I can’t seem to write much, my words are missing….mixed up, or confused, or fuzzy, or something.  So, instead of a regular post, here’s a “random things i’ve learned in Denmark” list:

I am writing this in København, which in English is known as Copenhagen.

The Danish Monarchy is the oldest in the world.  The Queen’s husband is not a King, he’s a Prince.

A Danish breakfast consists of yogurt, muesli, bread, butter, and cheese.  Every morning.

Cheese is fresh, butter is fresh. Real.

Rugbrød is a dark rye bread, really heavy, that is served at breakfast. Often with cheese, or with loads of fresh, real butter. I think it is probably served at all meals, unless you happen to be in the hospital.

Hospital food pretty much sucks wherever you live.

There is a lovely park that surrounds Rigshospitalet (the state hospital), and is used by runners, bicyclists, walkers, soccer players, moms and dads pushing baby buggies.

No one uses strollers here…. babies are pushed around in baby buggies.  Dads are as likely to be pushing them as Moms.

Danes are having babies.  Baby buggies are everywhere.

Nine out of ten babies (age 3 and under) have red hair, although red is not quite the right word. (my unscientific observational statistics only)

Nine out of ten Danish adults have blond hair.  Today’s nurse has very dark hair…. her father is Italian, she explains, and she has relatives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

It is not uncommon to see baby buggies being pushed by people running.

Runners are common.  As are bicycles.  There may be as many bicycles on the road as cars.  There are bicycle parking garages at train stations, and long lines of bicycle racks at shopping areas and hospitals.

Bicycle lanes are built into the infrastructure, and at major intersections even have their own traffic lights.  Traffic lights are well coordinated, even from a pedestrian perspective.

Light rail train is a great mode of transportation.  Combine it with metro and bicycles and you’ve got a darn good system. There are no SUVs, the cars that are on the road are small.

We in the US need to get with the program, and improve our means of environmentally sustainable transportation.

Legos were invented in Denmark. They were originally made of wood, and the name comes from the phrase “leg godt,” or “play well.”

Playing well seems like a good way to live.

Danish (or Dansk) is a really difficult language to learn (for someone who is not a native speaker.)

“Tak” is the Danish word for Thank You.  There is no Danish word for please.

The Danes are informal – they do not use Mr or Mrs or Dr.  They just use first names.

If you smile at someone you pass by on the street in Denmark, you typically get a blank look in return.

In spite of all of the above, people here are very kind, and helpful.

and today’s great discovery:
There is an Astanga yoga studio on Blegdamsvej, near the hospital, for which I am very grateful.  🙂

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 13:48  Comments (3)  
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Bicycle Yoga

This morning the sea is dark gray and opaque, with rough white capping waves.  At the beach, the wind and the waves create a comforting white noise that those (theoretically relaxing) noise machines can never truly imitate.  The skies are gray, with random raindrops…. very unlike the bright blue skies and warm sun of yesterday.
Last afternoon, I borrowed a bicycle, and rode into Helsingor, a ride of about 8 kilometers.  It was a beautiful ride, along the coast, through tiny beach towns.  Many bicyclists, people walking dogs, sunbathing on the beach, swimming, picnicking, the deep blue water speckled with white sail boats, and closer to Helsingor, the ferries.  bicycle round-a-boutThis is a great place for bicycles….  not only are there pedestrian paths, but there are bicycle paths everywhere (even in the round-a-bouts!)  It is a very accepted and common mode of transportation here.

And can I just say….. Granny bicycles rock!  Ok, you hard-core bicyclists out there may disagree, but I think the old “Granny style” bikes (which is what Sven, a patient here, called it, as I was picking out a bike that would fit me) are definitely the way to go.  You know the kind… picture the bicycle ridden by wicked old Miss Gulch from the Wizard of Oz, basket and all.

Ok, so it probably means I am a pleasure bicyclist and not a sport bicyclist, but I really like sitting upright: spine long, heart open, smile on my face. It’s gotta be better on the body than being all hunched over, intent on the destination, forgetting about the journey.

And that’s the joy of it – not only is the bicycle something to get me from point A to point B, but it is also something that allows me to enjoy the journey… To see the sea, to smell the air, to open to all sensations…  feeling the breath, completely in the moment, this too is yoga.

Yoga is not all about asanas, although I love asana practice. Asana practice, hatha yoga, is invaluable for learning how to be in the body, how to be in the moment, how to be present with breath, and to stay centered in the midst of stress and chaos.  When you learn the focus of hatha yoga, you begin to see yoga in all of your life….

like on a bicycle.  Of course any activity can be yoga, or not.  I can take that same ride, and be lost in thought… thinking about yesterday,  and wondering how to make things happen in the future, and not be present to the air, or the sea.  That would be good too, and it would be healthy for the body, and good exercise, but it’s not yoga.

My preference is to take that same ride, and feel the air on my skin, the breath in my body, smell the sea and ride right out of time…. letting it become a meditation, a grounding activity, connecting me back to source.   Life giving, life affirming yoga.

When I can do that, on a bicycle, in an asana, in a sitting meditation on the beach, with joy, then I can also remember to ground and center even in the chaos and stress and pain that life may bring.

A street in Helsingor

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 05:39  Comments (2)  
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