Wednesday, March 12, 2008


It was difficult to find time to write after the last post, since we were traveling and staying in places that didn't have free wireless connections. So... here I am, back home, and writing about the last few days in NZ.

Simply put, it was an amazing trip, and we loved having a few days to experience Auckland. We didn't just stay in the city center, but went out to Ponsonby, Parnell, and Devonport, all areas surrounding Auckland. Each one has its own feel, its own character.

We kept practicing in the mornings before we headed out to drive or experience the area. The yoga seemed to set our mornings straight, and even when there wasn't much space in which to practice, practice worked. That is, once you begin sun salutations, you forget about lack of space, because you're creating it within yourself; you're experiencing it internally.
Yes, it's great to have lots of physical space surrounding you when you have the chance to have it, but one of the great things about yoga is that it fits in to whatever space you have, and it creates more than you think you have.
Does that even make sense?

Not everything about Auckland was wonderful. It definitely is the most metropolitan city we visited, and therefore, more polluted/populated than everywhere else we traveled... possibly giving us even more appreciation for having spent so much time in the pastural region of Nelson/Upper Moutere.

Also, in Auckland, we met the only person who gave us a bad taste in our mouths... not literally (that is, the meal we had at his restaurant was spectacular, food-wise), but figuratively. Turns out, the person is not a native New Zealander, but rather, a former Bucks County, PA, resident. Let's just say that satya (truthfulness) and asteya (non-stealing) did not seem to be daily practices for this gentleman, and Tim and I had some svadhyaya (self-study) and ahimsa (non-violence) to practice when dealing with him. We did our best.

A visit to the Skytower was tremendous (though more difficult for me than I ever imagined - never had trouble with heights like that before), including seeing two people jump off the tower on bungy-like cords. Wow. Tim said he would have done it if hadn't cost $195. Not me; at least, not in this life time.

We also enjoyed touring some art galleries, looking for the work of an artist some clients of mine had seen when they visited NZ. The artist's name is Kate Wells, and we did have a chance to see photos of her tapestry work at one gallery.

Getting to our departing flight required a lot of patience and yet hurrying up when we could, even though we got to the airport 3 hours early. The lines were just too long and there weren't enough NZ Air employees to handle the customers. However, getting through customs was easy, thankfully, both in NZ and in the USA. Our bags all came through fine, too.

Tim's working on our NZ pictures on his computer, so hopefully, I'll have some to post soon.

I'll probably continue to post on here occasionally. As I said in my first post, I love beginnings, and as much as coming home feels like an ending, I feel it's another beginning... a time to apply all of the things I/Tim learned from John and Lucy and to experience them in practice and in regular everyday life.

For anyone reading, if you want a life-changing getaway, or just the experience if clean air and good people, go study with John and Lucy Scott. Even if you've never studied Ashtanga yoga before, you will enjoy the challenge and inspiration of studying with them, and you'll definitely grow in ways you didn't expect... and certainly ways you'll appreciate.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Time flies, even in each present moment

We're constantly reminded on this trip to be in, and appreciate the present moments as they fly by.

I'm in a convenience store in Auckland now as we're waiting for our room to be ready at the hotel.

We had a nice drive to Rotorua Wednesday, with better weather there when we arrived. Unfortunately, Zorbing was not happening, as it was too windy... well, we could have done the wet-version, but neither of us wanted to get soaking wet.

So - we went on a beautiful gondola ride, and went on the Sky swing (165 kph upon release) out over the edge of the "mountain" (quite a rush!), and then on two luge runs down the mountain. Really fun!

We then found our B&B, Ferntree Cottage, run by two lovely people, Val and Jeff Brennan, and their cat, Snapper, and dog, Josie. They told us about a fun dinner place called the Fat Dog, and it was fun - and delicious.

Val made us a delicious breakfast (Tim even had waffles) before we headed out of town, stopping on the way at Hamurauna (sp?) spring (Val's suggestion). Many years ago, several divers went in to the spring and recovered 5000 1860 pennies out of the spring, which were given to various local charities. Pretty cool!
The spring was so clear you could see every stone and green thing growing in it, as was the stream coming from it. We loved the walk to/from as well, being surrounded by humongous redwoods and being serenaded by musical birds. Tim recorded the birdsongs using his digital camera, so perhaps we can identify them later.

We both practiced again this morning (thank you, John and Lucy, once again!), and were greeted thereafter by Snapper wanting attention.

