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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Random tale of disco watch from Cambodia

There comes a time in everyones SE Asia holiday where your views on what is a reasonable price become severely warped. I wish there was a name for it. Maybe there is but I don't know it. For me, it happened our first night in Siem Reap. On the very first day of our holiday, my husband's watch broke. Now he loves to know what time it is as he loves to be on time at all times. So, he has had to rely on me for time keeping as my watch works. I must admit I have wielded my power for evil and enjoy give him the completely wrong time and watching the look of horror on his face as he thinks we are 10 minutes late for the bus and I casually state 'oh, I'm sure they will wait'. I have to be careful or my lie doesn't work. Once I told him it was 3am however the light on the horizon gave the game away damnit. So you see, I have enjoyed this little game and was saddened to see watches for sale at the local market. But I digress. So, husband found a cute little blue 'casio' he wanted to buy and the haggling began. She wanted $5 and Ross paid $3. As he proudly displayed his new purchase to his wife all I could screech was "$3??? You paid $3 for a fake casio?? What a rip off". 

Now this is where calm Ross turned to me and said "I want you to think about what you are saying Sarah, $3." I admitted he was right and it was cheap, HOWEVER my parting shot was it wouldn't last more than 24 hrs and therefore would be an expensive watch as in theory he would have to buy a new one everyday. You will all be pleased to know the watch is still merrily working and Ross casually asked me as we lay in the dark that first night of his new purchase if I would like to know the time. Before I could say anything his new watch started flashing all manner of colored lights and can only be described now as disco watch. I love these lights so much I might go back and buy more of these expensive watches....

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The holy trinity of yoga mats

I decided an ordinary yoga mat was no longer for me. I needed to go forth, investigate and purchase a new mat. I needed to grow up and leave behind my lime green Wii mat and buy something more yoga, more serious, more 'I do yoga three times a week, I'm a serious yogini kinda mat'. You get the idea. Trawling the internet on yoga mat forums and the like (as you do if you have an obsessive persona like myself), it quickly became obvious that there is only one choice of yoga mat if you are truly devoted to yoga. The Manduka Black Mat Pro. I instantly ordered one. Who says I'm an impulse buyer?

Reading the reviews, it states something I find hard to understand. Many reviewers say this is the best yoga mat you will ever buy, however you must allow two weeks for you and your new mat to 'break in together'. What does this mean to 'break in' a yoga mat? It's a piece of rubber (100% natural non-Amazon tree rubber to be precise) for gods sake, what does it need me to do in this two week period?

Well, apparently in the first two weeks I have to use it on a daily basis. Every second day in the first two weeks is unacceptable. Is this mat like a needy girlfriend who needs reassurance in the beginning of a new relationship? Do I have to reassure the mat that yes indeed I do really like you and I promise to see you once the honeymoon period ends? That's not all. In the initial two weeks I also have to massage my beloved mat using a sponge and coarse sea salt  (preferably organic) before leaving the mat out to enjoy some sunshine. I'm not kidding.

After all this, I can then be guaranteed a surface which grips my hands like no other, providing better stability which in turn will improve my poses and jump-backs. I am not sure if it is actually possibly for a piece of rubber to make me a better yogini but I'm willing to find out. This mat is supposedly so good it has a life time guarantee and I will never want to use another mat. My yoga practice will improve with this mat. My life will be more profound with this mat. I will be at one with my mat. This mat is so special I also purchased its own special yoga bag for it to snugly sleep in.

I better go now. My husband is reading our credit card statement and trying to understand what a Manduka Black Pro is and why does it cost $120?


Saturday, 25 June 2011

menagerie of animals

I am currently intensely jealous of my pets. I find myself watching my cavoodle for insider tips as she bends easily into the 'downward facing dog' pose approximately ten times a day.  I have never really noticed before, however now I am constantly moving into this pose in my classes, I find myself watching her, almost willing her to move into this position. She always obliges and I am starting to think she is simply showing off her skills. My fat cat (my husband prefers the term big boned), usually not an animal you would study for physical movement, even has the 'cat pose' down pat. In my limited experience cat pose is usually linked to cow pose in yoga classes and if you have seen my cat, I like to think this is no coincidence. Way back in India, animals were observed in nature, noted for their particular abilities and accomplishments. To imitate these qualities was considered a high sign of spiritual enlightenment. Whilst practising yoga, you are required to 'be' an animal - some other poses I am currently learning are - supported pigeon pose, crow pose, scorpion pose and even frog pose. I find these names reassuring and often pretend I am a cow in a paddock or a scorpion resting on a rock whilst moving into the poses. I also sometimes have the urge to meow or moo.

