A Travellerspoint blog

Eat Pray Bench Press...........

The conclusion of my journey this time...;)



It has been a while since I even had the time to wonder what I would call my next blog and what fabulous title I would give it...;)

I know I've made light of some of what I've been doing, mostly because I think its being read by seriously busy folk and hey, lets face it, I've been living the dream for a few months now- and I never forget that.

Actually its been fantastic. But not in a 'I've been doing loads of amazing things in New Zealand and here's the latest' type way... Quite the opposite. I thought I'd go all over in New Zealand and I haven't at all. I've spent a lot, A LOT of time in Auckland, in the inside of a gym, and a little bit in Rotarua. And a little bit in Picton, a couple of weeks in Wellington. Funny to travel to the other side of the world, turn yourself upside down to NOT do all the bungee jumping bla de bla stuff. Or even get near that. I mainly reconnected with people I knew before, and learned more from them. And saw everything from another angle.

Before I came here I'd spent a few months in India concentrating on my Yoga practice, doing another course, documenting everything. I had 2 weeks off in Thailand and that was nice, but I thought at the time I was on my way to another quick break, then home. Home back to the same job I'd elected to go back to, the job that gave me 'leave' with the option to return, carrying on as I was, teaching what I loved at weekends- certainly not a miserable existence, pretty nice in fact. And everything changed again. Sort of unwarranted. In my 20's I was always so into signs and symbols, always eagerly sucking up anything that seemed positive at all.

Now its weird... I'm older but not at all careworn. I'm not cynical but its as if as soon as I stopped expecting magic anymore and stepped away from it, something else stepped in again and there it was again, laughing at me for being a disbeliever, taunting me a bit for reading anything cheesy, and basically going 'Ha- Don't you remember?- How long has this been going on? Seriously Pay attention...'

So yes, I found the last part of my journey in Auckland. I got into doing this course to train as a Personal Trainer as I've always loved exercise and its relevant to my life so much and I thought I'd tolerate the course to get the job I wanted. So I did. I tolerated the course and did all the tests, assessments, trained 20 people, sweated a lot and lifted a lot of dumbbells (!) and got all fit again- loved it actually- some people call it Body Fascism- call it what you like, exercise makes you feel good, indisputably. And I think I was a little arrogant, arriving here fresh off the India boat...

I've learned so much. The course I did was formulated by Rowena and Kerry McEvoy. And like my teacher Dave in the UK said "If you truly believe in something strongly you create a LOT of energy"... I spent time with both Rowena and Kerry and they both have this intense energy about them that is something else. They are both powerful and charismatic people who are dedicating their lives to getting the world to be just a bit healthier- in quite a cool and down to earth way. And they are very clever and I am so very very very glad I got to meet them. I asked for a new teacher a few months back and in a roundabout kind of way they got me seeing the world very differently, its been quite strange, wonderful and beautiful. Because believe you me I never thought for one instant I would find any kind of spiritual wisdom in a New Zealand gym. But there it was.

And here are some of the teachings;

1) Listen better. Listen. Listen. Don't wait for a gap to jump in and speak. You know what you know, whats the value in repeating it?

2) Living in the moment is everything. Don't stain it with the past or the present.

3) Be in the third place. This means- if you are in the first place you see the situation through your eyes. If you're in the second place you see it through others eyes. If you are in third place you see it for what it is. (Example- I had a falling out with someone a while ago and initially I saw it through my eyes and thought "What a bitch" then I saw it through her eyes and thought "No I'm the bitch". Then I looked at it neutrally and saw all we were both doing was criticizing in each other what we fear in ourselves- like I thought she was lazy because doing nothing and leaving stones unturned is my idea of awful- and she accused me of being flakey because she's spent a lot of her life being accused of being a flake and always wants to move away from it. In reality I'm not a flake and she's probably not lazy. Interesting).

4) Again, in a roundabout sort of way, thoughts are things. Guard your thoughts. Observe yourself and iron out the kinks as best you can. I don't know where that came in but there was a big emphasis on being a happy person and how obviously, happiness must be genuine so you can't be a slave to your emotions or a slave to the people that hurt you before. Because it shows. And weirdly I have always instinctively felt that anger causes cancer, the healer in Rotarua also confirmed the link. Than Kerry gave this amazing talk last week and said, about angry/negative types, "And they're the ones that get cancer". And he's a health expert was scientific credentials, advanced sports science degree etc and certainly no 'new age' type. What you say to yourself is very important. And this is what the Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga are getting at.

5) Guard your circle of influence. Don't hang around with people that bring you down in the guise of "I'm just concerned about you' or otherwise. I had one of those in my life and they magically disappeared round about the time the course started, and though I'd known them a while, I felt lighter for it. People that criticize what you do from their sofa. If something you do bugs someone its usually because it makes them look at what they're not doing. Happy people don't need to bitch and criticize.

