Monday, April 30, 2007

Thought Byte on Thinking

Still having some trouble holding my hands together when my legs start to move in Supta K. Wondering if it wouldn't be better for me to wiggle my shoulders under my knees a bit more before Sir starts wrapping me all up. I never have time to do this because he comes over to me as soon as I go flat in Kurmasana, which I know is the right way to do it, it follows the vinyasa, after all. But I really think I need more wiggle time. I think that he doesn't think that the wiggle time is relevant if a student is surrendering to the adjustment. Well, maybe that is true in 99 percent of the cases. But I just am starting to believe that I am a lot better off in Supta K, all things being equal (i.e., a good diet, enough sleep, a good focus, a nice, sweaty practice leading up to Kurmasana), when I manage to spend a few (like 10) extra breaths wiggling around to get those shoulders squarely under the knees. I am fairly sure that when I held my hands together that one time, that I had had enough time to do that.

But this is not something that I can discuss with my teacher. It's just another example of too much thinking. And if I discuss it, I will have to think about our discussions, and it will lead to an endless vicious cycle of thinking. I will spin myself into even further Supta K insanity.

I know that the alternative to the squishing the arms under the legs before Sir starts adjustig me method is...practice...and all is coming. I know that. I do. But I can't help but feel that there could be this satisfying work-around...

YC

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wait, what was I going to say again?

At long last, someone is finally willing to admit that chemo can make a smart person act kind of dumb. Here I was thinking that I might have a vata imbalance - you know, airy, spacey, flighty, forgetful - or maybe even a touch of Adult A.D.D., when really, it's just the lingering effects of chemo, also known as "Chemo Brain". According to this article in the New York Times, some 15 percent of patients who had been treated for cancer with chemotherapy never fully regain all of their faculties, even years later.

See, now that barely even made sense. Let me back up a moment. Many chemo patients experience some level of cognitive dysfunction while they are ON chemo. This cognitive dysfunction can feel a bit like senility - cracking an egg onto a plate instead of into a frying pan, driving away from a parking garage with the rear door open, looking for your cell phone while in the middle of talking on it. I did all of those things. And it was embarassing, and it was disconcerting. At no time did I think that it was anything serious like a brain tumor/metastasis, even though the airy/spacey/forgetful stuff was accompanied by other even more potentially scary neurological symptoms, like the unexplained and uncontrollable shuddering that I used to experience at times, or the full-body jerking I used to experience right before falling asleep (akin to what many people experience right before falling asleep, except that it would happen 10 or more times in a period of five minutes). I guess it was some pretty hefty AND healthy denial that kept me from worrying about it.

And it was a slippery slope of getting used to the symptoms that kept me from worrying over time that my chemo brain wasn't significantly improving. I've shied away from going back to work in the law not only because I find the notion of working as a lawyer so distasteful now, but also, and quite significantly because I don't think my brain could handle the multitasking that being a lawyer requires, and I KNOW that my brain couldn't handle being required to concentrate for such long periods of time as being a lawyer requires.

Back in the summer of 2006, I was called upon by my insurance company to defend my chemo brain. How could I still be experiencing chemo brain three years after completing chemo? How was it possible, they wondered. WAS it possible, they wondered. And so, they put me through a battery of tests, two days' worth of tests, I think, although, haha, I can't exactly remember. No, seriously, I really can't remember. I do remember crying to the psychologist who made me sit through these tests that I couldn't take anymore testing and begging her to let me walk around the block for a few minutes. And I do remember suggesting to her that perhaps there just aren't enough clinical studies out there on the cognitive effects of chemo on YOUNG women who survive their cancer, or particularly, YOUNG women who not only did a course of chemo but also were put through sudden and irreversible menopause, thus depriving their bodies of estrogen, which is a hormone associatd with cognitive function (think of the image of the doddering old woman, frail, bent over from osteoporosis; what you're seeing is the effects of estrogen deprivation, and yes, men have estrogen in their bodies, unless, of course they have had hormonal treatment for, say prostate cancer, in which case, they too might experience cognitive problems...as described in another article I read recently in the New York Times...unfortunately, I cannot remember what section it was in or even in which month the article appeared...I rest my case).

But anyway, FINALLY!!! FINALLY it's there in black and white:

"About 15 percent, or roughly 360,000 of the nation's 2.4 million female breast cancer survivors, the group that has dominated research on cognitive side effects, remain distracted years later, according to some experts. And nobody knows what distinguishes this 15 percent.

Most oncologists agree that the culprits include very high doses of chemotherapy, like those in anticipation of a bone marrow transplant; the combination of chemotherapy and supplementary hormonal treatments, like tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors that lower the amount of estrogen in women who have cancers fueled by female hormones; and early-onset cancer that catapults women in their 30s and 40s into menopause."


Incidentally, I never heard from insurance company again about my cognitive issues after they received the report from the psychologist who tested me. And anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I can NEVER purposely perform poorly on any test. I really tried to repeat those number sequences. I really tried to remember what I saw in the little drawings. I really tried to answer whatever other questions the test posed, questions which, predictably, I cannot friggin remember. But I guess I didn't do such a good job. I try not to beat myself up about it. It is what it is.

And I try to look on the bright side. Apart from the obvious, there is this: a bad memory can do wonders to help you forget bad memories. I have become an incredibly forgiving person, and I am sure it's not just the yoga. A large part of it is that I often tend to simply forget things that I don't try really hard to remember.

And on that note, um.....

YC

Double Team

I got another double-team adjust in Supta K today, with Lori at the hands, and Sir at the feet, and it was even better than the last time...I felt as if I could have gotten my hands more tightly bound but for the fact that I was willing myself to surrender (oxymoron, no?)...and I actually managed to unwedge my ankles further apart as Sir held them apart. I love when I really feel a pose like that.

The shala was super packed today, and the weather is warm. It may be that spring is finally here. I have been told again and again how the warm weather makes such a difference, but I really never really understood that. Today, I think I did.

On the other hand, it could be the righteous poultry-free and red-meat-free diet that I have been following lately as an attempt to de-muscle-ize myself. Yes, I know that might sound crazy. But break it down: I am already built in a compact, muscular way; now, add to that that I no longer have estrogen coursing through my body to soften things up and impede muscular development (not that you can't menstruate AND build muscle, but the female hormones do tend to block the body from bulking up, not that I am bulky, but my muscles are dense and rounded, way moreso than pre-pause); add to that the daily prescription of fifty-something catturangas, plus up until lately, a protein-packed diet...well, it's a set-up for the building of muscle. During the adjustments workshop we were talking about how body proportion impqcts Supta K, and it became clear to me that having shoulders what are broader than my hips is doing me no favors. I mean, it can't make it easier to slide those legs up over the shoulders. It's like I'm already starting off at the wrong leg to pelvis angle before I even get going.

Bad problem to have, I know, right. If I were into the gym rat thing, I would be happy with it. It's good for looking good in a strappy dress too. But for supta k? Not so much.

I also think my practice might feel particularly nice going forward simply because it will only be once a day again...that adjustments workshop really took it out of me.

Could also be...time....things get easier with time. Practice and all is coming, and all that.

And of course, there could be no reason at all...simply one of those mysteries of life, yoga practice and everything else that we wish to control that we ultimately find out, we can't. The good days in yoga roll in like the tides. It's nice to catch the crest of a tasty wave and just glide with it. But sometimes you get dragged under. It can't be helped. The key is to get back up to the surface and to be there for the next swell.

YC

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Private blogging, not all it's cracked up to be,

at least on Blogger. I'm hearing that there is no way to log in unless you have or open a gmail account, and I can see how that might be annoying. So, well, yeah, I am going to give it a try again, out there in public. A little bit cautiously. A little bit jadedly. A little bit of the wind out of my sails about the whole putting it out there thing. But we shall see.

