Writing and editing

I have been internetless in Farm Sanctuary over the past week. But I am going to make up for it with critter pictures!

AYCT sponsors a pig and a cow from Farm Sanctuary, which is a charity that does rescue and advocacy work for farm and food animals. Every year for the last three, David and I have travelled down to Ithaca, New York to visit the animals and spend time on the farm. It is a peaceful and beautiful place and it puts me in touch with why we are vegan.

This year we learned that Sprinkles, our pig had some medical problems due to his unnaturally large size. He wasn’t bred to reach this age, and he has developed leg and hip problems. He is on medication, but he seemed pretty content when I caught up with him again.

Samuel, our adopted cow, is in the special needs herd because he likes the senior citizens. He is also massive. He was pretty bothered by flies when we were hanging out and was swinging his head wildly from side to side, which is why we are keeping a respectful distance in the picture.

My favourite are the goats. Goats are friends with everybody, so you can always be sure of a warm reception in the goat barn.

Holden liked the goats too.

But the tour was pretty exhausting.

Practice Notes:

I practiced in YOGA PANTS for the first time in 6 weeks last Tuesday. Usually I practice in my undies at home, but that isn’t really acceptable attire at the studio. Yippee! It was stinking hot, but I had such a great time. I went up to Janu C and I did a backbend and full closing. At this point I have worked up to navasana with dropbacks, and David told me today that I am ready to finish primary, which I am a little scared about. Navasana is basically the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Trying to lift my feet off the floor for the pick up seems like a far away dream. My belly is still pretty numb from surgery, but I can keep plugging away at it.

I love the studio, I love being able to practice. Mercedes watched the baby and I felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude that he has such a great older sister. It was such a gift to be back.

We are in Buffalo for the next few days, and by golly we have internet! I hope to update over the weekend with Holden’s practice notes. He took his first yoga class today. Super genius!

Fruit Brute bordering on Yummy Mummy Terror Yoga spot today, it was a peaceful day. This trip I have noticed that Sharath and Saraswathi have a different organizational technique for dropbacks. Two years ago, I would find myself waiting for several minutes. But this year, they seem to catch most people as they are doing their three dropbacks, and so you can transition very quickly into your assist. I like not waiting, and it is fun to stay on your breath as you come up from your third. The one drawback is I find myself dropping back with no one in front of me and when I come back up two seconds later, Sharath or Saraswathi is standing three inches from my nose. It can be a little unsettling and it makes me want to laugh because they always give me a blank look. Like they somehow ended up in front of me through a strange set of circumstances beyond their control. I guess that is half true. Anyway, I like it.

Last night, I had a terrible sleep. It is getting more and more difficult to get comfortable in bed and I toss and turn. I started using an extra pillow to wedge under my belly, which does help. Last night, I kept waking up in pools of sweat. Finally, I got up in the middle of the night, took a cold shower and cried a little as I dripped cold water on the floor under the fan in the living room.

I like getting stuff done, but I think I can’t physically do very much when the temperature goes above 35. I think I just overdid it yesterday. So, I’m keeping a low profile for the rest of the week. Today, I ate a lovely breakfast of fruit, fenugreek roti and spinach. Then, I read a little White Noise and took a quick nap – dreaming of North American supermarkets. We went to Kelly and Hudson’s house for lunch. It was unbelievable – Kelly had nori!  We had a lovely time hanging out. Then we all clambered into a tuk tuk and went to the pool where we watched all the kids play and swim so beautifully.

It was, however, a busy day for critters. Critters all over Mysore were on the move.

This horse had no time to stop and chat. He had somewhere to be!

This one was catching a quick snack between engagements.

These monkeys were trying to sort out their problems. It involved lots of chattering and some wrestling. The one on the left wasn’t really part of the disagreement, but he liked to join in the wrestling when it was happening.

Well, I wasn’t doing anything and someone has got to work!

Happy Heart Day!

