26 May 2011

Opening Second with Dena

So I have been learning the three first poses from Second series this week. I thought in advance that Pasasana would kill my back, but it has been actually the opposite. I like Pasasana, it’s hard, but I can bind my hands with an assistant and that’s beginning. It’s good to open my upperback properly. It’s going to take for a while to be able to balance that pose, but I am not in a hurry. Second pose is Krauncasana and it’s deep stretch for my hamstrings. That pose is very beautiful, so I like it a lot, even if mine isn’t that pretty. It’s so powerful pose, I feel strong, when I am doing it. Third pose is Salabhasana, which is so useful for my back. Good nice, slow stretch and balancing lift. It’s not very exciting pose, but beneficial for sure.

I have done dropbacks with Dena, too. This time I started directly three times down, no preparations except normal Urdva Dhanurasanas. Dena is very good with dropback. She is supporting me very well and I don’t have to worry about hurting myself. I can still feel pain in my back, so I am a little bit worried, but yesterday I felt first time, that I might actually learn the dropbacks someday. I felt that I have enough internal strength to go through this pose without hurting myself. And there was a little moment, when I felt that I could control the body through the pose. That made me so much more relaxed.

Now my right shoulder has started to hurt. Hah. For yogini there is no day without pain. I think that my right shoulder has been overused during the back injury and it’s now telling me that it needs a break. All problems in my body are now on the right side. Luckily I wiil have a great osteopath in Sydney, if something goes really wrong.

I know that tomorrow’s practice is going to be hard. Dena will be speaking in such nice way, that I will be close to tears. She is very special and it’s an honour to be able to practice with her.

We all think that Dena can read our minds. She always says the right words for each person. One day, she said to me that that’s half-commitment! And today she said after dropbacks that you don’t freak out anymore. But the most interesting thing is that sometimes she is actually talking about your life outside the shala and not so much about your pose. She makes you think your attitude and patterns outside the shala just asking or explaining something to you during your practice inside the shala. I think she is real witch. And Dena is very funny, too. One guy is watching around in the shala too much and not focusing on his own practice, so he has to pay a fine every time Dena sees that he is looking around. She can just pass his mat and say that his fine is fifty dollars already… I think that Dena’s favorite comment during this course has been: “No drama!” It’s pretty hilarious, when people are huzzling around with their poses and then she is just saying in a very calm way: “No drama!” and crazy energy drops down in a second.

I am going to miss Dena. I hope that she would be living closer to Europe. At least I can do workshops with her in Sweden. I just know that I could learn so much from her.

22 May 2011

Sunday's Led

I knew this morning that my practice was going to be a torture. Yesterday we walked along the beach to local lighthouse, which is very beautiful and pretty popular tourist attraction here. Lighthouse was amazing and worth the walk, but I chose a wrong day for that visit. When it’s my day off from the practice, I really should rest. Long walk on the beach plus climbing stairs up and down after that just totally smashed my feet and made me exhausted. This morning I woke up superstiff and tired.

The day when Guruji passed away was on last week, but Dena got confused with the date and thought that it was today. So she asked us to bring some flowers on Sunday and the plan was to show our respects for Guruji on Sunday during the practice. Today she knew her mistake, but we showed our respects for Guruji and this whole asana practice anyway. Dena read a poem, which she wrote after Guruji passed away and cried a little bit, too. The start for the practice was very emotional, but it was good to see, how much she still respects and misses her teacher.

Practice was very heavy and my mat was wet. I washed it yesterday, but it didn’t dry on time. So my clothes got wet and the mat was very slippery, too. Never practice on a wet mat! It’s dangerous. Tomorrow I must borrow a mat, if I can’t get the mat dry today.

I am very tired all the time. And I am starting to feel that I am ready to move on to Sydney. I love my practice here with Dena, but outside the shala I don’t really find the clue of this place. I don’t bond with the people well and I don’t have enough to do. Today I was happy because of rain. I didn’t feel guilty staying just inside and reading a book. I am missing busy life. Challenges on the mat aren’t enough for me at the moment. I am hungry for the life outside the shala again.


