Fourth for this Week

It had to be the Pudumund Marlimund Road today.  We lived on this road long ago but never ventured too far down the road. Of course it had grown and changed. Lots of small houses around Forest Gate , each with its set of drums and basins and tubs kept ready to catch the water tanker . The road stretched and curved  beyond the fork to Anikorai into more pastoral reaches.

Houses became more  scattered. While the presence of large bungalows with glimpses of colourful gardens added grace. Suddenly at one corner  opposite Adyar House was the brightly painted  police station of Pudumund. At the side were a dozen bashed and broken up cars , swept up from Ooty’s roads.

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Somewhere there had to be the Marlimund lake, for which the road was named. Probably dry and swampy. Still I had to see it. And discover it I did. A beautiful sweep of water near the small dam. At the back, where waters must have collected from springs and rain, cows grazed peacefully on the green cover. Even the pipe drawing water from the reservoir stood 2 feet above the water level.

Lets hope and pray and believe in the good monsoon,  predicted.

Third Day

‘Go around the lake ma’, suggested my daughter. Right around being rather ambitious for me I thought I would walk on the less crowded , far side of the lake.

Starting a little further down from the Arboretum which the tourist vans seem to have discovered, I walked down the road, which ran parallel to the railway tracks for a short while.  Quiet prevailed as I passed West Mere, where we’d stayed as children; host to a hundred memories, looking rather forgotten now.

Further on was the Deer Park, barred and barbed , allowing no one to get past the bramble and undergrowth. Disturbing a young couple looking for quiet, I had to hurry on with glimpses of the lake through trees and wire. Finally there was the second Boat house with colour and sound .

Time to turn back.

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Second Day

Zoning in on a quiet,  level road to walk on Day 2, wasn’t too difficult. The road from Fernhill to Avalanche via Kundah has always been a  favorite. Smooth to drive on, tracts of cultivated land lining one side, passing through numerous small villages; this road leads to many interesting spots.

But since I was going to walk, it was doubtful whether I would reach even one.

Passing the bend at Cairn Hill, I met some monkeys  sipping water from a small muddy pool near the road left behind from the rains. They eyed me warily while they pushed each other aside for their turn.

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Later, I met some cows grazing happily at the side of the road. Besides us, there were no other pedestrians on the road, it being more of a highway. On one side were verdant green tea fields and on the other, fields being freshly sown for the next crop.

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Further on was a carrot washing shed. Always delightful to watch the carrots go in muddy and come out a fresh orange. Why dont’ they do it for radish or potatoes ??

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30 minutes later, I was gazing on the slopes of Mullikorai., a prosperous looking hamlet. A stream flowed through the valley below cutting through fields of cabbage and carrot. The school was freshly painted and gleamed in the evening sunshine.

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The charm of small houses always attracts the eye. Brightly painted, the areas outside swept clean and tamped down,  the bare sparseness speaks of simple living and one imagines, contentment.

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On my way back as I crossed the Bhavanieaswari temple;  I watched a mother sitting outside the house attached to the temple, in sweet ease with her children . How many mothers Ive heard , wishing to live again  those  simple, busy days  when their children were young and life less complicated , although life’s material riches are now more in abundance.

 

 

Stepping out

I was looking forward to May as a time of rest and being at home and pottering around but all that is getting a bit too restful . My friends are busy with visiting children or visiting their kids. The town is too crowded to drive and park and do anything much. I’ve been doing a bit too much work in the  garden with not so good consequences for my back although the garden is looking rather colorful .  So Im finding it rather painful to walk on slopes. And I’m not sure that stoicism in this case is a good thing. So haven’t been walking much either. All that is my sad story. 
Then today there was a friend setting off to the hills in the Northeast. 
And after getting over the wave of envy and resentment that washes over one when someone else seems to be doing something adventurous which we wish we had the gumption to organise ;  I thought -I am living in the damn hills after all!  So why dont I use this time to explore .
I  took the car out to the Lovedale road, parked and walked along for an hour. I got my walk on level ground on a nice well tarred road which contrasts with our pot hole ridden one ; a new place to explore, velvety green tea fields on one side, tall trees on another, vistas of train track and tunnels.
Most of all there was the joy of stepping out of my usual ruts . It takes a little leap to do something new, to go somewhere new… and to do it alone. And the happiness in overcoming inner resistance to actually do something a little difficult is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
 Somewhere new I promised myself every day of this week.
In the rush of leaving I had left my phone behind, so there was no stopping to take photographs. Another time!