I really prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day with people under the age of 10. Since I can’t ply my nephew with enormous amounts of sugar from India, David and I kept the whole day pretty low key.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I would be walking up the 1000 stairs of Chamundi Hill to celebrate the moon day and to mark my donation to the Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund, as part of a fundraising effort at the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto.

First a word about the moon day. In Ashtanga Yoga, we traditionally don’t practice on new and full moon days or Saturdays. The energy is thought to be too intense or scattered to practice on moon days, and it also serves as a great moving holiday. The full moon day landed on a Saturday for us two weeks ago, which meant no holiday. This new moon has landed on Sunday morning India time, but sadly for Torontonians it landed on Suturday evening. Really it did. David got a few emails about it today. He is a good yoga teacher, but he has yet to master the ability to control the tides. Maybe it has something to do with his moola bandha?

Anyway, back to me and my now non-existent moola bandha. We started out after breakfast when the weather was still cool. Here is me at the bottom looking all fresh. You can see on the first big step, there are quite a few offerings of pigment (!!) and flower petals. We watched a few women make an offering to each step, which would take at least a few hours.  In the distance you can see a gateway where the monkeys hang out.

These two found some of the offerings to Ganesh and shared a bite of banana.

There are so many monkeys, some people walk with sticks to shoo them off. I don’t find them that aggressive, but I did keep all my Dog Whisperer techniques in mind.

Nandi, Shiva’s bull, is at about step 800. This Nandi has his own priest.

I love his face.

I huffed and puffed my way to the top. It wasn’t that bad because I stopped and rested a few times. And I did have a few of these conversations:

David: Are you OK?

Stan: (Breathless) Yeah, no problem

David: Umm, because your breath is sort of laboured…

When you get to the top, you can wait in line to give an offering to Chamundi temple. These were my favourite: double coconuts with marigolds, roses and a lotus flower on top.

Last time we went up the hill, we went into the temple. You have to wait in a long line and the whole event is a bit rushed and chaotic when you get there and involves forking rupees over to everyone you happen to cross paths with. This year we skipped it because it was pretty busy at the top. Lot of calves, I think some were born on the last full moon.

Here I am, happy and winded in front of Chamundi Temple!

Then we slowly walked back down, and I made lunch on our cook stove.

Miso soup, salad and a big bowl of pasta. It was delicious, I was famished.

Happy Valentine’s Day, happy moon day, happy help Haiti day. I hope your day is beautiful. I’m off to donate!

I had a lovely practice this morning, and after lunch we went walking around Kukkaranahalli Lake. It was fantastic to walk for two hours without dodging rickshaws and getting beeped at every five seconds. We saw some amazing critters. I had great time and was thoroughly exhausted by the time we got home.

In the background, you can see Chamundi Hill with its 1000 steps. This moon day weekend, pregnant lady is going to tackle that with plenty of snacks and water. I promise to take lots of pictures of the crazy monkeys.

The lake was filled with the most stunning birds.  Here are a squadron of pelicans (real term – I looked it up!) all bunched in one poor, overworked tree.

David got this great shot of a pelican that landed pretty close to the trail we were on.

The trees are all massive and ancient. This one looked like a green monster and was covered in morning glory. Lovely.

An Irish student told us that playing Bach will make your baby smarter. Today I listened to Bach at full volume with the speaker pointed at my stomach. And the baby kicked happily! Then we played some Erik Satie, and the baby settled right down. I think that combination will make a smart, morose baby – which doesn’t sound that appealing. i think I want a happy dummy.  Anyway, for what it is worth – the baby likes Bach.

And speaking of high-brow taste, did you know that our apartment has a Monet?

A real Monet! The likeness is incredible. It is signed and everything.

Clueless, the greatest movie of all time, uses Monet as an adjective. Quite astutely, I think.

Cher: Oh, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s that?
Cher: You see, it’s like the painting. Seen from far away, it’s okay; but up close, it’s a big ol’ mess.

But our Monet is a a big ol’ mess far away and close up. I fear it might be a fake.

Oh well, turn up the Bach and pass the vitamins – this kid needs all the help she/he can get!

