Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Sunday, 14 December 2014

What I Learned in India

So I have less than a week left in the wonderful land of Gokulam, India. Next Sunday in the middle of the night, I’ll be flying to London, England to some extremely fancy hotel where I will celebrate Christmas with the Boatman and his family. Once I get to the hotel, I will not be allowed to wear spiritual pants anymore. I am nervous and afraid. Mostly I am nervous for the “I just got back from India speeches.” The questions are going to be terrible, and my answers even worse.

Farewell to the Spiritual Pants
Luckily, my Friend Who Enjoys Her Anonymity (F-WEHA) has helped me compile several adequate responses, particularly for the Boatman’s mother. In preparation for this trip to London, the Boatman’s mother took me on several massive shopping sprees so I wouldn’t shame the family with my horrible fashion sense. Every single time we went shopping, she asked me, “So, is there something you want to accomplish when you’re in India, or is it just meant to be an experience?” Whether I was trying on underwear, skinny jeans or ballroom gowns, I would eloquently reply, “Um. I think it’s meant to be an experience.” Regardless, when I see her in London, the Boatman’s mother is almost guaranteed to ask me, “So did you achieve what you set out to accomplish in India?”
My first instinct is to respond, No I achieved nothing. I remain exactly the same as when I arrived. I still talk too much and too fast, play with my hair constantly, struggle to prepare meals more complicated than cereal or peanut butter sandwiches, and experience more meltdowns than is probably appropriate for a twenty-nine year old.  But my Friend Who Enjoys Her Anonymity, F-WEHA, kindly assured me that in fact, whilst in India, I have learned many valuable and important lessons that count as accomplishments. Here’s the list, which I will regularly review and rehearse until I see the Boatman’s mother:

1.       Coconut Oil is good for your hair. Since Sharath is an advocate of oil baths, every Sunday I have been rubbing different kinds of oil all over myself, including on my head and hair. As a result, my hair has remained in shiny crunchy curls all week. Perhaps it appears questionably greasy, but I feel it is an improvement from the previously chronic frizz. And I save money on conditioner. Even though it doesn't sound very scientific, rubbing oil into your body coconut and other types of oils also happen to be quite good for your joints, especially if you compliment oil rubbing with lying around all day.

2.       Don’t talk to strangers about their yoga practices. You have a 91% chance of saying the wrong thing at which point the stranger or strangers will bite your head off.

3.       Don’t talk to strangers at all. You have an 89% chance of saying the wrong thing and a 0% chance of ever redeeming yourself. As my Cool Friend From Belgium says, “In Mysore, people get to know each other on a superficial level, but judge each other on a very deep level.” Safer and better to keep your mouth shut.

4.       Don’t google strangers. Either you will end up with an inferiority complex or you will become irreparably traumatized. The Long Lost Cousin I met in Mysore is irreparably traumatized every single time.  Learn from my Long Lost Cousin’s mistakes. Suffering that has not yet happened can be avoided.

5.       All through October, I thought that it would be so wonderful and beautiful to grow a baby/parasite inside of me. For the Boatman’s mother, this would have been the best news ever. One time at the mall, she was feeding me a soft serve Dairy Queen ice cream, when she said, “I’m not pressuring you to have children, but you know, it’s so great for me now. I have three lovely adult children. It’s so much fun” I immediately pointed out to her that not all children become lovely adults, and proceeded with a long list of morbid and/or vulgar and absolutely not fun examples. Then I finished my ice cream. In India, I started experiencing baby cravings for thefirst time since I was an eager adolescent babysitter. But it seems that the closer I get to actually having sex, the less having a child appeals to me. These days it is barely appealing to me at all. Also, last week I read on the internet that if you menstruate on the full moon, it means that you’re not ready to have a kid. Me and the Full Moon are totally in sync and my vagina and the moon are giving me a sign.

The next inevitable question is definitely, “How does it feel to be back? Is it good? Are you happy?”

I am still working on my response. So far all I have come up with, “Well, it’s fabulous to hump your son’s leg as opposed to the ugly polar fleece bedsheets they have in India.” Probably I will need to come up with a better answer, but I am absolutely looking forward to the Boatman’s thigh. And to no more bedsheets.
They are so amazingly ugly.
Seven more days.
The End, except please be sure not to miss this gallery of beautiful photographs of  polar fleece bedsheets around Gokulam:

The Ugly Bedsheet from my Last Apartment

My Creative Intellectual and Astute Canadian also has an ugly bedsheet.

