Friday, December 30, 2005

"The news was bad, I went to Bendels"....

There are many different approaches to dealing with illness, and one way is to affirm one's faith in the act of continuing to live. And among those who decide to take that approach, there are, in turn, many different approaches to affirming said faith. Some seem rooted in group hugs and prayer circles. And some are far more concrete. I am sure it will come as no surprise, that I find myself drawn to the concrete, the urban, the slightly sardonic approach.

Which goes a long way toward explaining why when I was diagnosed with the beast in the summer of 2002, I spent a good deal of time shopping for clothing I had absolutely no use for while in treatment... stiletto-heeled-over-the-knee boots, a fabulous cream-colored suede shift dress...and which I had every intention of wearing once I was done with treatment. And let me tell you, I have... especially that dress. (The boots have been harder to fit into my regular rotation - the fact remains that it's hard for a five foot one inch forty-year old to pull off over-the-knee boots. But I will keep trying...)

An email dialogue I had today with a reader of mine, who is a yoga studio owner and a survivor in her own right (not of cancer, but she will know what I mean) made me think about the notion that what might seem vain and shallow to one person could be viewed as a form of salvation to another. And in turn, my mind returned to an article I read several years ago regarding one writer's uniquely urban and hip approach to her diagnosis with breast cancer. I bring it to you here, the words of Ellen Tien, a writer and young survivor of breast cancer. She wrote this amazing article for the Style Section of the New York Times back in 2002:

The News Was Bad, I Went to Bendels

"THREE doctors had already told me that the carat-size lump in my left breast was, in all likelihood, nothing to worry about. As a 37-year-old Chinese woman with no history of breast cancer in the family, my chances of a malignancy, they said, were lottery low. The radiologist who performed the routine biopsy last spring seemed less certain. She carried out the needle aspiration with brisk efficiency, extracting tissue samples via four staple-gun-like thrusts to the offending mass. After the fourth ka-chung, she flipped on the lights and turned to face me. “I’m not going to lie to you,” she said. “It doesn’t look great. I’d say your odds are about 50-50.”

Her honesty was cruelly refreshing. “I’ll phone your regular doctor tomorrow with the lab results, and he’ll call you,” she said. “Good luck.”

It occurred to me that when a doctor wishes you good luck, it might not be the world’s best sign. I got dressed, walked out of the office and did the only thing I really could do, under the circumstances. I went shopping.

F. A. O. Schwarz was conveniently situated on the corner, so I headed in and up, straight to the Star Wars section, where I gathered an armload of action figures for my 4-year-old son. That done, I went across the street to the Bergdorf Goodman men’s store and chose a summer suit and a striped Etro shirt for my husband. The entire expedition took less than an hour.

Still, by the time I stepped out of Bergdorf, the city had changed. The unpredictable gold and gray sky of late spring had faded to black, hurling great canvases of rain over Midtown. Fifth Avenue was bouncing with raindrops, and not an available taxi was in sight. As I peered down the rows of cars, my arms laden with packages, I felt my first pang of despair.

Magically, an empty cab stopped directly in front of me. “You’ve got a whole lot of packages there,” the driver said as I clambered in. I explained that they were gifts for my husband and son. “Lucky them,” he said. “What’s the occasion—did you just get a big new job?”

“Something like that,” I said.

By noon the next day, the results were official. My new employer was invasive ductal carcinoma, and it was now my assignment to best it. In the breath it took my doctor to say, “I have bad news: you have breast cancer,” I was lifted into a whole different shopping arena. For the next few months, I walked the aisles of breast surgeons, oncologists and radiation oncologists. I became versed in the brand names of chemotherapy treatments; I discovered a world where a single anti-nausea pill could cost $200. It was a grim and compelling sort of spree, the most high-stakes shopping imaginable.

Yet, oddly, I had never felt more sure-footed. I knew I had the skills. From the time I was old enough to point and say, “This one,” it was clear I had been born with my mother’s shopping genes. I bought my wedding dress in an hour, my apartment in a week. Now, I would sift through the shelves of medical terms and make order of them; I could remain unmoved by a flashy surgeon’s sales pitch. Given the opportunity, I was more than ready to haggle with fate. In a way, I had been preparing for this moment all my life.

Shopping is a freighted activity—at once a task and a hobby, a necessity and a pleasure. The average American spends six hours a week shopping. Last winter, the Harvard Design School put retail in the canon with its 800-page “Guide to Shopping.” The Stanford Medical Center is conducting studies on the brain chemistry of compulsive shoppers. Like eating and gambling, shopping has managed to traverse the pale from pastime to illness.

In the face of serious physical illness, however, shopping takes on a different cast. Certainly, there is a deny-yourself-nothing mentality that flashes on in the psyche upon diagnosis (and then flashes right off, after you receive the first medical bill). Too, there’s a desire to seek haven in a place where the inventory is guaranteed to be new and untainted by the blot of toxins or bad cells.

But more than an agent of acquisition, shopping can be an act of hope. The dying take stock of their possessions, the living add to them. Shopping implies that there are days ahead of you and good times to be had: a Christmas party that cries out for Cacharel’s pink kimono-tied dress, a spring afternoon just right for Stephen Burrows’s bright knits. In shopping, there is an implicit future. When a salesperson assures you that the shearling coat you’re buying will last forever, it helps you to believe that maybe you will, too.

So, as I trudged through the stages of primary and adjuvant treatments—a Memorial Sloan-Kettering ID slotted neatly in my wallet behind my American Express card—I shopped. There was the peasant skirt I bought at Calypso after the first surgical consultation, the Ralph Lauren cable cashmere cardigans I bought after the third.

After a post-lumpectomy checkup, there were the clownishly oversize Adidas sneakers I picked out for my son—a secret insurance policy that I would be around to see them fit. Even an 11th-hour trip to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston yielded four coveted Palio plates from a little shop on Newbury Street. When one surgeon suggested that I start a “cancer diary” to help me process the process, I stifled the urge to laugh in his face. Who needed a diary? I had my credit card statements.

Along the way, I encountered women in similar situations who were keeping retail chronicles of their own. A fashion designer told me how she ate lunch at Barneys before her chemotherapy sessions. A college professor recounted how she fought a brutal, chemically induced depression by trying on shoes. Every morning for six weeks, as I sat in the waiting room of Stich Radiation Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, I listened to women with cancer discussing and comparing their most recent purchases, be it lipstick, a wig, a bracelet or a wheelchair.

Certainly, these women and I were only doing what women do every day: going to work, attending to our children, accruing details—and taking a quick spin around Saks somewhere in between. But for us, there was comfort in the routine. Much the same way we exulted over the words “grossly unremarkable” on the pathology reports of our tumors, we were buoyed by the normalcy of shopping. We browsed, not for the quick lozenge-effect of the latest fad, but for continuity. We ordered hairpieces that exactly matched our own hair. We bought makeup to simulate our precancer skin tones, blotches and all. No longer searching for a grail that could make us look taller or leaner, we shopped to look precisely the way we always had.

Last week, I had my final radiation session. To mark the occasion, I decided to walk from the hospital back to F. A. O. Schwarz. As I passed by store windows along the way, I was struck by the array of clothing, accessories and beauty products that had been created in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month: the T-shirts and tote bags, earrings and pink-laced sneakers.

Before my diagnosis, I thought of this October retail practice as slightly distasteful, the chic-ifying and merchandising of a serious disease. Now, there seemed to me a strange symmetry between these two worlds. Seen one way, breast cancer is not unlike Bendel’s in that both are populated almost exclusively by women. Both create a sense of sorority. Both have a certain underpinning of secrecy. Just as some women hide their purchases from their husbands, other women hide their cancers from their employers and children, grandparents and co-workers.

While I have never been secretive about my spending habits, I did hide my cancer from all but my closest family and friends. I wanted to avoid the scrutiny that comes with illness, the conversations with information-hungry people who mask their curiosity as concern and use phrases like “we’re rooting for you.” I needed to minimize the crocodile tears, the gossip, the questions like “How can you go shopping at a time like this?”

How could I not? In what had abruptly become a frighteningly circumscribed universe, shopping offered possibility, a forward stretch into seasons to come. Soothed by the familiar rhythms of a department store, I could distract myself from nausea and walk off waves of fatigue. Even on my shakiest days, I could convince myself that if I didn’t find anything good on one floor, I would on the next. In shopping, as in all else, where there’s hope, there’s life."

(This article was originally published in the Style section of the Sunday New York Times on October 20, 2002. Copyright © 2002 by The New York Times Co.)

As far as I know, Ellen Tien continues to live, shop and write in New York City. And the shoes - they are Jimmy Choo's Pink Ribbon Shoes. At $495, they are pricey. But 15% gets donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (which happens to be headed up by my neighbor, God bless her, who has never had breast cancer). I'm not telling anyone to go out and buy them. I just think they're pretty....

YC

How do you begin an Ashtanga practice without an Ashtanga teacher?


My cousin discovered Ashtanga on a trip to the east coast, but has returned home in Colorado Springs to discover no Ashtanga, or at least none that she can find. As you can see, Denver (and Boulder, which you can't see) are not possibilities for a daily practice. She has kids and a husband and is in school, so traveling to for a month or two to study with Richard Freeman, etc. is not really feasible either.

So what does one do when the Ashtanga bug bites, and there is only vinyasa on the menu?

