It's Saturday and this morning I started with an Ashtanga Led Class, Half Primary Series. We were with a group of ten people, one man from Iran and the rest Dutch women. As he always does, the teacher sat down with us before Class and shared some thoughts about yoga. He is reading The Yoga Sutras (which at one point I have to start doing also) and he likes to share what he's read and experienced. Today he talked about the parallels between the practice and your life. For instance, if you notice that you are pushing yourself in your practice, it is very likely that you are pushing yourself in your life too. Or if have much doubts or hesitations in your practice (and you didn't had those the week before), it is worth considering what your are doubting in your life of the mat.
Then we started doing the asanas. The teacher was a bit off today, he forgot Purvattanasana, his counting of the breaths was alternately fast and slow, he seemed distracted, and when we did Navasana, he wanted everybody to give their very best (for a moment I thought that he was like a drilling instructor).
After Class I asked him how he was doing. He looked at me and asked why I asked. I told him I was a bit worried about him.
'Was it that obvious?' he asked.
'Yes,' I said. 'Something is going on, I can feel it.'
'You are right,' he answered. 'I have an injury. I am pissed of about it.'
'What happened?' I asked.
He took a deep breath.
'I am so very careful with my body since I am teaching yoga. This is my job, you know.'
'I won't go skiing anymore, just because I don't want to take so much risks. But the day before yesterday, this stupid accident happened. I was at the playground with my son and we were a bit wild at the trampoline. That's all. But I have a bruised rib now.'
'That must be very painful.'
'It is. When I am in Down Dog it hurts like hell.'
'Are you angry?'
'Yes, at myself.'
There it is. Life. Stupid things happen, even if you are very careful. You have no control. You have to accept that you don't have any control. I think it is very difficult to accept that.
I had coffee and carrot cake with my BF and I read a section of a newspaper. I don't follow the news but Saturday's newspaper has a lot of background stories which I like. After that I went to the store. I found a recipe of 'spicy potatoes and spinach' which I want to make this evening and it needs Garam Masala in it. Luckily I found it. I think the food will be delicious. Here is the recipe (at least this is how I am going to make it:
We, the Dutch people, have a King and on his birthday, April 27, we party in the streets. Today I am hung over and feeling lazy and slow, but I am happy since I had such a fun day yesterday, meeting fun people (even some fellow yogi's), drinking beer, eating crap food and screaming over the loud house music.
April, 26 and it is Moon Day. Like yesterday, I took a Power Yoga Class. This one was immediately after work, at 5.30. I had to rush to be on time and it took me at least ten minutes to let go of the work vibe I had around me.
Before starting, the teacher talked a bit about Moon Day, about the phenomenon of the new moon. I was somewhat surprised as this was an advanced class but there were still some students who looked as they were Earth People and no one had ever told them something else is out there.
New Moon is about low energy, about taking rest and to be more introspective. The asanas we did were not easy, but the teacher said we had to watch ourselves, to take our practice slow and mindful. She had put some music on and this was not yoga music. At some point I heard Eddie Vedder. I noticed myself listening to the music and trying to find out which song it was. I didn't recognize it. To me as a Yogi the best song of Eddie Vedder is of course Just Breathe.
Still no Mysore Class for me today because my membership will start on May 1. No worries, I took a Power Yoga Class this evening. It was like Ashtanga, but with less asanas, more meditation and even music. That sometimes takes my concentration of my breath, but on the other hand it sometimes gets me more into the flow. We were with only four people and it was nice and warm in the shala. The teacher gave a nice tip on jumping forward: make sure that when you jump forward, you think UP. That is UP with your hips. I have to remember that. It helps.
During class I also remembered what Louise Hay (she is the author of numerous self help books, mostly about healing yourself. She works with affirmations) wrote about what to do when you feel nervous, anxious, not relaxed, not at ease. During the day I experienced a lot of tension caused by work and deadlines and that made me feel nervous and anxious. The feeling and thoughts were during Class also still a bit present. I remembered the affirmation that goes with these emotions. Say to yourself: I am Safe. It did it, every time I felt worried. I think it helped.
I took this picture at a park near my house
I heard the church bells at midnight, being wide awake. No sleep till Brooklyn. At 1.30 in the morning I still hadn't slept a minute and I decided to leave my bed to give the sofa a try.
I've had a period in my life where I could not sleeps for several weeks in a row (my BF had left me. I was heartbroken and stressed out about everything. And at night I just couldn't sleep). At one point I thought I was going crazy due to the lack of sleep and I started reading about insomnia and sleeping disorders. I read the same advice a hundred times: Don't drink coffee or alcohol in the evening, make sure your room is fresh, drink some warm milk, be sure you are relaxed (..), etc. I already knew all this and it didn't help one bit. I noticed I was getting scared of my bedroom, since this was the place where I lay wide awake at night, tossing and turning and being sad and worrying about my future. I shared my problem with a colleague. She said I could get rid of my insomnia if I'd change rooms. She offered me her bedroom since she was going on a holiday and needed someone to look after her cats. She was right. In this new environment I felt like I was miles away from my problems, and I could relax. In her bed I could finally sleep well. It gave me back my trust in my ability to sleep.