The past few days were pretty mental. It was like dissertation week all over again, I am that last minute woman and so I suddenly found I had shitloads of coursework to do on lactate talerance thresholds, muscles, joints, levers, kinesiology, business, marketing etc etc etc. Everything was covered exhaustively and I was studying the muscles names and details every night for ages, like how I used to learn stuff at school. And as I have no computer I spent a few nights in a hostel next door to an internet cafe and pulled some all nighters studying. It was actually nice to have some time alone too. I just got everything in on time, like Indiana Jones rolling under that crashing gate and grabbing his hat... And I had to take my Personal Training evaluation where you have to train Kerrie or Rowena to a standard they are happy with. And they're both charismatic D-stylers and Kerrie was THE first personal trainer in Australia, was a millionaire by a very young age etc etc. And Rowena has been at it for a few years too, is also very successful and charges thousands for public speaking seminars (and gives the proceeds to the SPCA, bless) and when you get close to her, this petite blonde, she has this High Priestess energy and a kind of mermaid depth to her eyes. So training them is intimidating to say the least. But I got through on the third attempt- I can hold the boxing focus pads for a guy to punch without going all limp which was the problem for a while, so I've been practising a lot, I LOVE boxing, its so much fun.

Then yesterday I took the final exam which took four hours and got through that OK. And afterwards myself and Robyn hit the Belgian Beer Cafe in Ponsonby and drank a lot of Belgian Beer and got tipsy and boisterous! Ordering the hugest glasses of Beer I've ever seen, like Giants beer glasses -see when you lift much heavier drinks its actually a form of progressive overload technique, flexing and extending the elbow joint with a concentric contraction of the Biceps brachii on the movement up to your mouth and eccentric lengthening on the way down as your scapula are retracted and stabilised by the trapezius....... I'm loving the lingo of the Fitness Professional and may use it in everyday life.
We also ate a massive plate of mussels, crab claws and smoked salmon- I think New Zealand smoked salmon is the best in the world. Then I wobbled home to sleep. And woke up early with a racing mind until I remembered I've finished the work, for now.

And this weekend I'm packing my stuff up and saying goodbye. I loved my time here. I don't think I could live here though. New Zealand is awesome don't get me wrong. With untapped magic everywhere, and its so beautiful and clean and has been so good for my health. But from where I'm standing, here in first place, its sort of like having a sexfest with someone who's incredibly attractive. Yes its a buzz but there will come a day when you wake up and want a conversation. Preferably with someone who knows who Che Guevara is . So I feel ready to leave. I'm having an ice cream every day and working out how to fit the last 9 months into my rucksack...

And I'll be going to the Yoga Academy for my last class with Jude Hines on Monday. As this was my Ashtanga trip and so I like to finish where I started. Same same but different.

Thanks for reading.


Posted by victoria8 16:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged women Comments (0)

More Auckland Tales

stories of Sun Salutations and the meaning of accountability...

rain 14 °C


It crept up on me slowly and subtly. Yes without realizing it I had stepped back into the land of very little sleep. But getting 4 to 5 hours a night compared to how I used to be still feels like a fair amount. This weekend was a long holiday weekend in New Zealand for the Queens Birthday. I was laughing about it yesterday because a) Queen Elizabeth is a Taurus, born on the 21st of April, thus sharing a birthday with Robert Smith of The Cure, and b) no-one in the UK really gives a toss about her birthday.
However, 4 days off was lovely. I stayed with Robyn from my course all weekend and the first night there, curled up next to an open fire I slept for eleven hours! Eleven! Robyn said to me "I can't get over how different you look". Seems I've been walking around looking like death warmed up for a while now. And I couldn't get over how DRY it felt. And then I realized that it wasn't abnormally dry, just that where I've been staying has got damper and damper as its become colder, until it sort of feels like a wet tent at Glastonbury Festival, and even a Northerner like me, wearing leggings and a t shirt and socks AND a tracksuit with two blankets on the bed was consistently freezing. And my menopausal flatmate informed me it wasn't that its cold. Its just that I'm not that young anymore(!). Charming. One of those women who's developed an 'Ask not for whom the Bell tolls attitude' to ageing and the menopause, not a bad person, a good person actually, but I can't be doing with it. Am I the only one that thinks those kind of remarks are totally rude? I wouldn't dream of saying that to anyone, its like making personal remarks about someone's looks. I know I'm 35, so are millions of other people on the planet, what of it? Getting upset about your age is futile, and if anything a reason to look after yourself better, not wear granny pants and try and bring everyone else down. I'd be depressed too, if I wore granny pants. In fact I don't even think my maternal grandmother wore granny pants. Anyway, I digress. And have added only ever wearing beautiful underwear and keeping my issues as my own problems (not parcelling them up and handing them out like free samples to whoever I speak to) to my list of non negotiable standards of living. Isn't there enough pain in the world already? Being positive and kind to the people around you really isn't that hard.

