I woke up and felt very awake. So it had to be almost 5.30 AM. I could not wait to jump out of bed into my yoga pants and race to the shala. I wanted to move, every cell in my body felt energetic. I wanted to do Mary D again on both sides, by myself.
I stood up and grabbed my phone. 3.21 AM.
I crawled on the couch with my pillow and a blanket. I fell back asleep. I dreamed I had some kind of electric wings so I could fly in the air. When the alarm woke me I realised I had never before dreamed about flying. I believe dreaming that you can fly means you are a free thinker. I was getting there!
I got to the studio. In the hallway I met P. He recently got into Ashtanga, before he was only into Jivamukti. At first he thought Ashtanga was not for him, he missed the music and he felt like he had to do everything by himself. But now the Ashtanga virus has caught him and I see him every morning.
'Where were you last week?' He asked.
'I was sick,' I answered. 'The flu.'
'Poor bastard,' he said. 'Thank God you are here now. Enjoy your practice.'
I did. I enjoyed my practice. I was already somewhat stiffer, I could feel my muscles being a bit sore from yesterday's practice. But I still benefited from my little weight loss. I could do Mary D. by myself, on both sides. The teacher saw it and said:
I wanted to tell him my little secret. That it was because of losing a few pounds that suddenly I was able to do this binding pose myself. But I kept it to myself.
Going back to Cali was stuck in my head when I cycled to the studio this morning. I felt happy and thankful that my body would let me return to the practice. It was dark, it rained, it was cold, a car was racing the street but not for a second did these things bother me.
I was going to tell the teacher that I got caught by the flu. He mustn't think that I was absent for a week because of laziness or a beach holiday. But the teacher didn't ask me anything. He just adjusted me with warmth and kindness, as always. And he ran towards me when he saw me struggling with Marichyasana D on the second side, which is my difficult side. But as he approached me, he saw that I could do the binding myself and he gave me a sound:
'Mmmmm.' It sounded positive. And I felt very positive too, to do this binding myself. I know why I was able to do so today: it is due to the weight loss. Mary D, or Mary Diet.
I tried Bhujapidasana.
'Touch the flour with your chin,' the teacher said, while he squeezed my bandhas. I let out a sigh.
'Pul your feet in. Lift up. Up! Up!'
'I cannot do it! I feel weak! I had the flu, you know!' I wanted to shout. But I didn't. Of course I didn't.
Lesson in English. For me and maybe also for you. Because I know I have troubles dealing with this one: to lose - to loose.
I lose weight
I lost weight
I was losing weight
I will lose weight
It is never loose. To loose is something else, it means to release something.
Got it. Back to the weight loss.
I told my friend I had been sick this week, that I suffered from a stomach flu.
'At least now I can fit into my wedding dress.'
She gave me a surprised look. And then laughed. She knows I am not the marrying kind.
I lost some weight this week. Due to the fact that I was throwing up and not eating very much. And this was caused by a stomach flu. Easiest diet in the world, for me. I am not the marrying kind, nor am I the anorexic type. I could never starve myself to death to lose my extra pounds, simply because I like to eat. That's not true. I don't like to eat, I LOVE to eat and I have the appetite of a large American Football player.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the meals I am going to prepare. I don't hate grocery shopping and I read recipes as a hobby. I am not fat, but I think my ideal weight would be a few pounds (let's say... six) less.
I think I've lost three pounds this week. This morning, I got in my yoga pants for the first time this week and I felt it immediately. They turned from a size S into a size M. I lost some of my leg-thighs-butt-fat. It almost turned me on, I felt proud and sexy. So maybe there is a little anorexic person inside of me.
