I would write about the first day but it is a sort of blur..I remember the airplane ride from Los Angeles International and my departing drink with soul sista Tara Fass at some trendy new spot; who knows where...My flight is chock full of rock and roll guys... big arms, tattoos, lots of equipment. There are at least 50-60 rockers in black on my flight from 20-40 years old...all sporting guitars and sound stuff for an Australian music festival in Brisbane this weekend. They have come from all over the USA. Music style across the spectrum from Metal to whatever. What fun on the plane.. Their drinking started in the LAX international airport where there was a rush on the bars there with these dudes ordering doubles and triples of booze... Yo boy!
Everyone is excited to fly 8000 air miles across the planet. It is exhilarating and amazing, still to me, to be eating at 40,000 feet, emailing, watching movies, scrolling through music.. documentaries. We live in such cool techno times.. I am upset to realize my window seat was not a window seat at all. My seat was in the middle aisle and, to my secret delight, I am sandwiched between two of these musicians.. One vampire-ish.. and the other 6ft 4 inches of gorgeousness. Ha.. Grannie slid in and talked to the tall sip and got all the info on the tour and the way it is run and all that good stuff. I forgot the name of his band..oh well... The groovy guy to my left was mysterious and reads this Carol Oates vampire novel; Daughter of a Grave Digger... the entire time. For 16 hours straight, thigh to thigh, shoulder to shoulder he said not a single word to either of us. All and all this was the absolute coolest flight I had ever taken. Everyone was wandering around and congregating at the bar up front...The captain had to come on and stop the flow of booze for them at one point about 4 am.. I was way asleep and not drinking on this long flight.. it is grueling and dehydrating and I was being very conservative, and happy to snooze on a big tattooed arm.. what can I say?
I arrive.. Brisbane International.. go through customs smoothly. The press was there, the groupies,, and many independent film makers with all kind of cameras and microphones on poles chasing these guys for an interview. Apparently they are semi famous or more.. What do I know or care.. but it was fun anyway.
I am to be picked up by a studio manager who isn't there.. I wait.. I wonder...
and then a young gorgeous girl appears with a sign that says "yoga guru"... and she shoots out "are you Dar?"
OMG ha ha ha .. how embarrassing. Here I am some over 60 woman with my fat suit on... tired, and wow... well.. here we go! Outside is the painted Jeep.. immediately my pictures are taken.. I am begging to please just get me someplace to brush my teeth. We stop at some yoga props place and gather my necessary tools for teaching a proper training.. Bolster, blocks, straps.. ON the cell phone all are approved by the studio owner.. to the tune of about 800 bucks.
I insist we go straight to where I can rest.. no stops at the studio..jeez..
We arrive.. big house, swimming pool, dog, cat, large kitchen, canal out back.. my own bathroom and shower room... gonna be awesome!
I force myself to stay awake until 6pm and then sleep 12 hours until the next day.
There is a 17 hour time difference forward..Who knows what time or day it really is.. and I am Yin-ed out and don't care.. I am in the flow.. This time around it is different. My teaching has changed. I am evolved with it all and it will once again provide the metaphors, or template for my experience my second time around in OZ. I am looking to the feminine, to the mother, to the more mysterious forces ...to the unexpected, the flow, the soft, the kind, the nurturing.. I am so deeply happy....and so relaxed into the beauty of it all!
The sun is shining...................
So Natalie and John are a couple I've know a decade from New Jersey.. When they opened Bikram Yoga Westwood. She is Australian and always dreamt of returning to live in Australia with John, and that dream is happening now. She is 9 months pregnant, and about to pop. She comes over to my house which is the house she was raised in.
Let me tell you about Natalie...She is gorgeous with long dark hair to her waist. She has not an ounce of body fat, even nine months pregnant. She is a trained Bikram teacher.. has boundless energy and is always smiling. Today she cleaned out her horses stables, took a hot class and had a massage, and then came over to welcome me to Australia... At 5pm she left.. and had her new baby boy the next morning after 15 minutes of labor. She had him a big tub in her living room with her awesome husband behind her supporting her.. Saxon Jet Surie popped out into the warm water and was lifted onto her chest. A few hours later she went back to her horses with Saxon in tow to do her work.. jeez Louise.. what a family.
I just want to note that July 7, 2005 I left for Australia the first time as a Bikram Yoga teacher... and her first daughter Sydney was born that day. This morning Sydney came into my room with the dog and hung out with me and we talked about life.. She is an amazing 8 year old girl, sophisticated beyond her years. I had seen Natalie, and taught at their New Jersey Studio all the previous week.. Now I arrive, fast forward 8 years, and the third child is born after I am here 12 hours..Just a pondering thing.. thats all.