OK, time to see Auckland... back to this present place in this present moment.
Love to all. Come to see this amazing place!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Going with the flow

Time to practice some real flexibility - ie., in planning... as in, things don't always go the way you plan.

We flew to Napier without any problems yesterday, but unfortunately, it was raining when we landed.
Europcar had to upgrade us for our car (which sounds good until you're told you're getting an 8-person minivan that doesn't get great gas mileage and that needs big parking spaces)... can't help also feeling a bit guilty driving down the road with only 2 people in such a vehicle.
It does have great acceleration (and it's a KIA!), which we could have used in Arthur's Pass.

Take a breath and go with it...

So, we stopped by Mission Estates winery, the oldest winery in NZ, and perhaps the one with the most expensive restaurant... therefore, we headed down the road to Church Road winery, which was smaller, more affordable and nice. Tim had the cheese board (and got to taste 3 different wines to pair with it), and I had orzo risotto with prawns - yum, and a cuve reserve chardonnay that was terrific... tho' I didn't finish all of the wine in my glass since I was driving, and the glass was quite generous (which we've noticed about getting wine everywhere; ie., they definitely fill glasses up more here than in the USA).

We then drove to a chocolate museum/cafe/shop, which included, for your humoristic pleasure... willy wash and bum wash (liquid soap for the private areas). The ad for the soap was even more funny than the soap package itself.
...reminds me of what we've seen in at least two wool/silk shops: willy warmers and nipple warmers made out of sheeps' wool (or was it possum silk?)

With the rain ongoing here in Napier, we sadly didn't get a good look at the bay; perhaps we'll get a view before we head to Rotorua this morning. This area must be beautiful when you can see the hills and bay.

We found a nice tapas place last night, so we had a pleasant dinner.

We both practiced this morning in a bit of a lack of space... another opportunity to go with the flow, use what you've got. Guess I need to learn and relearn this. Sometimes, lack of space is actually helpful in cultivating dharana and dhyana...

Time to find out if we can get Tim a battery recharger for his computer, and then we'll head to the sulphur-soaked area of Rotorua, including some nice hot mineral baths, and Zorbing!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weather has its way

We're here in Christchurch enjoying a sunny yet rather cool day. Headed to the east coast of the south island yesterday (Sunday), actually going as far as Akaroa for a harbour cruise --- which was unfortunately cancelled when we arrived due to wind/rain. Very disappointing, but we did enjoy walking around the quaint town before heading to Christchurch.

Last night, we had a decent/fun but not-quite-as-good-as-we-expected dinner at Dux de Lux, near the Art Centre. After, we went to Sticky Fingers (restaurant and bar) for a drink and dessert (trifle - fantastic)... think we would have liked dinner there better, but swaha.

Today, we both practiced in the AM (as we did yesterday - yay, Tim... John had asked him if he would roll out his mat on Sunday, and he did... and he practiced), had a great breakfast at Vic's Cafe, and walked to the Art Centre (more shops than actual artist studios, but still cool to see). We also took an hour to walk around the Christchurch Art Gallery, which was fantastic.

Tim then indulged me - we went "punting on the Avon River" through a bit of Hagley Park (3rd largest city park in the world next to Stanley Park in Vancouver and Central Park in NYC). Punting is pretty much the English version of going on a gondola. One of the guys working at the place was from Clark County, Wisconsin, and he's been here 8 years.

Now we'll head to The Twisted Hop brewery (we're at an internet/backpackers info centre in Cathedral Square - very impressive cathedral, btw) and to dinner at Saggio di Vino.

Gotta let Tim get to his email. We only have dialup service at the hotel.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Green-lipped mussels

Forgot to mention that Tim and I shared some green-lipped mussels at dinner last night (along with fish 'n chips).  We'd had some mussels on the wine tour, but they were out of their shells. 

The green-lipped shells are really beautiful, and these were delicious in a white broth, that was just as good for dunking bread as for adding taste to mussels.

The owner (at least the guy who seemed like the owner) of the cafe was really funny.  I had the hiccups when we were ordering our food, and so he identified us as "hiccups" on the check, not by our names.

There was also a very cute black cat scurrying around the cafe - very friendly and playful.  We wondered if the cat was as friendly when the cafe was full (there were only 3-4 other people there when we were).  
Reminded me of Topaz and Max at home... we miss you guys!  (yes, I realize it's crazy to send a message to your cats at home on a blog).

sigh... warm and dry...

