Happy Diwali!

31 October, 2005

I never got the point of daylight savings time – sure the ‘extra’ light’s welcome in the morning…but I need it at night too. This morning though, I saw the point because at 6:30, for the first time in some weeks, I was indeed offering salutations to the sun in it’s presence as the day was breaking.

Yesterday however, I had skipped. We were up late overreating at relatives and I had work early Sunday – we were deploying some big fixes into Production ahead of our go-live tomorrow.

I had hoped to practice later in the day, but friends made an unexpected (but welcome) visit to see our new daughter. And then we had pumpkins to carve in the evening; we carved two – both of which, for the first time, we had grown ourselves. We just lit them a couple of hours ago (pictured left). The girls are all dressed; one daughter is dressed, like pretty much every other five year-old girl on the continent, as one of the half dozen ‘Disney Princesses’. The other is dressed, or rather, has been dressed, as a clown.

We decorate for Halloween extensively – more for the fun that it brings our daughter than anything else since we don’t have too many visitors; we live in the remote countryside on a street of 13 homes. We know all our neighbours well and several of us have children about the same age who have grown up together in the 5 years since the homes were built. We all go out ‘Trick or Treating’ together – visiting only the 13 houses on our street and then ending the night at one of our homes with the kids playing together while we have a drink or two. Tonight we’re starting the night with a few drinks as well – at our place. A good thing tomorrow’s a Moonday.

On this particular Halloween, the home is lit up more than usual as it’s Diwali. So let me end by wishing you Salmubarak – A Happy New Year! May the new year bring you contentment, prosperity and that illusive asana you’re struggling with. Oh to have been in India tonight!

Derby Day

29 October, 2005

I realise now what last week had been all about. I was detoxing. Slowly after the excitement of Diya’s birth, normalcy was returning and my usual lifestyle and diet was beginning to reassert itself.

I’ve had a good week. Busy at work and I almost clocked 60 hours. But my practice took it in stride – my asanas were better and I even managed to get in some reading. I bought a digital copy of the Mahabharata at Amazon last week. (Don’t you just love technology? $1.99 for an 400 page ancient classic – available immediately. No shipping. No driving to bookstore.) It’s a very early translation that is true to the sanskrit original – neither abridged nor embellished. There’s no attempt to make the document more ‘accessible’. It’s like the translators said, “here it is, take it or leave it.” The result makes for surprisingly compelling reading.

The first few pages are admittedly tedious; one section just offers paragraph after paragraph of names – a list of ancient names of those who fought at Kurukshetra. And in another section the entire story is given away and completely foretold. A western reader might be dismayed and taken aback, but fate and inevitability are constant themes in Hindu mythology and nobody should ever have any doubt as to who wins in an Indian struggle of good over evil. So what if you know how it’s going to end? Was there any other way for it to end?

I was up at 6 this morning (early for a Saturday). The North London Derby was on at 8 and I wasn’t going to miss it for anything. The result was a 1-1 draw and in the circumstances, I was pleased. Spurs are off to their best start in a decade and we (Arsenal) are having our worst – and they still couldn’t beat us on their patch. A decent, if not perfect start to a beautiful Saturday morning – you should see the stunning day we’re having.

Vegetarian’s Delight

25 October, 2005

Toxic. That’s how I feel. My asanas have been poor the last week. It’s gotten very cold suddenly (we even had a couple of inches of snow Sunday night) and it’s now pitch blackness at 6:30 am. I’m finding it hard to get onto the mat and when I do, I’m stiff as a board.

Also, some of my negative samskaras have retaken hold of me. Diya’s birth was a ‘weak spot’ – up all hours and short on time, I took short cuts. In a word, I regressed. French fries, chips, coffee, donuts, maple walnut danishes. Banished for the first 9 months of the year and I felt brilliant. But those deeply grooved habits are cunning – your guard comes down in a moment of weakness and they are back in just like that. Now, slowly I’m beginning to wean myself off.

Also, lately I’ve been laying in and on weekends my practice often doesn’t start until 9 am. The resulting asanas are poor because I’m fretting about stuff that I need to get done or distracted by the commotion in the kitchen made by the rest of the household who are by this time well and truly up.

