Friday, September 29, 2006

Lotused my legs in headstand!!!

For no apparent reason. I just had this impulse to do it, and I did it. And big deal. I walked out of the practice room, and I said to David K, the director of Yoga Sutra who is nearing the end of Third Series, "So, I guess I can practice Third Series with you now." Hahaha. This was because one time, we practiced together, and he kept making me try some of the "tripod headstand into this tripod headstand into that" stuff, including upward facing rooster, I think?, and a bunch of other crazy stuff that I can do from the ground, but not from tripod headstand.

Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors...

Practice today was bleh.

Nothing more nothing less.

At least I did it. Got there too late to practice with anyone except myself. I was at Yoga Sutra, if you haven't guessed - the plan was to meet Sharon, practice, grab a bite and coffee and then teach my class. As it was, all I got to do was chat, no chew, no caffeine, and then teach.

Off to Colorado. The Devil Car awaits (dial 666-6666!!!)

I will try to get some good photos of Ana and Baron and Judith Lassater. No Ashtangis will be teaching other than Richard Freeman, who is teaching today, and here I am, not there, so there will be no Ashtanga for me. Why oh why am I doing this? To hang with Debpc, of course!

YC

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sprinting at Shala X

I made it to Shala X this morning, having run out of excuses. My practice was a sprint. I was drenched and exhausted by the time I was done. My friend S came with. More on all of this later. I am just happy to have practiced since I am now off of Advil until after my surgery. Life without Advil is more than just a little bit stiffer...

YC

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Henry Gale

is narrating the three-season recap of Lost - the omnipotent narrator! This is insane! If you've never watched Lost, you must turn it on RIGHT NOW!

YC

No practice today...

I'm taking a much-needed day off because (1) I am going to be taking three classes on Saturday in Estes Park and then practicing Ashtanga on Sunday (in my hotel room), and I figured if I took today off, then it's a bit less daunting to practice Thursday through next week's moonday (whenever that is...can't remember) and (2) I had too too many errands to run and things to do, including researching and buying a flute for Brian, seeing my shrink (the must-have accessory for back-to-school), securing High Holy Days tickets, helping the kids with homework and then attending Curriculum Night tonight. It was a miracle I practiced yesterday since I had even more things to do AND I had workmen here installing a new carpet in my bedroom and new windows in my terrace. But sometimes when I make that effort on one day, then next day, I'm just totally spent. Hence, no practice today.

By practice, I am referring to Ashtanga practice. I was ALSO going to meet Sharon at Yoga Sutra for a Gentle Iyengar class. But someone special, someone apparently very very special, was visiting midtown today, blocking off major traffic arteries, and 10 minutes into when the class had already started, I called it a loss and called Yoga Sutra to ask them to give Sharon the message that I had tried but failed to get there. I don't think they got her the message....sorry Sharon!!!!!!! I'm glad CH went with you, wish I could have been there too....I will be there on Friday to teach the 12:15 Vinyasa, so will I see you there taking CH's noon led?

On other fronts, if I don't stop biting my nails soon, well, let's just say I better stop biting my nails. And soon. Before I have nothing but bloody stumps. It is a disgusting habit. And I can't stop. I don't know why. Perhaps now that I am flexy enough, I should begin biting my toenails in order to take some of the onus off the fingernails? Because something has gotta give here. My left pinky nail is smaller than my seven year old's.

YC

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

PrepsCool, and I don't mean Phillips Exeter

[Alternative title: "I'm a Preppy, he's a Preppy, she's a Preppy, we're all Preppies, wouldn't you like to be a Preppy too?"]

I had planned on getting my butt to Shala X to practice with Steve From Santa B, but three days have gone by, and excuse after excuse keeps piling up. It's not that I make excuses not to practice. I always practice. I would daresay that other than Ms. Boodiba, a.k.a. Second Trip To Mysore, there are few out there who can say that they have missed less days than me over the past year and a half, not counting the six weeks I was forced to take off when I had abdominoplasty and breast reconstruction revision last summer (even then, I was practicing throughout the six weeks, intermittently, albeit without vinyasa). (Granted, I don't have a real job, and my kids are in school or camp pretty much all day every day year round, which makes it waaaaaaaaaay easier to fit in a practice; I appreciate that!).

I've heard only great things about SFSB. And it's great to have the structure of a specific practice time each day. So, what gives?

Well, I wouldn't say that it is an aversion to practicing with a teacher other than Sir (or to a teacher at all). I wouldn't say that it is an aversion to anything. I enjoy being at Shala X. I enjoy the energy. I enjoy the deep adjustments I get now here and there. I enjoy my peeps there. I enjoy the drive down the FDR, finding a parking spot and the routine of all that. It's more like a lack of drive (seriously, no pun intended) from which I suffer....not a lack of drive to practice, but a lack of drive to practice in a specific place at a specific time when I know that I can practice whenever the hell I want, wherever the hell I want, and it won't make a damn bit of difference.

See, without Sir there, I am pretty sure that nothing new is going to happen for me in Supta K or otherwise. Nothing ever has. Not with Petri. Not with Mark. I have no new poses coming my way, and no adjustments that are taking me deeper than I can take myself. In fact, and here's the rub: I can get deeper by practicing at home where I can do prep work wherever I see fit.

And I see fit a lot these days. I bind in Parsvakonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana, taking the total breath count in each of these postures to more than 10 (five bound followed by five unbound). Before folding forward in Prasarita Pado C, I interlock my fingers and press my palms together as tight as I can for at least five breaths, and then I do the reverse hands thing one arm, using first one hand to take the other arm into a deeper internal rotation and then switching sides (which gets me far deeper than when Sir has simply reversed my hands so that my palms face out). After the Prasaritas, I go California style into Hanumanasana and Samakonasana. And while I am in Hanumanasana, I do some deep forward bends, laying my torso alongside my front leg and then grabbing for my front foot and twisting "parigasana" style. And as I have mentioned, each half lotus is preceeded by a deep external rotation of the thighbone in the hip socket.

So there you have it. It's the prep thing.

Put me in Lilly Pulitzer shift dress with a pair of white keds and a plaid headband because I'M A PREPPY.

It's not that I am averse to the shala. It is that I feel a bit attached to my prep postures. And yeah, it could be argued that this is not Ashtanga. But I know it is. I am just doing my typical rule-breaking thing. And no one gets hurt. It's a victimless crime, really. I do it in the privacy of my own home so that no teacher is disrespected.

The way I see it, I could do it the totally Rules way, with the result being that I will eventually bind in Supta K. Or, I could do it the totally Yoga Chickie way, with the result being that I will eventually bind in Supta K. The difference is that I believe that the latter method will help me to actually feel more progress, understand the elements of Supta K better and ultimately bind in Supta K faster and independently.

Prep's cool by me. I wouldn't do it in public, true. But then, there are a lot of things that are totally cool that we wouldn't do in public, no?

YC

Practiced.

I'm nothing if not tenacious.

Experienced some stiffness in the hips, but not the kind of stiffness that keeps lotus away; instead the kind of stiffness that I don't even know how to describe except to say that it makes it hard to rotate the thighbone back and away from the torso in order to (ultimately) bring the ankle squarely behind the head. I'm not trying for Eka Pada Sirsasana. I just want to soften that rotation, which I think, if I am not mistaken, is a "hyper"-external rotation, so hyper that the shinbone can make contact with the back of the neck.

Notwithstanding the stiffness, it was a good practice. Any practice is a good practice, I suppose. And every practice has something good that I can say about it. Today's "good thing" is that I am finally consistently jumping my legs through. I have been jumping through for a long time, but a lot of times there is foot drag, or the sole of my left foot completely touches down (which acts as a lever and lifts my butt higher off the floor, so it's not all bad, just mainly a bad habit). Today, the jump throughs were consistent and controlled. I start with crossed ankles and as I am landing, uncross them but without sliding them on the floor. And THAT is my good thing for the day.

Off to help with homework, get dinner on the table.

Man, these last few posts have been uninspired!

YC

Housewife

I'm laying about on the living room sofa all this beautiful, sunny day, eating chocolate (okay, a chocolate peanut Zone Bar), watching Bonfire of the Vanities on cable while the little one sits on the playroom couch watching the Cartoon Network and coughing. I gave him my cold. Bad mummy. Throughout the house, there's the moist, clammy smell of a sick room, as if a humidifier's been running down all night. The air feels heavy on my limbs. Even the dog is looking like a lump, sleeping curled up in a furry, hound-colored ball in the crook of a softly upholstered chair.

Such a depressing tableau.

I don't normally watch daytime television. A movie is a little more highbrow than a daytime soap or talkshow, but still. Daytime television advertises to its appropriate demographic: shut-ins, and so you have the commercials for infant diapers and asthma inhalers and chemotherapy-boosters like Neupogen and the lawyers! Oh! The lawyers with the 800 numbers that want you to call them if you've been injured or malpracticed upon or if you ever took this drug or that drug and are now stuck at home with a heart condition.

I hope to practice later and to pull myself out of this self-imposed funk.

I want to highly recommend Bonfire because even though it sucked ass in 1990, before anyone could become nostalgic for the big hair, big shoulders, big money and teeny-tiny values of the 80's, before enough time had passed between the publication of Tom Wolf's critically acclaimed book so that comparisons would not be so fresh and raw, this movie is damn sharp, funny and highly entertaining from where I sit in 2006. Hard to believe it is a Brian DePalma flick, farcical as the movie translates 16 years after its making.

I must go now. Time to mope and sulk for no apparent reason.

YC

Monday, September 25, 2006

Yep, I practiced

In my terrace, from 4:15 until 5:45, all of Primary, including some dropbacks. I felt amazing, which shocked me since I haven't felt even one notch better than "mildly crappy" since Saturday morning. It made me wonder if perhaps having a cold balanced some of my vata and pitta tendencies with some congestion-induced kapha.
m
I don't know. At any rate, I a so tired right now tht my eyes are closing. So before I start typing gibberish, I had better sign onff.