TODAY they tell me it is Sunday and I am teaching my first power flow, named Blaze here. OK, I charge up my I pod.. I am on it.. About 25 people show up. I am going to have fun with them.. No rigidity, simply "heart-centered" yoga is on the menu. I give a pretty good class. They are a bit overwhelmed.. I am told the GOLD Coasters are Ab centered.. I mean crunches are their thing.. Well OK then I give it to them, but only after the heart stuff, the breathing.. People cry.. OMG... I am giving them permission to be who they are with total self acceptance, just as I give that to myself under the stress of having to live up to all of their expectations..It works.. We are launched!
Tomorrow; orthodox Bikram.. my specialty...yippee.. and then YIN.. my gift in the early evening.. Life is more than GOOD.. it is BLESSED!
Practicing.. We teach each other a 75 minute class...this was more fun and informing than I thought it would be. I had a young man, a Bikram teacher, as my partner, which was fun, since I know oh so well what conditioning and training he has had. I too was there when beginning to teach yin.. Kinda of bossy and fast..
I had to leave before the conclusion of the training in order to catch the ferry to Roberts Creek to visit with my oldest BFF, Nora. We go back to 14 yrs old; pubescent, innocent... And navigate those tender teen years together, inseparable, ...which is a category she insists a it asked for, in out Senior year book.
Out and into the pouring, icy rain... I board a huge Ferry and head into the unknown. When we dock, I walk the ramps freezing and soaked, only to see her happy, smiling face under a huge umbrella standing there in the monsoon.. Omg! We shriek in delight! We jump up and down.. It is exhilarating!
Follows so much heart opening laughter, nostalgia, filling in of each other's memories.. So much ... So much beauty. We go around her hood which is this sampling natural, and pristine environment. Nora takes me on a walk hike into the mossy greenwood era of British Columbia. We stroll up and down rich wet earth, gaze at smoke rising as the moisture burns off of them. We come upon a flowing creek where Nora says her children know this is the Spot her ashes will be emptied with a party of potato chips and beer to follow, right here under our feet, on the damp, green, sandy knoll we stand upon. I know this will transpire and I probably won't be there... Figuring this woman, born with an extra battery pack, is going to 100 yrs...
24 hours later I am back on the ferry in stocking feet... Long story. I climb up a huge hill to find my car and head to Vancouver where I left my cell phone behind at the studio.. And then drive back to Seattle.. What a week this has been.. My brain expanding at every turn.. Learning new maps, conjuring up old and ancient memories.. Some so deeply buried, that even with promoting I could not remember them at all.
Back in Seattle I am pampered and fed and tucked in by sweet and loverly Ruth (Ditto) another old friend from Taos, NM. I have friends from different life stages. Ruth is one of those women that had a baby when I did, and we bonded around our life- altering event. Her son Lincoln still lives with her, and he is nocturnal just like my son, and makes music on his computer, and hibernates in his man/boy cave.. Our boys seem to share lots of characteristics.
I return the rental car, and wait for my flight to LA where, yet one more rung in my soul sister ladder of support and love arrives at LAX to pick me up. Off to Tara's pad... Brief talk and a cozy bed.. I celebrate so many wonderful women life-long friendships that have endured the test of time. I feel so lucky to have so many strong, joyous, creative people in my life!
My last day in LA has arrived, and I am detailing my bags and plans. Tonight I head off across the planet to a familiar yet exotic new home for the next seven weeks.
Ok Australia... I am on my way!
Seamlessly this blog will continue ... The way orange turns to red and ligaments turn to connective tissue to bone..
I often randomly open books and look at what a message is for the day.. Today is about the Earth.. Strange, since yesterday we talked so much about Earthing, and our dead shoe soles, and how much the earth combats inflammation by sending In a charge which neutralizes free radicals... This is a theory being tested...
SOLE Connections. "Healthy feet can hear the very heart of the holy Earth."
Chief Sitting Bull (1831-1890)
Ok.. Whew.. What a nice day! We open in a festive way.. Maybe because it is Saturday.. Bernie is light and seems happy... Everyone is relieved to have slept in. We begin with more lecture and power point.. And it is amazing and interesting.. As unusual. We break.. And then continue and then are teased promised a long yin Yang flow. This class superseded all of my expectations. Head to feet.. Awareness and stressing.. Energetically.. All the stuff I teach intuitively but with a new bent.. I loved every torturous second and climaxed in Hanuman Asana.. Hee. My absolutely favorite pose.. The splits! After all at 16 I could go from a pony kick ( jumping and kicking the back of my head with my saddle shoes) and then landing in a split... A Spilt I said.. So today at 62 years old , I land more gently into that same split.... On both sides..