YC

Move over Geico Cavemen...meet the Kleenex Monk


Poor guy - after a quiet, meditative walk through a seemingly zen-inspired garden, during which he gently and deftly saves the lives of several tiny members of the animal kingdom (namely, an upturned turtle, a land-stranded goldfish and a misplaced spider)...he blows his nose only to hear a voice-over intone that his tissue is responsible for the death of 99.9% of household viruses.

OH!! THE HORROR!!

Nice touch on the glasses and five o'clock shadow too. If I didn't know better, I'd say that this guy was a Jew....

On other fronts, I am THRILLED, and I mean THRILLED, to report that my lower back issues have resolved. For someone like me, with a health history that has the potential to rattle me at the slightest ache or pain, it is a relief when an ache or a pain goes away quickly. Unfortunately, I now have a cold. And even though I am not the only one in my household to have this cold, which produces sharp coughing, I am feeling the twinges of anxiety about the coughing. Last night, as I was teaching my vinyasa class, with three of my breast cancer survivor students in the class, each time I coughed, I was acutely aware of my own anxiety. And when one of my students said, "Are you okay?" I imagined that she was feeling the same anxiety that I was feeling....the unthinkable, the unfathomable....of course, I can only speak for what I was thinking.

At any rate, I had the opportunity to sleep super late today, being a moon day and all, and the coughing seems to have diminished. Fingers crossed. This is NOT good. My vrittis are going wild. MUST NOT ATTACH. MUST NOT ATTACH. MUST NOT ATTACH....

YC

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Auspicious on the inside


I wish I could bottle practices like the one I had today.

It just felt so goshdarned good...light, effortless, no discomfort, the feeling of my foot pressing into my stomach in half lotus poses, the feeling of my chin bone pressing hard into my shin, wishing it wasn't over when I was done...

Funny, from the OUTSIDE, I am sure my practice looks essentially the same on a day to day basis. But what changes, day to day, is the way it FEELS on the inside. And today, it just felt...well...auspicious.

I love it when that happens.

YC

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Peggy Fleming I aint

However, skating was fun, and my kids and I were shocked when we looked up and realized that we had been at the rink for two hours and twenty minutes. There was a time when I used to care VERY much about figure skating, taking a couple of lessons a week, practicing three or four times a week. It wasn't all that long ago - the winter of 2001, if I am remembering correctly. But after my surgery, skating kind of hurt - my ribcage, my pecs, the whole area just got terribly inflamed every time I went out and skated (skating is VERY upper body intensive - don't believe for a second that it is all about the legs....in order to spin and turn, you need really good strength, control and flexibility in the core). And I realized before too long that I needed to find another creative and athletic release....

(So for anyone who thinks that I don't listen to my body...hmmmm)

That is how I ended up turning most of my attention, more and more to yoga.

I can't say that I never looked back, because today, I was definitely looking back. I still knew a lot of the coaches and they remembered me and my kids. I think they were glad to see I was still alive. It felt weird to step on the ice and feel so shaky, so unsure. I could still get myself moving, and somehow, spinning feels more balanced now (probably a shift in my center of gravity due to the swap of breast tissue for the more compact saline-filled implants). But I have lost a lot of technique. And most of all, I have lost my sense of devil-may-care recklessness. I can't see myself attempting any sort of a jump. Oh, my mind can envision it. But there is absolutely no transmission of brainwave to body part there. It's like trying to move a paralyzed muscle. All feeling is gone.

Ah well. As KJS said in her blog today, everything changes. As if we need to be reminded...and yet, sometimes we do. Change can be upsetting while it's happening. But usually change turns out to be good. Not because it creates a result we were hoping for, but because as human beings, we are amazingly resilient, and we are capable of changing our expectations to fit our realities. I used to think that was sad ("how can one be happy with LESS than one wanted?" I would lament). Now I think of it as both miraculous and essential to our survival.

When it comes to times of extreme change - death, illness, loss, even winning a lottery, proverbial OR actual - it is good to remind ourselves that throughout all of it the SELF remains the same. If you eliminate the chatter (the chatter that berates ourselves or wishes for things to be different, etc.), what remains is the SELF. And nothing can touch that or change that.

YC

"The world is sexy"...


So says Sri Swami Sivananda (who would very likely disapprove of this photo and the notion of yoga as a tool for better sex) in his The Practice of Brahmacharya.

I started thinking about the practice of "brahmacharya". For those who don't know, "brahmacharya" is one of the "eight limbs of yoga". Traditionally, it is the practice of celibacy. Sometimes it is considered to be the practice of modified celibacy with sex permitted only at certain prescribed times. Some don't even like to USE the word celibacy with regard to the practice of "brahmacharya", instead construing it broadly to fit the realities of our modern "sexy" world as "conservation of vital energy".

Do people practice Brahmacharya as celibacy? Feel free to comment anonymously on this one.

YC

Little Sparrows and One-Legged Pigeons

After spending most of yesterday with a group of economically homogenous but ethnically diverse six- and eight-year olds, I cabbed it up to the Bronx, where not far from the Grand Concourse, which lays below the elevated subway track, about 300 Kindergarten through Third Graders go to school year-round (even during holiday weeks such as this one) at the Little Sparrow Elementary School (P.S. 88). There, I taught yoga to twenty six- through eight-year olds who couldn't have been more different, and yet more the same, from the kids I had left playing with my nanny in my Upper East Side co-op.

Unlike the school that my kids attend, which is somewhat ethnically diverse, the Little Sparrow School is quite ethnically homogeneous. Less than one percent are caucasian or asian. Greater than 99 percent are of color. About one-third of the kids are in the school's city-mandated after-school/day-care program so that their parents/guardians can work. But in nearly every other way, these kids were very much like my own kids, like the kids with whom my kids go to school: cute and rambunctious and puppy-like...they wanted to clown around, and they also wanted to do the right thing. In fact, I would have to say that they were far more willing to follow directions from me than my own kids....partnering up for forward bending poses, back to back, taking turns leaning back on each other and singing the Closing Mantra at the end (better than ANY led class I have ever attended). We did some handstanding and some crow balancing as well. I managed to keep their attention for over an hour....and as fun as it was for me, and as rewarding as it was to have one of the little sparrows show me her coloring book after class, it was quite a demanding hour of teaching.

And then off I was to find the subway back to Manhattan. The Husband, being the mainstreamiest of them all, and dare I say, a teeny bit closedminded, had asked that I have one of the other teachers accompany me to a cab. But that's just not my way - no delicate flower am I. I found the subway just fine, no problems, and shivered for what seemed like hours, waiting for the train to arrive on the elevated platform. Now I understood what it meant when it was said that the trains seemed to be moving slowly. When you have to wait for it outside, you really begin to notice how slow the trains are.

Somehow I managed to get to Yoga Sutra with enough time to squeeze in my practice. Zoe was there. She knows that I am working hard on Parivritta Parsvakonasana these days, and she spent a lot of time with me, helping me to twist juuuuust a bit more. She suggested that by going for the full posture - reaching my top arm over my head and using my hand as my driste - as opposed to keeping my hands in prayer as I had been doing, my body would follow along with a deeper twist. And as Parivritta Parsvakonasana goes, so go Mari C and D (just as my Ardha Badha Padmotannasana is a pretty good indicator of how everything with a "padma" in it will feel that day), and they were nice and deep. Pressing up into Lolasana seems to be becoming a reality as well....

And then it was time to teach. I was subbing for Julie, who has replaced Karri, who used to teach "Happy Hip Hopping Yoga", which was a super-advanced vinyasa class set to funky, happy music. The class is now simply a Level II vinyasa class, but I don't think that word has gotten around yet: the two students who showed up told me that they were ready for anything I was willing to give them. I recognized one of them from the Mysore room. She was practicing while I was teaching Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors (in the Mysore room also), and I remember being struck by the simple beauty of her practice. The other told me he practices with Dharma Mittra and Allison West. Enough said. The three of us spent a minute or two discussing what we would cover in class....

1. Arm balances (crow, side-crow, vasistasana, pincha mayurasana, astavakrasana)
2. Standing balances (eagle into a twisting version of Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana into the Bikram Style Toestand into Ardha Badha Padmotannasana)
3. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana...both of my students touched their foot to their head.

It's really fun for me every now and then to lead super-advanced students. With a good vinyasa teacher training, you can learn enough about anatomy and about the poses such that you can teach poses that you aren't necessarily practicing yourself. For the most part, my students last night could "do" more than I could. But I did have the wonderful opportunity to teach one of them how to get into Astavakrasana from Compass (which I can actually do), and, I think she got it!

Today it's ice skating with the kids....my kids....

YC

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holy Jelly Doughnuts!


Today (in fact, in about 10 minutes), we are having a Hannukah Party here....with the primary purpose being the making of Sufganiyot, jelly doughnuts that have become an Israeli tradition on Hannukah. Last night, I made the dough and let it rise. Today it awaits the little hands of my boys and several of their friends to punch and roll it out and cut it up into little rounds for frying up.

The idea of this party came to me when Brian's best friend in school, a HUGE HUGE HUGE Yankee fan, as well as a first generation Japanese-American, was here for a playdate a week ago and told us that he really wants to be Jewish. When his mom came to pick him up, I asked her about this, and she said it was true, and that she has no problem with that since their family essentially has no religion. So, we decided to have Masaya over for a Hannukah party...complete with candle lighting, doughnut making, dreidl playing and Hannukah gelt as party favors.