What a day... we left Punakaiki around 9:30 AM and headed for Arthur's Pass.  Sadly, it rained/drizzled/poured the whole way, but the coastal views were still spectacular.

The mountain drive was quite thrilling, too, with  many twists, turns, etc., along with waterfalls all over, probably many more than usual due to the rainfall.

We were disappointed that it was still so dismal outside upon our arrival in Arthur's Pass, as we really wanted to go up to Avalanche Peak (6-8 hour trek)... as it was, we went up (and I mean, UP!) to Punchbowl Falls (incredible, and even though it's a short trek, your legs start turning to jelly), and then back to another trek, called the Bridal Veil trek.

We never figured out why the latter was called Bridal Veil trek, as we had to really watch our footing.  The path itself was pretty much waterlogged the whole way, so our feet got soaked, along with our pants.  Next time, waterproof pants will definitely be packed for such a trip.

Thankfully, we have a nice place to stay (could easily sleep 3-4 more people), with a warm, though low-pressure shower.

Can't help but think about being in Upper Moutere.  I/we have so many fond memories from there, from the yoga, from the people... no wonder I felt drawn here.

Don't know if I mentioned it in the last blog, forgive me if I did, but on the last day, John spent a good bit of time talking with me about the rajasic, sattvic, and tamasic parts of yoga, life, etc.   For example, you can see the Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga as rajasic (standing poses), sattvic (seated poses), and tamasic (finishing poses), and then there are cycles of these within the larger cycle... and on, and on.  Much to contemplate.

There are real treasures to be found in NZ (and surely, around the planet), and not just in the scenery, but in the people, too.


No yoga this morning.  John told everyone to take the day off.  We'll be rolling out our mats tomorrow, though.

We arrived in Punakaiki last night around 6:30 PM, after stopping through Carter's Beach and Tauranga (sp?) Bay near Westport, where we saw a seal colony - fantastic.

Once here, we took a walk to the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.  Just amazing; even the sprinkling of rain couldn't take away from the scenery.

We stayed at The Rocks Homestay, in a beautiful home 3 km north of Punakaiki.  Sadly, this is the last year this older couple will be running this place, as they are selling it.  It has to be a LOT of work keeping the home clean and making breakfast for everyone every morning.  The breakfast includes everything you could want:  cereals, yogurts, fresh and dried fruits, french press AWESOME coffee, tea, many kinds of jams, omelets (if you want them - but with all the other options, why would you?), fresh scones (Tim had two), toast, and on and on.  I think we had breakfast and lunch together...

...which is fine, as we're heading to Arthur's Pass/Avalanche Pass to trek today.  Let's hope that the rain stops.  It was a musical accompaniment to sleeping, but hopefully, now the sun will join us.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sad departure

We're on our way to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks, and we'll stay at The Rocks Homestay there.

It was very difficult saying goodbye this afternoon. The group of people staying at the retreat center were really special and fun people. I will never forget Sarah, Tim (the other Tim), Paulo, Kristine, Erik, Takako, Di, and Kadri.

As I walked to the car, I looked back, and will now always remember seeing them all talking and smiling together on the deck outside the yoga room, with Buzz Lightyear (the Scott's black lab) standing up on hind legs with his front paws on Kristine.

John and Lucy were so giving and inspiring, and they left us with much to practice, and much to fondly remember.

I'm glad I had some time to spend in front of John's altar in the yoga room before I left. It's a very special, comforting, and inspiring place.

Funny thing... as we walked out to the car, the ram (from next door's sheep farm) was up near the driveway under the same tree as when I first arrived two weeks ago. He seemed to want to say, "Goodbye... and come back soon."

Time to get back on the road.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Wow - too long since my last post... when was it, Sunday?

The week is flying by so fast.  Tim started his study of Ashtanga Monday morning, and he's working hard.  He was quite sore this morning (Wednesday, the 27th), but he went to practice and felt better afterward. 

It's been a fun/challenging 3 days (so far) of practice for me this week, so today, we just hung around the retreat center, and took a trip to Motueka to get supplies for a community dinner tonight (veggie pizza, bean and butternut squash burritos, salad, chocolate vegan cake).  