YC

Friday, April 27, 2007

Good Morning!



When I wake up in the morning in my new house, this is what I will see!! I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



This is actually my front yard, believe it or not. The back yard has a more manicured look. I love how the front yard is so natural, so wild.






Below is a photo of another part of the front yard - it's off to the right of the view from the master bedroom window. There's a lovely little flat-topped stone that you can see in the photo that I look forward to sitting on to meditate.



I spent a lot of time up in Bedford today - which is where the new casa is. And if it is possible to be in love with a place, then I am, indeed, in love. It's like New England, without the bother of driving up past New York. Well, actually, you do drive through a teeny little corner of Connecticut to get there - the "back-country" area of Greenwich (that's what it's known as, although I don't know why), but only for like about a minute before you come back into Northern Westchester.



When you drive down the long and windy country roads, you see odd little signs like, "Welcome to Middle Patent" even though there's no such place, well, not now anyway. A couple of miles down the road from the casa is a centuries old cemetary, with crumbling headstones and a sign that says something like "Established 1743, Banksville, New York", even though it sits in a place that is no longer Banksville. Banksville, itself, on the northern border of Greenwich, Conneticut looks like it was plucked out of 1963 and plopped on a country highway. There's a country store that is open only from breakfast until about 3 in the afternoon. I found an article in the New York Times from 1993 that says of Banksville: "[T]he Uptown Deli and Finch's serve breakfast and lunch to people who work on the estates, and an IGA market, dry cleaner, pharmacy and hardware store are patronized by area residents." And what's kind of odd and spooky and exciting all at the same time is that all of those places are still there, AND there's NOTHING else there. Of course, that was, what, 14 years ago? It will be really interesting to see if everything that's there right now is still there in another 14 years.

I don't feel as if I can accurately convey the historic gorgeousness of this place (not my house, which is only 10 years old, but the town and it's component hamlets) here in my writing. It's the age old dilemna of authors - how to use words (music/art/etc.) to reproduce the "thing". It's an impossible task, although some are better at it than others (and most are better at it than me, apparently, from this post at least).

Maybe I am in such a good mood because practice today was sooooo delicious. The sweat poured off me in sheets, and it felt so cleansing. Every posture felt "unlocked" today. Of course I savored it, because that doesn't happen so often. Supta K is still stumbling along. There is no answer, try as I might to find one. I need to stop trying to find one. One day it will be a lot easier for me than it is today. I think. I hope. It would be nice....

YC





Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tenacious YC

I guess that would be my Hip Hop name. Tenacious YC. Slamming repeatedly into a brick wall and still, she keeps going. Is there any question as to what I am talking about?

Apparently, there IS a reason that I don't see many people struggling with Supta Kurmasana. And it isn't that it is an easy pose. And it isn't that I'm just too retarded to be able to do it properly, even when my teacher and an assistant (actually a fellow Adjustments Workshop trainee) double-team me, as they did yesterday and today during the Adjustments Workshop. And it isn't ALL in my head.

Today, after yet another failed attempt to keep my hands firmly clasped while having my feet hoisted over the back of my head, I said to Sir, "I must be in the minority on this one. There just don't seem to be a lot of people who have so much trouble with this pose, right?"

His answer surprised me.

"Most people who get to your point in the practice who struggle with Supta Kurmasana stop coming. They just give up and move onto something else."

I can think of at least a couple of Ashtangi(ni)s who struggled mightily with Supta K - hi, V. But for the most part, it does sound quite feasible...that those who find themselves struggling with Supta K simply lose interest. I suppose it could happen at any point in the practice. I would think Marichyasana D would be a place that would be ripe for quittin'. Yet I have seen with my own two eyes a number of Ashtanga students struggle with Mari D, and some even with Mari C, and keep coming back and coming back and coming back. And they're still there.

I wonder what it is about Supta K that makes drives people who struggle with it to quit the practice altogether. Is it just SOOO damn complicated? Mind bogglingly so? Is it the lack of control, the surrender, that is inherent in the adjustment for it? And by adjustment, what I really mean is, well, for many people, there IS no pose without being put right into it. That notion has been very hard for me, even historically, even before I ever was given the pose. I used to see Sir tying people up like little packages and think to myself, "NO WAY. That will NEVER be me. I will learn to do it myself."

Well, that has not come to pass.

And as a result of this Adjustments workshop, I have learned exactly how much surrender is necessary for the pose to happen: 100 percent. I saw one of my fellow trainees get put into it today, sighing exquisitely the whole time. If I didn't see herwith my own two eyes, getting tied up like a bow, my ears would have told me she was getting a neck massage. I was like, heh???

Notwithstanding the "above the neck" discussions I have had with Sir, he did note today that he believes that my muscularity is an issue. But what does one do about that exactly? I mean, I was born this way. I'm a naturally muscular person, and all of this yoga is just making me more muscular. Not bigger, mind you. I hear some people saying, "My arms are getting so muscular, my shirts are getting tight." That has not been the case for me. As I have grown more muscular, I have gotten smaller, more compact. My shirts are looser. Significantly so, in fact. But apparently, the hard, rounded muscles of my shoulders to present a challenge for my legs to slide over said shoulders. And then there's the issue of the heaviness of the muscles. Having put my fellow trainees into Supta Kurmasana repeatedly over the past week, I have come to appreciate exactly how much heavy lifting is involved in putting someone in Supta K. And in my case, it must be even more heavy.

I am tempted to try to lose five pounds, on the assumption that I will lose muscle. I mean, you have to feed muscle to keep it. Feed the muscle less, the muscle has to shrink. It seems elementary. But am I even capable of losing five pounds? Do I even WANT to lose five pounds? If I lost five pounds, I would be at or below the very bottom edge of being able to fit into adult clothing. Is that something I want to deal with just so I can bind in Supta K?

Is it really even necessary to think this way? At some point, with practice, shouldn't my arms slide nicely up and over my shoulders? Sure, losing muscle mass could potentially speed up the process. But then I'm not really gaining any flexibility. I'm just doing the pose better because of logistics.

Well, it's all moot anyway. I have no idea how to lose five pounds of muscle, and I don't feel like finding out. I'll just keep plugging away, Tenacious YC, embracing the rock each time it falls back down the hill and then pushing it back up again.

YC

No more pesky word verification on comments!

Such a delightful benefit of private blogging!

Oh, how I hate deciphering those weird letters that Blogger employs for purposes of weeding out the automated comments. And I usually have to do it three to five times before my comment can post.

Off to practice I go!

YC

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I'm totally fine...

Due to a number of emails expressing concern/worry over Yoga Chickie's sudden Registered Users Only message, I am popping up for a brief stint before going "Registered Users Only" once again....

I am totally fine. I am just desiring an end to the drama that the public blogging has become for me. And by drama, I mean: Me, writing something that is misunderstood by people who don't know me. Said people who don't know me writing things about me on their blogs. Me, reading blogs I would not normally read to see if anything is being said about me. It's a time suck. And time sucks suck. And in particular, this particular time suck sucks particularly in a particularly sucky way.

I also just don't have all that much to say at the moment about yoga, which is probably a good sign vis a vis my practice. Had a long talk with Sir about this, among other things. When I keep a public blog, I find myself perusing blogs I might not otherwise read. And when I read said blogs, I get caught up in the goal of attaining poses, at least some of the time. Let's just say, I expect to be stopped at Garba Pindasana for a loooooooooong time, and I embrace that. Nothing new is going to happen for me in Supta Kurmasana anytime soon, and even if it does, I can surely expect that the next day, the miracle will not repeat.