There was a charity event at the Yoga Academy two Sundays ago hosted by Martina Gotz, a local teacher here who's going out to Mysore in July to do teacher training with Sharath. It was awesome- 108 Sun Salutations. It took 90 minutes and it was amazing. I didn't think I'd do it but I managed it. It was to commemorate the passing of Pattabhi Jois and it was as if the energy in the room carried us all through. On a physical postural level I saw what I've been doing wrong- locking out the knees too much for the past few years, I thought I was maintaining the tiniest bend there but no. When you get to about number 60, if theres anything you are doing wrong in a Sun Salutation your body lets you know. I felt it for a couple of days afterwards but was absolutely buzzing, and soaked by the end.

I also had some very exciting news- I got the job I wanted!! So I have to be back in the UK for early September to train and am working like anything to get all my coursework in on time and so far I'm winning. I had all the course textbooks printed out and am living and breathing personal training, anatomy, physiology etc etc. I've been loving the anatomy study, the body is such a perfect and amazing thing. And its kind of touching when you read about all the little things your body does for you every day to keep you from pain, stop you lifting things that are too heavy, replenishing your energy stores, regulating your mood, in interesting and varied ways depending on what you've been up to. It does its best to keep you warm, keep you cool, keep you watered, stops you falling over and if something really really bad happens it shuts out the pain and then feeds it to you in little bits it thinks you can deal with. Pretty amazing. I remember when I did care work years ago getting that sense of how lucky I was to have a functioning body which changed my hyper critical attitude to how it looked so much. The study of anatomy makes you see where all those religious theories of God as the ultimate designer came from. Theres still so much we don't know about the body and its intelligence.

I've been going out quite a bit and discovered the most amazing restaurant in Auckland too, called Cafe Midnight Express near the Sky Tower. Its a Turkish restaurant, a lot like Zeugma on London Road in Sheffield. I went there with Emily the other week and it was divine. We had all this gorgeous food and drink, they do incredible things with spinach, so thats my number one food recommendation in Auckland (see, this is a travel blog, see?!). And there are some beautiful walks around here. The beaches at Takapuna and Mission Bay are so lovely. The sky is so beautiful here and its rains nearly all the time at the moment but there are nearly constant rainbows. And the people here are still lovely. The bus drivers are lovely- and they wear their shorts no matter how cold it is.

I've been having a lot of dreams too. I dream t I was aboard the cruise ship I'll be working on later this year and that my manager was Jane Fonda, wearing her blue sparkly leotard from her 'Low Impact Aerobics' video from the '80's. That was slightly odd, And the staff quarters were full of young angry looking bald eastern Bloc type men smoking roll ups. Don't know WHAT that means. And I dreamt too of my teacher of seven years in Brighton. And he told me I was on the right track but needed to rest more, it was nice to see him again, albeit in a dream. And I wonder who my next teacher will be? We also discussed accountability. Which is an underrated thing- as they say on the course I'm doing too, and this is so important- YOU are accountable for your life, no-one else. If you hand responsibility for your happiness to anyone or anything outside of you then it can be taken away.

I leave New Zealand four weeks tomorrow. I fly to Delhi and then hang around in India for seven hours, after which I'll get a plane to Manchester going via Finland- Finland!!! I've never been there so I get to see Helsinki through a plane window. Little things like that make me happy. As is going to the Druid Camp in the UK in July. And heading West before I start my training in London (cheap flight hunting as we speak). As for todays, its a Monday Bank Holiday so I'm going to the Les Mills gym to have a workout and meet up with Lesley, my friend from Brighton who I'm having personal training sessions with (you have to practice what you preach) and I'll be lifting some heavy weights to keep my metabolism ticking over and activate the fast twitch muscle fibres. Then home made soup. Then bed. I'll also be moving house in 3 days... And have a pile of coursework nearly as tall as me to work through, 20 personal training sessions to do, an exam to pass and 15 books to read. Just as well I like reading.

Life's still sweet.

