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Ashtanga in the Southern Hemisphere... New Zealand.....

new teachings, new inspiration....

sunny 24 °C

petesanson.jpg

I have been in New Zealand for thirteen days now. Its not a bad flight fom Thailand, I got to wander around Hong Kong airport for quite a while as I danced on the jet lag tightrope- that late night/early morning hour that seems suspended for quite a while. It was about ten hours from Hong Kong, so all in all, bearable...

My first impression of the country was looking out of the big picture windows of the airport and seeing these hump-like velvety hills in the distance, like 'Lord of the Rings'. And how tall everyone seemed after Asia. And how loud and friendly people were. In a sense New Zealand reminds me a lot of South Africa, with the same kind of Southern hemisphere vibe and the kind of manners you don't often get in my age group in the UK. Almost a retro '50's vibe in a sense. Which I don't have a problem with. I got myself a wash and went off looking for internet access and when I couldn't get my card to work on the pay as you go internet this girl just gave me a two dollar coin and wished me a good day! And everyone talks to you. And then on the bus journey into Auckland when it was time to disembark, everyone thanked the driver on the way out. Which I haven't seen since Sheffield. I found the ferry terminal ok and jumped on the ferry to Baywater to meet my friend Nadia. I struggled with my rucksack and this big strapping guy carried it for me, both ends. And so I met up with Nadia, my friend from school who I hadn't seen in over five years, who's living here with her husband, and two kids now. It was good to see she hasn't really changed, still the same creative, wise, and kind of regal soul, who is ever so slightly batty (we were having a conversation about people who talk too much and she quoted some deep comment from Genghis Khan, of all people, I was amazed he had such a sensitive streak until later in the conversation, when it transpired she actually meant Kahlil Gibran...!).

And we had a little bit of a walk around as the sun shone down on us in a temperate and pleasant kind of way, away from the relentless heat I've had for months. And I clocked the happy badly dressed people eating BIG ice creams and plates of sushi. Well, not everyone dresses badly but you do see knee socks and sandals. And the kind of jeans/ shorts that are a bit 'Joe Bloggs '88'. And you find sushi everywhere which I love. So the first day we went back to her beautiful house in Baywater which is a 1930's weatherboard construction. Its funny, the houses here look almost 'hut like', like Edward Hopper images or something, but are so lovely inside, often with deco stained glass detail and that kind of thing. And we spent a happy day sitting out in the garden with a bottle of wine and caught up on all the gossip. I beat the jetlag by just staying up for as long as I could but it still takes a while to settle. The first day or two was just spent exploring the North Shore area a little, swimming, and finding my bearings. And I checked into a hostel near Queen Street, central Auckland that I could dump my stuff in and explore from.

Its hard keeping up a regular practice when your situation changes so much but I managed to fit in a couple of practices the first week at the Ashtanga shala on the Great North Road which had a visiting teacher from Wellington- Pete Sanson, in the photo above. He was recommended to me by someone I got talking to in Mysore and he is a fabulous teacher. I managed to do Supta Kurmasana and Garbha Pindasana under his tutelage- and he gave me a practical demo in how the arms weave through and make this possible. So my form was ragged- but much improved. I wish I had made it to all the classes as he was only there a week but fatigue got the better of me a little. He has a very calm and gentle teaching manner and has the eagle instinct of someone so completely in tune with the form that he can run a class of 40 and every single person benefits in their own practice. And he has a touch of the Indian English so you know he's studied long ("You wait, I come") and hard in the centre so to speak (though the real centres not geographical). And the Ashtanga Centre is run by a guy called Dik who I thought looked familiar- and then it turned out he was in Mysore in October last year and we met in the Sthalam 8 cafe! Small world! He is Pattabhi Jois certificated and a beautiful teacher also. I went and did an evening Mysore session with him and really benefitted there too. The shala is in Grey Lynn on the Great North Road (www.astangayoga.co.nz) and is spacious and clean, with a sense of the sacred there, that I really had missed in Thailand. It reminds me a little of Yoga Shala in Sheffield. To be honest the Absolute Yoga studio in Bangkok to me, had no SOUL.