WHICH...is my way of saying, it is SOOO not about the poses for me. The yoga, that is. I mean, well, that is not totally true. I am very into the poses and achievement vis a vis the poses. But my teacher doesn't give a rat's arse about whether I can do Supta Kurmasana at this point. My challenge is all above the neck. It's all about inner quiet. Or, as they liked to say in the 1960's, peace, man. And when I get a bit further in my practice, above-the-neck, I won't give a rat's arse about Supta K either. Of course, that will probably be when I move past it, physically.

The long and the short of it is that obsessing over poses, cataloguing my practice for the public to see, is not helping me at all. Writing for a smaller group - or for no one, which would be fine too - seems to be a way for me to break some of that obsessiveness.

If you are interested in reading my blog under these circumstances (i.e. PLENTY of satire, plenty of commentary on idiotic public figures and ridiculous current events, the occasional soap boxing about breast cancer, and finally, precious little - let's hope - about Supta Kurmasana), then send me an email, and I will put you on the list. Sock puppets and straw men addresses do not qualify. If you don't like me, well, here's your chance to never ever have to read me again! Yay!!

And if you do want to see more of Yoga Chickie, then shoot me an email - all you have to say is "Yoga Chickie" or even just "blog" on the subject line, and I think I will be able to figure out what it is you want...

Cheers, namaste and thanks a lot,

YC

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Invitation only for now

Another thing I'm disheartened about, besides the fact that my practice is sucking majorly at the moment, is this whole blogging thing. I really don't have much to say anymore about my practice. I find that there ARE no tricks, no magic bullets, that practice and the assistance of a good teacher are about all there is. Nothing else is worth anything. Research poses, feh. It doesn't help. All that helps is the practice and some help from someone who knows how to get you deeper into the pose. I knew, I really knew, that once I studied the adjustment for Supta K, that I would figure this out. It's as if the final piece of the puzzle just fell into place, except that it's kind of meaningless. It's just a puzzle. It doesn't really DO anything.

So, I have nothing really at all to say about it anymore, at least not now. I just need to practice. And I need to stop reading about other peoples' practices. Hearing about how this one can do this or that is like walking past a bakery and watching other people eat my favorite cookies, knowing that I can't eat them. Why do it? And then there are the bloggers who annoy the fuck out of me. Why annoy myself by reading their shit?

And why stir the pot by writing about it?

So, I am going offline for now. Hopefully no one is even reading this. But hopefully, writing for myself will be either rewarding, or I won't do it at all.

Until we meet again.

YC

Sucking majorly

I feel sad about my practice.

I feel like time is running out with my current embarrasment of riches situation here in NYC. Where I'm moving, there are no shalas, and let's face it, if I can get into the city once a week for practice, that will be good. If I can get in three times, it will be a miracle of sheer discipline. Not that I don't have discipline. But I am envisioning a stressful time, what with moving to a new town, learning to live in the wilderness (not really, but to a city mouse like me, it might seem that way, with frogs chirping and goose poop and no one around when you lock yourself out of your car), getting my kids settled in their new school, getting myself involved (hopefully) in the new community. So, it's going to be difficult to practice with a teacher, and I am just beginning to recognize that.

I was hoping to have gotten further along in my Supta Kurmasana journey before I move. But I am also beginning to recognize that that is not happening. All of the extra practice time I've been logging in this adjustments training and in taking my teacher trainee friends' classes has set me back, rather than propelling me forward. Which is making me recognize something else: I am no spring chicken. At 41, and I suppose as a result of the medications I've been and continue to be on for the stupid f-ing breast cancer (I had an IV drip not even six weeks ago to combat osteoporosis caused by chemo and early menopause), I am simply not supple enough and resilient enough to withstand that much repetitive movement. And it's exhausting giving Ashtanga adjustments. When I adjust in Uttitha Hasta Padangushtasana, I feel like my spine is being crushed. Nice.

So, I've sort of accepted (sort of) that my practice is going to be sucking majorly until this training is finished. And even then, as always, no guarantees....

So, I feel sad about it. I am going to have to take it day by day now and not think about what comes next. And maybe it will be good for me. When I can internalize that notion, or even that there is really no finish line, I think the sadness will diminish.

YC

Monday, April 23, 2007

Asana practice does not equal "Yoga"

I know I am stating the obvious.

But I think it is worth highlighting.

Most of us "do yoga" as a workout. Most of us spend most of our yoga time practicing asana, and then the remainder of the time thinking about how others are not practicing yoga - how others fail in their efforts to be "yogic". I hear a lot of that, how this one isn't yogic, how that one isn't yogic, how totally not yogic I am. Well, how about being accountable ourselves for our own behavior?

I am sorry if my satire offends. Call it unyogic, if you'd like. I am quite sure you would be right in saying so. Even if my intent was innocent, clearly the hurt it caused put me on notice that there was violence in it.

On the other hand, judging my behavior is not doing a blessed THING for anyone else's yoga practice, is it now?

YC

a metaphor

You can't turn a natural backbender into a natural forward bender. Nor should you bother to try.

But you might be able to help the natural backbender to rejoice in her natural backbendiness and to learn to experience more joy and even possibly newfound freedom in her forward bends.

yc

Satire is in the dictionary


BUT for anyone who doesn't feel like cracking open the book and parsing through, in short it boils down to this: Satire is a work of authorship that uses irony or sarcasm to expose folly.

I think that by nature satire has an edge. It's not all warm and fuzzy. It is pointed opinion, bathed in irony and, if the reader is lucky, wit. It works to get the reader thinking. It is risk-taking, in that it does not necessarily win pats on the back and "Thanks for your support".

A satirist is the opposite of a sycophant (a self-serving flatterer).

Another word of which you might consider the meaning: Bully. A bully is one who browbeats. Browbeating is indimidation by stern manner or arrogant speech.

Let's put these words into use, shall we?

Let's say I am walking down the street, and an attractive, well-dressed person comes up to me and asks me if I can spare a few bucks for her college education. I will think about it for a moment, and on a certain type of day, in a certain frame, of mind, I might reward her industriousness with a 10-dollar bill. On most days, I am more likely to simply smile and move on without dipping into my pocket. I might even consider said attractive, well-dressed person's plea for money to have been a clever joke. On SOME days, especially if I am feeling light and creative, I might laugh turn to my walking companion and say, "Hey, that sounds like a good idea, maybe I should set up camp on one of these street corners and ask for money for Botox, the world would, after all be a better place, if it didn't have to endure my thinking lines above my eyebrows."

That, my friends, is satire. It is the use of irony to point up a folly.

If it is in earshot of the attractive, well-dressed, education-seeking person, then there is a sharper edge to it. Still, it is satire. In fact, as I think about it, I realize that there is a chance that I might even turn to the the attractive, well-dressed, education-seeking person and tell her my idea, maybe to get a laugh, maybe to get a dialogue going, maybe just because the whole notion of the slippery slope of asking for money for onesself (which is NOT the definition of charity, which is defined as benevolent donation to benefit others) is interesting and filled with potential missteps. Pointing out a folly, you know, and all that. Satire.

So far, so good.

Now, let's change it up a bit. Let's add to that, a tall, scary person (I'm short, remember), who is waiting off to the side of the attractive, well-dressed, education-seeking person. When she hears my satire, she leaps out, grabs me by the throat and says, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Can't you see that she needs to go to college and that she deserves it, and you, you small-minded litle shit are too stuck in your own little meaningless, petty bubble to see that. Give her the fucking money, you moronic, non-yogic little bitch, or else doom yourself to a life of never thinking outside the box and basically being a selfish little pig."