We do all kinds of out of the box stuff.. Loving it.. Face scrunching , lizards, breathing in warrior two with free arms and expressing ourselves.. Broken toe which I cannot do at all with my fused big toes now.. But who cares? Yoga is for everybody at every stage of life... Ain't that Kool?
We arrive in the cold rain, and dark once again. Diana is teaching this morning. She is Yin to Bernie's Yin. Everything is relative. I am not going to go into detail my fellow yogis but just sayin...we open in Sphinx, and then move to Square.. We hold Square (fire log, full pigeon.. ) 12 MINUTES on each side folded forward. Do the math my friends... I am I'll equipped to describe psychedelic experiences, so this post will end here.
I am at the sensual refuge. I am seated at the break at the Fresh Market on the island. I now think of this place as home. I have a plate of pickled salmon and rolled herring, a toasted bagel.
Some fellow yoga students are nearby. I will ask them to describe today in one word. They are from various corners of N America.
LONG, Amazing, Angry, Awakening, Presence, Hard: And as I inferred, my word was Psychedelic.
Afternoon with Bernie... Bumblebee breath was done and we had questions about it. Diana has us do it in sphinx. It buzzes the thyroid, relaxes deeply, like a low hum.. I like it.
So Mr. science guy... He is a bit like Bill Nye, but the yogic version.. Hee Bernie Clark, the science nerd yoga guy. Bernie is slim, fit, older, ( everyone speculates about his age. ) I say 65... But some moments he is 55 and others he is 65.. So I imagine he is sixty.. Or thereabouts. He does have hour, lightness and awareness of aging like we older peeps do.. He has a playful spirit in moments.. And I'd like to see that totally unleashed.. But um, we are in a formal teacher training.. Very serious stuff. 😉
More talk about western spirituality, Jungian, Cognitive, some other stuff. And then back to mindfulness, presence, Buddha, meditation.. And how it all blends together like a rainbow.. One color gradually becoming the next. And the weird thing.. A huge rainbow appeared out side the window... And we broke to capture this gorgeous image.. Slide show in the sky!
Many of us are sore beyond description... The Bikram guy is almost crying next to me and flat out refuses to do any more hip openers. Bernie plays some Harvard video where you go into a cell and it is a mind bender again. Basically the message is..
There a vast connective matrix that affects everything and everyone and we are all connected.. Plants, animals, stars, sky, wind, water, cosmos, joints, breathe.... So I guess the only reason to even do yoga... Is What? Why? Huh?
Then we had a gardening class about watering weeds and flowers.. Illustrated by his "ex wife" .
We played with more weird stuff. We talked about the no Chi places, appliances that steal your chi, and Earthing.. Ok, nuf said. See you on the mat tomorrow .
Tomorrow is the fusion flow.. Yin and vinyasa.. That's should be a mind f--- too.
No doubt... But who cares... No alignment rules, simply... How Does It Feel?
They all kinda blend/blur together the way orange moves gradually into red which moves gradually into facia which moves gradually into tendon, and to bone.. As everything connects inward and outward in a net work of.. Geometric and. One geometric designs.. Extending out of the body and into the either and casuals body and beyond.. And and.. My mind is bending and stretching, expanding in wonder and contracting in doubt... As is my aging body.. I can envision fibroblasts moving around depositing collagen an halauranic acid like those little round vacuum cleaners robotically moving around ones living room.
Oh and then there is the practice ... So this morning started the same , in the dark and cold. We sit quietly, we chant the morning mantra.. 12 times... And that ritual sets the stage for the Yin Practiice.
Today Bernie tells beautiful stories of the myths and tales surrounding the Buddha and his life. We hold and hold, stressing some targeted joint, ligament, tendon... And are taken on this colorful journey which is fascinating. I almost forget
how uncomfortable I am. We do simple poses and hold them much much longer than I am used to. We do straddle, one legged straddle, and The two hours passes so quickly. We then take a posture apart and learn how to help the different student who have various skeletal differences. The day before we played with bones and watched the slides on Paul Grilley' s website of many leg and pelvis and arm bones. It was deeply emphasized and drilled into my hard head, each person is different, there is no one way to do any pose in Yin or any other form, and the extremities (legs feet, arms hands) are the least important for placement... Shit. Really? Like the knee doesn't have to alighted over the ankle? Oh ! Yea .. My anger is rising.
