Sunday, August 07, 2005

Shiva Yoga Shala

Today, I was in a quandry. Where to practice, where to practice. My monthly was up at AYS. I could purchase a walk-in, but it would be my last day practicing there until September, as I am having surgery tomorrow and will need time to recover, and somehow, that just felt kind of, I don't know...not right. Alternatively, I could practice at Eddie's, as a walk-in, for today's led primary series practice. However, it was Eddie's first day back, and I knew that the shala would be incredibly crowded, so I wasn't even sure if there would be room for a drop-in like me to practice, and I also did not feel up to a led class, since my side is still somewhat sore. Adding to the quandry was that my sister-in-law, Jill, wanted to practice too, but since she has never practiced at Eddie's, I wasn't sure that she would even be able to practice there, even IF there were room for her mat.

Well, as it turned out, the decision was made simple by my sheer hedonistic desire for more sleep. I slept late. Thus, I missed all of the above. Those 40th birthday parties can be killer - don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

So, that meant either self-practice, Yoga Sutra (which I ruled out due to the difficulties of parking in midtown; yes, I am probably one of the very very few people who drive to Ashtanga practice in NYC)...or...Shiva Yoga Shala, which I have been told is a wonderful place with a wonderful teacher (Patricia Perez). I had dropped in to see the place on Friday, and I did think it was very beautiful there....

So, Jill and I made our way down there (to SYS) at around 11:30. We introduced ourselves to Patricia, who is beautifully 8 1/2 months pregnant and warm and welcoming. We each told her where we were each practicing and where we were at in our respective practices. I told her about spending most of the summer at AYS but some of the time at Eddie Sterns as well and also taking the occasional led class. Jill told her that she practiced led almost exclusively. I told her about my side-soreness and that I might not want to even try to bind in Mari C and D, and she told Jill and me that she probably wouldn't adjust us much anyway since we were new, and she would probably need to observe us mostly.

Into the room we went. It was pleasantly warm and had a nice energy about it. In the front of the room was an alter to Shiva and a sign that read "Om Namah Shivaya", a mantra that I have always enjoyed chanting and listening to. We placed our mats down and got ourselves situated. There were a number of other students there, but not a huge crowd. And one of the students, to my surprise, was a woman I often see at Guy's place and a guy I have seen at Guy's AND at Eddies. Names withheld to protect the innocent, of course.

Practice was nice. Very smooth and flowing, and amazingly, no feeling of dread as I was finishing up Janu Sirasana C. By now, Patricia had begun giving me some adjustments, including a nice one in Triang Mukhai Pada Paschimottanasana to get my thighs to rotate internally a bit more. In Mari A, she lightly touched down on my spine to help bring my chin to my shin.

In Mari C, she gave me the most wonderful adjustment I have ever had. She told me to forget my arms and just twist. And as she said that, she helped me to rotate my spine around. And guess what? My hand just found themselves behind my back! There was no pain, not smushing of my ribcage. With a really nice twist, the bind just happened. Who said I have trouble binding? It is really about the twist!

For Mari D, I was on my own, and one side was kind of stiff, but on the other side, I felt that I would have been able to do the same thing I had done in Mari C if Patricia was helping me to twist a bit deeper. I was really surprised at how good Mari D felt.

Jill commented later that she noticed that I did each of the Marichyasanas twice. What's funny, is that I had never really thought about it, but I guess I do - once, and then again a bit deeper.

Today was also the first time in Kurmasana that I was able to completely straighten my legs and lift my HEELS off the ground. Patricia stood behind me and pressed down on my back, my chin touched the floor, and ..... liftoff!

Supta K was slightly different with Patricia - she brings the hands together first. Then she told me to flex my feet to protect my knees and crossed my ankles over my head. At the same time, she was already lifting me into the upright position. Then she instructed me to place my hands down and press up, which I did easily.