I’m also going to bed later than I’d like. Admittedly I’m doing things that are worthwhile (like reading The Sutras or other worthwhile books or articles. Last week I wrote about the Genographic Project – I spent a lot of time watching and re-watching the DVD I was sent with my participation kit and ‘browsing’ (as they would say in Mysore) the website. All quite worthy of my late evening time to be sure, but not without adverse impact to my early morning poses.

Beyond this I’ve been feeling crap physically. Headaches – the usual curve through the left side of my head starting behind the eye, curving behind my ear and down my shoulder.

Yesterday was keeping with the recent ‘badness’. We put an application into Production – the work of a team of 15 or so starting back in April. Six of us went into the office to ‘stickhandle’ the deployment. Afterwards the three of us (who weren’t moslem and therefore not fasting for Ramadan) went to the Chinese Mall across the road to celebrate with lunch. I felt pretty nasty later on – all I could eat for supper was an apple and a kiwi fruit. One of my colleagues took the day off sick and another was also out of sorts. I think they fared worse than I because of the beef. I, of course, stuck to what were apparently vegetables – the ‘Spicy Eggplant’ and something called ‘Vegetarian’s Delight’. We soaked it all up with this chinese bread that resembled fresh uncooked pasta in rolls the size of tennis balls. It tasted great and we cleaned up, but in retrospect it was all terribly unwise.

My Distant Ancestor…

21 October, 2005

lived in East Africa some 60,000 years ago. He himself was descended from a woman who lived some 150,000 years ago. They are your ancestors too; the Human Genographic project reveals that all modern DNA is inherited from these two people. I’ve become fascinated with this project – it’s a partnership of the National Geographic Society and the company I work for. The idea is to use modern technology and the computing power it offers to draw detailed conclusions for the first time on how our species populated the planet and how they evolved as they did so.

All of us are ultimately African – our ancestors ventured out of that continent after the last Ice Age. As they made their way across the planet in different directions, their genes mutated periodically leaving a genetic trail – markers which are inherited by us that reveal exactly how they made their way to where they ended up. The project uses the DNA of the few remaining indigenous peoples as ‘signposts’ against which our own more ‘scrambled’ DNA can be compared to draw these conclusions.

I’ve even chosen to participate by offering my own DNA to the global research database that they are developing to delineate this migratory history. In return I’ll get a detailed analysis of my personal DNA – I’ll learn about my own ancestors and their genetic and physical journeys.

We’re all cousins separated by just 2,000 generations. That’s all. We are one people. It’s a mind-shifting fact that irrevocably alters that way you think about the world. Concepts like ‘Race’, ‘Nation’ or ‘Country’ are rendered utterly meaningless.

What does this have to do with my practice? Well Yoga does teach us to see humanity, or even all existence, as one. But for me today, the connection is banal; I stayed up late watching a fascinating documentary that the Genographic Project sent me with my DNA Sample Kit. After my late night I got up feeling tired with a headache. This affected my practice which was consequently a sorry affair.

I still practiced. More to the point, I wanted to practice.

Congratulations Thierry Henry

18 October, 2005

186 Goals for Arsenal Football Club. He is now the Club’s all time leading goalscorer. Well done mate. He scored two in Prague tonight. In a year that is shaping up to offer little for the Arsenal fan, there is at least Thierry Henry. Now if only he’d sign that contract and stay on past 2007.

To change the subject completely, we’re eating lot’s of beets these days (which as it happens are the same colour as Arsenal’s special commemorative shirt of this year – see picture). The harvest is in and we have more beets than we know what to do with. I quite like them but if I’m completely honest, I have to admit that the main reason for my eating them is a sheer fascination for the consequences (you pee red). It just goes to show you…boys may get bigger but don’t ever really grow up.

As for practice. It should have been moonday today. Yesterday I was up at 3:45 and would happily have practiced. Today I struggled out of bed at 7:00 with the left side of my neck screwed up. Still at least I practiced eh?

13 Months to Mysore

16 October, 2005

There’s a lot to be said for starting one’s planning early…but this borders on the ridiculous. It comes from anticipation and excitement more than anything else. I guess my first job is to get my passport(s) renewed – the Canadian expired in 2001(!) and the British will expire this April – I may need these anyway (since the Americans may be asking for passports at the border starting next year and I sometimes need to travel there for work) so this gives me reason to get on with this.

