Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saturday dinner in Wellington, at Chow

From Saturday night in Wellington:  At Chow, the top picture is the Rhubarb Crumble drink.  Second picture is the miso soup with tofu and wakame.  Third is the lemongrass scallops, and last is me walking away from the restaurant.

More pictures from the waterfront, but this time, it's after the walk through the Botanical Gardens.  The last picture is a guy only wearing a loin cloth playing music on the corner of Courtenay Place and Tory St.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Read the sign : )

Again, in reverse order... just above is me on the Wellington cable car - it starts inside, and just goes up to the beginning of the Botanical Gardens.  The picture above me is the view at the end of the line.  The first two are in the Gardens.

These are all pictures from Te Papa.  The Blood Earth and Fire sign refers to the exhibit behind it on NZ volcanoes and earthquakes.  The third picture is from an NZ artist .  Last picture is an interesting station wagon - looked like the body was made of wood.

These are in reverse order... just above (this last one) is walking down a footpath through the neighborhoods near Mt. Victoria.  Above it is a view from the footpath.  The second picture is (of course) of my foot, as I sit on the concrete wall near the bay, on "Oriental Parade."  The top picture is Te Papa, the museum.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Down the other side of Mt. Victoria

First, a few pictures from the top.
Then, a few from tramping down the other side, and you can see it's very interesting how it's right in the middle of neighborhoods, etc.  Some parts were quite steep, and yet people run up and down Mt. Victoria all the time.

Mt. Victoria

These are all from my walk up Mt. Victoria.  Susan and Doug live in Hataitai (the part of Wellington to the southeast of Mt. Victoria), so it's a great walk UP.  As you can see from the second picture, I met a cute little cat on the way up (reminded me of our Topaz...).
Then, the last three, you can see the way to the summit.  In the middle, you see the view looking up to the pyramid-like monument near the summit; then you see the monument itself, and then you see the view looking down at the monument from the summit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wellington pictures

Top picture, I believe (from what a woman told me) is Mount Taranaki (way in the distance) on the south-western end of the north island, in view on the way to Wellington.
Second and third pictures are of pretty creepy, satirical, political mannequins at the Backbencher Restaurant in Wellington.  Susan took me there to see them.   The joker is Dan Brash; batman is John Key; and Robin is Bill English.  They were all part of the National leadership team.  The woman is the last female prime minister of NZ (Helen Clark, who lost reelection to John Key in 2008).  In the back room of the restaurant, it's a sports bar, and there are mannequins of famous rugby and soccer players.

Rasa is the Malaysian restuarant Susan and I went to Friday night...mmmm... fish curry...

The last picture is a tree with a scarf knitted around it; it's called "tagging," and evidently, people go around to trees with their yarn, and just knit a pattern around the tree, effectively tagging it.  Yes, they stand right there at the tree and knit.  I didn't actually see anyone doing it, but the results are interesting.

Lucy, me, and John

Back to Stillpoint home

As much fun as it was to explore Wellington, it's good to be back.  

Here's a bit of what happened there (leaving off from the last post)...

After walking through the Botanical Gardens (the Rose Garden was still in full bloom), I passed the Chinese Embassy on the way back to the city center ("centre," here).  Went back to the waterfront and watched people running/walking a relay race around a building; some of the runners were dressed in costumes.  "Relay for Life," I think is what it was called.

Saturday night, I went to a nice "fresh Asian" restaurant (that's how it is described) called Chow.  Had a "Rhubarb Crumble" drink (like a rhubarb-infused cosmopolitan), miso soup with wakame (not as good as Vayu's), pumpkin and cashew fritters, and cucumber-wrapped lemongrass scallops.  Actually, I went all out and had a dark chocolate brownie and vanilla ice cream for dessert, too.  

It was delicious, BUT, it all would have tasted better if Tim had enjoyed it with me.  

As it was, my waiter had lived 5 or 6 years in Boston and was a Red Sox fan, so it was nice to speak with someone who knew that the Phillies had won the World Series (none of my yoga peers knew).