I stopped myself after that. Apparently she teaches five Urdhva Dhanurasanas, which is cool by me. Finishing was nice and smooth and enjoyable, although I could feel my side-soreness coming back a bit worse than where it had started in the morning. As I type this, I am wearing a bag of frozen Brussels Sprouts against my waist, secured there with one of those neoprene tummy constrictors (a souvenier from my liposuction two years ago).

After practice, Jill and I talked to Patricia. We asked her point blank what she thought about practicing at different shalas. She said she totally understood the need for that, and actually, she has had many teachers herself, although Manju Jois is her primary teacher (she also told us not to believe the gossip out there about Manju being the "prodigal son" of Guruji - that in fact, they have a wonderful, warm father-son relationship). She did note that she does tend to extend considerable loyalty to her more loyal students. Well, of course.

After that, Jill and I went to Teany, where we ran into the "Girl From Guy's" and her companion, the "Guy from Guy's and Eddie's". We all started chatting, and it turned out that this was THEIR first time at Shiva Yoga Shala as well. Weird, right? We reminisced about Mark Robberds and how totally awesome he is, as well as Jose, who brings such a wonderful spirit to Guy's place. And we talked about teaching Ashtanga and finding your "teacher" and we discussed the merits of "teacher training" when it comes to the teaching of Ashtanga. A totally delightful lunch, despite that I didn't much enjoy the food (sorry about that, Moby and Kelly...).

Tomorrow is my last pre-surgery practice, and I think I will return to SYS because I am subbing the led primary class for MB tomorrow morning and will thus miss the 9 a.m. Mysore at Guy's anyway.




Anonymous said...

lauren, i want to with you much strenght for you upcoming procedures, know that you are in my thoughts, hope you will be weel soon!
love, ivdp

Anonymous said...

Good Luck with your surgery tomorrow. I'm on vacation, but I figured out how to log in and read the last few entries.

I'll be thinking about you.

CCC said...

Lauren! You're doing great! Everything is truly as it should be! Sounds foo-foo fluffball, but really. Your practice is perfect, your decisions are perfect. And how can it be otherwise? Another way to think about your teacher search ... much of life is interdisciplinary anymore. Very little is pure. (Even water has ingredients these days!) Very little is regimented. Eventually you'll probably settle in with one primary teacher, but your growing wealth of yoga experience is what will lead you there. And it makes for a dynamic and truly inspired teacher, in my opinion. You and I both are moving toward a devoted ashtanga practice .. but our inspiration isn't exclusive to ashtanga. (Shoot, even my college degree is interdisciplinary!)

Love you and your blog!


yoga chickie said...

Thanks IVDP!!! I've missed you...did you go to Eddie today? Or were you out in the country? You must be thrilled that he is back!

Beth...thanks...I hope you're having a wonderful holiday...

C - favorite water happens to be SmartWater...think of the implications!

I want to hear about your practice and how it's going...please fill me in!



CCC said...

It's difficult to capture this new life that's been breathed into my practice. My ashtanga is fresh and new. I'm a beginner all over again, and it's revitalizing. It's more personal and alive. I'm practicing with Sharath's CD. He counts out the entire primary series. I intend to honor all moon days and Saturdays as days of asana rest. I am studying the Gita and Sutras daily and intend to start a study group in my home. And I'm saving for India. I would especially like to study with Sharath, although when I'm able to I look forward to workshops with other teachers. Should I have emailed this to you? Thank you for asking about my practice. Wishing you a quick recovery from your surgery, Carla.

yoga chickie said...

Are you reading KJS's blog? I am DESPERATE to go to Mysore now. If you haven't been reading it, it's linked on my blog a week or so ago, and it's on as well (and a million other places...)

Glad to hear your practice feels good! I can't believe I am not going to get to practice for a month or longer....:(

Julie said...


Much luck and gentle healing vibes for you and your surgery.

When you find your teacher, you will know. There is value in "not looking too hard" too. I didn't find my teacher for nearly 3 years I guess.