I scoffed when I heard people say they are addicted to yoga. I scoff no more. I am so addicted I am considering putting a post on trip advisor to see if there any yoga studio's nearby whilst I am on holiday in Italy. Is this bad? I think it is definitely a sign of addictive behaviour. Amendment: my husband has just kindly pointed out that if there were classes, they would be in Italian. Unless I have the ability to learn animal names in Italian (I don't) yoga classes whilst in Italy is not going to happen. I am going to investigate putting a yoga dvd on my ipad and doing some mini classes in my hotel rooms. Or perhaps I could decamp to the local piazza and do some mountain poses near the fountain whilst licking my gelati cone?

I am so addicted I find myself edging towards the yoga magazine section in my local news agency. I haven't yet succumbed and bought one, however I have stolen glances at fellow yogini's (yes, this is what we are called apparently) flipping through these magazines and watched in envy as they have purchased these magazines and stride off to no doubt sip green tea. I have no idea what is in a yoga magazine but am sure they would induce a feeling of calm whilst flicking through the pages.

I am so addicted to yoga I am now rearranging my social calendar around my yoga classes. This is a first for me as usually exercise is the first thing to be cancelled in favor of drinking, eating or doing nothing. If I miss a class I get tetchy (ready crabby) and my husband now casually drops into the conversation 'Oh, you have to miss your class on Tuesday night? I think there's a yoga flow on Wednesday morning if you check the schedule but I'm just guessing'. My husband realises the benefits of yoga - happy calm yogini=peaceful untroubled home life.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

It's not me, it's you

I cheated on my yogi and then broke up with him saying it was his fault. It had all started when I decided to go further afield and try another studio just for something different. Having three alternative ones within walking distance, I easily found a class I could attend. Walking into the studio, I noticed the following - all the cool kids come here, everyone has totally smokin' bodies (even the granny who was surely over 65) and there is a multitude of 'yoga accessories'. Now, I don't know about you but I love accessories and this studio has them all - blankets (three different types thank you), sunny aqua bolsters (shame on you for not knowing what a bolster is), ropes (for skipping maybe?), purple blocks and spare mats to put under your own mat for extra comfort on the hard wooden floors (genius people). Plus, there was dimmed lights and music drifting quietly in the background. I was hooked before the class had even began. The teacher came in and I quickly realised I was fixated on a new yogi. She has this lilting sing-song voice that I swear is not annoying, and she smiles. Always. Plus, I want her glutes. Who said I was easily distracted by new bright shiny objects? That night, I went home exhilarated and emailed my old yogi stating I was no longer going there as I found his teaching style to be stressful and it wasn't for me.

My new yoga studio is awesome. So awesome that everyone else has figured this out and the classes are crowded. I have to get there 15 minutes early to ensure I get my favourite spot.  Second back row, second in from the right hand wall. OCD anyone? I'm not how I would cope if I was to find someone in my spot. I like this spot because it is a 'blind spot'. Blind spot you say? Yes, it is one of the few spots in the studio where you are not directly in front of a mirror which means I can move freely and bask in the fake knowledge that I am moving with grace and poise without seeing the harsh reality the mirrors have to offer. The other benefit of arriving early is I can make sure I have all the accessories. I never actually use all the accessories - I get too hot to use the blanket and I have no idea what the block is for; but I like to have them and watch others walk in late (5 minutes before class is late in my book peoples) and anxiously realise there are no more accessories. I  like to lovingly stroke said items and smile sadly, with a hint of knowing, at the people that are obviously going to A) freeze to death in the relaxation pose as I use my blanket as a pillow and B) not be able to reach their full yoga potential. Am I petty? I like to think I'm simply on time.