Stayed at Susan and her husband (Doug)'s home again last night, and met their son, Nick, who is an actor.  Didn't go to bed right away as Doug was interested in talking about yoga and massage; he used to practice yoga, and now does Qi Qong.

If'd I'd stayed in Wellington today, he and his fishing buddies would have taken me out on the bay on their fishing trip.  Given how windy and cold it was on the bay, I think it's better I didn't get to go.

Today, Susan and I went to a nearby suburb, called Newtown, to have brunch at Pranah, a vegetarian restaurant I'd read about in one of Susan's books on Wellington.  It was terrific.

Afterward, she drove me around all of the bays of the city.  Just beautiful.  I'll get some pictures up later.

Upon returning to Stillpoint, I unpacked and then Vayu and I went to a Music Celebration in Upper Moutere at a Tibetan Buddhist shrine - incredibly beautiful, and in the middle of fields of sheep.  We enjoyed listening to a marimba group playing a few songs as many people danced (Vayu said, "ah... hippies").  Everyone was friendly and in to the music.

We also enjoyed a while meditating in the meditation room.

Tonight, it'll be time for me to review the training course and do some much needed yoga and meditation reading.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Hard to believe that the training part of my stay is over and yesterday, a few people left. Vayu and I took Evelyn to the airport, and then we ran a few errands in Nelson.

We went back to Stillpoint where I picked up my bags and prepared for a short trip to Wellington, where I am now.

A client in Haverford (or Ardmore?) lived in Wellington for about a year some years ago, and she still has a friend here (the friend is originally from NYC and she married a Kiwi). This friend, Susan, drove me around town last night, and we had dinner at a small/cozy Malaysian restaurant. Fish curry - yum. Susan had some kind of thin pancake rolled up around vegetables (dosai, maybe?); it was about 16 inches long.

Susan and her husband have been very kind and generous, letting me stay at their home, saving me quite a bit on accommodations costs.

Today I'm exploring the city: walked up and down Mt. Victoria (for a spectacular view) this morning, followed by a trip to Te Papa (the museum, which includes Maori artifacts and information, as well as a Monet exhibit - I didn't see the latter, as you have to buy advance tickets). Now I'll walk up Lambton Quay ("quay" is said like "key") to catch the cable car to the Botanical Gardens.

I found Te Aro Astanga (that "s" should have a dot over it, so you say "sh" and not "s") here in Wellington, but they're not open on Saturdays. I'd go to the led class tomorrow (Sunday) morning, but it doesn't start until 10, so I'll just have my own practice in the morning.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'll return to Nelson/Upper Moutere for the last week of yoga practice and meditation, with guest teacher, Manju Jois (Pattabhi Jois's son). He may give a few talks during the week, too.

Originally, I was going to stay off-campus at a place called Philosopher's Rest, but it turns out that my sweet little room at Stillpoint is available for me, so I'll stay there.

Breathe out, breathe in...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

pictures from our last afternoon class

Top one includes John adjusting Vayu in the parivritta trikonasa (revolved triangle) "dance," and others doing the same alongside.
Second is John about to adjust Sarah C in trikonasana (she wasn't smiling for the camera; she was laughing at something said in the room).
Third is Raffi the cat, just outside the shala.
Last is Sarah P-C doing a beautiful utkatasana (chair, or awkward, or fierce pose).

from the book...

"a lullaby

the breath
is round
it goes out, it comes back
it goes out, it comes back
it soothes, it heals
it is a lullaby"

A bit more from breath-the essence of yoga

Obviously, I can't type out too much of the book, but I'd like to include some more, hopefully inspiring some people to go out and buy and read it.

"move inside

gather all of the senses
that are usually extended towards the world
and turn them within
move them inside

intelligence, moving inwards

during the day
you use intelligence to catch words
to catch messages, to listen
to filter emotions

you don't need to do that now

use that intelligence, that capacity
to listen to what is taking place inside"


"the body loves gentleness

it is very beautiful
to follow what the body loves
the body loves gentleness

we are always so rough - 
especially when it comes to movement
movement that is born with the breath
has beauty"

Breath - the essence of yoga

This is the name of a book I found on the shala bookshelves; the author is Sandra Sabatini, who began yoga in 1975.  