I thought it was even uglier than the one from my last apartment but now I can't say.
Maybe it is just more photogenic.
And this is the polar fleece bedsheet from my current apartment. I think it is the ugliest. You can buy your own ugly polar fleece bedsheet at Honesty Fashions, on the Gokulam main road. 

The turquoise- daisied lime-green duvet. I was a bad duvet mother and left it in the trunk in the basement for three years. The Boatman said the mildew smell was horrendous so we had to put it on the curb.

The turquoise-daisied lime-green duvet was inspiration for

I decided to put it up on the blog even though the piece is probably horrible for my reputation.
My other inspiration was Margaret Atwood, Maybeline eyeshadow and my Magic Mushrooms Friend.

The End.

Twitter: @mypelvicfloor


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Are you strong, or are you skinny?

“Does this mirror make me look wider?” I asked my friend, the Queen Of Butt Club. On Sunday I moved to my fourth location of this trip to Mysore. I felt like I appeared less wide in my old apartment. The Queen of Butt Club examined the situation.

“Not sure,” she said. “I feel like I have been consistently widening since Preethi moved in.” Preethi is QOBC’s roommate from Bangalore. She is quite talented at cooking chapatis, parathas, pakoras and most importantly dosas. All through November, Preethi passed on her gifts to my friend via unbroken lineage or Parampara. My friend was delighted to learn the correct method in such a traditional way. As fate would have it, she loves dosas so much that she named her dog Dosa.
I should mention that my friend did not earn her title “Queen of Butt Club,” due to the size of her butt. Rather, in another lifetime, she became quite skilled at pilates and fitness. During this era, she accumulated knowledge of many compelling and effective butt exercises. Nobody ever authorized or certified her in this area, but that was a big mistake. All the members of our Glutes Group agree that our asses had never been in better hands than with the Queen of Butt Club. My Cool Friend from Belgium was adamant that her exercises were way better than Eddie Stern’s. Eddie Stern’s butt exercises do not generate adequate burning.

A couple of weeks into it, Butt Club died out when the Queen embarked upon Seventh Series and adopted five little kittens. It was a good lesson for the Glutes Group slash Butt Club to learn that some things are more important than your pelvis. And we learned about the importance of self-practice.

Anyways, back to the Fun House mirror at my fun new apartment.  The Queen and I examined the fronts of our torsos for about three and a half seconds.
“Hard to say,” I said. “Especially when all we wear is spiritual pants.” Spiritual pants are these great items you can buy in Mysore. The waist consists of three to four inches of ruffled elastic and the seam of the crotch falls nearly a foot below your secular vagina and/or spiritual beard.  Everything is exciting and mysterious when you wear spiritual pants.
Spiritual Pants

“Well,” said the Queen. “I guess if we start busting out of the Spiritual Pants, maybe then we can ask Malcom about his diet.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Only then.”

Malcom, whose real name luckily isn't Malcom, is an earnest young ashtangi who we always see eating plates of raw vegetables and smoothies. He dips his veggies in tiny containers of tahini butter. Otherwise, that seems to be it. How sad for him.

“I’m a control freak,” he explained, crunching on a raw beet. “Eating is one thing I can control.” How interesting. Sounds like the clich├ęd description of an eating disorder. “My life felt out of control and so I controlled my eating.” And then what happened?

Seven Augusts ago, when I walked into Darby’s Mysore room, I met The Vegan Life Coach, a great and temporary source of sexual gratification. Although our relationship was short-lived, his influence was enormous. The Vegan Coach encouraged me to keep practicing in the most traditional way possible. He also warned me of the perils of consuming dairy and eggs. And he said that drinking a bunch of coffee while on Prozaac (which I happened to be on) was probably a horrible idea. He never told me outright that I should become vegan, but it seemed like an obvious step towards my moral evolution, and thus I did. And I figured that if it was between coffee and Prozaac, I’d pick coffee. I quit Prozaac cold turkey, after being on it off and on for six years.
So there I was, a mighty and devoted Ashtanga practitioner. Egg-free, dairy-free, prozaac free.

This was before the gluten-free days. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have taken that up too.

