Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rooting, rising

It's hard to believe how fast June is flying!  Hard to believe that I left East Timor nearly 6 full months ago.  It's funny, because in my mind I have a vision of it, just as I left it.  But of course, things change, and nothing ever stays the way you left it.

This week the teacher who took over my yoga classes back there has left, and there is nobody to take over.  It's funny how bittersweet that feels - sweet for all the memories, and sad that (and yes, I am coming a bit late to the party here) a yoga era is over.

Maybe the first class you teach is like a first love - there is something innocent, naive, and absolutely enthralling about it.  I can look back on it and chart my evolution as a teacher, remembering the things I tried, the mistakes I made, the lessons I learned, and the inspiring yogis and yoginis who I shared a small, sweaty room with 2-3 times a week for those years.  No matter where I go in the world, every time I teach, I will carry those classes with me.

We are rooted in the past, and from it we grow, change, stretch, bloom.  So I guess although things change, they are not lost - they carry on.  Namaste to all my Dili students - I miss you!

[To illustrate this post, I found this amazing work by Eliza over at - check her out!  The title of this piece is "Rooting, Rising", from which I also borrowed the title of this post.  It feels serendipitous!]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Perception vs reality

Before watching the video, ask yourself:
  • What do you think about spending on overseas aid?
  • How much do you think your country spends on overseas aid as a percent of GDP?
  • What impact do you think this makes?

Now watch the video:

Perception vs. reality...  Thoughts?  I have a lot to say about this but I want to start by opening it up!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Because no 2 yogis are alike!

After my class yesterday, I stayed late to ask a question on a difficult transition that we had practiced, that I have been trying - and failing! - for months (titibasana to bakasana, if anyone wants to offer some tips...).  The teacher looked me over and said something to the effect of: "well, I'm not surprised it's difficult, since your legs are so long!"  Which is true - my legs are quite long in proportion to the rest of my body.

This led us to the discussion of how, indeed, no 2 yogis are alike.  We come in all different shapes and sizes, we are of different genders, ages and attitudes.  And so when it comes to yoga, there is only so much you can learn from another person's practice, another person's experience.  At the end of the day, you have to figure out what works for YOU.

Yet another reason why it's so important to try and develop our OWN practice - no matter what that practice is, and to understand that teachers are guides, not gods.  Whether it's asana, pranayama, yama or niyama, the steps and the answers are different for each and every one of us.  In the meantime, I'll keep on kicking back my long legs in hopes that one day they will land where they're meant to!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slow & steady wins the race?

After a 3-month dry spell since my last class experience, this week I managed to get to not one but two yoga classes!

Neither class was any one particular style, but both were quite different from my usual Ashtanga-based practice.   The first class was a 2-hour intermediate class.  It wasn't exactly Iyengar, but definitely Iyengar-inspired.  The class began with a 15-minute free period to practice any poses we wanted and get personalised instruction, and also to practice headstand/handstand/arm balances, which weren't included in the rest of the class.  Interesting!  I have to say that I am more of an inversions-at-the-end-of-practice kind of girl, but that is usually for my morning practice.  For an evening class, I can kind of see the logic of starting off with something strong and energising like a handstand - although headstand without warming up, I'm not so sure about.  Thoughts, anyone?

The rest of the class was a slow-paced flow through some standard & challenging standing poses including a new variation of a balancing downward-facing dog, and a nice long seated session.  The teacher was present and open and gave me some nice tips on alignment and keeping my bandhas.

Tonight's class was a hatha class with quite a bit of strengthening work (I'm feeling my triceps already...) and some slow ayurvedic flow sequences (if anyone is familiar with Mukunda Stiles, the teacher studied yoga therapy with him - lucky!).

Both of these are a radical departure from my usual practice.  But they say that the universe provides you not with what you want, but with what you need (I think the Rolling Stones said it best actually!).  So maybe this is a sign for me to slow down and work more seriously on my technique - at least a few times a week!  Or... considering that those two classes set me back 18 pounds - a whopping 30 US dollars... maybe a few times a month!