Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'll have a Jivamukti Express with an Ashtanga Back

Well, well, what do you know? I didn't get my ass down to the shala today. Instead, I actually did a whole bunch of errands that I had been putting off. When my plate was clear, around 11, I decided that I would try the new, old, Uptown Jivamukti, for something different, something fast. They have 45 minute express classes at noon. Off I went. Let me tell you, it feels damn good to be able to do EVERYTHING in a class. Once in a while, it is really, really nice.

I don't know if Jiva Uptown is going to make it, anymore than they made it in the past. There were only three people in the room today - me, another student and the teacher. And it's not like I am going to become a regular there.

Afterwards, I had one more errand to run at the synagogue, which entailed a fair amount of waiting around - I had to register the kids for next year's Hebrew School with the registrar, and she was up to her elbows in registrations. So, I went, checked in with the registrar and then went into an empty classroom and did my seated postures. I felt great. Could be the Jivamukti class, could be the weather - far less humid today than it has been.

In any event, what to do tomorrow? I guess we shall see. I need to get back to the shala, I know I do. Sometimes though, I just love practicing by myself. It's so much less crowded! So much less body heat! And it's entirely doable since I don't "need" the adjustments other than in Supta K, and even then, well, I can do some interesting self-assists in Supta K that I can't do when I am being adjusted AT the shala.

Anyway, I think I need to get down to the shala, if only for the sheer discipline of getting down to the shala.

Tomorrow is another day...


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

When life gives you lemons,

make lemonade...

And so here is the definitive Yoga Chickie recipe for making homemade lemonade:

Have onhand a large quantity (at least 10) large, organic lemons because you are going to drink this as fast as you're going to be making it. For each 8 oz glass, use one large lemon. Cut the lemon in half. Then slice several times into each half in order to get the juices flowing. Then squeeze each half right into a pitcher, allowing the seeds and pulp to go in with the juice. Throw in some ice cubes and water to equal 8 oz per whole lemon, then throw in some of the empty lemon rinds. Cover the pitcher and shake well. Strain into glasses. Sweeten to taste. YUM.

Self-practice is getting kind of old. I think I will head down to Shala X tomorrow morning. Is it wrong to bring a change of clothing, to change halfway through practice? I was seriously sweating BUCKETS today in my home practice and actually changed into fresh clothes right before Mari that bad?


Dream it

Last night I dreamt that I was able to get myself into Kapotasana - my fingers were touching my toes (I hope you don't mind my using your photo, Sara). When I woke up, my back was stiff and sore.

Still, I think it's a good sign.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Where art thou

...Time Warner City Cable?

Both have been out of service subtantially all weekend...I am at a loss. I am being forced to interact with...actual, live people....perish the thought...


Kissed by Kapha?

Just throwing this out there, seeing where it lands, seeing if I come back to this someday and say "AHA!". Or perhaps just "HA".

After waking up at 5:30 AM on Saturday to self-practice at 6:30 AM (full Primary), and then teaching a "Power Yoga" class at Boom Fitness (on a one-off basis...good money for an hour's work right in the nabe), and then spending four hours in Westport, Connecticut, looking at houses and wishing that we weren't merely window-shopping for research purposes, and THEN meeting our good friends JB and Eye at the Weston Town Fair, where we spent four hours following our collective five kids around as they ran maniacally from ride to ride, and FINALLY spending the NEXT two hours sitting around the kitchen table of JB and Eye, talking about the joys of country living and about life in general....after all that....I woke up Sunday morning with a throat that felt as if I had swallowed a handful of bees. It felt itchy and thick and it hurt to swallow...

I spent almost all of Sunday in pajamas while The Husband tended to the needs of the kids and even Lewis the Bagle. Later on, close to 6 p.m., I drifted off into a half-sleep that ended with me hearing the haunting Donnie Darko version of "Mad World" looping through my head. I lied there for a bit, humming along with myself, and picturing myself doing some sun salutations...and in moments, I popped out of bed, rolled my mat out on my terrace (which is enclosed with windows, so technically it really is a sunroom), and turned my iPod on....

I don't know what it was about my practice on Sunday. It was close to 7 p.m. when I began and 8:20 when I finished all of Primary. A willing twist and willing shoulders in an ALMOST full expression of Parivritta Parsvakonasana (everything but the heel of my hand was on the floor...which is the deepest expression I can manage so far). Hands to the floor in Prasarita Padotanasana C. No pauses, no dawdling, nice vinyasas. Wrist binds in Mari A and B, getting close to wrists in Mari C, but most importantly, finding that I can get a satisfyingly deep Mari C with a minimum of "ticks" and "tweaks" (to the point where it is becoming my favorite Marichyasana...weird), and easily getting myself fully and satisfyingly deep into Mari D (hands securely locked, but so far no hint of wrists). Two bujapidasanas because I was wearing shorts and getting sweaty, which made me slip off my legs in the final transition to chatturanga on the first one (I opened the window for the second one). And lovely - lifting butt and heels off the floor (thank you Kiran for posting about that on the EZ Board in 2002 - else I never would have even thought of it), even if only for a breath. I got myself out of Kurmasana to calm my breath and then got back into it, with a towel at the ready. Somehow, and I know this is really odd, I got deeper into it than I ever have gotten with an assist, with the exception that I obviously wasn't going to get my hands to bind and used a towel instead. But it just felt right. At that point, so sweaty that Garba Pindasana just slipped right into place, I decided to go for it...instead of just lying there stretching and recovering from Supta K, I decided to asana my way into neutralizing my spine....and so finished Primary (it only takes about five to seven minutes, I realized). Backbends were good. Finishing poses were a restorative delight.

I walked away from practice marveling at how good it was, considering how low-energy and yucky I had been feeling all day. And the thought occurred to me: our dominant doshas can shift and change depending on things like illness, weight fluctuations, pregnancy, etc. So, perhaps having had a virus on Sunday, my pitta and vata hardness and heat had given way to my highly dormant kapha softness and ease? I am sure that my next practice will be every bit as pitta (with a little vata thrown in) as usual. But it was delightful to be kissed by kapha for once.....and certainly a silver lining in a day clouded over by feeling like crap.

On a related front, it occurs to me: Brian is WAY dominated by pitta. He is a firey redhead who is petite but lanky and who sweats like NOBODY's business. I have never seen such a sweaty child, to tell you the truth. He is not soft and flexible like Adam, who doesn't get as sweaty and doesn't have the same issues with heat (Brian hates being hot and can often be seen embarassing me by turning up in a t-shirt at the end of a winter day in school, having left his sweater and coat in his cubby). And Brian is fiercely determined, highly competitive and has the best uth-pluti I have ever seen from a child.

On other fronts, here's hoping that comes back up soon and that Julie doesn't have too much stress about it.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Currency, coda

Adrianna passed away on Wednesday night. I have to admit that lately, I had been crossing the street to avoid her. I just didn't want to be bothered with her increasingly incoherent outbursts. Now, I am surprised to feel kind of sad and a bit empty, knowing that I will never again see her in front of D'Agastono when I walk my dog.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

The other inevitable Lost post

With the understanding that trying to "understand" Lost is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when you only have half the pieces, here are my observations on the Season Finale of Lost (with a few of my own theories thrown in, again with the understanding that I have only some of the pieces of the puzzle):

