Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The ultimate in poetic justice...NSFW!!!

I just got home from a morning of Book Fair, Halloween Math Game Party, Talking To Tova About Backbending and Pre-Puttering Hardware Store Shopping and tried to log onto Laksmi's Squirrel Yoga Blog. One small typo later, and here is where I found myself!! Happy Birthday Yoga Squirrel! You've been porn-cloned!


p.s. this is how I feel about Halloween

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Swan Pose and Pasasana

1. Can someone please tell me what the hell Swan Pose is? Sleeping swan too. Photos would help, but I'll take anything. Since Carl's suggestion of sandbags on my Baddha Konasana legs is not likely to do anything (since my knees are practically touching the floor in Baddha K already), I need to go with Cranky's big guns: Swan and Sleeping Swan. Thanks though, Carl; the problem with my hips seems to be strictly the front part, and seems to be soft tissue, rather than joint.

2. I forgot to mention earlier that today was the first day that I was able to hold Pasasana on my own without a wall or a teacher behind me to keep me from falling over. I love when poses start out as challenging but doable. I hate when poses seem impossible. Like backbending. Have I mentioned how much I am not enjoying backbending? And how exactly did I spend three years practicing Ashtanga without noticing how much I suck at, and hate, backbending?


Swan Pose

Can someone please tell me what the hell it is? A photo would help too. Muchas gracias.


Backbends suck.

I suck at backbends, and I am bitter.


Monday, October 29, 2007

I Fought the Law ....and LAU won!!!

The last time I was down at Shala X, I walked out into the sunshine to find that my car was sporting not one, but two, parking tickets. Ah, the NYC Traffic Police Force. Gotta love them, and they me. So of what did I stand accused? Of parking my SUV in a crosswalk, and of parking too close to a fire hydrant.

What galled me about this was simple: I was guilty of neither. And lucky for me, I had my trusty camera to prove it. One 41 cent stamp later, I was fighting for my right to park in the East Village. One month later, the verdict arrived in the mail. NOT GUILTY.

Applicable Fine: $115
Fee Payable by Defendant: $0
Time spent by me in court: 0 hours, 0 minutes and 0 seconds
Heh. Suckas....: Priceless


Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Laghu like this

should not be followed by a drop-back that looks like this:

Oh, and Laksmi, this one's for you........I ought to call it "Timbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrr..................!::

OK, you can smirk now, all you backbending prodigies.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pat Metheny Trio

Are you going with me? is a great example of how much this awesome guitarist is, well, awesome. As in someone to watch and listen to with awe. As I did last night. How could I have forgotten to mention that?

Last night the husband and I took in the Pat Metheny Trio's concert at Purchase College here in Westchester. Purchase is practically Pat's homebase at this point, even though he's a Missouri boy by roots.

Pat Metheny is the only musician that I follow around, if at all. I check out his concert schedule and if he's playing in the area, I will buy tickets. It doesn't happen all that often. But I got to see him twice in the past year, once at a tribue to the musician, Steve Reich, where it was just Pat playing a Reich composition before the Kronos Quartet took the stage, and then finally Reich and his many-piece orchestra.

I can't explain what it is about Pat Metheny's music that connects so deeply wih me. Obviously, I am not the only one. He has a career that spans something like three decades, and he's been awarded something like seventeen Grammy awards. He's played with Bowie. He WAS the music for the recent film, "A Map of The World."

I first discovered his music when I was about 16, and I was enamored with a boy named Stuart Feldman, whose group of kind-of-dirt-baggy friends all worshipped "Pat". At the time, there were not many albums. And what there was was, to this day, what I like the best. Evocative, poetic. Often acoustic. When I first got to Tufts, I remember going over to one of those second-hand record stores in Harvard Square and grabbing up "New Chattaqua" and falling deeply in love with the sound, especially the incredibly literal (if music can be literal, this one certainly is), "Daybreak".

New Chattaqua is the soundtrack of my freshman year of college and always will evoke the emotions of first being away from home, of autumn in New England, of the smell of beer and cheesesteak hogies, of my infatuation with another boy named, Tim, who really couldn't have cared much about me at all, and who definitely didn't appreciate Pat. Tim was a frat boy who had grown up in Apple Valley, Minnesota but who had moved to the slightly downtrodden Quincy (pronounced "Quinnzy"), Mass when his mom divorced. I thought his accent was adorable. My friend from across the hall, Anne, couldn't stand Tim, called him a "face-man", for his seeming insincerity.

Tim was the first and almost only boy who told me I needed to lose weight (there is one other, and I am still married to him), and he ended up marrying a tall, skinny wisp of a girl, he next girl he dated after me. Not that he didn't turn up like a bad penny now and then even after he was already seeing Susan. To this day, I still think of him every time I consider buying a pair of Levi's 501's because that was what he wanted me to wear, except that by the end of my freshman year, with all those cheesesteak hogies, I was too curvy at the time to pull off boy's jeans.

I really have no business reviewing a concert, but I've checked, and no one else has written about last night's concert, at least not yet, at least not on the internet. So, let me just say, it rocked. I wish he played more of his old stuff. But everyone says that at concerts. Performers will always play their new stuff, I suppose, because it excites them, and because it primes the listeners' ears for when the new album comes out. He did a wonderful piece that he wrote after Hurricane Katrina, a tribute to the people of New Orleans, and it reminded me of his old albums. And he also did a duet with Christian McBride, his amazingly talented bass player, of "My Funny Valentine". They made it their own. And at the end, he rocked out, as in ROCK. I had no idea he was interested in playing rock guitar. I think there was a lot of suprise out there in the audience. Not sure if I like this new development. But it doesn't matter because I want to watch Pat Metheny play anything he likes playing. Because watching him play what he likes playing is pure joy.


Lazy Moonday

I tried to post a video blog, but Blogger needs to get some of the kinks out of their video capability. Am I right?

