Writing and editing

I like having pregnant people in my class. I like that they have to break all the rules. They get to bring water in, and I always shuffle students around so that they get the cool spot by the door. Often the cold wind created by leaving the door open in the middle of winter makes the room unbearably cold for everyone else – but no one says shit. And I think that is sort of funny and great. I like that they modify and skip poses, and the people beside them are extra paranoid about bumping into them. I also sort of love that the pregnant people breeze through this luxury like it has been that way for them.

Just to be clear, and this is not intended to be a story about how I walked five miles to school everyday in my bare feet, Sharath never gave me a good spot in the room when I was pregnant in Mysore. It vexed me to NO END. Like, WHY are you punishing me by giving me a spot right next to the swinging/baby smashing door of the men’s stinky bathroom? I never asked, but I am sure I rolled my eyes as I waddled over in a huff.

The other day, I was driving on a busy, fast-moving road and a pregnant woman started to jaywalk. She walked slowly, with her eyes fixed on the other side. As she approached the left lane of cars whizzing by, she held out her hand. She held out her hand in a “talk to the hand” fashion. The cars immediately stopped. And she made her way across.

When women tell me that they have 100 children, I sort of understand. I would also like to direct traffic with the wave of my hand, so I know why you would want to have that power over and over again. I suppose the swollen feet, the weird poos and the (yikes) baby you get at the end of it are not as enticing to me. But the ability to shut down rush hour traffic and still be a bit of a huff? Awesome.

Because I write this blog and I teach, and  – well – I have waddled next to the men’s bathroom in Mysore and busted out a practice, I often get asked about what a woman should do in her practice when she gets pregnant. Here is my top three suggestions:

1. Sleep: Oh I know it isn’t a bank that you can just deposit in for a month and then withdraw everything and leave it empty for two (twenty) years. But do you really want to be thinking about how you COULD have slept and didn’t?  I am saying this like I am going to really change a first time mom’s mind about how little she will sleep. But whatever, that is why you have another kid. So you can really sleep less and think about what an idiot you are.

2. Eat Out: Have you ever taken a 6 week-old child to dinner. It is easy! They just sleep. If you made the mistake of not going out to eat while pregnant you have a couple months to do that before you pick your restaurants based on the play area, or for us, whether or not they have a fish tank.

3. Talk on the phone with someone other than your mother: When the phone rings, my son says, “Grandma!” Yup. It be like that.

I have other suggestions, but you will have to come to class. Or read the book I am co-writing – which should be out in umm…. 2060.

Sometimes I feel the urge to say to pregnant ladies, “just you wait.”  But then I remember people saying that to me and wanting to show them the pregnant traffic-halting hand of doom.

Stan: I am so tired!

Some mom: Just you wait. You are going to be so tired.

or

Stan: Practice is hard when you are pregnant,

Some other mom: Just wait until you have a baby. That is really hard.

or

Stan: I can’t believe how little time I have.

Another mom: Just wait, you won’t have any time for the next fifty years!

You know what? I did wait. And you know what else? All you bitches were right. But I am going to do my best to not utter those words. No one wants to hear how much it is going to suck. And really, it mostly doesn’t suck at all. Mothers, I am asking you to bite your tongue when those “just wait’ words come bubbling up. Let’s enjoy how the pregnant people part traffic and students with a wave of their arms.  Smile as they sip water while we have to bind in Marychasana D.

When the baby comes out we will get to say, “Enjoy every minute!”

Two practices to go, before the marathon home starts. Going home is usually a bit easier because you have been camping in Mysore for the last month and are used to cramped quarters and a natural suspicion of any food you are given. Today was led primary for me, but I rush out atfter urdhva danurasana so that David can make it in time for practice. I had a weird sideways spot in the room that was hot with the occasional blast of cold stinky air from the bathroom – so my practice was a bit ridiculous. But I still like practicing to Sharath’s count.

My cold that turned into a sinus infection that ebbed back into a head cold has now evolved into a bronchial hacking cough that actors use in movies to indicate their characters are dying soon. I’m sad to leave my practice here, but if I don’t eat something green soon, I might actually perish.

