I’d forgotten how long and slow these days feel, the way February can be too much in Adelaide. Always hot, always stuffy. I spent most of the day at the library and emerged for a very intense and sweaty yoga class in the afternoon. I managed to make it about half an hour early, before everyone else crammed in to the narrow space, giving myself lots of quiet time to rest in to poses and relax, to allow the week to catch up with me and sink in before I have to rise up to the one ahead.
Closing in on the year, taking some time to catch up on things, reading, making lists, thinking through ideas and setting intentions. I love these in-between days and in-between times.
I went to an especially sweaty and charged yoga class this morning and it was a real time for transitions, each pose, each sequence. After ten years of practice I mostly jump back into plank from crow pose. And today I was thinking about that moment of transition, when one thing became another - rising out of the balance and using all my strength to open out. Maybe it was the heat, but I loved the letting go and trusting, knowing that I had worked to this pose, this change. It was a nice moment of alignment.
Trying my hardest to get back at it. Trying on 'normal life' and hoping it still fits. I've been going to yoga and trying to run, this old body feeling sore and tired, weathered but not beaten.
There's a lot to keep up with, there always is. There is for everyone and I'm not here to moan about it. But this week I made some time to get back to what I love. On Monday I went for a run, my third in as many months. I'm still getting my stride back, trying to breathe through the fire of my lungs and lift the lead that is my thighs. But as I stepped out onto my street and started running towards the gold of the streetlight a few metres up, I felt it. The lightness and joy of it, of moving my body and feeling free with it. I've been listening to A LOT of Dessert Island Discs lately, and that classical intro was playing as I headed out into the night and there was something perfect about it. A moment where everything felt right.
On Tuesday I managed three hours of yoga, a power class and a yin class back-to-back down in Bondi. They were the last classes with Persia, one of my favourite teachers these past five years, someone who somehow, always shares just what I need. She talked about change, the certainty of it and being able to go with it. After so many years riling against it, I smiled. I know now how small moments had lead to bigger ones, and how it all felt easier. Change is just a practice. I am calmer with it, more able to feel it and embrace it. I thought of all the hundreds of salutations Persia has lead me through over the years, so much a part of that shift, and felt so grateful for her warmth and compassion.
Pretty much my perfect SUNDAY right here. Slept till 8, some (seriously intense) yoga in Bondi at 9, a cold brew latte from Sensory Lab, a few hours at the beach with my book, taking breaks to swim and eat Vietnamese chicken baguettes (heavy on the coriander), a couple of glasses of rosè on the front porch at our new table doing the Saturday quiz, and a good long shower. I love a day at the beach, and I love the feeling of a clean tee after a shower and a day at the beach. I don't know if that's a thing but for me, it's a thing.
I went to a three hour intensive yoga class with Ana Forrest, a Native American warrior of a woman who teaches and practices yoga in an intensely emotional and healing way. Quite a start to the day. Between the meditation, the chanting, the dance and some amazingly strong inversions, I kind of came alive. I'd been carrying some hurt for a few weeks and my heart, the back of my heart, was aching away. She had us breathe into a part of ourselves for healing throughout, each pose drew us back to and then out of the emotion. And by the end of the three hours I felt good. Happy. Sweaty and smiling all the way home for a long shower.
I got a latte from Brickfields for the drive over the harbour and had a roast lunch with my family and my Nanna for Mother's Day. Custard fruit tart and old records in the afternoon...
Long time coming, this particular SUNDAY. Hard to believe that my yoga teacher-training course started six months ago, and here I am done. Exam done and 29 pages of 10-point typed theory done (printed and bound). Just like that. Or not quite 'just like that'. I have spent the last two weeks trying to get it all done, to practice my sequence, to understand the vayus, to embody my own practice, to critique a series of poses I am working on, to practice my sequence a little more, and try and write about a philosophy that is so detailed, so intricate and so foreign to my old head. I also had an epic month at work, with A LOT of overtime, because of course. I came out of my exam at about lunchtime, with not only the stress of teaching my sequence, but the physical exhaustion of four and a half hours of yoga (we each practiced as a student in each other's exam). I slept a good couple of hours of the afternoon away with the ease of it all being DONE. It felt good.
I got some lovely feedback on my class too, which I was pretty happy about. I was, apparently, very confident! I had a strong presence in the room, was articulate, and had a well paced sequence I'm told. I built the class up to tree pose which is a favourite of mine because it is so grounding in the legs, and there is so much lightness in the chest (if you can get a hold on that balance, anyway). In the end, I actually had a good time. I kind of loved it. I hadn't expected to want to actually be a yoga teacher, but there is something wonderful about sharing the practice and the modality with others that I find very humbling. A bit more practice in the park with friends and I might think about it more seriously.
I closed the class with a favourite ee cummings quote, to thank all my fellow students for being so amazing - they were such an inspiration to practice with.
