Clumsy, awkward... Maybe these are not the words you would describe me, but if you know me, you would agree. In my sneakers or barefeet and yoga pants, I have trained to be more stable. But put me in more dressy clothes, heels, you would see how uncoordinated and all over the place I am. And no shame here. I don't think there's anything wrong with this. I find it quite hilarious tripping all over the place. It means I have to concentrate on where I am walking and looking at where I am going. I trip, I fall, and luckily I haven't twisted an ankle or gotten anything serious. Matter of fact to find out how uncoordinated I am, tell me right or left when I am not practicing, I probably would take the wrong direction. I don't know right or left is just such a hard concept for me, and I always think I can get it 50% chance right without having to think about it. It also means I have 50% chance of getting it wrong. ;)
Imagine me growing up. My parents and my brother would attest to this. My coordination was very bad. Sports, I was terrible. Dancing, I felt very conscious and I felt looked at, worst judged, whenever I did any attempt to dance. Walking in the street, I would trip once or twice a day, normal occurrence, nothing to be alarmed about. I learned to pick myself up and proceed. I also learned how not to hurt myself and to know when to pay more attention. But sometimes I get into the conversation, and poof, on the floor again. I guess falling and failing has been a talent, if you can treat it as that. I learned to be comfortable with falling and failing and I learned to treat it as a big matter, pretend no one saw, dust yourself off, pick yourself up and on you go.
I guess this is a big advantage in yoga, knowing how to fall and fail. Because there will be enough things to suck at. And over the years I learned that the everyday work helps. It doesn't seem like it. But it does, everyday failure somehow translates to success someday, even if sometimes that doesn't seem to make sense. But this everyday trying, it trains the body and the mind, so even in failure there is triggers to get it right and it might not come today, it might not come tomorrow or next week maybe not even next month, but next year is possible. I have time, there is no rush. It's a lifetime practice and I enjoy the falling and failing.
So get it wrong, that's alright. Don't be afraid to make mistakes but also know that you can do what you set your mind into. Dedication and effort, sometimes that's all it takes, a lot of those two and a whole lot of guts but the recipe is simple. Sometimes we complicate things.
Keep practicing. Keep happy. Keep safe <3
Ola! How are you guys doing? It's almost the end of August and soon it's gonna be September, how time can fly right? I think around this time last year I was getting anxious at the thought that it was time to go to India again, to apply for Sharath. I got anxious at not getting in, I got anxious at getting in as well. I wanted to be there but I know going to India always meant jobless for 3 months, mostly it was money going out and not knowing what is next after that. But that's life right? We sometimes have to take these jumps and just not think and just go. We learn to swim or fly when we need to. And this year no Sharath or India and at the same time that I will miss it, there is also a bit of a relief that I do not need to be there. It is not a possibility. I know there will be another year for it. It's been 3 years after each other that I got out of the winter in Europe and this year I get to stay and enjoy the winter time here and spend it with the love ones here. And for some people winter can be depressing with short and very cold days but as someone who grew up in a tropical country, I always have such a curiousity and love for the cold.
I can also travel in Europe and study with Luke who is open in September, but yes, I will skip that one for this year too. I am a creature of habit and I need to be prepared a bit to go in study trips. I need mental preparation to go somewhere. Of course just packing the bags and leaving will always be an option, but my analytical side likes to think and rethink of all the possibilities, shall we say being ready in my mind. And I guess this year I am not mentally ready to go in trips. I know I sound so rigid right? I love the spontaneity in things but at this time, it helps me to be same, constant. I feel like that there are so many changes around me that I just need to sit this out for now.
Somehow that gives me stability at this time. I know I will be here for a while, I can work on my projects, I can learn and relearn new things, I can save for things in the future and I can enjoy what I have. Count my blessings. Sometimes I know that I am always looking for the next event that I kind of forget how special the moments are now. But yeah things like this makes me appreciate the things I was able to do earlier. So yes mixed emotions.
Little cracks, I don't know about you, but when I practice, everything cracks, not everything at the same time but there are some movements that causes certain cracks, and if it is a new crack sometimes it is surprising and there are also those streches that I know will make cracks and I look for it, and wait until it cracks, because at the same time that it is a bit weird that it cracks, there is also some relief in the cracking. It somehow feels the muscles are relaxing and the parts of the body are shifting. Always sore right? And the further I go to the practice, the more sore I get. And I know I also do not need to get so deep in the practice. I find joy in the simple practice, but also at the same time, the quest for the study and to understand this method and this body and this mind is very interesting to me. Let's say I'm a very eager student.