After a couple of classes I realise my bag is all wrong. My yoga mat is able to go incognito, however my bag just doesn't feel right. It's too sporty and practical. I try out a handbag. Too corporate. Not yoga enough. Like a miracle from the bag gods, one arrives in the mail as a gift. A sling bag hand made in Peru made out of a recycled burlap bag. It's so perfect. It screams "I am in touch with my inner chakra energy and this bag helps me achieve oneness with my body".  I like to gaily swing it as I walk home so people can whisper behind their hands - 'Look how calm and relaxed that woman is - it must be that magical bag'. At the end of tonights class I feel I have come so far. I am more flexible, I am not the worst in the class and I feel great. Grabbing my shoes, I attempt to expertly balance on one foot whilst I tie up my shoe laces and instantly topple over like a tree. I exit the studio and promptly sign up for a six week beginners course starting this week. I still have a long way to go and did I mention that my shoes are also all wrong for an aspiring Yoga goddess?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Tiger's skin and I hope I don't have to vomit.

All yoga classes start and end with a Namaste greeting. I now know it is considered very bad form not to participate in this salutation. How do I know this? Because I had no idea what this word 'Namaste' meant and continued to nod my head in a 'I don't speak any foreign languages and therefore am not required to participate' kind of way. My yogi finally cracked and explained to me that when Namaste is uttered with a slight bow made with the hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards in front of the chest and I ignore it - this is akin to to me not learning someone's name. I looked at him sharply and wondered. 


In my private tuition  class (I so don't have children do I?), I was once again in a state of angst over my inability to remember the poses in the correct order. To my horror, yogi explained to me that the sequence I am currently struggling to learn in a ninety minute private tuition class is only the first SEVEN minutes of a NINETY minute sequence. Gulp. I am doomed. How can I possibly do ninety minutes of different memorised poses? Surely that is too much? I wistfully said aloud I wished there were pictures on the wall. Yogi smiled and said he agreed some art would be nice. I corrected him and said I wished for stick figures depicting my poses in numbered order.  What's wrong with that? 


You will be pleased to know that my yogi is quite smart and tried to trip me up regarding his name. Very subtly he stated "You don't know my name, do you?". For the approximate five seconds I had to respond I went into a state of panic and was already justifying why I never have to return. My response was to calmly state that of course I knew his name, I just didn't know how to pronounce it. This seemed to satisfy him and he explained patiently his name was Bill. Just kidding. Imagine if it was. Now, that would have been embarrassing. 


My current favourite pose is the 'Warrior Pose'. This is quite a well known pose and is my favourite for two reasons. Firstly, because I learnt it is based on a reincarnation of Shiva bla bla bla wearing a tiger's skin. This particular part of the five minute explanation is the only part I actually listened to and as I move into this pose, I always picture myself with a tiger's skin around my shoulders at a somewhat jaunty angle. The other reason I love this pose is because every time we do it, yogi demands we picture our worst enemy and give them a 'Don't fuck with me' evil stare. Any pose in yoga that involves swearing I am instantly drawn to. I hope there are more ahead for me to learn. 


Moving every so gracefully through my poses - okay I was not graceful and I was not moving - yogi suddenly disappeared and returned saying to the teacher in training: 'Yeah, I think it is too far to go if you have to suddenly vomit'. Excuse me, did I hear you correctly? Yet another symptom of yoga (it's starting to look more and more like an illness if you ask me) is vomiting. The other day a girl started to feel nauseous and running out to the bathroom she didn't make it in time. I scoffed, assuming she was some hardcore yoga person who was doing some kind of intense yoga. No, this was not the case and it happens to a lot of people including my yogi. Except when yogi vomits, he only vomits out all the bad energy. His words not mine. Lucky for me, I have permission to vomit in the kitchenette sink if I need to. Good to know. 







Tuesday, 10 May 2011

OMMMMMMMMMMM

Tonight I attended a yoga class as opposed to private tuition, which basically means I don't have to memorise a sequence of poses, I merely follow my yogi as he meanders through whatever he feels like. This suits me down to a tee, as it does not require any thought process on my behalf. I showed up to the 7pm class to discover my worst nightmare realised - it's me, the yogi and the female teacher in training. More like intense private tuition - two teachers to one student.