Posted by victoria8 16:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand winter meditations

the perfect balance...

overcast 16 °C


As tends to happen with me, a long period of introspection is always followed by an intense phase of action and doing. I don't know quite how it happened that the day before yesterday I found myself running through a park, shouting inspiring things, doing press ups and jumping on and off benches in a smiley face t-shirt but there you go. Welcome to boot camp... I've rediscovered my love for exercise in a big big way and its so beautiful to feel energetic again. The only thing is, as I have to do a lot of fitness stuff for my course (if you're learning to be a personal trainer you have to practice what you preach) I have had to cut down on my Yoga asana practice which I am not that happy about. Ashtanga practice is pretty intense and mixing it with two hours of jogging/weights etc in one day doesn't work. I know, because I've done it in the past, when I was younger and crazier than I am now and it leaves you a little overstimulated. Then your body sort of starts to 'eat itself'. So I've been concentrating on good quality practice twice a week while I do the course and that seems to be ok.

I went to see the healer lady again last weekend and spent two hours meditating. Meditation's something I have neglected in the past, as keeping still is not one of my strong points. Here, now though, it seems to work. Its strange, maybe somethings shifted with all the practice I have been doing, day in, day out over the past few years. When I tried to meditate to a level that I could not get to two or three years ago it just seemed to happen, as if by magic. Stepping away from the thoughts and managing to stay in that suspension. Its almost like when you have a lucid dream- the struggle to stay in it, and control it, without waking up in the process. She advised me to meditate daily, not for hours, maybe 20-30 minutes. I meditate on energy flowing through me, on the chakras. You can keep everything flowing with your mind. I meditate on energy moving though my centres and leaving my body, reaching up into the universe, into the stars, and then, as if it goes through a giant cosmic dialysis machine, coming back down through me like silvery stardust. That was the image that came to mind and if you go through it a few times you feel cleansed, clean, cold, pure. And then you realize that even though Yoga is technically divided into steps, the stages can overlap each other. And the effort to follow the Yamas and Niyamas also help to keep your energy channels flowing, because wrong action clogs you up like cholesterol in an artery. The Yamas and niyamas are so much more than a social/moral thing, but are the route to svadhyaya- self study- and the beginning of all real magic. Its all exciting. And when I do asana practice now, it feels different still. And if you've read a few of these entries I know it'll seem like I'm always banging on about how 'Whoah my practice is so different now..." but again it is. After the first healing session I had, when I stopped feeling sick and was able to practice again I found my hip flexibility had sort of gone through the roof. Like I can comfortably sit in the splits and read a book comfortable. And when I do Utthita Hasta padangusthasana now it is SO wobbly because the weight is differently distributed to the way it has been for a few years and I'm still trying to get used to it. So, my development remains circular. Its funny that all this is coming to surface in the midst of an intense full time personal training course and mad exercise and studying anatomy every night. I always find when I have less time to myself the quality of time improves. Thats one good thing about full time employment I guess, and why I'm so much happier than 3 months ago when I was starting to feel I was milling around too much...

New Zealand's currently in late autumn. The leaves are crimson and gold and the air is crisp. I love how clean it is here. It was freezing cold for a few days- and the cold here is like a long, damp awful cold. But guess what, the minute I'd had enough of being completely freezing and went out and bought a super warm fluffy cuddly merino jumper to keep me warm, the weather magically transformed back up to t-shirt weather... Its like buying flip flops if you want it to rain. The cold heres unpleasant though, and 20% of Kiwi homes have no insulation whatsoever. Respiratory infections are rife here too, due to damp homes. Still, people continue to be relentlessly good natured and cheerful. I don't think I've met anyone in a bad mood yet. I wonder if they have some kind of special force that weeds out the whingers and frowny faces and sends them to some kind of island where they are forced to watch The Waltons 24/7 until they buckle and surrender to wholesome smiley values... Bus Drivers are lovely, one even drove me home which was not on his route because he didn't want me to walk home in the dark! And then a couple of weeks ago I was going to walk half a kilometre home at night and the bus driver told me that was far too dangerous and made me go and get a taxi... I tried not to smirk as I thought of all the times I've wandered around alone in places far more dangerous than suburban Auckland.... my poor guardian angel doesn't even know what a cigarette break is..............

I love the humour here too, its kind of a rueful, slightly surreal humour, closer to British than American. And the advertising's awesome. My latest favourite TV ad is one for sanitary towels- which is a man, who having been left to his own devices, sticks them all over his head and pretends he's a Storm Trooper.....! Nice! I went to see the film 'Boy' last month too, which is hilarious, set in the '80's, you have to watch it. I've also got quite into local culture. I now watch 'Shortland Street' and 'Gossip Girls' on TV, as well as rediscovering the joys of 'Coronation Street', a big hit over here! I don't know how I find the time! I've made some nice friends on my course too, they're a really nice bunch of people. And I met this lovely girl from Yorkshire too, Emily, in the pub in town and I go for a beer with her from time to time. This weekends been pretty good- I had a job interview yesterday, won't say too much, I'm superstitious but we'll see... I'm going to be in NZ another 6 weeks or so and then where I go next depends on work related stuff but I feel drawn to go West ;) Today is Sunday, my day of rest, I have a mild hangover (I probably should just admit I have no alcohol tolerance anymore) due to drinking vodka with Nadia last night and so I'm going to go watch the Crowe be Robin Hood and get my testosterone fix from the big screen (its thoughtful of God to have fixed it for me to have a good length of time being single, I'm not half so interesting when I have a boyfriend- though I only think about that when I'm hungover) and then go for a lovely walk. Then meditate. Its all about the balance...
Life is sweet...

