Writing and editing

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.

Practice has been funny all week. I am pretty wobbly in standing, and I nearly brained myself coming up to standing from backbending yesterday. I think I am paying for all the travel and jetlag. It is wonderful to be back at the studio. The energy is very calm and focused. I feel safe. I can’t really imagine having a Yoga Terror Spot chart at AYCT. Next week, I will try adding some backbends from intermediate back on. I have been Miss Primary for the past two months in India, which was fine because of how much my body and practice has changed particularly in the last few weeks.

I have really been enjoying being back in my own kitchen. We have had noodles with white beans and cold rice wraps, homemade soft tortillas with black beans and tofu sour cream, squash and kale soup. I love cooking. I bought a baby-sized head of napa cabbage. it actually hurts a little to pick it up. Mmm…napa.

Our Neighbourhood:

At the end of the block, there is a tattered grey house, split into three apartments. The top two are occupied by a large family. The bottom level has a very quick turnover. The landlord seems incapable of renting the basement apartment to sane individuals. At some point after two months of renting, a motley collection of furniture ends up strewn across the lawn and the old For Rent sign goes up. Today we met our new neighbour. Skinny with a large mustache, he was muttering to himself as he collected his bike.

Neighbour: No! No! Awwww. You fucker! How did you do that?

S: (Should I cross, should I cross?)

N: Little fucker. Hey! You guys have got to help me.


N: (points at a fat grey cat) My cat got out. And you got help me get him.

S: Ahh

N: Oh no. Oh wait. Nope. Never mind. I think he is taking a shit.


N: Wouldn’t want to interrupt. Hehehehe.

David, who didn’t break his stride or even look over during the entire conversation, spent the rest of our walk talking about living on a farm.

When I came up from my third urdhva dhanurasana, I paused. I usually do so I can catch my breath before going back again. I was dead centre in the room. An arms length behind me, a picture of Krishnamacharya and in front of me, a huge picture of Pattabhi Jois.

I had landed today in a spot I had been dreading for sometime now. The backrow marble spot. off the carpet and sort of psychologically out of the room. When we walked in this morning Sharath and Saraswathi were talking in the office. Shrutti, Sharath’s wife, has been learning the assisting ropes and she was looking after the room. Usually, when you walk in and there is a spot, any spot available, you get harangued by the mother/son team “You come! No fear! Come! One more! Go now!” until you are tripping over yourself to squeeze in to whatever spot has come up.

Shrutti looked at me, and said:”There is one spot in the back. Would you like it?” She pointed to the marble.

I paused.

“Maybe you want to wait for a spot on the carpet?”

Oh! Goddess Shrutti of Yoga Spots! I love her! Choosing your own spot – unheard of! Beautiful.

I waited for a few moments. But then I remembered: the rule of KPJAYI is if you pass on a spot you think is bad, you will inevitably end up with a much worse spot. So, I lumbered over to the marble. But the Goddess Shrutti abided, and it was a total Yummy Mummy spot.

And after finishing primary and my three backbends I came up to standing. I paused and took a large inhale. And then I stared at the picture of Pattabhi in front of me. It is decorated with a garland of flowers and is placed on his chair. I think Sharath took the picture, and I think it is this one – but I’m not sure.

The background has been photoshopped black, and there is a celestial quality to it. Those eyes. Those teeth. I stared and stared and stared. I’m not sure how long I was there. Slackjawed.


I register something.

“Sten!” Sharath is looking at me shaking his head.

Am I getting a pose? Am I not supposed to do dropbacks anymore? Where am I?

“You finished?”

Oh, crap I’m standing here like an idiot staring into space. “Uhh. No, I have to do my three.” I say this as I travel back down.


At AYCT, we look out on a cookie shop in a little elf-sized building that is nestled in the back alley. In wintertime, if you look out while it is snowing, you might think we live in gingerbread land.

Cookie shop / Large portrait of the guru: equally transfixing, for different reasons, but transfixing nonetheless.

Somehow, I think sweet-toothed Guruji would understand.

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!

Today’s practice was certainly in an Elevated Yoga Terror zone, but I focused on vinyasa and where ever I could making my inhales match my exhales. I moved slowly through the practice and poured sweat, but I found it easier to watch my thoughts rather than get swept away by them.

After breakfast, we took a tourist visit to Mysore Palace. We splurged and got a tour guide, who was smart and knowledgeable. He had a bit of a limp, so he and I were walking at the same pace. We had to take our shoes off to go inside the palace. I suppose it is someone’s house, but I’ve never taken off my shoes to go into a museum. The tiles were beautiful and felt cool beneath my feet. I wish I could always forgo footwear in places like that – it helps you know a place in a different way.

We weren’t allowed to bring our camera inside the palace. Our camera had to wait for us in a special building, babysat by a particularly indolent fellow.

The original palace was made of wood, but it burnt down in the 19th century and this new lavish palace was built in its place. Half of the palace is used as a tourist site and for ceremonies. The other half is where the royal family still live.

Judging by the look of some of the wiring inside, there might be another fire very soon. The view from the palace of the grounds is stunning. Really, it is the best porch in the world.