I have always loved entertaining. We don't do it enough in this city, , where we have such easy access to so many wonderful restaurants (perhaps the true "ladies who lunch" do host dinner parties in their Park Avenue mansion flats...but not my crew).

So I am excited! Also coming to the party is Adam's friend, Mo. Mo is short for Mohammed, and he is not Jewis either, and since he is Muslim, he does not celebrate Christmas either....and two of Brian's friends who go to different schools, but who know each other from the competitive chess circuit, will be there.

Should be fun!

Later on, I am making my very first voyage ever up to the Bronx via subway to teach yoga in an after-school program at an elementary school. This particular after-school program is ongoing throughout the year, as a form of daycare. I have no idea what I am going to see up there, but I can imagine that it may be quite sobering.

And then a u-turn to the privileged yogis at Yoga Sutra. LOOOONG day. Haven't practiced today yet. Maybe I can squeeze it in between the Bronx and Midtown....

Sometimes I think that it's not that I THINK too much but that I think I can DO too much...

YC

Monday, December 26, 2005

Random thought:

"He painted with notes. He painted the people, the scenery, and the moods of Norway. In the immortal Peer Gynt Suites, ... [he] captured the rising of the sun, the lamenting of a death, and, in "The Hall of the Mountain King," the imagery of a chase scene. His works contained what are yet today readily recognizable 'tunes.'"

I am talking about Edvard Grieg, a re-discovery I made while home with the parents. I think my parents would have loved it if I had appreciated this music when I was younger. Same with art museums, for that matter. But at least I have rediscovered it in time for my own kids to think I am a total dork.

(And mom, I accidentally took the Peer Gynt CD home with me...we'll make a prisoner exchange: Grieg for Moomy.)

I am LOVING this music!

YC

An ass CAN be too small.



P.S...I am sure that this photo was retouched and that no asses were harmed in the making of this photo.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Nice Menorah!


And now, let us all join Adam Sandler in song:

"Put on your yalmulka, here comes Hanukkah
Its so much fun-akkah to celebrate Hanukkah,

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights,
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.

When you feel like the only kid in town without a X-mas tree, Heres a list of
people who are Jewish, just like you and me:

David Lee Roth lights the menorrah,
So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah

Guess who eats together at the Karnickey Deli,
Bowzer from Sha-na-na, and Arthur Fonzerrelli.

Paul Newmans half Jewish; Goldie Hawns half too,
Put them together--what a fine lookin’ Jew! ]

You dont need Deck the Halls or Jingle Bell Rock
Cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock--both Jewish!


Put on your yalmulka, its time for Hanukkah,
The owner of the Seattle Super sonic-ahs celebrates Hanukkah.

O.J. Simpson-- not a Jew!
But guess who is...Hall of Famer—Rod Carew--(he converted!)

We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby,
Harrison Fords a quarter Jewish--not too shabby!

Some people think that Ebeneezer Scrooge is,
Well, hes not, but guess who is:All three stooges.

So many Jews are in show biz--
Tom Cruise isnt, but I heard his agent is.

Tell your friend Veronica, its time you celebrate Hanukkah
I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely Hanukkah.

So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah,
If you really, really wanna-kah, Have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Hanukkah……. HAPPY HANUKKA!"

I killed a massage chair

Well, not exactly a massage "chair", more like a massage cushion, the HoMedics: Therapist Select™ Shiatsu+ Massaging Cushion, to be exact. Here is a picture of it, may it rest in peace:


But before it died, it gave me the best massage of my life. And I mean THE BEST. The Yoga Chickie family is in the burbs tonight, visiting the Yoga Chickie Parents, and they always have the latest spa accoutrements (my mom asked me to write that). Actually, they have some good stuff here...among other things, a nice, big jacuzzi and...the ill-fated HoMedics massager.

After lighting our Hanukah candles...



...making a big batch of potato latkes...



...and eating our faux-Christmas dinner...



...we went upstairs to watch March of the Penguins.

And there it was...the massage chair. It beckoned me. And at my mother's insistence, I decided to give it a try, never really believing that a mechanical massage could satisfy me. But satisfy me it did. I had practiced before dinner, and for whatever reason, I was feeling really agile and light and found myself getting very deep in Parivritta Parsvakonasana and the two twisting Mari's. I wasn't terribly sore immediately afterward, but as the hours went by, my back muscles began tightening up. So much so, actually, that the massage the chair started out almost TOO strenuously. But as my back muscles relaxed, it began to feel juuuuust right.

And then it died. It was as if the chair simply could not handle the degree of muscular tightness my back presented to it....and so, it simply siezed up and gave out. My dad was PISSED. It's not like I did anything. I just sat down and gave that chair a run for its money. After my back muscles, what was left for it to conquer?

Thank you for giving your life to me, Mom and Dad's HoMedics Shiatsu Massage Cushion. I will always remember our night together...

YC

Blogging gone wrong...?

What exactly does that mean? Someone just told me (posted to me on EZ Board, actually), that my blog is cited by those at her shala as an exanple of how yoga blogging can go wrong.

To me, blogging (any blogging, yoga or otherwise) goes wrong if it veers into the illegal or the tortious. An example of illegal might be the conveying of material, non-public (insider) information on a publicly traded stock. An example of tortious might be telling a lie about someone, also known as libel. I suppose blogging goes wrong if it conveys misinformation or omits important information, and the readers are relying upon it as an authority for accurate information. An example of that would be a blog about childproofing your house that fails to recommend anchoring heavy furniture to the wall. Blogging could also go wrong if it harms the blogger - if the blogger is constantly scuffling with his or her readers. I saw that on one blog: the blogger couldn't seem to stop himself from answering the obnoxious charges of some angry reader, and so he eventually and wisely removed the blog's comments capability temporarily until things died down.

But other than that...how can blogging go wrong?

The blogger usually has a purpose in blogging - self-expression, clearing out the cobwebs, practicing writing, practicing writing to an audience, conveying information that the blogger thinks is going to be relevant to someone. Whatever that purpose is, the blogger is wise to stay with his or her intention. Ultimately, the desires of the readers may shape those intentions down the line. And in some cases, perhaps they don't.

The reader's job is to read blogs that interest him or her. Continuing to read a blog that annoys or inflames him or her is just really self-harm. Writing scathing critiques to the blogger in response then becomes harm to the blogger. If I weren't into all the yoga lingo, I might substitute the word "abuse" in place of "harm".

A troll is someone who plants seeds of discord in a public forum. A blogger cannot be a troll because the blogger's forum is not exactly a public forum. It is essentially a private journal laid open. Its purpose is defined by the blogger and the blogger alone. A blogger "goes wrong," I suppose, however, if the blogger spends more time answering trolls then following the blog's original intention.

Bringing it back to the personal, the intention behind my blog is primarily personal and creative expression. I do not do extensive research about ANY topic I blog about. There may VERY WELL be misinformation on here, and I do not lead anyone to believe that I am an authority on...well, ANYTHING. The secondary intention behind my blog is to process my thoughts in an orderly fashion as a way of stopping the chatter. Although there are those who believe that my writing is creating the chatter, it is actually quite the other way around. I write in order to dispose of the thoughts. I put them on paper, and that way I don't circle around and back to them. If I can't exactly quiet my monkey mind, I can certainly "crate" it...here.

There is no way I am going to censor my writing in order to appear more enlightened than I am, to appear less ego-driven, to make sure that I am not writing something that betrays a lack of understanding of whatever yoga I am practicing or whatever else I am endeavouring to do, be it knitting, cooking, mothering, shopping. I don't know about other bloggers because I am not in their heads. If their blogs reflect a mind freed from the bonds of ego and desire, then wow, they are lucky, and I can see that yoga works and works FAST. If their blogs reflect a desire to appear that way (hey, fake it til you make it, right?), then, well, that is absolutely their prerogative, and, I respect it completely. Freedom of expression. Use your blog for whatever you want to use it for. Use it to tell your honest thoughts, or use it to tell the thoughts you wish to be true. Use it to confess your weaknesses. Or not.

How can a blog that does any of that go wrong?

Like many people (I want to say "most people", but I really don't know if this is true), I see myself as an amalgamation of many things, many traits, many identities. I live a VERY mainstream life, I am married to one of the most mainstream men I could ever have dramed up, I live in a mainstream neighborhood, I socialize with mainstream people for the most part. Sometimes I veer toward the spoiled - I like luxury. Sometimes I veer toward the crunchy - I can't seem to practice yoga on the Upper East Side (try as I have) and always end up in the East Village. I color my own hair (my mainstream girlfriends gasp in horror!), I never wear my jewelry unless the Husband practically forces me. I was an English major in college, not an Economics or International Relations major like most people from my mainstream world. My favorite English professor used to scratch his head at the contradictions my persona presented..."Intellect with a JAP clip in her hair" or something like that.

But most relevantly to this discussion, I am a yogi with a Type A personality. I was born with my personality, and to the extent that I wasn't born with it, I learned it growing up in a family of overachievers. Hi Mom! You can take the yogi out of the Type A family, but you can't take the Type A out of the yogi. Or maybe you can! But I am not there yet. I just simply am NOT! SO WHAT! If we were all born at the enlightened ends of our journeys, there would be nothing left to accomplish in our lives.

I embrace my flaws. They make me me. If someone doesn't like me and my flaws, they should read someone else's blog - someone who either IS fully enlightened and freed from the bonds of ego and desire, or someone who pretends to be or someone who wishes to be...(no judgement from me here...and I am not talking about ANYONE in particular...I read A LOT of blogs, and not just yoga blogs either).