Posted by victoria8 14:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged women Comments (0)

More Southern hemisphere Ashtanga adventures....

from nausea to euphoria and beyond...

all seasons in one day


So, I've been in New Zealand for just under two months now. I'm loving it really. Wellington was good and I managed to make every one of the Pete Sanson workshops there which was so good. He's such an amazing teacher and a cute, cute man. On the last day, the Sunday, he stayed for some questions and was talking about when he was studying Ashtanga back in the day. Apparently back in the early '90's there were no Ashtanga teachers in New Zealand, people like him and John Scott were just starting out. So when he went home he wanted to maintain his practice and the lack of teachers didn't put him off... he taught his mum the adjustments and carried on...! "Yeah..." he said reflectively "Mum got pretty good at adjusting me in the fourth series..." I've been practicing regularly at the Yoga Academy in Auckland with Jude Hines, another Jois-certified teacher, theres so much talent here, its great. And my practice is changing quickly at the moment. Some days when I get on the mat so much has changed, almost overnight, that simple things are more challenging and vice versa. It sounds weird but when you go through a shift, your centre of gravity changes and you have to reverse some of your habits. Like shedding layers of skin, shedding the old incorrect habits/ ways of making the practice easier in order to discover it. Like a sculptor whittling away to find the angel in the stone. And its amazing.

I've found a place to live for a while. Its in Albany, lodging in a family house with a woman called Caroline, who is really nice, warm and interesting, her husband, 2 other lodgers and the cutest cat ever- she's one of these really plush pedigree things with a poncy Chinese name I cannot remember, but such a good natured little thing, I often wake up with her all curled up next to me. Its nice having a cat around. Albany is on the North Shore of Auckland and like all of Auckland, spacious and vast. The whole of New Zealand only has about four million inhabitants, but is area-wise about the same size as the UK, longer and thinner though. Yet Auckland is four times as big as London. Its slightly surreal. I often go out walking, near the woods and down to the beach, and I can go for hours, surrounded by houses without seeing another soul. Even on a Sunday afternoon. And I'm near the motorway and a load of warehouses so walking around this emptiness is weird, like walking through an enormous stage set painted by Edward Hopper. And when I get the bus at night theres never anyone else on it. Its a bit like the Twilight Zone. There is this obsession with space here. It would be the ideal holiday destination for tall people. Theres loads of leg space round cinema seats, on trains and buses and people have these massive gardens. You can really spread out- that happens with bodies too, New Zealand is the third fattest country in the world. There is a real love of pies here, a love of day time alcohol consumption and proper full fat dairy products. The ice cream here is the nicest I've ever had and seafood is beautiful. Though food on the whole is more expensive than in the Uk, really random things like sushi, smoked salmon, avacadoes, braeburn apples and manuka honey are much cheaper.

People here are really friendly too, I don't think I've met anyone in a bad mood yet- thats also slightly strange to me, though I'm not complaining.. Its like I was on this bus the other day and it wasn't going where I wanted to go and the woman on the seat behind heard the conversation and offered to drive me there!!! People so often go out of their way to be helpful, its lovely. On the other hand though, there is a dark side here. Despite the beautiful climate, lovely scenery and relatively laid back attitude theres a high suicide rate amongst the young. Whenever you flick through a magazine theres inevitably a psychics page with letters from people who want to contact their children or siblings who died by their own hand. Theres a strongly Conservative Catholic ethos in some areas. also, older generations often moved here when land was dirt cheap and were able to make nice lives for themselves and retire in affluence. Young people on the other hand, are currently experiencing recession, not as bad as in the UK, but its still there, land prices have increased vastly, utilities are expensive, theres high import tax on just about everything except Chinese stuff, and even if they work really hard with the best education, they can't really afford the lifestyle they grew up with. To buy a house you need 20% deposit upfront and they're usually sold by auction. Plus theres bad cases of 'leaky house syndrome' nearly everywhere due to everything having been done on the cheap, and people have bought properties they can barely afford only to find the price doubles as they need such major repairs. So theres a lot of people who feel cheated. I don't know if I would want to be here long term.

