I found this post today, October 1. I wrote this on January 30, 2011 while in Reykjavik Iceland. Enjoy!
I’ve been in Reykjavik going on 48 hours. All my molecules have arrived now…which means the bulk of the jetlag has been overcome. It’s about 2:30 in the morning and I’m typing in the dark in my tiny and wonderful room in my hosts’ home. I can’t yet really spell their names but I’m getting close to being able to pronounce them reasonably well as I figure them out one by one. Gudrun Darshan and her husband Logi and son live next door. I’m staying with Gudrun Darshan’s parents. The Icelandic language is difficult. There are a couple of consonants that are completely unique to Icelandic and many consonants and vowels that are pronounced in ways that are completely unique to my tongue. And they are not always as they’re written. For example, there’s a consonant that, when pronounced, starts with an ‘h’ sound and ends in a trilling ‘r but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. My hosts explain and patiently demonstrate these to me. I practice them and get them down to some degree of reasonableness, but then the words and unique little pronunciation twists seem to float away in the cool Icelandic breeze. This surprises me and I feel a bit of a let down that the words have drifted away. Most Icelanders speak English very well, however. So, when you go to the store or the pool or speak with pretty much anyone, they readily switch to fluent English. I had a funny moment last night in the kitchen at Gudrun Darshan’s home. Sara, her 19 year old daughter, and I were in there together and Sara shouted a question to the living room. I replied to her without missing a beat — ‘it’s on the table’. I could tell that she was asking if there was salad. We laughed a little bit at the fact I actually could understand. I told her that I could understand Icelandic far better than I can speak it. Ha! That is purely a joke.
I taught a Kundalini Yoga class at Audur’s yoga center downtown. Gudrun Darshan’s mother gave me a ride. I had a few minutes to walk around the area. Across the street is a small white house where Gorbachav and Reagan held a summit in the 1980s that is said to have marked the beginning of the end of the cold war. The house faces the sea and there is a busy highway between it and the sea. Reykjavik stretches far in both directions. Iceland has only 300,000 inhabitants and most are in Reykjavik. It’s bigger are more spread out than I imagined. There is a sleek and large black building nearby that Gudrun Darshan’s mother, Hallveig, tells me has become the symbol of the economic collapse of Iceland in 2008. Many of the offices within it are empty and dark. There are quite a few banks in Iceland — sleek, glassy, beautiful buildings. From the outside, they look vital and in a ‘life proceeds on’ sort of way. I do know that the economy and the people of Iceland are deeply impacted by their economic collapse. Where it was once easy to get jobs, it’s not so easy any more. The kroner has devalued so things are more expensive for Icelanders than they used to be (but way less expensive for visitors!). Opinions run strong. Of course, we in the states experience all of this in a similar way as well. The impact here, however, is uniquely palpable and acute.
Audur’s yoga center, LÓTUS JÓGASETUR, is on the 4th and top floor of a building nearby. http://jogasetrid.is/ I had the pleasure and honor of teaching her 5:45 pm class. She began with a dance warmup at 5:30. Audur was an accomplished ballerina and leads the women in free movement. We danced to Mool Mantra and Ang Sang Wahe Guru from my Kundalini Beat album. This is somewhat surreal and delightful for me — to dance to this together and to witness the women’s freedom and abandon as they move to these songs. I sing all the words as I dance. 🙂
I taught a kriya from Dr. Siri Atma Singh’s book ‘Waves of Healing’ on the pranic body and vitality. It was a powerful kriya with lots of breath to oxygenate the blood and increase the flow of energy in the body. It was my first time teaching in Iceland and I worked to speak more slowly and enunciate more clearly so I could be more readily understood. I’m aware that my English is full of all sorts of slang and casual colloquialisms that could make it hard to be understood me sometimes. I’ll be conscious and careful of that as I teach these next three days. We ended with the Wahe Guru meditation for releasing fear, which seemed fitting after all of this work on the pranic body.
After teaching, I walked about a mile to the public pool where I swam and soaked in the hot pots and sat in the steam room. The pool complex is huge with an indoor and outdoor pool and a large outdoor water play area. The pool rules are very clear and adhered to — remove your shoes before entering the changing rooms, shower completely without your swimsuit and with soap before you enter the pools, and, after your swim/soak, dry off completely after you shower and before you enter the changing area. I met Hallveig in the hot pot with the jets. The bubbling hot pot. After my swim, I walked another 1/2 mile home. I felt quite accomplished and independent to be able to walk from one place to the other by myself. Mind you, this particular journey was all on a single road but there was a bit of a sense of anxiety that I was out on my own. My phone is programmed with the right numbers and the pool is a good landmark. In fact, the big black building that is the icon of the economic collapse is a solid landmark. I knew that if I moved away from that, I was headed in the right direction. There’s a metaphor in there, perhaps.
Time to go back to sleep.