Holden’s Walk for Farm Animals was a success. We took a rickshaw out to Chamundi HIll and we made it up – okay maybe 50 steps. We didn’t see any monkeys at first, which was totally disconcerting, because usually they are all up in your shit there. Instead the steps were occupied by goat families. When we got down we saw some monkeys hopping around and eating the bugs off each other.  Holden was only groped by one person, before David pushed them off – which is an improvement on our other experiences of tourist destinations in Mysore. Holden also raised almost $1400 for charity, which is awesome, and can be mostly attributed to the greatness of his hair

Last night while reading No Roses For Harry.


Holden: There? (points to a picture of a man in a store)

Stan: That is a man going shopping.

H: There?

S: That is a family going shopping.

H: Shopping. There?

S: That is a lady going shopping.

H: There?

S: I think everyone on the street is doing a bit of shopping.

H: (points to cats) Cat.

S: What do you think the cats are doing?

H: Shopping.

S: What do the cats need to buy at the store?

H: Brushes.

True say, Holdy, true say.

category: Mysore
tags: , ,

Today, David and I have been married for five years. it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but when I think back to the person I was five years ago -it does seem very far away. My life is so much richer now.

These past couple days have been quiet. Going for walks to the lake and visiting he pool.

Holden got mobbed by a bunch of girls from the slum in Gokulum. They kissed his cheeks and played with his rubber snakes.  A man called out to them and told them to behave. They shouted right back at him. They are all limbs, fearless with toothy energy. Next to them, Holden looks so fat and coddled.

The nice thing about being here is the slower you go, the more people will take a step back and slow right down with you. You get the feeling like if you were to stop altogether India might just swallow you up.

I was initially annoyed that Sharath moved the moon day, but now I am thankful. We can put off worrying about led class until tomorrow. In the meantime, the day stretches out like a dreamy field in front of us. We can run across or just sit and watch. It is up to us.

We found the park!

We were there early, and there were no other children in the park so we ended up being mobbed for photographs. We had to leave at a certain point because Holden couldn’t go down the slide because he was being held mid-slide by a group of 15 adults vying for a picture. But we found the park.

And I went to conference!

Conferences have changed a little. At first, there would be very long pauses, and then a series of shorter pauses in between each topic. I liked those pauses, they were so awkward. We stared at Sharath. He stared at us. No one spoke. And then, almost as if startled from a reverie, Sharath would  begin to chant. The pauses are still there, but they are less pregnant.

David noted he is speaking louder, his tone is a bit more forceful. He sits in a chair now, and not on the corner of the stage. The questions today too, were less provocative, more sincere – which is nice. As you can imagine, with all us crazy know-it-alls, there is almost always someone who needs to monopolize the conference in the most tedious way. But right now, thankfully, no one seems to be up for the challenge.

He still flits from topic to topic. Saying some very poignant things that just kind of breeze by you and as you try to unpack one statement, another one, seemingly unrelated,comes floating up away form you. Other stuff, I feel like I have heard every single conference – but like the practice – I can keep hearing them in new ways. Today when he spoke about Japa meditation, it reminded me of the first conference I went to in Goa when he talked about it. I wasn’t sleeping and I used that technique every single night for the rest of the trip to help me sleep.

This afternoon’s new/old insight, creating steadiness in our minds and bodies with vinyasa and in turn using this steadiness to create a calm mind. He spoke later about learning how to manage ourselves and our thoughts and I immediately thought of my emotional and overwrought reaction to Holden’s school. I wonder if sometimes I am just used to feeling rather stable with this practice, that when I am clearly not stable – I imagine something is dreadfully, horribly wrong. I mean, the school was nice, it isn’t Syria or anything – just not the right fit perhaps – no reason to feel totally victimized. It is interesting how easily I can be thrown off track. I still have a long way to go, which is fine.