People tend to get upset about that which they see in others which reminds them of themselves.....If my ambition, my ego, my impatience...my current place on my yoga journey...makes you feel all constricted inside...makes you feel like fixing me....makes you feel angry, then maybe I can help YOU: ask yourself what it is I can teach you via my flaws and weaknesses. And then listen to the answer.

YC

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Yum!


Nothing like Christmas Eve in Little Italy...it's so nice and quiet, and there's no wait for a table at Umberto's Clam House, which serves the BEST red sauce I have ever tasted. You can smell how good it tastes as soon as you walk in the door. Addy ate an entire plate of mussels and then manged on most of my calamari fra diavolo, part of Brian's lasagna and a fair portion of the Husband's lobster fra diavolo. Brian is the one with the sweet tooth though, so when we made our way to Sambuca's Cafe (since the old favorite, Ferrara had closed early for Christmas Eve) and actually had the pleasure of getting a table, which never normally happens on a Saturday night without a twenty minute wait minimum, Bri ate his entire canoli...


...part of the Husband's tiramisu...


a good portion of my "canoli cream cake"....

(no photo, but picture this...rich ricotta cheese with a hint of orange and chocolate chips combined with a light genoise cake, covered with a whipped butter cream)...


...and even after he said he was too full to eat any more, he dipped his eight year old hands into Adam's chocolate oreo mousse cheesecake...



...and continued to stuff his face.

(My kids are skinny - so I let them do this kind of thing when they show interest in food, which is, like, hardly ever.)

Boring boring boring boring boring for you, I know....but so very delightful for me!

YC

Ireland, Sweden, Manila, Oh MY!

Checking out a list of locations from which my readers hail, I see that today I have had my first (I believe) visitor from Ireland - Baile U Chonnmha, Wexford, to be exact. Also, a rare visit from Sweden - rebro, Orebro Lan, as my sitemeter states.

Other places that struck my fancy: Slough, United Kingdom....Achterlee, Antwerpen, Belgium....Calgary, Alberta, Canada...Bombay, Maharashtra, India...Torres Buggallon, Bulucan, Phillippines...

I would love to hear from my readers from faraway places...even to just say, "Hey, I'm practicing Ashtanga, just like you, only in Manila." I won't hold my breath. But it would be awesome...

YC

Dreamy

I had an odd dream last night. In the dream, I was still a member of Park Avenue Synagogue, the Conservative congregation of which I was a member for the past eight years or so. It's where my kids went to nursery school. It's where a made a bunch of friends, some of whom I still count as friends, and some of whom are no longer friends. We left the congregation partly because we didn't "feel it" vis a vis the Conservative practice. We are quite secular, and we felt a Reform practice would be better for a more secularly oriented family. Being a "Reform" Jew does not mean that you are one step away from being a Christian or anything like that...it means, rather, that you begin with the "Traditional" as a starting point and then make a lot of PERSONAL decisions about what you can do to live your life in a spiritual way. It is a departure from Traditional (Orthodox) Judasim, not a further slipping down the slippery slope from Conservative Judaism.

Anyway, I digress....

So, there we were, still members of PAS, and I am at some family function with my kids, and I am wearing a brown corduroy Blue Cult skirt and a ribbed turtleneck. Most everyone else is wearing really conservative clothing - dark suits. Every woman is wearing a hat. But I have chosen not to, mainly because I do not personally believe that a woman must cover her head/hair just because she is married. But that's a whole other Yoga Chickie sermon.

Long, winding hallways and other typical-dream stuff happen, and then the crux of the dream: the rabbi seeks me out and says that he needs to speak with me outside. He takes me out of the sanctuary and tells me that I simply MUST change the way I dress. It is "too sexy," he tells me, "and no one else dresses that way. Look around, and you'll see."

Well, I already knew that in the dream, and I got very defensive. And I told him that I didn't need his stuffy, stiff synagogue and I was already switching over to Shaaray Tefila (the Reform synagogue where people where jeans to worship, and it is pleasantly casual, and it's not about what you wear but about community).

That's all I remember now. But I think it's weird because the clergy at PAS was never less than SUPER NICE to me and COMPLETELY SUPPORTIVE of me, my children and my family throughout illness and its aftermath. My decision to switch to Shaaray Tefila is one I made nearly a year ago and had nothing to do with the clergy or the way people dress, although I do recall a vague feeling of my personal clothing style not quite fitting in with the conservative crowd. But that aside:

Why now? Why would I dream it now? Why would I dream it at all? Does it have to do with yoga somehow? Is it about my choice to practice at one shala as opposed to another?

YC

Friday, December 23, 2005

Yes

I love when a day that starts so reluctantly, so grumpily as mine did today, transforms. It doesn't have to transform into the best day of my life, just a nice day, a day where I get done what I need to get done and even maybe manage to squeeze in some extras, like a trip to the dog run and catching a movie that I had not even heard of until today.

I suppose the turning point was my decision to do my practice at home, even though I didn't feel much like practicing. My body has been TIRED lately (the coldness and darkness of winter is not agreeing with me, nor does it ever), and my lower back has been feeling the work I've been doing to really get into my twists. Sometimes I am even questioning what sense there is in a yoga practice that feels good when I am doing it but leaves me walking like I've got a rod up my spine the rest of the day. I'm even questioning it now, even as I write this. But I am hoping that this is just a phase, that the stiffness and achiness I am feeling up and down my back and across my sacrum is just a pothole on Ashtanga Avenue....because I really like the way it feels while I am practicing. I just hate the way it feels when I wake up in the morning and can barely stand up straight, and when that feeling returns in the late afternoon...

But for now, I am halasana-ing on (plow-ing on, that is, for you non-yogis out there).

Today I did full primary at home because (a) I know full primary, (b) I did a full led primary class on Tuesday night and (c) the poses that FOLLOW Navasana really make my back feel better - especially, and I mean ESPECIALLY Garba Pindasana. Damn, does it feel good to wrap myself up in lotus, slide my arms through and roll around on my spine. It is AMAZING. For the same reason, but with a little more ease in entry, I also love Pindasana.

I don't know how long I am going to be "peaked" at Mari D and Navasana (I didn't say "stuck", and I lump the two together because Mari D is primarily the reason I am not moving past Navasana, since I still need help to do more than bind with my fingernails in D, although I AM growing my nails now...), but I can't help but begin to feel curious about exploring the "forward bends on steroids" poses (Bhuja Pidasana, Kurmasana and Supta K), where the shoulders must be tucked behind the knees for anything real to start happening. I suppose my interest in these poses stems from the fact that my forward bends are so bendy, so they seem to be the next "edge" for me. I was reading on the Yoga Dancer Asana Index about Eka Pada Sirsasana,which is maybe as much as a lifetime or two away for me, but I found some of the text which talked about what it means to "play your edge" to be very intriguing. To wit:

"[P]laying the edge skillfully requires unwavering concentration and calm awareness. It transforms your practice into a meditation, and to my mind, is one of the primary differences between practicing yoga asanas and "exercising."

"One possible result of playing your edge is that you might find yourself practicing increasingly difficult poses. For example, you may have become flexible in your forward bends to the point where you can rest your torso on your straight legs with ease in Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). In terms of flexibility, Paschimottanasana no longer brings you to your edge."

"To find your flexibility edge, you might need to practice Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose).

"Seen in this light, the practice of more advanced poses is not some ego-gratifying game of one-upmanship or a spiritually materialistic approach to acquiring more and more difficult asanas. (Bumper stickers notwithstanding, I suspect that when we die, the person with the most poses doesn't win anything in particular.) Instead, if you're committed to playing the edge in your practice, doing advanced poses may simply be a natural and appropriate progression."
Anyway, after my nice, long, lovely practice, I watched said movie that I had not even heard of until today: YES. That's what it was called. It starred Joan Allen as a woman from Northern Ireland who was brought up in the United States who finds herself living in London in a beautiful, sterile home and in a dying and passionless marriage to an uptight British guy. Angered by her husband's betrayal of her (less angry about the fact that he slept with her best friend than that he did it in their marital bed), she finds herself open to a passionate affair with man from Beirut with whom she has nothing in common other than the fact that both are refugees from countries with violent political histories. The man left his life as a surgeon in Beirut so that he wouldn't have to choose between saving lives and political agendas. The woman became a scientist (actually, a molecular biologist) so that she wouldn't have to choose between the God of her Catholic upbringing and the atheism of her communist favorite aunt.

The movie's plot is fairly mundane - your typical "adultery is an excusable response to an unhappy marriage" story. However, the dialogue is irresistable - it is written entirely in Iambic Pentameter. It took me a while to even realize it as there was almost NOTHING artificial about the way the characters spoke, despite the occasional rhyming of lines.

It was like a music-less opera, incredibly beautiful and expressive.

YC

My hip replacement

Ever since I discovered him writing under a variety of assumed names on the Transom back in 1994, Daniel Radosh has been my connection to all that is hipper than myself. And now, I bring that connection to you....Radosh.net , which is at times SO hip and current that it leaves me a bit baffled (I mean what the hell IS Huckapoo, and why should anyone past the age of 13 really care...don't answer that...please).