So, instead of getting 60 seconds of me telling you what I did yesterday on the full moon and panning along the lush, autumn vistas that are the Westmoreland Sanctuary in Bedford, New York, you get a still photo of me sitting on a rock, with the camera angle such that you can't even see the tops of the magnicifent trees. Ah well.

It was a grey, fall day, but I've been looking forward to walking the Sanctuary's many short, easy-to-follow trails, and what better day than a moonday on which to do it? It was just me, my trail map and my camera. There was no one else there at all. Not one car in the parking lot other than my own.

I spent two hours wandering the trails, all of them loops, all of them interconnected, none of them longer than two miles. I hummed to myself, mostly Psapp and Zero 7, the songs looping round and round in my head, the lyrics repeating themselves over and over. "Was it loneliness that brought you here, broken and weak? Was it tiredness that made you sleep? Have you lost your will to speak? Was the earth spinning round? Were you falling through the ground? As the world came tumbling down, you prayed to God, what have we done? Free me from these chains. I need to change my way. Heal these broken wings. I need to fly far away, far away..."

I was startled by a deer with a fluffy white tail. I lost my way at one point, feeling a twinge of fear followed by ecstatic relief when I realized that I had never really strayed from the path at all. I was happy. And yet I wept a little.

What is it about being alone in nature that is so profoundly cathartic? And yet ultimately so centering?


Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's Feel Your Boobies Month!

I almost forgot. It's Public Service Announcement time here at the YC blog, and I nearly shirked my duties.

Truth be told, I've quietly been wearing pink this month, pink tank tops, pink dance-wraps, pink lipstick. Not pink nail polish, since I'm still engaged in my disgusting nail biting habit. But I almost forgot to remind all of you people who read this blog that you're supposed to be AWARE. OF. BREAST. CANCER. This month.

As if my telling you is going to do it. I mean, everywhere you look, it's beating you upside the head right about now, right? I remember hating October even before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Who wants to be reminded of a disgusting disease that kills many thousands of women, young and old, each year? And even if it doesn't kill them, it puts them through the hell of surgery, chemo and radiation. Not to mention a lifetime of worry.

But yeah, I ask you to take a moment to think about it, especially because I am almost a BAD example seein as I survived it (so far), and perhaps, with all of my talk of Second Series, long distance bike rides and spackling, I might actually make it look as if breast cancer is no big deal.

Well, please allow me to point out that it is a very big deal. And please allow me to count the ways.

1. Five years ago, I was bald as a cueball, and it was only a matter of time before all of my eyelashes and eyebrows fell out.

2. From October through December of 2002, I was vaguely nauseated all the time, except when I was projectile vomiting.

3. Between August of 2002 and April of 2003, I went from 102 pounds to over 130 as the effects of illness and treatment kicked in (first I wasn't feeling very well, so I ate for energy and comfort; then when I was diagnosed, I ate to combat stress; then when I was on chemo, I ate to battle nausea and to muster up the energy to do simply things like get up off the couch once or twice a day; then, there was menopause which permanently slowed my metabolism, only it took me about four more years for my appetite to catch up (catch down, really) with my nutritional needs.

4. There was that whole fear of dying and leaving my pre-K and Kindergarten sons motherless. That was a hoot. No, really, it was. Because instead of allowing myself to feel my fear, I pushed every feeling away. If I felt a feeling coming on, I went shopping, had a cigarette, drank a bottle of wine, dragged myself out with my single friends who encouraged me to misbehave. It was hard to interact with my children or my husband because to do so would give rise to the sense that they might need me, and I migh not be around for htme, so I pretty much ignored them. My younger son told me later that he believed that Mommy had been replaced by an evil version of herself - a "New Mommy", who didn't do things like cuddle and read to him or pay any attention to him at all. One day he remarked to the New Mommy, as she held him on her lap for the first time in ages, that she was reminding him of the Old Mommy. This freaked out Mommy, and Mommy decided to get a grip. Immediately.

5. There were those women who had the nerve to die of the disease while I was still battling it. That really sucked. I wasn't mad at them at all, of course. But it was very much a reality check. Women die of breast cancer every day. If you don't believe me, check out Young Survival Coalition's Bulletin Boards. Right now, the young women over there are coping with the untimely death of Melinda Gordon, M.D., aka Dr. Melinda, who was not their doctor, but their friend. Dr. Melinda was a medical oncologist. But even with her vast knowledge of cancer treatments, the disease took her life. She was not even 40.

6. There was the aftermath of illness, the part where all of my friends who supported me through the illness were suddenly busy with their own lives again. I was no longer "famous". I was no longer the center of attention. I no longer had a free pass to act like a bitch. And yet I often still felt quite bitchy. Angry. Confused. Like something really big had been taken from me.

Luckily, what had been taken from me wasn't my life, exactly. But it was some version of my life. And it was gone forever. Along with my boobies.

Anyone who has breasts can get breast cancer. Even men. Even young people. Even pretty people. Even skinny people. Even healthy people. Early detection doesn't mean that you get a free pass. It doesn't even mean that you get to survive. But for the general population (those not at a known high risk), it's really the only quiver you have for your bow.

So use it.

Feel your boobies. Even though you might be afraid.

Get a mammogram when you're 35. Why not? And if your breasts are "dense", which is something the mammo doctor can tell you, then get an ultrasound too.

Don't bother buying pink scarves and pink t-shirts. Buy yogurt because you like it, not because of the color of the lid. If you want to give money for breast cancer research, write a check. There's the Komen organization, or Estee Lauder's fund or Avon's fund, or better yet, Revlon's fund, because they really used their money for something valuable - they invented Herceptin.

Breast cancer SUXCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! People like us get it. Let's all improve our chances in every way we can.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


"Next week Krounchasana."

