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I often need parenting advice. Thankfully, I go to the studio everyday and there I can ask any number of sweet, sensible moms and dads for their two cents. Because we now live in little isolated family units, and since I can’t just go ask the village elder when I have a problem that I don’t want to email my sister about, I turn to the interweb to guide me. I am happy for the amazing resource that is the world wide web, but it does sort-of concern me for two reasons:

1. If I am raising my child through internet advice, that means other people are certainly doing the same and I’m not sure what that means for our kids because…

2. The interweb is full of crazies.

Recently, I googled “three year old won’t wash hair” because Holden screams and yells and generally freaks out whenever he gets his hair washed. We start out okay, until Holden gets worked up about a drop of water on his forehead. And then, without fail the whole thing ends in a big pile of shampoo, water, and tears. We reached a low point last month, when fed up after several months of the aforementioned screaming, I told him that his hair would have to be cut off if he couldn’t wash it without starting WWIII every week. That was a shitty thing to say, and it made him cry and freak out more. After I put him to bed that night I decided I had officially reached the end of my parenting skills on that particular issue. So I turned to the bastion of good parenting, Google.

There are always three distinct parenting camps on those discussion boards. There are the Yahoo Answers type, that generally favour corporal punishment, the BabyCenter moms that have week-long cutesy project ideas, and then the far-out radical parenting sites.

The three pieces of advice I gleaned from the discussion boards:

1. Smack your child so he knows who is in charge. (Yahoo Answers)

2. Buy foamy stars and beautiful shapes and stick them to the ceiling above your sink. Buy an insert to wash your child’s hair beauty parlour style in the sink. Make up nice songs and a short musical about hair washing. Build the sets and cast your pets in the production. Perform on the street for change and then use that money to take a course on towel making. Make the most beautiful soft towel and present it to your child in a candlelit ceremony at his favourite toy store. (babycenter)

3. My child hasn’t taken a bath in over a year. I forced him to wash once a year ago, and he cried. That night I lay on the kitchen floor and sobbed in the darkness for hours because I knew I had broken his trust forever. I vowed then to never force him to wash his hair. I can see that it is dirty and he has crusty spots on his scalp. Sometimes I gently suggest a bath and he says “NO BATH” I am sure he will take a bath one day. I know yours will too! (radical unschooling site)

Okay, so I exaggerated a little with number 2, but 1 and 3 are almost word for word suggestions by ACTUAL PARENTS who posted their opinions because they think they are doing right by their kids. That night in bed, I told David what I had read. We both lay awake feeling worried for our future.

The next morning, I understood something – something I felt I had known all along but it took some creepy parents to make it clear: Parenting is about being the fucking adult. All the time. Even when you want to cry in the kitchen for hours or hit someone or whatever crazy thing you think might be okay at the time but actually totally isn’t. You have to take a step back and take a breath and say, “Ok, self. I am screwing this up. It is my job to fix it.” And that is a really hard thing to do. At least for me because I like to blame other people for my problems. But this parenting stuff, this is my problem, my joy, my heartache. I alone have to answer for my actions or inaction.

That day, I asked Holden if he didn’t like getting water in his eyes. He said he didn’t. So, David held a towel over his eyes tightly while I washed his hair. Then we chanted his name for five minutes because he didn’t freak out. When he got out of the bath, he said he wanted to cut his hair. Voila! Stanny and David, 1. Google Parenting, 0.

Just so you don’t think I waste all my time googling parenting questions, today I googled historical photos of Bowood and Lawrence, where the studio is located in Toronto. I found this on the Toronto Public Library’s site.

It is St. Leonard’s Anglican church, it was moved further south. But the picture, and the implicit tumbleweeds, it made me think that our funny small location might be a little point of focus. And I was really happy. Amazing, no?

I also recently googled “What Girls Character Are You?” And I completed three different quizes which all came up with the EXACT same answer. Which means it is Poll Time!

When I was a little girl, I thought every farmer had a couple pigs, a couple cows and some chickens. And then one day while everyone was minding their own business on the farm, the farmer (always a man?) would come out and shoot one of the pigs – Charlotte’s Web style – and then we would have bacon the next day at our house. I loved bacon, but I thought that arrangement was horribly unfair for he pig. My dad egged me on a little and on my 8th birthday I stopped eating meat. I started up again years later, but for a while I ate chip hotdogs at birthday parties and picked the pepperoni off my pizza.