As slowly as possible I started to practice. Surya Namaskara A. I took long, deep breaths and stretched to the max. It felt good, much better than I'd expected. I must admit I was a little scared to go back to the mat. I felt more flexible than before I got sick. My heels easily touched the ground in Down Dog. Immediately I started thinking: either you're strong or you're flexible. If I've somehow overnight gained some magic flexibility, I should have lost my strength. During Surya Namaskara B I had to catch my breath and I had to admit I did not feel very strong. But my body felt nice, with the weight loss and the flexibility in my legs. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana did not ever feel so easy. Not that my chin touched my shin, but I could bind in a second and my hip, even my dark-side-right-hip never felt so open. I was cheering on the inside and I practiced the pose four times for five breaths. So maybe there is something good in being sick, losing weight and staying away from the mat for a week. At least nothing bad happened and I did not lose a pose.
The weight loss is Mos Def an advantage. Without the three pounds, binding is easier, my jumping is lighter, and it will only take a few more weeks before I can fly.
Then Saturday night came. I watched an episode of Ozark and my BF let me try a handful of crisps. They tasted so good that I ate half of the bag.
Forget everything I said earlier this week. It must have been the fever. After posting the blog about having the flu and that life is great even when you are in bed vomiting against the curtains, things got worse. I thought I was already recovering, that I could slowly return to my normal life (meaning: eat a lot, be active, run around the house, annoy my BF, return to the yoga practice asap, hang out with my yoga buddies), but this was not the case. I had a light meal of soup and toast with cheese, but my body thought it had to digest brick stones filled with tiramisu. I had cramps and felt utterly nauseous, up to the point I almost wished I could vomit again so it would be over. But this did not happen. And I am not a DIY puker. I slept terrible, I woke up every hour, feeling hot and then cold and then hungry and then empty and then I had stomach aches again.
Maybe I still have a lesson to learn (would you think?). Something about being patient, about not knowing ANYTHING (even if it regards my own body), about not jumping ahead to soon, about not being able to predict the future, and still about letting go. And let's not forget: how it is a blessing if you are not sick. Feeling healthy and well and having the freedom and the ability to go everywhere you want is worth a million bucks (but what do I know since I am stuck at home in my smelly PJ's with an empty fridge and YouTube has nothing to offer and I am are reading a book that started great but got boring after twenty pages).
I've had a yoga teacher who claimed she never ever got sick since she practiced yoga. But of course, she had to cancel her classes at some point because she got the flu. Whether you're a yogi or not, even if you take the best care of your body and health possible, some viruses are very contagious and since you are not alone in this world, it is almost unpreventable to catch one. It is a reminder to wash your hands properly, but still.. things fly around and before you know it, it is in your system.
I don't know how I ended up with the virus I am dealing with right now. I have the stomach flu. On Saturday morning, I traveled by train. It was only a ten minute ride, but the train had to stop after five, because there was an accident. A person jumped under the train to commit suicide. I did not see this, but the train stopped and we were informed what had happened. After a short while, I saw the police and firemen arriving. I felt very sad about this, about someone taking his/hers own life, that there was a dead body lying under the train I was in. It made me sick to my stomach. After two hours, we were allowed to leave the train and continue our travel by buss. The police officers were very sweet, they repeatedly asked us if we were alright, and that if we wanted to talk about what had happened, we could come to them.
That afternoon I went to my mothers birthday. She turned sixty-five! She had thrown a party in a very nice venue, where our family celebrated her special day. Birthdays in the Netherlands are with a lot of intake, meaning: we sit at a table and in front of us is all this food. We had cake with chocolate or fruit and whipped cream, coffee, snacks such as cheese, chips, nuts, sausages and olives, we drank beer, wine or soda and when the party was over, everybody (except me..) finished with.. coffee. So we ate a lot of different things, all together. Thinking about all of this now, makes me nauseous.
On Sunday, I still felt sad about the suicide-train-case of Saturday. I decided to skip my Mysore Led Class in the morning, because I wanted to be my myself, not with other people and do a bit of relaxing, listen to sad music and do some contemplating (and lots of crying). In the early evening, my BF and I decided to go get us some take away food (Indonesian), even though I was not very hungry (and I am always hungry. Especially when someone else does the cooking). I ate a plate of good food, watched a documentary and went to sleep.