That will be, for me, like getting Supta Konasana or Upavishta Konasana. It's just too within my comfort level to be exciting. Pasasana is very doable - I can get a finger bind on my own now, with heel up, though, and by walking my hands towards each other using a strap. But that's how I learned to bind Supta Kurma on my own, so I am sure I am on the right track. Notwithstanding how doable Pasasana is, it is still a very intriguing posture for me. There are so many pieces of that puzzle. There's the twist (duh), but a twist with a bind that is doubly longer to get around than the twist with a bind in Mari C - it's two legs, instead of one. And instead of sitting, you're squatting. So, that adds an element of balance. And there's the achilles lengthening action going on. And the lengthening of the side bodies and opening of the thoracic spine and the deep internal rotation of the arms. Finally, and this came as a huge surprise to me: there is some serious leg strengthening going on.

My legs are brutally sore these days. I feel like I've been running up and down stairs. I think it's the combination of spending lots of time in Pasasana (usually, I put myself in it, or attempt to, once or twice, and then I get help...) and working hard to stand up from backbends.

I kind of new a new pose was coming. How did I know? It's always this way for me when I am about to get a new pose: I get incredibly burnt out and bored with what I am doing, and I start doing my home practice more often. No, I don't think that my teachers start to get worried that I am leaving them or losing interest. I just think that there's a correlation between my readiness to add a new pose and a waning of my interest in being in the shala. I mean, right now, I could go days without any assists, except in Pasasana. Many days, I get no help in Supta K anymore because I can pretty reliably bind it on my own. Today, not so much, because, well, every day is different, and I think that some days, I would rather NOT bind it on my own because being put into it is soooooo much deeper.

But I digress. With very little to get help on, it gets to be kind of much to schlep out to the shala, driving 35 minutes through back roads or 40 minutes of highway (yeah, the highway takes longer because it takes longer to get to the highway). So, I end up doing some practices at home, and by the time I come back, my teacher tells me it's time for a new pose.

I chalk it up to my own understanding of what my body is ready for. And since it is my body,it stands to reason that I would "get it" before my teacher does. But usually, the time lag is only a matter of days or weeks.

So, Krounchasana. Yay. I really really really want to start working on what comes next though - the backbends. Because I like to be all warmed up for my backbending, which went amazingly well today, I might add.

Here's what I think is going on there:

1. I finally learned to press down just a teeny bit harder on my big toe when in up dog. Doing so releases that pinchy feeling in my low back. Technically speaking, what it does is it internally rotates the thighs.

2. I finally figured out why people go all penguin toed when standing up for backbends: the turnout only LOOKS like a turnout. The feet turn out, but the legs rotate inward, putting hard pressure on....what else but...the big toes! I had no understanding of this for such a long time. Now, it would be MUCH better to have the feet point forward and for the internal rotation to happen energetically, but, well, that's a lot to ask of someone whose backbends look like mine. Have you SEEN those painful updogs?

3. I finally realized that I am NEVER, at least not presently, going to improve my backbending via PRESSING UP into Urdvha Dhanurasana. Let's call that the "Basic Backbending" portion of practice. Before dropbacks. I have seen better backbenders than me really really juice it up in the Basic Backbending, leading up to some lovely stand-ups. But in my case, the Basic Backbending just serves to scrunch my shoulders. How much better it all feels when I drop back! Or when I come into Urdvha D from headstand or even from a handstand (yes, I can tock, but please, let's not get all pissed off about it). Or when I walk my hands down a wall, keeping my legs as straight as possible for as long as possible. Yeah, yeah, I do the stupid, jackassed Basic Backbending because it is part of the program. And I evn stand up from a that last Basic Backbend, like a good little Ashtangini. But the real juice, the real work, the real release is in everything else that I am doing, especially, the Laksmi-magic-half-dropback, and the wall-walking. Then I do my pressups, and....voila. I stood up twice on my own today. One was with the back hand drag. But the was the best standup I have ever done. It was ALMOST normal.

Almost normal. Music to my ears.

Then I came home and spackled my front door with some concoction called "plastic wood". Then I got a call from someone's handiman saying, "I have Lewis. Is there a reward?" Oh crap. Yeah, well, how about 20 bucks. OK. I go to pick Lewis up, and it appears he has a sprained ankle. If only dogs could talk. I wish I could know what adventure Lewis had today. And if it was worth the sprained ankle. Do dogs even have ankles?

Time for a quick bath and then it's off to pickup the kids at "Safe at Home" class, where the moms and dads send their children to learn how to deal when mom's not home and there's no doorman.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Yesterday the gardener blew all the fallen leaves off of the lawn and into the woods alongside my yard. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Gone was the parched grass of the mid summer, the browned and bare patches that had been burnt by the sun and eaten in secret binges by the four-legged residents who come out only at night. What remained was a velvet blanket of deep, jade green. When the sun went down, and the nearly full moon rose in the sky, the colors of fall were gone, but the pristine landscape remained.

I just returned to my house after a nice, long yoga practice to discover that the grounds are literally covered, not just sprinkled with, but covered, with yellow and orange leaves. Maybe I'm naive, or just new to this country lifestyle. Maybe my gardener is laughingly counting his money today. And maybe I miss the way the grass looked yesterday, suspended for a moment in pure, bright green. But I'm glad that I took the time to enjoy it. And I have to say that what I see today here is beautiful as well. Different. But beautiful just the same.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Deeply criminal

And no doubt deeply painful to my friend Laksmi, who clearly has NOT been practicing her voodoo on my backbends, which suck some serious ass. II thought we had a deal, man? Now, I know there's a lushly redheaded Barbie with my kundalinquist headband on it, but I also know that she hasn't been doing her backbends. Has she? Nope, didn't think so. Because if she were out there in the Pacific Northwest working her magic, I wouldn't be wincing in discomfort every time I have to lift up into a backbend. And my updogs wouldn't look like total shit. Don't tell me you didn't notice.