… is the name for Andre Agassi’s autobiography. I found it in my landlady Christina’s bookself here and I have been completely taken by the book. It’s so interesting to get inside a professional tennisplayer’s head. I don’t know anything about tennis (I can’t even count the points), but that book has taken all my attention. And I am not that interested in his personal life, relationships with Brooke Shields and Steffi Graf. That book is just so honest, brutal story about growing up and being athlete.

I am amazed, how important mental coaching is in tennis on that level. For me it sounds that players are pretty much on the same level and then the guy, who has the strongest focus, capability to block everything else out and just focus on game, is gonna take the trophy home. And then next day, your consentration is totally lost and you are going to lose for a player, who didn’t even dream about winning a point against you.

I never thought, how much tennisplayers hate their opponents. How crazy the training and travel routine is. How important your team is for your game. How you can irritate your opponents during the game. What happens in the locker rooms before and after the game? What is going on in player’s mind, when he decides to skip the press conference and pay a fine instead of that? What makes them to swear so much during the game that they are almost kicked out from the tournament? And what makes them play and what makes them finally retire? Open is a book about these questions, but most of all is a book about one man’s mind. And I was surprised to find so many similarities with this man.

19 May 2011

Fuck You Practice!

I know. It’s not politically correct to use language like that, but it’s, how I am fighting with my practice sometimes in my head. I can be furious on mat. There is no ahimsa, there is only pure rage.

This morning was my typical fuck you practice -day. I woke up, I didn’t feel like at all practicing. I took a taxi to the shala with Andrew and before that, I was laying on sofa and wondering, why I am torturing myself with this stupid practice, when it’s not going anywhere and my bloody back keeps hurting. Should I just give up? Should I just stay home and get drunk instead of going to the shala, doing the same thing and coming back home tired and frustrated? Why I am doing this? I just wanted to stay at home, not to practice and hate the world, just on my own.

But there is one thing, which keeps me going. It’s discipline. I don’t skip practice unless I am really ill. I am very stubborn. I practice even when I don’t feel like it. I practice even when it rains and I have to walk to the shala. I practice even when it’s freezing and dark outside. I practice even when the shala is too hot for me. I practice even when the shala is too cold for me. I go there, I do my thing and after I can be happy, tired, furious, frustrated, hyper or just balanced, but I always go there and do my thing.

During the time in Byron my shraddha (faith) has been really tested. Shala has been cold, I have been in the corner doing my Primary and my back has hurted quite much. There has been too much drama going on around me outside the shala and I have been really close to snap totally. But somehow, I have been able to control myself and I have kept going.

So when I walked to the shala, I decided that I am gonna practice like maniac. I am gonna push like crazy and drive myself to the limits. And I did that and my practice was good. It was strong and focused. I have to be really careful with this kind of like practice style, because I can hurt myself easily. Today I was playing with fire and I was able to not burn my fingers.

After practice I felt good. I was tired and my body was beaten up. I could almost feel my hands shaking. And my nervous system was singing hallelujah for sure. But everything in my mind was clear and my breathing was strong. I was there. Full stop.

I was waiting Andrew outside the shala and Dena came out. She started to talk with me, asked about my normal practice, when my back is ok. I told her the same old story, how I have been unable to open Second, because I can’t do dropbacks. And how the disc comes out so easily, if I do dropbacks. She looked surprised, when she heard that I haven’t done Second at all. And she said that she has had disc problem, too. Dena continued, that she is going to open Second for me anyway. She wants to give me three first poses from Second. And she asked, would I feel comfortable to do the dropbacks with her. I said, that we could try.

So now I am excited and terrified at the same time. I trust on Dena, she knows, what she is doing. But my dropbacks are terrible, really embarrasing. I just wish that someday I can pull my dropbacks together and just enjoy.

However, today’s practice was again a great reminder, why I practice. I practice to get my mind more focused and my body in shape. Fuck you practice is the best practice. Even when I hate it so much! It takes me to the next level. So don’t give up, do your thing and get to the next level!

17 May 2011

Oh Boys!

