Back On The Mat

By Stephen Ewashkiw | November 26, 2013

8,008 km so far.

For the past three days I have been teaching yoga again every day. My current schedule has me teaching at least eight days without a break, 14 classes. When I get next week’s schedule, this is likely to increase to 10 days, 12 days, or more. With most jobs, working this many days without a break would get you down. Teaching yoga, at least for me, is different.

It enlivens me, it wakes me up, it fills me with joy.

Karma, Life

Karma Life Yoga has two studios in Shanghai, and I am teaching at them on alternate days. The studio in Pudong was their first, and has been there for 10 years. They have built a student base of strong practitioners, mixed with people newer to the practice. The Laoximen location opened this year, and is still growing. It has a different mix of students, many new to yoga, with some who have practiced for a long time and have found a new space to practice in.

Making a class appeal to a wide range of students is hard work, and takes quick thinking in the moment. I find this stimulating – it keeps my brain firing while I teach.

Both studios are beautiful. Like, luxuriously beautiful.

The costs of running a studio here are pretty low compared to North America. For example, rent is about one twentieth of what it would be in LA. Labor costs are low too, so both Karma Life studios employ a handful of people who work full-time to clean the mats, sweep the studios, and keep everything looking just right. In LA, this is usually done by the owners, managers, and work-exchange staff.

The changing rooms belong in a high-end spa, with frosted glass showers, under-floor heating, and hairdryers. There are lounge areas with magazines, water dispensers, and statues of Hindu gods. The studio rooms themselves are all laid out with mats, floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall, subtle lighting, and more under-floor heating for hot yoga classes. The only studios I have been to in North America that come close to this are the YYoga spaces in Vancouver.

I am lucky that the relaxed nature of our trip has allowed us this time in Shanghai, and I am grateful to Nelly and the team at KLY (and their students) for inviting me into their lives for these four weeks.

Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready

Jane says:

It’s day two of my earnest efforts to become a better photographer, and I feel I am already making progress, if not in the end results, at least in the way I am looking at the world around me.

Today’s photo assignment was to get in close. This is not a macro exercise (I have been fighting the urge to buy a macro lens for almost as long as I’ve had my camera), but an exercise in cutting out all the extraneous details, and getting down to the very essence of the object. Let’s see how I did.

Without a lunch plan today, we ended up eating overpriced Japanese food in an underwhelming restaurant. At least the chopsticks were pretty.

Japanese chopsticks in China, Shanghai.

Japanese chopsticks in China, Shanghai.

Later, I found a street market, selling all kinds of plastic junk. This book stall really stood out.

The beauty of books, Shanghai.

The beauty of books, Shanghai.

China has helped fill the world with mass-produced plastic stuff, but they still use brooms made of twigs to sweep the streets.

Street sweeper's broom, Shanghai.

Street sweeper’s broom, Shanghai.

You can just leave things out in the street here and no one seems to mind. This wooden chair was just sitting in the parking lane, waiting for its owner to need a rest.

Wooden chair in the street, Shanghai.

Wooden chair in the street, Shanghai.

Electrical wires are wrapped around everything. As conduits of power to all the tiny households around, they hold a deep fascination for me.

High wires, Shanghai.

High wires, Shanghai.

Hydrants are so specific to place, you can almost tell what city you’re in just by looking at them.

Fading hydrant, Shanghai.

Fading hydrant, Shanghai.

Getting up close, you really start noticing how visually interesting even the most mundane items can be.

There’s so much depth in this peeling light pole.

Pole 4556, Shanghai.

Pole 4556, Shanghai.

Splashes of dirt draw your eye.

Dirt on a bike, Shanghai.

Dirt on a bike, Shanghai.

Your idea of an object shifts. When’s the last time you thought of a palm tree as hairy?

Hairy palm, Shanghai.

Hairy palm, Shanghai.

You start to look at things for their story. What valuable secrets hide behind this lock?

Lock up, Shanghai.

Lock up, Shanghai.

Tomorrow we take a new look at some everyday objects. See you then.  

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  1. Comment by michael moldofsky

    michael moldofsky November 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

    packing for my 25 days in SE Asia and YOUR pictures are inspiring me to take better shots. i hope you do a day of portraits of locals! maybe close up and maybe yoga poses in the street after you show them how?? be brave!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane November 30, 2013 at 3:12 am

      Great. Can’t wait to see the results which I will use as inspiration for when we get there.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen December 1, 2013 at 2:05 am

      Love this idea Moldofsky. Will definitely try and teach people some yoga poses for photos one day!

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