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September, 2009:

Oh Istanbul

It’s a complicated relationship… I love it, and I hate it too. It’s hard to describe…

I had been having a great time here until I had to deal with Turkish customs authorities last week, and I was brought to tears. Why, oh why does life here need to be so complicated? Why do our personal belongings get stuck in customs? And why do we have to hire shady people to take care of our paperwork? Why is every paperwork and every signature we “need” in a different place? Why, why, why?

Finally we gave up our package and left it at customs after spending lots of stressful hours and $$. Lesson learned: “Don’t EVER deal with government people here if you don’t absolutely have to.”

Breakfast Seranade

By Chris

What a beautiful Istanbul morning… it’s great to be able to feel the seasons shifting. Ozlem and I always laugh, because no matter which  season we are in when we are in Istanbul, there will be always be a moment when we are walking somewhere and I will say, “this is my favorite time of year in Istanbul.”

I found myself getting ready to say the same thing as we sat for breakfast on the balcony overlooking the city under partly cloudy skies. As the fresh breeze carried the scent of the Marmara Sea, with a hint of moisture, and just enough of your typical city smells to remind you that you are in an eight thousand year old city, I noticed something else on being carried on the air, the sound of the accordion being played on the street corner below.

All day long you have trucks driving slowly through neighborhoods or men pushing carts yelling up from the streets the names of the goods or services they offer… anything from tomatoes, fresh milk, or water, to knife sharpening, plastic goods, or “give me your old stuff.”

Every so often, you get the sound of a talented musician walking the streets, the sound of their skills being drowned out by the many taxis, the speeding cars and buses, and of course the garbage trucks.

Today was different, as we sat for breakfast, the air was fresh and quiet as the music approached, it was as if the neighborhood was waiting for the artist to take the stage, he eventually did at the street corner six stories below. After listening for a bit, we took a 5 dollar note and rolled it in a napkin and then a news paper, for weight, and threw it down…. he looked up and played as the wad of paper floated softly down, barely missing getting stuck in the trees by a few inches; he picked it up and stuck it in his pocket and began to play a little louder and a little faster, with a smile!

As he looked up in appreciation, he noticed that there were now other neighbors also having breakfast in their balconies who were appreciating his music. He angled his accordion towards the sky with a sense of encore pride as he traversed the traffic-free street, moving back and forth from sidewalk to sidewalk, he collected money that the summoning neighbors were tossing down to him – it was GREAT!

After a few songs, he stopped to play softly for a baby in a stroller and then walked off down the street… the sounds of his accordion trailing behind him and fading with the breeze. After a few minutes, the sounds of the traffic resumed and a helicopter flying over head reminded me that yes, we are in a modern city 8 thousand plus years old.

This is my favorite time of year in Istanbul!

Me so far!

Entry by Chris

Sitting having breakfast in our balcony in Istanbul… my first free time to write in weeks!  We have been pretty much non-stop since we left LA, what a ride it’s been.  Ozlem wrote about Switzerland, so I will take you through our Paris adventures and bring you into the present.

As always,  the density of Paris is an explosion on the senses …. which are easily stimulated as you carry everything you own up 6 flights of steep narrow stairs! Our legs are still sore.

When I read the description of the apartment, I thought “perfect! top floor, lots of light…” I had no idea that you could build a staircase that climbs a 1,000 feet in a 5 or 6 story building – I say 5 or 6 because the ground floor  starts at 0 – and yes I know, they use meters!

Ozlem in chocolate heaven!

Ozlem in chocolate heaven!

Days were filled traversing the city by foot just checking things out and finding great places to have lunch, coffee, or just hot chocolate. Our nights were generally spent having dinners with friends, drinking a “little” wine (as one must do when one is in Paris), and watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night – yes, I finally made a tourist trip to the Eiffel Tower.

A night time visit

A night time visit

The highlight of the trip was BY FAR the workshops that we had at Rasa Yoga – THEY ROCKED!