Get Mud on Your Shoes

I woke up to a house without the warmth of artificial light . Outside, the rain and mist told me why. I could see my resolution to walk everyday disappearing rapidly as I shivered in the bathroom.

But an hour later, wrapped in 3 layers, I was on the road.  Part of the mindset to go out  came from  today’s  read-with-morning-coffee,  Tuesdays with Morrie   . Morrie struggles with a nerve disease which stops him from dancing, swimming, walking and later, struggle  to keep doing all the basic activities that keep us alive.  But he faces death as he liked to live life – ‘with dignity, with humor, with courage and with composure.’

What I got from the book today was  that life, and our bodies are such a gift. We should use them while we still can. Just walking without pain can be wonderful to older people.  So why don’t I do just that ?  Use my legs while I still can.

I was carrying one of those large umbrellas because foldable umbrellas don’t really stand a chance in the wind.  Halfway along the walk , I unfolded it only to have it pulled out of cold wet fingers. It drifted along , a pretty yellow an d white thing and gently came to rest just a few feet below the  road on the side of a cliff.

There was not a soul on the road. You can guess the farce that played out then.. With me clambering down to get it  and the umbrella moving along flirtatiously just a few inches out of reach.

After some hill climbing and hoping desperately that the grass tufts I was grasping wouldnt give way , I was the victor. Muddied and dirty, umbrella and I were back on the road.  My just- cleaned shoes were brown.

But the whole encounter, rather exhilarated me. And woke me up. When one is pulled out of comfort zones  and has to do things rarely done then it does give a fillip to life.

Little adventures add such a colourful high to the day.

 

Surya Namaskar in Pics

For the past several months, exercise of any sort has been very skimpy. Now that Advaith is 3 months old, its time to focus a little bit more or much more on getting fit. And about. The only thing I have been doing most days, is the Surya namaskar. I do 6 sets. It has helped in all those things we do with babies around – bend, sit immobile  for hours, rocking, walking around carrying a 5 kg weight…Personally, I feel its the best thing that has happened to me, eliminating most of those aches and pains I thought I suffered from.

I found this set of pictures in a magazine, clearly illustrating the asana with the names too for beginners.

I would  suggest learning to do it in 3 stages

1) just get the motions right

2) do the motions with breathing consciously in and out

3) do the motions saying the names in your head. This helps you focus more and keeps you holding the pose longer while you rack your head for the long name.

Note: the names take a good while to memorize. I used the associations-memory technique 

1. Sthitaprarthanasana

Exhale fully. 

Stand erect with feet together. Join the palms together in front of the chest. Concentrate on standing straight and steady.


2. Hastauttanasana

Inhale

Raise both arms above the head, palms facing upwards.

Arch the back and stretch the whole body.


3. Padahastasana

Exhale

From  2,  bend the body forward and touch the floor.

Keep  the legs perpendicular to the gound. Bend the knees a little if needed.

Place the palms next to the feet.


4. Ashwa Sanchalanasna

Inhale

From 3, extend the left leg back and drop the left knee to the floor,

bend the right knee and keep it between the hands.

Lift the head and chest up.


5. Adho Mukha Svansana

Exhale.

Take the right foot back to join the left, keeping the palms on the floor.

Lift your back and hips upwards to a triangular position.

Bend downwards and lower the head between the arms.


6. Ashtanga Namaskara

Inhale and Exhale

Drop both knees to the ground and slowly bring the chest and chin to the ground between your palms.

Eight parts of the body should be touching the floor. Two sets of toes,  two knees, two hands,  chest, and chin or forehead.

Keep feet together and make sure hips are above the floor.


7. Bhujangasana

Inhale

Lower the hips, slowly lift up from the chest until the spine is fully arched. And look up.

Keep your legs together and the elbows alongside the body slightly bent and keep the shoulders down.

Now the motions repeat in a backward cycle.

8.  Adho Mukha Svanasana (5) position. Allow your feet to rest on the soles.

Exhale

9.  Ashwa Sanchalanasana (4) position. Swing the left foot forward. This might be difficult at first, in which case, you can bring the foot forward in 2 steps.

Inhale 

10.  Padahastanasana  (3) position. Bring the right foot in front to meet the left.

Exhale

11. Raise both upwards into the hastauttanasana  (2) position.

Inhale 

12. Sthitaprarthanasana posture.

Exhale

As you get better, you can introduce the Adho Mukha Dandasana , or 4 limbed stiff pose between 5, and 6.  This is the Plank and can be held for a few seconds.

Pictures and text adapted from  an article by Deepti Bansal Seth, a nutrionitst and Yoga consultant, in Tarla Dalas’ Cooking & More Magazine.