So now, whenever I have problems sleeping (even after doing some calming Pranayama) I move myself from my bedroom to my living room and crash on the sofa.
This morning at six, I felt like hell. No way that I was going to get up to do my practice. I skipped practice and slept until 7.30. Now it is evening, I am back from work, I had dinner and I am going to do my practice in a bit.
I took this picture in Zanzibar, Tanzania
A lot of veggies in the weekend. And the best thing about them: a dear friend did the cooking! I was a very blessed guest. He stuffed me with yellow rice, baby bok choy, fried tofu, green asparagus and okra (among other things as you can see). Never before did I eat okra. I read that it is known in many English-speaking countries as ladies' fingers..
I decided that Sunday would be my day of rest. Saturday I went to a sweet, gentle and fun yoga class called Vinyasa Flow. Perfect for a Saturday morning. There was room for laughs and we had tea and cookies afterwards. A few weeks ago I was in the same studio for a workshop (an evening with only women where we meditated, practiced some asanas (mostly hip and heart openers) and chanted together). That same day my brother, who had just returned from a trip to Nepal, gave me a present (a little Buddha). I decided to take the Buddha with me to the workshop. After all the meditation and chanting I was completely stress free and in the moment, and when I arrived home I realized I'd forgotten to bring Buddha back home with me. I contacted the teacher and she said she would watch Buddha until I had time to pick it up. Saturday was the day I took him back home with me. But not after taking his picture of the place where he - next to Rumi - had been smiling for a couple of weeks.
Thursday I had an all time feeling of bliss. Maybe I was tired, but I didn't feel it. I was happy, satisfied and proud. At work I felt like I had a secret, that only I knew why I was so terribly happy and that it had nothing to do with a love affair, sipping vodka or taking drugs.
I decided to take the Mysore membership, starting May 1. It is not May yet, so the rest of this month I will take led classes and practice at home. This Friday I practiced at home, in the morning, before work. When I got to Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana I noticed how stiff my right hip was. I think Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana is not an easy pose since I know I am afraid of falling on my head. When my hand touches the ground, all I need to do is focus on my breathing and literally do nothing else. Sometimes I think: 'Oh, this is going well,' then I immediately start to wobble. Just try to think nothing (..) and count the breaths, works for me. My left hip was doing fine, I could easily get into the posture.
Same was in Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana, obviously. Right I could not hold my toe, left I could grap it easily. It got me feeling frustrated and kind of angry at my right side. Until I realized what I was doing. I had to stop myself and say that stiff is not bad. It is my body talking to me. I have to be kind to my body, give it time and space. There is a reason for my right hip to be this stiff. Ashtanga is a journey, a lifetime journey. My right hip is on board.
I took this picture of these 'Perfect People' in NYC
The night before, I went to sleep at ten, feeling very excited and thinking: Tomorrow is going to be the first day of my new life (I know I can get very dramatic over things). When finally the alarm buzzed (5.40), I jumped out of bed like a kid ready to go on an adventurous school trip.
I had a glass of water, did the Neti Pot, brushed my teeth and left my house. It was still dark and a bit cold. I thought: look at me! Outside before six! I took my bike (it is about a five minute ride to the studio) and was amazed by a bright moon, early birds singing and a man jogging. I definitely was not the only person outside at this hour, I even had to stop at a traffic light because cars were racing..
I entered the studio, took my coat and shoes of and was welcomed by the studio manager. She told me where to go. She could not accompany me into the shala since people inside had already started their practice. I thanked her and quietly opened the door of the shala. I saw the teacher (a woman from Spain), sat in padmasana with her eyes closed. Next to her were candles burning. I could hear the sound of the ujjayi breathings of the ten people already doing their practice. I felt insecure about which spot to take. Maybe this was already someone else's spot? I rolled out my mat between two women, the one left of me was doing Surya namaskar A and the woman on my right was doing an asana that was clearly a real advanced one. I tried not to stare at her. First I took some big breaths in Samasthiti to make sure I somehow landed on my mat and then I started my practice.
Soon I got to the point where I realized: it is always you on the mat. The way you are in life, that is how you are on your mat. In my case that means: when I am in a new environment, with new people, I feel insecure and not at ease. I worry about what people will think of me. I want to show what I know, what I can, that I am funny. I want them to like me. And in this situation: I want them to see that I already know some Ashtanga. My stomach was telling me how nervous I was, how much I worried. I had to tell myself to focus on my breathing, on my practice. And luckily I also remembered that everybody in the shala was here for themselves, and not to judge me or my practice.
After some time, the teacher said: Samasthiti, and she started the opening prayer. We all chanted together and I felt like crying. The atmosphere was so peaceful and beautiful and I felt like: I am where I belong.
I took this picture on the island of Ameland, the Netherlands