Pincha My Asana

An example of criminal Ashtangi behavior.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Too much pitta? Or is it just hot in here?

On Thursday, Oni asked me if I had considered seeing Debbie, the resident Ayurvedic consultant at the CT Shala.

"You mean about the pitta?" I asked somewhat rhetorically, since I was dripping, no, gushing sweat from every pore.

I have to say that since I have been practicing at the CT Shala, I have been a veritable sweat factory. Two Surya Namaskar A's, and the schvitz is already rolling. Five in, and I'm already ready to roll out my Mysore rug. By the time I get to Padangustasana, I have to close my eyes to keep the sweat from pouring in.

I kind of like the sweat. It makes me feel clean when I'm done with practice. But I can see how it might be indicative of some sort level of pitta imbalance, especially since last winter, I felt quite differently. I couldn't get a good sweat going at all, and my head was spacey. Too much vata.

I guess.

I mean, how much of this is real? And how much is it just another version of old wives' tales? Or homespun voodoo magic? Lose your keys, and you have too much vata, lose your temper and you have too much pitta. Sounds suspiciously like a good se of excuses as I sit here and think about it. I mean, to say that I was late to dinner last night because of the earth's orbit into the Haley's comet meteor shower...well, I don't know. As the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized that I sounded like a nut. I also know that I sound like a nut when I extoll the virtues of young coconut and chai tea for balancing the "doshas".

I will say, without any shame or doubt, that young coconut is a miracle hangover cure. Doshas shmoshas. The stuff has potassium and it's far more organic than gatorade.

But I digress. Along the same lines, is spending more time backbending making me resposible for my walking out of the shala feeling kind of socially vulnerable? Or am I just making up reasons for things that just are what they are? When I was engaged in the deep opening up of the hips that is required for a good Supta Kurmasana and a flat-backed Badha Konasana A, I would attribute flashes of creativity to loosening the joints in my pelvis. There would seem to be a metaphorical connection between giving birth to babies and giving birth to, well, to ideas, I supposed. But again, was that just a bunch of hoodoo crap?

I feel cynical about this stuff right now. I feel as if it makes more sense to think less about why and just see it as how it is.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Rescue me?

I am on Route 684 heading north, or at least I was supposed to be heading north. Instead, I am sitting with my engine off and my car in park on what is, at this point, a four mile stretch of parked cars.

I only took the highway to avoid the annoying school buses on the local roads from town to my house. Now, my kids are heading home on one of those buses, and I am heading nowhere.

Apparently a fucking tractor trailer jacknifed. Can't these people use the roads safely? Can't they clean up the mess without shutting down the highway entirely? I am a mere four miles from my exit. I could jog home from here and beat my kids there. But that would involve abandoning my car.

There are men leaving their cars to go pee in the woods by the side of the road. There are people more impatient and hyper than me pacing around the highway's shoulder, talking on their cell phones.

I'm thinking that if I were single, this could be a memorable way to "meet cute" some impatient, pacing guy. Alas, it is raining, and I am married.

Fuck. I am annoyed. And don't be telling me that the tractor trailer guy is having a worse day. Do you think I have not thought of that? It STILL sucks for me.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another day, another round of backbending

I'm wondering when, if ever, it is going to feel soft and relaxed, like Mari D, or any of the poses leading up to Mari D. I lie on my ball every day now, before and after class. I feel that it's making a difference in that I can be more vertical at the wall when I go to begin my full wheel at the wall, with the heels of my hands pressed against the wall, belt around my arms, chest and chin pressing toward the wall.

My arms just don't follow that curve down the ball though. Not yet at least. I remember the first days of Supta K, when I was surprised to find that no matter what any teacher did, I just COULD. NOT. BIND. I just could not. The hands did not reach. I could get my hands to the floor in Prasarita Pado C. I could bind in all of the Marichyasanas. But the hands would not reach in Supta K. Even with assistance. And that is the part that got to me. I was thinking - if I can't be put into this pose even WITH assistance, what hope is there for me of ever getting into it at all?

That's sort of what I am feeling about backbending. No matter what anyone does for me, I still can't stand up correctly on my own. I either fall to my knees, or I drop my bum down so that I stand up like a crazed orangatang jumping from a high branch. And then there was a new varation today - the one hand dragging behind me, propping myself up so that I wouldn't take variation A or B. Of course, this was RIGHT after I swore up and down to two CT shala mates that I have no issues with coming up unevenly from a backbend. Ha. Always proving myself wrong. Eh, it's a living.

On the positive side, because there is a LOT of positive side to my practice these days, I am now able to do every single posture of Primary Series without any flailing around, fidgeting or prep work. And in Mari C, I am learning to wind my binding arm around without using my other arm as a guide. This is probably nothing new to anyone, but for me, there is almost no intelligence in my rotator cuffs. Or no natural intelligence. If anything, it's like artificial intelligence. I have to train those cuffs over and over again, and then over and over again some more, to aim my arms in the correct angles to make binding possible and/or deep.

This, of course, relates to my getting into Pasasana. It goes without saying that there is no way that I can possibly be able to bind Pasasana on my own if I cannot throw my binding arm around my legs and inch it up to wait for the other arm to snake down my back, WITHOUT having to use said other arm to guide the binding arm into the correct angle for binding. Thus, I need to begin to train my empty-headed shoulder joints to articulate in the proper way in a variety of poses.

For example, I am practicing Gomukhasana arms every day. No news there. But now, I am working towards getting the bind without using either arm to guide the other. In particular, I am trying to get my right arm up behind my back to wait for the left hand to come up from above my left shoulder without needing to use my left hand to help the right into the correct angle. Sometimes, the right arm seems to know what it is doing. Other times, not so much.

I found today that if I mimicked the squat of Pasasana in getting into Mari C, I could throw that binding arm around and simply reach around and grab the other hand.