The alarm woke me at 5.30 AM and I got up to get dressed so I could go to Mysore Class. But I was wrong. My stomach cramped and I almost fainted at the bathroom, I had cold sweat running from my body and I had to lay myself down at the couch. I grabbed a blanket (in the Netherlands we all keep blankets at our couches since we like to curl up under them while watching a movie) and fell asleep for an hour. When I woke up again, I thought: hmmm, I am still tired. But hey, I need to go to work. So I took a shower, stuffed up a sandwich in my mouth which took me forever and got to work. Three hours later, I was back home. My BF, who was working from home, looked surprised.
'I am sick,' I said with a little voice. 'I think I need to lay down.'
I put on my PJ's, grabbed more blankets and fell asleep on the couch. I woke up by feeling very sick and after some time of laying there very nauseous, I had to throw up. It was years ago this happened to me, I am quite terrified of vomiting, but this time, it just had to come out. And guess what: after that, I felt better immediately (until the nausea came back and I had to throw up again. This repeated itself a couple of times and then I knew: now it is done with. I felt empty but not bad). I showered, put on fresh PJ's, and made myself a bed on the couch (I did not wanted my BF to get infected so I stayed away from our bed).
Now it is Wednesday and I am still recovering; I still cannot eat what I normally do, I don't like tea anymore, all of a sudden I drink the real deal all sugary Coca Cola since it is the only thing my stomach wants right now. I had my BF go to the store in the evening to buy the cola since I was craving it like a pregnant woman in need for gherkins.
I do a teeny tiny bit of household activities, but most of the time I am sitting or laying or napping and watching Friends. I never saw all the final episodes, and I heard myself scream at my BF: 'Ross and Rachel are having a baby!'
E., my yoga friend, texted me. He had missed me at Mysore Class and he wondered where my lazy ass was about. I let him know that I was sick and that I was worried about my practice: I would not be able to go to class for a week or sow. Now what?! All the asanas I was going to lose (bye bye Mary D!), all the strength I would be missing.. I would have to start all over again. He answered me to go back to doing at least a few Surya Namaskars when I felt ready.
I reminded myself of the throwing up (sorry about bringing this back up again..) and that it really is practice of letting go. Literally. I can let go. Let go of my old job, let go of my sadness because of the suicide case, let go of my worries about my practice (because why would I worry? I am not going to win a gold Ashtanga medal.). There is no rush. What is important is to give my body the rest it wants and needs. It is going to be okay. There is nothing to worry about. Especially not regarding the Ashtanga. It is a practice. When my body is feeling well again, I go back to the studio and practice again. Until that, I am going to be as comfortable as possible in my PJ's, under a blanket, on the couch, watching Friends and drinking cola. Becoming stiff and less strong. So what. Even when having the flu, life is good.
I would quit my corporate job to clean hotel rooms and teach yoga.
Because I'd rather clean hotel rooms, babysit, deliver pizza's or wait tables than I would stay at my corporate job where my soul is being sold to the devil and my body is becoming a wreck because I sit on my @ss all day staring at Excel sheets on a computer screen, drink coffee, stand in line to get burned-out because of the stress load, and gossip about colleagues. In this corporate job my boss thinks he pays me more than enough so I cannot complain when I am being yelled at by him, or by his grumpy clients. I have to wear expensive business clothes and shoes which I don't actually like and every day I eat an unhealthy lunch while talking work talk. On Friday I have to start drinking beer and wine in the afternoon to forget all the misery. After three beers I feel drunk and I let my colleague touch me because I am afraid to say no. (Yes I exaggerated, but all these things happened. Luckily not all in the same week)
I did not wanted to be part of that community anymore. No more. Enough is enough. I did it for twenty years. It brought me in the position to buy a house, to take care of myself, to be sort of independent, and now it is time to move on. I have the house, it is small but it is perfect, I don't need a car, I don't need expensive clothes or shoes, I don't need luxury vacations.