  • Desmond refers to the Others as "the Hostiles" and tells Sayid, in reference to Sayid's implied interest in sailing over to "the Hostiles"' camp, "Ignorance is bliss."
  • I am guessing that "The Incident" referred to in the Orientation Tape for The Swan hatch is what brought the Others to the island. Dr. Candle/Wickman says that shortly after the Dharma Initiative's experiments began, there was an "Incident", after which the protocol (of entering "The Numbers" that add up to 108, every 108 minutes) has been (and must continue to be) observed. Since Desmond's failure to enter the numbers in a timely fashion caused Flight 815 to crash as a result of intense electro-magnetic activity, it seems possible to me that at some earlier time, some sort of electro-magnetic activity caused a plane or ship (or other mode of transportation...a spaceship, perhaps?!) to crash on the island...thus bringing the "Others" to the Island. It seems highly unlikely that the Others are members or even former members of the Dharma Initiative. It also seems likely that the Dharma Initiative has failed to send "replacements" for Kelvin, perhaps as a result of the hostility of the "Others". Why the Others are hostile, what the Others are trying to do...well, that remains a complete mystery. A possible theory: I know that this sounds really flaky, but perhaps they are not from this planet?
  • Libby, whose last name must be significant because we have not learned it as of yet, seems awfully and inappropriately anxious to give Desmond her giant yacht. Seems suspicious. I am guessing that she was sent by someone (perhaps Charles Widmore, father of Desmond's love, Penelope Widmore) to make sure that Desmond goes sailing in the vicinity of Craphold Island and gets pulled into the island by the electro-magnetic force (which would have to be unleashed by someone failing to enter the numbers in a timely fashion, i.e., Kelvin) for a dual purpose: (1) to be gone forever from Penelope's life and (2) to take over for Kelvin in perpetual button-pushing slavery.
  • As for Libby's dead husband, it must be significant that she refers to him as "David". "Dave" was the name of Hurley's imaginary friend in the looney bin. Guess who else was an inmate in said bin at the same time as Hurley? One Libby Last-Name-As-Yet-Unknown. We know that Libby is a talented hypnotist, from her having helped Claire to get in touch with her memories of her abduction by the Others/Hostiles. Thus, it seems possible that Libby was the one who planted the name "David" or "Dave" in Hurley's head. Why she would do that? I don't have a clue.
  • But does that mean that Libby knew about the work of the Dharma Initiative? I don't have a clue to that either.
  • By far the funniest and funnest thing about the episode was learning that Faux-Henry is the LEADER of the Others! Hooray for Henry! He is da balls! I love the little pissing contest that transpires between Henry and Mr. Friendly over Mr. Friendly abandoning hiscamo-beard. It does beg the question though: who would recognize Mr. Friendly? And from where?
  • Thank goodness Sawyer wasn't killed off! PHEW! It will be interesting to see what goes on in the Others' camp, which is what next season will inevitably be "about".
  • Nice of Walt to not give a rat's ass about what happens to Vincent the dog, Where did that dog go, anyway? this a clue to the fact that something is "off" about "Walt", or rather, the "Walt" that leaves the island with Michael via the now famous, "Pala Ferry".
  • I think the bird really did screach "Hurley!" Could it have been sent by Walt?
  • BIG disappointment that Sawyer told Kate that he "thought" that Jack meant "something else" when he told them that he and Kate had been "caught in a net". A little mystery please???
  • OK, now this is a complaint I have with the writing: HOW could Desmond have forgotten what happened the day that he didn't push the button??!!! HOW could he have not remembered an event as cataclysmic as that?? Good lord, I mean, things in that hatch were flying around in the air. There was a crushingly loud noise. He forgot that? I don't care how drunk he was. You don't forget something like that. If he had bothered to remember it, or if the writers had bothered to make up something plausible, like, i.e., him remembering it, he would never have helped Locke to lock down the hatch, causing Eko and "Cholly" to blow themselves up (or almost blow themselves up)
  • Second funniest and funnest moment: Sawyer: "Dharma Nutribar?" Hurley: "No thanks, not hungry." Sawyer: "REALLY?"
  • Didn't these people take Psychology 101 in school? Everyone who's ever taken a Psych class knows that psychological experiments are NEVER about what they claim to be about. Thus, if Candle/Wick told his subjects that they were going to observe the activities of the number-entering Swan Hatchers, then there is no WAY that the experiment had anything to do with what was going on in the Swan Hatch. Turns out, in fact, that the copious notes taken by the Pearl Hatchers regarding the goings on in the Swan Hatch were completely ignored, left to pile up in a clearing on the island. Likely, the Pearl Hatchers were being observed, themselves (and there were monitors in the Pearl Hatch). So, for Locke to have taken the Orientation films literally, well, that was a potentially fatal mistake.
  • But I do doubt that Locke is dead. Eko as well. I doubt they are off the show - they are popular characters.
  • No idea what the four-toed, ginormous statue was. It reminded me of Planet of the Apes, where they see the Statue of Liberty, lying fallen on the NYC shoreline. Oh wait....I have to amend what I said before about the Twilight Zone: Planet of the Apes AND Terminator (Part 1 ONLY) are excellent examples of the Twilight Zone genre.
  • Mr. Friendly has a name! TOM. And Ms. Klugh is Bea. Another little pissing contest going on there. The petty disagreements amongst any group will always be the same, apparently. Someone becomes the de facto leader (Jack-Henry), someone else the de facto thug (Friendly-Sawyer), someone else the yin voice of reason (Kate-Klugh), and so forth....
  • Why does Alex Rousseau look upset/scared when she sees the ferry carrying Henry and "Walt"?
  • Why are the Others always barefoot?
  • Why is Locke so hell-bent on stopping everyone else from pushing the buttons? Since when does Locke really care about anyone else's welfare?
  • Desmond acheives what he needed to: by using the key to stop the electro-magnetic thing once and for all, he earns back his honor. You can see it in his eyes.
  • If the Others are "The Good Guys", then who are the "bad guys"?
  • Kate and Jack seem to have some sort of plan - the whole eye-blinking thing.
  • The final takes place off the island in the present. I believe this is the first time this happens on the show.
  • Charlie's behavior when he returns to the othre Lostaways is just plain weird. He's not hysterical. He's not anything. And he asks if Eko and Locke were back yet and seems surprised that that are not? Heh?
  • Speaking of strange behavior, the Lostaways don't seem to be acting strange, scared, hysterical or anything about the explosion that just happened with no explanation and for no apparent reason. The violet light. The hatch cover that falls from the sky into their camp. No one got hurt! It all seems so odd. I hope that this gets explained next season.
And that's all she wrote.


Kurmasana is like pizza

Even when it's bad, it's good.

So, I fell out of Titti (as my friend L calls it) on my way out of Bhuja. So, I was so slippery (wearing capris for no apparent reason) that I couldn't even press up to Titti after Supta K. So, I couldn't lift my heels in Kurmasana without bruising my triceps. So. What.

Self-practice tomorrow, hopefully in a heated room. Some might call it Bikram followed by the middle third of Primary. But I will call it self-practice.

Adam's seven today.

Did you know that when they were still horsedrawn, busses were called "omnibusses"? And here I was thinking that "omnibus" was an adjective describing a law that covers many sundry topics. Learn something new in First Grade every day.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The inevitable Lost post

So many have tried to imitate the Twilight Zone, and yet with the exception of Big, which, in any event, pretended to be light comedy, none have ever successfully pulled it off.

Until Lost.

Lost is like the longest, bestest Twilight Zone episode ever.


I would like to think...

that wearing these thong-alicious better-than-Birkenstock sandals helps define me as at least somewhat hip, with the artistic and comfort sensibilities of, well, maybe, a dancer.

I am deeply afraid, however, that wearing these orthopedically correct, rocker-bottom, sensibly comfortable or (dear god, no!), perhaps comfortably sensible, shoes begins to define me as at least somewhat middle-aged, with the arthritic and osteoporotic sensibilities of, well, I suppose it is inevitable, a woman of a certain age.

There was a time when I might gaze into the window of a chic boutique and long for the fabulous shoes with the breathtakingly high heels. Now when I gaze into the same window, what I long for is not so much the shoes, but what having a use for them might represent....

I'm just saying.


Boring drivel

Last night was Yoga For Breast Cancer Survivors at the Arch, and it was soooo good. It could have been soooo bad....somehow there was a glitch, for like the third time in a row, and we lost our main space. We ended up having to practice in a tiny little room used during the day by a painter. It barely fits two mats, and when we first opened the door, we were greeted by the smell of oil paint. But since the room was so small with big big windows, it took only a few minutes to air it out. Then we burned some incense and we were good to go. I really enjoyed teaching last night. I felt like I was bringing something to the table. I don't always feel that way, you know. I need to get back to teaching a bit more. I have been really lazy about it and selfish with my own practice. So, Saturday, I'm teaching a class at Boom Fitness. And then starting in June, I might have mentioned this already, I am teaching lunchtime classes at Yoga Sutra for Sarah W through August (I think?) while she is away in Croatia.

I do like the long-term sub gigs. Less burnout. Less concern with boring my students. I would imagine that hearing the same stuff, granted, perhaps in a different order, or coming from a slightly different "angle", over and over again from the same teacher would be kind of boring to many vinyasa students, many of whom are practicing vinyasa in order to enjoy the "something different each time" that vinyasa provides.

So, it's finally gorgeous in NYC again. It's May, after all. It SHOULD be nice out. As for me, I feel a bit weary today. Is it that I taught last night? Or that I went deeper than usual in yesterday's practice, and now I need some recovery time? Is it that I ate some God-forsaken grilled chicken in my salad last night? Is it that I am dehydrated? I felt myself dragging through practice more slowly than usual today. Despite my willing myself to move faster (and by "faster", I mean, up to a normal speed, sans fiddling with clothing, extra breaths unintentionally taken here and there....), I just couldn't seem to get to Supta K before Sir left the room. Which was fine anyway. I probably needed a break from the adjustments anyway.

Nevertheless, it was a fine practice. They can't all be life-altering, cataclysmic, epiphanistic (if that is even a word), euphoric, transcendant experiences. Oh, and here is some good news for those who practice at Shala X who have the Sir-attachment thing going on: he will be there most of the summer. And some good news for those who miss Mark: he will probably be coming for a few weeks this summer.

And the Lost Season Finale!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am not expecting any real surprises. I pretty much have a sense of what is going on, or at least I think I do: the Others have voluntarily left civilization and are looking to create some kind of uber-civilization (if a diet consisting solely of fruits and dried fish and wiping one's butt with leaves, rather than toilet paper, can be viewed as "uber"). Said Others may or may not have been part of the Dharma Initiative. They may or may not be connected with the Hanso Foundation. They may or may not have found a way to tap into some forces of nature, which may or may not involve psychic powers, healing powers, Uri Geller-esque mentalism and fun with magnets.

As for why the conspiracy theories that abound on the Lost-obsessive message boards, I am not sure if all of the Lostaways are connected to each other simply because we are ALL six degrees from Kevin Bacon, I mean, rather, six degress of separation, or if somehow all of the Lostaways were "handpicked" to end up on Craphole Island, as the late, great Shannon called it. I do, however, assume that the plane crash that brought them there was the result of some sort of foul play on the part of the Others and entirely intentional. I also have a suspicion that Jack's Christian dad, I mean, rather, Jack's dad, Christian, is not dead at all. I have a suspicion that Sawyer, who has a tendency to get shot, and often, will end up seriously injured if not dead tonight. If he ends up dead, I will be very, very sad because he is, like, so friggin sexy, and I don't want to not see him on my TV screen. I also have a suspicion that Eko could end up dead - a martyr of sorts. I don't feel as if there is much mystery left to Lost at the moment. But I see that as a good thing. I don't feel confused watching it anymore. That is also a good thing. It's just a well-written, suspenseful series. It doesn't have to be the millenium's answer to Twin Peaks. It just has to entertain.

Which this post was not designed to do.

Remember, you were warned.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

4 seconds

That was how long Sir had my hands BOUND IN SUPTA K today!!!!!!!!!!

And I seemingly got a pat on the head, or the back, don't remember which.

The key to progress in Supta K is, apparently, to ignore it and focus on the poses that come before it.

The constant refrain.

Beyond wrists in Mari A today. Barely wrists in B and C. A nice good hand clasp in D. Vinyasas, not so stellar after Purvotanasana, but then, asanas are the thang right now. Someday it will all come together, or it will seem to, until I look back at some later point and realize that it wasn't actually together at all, but NOW it is....