Tomorrow, we're going on a wine and brewery (4 wineries, 1 brewery) tour in and around Nelson.  Tim, Erik and I went to Founder's Organic Brewery yesterday afternoon, after a blissful swim at Rabbit Island beach.  At Founder's, the guys had beer (very good, they said), and we all got delicious appetizer plates (the guys had  "Ploughman's plates," and I had the hummus plate), as their kitchen was no longer serving lunch entrees.

Today after practice, I had a Biodynamic Craniosacral session with Lucy.  It was wonderful - very centering, very opening/healing.  Hope I can find someone in or around Philadelphia who does the same work.  It goes very deep.

Time to make tonight's salad.  It's a clear night - again - so the southern cross will surely be directly overhead again (as it has been every night - just covered by clouds once).

Sunday, February 24, 2008


How can you express gratitude to a husband who has an open mind and heart, who is willing to try something quite new (yes, he'd taken a vinyasa yoga class, but as he said, "nothing this intense" before) for you?

John definitely pushed him this morning.  He gave Tim a 10 minute break in savasana (resting pose) in the middle of practice, and then he had him get up again.  Tim has some "homework" to do between today and tomorrow's practice.

I practiced on the other side of the room, which I think was healthy for both of us.  My practice was dedicated to God, to Tim, to us, and to John and Lucy for being such kind and inspiring teachers.

Tim and Lucy have ways (their words, their energy, their presence, their hands) to help you connect with the sushumna channel (imagine a vertical line of energy going from the bottom of your spine through the crown of the head), and breathe, and maintain focus... you can feel their compassion and their "living the yamas and niyamas" as they teach.  It's really hard to put in to words.

Just feeling so grateful to Tim, to God, to Ashtanga, to John and Lucy Scott, and to David Keil, who inspired me to come here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tim`s here!!!

Thankfully, my husband arrived today, only 15 minutes behind schedule (which was fine, since I was a tad late). Unfortunately, the day is the first fully cloudy day, so he didn`t have a great view (as I did) flying from Auckland to Nelson. It was nice to see the low clouds floating up over the surrounding hills and mountains, however as we drove along. Now, there are even patches of blue sky showing through.

All of this followed a nice storm last night, including much-needed rain, and not-so-much needed wind. I`m sure it`ll take a little while to clean things up.

Fortunately, the storm didn`t arrive until late in the night, as yesterday, I drove home from Kaikoura. For this part of the trip, I was by myself, but for the trip down, Sarah and (the other) Tim joined me.

We all left Friday (also, Paulo and Erik were in another car, as Paulo was dropping his girlfriend off at the airport for a trip to visit a girlfriend for the weekend) after breakfast. It`s a 4-5 plus hour trip to Kaikoura by car, mostly because there`s at least 100 km through mountainous regions. It`s amazing how fast some of the NZers drive on the mountain roads. I took it slowly, especially being in a rental car with slightly squeaky brakes.

We listened to my Ipod (Andrew Bird, Broken Social Scene - both new bands to Sarah and Tim) for most of the way down. We all really enjoyed listening to Barbara Kingsolver`s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It`s about Barbara`s family moving from Tucson, AZ, to one of the Carolina`s (I hope that`s right), and learning to live off the land. Her family makes a commitment to live almost completely off the land and local products for a year (eg., they make exceptions for some spices, olive oil, and a few other things).

Anyway, it`s a fun and good read, everyone - go read it!
Also a good read is Omnivore`s Dilemma by Michael Pollan -- I`ve already listened to it on CD, and I wish I`d had it on my Ipod for Sarah and Tim to listen to, as I`m sure they`d really like it, too.

Friday night we all ate together at Hislops Organic Cafe; though relatively expensive, it was great. I had a decent Kaikoura Chardonnay with a local fish made with curry, and others enjoyed local beer and other mostly-local and organic items. Paulo and I shared desserts - one was an apple and oat crumble with ice cream, and the other was fresh fruit in a manuka honey crisp bowl with ice cream. Manuka honey anything is great.

After dinner, we headed back to a shared apartment at a motel, and I took out my body rolling balls... after a few go-rounds with them (eg., treating Erik`s tender hamstrings - from running miles and miles, and Paulo`s neck - from crooked collar bones), Erik said, ``and you`ve been keeping this a secret all weekÉÉ`` (btw, I hope that there`s a question mark that prints there... it doesn`t show up on the screen that way).

I`d only brought my yellow and red balls to Kaikoura, so I promised I`d show them the green and black balls, as well as the Feetsavers and wakers when we returned to Upper Moutere.