YC

Head Over Heels for a Happy New Year

Still stuffy and loguey and clammy, so still no shala. Maybe a self-practice later. We shall see. In the meantime, I give you a Tears for Fears tribute's tribute to Rosh Hashonah.

YC

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sniff

I came down with a cold on Saturday morning and I still feel tired and congested. So, no practice today. Besides, I am going to be practicing at least twice a day next weekend in Estes Park, and I practice on the moon day last Friday, so.....a day off can't hurt.

Hopefully, I will be good to go tomorrow. Afterwards, I have to see a man about a flute. Sam Ash, that is. Brian has decided to learn to play the flute and join the Fourth and Fifth Grade Band. I am thrilled! Friday, he has tryouts for the basketball league. Such a renaissance man, he is!

I just sneezed four times in a row.

Hmmmm. Seems I have nothing interesting to say. I guess I just needed to make my excuses for not having practiced today.

Shanah Tovah!

YC

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Very First YouTube

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

And here is one that anyone struggling with Supta K should see, thanks to JMS.

YC

Friday, September 22, 2006

Internal Rotation of the Spotless Mind

Yesterday, what I said was: "fingers touching", not "bound"....but if that means "bound" to you in your generous spirits, then so be it...thank you ever so much for your props!

Also regarding yesterday's post, I received a couple of questions via email about "internal rotation". I take it for granted that everyone knows what I am talking about when I make reference to things like "inwardly spiralling" and "externally rotated". But perhaps these are words that are heard only in "Vinyasa" classes, particularly those that pay attention to "Iyengar"-style alignment. This was my training at Om Yoga. So, it's just part of my vernacular. Thinking back, if five years ago, some teacher told me to internally rotate my thigh, I would have more than likely either scoffed at her or ignored her. But "internal rotation" of the arms is so so so so important in binding that I think it deserves some attention here.

If you want to understand what "internal rotation" of your arm is, then reach your right arm out in front of you, parallel to the floor, palm facing down. Now pretend there is a doorknob in front of you. Reach for the pretend doorknob. Finally, turn that doorknob COUNTERCLOCKWISE. Voila: internal rotation of the right arm in the shoulder socket (the arm attaches to the torso in a ball-socket fashion, so perhaps if you visualize the incredible range of motion that permits, that will help you as well).

With your left arm, reach for the doorknob, but turn it CLOCKWISE. Voila, again internal rotation.

Take it a step further. Try Marichiasana A. Sit with your left leg in Dandasana and your right knee bent, your right foot as close to your right hip as possible, with a hands'-width of space between your right foot and your left leg. Support yourself with your left hand on the floor as you REEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAACH out with your right hand towards an imaginary doorknob that is just above your right foot. Inhale as you do this. As you exhale, ROTATE THAT DOORKNOB COUNTERCLOCKWISE and THEN sweep your right arm back so that you right armpit makes contact with your right shin. Keep sweeping that right arm in an arc, so that you end up with your right wrist resting against your back. Take your left arm, turn the doorknob CLOCKWISE and arc the left arm back so that your hand (or fingers) land against your back in such a way that there is an overlapping of the waiting open right palm.

I did an experiment today to test the benefits of a really good internal rotation of the arm as I was waiting in line at Best Buy to make some final tweaks on my laptop before finally giving up and saying, "that's all there is." I arc-ed my right arm back behind me without first internally rotating it. I noted where it locked up (i.e., at what point, it allowed me no further reach). Then I did the same thing, but first "turning the doorknob". Guess what? My arm did not lock up until my hand was much significantly further across my back - like, enough to easily bind in Ardha Badha.

Hope that helps anyone who was wondering what the hell I was talking about.

Oh, and just a quick note about Grey's Anatomy: Booooooooooooooooooooo. Pure drivel. I can't believe I even bothered. It's a freakin' Harlequin Romance. No depth, no reality check, just a fairy-tale where the prince and princess are wearing scrubs.

YC

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ankles crossed, fingers touching

Four words. Four very very very very happy words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I did most of it myself!!!!!!!!!!!

Things were just clicking today. I think it had something to do with what I have been working on at home.

Yesterday, I had this major epiphany about Mari A and B, two poses that are crucially important to building a workmanlike Supta Kurmasana (yeah, yeah, I said it. Supta Kurmasana. See? I said it again; I have no willpower. It is my true nature. I acknowledge it. And now, I will let it go....).

The discovery? I need to reach my OTHER arm around at the same time that I am reaching the binding arm around, or as quickly as possible thereafter. That way, there is something for my binding arm to hold onto so that the pose can actually "begin". This brings me MUCH deeper into the posture in both A and B. And on the second side in B, I actually touched my forehead to the ground today, although I wasn't doing a wrist bind - close, but not quite.

So, why does it matter whether I am binding at the wrist, the fingertips or somewhere in between? See, in my mind, there are three kinds of approaches to binding. One is the "grab whatever you can" approach. That's where one might start in a challenging binding posture. The final is the wrist-grabbing approach. The wrist-grabbing approach pre-supposes that both arms are INTERNALLY rotated so that the wrapping arm can grab the other arm firmly OVER the wrist. In between is the third approach, an intermediate approach, where there is a strong and solid bind, but the arms are not quite properly (read: INTERNALLY) rotated to make a proper wrist-bind possible.

In Mari A, I have the wrist bind. In Mari B, I can get myself into the intermediate bind, but with assistance, I can get the wrist, although when I get the wrist, I don't think I can touch the floor with my head. In Mari C, I have the intermediate bind, but on a really good (read: JUICY JOINTS) day, I can be put into the wrist bind with a LOT of work from my teacher. In Mari D, I am USUALLY in the intermediate bind and sometimes in the "grab whatever you can" bind. The "grab whatever you can" bind happens mainly when I am feeling rushed or suffering from a bloated tummy (like this past week when I was still suffering the Z-Pack Blues).

(Sorry for using the word "intermediate", by the way. I am not using it to suggest Intermediate Series, but rather the middling level of binding competency.)

This all is why I will be able to bind Supta Kurmasana eventually, and perhaps sooner rather than later, and why I am nowhere near ready for Pasasana. Mari A and B correspond to Supta Kurmasana. Mari C and D correspond to Pasasana. Supta Kurmasana is like Mari A and B on acid. Pasasana is like Mari C and D on acid. Or so it seems, from someone who has never really done it.

I had another epiphany in my home practice, a slow dawning really, of the idea that every entry into a half lotus is an opportunity to take my about-to-lotus leg, bend the knee deeply and aim that knee behind my torso, then straighten the knee and bring the about-to-lotus foot up towards my ear, forehead or even the back of my head. Each half lotus of Primary brings me closer and closer to Supta Kurmasana and brings my about-to-lotus leg closer to an Eka Pada Sirsasana position, without actually doing Eka Pada Sirsasana. Oh, and this also is a great prep for Janu Sirasana C, which I can now easily do (to vertical) on both sides. And none of this is particularly embarassing or awkward for me to do in a classroom setting, unlike some of the other Supta Kurmasana R&D I do at home (like binding in Parsvakonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana...).

Finally, one last epiphany that made a HUGE HUGE difference in my practice today: Flat palms. I know, I know, this is not news. We are supposed to keep our palms flat when we jump back, when we jump forward, when we do Uttanasana, when we look up from Uttanasana right before we jump back, in Urdhva Dhanurasana, etc.. But I have this habit of rocking forward onto my fingers. A while ago, I discovered that this was killing my Urdhva Dhanurasana by giving me a shaky foundation for opening my chest and shoulders. Flat palms solved that problem. Yesterday, I made myself keep my palms flat throughout Surya A and Surya B jumpbacks and jump-forwards. I didn't adhere to this rule during seated because, well, come on, as I have demonstrated, I only have so much willpower.

But I did adhere to the flat palms rule in two very important places in Primary: Bujapidasana and Kurmasana. When I jumped forward, instead of jumping my legs as for out in front of my hands as possible, I merely jumped my legs as far as I could before feeling like I had to start lifting up with my palms. This meant that when I landed, my palms were flat. I inhaled and got myself easily and gracefully into Bujapidasana. I believe that this trick will eventually permit me to jump right into the posture. A ways, a long ways, down the road. Conversely, I really don't see how I would EVER jump straight into Buja without my palms firmly grounded. Think about it.

Somehow, this same mechanism for jumping forward puts me much more into the "right" position for a really good Kurmasana - feet flexed, heels lifted and chest pressed to the floor. And a good Kurmasana, one in which I am not panting or groaning, sets me up for a good Supta Kurmasana....

So, today, Sir was giving dropbacks to another student while I was in Kurmasana. And so, after eight breaths or so, I bent my knees, pressed my shoulders to the floor as much as I could, grabbed my handtowel in my right hand, crawled my arms around and UP my back, flipped my hand towel over my back so that my left hand could grab it as well, and then crossed my right ankle over my left. I then let my forehead relax to the floor and felt my arms "lengthening" across my back as my chest sunk under my legs. Then Sir came over, got rid of the hand towel, pressed on my elbows to bring my hands closer together....and voila.....

Ankles crossed, fingers touching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sir leaves tomorrow morning for three months in India. When I was saying goodbye to him in his office after practice, I had to mention Supta K. I had to. So, I said, "Not bad today in Supta K, right?" What do you think was his response?

........

........

........

........

........

........

........

........

"It's NEVER bad."

Ah, yoga. It's so easy to forget you're doing yoga when you're practicing asana.

YC

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Home practice today

It was good. Funny how I can "feel" stiff and yet "be" flexible. What is that feeling of stiffness, if it doesn't add up to actually "being" stiff?