As fate would have it, daily Ashtanga and going vegan coincided with the end of Rumination Syndrome, a rare and unpleasant bulimia-related symptom that took forever to get rid of following my somewhat significant bout with an eating disorder. Rumination involves regurgitating food in your mouth and then reswallowing it over and over again. This would go on for up to an hour every time I ate. This went on for years. It’s quite disgusting, but oh well. I forgive myself.
You can imagine how relieved I was when the puke just disappeared. I attributed the newfound lack of puke with my Ashtanga practice, and being vegan.

I had eight ecstatic months of ostensible freedom.

Then May came, and suddenly I was really hungry and anxious. My practice was getting longer and longer. I was biking all over Montreal to get to school and my very physical job working with people with disabilities.  And I was eating less and less, since many of the other yogis in my teacher training program seemed to do fine subsisting on salads and green drinks in mason jars. The puke came back, first once or twice a week, and then all the time. I wouldn’t let myself consider the fact that maybe if I ate more and practiced less or at least less aggressively, my anxiety might decrease along with some of the eating chaos. No, without giving everything to practice, I was convinced I’d be even more of a disaster. I kept going full throttle with little to no increase in sandwiches or cheese.

In August, Daniel Vitalis came to talk to our teacher training group about nutrition. Daniel is a vibrant and seemingly magical person with the claim to fame of only drinking and using water that he gathers from springs. He also doesn’t eat much that he hasn’t scavenged from the wilderness. At our teacher training, Daniel told us a story about finding a blue robin’s egg in the forest. He took a bite and what a surprise, inside was a budding bird fetus. Figuring that he shouldn’t let it go to waste, he ate the whole thing, webbed feet and all.
“That’s bad karma,” said Joanne, Darby’s wife. 

The Wild and Magical Daniel Vitalis
For whatever reason, I decided to consult Daniel about my battle with toenail fungus which had persisted even longer than the puke in my mouth.  He said that likely the microorganisms that caused my fungus had also invaded my intestines and joints and were contributing to my depression and mental health problems.
“Do you crave sugar a lot?” he asked. In my experience, the more I deprive myself, the more I crave sugar. So yes, I was craving sugar all the time. Alcohol, chocolate and grapes.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Yah, that’s the fungus. It’ll keep coming back as long as you eat sugar.”
“Even fruit?”
“Yah, fruit’s the worst.”

The list of food I wasn’t allowed to eat was lengthening steadily. By September, I hired a naturopath who prescribed an extremely restrictive 90-day raw food cleanse. I immediately stopped menstruating. At the time, Darby was having me practice full primary all the way to Karandavasana. Although I’d become disturbingly lighter, Karandavasana remained a lost cause. That said, as my muscles started breaking down, backbends became significantly easier.

“Don’t expect to be able to do that when you start eating again,” Darby said as he easily yanked my hands to my heels in Kapotasana. Several unempowered head trips ensued. Luckily, by mid-October, even Darby advocated that I cut the cleanse short. I felt and looked horrific. At the end of October, I bailed, surrendering to a lifetime of hideous and infested toenails. My weight stabilized within a several months; however, now a whole bunch of old eating hang-ups and patterns had returned including puke in my mouth and in the toilet. It took another two and half years for the puke to disappear completely, and I hope it never returns.

My Cool Friend From Belgium claims I’m the best eater in Gokulam. (While we’re at it, I am also probably the best at pooping and menstruating). The Queen of Butt Club, one of the most wonderful vegans I know is also quite good, though alas, our competition is rather pathetic. I would be so rich if I got money for every time I heard someone complain about how full they were from lunch, at 6 P.M, or maybe even the day after. Or how repulsively heavy Indian food is. I find the food here is spectacular and delicious. And my digestion is better than ever. Back home, I eat way more salad and as a result I am way more gassy. In Mysore, the food is so well cooked that I barely ever fart. Congratulations to me.

Maybe it is okay for people to experiment with food during a certain stage of their practice. Some people’s diets could be more healthy and nourishing. That said, a great number of people come to yoga with tendencies towards perfectly sensible and reasonable food choices. Despite this, many practitioners seem to suffer from a widespread lack of faith in themselves and their bodies. As though if they were left to their own devices, they’d expand into massive hedonistic Buddhas.