Spent the rest of the afternoon in what felt like a trip to the Dharma Initiative (Lost fans will know), subjected, as I was, to all measure of cognitive testing.

Dr. R: "Repeat after me: 1 3 8 5 7 4 9".........."Okay, now backwards"........."OK, now every other number"....."Okay, now what was the name of the fisherman in that story I told you back about an hour ago?"........."Okay, so let's say it takes eight machines to do the job in 6 hours, and 96 machines to do the job in a half hour, how much wood CAN a woodchuck chuck, would you say?"............

Me: drooooooooool

I got yelled at for checking my written work over before handing it back to her, and she even took away my eraser at one point.

Why did I subject myself to this? Because my insurance company told me I had to. Your tax dollars at work. Or your insurance premiums, at least. Who IS this shrink who gets paid by insurance companies to disprove the disability claims of people who've suffered enough?




Monday, May 22, 2006

Touching down

Banner day: I touched my own hands down on the ground in Prasarita Padotannasana C!!! Hooray for me!!! This is such a milestone for me, and so key to gaining rotator cuff mobility. I actually did it at home yesterday too, but I didn't mention it because I felt like perhaps it was a fluke, or perhaps it was simply a function of being in the comfort of my own home (if you couldn't tell, I am one of those people who has better home practices than shala practices, but I go to the shala because I think it will help me to improve my practice overall). But it seems to have stuck! Oooooh, the way it feels to touch ground with pinky fingers over my head......Ahhh.

And thanks to Jody's(subliminal?) suggestion, I jumped into every standing posture....I am such a sucker for a challenge. It felt good, by the way.

Overall, practice was delicious today. I wish I could figure out why some days are just so sweet. I was all about the asanas today. I had absolutely no idea what was going on around me, who was there, who was doing what. I did every vinyassa (always do), but I didn't focus on them in terms of "how am I doing at these", but rather as a way of neutralizing my spine between postures.

I am so glad that I asked Sir about what postures prepare one for Supta K. When he said that it was the Marichyasanas and that ordinarily a student is deeper in the Marichyasanas (than me) before moving onto Supta K, instead of getting paranoid about it, I decided to "feast" on the Marichyasanas. And let me just say, I feel nourished. No more rushing through them to get to the fancy and enticing, but ultimately, unsatisfying Supta K. Someday, I hope that Supta K can "fill me up". But right now, not so much. And so, I am once again enjoying my journey. My sole complaint, and it's a small one, is that in C's desire to really help me to get deeper into the Marichyasanas, I end up feeling rushed to get into the postures. Sometimes she comes up to me and moves me into them, without giving me a chance to do so myself. I have this desire to pout, like a toddler, "NO! I DO IT BY SELF!" But I figure that this is also part of my journey, one of the challenges, and ultimately, it's being done for a reason. If I was going to get into every pose by myself, I could just do it at home. So, I let it happen, and I end up deeper in the poses for it. So my complaint is not exactly a complaint. More an acknowledgement of one of my inner struggles....

And there you have it.

I just want to add that I am wearing a FREAKIN' WINTER COAT today. It is May 21. And I am wearing a down jacket. It is bright and sunny, yes, but it is brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr very cold out.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Birthday party cheesecake jellybean boom!

Today, I slept late (9:00 a.m.) and then did a self-practice. It went nicely. I don't sweat that much when I practice at home. I wonder why that is. It's nice because the lack of sweat means that the Marichyasanas can be much deeper. Being able to get into C and D on the first try is a nice confidence booster. Kurmasana was chest-to-the floor, but Supta K is, of course, a million miles away.

Later on, we threw Adam's seventh birthday party at Randall's Island Golf the middle of the weirdest weather system I've ever seen in New York ity. When we got to the Island, it was drizzling lightly, but strangely bright out. As soon as we got out of the car, we heard big, giant claps of thunder and saw bright flashes of lightning. Not an auspicious day for golf. Or so it seemed. I felt badly for having all these people (16 kids and their parents) come out for a golf party in the middle of a thunderstorm. Not just badly, actually, worried. You know, electrocution risks and all. But before I could get wound up, the sun broke through again, although only on one side of the island. Not that the kids noticed. They were off and running, playing mini-golf, eating chips, and just basically having a blast. Pretty soon, the clouds were completely gone, and it became this incredibly bright and beautiful afternoon. Whew.

And I feel fine.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's Kate's face

(and apparently her feet and hands and bodily proportions)...but who was the "yoga expert" that modeled the asana?

Anyone know?

And does this remind anyone else of The Britney?


Friday, May 19, 2006

A love-hate thing

Yeah, I went to Bikram today. And it was not yoga. Not even close. That said, I think it was incredibly therapeutic for my body. That, and a trip to my chirorpractor, Jaimie Blau, who totally gets me, and totally fixed my "sore misalignment" today before class. I walked into her office, hunched over, stiff, kind of limping on both legs. I walked out at least an inch taller, all of my limbs freed from their stuck-ness. It was great.

So, the love hate's not about the chiropractic; it's about the Bikram. I hardly ever go to Bikram classes anymore (mainly because I am busy with my Ashtanga practice, and there simply isn't time for both), but when I do, it is more often than not that I find myself annoyed by the endless stream of dubious promises, threats and canned rhetoric. And that is what makes it "not yoga" for me, automatically. I mean, how can it be yoga when I am not in any way working with a quiet mind? How can it be yoga when I am staring into the mirror and cringing at the voice droning on endlessly from the front of the room?

So, then the obvious question: why do I go? Simple answer: because the heat feels so good, and when the heat is too much, it feels so good when it stops (paraphrasing the old "why are you banging your head into the wall...because it feels so good when I stop" truism). If you are a "heatie", then you will understand. If not, then you never will, and there's not going to be much of anything I or anyone else can say to change your mind. Although Bikram's "whatever" is not yoga, and although it annoys the crap out of me, it is still worth it for me to go sometimes, if only for that wonderful melting feeling, for the feeling of accomplishment at withstanding the heat. Besides, it's nice to occasionally take a break from the integrity of the Ashtanga practice. My teacher is not there at Bikram. I can chart my own course, within the bounds of the Bikram practice, at least. And I get to enjoy some poses that are nowhere to be found in the Primary Series (Garudasana, Natarajasana, the delightful "toe stand"), Ustrasana, Dhanurasana, Salabasana, Ardha Matsyandrasana), knowing that they were intentionally sequenced by someone who supposedly employs a method to his madness.

Today, the love-hate scale was tipping way more toward the hate side, however. The teacher was a long-time Bikram teacher. Now, in Bikram's, unlike in Ashtanga, long-time teachers may or may not have anything good to offer their students for the simple reason that the Bikram sequence is so undynamic and so non-changing that it is very easy for a teacher to burn out. In addition, when one goes to Beverly Hills for training, as opposed to when one goes to Mysore, there is no sense of history, no teachings of philosophy, no use of Sanskrit, nothing about eight limbs. Many Bikram teachers couldn't name even one of the eight limbs, and that includes "Asana". But a long-time Bikram teacher can be a breath of fresh air for the simple reason that with time comes distance from Bikram, himself. And with distance, comes perspective. As a result, the rhetoric may be less didactic, the specious promises less enthusiastic, the dubious threats less extreme. Long-time Bikram teachers have had the opportunity to think about things over time, and maybe, as a result, don't take it all that seriously, and offer to the students what it really is: a nice, sweaty, bendy workout.

Unfortunately, sometimes long-time Bikram teachers try to alleviate their burnout by attempting to "spice it up" in some way. Thus, they begin adding (I swear, I kid you not) anusara alignment principles to their spiel, or they begin giving hands-on adjustments, despite that they have no training (and no authority from Bikram, in fact, quite the opposite) to do so. They may add chanting to their classes or ring bells or gongs. Sometimes they go the opposite route and become unduly hard-nosed about students' adherence to the idiosynchrasies of the Bikram practice, namely, standing absolutely still between postures, waiting for the teacher's class-wide instructions before moving deeper into a pose (as opposed to trusting the teacher within onesself)...etc. I could go on, but I am boring myself. So, suffice it to say that the teacher was a long-time teacher.

I knew we were off to a bad start when before class even started, I was playing around on my mat with some vinyasa sequencing, and Bikram Teacher came into the room, made a beeline to me and stepped on my "vinyasa buzz". "Excuse me," she said, "I couldn't help but notice that you were doing side-plank on the edge of your foot. I take yoga with Dharma Mittra, and you're supposed to place the entire sole of your foot on the floor."

I wanted to be receptive to this. But I just couldn't muster it up.

"You know," I replied, "there are many different variations of each posture, depending on the yoga you practice. Dharma's way is one way. My way is another."

Maybe she wanted to be receptive to this. But clearly, she couldn't muster it up either.

Class began. But there was no heat at all. Finally someone spoke up, and Bikram Teacher turned on one of the heaters. It never really got hot enough for me. And since heat was pretty much the sole reason I was there, I felt a bit distressed. No yoga happening for me.

Things went from bad to worse. She objected to be squatting in between postures in order to catch my breath, saying, "Sit or stand, commit to something!" She objected to me going right into postures as soon as she called them out, rather than waiting for her step-by-step instructions, which are intended for beginners; I wanted to feel the postures and hold them for the entire time allotted, rather than experience the posture for maybe five seconds at the end of a long litany of "steps" to get into the posture. She tried to give me a hands-on adjustment at some point, and I recoiled. No way was I going to be touched by a teacher who has never had any training in hands-on adjustments...I had come directly from my chiropractor's office! Not a chance my sweaty body was going to be pushed into or out of a pose by untrained hands.

Throughout the first 50 minutes of class, I felt as if this teacher was browbeating me continually. She kept saying things "to the class" that seemed to be addressed to me. There was some kind of surreal power struggle going on between her and me, and it was ruining my experience. Finally, after she called out my name and told me to bend my knee in Parsvotanasana, I quietly told her that I was a yoga teacher, myself, that I have a daily yoga practice outside of Bikram, and that I would really appreciate it if she would please just treat me as if I wasn't there...please, just let me do my practice.