Time to plan on a body rolling workshop in NZ, perhaps.

Saturday morning, I headed out for the Dolphin Encounter. Because there was a heavy swell and seasickness warning, people had dropped out of the 8:30 AM trip, and so I was able to go at 8:30 rather than the 12:30 PM time I signed up for (this turned out to be serendipitous, as the 12:30 was cancelled!)

I and the others going to swim (some people just came to watch) all got fitted with wet suits (ewww... SMELLLLLYYYY!) and saw a video preparing us for the trip. It was funny to hear that, since these are wild dolphins we swim with, WE are THEIR entertainment, and not vice versa. The video narrator also encouraged us to make high-pitched noises as we swam around, in order to attract the dolphins. It looked quite silly on the video, but once you got out there swimming, everyone did it because you wanted to see and be near as many dolphins as possible.

Anyway, the trip was, in a word, INCREDIBLE. At the first swimming point, we were surrounded by playful dolphins who would swim under and around you. I used my underwater camera and took lots of pictures; hope they turn out!

One unfortunate occurrence during this first swim: I took in a LOT of seawater. Therefore, I started to feel quite sick, especially with the neck part of the wetsuit pressing in to my throat - ugh. I hung on through the 2nd and 3rd swims, but as soon as I got on the boat after the 3rd, one guide looked at me, and handed me a pail. They warned us to expect such things.

I think I would have been OK had I not taken in the seawater. I loved the up and down of the boat, as it was like being on a water-surrounded rollercoaster.

The crew had fresh water and ginger biscuits on board, so they helped me feel better, too. A nice, hot shower afterward, along with a delicious lentil and cashew burger, were also a big help.

Met up with the rest of the gang (who had gone surfing all morning - on a rocky beach nearby) afterward, and they wanted to surf some more, so we drove to Mangamauno (spÉ), and walked on another rocky beach to where they went out in to the surf. After ten minutes of watching them swim out to the surf, their figures disappeared in to the water. I kept looking for them, but it was too wavy and they were too far away.

Erik came back first and suggested I head home, as he didn`t think they`d be back for a while. So - I drove to find a payphone, made three tries to Tim`s cell phone, and he picked up on the 3rd try. He was just about to board the flight to NZ, so it was great to hear his voice.

I was glad to be back at the retreat center before dark - around 7:30 PM. The others got home some time around 9:30 PM. I must admit that it got a bit eerie sitting in the lounge area by myself, but I knew they`d be home soon. Sometimes company is just what you need.

This morning (Sunday) included a short by-ourselves yoga practice (John and family were away yesterday until today), after which I went to get Tim at the airport. Oh - a bit of a mishap on the way there... I forgot to ``give way`` (means ``yield``) at one roundabout, and a policeman nearby was outside his car directing people, and he waved me over to tell me so... I apologized, and he said, ``Not a problem... you haven`t inconvenienced me, just the people behind you...``

He was actually quite nice about it, and he must have noticed my American accent...
I will definitely be more careful at roundabouts from here on.

Tim and I had a relaxed lunch (VERY relaxed, as there were too many people and too few workers) at the Gallery Cafe in Nelson (where I`d gone when I first arrived), and then did some shopping - got a cell phone even, which I`m thinking of as another form of car insurance.

Once back at the retreat center, we unloaded and Tim enjoyed a shower. He met most everyone afterward, as I was showing them how to use the black body rolling balls in the lounge area. Then, Paulo, Erik, Sarah, and Tim went to get groceries, and Erik KISSED the balls before they left! He said he can`t believe they`ve been around so long and he didn`t know about them.
Maybe Yamuna needs to take a trip to Sweden.

Long enough post, wouldn`t you sayÉ (that`s another question mark... boy, these side comments are going to seem very silly if a question mark actually shows up there).

One more funny thing... we bought some bacon for Tim at the store, and Erik`s face lit up when he heard that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Important things

I think I focused too much on the guide, etc., from the trip to Abel Tasman yesterday, so let me remedy that with a few other really cool things.

We kayaked around Fisherman's Island, around which are rocks, covered with green-lipped mussels - some were 5 inches across or larger. Also, there's a chorus resounding from the island, as it is covered with birds. Evidently, the birds live/nest there, but won't do so on the mainland of Abel Tasman park because of all of the stokes and other rodents that will eat them if they do. The sounds of the birds are amazing - very loud, too; you can easily hear them above the waves/water taxis/airplanes/etc.
I can't remember which island it was on, but there was a rock called "Mother Teresa's rock." It looked like a profile of a nun (with habit on). Kadri took some pictures, and said she'll send them on.