'all I could think of were the stars on the tip of your tongue, the flowers sprouting from your mouth, the roots entwined in the gaps between your fingers, the ocean echoing inside of your rib cage'.
Another weekend of yoga-school, and actually my last weekend of yoga-school. Hard to believe that retreat was six months ago and my exam is in a month. And in the meantime, I'm very nearly a yoga teacher. I feel so grateful to have gone through this learning with such an amazing bunch of people - 26 amazing people, specifically. All of them have brought so much to the experience and I have learnt and practised alongside some very dear new friends. I haven't quite allowed myself to think too much about where it will all lead, just trying to be present and soak what the course has to offer. And honestly, here on Monday morning, after a few pints of beer and Sunday night tacos with my fellow graduates, my main thoughts are about toast and peanut butter and a strong latte and getting through the day. LAST YEAR.
Another yoga-school weekend gone. Between Friday night and Sunday I spent 26 hours at the studio, which makes for a lot of time barefoot in stretchy pants - and I'm not complaining. Other weekends of the course have felt exhausting, but I came out of yesterday feeling pretty alive and full of beans, as it happens. We took in some philosophy components which I found interesting, a lot of yin practice, and to get me through the slow afternoon sessions, I got down with a little legs-up-the-wall (see above) - nothing like an inversion to awaken the senses. I biked home under the super-moon on Sunday feeling pretty good in all. I went into the course thinking just of myself and my own practice, not sure I ever wanted to actually be a yoga-teacher. But halfway in and I'm wondering if I might just find it a pretty wonderful thing to share…
This was a yoga-school weekend. Which makes it a BIG weekend. The retreat I went to a few weeks ago was actually part of a much broader teacher-training course I am doing. A six month foundation course to get me a little closer to the heart of things. I don't know that I actually want to teach yoga, to be honest, but I am finding the study so interesting and challenging and - as I had hoped when I signed up a few months ago - very much just what I need. Body and mind. It helps that the team I am studying with are so lovely - 26 amazing people to grow with and stretch with.
The weekends of study are pretty intense, though. A few hours on Friday night, then 7 AM - 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Early morning practice, a lot of theory and a lot of teaching. It's nice wearing stretchy pants 24/7, drinking endless cups of tea, and using words like ujjayi and mulabandha in general conversation, but riding my bike home in the rain on Sunday night, my backpack heavy with books and my thighs aching / dying, it all felt enough. These are big weekends, and here on Monday night after a hearty dinner and my washing folded, it feels good to be crawling into bed early.
The picture is from one of my lovely new friends' house - she lives just a block away from the studio and was kind enough to invite a few of us for lunch and a break from all the reading. It's an amazing space that she shares with about five others, though there are hundreds in the old building, some squatting, some renting, some running businesses, some getting in out of the cold. Her kitchen and sunroom were a haven in the middle of the city and warehouses of Surry Hills. Full to the brim of the most interesting art and collections and all that detail that comes from sharing an old space.
- Seven days of seven AM practice feels good but tiring. Two hours makes for a lot of vinyasas so you should use the afternoon breaks to read The Goldfinch because it is both restful and a completely amazing book and you never have enough time to read when you're home and working.
- The best part is probably going to be the food - breakfast, lunch and dinner all prepared for you with love and care and out-of-this-world delicious. Breakfast especially. If on the first day you feel greedy for making a pot of Earl Grey and a carrot, apple, orange and ginger juice to go with your date and cinnamon porridge and apple and coconut bircher and that big dollop of yoghurt don't worry, because you'll do the same every day, and usually add toast and jam. And often a banana. And dried apricots. Eat it all. It is goodness.
- Kirtan, or call and repeat Hindi chanting is one of your favourite things so you should give up on pretending to be cool and just be OK with that. You've always loved it. You should do it more often. It doesn't matter that you have an awful voice, it is about being joyful.
- When you think you've packed enough knickers, go ahead and pack some more. Sweaty daily practice and bushwalks and swimming in the magnesium pool and two showers a day because the rainwater is so lovely means you might go through more than you'd thought. You might end up washing a few pairs of cotton-tails in the sink in your room and stringing them up to dry by the window.
- Silent bushwalks are better than talking bushwalks. Your senses come alive as you follow the pink ties through the dappled light. You can smell the mandarins and lemons before you get to the orchard. And as you wind down the mountain, you can smell the damp earth and the eucalypts. You can hear only the birds and the crackles of the bush, and the footsteps of your friends. It's a kind of deep and steady thud with rhythm and purpose. It's nice to let your brain rest for a few hours, to just let it think about the path and the rain that is looming (OK, and a little bit about the leaches).
- The hinterland is wonderful and the days start out with soft rain and heavy mist, then open out to beautiful sun. And the smell of the woodfire burning in the morning reminds you of home, of growing up in the Hills and having to chop firewood. Each morning when you walk up the dirt path for practice you are grateful to see the soft patches of grey smoke from the chimney.
- You'll sleep like the dead and love every moment, but coming home to your own bed is everything.