Having essentially completed a PhD in eating disorders, I have come to the conclusion that although everyone is different, upon depriving themselves, most people become neurotic, irritable and anxious. I have consolidated a few sentences containing my Excellent Advice About Food. Whether or not you want it, here it is:
Stop having food rules. Even if your arms are too short to bind in various yoga postures or you think your life would be way better if you were thinner. I am terrible at reading spiritual texts but I am quite certain that nowhere in the Bhagavad Gita or the Yoga Sutras does it say you must starve yourself until you can catch your wrists in Pasasana or lift up in Karandavasana. So unless you are missing internal organs, trust your deep internal wisdom and give yourself permission to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. I promise that you will not turn into a mammoth. Being neurotic about food is really bad for digestion, and also really bad for having fun with your friends. Eat in a way that doesn’t leave you hungry and thinking about food all the time. Ideally what you eat will allow you to sleep and shit and have a nice time with the people around you. If you’re having trouble shitting, let me know. I have lots of tricks. The End.

The only thing I would add is, watch out for rocks. Yesterday, the Queen of Butt Club was biting into a chick pea, and it turned out to be a rock. She broke a chunk out of her back molar. Besides the molar, there were no other casualties.

The Very End.

Also, The Queen of Butt Club is leaving this week. Besides fellow Butt Club members, she leaves behind Sambar the kitten, who defeated great odds and survived. Look how fluffy and cute he is. Sambar will be living with a generous foster mom until January at which point he will need a new home. Who loves kittens?!? Preference will be given to people living in India or Mysore, but if you live somewhere else and it is love at first sight, Sambaar will probably be strong enough to fly by the end of the month. Please get in touch if you’re interested!  
The Fiesty and Fluffy Sambar
Update: Sambar found a home in Mexico and he is fluffier than ever!

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor

Related Posts:
You Cling to Things Until They Die 
Food Belly 
The Day Yoga Almost Gave Me a Stroke 
Butt Club et. al. 
21st Century Yoga and an End to Self-Care

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Spiritual Beard, Secular Vagina

Yoga is about letting go of fixed viewpoints. After healing my sad and damaged relationship with my pubic hair, I decided that I still wanted to get it ripped off. My change of heart had almost everything to do with the fact that in Mysore, Pube Eradication costs between 300 and 700 rupees. This equals about $5.50 to $13.00 Canadian dollars. Good deal.

Due to Pube Eradication Trauma from another era, I selected the most luxurious option. Legend has it that the 300 rupees ladies use extremely hot wax. None of my friends who had gone had ended up with debilitating blisters; however, they felt this was maybe a risk. So Flaunt Beauty Salon it was.

Last Tuesday, my father and his girlfriend left for their tour of Kerala. I waved them good-bye from the coconut stand before immediately dragging myself and my abundant crotch all the way to the fancy salon in Vivi Mohalla. But as fate would have it, Flaunt Beauty Salon was closed. Apparently Tuesday is not a good day for new yoga postures or elite bikini waxing. Perhaps it has something to do with Hanuman. Whatever the reason, my pubic hair would remain attached to me for one more day, or at least until after lunch when I could re-evaluate the risk-benefit ratio of the Hot Wax Ladies.

Lunch was with three friends. We drove there on one scooter. Of course, I wasn’t the driver. Instead I blabbered away about my deepest values in life. In Halifax, I once hired a psychologist for 165 dollars and he told me to talkabout my deepest values in life.  In Mysore, I get to go on and on about this all day, and it’s even cheaper than waxing your pubic hair. That said, during the last two conferences, Sharath has reminded us that yogis don’t talk too much. Each time on my way out, someone has called out to me, “Hey Erica, did you hear that? You never hear yogis talking.” So far my only comeback has been to point out that during these same conferences in which Sharath has warned us about excessive babble, he happened to go on and on about lions and tigers and leopards and trees. So maybe a moderate verbal machine gun is okay, especially if I switch my subject matter to lions and tigers and leopards and trees. Although maybe from now on, I will reduce my scooter chatting.

This is to say that while I was yammering away about infinite patience and moula bandha, we had a mild crash. Traffic laws in India are vague, and there are quite a lot of scooters and cars buzzing around, along with a few buses. While crossing a busy street, a guy on a scooter pulled quickly in front of us, and we had a little fender bender. Our scooter fell pretty slowly to the left. My friend who was driving broke most of the fall with her hand and foot. I hit the ground skidding the pavement only slightly with my shoulder, hand and knee. Due to my longstanding fear of amputation and spinal cord injuries, I am not the best with accidents. But I feel like I could have been much more hysterical. And lucky for us, except for a few gashes and bruises, nobody was seriously hurt. The steering of my friend’s scooter went a little wonky, but the mechanic solved this problem by generously banging on it with a hammer on a couple of occasions.