YC

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pod Util

If you're like me, and you stupidly rely upon your iPod as "backup" for all of the music, videos, podcasts and whatever else that you store in iTunes on your computer, then chances are, at some point you're going to need PodUtil. Unfortunately named (my eyes keep stopping on the UTI in the middle), but pretty damn good, this little download is. Whereas Apple doesn't want anything to do with these sort of problems and, in fact, designed their iPods so that they are one-way streets (i.e., incoming only), PodUtil can make it all better. You download it for free, and a little alien gremlin appears on your screen and tells you to connect your iPod. You obey, and the said gremlin scans your iPod and turns that one-way street into a virtual freeway. All of your music reappears in iTunes.

And it only takes, I don't know, like...all friggin day?

Hence, no practice for me today. But that's fine. Friday is a moon day, and I can make up for the obsessiveness/slothfulness then.

YC

Monday, September 18, 2006

I forgot my own anniversary

Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of my double mastectomy!

High-fiving myself here.

Other than that, I don't really like any fanfare. I have never, not once, not ever "celebrated" any anniversary related to my breast cancer. It seems like bad juju to me. And anyway, birthdays are for celebrating life. Cancer anniversaries are just kind of creepy - in my opinion. I know others who would disagree.

Next month, I will be having my fourth reconstructive surgery and getting yet another set. The first was the day of the double mastectomy. The second was nearly a year later when I ruptured one of the implants in a yoga class. The third was last year when my doctor attempted a bit of scar revision. The surgery was not a success. Let's hope this next one is.

YC

BE the turtle

I am truly inspired by Peanut the Turtle. I want to BE Peanut the Turtle. That diligence! That persistence! That devotion! It's Hanuman in a hard shell, without the burden of a love triangle to bog him down.

Ironic that my new hero is a kurma.

YC

"When you hear hoofbeats....

think horses, not zebras...."

I have to remember that old adage. Today, I had the best practice I've had in weeks. And it became immediately obvious why, from the first breath: I am done with my Z-pack. That crap really does me in. Sure, it kills potentially dangerous bacteria, even flesh-eating bacteria, but like chemo, it goes a bit overboard. Once it starts killing, it doesn't know where to draw the line. So, along with the bad bacteria go the good bacteria....and there goes the ability to digest food properly. And with that comes heartburn, bloat and a general inability to twist and bind.

But like that other old chestnut - why are you hitting yourself over the head with hammer? because it feels so good when I stop - well, the nice thing about antibiotics and feeling crappy in general is it feels so damn good when it stops. It's like I suddenly have this new burst of energy. I feel as if I have to hold myself back slightly in my practice - from the jump throughs and jump backs - so that I don't cause my joints to stiffen up by the time I get to certain poses that shall remain nameless. Because my body wants to leap and spring and swoop and dive and float and fly. When I am done with my practice, I want more. When I get home, I want to walk Lewis, rather than passing out on my sofa.

What a delight to not have to grimace and crank myself in order to get into Parivritta Parsvakonasana! What a treat to not have problems in Mari D. And it all culminated in....let's just say that I was pleased with today's work in the pose I am not permitting myself to talk about. I think it's okay to talk about it in positive terms and generally speaking.

A Leetle Birdie told me that Sir lets people move on from that unmentionable posture if they stop being attached to it. "He'll let you move on if you stop talking about it," she said, or something like that. "But not just not talking about it," she clarified, "Really not obsessing over it." Now, I don't know if that is just some Ashtanga Urban Legend, but, well, that's very interesting. Doesn't matter anyway because (a) Sir is gone for three months as of the end of this week and (b) I am going to get this pose, possibly on my own before he gets back; I just know it. The only potential glitch is my surgery and the six weeks off I have to take afterwards.

Well, at any rate, I don't want to spoil a great practice with a whole thing about self-doubt and worry.

It was good. It's gorgeous out. My hair looks healthy again, my eyes aren't watering (damn you, Z-pack) and it's time to do something besides sitting here...

YC

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ah, spring?

There's not a whiff of Autumn in the air here in NYC. But it sure is lovely outside. And despite a touch of heartburn just as I slid into Dandasana, I think my gastro woes from the Z-pack are beginning to dwindle. Mari D was just a bit less bloaty today, and I generally enjoyed my practice (heartburn went away somewhere in the midst of the seated poses).

I enjoyed a nice long practice today, from 9:10 until 10:50. I love those nice long, luxurious practices, although I could do without the flop sweat. But I felt so good that after I got home from picking the kids up from Hebrew School, I went out into the terrace (which is enjoying a gentle greenhouse effect due to its having windows on all sides (counting the window into my bedroom and the window-paneled door adjoining my living room) and spent 45 minutes stretching all of my body parts that Primary neglects. Sorry, Guruji. You just didn't adequately hit them all for all the peeps, notwithstanding it generally being a super-fabulously amazing series of hatha poses.

That meant, for anyone who thinks they could benefit:

  • Five more Surya Namaskar A (to get the heart rate up again)
  • One Surya Namaskar B (to wake up the hip flexors)
  • First Sequence: Vinyasa to Down Dog, step one foot forward for Bound Parsvakonasana hold for eight breaths, pressing chest outward; then release bind and scootch the bottom shoulder under the front knee, turn torso and face toward the floor and stretch arms out like airplane wings; then replace both hands, and lift legs off the floor for arm balance: Koundinyasana; return feet to the floor, turn non-bent-leg side of body away from floor by reaching that side's arm up toward the sky and lift the bent leg up for Bairavasana. REPEAT ON OTHER SIDE.
  • Second Sequence: Vinyasa to Ardha Matsyandrasana and bind, repeating both sides, vinyasa back to Down Dog, step one foot forward for Bound Parivritta Parsvakonasana, hold for at least eight breaths, drawing shoulders down the back, pressing chest open (thanks DK!), repeating boths ides.
  • Third Sequence: Vinyasa to Dandasana. Compass pose on both sides. Vinyasa to lying down on the back. Roll back into Karna Pidasana, thread arms through legs as you lower the back toward the floor, try to keep ankles crossed in a modified Yoga Nidrasana, hands in prayer if the bind is not possible (thanks Neti!!).
  • Chakrasana to Kurmasana to Supta Kurmasana.
Voila! I got myself into Supta K with a washcloth with only FOUR INCHES between my hands (SHIT!!!! I mentioned it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

I think there is something to be said for practicing a second time in a day, and for practicing later in the day (12 noon, as opposed to some less-Godly hour). But whatever. I feel awesome. AWESOME.

One thing I am not feeling awesome about: I did my dropbacks and stand-ups today with Sir in the room - and they were GOOD - I stood up on my feet, rather than my knees each time, - and I get the feeling (maybe I am just being paranoid) that Sir was a bit non-plussed. Ah well, it is my practice, after all, and I feel very very strongly about the importance of getting that stretch of my front body. And besides, floating backwards into a backbend is one of the most joyful feelings I get all day long. It's the closest I get to truly defying gravity. And it makes me feel like I rock. So....can't I just rock?

YC

Friday, September 15, 2006

You can go your own way

Now even girls can pee standing up.

This has nothing to do with yoga.

Or....doesn't it?

YC

Cling peaches

I want so much to be good at asana (and you know, uh, Supta K, which we will, of course, get to in just a bit), but if it came really easily, then I wouldn't bother with it. There must be some continuum, say, from ridiculously easy (for example, touching my toes) to outright impossible (for example, spontaneous full-body levitation) where a task must lie in order for me to want to do it at all but not be discouraged so much that I just don't even bother.

When I used to run for exercise, it seemed that running marathons was (for me) at first somewhere along that continuum. Eventually, however, I came to feel as if the continuum was spherically shaped, where ridiculously easy and outright impossible were right next to each other, like Russia and Alaska across the Bering Strait. It was ridiculously easy for me to log 20 miles, 22 miles, 26 miles. All it took was practice. But for me to continue to improve my time past my best time (3 hours, 57 minutes) began to feel outright impossible. And to keep running marathons without any sort of goal of, say, improving my finishing time, seemed outright inane. It just didn't resonate anymore. I was no longer along the continuum. I had "run my course".

I discovered asana when I fell off the continuum in inline skating, figure skating and long-distance biking. Or rather, not "fell off", but discovered myself in the Bering Strait of the spherical shaped continuum. And throughout my routes through Bikram, Jivamukti, Om, and forms of generic vinyasa masquerading as Anusara, Baptiste or some combination of all of the above, I have always been right there on the continuum. It's never been ridiculously easy. And it's never been outright impossible.

Even with the Supta Kurmasana wall. I am still right there on the continuum, and I believe that I cannot see the Bering Strait even in my most peripheral of peripheral vision. Supta Kurmasana is still on the continuum. And it sure isn't easy. And after I learn Supta K, there will be a whole bunch of fairly easy, mundane postures for me, but they won't be "ridiculously easy", and it won't be "ridiculously easy" for me to flow through the entire Primary Series. And then, of course, there are drop-backs (which are neither ridiculously easy nor outright impossible, since I can already do them) and stand-ups (again, not on one side or the other of the continuum, although much further along in the difficult range).

If it weren't for that, for my still being right there on the continuum, I would have to quit. I mean, who wouldn't? Why would anyone engage in utter futility? Sure, it is a practice. But why would anyone condemn themselves to the fate of Sisyphus? Our time on earth is far better spent than engaged in torturous futility, no?