But today, Radosh posted a link to Pandora, which is an amazing musical search engine that creates playlists FOR you...all you have to do is input the name of a song that you really like. It then analyes that song based on its various elements (i.e., does it have "trippy" sounds, does it use a femal vocalist, does it have a dance beat, is the bass heavy, does it have a certain "vibe") and it actually comes up with a list of songs that is amazingly on target to your taste. And if not, you can tell them that too, and then it will try again. If all goes well, you then click to buy your newfound musical discoveries on iTunes or Amazon...but you don't have to....you can keep listening to Pandora as if it were the radio.

So, for example, I put in "Un Simple Histoire" by Thievery Corporation. They immediately churned up "Una Musica Brutal" by Gotan Project, which is already on my iPod. Then they found me "Why" by Gus Gus (never heard it before, but I loved it on the first listen) and "Universal Traveler" by Air (Air, a French chill-out band, is a no-brainer for those who like Thievery), among others.

You can click on a menu item that tells you WHY they chose a particular song..."Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it features electronica roots, rock influences, off beat style, trippy soundscape, a gritty male vocal and an altered male vocal."

Lewis and I kind of feel bad for that altered male.

But aside from that, I am loving Pandora...and I just KNOW that Susan is going to agree...

YC

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is it possible? Will practicing at Shala X actually be a possibility for me tomorrow???

Rumor has it that the strike is over. At least for now. I haven't seen one bloody bus yet, but, well, maybe it just takes time to gear up. Taught a class today to a large transit-strike crowd of one, although it was a pleasure teaching my student. She comes every week, and often, I find myself learning as much from her as she learns from me (she is a teacher too - at Dharma's). Since she craves a super-advanced practice, we covered arm balances (crow, tripod headstand into crow, several versions of koundinyasana,with a twist (as shown) and without), long and winding standing balances (ardha chandrasana to dancer and back) as well as some pretty intense backbending and backbending R&D. It was fun. Then I took the 1/2 Led Primary class with Guta, subbing for Erika. Guta is a blast. She is really tough and wouldn't stand for my neighbor dropping her thighs to the floor in Upward Facing Dog or for me skipping the "press up" before jumping back. It actually shed some light on the elusive jump-back for me...it now seems "manifestable" rather than an impossible dream. After class, I still had a lot of heat and energy, so I did some stretching and "discovered" a new R&D pose for Kurmasana...Guta saw me and joined in, saying she had never seen anything like it before but she would describe it as a "half kurmasana". For any Bikramites out there, it's not the half-tortoise pose you're thinking of. And actually, it is really more like half bound tortoise anyway....I shall try to describe it:

One leg is straight out in front, like in Paschimotannasana. The other leg is hooked behind the shoulder, like in Compass pose. Bind, like in Bird of Paradise. Fold forward. Tada. Ardha Supta Kurmasana.

The kids have a playdate now, and the three of them helped me to set up a crate for Lewis, whose housebroken-ness seems to be quite inconsistent. I kept chalking it up to separation anxiety, but it has been hard to predict when he would rest comfortably while I was away versus when he would storm around the house peeing and pooping in an effort to train me to never EVER leave him alone again. Initially, I had wanted to avoid the crate since Lewis is already more than a year old. But my sanity cannot bear cleaning up one more accident that could have been prevented....so, Lewis, "KENNEL UP!!!"

As we speak, Lewis is exploring the crate and rearranging the blankets I lined it with. Ah...ah...what's this I see? Is he curling up in the crate??? I do believe he is!!!!!

Uh...oh....darn. He just got up and left the crate and curled up NEXT to the crate. Oh well.

I can't believe I still have another class to teach tonight!!!!!!!!!!!! It's my busy season...wonder if I will run into Private Equity Man en route....tee hee

YC

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Coda to my Carrie Bradshaw Moment...

By popular demand, I have decided to continue the saga of Yoga Chickie and the Incredibly Wealthy Man....the uncensored next chapter in the saga continues here:

This morning, as I was walking past the Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street, on my way to an appointment in midtown, I thought I heard my name. Or rather, not exactly my name, but something kind of like my name: "Yoga Girl..." I didn't recognize the deep voice, and I wasn't even certain that it was directed at me (as I generally go by "Yoga CHICKIE"). But reflexively, I turned around to try to associate a face with the disembodied voice, tangling myself up, as I did, in the laces of my Blahnik lace-up boots. Stumbling over my heels, my newsboy cap fell over my eyes, and I nearly tumbled into the street. Luckily, a strong cashmere cloaked arm lifted me up before I had a chance to hit the curb. It was, of course, the man from the cab. The handsome man who made a habit of wearing seat belts in taxis and getting out on the right side of the street.

"Oh, it's you," I said, "Are you here to collect your twenty dollars?"

"Twenty dollars," he laughed, "I just saved your life, kiddo...I believe the going rate for that is something a bit steeper than twenty."

"Unless, of course, you're some kind of superhero, " I offered, "You DID rescue me off the street twice in the past 12 hours now - a superhero wouldn't seek payment, would he?"

"If I'm a superhero, then what do they call me?"

"That depends on what your super powers are...they don't, by chance, involve a device that turns back the clock so that I could get to my appointment on time, do they?" I winked, as I turned to continue my transit-strike trek down 57th Street...

"You didn't tell me your name..." he called after me.

I turned around, my hair whipping into my face in the wind. "Thanks again, Private Equity Man! We really need to stop meeting like this!"

He stood on the sidewalk, briefcase beside him, blackberry in one hand. He held up his other hand, a small wave, the sun glinting in his eyes...and off of his gold wedding band. Reflexively, I felt for my own wedding band under my glove and made sure not to fall off of my heels again, at least until I was out of view.

YC

P.S. the above story is in a genre of writing called "fiction". no married couples were harmed in the crafting of this story.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Carrie Bradshaw moment

It wasn't difficult to find a taxicab on the Upper East Side late this afternoon. The streets were empty. Empty yellow taxis were in abundance. Gypsy cabs were beeping their horns trying to get in on the action. But trying to find a driver who was willing to take me to Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street was not so easy. Apparently, Fifth Avenue was closed, and Park Avenue was bumper to bumper.

I decided to try my luck at the bus stop on Second Avenue at 79th Street. And sure enough, within minutes, a yellow taxi stopped in front of me, and it didn't drive off when I leaned into the front passenger window and said, "I need to get to midtown."

"That's two zones, you know," the cab driver said to me.

"Whatever," I said, "Just get me there."

There was already a passenger in the back seat. A man, who was going to Park and 57th. A man who was wearing a seatbelt, which is not something you see every day in a New York City taxi. He unbuckled his seatbelt and slid over to make room for me as I got in.

He was about my age, if not just a few years older, and remarkably handsome - which also is not something you see every day in a New York City taxi. He buckled himself in once again, all the while talking on the phone and fiddling with his handheld. I pondered for a moment what the proper etiquette is when you're sharing a cab with a stranger. Thrown together in the backseat of a cab that you're forced to share, do you make small talk, or do you stare straight ahead? Do you occupy yourself with "business", like an actor, to avoid the issue altogether?

I checked my watch and then my cell phone. I looked over at my cab-mate, and he was still deep in conversation. Thirty seconds had passed. I reached into my bag and found some lipstick.

"So," my cabmate turned to me, "What are you doing in midtown this evening?"

"Teaching a couple of classes. Yoga classes. And you?"

He explained that he had been working from home all day, due to the strike, but he was leaving tomorrow for his country house in Southhampton, so he wanted to spend some time in the office. Besides, he had a holiday party to get to in midtown later on. I asked what he did. He told me he was in private equity - buying companies and running them. He said that he would like to try yoga, but he wasn't flexible. He played a lot of tennis on the weekends. I told him yoga might improve his tennis game - might make his reaction times faster.

He asked me if I had caught the cab near my apartment. When he told me he lived on Park Avenue, I wasn't surprised, despite that he was cabbing down Second. He told me that he hadn't left the Upper East Side all day. "Same here," I told him, adding that I was surprised to find myself sort of kind of half-enjoying the strike because it afforded me an extra couple of hours in the morning to relax with my kids before taking them to school. His girls are in their teens, so he didn't share the sentiment. Besides, they go to Spence, which already finished its semester.

He asked me where my yoga studio was, and when I told him, he reminded me that Fifth Avenue was closed. I considered that for a moment and said that maybe I would get off where he was getting off and walk the rest of the way. We chatted amiably, even animatedly, as the cab driver drove, as we picked up another passenger (a man, who sat up front and was heading to Penn Station), as we turned down 57th Street. We talked about office politics and yoga studio drama and office politics versus yoga studio drama. I explained that I was familiar with both since I had been an attorney for 12 years before venturing into the world of yoga, and that office politics pale in comparison to some of the stuff that goes on in the studio, even when you teach for the love of teaching, as I do, rather than in order to earn a living.

When the cab finally stopped to let him out, my cabmate paid the driver his fare and asked me if I was getting out as well. But noting that the traffic was moving fairly smoothly now, I thought that perhaps if I took the taxi even just a little bit further, I might have time to practice a bit before teaching. "Nah," I said, "I think I'll see how close to the studio this guy can get me."

"Would you mind letting me out on your side?" he asked me politely. I was seated on the curb side of the cab. Very safety conscious, this man. I got out and held open the door of the cab for him. As he got out, he leaned toward me. "You know, I'm paying for your ride," he said as he slipped a folded twenty dollar bill into my hand.

"What?" I stammered, dumbfounded..."Why?"

"I'm incredibly wealthy." he said, without a hint of irony.

I just stood there....twenty dollar bill in hand...what else was there to say other than "thank you"?