Not a very yogic experience.

Anyway, the good news is she kind of left me alone after that, and after class, I did all of my Ashtanga Primary Series postures from Marichyasana A through Supta K, and I felt GREAT. And it was nice to be able to see what I looked like in the mirror in Mari C and D. It actually made me feel better about myself, not worse, which surprised me.

And that brings me to tomorrow, Saturday, a day off after two weeks of six days on and one day off. Ahhhhh.....


Blog and run

I have a few minutes before I head over to Bikram, so I figured I'd give a quick blog-down of my day yesterday. So, let's see...

Ashtanga practice was really really good. Thanks to some soul searching and blogging, as well as a really good chat with Sergio, I decided that my practice was suffering from a really bad case of ambition and that if my Ego wasn't going to ruin it for my Self, I was going to have to take a fresh view of Supta K and its role and place in my practice. As such, Supta K has become dessert, after a feast of Marichyasanas. And practice yesterday was so good, as a result, that I have decided not to sully the memory of it by trying to recapture it today. Insteady, I have decided to go sweat-box it, and afterwards, do my Marichyasanas and backbending. I do think that over time, Bikram is going to become more important to me as a supplement to Ashtanga. After discussions with mi mama, it has become apparent that I may indeed posses a genetic predisposition for troublesome shoulder joints. On the bright side, mom has the most muscular legs I have ever seen on a non-professional athlete and even at cough, 63, cough, still has NO hip or knee problems whatsoever. I would even go so far as to say that my mom has open hips. She did birth a 8 and a half pound baby without drugs back in the day. Can't say the same for myself - Addie, my strapping 9 pound second-born - was pulled from my tummy, alas. His broad shoulders and barrel-chest were not going anywhere any other way.

Anyway...after practice, I lazed around, non-blogging, but chattting with my Canary Islands friend, then took Lewis on a long walk, and then just as I was about to sit down again to blog, I got a call from my friend Christine, who was walking around the Upper East Side and wanted to go sit in a cafe and loll away the sunny afternoon (our kids were in their afterschool activities). And so we did. And it was good. Sometime during the day I found out that Tom, of Tom and Daisy, has been sentenced to 37 months in jail. The judge said that he "deserved no leniency because he had everything going for him" when he cheated investors, "in response to a financial crisis he caused himself by spending far more than he earned." No judgements, just an update here.

Later in the evening, I sat down to read the Yoga International I had picked up for the unreasonable, no, obscene, cost of $3.99, and saw that a whole bunch of yoga teachers were profiled as "yoga inspirations" or something like that. Christopher was among those profiled, and I loved his brief, non-overblown essay. Especially when compared with the verbal diarrhea of Cyndi Lee and John Friend, the ego-horn-tooting of Rodney "It was my calling to inspire people" Yee (yes, Rodney, we are inspired by your having left your wife and kids in California to be with your student, Colleen, in Long Island) and the incomprehensibility of Shiva Rea.

But back to John Friend....I have to admit something: I have no idea what the hell he is saying. I have taken classes that claim to be Anusara, or that maybe even are Anusara, and I have never understood a word of it: "Flowing into grace by saying "yes" to the whole magical spectrum of life"? "All of creation is divinely danced into existence for the simple delight and the play of embodying the Supreme's own blissful nature...."? "The highest intention of practicing Anusara Yoga is to align with the Divine. As we deepen our alignment with the Supreme, we step deeper into the flow of Grace. It is through the revelatory power of Grace that we awaken to the truth that this Divine flow is our essential nature"??

The hell?

I'm not big into things that are incomprehensible to me. I'm a fairly smart girl, and I have come to realize over the years that if something is as impermeable to me as all that, then it just must not make a whole lot of sense. And maybe some people like that. Maybe some people feel that if it is too hard for them to understand, then it must be really, really SMART STUFF. But I don't buy into that anymore. If it is impossible for me to obtain any sort of meaning, then it must be drivel. Or it must be intentionally incomprehensible - for the purpose of intimidating those who feel that a guru is not a guru if you can understand what the hell he's saying.

Anyway, time for Bikram, which comes complete with its own mumbo jumbo ("After doing this class, you will have a whole new body!" "If your spine is healthy, you will never get sick!" "This posture replaces 8 hours of sleep!"), not to mention the WORST pranayama EVER (if you have ever taken a Bikram class, then you will know exactly what I am talking about).

But I feel like melting today. So, off I go.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Lost Diet

Not a bad idea really: mangos, papayas, guava, home-grown herbs, freshly grilled freshly caught fish, coconut meat, coconut water, spring water, the occasional black coffee, the occasional alcoholic beverage in airplane-bottle-sized portions, the occasional (air-lifted) snack-food drop (Dharma Mac and Cheese, Dharma-O's, Dharma Milano's, etc....).

No wonder these Lostaways look so damn good (even Hurley, pictured above, seems to have lost some of those man-boobs, despite occasional binges on Dharma Ranch Dressing).

Excellent episode tonight, by the way. Harold Perrineau is one good actor, as is Josh Hotaway, I mean Holloway. In fact, there's really no slouches on this show. And unlike Grey's Anatomy, character flaws in main characters are not intended to ingratiate us to them or to satisfy our baser desires. They challenge us to see them in a new and ugly light.

On other topics, I spent a whole lot of time today feeling sorry for myself, bemoaning the fact that I can't seem to get my shoulders to rotate freely in any direction and that when I AM able to get some movement, it is only with a whole lotta heat and repetition, staring grumpily at my swollen knuckles (Seriously - I now wear a size 7 1/2 ring! That is not normal for someone of my petite size. Is this arthritis? Seriously. My grandmother had gnarled knuckles, and my mom's are not really dainty either....I have always assumed that this is arthritis, but I sure as hell don't want to go beating down that door since I have a whole shipload of doctors who call me a patient and I really, really, really don't want to add another....), "feeling" fat when I weigh exactly what I weighed last week and the week before, when I was happy with my weight (and sadly, the Husband is of no help in this area, since he is "manorexic", by which I mean that he worships at the temple of Skinny, and no matter what I weigh, I could always weigh less, according to him). In addition, I'm pissed off that I have to take so many drugs each day and endure their f--ing side effects (hello, joint pain!! at least as it plays out for me, what with the yoga and the healthy lifestyle, it is not so much pain as it is stiffnes that makes me walk hunched over when I get up from a chair and that makes me limp if I sit too long with one leg bent) and that I still need some minor reconstructive surgery.

Jeeeez. Do I hear myself??? So shallow. So lame. I'm alive, I'm feeling well. I'm heading into my fifth year of survival. Which sort of explains a lot, I guess. The further away you get from the fire, the easier it is to forget the burn and focus on the minutia.

So, let's not be beating up Yoga Chickie. And that includes you, Yoga Chickie. Sometimes you just need a reality check. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Talking (chatting, really) with Sergio this afternoon seemed to help. It was like a mini-therapy session (thanks!). Ultimately, he helped me to see that it's better for me to focus on the postures that I HAVE some movement in, and some success with: the Marichyasanas, especially given that Sir told me that these are the keys to Supta K for me. Instead of trying to "get" Supta Kurmasana, just "do" Supta K, treat it like the fact that I am able to include it in my practice at all as a GIFT! And in the meanwhile, work on the Marichyasanas, go back to letting those be a major focus. It makes so much sense.

So, tomorrow, I FEAST on Marichyasana A, B, C and D. And then dessert will be Bhuja and Supta K. And Navasana? It shall serve to cleanse the pallet.


You're fine; you just need to work on patience

Thus spaketh Sir.

I had one of my typical internal debates this morning before getting my ass down to practice. It went something like this:

Ego: I can't show up to practice feeling all stiff, my sacro-iliac joints practically immobalized with inflammation, with the taste of garlic and butter croutons still in my stomach after munching on them mindlessly while the Husband ate his dinner last night, to boot.

Self: You need to go to practice when you feel like that. Let it be a lesson not to eat disgusting croutons, not to eat after dinner, and not to eat white flour for that matter.

Ego: You don't understand. I can't show up like this. What will Sir think? How will it look?

Self: Life happens. You still practice. You don't practice only when you think you're going to look good. That's not practice, that's performance. You go. Now!

Ego: NO. And, Self? Shut up ya big bitch.

Self: OK, woa, that's no way to speak to your self. Do you want to practice Ashtanga? Or do you want to ruin it for yourself by setting up all these silly expecations? You need to practice on days like this. They may be even more important than the days that you feel good. Resistance to the mat is a natural phenomenon, especially after a particularly good practice. Just move through it, and get to the shala.

Ego: Alright, alright, alright.

And so I went. Ego complained bitterly. Ego explained to C that my s-i joints were stiff, as a way of excusing some pretty sad looking bending. C asked if that meant I wanted her to go easy on me. Self squelched Ego there, and said, "No, I was just complaining. Don't listen!" Self, kind as she is, did recognize that the stiff s-i joints are likely the result of the work I'm doing with my hips and lower back in Supta K. So, Self prevented Ego from rushing through practice in order to get a Supta K adjustment. Self thought it best that Yoga Chickie do Supta K on her own today and gently too.

I ended up spending a lot of time neutralizing my spine after Supta K and working on opening my shoulders in backbends and decided to skip most of the finishing sequence and go straight to the three sitting poses. I also happen to think that I am in need of a chiropractic adjustment, so I wasn't really anxious to potentially exacerbate my
subluxation by balancing on my neck and then on my head, as much as I enjoy doing so. No, really, I do. I am an inversion fanatic. It's just that my spine tends to get out of wack after a couple of weeks as a result. Those of you who don't do chiropractic are probably giggling now. But don't knock it til you try it...