That’s what my new roomie Adrew likes to repeat all the time. And that’s pretty much, what I feel about this Byron experience. I mean, my focus has been pretty much out of the shala, because of moving out from my old place, which was full of fleas (yes, I got fleas there and moved out immediately) and other non-stop drama around me. People around me haven’t been getting along, they have been fighting or being otherwise crazy. I have really reached the peak, where I just would like to tell people: “Grow up or shut up!” And I am usually very relaxed and easy-going person…

I have moved from dirty house to superclean apartment, where German owner had immediately a chat with us on my second night. We went through six-point list including windows, bathroom, bins, washing maschine, internet, dishes starting from which windows should be kept open when cooking, when we can use internet (because the sound of keyboard is so disturbing), which program should be always used, when using washing maschine (so that electricity bills are not gonna be extreme) until how the dishes should not only be washed immediately after use, but also dried and put into the cupboard. And I have thought years that I am actually adult and can take care of my own business…

All this craziness around me is just making me very tired. Many people around me at the moment are hyperenergetic and they are just taking all my energy. I don’t like to talk all the time, I don’t like to do something all the time and I don’t like to be with people, who are making me uncomfortable. I like to be either alone or with my friends, who don’t care, if I don’t speak during the whole day. I like nice, normal people, who don’t have mental problems and who know about something else than yoga, too.

I have a couple of friends here, but they live here every year and are doing Dena’s three year program, so they are of course quite busy with their own life. And that’s not the problem, I like to be alone and just read my books. Maybe I am just tired sharing an apartment with strangers (and their odd habits). Or maybe I am just secretly missing my home and old friends.

Because of this intense Byron experience, I decided to make sure, that I could in Sydney just focus on enjoying and exploring the city in calm. From the beginning I had a little bit bad feeling about the house sitting deal in Sydney, because the contact person was behaving in unreliable manner and I decided to drop the whole deal. After that I started to go through work and accommodation possibilities in Sydney and decided that the best deal for me would be to take care of kids and get nice housing that way as well as proper dive to Australian culture. I got really lucky and I found a family, which sounds just great. They have two boys plus a baby boy and their apartment is near city center. I was able to negotiate the terms so that I can have weekends off starting from Friday morning and I have my own studio with own entrance. My gut feeling about the family was so good immediately, that it was hard to wait them to say me yes. But they replied yes and I am moving to Northbridge on 28th of May!

My visa is valid until May 2012, so I have time to think about my travel plans. I would like to get another job for the weekends and make some extra money that way. Sharath unfortunately cancelled his workshop herein Australia, so I won’t get a chance to see him before Mysore. Because I might prolonge my travels over Christmas, I have been starting to figure out, what I could study during the coming months. I am trying to do distance studies to Finland, which could be useful in the future, because I don’t want to just travel and then start from zero in Finland again. I am still facing the same problem, I don’t know, what I want to do in the future, I have no idea, who I wanna be. I don’t know, why this decision is so hard for me. I have always done big decisions very fast, but this one seems to be impossible for me. Maybe because it feels so final and I can’t do a mistake again. I don’t have anybody than myself to blame; if I am gonna screw up this one. Normally I love challenges and high pressure, but this decision is making be paralyzed. I am a career girl, I am a city girl, what is my career, what is my city. I have absolutely no idea. I know that I don’t want to be fifty, broken, sharing a house with strangers and just getting by like some people in Byron are. I know that I can do better. I must do better. I feel like I am a rat running around in labyrinth and I just can’t find the exit. I wish that I would be supertalented in something and could just do that. But no talents, so no easy ways out. It’s pretty hard to breath sometimes…

16 May 2011

Gold Is Gold...

Yeah! Finland won World Championship in icehockey. This is the first day during my travels, when I really would like to be back home. Helsinki is going mad and the parties will be the best. Oh, how I would like to party with my friends in Helsinki. It's gonna be awesome, I miss you guys and I can feel you most definitely! Party is on!

11 May 2011

On the Beach and Practice

Today is sunny and so beautiful in Byron. I went for a walk along the beach before midday. Beach in Suffolk Park is breathtaking. It’s very powerful place, the sky seems to be so high and the air is fresh, salty and warm. Little surfers are catching their waves and dogs are running wild, feeling the same freedom as we people, when we are so close to the nature. It’s very enjoyable to watch surfers’ skills, they can read the sea, its moves, its ups and its downs. Surfers must feel the same as yogis, that sea is their minilife as the mat is for yogis. Sometimes it’s easy to keep up the balance, even eyes closed and sometimes there is absolutely no balance. You have to look for the right moment to relax and the right moment to follow the wave. Often you crash and then you just slide through the wave again and finally you are inside the wave and you can just flow. You surrender completely in front of the sea and the sea will carry you.