I want so much to be happy with my practice where it is right now, on any given day, and not fret about the changes and/or lack of progress day to day. I mean, why should I focus on the fact that my tummy is all wonky from my Z-pack, making Mari D difficult and making me feel like I am going to throw up fire when I go for the bind in Supta K, and bemoan what is the honest truth of the condition of my body on this day at that hour....when I could focus on the fact that for the past six days in a row, I have gotten myself to Shala X, with as little fanfare as would be appropriate to brushing my teeth on a daily basis? And this, in spite of the fact that this week, with the side effects of the Z, my yoga practice is just about all I am capable of. The rest of my day is spent half-dozing on my sofa with a hot compress on my right ear (the infection is behind my right ear). I should be thrilled about my practice! Thrilled, I tell you! I have the discipline, the tapas, the steadiness and I am working on the detachment from results. Right now, I am working on the detachment.

Henceforth, Supta K will no longer be discussed on this blog.

And just in case you missed it....no, you didn't miss it. It's right there in huge letters, bold faced and italicized. I will not talk about Supta K any more. When I get Garba Pindasana, I will let you know. Until then, assume I haven't gotten Supta K. Because my shoulders are too tight. Because my chest won't crack open. Because my hips are too tight. Because my forward bend isn't deep enough. Because I can't do Yoga Nidrasana. Because I sweat too much. Because I drink too much caffeine. Because I am not mellow enough. Because my kids wear me down emotionally. Because my husband is ... whatever it is he is....a man. You can pick your reason. It might or might not be true. But it won't matter, because all of the prep work, won't change where I am in the series. I am working on Supta K, until I master it, and then I will work on the next pose until I master that.

And by not talking about it, I will not give life to the obsession. I will no longer feed my insanity.

I am working on my yoga - all of it. Not just the asanas. I need to not forget that.

YC

Thursday, September 14, 2006

When you make a wish, what do you wish for?

I always wish for happiness, because it covers just about everything - health, prosperity, love, peace, etc.

What I really really really specifically wish for right now is to just be happy where I am at - in life, and specifically in my yoga practice. I want to be IN it. Not looking to the next thing. I want that so much....

YC

A special treat

It's been a rough week. I have been grumpy and tired, probably from the antibiotics. Also, my stomach is kind of funky, also probably from the antibiotics. It's kind of bloated and a little painful at times. It makes Mari D difficult.

I got to practice early today - even before the 9 o'clock mantra. But first, I downed a sugar-free Red Bull for energy, some coffee for my addiction and some Diet Snapple Peach Tea for my feeling of dehydration, also probably from the antibiotics. This could not have been ideal for that bloated feeling. But whatever. It was all good, saw my anonymous shala mate friend, who Goddamn her, got Garba Pindasana this week, like I knew she would, did some really floaty, featherweight Surya Namaskars, some pretty drama-free Standing postures and some really nice seated postures.

And then there was Mari D. Why oh why does this pose come and go for me? Eh, I honestly don't even care that much. I know it comes back. I know I am having problems because my stomach feels "full" and I am very slippery, and now thanks to Sir, I also know that all it takes is one little thing being off for me, and I will have problems in Mari D because my arms resist internally rotating, and the only reason I can even bind in Mari D at all is because (a) I have no excess baggage around the middle and (b) I have been working at it for so hard and for so long. If it weren't for (a), I don't even think (b) would matter.

Which kind of brings me to my latest thought on Supta K: I could probably get around the hands snapping away from each other as soon as Sir lets go of them if I lost SOOOO much weight that my inflexibility in the shoulder sockets just didn't come into play anymore. But since THAT is not going to happen (although I have thought about it - pulling a Rene Zellweger and losing a whole bunch of weight for a "role", my role as Ashtangini Who Can Easily Bind in Supta K), I am stuck in this very very dark place right now. After Supta K today, after Sir put my hands together, but they snapped away from each other as soon as he let go, I practically started sobbing. OK, I didn't sob. But I sulked. I sulked for so long, I saw other students who started after me finish Primary while I sulked. Then I pulled my crap together and did seven backbends (no dropbacks, as I was too embarassed to even try in front of Sir, especially because I SUCK) and a super super long finishing sequence, including five minutes in Shoulder Stand and three minutes in headstand, with a final "lift up" at the end (these are embellishments that I was told about by a student who took the Ashtanga Intensive with Sir and Madame).

There ARE bright spots in my practice. I should name them so as not to forget:

  • Sir gave me the second Prasarita Padotanasana C version today: palms turned inside out. That was cool, although my frozen shoulders felt nada.
  • I am suddenly fully able to do Janu Sirsasana C on BOTH sides! This tells me that my outer hips are opening up nicely. And this can only help in Supta K.
  • I held Uth Pluti for ONE FULL MINUTE.
But I feel down. Maybe it's just the antibiotics talking. Or maybe it's that Sir told me that he gets almost no internal rotation movement at all from my arms in my shoulder sockets when he puts me in Supta K. That was a definite bummer.

But shouldn't I be happy that I have even come THIS far with my physical challenges? I mean, jeez. What is my PROBLEM? The fact that my hands can even touch, let alone grasp, in Supta K is pretty astounding considering that I have "no internal rotation" observed by my teacher and no sensation or coordination of internal rotation (observed by myself) and skin and muscles as hard as rocks where the pecs and shoulder muscles attach (observed by myself with the help of the Anatomy Coloring Book). It's pretty amazing that I can get myself into Prasarita Pado C as well. Not to mention Mari C and D, although as I said above, I suspect that my tummy tuck was the major factor that made those possible; if not for the flat tummy, I am not sure that my level of shoulder flexibility would be enough to get me there in these poses.

Sigh.

Why does it matter? Why does it matter? Why does it matter?

Because I want to practice Primary. ALL of Primary. And get all of the benefits of Primary - Badha Konasana, Setu Bandhasana, Supta Hasta Padangusthasana most relevantly.

Well, I still have self-practice. I think when Sir leaves for India, I am going to cut back to three times a week at the shala and do my self-practice three times a week, and on Fridays, add in a Bikram class. Because on October 11, I am done for a good six weeks, well not a "good" six weeks. But six weeks. New boobies and Ashlee Simpson's nose. Did I mention the nose? Yeah, Ash inspired me. She had the sharply bent bump on the bridge, as do I. And damn it, she looked good after her doctor got rid of that thing. And my body is no longer my own really. So, none of this seems odd to me in the least bit. I get a hair cut. I get a tummy tuck. I buy some make-up. I get a nose job.

Okay, beat me up now. I know it's coming.

YC

Judaism rocks the Self

"Desires or temptations may deflect us temporarily from being ourselves – [from] being true to our nature, but that is not a part of, nor does it affect our true nature." - Lisa Samick, Director of the Judah Nadich High School at Park Avenue Synagogue

Ms. Samick wrote this in a recent newsletter discussing "teshuvah", which translates as a "return to the self" and which is the Hebrew name for the 10-day period between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

Teshuvah is the essence of the Jewish High Holy Days. Because it is a time to ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged, Teshuvah is often thought of as a time for repentance. However, the essence of Teshuvah is reflection - on our true nature, which is inherently good and decent, and how our actions and even our thoughts in the last 12 (lunar) months may have not quite measured up to our true nature. We may have misbehaved, but it is our inherent nature to be good and decent. Thus, we reflect on the misbehavior, ask for forgiveness when it is possible and pray for another chance to live in a manner that matches up more closely to our true selves.

I know it's a little early to start talking about the High Holy Days, but this just seemed so yoga to me.

YC

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A dark day in the annals of yoga media coverage?

Or inside joke?

Last week, Fox's House, M.D. featured a girl who became paralyzed after practicing yoga. At first, the docs thought that she had snapped her neck. Turned out, she had dieted herself into a case of scurvy (as if). Oh yeah, and it also turned out that she was a smoker. Hmmm. Nothwithstanding that no one gets scurvy anymore - even the guy who Supersized his way across America didn't get scurvy, the episode mildly annoyed me because of the implications, first that yoga is dangerous and then that yoga promotes eating disorders (not to mention the fact that yoga is something that you can easily do despite being a smoker).

Although House airs on Tuesdays, I forgot about the episode until Sunday morning, when I suddenly remembered that one of the characters on the show is played by a real life Ashtangini.

Then I laughed.

YC

I met Kimberly Flynn Williams! Of Noah and Kimberly!!! And she had a LOT to say about OIL BATHS....

First of all, if you are planning on being in the NYC area this weekend, and you are interested in the Traditional South Indian Oil Bath, then get thee to Ashtanga Yoga Shala (formerly and at all times in the future known on this blog as Shala X) on Avenue B and East 8th Street for a workshop with Kimberly Williams. It is at 12:15, and you do need to bring your own shampoo. Soap nut/green powder are not needed as the workshop will be taught using Almond Oil, a substitute given approval by Guruji.

So, after practice today, I was hanging out in the entry hall with one-half of the Gorgeous Mother-Daughter Ashtanga Duo (the ageless older half), talking about oil baths when a tall, striking woman with long, wild and wavy dark hair came through the door. She was looking for Guy, she told us. We told her he had already left. She then told us she couldn't help but hearing our conversation about oil baths, and that this interested her because...budumbum...she was giving the workshop on Saturday.

We chatted with her for a while. I don't want to give too much away for anyone who is planning on going to her workshop on Saturday. But I will say the Oil Baths, which many students of Ashtanga yoga believe are intended to remove excess heat from the body (and would therefore be appropriate mainly for students like me, with excess Pitta), are good for balancing the doshas of anyone. For cold Vata types, the idea is that Oil Baths remove energy blocks, allowing heat to properly circulate throughout the body, thus improving the Vata imbalance. Anyone who is stiff and crackly could benefit as well, regardless of their dominant dosha.

I have done the Oil Bath thing, and I think it's quite powerful. I won't say that it improved my practice much. But the Castor Oil absorbed deeply into my body and gave me a cleanse like no other - it was better even than drinking Castor Oil. My hair also felt very healthy afterwards. I had no soap nut or green powder with which to cleanse my hair, but I found that using a conditioner high in oil-based humectants (coconut, jojoba, alove vera, gylcerin, almond) lifted the oil right out.