By now, I am scared. And shocked. And quite a bit outraged. The only thing keeping this assualt from becoming a full-on mugging is that tall, scary person has not reached into my pocket and stolen my wallet. Instead, I see it as more of a a shakedown. Or maybe what Scientologists do - threaten you with eternal something or other if you don't donate to their Celebrity Center.

So, if I were to come home from this failure of an interaction, and tell people about it, even write about it here, would that be wrong?

Do I need to define "Blog" at this point? Ah, JFGI.

YC




Saturday, April 21, 2007

Buy This Poor Girl Some Stuff


So, if you've been reading this weblog for a while, you will know, among other not truly sordid details, that (a) I live in the city and (b) I am moving to a house in the country come summer. You will also know that I love shopping and getting new stuff. And you will also surmise that as a result of living in the city for the past 20 years, and being space-challeneged, I have not acquired nearly the amount of stuff for my kitchen that would be desirable or in keeping with the country-meets-urbanely-sophisticated lifestyle to which I aspire (think Martha Stewart without all those pesky issues with integrity and law-breaking).

When I am not busily working to corral my vrittis like the yogic being that I also aspire to be (think three-legged border collie chasing around a flock of retarded cattle on speed), I am busily conjuring up plans to keep my lady-of-leisure-ass busy. Thus, when the kids are in school, and sometimes even when they are not, I find myself dabbling in dog-walking, wine-tasting, gourmet-cooking, clothes-shopping, hair-doing, plastic-surgerying, yoga-teaching and the occasional lunchtime-gossiping.

Now, at long last, I find myself with a real challenge! I must fill a rather spacious house with the contents of a rather non-spacious (relatively speaking) city apartment. I have subscribed to Architectural Digest, Country Living, Traditional Home and have picked up Elle Decor and Martha Stewart Living on the newstands. But what I find myself coming round to again and again and again is the sad state of my inventory of kitchen supplies. And by sad, I mean, I don't even own a coffee maker with a self-timer and find that it is just easier to buy coffee at the deli on the corner than to ever make it at home! I keep my wine bottles in a wrought iron rack bought at Pottery Barn 14 years ago when I first got engaged to the Husband! I don't own a free-standing cake-mixer, a rolling pin or even a pie tin (truth be told, I don't like to bake because baking inevitably leads to binging on sweets, and who needs that, but still, I am clearly deprived when it comes to the image of myself as an apron-wearing, cookie-baking suburban-style mom). And this, now you'll think this is really strange: I don't own a set of knives. Back when I was engaged, it seemed to me to be bad luck to put knives on my bridal registry. Then when the kids came, I didn't want to have sharp knives in the house. So, over the years, I've acquired a bread knife (got to cut those bagels somehow), a paring knife and a really dull chef's knife. But that's it. And that is totally lame.

Somehow, I don't know how, and I am sure you cannot imagine how, I have managed to pull through these past 20 years in the city without all the accoutrements that I so desperately require. But now the time has come to right the universal wrong.

It is time to buy some new stuff.

Which brings up yet another problem. However much I love to buy new things, that is exactly how much the Husband likes to NOT (think Fred Flintstone, with Wilma whispering in his sleeping ear, "You want to buy me a mink coat, Fred, a mink coat, you want to buy me a mink coat...."). It was hard enough to get him to trade up (and only slightly) from the sales prices of our apartment to a (only slightly, and I mean SLIGHTLY) higher purchase price of our soon-to-be-new home. Imagine what I am going to be up against when it comes time to buy a second (or hopefully THIRD!) car, to furnish the additional bedrooms, to put in the winding stone reflexology path I envision as a necessary part of the property's landscape.

I realize that all of that is not your problem and not your concern. But I also realize that there is one thing that you actually might be able to help me with. And that is outfitting my kitchen!

Yes! You, yes you, can help me to acquire all of the things that I need to make my kitchen the country-chic gourmet retreat that it deserves to be, that I deserve to have! I didn't feel comfortable putting a Pay Pal Donation button on my site, or installing Google ads (I have no problem with people who do, I just personally find that the aesthetic is lacking a certain "juh nuh say kwah" - I wrote that phonetically intentionally, so that anyone who has not been as highly educated as me will nevertheless be able to pronounce it). But I feel QUITE comfortable registering for a Housewarming on the Williams-Sonoma web site.

So, if you want to help buy this pooor girl some stuff, then go on and click Williams-Sonoma, put in my name ("Yoga Chickie") (state of residence is New York and date of event is July 1, 2007); put in the password when prompted ("gimmestuff"). You're doing a good thing for me, so smile as you purchase away!

Thanks everyone! I'm looking forward to getting lots o' stuff!!

YC

Friday, April 20, 2007

Baruch Ata Adonai, Thank You God that it's Friday

Never have I been so happy to realize that it is Friday, and I don't have to do another yoga pose until Sunday. Today was Mysore practice, followed by Led Standing (went as a courtesy to one of my fellow teacher trainees), followed by two hours of adjustment training, which means, essentially, two more hours of practice, beginning with 10 Sun Salutations and ending with Marichyasana C, three times, adjusted by three different trainees.

Next week, we learn the adjustments for Supta Kurmasana (I feel I need to refer to it by its full name for this purpose), Baddha Konasana and Marichyasana D. That's all well and good, but it means that I am going to have to DO those poses three or four times per day every day of next week, not counting my Mysore practice.

And, yeah, I feel compelled to go to my Mysore practice as I am starting to freak out a bit that I am moving in a few months to a place that is an hour's drive from Shala X. And the only yoga in the area is Anus-ara. About thirty minutes away, there's a mixed-breed yoga studio that keep trying to start up a Mysore program, apparently without much luck. But in any event, I want to continue to go to Shala X, obviously not every day. But at least once a week, maybe as much as three times a week. Over the summer, with the kids away at camp, this may be quite easy. Unfortunately, Sir is going to be away for the entire month of July.

I was hoping to have gotten over whatever mental block I have regarding Supta K by now. But every time Sir goes to cross my ankles, I let my hands slip away from each other. I asked Sir, "Why can't I hold my hands together?"

"Can't you?" was the answer.

"You mean I can, but I just am refusing to?"

"Is that really a question?" came the next answer.

Jewish answers. Always the Jewish answers. Answering a question with a question. Why? Why not? Is that really a question? I don't know, is it?

Funny that I should see out the yoga teacher whose style most resembles the Socratic method employed by traditional law school professors.

"Ms. Cahn, what would you say is the problem that the plaintiff had with the defendant's act?"

"Well, Professor Lebron, um, isn't it that the defendant's act led to the plaintiff's death?"

"Yes, Ms. Cahn. But, well, what IS it about death?"

At any rate, from what I am experiencing in the Adjustments training, I am realizing that tension in the muscles is quite different from merely strong, taut muscles. There is one trainee who is slender and willowy, and yet her body is hard, as if it were made of petrified rock. It is almost impossible to get any movement from her at all when adjusting her in standing postures (it's a bit easier to adjust her in seated postures, because her muscular tension is not nearly as intense when she is not asking her body to help her to balance while standing and lunging). Contast that with the trainee who is a petite little package of sculpted muscles, but whose body yields to the slightest suggestion of a touch when being adjusted. She's soft and pliant, without the slightest bit of tension. And yet to look at her, you would think just the opposite.

Me, I am somewhere in between, although I suspect that when it comes to anything involving a bind, I am far more like the former than the latter. And I yearn to be more like the latter. I yearn to melt instead of tensing up. At least in Supta K. There is some deep seated block there, some fear that I have. I always wondered at this pose, perplexed at the concept of a posture that presupposed an adjustment, a dependency on the teacher. I never wanted to have to be adjusted into it, and when I first practiced it, I used to try to get into it myself. I only began to make any progress at all when I started allowing Sir to put me into it the way he knows how.