And as I finished up, Sir came into the room to open windows and what not. I decided to ask him what postures prepare the body for Supta K. The Marichyasanas, he said. I asked him if he came across many students like me, who can't even be adjusted into the posture. He offered me the truism that every body is different, but he did explain most of his students are deeper in the Marichyasanas before they get to Supta K. This was a bit horrifying to hear - if that is the case, then why am I even DOING Supta K? He must have his reasons. It's not like I demanded a new pose, or even asked for it.......I suppose that Supta K will ultimately help me with the preceding postures, but it's going to be a while before my body adjusts to it, gets used to it, finds some consistency with respect to it (the way I have found consistency in every posture that comes before Mari A).

Before my head could spin 360 degrees around into a veritable vritti vortex, Sir said, and I repeat it here in case I ever forget it, this way I can look back and remember that this really happened: "You're doing FINE. Your work is learning to be patient."



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Diagnosis: Sharketh Jumpeth

OK, well, there's one series I won't be coming back to in the fall. Spoiler alert here, people. If you haven't seen the final episodes of Grey's Anatomy yet and you don't want to be "surprised" (as if), then stop reading now.

Some filler goes here to keep you from seeing the big "suprise" in your peripheral vision. Practice was fabulous today. Everything that was supposed to move and release did. On a good day like today, if you practice near me, you'll hear what sounds like popcorn popping coming form my fingers, my wrists, my feet, my ankles and especially my spine, especially when I twist. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. It's all good. VERY good. Supta K is, of course, no closer, but I just know that someday...someday....

Anyway, McDreamy is a McAdulterer, and Meredith is a selfish little bitch. Destiny schmestiny; the two of them have a choice, you know. If he doesn't love his wife, and he can't make the marriage work, then he should be honest with his wife and make plans to leave. Until then, he's just a weak man with a very low integrity score. I mean, he couldn't keep his pants on at the hospital prom??? With his wife in the other room? And Meredith couldn't resist him? With Handsome McVettie waiting for her, telling her that she makes him want to make plans...for his life? Is the only person on this show with any integrity George O'Malley, who genuinely seems to like Callie, and who isn't going to run away from the relationship just because she's a bit more enthusiastic about the relationship than him?

Last night's double episode/season finale had a clear theme running through it, and that is that if you get to be loved, even once in your life, then you can die happy. Denny - he died happy. The 17-year old with cancer - she can die happy, as she told her uncle, the Chief. The Chief - he will die happy. The dog died happy, for chrissakes. So, why couldn't Meredith and Derek just leave it alone, knowing they were loved?

During the time that they loved each other, without acting on it, you could look at them as star-crossed lovers. You could sympathize with their plight. You might even be able to relate to them, thinking back to the one who got away, the one person out there who, well, if only....

But once they went down the rabbit hole with each other, what was noble becomes defiled. Something that could have been achingly beautiful becomes dirty and ugly. A relationship that seemed special becomes mundane - just another cheating spouse story.

In the final moment of the season, we have Meredith, standing in a triangle with Derek and Finn, each of them calling her name. Addison is somewhere in the room, presumably. If Derek is going to leave Addison for Meredith, is that really the time, place and manner in which to do it? After a furtive quickie with Meredith down the hall? With Addison in the room? If Meredith is going to be with Derek, did it have to be in that moment, with Finn standing right there?

Interestingly enough (at least to me), it is not just what happens on the television that has turned me off to Grey's Anatomy. It is also what is written on what the show's writers try to pass off as a writer's blog (I say "pass off" because all of the entries are written in the exact same voice, despite that they are all supposed to be written by different writers). On this blog, the writers talk excitedly about what is going to happen between "Mer and Der" and how they JUST KNOW (!!) that the fans want Mer and Der to get together. And maybe it's true. Maybe this is what most of the fans wanted. But I didn't.

It's gross. I don't need my television protagonists to be perfect. I enjoy them being flawed. But not so flawed that they become unlikeable. Like "Mer and Der", Grey's Anatomy went too far this time. In my opinion.

And yeah, cousin D, got your email, and yeah, I think I am....


Monday, May 15, 2006

Lost perspective

I haven't slept well for the past two nights, and I'm pinning the blame on Lost. I've been rewatching the entire series, episode by episode, and I've been staying up past midnight doing so. Not that that is so unusual, me staying up late and zoning out in front of the tube. But it's one thing to watch rerunsof Carrie Bradshaw punning her way through a shallow, cocktail-infused life. Apparently, it's another thing entirely to become emotionally involved with a (fictional!) group of castaways who have a a host of personal problems that seem to have followed them onto a non-deserted island that doesn't seem to exist on this planet, all the while being pursued by the "island militia" whose purpose has yet to be revealed. For some reason, Lost has been invading my dreams, weaving its way through both sleeping and waking thoughts as the night drones slowly on (at least now I understand why "sleep" is one of the causes of the vrittis). I wake up sweaty and achy and exhausted.

I wanted to blame it on getting too much sun on Saturday while watching the kids' little league games (no pesticides, thankfully). Then I wanted to blame it on dinner last night. But grilled tilapia, steamed vegetables and a nice Cabernet? Nothing so bad there. I bagged on going to the shala this morning and bitched and moaned to friends, who offered alternate theories: allergies, low barometric pressure, high humidity, gray skies. But as I sat on the sofa and watched a few more episodes of Lost, and as it slowly dawned on me that I wasn't enjoying watching it, but rather was watching it simply because I somehow felt compelled to do so - like an addict, I realized that the problem is the show.

So, I quit Lost. Oh, I'm sure I will still watch the last two episodes of the season. But I'm going to watch like a normal person, not a crazy, obsessed person.

Speaking of crazy and obsessed, I practiced yesterday. It was good. Nothing interesting to report other than (1) it really sucks to practice without having eaten anything now that I know how good it is to practice after having eaten something and (2) I had to stay in Kurmasana a loooooooooooooong time before I got adjusted into Supta K, and this was very difficult, but very very good.

My practice today consisted of around 10 A's and 10 B's, and then some restorative stuff. I am glad I managed to practice at all. I hope tomorrow is better.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Her name was Jessica

She never got to be a mother.

Instead, after unsuccessfully undergoing infertility treatment, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She shared her uniquely witty and intelligent voice with the blogging world in the aptly titled Cancer, baby.

I don't remember how I stumbled upon Cancer, baby, but I have been keeping up with it for some time now. When "Cancerbaby", as she was known to her fans, went silent in December, I knew that something bad was happening. And I suspect, so did the hundreds and hundreds of well-wishers who expressed their anxiety and hopes through their comments on CB's blog in the past several months.

Jessica died on Friday. I didn't know her except through reading her blog. But her words touched me and inspired me as a person, a writer and a mother. Like I said, she never got to be a mother. And she truly wished to be. For this I am so sorry. In honor of her memory, on this Mother's Day, I will observe a day of blogging silence.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Why I love Lost

Here is the seriously shocking Preview of Next Week's Episode, courtesy of YouTube. Yogamum, if you're reading, I know you will want to watch this...


Friday, May 12, 2006

I can't type because I am laughing too hard

Want some of what I've got?

Then click on over to the Renegade-whatever-he's-calling-himself-today, and check out "Funny Sad or Funny Haha", or as I like to call it, "Extreme Makeover: Sunglasses Edition".

See Detroit Ashtangi Gregg in seriously FAB D&G white-frame, big-ass-logo sunglassses! Help make those sunglasses a reality for Gregg! See the blogosphere come together to champion his cause!

It is truly heartwarming when folks come together to make the dreams of others become a reality.

Awwww, laughter has turned to tears of pride for my fellow Ashtangi.

You go, Gregg. Follow your bliss, man.


To moon or not to moon???

At some shalas, it is a moonday today. Not so at Shala X. And so, despite that I feel pretty good today, I am wondering: should I take it as a moonday and continue on with the pattern of six day week/five day week?

In any event, it would be a home practice. I suppose I will end up doing SOMETHING here after watching a few more Lost reruns on iTunes. I am really interested in going back now to the episodes I have already seen and picking out the "Easter eggs", as the producers and fans like to call the little suprises you can sometimes find hidden within the frames. It becomes easier to pick them out when you know what you're looking for, of courses. What I have picked up mainly through my re-watching is that

(1) in the first few episodes, the Lostaways use the words, "the others" a LOT when referring to each other ("What will we tell 'the others'?" "I have gathered up some of 'the others'..."), which is interesting to me because later on "the others" becomes the phrase the Lostaways use in referring to the inhabitants of the island who did not arrive on Flight 815...

(2) Walt clearly has the power to summon animals out of his imagination (a bird, a polar bear, perhaps the boar that gored his dad?); so then why is it that only John Locke is able to summon Walt's dog, Vincent, out of the jungle...

(3) It is clear immediately, once you know that you're looking for it, that Locke is not in the slightest bit interested in getting off the island; in fact, he seems quite enamoured with the island, opening his arms wide to welcome the rain, speaking of the island as if it is god-like, saying that he has "stared into the eye of the island, and it is beautiful." Locke helps only with matters that involve survival ON the island.

(4) The violence that befell the pilot in the first episode (The Pilot!) was unlike anything that happens later on in the series. The pilot's is pulled out of the cockpit by a supernatural force and his body is later found mangled in the branches of a tree. Any violence that happens later in the series is purely human-wrought. As the series goes on, the level of supernatural appears to dwindle, and the bad things that happen to people happen at the hands of other people. I wonder if this points towards a reason that "the others" need to have in their "possession" children with special powers, such as Walt. Perhaps their powers are dwindling as they "age out", and they need to replenish their supernatural powers?

(5) Over the course of the series, it begins to look more and more as if the "others" are members of the Hanso Foundation and the Dharma Initiative, and that they came to the island to conduct experiments, but that something went awry that led them to abandon their pursuits. Now they are engaged in different pursuits. It is not clear what those pursuits are. But clearly, these people have no interest in leaving the island and are in the midst of something they believe to be important.

(6) From the looks of the plane crash, it seems as if the plane was broken into three pieces by some force that came from below. The crash does not in any way appear to be any sort of explosion or equipment malfunction.