For those in London who do not know this already, Kimberly and Noah will be subbing in for Hamish from October 16 until Hamish returns in, I believe, January.

And that's my version of Ashtanga news for this September 13, 2006.

And here is my version of petty self-centered news for September 13, 2006:

Practice was a mixed bag today. It all started out well enough, but then I noticed that time was moving very quickly, and I was not. So, I sped up. That is when all hell broke loose. My Marichyasana A bind was at the wrist, but sloppy. I noticed that both of my legs were rotating outward. Marichyasana B required assistance to get the wrist. Mari C just felt eh. As for D, I couldn't even put myself in it. First I was slipping too much on my sweat. Then, I couldn't contract my abs enough (a lot of fluids this morning, and a funky tummy from my Z-pack) to make enough space for a good bind. Sir helped me out and it was fine. But nothing to write home about. I hate when that happens. I fell out of the exit of Buja. Hate when that happens too. My Kurmasana was great though. I learned a lot from watching Lisa E enter Kurmasana, lowering herself into it with strong, chatturanga arms, and applied that knowledge. I ended up with my legs almost directly over my shoulders - or more directly over my shoulders than usual, at least. In fact, for the first time ever, my legs did not spread farther than the corners of my mat in my deepest expression of the posture today. Made the hand bind in Supta K (with Sir's help, n'est ce-pas), but lost the hand bind when he let go. Sigh.

Still, he said that the pose is obviously deepening for me.

I guess he doesn't take it's temperature on a daily basis the way I do.

Then I spent a loooooooooong time in finishing postures, just because I am really really enjoying being back on the mat in an environment where I am forced to do things in a certain way, in a certain order.

And now, I am home. Ahhhh.

YC

Best Practice Ever!

That was yesterday. I forgot to mention it. It's like when you're dating, and things are going really well, you suddenly have nothing to talk about.

Having taken the latest Mysore session yesterday (10 a.m.), I was the ONLY student in class besides Madame, and she doesn't really count, given that she is the co-director. Sir let me do my thing for all of Standing and the first third of Primary, and he kind of did his thing, walking into and out of the room, taking care of business, I assume (he is leaving for India in less than two weeks). But once I got to Marichyasana A, I got assists on every posture except for Bujapidasana and Navasana.

It was a wrist-grabbing extravaganza!

I had an epiphany in Mari B: this is the pose that correlates to Supta K, at least for me. If I can make enough space to bind at the wrist AND get my head to the floor, then that means that my shoulders are flexible enough, my hips are open enough and my forward bend is deep enough to allow for Supta K to really happen. REALLY happen, as in, no hand towel.

Of course, my head is not touching the floor yet in Mari B.

This vexes me.

I did have my best hand bind in Supta K ever, nevertheless. For the firs time, I didn't snap out of it when Sir let go of my hands. I did snap out of it as soon as he tried to cross my ankles. Damn. This vexes me too.

But all in due time. I am sure of it. 95 and 1/4 percent sure of it, that is. The other four and 3/4 percent is literally OVERFLOWING with doubt.

Off to practice I go....

YC

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

We rallied together?

I see that I am not the only one to have commented on the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001. This does not surprise me at all, and in fact, I am a bit surprised that more people didn't comment on it. What I am even more surprised about is how differently various commentators perceived the aftermath, most of them describing a a community that unified in response to the tragic events.

This, of course, is not what I described at all in my commentary. My memory of the days, weeks and even months following September 11, 2001 is filled with negativity, of lingering depression and anxiety even amongst those whose lives were not directly touched by loss. I have no recollection of a community coming together. My recollection is of a community that was divided and divisive.

My recollection is of friendships that foundered over disagreements on the appropriate way to talk to the kids about terrorism and an inability to tolerate differences in coping strategies (some wanted to go about their lives, pretending that nothing had changed; some lived in constant fear and thus could not pretend that nothing had changed. The former looked down upon the latter as wimpy; the latter looked upon the former as cold and heartless). I recall uncomfortable parlor games of "Who would you have called if you were stuck in the tower?" I saw marriages end, as couples took of their lives and their happiness and considered, "Is this the last person I would want to talk to if a plane hit my office building? I recall the anger of parents parents over their school's failure to "appropriately" address the attacks. I recall vicious mudslinging aimed at widows trying to collect their monetary damages and proceeds of whatever fund had been created to help them in their time of need ("Why does she need the money? Why doesn't she donate it to someone who really could use it?).

Where was this rallying together happening?

YC

Monday, September 11, 2006

An appropriate coverage and also the most inappropriate coverage of the coverage of the most inappropriate coverage of the Fifth Anniversary of 9/11

Clever! The Gothamist has created appropriate news coverage out of inappropriate news coverage of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 (9/11) terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and other points unknown (see, United Flight 93). That's kind of like when the Husband walks in on me practicing Ashtanga, hands on hips, eyes narrowed, and says, "Hey, I fed the kids breakfast/took out the garbage/flossed my teeth/scratched my ass while you were practicing yoga, and I didn't even interrupt you. You should thank me for not interrupting you. How come you never thank me for not interrupting you? Hello?! Why are you staring at your nose all crosseyed like that?"

So, yeah, no, it can't all be appropriate news coverage. I mean, if it were, how awfully boring that would be. Notice, for example, how I didn't even mention the Susan Komen Race for the Cure yesterday (actually, I am not a big fan of the Komen organization, but we can talk about that in October, you know, the pink month, the month where we get beaten about the head by breast cancer coverage). Even I don't always jump on the Relevant and Timely Bandwagon to spice up my blog.

That said, I have some appropriate thoughts for today, as well as, of course, some inappropriate thoughts for today. Which shall I start with? Hmmm. Well, I suppose it's best to start with the inappropriate because then we have somewhere to go from there.

So, here goes:

Yoga Chickie's Egocentric and Inappropriate News Coverage of the Fifth Anniversary of the Events of 9/11

The traffic getting down to Shala X was HORRENDOUS. It made me want to scream at the police cars and ambulances making their way down toward Ground Zero, gratuitously pulling rank by turning on their sirens, or so it seemed: "Dont you people know I have a very important reason for needing to get down to the shala by 9 a.m.? Don't you know that I need to get one of my last 12 adjustments in Supta Kurmasana before Sir heads out to India?!"

The FDR Drive, which was closed south of the Houston Street exit (HOW-ston, for all you hayseeds out there, just kidding, not about the pronunciation, but about calling you hayseeds) in order to keep traffic out of the downtown/ground zero area, was essentially a parking lot. I sat in my car and helplessly listened to the news coverage of today's Ground Zero events. There were moments of silence punctuating the coverage, representing the times at which the planes hit, and the times at which the Towers collapsed.

The names of the dead were being read, one after another, by women with horrendous New YAWK accents. It made me feel sad for the families (except for those families who cultivate their New YAWK accents). Why couldn't they get someone with a nice, milquetoast accent to read the names? If it were me, I would want my name to be read by someone with an accent like the one Madonna is cultivating. Law-Wren Sah-MAHN-Tha Caaaaahn. Nothing about my first name is intended to rhyme with the word "mall" or "sin", and my last name most certainly does not rhyme with "lawn".

But enough about me, let's talk about my yoga practice. I was kind of bummed because after all that drama in getting down to the Shala, my practice was kind of blah. A seven on a scale of one to ten. A little too stiff. A little to cold. A little too many Walkers Shortbread Cookies last night (damn you, my friend, Chris, for giving me two boxes of these. That's the thanks I get for having you as my guest in Fire Island? Pure butter, the box says, and sugar, which you would never eat, yourself, lest it launch you into an exercise bulimic Spin-Class binge...damn you, evil woman!) I didn't have time to do backbends or the finishing sequence. After Supta Kurmasana, I just did the three Padmasanas and that was that (until I got home and did everything in between).

Yoga Chickie's Highly Personal but Hopefully Appropriate News Coverage of the Fifth Anniversary of the Events of 9/11/2001

I was still in my apartment when the first plane hit the first Tower on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was supposed to be heading down to a meeting on Wall Street, and I was running a bit late. The phone rang. It was my mom. She wanted me to stay put. I told her "nothing doing. I have a meeting downtown, plane crash or no." My mom was pretty sure the world was ending. I thought that was a bit melodramatic for some accidental plane crash into a building that was a least a good 10 blocks from where my meeting was to take place.

With the second plane crash, my cynicism quickly veered to confusion to denial and back again, several times over. It wasn't until close to an hour later, when the first Tower collapsed that I realized that there would not only be no meeting, but there would be no work that day either. It wasn't until I started watching the news coverage on the television, and I saw the scattered papers blowing everwhere, and I heard the news reporter mention that some of the papers bore the name "Cantor Fitzgerald" that I realized that I knew more than just a handful of people who were probably in one of the Twin Towers that morning.

I called Jennifer, an old friend from Tufts, who was married to the CFO of Cantor Fitzgerald and who had two young children with him. She told me that there had been no word from Doug. No phone call. No word from him since the plane hit the building. No news of him at all. She told me that Cantor Fitzgerald's offices were above where the plane had hit. This was not good. But at the time, it meant nothing to me. Nothing could have happened to Doug. Or Mark Z, with whom we had spent a summer (or was it two?) at the Clearwater Beach Club. Or Howard Lutnick, who was Doug's best friend and the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald; or Howard's younger brother, Gary; or Howard's brother-in-law (also called Gary), who was a former neighbor of mine. Nothing could have happened to anyone I knew. They had to have gotten out safely.

But things I never fathomed could happen had happened. Were happening. There was no word on Mark Z. I hadn't yet heard about Gary Lutnick's last phone call. Or that the other Gary was safe and sound, having been fortunate enough to have not been at work that morning.