Today, my feet touched each other before my hands slipped apart. I'm making progress. But why must it be such a struggle for me? What am I supposed to learn from this?

Is that really a question she asks herself?

YC

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No time, no motivation

I feel rather bored by myself at the present time, what with the fact that my life has been a farce of a Chinese menu of Column A - yoga, Column B - more yoga, Column C - teach yoga. Pick one from each column and fall asleep on the sofa. Watching Lost. Falling asleep watching Lost, you say? Falling asleep while watching Lost, yes, that's what I said.

Bitch is tired.

I did have one interesting experience in the past few days, and I shall share it with you now. At the Russian and Turkish Baths today, in between yoga and more yoga, I was relaxing in the Hot Room (not to be confused with the Hotter Room and the Hottest Room), on my back, eyes closed, when I hear, "Would you like to hear a poem?"

Huh?

I open my eyes and see that the man sitting on the bench above me is addressing me.

"I'm sorry, but could you repeat that?"

"I like to recite poetry when I'm here. I write poems, and it helps me to remember them if I say them out loud."

Uh, okay?

And recite poetry he did. Except that it wasn't so much poetry as essays on the nature of existence. There really was nothing poetic about it. A bit disturbing, but not poetry.

"Thanks," I said after he finished the third poem/essay/whatever.

Then I went to have Platza (JFGI).

YC

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In our family, they're all the "Wise Child"

Third cousins, reading the Four Questions, sent to me by Debpc. I'm just kvelling!

(They're third cousins, and yet they look like they could be brother and sister, no?)

YC

An experiment

What would happen if I fasted for 12 hours before each practice? I know many/most of the Ashtangis out there are already doing this, at least this, maybe 14 hours or more in some cases. But I have been so so so dragging my feet on getting with the program, and of course, I didn't know it. What else am I not with the program on? No, wait, don't answer that. I need to figure it out on my own.

Let's see if this doesn't fill in some of the missing pieces for me.

YC

A bit slow on the uptake

Today I practiced without having taken a bite of food or a sip of anything to drink. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's always supposed to be that way. But it hasn't been. I will get to that later. For now, suffice it to say that the lack of food and hydration left me exhausted and grumpy and stiff. B, as I predicted, it was relatively easy to twist and bind, even in Supta K (notwithstanding that I let go of my bind when Sir picked up me left leg to bring it over my left shoulder...I wimped out. From the way he was pressing down on my back, I was terrified that he might try to put my leg behind my head, and just the image of that, with my hands bound, freaked me out. It works much better for me silently chanting: "I'm not even here. This is not even me. I'm not even here. This is not even me." Oh well. Maybe tomorrow. It's a significant day when Supta K is at the SAME level of suckiness as every other posture, and no worse.

But then, yesterday was a significant day too for the same reason. In fact, the lovely M, fellow teacher trainee, redhead and mom of two (grown) children, got me bound pretty expertly in Supta K during her morning led class. So, now, I can say that it is not a Sir-related fluke that I can bind in Supta K. I used to think that ONLY Sir could bind my hands. But Petri did it. And so did Bay (I practiced at Yoga Sutra one day last week due to the fact that I was teaching a class there at 10:30 a.m.). And now M - who called me her "guinea pig," leading me to believe that I might have been the first person she ever TRIED binding in Supta K while teaching a class (giving an adjustment in an adjustment workshop doesn't really count because the environment is controlled and lab-like).

I digress. This was about how it's taken me, what, three years of Ashtanga practice and countless years of yoga practice to realize that it's NOT WHAT YOU EAT that effects your practice, but WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FOOD IN YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT that effects your practice.

AHA! See, all along, I've been thinking, "what's so bad about eating a small Balance Bar or Power Bar before practice? They're small, so they don't take up much space in my tummy. No one will know the difference, and besides, if I don't eat anything, I will be too tired to lift up and jump back and do other strength-oriented stuf."

Well. Hey now. There are so many things wrong with that that I don't really know where to begin other than to say that I woke up this morning and remembered a dream that I had last night, and that dream held most of the answers.

In the dream, I was waiting for surgery. I don't know what the surgery was for. But I know that the nurse came in and asked me if I had eaten anything in the past twelve hours. I sheepishly said, "Well, not really, except for a small piece of a Power Bar this morning when I woke up so that I could practice yoga and not be devesatingly hungry afterwards, you know, since I won't be eating for so many hours now." The nurse looked at me and said, "but you aren't supposed to eat before surgery." And I said, "I know that, BUT I only ate a tiny piece of something, and it's like all sugar, so it should be all digested by now."

The nurse called in the doctor, and now I was feeling really humilited. The doctor told me that I wasn't even supposed to chew GUM before surgery because it's not the lump of food that matters but the DIGESTIVE ACTION tht is the problem.

Gurgle.

Ooooohhhhh.

I don't know if any of that is true for surgery, so no one should take my dream as the gospel on eating before surgery. But I woke up and KNEW that (a) I was having the dream because I was really hungry and (b) that now I understood why eating before practice is a problem. All that gurgling. All that digesting. Even if the food quickly passes from the stomach, the actual stomach organ, it is still gurgling around in the intestines. Gas bubbles, even small ones, have GOT to make it more difficult to lower your torso between your legs in Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana.

I must be a bit slow on the uptake because I swear, this never occured to me until today.

Hence, I began the first day of the rest of my life someone one who follows the rules of "NO EATING BEFORE PRACTICE" without looking for (and where you look, you find) loopholes.

And I did not like it much. I began to wonder if this is the end of my love for yoga. It really felt bad to me to be running on empty. But I was able to bind pretty easily.

Another one of my fellow teacher trainees, the lovely "Lalalala" (not her real name, of course), who has some Ayurvedic studies under her belt, told me that what you eat today at lunchtime will effect your energy level at practice. Or something like that. I need to clarify that one.

Came home and had a nice bowl of Muesli. Will that make for a better practice tomorrow? Here's hoping.

YC

Friday, April 13, 2007

The best thing about unpaid blogging?

No one can fire me.

You can stop reading me if you find me offensive, but that won't change my life one iota. And besides, if you find me offensive, you are more likely to KEEP reading me. It's only when I become boring, bland, redundant or any combination thereof that you are likely to stop reading me, and if that were to happen, again, it wouldn't change my life on iota.

Now contrast that with the cautionary tale of Don Imus. Did he say something offensive? YES. Let's just get that out of the way and be done with it. Should he be apologizing to those whom he insulted? Absolutely.

But should he have apologized to Al Sharpton? I don't know...let's see....if you called Jews cheap, or homosexual men effeminate, say, like they used todo on Will and Grace, should the show's writers have apologized to the Israel's leaders and the editor-in-chief of Out Magazine? If you insult a rock star, should you apologize to Sting? If you insult an out-of-control celebutante, should you apologize to Paris Hilton?

To paraphrase Token on South Park, is Al Sharpton the emporer of all black people?

I don't blame Don Imus for apologizing to the Reverend Al. It seems like the thing to do based on pop cultural imperatives. Or maybe he just watched South Park for guidance but was told by Jesse Jackson's handlers that the Reverend Jackson's bare butt was unavailable for a meeting.