YC

Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy; It wasn't what I had expected...but I am so glad I did it

Reading the New York Times Science Section today, I saw that the columnist I love to hate, Jane Brody, had churned out yet another autobiographical column, this time on her knee reconstruction and how she feels about it a year later. Not that knee reconstruction isn't important, but I wonder why Brody doesn't spend more of her autobiographical time on her life as a breast cancer survivor? Then I thought about my own life as a breast cancer survivor, and how there is SO much information out there about treatments, but not so much information out there about living past the treatments. I'm not saying anything earthshattering here - it's a common complaint that there is lots of info on how to survive breast cancer, but not a lot of info on how to LIVE after breast cancer.

One aspect of "living" after breast cancer is an aspect that is still often overlooked by frightened newbie patients, and that aspect is breast reconstruction following mastectomy. Not all breast cancer patients have mastectomies, and of those that do, not all have their breast(s) reconstructed. I know one woman who said that the idea of planning for a life after treatment (i.e., reconstruction) seemed like bad "juju". In other words, she felt that she was jinxing herself by addressing vanity issues when her life was at stake. So, four years later, she is a lovely woman with a breast on one side, and nothing but skin and rib bones on the other. Not a size A breast; NO breast. Nothing.

I think that is sad. And I have to lay part of the blame for the result on her doctors. I was lucky: my doctors led me by the hand and said, "here is what you should consider doing if you are going to undergo mastectomy." I never had to ASK about plastic surgery. My breast surgeon, Dr. S. simply said, "After you see me, you are going to see Dr. A to discuss your reconstruction options." Dr. S paved the way, made it easy, made it seem like part of the treatment.

And in fact, it has been found in some studies that women who HAVE reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomies (this is called "Immediate Reconstruction") have a higher survival rate than those who don't choose reconstruction. Of course, it is not altogether clear whether this higher survival rate reflects a healthier population - one which is healthy enough to endure seven or eight hours of surgery, which is what a mastectomy with reconstruction can take, as opposed to an hour and half - the time it takes to perform a mastectomy without reconstruction.

But perhaps the higher survival rate is due to a sort of "wish fulfillment" - a desire to live beyond the cancer. Or perhaps it is due to a positive outlook - that there WILL be reason to have breasts after all is said and done. Or perhaps having the reconstructed breasts helps the survivor to NOT focus on her illness long after her treatments are over.

Of course, having had immediate reconstruction, I have to admit that this last statement doesn't exactly ring true. My reconstructed breasts do not exactly help me to forget the illness I survived. They don't look like natural breasts - but more like Barbie breasts. They don't feel like natural breasts - but more like extra-firm water beds. They don't sag (that's a good thing), but they also don't bounce (that CAN be a good thing). And sometimes they get in my way when practicing yoga - try putting Barbie into Mari D. It's not enough to twist - I have to twist enough to clear the breasts past my bent knee.

Nonetheless, I am still glad that I chose reconstruction. I look perfectly normal in clothing, and I was able to experiment with different breast sizes before I finally chose to live as a 32B, which was quite a change from 34C, my pre-cancer size. It turned out that smaller reconstructed breasts just looked better on me. Still, it would have been nice if I had more realistic expectations.

Back in the summer of 2002, I was talking excitedly about getting some nice new breasts as part of the whole deal. But in truth, they were never going to be the "nice new breasts" that I envisioned. At best, they were going to be nice new "fake" breasts. At worst, I would be disappointed in their shape, size, contours, whatever. I came across this article from Susan Love's website about unmet expectations in breast reconstruction. I don't remember this article being on Love's website back in 2002, not that it matters: I am not sure if I would have given it much thought, had I read it back then. I simply HAD to believe that I was going to go into my surgery with my 36 year-old, starting-to-sag breasts and come out with some brand new perky "hooters". I HAD to believe it. SOMETHING good had to come out of this mess.

And that was just fine. Because expectations or no expecations, I'm glad I decided on immediate reconstruction after my double mastectomy. I may not have come out of my surgery with stripper-quality boobs, but I also didn't come out feeling butchered. I didn't come out with NOTHING where there used to be SOMETHING. I came out with hope.

So why am I writing this? My hope is that if someone googles "breast reconstruction after mastectomy" and finds this entry alongside Susan Love's, I hope it helps that person to decide to go ahead and GO FOR the reconstruction. No, they WON'T be your old breasts. But they will be something.

YC

Why is it that dogs are so damn lovable?

What IS it about Lewis the Bagle Lewis that makes me just want to snuggle with him and breathe in his houndy scent, even his doggie breath?

And let's not forget my kids, who decided, on their own, no coaxing from me whatsoever, to play Monopoly this morning in the two hour delay between when school should have started and when it did...

How does it go from this to parents and kids pissing each other off?

YC

STEEEEEEEEE-RIKE

Unless something changes in the next hour, the transit strike is on.

This just sucks for everyone.

YC

Monday, December 19, 2005

Heating Pad

Today, I dove into a nice heated pad - Bikram Yoga NYC. Shala X was out of the question since I didn't finish up at Winter Solstice until after 10 a.m., so other plans had to be made. George ("Hey Gorgeous") DeLancey was teaching. He is a maverick, I tell you. I have known him since he first came to NYC from Philly - and he teaches something like 10 classes per week in the "hot box", plus has a husband and two kids at home. How he has the energy....whew....I sure wouldn't. Practiced next to Robin, who told George she had to leave after only 40 minutes because if not, she would be fired. She looked sooo familiar...did I know her? Then I realized. Bikram attracts quite a lot of working actors and other famous faces....I've practiced alongside Idina and Anna (who just recently got "fugged" for the very first time), as well as Mary and George...but how much do I wish that I was there when Chris shows up to practice (I love him - more than I ever loved Zach Braff and Jake Gyllenhaal combined - it might help that he's about the same age as them when you add UP their ages)?

Yeah, I'm a sucker for a famous face. I tend to feel all giddy inside when I see one, although I keep it hidden. And I have learned never to discuss anyone's practice other than my own....

YC

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Hanuman Chaleesa

Found a wonderful resource just now and felt compelled to share....It's a link from Dharma Mittra's web site. For those who don't know, Dharma Mittra is the yogi featured in "ASANAS: 608 Yoga Poses" and has a yoga studio in NYC, where some of the most advanced yogis in the city practice amazingly gymnastic yoga at noon on Wednesdays (actually, every day at noon, but Wednesdays seems to be the day that everyone I know who goes, goes). Anyway, I was checking out the site and saw and followed this link to "Chants" and found, to my happy surprise that it's all about Hanuman, who happens to be my very favorite Hindu god (god, in the mythological god sense, since I only worship Adonai).

Hanuman was the great monkey God who leapt across the sea to save Sita, the wife of his beloved lord and master, Ram. His leap was epic - it took years; his hair is said to have gone white while he was leaping. His leap reminds us of all of which we are capable when we are dedicated, when we act out of love, when we have patience with the process. I adore what Hanuman stands for, but I also am intrigued by the story of Hanuman, Sita and Ram and find myself wondering about whether Hanuman was a little bit in love with Sita, or Ram, or both...I see Hanuman sometimes as that archetypal wingman.

Anyway, I digress.

If you click on the link, you will see the Hanuman Chaleesa in full, as well as fully tranlated, and for an extra added treat, you can click on an audio link and hear Krishna Das singing it. Thus, you can read it, hear it or enjoy some Hanuman Karaoke with it....

YC

Winter Solstice

It's never clear to me when winter solstice is - because it changes from year to year, although it usually falls right around December 22. This year, it will be on Wednesday, December 21. I was just reading Julie's blog and saw that she and another yogini are going to get together for 108 Sun Salutations to mark this year's solstice, and I thought...what a lovely idea.

Mind if I steal it?

It just so happens that on Wednesday, I will be unable to go to Shala X because of the Winter Solstice celebration in Addy's class (can't go tomorrow either, because of the Solstice celebration in Bri's class...). So, I could (a) not practice at all, (b) do my own practice at home, (c) run off to a noon Bikram class on the theory that the shortest day of the year could be a good day to practice in my skivvies and pretend I'm in the tropics or....(d) salute the sun a propitious number of times, say, 108....thank you Julie for the idea.

Well, so let's see...choice (a) is just not an option at this point, since after two days of not practicing and three days of not practicing Ashtanga, I am already actually missing practice and finding myself fantasizing about being in poses. Choice (b) is a possibility, albeit sort of hum drum. Choice (c) is just not going to happen. So that leaves Choice (d).

If any of my students or friends (or both) are reading this and would like to join in the fun, let me know, email is fine. As you may know, my method is to flow through without stopping in Downward Facing Dog except for every sixth and 12th Surya Namaskara; on the sixth Surya Namaskara taking five full breathsa and on the 12th, dropping into Child's Pose for five breaths. I am planning on starting at noon and being done by 1:30.

YC

Better Than Average Joe

I happened to see Adam Mesh this morning. He was on his way into the gym, and I have to say, he is quite cute in person, not at all "average". It's interesting to me that the television-watching public wants to believe that this is what "average" is. It reminds me of those Dove ads, where really attractive women with really nice figures (albeit not waifishly thin) are called "real women" with "real curves", when in fact, the women featured in the ads are way above average in terms of attractiveness. Those may be "real curves", but they sure aren't average.

What is even more interesting to me is that "average", even amped up to above-average levels, doesn't really sell. A friend of mine who works in marketing theorizes that people don't WANT to identify with their "models". As consumers, they hope to trade UP, not make an even exchange. And maybe that is true for some people.