(7) Dr. Candle/Wickman lost his arm and then gained it back, or had an arm and then lost it. In anyplace other than Lostaway Island, it would have to be the latter. But I wonder if the island healed him, the way the island healed Rose (of her cancer) and Locke (of his paralysis) (and Charlie - of his heroin addiction? and Jack of his alcoholism? and Ana Lucia of her homicidal rage? and Shannon of her uselessness? and Michael of his absentee fatherism? okay, the last few may be kind of stretching it, but it does seem that the island becomes a place where lives can turn around, which seems obvious, of course, but still, it's kind of interesting to see how it plays out)

(8) Speaking of lost arms, the Australian farmer who took Kate in (thinking that her name was "Annie"), and who ultimately turned her in to the US Marshall, was missing an arm, himself. It was the right arm though. Dr. Candle/Wickman was missing his left arm. Until he wasn't!

(9) I wonder why all the tailies are now dead other than Bernard and Mr. Eko.

(10) I wonder what who Jack's dad's daughter is - is it Claire? Is it the daughter of the psychic - the girl who drowned and came back to life? Is the psychic (to whom Claire went, and who sent Claire to LA, which caused her to be on Flight 815) the same guy as the healer to whom Rose went? Will we ever find out why Libby was in a mental hospital, and how she kept her hair blonde on the island when she was clearly a brunette (as evidenced by her hair in the mental hospital)?

(11) Why is "You All Very Butty" still winding its way through my brain?

(12) Sun should NOT have been on Flight 815. Jin, maybe. But definitely not Sun. Sun was supposed to have fled the airport and her old life. Jin probably would not have gotten on the plane had Sun not gotten on, so perhaps Jin should not have been on the plane. I find this curious because it turns out that Sun is pregnant, so it would seem logical that she would be "wanted" by the "others", since the "others" are interested in children. As for Jin, I find it curious that he was not necessarily supposed to have been on that plane because many of the Lostaways seem to "need" to be on the island in order to make a new start. If anyone needed a new start, it was certainly Jin. On the OTHER hand, I hear rumblings amongst the even-more-obsessed-than-me folks who post on the Lost message boards over at, that the Sun's father's shady business, of which Jin played a role, may have been in some way connected with the Hanso and/or Dharma folks. So, perhaps whatever happened between Sun and Jin that led, against numerous odds, to them being on that plane, was entirely predictable or even engineered by the "others".

(13) The first book we see newly minted bookworm, Sawyer, is reading "Watership Down", a story "about bunnies", as Sawyer says. I find it an interesting parallel with what's going on with the Lostaways. In Watership Down, the bunnies leave what was once their home and basically create a whole new civilization for themselves. I don't think this is particularly earth-shattering. Just kind of a clever "Easter Egg".

(14) I just have to say that the episode called "The Moth" was absolutely brilliant. The "moth" theme is explained by Locke to Charlie: you could help a moth out of its cocoon, but then, it would be to weak to survive in the world; instead, you have to let it struggle to make its way out, the struggle being what makes it strong. This theme is echoed in Charlie's struggle to detox from his heroin addiction and to stay clean (Locke helps him, but ultimately, Charlie rejects the help and makes the final decision to stay clean on his own) and in Jack's escape from the cave, which has collapsed around him, like a cocoon (only through the struggle to get out of the cave does Jack realize that he can be a leader; on a more literal note, it is through the collapse of the cave that the Lostaways are able to determine that with the exception of the portion that collapsed, the cave is structurally sound).

(15) Jack's last name is "Shepherd" - as in leading the flocks.

(16) I think it's strange that the body of Jack's father is not in the coffin that Jack finds amid the wreckage. Where would it go? The coffin was in decent shape when Jack found it. Can a body just fly out of a coffin while the coffin stays intact, in a plane crash scenario, I mean? I don't think it is pure coincidence that Jack's father is named, "Christian Shepherd" either. There is definitely a whole religious faith theme being developed on Lost, although I can't really figure out what it is yet.

(17) Claire wears a large Asian character (letter?) around her neck on a string. It may be the same as one of the characters (letters?) Jack has tatooed on his arm. I am not sure if it is the same as the Chinese characters (the producers confirmed that the characters are Chinese in a recent podcast) that are part of the Dharma Initiative logo.

I see a few people have commented on yesterday's blog entry on the definitions that bind us. Seems like there is a bit of dissent. Nothing to compare with the dissent of the days of yore on this blog. But still some fun debate!

And update: yes, I did practice. It was the best of practices and the worst of practices, a veritable practice "stew" of sorts. And it went on and on and on and on. A long-cooking stew. And I can't WAIT for it to be tomorrow when I can NOT practice and feel totally fine about it!


Thursday, May 11, 2006

When you're a hammer, everything is a nail

If you want to have a reason why you'll never be able to do something, say, practice yoga, or master a particular posture in yoga, or drive a car, or learn a foreign language, or whatever it is you see yourself as being unable to do, then you will always be able to find it, keep it in your pocket and take it out whenever you need to use it. If you want someone to validate your reasoning, you'll always be able to find that person, someone who is always willing to tell you exactly what you need to hear in order to keep you exactly where you are right now.

But isn't it better to take a broader view of yourself? Isn't it better to continually ask yourself, "Am I defining myself too narrowly here?" Isn't it better to stop settling for any one definition of who you are, and instead, to allow your definition of yourself to evolve over time?

From the moment we are born, the ways in which we define ourselves begin piling up thanks to our well-meaning parents (remember, Mom, as you read this, I am a parent too....). We're the "first born" and behave accordingly. We're the "smart one" or the "cute one". We are really good with language, but not so good with numbers. We are really good at art, but maybe not so inclined toward science. We're sports enthusiasts. Or we're bookish.

We take comfort in the ways in which we define ourselves, even when those definitions are not so favorable. "I've never been good at getting places on time," we say to those who are waiting for us, as if our lateness is an immutable truth. "I could never run long distances because I would get bored being in my own head for so long," we say without ever having tried it. We take pride in the ways in which we define ourselves. We're athletic. We're brilliant. We're good with animals.

Of course, anyone who's been reading this blog for any length of time knows exactly where I'm going with this.


We're athletic - but we trip running from first to second base. We're brilliant, but we miss the mark on an important term paper in schol. We're healthy, but we get sick. We have a great yoga practice, but we've been having trouble focusing lately. We are talented, but we don't get the part, don't get the job, don't sell the book, the song, the ticket, the idea. And we suffer. We'd suffer anyway, I suppose when things don't go as we had hoped. But when you add to the mix the dissonance between our definitions and our reality, and when you add to that the realization that perhaps our definitions need some tweaking, well, the suffering can be paralyzing.

But I've talked about this approximately eleventy billion times on this blog already, and commented on your blogs about it, and talked to my students in class about it. At least from the perspective of not meeting our expectations, of not measuring up to our definitions of ourselves. What I have not really gotten into thus far is the notion of defining ourselves to the detriment of our growth and expansion.

I have a close friend whom I love dearly. She has always been there for me, even when I haven't been the most deserving of her generosity of spirit. She doesn't judge people harshly. For that matter, she hardly judges people at all. If you tell her something terrible has happened to you, or even that you've done something terrible, she makes you feel like it's going to be okay, not because she feeds you a bunch of cliches about "everything's going to turn out alright" but because she looks at you straight in the eyes and talks to you as if this you're the twelfth person she spoke to on this day who had the same thing happen or who did the same exact thing. If she hasn't heard it all before, you would never know it, because she accepts what you tell her with a vibe of total calm.

The only trouble is that her generosity stops when it comes to herself. My friend has a limited definition of who she is and what she can do. And she does not seem capable of expanding her definitions. I guess she believes she can be more comfortable by adhering to the gospel she has set down for herself in her own mind.

But to paraphrase Pema Chodron, the brilliant American Buddhist nun, if we spend our time trying to stay comfortable, eventually we are going to run headlong into our own discomfort. It is inevitable. A much more "juicy" and "spicy" way to live is to allow ourselves to get to know ourselves better, test our reality, ask ourselves: what is no longer true about me that used to be true? What is true about me now that used to not be true?

For several years now, I have been trying to figure out the perfect gift for my friend, to show my appreciation for everything that she did for me when I was sick in 2002. That's a long time, and it reflects the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible, to give my friend anything because she has a difficult time admitting that she needs anything. But this week, it dawned on me, finally: I would teach my friend to drive a car.

Yes, it's true. She is more than twenty-five years past the age when most of us get our learner's permits. But having grown up in New York City, my friend never learned to drive. It really isn't that unusual, although it certainly isn't the norm, and it certainly isn't advisable once you have children, especially children that leave the city to go to chess tournaments, sporting events, camps, and the like. And so, I offered to teach my friend to drive.

"You and everyone else," she laughed.

Apparently, I wasn't the first, and surely I will not be the last.

"I'm just not a driver," she said emphatically, effectively battening down the hatches.

"How can you say that if you've never tried to drive?" I asked her, "How can you KNOW that about yourself without having tried and failed and tried and failed some more?"

"Look at my mom. She can't drive. I'm like her. We don't drive." Her reasoning was so ingrained that it made perfect sense to her. In her mind, she is simply someone who cannot drive. Can. Not. Drive. It is as much a part of her identity as her name, her hair color, her eye color.

But the thing is - even one's name and hair color can change. Even one's eye color can change too as one ages. There is nothing about us that is ultimately and fully resistent to change. Unless our mind tells us so. Even then, we might have a hard time navigating the distance between what our mind tells us and what is actually true or what later becomes true. But sometimes, as in this case, our mind can have an incredible power over the limitations we impose upon ourselves. Perhaps more power than it can ever have over our most optimistic expectations.

I tried to explain to my friend that by defining herself as a non-driver, she was virtually assuring that she would always be a non-driver. I asked her if she might, at some later point, not while we were on the phone, consider the possibility that she could become someone who could drive? You know, allow for the possibility of changing her definition of herself?

