Sunday, May 26, 2013

This plan subject to change.

Bodhi, after spending a whole day surfing with his best friends in Indonesia. 
Here’s how this happened in the first place. About two years ago, I decided I wanted to go to teacher training for Bikram Yoga. I chose Bikram because I had a daily (sometimes twice daily) practice for about a year. Through that practice, I had held off getting spinal surgery for about two years. After that surgery, I recovered in the yoga studio. My teachers, Caroline Hartritch and Kate Giampapa and Kurt Fehrenbach were like steady lights in the insanity of pain and weakness that was my body. 

I had developed fibromyalgia, and my jobs hurt my body, even though I loved them both. Skiing, being cold and stiff, made my fibro flare up, but the movement, getting exercise helped. Receiving body work helped so much that I had a unique perspective on how relieving it is to get good, deep, compassionate, intuitive touch. But doing body work was hurting my body as well. 

The hot, humid room at Arjuna Yoga was like an island of sanity where I got a break from the pain in my body. My mind would be quiet while I worked, my body had no choice but to let go and surrender. Effort and ease. Assana and Savassana. 

I never wanted to like Bikram, I had heard so many things about who he was and how controversial his series was... in the end it didn’t matter. Bikram himself said “Some people think I am God, some people think I am asshole. I don’t care.” 

I healed my spine doing the series he put together. He provided for me an avenue back into my body. I am grateful. 

Getting certified as a Bikram Teacher was a way to deepen my practice, to make my body lean and strong. Kurt had told me that going through the ten weeks of teacher training was probably when he was healthiest, strongest, most fit. I wanted that for my body. 

I applied for the one scholarship that Bikram gives. I had a 1 in 400 chance of getting it. He offered me a partial scholarship, I had to come up with $3700 for housing for the 10 weeks, as we are required to stay at the Raddison where the training is. $6300 scholarship. I couldn’t do it. My financial situation is slowly improving, thanks to the tutelage of my amazing younger sister, I finally know how to save money. But two years ago, I was still under funded and living paycheck to paycheck. 

I knew that I needed to do this. At some point, I need to get off the sharp end of the stick, and live a more balanced life with fewer broken bones. I need to be able to be a teacher, but have the activity that I’m teaching include less frostbite and pain in my body. 

Then, Sharon Capplain, an amazing yoga instructor who I’ve had the pleasure of taking class from and becoming friends with over the years, started teaching the Ashtanga series at Arjuna. It was amazing. Revelatory. It opened me, emotionally, spiritually, so much. I was hooked. I wanted to know more.
Bodhi hangin out on the bike reading. This is normal for us now. 
Sharon spoke with such reverence for the history of Ashtanga, of its deep root. I wanted to go to the source of yoga. This system seemed to be pointing straight at it. I started thinking about going to a workshop with Annie Pace, or Richard Freeman, two teachers who Sharon really respected. And then it occurred to me that I could go allll the way to India and study at the shala there for a month for less than the cost of going to a ten day immersion in America. 

I’ve always wanted to go to India. Everyone tells me its insane and chaotic and dirty and beautiful all at once. I started to set my sights on India. I got accepted to study in the fall at the Mysore institute. And then I broke my ribs in six places riding my bike. I had JUST been starting to feel strong. I didn’t want to go to India compromised with injuries. So I pushed it back to the end of this last ski season. 

“Can I go with you?” Bodhi asked. I thought for just a split second. 

“Sure.” I said. Its hard to travel with both kids, its really expensive to add another person. But Bodhi could use some toughening up. He’s been facing some really difficult stuff in his life at school, issues with respect, and listening, and working hard, and trying, and believing in himself, and pushing through, and on and on. Having to do what is needed in the moment in a place like India seemed great.

When I changed my dates, it turned out that the Shala in Mysore was closed when I was planing to be there. I was deflated. I really wanted to do this. I’d saved about $5000, I thought I’d be able to go to India for a month. 

I started researching places that I could go study yoga that were excellent like Mysore, India, and maybe then head over to India. I’d never really thought this way, I’m not a world traveler because I can’t afford plane tickets. But my mom had offered to give me her miles to get us there. 

It turns out that there was an amazing Shala in Ubud, Bali where Prem was teaching. This was a man who had been studying with Sri K Patthabi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore, since 1979. Since I was 8. This was the next best thing. 

We hit some more snags, it turns out that my mom had only enough miles for one ticket, we thought we’d booked two. I had already arranged to take Bodhi out of school, I had promised him he was coming. We decided that once we were over here, we might as well live lean and stay as long as possible. Our one month stay in India stretched into a planned two months in Bali and three months in India. Bodhi is slated to land in Colorado about three days before fourth grade starts. 

What were we going to do now? A truly amazing thing happened. My friends rallied. Miles started pouring in. This began to feel like a mission to heal Bodhi and help him grow. That felt right, good. 

We accumulated a total of 275,000 ariline miles thanks to the incredible generosity of some folks, and we booked our tickets. We were going to do it. 

About two weeks before we were slated to leave, I had a massive panic attack. What was I thinking? Traveling to Indonesia by myself with my whiny, scared kid? With only $5000 to last us 5 months? And then India?? Holy shit I was out of my mind. 

All these unexpected expenses started cropping up. Visas were going to be $1200. Vaccinations were going to be $1200. Taxes. Luggage. Food. 

“What are you going to do with Bodhi?” was the question. I didn’t really have an answer. 
Bodhi and his friends learning from Nyoman about wave theory during a break.
“Put him in the Indonesian school, I think, see if he sinks or swims.”

Three days before we left on this mad adventure that I was now sure was a VERY bad idea, I had a financial catastrophe. My student loans are in structured repayment. I had been counting on our tax refund as our travel money. When my refund came in, it was unexpectedly taken by the holder of the loan. We were flat broke. We couldn’t go. 

My sister, Liat, did something truly heroic. “You have to go. I’m going to help you. Bodhi needs this. You need this. You need to go.” 

She held a sale on her website, Knitfreedom, and in 24 hours, she had raised all $5400 we needed to travel. She wired it to my account. The next morning, I woke Bodhi up at 4 am and we left for 47 hours of plane rides, ending in Bali. 

Today, we sit in Seniman Cafe in Ubud. We are relaxed, happy, safe, healthy, and growing. Bodhi has learned to surf, learned to listen, learned to work hard, learned to be respectful. He has made friends, and learned patience and grace and how to stick with it when its hard. 

We were supposed to leave for three months in India next week. But something magical is happening in our accidental stay in Bali. So with the help of a friend again, (I can’t sit on hold with American Airlines for an hour in Bali), we’ve changed our tickets. We are staying in Bali until July 24. Bodhi is going to keep surfing, I’m going to keep writing and going to yoga. We get to dive deeper into this incredible culture, keep making friends, keep living. We are going to follow the path that Bali is showing us, deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of who we each are, and who we are together. 

We still go to India. But for a month, at the end of our Bali adventure. This feels right. Again, I’m so grateful. We would never be here if it wasn’t for our family and friends, if we both hadn’t been brave enough to step outside of what is normal or sane. 


Run at the thing that scares you!! Theres something wonderful on the other side. 

2 comments:

mala41 said...

wow, what a story, and somehow I am not surprised

Kate Howe said...

Thanks! Thank you for reading, the adventure has been awesome so far! And we've three months ahead of us still!