But not that eager, if you think I wake up and get on my mat right away, this is not the truth. It takes me a while to get there, and there is always this mental monologue if I want to go on the mat, and yes you might think that me being so regular, might win this easy. Answer is no. I struggle with it, there are days I want to stay in bed, there are days I think I am too stiff, too tired, too whatever, it doesn't matter what. My mind and body does fight on going to the mat. But we all end up there in the end because I am also hard headed. And standing there in the mat, even then my mind tries of making excuses why not today. I raise my hands and surrender to whatever it is during that practice. And no, it doesn't end there, there are points in the practice where I get distracted and want to stop. I try to concentrate on just the breathing, one inhale, one movement, one exhale, one movement. I tell myself I can quit anytime. But why quit now. And everyday I learn something. Another day in the bag. Tomorrow, we deal with that another day.
I hope you are all staying and keeping well and happy. My program stays available online and do drop me a mail or a message if you have any questions. I like hearing from you. Do you have questions about the practice? Do you want to practice together? Let me know. I like sharing with you.
Be well and happy and find this small cracks of opening.
I get asked sometimes if I experience pain in my practice. The answer is yes. For me this practice was never easy. Yes, one can argue I have flexibility. However that does not mean I never had to struggle in my practice. Some postures were more accessible for me than others, I have to agree. But what drew me to this practice is that the practice may be the same for everyone, everyone follows the same set of postures but we have different expressions of this postures. Mine is not necessarily better than yours, it is just different. Because my body is different than yours, it doesn't give another person less ability to do the pose in their best effort. And for me this is the beauty of the practice. You can go as deep or as shallow as you want, as you see fit. And of course in the beginning of the practice we do not know our own limits and capacities, we tend to over do, or sometimes not dare to do because we are scared. Good company always helps, a good teacher and a good community can always help in this journey. But most of the times it is important for us to feel our restrictions and capabilities ourselves, because no body feels the pain like we do.
I often ask my students, where do you feel it? Of course there are moments when I see the pain, or the feelings, but I cannot observe it all the time, it helps that the student is aware of it. But yes, it does take a lot of... yes you have guessed it, practice to be able to locate this. Often times in our practice there is a lot we think about, the next pose, the room needs cleaning, what we need to do for the rest of the day, the amount of work we still have to do and asking this question, helps me get back to what I am doing at the moment, where am I at at this point. Feeling the present situation. And in being aware of that am able to adjust and find out what is it I need to work on in this, it allows me to find space in the body and in the mind and to free the breath, it allows me to recognise the parts I need to work on. And it is not a one day discovery, it really takes time. And I know, we always think we do not have time. But really we do.
Pain is also for me an indication of where the healing needs to happen. For me it is an indication of stress, physically or emotionally. I like to use the practice as a healing practice. The movements in the practice allows us to discover how to breathe through the pain, or how to move through the pain. And from my own practice I realise that there are ways to free up the pain. Using the breath and calming the mind and letting the body know that it is safe, it allows me to get deeper into these poses and these transitions. In these same movements, I get to know myself, I find out my stiffness, or where I am flexible, I find out where I am strong and where I am weak, and most of the times, it is things I already know but I am still reluctant to accept. But somehow this practice has given me confidence in myself and my abilities and it has taught me that there are a lot of possibilities.
The pain also moves, the body and the mind seems like a puzzle, once we solve something, something else pops out. And yes it is a process of discovery and rediscovery. It is the same everyday and in that way we are able to gauge what is changing. It is not to scare you for the pain. I think even if we do not practice there will be pain, different pain, not better, not worse just different. But practicing and being aware of this pain can be useful. These feelings can be quite intense but we should always know that we can get through these pain and we just got to let time work on it.
I do hope you have a pain free practice, and if something does hurt I do hope you are able to practice through this pain. I hope the practice can also provide you healing as it does to me or at the least I hope you can use this practice as a place to inquire where this pain is coming from. From this knowing where it comes from maybe you can discover that you can heal yourself from this. Stay happy. Stay safe.
