That makes 4

26 February, 2006

I can’t seem to get up before 7:00 am without the alarm. I’m going to bed at 10:30 – 11:00, so that means I’m generally sleeping 8-9 hours a night! What’s up with that? Maybe it’s restorative – the past couple of months having been so hectic, tiring and sleepless.

Anyway, the important thing is that I practiced this morning so that’s makes four days straight. I could feel the sheer sloth weighing down on me as I lay in bed and I really had to fight the demons to get on to the mat. But at around 9:30 am, in Savasana, with the bright sun streaming onto my face I felt great – I’d like to bottle that feeling and take a small shot whenever the lethargy takes hold. If I could recollect that victorious sensation as I got up I’d have no problem getting onto the mat.

You should see the day we’ve got here in Southern Ontario – bright cloudless blue sky and the ground covered in blindingly white powder. It’s -13c outside but gorgeous.

I can’t go to New York for Guruji’s tour stop for all kinds of reasons. But I’ve found a consolation – Darby’s coming down from Montreal to the Yoga Sanctuary in March and I’m signing up for a 10-hour weekend workshop. I’m looking forward to it – my asana practice needs a bit of a kick up the backside and this fills the prescription. The focus will be on ‘positioning’, alignment, breath and technique. On the whole, I’m skeptical about ‘deconstuctionism’ in asanas. I can’t imagine focusing just on backbends or ‘how to float in your vinyasas’. Getting direction as I’m going through a practice – as with Lino and Tina back in November – is great and really helps but I can’t imagine spending an afternoon, say, on backbends or ‘floating’. But then I can’t really judge as I’ve never been at any such workshops.

I got my passport this week. We did my daughters’ as well while we were at it. Check out Diya’s hilarious mugshot. When I handed it over to the guy at Canada Immigration and Customs office, he laughed and pretty soon it was being passed around the place. She’s growing way too fast.

3-day streak

25 February, 2006

I can’t remember the last time I practiced 3 days in a row – but today made it 3. Lately I seemed to have practiced every other day or with the odd two-days in a row or the two days off.

The poses haven’t suffered primarily because even though I can’t call it a daily practice lately, I’ve still been on the mat at least 3 days a week. Indeed, over this rough patch I’ve even consolidated a few things. Mari C-2 is now solid – what was once impossible is now a firm fixture in my practice regardless of what time of day it is. I could drag myself right out of bed at 5, fall straight onto the matless Berber, and when I got to Mari C I would not even wonder whether I’d get the second side. It’s sorted. It’s well sussed. Now it’s time to work on getting Mari D (unassisted, first thing in the morning, without stretching).

No, I don’t stretch. I don’t see the point.

Reports of our death…

21 February, 2006

have been greatly exaggerated. 0-1 to the ARSENAL

Day of Reckoning

21 February, 2006

Arsenal have the biggest game of their history tomorrow. It couldn’t come at a worse time – injuried plagued and shorn of confidence. Out of the domestic trophy hunt and languishing near mid-table they go to Madrid to face the biggest team in the world.

Why does sport have such enormous pull on us? So much misery and elation over a game – even if it the ‘Beautiful Game’ as Pele so memorably called it. It’s at once amusing and enraging to read the ‘pundits’ (what an outrageously bad use for that fine Indian word?) who have written our obituary. A beautiful new stadium and all this careful accumulation of precocious talent. Are Arsenal finished? Destined to spend years in the football hinterland overshadowed by Tottenham Hotspur? No effing way.

I’ve felt pretty miserable lately (and not just because of my football team – not everything is about Arsenal). I feel stretched (no not in the ‘asana’ sense’ – though I been pretty good and constant on that front). I feel tired and jaded. I usually wobble through January and February – but this year feels particularly hard. To be fair. it’s not just the weather. Then what is it? Well it’s everything. Why can’t it all stop just for 5 days. I’m waiting for Spring or maybe early Summer. When my wife has gone to visit her parents in London with the girls, I’m going to steal away with a canoe, a few incidentals and my mat to Algonquin. But I really shouldn’t wait – I need to invest in a parkah or get myself a new snowboard and start making the best of this fine northern climate of ours.