For a few of those reading, you might like to know that Flat Stanley joined me on this trip. For those who don't know about Flat Stanley, you'll have to ask my nephew, Nicholas.

Today was a full moon practice day. Some just did restorative poses, and others did the sun salutations, standing poses, and then restorative poses. It was just what I needed. After a long, challenging, and humbling practice yesterday followed by 2 hours of kayaking, my body appreciated the rest.
John will have an extra teaching session for us tonight.

For Tim, Mal, and Austin:
Just spoke with Eric from Sweden, who will definitely make this place better for my husband, as he loves music and meat. He says Jens Lekman is great (Swedish musician). Perhaps Tim will get some ideas for music to share with his brothers. Eric said he's listening to "Shout Out Louds" and Jose Gonzales a lot now. He also says "The Knife" is a really special group.
Eric's girlfriend just sent him a song called "Fake Your Beauty," by Bertine Zetlitz, and he says it's great.
EriK just looked over my shoulder and told me that they spell Eric in Sweden with a "k" on the end... so just pretend I've been writing Erik all along.
Tim, I think you and he will have a lot to talk about.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bizarre experience in Abel Tasman

Will try to convey the strange circumstances of my and Kadri's half-day Abel Tasman kayaking trip here.

We arrived to find one other woman, April (from Duluth, Minnesota, who went to UW-LaCrosse - my hometown university - for a PT degree), there to take the water taxi to Watering Hole, where we'd start our kayaking trip. They took us on the water taxi on a trailer, being pulled by a large tractor to get in to the water. Very strange and fun.

By the way, how's this for inspiring? April came to New Zealand to see her father, who is 83, and is taking a round-the-world trip, after his wife died of alzheimer's disease last fall. He was on the internet at a cafe nearby writing in his blog about his travels. He's going to Hawaii next, and then to Arizona, where he'll teach somewhere for a month before returning home.

Back to kayaking... upon reaching our starting point, we found out that 5 others would be joining us. They'd trekked all morning and planned to kayak back to where they began (the start of the Abel Tasman Track). These were fairly young kids, and not full of energy.

Thankfully, Kadri and I got in a kayak together, but April had to team with one of the younger kids... must have been difficult for her, especially since she really thought she'd have her own kayak.
Anyway, the tour guide was a bit crazy, and it seemed he wanted to be as young as the kids, or at least be their friend.

It's really hard to convey how bizarre the whole situation was...

One cool thing about the trip was when we got all of the kayaks side-by-side, and the guide took out a sail. He attached it to two oars, and the other ends were held by people on the sides in the front. Then, the wind caught the sail, and off we went at a nice clip. The challenge was holding the kayaks together. Worth it... whee!

Oh - we saw lots of "shags" on the trip, too - they're birds, and there are many kinds (speckled, black and white - which played a part in the evolution of penguins). Really cool to see.

Tonight, Tim from Vancouver made homemade pizza with fresh basil, garlic, and caramelized onions... YUMMM. Eric (from Sweden) told me how to say "yummy" in Swedish, but forgive, me, I can't even begin to try to type it out.
For dessert? Fresh local plums (Dad, you would LOVE these, small and very sweet and tart at the same time) and yellow kiwi (you can eat the skin!), or leftover brownie cake (vegan) made for Paulo's birthday yesterday. Paulo is from Portugal, now lives in England, and is an Architect.

Also, Dad, I often think of you when Kadri eats her cottage cheese. I think she loves it as much as you do.

Practice this morning was inspiring, and the sun kept us company. John had to leave right at the end, so Kristine led us in the finishing prayer.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cool and warm

Amazing how chilly it was this morning/last night. Kadri and I even turned the space heater on for a little while.

Of course, once we got to practice (everyone bundled up in sweatshirts, etc.), the heat from practice warmed us up, as did the rising sun.