But as for me, I think there might be something else at work here. When I look at the girls in the Dove ad, I recognize myself in a couple of them, particularly the athletic-looking fair-haired girl in the middle and the petite but curvy dark-haired girl on the far right. And the truth is, as much as I know that I am no Ford model, I don't feel like being reminded of it in magazine ads and billboards. Especially not in ads and billboards that tell me that THIS is average, when I know in my heart of hearts that it most certainly is not.

I always tell my boys that they are the handsomest and best boys in the world. I hope that they always believe on some level that they are. I wouldn't want them to see someone much like themselves on a television show or a magazine ad being called "average" and then have to wonder if maybe they really are as well.

And now, one of those handsomest, best boys in the world is demanding to use the computer to accessMajor League Baseball'swebsite, so I will get off of my average soapbox (despite that it ads a good six inches to my BELOW-average height).

YC




YC

OUCH

Didn't make it to practice AGAIN this morning, and I feel distressed. I have been nursing a very low-grade cold for the past few days (the kind you get when you're a grownup and have had just about every cold that exists, and as such, have pretty much developed immunities to most of them, so that when you get hit with a germ, you get a mild version of the cold, but you still feel like crap generally). And all over my back, there are pains and aches of various sizes and intensities. My sides ache to the touch, and my shoulders are stiff. But the worst of it is across my sacrum. Perhaps it is my sacro-iliac joint. Perhaps it is the muscles of the lower back. Logic dictates that this has everything to do with the new intensity with which I have been practicing my twists, particularly parivritta parsvakonasana (which is infused, I have to admit, with some degree of impatience and unhealthy desire to place one palm on the floor and extend the other over my head, oh why oh why is it not happening....NOTE TO SELF: STOP THE MADNESS.).

But the hypochondriac in me taunts me with the "what ifs". What if it is not muscle but bone? What if something is "wrong" with my spine? Get my drift? And so, instead of practicing through it, which would probably be the right thing to do, I got 10 hours of sleep last night (hoping that sleep would help the healing process of whatever needs to be healed) and instead of practicing today, am sitting on my sofa nestled against a heating pad.

The good news is that the heating pad feels AMAZING, which leads me to believe that this is nothing more than muscle aches, possibly exascerbated by the fact that I have a cold (things always ache when I have a cold).

Tomorrow, I have Winter Solstice at school, so no shala for me tomorrow either. Hopefully I can make it there on Tuesday. I think I should forbid myself to practice until Tuesday. Is resting really so bad?

YC

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Family Stone: Haven't Seen It, Don't Wanna

Warning: Spoiler below

Apparently, there is a gratuitous breast cancer diagnosis, and apparently it happens to Diane Keaton's character, who just happens to have the exact same hair as the late Susan Sontag, who just happened to have had breast cancer. I'm sorry, but that is just so lame. And Sarah Jessica goes all "Bebe Neuwirth as Lilith Crane" before sleeping with her stoner-soon-to-be-ex-future-brother-in-law and ultimately "letting her hair down". SOOOO predictable. I'd rather watch her as a shrill, abrasive, slutty, excessively glib perpetual worshipper of unavailable men for free on Channel 11.

YC

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hydrophobia

I do not like water. There I said it. I am always surprised and thrilled when for some strange reason, I find myself craving a tall cold one (water, that is). I am often thirsty. VERY thirsty. And I answer my cravings for hydration, usually in the form of Diet Peach Snapple, hazelnut coffee and the occasional Diet Sierra Mist. It's not pretty. But it's true.

Well, last night, Brian introduced me to Propel Fitness Water, and, let me tell you: it is GOOD. The grape flavored Propel Water vaguely tastes like grape Kool-Aid (a great love from my childhood), and 23.7 ounces goes down in a matter of, literally, seconds. Each 8 oz serving has 10 calories, so it's not terribly significant calorically. Also, it has a whole bunch of vitamins: C, E and a couple of B's. Most importantly, I am 23.7 ounces more hydrated with WATER than I would be had I come home this afternoon and downed a bottle of Diet Peach Snapple.

Missed morning Mysore because the entry ramp to the FDR Drive was closed, scaring me off. Instead, I came home, brainstormed with REW about all the things she is currently brainstorming about, napped (that was her suggestion) and then braved the subway to get to Yoga Sutra to teach a lunchtime class. Aftwards, Sarah Willis convinced me to take her vinyasa class, and it was GREAT. It is HARD to hold those standing poses for so long and then vinyasa between them. Her alignment cues were great, and she has a great sense of humor. It's good for me to take other teachers' vinyasa classes sometimes as a sort of "reality check" - make sure I'm on the same page generally as my colleagues. It seems I am, and that's comforting.

Now I am home with the kids and the dog, and I don't want to go anywhere anytime soon...although a long walk with Lewis and the kids is looming....

Now, the question is...should I go to Shala X for the Saturday Mysore tomorrow? I am going to miss practice on Monday AND on Wednesday due to school parties for my kids....I can always practice at home, but right now, I feel like I need the assistance of a teacher...

Oh, and I need to revise something I wrote earlier...about that show K-9 Karma....I had written about how much I liked it, how I thought it was clever and charming. Well, this afternoon, we watched in embarassed horror as the hosts went to visit an artist named Tillamook Cheddar, who just so happens to be a Jack Russell Terrier. At first I thought that the show would lampoon the notion of a dog that sells canvases for a THOUSAND BUCKS, especially after they showed footage of the dog's "creative process", which consisted of the dog ripping, scratching and LICKING a piece of canvas wrapped in a piece of paper smeared with paint. I mean, it's not like the dog could even SEE what she was doing. But then these two adults (the host of K-9 Karma, and the Jack Russell's owner), were talking, IN EARNEST, about the dog's "process" and commenting on the dog's "intent" in biting sometimes at the perimeter of the package, and sometimes at the center....not a hint of sarcasm anywhere.

Three words: OH PUH LEEEEEEEEEEZE.


YC

Mommy...(grinning impishly)....IS it?

No, Brian, there is no Transit Strike. But if you manifest really really hard, perhaps school will be sort of off-kilter today anyway.

(reading over my shoulder) "Why Mommy?"

Well, I just have a feeling that you're not the only one who was (at least) half-hoping that there would be a strike...

"I wasn't JUST half hoping...I was 100 percent hoping!"

"See? I put in the 'at least' just for you..."

In a way, I have to say that despite all of my NOT wanting there to be a strike, a very small (and I mean VERY small) part of me sort of welcomed the break from routine...kind of like when there used to be snowdays when I was a kid (what happened to those things anyway?) I have a feeling that a lot of people that planned to not come into the city today in the event of a strike are still not coming in today. Hell, the subway is not going to be pretty today, strike or no strike. I don't relish the thought of skipped stops and long pauses in dark tunnels, care of surly conductors who want to be paid more money (and I am not saying they are wrong, hello, MTA budget surplus 2005?)

"Brian, do you have anything more to say?"

"I dunno. What does this button do, mommy?"

It publishes my blog, Brian.

YC

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike

Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...Please let there be no transit strike...please let there be no transit strike...

Gratitude journal

1. My 10 a.m. class ended up being an inversion workshop....FUN!!.
2. Lewis didn't have any accidents despite that I was gone from 9 until 4 today (my long day out of the house).
3. Rediscovered all of my classical music, downloaded everything to my iPod, playing it on my new speakers now. So nice!
4. Have a babysitter tonight even though I am going to be home - to help me out with my kids who are going to be WAY unruly after an entire day at school, then afterschool program, followed by "Parents and Kids Fitness Night" at school....loooooong day.
5. My 1/2 led primary with Erika was really nice and smooth and afterwards Erika and I had a really wonderful chat - NOT about Ashtanga!
6. I get to give people the gift of yoga.
7. I have everything I need.
8. I am alive and feeling well.

YC

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I don't think it's the backbends...

I think it is the twisting. I am working so hard now in Parivritta Parsvakonasana, seeing it as a gateway to Mari C and, especially, Mari D, and I am really going deep in Mari C and D every day now, getting adjusted deeper, holding longer. As I was practicing at home today, it occurred to me that the lower back tightness I am feeling originates in exactly the place where I am aiming to originate all of my spinal twists. My spinal flexibility has been a top-down progression, literally, and now I am at the way bottom - the last couple of vertebrae of the lumbar spine and even a loosening up of the sacro-illiac joint. There was a time several years ago when I scoffed at the notion that the s-i even WAS a joint. Now at least there is some movement there.

So, I am not sure what to do about the soreness and stiffness I am feeling down in my lumbar spine now. I have to assume that it is leading to increased flexibility. But for the moment, I am sitting with my back pressed against an electric heating pad, which seems to really, really help to relax my spasming back muscles.

My home practice was a Swenson sandwich. I tried it as an experiment, and I ended up feeling like I was missing something - namely the last three poses of Standing Series: Uttka, Vira I and Vira II and the first few poses of Primary: the three Paschimo's and Purvotana. I think that when time is limited and I am feeling fatigued, the solution is not a sandwich but simply stopping earlier.

I do have to say that I quite enjoy practicing Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana at home using the wall as my "assist". I get really deep, and I can work on grounding through the standing leg even better than when my teacher is supporting my lifing leg. And pressing my back up against my sofa is a nice assist in Mari D - it helped me to understand that I need to bend my non-lotus leg really, really sharply, really squeezing my hams and calf together. Well, duh, right? But sometimes you have to really FEEL it happening in order to realize that it needs to happen.