It occurs to me that there a couple of ways I can do this trip – use my vacation or keep working – or do both and stay longer (although I can’t see myself being able to bear anymore than two months away from my family). But I already work from home 80% of the time so if I can find a top-end apartment with reliable highspeed 24/7 internet access and telephony I could conceivably work while I practice at AYRI – I figure I could even work a few of those ‘real time’ – say 6-10 pm Indian time. But it’s too far off to think about right now as I don’t know what kind of engagement I’ll be working on then.

I also did the math last night; I reckon CDN $5,000 will cover me for 2 months – the flight, fees, rent, food and incidentals like a scooter and miscellaneous travel…and it still leaves a grand as contingency.

As for my practice in the present; I’ve had two good days. Yesterday was an early start as I promised to take our 5 year-old to the zoo. We had good weather and the walking was a good workout; the Rouge Valley in which the zoo is located was decked out in stunning fall colours. For some reason the animals she wanted to see most were vultures, snakes and crocodiles. She saw plenty of the last two…but not the vultures). When we visited the ostriches she asked me why they weren’t running (I guess all those cartoons and nature shows have her thinking they constantly motor about at 80 km/hr). We both found the llamas hilarious – they weren’t doing much…just the look they have on their faces made us laugh. The mara and the golden lion tamarin take the prizes in the ‘cute’ category.

But back to the asanas – Yoga Mudra I almost have now. I can grab both toes but lose the grip on my right as I bend forward. Apart from that nothing else to report – although I’m doing a better job of holding my bandhas these past few weeks, having made a concerted effort to focus on that aspect of my practice. As much as I’ve enjoyed my practices these last couple of days, moonday comes at the right time as I need to go into the office tomorrow; it’s a busy week ahead as we start UAT and prepare for going into Production next weekend.

Mysore…as in…me in.

15 October, 2005

The long hours, late nights and early mornings caught up with me this morning; I got up for the 4:00 am alarm, turned it off and was too tired – it was the easiest and most obvious decision to make. I slept until 8:30 at which time I decided to shower and get to my desk – that made 9 hours of sleep. I must have really needed it because I usually can’t sleep more than 6.

In a way, I’m glad I missed practice. I’ve been too obsessive. It would do me some good to skip every now and again. I’m even considering putting in a rest day and going to six days a week. The law of diminishing returns surely applies to asanas as much as anything else and I sometimes wonder if practicing everyday is too much. Anybody know? Am I supposed to skip a day? They do in Mysore after all.

Speaking of Mysore. Yes. It’s true what I said yesterday. I am now planning to go. This depends on what the schedule for the Shala is next winter (i.e. 2006/2007). I’m looking at a two month visit over Christmas – December and January. By straddling my visit that way I can use two years of vacation back-to-back requiring me to take only maybe another two or three weeks of unpaid leave. Getting the time off shouldn’t be an issue; provided I give enough notice I should be able to manage my engagements.

I decided on this last weekend. We had Thanksgiving and for once, we were neither visiting or having visitors over the long weekend. Nor were we busy about the house. So I spent the time thinking hard and reading – mostly about the practice. I delved into Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali again. I also got into some of what my fellow bloggers were writing (by the way, I found this current Mysore blogger that isn’t on Asthangi.net). And then I read Yoga Mala and thought about Guruji. That’s when I knew that if I didn’t go as soon as possible, that I might live to regret it later.

Then I raised the idea with Neera. Predictably her response was ‘Yeah, go for it. You have to do this’. We’ve talked before about the idea of us all going when the girls are older. But I know now that I can’t wait that long and Neera doesn’t practice (at least yet). Who knows? Maybe we’ll go again when the girls are older and when Neera is practicing. But I need to do this now – even if it means doing it alone. Maybe I’ll ask my brother if he wants to come; I did my first asanas longer after he did his, borrowing an earlier edition of this from him. But his approach is still ‘on and off’ and I think I’ve passed him somewhat. Besides when I’ve broached the subject, he’s mentioned that he wants to get his asanas to a certain level of competence before going.

So now comes the excitement of thinking and planning for the coming pilgrimage. I’ve at least given myself enough time eh? Where do I start? I guess the ezboard. Does anyone know what the Shala’s schedule is next winter? 😉