What was it that Bilbo said? Something about ‘too little butter scraped over too much bread’ or some such. That’s how I feel.

Oh yeah and don’t our girls rock? An aggregate score of 42-2 on the way to Gold. That is just amazing. Too bad we didn’t get Team USA in the final.

Early American Yogi

14 February, 2006

The title is a reference to Ben Franklin whose autobiography I’m currently just about finishing. I don’t know if he was actually aware of Yoga – it’s probably asking a bit much of even him (although another New Englander, Thoreau living only a half century later knew and loved the Bhagavad Gita). Regardless, Franklin’s philosophy is definitely imbued with the ideals of yoga. Most of all, his idea of ‘virtue’ – for him it is something decidedly lacking in dogmatism. He believed that all faiths have at their core a set of virtues that none would find objectionable, and that the truest form of worship is to be found in the service of humanity. That might sound uncontroversial and simple to you or I, but they are breath-taking statements that imply that God can be reached through any faith. That’s rare wisdom today. But in a man of his modest origins, living in the 18th century American colonies it’s stunning.

Quite apart from the philosophy he expounds, the narrative of his life and accomplishments, public and private make good reading. Wisdom, Honesty, Integrity. Application. He’s rightly revered.

As for my practice. I’m just coming off a nasty cold that had me off the mat last week. I was back on it this weekend though. Again, I find satisfaction in that even in the ‘worst of it’, I don’t go 7 days without a practice. And then again who can say I wasn’t practicing Yoga when all the while I’ve been reading Ben Franklin

The Price is Right

7 February, 2006

I once saw a Cantaloupe being sold for about $70. In Tokyo of course. It was immaculate , the stem trimmed into a perfect ‘Y’, it rested on a bed of tissue in a decorative box. Still, even Oprah would consider that a bit steep. But is it ‘objectively’ speaking ‘too’ much? Well, if it was, they’d rot on the shelf and the shop’s not going to let that happen. Somebody’s obviously willing to pay the price, so the price must be right (note that we are not considering the underlying issue for a $70 cantaloupe – the extravagent protection afforded to Japan’s well-connected farmers).

Now let’s take AYRI. Even if you live in Canada (with it’s newly robust and influential ‘petro-currency’), 26,900 rupees is pretty steep for a month of asanas (and I emphasize asanas because as far as I know there is no formal instruction or guidance on the other seven limbs) – after all, I can get a month at one of the authorised teachers in Toronto for less than a quarter of that. But can you say it’s too much? Maybe not; after all, the place appears to be packed to proverbial rafters most of the time. Lower prices would just result in an ever-growing waiting list. The price appears to be what the ‘market will bear’ and therefore, in the only objective sense I know of, the price is probably right.

I guess up to me to decide. I do like cantaloupe though. Asanas too.

72 hour Moon day

1 February, 2006

For various reasons at home and work, Moon day become a three day break from the mat. January was like that – I probably averaged 3 practices a week. But there’s some goodness in that. There was a time a couple of years ago when a cutting out practice for a day was bad news and would inevitably lead to several weeks off the mat. Not just that, but I wouldn’t feel particularly bad about it. Now, if I don’t practice for two days in a row, I can feel my conscience tugging. It’s not so much guilt, but rather as though it gives me wry smile and gentle ‘come on son, get on that mat’.

That my ‘troughs’ are narrower (and presumably shallower) suggests that my sādhana is taking hold.

As for my practice, it was none the worse for the 3 days off; a little stiff in the opening poses but otherwise, everything was as good (or bad, depending on the pose!) as it was on Saturday.

Last night driving through town, I passed one of several churches with those lit signs – the phrases on these boards sometimes appeal to me and sometimes don’t. Yesterday I saw one that reminded me of my practice – “Live simply so that others may simply live”. It struck me that there probably isn’t a faith that would have qualms with that; it seemed a universal aspiration.