Saturday, February 28, 2009


Here we are, in the lounge of the shala, just meeting Georgi (have to check that spelling), who lives in Nelson with her family:  husband Peter, kids, Hannah, Eva, and Marcus - CUTE!!!

Around the table are other students, including Bela (from China, and before that, the Phillipines, and before that, the States); Sarah (originally from Scotland, grew up in Wales though, and considers both Spain and NZ her homes....!); Sabine (from Germany - she studied Iyengar for 9 years and started Ashtanga 1 1/2 years ago); and the other Sarah, from Wellington (she's John and Lucy's helper, who lives in the yurt and will be participating in the Teacher Training as well).

I've also met Vayu (spelling again?), from South Korea, the only male in the course.

Others are yet to come.

It has been an amazing trip already.  The flight from Philly was an hour late leaving ... one of those times when they had to wait for food to be brought to the plane (which they then ran out of on the flight), and then the rain delayed us (just as we taxied to the tarmac, the captain came on the PA to say that it would be at least a half hour before we took off)... anyway, the biggest problem it caused was only having 10 minutes before I had to board the plane to Auckland, rather than an hour and 10 minutes.  Fortunately, the vegetarian dinner I requested on the NZ#1 flight wasn't terrible.

The L.A. airport, however, I can do without... had to leave the terminal I was in to go in to the Air New Zealand terminal, meaning I had to go back through security.  Not well organized, imho.

I was SO lucky on the Philly-to-LA flight to have an empty seat next to me, and a man on the other side of that seat who didn't mind that I put my feet on it (obviously sitting sideways)... but no such luck on the LA-to-Auckland flight... seemed full, and seemed like less space than last year. 

The first half of the NZ#1 flight was harder than the last half... maybe because I was able to sleep later in the flight, after watching The Visitor - GREAT movie.  When I woke up for breakfast (not such a good in-flight meal... why do airlines even TRY to serve eggs???  IT NEVER WORKS), I watched Burn After Reading (or is it Burn Before Reading?), which is not good.  Not even sure why I watched it all the way through.  

Btw, everyone, I am not going to edit this... won't have time... so bear with me.

Had my first "flat white" (latte) with soy milk in the domestic terminal... yummmmmmmmm!

Nice, easy flight to Nelson, during which I read a lot of one of Tim's favorite books (hope I'm right about that), "By the Lake."  It's a difficult read, because of all of the Irish sayings and ways of saying things that I don't understand.  I need Tim here to help me decipher it.
Tim, can you take the next flight?  I miss you.

Went back to the Morrison Cafe (third time!) for lunch.  Though the service is slow, the food is amazing... they use fresh, organic, healthy food as much as possible, and have a huge menu, including the regular diner options (made with good stuff - I had huevos rancheros) and then things like quinoa salad or brown rice with all kinds of cool veggies.  Took Tim there last year, too, when he arrived.

Passed by a digeridoo player on the street, obviously using circular breathing and doing an amazing job of it... so I dropped a few coins in his hat, and he said "thaaaaaaaannnk.... yoooouuuuuuuu" through the digeridoo!  I didn't even try to conceal my giggle.

Did some grocery shopping since we'll be cooking our breakfasts and dinners.  Turns out Lucy is going to cook us lunch Monday through Friday.  

OK - more important stuff... the farm/retreat center is AMAZING!  SO different from last year.  Foliage has grown all over the place, and John is building a garden in front of their house.  There's a beautifully designed deck under the canopy that has 4 outdoor beanbag chairs on it, and the garden and pond next to the deck is all finished - just looking at it makes you feel tranquil.

Also, I'll be staying in a new, little sweet cabin - it's a stand-alone unit beyond the other cabins. 

It doesn't have a bathroom though... so... if I have to GO in the middle of the night, my options are:  squat outside, or make my way to the shala to use the john there. 

I'll take a picture and try to add it in here, but after a few pictures upon my arrival, the camera battery died.  It's recharging.

