Writing and editing

Tomorrow is led primary and I won’t be able to go. The first two classes were squished together into an even earlier 4:15 time slot with led intermediate following at 5:45. Since shala time is mysteriously 15 minutes fast – my class actually starts at 4a, and that is just crazy talk with a baby. But it still stresses me out a little that I can’t/won’t go. I hadn’t totally prepared for Friday to be my last practice at the shala.

I will miss the Practice, capital P here.  Even the things that drive me up the wall: the waiting in the vestibule, the filthy shala toilets, and the bumpy rug. It is healing to be here and focus on meditation. It is strange to be here in a time of transition with the assistants, but it makes it exciting too. I am interested to see how the training works out in the future for authorized students. I got a “bonus 3 poses” this week from Sharath, which was fun.

We leave for Bangalore Sunday afternoon and fly out on Monday morning. I feel quite ambivalent about going. I have been dreaming of flight catastrophe and the week at home of dealing with baby jet lag makes me hate the trip a little. But the sun, and the attention to practice plus lots to family time has been awfully sweet.

Speaking of sweet, I am going to need to go into sugar rehab when I get home. The food is fresh but has basically no nutritional value and sugar and caffeine seem to supplement what you can’t get from white rice, chapati and thin tomato soup. I can’t figure out which came first here: did the caffeine and sugar addiction produce the crazed traffic, non-stop working, constant stimulation or the other way around. Check this out on a package of rice cereal that I had to pick up for the flight.

Awesome that you add sugar to your baby’s food to taste. Ah, maybe not.

The majority of Indians are obsessed with chubby babies and therefore in love with Holden. I feel like I have been more accepted in the culture with a baby.

I am not looking forward to the cold, or to listening to the neighbours play Jessie’s Girl over and over again, but it will be amazing to see my family and friends. I am also happy to be back home where we don’t clean the floor with a toxic nerve gas that may cause facial ticks. It might also be nice to blow my nose and not see black.

I will miss coconuts with Mr. Coconut Head.

Best Mysore Conversation:

Stan: I think The Baby is teething again. It says here (points to interweb) that there are four more teeth due at 8 months.

David: If he is teething again, I’m going to write a letter.

Stan: Who would you write a letter to?


(Darwin be forewarned).

Here is a hot shit poll in honour of all the students at KPJAYI!

I had my last Mysore-style practice in Mysore today. I was a bit sad. Mostly, because I have not one but TWO led primary classes before I leave. Yeech. Sharath helped me with backbends this week and made me walk into my heels which hasn’t happened in a year and a half. He is such a great adjuster. Very soft, but never ineffective. He always seems to pull me deeper than I think I can go. And it is very effortless.

We said goodbye to Sharath today because it is always tricky in led class to get his attention. He promised to be back in Toronto when his house is finished being built. Holden crawled around the vestibule and Sharath and Saraswathi tried to get him to crawl in, but he wouldn’t pass the threshold. Smart boy. Saraswathi held him and he didn’t cry this time. I got an awesome picture of David and Sharath, which I will post when I am not being lazy.

Here is yet another video of The Baby. Of course, I think it is a perfect example of his sublime intellect. However, you will notice from the wear on the page that fuzzy bear gets lots of action.

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So, I didn’t mention this in the last post – when Holden learned how to crawl I felt relieved and also felt a bit secure knowing that I would just be dealing with a crawler for the next couple of months. Two days later, he reached for a chair and hauled himself up. Crawling is so passe. All he wants to do is grab on to sharp, sometimes moveable, objects, stand up and then repel off them in the most dangerous way.

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There is no multitasking. No grabbing a glass of water or anything like that. It is full-time trying to stop The Baby from killing himself.

I was sick the past two days with a sort-of general India belly thing. I promise to update on shala news/gossip and practice in the next day or so.