I might take Erika's half led primary tomorrow because it is only an hour, and next week my ability to practice with a teacher is going to be sharply curtailed by a variety of elementary school events: two separate Winter Solstice celebrations (no, they are not wiccan - it's the best they can do to accomodate the many religious groups and cultures at the school), two separate "end of the semester parties"...it's going to be a busy week, with no option to practice early (i.e., before 8:45 a.m.) because that is when the Husband leaves for work and/or goes to the gym. When the kids are on vacation, I will have to set up some babysitting so that I can make it into the shala. I can only take so much self-practice at this point...

YC

My big, strong wrists (not to mention my giant feet)

I have been meaning to write about this for the past week, and something always comes up that seems more interesting to write about. Well, today, as I sit here playing with my new iPod Speakers/Docking Station, with its nifty remote control and nice (albeit slightly tinny) sound, and schlumping slightly on my sofa in order to de-intensify the tightness in my lumbar area, and, obviously, NOT at Shala X, where I should be practicing, I realize I might as well talk about something completely frivolous and possibly vanity-driven: my wrists.

Quite simply: they be huge. For me. For a little person. And while we're at it, my feet as well. I used to have small, delicate wrists, and medium-ish feet. After the babies, my feet grew about a half a size. But after three solid years of daily yoga - my feet have grown another size and a half. My toes are spread WIDE. And my feet resemble small shovels. Nice for balance. But getting into my cute little sandals from my more fashionista days is another story, and it's not pretty. Nobody needs to see two toes sticking out over the edge of a strappy sandal.

But back to my wrists...There was a time when I could wrap my thumb and middle finger around my wrist and get a good overlap. Old wives' tales say that this indicates a small frame, which I kind of always suspected, since I am a mere 5'1" tall (on a good day, with a compassionate nurse taking my measurement and giving me the extra half inch for being such a nice, nice patient). About 15 years ago, I broke my left wrist in two places, walking up the stairs in Grand Central Station (I used my hand to break my fall). That wasn't a really GREAT sign as far as future osteoporosis goes, and it wasn't a great sign for my muscular strength in general. But I didn't think about that much.

At the time, I wore an all stainless bracelet Movado watch, which was known at the time for its thinness. So I am pretty sure that I wore it pretty close to my skin. But I don't remember it being tight. Quite the opposite - I remember it having SOME give.

Fast forward a few years to my breast cancer diagnosis. As an added bonus, I got treated to a bone-mineral-density test, where they measured the density of the bones in my hips, ankles and wrists. Turned out that my bone density was heading into the not-so-good range, and that chemo would only make it worse...so I began taking a yearly infusion of a drug called Zometa, which is supposed to build up bone. It was during this whole fiasco that I made the transition from runner/biker/skater-girl to Yoga Chickie.

And now fast forward to this week. My Movado had been sitting in a drawer for many years by now. But it was time for my current everyday watch to get some much needed repairs. So, relinquising my current watch to a jeweler, I pulled the Movado out of its drawer and went to put it on.

Shockingly: I had trouble getting it closed. It is TIGHT. I can't imagine that it was this tight when I used to wear it daily. Now, I KNOW I have not gained weight since 15 years ago. Quite the contrary - my weight is back to its lower range. All of my clothes are either comfortable, loose or impossibly loose.

But not my Movado.

The only conclusion I can draw is that 40 or 50 vinyasas a day has actually built up the muscle in my forearms. But I still wonder: is this POSSIBLE? Can a woman actually pack on muscle in her forearms??? Perhaps it is easier for me to do so because my estrogen levels are below detectable?

Have any of the girls out there noticed a gain in wrist size or shoe size after years of yoga?

YC

P.S. Yes, I am going to practice a bit later. I just needed some chillin' time. Last night, after teaching at Yahoo Hot Jobs, my dearest friends took me to Amber for dinner. You downtowners probably wouldn't know it. But it's cool, hip atmosphere makes us Upper East Siders FEEL like we're venturing downtown. And no, we don't wear mom jeans.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Petri Räisänen

I am so lucky to have Petri Räisänen as a guest teacher. We really get some wonderful guest teachers at Shala X.

Had a really stiff practice today - physically stiff. Mentally, I had trouble with the physical stiffness, which was mainly in my lower back. By the end of practice, I had difficulty getting a decent arch in Upward Facing Dog, although I did manage to rather painlesslessly get into four Full Wheels after my bridge, as I promised myself I would try to do on a regular basis (and adding additional full wheels as time goes on, until Sir gives me dropbacks, IF Sir ever gives me dropbacks).

Petri has such a wonderful energy about him, and I feel as if he reads me very well. He held my hands down in Prasarita Pado C for the full five breaths and then tapped my back - time to come up. I needed that today, as I wasn't going to be able to stay there by myself. He got me into Mari C, which I simply surrendered to, despite that somewhere in a vast corner of my being, my ego was crying out, "I want to do it myself!! Please let me do it myself!!!" And then, surprise, he sat next to me and watched me get into D by myself (well, it was the first side, which is my hard side, so, all I managed was to bind by my fingernails...humbling). He helped me with the second side, although I knew I could do that by myself, and this time, I listened for my ego and heard nothing.

Petri wrote a wonderful book that is on display at Shala X - unfortunately it is all in Finnish. I wish I spoke Finnish. Or, alternatively, that the book were translated into English. It looks incredible - wonderful photos, information on dristes, and it even COUNTS (in Sanskrit) EACH vinyasa of EACH posture.

One more day til moonday. One more baking soda bath til moonday. I actually am looking forward to tomorrow's practice, which probably means I will end up feeling big big resistance to it when it is time to go....although not going is NOT an option. So.....

YC

Monday, December 12, 2005

Back to basics

It's been a LONG time since I gave any attention at all to backbends. Back in the summer, Gary, who was guest teaching at Shala X, gave me dropbacks. They were going fairly well. No drama, no fear, no giggles.

And then I went in for my abdominoplasty. When I came back to practice after my initial recovery, I found not only that dropbacks were no longer on the menu (Sir was back), but that there was no way they were happening anyway: my surgery had tightened my abdominal muscles to the point where even Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) had become unfathomable. There was even a period of time after my surgery when Urdhva Hastasana (The first movement in Surya Namaskara - ekam - literally, Upward Hands Posture) was pretty much out of reach. I could reach my arms up, but they would be at a 45 degree angle from my body.

In the several months that followed, I have come to physically absorb that (duh) the Primary Series is really all about the forward bend anyway (as well as an "intro" to twisting and a foundation for rotating the femur bone in just about every direction within the ball-socket of the hip so that Padmasana - lotus - can be held for an extended period of time). Backbending appears primarily in the form of Urdhva Mukha, although "small" thoracic backbends appear in the full expression of a number of other poses (Trikonasana, for example). And of course, there is Urdhva Dhanurasana, literally Upward Bow, a/k/a full wheel, or as my kids call it "Parachute" pose.

At this point, my Upward Facing Dog is almost passable again, without a major hunch in the shoulders. And I have finally begun to explore Full Wheel again, slowly building up to one really really intense bridge pose (for the sake of opening up the space across my chest so that my binds will be less effortful in the rest of my practice), followed by three Full Wheels, for five breaths each, with a rest on the crown of my head in between. But I have to say, it hasn't been smooth sailing: my lower back aches from the effort, and the place where my deltoids connect to my pecs - diagnonally inward from my armpits - feels the streeeeeeetching happening, despite a heavy concentration of mastectomy-related scar tissue in the area (I guess the nerves have long since regenerated - it's been three and a half years after all).

I would have been left to wonder: is that all there is? Except someone on the EZ Board astutely pointed out to someone bemoaning their perception as Primary being a poor preparation for Second's intense focus on backbending: you don't have to stop at three. No one ever said: three backbends and then you're done. You could do ten or twenty. You could do 108 if you chose.

Reading that was an "aha" moment for me, like when Jose told me about taking eight breaths, rather than five, or when I realized that I can do two versions of Parivritta Parsvakonasana in order to better prepare my spine for the twisting to come later (one with my back knee down and one with my back heel down). Or when I discovered that finding my belly-button in Downward Facing Dog helped me to find Udyana Bhanda such that jumping through became something (slightly) more than an impossible dream.

So, henceforth, I shall be adding another Full Wheel whenever I am able. Today I managed four. But my lower back feels kind of crunched now, depite my heading immediately after practice to an impromtu Tui Na session. When my lower back no longer feels crunched, I am going to attempt five. And so on. Until someday, maybe, I will get dropbacks from Sir. Not that I am in any way jonesing for it. I've got enough on my plate right now, enjoyable as it is....loving the deep, deep twisting and pretzeling of my body in Mari D.

Other thoughts:

1. I finally figured out that when my teacher lets go of my hands in Prasarita Pado C, it is not a signal for me to stand up again. Rather, it is time for me to HOLD the pose myself. Duh. I don't know why it took me so long to figure that out - other than the fact that today was the first day that holding it myself was even possible, albeit for like, a nanosecond.

2. Must hold Uth Pluthi longer - and by "longer", I mean longer than however long it takes for me to feel like letting it go. I think that up until now, I have been relying on my upper body strength to hold myself up. When that gives out - it will be my core. THAT is what I need to tap into in order for the lift-ups between Navasana to happen. I think.

YC

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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