Day 1 was packed out! Day 2 was PACKED OUT!!! We were wall to wall and mat to mat – literally – and we still had students coming in… we opened the studio doors to the lobby, cleared the furniture, and had students practicing in the lobby all the way to the entrance door – it was AMAZING!

A well deserved savasana

A well deserved savasana

The energy of so many people coming together just for the experience of it was truly heart filling, the light that filled the room was unbelievable. There was such a wide range of studentship present, from teachers to casual practitioners to students that had never stepped foot in a yoga studio before – the energy was so contagious and we all moved in harmony with one another and we all left feeling happy and full just for having had the opportunity to experience such a magical moment.

The next day we left for Istanbul, an even denser city and with even more explosive explosions on the senses – if that is even possible.

We caught a taxi right outside the airport. A taxi ride in Istanbul is always an exciting adventure… since you don’t understand what the taxi driver is yelling at all the cars… it kind of feels like you are just sitting back watching it all on TV, this gives you a false sense of security which allows you to just sit back and enjoy the views of the Bosphorus.

Day 2, practice on the edge of the water – it was good news and bad news! The good news was that my phone was dry and well.. as you can imagine, the bad news was that nothing else was. It’s never doing a handstand on the cement ledge over looking the water that gets you…. it’s the wind that blows your mat into the water while you are tying your shoes that does it!

As I satisfyingly finished my practice on my favorite two and half foot ledge, I heard my phone fall and hit the cement… but something was wrong with this picture… the mat my phone was sitting on was gone!!! It was just here… where did it go?! No… it couldn’t have…. yes, there was my mat floating on the current… pulsating in the mossy green water – very yogic actually – I had to laugh!

It’s weird how your first instinct is always to just reach out 15 feet and grab it with your hand our toes… it’s also weird how 18 + years of practicing and teaching yoga doesn’t prepare you for this – retrieving your mat without getting wet.

Yes, I thought about just leaving it out there… as I weighed the environmental impacts vs the me getting wet impact … I realized that my mat was drifting out… so in I go! Surprisingly warm… I laughed all the way home.

Last night was the first night of our Advanced Anatomy Teacher Training, it ROCKED!!! The practice was intense and the level of studentship is through the roof… it’s going to be a GREAT couple of weeks!!!!

Ok.. I am a little wired on coffee… I have tried to take a drink every time I hit “return”… I’m feeling the juice, I should probably walk it off!!! Actually, I think I will head down to my favorite ledge for a rematch!!!!


Lady's First

OK, the longer I go without updating the blog, the harder it’s getting. So much is going on….

Let’s see… Where did we leave off? Zurich…

Lady’s First was the name of our hotel in Zurich.

Lake Zurich

Lake Zurich

After spending a few days in Menziken, we went to Zurich to do some workshops. We did a teachers’ workshop on Friday, and a public workshop on Saturday at Planet Yoga. They both went really well; we got to meet a lot of local teachers and students. We are already looking forward to going back.

On Saturday, we went to Jeff Fisher & his wife Daniela’s house for a barbecue in their back yard; such good place and even better company. We must have had about 3-4 bottles of wine, tons of food and chocolate, lots of good conversation…

On Sunday we went to Zug for another workshop at Stefanie’s mom’s studio.

Zug workshop

Zug workshop

Zug workshop


Zug workshop


Handstand tower

Handstand tower

Monday was our day off. We started with a great breakfast at the hotel with lots of cheeses, breads, jams, juices, and yummy cereals.

Breakfast at Lady's First

Breakfast at Lady's First

Then we went to the park by Lake Zurich and did a practice.




Chris in a one-arm-handstand

After the practice we went for a walk around the city, swam in the lake, had some great Italian food and packed for the flight the next morning.

It’s been interesting living out of two bags, being on the “go” non-stop and waking up in a different place every few days. We are now in Paris, teaching some regular classes and just generally hanging out before we head out to Istanbul next Monday.

More about Paris later…