As an aside, a very sensible blogger messaged me and said to ensure my yogi is IYTA certified - that's International Yoga Teachers' Association to you non-yoga people. I am so a yoga person now. I'm just waiting to get my 'yoga smug' on. I'll let you know when it happens.  I decided the only sensible thing to do was cyber stalk my yogi in the hope of A) finding out more about him and B) perhaps learning how to pronounce his name. Unfortunately, the first thing I came across was a strange link to an unused twitter account which I promptly clicked on to reveal a photo of my yogi in a legs crossed manner, very tanned (think like a bag of roasted chestnuts on a cheery wintery London day), wearing sunglasses (not very Yoga-esque if you ask me) and on closer inspection appeared to be completely nude.  I must admit I found this quite unsettling and after staring at the photo for an undetermined time, I was still unable to decide if he was nude or not. Too traumatised to continue my cyber stalking, I stopped looking except to confirm he was IYTA. I knew if I continued looking on the internet and found more strange discoveries I would look for yet another excuse to give up, so I stopped. Who cares if my yogi digs his own body and likes to brown his body to nut perfection in the nude? I also did not find how to pronounce his name. I've given up and my strategy involves nodding sagely every time he uses my name as if I choose not to use his name. Working so far.

Back to the class. The class goes quite well and I find myself relaxing and even bantering with my two teachers in a pleasant and respectful student manner until we came to a seated pose that I could not understand. After trying several ways to explain the positioning of my foot with my leg, he gave up and pointed furiously with his fingers where to move it. Finally understanding, I apologised profusely and got into position. Yogi, as he is now known, said this was always a hard position to explain and he wondered why so many people didn't understand his instructions. He then broke out of his yogi voice which is deep, calm and soothing and exclaimed in a high squeaky voice that 'So many stupid cunts don't get it' and then began cackling hysterically. I accused Yogi of showing his true colours to which he responded that I should take magnesium tablets. Please don't think he is cruel or malicious, he is merely unusual in his teaching method. I am hoping this madness is what keeps me coming back.

We then came to the end of the class and I mentally prepared for the 'corpse' position of lying still, only to be disappointed I was learning something new tonight. Humming. The conversation went something like this
Yogi- We are now going to hum deeply and vibrate our entire bodies, down to our minute cells.
Me - Interrupting - so do I hum whilst breathing in and out?
Yogi - Er, no. It is physically not possible to breathe in and hum.
Me - Okay, and when I breathe out and hum do I hum the entire time or stop part way.
Yogi - just hum Sarah on the outtake of breath and be still.

Oh okay. Humming in front of others in a yoga manner is a very self conscious thing for someone like myself and I found myself listening to their hums and thinking competitively that their humming sounded so much deeper and longer. Damn, I can't even hum right.  I didn't feel my cells vibrate so I guess I have to work on my humming.

Class ended at the chime of a  bell three times, (little lunch time!) and I gathered up my lovely borrowed blanket and started to fold it up. Apparently in yoga, you can't just fold up a blanket. At home, my husband changes our bed sheets as he claims I don't do it properly so I am used to sheet/blanket criticism, however this was in a whole different realm.  I learnt tonight that when folding a yoga blanket you must fold it the long way first, they rotate it to the new long side and fold again. This cumbersome and timely folding continues in this pattern until the blanket is small and ready to be packed away. Of course, I had to ask why the blankets had to be folded this particular way to which he replied 'it's so all the bad energy is expelled and the good energy is folded into the blanket'. Perhaps that's what I've being doing wrong at home when making the bed?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Yogi - Is a bear right?

I have always wanted to do yoga. When I say this, I really mean I want to be long, lean and sinewy. I want to be zen. I want to be yoga smug. You know those people that walk along with their rolled up yoga mats with an ethereal look on their faces. That's what I wanted. The other day I found myself walking my dog and happened upon a new yoga studio right around the corner from my apartment (yes, I have a dog in an apartment and yes it is a nightmare). Grabbing a leaflet, I swooned with delight over terms such as  as 'threshold of an amazing journey', 'the development of conscious awareness' and 'It's your journey'. This surely must a sign? 