After the birth of two children, she sought out Vanda Scaravelli to help her unlearn things that were not helping her.  She had a strong passion for yoga, and yet, at that time, felt utter confusion.

In the preface to the book, she says that Vanda taught her that the breath is the key, "an infinitesimal but incredible powerful laser capable of removing layers of encrustation."  

"To experience this is very often like being on the crest of an oceanic wave, a simultaneous feeling of resistance and delight.  

But if fascination prevails, then opening and unravelling follows.  Learning no longer comes from wanting to reach a goal or fulfill an aim, but from a gradual unfolding, an effortless blossoming."

And later, in the introduction:

"you will find that [the] observation of your breath
opens a door to the unexpected.
this simple instrument will lead to infinite discoveries.
when you are in a difficult situation, if you are in pain, or when
everything seems to fail, you can reconnect to your breath and find relief.
as you learn to be in its company all the time, you wonder how
you could have forgotten it for so long."

[written in 1999]

Ascended Masters cards

For fun tonight, Brigid brought her Ascended Masters cards to the shala lounge area, and India and Sarah P-C were having people choose a card to read what it said for them.

Appropriately, amazingly, I drew the Teacher Card, which says:

This card is about learning and teaching.  You've learned a lot from your experiences and relationships, and now it's time to pass that knowledge along to others.  Your current situation is bringing you opportunities for spiritual growth and teaching you some important life lessons.  As soon as you understand and accept these lessons, old patterns will drop away and be replaced by wonderful new experiences.

Additional meanings for this card:  
This person or situation is bringing you important life lessons.  
Ask yourself, "What's the blessing that this situation has brought to me?"  
Your life purpose involves teaching.  
Forgive a teacher from your past.  
You are urged to teach others.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pictures from our lunch trip to Jester House in Mapua on Wednesday.  I think, traditionally, John and Lucy do lunch with the teacher trainees on the last Friday of the training, but since Amanda had to leave early on Thursday, we went on Wednesday.

So - first picture is the sign outside Jester House, and the second picture indicates that the sign is correct:  they have live LARGE eels in the stream beside the restaurant.  You can buy beef on a stick to feed to them; we didn't, but we went down to see them.  

[aside:  sadly, some other restaurant up in Golden Bay had eels in a stream nearby, too, and someone came and took them all - killed them for food, I believe]

Third picture is most of the group hanging out on the terrace waiting for lunch.

Last picture is actually before we left to take the two vans to the restaurant:  it's Sarah P-C dancing.  She - and a few others - often just break in to some kind of dance as they're walking around.  It's quite joyful.

Dark moon

...and was it ever...

Energy in the shala this morning was quite low; perhaps we're all in tune with the moon?

In India, many of the women menstruate together on the new moon, and they stay secluded from the men at that time.  So today, for morning class, John and Vayu took a walk together to the meditation tree, and Lucy joined the rest of us (women) for discussion and review of restorative poses.

Of course, men benefit from restorative poses, too, so during morning practice, Vayu practiced them, and in class, when he and John came back, he was included in going over how to set them up.

The energy could also have been a bit lower this morning because we're now missing one of our fellow students.  Amanda had to leave early to fly to the north island to start on her next journalism assignment on the Maori (say "MAHW-ree").  There is a sadness knowing that our time together is coming to an end (and of course, it's a new beginning for us all, too).

Tomorrow is our last day, and we'll just have morning practice and then "exit consultations" with John and Lucy (each person separately).

I'll take Evelyn in to the airport for her early afternoon flight, and then return to Stillpoint to pack myself, as I'm taking a short trip to Wellington this weekend.

One of my clients back in Pennsylvania lived in Wellington for a while, and she connected me with her friends there, so they will pick me up and we'll have dinner together Friday night.  Saturday, I plan to explore the city, including Te Papa museum and the Botanical Gardens.
I'll return Sunday.

Thank you to everyone who has written and been so supportive.  I truly hope you can all experience yoga and New Zealand in your own lives in your own way.

Two morning photos, the second one taken perhaps 10 minutes after the first.