Monday, October 18, 2010

What's Normal?

I was out on Saturday night (Holy crap! Someone buy a lottery ticket, the hermit left the house!)

And I was having a conversation with a friend who recently found out I have a blog.

FRIEND: "What's your blog about?"

ME: "Um... Life. And yoga. And living in different countries. ... ..."

FRIEND: "What's the link?"

ME: "Um... Actually. It's kind of private and I don't really wanna share the link."

FRIEND: "What?! Why? What do you write about that's so private that I can't read it?"

ME: "Er... I write about yoga. And er... my struggles with it. My joys with it. Umm... A lot of stuff that bubbles under the surface that needs an outlet."

FRIEND: "So... Are you like 2 different people? Someone on your blog you're not in real life that you can't let people you know read about what your thoughts are?"

And at that point, I felt like a complete and total socially-inept reject.

Umm... Have you read this blog? (I mean, you're here right.)

And you must know... It's not really private. AT ALL!!! I curse and swear. Talk about when I get my period. Spill out the crazy-talk in my head when I don't get along with a yoga pose (Yes, that's you Laghuvajrasana). It's pretty honest, if I say so myself.

SOOOOOOOOO... Why is it OK to spill my guts out here, for pretty much perfect strangers to read about? ...But it's NOT OK for someone I actually know to read this? (My mum sometimes comes on here too... So sometimes I use that as my guide for how much I should censor my thoughts.) (Er... HI MUM!!)

And in talking about Ashtanga Yoga and seeing the glaze form over his eyes... It suddenly occurred to me that I HAVE BECOME ONE OF THEM.


Crazy cat lady. Who does yoga and eats sprouts and quinoa. And is part of some weird cult that follows the phases of the moon. WOO WOO! (Now I should just carry that broomstick and cauldron around with me).

Interestingly, I guess the people I've met in Cape Town and Sydney are a lot more of the "granola crunchy" type (as my sister calls it)... Who are a lot more in tune with this crazy "new age" way of living (if you can even call it that?!) So it's been quite a while that I've met "normal" people who haven't been exposed to a different way of living and thinking. My yardstick of what's "normal" isn't even that radical, but I was really feeling like a fish out of water that night.

It's times like this that I'm glad I've got this blog and the cybershala, sharing our freakazoid-sangha together. I mean... OK, I get it. "Hello, my name is Jaime and I'm an Ashtanga Freak. I actually wish I was more of a double-jointed freak so some asanas will come easier to me. Nice to meet you too."

HAHAHA. (Yes, that was a JOKE.)

I'm still settling into a relatively new city, trying to make new connections. It's hard sometimes being the new kid in the corner of class.




  1.'d be beyond normal in California. :)

  2. HA! So I'd be a walking cliche in California or a woowoo freak in Amsterdam. I can't decide which is worse!

  3. Oh gosh can completely sympathize. I was attempting to go a year without ashtanga - made it 5 months. When I announced my "separation" my yoga friends (and parents) were all very sympathetic and took the time to listen to my concerns and the reasons for my split. Many were absolutely shocked. The regular folk were like, "Wow, so you can actually grab a beer with us after work and such and like go to bed at midnight." Tried it.

    I went back to my morning practice this very morning.

  4. Oh yes, this post hits a nerve. I'm in the throes of it now. I no longer want to have a drink if I'm practicing in the morning: I'm mostly vegan (damn you, greek yogurt! can' I like to talk about Ashtanga all the time AND there is no way I would let my Mom know about my blog. My sister reads it (or used to but I bet she bailed awhile ago) and I have actually had a friend say "oh. you've drunk the kool-aid". Thank god for the cybershala!

  5. Hey, what's wrong with crazy cat ladies?? hee hee.

    I used to have friends who read my blog and it felt weird. (my non-yoga friends) There's so much that can be easily misunderstood. Amongst other Ashtangis you can talk/write about pain, suffering, injuries, grumpiness, rage, the joys of contorting, body odor, periods, bowel movements ... but "regular" people may find it all too weird. Good for you for not telling your friend!

    Wait till you're older and all your peers are fat and decrepit. Then your lifestyle will be something they only wished they had the discipline to do for themselves.

  6. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!! I can so identify with this & all the awesome comments - though even when I saw the title of this post - what's normal - I thought "you're asking a bunch of ashtangis what NORMAL is??". Hanging out this week with unknown ashtangis we did a bit of sussing eachother out before letting rip our total weirdness and it was good to find that we are as bad as eachother. I still like to think I'm less woowoo than some though but maybe that just means I'm in denial!!
    But yep - my family know nothing of my blog, nor do most of my real-life (non-yoga) friends for exactly the reasons Liz details, and when my new work colleague was told by my new boss that I'm really into yoga and get up early to do it every day she sipped on her diet coke and just said "WHY??". I actually couldn't answer.
    Who wants to be normal anyway?? :)

  7. Awww... you guys are the best!

    Portside - Welcome back to the... er... since it's not quite the Dark Side.. welcome back to the "light side"? How was that first practice?