Now I know that we don’t raise meat that way – or at least we don’t raise meat that way anymore. My whole family, except for the cat is vegan and I try to do whatever I can to support vegan organizations and spread the word about how awesome it is being vegan. You do feel so much better. Since I became a mom I had to really think about my choices and if they were safe for my baby. So far, Holden has been a very healthy guy and we are lucky that he has such a big appetite. As a mom, I feel kind of emotional about what breeding food mammals have to go through in a factory farm. Mercedes and Holden are my everything, and it is difficult to think of the horrific nightmare of being constantly pregnant and having your babies taken away over and over again to be eventually killed.

Anyway, I get to keep my baby, so my baby is walking for all the animals who don’t. On September 29th, while his sister and the AYCT team are walking for farm animals in Toronto,  Holdy will be walking on Chamundi Hill. Maybe not all the way up, but certainly up enough to get freaked out by the monkeys (okay that is step number one).

All the proceeds go to Farm Sanctuary. If you donate, I promise to send you a picture of Holden in his official Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals tee with the monkeys. He is very proud of his t-shirt which came in the mail for him and is for a child 10x bigger. It has a picture of a pig on it, which Holden assures me is actually a dinosaur. So, maybe he will be walking for dinosaurs, I don’t have the heart to tell him that it is a lost cause.

Here is the link to his donation page, with a super cute picture of him. Totally worth the clickity click.

Here is a picture of Holden at Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York this year, petting a goat:

And just a short drive from Farm Sanctuary is a place to get vegan ice cream. it was a big day.

Many years ago,. after complaining about how sore I was after practicing yoga, someone told me that actually everyone in the world is sore – they just don’t know it. Yoga reveals pain.

That pain seems to come and go, and lately I have been in a sore place in my practice.. Everything hurts, if I push into anything it hurts more – I’m just a little delicate.

My friend Yuka recently transformed her body. David asked her what she was doing, and she mentioned that she was getting treatments from a shiatsu master from Japan. So, David asked for an appointment.

Enter Taka. I decided Taka is going to solve all of my problems, mainly my hunchback, but also my shoulder, my lower back, my neck, my hamstrings, and my general sense of self worth. After David had a great session with him, I booked Taka for weekly appointments.

Taka looks like he would belong at my nine-year-old nephew’s birthday party, but he is apparently 30.  He has very sharp pointy elbows that he digs into my neck. He tells me every session that I look tired, or that it seems like I need more sleep. This is equal parts depressing (OMG I look tired) and satisfying (once I sleep everything will be better).

Every session, he beats the shit out of me. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry or punch him in the face. Two sessions ago, I didn’t want run screaming from the room  – it was still painful but manageable. I thought that maybe I was getting really tough. But then Taka told me that he was just trying to relax me.

Taka has been trying to get me to open my chest and take the strong arch out of my lower spine to straighten out my posture. He gave me an exercise to practice whenever I can, which involves pushing my chest forward and pulling my shoulders back repeatedly. Do you remember the little dance that went with the chant, “We must, we must, we must increase our bust.”? Well, it is exactly like that. So, I look really awesome doing that in the car, in the grocery line, watching tv. Taka says his treatments are only effective with that exercise to open my back. Fantastic.

He does this thing where he stretches out my back by pulling on my hips in one direction and pushing my rib cage in the other. You know the rack – that torture device where they pulled the prisoner by the arms and legs. I can now relate. Today as I was listening to the sounds of my ribs snapping, Taka looked up with a sunny expression.

Taka: I saw my first Toronto snow yesterday!

And if all my ribs weren’t broken, I might have run from the room screaming, cried, laughed, or punched him in the face. .

Today, after my session I ran to pick up some food for dinner. At I waited for my debit card to be approved, I put my hands on my back and stretched out my chest. The cashier looked at me.

Cashier: Are you sore?

Stan; Oh, well …(At this point my mind starts racing. How do I explain that I just had a massage and my body is killing me without sounding like an ass?)

Cashier: Are you a ballerina?

Stan. Uhhhh

Cashier: Either that or you do yoga. I can tell by your posture.

Taka deserves a raise.

In other news:

I gave birth to the reincarnation of Kurt Cobain.

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.

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We went to New York in April. We stayed in a room the size of my laundry basket. I thought that would be crummy, but I love my family so much – it was an adventure.

We went to Central Park

We ate a lot of food prepared by disgruntled Whole Foods workers. We also ate at Souen.

