Friday, October 21, 2005

As goes Mari C....

So goes Mari D. I was too pressed for time today to go to Shala X, so I did my home practice (as I did yesterday, which I will get to in a moment). Mari C is reliably bound on both sides now. And I decided to venture into Mari D territory. On my "bad side" (the first side, which requires my right arm - the one that was radiated back when i was in treatment, and therefore has suffered some degree of muscular damage, which includes contracture and numbness - to reach around the back of my body to be gripped by my left hand (the "wrapper" being the "grabber"), I gripped my fingertips together like little hooks. On my "good side", I did a total bind. Now, mind you, it was four o'clock in the afternoon and I had taken a hot bath before practicing. But it's there. It is definitely happening. I never thought I would see the day. And of course, the twisting binds are now my favorites. I RELISH C and D, as well as a bound Ardha Matsyandrasana (NOT part of my Ashtanga practice, of course, but rather part of my bath routine....a little R&D for me).

This morning, I was busy taking Lewis the Beagle for a long walk and then writing a long letter initiating legal action against Pets on Lex for selling sick animals to unwitting customers and further defrauding those customers by strong-arming them into taking said sick animals to their contractual veterinarians, who invariably say that the sick animals are actually healthy. And by "strong-arming", I mean that Pets on Lex offers a "Health Warranty" on all of their animals, provided that you use THEIR designated vet. For a former-practicing attorney, Yoga Chickie can be quite naive when she wants to be.

Anyway, if I haven't said so before, I now believe that ANYONE who wants a pet should visit Animal Control first, just so that they can see all of the beautiful and amazing, fully-trained animals available before they go and patronize a pet store. I am so sorry that I did not do this, myself. Lewis the Beagle is fully house-trained AND partially obedience-trained. He reliably "sits" and "stays" on command, fairly reliably "heels" on command, comes when he is called (he learned his name within two days, partly because I asked Animal Control to refer to him as "Lou" during the lag-time from when I picked him out until when I was able to walk out the door with him), NEVER jumps up on anyone except for me (and that is because I invite him to) and assumes the "submissive pose" for many dogs that he meets on the street. He is quite the perfect and handsome creature. I cannot imagine having had to do all of that training, myself, and it is hard to imagine that I would have ever accepted a pet store puppy if I had met the Lewis's of the world first.

PLUS, Animal Control provides a HEAP of information about housing and training your adopted pet. They walk you through the licensing process and do the neutering for you. They help you pick out the proper collar and leash, and they microchip the animal for you, for like 10 bucks. You walk out with tags, a license, and a complete "user's manual". By contrast, at Pets on Lex (and perhaps all or most pet shopsZ), you walk out with an animal, a Paris-Hilton-style handbag-carrier and, essentially, no clue.

But I digress. After my dog-walking and letter-writing, I looked at my watch and found that time had warped, and suddenly it was time for me to rush down to the NYC Lab School to co-teach my yoga class for high school seniors (arranged through Jennifer Ford's Bent on Learning). I have to be honest - I have felt VERY uninspired lately when it comes to teaching. Perhaps it is because I have a bit of laryngitis from the cold I had last week, or perhaps I just feel a bit of sophomore slump. But last night, I let Michele teach my Yoga For Breast Cancer Survivors class (I assisted with the hands-on-adjustments), and I really, really, really dreaded going down to the Lab School today.

Surprise, surprise, it was an incredible experience down at the Lab School. Naomi, my teaching partner at Lab (assigned by Jennifer Ford) was leading (again, I was really not into teaching with my voice and preferred to give adjustments instead), and these kids were like exhuberent, if a bit oppositional, puppies. Some of them refused to take their socks off. Some of them complained of bad backs (HA!!!!!!! Wait til they get to be my age!!!). One of them has a heart condition (seriously). One of them had surgery for scoliosis). A couple of them were extremely overweight. There were also a couple who were totally game for yoga. The rest fell somewhere in between.

