Yoga, Day 3

I’m not going to lie.  I’m a little bit achey from twice daily yoga for the past three days.  Well, that and sitting on the floor for the rest of the class.  And by the floor, I mean, sitting on my meditation pillow / mat on the floor / extra bolster against the wall / lying on my stomach with the meditation pillow under my ribs to stretch my back the other way… I’m quite fidgety.

But the class itself is great thus far.  I have mentioned out loud my difficulty with the “woo” factor in some of our discussions – having the intellectual baggage of scientific rationalism holding me back from some of the more arcane talk, which is kind of strange since I’m not terribly turned off from mystical things.  I’m working on it.  It might just be the way that it’s being discussed, full of “must” and “cannot”, even though it’s prefaced with “it depends” and “don’t take this as dogma”.

Yoga is a philosophy, not a religion, but it is a philosophy that spends a lot of time talking about the divine and the soul, and the relationships between them.  We’ve been trying to discuss dualism and non-dualism, but he pointed out that you can’t really discuss non-dualism because as soon as you start, you’re automatically discussing it in dualistic terms.  He mentioned in passing that doing a paper on the history of yoga might be a good idea for one of the course assignments, but I might do something on the yoga philosophy instead.  Though I am interested in yoga history.

Everyone in the class – Shining Dancer, Strong Artist and Renard Argent – are all very nice and friendly.  We’re all supportive of one another.  Today we were talking about Ayurveda and discussing our regular “eliminations”.  At this point, Strong Artist quipped, “You said we’d get to know each other very well in this class – I didn’t realize you meant *this* well!”

But it is now Pitta time and I was supposed to go to bed during Kapha time (6:00-10:00pm) to take advantage of the natural slowness of Kapha.  Pitta will give you a second wind (from 10:00pm-2:00am)… and then Vata time (from 2:00-6:00am) is supposed to be a good time to get up and do meditation, because it’s quieter and you have a better connection with the Universe at that point.

I’ll leave on a point that came up in the first day of class, but that has resonated with me so far.  It’s a pretty powerful statement and one that I think could help a lot of people who are identifying themselves as broken or in need of “fixing”.

We are not broken; we are not un-whole.  That perception is based on veils and obstructions of our True Self inside.  The one that is perfect and whole and divine – that perfect being is the True you.  It always has been, and always will be.


Yoga, day 1

I know I already posted a picture for my first day of yoga teacher training, but I also wanted to provide some text.

So, I hadn’t checked my email yesterday, but apparently my yoga teacher sent out a lovely welcome email that also indicated that he had changed the start time today to 9am, rather than 8am.  Which explains why he was not yet in yoga clothes when I arrived for 8am, and he said, “Well, you’re quite early!”  So I spent the first hour of my yoga teacher training day on my mat in the empty studio, reading one of our textbooks – the Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Rama, who is apparently (now) one of my yoga ancestors, as I’m learning in his lineage (Himalayan Masters).

Once other folks arrived, we started the day with the usual Saturday, hour and forty five minute public yoga class.  The theme of it was calm, introspection, and a lot of forward bends (that physically encourages introspection).  It was quite good, and refreshing after the hectic lead up to my time off.  (I’m technically on weekend, and my actual leave starts Monday).  Then we sat down as the class of four and began.

We started with introductions, and then we had a bit of a free ranging discussion about yoga.  It was quite close to lunch so we didn’t start going through the course notes until after that.  But it was learning just the same.

I spent lunch up at my yoga teacher’s apartment, above the studio, eating my chickpea wrap at his dinner table, while he made himself stir-fried kale with pine nuts and turmeric, and reheated a slice of quiche.  My classmate Shining Dancer came up, and then Strong Artist.  We chatted a bit and Strong Artist and I connected on art.  She’s an artist too, and she just did her first show where she actually sold six of her pieces.  She’s interested in seeing my work, so I shyly said I could take some pictures on my iTouch and show them to her.  I’ll have to do that tomorrow, because I ran out of time today.

The afternoon was spent in discussion – what yoga is, the history, the attitudes towards yoga, and the benefits of it.  Did you know that the physical practice of yoga that we know today has only been around since about the time of India’s independence from Britain?  Actual mentions of physical yoga practice, or asana, occurs only twice in the Yoga Sutras (I think I’m remembering that correctly).  Yoga used to be almost entirely centred around meditation, breath-work and working to better connect the body, mind and spirit.  One of the goals of yoga is to have better spiritual discernment – to better make decisions and make the unconscious “gut-decisions” more conscious.

It was towards the end of the afternoon, when we were doing a second practice to loosen us up after an entire day sitting on the mat (in various positions because sitting all day on a meditation pillow – the picture below – is actually kind of uncomfortable), that it finally clicked that I was learning to be a yoga teacher.  He was leading us through a “beginner’s” class and explaining why we would set up certain poses in certain ways.  I’m really doing it!

I thanked him as I left tonight and told him I was very excited about the course.  He was glad to hear that.