I hope you are all surviving this heat wave in Antwerp. We always complain that it rains here. And now wow. Nature is showing us what it can do with it's heat. I think the heat is wonderful, but I am also happy it's not like this all year. I'm happy for the rain in Antwerp and I try my best at the same time to enjoy these days, even with the face mask. With the heat it's quite hard to breathe and sometimes I would just want to remove the damn mask but yeah I cannot afford the fine, and yeah we do our part for the better of the community right? In our own little way. And though we may not think it, we are making a difference, or well I hope so. But maybe that is the hopeful girl in me.
How has your summer been? It's kind of weird to be not going anywhere this year. And see things happening in Antwerp, or things not happening in Antwerp because of Corona. Summer is always filled with beach adventures, good food, discovering new places, having new adventures and for this summer it's summer in my own city which yes I love but is also sometimes nice to get out off. But yes for me that will have to wait. I instead try to make a vacation home of my place. Since I have been here most of the time, practice here, teaching here, working here. I found that it is nice to surround myself with plants to have a bit of companionship and they have been good companions, it's a pleasure to see them grow. It is getting out of hand and I know I should stop sneaking them home, but somehow it also feels good to have them here. If it makes me happy right? It can't be so bad.
I would also like to use this opportunity to thank all the people who have been supporting me with Mysore Space. This project means really a lot to me and having you there with me in the mornings, sharing the space and the energy, even though it is online, sharing the little things of your life of your practice. I love listening to you and hearing all about what is happening to you. And I really appreciate that you read my blogs too and tell me to keep on going. It is an inspiration. Sometimes our lives feel as if there is no purpose, and maybe there isn't but it is nice to be appreciated and hear it. It keeps me going these less easy times, it keeps me going to the mat and discovering and rediscovering myself, and everyday I kind of find out I know so little, and it is all vast and endless and yet there is still a thirst to just maybe, just maybe understand even just a little bit.
Ashtanga for me is very special. It's a repetition of movements. And the lesson is in the most simple things, in Ashtanga it is the sun salutation or the surya namaskar. Everyday I still learn a lot in doing these movements. It may not seem like so, but if I picture myself 8 years before and now, and look at just how I do the sun salutations, there are definitely differences. One is not better than the other but they are just different. But the lessons are hardest to learn in simple things. Most of the time we need a thorough explanation, and that's why we add poses, but they all point to the foundation. And it is a wonderful process of learning and unlearning.
Keep cool. Keep travelling and enjoying. Keep breathing fresh air and keep finding space to grow.
All my love
How are you all doing this weekend?
Here in Antwerp it's finally summer and sale season. So all my pent up energy went on shopping. And which person doesn't like a good discount on things? I have a feeling that I save when I buy in sales, I don't look at what I spend I look at what I save. I know, I know it's silly. And saving for a rainy day is important. But sometimes it does feel good to treat myself to nice things (like I do not do that enough). But I am also lucky I am in a place in my life that I can. So sometimes splurging can be fun. And I think with all of the stress and uncertainty of the times, it's a way to escape for a bit from all of this. And I've always been one to feel guilty after buying things and always felt I had to hide the fact that I went on splurging. But actually there is no shame. We should know how to treat ourselves right and having nice things can also be a part of taking care of ourselves, of course with the knowledge that these are just things and they also do not define us.
It's been a bit daunting to me the last days, I got reprimanded for not walking with a mask in the park, when it was a measure to be wearing it everywhere. These rules have been vague for me but I also knew them so I just couldn't find a way to reason out with the police officer, I plead guilty and yes these guys are also having a hard time making all of us follow the rules. It is not nice because I wanted to be outside to have a breath of fresh air, but now a days we have to do that with masks. Not ideal. But at the same time, we still are being allowed to be outside and we just have to adjust a bit (maybe more than a bit) to the new rules and guidelines, for the good of everyone. It's easy to think of me, my needs, my wants but yes we are responsible for everyone else too. Funny times, we are called to stay at home and wear masks, the modern war and we don't know the magnitude of what we are fighting. We just have to give in.
Keep fighting the good fight. Remember take care of yourself first so you can take care of others, so do that in your own way, a nice meal, a good walk outside, a burst of laughing, talking to friends, or splurging on beautiful things. It doesn't really matter what you are doing. It matters that you are happy.