The other thing I am doing in Mari C and D is taking five breaths with the wrapper as the grabber, and then without unbinding, I simply change the grip and have the wrapper be the grab-ee. The opening up of my chest from this variation on each side is quite nice.

What else am I doing these days in my practice? Let's see...I am learning to balance fully on my hands in order to float back to chatturanga, rather than jumping back. It is going to take some time, but it is a logical outgrowth of what Mark was working on with me this summer: the flat hands in jumping back and jumping forward. I'm pretty consistent now with the flat hands, and sometimes I feel like I've caught air. It's definitely way more challenging for me to jump through with bent legs, sloooowly and with control, then to wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee, jump my straight legs through, Hail Mary style. Even though the latter looks much cooler. The former is way more intelligent.

And the former prepares me for jumping straight into Bujapidasana. Now, for some reason, I am able to jump nicely into Bakasana, but I can't for the life of me keep the damn heels of my hands from peeling off the floor when I try to jump my legs around my arms in Buja P. I land my feet at the moment I begin to feel the peel. Don't want to be breaking fingers or my nose. I end up with my feet pretty much where I want them other than the fact that they are on the damn floor. At that point, I just lift and Buja P, voila. Unlike the old days where I used to do that whole dance of squishing my legs around my shoulders.

Today for the first time I tried the same drill for jumping into Kurmasana. Unfortunately, it left me a bit ill-prepared for Supta K. But doesn't Sharath come out of Kurmasana entirely to get into Supta K? That would seem to make a lot of sense, even if you're NOT going the Dwi Pada route to Supta K. So, anyway, I had to come out of Kurmasana entirely and slide my arms back under at a better angle in order to bind. And even so, Val had to help me make the bind today, which has not happened much at all lately. Still, I almost bound wrists, so that's good.

As for my endurance, I remember the days when I started really losing my vinyasa form at about Mari A. Now, I can do the entire Primary Series with the vinyasas set out in John Scott's book - you know, balancing one shin against an arm and jumping out of postures like that.

OF COURSE...and this is the whole point of this bragadocio post....NONE of this would be possible for me with a longer practice. There simply wouldn't be the time or the energy. So, even though a part of me longs to do all those backbends in Second Series, and that same part of me wonders why Val isn't teaching me those poses despite that I can do Pasasana with heels down (with help), and most people whom she has moved past Pasasana and all the way through Supta Vajrasana can barely bind Pasasana and can't bind Mari D without help. MOST. Not all. But most. See, Val believes that some of the later poses can help some of the earlier poses, and vice versa. So, I wonder - if she knows that my backbends need serious help, why not give me the rest of those backbends? MAYBE she sees me making enough progress with just what I am doing with Urdhva D?

OK, woa. I refuse to analyze what my teacher is thinking. It's so oooky when I see all the brain damage caused by people trying to figure out what their teacher (let's call him, um, "Schmishtofer", because I don't want to offend anyone) is thinking and assuming they know what "Schmishtofer" is thinking and why he, "Schmishtofer", is doing whatever he is doing and blah blah blah BLAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ACCCCHHHHH!!!!!!!

That's all.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Why work is boring nowadays

Ah, the good ole days. The days when everyone knew their place. Men worked to support their families, and ladies worked until they found a fella, moved to the country, where she cooked and cleaned and watched over her family without the bother of having to question it. And to keep the office worker bees busy, there was the game of scuttle, depicted last week on AMC's Mad Men, which is an amazingly riveting drama as well as a history lesson in Cold War America.

After a lazy day in the country, seasoned with an uncomfortble and very non-Cold War American sense of "what the hell am I doing with my life when I could be doing something with my life, I just thought I'd share this reminiscence of a more "innocent" time.


The luxury of a nap

After practice today, I came home, took a hot bath and then crept under the duvet to take refuge from the cold. It's too early in the season to be fiddling with the heat program on the thermostats. We haven't even had a frost yet, which means Indian Summer hasn't even come anf gone. Next thing I knew, it was nearly four o'clock. I quickly dressed in some jaunty fall attire to wake up my senses and my motivation to be seen in public despite a serious case of bedhead - brown jodhpurs, tall suede boots and a tweed newsboy cap to hide the tangle of hair - and went down to the bottom of the driveway to meet my little one, whose school bus was due at four.

What gives with the exhaustion?

Is it the extra work I am putting into backbending? Or is it the cold I've been practicing through? Or is it the culmination of months of constant movement, gardening, biking, hiking, excessively practicing, decorating, etc.?

A friend to whom I related the nap story (not much of a story, really, but what else was there to say about my day?) commented, "You have such serenity, such calm, to be able to sleep like that."

I just laughed and took Adam to Lacrosse practice.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Strap on

One around the upper arms, one around the thighs. Lift up into Urdhva Dhanurasana. Feel the magic.


They have some nerve.

My pecs, I mean. I lost track of where the comments were that i wanted to answer on the topic of backbends, so i hereby start a new thread to answer, in brief:

Julie is right - the surgery screws things up. But not irreversibly, i am convinced, or rather hypothesizing. I hope i am right. Unlike julie, my surgery happened before i discovered ashtanga, so i have no direct comparison regarding before versus after. I will say that i have never experienced any nerve dullness or sudden nerve re-awakening. On the other hand, under normal circumstances, my pain awareness threshhold is high. Perhaps that makes it hard for me to connect with the necessary feelings in my pecs.

Unlike julie, also, ustrasana is easy for me, as is lagu vaj and bhekasana. They don't add much to my mix for me because the problem is not my chest so much as my armpits. So, i guess it is about the insertion between pecs and...something else? Also, my delts are relatively overdeveloped, and so they seem to block my pits from opening up. Ustras does not address that.

I totally agree with julie though that we, she and i, that is, need to compensate with extra contraction of the spine, itself. I anticipate that this will be a long road, longer than if i were merely trying to soften tight muscles.