So far, that has not come to pass. But as I read the EZ Board and see that someone has been told that perhaps their arms are too short to bind in Mari C, and as I think back to a yoga teacher that I once had who told me that my arms are too short to practice lolasana or jump my feet through my legs, I feel compelled to remind myself and anyone who cares to read this blog, that mindfulness is not just about keeping our expectations of, and demands upon, ourselves in line with where we are right now. Mindfulness is also about opening up to the possibility that what the limitations which we believe to be the walls that surround us may be nothing more than a mirage, that we might actually be able to walk right through them. If we give ourselves permission to try.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I took Karen's advice and Tim Miller's advice (via Julie) and banned the thinking today. I just went to practice. And it was good. Not quite as good as yesterday, but stuff like that, well, it can't happen every day. I am glad to feel like I am back in the swing of things. Working on a couple of big picture things right now:

  • ujayi breaths in each asana
  • learning to practice in any weather, in any clothing - it shouldn't matter what I am wearing. A towel to wipe off the excess sweat should be enough. Other than that, no rolling and unrolling of pants, no picking up my shirt so that I can use the sweat on my skin to slide my arms around, etc.
  • no dawdling between poses. Just do the practice.
Did I mention I got a summer teaching gig at Yoga Sutra? I am so looking forward to it - 1:30 p.m. vinyasa class on Fridays. Perfect for me when my kids are at camp! Also some other classes with some privately arranged groups on a different day. And probably some other stuff will come up as well. But for now, it's plenty, and it's all good! I really love teaching these temporary gigs. There is so much less pressure for me in terms of keeping it fresh, growing a class and keeping students interested over the long term. It's like what Samantha on Sex and the City said about threesomes: it's best to be the guest of honor.



Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A million little reasons

Nothing like a few calories to prop up those bandhas. When I woke up this morning, I was incredibly famished, to the point of having a stomachache. I have no idea why that happens sometimes. But anyway, on the way back from dropping off the kids at school, I picked up a PowerBar and enjoyed it with a cup of black coffee. I then proceeded to think of a million reasons why I could skip practice today. And believe me, a million reasons takes up a lot of time, so I was still listing them in my head as I turned my car onto 79th Street from my parking garage's driveway and saw that the line of cars waiting to get onto the FDR Drive South was two avenues long. I was still listing them as I turned my car the other way and drove toward Second Avenue. I was still listing them as the traffic jam proved to be city-wide. And I was still listing them as I found myself on East 9th Street at 9:25 a.m., pulling into a parking spot on the non-street-cleaning side of the street.

When I walked into the shala, I finally took control of those vrittis, kindly asking them to please shut the hell up. I needed to find a spot amid the throngs of ashtangis, and I needed to do so fast. And so I began to practice. My mind was fairly quiet, my feet were light, my joints open. I told myself not to rush, that I wasn't going to squeeze in a Supta Kurmasana before Sir left the room anyway. That said, I also told myself to cut out the extraneous stuff and just do my practice.

That meant, only five breaths in each pose, but REAL breaths, rather than merely the sound of my voice in my head, counting (okay, one exception: 10 breaths in parivritta parsvakonasana - I need five breaths with my hands in prayer, and five breaths in the full version of the posture). That meant not holding Prasarita Padotannasana C as long as it took to get someone to press my hands to the floor. That meant one breath in each down dog of the Primary Series through the Marichyasanas. That meant no dawdling between Marichyasanas. And lo and behold, I was on Supta Kurmasana within 45 minutes (without having cut out any Surya Namasakars!), and I got a GREAT assist from Sir.

Then I took Julie's excellent advice and held the downdog after Supta K extra long, until my back felt neutralized. And I was ready for backbends.

The problem with maintaining a healthy lifestyle is that it is hard to know WHICH healthy habit is making the difference when things go well in Ashtanga practice. Is it the fact that I have been limiting the animal protein in my diet? Is it the fact that I have been eating primarily plant foods? Is it the fact that I have been getting more sleep? Is it the fact that I ate breakfast today? Is it the fact that I faced up to my fears and ego here on this blog yesterday?

I wish I knew. I wish I knew how to stay on the top of the wave...


Monday, May 08, 2006

I was only two when she wrote this

A friend sent this essay to me today: Goodbye to All That, by Joan Didion. She knows I love Joan Didion, and well, the rest speaks for itself, although not necessarily about anything it particular. It's not about Ashtanga, and it's not about New York City. Although I suppose it could be. It could be about anything. Enjoy!


The proper prescription

I've been a bit remiss with my blogging these past few days, and I am inclined to feel guilty, but then I don't want to turn blogging into yet another "thing" in my life - something that I feel bound to do, whether I want to or not. Kind of like my practice lately. In each case, it is something I enjoy, and I feel good after having done it. But there is something missing, something I would call tapas if it weren't for the fact that I was literally drenched with sweat today despite the cool temperatures we are having here in New York City. Neither my blogging nor my Ashtanga practice has become a "chore", and yet nor are either filled with joy or hunger.

I can see it in my writing, which has grown flat, whereas it used to sparkle (I believe!). I can see it in my ujjayi breathing, which has become rather anemic, whereas it used to be robust (I used to be one of those loud ujjayi breathers). I can see it in my defeatest attitude toward Supta K; it is as if I am entirely without hope. Only, it's not about life, it's about the pose. It sounds so dramatic (melodramatic). But that is only because I am sitting here forcing myself to write and pondering this cloud of ennui which seems to have fallen over me of late.

Something concrete I have been having trouble with lately is a sort of crisis of trust in the system. It is simply this: it doesn't make sense to me to stop practicing at Supta K when to do so gives me no opportunity to release the muscles and joints of my back body. There is a reason that Garbha Pindasana comes right after Supta K. Whenever I have practiced in a led class, I have felt wonderful rocking around on my back with my arms stretched through my lotus legs. And then Badha Konasana finishes the job. After that, it's smooth sailing. I could finish primary, or I could go straight into backbends. Either way, I feel good.

But the way it is for me now, I am expected to backbend immediately after Supta K. And let me tell you: it is TORTURE. Not only is it is impossible. After Supta K, I lie on my back and press my spine into the floor and try to visualize reversing up into a full wheel. Sometimes I bring my knees into my chest and quietly rock a bit on my spine. Today, after all that, I crossed my legs and folded over my shins. So then...WHY NOT GARBHA???!!!! WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY??????

Perhaps it is just my particular body - the joint stiffness from my medication (Arimidex) makes it hard to u-turn from backbending to forward bending and vice versa. I know that other people say that the same is true for them. But I have the meds working against me, not just the rules of anatomy.

And so I find myself doubting this system of stopping after a pose without having done its counterpose(s). And it is making me want to practice at home more, where I can easily slip into lotus (almost without using my hands) and then slide my hands into the spaces between my shins and my leg-flesh (without even bruising! finally! I cracked the twisted code of the anatomy of the arm!) and rock away without offending anyone. And I can then bend my knees, put the soles of my feet together, open those feet up like a book and press my chest down, without fearing that I am cheating or disrespecting the system. At that point, I can backbend because my back is now neutralized.

And so I doubt the system a bit now. Would anyone do a full wheel without paschimotannasana or some other posture that neutralizes the spine from a deep contracting? Rhetorical question. Then, why would anyone take the exact opposite spinal oosition (Supta Kurmasana) without a spine neutralizer?

There you have it: Yoga Chickie's existential Ashtanga crisis. Prescription? Two days of at-home practice per week for now and call me in the summer.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Home practice today

The kids had to get their annual blood tests, and one of them was a fasting test (ridiculous!!), so it had to be first thing in the morning. The whole thing took HOURS, and I ended up getting the boys to school at around 11 a.m. Thus, practice was not happening, other than at home. Which it did. Which makes it SIX days in a row! Yay!

Off and running to pick up the younger son from a pool party.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

The illusion of progress

Today, I got to practice quite early for me: 9:05 a.m. The problem is that the earlier I get to practice, the less I have had a chance to move around and loosen up. The bright side is that with my more mindful dietary habits - particularly, the habit of consuming more foods that came directly from a tree or a bush (yesterday, I even included an avocado, inspired by Sir's having said that it is one of his favorite "fruits") - it is easier for me to loosen myself up. The joints crack like popcorn, rather than like caked-in sludge. After a few deep squats and hanging over my legs in Uttanasana for a bit, I was ready. Within two Surya Namaskaras, I was already getting my nose to my shins.

I have noticed that as time goes by, certain poses become dependable for me, rather than dependant upon how stiff or how flexy I am on a given day. One such pose is Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. But really, it's true, at least to some degree, of almost every pose up until Marichyasana D. That one still is kind of a crapshoot. There are just so many stars that must align for that one to happen without the drama. The twist has to be full-on. The shoulders have to be open. The outer hip of the lotus leg has to be soft. The hip flexors of the bent-knee leg have to be compliant and willing to crunch up deeply, permitting the bent-knee to cross the midline. And the hands cannot be slippery. At least not for me. Not yet. I look forward to the day when it no longer matters how wet my hands are, how slippery my mat is, how thick my yoga pants are.

I was a bit dismayed when Sir walked out of the room promptly at 10:15, which was EXACTLY when I was jumping into Kurmasana. Sure, 10:15 is the end of teacher-in-the-room-time. But I was disappointed that he didn't stay for one last adjustment, especially since I had been working so hard to practice slowly and mindfully today. T has been an inspiration for me in that respect. Her practice is very slow and lovely, and as I was self-practicing yesterday, it occurred to me that I could use a bit of that at the moment.

"At the moment" is, of course, the key phrase. It always changes. Sometimes what I need is to go quickly. Sometimes what I need is to focus on the vinyasas. Sometimes what I need is to ignore the vinyasas, at least in my mind - just do them, not think about them at all.

As for Supta K, since I had the time, as well as the inclination, I decided to explore a bit. I got into Kurmasana but didn't like the angle of my legs. So I got into it again. This time, my legs were at a sharper angle to one another, closer to running directly over my shoulders. In this fashion, I was able to press my chest to the floor, although it really doesn't feel very nice.