I went out to Rotarua two weeks ago. When I was in Wellington I was told about a healer by one of my friends- Jen, whose opinion I respect as she is smart, and quite sceptical. It might sound surprising for someone thats so into Yoga, tarot, Occultism etc, but when it comes to 'energy healing' I'm generally quite sceptical too (despite a Reiki flirtation years ago). Because having lived in Brighton where theres ads everywhere for 'energy healers' I just learned to ignore them. I still think that so many of these people are at best, well meaning and ineffective, and at worst, cynical Charlatans. And presuming to be able to heal someones energy field is quite bold isn't it? Anyway, I've been suffering from some quite bad insomnia for nearly three years. It almost felt like I had just lost the art of sleep. I would put off going to bed as theres nothing worse than lying there wide awake, and even went I went to bed at one, I would wake up at three, eat chocolate and maybe fall back to sleep around four or five and then get up at six to practice, get tired during the day, mean to have an early night but then wake right up again. It was so miserable. And all these people recommend lavender oil and chamomile tea. Well that might work if you can't sleep but when you have full-on insomnia, chamomile tea is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.... Sleeping pills work but you feel like Hell the next day and I really didn't want to go there so I have been struggling a bit... So I made an appointment to see this woman, who I'm going to call Cerys. Thats not her real name, she likes to keep a low profile so I shall respect that.
I went out to see her for two days. It was in the middle of nowhere and stunning, I had the comfiest double bed in the world and there were three super friendly cats for company. I had two sessions with her and the rest of the time I was left to my own devices, to go for walks down to the lake, to chill out with the cats, meditate, attempt Yoga practice (and fail because I was exhausted and the cats kept curling round my legs when I was in downward-facing dog), eat soup and watch Coronation Street. In my first session we discussed the insomnia, events of the past few years. She's a qualified nurse as well as a bit of a supreme counsellor so it was great. Then I lay on the treatment bench and she scanned my energy field and said "I'm very glad you came to see me, you can't carry on like this- no wonder you're miserable!" which I thought was a bit extreme- life hasn't been perfect, but i still find pleasure in life.. She was spot on though. It was like I had this energetically self imposed 'heart bypass' and had just stopped feeling anything. And apparently the 3am munchies are a classic symptom. The middle of the night when you're alone with yourself is your most vulnerable time and eating sugar quells the feelings. So true. I haven't really been feeling happy, but I haven't really felt sad either, its just been a strange time, feeling slightly disconnected, even when I'm in the most amazing places, with the most amazing people, doing the most amazing things.
I spent the next day alone in nature. I walked down to the lake and went for a swim. And all these birds in the sky circled around and it was the most perfect moment. Alone under this huge sky, swimming in the clean cold water, for a moment I felt a sense of one-ness with all things, all beings, all that has happened and all that is still to come. And all these memories came flooding back. Like a period of two years of my life I just never ever thought about because I was scared of it hurting, but it doesn't hurt now. Its like I was hanging onto the the ghost of pain and it had become habitual and all my energy was stuck around it. I was exhausted that day. I wrapped up in a blanket and slept soundly all night.
The next morning I had an early session with her, and miracle of miracles, this tight spot on the right hand side of my back had opened up, as if by magic. I couldn't stand being touched there before, it tickled but now, even two weeks late my backs unknotted. I had to get the bus back to Auckland later on that day and that was no fun. Suddenly I was overcome by the most horrific nausea and that hung around for two days quite badly. I was sleeping well still, but even today, two weeks later I had a surge of it. And I've been getting these waves of intense heat surging through me. I emailed Cerys about it and she said its quite common- that basically because my energy's coursing through me as it should its making my kidneys release all this yuck stuff that makes you feel really sick. And its so incredible, because I've done so many detoxes this past two years that haven't done anything and now my body's detoxing whether or not I like it... And believe me I didn't go to her looking for a 'detox'. The sugar cravings have disappeared. I don't feel so hungry and I've mainly just been eating healthy food I've cooked myself since then. I actually feel quite energetic and bouncy when I wake up now, and my skins better too. Its really nice, I'm so grateful to her. Though I think the reason I've felt really sick today is the sneaky glass of wine and frozen yoghurt I had last night- not ideal, but I thought it would be ok... Oh well... For the most part my diets Gillian McKeith-tastic!!! It amuses me the way Caroline I live with seems to think I'm some kind of health Nazi though, like I'm just one step off demanding to examine everyones jobbies...