The inside is lovely, and the craftsmenship on the Burmese Teak doors and Glaswegian stained glass is gorgeous. But it is all so poorly maintained. Black streaks from ancient handprints stain the corners of the yellowed walls, Venetian mirrored dressers are dusty and dirt lined, the crystal throne from Belguim is vaguely foggy. The guide told me, “The Sistine Chapel, they painted directly on the ceiling. But here they painted on the floor first and THEN attached to the ceiling.” Looking almost two stories up, I can see where the screws have been placed.

We took a few pictures of the two of us, but we haven’t quite mastered the art of getting the building plus two people in the frame at once. Here are our heads blocking the main entrance.

Next, we went into town to pick up rugs and towels for the studio.

The women at the textile store tried to put 80 rugs on one small scale for about 10 minutes, helplessly watching the tower topple over time and time again. Finally one of them pulled out a calculator and weighed the rugs in groups for shipping. I think the heat gets to everyone. I’m not sure how anyone works in this heat. I feel like a zombie.

We tuk-tuked home and collapsed under the fan.

Currently, I am writing this entry with my feet in a bucket of cold water.

Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to go up again. I am going to be a puddle by the end of the week.

Last night I had a dream that Dolly was in my purse. I had to change around my plans because I realized I couldn’t bring her into a store. I pulled her out of my bag and gave her a pat on the head. I remembered every hair, every mark so distinctly. I hope I can keep her with me, so perfectly realized in my memory and that feeling of knowing her doesn’t fade like my dream when I woke up.

I had a happy led primary today, a change from the past few weeks. I think part of the problem is my shifting relationship with the vinyasa. Sharath spoke about vinyasa in conference and it reminded me of the struggles I have been having over the last month. He talked about trying to achieve correct vinyasa during mysore class, and correcting your mistakes during led primary. I find it is easier to fall into that meditative place during mysore when I  have connected with my breath and I feel very present. Led primary has always been harder, at least for me, because I am following the correct count of the teacher which inevitably will differ from my own practice mistakes. I can get pulled out of meditation easily in led class, as soon as I am pulled out of a breath and I start to follow a thought. I suppose the trick is to correct and then refocus quickly.

Now that I am pregnant, my vinyasa is too slow in places, too fast in others as I try to maintain a steady breath. I know my inhales and exhales are not evenly matched, particularly in seated. I find I need to take more breaths than I used to. I notice this when I am swimming – when I put my head underwater for just a few seconds – I resurface spluttering and coughing.

Sharath said that vinyasa and breathing are for mind control. I can see where I am losing my breath during led class and then letting cyclical thoughts take over turning me into a grumpy goose and elicting Yoga Spot Terror charts.

I searched today for the opposite of my Terrifying Cereal Yoga chart, and I tried to think of the most yogic breakfast cereal character. The Sugar Crisp bear is pretty calm, but he is so obsessive with his cereal. Definitely not the bird that is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, or Cap’n Crunch. Tony the Tiger is too competitve. Maybe Papa Smurf in Smurf Berry Crunch?

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They all seem pretty yogic and helpful. Well, except for poor old Grouchy Smurf with his hatred for cows.

Sharath told us he felt mind control from years of asana practice helped Guruji when he fell sick. He felt that Guruji was enlightened for the last days of his life. I wished he had talked more about it, or I had the nerve to ask a question. It is a huge statement. I wonder what those last days were like.

And I sat there, in the shala during conference, dripping sweat. I couldn’t sit still, I was so uncomfortable – fanning myself every few minutes. The baby was jumping inside me. All this new life, I’m just a little ship transporting it into the future. I’m so wrapped up in newness, it strangely makes me feel closer to death. I wonder if the people close to me and I will be afforded the same peaceful death that Guruji worked hard all his life for and that Dolly was given.

Certainly mysteries that cannot be revealed in conference. Back to learning my vinyasa krama.

Cage fight led primary was today. It was pretty low on the Yoga Spot Terror Chart, Perhaps, an Elevated Terror on the stairs, because we were a little late getting to the shala:

And a Low Terror Alert once we were in the shala and I found a great place to practice:

But like most led primary classes I have taken at the shala this trip, I am having trouble enjoying myself – or at the very least relaxing into the teaching. I spent most of my practice in the grouchiest mood. I couldn’t shake it, I was a regular grumpy goose.

This picture is relatively accurate depiction of my general countenance this morning. Actually, the bird and i have a very similar body type. I was sick of led primary and sick of being pregnant. I haven’t felt that rotten during the pregnancy – I suppose I am bound to have some grumpy days. Thankfully, Vikram and Vanessa invited us out to lunch to celebrate David’s birthday and I perked up. Vikram and Vanessa are so much fun. We were chatting so much, the waiter asked us to leave. It was a great lunch and it really turned my day around.

Today was our last Sanskrit class. I wish we could take level 2 this trip. I kept up with my Sanskrit the first year I was back from Mysore, but I lost my book and didn’t even think about it the second year. This time, I am going to make sure I keep up with my studies so that I can continue on my next Indian trip. Lakshmish is a fantastic teacher and a very sweet person.

On my first trip to Mysore, I was obsessed with Sanskrit class. At the end of class, Lakshmish told David and I that the next time we come back we should have a baby. We came back two years later with a baby-in-the-works, which I think is pretty good all things considered. But Lakshmish told us that he hoped for David’s next birthday that we would be pregnant again. Nightmare!

I will miss Lakshmish. I wish he taught in Toronto.