Before beginning practice, John talked about how the spine, relaxing, the breath, and mantra all feed the practice. He then counted us through (ie., counting vinyasas) sun salutations and up until triangle. What's amazing is, as every one then progressed through his/her individual practice, he could always count their vinyasa, wherever they were in Primary or Intermediate series. That is, he'd come up to adjust/help them, and he'd know exactly which vinyasa he/she was on.
The energy in the room was very uplifting, and the sounds of breath just took you deeper in to meditation as you practiced.
Found out today that the building that houses the yoga room, the lounge, and the kitchen, was the former sheep farm`s shearing house.

Must say a big thank-you to Tim and Sarah from Vancouver for letting me use their computer to do this blog.

Back to today... after practice, just relaxed, and watched part of Lino Miele and Gwendolyn Hunt`s 2nd and 3rd Series DVD. For those who don`t know Ashtanga Yoga, these include very difficult postures, and what makes this DVD incredible is that Gwendolyn began to learn Ashtanga yoga at the age of 60, and the DVD was recorded when she`d just turned 70.
So, for those persons out there who say that they`re too old to learn Ashtanga, you might have to think again.
: )
After lunch, Kadri and I went to Rabbit Island beach... WOW. As the tide was out, there was a huge stretch of beach fro the picnic area out to the breaking waves, and the beach itself extends 10 kilometers (about 6 miles). We saw someone powering across the sand on a scooter while using a windsurfing sail. Also saw someone on a go-cart being powered by a parasail.
The water was cool but soothing.
We stopped at a farm for fresh berries (they had pick-your-own raspberries, but I just got blackberries that were already picked... maybe will go back to pick some raspberries later), melons, avocados, and corn...

There are several road-side hutches set up with produce for people to buy... and no one mans them. That is, prices are listed, you select what you want, and leave the money in an ``honest box.`` Pretty cool that people have that kind of trust here.

Seems like most are going to use the hot tub here tonight to ease sore muscles. Guess I`d better wash off the sand from the beach.

Oh - a few more things about this place: all of the water here is recycled rainwater. Occasionally in the summer they have to buy water, but we all try to conserve so that won`t happen.
They also have what could be called a composting sewage system, in which all of the sewage goes to one area in which they have a tank of thousands of tiger worms that digest it and break it down. Then, the resulting manure is distributed out around the property. Amazing.
Eventually, all of the power (or most) will be solar.

Let`s hope more humans start thinking and doing things in these ways. Oh - and while driving home through Richmond, there was an advertisement for grass you don`t have to mow --- saving energy by not having to use a lawnmower. Seems New Zealanders are more aware than most about conservation, etc.

Now the sun is beginning to near the horizon, and the cool, fresh evening air is coming in. The crickets are starting their chorus (soft now, will grow louder as the twilight comes, and then disappear... in the middle of the night, it`s absolutely still here). These things will be forever in my memory. Feeling so fortunate and grateful to be here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Beginner's Mind

Not surprising that, during practice today, I was a beginner all over again (isn't that true every day, every practice?). John and Lucy can see everything, especially with only 9 people in the room. There are two extra because Paulo and Kristine are here; they took over teaching when John and Lucy were away on holiday.

Also, Paulo and Kristine (as well as Tim, from Vancouver, CA, here with his girlfriend, Sarah) are helping John Scott with construction... doing a little here, a little there, truly making this place a haven. Every day, something more is constructed; today, John is making steps down to the hot tub (outdoor - haven't tried it yet, surely I will soon).

The retreat center is unbelievable. It's on an old sheep farm, on 30 acres, of which they use 5. The buildings are beautiful, and very well-constructed.
Forgot to mention before (I think), that, when driving in the retreat center for the first time, a lovely sheep greeted me on the other side of the fence (on the next door neighbor's property). Also, just down the road is an enormous sheep - so much wool on it, it looks like it has an afro over it's entire body. How can it withstand that in the heat?

I'm sharing a room with Kadri (kah-dree), from Estonia, who has been away from home for 1 year, traveling and working. Last, she was working and doing yoga in Sydney. She also spent time in Thailand , doing yoga on an island, only accessible by boat. She may go back there... no surprise. Take a look!

[Tim - don't worry, Kadri is only staying a week, so you get to take her place in my room when you get here! : ) ]

After practice and breakfast, Kadri and I just explored the area - drove to Motueka and found an organic cafe (awesome coffee with any kind of milk you like - regular, soy, rice...).

I keep mispronouncing "Upper Moutere," the area in which the retreat center is located... It's not "upper moo-TARE," rather it's "upper MOO- tarry." Tim, practice that before you come.

