Monday, September 17, 2007

Yoga Anyhow

My last post was about how I have managed to do asana in odd places - and thank you guys for reading and commenting!

I ran across this post at Daily Cup of Yoga, about how any exercise can get you to the same place as yoga. Read it. I don't need to add anything!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yoga Anywhere

I know most of us associate yoga practice with asana, and I must admit I really like to do a daily asana practice, as long-time readers know. I have managed a full asana practice almost every day since we have been travelling, with the exception of heavy travel days, when it just wasn't possible.

I can now say for certain that it is possible to practice anywhere. Really, anywhere. These are some of the places I have practiced in the last six weeks:
  • Yoga school in Chennai (duh)
  • Grubby apartment floor in Chennai
  • Hotel rooms, of generous proportions, in Pondicherry, Mamalapuram, Mumbai
  • Tiny London hallway, belonging to the friends with whom we are staying. There is no space to put arms out to the sides, or indeed really overhead, but I have managed a full practice nonetheless - it is the only space available!
  • Guesthouses and hotels in Dublin, Kilkenny, Cork, Killarney and Dunlaoghre. Some of these we of quite petite dimensions, especially in Cork where our room was in an attic with a dramatically sloping ceiling, no room to stand up properly...
So asana doesn't really present me with a challenge: I would have liked to attend more classes but that hasn't been possible.

As to the other yoga, the real reason we practice, well, that has been more of a challenge. You know how with continued practice you are meant to find a deeper connection to your inner self? I thought I was doing OK on that front, until I realised most of my internal connection is with my Inner Control Freak (we shall call her ICF.) ICF is not happy about the holiday weight gain, caused by too many restaurant meals, treats and the like. She thinks right now is a great time to start a Better Eating Plan. Despite the fact that we will be home in two weeks, and until then I don't have as much control over my life and food routines as I would at home... Sigh.

The only sign of progress on this front is that I am able to see the process as it unfolds. Some progess, c'est bien.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Whistle-stop touring

I am not given to coach touring: I tried it in my twenties, and I think I am neither young nor old enough to find it enjoyable. I found that all the destinations, in-between places and toilet stops merged into a homogeneous mass. Nonetheless, I have just spent the last week on a frantically-paced road tour of Ireland, in particular Dublin, Cork and Kerry and the Wicklow Mountains. The trip was arranged by our very kind London-based friends, who came with, of course!

I found (again) that sitting in a car all day leads to all manner of discomforts for me, not least of which are seized-up hip flexors and, unfortunately, a bladder infection. Not great to need toilet stops every ten minutes when there is A Schedule! So again, I was reminded that it is good to know what manner of beast you are (a non coach-touring kind), and also to be reminded that sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone. Just as we do with our asana and pranayama practice, we slip into life ruts too, and having someone else in charge of the travel plans (or the yoga practice) can shake things ups a bit, remind you that you can in fact be flexible, if you just allow yourself to be! Note to self: you can be flexible, you can be flexible...

Ireland is a pretty place, even more prosperous and tourist-ridden than when I was last there eight years ago. The cities are teeming with foreigners working there, foreigners visiting, and a few actual Irish folk. The outskirts of most cities and towns are turning into McHouse paradise - a sign again of the economy's prosperity.

The countryside is for the most part still quite pastoral, cows and sheep everywhere and cute little villages, especially in the Ring of Kerry, which we completed in one day, whistle-stop style. It is weird, though, in Ireland and the UK, how as the population becomes more varied, with people from every corner of the globe moving there, the shops become ever more homogeneous. It was really quite unnerving to see the same window display (exact to every detail) at four branches of a chain store in four different cities, as we whipped past. The portion sizes, for example of coffee, are also insanely large. What happened to a small, or for that matter a medium cup? Who needs a tankard of coffee? This kind of consumerism, which must be mindless, since people are buying the over-sized coffee, worries me. I have been eating starter portions because the main meals are, as a rule, too large, even for someone with as healthy an appetite as me!

We are back in London now, for a few days, and hoping to catch up with friends and family and see a few sights before we head to Paris and then home.

Hope you are all well!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How (not) to see Mumbai

I am now a seasoned traveller, and feel that I can share my vast store of how-to with you all. I did everything right, and the post that follows is not based on my experiences, this all happened to a 'friend'...

What not to do when visiting Mumbai (A Comedy of Errors)

  1. Arrive during monsoon, guaranteeing delays on either end of your flight
  2. Book into a hotel, which, while comfortably appointed and close to the airport, is far from absolutely everything else
  3. After travelling all day, spend the next day travelling all day, leaving yourself no time to recover from aching muscles, dehydration and exhaustion
  4. Spend an hour and a half schlepping from said hotel to the Gateway of India
  5. Eat your obligatory lunch at the famous Taj Mahal hotel and pay more than you have anywhere else in India. For entrees only
  6. Buy tickets for the ferry to the Elephanta Caves, and trust the toothless tout, parting with three times the going rate for an info booklet
  7. Catch the ferry, in mildly nasty weather, not realising you will be on board for an hour, and get sunburnt (this happened to the husband in this little tale, not erm, my friend)
  8. At the Elephanta Caves, refuse the help of the security guard who is showing you around, because you think he wants a bribe, as everyone has so far today
  9. Find yourself being trailed by a large, boisterous family from Rajastan who want (endless) photos with the foreign Auntie
  10. Step in mud of questionable provenance and break your sandal, after seeing only one of the caves
  11. Realise the security guard doesn't want a bribe, and finally accept his offer of help
  12. Hobble down the (steep) hill on your broken shoe, climb into the ferry, and spend the next hour spitting out sea water and praying, because the waves are like something out of Perfect Storm, and, this being India, the ferry is in poor repair, it is spectacularly overcrowded, and a life jacket has never crossed the threshold
  13. Back on dry land (miraculously), lose your taxi driver and spend the next hour hobbling around, looking for a phone to call him or the hotel. Eventually give up and ask at the Taj reception. Where they help you. Could've gone there first and saved an hour...
  14. Spend three hours in Mumbai's best traffic, getting back to the hotel at 9pm
You may want to take the odd pointer from this. I think maybe this is why so many people we have spoken refer to Mumbai as that city. Believe it or not, it wasn't actually such a bad day!