After lunch, despite having no swelling and full range of motion in all of my body parts, I started to fret about whether or not I’d broken my wrist. After all, the fall had been similar to the time I fell off my bike in Montreal and broke my arm. My Cool Friend From Belgium reassured me with her osteopathic knowledge that broken bones typically perpetuate at least a some swelling. But surely there was some bone in your body you could break without knowing. After twelve and a half minutes of stressing, it occurred to me that perhaps it was an excellent time to go to the Hot Wax Ladies and get my pubes waxed off.   In fact, this proved to be an excellent cure.
The Hot Wax Ladies, around the corner from the Shala
“Not too hot?” I asked the lady as I lay sweating in terror on the vinyl table.

“No, no Madam,” said the Hot Wax Lady. She blew diligently on the wax which she spread on my vagina with a wide wooden popsicle stick. It was burning hot.

“No stressing, Madam,” she said. “Making wet, very sweaty. Very sweaty Madam.” In order to remedy my sweat, she dumped half a cup of baby powder all over my crotch. With each rip, I cried out more. Have to say though, she was amazing. The whole ordeal over in less than seven minutes and it made me forget entirely about my silent broken bones. Plus I walked home with zero pubes, zero pockmarks and zero blisters. Best of all the worlds. Except for the world in which I get to have sex with a real human being. Friday was the two-month anniversary of the last time I had sex with the Boatman. After an angsty morning humping the ugliest polar fleece blanket in the world, I sauntered over to a popular breakfast place to binge on chai. At the corner of my table, a man with a very spiritual beard was having a conversation about Brahmacarya. (The meaning of Brahmacarya is debatable. Most people think it has something to do with not having that much sex, and/or not ejaculating and/or only having sex with one pre-determined person when you are breathing through your left nostril.)

“You know Brahmacarya means you’re not even supposed to do it with yourself?” Spiritual Beard Man asked his friend. I thought of the ugly polar fleece bedsheet that had come with my apartment. There is no way it could be any more hideous.
Who made this bed sheet and why is it the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life?
Later on, I had a whine fest with my friends on their balcony. In Mysore, some people like to use their balconies to practice fancy yoga postures in the afternoons. I tend to think that whining about your sad sex life is a better choice. A select few people in Mysore have the opportunity to have an appropriate amount of sex with an appropriate person. Unless they are totally obsessed with fancy yoga postures, these people have little need for using the balcony. Hence, “not using the balcony” has become a euphemism for the activities of people lucky enough to transcend their ugly polar fleece bed sheets.

“It has been more than two months for me too,” said my Chill Dog-Rescuing Friend from well, maybe she would rather I did not say. “After a month, I went kind of numb. I think I could tell people how to do this.”

“Not me,” I moaned. “I have no Spiritual Beard.”

“Well you did have a Spiritual Beard until you got all your pubes waxed off.” This bout of wisdom came from my Creative Intellectual and Astute Canadian friend. She too misses her husband. And she has already hired the Hot Wax Ladies twice, so she doesn’t have a Spiritual Beard either. My Creative Intellectual and Astute Canadian Friend (CIACF) is a big fan of cookies from the Chocolate Man. She buys a lot of them, but she is very good at sharing. The Chocolate Man also sells coffee. We think he is the third richest man in Mysore. First comes Sharath, and then the Coconut Man. Then comes Coffee/Chocolate Man. Due to the widespread lack of Spiritual Beards.

Anyways, let’s hope our friend with the Spiritual Beard is having a fun time with Brahmacarya. Those of us with secular vaginas may find redemption in cookies from the chocolate man and/or our ugly polar fleece bedsheets.

The Boatman has a secular beard to go with my secular vagina. I miss it immensely.
The Boatman looks a little bit like a beautiful cardboard pin-up in this photo.
And he is wearing a vagina-resembling pin:

Next time I will try to say a little less about my crotch.

The End.
Spiritual Beard Kiss at Airport
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Vipassana Diaries: Why I Like to Pee Outside

Kino MacGregor insists that you can’t hurt yourself meditating.