The ball is a huge help. HUGE!!! It forces me to shape my back in the way it needs to be shaped and molded. It gives me a template for reaching my arms up and back while in a back arch.

My bottom line: if i could learn supta k, i can do this too. Supta k seemed imposisible. At one time so did mari c. Now i can put myself in supta k and i clasp wrist in mari c and find pasasana logical and doable next step. Thus, the impossible can be possible.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I have a blog war hangover

I misbehaved. I am not the only one, but I can only apologize for my own words. I feel yucky.

I let myself get annoyed by Linda. Then I let my feelings turn into actions - writing things intended toward taking her down a peg. Someone else might have gotten hurt in all of this. The fact that I don't know whether or not he did makes it all the more regrettable. If I didn't know the effect of my words, then I should have been more mindful and just not said them.

You'd think that after 41 years on earth, including four spent in high school, and a decade on the park benches of the Upper East Side (a veritable hornet's nest of gossip), I would learn to shut my mouth when in doubt, or even to know when I'm in doubt.



It works

The backbending over a ball works. I really felt a difference today afer warming up over the ball before practice. EVERYTHING felt better about my practice, and backbending was painless, and there was noticeable openness in my pits.

Thanks guys. I will keep you posted. Of course.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lucky for youze all, my camera's batteries are dead

...because I tried to take a photo of me on my new 55 cm ball, just like
Cranky (who is very mad at me right now, totally unrelated to backbends, and she should consider this link as an olive branch of sorts, or at the very least, a bit of ass kissing), but trust me, it wasn't pretty.

I stood on my shins, put the ball behind my legs, and bent backwards over it. So far so good.

Then I tried to extend my arms back over the ball, armpits open. Except my armpits were having none of it. Whereas Cranky Tova's arms reached gracefully back over the ball, my arms reached diagonally up toward the ceiling.

On the other hand, I felt this amazing, incredible stretch of my front - from my hip flexors up through my rib cage. The bad news is that it stopped there. The armpits won't budge.

Like I said, it wasn't pretty.


Monday, October 08, 2007

OK, so, here I am at the wall. It's really sad.

My armpits are stuck in New York, while the wall is over there in Cuba. And you can't get to Cuba from New York.

This is my backbend after dropping back. Please ignore the sweat. It's really kind of gross, I know:

I want to do the work. I do. I really am not avoiding it. Anymore. I just suck at backbends. But maybe I don't always have to suck at backbends. I will try to take all the advice given. But to me, so much of it doesn't even feel possible. Straighten the legs? How? Push my chest toward the wall? HOW?


Not that there's anything wrong with that

In what world is it objectionable to state the fact of a person's entirely not-secret sexual preference, and yet, NOT objectionable to blog about the following?

  • (1) the sexual dysfunction of a recent ex who is likely to be reading said blog,

  • (2) the shape as well as speed of arousal of another recent ex's member,

  • (3) the supposed girl-on-girl crush of a young waitress who works the brunch shift at a well-known Manhattan eatery,

  • (4) the bowel problems of former date, Irritable Bowel Guy, ALTHOUGH, I will grant you that at least we don't know who he is and can't guess, unlike all the others on this list, and

  • (5) the marital problems, including infidelity, of husband-wife gallery owners who once employed said blogger (talk about biting the hand that feeds you!)?

Still mulling this insanity over. Let's simplify it. Here are the Rules Of Enragement on Boodiba's "Drug Trip Deny Whore" blog:

Not objectionable: sharing really embarassing and intimate details about unsuspecting people.

Objectionable: reiterating the fact of someone's sexual preference, which fact is not a secret.

IN WHAT WORLD, I ASK YOU? In what crazy, irrational, messed up world?

If you haven't been following the recent blog war, here's the quick and dirty history. On second thought, I'm not going to bother.

Suffice it to say that I have objected to that which the Drug Trip Deny Whore blog has deemed non-objectionable. Which is to say that I took issue with the whole making fun of innocent people's embarassing problems extravaganza. And I have dared to say that which the Deny Whore blogger has deemed to be highly objectionable. Which is to say I might have been the verbal equivalent of a cold shower on her fantasies of a love affair with a certain unavailable guy.

As a delightful and unexpected benefit, I have had the pleasure of being called the "c" word by the Deny Whore blogger as well as "yuppie c-word" (despite that I am neither young, urban or professional, and well, the rest I leave for you to decide) by her married sycophant who calls himself "DILF", which I think means, "Doofus I'd Like to Flog".

But all of that high school crap aside, here's the real rub: The notion that one's sexual orientation must be shrouded in secrecy cannot even exist unless there is a concurrent existence of shame over said sexual orientation.

Is there shame in this case? I don't think so. But logic dictates that those who are attempting to "protect" the person whose sexual orientation has been called into question MUST, in fact, believe that there IS shame. They must believe if this person is gay, then he must want that fact to be hidden. Or THEY want that fact to be hidden. Or they desperately want that fact to be otherwise. I suspect that it is a combination of all of the above. Depending on whether the sexual-orientation-protection-vigilante in question is gay, anti-gay, or in lust with someone who might be gay.

And to me, that is the biggest insult they could lay on this person.

That they do not understand that is the tragedy of this whole rigamarole.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'm not talking about out-laws

So, let's say you live an hour from the theater district. And let's say you never saw much theater even when you lived and worked within walking distance. And let's say that your kids would rather have a fish hook stuck in their eyes than sit through a broadway show.

Now, let's say that a certain member of your family says to you, "I want to take your boys to see [insert broadway show here]. What do you think?". And let's say that you decide to be polite and say, "Oh, that might be nice. I will have to ask them if they want to go."

And then let's say said family member says: "I wonder how i will get the kids to the show, since you live in westchester now."