And Yoga Shakti Mission

and Wikipedia

Wellness

These days I get up with a zing and a feeling of wellness.

As everyone who has been on the weight loss-cycle knows, the days when you are actually losing weight and it shows as in  fitting into old old clothes ..that high is hard to beat.

But besides that is a feeling of fitness that is welling up, like the sap rising.

And for this I credit the surya namksars I am practicing  now everyday . Its been a month now and I can vouch for the benefits. Those old shoulder aches, backaches when I tried lifting something heavy, neck aches.. all seem to have disappeared. I feel confident that I can do most activities. A year ago, I lived with this  niggling fear at the back of my mind.. what ache is this going to end up in.?

But 15-20 minutes of this yogasana is enough to keep me bounding about.

There seem to be a hundred benefits as listed on this site…  http://www.suryanamaskar.info/guidelines.htm

And the how to is shown here

http://www.medindia.net/animation/Surya_Namaskar.asp and

http://www.ehow.com/video_2356845_complete-demonstration-surya-namaskar-yoga.html Only the guy in the video is rather graceless. He’s getting there as I will, Im sure.

I went for a walk and …..

I was walking along happy that it wasn’t so hot; happy that I hadn’t eaten too much lunch so I could walk briskly; happy to be alive and ( not-so) young and out in the fresh air; happy to be looking at the green young green grass and the lavender sprays of flowers on the jacarandas and the buildings and the people and happy that I was wearing my rainproof jacket when it started to rain.  Suddenly I was the only person on the road still striding along. Everyone had disappeared into the protection of awnings and shops. I kept smiling till I realized that my feet were getting very very wet. So I joined a crowd under a porch.

People started gazing in wonder at the hailstones that were pelting down, hitting the ground and then disappearing. Everyone was excited and smiling. Some people put out their hands. ‘I can’t catch any’ they exclaimed in various languages around me. A man took one little piece from the ground to show it to his kids who were rather scared by this new phenomenon. We shared a camaraderie that was wrought by Mother Nature. Rather like Iceland suddenly proving its existence and overriding all our  plans.

For many people, Im sure  this afternoon is going to be the most memorable part of their trip overriding man-made lakes and gardens.

Hands Across the Globe

This is happiness. Bonding with someone across the world, who inspired you. Getting mentioned on her blog.  Laurie Albanese has been kind enough to include a pic of mine on her blog, The Big Walk as part of her effort to get walkers from different parts of the country to talk about their experiences. It looks like she didn’t expect a response from walkers in different parts of the world! 🙂

This pic is from a the longest walk I’ve ever taken, 28km to reach Mukurthi Peak.  My daughter, Darshini and her friends were here, and so we ventured forth. It was a great, unforgettable trek.  Sindhu made the trip home  just to join us.

Another barrier (self-made) I’ve breached is to join FaceBook. It feels like opening the doors to a great party going on out there. So many people I know  and never imagined were into social networking are communicating about a hundred things.

Constantly strive to improve in order to see change.

If you are doing the same thing, day in and day out (lifting the same weights, running the same distance for the same time, etc) without any change or improvement, then nothing is going to happen to your body.

Your body wants to stay the same, and it is only when you decide to venture outside of your comfort zone that you will actually see any improvement – and that rule holds true with life as much as it does with exercise. Set goals, break records and constantly strive to get better. If you ran 5km in 30-minutes yesterday, then the next time out, aim for 29-minutes.  If you did 10 push-ups yesterday, then aim for 11 the next time you attempt them.

Force yourself out of what’s comfortable and you will change – both in body and in mind.

This is from a post by Chris Lopez about the 7-Essential Rules to Weight  Loss on Zen Habits.

And I found it very inspiring at the point I am in now in my fitness quest. A point where I can’t see any tangible results.

Last year, I had to spend a great deal of time in bed and caught up with so many movies, I could practically hold my own with  the younger generation.  After an operation, I was told don’t drive, don’t bend, don’t lift heavy weights and so on for a while.

Three months ago, I started exercising mildly and I lost some weight.  But then , the results stopped appearing and I was in the despairing bog weight watchers stay in.

But now, its clear I have to keep pushing my limits to see results. I can’t stay in the comfort zone I am in and say ‘ but I am doing so much more than before, why am I at the same weight? ‘   I have to try different things and a little more everyday.

So today, I did some work in the garden after a very long while. Putting out new plants is very good for the soul and hopefully balances out any damage to the back.  Good for the abs. 🙂

Fitness, like any relationship, needs constant  striving to be good.