Kino MacGregor can pull her leg all the way behind her shoulder and then her foot hooks under her armpit and it doesn’t seem like this hurts her very much.
 Kino MacGregor and I are different
Kino MacGregor and I are different. Just like Margaret Atwood and I are different. Going into Vipassana, I could sit cross-legged relatively comfortably for half an hour. Still, I was positive that sitting for ten hours a day was going to break my knees, and probably also my hips, and maybe a few other parts while I was at it. When I am not meditating, I masturbate on the internet, inhaling thousands of yoga blogs. I have been devouring Matthew Reski’s series WAWADIA: What Are We Actually Doing In Asana. It’s a qualitative study on injuries in yoga. Of course I have devoured the whole thing. In one of the articles, Matthew interviews a guy who went to Vipassana. Someone this guy knew there had to do six months of physio for her knee afterwards. And I’d heard of a friend of a friend who had herniated her disc, just trying to meditate.
A phrase from the internet haunted my head, “Many meditators injure themselves meditating on non-violence.”
I was determined that this violence would not happen to me.  I spent my first two and a half days at vipassana frantically obsessing over the best and most sustainable position. Three cushions under my butt, two under each knee. Vice versa. Two under my knee with the bad I.T. band. Oh but then I’m imbalanced, what if I get compensatory pain? Yes, definitely there was compensatory pain. My vacillations went on and on. As for the pain, well, it wasn’t quite extreme, but I did feel some irritation above my left knee on the outside. And often when I got up, my hip felt sort of jammed, so I had to click it back into place. Although the sound of my hip was disgusting, I'm pretty sure my issues were mostly due to my tight I.T. band and probably not because of some surgery-requiring problem.  Even so, I fretted relentlessly. After two and a half days, I thought, the hell with this; I’m straightening my legs. I propped myself up on a mountain of cushions, and extended both legs diagonally in a v-shape with loads more cushions underneath. Smugly, I looked around the room as everyone else creaked themselves into folded legs and anatomically questionable versions of virasana. “Erica,” I thought to myself. “You have the best seat in the house.”
Surely, I’d be spared of both agony and surgery. Well, you’ll see how that went. On Day Four of the course, Goenka introduced the Vipassana technique. Up until then, we’d been luxuriating in Anapana, the delightful task of observing the breath below our nostrils. During this time, I alternated between being very bored, being very sleepy, being very hungry, being very obsessed about how I would starve because there was no dinner, and being very pissed off at a number of people, including Sri W Ham Wrap who once said that my yoga practice was violent and harmful. (I just wrote Hamful by mistake. How funny.)  What a blast. Then the Vipassana technique opened up a whole new exciting world. Instead of being stuck on our nostrils, now we got to move our attention from head to feet.  It was like going from no internet to suddenly getting a U.S. Netflix subscription. I remember walking out of our first session with immense relief. Thank God, I thought almost laughing. No more nostrils. But it felt like my sit bones had punctured through my ass. And I wondered if maybe my hamstrings were being overstretched.
On Day Five of Vipassana, Goenka wanted us to start cultivating adhittana, which means “strong determination.” Apparently the best way of doing this is to endure one-hour sits of extreme stillness three times a day. No opening your eyes, no opening your hands, no changing your legs. Having taken refuge in rules from a young age, I was all over this. Though my legs were uncrossed, I sat like the stillest Buddha in the world. The stillest and the stiffest. It usually took 25 or 30 minutes before my sit bones started to pierce my ass flesh to such an extent that I thought my ass might start to bleed. The rest of my ass wasn’t doing well either. I could feel intense stretching on either side. One of Matthew Remski’s case studies was about an unfortunate Ashtanga yoga teacher who tore all her glute muscles off her hipbone. She had been doing a bunch of hip openers to deal with a knee injury. Then one day after meditating, she did a tiny wide legged forward bend and pop, pop, pop, went all the muscles on her ass. At the end of Day Six, I felt certain that my injury would be even more serious. Both sides of my ass seethed in horrendous agony. Lying in bed around 9:30 p.m., I decided that all my butt muscles were pulling at my sacrum.  It was only a matter of time, likely just five minutes, before the muscles dislocated from my sacrum, my spine went to hell and then Erica’s greatest fear of being in a wheelchair would come true. I sobbed, alone, in my cubicle of a room.
