Whew! We have landed! We have conquered jet lag, we have settled into our apartment and neighborhood. The kids have started camp/childcare. There have been snafus *every* *single* *day* of the first week. But nothing serious – just tedious, annoying, frustrating. Our resilience has been tested – in other words, what you should expect when travelling.
So here are some impressions of Tel Aviv: it is urban with loud late nights AND early mornings. So, relaxing takes some work. It’s hot and dirty, so it takes an adjustment to your energy level – between the sun and the noise you can get exhausted easily. I’m taking two quick rinse showers each day to perk up when I feel wilted! Also, when Israelis talk to you, they basically yell at you. I knew that, but it’s still a little jarring.
But here’s all the good stuff. I found my yoga studio. The sea is amazing for recharging – we are less than 5 minutes from the beach. We can see the sun set every night, which I never see in Boston.
I took my first yoga class here about 5 days after landing. I knew the yoga would be intense, just like Israel. Let’s just say you can’t find a lot of restorative yoga on the menu. I need to go to classes mostly during the day because I’m with my kids in the evening, so I picked one studio to focus on that had a lot of classes, and particular teachers during the day that had been recommended. Turns out, yoga snobbery can be found anywhere – as I was registering, a staff person said to me, “Are you good enough for this class?” I’m not sure how you can possibly respond to that in a serious way. I just laughed at her and said, “I’ll be fine thanks.” Everyone else has been totally great.
So my first class was vinyasa with Anat. It was *so* cool to take a class 75% in Hebrew 25% in English. I learned a fair amount of Hebrew (one of my goals is to study 20 minutes per day and push myself to speak as often as I can). She would say in Hebrew, “Inhaaaaaaaaale and Exhaaaaaaaale” drawing out the words just as some do in English. I know all the body parts in Hebrew, I know all the Sanskrit names of the poses, so once I got Inhale and Exhale, I was good to go.
It was a very strong practice – hardest I’ve practiced in a year (let’s just say I’ve been pretty lax for awhile) and it was SO HOT. I looked like I’d run a marathon at the end – I was a dripping, red-cheeked mess. But a very happy mess. The sequence was super interesting – several little variations and tricks that were new to me. There were no hands-on assists, which I prefer. I was in a room with dedicated yogis, doing what I love to do. I really was happy – planning to go again next week!
In addition to some new variations, there were some poses I haven’t done in a long time, like chin stand (ganda bherundasana) and some second series headstands – yes, I could feel my neck muscles the next day! But you know what? Those poses make text neck (and traveller’s neck) go away. There were plenty of difficult poses that I’ve done but not worked on rigorously for years – handstand presses, one legged king pigeon, good ole fashioned wheel pose.
The next day I went with my husband to Iyengar – it was so fun to practice with him! Nancy, the teacher, moved from the US to Israel years ago, and her class was probably 80% English. I don’t think I learned a lot of Hebrew, and the yoga wasn’t new for me, AND THAT WAS PERFECT. It was cool in this studio, and we didn’t sweat. It was a back release practice – so great to work on basics that make you feel good, especially because the day before was such a challenge. We did the standard lying down hamstrings, dancer, virasana, basic backbends and seated twists. She offers this class a few times a week and I’m so happy that we have a place to go practice together.
Today I’m taking a day off from the studio, even though I have childcare and thought to go every day that I have childcare. I am not here to exhaust myself! I have a lot of errands and work to do, and I’d rather do my own practice and integrate these two practices in my personal practice a bit. I miss some of my standards – I need some triangle, revolved triangle and long meditation! We have an incredibly busy weekend (weekends here are Friday and Saturday – Sunday is the first day of the work week). So today is about getting fortified for that.
My mantra this week:
I TOUCH THE SOURCE EVERY DAY. — For me, whether at the yoga studio, or cuddling one of my family members, or seeing the sunset and feeling my bare feet in the perfect sand at the beach. I am trying to find a moment every day where I feel connected to the larger energy of life. This is a mantra that spontaneously came to me about a year ago while practicing. I use it often to tune into finding something spectacular in every ordinary day.