knitted placenta. Prenatal class is tonight, and I have to digest my Kino weekend a little more. I promise to be good and update tomorrow, so check back in for more half-baked thoughts!

Ok. So it isn’t the mat. Today, coming up to standing from backbends on the thin mat, I had to run backwards slightly to keep from landing on my head. By number three, I was good to go – but it is a little unsettling. I got David to help me problem solve what I was doing wrong. I stick my toes out, and once I’m up – I’m unsteady on my clown feet.

It was fun being a regular student again and hearing all those cues “Come up on your fingertips, push through your feet, squeeze your inner legs, come up, come up!” Usually, he would make me work pretty hard if he noticed me dancing all over the mat, but today he let me get away with just doing it once or twice and then gave me a piriformis massage with his knees. Ah, bum massage!

We had our first prenatal class last night. I like my teacher and the other couples in the class are all funny and sweet. Our teacher had some props with her, including a toy placenta. She told us her dog likes it.  Imagine being in the toy placenta making business? It is hard to make that thing not look horrifying, not that they didn’t try. But it looked like a deranged and extremely dangerous jellyfish.

How would that not scare the beejezus out of an expectant mother? It looks like a day at the beach gone terribly, terribly wrong. I am, however, looking forward to demonstrations with the “knitted uterus”.

We watched a dvd of several women dealing with contraction pain.  The women were in deep trance-like states, with chirpy midwives as their guides. Hot, sweating, with eyes glazed over they repeated guttural sounds and banged furniture rhythmically. It was beautiful and mesmerizing to watch, but also painfully private.  The teacher commented she would like some popcorn to eat with the movie. Seriously? Popcorn? Who can think about eating?  This might be the biggest reason to never allow yourself to be filmed giving birth. Inevitably, someone will end up eating snacks while staring at you hitting the edge of a bathtub shouting “HA! HA! HA!”

I thought about that trance state in practice today. I have small glimpses of it, especially around janusirasana A + B. But once I notice, it has slipped away out of reach again. I think that will be my real work in the practice until June 2. I suppose that is my real work in practice all the time. Vinyasa, vinyasa, vinyasa.

I’ll keep you updated on knitted uterus and scary jellyfish that wants to kill your baby.

My dropbacks are pretty wonky things at the moment. Sometimes by number two or three, they straighten out a little and I’m not dancing all over the place. Currently, I am blaming this on my overly squishy black Manduka. Ahem. It is my mat! I swear.

Before I was pregnant, I watched this video of an ashtangini who filmed herself dropping back 4 days before her water broke. She is my inspiration. She is also so adorable!

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If you go to the youtube site, you can read all the amazing comments from people who think she is trying to kill her baby. She answers them with a surprising amount of equanimity considering the vitriol thrown at her.

There is this funny idea that the baby is this dumb thing floating around in your body. If you move one way, the baby will just float over in that direction. If you stretch, the baby will get a leg caught or it will squish a finger or two.

Before I was pregnant, I would push myself to the point of exhaustion, forget to eat, injure myself straining too hard or with too much ego in practice. Now, when I am tired: baby makes me collapse on the bed. When I want to eat something: baby tells me whether it is OK to eat it and how much of it I can eat. When I am pushing in yoga: baby tells me right away to back off, or to sometimes to keep going. I can’t eat, play, sleep, or do yoga without this kid’s permission. I swear to god, in utero babies are way smarter than we give them credit for.

Here is another fun pregnant lady video. Again, the comments on the youtube site are beyond offensive. But I do love her obvious glee. She and baby make a good pair.

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Pregnant Superhero Power!

(The tagline reads, “Lead with the belly, follow with the sword.” For me – as my brother-in-law pointed out – I think I can change that tagline to “Lead with the belly, follow ten minutes later with the rest of your body.”)

Hurray! Tomorrow is Friday, led primary and my day off. My shoulder is still causing me some grief, but I didn’t crunch into it too much during last night’s sleep. I’m also coming down on my knees during chaturanga, which I have resisted for some time now. I think the weight gain is too much for my arms. I need David arms for the next two months.

David has these dinner roll-shaped bicep muscles that can lift and pull 75 people a day in mysore. Mercedes inherited his strength, and although she doesn’t have David’s dinner rolls, she is crazy strong. I felt her biceps today and I was a bit jealous.

Cockroach Vampires

Just because my life is that interesting, I decided to do a little research on the notoriously factual interweb about cockroaches. I learned that cockroaches bleed white, and don’t have blood vessels. All that white blood is just sloshing around like milk in their little bodies. That sounds a little vampiric to me.

So, I looked up vampire cockroaches again on google images. I still don’t have any photographic evidence but I did happen to stumble across this picture of a “Worm Fiend”.

Worm Fiend is made of a mass of squirming worms. The literature also said, a “hive mind” helps it move. I would like to tell that hive mind to pick a different shape to emulate rather than the string doll I made in grade two. Tiger, snake, shark, huge vampire cockroach. It looks kinda flimsy and not so fiendish. Plus I feel badly for the worms who have fallen off that shaky thing and are trying to get back on.

Poll time!