The weather is incredible - warmer than I remember it last year.  Today was HOT, and the locusts are REALLY LOUD.  I'm not complaining, mind you.  : ) 

Well, that's enough for now... evidently, we're having dinner together to go over things.

One of the students will arrive tomorrow.

To anyone and everyone reading this, you really must come to New Zealand.  Don't just put it on your bucket list; put it on your current "to do" list.
: )

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"How Yoga Works"

How Yoga Works is a wonderful book written by Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally (hope her name is correct - don't have the book handy now).  It's one of the required books for the teacher training in NZ.  

It puts in to story form the ways in which the Yoga Sutras can inform and guide one's life.  It's a fun read, and though I had a bit of "trouble" with a few parts, I really enjoyed it, and I can't wait to discuss it with John, Lucy, and the other students.

The other great book that concerns the Yoga Sutras and how they apply to living is Paths to God by Ram Dass.  Awesome.  

ONLY TWO MORE DAYS!  I can't believe it.  I'm tremendously excited and nervous now, too.  

Love to everyone and thanks for all of your support!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2 weeks out

2 weeks from tomorrow, and I'm off to New Zealand!  Wow.

For those looking for a good book that's easy to digest but full of yoga and meaning, check out How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach.  It's a story that incorporates the Yoga Sutras throughout.  I'm almost finished reading it, and I've really enjoyed it.

Had a *great* experience teaching at Yoga Garden last Sunday as a sub.  I'm hoping to write more about it in another post, but suffice it to say that students are the best teachers, and can they ever inspire. 

Thursday, February 5, 2009


One of those days when I caught myself saying "Svaha" a lot in my mind...

I have a shirt with Svaha on the front, and "Offer it up to the Divine" (approximation) on the
back... so, Svaha can be an oblation, but it has other, related meanings...

In Tibetan, it means "so be it," and is often said, "so-ha."

It can be used as an interjection (for Buddhist and Hindu chants).

Sometimes, I think of it as, "That's the way it is, oh well... accept it and move on."  

This can be very helpful when you have a week of practice when you can barely backbend because of an ache in your ribcage.  I've been through such aches before, and they're often accompanied by the fear of, "What if this doesn't go away?" or, "What if something is really wrong?" or "Will I ever be able to do -x- again?"

I'm feeling achy.  Svaha.
I'm sad; it'll pass.  Svaha.
I'm happy, and I'm happy I'm happy.  Svaha.
Practice is difficult today.  Svaha.
There's a beautiful sun out today.  Svaha.
For practice today, I take rest.  Svaha.
Mind is frantic.  Svaha.
Practice is fun today.  Svaha.
Emotions are like rollercoasters.  Svaha.
So much to do.  Svaha.
Focus.  Svaha.
Be Present.  Svaha.
Practice, and all is coming.  Svaha.
Thank you, Pattabhi Jois.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fruits of one's efforts

One of the most powerful teachings/practices for me in yoga is to practice without attachment to the results.  Having exercised (weight-lifting, running, aerobics, among other things) for many years seeking to tone, lift, and otherwise trim my body, as yoga and meditation took over my exercise time, the desire for such results lifted.  

Sure, those old voices still make noise in my head some times, and I just think, "Oh, there are those old voices again," and they gently diminish in volume and then fade away.  It took a long time for that to happen, but it did, with lots of practice.

Of course, if one practices yoga and meditation regularly, there will be effects, and these effects can be an incentive to practice.  For example, I have the thought that, "I don't want to practice because...", and then I remember how I feel after I've practiced, and I practice.  And, as David Swenson has said, "I've never regretted a yoga practice."

So... perhaps what will happen over time is that I practice just for the sake of practice.  

To take this a little further, how about being kind just for the sake of being kind, and not expecting anything from it?  How about giving just for the sake of giving, not because it's expected or might please someone?  How about loving and listening the same way?
I intend to bring some more awareness to this practice of letting go of the fruits of my efforts.  Svaha.

This came up today, in part, from students asking to tailor their sessions to have certain effects.  I hope I can inspire them to trust the yoga, to just practice the yoga.  
"Practice, and all is coming."  - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois