Saturday, August 23, 2008

eating vegan-macrobiotic

On Thursday mornings we have a macrobiotic cooking class with Karen. Before getting into teaching yoga, Karen, our instructor, was a macrobiotic vegan chef. she's even written a cookbook full of deliciousness!  This thursday she made the most delicious soup that i've ever had. it was a buttercup squash and had coconut, ginger and cilantro. I've made a number of different purée squash soups, but this was mind-blowing! 

although we have tons of fun, the YTT intensive is lots of work! every friday we have a 2-hour exam that requires memorizing sanskrit terms and names of poses, anatomy, and written explanations of philosophy concepts and teaching principles.  in order to pass the program and get certified we have to get above an 80% on all exams and homework.  can i brag a bit? i got a 99% on the first test!  studying for all this is just fun for me and when it's fun it comes easy. 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

i'm at a starbucks, which is an hour walk from the studio where i'm living and doing my teacher training. i paid 13$ to have internet access for the day so i can catch up on emails, banking, blogging. thankfully they have an outdoor patio with umbrellas, so i can be outdoors and not in the freezing aircon. the downside of the patio is that many people smoking. like the guy across from me, who downed a cup of jo and has since smoked at least 5 cigs in the last hour. just sitting there, smoking in his white Hilfiger polo and trendy jeans. he holds his cell phone flips it open every once in a while like he's hoping for a call. he doesn't look very happy, and despite his muscular physique its hard for me to imagine he's very healthy. but these are all of course my superficial judgments. i don't feel much that i fit in on this patio after a week of intense yoga practice, hours of stimulating esoteric discussion and delicious vegan eating. but we're all human: smokers, coffee drinkers, vegans.

so let me tell you more about teacher training at Heaven Studio. we are a group of 11. the diversity of background, age, geography is refreshing- everyone brings different strengths and energy and i really love getting to know everyone. there R. who is a high-up government deputy in ottawa, he's in his 50s. there's A. who is a montrealer with lebonese background, she's in her 30s and is burnt out of her career in marketing. there's Ap. and N. from New Brunswick, they're francophones and have both doing training in Reiki. just to name a few.
(update: someone called the unhappy guy. and i think he just might have even smiled.)

we start at 7:00 with a vigourous physical practice of asana and pranayama (posture and breathing) until 9:00. then we have a breakfast break. Then we have morning session. lunch at 1:30. Then afternoon session until 6ish. In the morning have teaching and discussion philosophy, demonstrations on anatomy and alignment, activities on communication, interpersonal and personal development. we also have practice teaching session and an exam each friday. About half of us sleep over at the studio and the rest live close enough the can go home in the evenings. in the evenings we eat, study and relax together.

its hard to imagine life get much better than this- learning, moving, bending, stretching, opening, forming new relationships, going deeper into understanding of self and spirit, enjoying the sun and blue sky and breeze, eating well, sleeping deeply, breathing fully.

on late after noon in parc st. louis in montreal, 2 weeks ago

This is a really old post that i just didn't get around to publishing till now...

June 12, workshops with Anusara teacher Desirée Rumbaugh- 2-hour all-level class.

Desirée started the class with a discussion on worries- and how for the class we could chose to let them go and be present. She said how gas prices are still going to be high, our country will still be at war, we will still die someday after this practice- so worrying about all that during the class won’t do us any good at all.
During the warm-ups she talked about how Anusara practitioners are know as the yogis who are all about opening the heart. It’s a great focus, but in Anusara we often jump straight to that too quickly. Before opening the heart we have to connect to something bigger- and we can act this out physically by drawing the front body to the back body, puffing out the back and bowing slightly. From there we have created the space and openness and engagement of the core and we can open our hearts even more.
This was the theme- connecting to something bigger and coming into our core. We started with warm ups and then went straight into abdominal work where she step by step teaching us to fully engage by puffing the back and scooping the tailbone. Then we went into some standing poses, but went up by puffing and scoping first. Then we went to a totally different child’s pose- I have NEVER WORKED THIS HARD in child! We scooped the tailbone strongly to the heels, almost slouching back a bit and then curled forward, hugging in the abdominals to the back body and keeping the ribs in the entire time.
Then we went to Crow, which the used me to demo, then twisted child and shoulder stand. This was a different sequence, particularly having the ab work some early in the class, but it was really effective in conveying the actions of the theme. Desirée beautifully and seamlessly went from one posture to the next- postures worked to step by step teach us the principles we were working on.
I felt physically and mentally challenged in a positive way. Spiritually, I had a complete breakthrough. I’ve had other teachers introduce the idea of the back body symbolizing the universal and the front the individual, but I’ve never had someone take it to the extreme the way that Desirée did through the practice- and it finally clicked for me. I had a major realization that I’ve been relying primarily on my individual self and through some difficult experiences in the past several years have lost trust that something bigger (God, the Divine, the Universe) is supporting me. What I learned was that when I come into the back body, hugging the front body in and engaging the core I have so much more power in poses. I learned that connecting with the universal gives me even more power and strength as an individual. Throughout the workshop I felt enthusiastic and awed. And at the end I hugged my friend and teacher Kara and just started crying. I was so joyful and grateful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

we've got catching up to do!  this evening ended an AMAZING first week of my yoga teacher training. i love love love it. i am learning from and with 12 incredible people. i am feeling connected, whole, stretched, relaxed.  i can't wait to tell you all about it in future posts. but for the sake of chronology, let's go back to sunday and monday the 3rd-4th of august...

osheaga music festival: 

held on the montreal's man-made expo 67 island, so many thousands of urban young, in their skinny jeans and tattoos, and trendy haircuts. my favorite band was gogol bordello. they are absolutely nuts. gypsy punk. must go if you ever get the chance to see them. ben, i know we have very different tasted in music, but i think you might love them. 

the rest of the week i read in sunny parks, dinned at my favorite vegetarian restaurants, wandered the streets through the rain with my red umbrella, and had lovely times with old friends. 

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I’m on the 3rd leg of my trip. The first, driving from goshen to windsor, started at 5am this morning. The second, the train from Windsor to Toronto, at 10am. Now its 5pm and I’m somewhere between Toronto and Montreal. I get in at 8pm. 13 hours, 2 states and international boarder and 2 provinces later I will arrive, returning to the pulsating, buzzing city. Although I am of course excited to arrive, I’m thankful for these hours in between places. Today I am glad we haven’t figured out how to travel at the speed of light. The speed of this train is just right.

The trip is pleasant. I doze, read, snack (on a carrot from the farmer’s market currently). Andrew Bird whistles sweetly through my headphones. Across the aisle is a Japanese family. Two cute girls dressed in pink chatter in sounds I even begin to comprehend as their dad reads the National Geographic Traveller’s Guide to Canada. I sit next to an Indian man who I haven’t exchanged more than a few excuse me’s and thank you’s with. He is clearly not North American. As I alternate between listening, ready, writing, eating, or all doing all simultaneously he sits and dozes contently. He hasn’t wiggled at all. The only media I saw him consume was reading the fine print back of his ticket.

At first was reading the “Yoga Tradition” a 500-page history of yoga, one of the required readings for my teacher training. After a couple of hours I was exhausted of that and started “Eat, Pray, Love”. This is a memoir of sorts by Elizabeth Gilbert that was recommended to me early in the summer, and which I was hoping to get my hands, but was also reluctant because of all the required reading I need to do for YTT. But then a day before I left, a gift showed up on my doorstep from my most lovely friend summering in NYC- and it was serendipitously the aforementioned book. I only just started it, but I’m loving and savouring it already.

Gilbert is insightful, thought provoking, honest and makes me want to laugh out loud- all at once. She articulates so well many of the questions that I am asking myself in this growth-spurt of the soul that I’ve been experiencing over the past few months. And her portraits of foreign as well as American culture are strikingly pointed and witty.

In this day of transition and travel I feel present, full, well and thankful.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I’ve been packing up and getting ready to move back to Canada this week, and the past couple of days I’ve started to say some goodbyes. And its been hard in some ways, but in saying goodbyes I’ve been filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the richness of my friendships and relationships and the greatness and beauty of the people who have touched my life this summer. Goodbye and thank you goshen, it has been a summer well spent.

I’m heading back to montreal this weekend and I’ll be there visiting friends and hanging out for one week, and then doing three weeks of yoga teacher training. In September its back to the ‘loo for school.