Unfortunately, the apology was simply the verbal equivalent of Imus handing his ass over to the Righteous Left for a substantial whuppin'. And now, Imus has been fired. Leslie Moonves, the president of whatever cowardly network Imus had worked for, came to the conclusion that the public outcry against Imus's action should determine the extent of Imus's punishment, as opposed to a consideration of Imus's actual action, his intent, the demographics of his listening audience and the cultural context in which the action was taken. To wit, the cultural backdrop is one in which the hip-hop culture catches a cold and white culture sneezes: white America appears to embrace the use of racially-tinged insults, particularly those manufactured by those belonging to the race in question. As long as there is no violence imperative, it seems to me that it is perfectly acceptable in our culture to poke fun at, well, just about everything. Snark has risen to the level of dialect in this country. In essence, Imus is like a small child whose babysitter has whipped him up into a wild frenzy and then is punished for his continuing wildness when his parents arrive home.

Besides, "ho" has been used so many times to refer to so many women who appear in the mass media, that it is a word that is entirely devoid of teeth. Couple that with "nappy hair", and it still has no teeth. Haven't we been there and done that with the nappy hair thing? Who can forget the outcry at the publication of a children's book that asks black females to embrace their kinky hair. I thought that we were past all that and that Jews were embracing their frizzy curls and black women were embracing their afros.

As Sinead O'Connor once was attacked for saying, "Fight the real enemy." Enemy, thy name is hypocracy.

YC

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Don't wanna, don't wanna, don't wanna

I don't wanna practice today. It's pouring rain, cold, and most of all my sacrum feels like it's been stepped on by a an elephant. So much adjusting going on in the workshop. And all we added yesterday was Paschimatannasana. This is going to be a looooooooooong three weeks.

Teaching my Beginner Class tonight, again, this time with Lori observing from the side of the room. Oy. How's that for pressure? Like doing your job with your boss standing over you. Except it's not my job, and she's not my boss, and she's actually incredibly supportive and seems to only want to help us to understand how to share the practice with others.

Oh, I'll be fine. I just like to inject a little drama into my otherwise humdrum life. As if watching LOST were't enough drama. Juliet is a bad, bad, bad girl, and she never had me fooled. She's Kate's doppelganger, you see, because Kate was a bad girl on the charted earth and now a righteous human being on the island. Juliet, on the other hand, as a righteous and decent woman on the charted earth, but is a total evil witch on the island. I'm not understanding how so seemingly intelligent of a woman as Juliet could have fallen for the ole "This film is shot live, and your sister is alive and well today, November whatever 2004." That photo could have been doctored, the footage edited, the baby photoshopped. Why Ben got cancer on the island is a bit of a mystery, and why Claire survived childbirth is a bit of a mystery, although the latter is less of a mystery if you choose to blame it on whatever scientific events happened that made the plane break in two and explode over the island. As for Ben, he had a tumor before Desmond decided to show up late for his button-pushing appointment. But was the tumor cancer? Has it gone in that direction only now?

I guess Juliet is going to up and get herself pregnant with Jack's baby and then off she will go back to the Others.

Stupid-writing problem of the episode: why wouldnt the Lostaways want to take over the empty Others neighborhood? Wouldn't you rather have toilets and running water and roofs over you head than latrines and Dharma bottles and lean-to's made out of tarps? Odd that there is no explanation of why these people are willing to stay on the beach when there are perfectly good suburban homes waiting for them, within walking distance of the beach.

I'm sure that this glitch is convenient to Juliet's storyline, in that eventually, I imagine her and the other Others going back to live in their little Edward Scissorhands neigborhood and working to keep Juliet alive to give birth to Jack's naive spawn and Claire's victim neice or nephew, not that she knows that.

OK ENOUGH! MUST drive down to Shala X.

It is now 9:05, and I have rendered it, essentially IMPOSSIBLE for me to do my whole practice. Sigh. What good would it have done me anyway? I feel incapable of Kurmasana, and Sir would not likely push me. I have a window of time after my 10:45 Practice Yoga class, where I can go to the baths and then to the shala to practice, nice and warm before Adjustmens Hell starts.

I say "Hell" wth a deep fondness, I should mention.

YC

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I was bored today, so C and I went shopping for some Lulu.

It's so much better than those Be Present pants that show your coin slot when you bend over in Paschimo. Which reminds me, today, when I was doing Prasarita Pado C, my interlocked fingers grazed the manly parts of the dude whose mat was directly to the right of mine. I think he liked it. Or maybe that was just a Luna Bar in his pocket.

Er, maybe I should leave that stuff for the latest Ashtangi satirists.

Speaking of satire, my personal belief is that if the entire world were required to watch South Park, the world would be a far better place. Hate is hate, whether it is directed AT or BY the politically incorrect. The South Park writers seemed to really "get" that in their "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" episode, in which Randy Marsh (Stan Marsh's dad) accidentally lets the n-word slip on national television and is thereupon set upon by a nation of angry intolerants of intolerance. Randy is persecuted viciously and taunted as the "Nigger Guy" (he's no longer welcome in the local Seven-Eleven and he's driven off the road by some local yocals) despite apologizing to, and literally kissing, Jesse Jackson's bare ass...until finally he, along with Michael Richards and Marc Fuhrman(the original "N-Guy"s)appeals to Congress to enact legislation to ban the use of the word "Nigger Guy".

Now, in the aforementioned story, subsitute Don Imus in place of Randy Marsh. Throw in a different unfortunate phrase, equally hurtful. Substitute Al Sharpton in place of Jesse Jackson. Throw in the same torrents of hate directed at someone who used poor judgement, same level of disproportion between the act committed and the fury directed.

Words ARE like bullets. Anyone can fire the gun. No matter which side it's coming from, it's still violence.

YC

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Break is Over, Hooray!

When I was in high school, could I have fathomed saying such a thing?

I adore my children, but I am ready for them to go back to school. Good lord, I think THEY are ready to go back to school. I don't think the changed out of pajamas more than three times in the past 10 days. They needed a break, as did I. But now all of us are desperate for sunlight, oxygen and adult conversation.

And I need to get back into the swing of my At-The-Shala practice, which is a world of difference from my At-Home practice. The latter is a twitchy, ticky, distracted sequence of postures that veer off of the Asthanga sequence and into Forrest and Jivamukti territory. The former is Ashtanga. Same time every day. Same teacher. Same intention. No E! News Daily playing in the background.

So, tomorow it is back to Shala X for the late morning Mysore. Then a stop at my shrink. Then back down to Shala X for the Adjustments training. Today: Trikonasana and Parsvakonasana, plus a recap of Uttitha Hasta Padangushtasana and Tiriangamukhaekapada Paschimattanasana. Every day will include a recap of everything we've learned so far. So it's going to become a very looooooooong training very shortly.

The Trikonasana and Parsvakonasana adjustmens we did today were aimed toward rotating the spine away from the floor. The Trikonasana adjustment was one hand on the sacrum and one hand on the upper shoulder. The Parsvakonasana adjustment involved one hand on the upper arm and one hand just below the line of spine. Neither of these adjustments is the entire picture with respect to either pose. But they are a good start.

Teacher Training is always an interesting mix of personalities. That's all I'm going to say at the moment because I'm so tired I can't even type anymore.

YC

Monday, April 09, 2007

Recently...on Yoga Chickie...

YC locks her car keys in her SUV in front of the house that she wishes to purchase, causing YC to enlist Postal Worker Tom to lend his cell phone to call Police Officer Tom, who later comes out to the house to oversee Local Mechanic Tom (not his real name) unlocking YC's car doors, as, all the while, Lewis the Bagle happily hangs out inside said car. Shortly thereafter, YC is seen driving up to the house to sign the contract of sale and hand over a deposit. Said trip, plus the collapse of a building in the vicinity of East 23rd Street, make YC a few minutes late to teaching her first class at AYS - a "Beginner" Ashtanga Class. Nevertheless, we cut to YC composing herself and managing to teach Ujaii breath and Surya Namaskar A and B to the students, as planned.