I wasn’t really feeling Saturday led primary  and evidently many people felt the same way because the room was quite empty this morning. There is something nice about the Friday break, Saturday on and Sunday break again for Holi because it means I can eat late night dinners twice in three nights. I know, I know – thrilling life – but it is kinda exciting for Ashtangis who rise at 4:30. The little practice squished in there makes me feel a bit better about the stack of set dosa I plan on eating tonight. Woot!

Today during practice instead of focusing on drishti, breath or contracting my whatever I made a little goal to be at the same place in practice June 18th (Holden’s first birthday) as I was before I got pregnant. It might be a bit of a stretch – literally, because I haven’t added on kapo yet. I think it is possible. I was able to grab my heels pregnant – so I’m hoping it can be negotiated without too much backbending drama.


David and I tried searching “Holden crawls” on youtube because we are self-obsessed we sort of assumed our video would be at the top of the list. It wasn’t. And we felt a little defeated after watching the very first video on the list when the mother filming loudly exclaimed to her baby:

Mother in Video: No! That’s a cat, n**ger!

David: Umm. Did she just say….

Stan: No, I mean it just sounded like that because why would she post that?

David: Let’s watch that part again.

(We backtrack/rewind – what do you call it digitally?)

Mother on Video: No! That’s a cat, n**ger!

David: Ugh. She did just say that.

Stan: Oh. My. God.

Dear God. Please God, where ever you are. Please do not let Holden be a Klan name.

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Friday is a full moon day, which means no practice. Ordinarily, that would be two days off but Sharath has a family function on Sunday and so we are practicing on Saturday instead. This will make it the second Saturday this trip that I have done led primary. I’m not complaining, (Ok I am) but they are really bucking tradition here. I momentarily thought I would skip Saturday practice and practice in the hotel on Sunday, like many of the students here. But it does seem silly to come all this way and then practice by myself. I’m sure I won’t burst into flames or anything if I practice on Saturday. Although, the thought of led primary…ugh. I would rather scrape my nose along the sidewalk for a mile.

The Baby is still not sleeping. Yesterday, I was going to blog, but I decided to shelf my draft and sleep (or not sleep) on it and I’m glad I did. Geez. I really have the whole cycle of blame thing worked out. I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t practice – I think I might be a monster. Or as Paul and Rachelle Gold call it “a reaction machine”. So, the first stage is always self doubt:  I am the worst parent, I have made millions of mistakes and now my baby will never be happy again. And then the blame turns outward: Why am I here with The Baby? Why must everyone here scream at each other? What is with the eternal beeping of horns? And why can our neighbours not PICK UP their furniture before moving it around the room (I guess if you are constantly moving it, you would be too tired to lift it up).

Anyway, today I am feeling better. Still very little sleep but I drank an amazing amount of coffee, and if I just top myself up with sugar and chocolate I can ride out the day nicely. Self medication is the best.

You know what is also the best:  our Ergo carrier. It has been incredible and so comfortable.  I can carry him for hours in it. It was recommended to us by two amazing moms – Jill and Sadie. thank you, thank you!

Plus it goes well with big sunglasses.

Here is Holden in the Rickshaw:

Practice notes

I am still working on the mula bandha technique as outlined in the previous post. It is hard. I am really in the habit of lifting the pelvic floor which is an entirely different and less subtle action. Sharath told me on Wednesday that next week I would be doing “More”. I think that refers to backbending. Next week is my last, I’m not sure how much “more” backbending I can do. I still get  a kinda icky stretching feeling in the front of my body when I backbend, probably post-surgery angst. Forza!

So, back on track. I held uth pluthi in led class on Sunday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Saraswathi in her nightgown. I was expecting Sharath to do the chant and then disappear into his office to load up on tiger videos, but he stayed and, of course, taught a great class.

In conference yesterday, Sharath spoke about bandhas. Particularly, about holding mula bandha all the time – walking, resting, eating. “Contracting your anus.” he called it. When I am hauling the baby around, I catch myself arching my lower back and sticking out my belly. I have to work on remembering to hold mula bandha – I actually think it is a really important technique in order to protect your back in parenthood. I think I lift my pelvic floor rather than contract my anus, so clearly I have some work to do.