Hours passed. Brian's preschool was closed indefinitely (meaning not that it would never re-open, just that a re-opening had not been scheduled), and I actually felt a measure of happiness: a chance to spend some time with my children instead of going to work and sending Brian off to school (Adam was only two at the time). The Husband had been at work for many hours already, and I was beginning to harass him about getting home. Clearly, he was even deeper in denial than I was. In the meantime, I decided to do what it turns out that many Upper East Side moms had also decided to do: turn off the scary-ass news coverage, get a little respite from the terror, and take the kids out to the playground.

What I did not anticipate was the smell. It was as if the entire city were on fire. Even on the Upper East Side, our nostrils filled with the smell of burning God-knows-what. It did not occur to me until much much later, years later even, that I was breathing in the scent not only of burning buildings and seering steel plane debris, but also the acrid odor of charred human flesh, of lost lives.

Seemingly oblivious to the smell, the children went about their playground games, swinging on the swings, building castles in the sandbox, climbing the monkey-bars. Yet the smell reminded the moms in the playground that this was no ordinary day on the park bench. That, as well as the dark military planes and helicopters that flew low in the preternaturally cloudless blue skies over Carl Schurz Park. Amid the innocent laughter of the children, the moms were quiet. There was nothing much we could say. None of us out there were waiting for our husbands to call. None of us wanted to talk about the friends of ours who were. Besides, the vastness of the tragedy had not yet fully bloomed into our understanding. It was there, a small, hard seed. But at that point, we couldn't (or wouldn't let ourselves) see it in full.

It was at the playground that I began to wonder about plans I had made with a friend to have cocktails the next evening. Would I still have those plans? Perhaps I should cancel? Perhaps my friend would cancel? Would the events of 9/11 transform into a convenient excuse to blow-off plans we didn't really want? A part of me felt irritated and inconvenienced. And then another part of me felt terrible for feeling irritated and inconvenienced. I wondered about whether I would be expected at work the next day. I certainly hoped not. Not only was I happy to be home from work, but there was a small part of me, deep down inside, that was terrified to re-enter the working world, a world where people died just because they went to work in the morning (especially, if they got there early). I wondered whether Brian's preschool would re-open soon, and if so, would my mother harass me into not sending Brian there, fearing for his safety (for me, the denial was still at such a great level that I could not even fathom that anyone in my family could be in any kind of danger).

Back at home later on, I called Jennifer once again. She had still not heard from Doug. I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable calling her every few hours to ask, "Have you heard from Doug?" At the same time, I didn't want to appear to have abandoned her in her time of need. She was already losing hope, even then. What remained was the hope that he was injured enough so that he could not make a phone call, but not injured enough to kill him or effect his future in any way. By the next day, when the notion that Doug could actually be alive (but not be in contact with his beloved family?!) went from a remote possibility to the borderline absurd, all of Jennifer's hope was gone. Her friends rallied around her. We talked about nothing and everything. Her life as a widowed mother of two had begun.

Hope had begun to evaporate for many others as well, although perhaps not as quickly. Grand Central Station was plastered with hundreds of missing-person flyers. The flyers spoke brightly, then falteringly, and then almost sheepishly, of hope. The shining and (for the most part) youthful-looking faces smiling out from the flyers had to be out there somewhere. Didn't they? These people had no plans to be dead as of September 11, 2001. They had lives to go back to. They had absolutely no business being dead. Right? But the truth was as stark and as simple as the matter of empty hospitals.

It was shocking to many, myself included, that the hospitals were not flooded with injuries. That first day, we all thought about how we could help by donating blood, or donating cookies and juice boxes to others donating blood. But by only the second day, we knew that there was virtually no one to whom a blood donation might go. New York City hospitals had geared up for an unprecedented influx of trauma patients in their ER's. But for the most part, no one showed. The ER's must have felt ghostly, waiting for would-be patients who were never coming, would-be patients whose families phoned every hospital in New York City to ask, "Have you seen my husband? My wife? My sister? My mother?"

"I'm sorry. We have no patient by that name."

Jennifer began planning Doug's memorial within a day or two. She needed the closure. As we all know by now, Howard Lutnick was not in the Tower when the plane hit: he had been taking his son to his first day of school up in Riverdale and planned to come into the office later. What divine intervention/luciferous pact had spared him? And was being spared a blessing or a curse for a man who was first hoisted upon the shoulders of a crowd searching for leadership and then thrown to the ground to be stomped upon by those who had entered the "anger" phase of their grieving?

Howard's brother, Gary, survived the plane's crash into his Tower, but only long enough for him to recognize that his young and unfinished life was about to come to an abrupt end. This gave him the chance to call his beloved sister, Edie, to say goodbye. I dare not even imagine what that must have felt like for either of them. I never learned how Mark Z's life came to an end. But I do know that his second child was born shortly thereafter and that his sister recently got married for the first time, to an old friend of mine, and is now pregnant with her first child - I hope it's a boy and that they name him Mark.

The rest of us tentatively went on with our lives, or some version thereof. Gradually, our trepidation was supplanted by a numb understanding that all of the anxiety in the world wasn't going to change what might happen to us next. There was no way to stop the march of reality back into the hellish nightmare world into which we were plunged on September 11, 2001. We had to get back to work. We had to take public transportation. We had to send our children to school. We had to worship at our synagogues. Sometimes we had to enter government buildings, like if we wanted to renew our drivers licenses. And after a while, if we couldn't do these things, no one was going to have much sympathy for us. And so, we went on. On a mundane level, our lives came back.

Or something like that.

I did not lose my spouse or my office on September 11, 2001, but my life had been changed inexorably. It would be redundant for me to explain how on a macro level, the world changed in an instant on September 11, 2001. But I am sure that I am not alone in feeling that on that day, on a micro level, my own world shifted. And not for the better. There was a pervasive and yet highly intangible bad mood going on in New York City for months and months after September 11. My law firm felt morgue-like. As the financial health of our city foundered, business dwindled. People kind of hid in their offices with their doors closed. The "collegial" environment evaporated. In my social circles, tensions arose between friends who feared for their safety and friends who scoffed at such fears. Some of the former went so far as to leave the city. Sometimes for good, sometimes for a period of days, weeks or months. I felt like my life no longer stood on stable ground. This made me feel angry and inconvienced, anxious and irritable. I felt victimized. I didn't like change. And things had changed. And there was nothing I could do about it.

But my dismay at being inconvenienced was nothing compared to the dismay of the widows, children and parents of those who went to work on September 11 and never came home, having become casualties in a war in which they had not elected to fight. Nothing compared to the unfinished lives of those for whom the reward for showing up at work was a torturous death. Who would have ever thought that simply going to work would put an end to his or her life? As a formerly full-time working mom, this had always been my unspoken nightmare. I found myself wondering: how many of the dead woke up that morning, like every other morning, dreading going to their offices? How many of the moms who lost their lives spent their last moments on earth wishing that they had chosen to stay at home with their babies?

For some, the most disheartening aspect of losing their loved one(s) on September 11, 2001 is that it happened on such an incredibly "mass" level, so that the loss seems, at least to others, somehow diluted, reduced to a "one-of-many" situation. No individual's loss should have to be lumped in with anyone else's. And yet this is what resulted from the mass destruction of life on September 11, 2001. My friend Jennifer did not want to be "one of the 9/11 widows". She wasn't a joiner when it came to the loss of Doug, and I can understand that. I would have felt the same. I don't think that, if it were me, I would be one of those at Ground Zero today, digging through the dirt, kissing the dirt. I would want to remember my loss in solitude and not imagine that the dirt at Ground Zero is somehow a connection to my lost loved one.

But that's just me. My faith tells me that those who are lost are still with us as long as we remember them. And so in that spirit, I give you the names of three whose lives were lost that day, who touched my life and whose loss I have felt in some way or another, so that you can reflect on them, if only for the moment it takes to read their names:
Douglas Gardner
Mark Zeplin
Gary Lutnick
In peace,

YC

Sunday, September 10, 2006

If I could do this...

...then why can't I bind both hands and feet simultaenously in Supta K?

Notwithstanding my continued inability to do so, I had an exquisite practice today. I think the antiobiotics made a difference. Did I mention that I got some kind of infection from a bug/tick sometime during my travels this past month? It may be Lyme, but I haven't gotten the test back yet. I didn't realize I had been feeling under the weather until I stopped feeling under the weather (thanks to my Z-Pack, which my doctor gave me upon my stopping in out of my not-quite-hysterical concern over three lymph nodes behind my ear, which had suddenly become painful and inflamed overnight after we left Lake Placid on Sunday).

There is no question that I am making progress in Supta K, even as getting fully into it is still quite a ways off. In the meantime, I my stamina has improved greatly. Compared to what I was doing at home for the past five or six weeks, practicing up to Supta K, without any add-ons in the middle or long, lunge-filled warm-ups, seems quite easy. I kind of long for more. I don't want to lose the fitness I have gained. Still, in exactly one month, I am going in for surgery, and will have to take six weeks off after that. So, it's kind of like: lose the fitness, don't lose the fitness, in a month it won't matter anyway.

After practice, had brunch at MUD with "anonymous shala mate", who will definitely be gettin garbha pindasana soon. I don't even understand why she doesn't have it now. She has pulled way ahead in terms of Supta K - binding reliably with Sir's help.