I've been meeting some cool people here. I went to the Auckland Pagan Pub moot twice and went to a talk on Thelema last week. It was full of emo kids and the odd man in a hat speaking in a deep theatrical voice!!! I felt right at home and am off to a Gnostic Mass next weekend with Emily, a fellow Brit I met here who aso used to live in Sheffield. I also bumped into one of the trainers from LA Fitness in Brighton in Les Mills in Auckland!! Lesley who I hadn't seen for three years nearly!!! So strange... I met up with her and went to a Newton Faulkner gig on Wednesday night here which was ace, he's half musician, half surreal comic. And that was a great night too because I got too tired and had to go home to bed early... That may not sound exciting, but believe me, when you've had insomnia, suddenly being able to go and sleep naturally for 7 hours is the best thing in the world ever:)

I've also completed the first two weeks of my Personal training course with MAX fitness here. Its lots of fun and Rowena, who's the brains behind it, is like the NZ version of Susan Powter and a bit of a celebrity- she was a consultant on 'The Biggest Loser' in Australia last week. The other students are cool, lots of talented people, and theres a nice atmosphere. The first part of the course is all about business and marketing. Kerry, the guy teaching us last week said that if you become a Personal Trainer and have no sense of business its like going into a sword fight armed with a spoon... He's full of great 'Aussie Alpha male' expressions- "You've only got one arse, how are you supposed to ride three horses?" stood out for me, and he's so likeable that I don't even mind when he refers to Yoga as that 'lovey dovey shit'... Actually the lack of poilitical correctness here is quite refreshing. You especially see it in the advertisements here. Like the one for Fruity Whip ice cream. Its basically a guy who sits there saying "I used to play rugby but my girlfriend thought it was dangerous so I stopped. Besides I'm far too busy picking flowers for her, and running baths.... etc etc" and then the end punchline flashes up... "Fruity Whip. Whipped for the girls." I laughed my ass off the first time I saw it, you'd never get away with that in the UK!!! And then theres the one for hearing aids- "Men don't listen. Still, its nice to know they can", and my own personal favourite, the anti drink driving one, short and to the point- a poster that simply states "IF YOU DRINK AND DRIVE YOU'RE A BLOODY IDIOT". Yay!!!

So thats pretty much all my news from here, lifes all about studying, maintaining practice, eating and sleeping really. I'm going to get home early tonight and read some Greg Maehle. And get to the Auckland city Museum over the weekend, soak up some more culture, take some photos. It looks like I'll be here about another 11 weeks and time flies and I have plans to make. The qualification with MAX is international so the next step will be to see if working on a cruise ship is feasible...

Life is sweet.

Posted by victoria8 00:48 Archived in New Zealand Tagged women Comments (0)

New Zealand musings, New Zealand rains...

whats going down further South..



I've been in Wellington for five days now. This is the capital city of New Zealand, but as my friend Sarah, who I'm staying with says, "Its the Brighton to Auckland's London".....! I can see why its also drawn comparisons to San Francisco. Theres all these steep and heavily tree lined streets and avenues from which white weatherboard houses stand. From where I am in Brooklyn theres the most beautiful views I have ever seen, of Central Park, which dips down from here in a kind of deep foliage basin, after which you look out over a harbour and you can see the islands not far from the coast and far off mountain ranges turning blue in the distance. Theres a freshness to the air and I've felt authentically chilly here, for the first time in months and I love it. The walk from here into town is the most rejuvanating one ever, the view lifts your soul, the air lifts your headstate.

I travelled here on the Overlander train from Auckland. This is a twelve hour long train journey that runs pretty centrally down the North Island, top to bottom. Its a sweet train, quite small, with these massive huge windows so you can see the views. You have a tour guide type person announcing when you go through areas of historical or spiritual significance. Or anything at all really. Theres a guy called Dennis who waves to the train at the same time every day and he gets a mention too ("Hey theres Dennis, he's here every day, lets all give him a little wave!"). And you can also stand outside on a viewing platform which is amazing. You can get lost in the landscape, or laugh at all the people trying to have sneaky cigarettes and failing dismally in the wind. Its like going through a film set, all these buildings from the 1950's, farms and dairies, people out in the fields raise their hats and wave as you go past. Theres like this innocence which is born of all this space. The fact that actually, there still aren't that many people here in New Zealand outside of the cities. And part of you thrills to it. And another slightly cynical part going "My God, I've landed in a place where they still point at planes". Its wonderful.

The landscapes like nothing I've ever seen. Its like the most beautiful parts of Wales and the West country of England- that is, rolling green hills, scrubby moorland, deciduous forests. You also go along these amazing viaducts and two rivers- which are always prefixed by 'The Mighty' and you get a sense of the river spirits being alive and well here. Then you get to something completely new, like some tree you've never seen before. there are all these trees that resemble Tuscan cypresses that ascend upwards, that are seemingly randomly placed in rows, like part of a stage set with scenery that just needed using. Its weird. Sometimes you look out and the scenery's like a two dimensional Surrealist painting with these odd aspects. I used to work in a print gallery and we used to sell some really tacky and horrible abstract landscape pictures, but seeing this scenery I understood what it was some of those artists must have been trying to emulate. And I remembered this conversation I had with an artist in South Africa once, when we were looking at the darkening sky over Table Mountain and I said to him that you could never hope to emulate it. And he said "Thats no reason not to try...".