    Loo - by default, this blog started off as a place to dump my pictures and updates about life abroad since I was getting fed up of sending the same emails to different friends. So EVERYONE I know back home has access to this site. But since it's evolved into more yogayogayoga... I think a bunch of friends have dropped off (or so I'd like to think, as I continue with my crazy-talk). The thing is - old friends know me pre-yoga and have no judgment (or LESS judgment). New people you meet just see this side of you for the first time and immediately label you. Oh well.

    ELP - HAHAHA! Wait till they're "fat and decrepit". I like that. But you're right in that so many things can be so easily misunderstood. While trying to explain myself, I just got tangled up in it. Or rather... you can tell by the looks on people faces when they're like... say whaaaaaaaaaaat?

    Mel - Loving your Thai posts! And reading about the other ashtanga-crazies is as entertaining
    as it is comforting. We've all drunk the kool aid. And you're right. "WHY??" is such a difficult one to answer. I mean seriously - to distill it into a one-liner sentence in that situation doesn't do it justice (and makes you seem more crazy). But to really take the full 5 minutes to explain it in depth would make you seem even crazier intense. Y'know. ;p

    Mar - HELLOOOOOOOOOOO! Anyways... what is "normal"? Tis all relative, no? xxx

  8. Hahaha.
    Thx. It's good to be back. I forgot that one's body could be this sore and energized at the same time. Could definitely feel every single muscle in my nonexistent transitions this morning... quite humbling really.

  9. Here's my definition of normal: what everyone else looks like when you're not close enough to see. But of course, we Ashtangis are a whole other subset, aren't we? As for waiting until your peers are old and decrepit, well, I'm 56, and mine are, and trust me, it doesn't make the connections any easier. It's yet another divide.
    I don't think there is an answer to "why?" other than the personal experience of practice. When I was on the other side, my 1 Ashtangi friend seemed weird and fanatical. And then I kind of begrudgingly tried it, and was home. Simple as that. As Eminem says, "why am I like this? why is winter cold?" Irreducible. I am an Ashtangi. And that's my normal.

  10. This is why ashtangis almost always only hang out with each other. And that's how we end up with the cult label. I end up bridging the divide a lot but my non-ashtanga friends think I'm And they make fun of me. A lot.

    Welcome back Portside!!!!!!

  11. My nearest and dearest have no idea my blog exists, I get enough of the "why" question as it is. I would rather spend time chatting with yogi's where I don't have to explain why I spend up to 2 hours 6 times a week trying to get my legs behind my head as they see it!

    What did we do before the "Cybershala" existed.

  12. Yeah. It's official: The cybershala is a very private bunch! If I blurt out that I have a blog, I recoup by saying "I'll send you a link". I never do, and they never ask how come it never came.So they were not that interested to begin with right?

  13. Well, welcome back Portside! Love your post on being back in the arms of Ashtanga. :)

    Fran - once again, wise words from you my friend. You put it so beautifully (even if it involved an Eminem quote. HAHA!)

    LiAsh - Do Ashtangis only ever= hang out with each other? ...I'm gonna observe that now. At this point, I've just been hanging out with myself so I can't tell! HAHA!

    Kevin - Good point. Before the cybershala, Ashtanga must have been even more uber-freaky to the average person?

    5'2 - You know... I'm very surprised by the response and number of comments to this post. Obviously Ashtangis feel very strongly about this. And it's oxymoronic that while we're a private bunch, we keep public blogs that are... well... SO PUBLIC!

  14. Dear Jaime
    I think Karen addressed this before and said it best when she pointed out that "normal" people will be curious at first about the blog and later lose interest in it if all one writes about is yoga. My brother asks me how I can write so much about one subject. haha. Yes, we're somewhat freaks. However, he and many others like it when I post pictures. But then they want me to tell them they are there, because they just don't go on their own. My closest friend of all time just asked me how to get to may blog. I mean, I've been blogging for several years and he's known about it. I'm sure he's visited it before. But it shows how much real interest he has that he just asked me how to get to it. He only has to google arturo yoga blog to get to it. Haha. My mom is a bell weather for me too. She doesn't have to say much and I get the message that I may have said too much.


  15. Portside - sore and energized at the same time - brilliant. feel the same.

  16. everybody needs a safe space to let it all hang out. :)

  17. What a cool topic - in my experience, I've noticed that I've probably lost a bunch of Twitter followers when I started tweeting yoga stuff in addition to the food/photography bits that I usually post. It's made me consider starting a yoga-only Twitter account, but that triggered a 'F--- it' reaction for the general, non-Ashtanga public...if you want to follow my tweets, you read everything I type, otherwise, feel free to unfollow!! I guess 'normal' for me means to be comfortable with who I am, and not let other people's judgements affect my confidence. Easier said than done, but really, you only have one life to live.


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