I know I shouldn't say this, but I can't resist - today, we had a celebrity practicing in our midst, and I have to say, it always gives me a bit of a thrill to be practicing yoga in the same room as someone I see regularly on the screen (not going to say whether I am talking about the small or the big screen, although a few of you will know anyway). What's funny about my brushes with celebrity - I can honestly say that they are exclusively tied to yoga, whether teaching or practicing. I never run into anyone on the street, at restaurants or shopping (except one time, when I ran into Roseanne Barr-Arnold-Whatever-It-Is-Now outside of Barneys and one other time when I met Jason Giambi on line at Starbucks, not that I would have recognized him but for the fact that the guy taking my money pointed him out). But put me in a room where there's yoga going on, and then maybe I'll get to meet Yoanna House, Charlie Sheen, George Stephanapolous, Mary McFadden, Idina Menzel, Robin Givens, Parker Posey, or the one from today....Most people wouldn't care. But for me, reader of Life & Style, Us, People and the dreaded and dreadful Star, well, it's kind of a thrill.

YC

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's Hanukah three months early!

Who ever heard of getting your computer back three weeks earlier than promised?

And yet it happened to me today. For better or for worse, all of my customized settings are gone though, having reverted back to the factory settings. I don't even have Mozilla Firefox. Or...iTUNES! Or any of my photos. Thank God for Flickr.

Maybe when they said it would take three weeks to fix my computer, they meant that it would take three weeks to get all of my stuff back on my computer after they send it back to me fixed?

Anyway, here is a photo of the Yoga Chickie family doing the luge (no-ice) at Mont Tremblant. We did this approximately thirty billion times in the week we were there. Factory settings be damned, at least I can once again post photos...

YC

"That was a pretty good bind"

So said Sir. This morning. At the shala! Bright and early, in time for the mantra, I was.

And yes, he was referring to Supta Kurmasana.

As I was driving down to Shala X this morning, I asked myself, as I often do, "What are my intentions for my practice today?" My mind's first response was "Gotta bind in Supta K. Must bind in Supta K. That is my intention." Usually, the next step is for me to tell myself to have the intention but to let go of the results. Passion and discipline tempered with non-attachment. But today, I dared not even have that particular intention. I decided that my intention would be to simply do my practice with a minimum of breaks in flow. I set the intention, and then I let go of the results.

I arrived just in time for the mantra. Sir was welcoming, asking me when my surgery was, which meant that he had remembered the email I had sent him about my vacation and surgery plans (i.e., why I would not be in the shala much until September and then after September). And that helped. It's kind of nerve-wracking coming back after a six-week absence. Mantra began. Practice began. Many new faces. A few familiar faces. Mostly, I kept my eyes on my driste, except at one point as I watched an incredibly bendy student set herself up for Supta K. I noticed that her arms were reaching BACK the entire time, instead of straight out to the sides, as mine usually are in Kurmasana. I made a mental note to try that method, myself, later on when it was time to do the turtle.

Practice was mainly uneventful, save for my newly having to get re-used to sweating like a teenage boy dancing with his crush at his first school dance. That did make for a couple of continuity breaks, as I ran for the bathroom to get some tissues since even my beach towel was sopping wet by the time I got to Mari B. Nevertheless, as I said, uneventful.

Reach. Balance. Twist. Jump. Bend. Bind. It was all happening.

And then there was the Turtle. The moment of truth. The place where the rubber hits the road.

I rolled up my capri-length pants into shorts-length and I pulled my tank top up to reveal my abdomen. If I was going to be covered in flop-sweat, then at least I was going to make the most of it.

OK, I thought, just jump your legs around your arms....now walk your feet a little closer together and press your chest forward towards the mat....okay, now let your arms slide back along your sides as you lower your butt to the floor....try to keep your feet grounding as you sit...oh!...lost contact between feet and mat...okay, no problem, just let the heels slide forward now......now bring the arms slightly away from your sides but try to keep the shoulders under the legs.....

Sir made his way over just as I sunk into Kurmasana. He held my back down a bit, but mainly, I'm good to go in that posture. For some weird reason, it's always been cake for me. My heels float, even my butt floats...so, it's like my entire lower body is balancing on top of my upper body.

And then it was time for Supta K. But even before Sir started to pretzel me up, I could feel that my arms were reaching further across my back than they had in the past. I could feel that my arms were reaching higher above my hips and closer to the smallest part of my back, my waist, for a more efficient bind. And then there it was:

TWO HANDS FOUND EACH OTHER. HANDS. Not fingers. HANDS. Goddamned sweat made it really hard to hold on, but I also know that when I am even looser, the sweat won't matter as much. Sir switched the hand-to-hand grip for hand-to-belt when he crossed my legs over my head. I know I have made progress. That's what I really needed to know. That progress was possible. My hard work has paid off. All may be coming.

And afterwards, I did some really sweet backbending and then I did my own drop backs and stand ups. And it was good to be back at the shala. It was good to say hi to my shala friends. It was good to chat with the Gorgeous Preternaturally Youthful Mom.

And now, because I have nothing else to say other than I might have Lyme Disease thanks to my outdoor adventures in either Fire Island, Canada, Vermont, Lake Placid or Eco-Hampton, but it's cool because I am already on anti-biotics and feeling like a new chickie, I will do what has always been inevitable, what has always been merely a matter of time. I won't be the first. That was accomplished already this week. And I hope I won't be the last. What is it that I am talking about? I am talking about parodying a yoga blog, perhaps pretending to somehow be above it all and yet still somehow deeply involved with it all, perhaps using big big words that even I don't understand, perhaps using the word "cock" in the middle of a word for no apparent reason, like the way Mr. Big said "Abso-fuckin-lutely" in the final scene of the very first episode of Sex and the City. Or I could try. But it would be difficult because the yoga blog of which I am thinking of parodying is really quite funny in quite a masculine way, in a way that I could never be, without risking sounding obscene or perverse and losing my "one or two readers", which include my seventh grade homeroom teacher and my ex-boyfriend's second wife's personal shopper. Maybe instead, I should just work, "See you next Tuesday" into my text and see who notices. See who even cares. The answer to which will probably be no one, seeing as I have (cleverly)embedded this text in a post that addresses Supta Kurmasana and Lyme Disease, two far more compelling topics than the internal debate of whether or not to engage in the sometimes hilarious and sometimes buzz-killing art of skewering a yoga blog, and by art, I mean, it takes talent and guts, neither of which I believe I posesses in sufficient quantities.

YC

Thursday, September 07, 2006

So, as I was saying...

why the shala? Why practice at a shala at all? At least in my case, where I possess the self-discipline, as well as the time (due to my stay-at-home mom-ness), to practice on my own each and every day, my entire practice, and then some.

As I was saying in yesterday's post, which life so rudely interrupted, that I came to Shala X, and the Mysore style in general, in order to deepen my Ashtanga practice, particularly the asana portion (since I had studied and continue to study Patanjali's Yoga Sutras at Om, Jivamukti and on my own, since I had already taken courses in Pranayama and Meditation, and since I had no expectation of being taught any of that in the context of Mysore style practice at a traditional shala, knowing, as I did, that Pranayama is "withheld" from traditionally-taught Ashtangis until well after Primary Series has been mastered).

And I had much deepening to accomplish, believe me. As I said, my practice was quite rough around the edges in terms of the form of my asanas and the flow of my vinyasa. My breath was choppy. My pace was erratic. These days, I believe I know how to breathe properly and can do so when I apply myself. And I think that my form is generally quite nice, at least up through Kurmasana.

But now, I stand here in front of a giant wall. A wall whose name is Supta Kurmasana. Beyond the wall is a paradise of postures that feel like they were literally made for my muscular little body and my blessedly open hamstrings and hips. Smooth, flowing postures that release the back from the work of the Primary Series, postures that set it all straight again so that backbending can be done with a modicum of comfort. At least that is how I experience it. But alas, I can only experience it when I practice outside of the shala. Any shala. After much deliberation with teachers and with students of other teachers, I have come to the conclusion that there is not a traditional Ashtanga teacher on God's green earth that would "give" me any poses beyond Supta Kurmasana at this point. I just haven't mastered Supta K yet, and I haven't been trying for long enough to make any sort of case for being the exception to the rule. Even Tim, who lets his students explore Primary as they desire, would not likely "give" me Garba Pindasana, I believe.

And what is my rush anyway, right? Who cares if I practice up to Supta Kurmasana and then moan and groan ("OH! My aching back!") my way through a really long downward dog and a couple of bridge poses before hitting the backbends? And who cares if I drop back or stand up from my backbends? It's not about how many asanas you get to practice, right?

Yeah. Right.

Truth is, I really enjoy the entire Primary Series, the gestalt of it. I enjoy the way it builds up to a crescendo and then achieves a gentle denoument, followed by a few moments of excitement once again in backbends, and then truly slowing to a march to the finish. It's like a good Hollywood thriller: it slowly builds up the story, creating set-ups for later excitement, the excitement happens, the bad guy goes down, the bad guy comes back up, and then the bad guy goes down again, smoothing the way for a peaceful roll through the credits.

I can't pretend not to know the Primary Series. I can't pretend to understand why just because I can't bind in Supta Kurmasana, I shouldn't be able to lie on my back and to Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana in the Supta (reclining) form, why just because my chest is really freakin' tight, and I mean really really freakin' tight, I shouldn't be able to enjoy the deep hip opening of Badha Konasana. I can't pretend to see my being forced to finish my practice with my spine knotted up into a dome shape as anything short of nonsensical, when the very next posture would de-dome me, and bring my spine back to neutral.

I'm sorry, but the Emporer is wearing no clothes.

So, then, why go to the shala? If I am practicing on my own without motivation issues, if I have no hope of being given any new postures any time in the next decade or so, if I get precious few adjustments in the postures I am already doing fairly well (I suppose because I am doing them fairly well), if I am not learning philosophy and pranayama beyond what I have already learned, and if going to the shala means that I have to suffer through backbends because I didn't have the last postures of Primary to soften and neutralize my turtle's shell into a human spine again.......then.....why? Why go at all?