It can be said, among all those that know me, the power of suggestion is powerful with me. A normal person would have shown up for an open yoga class (as opposed to a closed class?), however I decided to sign up for a month of personal yoga tuition classes in the hope this would bring be closer to my perceived new imaginary yoga persona. ie Long, lean & sinewy. Emails flurried back and forth between myself and the female teacher and we agreed on two mornings a week to get me started. I did notice on their website that the main 'yogi' was a wee man with bulging eyes who was referred to in awe as a 'guru'. Whatever, I just want to be lean.


I arrived at my 6am private tuition sick with nerves. It's a miracle I try anything new as I literally freeze up with knots in my stomach at even the smallest new endeavour. For example, I can not enter a clothing shop I have never entered before on my own. Why? Because I have an irrational fear that upon entering said store I will appear out of my depth and that the shop assistants will quickly usher me out the back door for fear I will ruin the look of their store. 


Where was I? Oh yes, yoga. Entering the yoga studio I realise three things immediately - there is incense burning, there is no Enya playing like normal yoga places and the guru is sitting on a cushion in the corner in what can only be described as a mediating pose with his eyes closed and his legs in a bendy manner.  He is wearing fisherman pants which should only ever be worn on Khao San Road in Bangkok whilst getting your fake dreadlocks super glued into your hair (incidentally my gay Vietnamese hairdresser did it and he strongly recommends not going down this route. Ever). And I have no idea what the guru's name is. I'm fucked. 


I notice the female teacher is near the 'shoe section' frantically gesturing at me to stop walking across the sacred floor in my flip flops. These flip flops cost $60 thank you very much. She explains to me excitably that the guru will be taking me on my journey and I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to work with such a great master.  Rolling out my mat, I suddenly wonder why the other mats in the room are lovely muted shades and mine is lime green? When I had demanded my husband locate a yoga mat in the garage, he had muttered something about one already located in the ironing closet. Oh, I see.  My mat is a forgotten lime green yoga sports mat for Nintendo Wii Fit. How very zen of me. The class consists of me, an actor, the guru and the female 'yogi in training' I had been emailing. The guru explains to me that it is highly unusual for him to take on a completely new student as usually people do classes first before the intense personal tuition, however he just 'knew' it was meant to be. He says all this whilst smiling at me, adjusting his massive grey top-knot and using my name in every sentence. I look at him blankly and hope to remember his name. I also realise I should have gone to a few classes first before throwing myself in the deep end. Kind of like deciding to explore bisexuality and instead of experimenting first, finding yourself suddenly in a long distance relationship with a lesbian movie director who is unpacking the U-Haul after the second date. Not a good idea and a true story.


Starting out in yoga, I envisioned it would be me following a teacher in a series of poses. Kind of like a one-on-one aerobics class without the Grapevine or Reebok step. Apparently in yoga you have to memorise the poses yourself and think for yourself. My memory is so bad, my friends refer to me as the goldfish. I also have a very short attention span and find it hard to concentrate. So, the thought of  having to memorise yoga poses is very daunting. I explain all this to the guru and he smiles serenely and says yoga will help with these problems. As we go through the series of poses I keep forgetting, he explains to me I must stop thinking of what is next and focus on the now. As he says this I am furiously scanning my muddled brain for the next pose which I then promptly forget. The guru claims this doesn't matter as I have to retrain my brain after 37 years of not being in the 'now'. I am feeling quite stressed and almost accuse him purposely trying to make me fail. I realise this is probably quite childish of me and perhaps I should keep these thoughts to myself.  At the end of the tuition which was 90 minutes long, he asks me to lie down in the corpse position. Now, this name I remember. He then explains I am to lie with my palms out and not move like, you guessed it, a corpse. I asked for how long and he says 'oh, about ten minutes'. You're joking aren't you? Lying there with still no music (I never thought I'd wish for Enya) I focus on my breathing as instructed. Before I know it, it's time to get up and I realise I have accomplished the small miracle of lying completely still for ten minutes. Maybe there's something to this yoga after all.