This morning I woke up with two little bites on my wrist. I went about my morning, made tea and prepared myself for led primary with Saraswathi. Just as I was leaving, I saw my first cockroach of the trip. A big, fat brown thing shuffling sleepily out of our bedroom and into the next room.

I posited that it might be a Cockroach Vampire, hence the two little fang marks on my wrist. David told me that the cockroach would have to be dead to get undead, and that would be unlikely because they are notoriously hard to kill.

But think about it. They don’t like sunlight, they live in a nest, and they can live through a nuclear disaster. Plus when I googled “Cockroach Vampires”, I found this colouring page for kids:

Pure evil!

Vikram and Vanessa from AYCT arrived today after spending the week in Delhi.

I’m totally giving them the Pug-in-a-Basket-I’m-all-hooked-up crown. They got an apartment, negotiated their rent down by 3,000 rupees, and signed up at the shala AND Vikram got a discount there. Unheard of! Bastards. They totally deserve it.

We took them shopping for toilet paper, and we took a picture of lovely Vanessa.

But we forgot to take a picture of Vikram too, so here is a picture of a cute dog we met instead!

But let’s get back to the Cockroach Vampire thing. Let me know what you think:

Today we didn’t need walk around looking for housing in the midday sun, and so we had a bit of a lazy day. We practiced, ate breakfast, made kettle miso, did the laundry, talked AYCT business, hung out and then went out for South Indian thali with gobi manchurian.

gobi manchurian

Gobi manchurian is supposed to be Chinese-style cauliflower. It is actually double deep-fried cauliflower and like most things double deep-fried it is quite delicious. Alice told me that I should be eating deep-fried things to relax my pregnancy induced yang condition.  Therefore, I should be eating gobi manchurian constantly.

At lunch, we bumped into Jenny and Raven from the Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Victoria. This is the second time we have completely invaded their quiet midday meal. They are going to start avoiding the Green Leaf if it happens again, I’m sure.

jenny and raven

One more food related item: bananas. I’m not crazy about bananas in Toronto. I don’t eat them that often, they taste good in things rather than on their own. And unless you are a big geek and own a banana carrier, they always become a little mushy and unsatisfying when they are carted around. In India the bananas are tiny, very yellow, and delicious. You buy about 15 at a time and one goes very nicely with cereal in the morning. I remember coming back from India in 2008 and thinking that a regular banana was a ridiculous amount of mealy yukky food. I think I read somewhere that the right amount of fruit to eat will fit in your hand. Anymore than that is too much.

babybananaBaby Banana = perfect.

Practice today went well. Sharath made disapproving noises as he stood in front of me during my dropbacks. I’m not sure what that means and I think that is OK. I suppose, like most things, it will all be revealed with time.

David, very kindly, put up a link to this blog on ashtangatoronto.com and once I get my rss feed up and working you can be constantly updated on my terribly exciting life.

Critter Corner:

We met a cow a block away from our house that really, really wanted to be featured in this blog. In fact, she blew her nose and sprayed us with snot  a couple times before David managed to get the photo. I feel her pain, this pregnancy has turned me into a snotty mess as well.


Unlike the cow, I will endeavour (however strong the urge) not to shower strangers with mucus.

Yesterday was conference with Sharath.  He spoke briefly and generally about the sastras of Ashtanga Vinysasa Yoga and he was asked a few of the usual questions: Why is uth pluthi so long? (mind control/suck it up) How many days can I take off on my period? (three) Can I close my eyes? (nope!). Then we watched the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Foundation movie, which I have now seen three times. I was hot and the room smelled like varnish. I like conference, though. Especially, when Sharath chants or discusses the sastras. I can’t help it, I like the rules.

I did my first mysore practice today. Everything felt great, and no one knocked me over during my dropbacks – an irrational fear of mine since I found out I was pregnant. I bound in Supta Kurmasana for the first time in a week (my belly gets in the way of the second leg going into my clumsy dwi pada). Sharath assisted me in backbending and he told me to do my own paschimottanasana instead of giving me a squish.