There was lots of anus talk at conference and it made everyone giggle, which is kinda grade 7 and funny. Someone asked if mula bandha was located beside the anus.

Sharath: No, contract the anus.

Someone asked if it was different for women.

Sharath: It is all anus.

Yeah, and I suppose being pre-occupied with contracting your anus would keep you out of trouble.

For me, it is all digestion. Ultimately that has a lot to do with anuses, but I am pretty obsessed with good digestion. Not that I always have it. But I believe it leads to happiness or at the very least contentment. That is inner peace for me. This trip, my digestion has been (knock on wood) pretty rad because we never really eat out. Eating out is so tempting here because the food is quite incredible, it cost a dollar for a full meal, and the set up for making food at home is similar to a college dorm. There are two pots, two burners,  three forks and a couple of spoons. My kitchen screams Kraft Dinner. Anyway, I have muddled through (minus the Kraft Dinner).

Speaking of eating, I’m not sure if everyone caught Adrienne’s link a couple blogs ago:

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Return of the slow loris!

When I was little I was really worried about pleasing my teachers or upsetting other people. That need to please people has carried me through my life. At one point I had a parent teacher interview where I described one of my students as being helpful and wanting to please. The father looked stricken and said, “I am not raising a pleaser!” I sort of, “Oh yes, no, he isn’t really like that….” But I actually thought I was complimenting his son.

Anyway, this is all a dumb lead up to my experience in Led Primary on Friday. Usually, I will do anything to hold uth pluthi or whatever to please the teacher. Friday – it was weird – I couldn’t have cared less. I wasn’t opposed to practicing or trying hard. I just didn’t want to please Sharath. It was a new feeling. Sort of liberating, but also a bit empty.

David took Holden and let me sleep in this morning, so perhaps tomorrow’s led primary will be different.

David shot this video of Holden crawling around the apartment and finally eating the camera.

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Holden woke up last night at 1:30. And didn’t go back to bed. Here is a picture I took of us before going into practice this morning.

Look at his face! We are totally wrecked.

Practice, on the other hand, was not bad. I was expecting the worst because I could barely lift up my mat – but I felt pretty flexible and it was nice to focus on something other than sleeplessness for 90 minutes. I also took Tova’s spot in the room – so there was some good mama energy to boost me up!

I had a great spot that momentarily became a Booberry Terror Alert when the person beside me did prasarita with their heels on my mat during my dropbacks. There was totally tons of room, I’m not sure what on the other side warranted such mat trespassing. I had some violent urges after not sleeping – and I considered not being too careful with my arms on my ascent. But Sharath came and stood over me and made me behave, which is good. For everyone.

See – yoga does make you a better person. Even if your teacher has to stand over you in order to make you pretend to be one.

Today we met with Paul and Rachelle Gold, which was lovely as always, and went to the pool. I got to wear my new post-natal bathing suit. I love it! No picture of me in my bikini – but here is David and Holden looking very handsome:

After a month of trying and trying. Holden finally crawled today. Forwards. Woot! Maybe he won’t have to wake up and practice tonight!  Here he is, caught in the act!

Ok. So I did a little poll a while ago, and it turns out no one wants to hear about sleep deprivation. And I totally get it. Most people don’t sleep as much as they should/want to. Before I became a mom, I certainly had bouts of staring at the ceiling for hours trying to count myself to sleep. Ever since Holden was born, when non-parents tell me they didn’t sleep – my first instinct is to say, “But no one was FORCING you to stay up!” Parenthood is really good for curing insomnia. Well, until they learn how to drive.

Sleep is my current obsession. I guess everyone is different. Holden has many amazing qualities. But being a good sleeper is not one of them. We are working on helping him sleep through the night. Last night we made it with only two wake-ups which I don’t think I have had in months. It was good. And sad that it was good.