Then I got out of Kurmasana and practiced a bit of Compass Pose - and I felt like my left leg is thiiiis close to being pliable enough to get the ankle behind my head sometime in the next year or so. The right leg is a bit less compliant. Maybe a bit more than a year. Then I got into Kurmasana one more time solely for the purpose of getting into Supta K. I had my strap ready where my hands would find it. I pulled my ankles easily together and felt my head touch the floor (actually - I felt my head touch something, and as usual, I wasn't sure what it took me a moment to realize that it was the floor...yay). The arms were, unfortunately, still stuck. But it felt like I had tied myself up into the requisite bundle. And it was fine.

I do believe there is progress. I also believe that I understand what I need to do in order for it to ever happen: get those ankles behind my head. Am I repeating myself? I may have said it before, but I really see it as the only way it's going to happen for me. Every body is different, and every body will have its own issues in a complicated posture like Supta K. In my case, when my legs are pressing into the backs of my arms but are not directly over my shoulders, I can't free my arms enough to comfortably bind. If I could get my legs to really be BEHIND my shoulders, then my arms would be freed up.

Backbends were good today. I think there is some progress there in getting my hands more directly under my shoulders. And ah...Pindasana....I almost grabbed my wrist!

Later on, I got my first "Fifth Avenue facial" - microdermabrasion plus some kind of acid peell - I don't even know what it was exactly, but I think it was the TCA one, and in any event, it felt like I was doing something that might make me look a few days younger, or something like that. And hell, it was a special promotion - a "Spa Week" holdover. But what a wacky place it was. Just to give you a taste of I was waiting for my appointment in the reception area, a woman walked in, mid fifties, well-dressed. She was accompanied by her "tennis pro", a 20-something hottie in a track suit, who sat there listening to his iPod as his "client" flipped through a magazine, waiting for her Botox appointment. I kid you not.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Guilty Pleasure

Into your head, into your mind
out of your soul, race through your veins
You can't escape, you can't escape.

Into your life, into your dreams,
Out of the dark, sunlight again.
You can't explain, you can't explain.

Can You feel it, can you feel it,
Rushin' through your hair,
Rushin' through your head,
Can you feel it, can you feel it,

Don't let nobody tell you, your life is over,
Be every color that you are,
Into the rush now,
You don't have to know how,
Know it all before you try.

Pulling you in, spinning you 'round,
Lifting your feet right off the ground,
You can't believe it's happening now.

Can You feel it, can you feel it,
Rushin' through your hair,
Rushin' through your head,
Can you feel it, can you feel it,

Don't let nobody tell you, your life is over,
Be every color that you are,
Into the rush now,
You don't have to know how,
Know it all before you try.

It takes you to another place,
imagine everything you can.
All the colors start to blend,
Your system overloads again.

Can You feel it?

Don't let nobody tell you, your life is over,
Be every color that you are,
Into the rush now,
You don't have to know how,
Know it all before you try.

Don't let nobody tell you,
Don't let nobody tell you,
Don't let nobody tell you your life is over,
Be every color that you are,
Give into the rush now,
You don't have to know how,
Know it all before you try.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Adam is home sick, my practice is f---d, and so this is what my mind spins.....


This photo comes from the Opus Dei official website. The look on the face of sheer and utter consternation (or sheer and utter constipation?) is interesting to me. I don't want to offend any members of the Opus Dei, but, well, wow....I mean, why use this photo on the page devoted to "Joining"? The frown lines, the squinting eyes, the bad hair, the clenched hands, the schlumpy sweatshirt over the schlumpy blouse and even schlumpier's not exactly a picture of warm and fuzziness.

But then, perhaps warm and fuzzy is not what Opus Dei seeks to provide to its members. Opus Dei has floated onto the cultural radar screen with the publication of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (yet another book, like The Red Tent, which, in my opinion, starts out as quite compelling and then seems to narratively slide off a cliff somewhere towards the last hundred pages or so) and, even moreso, with the imminent opening of the motion picture starting Tom Hanks (when I read the book, I was sure that Brown had Harrison Ford in mind for the starring role, but perhaps he was unavailable). There has been quite a lot of controversy of late as to the portrayal of this seemingly extreme Catholic sect in the book (and supposedly the movie), which portrayal ranges on a scale from "seemingly extreme" to "murderously insane".

I won't lie to you: I don't know much of anything about Opus Dei. But what I do know is that members routinely practice Corporal Mortification, which includes:

  • infliction of pain upon onesself
  • fasting
  • sensual deprivation (I use that term as an umbrella for the sacrificing of a variety of pleasures of the flesh, not just sex)
  • sleeping on wooden planks
  • cold showers
  • observations of silence.
There are rationales behind these practices, and I assume that they must make sense to those who participate in them. In any event, they do sound familiar, don't they?

And I am not just talking about Ashtanga here (need I even note that a quick perusal of the Ashtanga EZ Board will reveal an acceptance of pain, and if not pain, then discomfort, as a necessary part of the practice and an underlying awe for those who abstain from various creature comforts such as food, sex, idle gossip, etc.?).

It seems to me that all spiritual pursuits include some level of corporal mortification. Sometimes it is in the name of purification. Sometimes it is in the name of imitating the sacrifices or suffering of religious/spiritual icons. Sometimes it is a demonstration of faith. Whatever it is, it's all good...until it isn't. And it isn't good when it leads to unhealthy, even hostile, attitudes about one's body and one's bodily needs. And it isn't good when it leads to violence against onesself or against others. At least that's my opinion. I know others disagree. And that's fine. To each his own, as long as no one else gets hurt.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


It's May! Tulip season! Yay!


Update on Anotherexia: apparently someone agrees with me...

These quotes on eating disorders that hide under the guise of acceptable yoga practices came from a February, 2005 article in The Guardian,entitled Omming on Empty (thanks to Emily for linking me to it....)

  • The characteristics that create a great yoga practice - extreme sensitivity, perfectionism and wanting to be in control - are also characteristics of anorexia," says Clare, a London-based yoga teacher. "Being sensitive, you feel the nature of the postures more, so get more out of them; perfectionism makes you want to keep doing it better....
  • [A]shtanga also offers routine and regularity - you are encouraged to practise five or six days a week, for an hour and a half at a time and, ideally, first thing in the morning. Rachel, a 30-year-old Londoner who suffered from eating disorders for years and took up astanga yoga as a follow-on from the gym, says, "It was completely addictive and really fed into my addictive personality, so that if I didn't practise one morning, I would be miserable the whole day...
  • Then there's the whole food thing. Yoga is replete with references to being "light" and "empty", and eating at certain times in relation to the practice. It becomes an issue. One yoga teacher says, "You know you should leave two hours after eating [before exercise] and, if it is a heavy meal, four hours, so it becomes this thing of, well, when can I eat? That's quite a common thing with yoga teachers." If you are already trying to avoid eating, yoga gives you a perfect cover for it - it is virtually recommended. Mary Taylor, co-author of What Are You Hungry For? Women, Food And Spirituality, explains, "Many forms of yoga suggest if you are doing an asana [physical practice], you should wait X number of hours. It becomes a convenient excuse not to eat. Then, when you haven't eaten, you can get light-headed, which is misinterpreted as a mystical experience as opposed to low blood sugar. So it has, in a backhanded way, become part of the yoga scene."
(note: on the EZ Board and on the Ashtanga Email Digest that I receive, there is some discussion of a "revolving" sensation felt at the end of practice...which I stayed silent about - except to make a snarky joke that did not address what I was really thinking, which is that a "revolving" sensation sounds suspiciously like dizziness, which sounds suspiciously like low blood sugar, which, know the rest...)
  • One woman who used to have an eating disorder testifies to this connection. "Not eating is like an addiction, because you feel nothing is going to harm you," she says. "You feel clear and blissful and completely unattached - which, of course, is also what I was trying to achieve through yoga." Not only is it validated, Taylor says, such thinking is often openly admired. "If someone is extremely thin, so that they can get into any pose, that starts being equated with being a spiritual person. They get, 'Oh, they have such a beautiful practice,' so in that way they are being rewarded by the yoga community simply because they are not eating."
  • There exists, they say, a widespread myth about food that is appropriate to practising yoga. "We would see people not eat dinner the night before a practice, so they could do better back bends," Ginsburg says. "Or people would get very militant and say things like, 'I only eat raw food' or, 'Potatoes will make you stiff'." If you said you couldn't eat potatoes four hours before running, you'd come over as a bit silly, or obsessive, or both, but somehow saying it in the context of yoga makes you appear supremely connected with your body. "For some yogis, these food choices may carry a seed of truth," Ginsburg adds, "but the danger is people take them as a given, as things we all must do." She argues that dietary changes can occur naturally once you take up yoga, but that the tendency is to take food advice as edict: "When these things get imposed from the outside, that is not freedom. That is the opposite of yoga."
  • "When [the] practice becomes so puritanical, it changes from something beautiful and natural into a harsh, rigid regime that is potentially very destructive."
OK, enough about that. Let's talk about me. I was megalate to practice today because of the gawkers on the FDR Drive gaping at The Big Greenpoint, Brooklyn Warehouse Fire across the water. It was a huge wall of fire and smoke, and every driver (myself included) was driving with head turned to the East. As a result, the drive was sloooow going. Somehow, I managed to finish my practice before Sir left the room, nevertheless, and I got another gasp-worthy Supta K adjustment. I think, although I am not sure, that yesterday's adjustment helped me get deeper into the hip rotation today such that Sir was able to basically pick me up by the crossed ankles so that gravity worked my torso and head down toward the floor. When it was time to bring my palms to the floor to press up, I kept my ankles crossed just a little bit longer than usual. On other fronts, it seems as if things are going smoothly in my asanas and my vinyasas, Marichy-asanas included. I really enjoy Mari D again. It's like a big hug I give myself. Wow, that sounds nauseatingly saccharine. Ah well. It must be the endorphine, I mean, spiritual, rush.


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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