28 Apr 2012

Daily Rhythm

Read one line in a book (The End of Illness - Dr. David B. Agur) on the airplane to India that totally changed my perspective on an issue I'd been struggling with for a long time.


"Life needn't be monotonous and boring, but when it's rhythmic and imbued with predictability the body responds positively"

Not sure why this line caught my attention so, perhaps because I had so many negative assoications with the word routine.  Connotations of boredom, lack of creativity, and spontaneity.  On the other hand, I had also been noticing how my random schedule was draining my reserves, leaving no energy for creation.  Practice was becoming a chore I had to cram into my schedule somewhere.  Working late, eating late. Waking, practising, and feeding at random times.  Energy levels, circadian rhythms, gone haywire. Relying on coffee and sugar for energy when ebbing low.

When I started a regular daily asana practice I was in a regular 9-5 job. Practising everyday came easily with such routine, yet my job was so mundane and slow it was eating away at my spirit. Now I love all my little jobs. I have a lovely collection of work, I'm happy to be doing.  But it is random.


Rhythmic days on the other hand sound beautiful, like music, or the sound of waves.  Like a pattern that is fun to follow.  In India I always fall into a very predictable rhythm, and feel great for it.  Early morning practice, regular meals, early nights and an abundance of energy.There is still room for spontaneity in between the rhythm markers.  Of course, it helps that there is no work to get in the way.

Now, the challenge, was to bring this sense of rhythm, that my body and mind appreciates so deeply, to my erratic life back home.

I sat down, looked at my seemingly chaotic schedule and carved out a routine. Set a wake up time I could keep everyday, while getting just enough sleep and having time to practice before a breakfast time I could also, more or less, stick to everyday.

It's not just a daily practice that is key to Ashtanga yoga, but a daily rhythm which starts off with some sacred space. It's nothing new, but I'd let this slip in the craziness of self-employment.

The first week was tough, a combination of getting back to work after a month off, and breaking old habits.  With new determination I stuck to my simple rules of times to wake-up,  practice, eat, and sleep.

Finished the third week now. It hasn't been easy.  But I am sticking with it. It is working wonders.  It feels great.  Settled.  Simple.  Loving it. 

18 Apr 2012

Rolf and Marci

Still in the process of digesting all that I learnt whilst in Goa.  Takes a while for things to sink in, to experiment, to make the experience mine.   I felt like I was on a information gathering mission, to collect, bring back, lots of homework to keep me going for a while.  Mission accomplished.

So Rolf and Marci what a duo. Teaching the same thing yet in such different ways.

Rolf was very very peaceful, powerful adjustments and sparkling eyes.  His adjustments hit the mark, and teach in one movement what a 1000 words couldn't do. Gentle and strong.  His body was no that of a 'normal' person, nothing spare, when at ease very soft and still, yet sinuous and powerful when in action, a Yogi (in the true sense of the word) at work.  It felt wonderful to be in his presence and under his gaze.

Marci, great knowledge of body mechanics and how yoga works.  I totally admired and respected her teaching, but sometimes the energy that came with it, the delivery of knowledge grated on me in a very physical way.  All kinds of emotions came up and out while under Marci's gaze, at times it felt like she was the destroyer of ego, which is good, at others like she was just a bit too busy and stressed out.  Not sure, many people had many theories on Marci.  There was love in her eyes and passion in her teaching. She is a difficult person, but then so am I. Actually when explaining to a couple of friends they said perhaps you are alike. She is a straight talker that's for sure, no sugar coating and not trying for popularity.  Rather to teach what she believes and knows, with total integrity. I respect that wholeheartedly.  I was feeling a little fragile, physically, emotionally and mentally,  I had been storing the trauma of the last year in my body and so there was some pain.  But certainly no injury. Healing.

But boy does she TEACH.  I felt frustrated that my time with her was so short, yet somehow between them they seemed to cram everything I needed into to my short stay.  I bow down to their lotus feet in appreciation for reviving my lagging practice.  They both work so hard, tirelessly, honestly, devotedly.

Since coming back the quality of my practice has improved, where I was stuck, although there is no real change, I do not feel stuck anymore. They provided me with the tools and the route with which to proceed.  Between them it felt like they provided a mirror of both my good and bad sides, I can see a bit more clearly now.

I hope I'll be able to practice with them both again.  But for now I have much work to do.  I had picked up bad habits and shortcuts and Marci slammed me for them, no holding back.  There was no surprise, leg behind the head and back bending needs much work..  When I asked which was worse in back bending, splayed feet or heels lifting, she replied both are totally unacceptable.  So I started back bending 101.  I continue with working with Marci's words with me and am excited to take practice again.

12 Apr 2012

Goa - Last on my List

Been a while, was nice to forget about the world for a time.  Lots to blog about so shall break it up a bit.

To begin with Goa, Goa, Goa, hmmmm.

I've always said out of all the destinations in India Goa would be right down there on the bottom of my list of places to go, and I still hold this to be true.  But for this trip it was fine. Actually it's very beautiful and easy going, but not the India I love.

My first week there saw me a little disgruntled, it was dusty, expensive, super westernised, rubbish scattered everywhere, very very touristy and in need of a good downpour of rain.  It is the trance party capital of the world, and also a popular family beach holiday destination, neither of which hold much appeal for me.  So I had to let go of my India expectations and accept Goa as Goa and remember that I came for the yoga, to heal and rejuvenate.

 It was also much more expensive than I had imagined.  The quality and thus cost of living is a little higher than in other parts of India and so I went way over my budget.  Usually I stay in the cheapest most basic room, but I wasn't in the mood for austerity this trip and plumped for a room with kitchen, bathroom and an antique four poster bed, set in a beautiful garden with a friendly family and smiley dog in their traditional Portuguese style house, it felt safe, the garden air green and pleasant and most importantly, quiet and relaxing.

Often it felt like I had come into collision with an old version of myself.  Being around all the party people made me remember how I was 16 years ago, and so I also saw how much I had changed, some good some bad.  One big change was that I felt Japanese and yearned for Japanese company, but at first, due to my un-Japanese looks and my Japanese shyness I found it difficult to enter the circle.  I  felt like I had been ejected from the nest, a most peculiar sensation.   Finally when I spoke Japanese to them and they realised I lived there and was one of them they opened up, it felt so comforting to be among Japanese in India. The other side of me naturally gravitated towards some of the party people, was nice to hang out with non-ashtangi,  who have a very interesting often yogic perspective on life. I had no inclination to party, that went a LONG time ago, but the people felt familiar.  It's often the people you meet in India that make the trip, and this was especially true in Goa, it's where like minded folk congregate. I found myself with a lot of Israeli, such warm, open and friendly folk

The food was an experience, fell in love with the Goan thali, so wholesome and simple.  But, Goa being the tourist destination that it is had the restaurants to go with it so I had very good Italian, Greek, Israeli, Thai and French food, quite a treat, more variety than I can get here in Northern japan, the supermarket was very international too.

All in all just what I needed, may even return there.