However, Grey Lynn is a long walk from Queen Street for a morning practice so at Diks recommendation I checked out the Yoga Academy (www.yoga.co.nz) on Federal Street, next to the big huge hypodermic needle style Sky Tower in the centre of town. And was blown away by that too. I went and did a Mysore class yesterday under the tutelage of Jude Hynes- another Pattabhi Jois certified teacher- I am so spoilt here (!) who is a kind and wonderful teacher and made Marichyasana D deeper and easier and more logical and meditative than it has ever been... And their rates are so reasonable and I was fortuitous enough to go in on a day where they had some promotions and so picked up a ten class card. And so I can step up the practice again, back to a minimum of four times a week, any less, you don't really benefit, the continuity is so very important. So its good to have my rituals sorted.

Rituals are going to be important because I have changed my travel plans yet again. Its all good. If you read my travel blogs you may recall I was thinking about applying for work on a cruise ship. Well I contacted the company and they need an international REPS fitness qualification that as far as I was aware you could only do in the UK. And I was turning over some other ideas too, like studying for it in the USA... But as luck would have it I got a recommendation for a personal training course here from a Pilates teacher who really rated this school. And so I called them up and did some research. And it turns out that these guys are the company the top end cruise liners recruit directly from. How weird is that? Because for the moment I can't imagine settling, I want to keep moving, but obviously its not good to drain all your resources through travel, so this would be a way to keep funding my exploits. Plus the fact that I do genuinely love and care about exercise, I enjoy working with people, and I can teach Yoga with this too. I had to bite my tongue when I saw the ferry blurb to fitness staff though- all about the three week course they send you on in London so you can learn the 'Yoga and Pilates' bit.... If only Krishnamacharya had known about the cruise ship courses eh? He never would have needed to spend all those years in a cave in the Himalayas with his guru..... I mean really...

So I went along for my interview at the fitness college- they take fitness very seriously in New Zealand- it is the home of Pump and Combat- when I do the classes in the Les Mills gym here I sort of feel like a young Jedi in the presence of Yoda... Auckland is to the fitness industry what Mysore is to Ashtanga Yoga. Classes of over 75 people!!! All whooping and cheering in the most painful parts!!!!! Crazy, i love it so much. Anyway, the college is really good- they have great facilities, and there was a great atmosphere too- and they are very big on good manners. I may need to work on cultivating that attitude of relentless cheerfulness but it shouldn't be too hard! You have to smile BIG and say "Awesome!!!!" a lot- and MEAN IT!!! I got talking to some of the staff and they're cool, so it should be a good ten weeks. And I'm sure it'll be useful to go over my A and P again and do some business related study too. The course starts the beginning of April so I'm heading down to Wellington to catch up with a couple of old friends from Brighton, on the scenic train on Monday, and a bit of exploration before I'm back to the grindstone for a while. It feels so good to have something to work on again, I'm a typical Capricorn in the respect that without work, or a project, I feel sort of lost.... like a doozer with no doozer construction.........

I've also got out and about and met some people locally- I went to a talk on meditation the other night, which was great actually, and met a fellow Sheffielder(!) and met some guy called Jonathon too, and went on a bit of a fun Auckland pub crawl. And remembered the next day what a hangover feels like... no fun....

I'm spending this weekend in Auckland, going to some Hare Krishna thing in Albert Park on Sunday. And doing more people watching. One thing that sticks out here is how totally gorgeus some of the people are, theres quite a few people of Samoan and Maori descent, so different looking. And you see some amazing tattoos, on everyone. Theres a distinctly tribal/Pacific edge to the work. Most tattoos you see are monochromatic black. And I love the way you get these beautiful feminine girls with big bad strong looking tattoos. No messing about with names and butterflies here. And they don't seem to be so 'counter culture' here, like, you can be in some posh shop and there'll be a woman in her 50's with a tribal design etched on her wrist and its beautiful. There seems to be a good ethos here, on tattoos. That is, plan them, make them fit the part of the body they're going to be, and wear them with pride, as a totem, an expression of your journey. And bigger is always better with tattoos. If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly..........
Anyway, on that note, I'll leave it there for now.....

Posted by victoria8 00:35 Archived in New Zealand Tagged women

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