Anonymous said...

Her name is Patti.

yoga chickie said...

I know...but she introduced herself to me as "Patricia". I don't want to be presume to call her by a nickname which she did not offer to me...:) lauren

Anonymous said...

actually, i did go to eddie's first ledclass on sunday, and yes, i am pleased that he is back. for some strange reason i kind of expected to see you there, anyway
again, good luck with the surgery
i hope your sons won't be too upset, they are still so young,
greetings and i am looking forward to hear that your operation was a great success ivdp

yoga chickie said...

i thought about going...but if you read between the lines, you can see that ultimately, i chickened out...thanks for your good wishes....i will keep you posted!



Tery Spataro said...

Lauren Thanks for the Daily Eats link! We added your comment to our blog today. All the best with your surgery.

Tery Spataro

Anonymous said...

firstly i would like to say good luck on your upcoming surgery i hope your healing time is easy and swift and that you will be able to return to ashtanga as soon as you can! But i hate to be a downer here, but as someone that practices at one of the places u mentioned and has friends at a few of the others i find your blog a bit disturbing as it seems to me as instead of focusing on your own practice you are being sort of an ashtanga voyeur. And don't get me wrong i catch other peoples practices too sometimes, but not on purpose so that I can gossip about it later and compare thier practices to mine-- which is what you did with my own practice in some of your posts. It's a very stressful way to look at this practice i would think.Stop being so goal oriented and enjoy the process!!!
And please dont tell me not to look at your blog-- I wouldnt be if someone from eddies had not forwarded me the link because he is disturbed at this habit as well. Infact did you know that there are some people at eddies that are afraid to practice near you because they don't want to end up in your blog? So please just find another way to do this. You are stressing people out. KJS seems to have the right idea. Take some pointers from her-- theres a way to do this in a more informative manner and perhaps spend more time on your practice,maybe some meditation and perhaps a little psychotherapy. ( and i am not trying to be mean here, i have used therapy and its been great for me.)

I wish you all the best in your search for the gifts that ashtanga offers, and again i hope your healing goes well.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the your nerve! How dare you come on here and tell her (anonymously) what she should put in her blog. There is no way based on on the way she describes people that we could know which person at Eddie's (or any place for that matter) she is refering to.
If you don't want to read what she has to say, don't bother coming here at all.

Anonymous said...

I think this blog is a great view into one person"s yoga experience.

A person who has been through quite a bit and came out of the other side alive and kicking....

I enjoy reading about all the different places to practice in NYC. And it is just one person's opinion.

Keep going Lauren!


Lisa P said...

Funny, I have found that when people complain they represent a very small portion of that population.

And words can hurt. Lets be careful how we treat each other here.

Lisa P.

Anonymous said...

Please, I am not trying to be a bad person here. As lauren felt it was her right to write about my practice I felt it was my right to respond. Furthermore I am anonymous because I have the right to make that choice as Lauren has the right to publish her thoughts for the whole world to see.

I am not saying that Lauren's blog is not helpful It certainly is to some. Blogging is a good way to give folks some insight. But frankly word is spreading about this blog and i have heard from more than one person at two different places about it in a negative way. Furthermore when i saw my own practice profiled a series of her entries in a negative way i was a bit taken a a back. Also i was saddened to hear about some of the shala gossip that she was proliferating on this site for all to see. Lauren has obviously suffered a great deal, and my heart goes out to her. But there is something that is wrong with the way she is presenting info here. I find the use of peoples actual names, and negative descriptions of peoples practices is offensive. My practice is a very personal thing, and I practice mysore style 5 to 6 days a week because it creates a positive haven of sorts for me and others that go there. I dont want to have to experience any new tension because i am afraid that the person next to me is going to write about my practice in thier public "diary" for everyone to see.