Today was the first day of Primary Series Adjustments with Guy. The first adjustment we learned was the one for Uttitha Hasta Padangushtasana. That one was fairly simple, at least as far as supporting the lifting of the leg and the alignment of the hips. The more difficult adjustment that we learned today was for Tirianga Mukhaekapada Paschimattanasana. It seems to involve some determination of whether the student in question is hard (like me) or soft (not like me). Apparently, if a student is hard (muscular, although not necessarily stiff), pressing down on the hip isn't going to be very effective because the hand pressing down is going to slip down with the hip, whereas when a student is soft (not necessarily gushy and atonal, but more kaphic in build...a softer muscled constitution, I guess) the hand pressing down seems to stay put better. All of that seemed very complicated to me, when in practical application, when we all adjusted each other in TMP, the most effective adjustment seemed to be pressing moderately on the back, one hand near the spine (slightly off to the side which seems to be peeling off the mat) and one hand near the hip that is peeling off the floor (which is to say, the bent-knee hip). Also effective was placing making a "mitten"-hand and pressing the four fingers into the hip crease of the bent-knee leg, with the thumb on the outside of the hip, coupled with the other hand pressing lightly down on the back to encourage the forward bend.

I know, blah blah blah. I'm only writing this out because I don't take notes in class, and this is an opportunity for me to write what I remember.

Just thought I would mention: it helps to be short when adjusting people in UHP - lower center of gravity, the ability to hoist a leg onto your shoulder or into the crook of your elbow, a general feeling of stability that comes from being shorter than the person who is executing the pose. On the other hand, there's nothing you can do about it if you're not. Yay, short people.

I sense it is going to be a stressful three weeks, practicing in the morning, doing UHP and TMP five or six times every day and every other new pose that we learn to adjust - each one five or six times so that everyone gets to adjust everyone. PLUS making long lists of things I have to do before I move. PLUS teaching the classes I teach for money. PLUS teaching the classes I have to teach at AYS as part of the teaching practicum that I signed up for, for reasons that are no longer clear to me...I believe I was in some sort of yoga-induced fog.

Not that I don't love it. But did I need to put this pressure on myself? Absolutely not. Plus the Husbandis whining about how much money I spend on yoga. And how it's all for naught because I don't teach enough to justify it, and when we move, he believes that I won't be teaching at all. And that freaks me out because, well, I kind of have this idea that I definitely WILL be teaching, that I will be putting down a wood floor in our walk-out basement and having classes down there. Not so good that the Husband doesn't believe that I will be able to pull that off. If he doesn't believe in me, well, then I have to doubly believe in myself.

I say that tongue in cheek, really, because my life experience has taught me that it is absolutely true that "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?" *



* Just to clarify, this aphorism is taken somewhat out of context. The whole quote, from Rabbi Hillel, famous rabbi and oft quoted wise man of the Jewish faith, is: "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" The first sentence does not necessarily mean that "I have to look out for myself, or no one will," or it does not necessarily ONLY mean that. The "I" could be seen as a larger community of like-minded people, for example. And you cannot take the first sentence WITHOUT the second sentence, which stresses that even as you take care of you and yours, you can't simply ignore the needs of others without calling your own character into question. And finally, you cannot take either of the first two sentence without the third, which says that there is no better time than this very moment to DO. Not that my desire to make something more of my life, something more than homemaker, is something so globally important as taking a stand against genocide. But it all starts at home. Happy, fulfilled people make better people. And better people make a better world.

YC

Friday, April 06, 2007

Is it Friday already?

Did I practice every day this week? I don't remember, but I think so. This is why I needed to blog in the first place - to keep track of these things. I am trying to decide if I should go to the led primary tomorrow at AYS, which is why I'm trying to figure out if I need a rest or not. Sunday is Easter, and the shala is closed, so I could practice tomorrow INSTEAD of Sunday.

Oh, blah blah blah. I'll figure it out.

SO excited about Casa de Yoga Chickie. It's on a property that used to be a farm - a fruit farm (apple orchard?) owned by someone named Winkler. A bit more than 10 years ago, the Winkler guy or his successor in interest subdivided the whole thing into two and three acre parcels (maybe some are more?), houses were built, and the non-farmers moved in. It's really quite charming. The Casa is the only house that doesn't front on a cul de sac, which I think is quite nice, although one might argue that in fronting on a main road, we get the short end of the stick (you get what you pay for, of course). Still, I like the idea of living on a country road, of being part of a neighborhood to the extent that I want to, and being totally private to the extent that I want to. On the one hand, there's a gate in front of the driveway. On the other hand, at the far end of the side yard (which is really the front yard - the house is situated catty-corner to the street), there is a public park with playground equipment, a picnic table, full-court basketball and two tennis courts. On the one hand, we share a pond with our next door neighbor; on the other hand, we share another pond that isn't even on our property with three other neighbors, neighbors whom I might never even meet. It's an interesting mix of suburban and, well, something else. I can't call it rural. But it's different from the suburbs where I grew up.

Where I grew up, there was commerce all over the place - there was plenty of park land and our neighborhood stood next to, what was it? South Mountain Reservation, I believe? Or Mayapple Hill? Either way, it was a mix. Houses, lots of green, but also a McDonalds. Here, you drive down the roads, and there's nothing but trees for the most part. Yeah, there's a main street in town. But other than that, well, that's it. Where I grew up, the supermarket was less than a mile away. Here, it's three miles, and people who live in the suburbs tell me that is a ridiculously long distance. I'll take it though! Three miles doesn't seem like such a big deal to me in exchange for all that fresh air and open space.

I wonder - how does one go about furnishing a house? I really want a traditional, solid pine farm table for the kitchen. Does anyone in the New York area know where I might go to find one?

YC

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Signed the contract, wrote a check

The beautiful colonial and its lovely property , along with the pond and the geese and all that, should be the new YC Family abode by July!

I'm so excited I might burst!

YC

If it were funny, it would be one thing...

But sadly, it is not. See, it's a thin line, the line that separates clever snarks from mere trolls. To paraphrase the Supreme Court's definition of obscenity, I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.

Trolls are like stray cats. When they get a taste of something they like, they keep coming back for more. And to a troll, nothing tastes quite so good as a nice, freshly cooked plate of attention. Fortunately, as with stray cats, if you don't feed them, eventually, they stop coming round.

So, please refrain from feeding the latest troll, who is not funny, not original, not at all clever and probably not very pretty.

And anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about...well, consider yourself lucky!