What would you do? Would you offer to drive an hour into the city to bring the kids to a show that they don't even care to see, and which you couldn't care less if they ever see? Or would you say, "Yeah, no, I guess it won't work out after all"?

Personally, I do not react well to indirectness, to manipulativeness or to gifts with strings attached. It reminds me of those time-share scammers who offer to comp your dinner if you just promise to show up at some sales presentation the next day, smack in the middle of your vacation. I would just as soon skip the free meal. Ya know?

I am sooooo annoyed. Not because i can't let the offense go, but because a certain other family member is more than happy to jump to the task of driving the kids into the city, despite that he can't be bothered/doesn't have the time to do any of the household chores that I have now taken upon myself to do. And if you catch my drift, this certain other family member is pretty hard to avoid at home. Hence my inability to "let it go", and my need to vent here.



For Vanessa, not my sister, the other one...

It's not pretty, but here it is. This is an example of my non-vanity. Note the pastey skin, the non-cute yoga attire, the unfinished family room background.
Yes, it's true. My backbend doesn't look one iota different from the way it looked a year ago. Or at least not in this photo. It is entirely possible that it looks somewhat better today, after Intro to Second class at the CT Shala, in which I managed every backbending pose except Kapotasana A, which, even with Val's assistance, saw me unable to touch fingertips to toes. THAT said, Kapo B was okay (the one with straight arms, hands on the floor), and I was pretty pleased with my Bhekasana. I've always had flexy knees. So flexy that they make up for non-flexy hip flexors and a chest that is just beginning to poke out from behind its armor.
I will try to swallow my pride and post some more backbending photos as I continue to plug away at backbending with more assistance than I had in the past. Maybe it will make the difference. Theoretically, it should.
Oh, and Posh-asana in class after NO marichi's and no standing poses after Parsvotanasana? NOT happening. Humbling. The girl next to me caught her wrists. I kept falling over, and I wasn't even binding. Val wasn't giving adjustments at this point - she was practicing with us, a la her teacher, Tim Miller. She began to walk around and give assists at Laghu Vajrasana, which is also quite easy for me. Hey, something should be, right?
Oni helped me stand up from backends too, an unexpected gift at the end of class. One thing I can say about the Yoga Shala CT, it is a giving place. And completely accessible. The teachers are entirely unmysterious. And that is, I cannot tell you how lovely. A teacher who speaks in full sentences, imagine! A teacher who doesn't just nod and smirk and answer questions with questions. I mean no disprespect to Sir - he is an amazing teacher. But it is a pleasant novelty to learn Ashtanga from someone who seems so very much on the same wavelength as myself.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

10 Seconds to Yoga Nidrasana

One One Thousand Two One Thousand....

Three One Thousand, Four One Thousand, Five One Thousand...

Six Onethousand - and why is that beep going faster now...Sevenonethousand...8,1000, 9,1000...

So criminal.
So much vanity.
So much fun with a self-timer on a lazy Saturday afternoon by the duck pond.
You are free to call 911 now.

Revamping...but for what?

The yoga here in this neck of the woods is so good that I find it hard to imagine what I could add to the mix. On the other hand, not many people I know are willing to drive 30 plus minutes and cross state lines (especially when it involves Connecticut and their unnecessarily mean highway troopers) just to practice yoga, when they haven't even been tempted by the kewlaid, let alone dipped from the vat.
But the ladies around here all seem to have something going on besides the mothering. Even if they don't travel into an office, per se. They all seem to be doing something. Making jewelry, selling jeans and handbags, putting logos on workout clothes and selling them under some cute name. So, I figured, if I could gin up a card, maybe I could inspire myself into some sort of identity, which might lead to my actually teaching yoga up here in the great green and horsey north.
So, here it is. "Sweat, sculpt, smile" as a tagline, with an arm balance design to make it clear that this is the yoga for those who want more than a stretch class (unfortunately, that is the misperception of many, that yoga is a stretch class and not for those seeking a workout).
Downtown/uptown yoga is dead. Long live...whatever.

I got Bakasana! (that's crow pose for you non-Kewl-Aid drinkers)

And it's riiiiiight here. I mean, right there, on the left. That's the Bakasana I got. I got it on paper, and then I got it on my scanner, and now I got it on my computer.

So, I got it all right. Not in the setting of a yoga shala, of course. But someday....yes, someday...unless, of course, I should take my last breath today, in which case I will have died a Second Series neophyte. A Kapotasana virgin. A non-nerve-cleanser. Or only very very very partially cleansed.

Here is the frustrating thing about Ashtanga, and I say this with the complete recognition that what is frustrating about it is the reason why I bother to do it at all: There are so many poses that you can do, so easily, so well, and yet you can't put them in your practice if you can't do the poses that come before them in the sequence, or if your teacher hasn't determined that you can do them and should move onto the next.

(Of course, there is always the ever-popular "crim" behavior, in which I am always willing to engage when I'm here in the privacy of my own home or when I'm at Val's and I think no one is looking, although it seems that Oni always seems to catch me and go, "So....whatcha doooin?" It seems good-natured though, especially the last time she caught me in a post-practice Yoga Nidrasana, legs wrapped around the back of my neck, hands bound behind the small of my back, for the non-KewlAiders. She told me that I would love Val's Intro to Second class, although it might not get up as far as the leg-behind-head poses, depending on who else took the class. Well, this was a long parenthetical. If I took the parentheses off, someone might read it though, and I wouldn't want that, would I?)

Aaaanyways. I'm not stating anything new here. And so I drone on, bourne ceaselessly into the derivative. (Another parenthetical: I feel that I must quote Fitzgerald here and otherwise show a bit of literary panache because of the possibility that the YC blog may now be read by several of my older son's teachers, with whom I shared some quite enjoyable chat yesterday during the annual Metric Measuring Day up here in Northern Westchester horsey country, where we admire metric but never really get around to using it. If this indeed happens, then I may be paving the way for Mrs. Laksmi to out herself amongst her colleagues....not that she is an educator or in any way related to education, not that there would be anything wrong with that).