Time for a nice nap.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Arrival in Kiwi country

Trip went great... some tips for those who decide to come here... definitely take a few bottles of water on the plane; it's hard to get enough from the stewardesses/stewards. Also, take your toothbrush and toothpaste with you - and use them!

Buy dinner before takeoff (if you have a night flight); I did, and was glad. The couple next to me (celebrating their honeymoon with 3 weeks in NZ and 5 days in Fiji - and flew from Frankfurt, Germany!) didn't, and wasn't thrilled with the food. Btw, they were together 14 years before marrying... trumps me and Tim! (7 years)

Also, plan on having layers of clothes on... the plane was quite warm to begin with, and was chilly throughout the flight. The blankets (provided for everyone) are great, though. Having a neck pillow can be helpful, but won't guarantee you won't have a stiff neck once you get here.

Other musings...

Getting used to the NZ accent is a challenge; I have to ask them, "What?" and they do the same to me... sometimes it's like we're speaking different languages.

Already made a mistake while driving... turned right in to the right lane, rather than the left and had to swerve... annoyed a few othewise very laid-back kiwis, that's for sure (esp. since one honked)...
hopefully, it made such an impression on me, I won't do it again. I can feel the motor neurons (no pun intended) in my brain going, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
They're having to reroute themselves, that's for sure.

Kiwis must trust people much more than we do... without having signed a car rental contract, the agent had me drive the car by myself to the rental car desk (just a couple minutes from the airport terminal).

Drove straight to the beach in Nelson and walked, people-, bird-, and boat-watching the whole way. Some very talented kite-flyers were there, too. Oh, and watched a few rugby games... what are they trying to do in that game??? Maybe I'll understand by the time I leave.

Sorry to be cruel to those in winter climes... it's probably 80 degrees here, with a clear, bright blue sky.

Found a great cafe for lunch - lots of organic, free-range, "natural"/local ingredients listed on the menu. Awesome.
Unfortunately, there are McDs around, too... even one at the airport. Well, at least there are many choices.

Guess I can head to the retreat center soon. Check in is 4:30 PM. My body/mind/spirit are calling out for southern hemisphere yoga...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day - the day before the adventure

Can't believe I'm not packed yet, but I'll get it done somehow.

Figured out that NZ is 18 hours ahead of eastern standard time... so I'd better not call my husband at 11 AM their time (it'd be 5 AM here). Otoh, he might just sleep through the phone ringing.

Regarding our yoga session the other day... he did a great job. He was able to create and sustain an ujjayi breath, and he followed along in the sun salutations a few poses really well. His challenges will be his hamstrings and his shoulders. I'm really curious to see/hear how John Scott works with him.
I'm also very grateful to my husband that he's willing to do this with me.
Not going for the sappy love line there, just being honest.

Thanks to all of those people who have showed interested and given support for this trip. Maybe I'll be able to convince you to go to New Zealand upon my return.

Off to explore the 8 Limbs as taught by John and Lucy Scott... and to experience New Zealand in as many ways possible.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I love beginnings

Thought it would be good to start this blog before I leave for New Zealand on February 15th to study with John Scott, my teacher, David Keil's teacher. 

First, some background... as a little girl, I dreamed of visiting New Zealand.  It just seemed so exotic - partly because it was so far away, and partly because there's a "Z" in its name.  My parents put a world map on our kitchen wall, and it fueled many questions about various countries... no one seemed to know much about New Zealand, as I remember... so now, I'm going to find out for myself.

I'll be on my own for a week at John and Lucy Scott's retreat center near Nelson, New Zealand, on the northern end of the south island, with Mysore practice every morning, and a couple of pranayama or other yoga-related classes offered during the week.

On Saturday, the 23rd, I'll drive to Kaikoura to swim with the dolphins.

Sunday, the 24th, my husband will join me at the retreat center.  Not a practicing yogi, he's nervous about it.  David Keil says that John Scott is the best person to teach absolute beginners, and I know Tim has nothing to worry about.

After that week at the retreat center, we'll travel south to Hokitika, Queenstown, and Dunedin.  Then, we'll head north to Christchurch and fly to Napier, on the north island.  Our tentative plans are to go through Rotorua (which our noses will remember, if nothing else... Rotorua is a sulphur-laden area) to Auckland, hopefully making it to Matakana, a wine-making region in the northland.

Now I'm going to reintroduce my husband to yoga... just to prime him for the experience.