25 July 2007


Wednesday 25th July 2007

For the next four days I'll be camping out bush in the Flinders Ranges.
Vast open skies, campfires, mountains to climb, birdsong, silence, saturated in nature.

17 July 2007


Tuesday 17th July 2007

On the Mat

The opening scene: 6am, Renate’s studio, only blackness staring back at me through the huge windows, rain and occasional hail beating down on the roof, two heaters fighting a losing battle against the chilly night air.

The odds were against a good practice this morning:
Firstly the cold had deposited itself stubbornly into my joints.
Secondly my body has taken on the protective armour of mid-winter shape, extra kilos in padding spread evenly all over and a rather voluptuous tummy that keeps getting in the way. The damage from this winter will take a bit of work to repair.
Thirdly my mind was elsewhere this morning, overly active in some other fuzzy world, and really not present at all.

So it was Sun Salutes and the standing poses, and some of those I cheated on – only 3 breaths in Parivritta Parsvakonasana, and only ONE BREATH in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana C (that last variation where you hold the leg up unsupported) – most of the other standing poses I did properly. But after that I was kaput.
My mind was scatty, my breath was absent, my joints were frozen. Continuing with the flowing Ashtanga sequence just wasn’t possible.

So the rest of my practice time was spent trying to passively open my body up with some innocuous poses like Supta Baddha Konasana, Virasana and a few twists: Bharadvajasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Marichasana A, and the twisted version of Upavista Konasana where you turn to face the extended leg and bend forward til the nose touches the knee.

No matter how bad I feel and how bad practice is going I can’t NOT do any backbends – the guilt would kill me. So I laid back over a bolster to convince my body it could open, then I did Ustrasana before trying Urdhva Dhanurasana. It wasn’t half bad actually but I copped out and only did one. I know I could have done a few more but my mind was so rapidly collapsing inwards it seemed urgent to finish off with the minimum inversions, Sarvangasana and Halasana then fall into Savasana before I died.
Still, any day I get on the mat is a day not wasted.

The next few weeks will be tough because my yoga buddies won’t be around.
Renate leaves this Friday for China and Outer Mongolia (sounds exotic and dangerous) she's off adventuring for about 5 weeks. Kosta’s hernia operation is today so he’ll be out of yoga action for at least 3, maybe 6 weeks.
I’ll have no-one to practice with.
Makes me wonder what more can the universe take away from me, I shudder to contemplate that question.
The systematic stripping away of my support systems is almost complete.


Up until 4 weeks ago, housesitting wasn’t an activity I’d given any thought to – not part of my vocabulary really.
But events seemed to be orchestrated around me in a most extraordinary series of ‘coincidences’ and I found myself housesitting 4 different houses over a period of 4 weeks.

First I looked after Lisa’s house (and cat) on the other side of town for 5 days, it was a little further to drive to work each day but that was compensated for by the beautifully renovated old house and a bathroom to die for.
I went from Lisa’s house to a 5 day stay at my ex-husband’s house, more to look after his dog Snoop than his house while he was away in the country.
When Rod and Anna heard that I was looking after Lisa’s house (all three are work colleagues at the art school), they asked me to housesit their place (and their dog Polly) while they went to Byron Bay for 6 days. I still can’t believe how I could pack up my clothes and leave my husband’s house one day and move in to Rod and Anna’s house the very same day, then leave their house and move into my current housesitting spot the next day. Four houses in a row, each one available straight after the last.
So I’m now at Margot’s place (she nabbed me when she heard I was housesitting Rod and Anna's place) while her family are holidaying in Sydney. I’m eating and sleeping in someone else’s house, snuggling up to their dog, showering in their bathroom, using their pots and pans, inhabiting their personal space that is saturated with their character.

I’m surprised at how quickly the unfamiliar becomes my own, surprised that I can step into another person’s home and fit in so easily. Perhaps it’s because I have so little sense of self left these days. I almost cease to exist as a personality so there’s a fluidity to my being that no longer carries a personalised stamp.