Eh. If you must know the truth, well, here it is: I just wanted an excuse to show off my nifty little bakasana drawing. I did it all by myself as a logo for my new calling cards, and I figured out how to use my printer as a scanner. I'm quite chuffed, to borrow a bit of the Queen's English colloquial.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Catch and Release

the first fish from the Goose Pond!

It was a lame movie, starring Jennifer Garner's lips. And it's not the nicest thing to do to a fish. But we've got the duck pond (well, actually, a goose, turtle and fish pond, and if we don't get some significant rain soon, it won't be any kind of pond before too long), and let me just say, that those fish that live there? They got more excitement today than they've had in, well, I'm guessing years. As soon as Adam cast his line, swarms of them were racing toward his neon-green lure. Clearly, they were starved for stimulation. And stimulation they got.

After he caught the first one, there were five more that followed. And this in a period of not more than 20 minutes. If catch and release is cruel, then these fish don't want us to be nice.


Thursday, October 04, 2007


I balanced on one side in Pasasana today. On the OTHER, I got my heels to the floor. So it was a win/win.

I am tired. Must do self pratice tomorrow because I have a class trip.

Had a ladies-who-lunch lunch today here in upper sub-suburbia. It was actually fun. Particularly because we both showed up wearing yoga pants and tank tops. And she showed up with her three-year old in tow. It's not as Stepford wivesish as I've been warned. I think that once you spend any significant time in places like the Upper East Side, nothing anywhere else can compare in terms of opulence and excess. Nothing shocks me anymore on that front. So, I guess I came here prepared.

Of course, I'm the kind of girl who runs around the house with power tools, putting up shelves and replacing toilet guts. So, I could never be pure Stepford anyhow.

It's so dark out. It makes me feel like sleeping...


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yeah, well, i think I'ma gone smoke mahself a doobie and then go do some yoga

Cause who needs to be present when you're really just doing gymnastics? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I used to do gymnastics when I was a kid. Gymnastics are cool. I could do back handsprings and front handsprings and walk on my hands and front limbers and back limbers (these are what are known as tick tocks, ya'all), and when i was a high school cheerleader, I could jump in the air and touch my toes to the top of my head. I rocked. I also was the top of the cheerleader pyramid. That was fun. It would have been more fun if i first smoked some pot, put on a bikini and went horseback riding, saddle sores be damned.

I was and am a force of nature. I am literally vibrating with sexual magnetism, and no one can resisit or reject me, ever, ever, ever, because I have dissolving hips, unlike all youze fattie fatties, and I can eat all the things you've only ever dreamed of eating because I am magic. Magic....shazayay-ah-am. Shadoobadoo-shaddddddddd-ahhhed. I. Am. Or, in that other language "Sat Nam" and all that, cause I do my gymnastics in a yoga school.

But what I'm trying to say (maybe I should draw it because I am such an amazing and awesome artist! And brilliant too! A MENSA member!!! I was the smartest kid in school always,while everyone else was getting C's I was pulling straight A's, which is why I went to art school, I mean, because I could have gone to Harvard, Yale, Duke, Tufts, UCLA, you name it, I rejected all of them when they asked me to go on a fully paid scholarship because I heart art!).

Hmmm...what was I saying? I got distracted when I had to go screaming at some people who didn't agree with me.....

Oh yeah....FUCK YOU if you don't smoke pot. And fuck you and double fuck fuck fuckity fuck you if you don't smoke pot AND you take prozac. Because big pharma is bad, and if you're depressed or anxious, you should smoke pot rather than lining the wallets of those big bad pharma executives. Pot should be legalized for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and manic disorders, like mine.

And if you don't agree, it must be because you are not as gorgeous, skinny, talented, brilliant and Carrie-like (not Carrie from Sex and the City...rather, Carrie from Stephen King's novel, you know, the one who could make shit happen with her MIND!!!). You must be jealous of me. If you don't like what I am saying, it must be because you are a jealous and insecure wanker. Aren't British words cool? I'm so hot for using them.

Because i say so, that'as why, bitches.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Day from HELL. But I got Pasasana.

I can't bear to recount the details. Suffice it to say that my day did not include balancing on my hands while in lotus, smoking pot, drinking hella quantities of wine, partaking in new life experiences that I will someday chalk up to a mid-life crisis, getting a paycheck reflecting a pay raise, reading or writing poetry, filing an order to show cause or getting hit on by a chick.

It did include Pasasana. And it did include a reference to my being "skinny".

Unfortunately, the reference came from the medical tech performing what amounted to an emergency ultrasound on a palpable lymph node under my left (non-cancer-side) arm, discovered by my oncologist at my five-year check-up today.

"It's NOT cancer," Dr. H told me. "But let's get an ultrasound just to rule anything out."

Ah, the old "just to rule anything out" line. As far as I'm concerned it's right up there with "It's not you, it's me". In either case, it's a helluva lot easier for you to say it than for me to hear it.

Anyway, turns out that "anything" was, in fact, ruled out. The sonogram showed that everythin was normal, and the lymph node wasn't even enlarged. Hence, the "skinny" comment, as in, "Because you're skinny, you might be able to feel a lymph node that wouldn't otherwise be felt."

Yeah, it turned out okay. But it's not okay to realize that this will always be the way it is for me. You might hear "lymph node", but I hear "cancer", even if it's not. I used my breath to keep myself calm, and while I was waiting for the Radiologist to come in and talk to me, I practically fell asleep on the table. Trouble is, the anxiety does have to go somewhere, right? I mean, it's like matter. It doesn't just disappear. It has to go somewhere. So, after riding out the terrible anxiety in the hospital today, I am left all jangly and irritable now.

Fucking cancer. What doesn't kill you leaves you...mangled.


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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