Now off to bed, because I did sort of fall asleep during relaxation pose…  ;)


* – I replaced the actual names with descriptive names for my classmates because I realized I didn’t ask their permission to blog publicly about them. (edit – April 29th)

Final countdown

Yes, you’re welcome for that particular earworm.  And if you can’t hear the synth horns right now doing an inspiring yet simple trill, then I guess you weren’t listening to the radio during the 80s.  Don’t go out of your way to figure out.  It’s okay, really.

I walked into my friend’s office last week and held out my two hands, palms open towards him.  And after a few guesses, I happily chirped, “Ten working days left!” and we had a good chuckle.

It’s been a running theme since then – me flashing finger signs at my colleagues and them giggling as I say, “Nine days!” or “Six and a half days, since we just passed lunch!”  Monday’s five day count down turned into a high five.

So, at the end of work today, I was able to flash a W.  Three working days left until my adventure begins.  I am proud to say that I have more excitement than stress now.  My replacement started and I have been doing my best to gently but quickly get him up to speed on what our job entails.  I’m introducing him to our collaborators, and I have trust in my colleagues to help him out as best they can.

The process of organizing my work for my replacement to take over feels a little bit like dying.  I was musing on that last week as I was going through waves of stress and frustration.  I tried to explain it to someone (I think I alarmed them by speaking in this way) – I’m putting my affairs in order, so they can carry on without me.  So that someone else can pick them up and not have too much trouble figuring out what has to happen next.  It’s not like I’m leaving a cryptic treasure map in order to make someone’s life more interesting – the files have to be logical, complete and contain as many of the considerations as possible.

But there was something so freeing about handing over a file on Monday to my replacement and saying, “Here, this is one of the files you’re going to have to work on.  Familiarize yourself with it.  Feel free to come and ask questions.  And then we’ll get you writing something before I go.”

Just like the lead up to my Masters thesis defense – time doesn’t slow down so you have to do what you can in the time you have.  The day will come, and I will turn off my computer, lock my cabinets, and walk out the door – and then I will be on my nine weeks of leave.  That day is three days away.  In actuality, it’s 24 working hours away.  It is – several meetings, two celebratory lunches, at least two errand runs, and one drive out to my mother’s house to drop off my dog for safe-keeping – away.  Three sleeps.  Three alarm clocks going off…

And then?  I will go and begin to learn how to be a yoga teacher.

But I am really looking forward to the time after – when I will be able to get up, grab my cup of coffee, and head into the studio to work on one of the paintings that are desperately waiting to be released from my imagination.  It’s getting crowded in there…   ;)

(Okay, fine – this is the music reference I made earlier – don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Europe – The Final Countdown


I didn’t go to the yoga studio yesterday, because I didn’t want to.  Instead, I did yoga here, at my house, and then started a ramble with my boyfriend that didn’t turn out quite the way we thought it would.  But it did end up with us spending a few (unplanned) hours with family, including visiting his brother and sister-in-law and nephew (kind of my nephew too :) ) which was wonderful.  Well, except for the part where my boyfriend was the recipient of a vast amount of spit-up.  That was just funny.  ;)

I also bought my roadmap for Ireland yesterday, which is exciting.  And got to speak with a guy from Northern Ireland who gave me some really helpful tips.  I’m going to say thanks to the universe for that particular intervention.

So, I guess I haven’t really laid out in any of my posts so far *what* the plan is for my nine weeks off…

Basically, the nine weeks will be book-ended by two out of three modules of my yoga teacher training. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now, and everything sort of came together in a moment of serendipity earlier this year.  I had been speaking with my current yoga teacher, and she recommended Loren as a wonderful yoga teacher.  So I investigated his program and it does coincide with my interests (restorative, healing yoga for the body and the mind).  I had been looking at other (I’m sure equally wonderful) yoga studios, but there were problems with timing and cost.  This training course was easy to incorporate into the reality of my job (with the help of the leave period I was able to take, and the vacation I will have remaining to be able to finish the third module) and it was more affordable in one lump payment.

In addition to the yoga teacher training, I’m also going to take My Trip.  For the last few years, I have been carrying one week of vacation over each fiscal, in hopes of doing a two-week trip to Ireland.  But since I’ll have nine weeks (well, really seven weeks) of “vacation”, I will take advantage of that to be able to do a two-ish week trip.  Hence my plane ticket to Heathrow.  I won’t elaborate on all the details here, as I want to reveal them as I go.  But basically, for about two weeks in May, I will be touring around the island of Ireland.  I have it all booked and planned, and I am so excited.

During the remaining weeks of my time away from work, I will be painting, taking photos and writing, in hopes of finishing some projects and creating enough paintings to have a show – a goal I set seven years ago and haven’t achieved yet.

So, no lounging on the couch munching on bonbons or sleeping in late – nine weeks of leave is serious business.  But I’m very interested to see how this time affects me and to see what fires are ignited in my travels.  The trip in Ireland will be active and full of exploring.  I fully expect to be bounding out of bed at 6am, ready to rush out onto the beach to capture the misty morning light (but more on that later).