Experiencing how other people live by actually inhabiting their homes has been interesting. What we choose to surround us in our most intimate sanctuary reveals the unique expression of our character. Clutter or simplicity, old style bric-a-brac or contemporary deco, carpets or wooden floors, vivid, muted or beige colour schemes, lighting, wall decorations, selections of books, manicured rose gardens or natural bushes, we express our Selves in this world through every choice we make, not only in our homes but in everything we do.

An soon it will be my turn – only 6 more sleeps until I move into a slightly more permanent home (let me see…that’s 3 more sleeps at Margot’s, 2 sleeps back at Renate’s, then 1 sleep at my boyfriend’s).
My semi-permanent home-to-be is actually a 1 year residency housesitting Fleur’s amazing place while she ventures overseas and interstate, travelling and taking up funded visual and performing artists residencies and internships.
She has virtually nothing in the place (it's a typical starving artists studio) so I have carte blanche to do what I want, feather my new nest for a while.
And the best part is…I can move in there with my long neglected little dog.

11 July 2007


Thursday 12th July 2007

notes from the mat

For me the pelvic floor resembles the rabbit-hole that Alice fell into. During practice you peer into its mysterious depth with the inner eye. You focus attention on it and something magical happens – you cross over into another dimension.

If you want to experience it, try staying in a pose for 10 breaths – use the first couple of breaths to establish correct alignment with the outer body, then shift all your attention to your pelvic floor. See it and sense it inside of you as vividly as you can. Gently begin contracting the perineum (the central muscle) upwards to bring mula bandha into action. While holding the pose, don’t let the attention wander back out to the peripheral muscles of the body – keep it internal.

As you inhale and exhale, keep the pelvic floor muscles contracting gently upwards and this will direct the prana up from the lower to the higher chakras. Watch what happens over the course of those 10 breaths as you sustain this energetic focus. Note how the physical body automatically responds to the magnified presence of your inner core by releasing grips and tensions, and realigning itself naturally in line with energetic pathways.

You don’t need a teacher to tell you to move your navel to the left or drop your right shoulderblade because the body knows where it should be when you work from the inside out.

Focussing on the pelvic floor is like putting the conductor back on centre stage when the musicians are all playing individual tunes - all the discordant parts of the body and energy system start to line up around the maestro and sing one magnificent song.

I love watching this happen in Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (although I’m trying to do it in every pose now).

From the day I started yoga this pose delightfully easy for me, but over the years, the first side (where the right leg is in half lotus) has deteriorated. When I first bend up my right leg into half lotus the knee is 6” off the floor so I have to gradually and carefully move into the pose. I twist to the right and reach my right hand behind my back to grab the right foot then come back to centre again.
For a moment I sit and wait, tightly bound, until I get the cue to tilt forward and grab my left foot with my left hand.

Then I move my attention to the pelvic floor. I continue Ujjiya breathing, long and full, grounding into the earth through the base of the pose (the sitting bones). This grounding seems to be a key factor in the energetic matrix and without it there's no lift.
I draw up the pelvic floor and my spine responds by growing long, and I can consciously suck energy upwards from the pelvic floor in a straight column and feel it coursing through what I creatively envision as a mine shaft. I feel tight muscles shifting, softening and giving way, my hip joints release their grip allowing the pelvis to tilt more so I lengthen forward out over the left leg.

I control the exhale (yes after all that!) still contracting the perineum but controlling the flow of energy back down the shaft back to its source. After a few breaths like this my entire body relaxes around the pose…tight areas of contraction release, the hips soften, the knee joint opens and the knee begins descending softly and safely to the floor, my lower back becomes full and forgiving, my spine grows long and serpentine. Down the rabbit hole I go, following the undulations of the breath into another world.
This other world is where I go to do my yoga, or where yoga the really starts to happen.

Tell me, why would I go back to the shala when I can go here?

9 July 2007

Thursday 5th July 2007

Although I’ve been journaling a lot over the last couple of weeks (that means either sitting in cafes or lying in bed and scribbling thoughts onto random bits of paper) nothing’s actually been posted. I just haven’t had the time to edit out the crappy bits translate the rest of gibberish into real language and type it up.