When I meet parents of babies – I always ask, “How is the sleeping”. And sometimes they just sort-of shrug and say, ‘Oh, well he/she sleeps 12 hours at night.” And I feel murderous rage and go over the variables. Is it the breastfeeding? sleeping with us? the bed? the moon? the teething? too much food? too little food? the never-ending practice crawling?

Today we met the parents of a 6 year-old. David asked, “How is the sleeping?” She laughed. “What sleeping?” My first reaction, because I am so nice, was “Ha! they have it worse!” But then upon reflection, I realize: “Oh my god. That could be me in 5 years.”

I might have to be institutionalized.

That is the other thing about parenthood. It makes you really respect your parents. There is nothing quite like watching the sun come up and realizing, with horror, that a) you spent most of the night trying unsuccessfully to get someone to sleep and b) in the morning it won’t just be you and the baby and you won’t feel like a complete psycho.

So, that is where I am at. It is totally not exciting or interesting or unusual. Thank you for indulging me!

The Part Where I Write About Ashtanga

On Sunday, we had conference and Sharath spoke about drishti. He told us, when in doubt, use nasagrai (tio of your nose) drishti. Nasagrai is really my least favourite focusing point because it makes me feel cross-eyed and funny. Since I am filled with doubt I practiced with his advice in mind. Wow. I got over the nerdy feeling pretty quickly and it made my practice really different. I am a believer.

Also in conference:

Young Man: Sharath, do you have to believe in God to practice Ashtanga?

Sharath: (baffled slightly) Yes. Why else are you here?

Huzzah! That’s what I’m talking about!

Today we watched this incredibly cute video of victims of human trafficking learning Ashtanga Yoga made by the great people at Yoga Stops Traffick. We were there last year in Mysore, and this year we hope to do something at AYCT. Enjoy!

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Today was led primary again, but this time with Saraswathi. I just rolled up after before the 4:30 class did uth pluthi and I got a totally decent spot. When Saraswathi teaches on Sundays, Sharath always comes in to do the opening chant and then surprise! Saraswathi sneaks up and says, “Ekam…” I realized I missed taking class with Saraswathi. The energy in the room is much calmer.

Sharath is very strong but his energy can be quite gentle. He sort of lopes around the room on his thin legs watching everything. If he isn’t picking his way deftly around yoga mats, his long legs are folded up in his lap and he is reading his paper. He is direct with students and can transmit a lot of information in a dismissive snort.

Saraswathi is more like her dad. She is such a toughie, to me she seems almost unmovable. Today, in Mari C, because my dristi is so amazing, I was staring at her feet. Perfect small and broad with pink nail polish. I’m also pretty sure she was in her nightgown. And yet, she is commanding that room. I like her quiet and slightly sympathetic little laugh after holding uth pluthi a bit longer than usual.

When I was in university, like umm 15 years ago, I was getting headaches from reading and I got some glasses. I ended up sitting on them and I decided I hated my optometrist so I never got another pair. Vanessa told me she got her prescription and glasses in India really cheap and I made up my mind to finally stop reading everything an arm’s distance away.

Stan: I need reading glasses.

Optician: Oh. Ok. Hmmm. Um. How old are you?

Stan: (getting excited for an impending compliment) I am 34.

David: She is 35.

Stan: Oh! Hahaha! Yes. I just had a birthday. 35. Basically, 34. I forget!

Optiician: You are 35?

Stan: (compliment very close!) Yes.

Optician: Because usually you wouldn’t need reading glasses until you are over 40. Over 40 is when you should be needing glasses.

Stan: …

David: Oh, well, her whole family…glasses….

Optician: Oh. Ok. (doubtful)

Anyway, I really like my glasses.

I keep meaning to post this link to David’s blog at Toronto Body Mind. He is blogging from India, and he writes really beautifully. plus he doesn’t just write about reading glasses.

This picture is on his blog, but I had to repost it here in case y’all are too lazy to clickity click the above link.

I swear to god he got himself into this position ALL BY HIMSELF.  His dad was so proud.