“It’s going to break.” I said out loud, breaking the noble silence to announce my imminent spinal cord injury. My roommates in the other cubicles weren’t allowed to say anything back. I kept sobbing. “Sorry,” I said. I lay down on the floor, stunned by the torture. Finally the day of my Big Catastrophe had come. Ever since I was really small, I’ve been waiting for the day when something horrible and irreversible would happen to my body. Broken spinal cords, esophageal cancer, the flesh-eating disease. I’ve been anticipating my disaster since my parents took me to the Niagara Falls wax museum and I saw the wax statue of Terry Fox who only had one leg. Now my disaster was happening on Day 6 of jolly old Goenka’s vipassana retreat.
Within about twenty minutes the spasms or whatever was going on in my ass finally stopped. Later, I learned that during that night, I’d called out in my sleep. “I knew it!,” I’d yelled. I don’t remember saying this, but I do remember dreaming about Katy Bowman. Katy Bowman is a biomechanist and author who advocates as much natural movement as possible for the benefit of your pelvis and all the cells in your body. And she thinks that almost everyone in the Western World needs a stronger butt.
“Yah, I was at Vipassana,” I told Katy in my dream. “But it was too much.” While I was dreaming, I also remember having the very clear intention of doing a bunch of butt exercises. Sadly, the time and location never worked out. The butt exercises kept getting postponed. (Kind of like Butt Club in Mysore).
The gong rang at 4 a.m. Although I was quite relieved that I wasn’t yet in a wheelchair, I felt absolutely ready to trade in both yoga and meditation for a lifetime of butt exercises and/or anything else.  My ass didn’t hurt as much, but now I felt certain that there was inflammation behind my right knee, the one without the I.T. band problem. Upon careful examination, I realized that the bulge was merely my hamstring tendon.
I dragged myself to the meditation hall late and left when I had to shit. Instead of returning, I went for a walk in the little loop in the forest. It was pitch black. For someone terrified of a spinal cord injury, this wasn’t the most logical behaviour; however, I figured I’d already survived yesterday’s very close call and I wanted to work on my night vision. After a couple of times around the loop, I had to piss and so I pulled up my skirt and peed in the woods. I thought that this was quite scandalous for a vipassana retreat. I did not get any pee on my sandals.
In the afternoon, I went to see the meditation instructor. It was nice of her to view my body hysteria, not as severe, neurotic dysfunction, but rather as my sankaras coming to the surface. Sankaras are deep-rooted mental or behavioral patterns that tend to lead you into the same types situations over and over again. (The yogis often call them “samskaras.”) Some of my sankaras that fall into similar categories include going to the emergency room to see if my ingrown pubic hair is Herpes,  or imagining having to get my esophagus replaced with a piece of my colon, or worrying about getting a foot infection in India that will end with me losing my legs. When I told the instructor about the spinal cord injury scare, she suggested that maybe I was a bit too strict with myself. “Torturing yourself, this is not Vipassana," she said. “Vipassana is not the posture.” She gave the option of a chair, or a back support, if it got too painful. I considered becoming a chair person, but one of my life’s biggest rants is about the dangers of sitting in chairs. It’s up there with potty training, and sun salutations, and maybe also pubic hair waxing. I decided I would try one more day on the floor. If my sacrum seemed at risk and I had to sit in a chair, well then, so be it. The rest of this story is about how I ended up sitting cross-legged and sort of relaxed for about seventeen minutes. You are probably better off reading this excellent zine that the Boatman bought called, “Why I Like to Pee Outside.” It is so great. I even brought it to India with me and read it to some wonderful Canadians I met in the line-up to register with Sharath.