I keep trying to write an answer to my own question. But everything I write feels kind of hollow. Except for this one thing: Sangha. Community. A meeting of the minds. A meeting of kindred spirits.

I miss the place. I miss my shala friends. I kind of even miss Sir and Madame even though anyone who has taken an Intro to Psychology class at any halfway respectable university will be able to read between the lines and see major parental authority issues in my struggle to stay with the program as taught by my teacher. If I don't go to the shala on Sunday, I won't be able to have an excuse to meet my "anonymous shala friend" for brunch afterwards. If I never go to the shala, I will be "out of it". I won't feel like an Ashtangi anymore. I will feel like a yogi. But not an Ashtangi.

There is something else, now that I think about it: the challenge of not being "the best". It's hard to be at the shala, where so many people are so incredibly lithe and limber and strong and beautiful and who have years and years of practice behind them or years of dance or gymnastics experience that came before their yoga. It's hard to be in that environment and feel like, well, like I'm not all that. I like to be all that. Damn it. I do. And it's humbling and ego-smashing to realize that I can't be. No matter what I do. But to miss out on that humbling and ego-smashing experience would make me a coward, at least in my mind. And it doesn't really teach me anything about loving myself the way I am. Practicing on my own and giving myself high fives for being the best student in my class of one doesn't really give me the opportunity to acknowledge what's really amazing about my own particular practice - the fact that I get up and do it despite not being the best, despite the challenges.

So, I am going tomorrow. I am I am I am. And if I don't, you can personally crucify me here, anonymously if you wish, and I won't even delete you.

See you there.

YC

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A little soul searching

Today's excuse for not making it to the shala was a post-August meeting with the Analyst.

August is such a strange time in New York City - all of the Analyzed are suddenly cut adrift by their shrinks into a citywide sea of neuroses, while the shrinks run off to their summer homes in Provincetown or wherever they go these days (you don't ask; it just doesn't seem proper to ask personal questions of the person who listens to you drone on and on about your life on a weekly, biweekly or even daily basis). Labor Day is the olive branch in the dove's beak, symbolizing the proximity of a safe place to dock. Analysis Interruptus Augustus. It's not pretty. Thus, when your Analyst calls to say, "I'm back," you get yourself to that couch, even if it means missing your opportunity to practice once again with your teacher at your shala. There's always later in the day to practice, at least if you're me. And so it was. And practice was heavenly.

"I didn't make it to the shala today. Practice was divine." Perhaps I should just cut and paste this mantra to the beginning of all of my posts these days? Or, to paraphrase a certain Madison Avenue stroke of brilliance, apply it directly to my masthead? I will say that I hope not. Or rather, perhaps more accurately, I hope that I hope not.

Which brings this little soul to said searching. By which I mean: Why do I even practice at a shala?

I know why I came in the first place: I wanted to learn Ashtanga the traditional way, the way the senior teachers were taught (I did not know at the time that the various generations of senior Ashtanga teachers were all taught in different ways, give or take). I knew that the Ashtanga that I was practicing at non-Ashtanga schools was derivative at best, even with the more highly skilled teachers with the best of intentions; you just don't really learn Ashtanga in a led setting. You just don't. That is how it seemed to me at least, and I still believe it.

At the time, I could barely get through the first half of Primary without gasping for breath. I couldn't even dream of twisting fully in Parivritta Parsvakonasana (now I can taste it...I can FEEL that floor solidly under my fully open palm, even if only in my imagination). Marichyasana A was something I had to practically roll onto my back in order to reach my arms behind me. Marichyasana B was an inconsistent lover. Mari C and D were not even living on my planet. Forget Janu Sirsasana C. I almost forgot it in those days, ridiculously unattainable as it was. The rest of it didn't even exist. I thought about something one of my teachers from those days said to the class: this practice cannot be done once or twice a week - you only get five breaths in each posture, and that is simply not enough to deepen your practice unless you are doing it day after day after day. I knew she was right.

And I knew something else: even five breaths wasn't going to do it. What it was going to take was one-on-one attention, serious physical adjustments to bring me into my passive range of motion and perhaps to bring my passive range into my active range.

Interestingly enough, I will say that it was only the physical practice that was lacking for me in those days. The meditative aspect, the pranayama (mainly ujaii), the philosophy - that was all happening with the teachers I had. Mary-Beth gave me some wonderful food for thought - for example, that the practice is over when the prana begins to leak out, when the flow is gone.

Uck....home life beckons. More later...

YC

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Clairol Clatches, Cattle Calls and other Crowds

Well, I didn't make it to the shala today. I suppose that if it had been really, really important to me, I would have. But it was the first day of school, and it seemed more important to say hello to the moms and dads that I haven't seen in 10 or so weeks and who will be part of my life again for the next 10 or so months, at least. I really had every intention of dropping my kids off at 8:20 and then tearing over to my car and driving down to Shala X. But at 8:30, I found myself in the middle of a convention of middle-aged redheads over on my friend, Heidi's, stoop (although Heidi was the only one of six of us who doesn't happen to have red hair, not that any of us have it naturally at this point; I mean, how many 40 year old women have naturally red hair? Naturally curly is one thing, and it was a convention of naturally curly girls as well, most of them converted to Curly Girldom by yours truly. Come to think of it, I am also responsible for converting my friend, E, to red hair; perhaps my next calling is Hair Stylist to the Moms).

At around 9:15 the Clairol Clatch broke up, and I found myself walking over to the subway towards Yoga Sutra, where I had to be at 12:15 anyway to teach the lunchtime vinyasa class that I had been teaching all summer and which I was called upon to teach again today, one last time until the regularly scheduled teacher returns from Israel, or wherever she has been lately. I got there, unceremoniously plunked down my new favorite mat - the Purple Manduka - and proceeded to do my practice. It was friggin' awesome.

I will admit that I spent 20 minutes doing a vinyasa-style warmup, exactly the kind that I tend to teach in a vinyasa class, and I have to say, it really works to warm the muscles, and quite a bit more efficiently than Sun Salutations, mainly because it covers more ground than Sun Salutations. For anyone who wants to give it a try (die-hard Ashtangi's, don't give me that face!), here is a quick rundown:

1. Five breaths in a wide-kneed child's pose.
2. Five breaths in downward dog.
3. Down-dog splits, first with hips aligned towards the mat, then with the lifted leg rotated outward, hip away from the floor, five breaths on each side.
4. Crescent Moon (lunge with the back knee and shin down, arms reaching up and back) into Twisted Crescent Moon (from Cescent Moon, bring hands into prayer at the center of the breastbone and then twist, bringing each elbow to opposite knee) for five breaths in each posture on each side.
5. Vinyasa back to downward dog.
6. High Lunge into Parsvotanasa Variation (from High Lunge,straighten the front leg and fold over) into Standing Split (from Parsvotanasana Variation, transfer weight into front foot, bend knee, float back leg up as high as possible, dropping crown of head as low as possible, nose as close as possible to the knee), into Warrior I (from Standing Split, gently lower the back foot down so that you're in a low lunge, reach arms up into a High Lunge, and then from there, pivot the back heel down - by entering Warrior I this way, you really notice the lengthening of the front of the rear leg and how much it really takes to bring the ribcage around towards the front) five breaths in each posture on each side.
7. Follow with Surya Namaskar A and B, three to five times each.

This whole sequence takes about 20 minutes, but, at least for me, it eliminates about 20 minutes worth of hemming and hawing throughout the series...you know, those places where you do "prep work" before actually getting into a posture. Or maybe I am the only one who procrastinates in this manner.

I know when I get back to the shala, there will be no warm-up vinyasa-ing for me. And there will be no postures after Supta Kurmasana. Nor will there be any drop-backs or stand-ups (which I am actually getting much better at...I no longer land on my shins, although I don't stand up smoothly in an exact rewind of my drop-back...yet....). This makes me sad. But it is the choice I have to make if I want my teacher's assistance and...um, his teaching....as in hopefully, there will be some teaching coming my way in the next year or so, and I won't be held back in Supta Kurmasana until my older son is in Middle School.

So, anyway.....yeah, practice was awesome today. Even with the criminally non-Ashtangi warm-up, I finished in under an hour and a half (not counting a short Savasana...damn it, I really don't enjoy Savasana. That's strange, isn't it? It seems like most everyone really enjoys laying there. I really can't bear it. Monkey mind, I suppose). Then I taught my class...with...get this...18 students. Again! My lucky number! Such a joy to teach a class with so much energy. I don't want to jinx myself here, but I have to say that my relationship with Yoga Sutra has been all good. Even when the Yoga For Breast Cancer class had to find a new home, it was still all good - we treated each other respectfully, we were on the same page. it's like, we just fit well together, Yoga Sutra and me. I am very grateful for that, as the yoga teaching world is so full of drama, at times it seems like it might as well be the acting world or the modeling world. Okay, maybe not the modeling world. But there are certainly scenarios that mimic the acting world - group auditions, cattle calls of sorts; the whole insanity at Sonic Yoga with the "Tell Us Who You Hate and We'll Fire Them" questionaires, amazing teachers (I am not referring to myself, fyi) who can't get on schedules at certain studios because of the politics. I wanted to be an actress when I was young - up until I was 14 and the director of the play I was starring in (The Diary of Anne Frank) informed me that I really ought not to try to be a professional actress if I was actually standing there asking her what careers she thought would be good to pursue on a parallel basis just in case the acting thing didn't bring in enough money to keep me in the lifestyle to which I wanted to become accustomed.

So, yeah, I guess that I just didn't have it in my heart. I certainly didn't have it in my heart to endure cattle call-style auditions. So, then why would I have it in my heart to do so now?

Thus, I consider myself blessed.

I am also thankful that I am actually blogging at this moment. It keeps my head on straight. It is hard to be away for most of the day.

Time to get the kids into bed now....

YC

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

About Me

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

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