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.
Yesterday, I visited a friend to do some catching up, and we drank tea.
She said: 'I do yoga for some time now. I practice every Wednesday evening, in a small group of only women. It is fun. The teacher herself did yoga in Thailand. I really like this yoga. Afterwards I sleep like a baby. But not in a million years would I get out of bed at 5.30 AM.'
Me: 'Yes, but getting up so early to do your yoga practice is part of the process.'
My friend changed the subject because she realized she had some news on a mutual friend which she had to share, and I was smiling on the inside. Did I really just say this? That it is part of the process? I guess the yoga is kicking in.
I have another friend who does yoga once a week. She practices because she tends to be stiff in her neck and shoulders. I have to prevent myself from yelling THAT IS NOT YOGA! ASANA ALONE IS NOT YOGA!
But yelling at someone is mos def not yoga so I keep quiet.
And what do I know? I know nothing. This morning, the teacher helped me doing the left side of Marichyasana D. Yes, yes, yes, I can do the right side myself now (I take a bow). The teacher sat next to me and was pulling my arm when I looked him in the eye and told him that my right side is so much more stiff than my left side.
'Why is that?' I asked.
'Left is feminine, right is masculine.'
Why didn't I know this? I remembered this woman who gave me a pedicure once, she had told me that my left foot was about my past and my right foot was about my future. Somehow I'd thought this was the case with my whole body: my left side is open and flexible and so is my past, my right side is stiff and so will be my future.
The teacher continued to explain about my left (feminine) side and my right (masculine) side.
'Feminine means intuition, creativity, love, flow, nursing, caring. Masculine stands for having goals, making decisions.'
I immediately started thinking a lot.
'Don't think too much about it,' he said and pulled my arm so I could grab the fingers of my other hand.
Is a house masculine? Is a tree feminine?
This morning, a young woman practiced next to me. She looked cool, she wore army print yoga pants, she had some large tattoos and her practice was strong and advanced. But there was something different about her. I could smell cigarette smoke on her. But since my BF is a smoker, I guessed maybe she lived in a house where people smoke and the smell got in her clothes or in her hair. I just could not imagine someone so deep in the Ashtanga practice being a smoker. I was wrong.
The teacher sat next to her. I could hear them talking.
'May I do you a suggestion?' He asked.
'Yes,' she answered.
They talked a bit about her addiction. About how she wanted to stop for some time now.
'Smoking is not the problem,' the teacher said. 'Smoking unconsciously is.'
This sentence hit me.
After the yoga practice, I rushed home and woke up my BF.
'Smoking is not the problem,' I said to him. 'Smoking unconsciously is.'
He looked at me as if I'd gone mad.
'The next ten cigarettes you are going to smoke, you are going to smoke them consciously. You won't look at your phone while your doing it, you're not making a phone call, you are not drinking coffee, you can only smoke. You will inhale and exhale the smoke very deeply.
You are going to taste the bad flavor at its maximum. You will feel the smoke in your lungs. I think you'll quit after the second cigarette.'
He turned around and fell back asleep.
I took this picture at Zanzibar
My weekend was quiet and easy. I spent it cleaning the house, watching the interesting documentary A Strange Love Affair With Ego ('a day without ambition is just a very nice day') reading Paul Theroux's latest book Moederland (Motherland), watching the movie The Big Sick (which I enjoyed very much, but not as much as the critics did: 'Best romantic comedy in years!') and trying not to eat too much since I took an overload of chocolate the week before and I could feel a bit of a muffin top developing. I did not go to the shala on Sunday because I drank beer on Saturday evening at a party. (Now I want to excuse myself but I don't want to excuse myself). In stead of going to Led Class on Sunday, I took an extra day of rest. On Sunday evening, I had my yoga clothes and mat ready for the next morning and I set my alarm at Wake Up To Go To Practice Time: 5.30 AM.
Getting up was easy. I cycled to the studio (in the dark, I think the sun rises around seven these days) and entered the shala were I only saw five people practicing. I lay my mat next to my yoga friend E. He was already doing Parivrtta Trikonasana and I began to wonder at what time the studio opens. I felt happy seeing him and I promised myself I would stay happy and relaxed during all of my practice. And so I began.
Was it the couple of beers I had on Saturday?
Was it the two days of rest?
Was it the happy influence of E.?
Was it the Moon?
What was it?
Everything felt great. My body was flexible. The teacher helped my folded hands in Prasarita Padottanasana C to touch the ground. It did not hurt. It felt great, I knew I could totally rely on the teacher. In Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana he helped me very gently and I could breath calmly. And in Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana he pushed me down, slowly but firm and my hips did not complain. I continued to breath deep and slow and I felt like I could almost relax in this pose.
Laying in Savasana I almost exploded with gratefulness and satisfaction. Practicing yoga today felt just perfect.