Probably a good thing…especially after re-reading the depressing collection of sob stories written over the last week or two. Not the best start to a new weblog.

But the depressing clouds are clearing and a few rays of sunshine are illuminating the way out of the darkness.

Two weeks just went by without even one yoga practice, NOT EVEN A STRETCH, but this morning I WANTED to practice. Wanting to practice is a sign that my mindstate is improving, it’s becoming more positive, and that’s what I mean by the sunshine.
A positive outlook is really empowering – It allows me to take full responsibility for my situation and become pro-active about where I’m going, and that strong feeling was evident in the practice this morning.
After two weeks you’d think my body would be stiff and slow, but surprise, surprise…it actually felt strong, supple and energetic during the practice. My mindstate was similar (no surprise) - I was willing to address all the mental, emotional and physical blocks that arose in the 2 hour session on the mat with an attitude of softness and strength. Like, bring it all on, let me look at what’s going on here and I’ll enjoy dealing whatever comes up.
So at the pre-arranged time of 6.15am, my mind and my body met on the mat, reacquainting like long lost lovers. Having a break from practice is really not a bad thing. It’s not the end of the earth like you always think it is. Practice returns, and when it does, the reunion is sweet as sweet.

I went to a small local Library after work one night last night not expecting to find anything new or worth borrowing. The unexpected gem I found on my last visit 6 weeks ago was a book called Essence and The Elixir of Enlightenment by A.H.Almaas. I had to extend the loan period twice because I needed to read the book over and over. Reluctantly I returned it last week, and what did I find on the shelf to replace it? A later work by the same author, “The Pearl Beyond Price”, a book that reads more like a university textbook on psychology, so there’s some deliciously rich reading to swim around in over the next few weeks.

Other books I borrowed last week…
1. “Raw Food Real World” by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis
2. “Eucalyptus Oil – Australia’s Natural Wonder” by Peter and Tegan Abbott
3. “The Secret of Shambhala” by James Redfield (on second view, I probably won’t read this one, but flick through it picking up a paragraph here and there)
4. “Painfullly Shy: how to overcome social anxiety and reclaim your life” - This one was more to help me understand my son and what I might do to help him, but I suspect it will shed light on my own obsession with seclusion)
5. “Happiness is a Serious Problem” by Dennis Prager – couldn’t go past that title, but I’m not sure of the content yet.

The raw food book has been very inspiring already, especially the sexy, sassy images of the couple who wrote it (ex-couple now, I believe).
Sarma’s model pretty image-with-attitude is quite appealing on the surface but reading her weblog reveals a very real person in there. In fact I was pretty impressed at her honesty after being blinded by the glitzy images in the book.
The raw food thing is quite timely for me. Already I’ve started to increase my raw food intake, which hasn’t been hard, since I did the whole raw thing in my lat 20’s (and felt incredible) and my diet has remained very simple since then.
Looking back I wonder why I took up cooked food again – but I guess it doesn’t matter…Now is all that counts.

Now is very interesting.

Over the past 18 months my life has undergone a process of gradual but total deconstruction of every part that made up the whole.
And I now have the wonderful opportunity to recreate it, a new, improved vision is emerging. The details I'm working out look something like this:
- An increase in raw food intake to 80-90% over the next few weeks (this morning in the supermarket I even resisted buying the usual croissants and lavash bread – yippee)- Only organic foods and absolutely nothing packaged in YUK plastic
- Freshly prepared vegetable juice and a fresh in-season salad for dinner
- A new yoga practice resurrected out of the dead one
- And I WILL get up early each morning to do yoga because the raw food diet will have me so energised and positive that getting up at 6am will become easy again.
- And matters of spirit shall be informing all areas of my daily life

Given that the cells in our body are completely renewed/replaced every seven years, maybe I’ll be reborn luminous somewhere in my early fifties.
The idea of finally taking control of my life, living on my own terms, saying no to society’s warped expectations and false values is now my reality. I’m fully prepared to live a life where my choices truly reflect my spiritual values and the journey which is the ultimate experiment, is shared only with my co-creator.