Dena is playing with us a lot. Today we did standing poses together, so that we were allowed to take only three breaths in every pose. But those breaths were long and specific. We were trying to actually use every breath completely. In Sun Salutations every vinyasa was four counts, so the practice was slow in a way, but very relaxed, controlled, smooth and really following the breath. Shala was so cold today, but this practice technic really warmed up my back.

I was really flexible today and didn’t feel pain during the practice. Dena’s extra core practices are working and I try to open my hips a little bit before practice, too. My right shoulder hurts because of the continuous imbalance in my practice as a consequence from my back problems. Sometimes is feels like my whole body is falling apart step by step because of my back pain, but I just have to find the way get my body straight again. And even when my practice is so hard often, I am reminding myself, how serious my back problems would be without this practice. So the practice sometimes hurts, but it hurts less, than without practice. Hopefully one day there is no pain.

10 May 2011

Hippie Market, Mother’s Day and Practices

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I missed my mum so much. My mum is a very unique lady, the best in the world. I spoke with her yesterday and we talked about our last travel together. We went to Paris during springtime and it was fantastic. We just walked together around the City of Light, ate and talked in different cafés, went to see Tour Eiffel, Sacre Coeur and all other famous tourist locations. Our time in Paris was magical, because Paris was just waking up for the summer, flowers starting to blossom and people getting exticed about the summertime.

Yesterday’s practice was hard. We did very modified asana practice and Dena was practicing with us. We did lots of hip opening and core strengthening. In the end of the practice Dena talked about mothers, being mother and becoming mother. It was very beautiful, touching and made me miss my mum even more.

After practice we headed to Sunday market. Byron Bay is a paradise for market fans. Here is different kind of like markets through the week and local people really seem to love the market atmosphere. Weather and the drive were so beautiful. It felt like being on the countryside in Italy or France. Market was full of old hippies selling food, clothes and second-hand stuff. Too much weed and drumming for my taste, but it was nice to see the market anyway and company of yogis was the best of course.

Today’s practice was ok. I am doing Dena’s extra core practices before asana practice and then I am doing modified Sun Salutations to strengthen my core. I can feel the difference already and my back feels better, too. Just have to keep going…

7 May 2011

First Byron Week

On Friday we had a led class. Dena was practicing with us again. My practice was terrible, because I was next to the heater, which they have in Shala. My feet were burning and my upperbody was ice cold. First I thought that I will only do half-Primary, because I was so distracted, but I was able to do my whole practice. I have to say that the Shala herein Byron isn’t the best one. It’s cold and superhumid. The floor is ok, but when my body is so cold because of the room temperature, I am quite stiff. This practice week wasn’t the best one, because I don’t like short weeks. I like to have a full week and then I am enjoying my day off more.

Dena gave me extra practices to strengthen my core. I think that those will be really beneficial for my back. Dena’s own students are doing those extras too to support their backs during adjustments.

I went to the Shala by bike during one morning and I liked it. I prefer to go to the Shala a little bit earlier and do stretching before class. We start always with common pranayama and little meditation. I haven’t done my own pranayama practice now, but I will get back to it after this course. I think that one breathing practice per day is enough for me.

To be honest, otherwise I am not that impressed by Byron Bay. Customer service here is terrible and people in general are not nice. Here seems to be a lack of manners and culture. People walk around wearing beach clothes and so many are drunk or on drugs. Beach in Suffolk Park is beautiful and this area is very green, but those are the only things, which I really like (and yoga of course) here. Everything is very expensive and often overpriced. In stores you can find a lot of organic and healthy food, but in restaurants food isn’t that good. Maybe many people cook their meals at home. Accomodation is almost ridiculously expensive, specially what comes to quality hotels. Suffolk Park area could be a paradise on Earth because of the amazing beach, but houses are built in a bad way, so that often houses are a little bit too humid, cold and dim.