Wellingtons a relief after Auckland. It has its fair share of nasty Milton Keynes style architecture also but is smaller, prettier, more compact. I spent all afternoon in the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand yesterday. It is incredible- it is built on a huge scale, taking into account Maori planning principles, and is full of the most wonderful items. They have a real Maori Meeting House like in the picture above, in there. And several boats. I never knew catamarans were based on the double-hulled boat design of the Pacific Islanders. And all these interactive exhibitions you can play on. And the history of the Maoris, the Treaty of Waitangi, is all covered. I sat inside the Maori Meeting House for a while, looking at the carvings. The continuous spiral patterns have something in common with Celtic La Tene art, maybe coming from the same ethos that all life is continuous, it shape shifts rather than ends. And when you look at the rows of carved statues sitting next to one another, for one moment, they all look identical, like uniform rows of Storm Troopers. And then the next moment they all have their individuality back and they keep changing from one to the other. As if again underlining that all separation, all character individuality is fleeting and illusory. I also learnt that reproductions of Maori art is quite strictly monitored these days, as it is considered sacred. Any depiction of the head specifically. The head, as in Asian culture, is considered sacred, as it is the sea of the intellect, the springboard to growth.

And as this is a Yoga blog I should tell you what I've come across so far in the Wellington Ashtanga scene. A really beautiful shala, just off Cuba Street, called Te Aro astanga (www.astanga.co.nz) where I went to a Mysore class led by Mike Berghan. Like all the other Astanga teachers I've met here he was brilliant. Another student of Pattabhi Jois with a friendly and workable approach. I had a very exciting moment... After aiming to understand and be able to do Supta Kurmasana for quite a while now, I had sort of given up on it. I got into the full posture here, ankles crossed behind the head, the classical postion. The thing was though, it didn't feel that exciting. Another lesson, I was attaching too much to it before. And excitingly enough, Pete Sansons doing workshops here next week! So I get to work some more with him which is amazing. Very early mornings again so I"ll have to quit the late night wine and meals I've been enjoying here. Sarah's partner, Jen, is the most beautiful and hearty cook. Its good to spend time with them again, they are two friends from the Brighton days and I used to work with Sarah. They have a lovely house here, and a lovely ginger cat called Zsa Zsa. Makes me nostalgic for a bit of domesticity.

There is something magical here. I lost my Tarot cards last week but it didn't bother me. I thought I'd go looking for some more. And I found the most amazing set here, the Aura Soma cards by Pamela Matthews. There are a few versions of these and if you google them you don't find them, just some dodgy soft focus angel/aromatherapy type stuff so you''ll just have to take my word for it that these cards are beautiful. And she's reproduced the Major Cards so you have 22 cards 'returning' as well, as lessons learnt. And they seem to work. I met a woman called Maria who's a local clairvoyant and reader here and she says that this land is really something special. a very healing place. And I've had a series of dreams, almost like a catalogue of things I didn't want to think about. And its like with each dream, somethings being let go of, more than just wishful thinking because they don't seem to come in order of personal importance and old memories I never gave a thought are being held up for scrutiny. Hmmmmmmm. All very cosmic......... Three weeks to go before my course starts. I'm just going to focus on doing lots of reading and practice, and start doing some writing again. Proper writing.

Happily its been the Wellington Arts Festival while I've been here and I was lucky enough to see Neil Gaiman yesterday!!! I've loved his work since I was a little Sandman goth/fan in my late teens, and more recently I really enjoyed 'American Gods', as a book it really excited me. And he read an excerpt from it which was wicked. He is a fantastic speaker, very funny, very quick and he was speaking for an hour or so, dressed in his trademark black. And a member of the audience asked him what advice he would give to an aspiring writer and he said "Write. Write and write and make sure you finish stuff. And get t published because nothing makes your weaknesses more apparent than seeing them in print. This is my advice. I know that some people would like something else. Like 'Slaughter the Goat..... Then wait until midnight when you will hear three raps at the door..... For the love of God do NOT open it then..... A little later you will hear FIVE raps at the door..... at which point you must open it and I will be standing there holding a scroll for you. With Stephen King and JK Rowling on either side...' I am sorry, it doesn't happen that way. You just have to write." So inspired by that, I have lots of reading to do, for as I sat there a few ideas came my way.

Visit Wellington. Amazing place.

Posted by victoria8 12:29 Archived in New Zealand Tagged women Comments (1)

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