Zine: “Why I Like to Pee Outside,” by Amanda Stevens,
bent from its long trip to India
The Author Amanda Stevens made the zine at a 24-hour Zinemaking Challenge in Halifax in 2008. “Why I Like to Pee Outside” describes the Unnamed Protagonist’s journey of how she grew to love peeing outside. It is full of informative and compelling diagrams, lists and essential techniques. The unnamed protagonist used to be afraid of peeing on her pants or on her shoes. She even considered getting “one of those spouts that make peeing outside easier for people with vulvas.” But she practiced and practiced and now she can do it the way it’s meant to be done.

Peeing Outside, the way it's meant to be done. Watch out for pee splattering off the ground
“It’s a bit of a thrill,” says the Unnamed Protagonist. “It feels slightly transgressive and unladylike, especially when there’s a possibility of being seen doing it. It also makes me feel like I’m getting back to my natural self.” This is how I felt when I peed outside at vipassana. Thrilled, transgressive, and unladylike, and more like my animal self. 

Peeing outside: Thrilling, Transgressive and Unladylike
As fate would have it, peeing outside happens to be excellent for your pelvis, butt muscles included. Katy Bowman recommends peeing outside as often as possible. And I think that she would be happy with Amanda’s squatting diagram.
At the end of “Why I like to pee outside,” the Unnamed Protagonist dresses up as a Girl Guide for Halloween and her friend makes her a badge for peeing outside. Overall, “Why I like to Pee Outside” is a thoroughly satisfying read. I tried to contact Amanda about where people can find more copies. If you’re in Mysore, you can borrow mine.
If you have interesting techniques for peeing outside or a peeing outside story to share, you should email Amanda at And/or share them at the end of this blog.
In India, people pee outside all the time. In Mysore, for the most part, you only see dudes.
The End.
I’m not sure how I mentioned so many things in one blog.  Perhaps to some of you, this is not all that surprising.
I don’t have time to edit because my father and his girlfriend are visiting and they are way better tourists than I am.
Oh well, think of all the people I promoted:
Kino MacGregor
Margaret Atwood: Once I wrote a story called, Why I am Different From Margaret Atwood and What I Don't Gain From Humping Duvets. It used to be all over the internet. Now I can only find a version with very strange formatting. Well, if you're dying to read it, I can hook you up, perhaps for the price of three coconuts. Haggling welcome. 

Amanda Stevens, author of “Why I Like to Pee Outside.” I messaged her on Facebook raving about her Zine. Unfortunately, I got the wrong Amanda Stevens. Better luck next time.

And Myself:

The Vipassana Diaries: Bus
The Vipassana Diaries: Day Zero
The Vipassana Diaries: Food Belly
Vipassana Diaries/Ashtanga Memoirs: You Cling To Things Until They Die (Ham Wraps, S.I. Joints Etc.)

Do Not Kill Your Baby


Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, my $2.99 self-help book
Don't forget to send me your peeing outside stories!!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Life Is Very Exciting

My Cool Friend From Belgium is very advanced because she inspires the most interesting and original quotes from Sharath.

“No butterfly!” he called at her years ago while she was learning to stand up from a backbend and waved her arms to either side as she was flying up.
No butterfly. No hugging.
“No hugging in the shala!” he said another day when her butterfly arms wrapped around him as she came to her feet.
This trip, when she came into his office she told him that her back was a bit sore on one side and she couldn’t fold forward very easily.

“Oh okay,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect.” I thought that was nice.

One morning, Sharath was helping my Cool Friend From Belgium with Supta Vajrasana. She was having a hard time grabbing her big toes. Sharath helped pull her hands forward.
Daylene and Kino in Supta Vajrasana
 “You need auto,” said Sharath.

“Pardon me?” asked my Cool Friend From Belgium.

“Auto. Like Rickshaw,” said Sharath.

“I need two!” replied my Cool Friend From Belgium.

The other day, Sharath was trying to get my CFFB to grab her ankles in backbends. My CFFB squeezed her anus and pressed her femur bones as far forward as she could, but the catching was not to be.

“Why?” asked Sharath.

“Oh, bad day,” said my CFFB.

“No puja?” asked Sharath.

No Puja?
If you are a keener reading this, please ask Sharath about the backbending puja at conference this week. See what he recommends. I hope it involves Snickers bars.

Last week my Cool Friend From Belgium went to Sharath’s office again to pay for the month of November. He looked at her card.

“Hmm,” he said. He crossed off 4:30 on the Monday Led time and changed it to 7:30. In case you’re not in Mysore and you have better things to do than keep track of other people’s yoga classes, 7:30 is when Sharath teaches the intermediate series instead of the primary series. There are some frightening Led Intermediate legends kicking around and many people fear that they won’t come out alive. My Cool Friend From Belgium figured she didn’t have to worry about it since she’d only just started sticking one leg behind her head and she hadn’t been very consistent about her pujas.

“I come to Led Intermediate?”

“You’re doing Eka pada?”

“I’ve only done it three times so far.”

“Okay. You come.”

Stunned, flustered and rather terrified, my Cool Friend From Belgium wasn’t sure what to say.

“Well that’s very exciting,” she said, her tone a little unconvinced.

Sharath laughed. “Life is very exciting,” he said. 
I was going to bring banners to Led Intermediate to cheer on my Cool Friend From Belgium, but we weren't sure whether or not this would inspire very many excellent quotes. Instead I tried not to make too much noise as I watched from the lobby. This proved to be a big challenge because it was all very exciting.
The End.

I could only find a picture of Sharath with both legs behind his head. Well, you get the idea.

Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
HowTo Let Go, for $2.99

Do Not Kill Your Baby (not happy)
Day Trip (half and half)