I got an email. Of the owner of my yoga studio. The best place in town, where I spend all my mornings from 6 till 7.30 AM. She needs help at the office and she thinks I am perfect for the job. I think so too! I can quit my corporate job and go work at the yoga studio in my yoga pants, drinking ginger tea without someone is rolling their eyes at me and work with people who are interested in more than only making more and more money.
I thank the entire universe for listening to me. To listen when I was fed up about my corporate job and to give me this beautiful chance. But most of all I thank myself, for becoming who I am and for making a choice. Through the practice of yoga I can say who I am and what I really want. I am going to work in the yoga world. In my opinion the best world.
I said it out loud. My former colleague listened to it and so did probably the entire universe. The question she asked was:
'How is your job?'
'Mwoah. It is okay.'
Some time ago, I would have said: 'Great! Good! We work hard but at the same time we have fun. I am so thankful for this job. It drives me, it makes me feel useful, I feel satisfied at the end of the day. I would pay to do this work.'
That was no longer the case. What happened? The work did not change. I did.
Ashtanga peeled a layer off of me. A mask. A lie, maybe. I had become someone I did not wanted to be. As a kid I never dreamed of working as a paralegal. It felt more and more painful to go to the office and to pretend that I cared about what I did during the day. That I looked the way I wanted to look. That I was just as eager as the rest of us to make lots of money and to spend it on the same useless and overpriced stuff.
All day I am surrounded by files and cases which scream the words Mortgage, Stocks, Real Estate, Private Company, etc. It had occurred to me that I was working a corporate job. A Corporate Job. Me! When did this happen? But I did it already for years and years.
I copied a line from someones blog. It said:
I quit my corporate job to serve tables and teach yoga
I read this line and I understood it so very much and it got me jealous. Jealousy is a good indicator to realize what you want in your life. If you feel really envious about someone, ask yourself why this is. In my case it is because that other person is doing, having, or wearing something that I would want for myself. I am not jealous of high powered women who wear business suits, drive a large BMW and work 60 hours a week in a corporate job, even though they are making lots of money. They have the stress and responsibilities I have had, and I would not want them anymore. In my life those things are not important.
I felt I was going in the same direction: to quite my corporate job to clean hotel rooms. I wanted an honest job. I believed I could do it, that Ashtanga had made my life as simple as possible. Ashtanga makes me feel satisfied and happy and comfortable in my own skin. I don't need expensive things (anymore). I don't want to work to be able to afford a car or a big house. My needs are pretty basic now. As long as I have my practice, my house, food on the table, money to pay the bills, I will be fine. I believe in myself. I believe I can live a happy life the way I want to live it, even if I am surrounded by people who are living large.
I believe in myself and I am willing to change my life.
Just as I really started to feel this way, I got an important email.
This morning, I went to Sunday Led Class. Yes, my teacher had told us Mysore kids many times already that the once-a-week-Led-Class is an important part of the Mysore method and I had listened to it very carefully.
Still, it is not easy to practice on Sunday. From Monday through Friday is less difficult; I set the alarm at 5.30 AM, get up, go to practice, return home, eat breakfast and make myself ready to go to the office. There are hardly any distractions.
But in the weekend, my days are different. More free. Saturday is a rest day so I don't practice. And sometimes, I like to go to a party on Saturday evening. Then I'll be in bed late and sometimes I have had alcohol. In that case it is not so easy to go to Led Class at 8.30 AM with an empty stomach. Because yes, I always practice on an empty stomach, whether my practice starts at 6 AM or at 8.30 AM.
I could catch my fingers myself on the right side of Mary D. On the left side the teacher had to help me. He said: 'Only a few millimeters and you can do it yourself. Very good. I believe in you.'
The teacher says he believes in me, just as I am starting to believe a great deal in myself.