I have seen other blogs where this is not that much of an issue. I find Lauren's writing on this blog to be indicative of someone who has some underlying psychological issues that have not been resolved.I am not being mean, i am being honest. We all have them-- and believe me i am not excusing myself here! i have been practicng ashtanga for a long long time to help me get to the roots of some of these issues. Not so that I can compare my practice to others, and gossip about it and other teachers and other students ---in a public forum.

there is something wrong here people. And i know i am not the only one who sees this.Please Lauren, if you need to continue this blog please do it by all means, but please have a little more consideration and compassion for those who want nothing to do with the whole invasion of privacy issues this can create for others.

The whole purpose of my writing was to say---Please focus on yourself for a change, because in the end, regardless of positive or negative reactions you may get from your blog,or how many gazillions of words you might write it is YOU and YOUR PRACTICE that matters the most.

As someone who has been practicing for a very long time i can easily say that I have found its sometimes best to leave all of the "heady" stuff in your head. remember what guruji says: "Practice and all is coming..." There is much more wisdom there than meets the eye...

I sincerely hope you have a speedy recovery.

yoga chickie said...

I did not respond to you earlier, and I hesitated to respond to you now, but here it is.

1. You say, "but frankly word is spreading about this blog and i have heard from more than one person at two different places about it in a negative way."

Lauren's response: It appears that YOU are gossiping about me. Pot, kettle, black, etc.

2. You said: "Furthermore when i saw my own practice profiled a series of her entries in a negative way i was a bit taken a a back."

Lauren responds: I have profiled NO ONE's practice. For you to believe that your practice was profile here takes much narcissism and a good dose of paranoia. As for negative comments on anyone's practice, the only person whose practice receives criticism here is ME. Everyone else gets my utmost compassion and equanimity.

3. You said, "Also i was saddened to hear about some of the shala gossip that she was proliferating on this site for all to see."

Lauren's response: Perhaps you are reading some other blog. Mine contains no gossip. Anything in the nature of gossip has been removed. Been there, done that. Over.

4. You say that I have "obviously suffered a great deal, and my heart goes out to her."

Apparently not.

5. You say "I find the use of peoples actual names, and negative descriptions of peoples practices is offensive."

Actual names? Of students? No. Of teachers, yes. As a teacher, I recognize that I am in the public realm with respect to my teaching. Negative descriptions of peoples practices? Come on. I have nothing but compassion for everyone who practices yoga. And that is reflected in my blog. It is plain to see.

6. You say, "My practice is a very personal thing, and I practice mysore style 5 to 6 days a week because it creates a positive haven of sorts for me and others that go there. I dont want to have to experience any new tension because i am afraid that the person next to me is going to write about my practice in thier public "diary" for everyone to see."

Lauren responds: If your practice were to be "private", you would do it in the privacy of your own home. As it is, you have people around you, and they may have thoughts about you. And some of them may talk about you. And some of them may write about you. And if you are very lucky, your name will not be mentioned. Lucky you - I have not mentioned yours.

What saddens me about this comment that I am writing is that I had to take the time to write it, when I should have been responding to the outpouring of love and support I have gotten in the form of other comments here. I urge you, whoever you are, to stop reading this blog. If I could ban your IP address, I would, for your own sake. There is no reason why you should torture yourself by reading a blog that gives you nothing but agita - it is not good for you, so why do it? Pretend it doesn't exist. Pretend I don't exist. Go on with your life and your practice in peace.


Anonymous said...

Yes, whoever you are. Lauren has been through enough. I practice at Eddie's as well and have seen her there, which means you must have been there too and don't know who you are from her blog(or care to).

I only feel real pity for you that you need to make this about you. Go back to your own psychological issues, clearly you have enough of your own to work on.

Anonymous said...

I hope you continue to inspire people. I wish you goodluck on your quest for your true self, it's a search that I am still on and i commend anyone else who is trying to do the same. Being mean spirited to people in the process can slow down this evolution of sorts i think, so please lets put this to rest. I said my peace,you have said yours, we obviously don't agree- such is life. Lets move on.
all the best to you.

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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