My roomie Kate is asking me what she is going to do in Byron during the whole month. She is dying to leave this house and go back home to Melbourne. She is specially struggling with our accommodation, because the owner of the house doesn’t keep places tidy. We cleaned here one day and the day after people were walking around the house their shoes on and our work was worth nothing. Luckily I have been traveling for a while, so I don’t struggle that much, but I have to say, that even I would prefer a place, which would be cleaner. Kate got now her own car, so that’s giving her more freedom. I have been borrowing Shelagh’s bike to get around or I have gotten a lift from my friends. For sure Byron isn’t very exciting place and I am pretty done with small places anyway. I am looking forward to city life in Sydney and getting back to civilization, but before that I am trying to enjoy the beach life here as much as possible and read interesting books.

I have been reading quite much lately and I finished Not Without My Sister yesterday. It wasn’t my favorite book, but the topic was interesting. The book was so much about sexual abuse and other heavy topics, that reading wasn’t enjoyable. When three sisters were telling their own versions about the same events, book was repeating itself too much.

After that book I started to read a book called The Road Home by Rose Tremain. It’s a story about Eastern European man Lev, who moves to London to look for a job and start a new life. I like to read books, which are happening in the cities, where I have lived. It’s nice to go back to those cities in my head and be there again.

Tonight I am going for a dinner to my friend Deb’s place. She lives in a gorgeous Japanese style apartment, so I will get my dose of luxury for today. I will prepare a dessert with apples and vanilla sauce, Kate will prepare dal and Sonja promised to make salad. I love sharing meals with my friends. You will get good company, excellent food and the work is half. I don't like to eat alone and cooking for one person is such a waste. Sharing is caring, too…

2 May 2011

My First Days in Byron Bay

So here I am, living in my new house in Suffolk Park. I have three roommates: English Teacher Kathryn, who owns the house, Graphic Designer Kate, who is yogini from Melbourne and originally South-African Shelagh, who is Naprapath and Childcare Specialist. Our house is messy, cosy and very Australian. Beach is near, this neighborhood is calm (drinking is prohibited mostly in this area) and city center is about 30 minutes by bike. Here is very green and different kinds of birds are walking on our backyard. The weather has been sunny, it only rained, when I arrived.

I have now practiced twice with Dena. Shelagh has a car, so I have been lucky to get a lift to the shala every morning. Shala has been packed, it’s quite small room and we have over 30 yogis there. I met four yogis here, who I have seen before in different retreats. I was so happy specially to see Sonja (my friend from Mysore) and Debbie (Dena’s devoted student, with who I practiced in Stockholm and Koh Mak), who both are doing commited practisioners –course with Dena.

First practice on Sunday was led half-Primary, which was a good start for me after long nights at the airports. Dena was practicing with us and she also did some demos for us. Today we started our own Mysore practices. Some of Dena’s students, who are doing three years teacher training with her, were adjusting. All the adjustments, which I got, were smooth and sensitive, so I don’t have anything to be afraid of. My back felt surprisingly good after the flights and coldness (our house is cold specially during the nights, because here is no heating system). Today the energy in the shala was really full on, I think that later people will be more chilled out. I did my basic practice, but started lightly with Urdva Dhanurasana (three smalls and one up). I am happy to practice with Dena again, she is such a good teacher and calming person for my mind.

Yesterday I walked to the center with Kate. It was a long walk, in total it took one hour to go to the center and we both were wearing flip-flops. We went for a lovely sushi lunch (I am just smiling, when I can eat sushi after all that cooked food in India) and checked the main street. Our plan was to go back home by bus, but there was no bus, so we were forced to take a taxi back home.

Today I borrowed Shelagh’s bike and enjoyed the good weather, when going to the town. I finally got new bikinis, so maybe tomorrow I can go to the beach. I found a nice store, which was selling various different parfyme candles and wandered around the town until I ended up to a bookstore. This time I resisted my temptation to buy a new book, I first have to finish Not With Out My Sister. And I got a pre-paid, so I have local number now.

Sun here is very strong, even when it’s obviously the beginning of the winter season (all bikinis were on sale). Tomorrow will be a Moonday, so this week is going to be a short practice week. For me it’s fine to start the practice in a light way and settle down to my new life here first. Tomorrow I will have a dinner with Sonja, so I can finally catch up and here all what has happened in her life after Mysore times. It’s good to see my Mysore friends here, too.