For some time now, I feel more and more fed up with my career, with the office, with my work environment. It no longer seems to fit me. I am changed; I believe the Ashtanga method is kicking in and it is transforming me. I now know better who I am, and what I want and what I don't want. And I've realized and felt in every bone in my body that I don't want to work in an environment where making more and more money is the main concern. And that I have to work on files and cases which don't have my interest.
Last week I met a former colleague. She asked how I was doing and if I still liked my job. I heard myself mumble and giving her a vague 'Oh well, you know, it's just work, it is not bad.' She accused me of not being enthusiastic enough about my job. I could not disagree.
'What are going to do about it?' She asked.
To be continued..
On Sunday it did not go to Led Class. This was hard because I could hear the teacher repeat in the back of my head: Sunday is not a day off! Led Class on Sunday is an important part of the Mysore method! Without the Sunday Led Class your practice is not complete!
But still, I did not go. It was my brothers' birthday. And he was running the Amsterdam Marathon. Or at least, half of it. This is still 21.1 km.
My family and me, we took the train to Amsterdam at 10 AM and we arrived in Amsterdam one and a half hour later. We arrived together with at least half of the Netherlands. I don't think I've ever seen so many people in one area. I heard that 37,000 runners were registered. No less than 13,000 people ran the full marathon (over 42 km). It blew me away.
As my brother had started his half marathon, I took a seat in the Olympic Stadium where the runners finished and got their well deserved applause and medal. Among the crowd I heard a lot of different languages; apparently the Amsterdam Marathon attracts people from all over the world. I watched the runners finish, some more dead than alive. I saw people of different ages and weight. Some did not even look fit, but still they had managed to finish this race.
I thought about running a marathon. If all these people can do it, I should be able to do it too. It would take a lot of time and energy and it would take all the discipline in the world, but I felt sure that if all these people could do it, so could I.
But then what? Why run a marathon? To prove you can? To show the world you did it?
It is a thing with an end. You train and you train and then you run the distance and hopefully you'll finish and that is that. You go home with a medal and a great feeling. And the next day you'll have to come up with a new idea. So no. I am going to stick with Ashtanga, even though I will never get an Ashtanga medal and I won't get any applause. It's never match day and there are no championships. If I am lucky, my teacher will give me a Very Good, or a Beautiful or a Do It Again! or a Hold It For Ten Breaths, Slow Ones! But who cares. It Is A Practice, not a competition, and that is a good thing. Every day I practice, I feel something. I feel blessed, thankful, painful, happy and/or frustrated. Every day I practice I become more flexible and strong, physically and mentally. And that's a great thing. No medal beats the feeling a back bend is giving you.
I never like it when a book starts with a dream. Or if it turns out a weird scene in the movie I am watching turns out to be a fantasy. Nevertheless, I had a dream last night (or maybe I better say this morning before I woke up at 5.30 AM) which I must write down.
I was sitting in a train, with my BF. I don't know where we were going (destiny unknown), but I knew it would be a long long long ride. We would be at the train for many hours, maybe days. Suddenly the atmosphere in the train changed. The other passengers became rude and violent. I did not feel safe. I did not know what to do. My BF reacted: he took out a knife and started threatening some aggressive passengers. Then the train stopped, and although we did not had to leave the train at that moment, we did. We got out the train and when we were safe at the station of God knows where, I felt that I didn't know where I was but that I'd rather felt that way than going straight to my destiny and not feeling fine along the ride.
For me it was clear what this dream was about: I have a choice. If my plan is to go to A, but on my way to A there are too many (or unexpected) bumps, I can change this plan. I don't have to stick to my original plan.
I went to law school to be able to work at a legal office. I do that for many years now. But I can leave this train if I want to. I know I have changed. I think Ashtanga took me by the hand to make these changes. Along the ride I realized more and more that the people I work with and the people I work for are no longer the people I want to work with and want to work for. I think in my dream I was with my BF on the train because he is already showing me the way. In my dream he reacted on the hostile situation as to where I was not. He does this in real life too: he takes control of his situation. He doesn't work with or for people if they don't click.