The complete conference notes from a competent person who doesn’t make everything about themselves are here.

categories: baby, Mysore
tags: ,

One of the men who works in the building we are staying at was lamenting to me the dearth of green space in Mysore because of all the expansion and building going on.  I have heard there are a couple of great parks for young children in Mysore, but I never seem to find them. The wide open parks with benches are lovely for Holden to run around in and pick up sticks. There are a few playgrounds in Gokulum that would be fun if you are five, but the structures are unclimbable for Mr. Owl.

Today we took a rickshaw to a park because we were bored.  We saw a big fat rat – which is not really a big deal but mostly funny because there was no one else in the park. It was sort of a the park version of Miss Havisham’s house. The slides levelled off into wild thickets of weeds. Vines wrapped the bones of a castle climbing structure.  There were no stairs, only rungs and the tops of each surfaces were rusted through.

Actually the slides looked fun.

There was a lot of this, “Up! Up! Up!” and then after getting up and looking around for a few seconds, “Down! Down! Down!”

David got eaten alive by mosquitoes, which is not great given the rainy time of year.

The rickshaw driver tried his best to dissuade us and take us to the Rail Museum – which I think costs a dollar to get in. But that bothered my Canadian sense of park entitlement and instead ended up at the big fat rat’s crazy abandoned park. I’m sure I will learn at some point.

Also, before you think I have mad photography skills. David takes all the pictures here which is why a) the pictures are really great and b) David is never in them.

categories: Ashtanga yoga, baby, Mysore
tags: , ,

Tomorrow we leave for India for one month. Well, one month if I don’t throw myself or Holden off the plane on route.

I’m excited. I’m scared. I have that feeling like I have about squash, I like it and I know it is good for me – but I think I could live without it. But gosh it just keeps showing up in my life over and over again. I can’t get away from it.

I am going to blog, so get ready for critter shots, dirty toilets and umm a bit about ashtanga and a LOT about my son.

Speaking of which, someone was showing me pictures of his newborn the other day and I had to physically stop myself from busting out my phone and showing him photos of Holden. Thankfully, on my blog I don’t have to compete with any new babies, so here are a few recents shots:

Here is Holden and I with our new rescue pug. I am trying to get him to be cute and walk the dog.

Holden will only drink his kale or eat it on pizza.

We went to a cemetery, and he had so much fun. Cemeteries are surprisingly awesome places to take your toddler. You just have to pretend to be sombre once in a while when a car passes.

Okay – see you on the other side!

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?

David:…..evolution.

(Darwin be forewarned).

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

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!

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!

In December, we were fussing with the women’s shower as per usual at AYCT and Maureen, our business partner, sent us an email. It was an update from Eddie Stern at AYNY. He was saying the shala had no heat and Maureen wrote, “See, we aren’t the only ones with problems – it could be much worse.”

I totally had a moment of better them than me! Instant karma is so bad ass because AYCT was without heat for last few days. Of course, it happened over the weekend so it was hard to get it fixed quickly. And yes, there was a cold snap in Toronto at the time. I was certainly happy to be toasty warm in India while poor Maureen and the staff and students at the studio tried to deal with it.

Karma has come up a lot for me this trip, I know I must be working through something celestial to have ended up here once again. The first time I came to Mysore, I was so worried about what I wanted to do with my life. I was obsessed and fixated throughout the trip, and sort of hoping someone would pop out while I was drinking a lime soda and say, “Hey! Stan! You are supposed to be……” And when I got back home, I was kinda disappointed not to have any answers. But I did my practice, and in a few months it actually came to me.

I felt really eternally grateful to Ashtanga for that trip. The second time, I felt very certain about my path – but confused about what that would look like with new baby. I guess in someways, I am still confused – but now that the baby is here, I feel more comfortable with that confusion..

This trip, my third, I am wondering why me? How did I get here again? Do I have any free will? Why am I here? I know that my fixation on the details doesn’t really answer any of my questions. And of course, because this is Mysore and the biggest concern is what I am going to eat for lunch, these why questions are the small kind. Not the big WHY AM I HERE, God? type stuff. More like, why am I sitting in the shala vestibule again, only to be spat out in Heathrow airport 4 weeks later.

Maybe it is enough that is it beautiful here.

And we have a chance to read and reflect.