We had dinner with Momo, Alice, Devora, Nancy and Aileen. Holden and I had coffee with our American friends Tova and  LiAsh. Catching up was awesome. Here is a picture of Alice so I can invade her privacy.

Holden saw some art.

Often when we travel, we tend to look like refugees.

We have no business being in New York, really. I loved it, but it made happy to live in Toronto where I can own a home and I don’t have to be a gajillionaire.

Now we are home, and Holden is almost walking and very fond of chickens.

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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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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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.

We made it. Bonus: at no point did I want to throw the baby out the window. Holden was great, he didn’t cry – he just stayed awake for most of the 24 hour journey. We managed to keep him up yesterday afternoon and last night he had some trouble staying down – but he slept (with a few breaks for food and fussing) from 6p – 4a. I know to most normal people that sounds crazy. But in yoga-land that is perfect baby schedule.

We registered with Sharath. It was lovely to see him – he seems well rested and in a great space. The room is very calm this trip – a huge change from last year. The addition of the assistants is nice, and one of them assisted me in final backbends. Practice was very healing, I could feel my hamstring relax in the heat. I got both of my feet behind my head and off the floor in supta kurmasana, because I was paranoid Sharath was looking at me. That hasn’t happened since I was about 5 months pregnant. Woot.

Here we are at Heathrow airport eating the most unfortunately named, “Hip and Healthy” meal.

Last year we took this photo in the same spot. I was 5 months pregnant and I had time to do things like brush my hair and eat uninterrupted meals.

I miss brushing my hair and being able to watch 15 movies on the flight to India. I know everyone talks about how your life changes and how hard it is to have a baby/toddler/teenager. And it is hard and really not at all glamorous. But babies make life way more fun. I can brush my hair again in 15 years.

Landing in Bangalore, David turned to me and said, ‘So, this is your third trip to India.” How did that happen? I mean, I’d really like to see Morocco, Australia, or Japan. I haven’t been to Chicago, but I’ve been to dusty old Mysore three times.

Even just at the airport, I am reminded of what a fantastically different sensibility there is here. I stared at this ad asking for consumer input into ameliorating Banglalore airport for 15 minutes waiting for my luggage.

The sense of humour is so sweet, devoid of irony – but it makes my Canadian mind twitch. Do they actually want serious suggestions or is this just a joke? Because a change room for humans might be a better start. Or, I don’t know, clean drinking water.

And then all the little things about the shala and being in Mysore flood back. The shala clocks that are inexplicably 15 minutes fast, the barefoot police officers, and the animals sprawled across the roads narrowly avoiding calamity over and over again.

But there is no subterfuge. Everything is just how it is here. And that is strangely relaxing.

By contrast, on the British Airways flight, David and I were laughing at the different names for business class travel – “Gold members, Silver members, Safire members and Emerald members”. Honestly, Emerald members? Is an 8-year-old boy running BA? In India, it is just people who have paid more money. That’s it. You can’t be in this line/chair/lounge. You have not paid enough.

Don’t get me wrong – the grossly unfair divisions between have and have not here are deeply troubling. But all that inherently middle-class yoga practicing, air travel honesty is pretty funny.

Led class tomorrow. I am so glad I’m not pregnant.

I love vegan thanksgiving.

I can’t spend another moment in my kitchen and I have a food hangover which means I have to eat constantly to feel better. Woot! I am thankful for all the crazy indulgences!

Did you know Holden got a job? Yep. He is a bouncer. Look out.

Practice Notes

So, this is supposed to be a yoga blog, right? But all that blah blah blah about yoga gets kinda dry. Really an ashtanga blog can be summed up  with the following complaints: Oi – the shoulder! Backbending –  tricky stuff! Tired! Sometimes tears.

Maybe I should start a new blog called “Sometimes Tears” and that shit I would update everyday with a rotation of of the above complaints. And the title works for tears you get in your hamstrings and crying tears. Genius.

New this week: Holden Owl has a bedtime! This was so easy to start doing – I can’t believe it has taken me so long it get on board and he is such a cheery boy with an extra hour or so of sleep. I get more time for writing. And you will get to read more about my practice. Everybody wins. Well, except for you!

Here’s a little moment of interconnectedness. David just looked over and noticed I was writing a blog and he complained, “You never write about yoga anymore. You just write about the baby.” So, I’ll put it to a poll.