One of the boys reminded me so much of my older son, Brian. He was tall and skinny and super-bendy and deadly serious about everything Naomi said. At one point, she said that it really helps if you smile. And he asked her, not in a sassy way, "How do I keep my mouth closed while I smile?"

Naomi seemed to have a bit of trouble controlling the group, not that I think that I will be better at it. I think it is going to be incredibly challenging. But I learned a bit by watching the dynamics today, and I plan to use what I learned when it's my turn to lead next week.

1. NO MUSIC. These kids are TOO distractable.

2. I am going to assign them to spaces...thus avoiding the kicking and tickling that was going on today.

3. I am going to spread them out throughout the room, taking almost no space for myself and Naomi at the head of the class. I mean, what do we need space for? I walk around when I teach anyway.

4. I am going to teach each element of the vinyasa, and I am NOT going to teach knees, chest, chin (ashtang pranam), as it really bears NO relationship whatsoever to chatturanga. I don't get what the point of knees, chest, chin is, other than as its own sort of back-bending preparation. It really is NOT a proper substitute for chatturanga. In my mind, the only appropriate substitute for chatturanga is "lower all the way to the floor". Or MAYBE "drop your knees to the ground", but I am not even so sure about that one. These kids really struggled to figure out what the hell Surya Namaskar was, and they were desperate to have Naomi demonstrate it several times (she was willing to demonstrate it once, but not repeatedly, which I agree with, in essence, although I don't agree with not teaching each element of the vinyasa really, really slowly when it is a class full of self-conscious beginners).

5. I am going to be REALLY firm - like the way Adam's Tae Kwon Do teacher is. I am not going to take any bullshit. I noticed that Naomi was "asking" them to stop talking ("Can you PLEEEASE stop the chatter?" and "I can't teach if you won't listen...."), and I really think they need a stronger set of instructions. I am going to use "Samasthiti" (which I did today before class) to get their attention. It seems to work. Let's hope.

6. NO CHANTING before class!!! These kids just came from lunch. They are all silly and self-conscious. It is going to take the entire class (all 70 minutes of it) for them to not feel like dorks when asked to say "Om". I think a lot of GROWNUPS feel that way, or so I am told - so I can only imagine what it is like for the kids.

7. I am going to translate everything I say in Sanskrit. These are real brainiac kids, for the most part. NYC Lab is a "T & G" program - talented and gifted. These kids, as obnoxious as they can be, are bright stars who crave learning.

As soon as we finished, I walked over to a really cool Chelsea coffee bar, had a nice cup of toasted praline coffee, and wrote up next week's class plan. I am psyched! And now I am psyched to get started with Yahoo Hot Jobs as well. Michele and I are co-teaching a two-day a week program there, starting next week, by way of Jiva Wellness. We were pumped for it anyway, but now I feel really inspired. Thanks kids!

As for yesterday, my class at Yoga Sutra was attended by...NO ONE. Bummer. Ten a.m. is a tough time, and Yoga Sutra was generally quiet all day yesterday (no one came to the early morning class either, and the Mysore room was unusually empty as well). But having a no-show really got me down. But lemons into lemonade, I did my own practice in the Mysore room, and at the end, none other than Regina "Sistashree" came in to sub the lunchtime led half-primary class. She came over and gave me the BEST, BEST adjustment I have EVER had in Supta K. It was an honor to meet her, and wow...lady can adjust! As I was finishing my practice, I heard her teaching the lunchtime class...and her voice is amazing. Just amazing.

Wow. That was a mouthful. And here I thought that I was losing my inspiration to write. I guess I am just surprising myself all over the place today.



Susan said...

So glad everything is going well!

Anonymous said...


DK here. The one who asked you to look into the whole pet store issue. brava. brava. brava.

As for Lewis, he probably was a family dog that was turned in when he got too "old". he is obviously trained and used to a family. Lucky you. Lucky him.



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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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