We visted Shiva for the third time in as many days, hoping to find an apartment. Shiva was a rickshaw driver, who networked his way into being the Godfather of the Shala student gringos. He has a long grey bread, wears bright orange exclusively, talks slowly and methodically, and is permanently stoned. For the past three days, he looks at us and shakes his head, “So many students, everyone wants something different. Hard to keep track.” David suggested he get an agenda. Shiva watched him with big red eyes. Maybe not.

Shiva owns two pugs, Maggie and Apu. Apu enjoys rolling about in his basket and chewing his leash.

pug in a basketAnd eating the fence he is tied to.

pug-eatingI love pugs, but those two make me miss Dolly.

apu the pug

I think we found an apartment today. They are getting a fridge and a stove put in, and the place needs to be cleaned. The landlord is great, his two-year-old son is a muppet head and is in love with David. They have a generator and a roof top patio. We should be settled in by Thursday, but I feel that might be pushing it. We are reserved at the hotel until Saturday just in case. I can’t wait to have a stove again. The kettle miso soup was amazing this morning, but I would love to start making some brown rice.

south indian thali

We had South Indian thali for lunch today, and it didn’t make us comatose for the next 5 hours. it came with beans, great soup and some pickle. I ate the whole thing with my right hand. Yum!

I  arrived in India pantless. Several people had mentioned to me that Old Navy had some kind of mystical maternity section where everything was bizarrely cheap and even non-pregnant ladies felt drawn to the elasticized waistbands. I had a date with Monica to go to Old Navy the day before I left, so I didn’t bother shopping for pants.

Ok. They were cheap. But I’m pretty sure the baby doesn’t live in my legs. Monica tried to make me feel better by promising me she would start designing skinny jeans for pregnant ladies. Monica isn’t a clothing designer, but she can knit scarves, so I am cautiously optimistic.

Anyway, I don’t have pants in India. The problem is India is the land of fantastic fashion for everyone of Indian descent and really really bad fashion choices for any white person who decides to visit. It is hard to explain what happens. After one day, I actually feel drawn to the balloon pajama pants with Bob Marley’s face emblazoned on them in the store next to our hotel. Scary.

our street

me on our street

Here are some pictures of me on our street in Mysore. Luckily, my sister, my mother and my close friend Tazra (who all have impeccable taste) provided me with my entire pregnancy wardrobe.

Yesterday, we settled into our hotel and had fun (kinda) going to 20 different bank machines. We handed over an enormous stack of rupees to Sharath. He seemed bouncy and happy, and it was nice to see him after spending so much time hanging out in Toronto. He asked after Paul and talked about Samosa Chaat from Udupi Palace. You might not know this, but Paul Gold and Samosa Chaat are the top two reasons to visit Toronto.

samosa chaatSamosa Chaat = one samosa mushed up on a plate, covered with Chana masala, red onion and sauce. Not to be eaten on a first date.

Our first practice is on led primary on Sunday. I am feeling excited and a little nervous about getting whacked in the stomach with an errant leg. David said he will wedge me in next to him beside a wall. I did sun salutations today (Saturday sacrilegious!) when I woke up to make sure I didn’t break anything on the plane ride.

I think it might be impossible to like anyone or anything after a traveling on a plane for 18 hours, but our 5-hour stopover in Heathrow was amazing. I had miso soup. Miso soup – in an airport! Joy!

miso in heathrowilovemiso

Today, we got a kettle and I found green onions to make some ghetto miso soup for dinner.

ghetto miso

David has had multiple cups of coffee. We are getting settled.

David post-coffee

Oh, This critter picture is for Mercedes who had to clean up not one, but two puddles of pee and a bunch of dog vomit from the white couch because Dolly was panicking before being rescued from the cat by my father.

horses sneer

This pony is about the size of two Dollys and actually looked up at David to sneer at him when he took the picture. The baby was nicer.


Wish me luck in led primary tomorrow and resisting the charms of Bob Marley pants.