Friday, April 25, 2008

A Yogini by any other name...

I was flipping through one of my old Vogues (yes, again!) and noticed for the first time a Saks Fifth Avenue advert, featuring 'actress and yogini' Fernanda Torres wearing this Carolina Herrera cropped jacket.

Now, I checked it out, and the cuffs on that? Fox fur. Not fake. Real.

As I understand the word yogi, or for women, yogini, it means 'one who has attained yoga'. That's why I have taken to saying yoga practitioner!

If you have attained yoga, you are by definition enlightened, and therefore have practiced and mastered all the limbs of yoga, including ahimsa - non-harming. Which precludes wearing fur. This actress is not a yogini. She is just some chick who does yoga poses to stay buff.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yoga Butt

My friend Anna tells me there is a technical term for what ails me: yoga butt. Don't laugh, it's a technical term!
And no, it doesn't mean the beach-ready, hot pants wearing type of yoga butt we are all told we are aspiring to, but rather, as she puts it:

SI inflammation/instability often confused with sciatica

Yup, that's what I got. That's what a whole bunch of yoga practitioners I know have, too. Let me tell you how I think it all started with me...

I did a lot of Ashtanga. A Lot. Every day, primary series, with all vinyasas, for several years. Then I started to get hurt - sore wrists, sore hamstrings, sore knees, sore lower back, sore neck. It got to the point where I would dread getting on my mat in the morning. But, you know, yoga makes you feel better, right? So the more yoga I do the better I will feel, right?

Hmm. The end result seems to be that I have overstretched some ligaments deep in my hips, so my whole pelvic area is not as stable as it should be. (Yes, I have talked about this at length before, I know!)
A word of warning: if your hip structure doesn't want to do supta kurmasana, or any of those other pretzel poses, don't. Otherwise you will end up like me...

That's why I went looking for a kinder way to practice and teach yoga, and, thank goodness, I found it. But the legacy of my silly, joint-compromising past lives on.

Visiting the chiropractor has helped a lot. In fact I am thinking of recommending him for canonization. But. He wants me to do asymmetrical strengthening with more attention to the weaker side - and the first time I did that, I dislocated again and had to go trotting back for another adjustment.

So I am sticking to really simple stuff - the fab sacrum sequence from Yoga for Wellness by Gary Kraftsow - he has a dvd of this out now too!
I toss in a few other poses, almost all symmetrical, no one leg forward one leg back stuff, and definitely definitely no pigeon. That pose, much as I love it, is lethal to my current condition.

In fact, I am finding that the poses which feel 'right' are strength builders, mostly with my back at least a little supported - like locust (and variations), boat (and variations), bridge, gentle versions of urdvha prasarita padasana, and of course, the not cat-cow, chakravakasana.

On the recommendation of my mom-in-law, who is a naturopath, I am also taking the supplement MSM which is hopefully going to help with healing.

It appears that my yoga butt is just going to take time to heal. And patience. And we all know how well-endowed I am with patience. Maybe I should get some hot pants to tide me over?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Divine Sunset

Yesterday was one of those hot, bright, dusty Jo'Burg Autumn days that make you want to hide in the shade until things cool off. Needless to say, dusk was welcome: the temperature dropped, a fragrant little breeze arose, and the sunset. Ah, the sunset. I stood on my balcony and watched the pinks and indigo's play across the sky until they faded to grey.

It was the kind of sunset you only get in Africa, the kind of sunset that had to come from Something Greater.

The kind of sunset that makes you feel blessed.

Nature is the greatest cathedral in existence.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fashion First Aid

Vogue Cover Dec 1965, originally uploaded by Rootje.

I have a confession: I have been reading Vogue. You should see the looks on people's faces when I tell them this - like I am a yoga teacher with a drug habit or something! Thing is, the pictures are pretty, and it distracts me from daily life. This is what I want. Daily life is hard at the moment; Vogue is fluffy and somewhat vacuous. I love it! Yes, I am aware of the problems with women's magazines. But Vogue is what I need right now. And you know what? I can vindicate my habit...

In the Yoga Sutra, it says:

Any inquiry of interest can calm the mind
YS 1.39, translated by TKV Desikachar

A wise yoga teacher I know once referred to this, and its neighboring sutras, as first aid measures. Basically, when nothing else is working, do what you need to do to get your mind off the negative track and back into a more neutral one.

I remember reading a while ago, in the magazine I am trying justify, about Norris Church Mailer, wife of the more notorious Norman. She had been very ill and had undergone several surgeries, leaving her health tenuous and her body very thin. So thin, in fact, that she could wear couture, bought vintage at auction from the wives of New York's wealthy. Now that, I say, is making lemonade out of lemons! Why not find some enjoyment in life despite ailing health?

So, any enquiry of interest can calm the mind. Why not Vogue, why not fashion, why not pinup art or motorbikes for that matter?

Just as long as we bear in mind what Desikachar goes on to say in The Heart of Yoga:

But such enquiries should not replace the main goal, which remains to change our state of mind gradually from distraction to direction.

Bring on the mind candy!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Democracy in Zimbabwe

I received this email from today. Some action is better than none!

Dear friends,

Zimbabwe is on a knife's edge between democracy and chaos. Results still have not been released from the 29 March elections--and fears are rising that Mugabe will resort to violence and fraud to hold on to power. South African president Thabo Mbeki said today that "it's time to wait"--but time has run out.

Observers, NGOs, and the opposition have appealed for international support. To respond, we're launching a new campaign to all Avaaz members throughout Africa. Click below to add your name to a petition calling for the results to be released, verified, and peacefully honored. We will send the petition to Mugabe's government, and to leaders and media organizations throughout Southern Africa and the world:

Every day brings new developments, and the more time passes, the greater the danger grows that the will of Zimbabwe's people will be ignored. The faster we can grow this petition, the more powerfully we can show that the people of Africa and the world are looking to Mugabe to honour the choice of Zimbabweans.

In a crisis like this, a petition is just a small step--but it's something all of us can do, to raise our voices and call for what's right. And as history shows, international solidarity can be a powerful thing.

With hope,

Ben, Graziela, Ricken, Galit, Paul, Iain, Pascal, Milena, and Esra'a--the team

PS: Here are some updates on the situation in Zimbabwe: PPS: A year ago, in one of the first Avaaz campaigns, we called together for Mugabe and his government to end their brutal attacks on opposition leaders. More than 45,000 people around the world took part. Now, there's a hope for much more substantial change--a new hope for the 12 million Zimbabweans struggling with hyperinflation, starvation, and HIV/AIDS. Please do sign the petition, and forward this email to friends and family--they can sign at

ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace pages!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Eating Real Good Food

I loved this piece from Holistic Girl. It reminds of what Mireille Guiliano says in her French Women books. Real food is better than that ghastly processed health 'food'.

And yes, good chocolate is a health food. I knew it!

Chocolate Stash, originally uploaded by anikarenina.

Check out this recipe for Chocolate Madeleines. J'adore toutes les choses Francais!

Take note: you can do yoga and live a pleasurable life. In fact, you should!