Ok break for breakfast, two hours to recover and eat.. We return to an afternoon of energy discussions, quantum physics talk, but lightly and irreverently, and to discussion the links, lines and matrices which connect the east and west, and many of the eastern modalities. We discuss chakra theory, QI, Chi, Jing, spirit... Bernie tells a good story. It was fun and rich with information.. Big lesson so far. Never never means never, and always is alway wrong... No dogma, everything is in flux, one day this workshop will be proved to be hogwash perhaps.. Open open open, play explore, enlighten up!
On this same day we define addiction, abduction, flex ion extension, rotation and all the ways the joints and body moves... What stops movement and how to discern if some has come to their limit.. Bone against bone. This idea that if we eat right, practice daily, push and make our yoga intense and regular , see our Ayurvedic doctors and meditate, that one day we will have a perfect Hanuman asana, a perfect hand stand, a perfect practice... Ha ha ha ha ha .. NOT. Biology and genetics cannot be argued with.
Whew.. Good night.
Diana Batts is a gentle red head who assists and also teaches the workshops with Bernie. I arrive barely making it this morning.. had a wrong turn, and oops... I went lost for at least 20 minutes. But.. like this trip's minor theme, I arrive as the door was closing. Seated we always begin with the Gayatri Mantra chanted 12 times as the sun rises.. well in Vancouver it is more like when the light comes on.. over these grey rainy skies, we all welcome what the day will deliver. Where the actual sun has gone missing is anyone's guess.
We sit in silent meditation, and it is divine.
We practice a kind of alternate nostril breathing with palms open and closing and it works for me... Can't wait to try it on You!
We begin Yin practice in Sphinx, which we hold 12 minutes. Diane is a soft touch, and careful teacher. I allowed myself to adjust to the change of style and I drop deeply into my body today. I am now feeling very well rested, sleeping again; about 8-9 hours last night in that big bunny sac of a bed. I am exploring my injuries on a deep level and settling into the body so I can understand these pains, and their origins; particularly my shoulders, which are both fragile.
We move to half saddle forward folding, and then onto the back for regular half saddle. Time is again the "magic" ingredient.
We also used blocks and flat supports (which I love.) The flatter more square supports are like a coffee table book covered in soft stuff. This next shoulder opening is also something new for me. We rested two elbow tips up onto a block or one of the flatter soft covered supports. I chose to use two stacked under each elbow. One takes the body back towards the rear of the mat really lengthening the torso and freeing up the entire shoulder girdle. Now we place the palms together, fingers facing the ceiling. More flexible people are asked to dome the hands with just the finger pads pressing each matching pad on the opposite hand. Ouch at first.. and then Ahhhh. I relaxed into my injuries and sent my breath there, and simply looked at the dull, and less dull aches with curiosity and compassion. We spent maybe 5 minutes like this. The release was like "Christmas Day" as Bernie says when we release out of these intense stressors... Ahhhh . As the contradiction, We place the blocks under each shoulder with the arms splayed over them, head to the side. So the blocks held up the shoulders and the blood rushed in.
Puppy Dog ( actually the warmup for Anahatasana...melting heart) is an excellent way to lead people more gently to the full expression of this heart and shoulder opener; one arm at a time.
After a seemingly simple but long held spinal twist, we break at 9:15 am and everyone leaves the building because another class enters. I always head to the Fresh Market which is a delight and joy, passing squawking sea gulls and various shops and dogs and people, surrounded by wet, and cold and uber fresh air. Entering into the this market infuses me with smells of fresh goodness: fruit, veggies, meats, breads, hot coffee, smoked, baked, steamed, asian, indian, nordic, all kinds of delights! I take time (the magic ingredient) and wander, allowing my body to feel exactly what it needs.
Yesterday I decided on two types of Salmon.. pickled and smoked. I feasted on fresh Pacific Northwest wildness, and a bagel. Today I wanted Indian warmth. I pick the freshly made chick peas, and a vegetable and ground beef dish over basmati..so spicy and comforting. These morning meals are my biggest and best of the day.
I look forward to the rest of the day which is usually a lecture, slides, discussions and hands on things, questions and answers... and always a few cleverly placed surprises.
Part 2 of day 3
And today after the lectures and discussions I decided to quit teaching yoga. That is it, I am out!
Bernie Clark has this mischievous, sadistic way of breaking every belief system you ever held as a teacher. "It isn't ever how a posture looks," he calmly says. " it is how it Feels... That's it." Say what?
He has spent three days breaking our training... Our attachments to aesthetics, our style of teaching.. He then attempts to comfort the group, made up of mostly seasoned teachers, "First comes denial, then anger, then depression, grief, and finally acceptance" He chuckles.
I am somewhere lost in anger and depression today.. Being the alignment NaziI am so proud to be... Yep..
So here I sit, alone in this fabulous cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, having a craft beer.. Tears dropping into my glass.