And that’s my plan, thus far.  :)

Breathe. *Breathe*…

Inhale.  Exhale.  Slower.  Think about it…

I’m in the final weeks leading up to my break, and I’m winding up.  Not just winding up my work so that it will be organized / more complete / easier to deal with for the person who is going to steer my workload for me during my absence, but I’m also winding myself up.

I shouldn’t.  Really.

I know I have my stuff mainly arranged – just one more call to make and some money to exchange.  Heck, I even rummaged through boxes and found my Europe plug converter kit and tossed it in my newly liberated suitcase.  Tonight, I picked up the slightly water resistant, new, zip up black fleece hoodie which will be my base layer for “jacket” type needs.  Ireland things are gathering together!  They’re organizing!

But I had to take a couple breaks today at work to just breathe, walk away and get myself a little calmed down.  There are a number of things going on right now that might be the source of this bother, not just trying to get things worked out and beautifully organized so that my replacement can basically peer into my brain and understand my files without me being there…  I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I’m scrutinizing my own files and finding faults and oversights, and that bugs the heck out of me.  Plus there have been difficulties with the files…  Anyway, that’s enough of that.

During one of those breaks, I continued the little bit of tidying / taking down my decorations in my office (my replacement will sit there and they may want a different decor).  One of the pieces of paper I took off of my wall was a reminder that was shared with me by a friend some years ago (the date stamp on it was 2008!)  It was about positive goals, and how focusing on what you really want will bring it to you, but focusing on the negative things you don’t want will also bring them to you.  It was a good reminder for me to keep looking at the positive things and moving towards those.

So tonight, I had a nice, fresh, chickpea salad wrap for dinner.  I did some chores and then put another layer of paint on a canvas I’m working on.  I listened to The Rural Alberta Advantage all evening, and now I’m updating my blog with a bit about me stressing and trying not to stress.  I just had a quick phone conversation with my boyfriend.  And I’m about to turn in.

But not before I share this with you – my boyfriend introduced me to The Rural Alberta Advantage, and I really really enjoy them.  So I am going to share them with you.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Drain the Blood

Yoga at the Teacher Training studio

So I went to the 9:00-10:45 am yoga class yesterday with the yogi who will be my teacher. It was lovely – we started with a bit of a Socratic discussion about yoga and whether it is more for the mind or for the body, which morphed into a discussion about how we as Westerners tend to identify ourselves too much with our physical forms and how that leads to suffering. Because the physical form is always aching, changing, disappointing us – especially if we feel like we *should* be able to do something. Inherently, I could see several yogic ideas wrapped up in this discussion that I’m sure we’ll get into more during the training modules.

But my yogi is very much human – he not a beatific, ultra-Zen monk who has attained Nirvana. He made a cartoon “waakk” sound as he lost his balance during half-lotus forward bend. He dropped the f-bomb during our discussion of what in our brains and bodies hold us back from self-unfoldment. And I like that.

There was chanting, of Om and So-Hum (“I am That which I am”), Shanti, and a longer prayer like chant. There was a lot of breath work. And we did three relaxation poses through our practice, which was pretty awesome.

I’ll try to make it there for the next two Saturdays before the teacher training starts.

:) More updates to come!

Why Nine?

As I indicated in my initial post (really – test post from the iPod), this is a blog intended to help chronicle my *year*.  So why call it Nine Wandering Weeks?

Well, basically, I am taking nine weeks of unpaid leave from my job so that I can do a number of things without needing nine weeks of vacation (which I don’t have).  It is a latitude that my job allows, unlike many other places.  Also, they have agreed to “average” the remaining 80% of my annual salary over this entire year so I will still receive pay-cheques while I’m technically on unpaid leave.  I wish everyone had this sort of flexibility with their employers.

How I’m measuring a year will be difficult – do I measure it from January, when a major life event suddenly gave me the energy to put all these simmering plans in place?  Or do I count from when my employer began my “averaging” (which, for the record, was last week).  Or do I count from today, my first posts?

Really, if I was to count personally when the adventure year began, it would be from the life event in January.  It was basically a hitting of the reset button, the taking of a decision long fretted over which, in retrospect, was probably the best (or only) option.  It may or may not matter what this life event was, only what it jiggled loose.  Perspective was gained, energy was redirected, emotional maelstroms were exited and other decisions cascaded from that one event that shaped what this year would look like.  I characterised it to one friend as having had the dam that I had so carefully (and frantically) invested in break and, after the first wave of stale, stagnant water, a rush of fresh, clean water washing over me.

The perspective gained has also allowed a rapprochement in recent weeks.  And that has lead to a new beginning, a new chapter in that story.  I think I like where that story is going.  It makes me happy.

Through January and February, there was planning, there were applications, monies paid. Calendars filled in with key dates and more planning.  A spreadsheet was started to drive home the realities of this year.  And then, a purchase.

A plane ticket.  Return, direct to Heathrow.

There’s no turning back now.

More planning, researching, and then booking, glorious booking.

The calendar page turned yesterday, and suddenly I could see my leaving date – the day that I will have to set all sorts of ‘away from my desk’ messages.  I automated a reminder in my email program.  I have four work weeks left before I start my wandering.  Those weeks will go by quickly, I know.  March sure did.