YC

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Practice, and all IS coming


This may not seem like such a big deal to those amongs us who are working on keeping their legs in lotus as they drop from forearm balance into a tuck or those who are working on keeping their ankles solidly crossed behind their heads as they lift up from the floor in Dwi Pada. It won't even seem like much to people like me who are still working to get Supta Kurmasana to be a posture that you can get yourself into, as opposed to a moment in time where you lie there helplessly while some unseen person twists your floppy limbs into a pretzel.
But it IS a big deal to me. Back in 2005, when I started this blog, I thought that Marichyasana C was something only the most freakishly bendy people could do. I had no real idea of how I would ever get into it, myself. Even with help, my limbs wanted to snap apart like rubber bands. Now I am binding solidly, on good days at the wrists, even without an exorcism-like assist.
If you practice, things change. Generally speaking, you get a little bit better at things over time. Even more generally speaking, if you keep practicing, you certainly won't get worse at things (injuries aside). I can't think of many activities that present such a simple and endearing allure. Skiing, perhaps. It's been my experience, that every year brings improvements, although others who have been skiing since childhood claim that there is a peak and then a distinct downhill. I'll let you know. Running, definitely not. You just get slower over time. It's a given.
I'm in a loving the yoga moment, if you couldn't tell. And even though I don't have the picture to prove it, today, in my home practice (kids are on vacation..mama is stuck at home), I TOUCHED MY OWN FINGERS TOGETHER IN SUPTA KURMASANA. I was using a dog toy to help me get leverage - it was rope in the shape of a small ring. I easily grabbed opposite sides of the ring behind my back and then I extended my index fingers, and they touched! Yippee!!! Someday, I will, I will, I will be able to do Supta Kurmasana on my own. Not to jinx myself. But I really think that I will. And someday, I will also be able to get around my Garba Pindasana circle with less than 15 rolls.
I'm teaching my first Beginner's class tomorrow night and a bit nervous. It's probably the LEAST teaching I have ever had to do - just Ujaii and Surya Namaskar. No alignment. Just flow. It's a brilliant idea, really, to introduce Ashtanga to beginners by teaching them simply to link breath to movement. But I feel nervous because it's a prescribed thing I am teaching, as opposed to something free and open and improvisational like I normally teach.
If anyone wants to come, it's by donation at Ashtanga Yoga Shala at 7:15 tomorrow night. No hecklers please!
Oh, and monkey mind just remembered that the house MAY be under contract as soon as...TOMORROW. Finger crossed!!!!!!!!! All of you NYC Ashtangis who don't like having me in your practice space...Janice...?.........well you won't have to be dealing with me and my roving, nosy eyes much longer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
YC

Front-loaded

"As a woman who has made her own way in the world," the comment began on a prior post. The implication is that I am not a woman "who has made her own way in the world". In fact, that could not be farther from the truth. I was raised by a mother who worked my entire life - first as a teacher, then as a psychologist and then as a lawyer. She and my father instilled in me a strong sense that I needed to "make my own way in the world" and not be dependent upon a man for my financial well-being. Forget being dependent on them: in 1990, when I graduated from NYU School of Law, I was essentially "cut off", not in an effort on their part to be mean or petty, but in a bid to teach me to "make my own way". So, I needed to buy furniture for my new grown-up rental studio apartment? I had to take out a line of credit. I wanted to go on vacation? I had to keep it within the continental U.S., or I wouldn't be able to afford it.

Thinking back now, I realize that it wasn't upon my graduation that I was booted ass-first into the world. It was a year ealier, when I was called upon to pay for a significant portion of my own legal education with student loans. I paid those back to the government within four years after graduating from law school (big bonuses were paid to baby lawyers in those days).

I practiced corporate law in major international law firms (and one major life insurance company) for nearly 12 years (1990 to 2002). I represented large investment banks, smaller investment funds, entertainment companies, as well as individuals. My legal research on Intellectual Property Rights in Art Installations was published in two different legal publications in three installments. I was quoted in Art in America as an expert on the topic. For the first seven or so years of our marriage, I made more money than The Husband. We were able to puchase our first piece of real estate shortly upon marrying thanks to my successes, although he was well on his way.

In 1999, I became a trailblazer at my law firm - the first woman to work part time as an attorney and still be considered a full-benefits, salaried employee. I negotiated the deal on my own terms and was abe to do so because I had a track record of solid smarts and work ethic. By the end of my stay at that law firm, I was making well into the six figures and working roughly 30 hours per week. I also had the foresight to do some financial planning and investing, including purchasing a disability policy that enabled me to take significant time off when I was ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36.

I have a husband who would have rather liked having a housewife that home, who would have liked to have seen me dress in slacks and tops with ballet flats and lunch with "the girls" at the Atlantic Grill and Mezzaluna (Third Avenue Girls Who Lunch staples). But he got me instead. And he grew comfortable with the situation. He hasn't been very happy about the way things have turned out in the years since 2003, when I quit the law, officially, forever, and threw out every legal book, every deal toy I ever was given from a client, and every bound volume that bore my name, had a moving company remove them from my office on Third and Fifty-third and place them on the curb for pickup by New York City Sanitation.

But this is what S.A.T. scores in the 1300's, serious studying in college (I graduated from a top University in the top 10 percent of my class, Phi Beta Kappa and with High Honors), going to a top 10 law school, securing a big-firm law job upon graduation and sticking with the program for more than a decade will do for you. It enables a woman to make her own way in the world until she decides it's time to take some leisure time afer two children, a life-threatening illness and its debilitating treatment.

Yeah, I am rather leisurely now. But it wasn't always that way: I front-loaded the hard work.

I'm not a woman who never had to make her way in the world. No. Rather, I'm a front-loader. And now, I'm enjoying just hanging out, the summer sun shining upon me as the warm breezes keep me aloft.

YC

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Passover is for winos

How many years have I been a Jew now? And it's taken me this long to realize that Passover is the holiday best enjoyed by Jewish drunkards? I mean, how many glasses of wine are we supposed to drain over the course of one long dinner? Try FOUR. And in my family, it's never that grody Manischewitz swill. We get good Israeli wines like Barkan and Recanati and savor our wine-drinking obligations. But until last night, I had never before seen such a wine-soaked Passover. It got to a point where my cousin, Debpc and I were sitting there, drinking glass number whatever, and looking around and realizing: no one is eating; it's a bunch of 35 Jews and no one, not a soul, was eating solid food. Normally, a gathering of Jewish folks means that the food is flowing, and the fermented beverages, well, not so much. Between the courses, say, between the matzah ball soup course and the main course, people just sit in their seats and wait for the next platter of food to be presented. And once the food runs out, everyone leaves. Last night, however, was oddly different. In the lull between soup and roast chicken, the wine flowed, the people wandered away from their seats, the wine flowed, the laughter rose, the conversation became unusually animated, the topics veering into the deliciously inappropriate, and no one seemed to care when the next morsel would be offered. When the chicken finally came around, it was like, "Oh, food, yeah, we're supposed to have a festive meal now, okay, whatever." And of course, we're supposed to tell the tale of how the Jews were freed from bondage in Egypt and how they came to reside in Israel. It's not only a mitzvah, but an absolute imperative. You must tell the story and retell the story. Twice each year, at a minimum (at the seder dinners), maybe more. Here's the story in a nutshell: Jacob was a fruitful and prosperous man who had a favorite son named Joseph, whose jealous brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph was a hottie who attracted the attention of the Phaoroh's wife, which could have been bad, but Joseph took lemons and made lemonade, predicting some stuff for the Pharoah that actually came to pass. Joseph, and Jews, in general, came to prosper in Egypt, and they made lots of babies. Eventually, it came to pass that a Pharoah came into power who knew nothing about this Joseph and his prophesies, and who really resented the Jews for their successes and felt threatened by their numbers. First, he decreed that Jews would be slaves -building buildings, monuments, cities. When that didn't oppress the Jews sufficiently to suit him, he decreed that all Jewish baby boys be killed. Along came a woman who didn't want to see her baby boy die. This woman put her baby in a basket and sent him down the nile, where he was found by...none other than the Pharoah's daughter, a biblical-times Angelina Jolie, who determined right then and there to take this discarded baby in and raise him as her own. This baby was known as Moses, which means, taken from the water. Moses's birth mother was hired as his wet nurse. Clever one. Quietly, behind closed doors, Moses's mom told him all about his Jewish heritage, and Moses came to know who he really was. One day, when Moses was an old man, God came to him in the form of a burning bush, and told him that he would lead his people out of slavery. It took some convincing, but Moses came to understand that this would be God's will, and he approached the then-current Pharoah and told him, "Let my people go so that I may lead them." No. Threats were made. Miracles were performed. Plagues were sent to prove God's will (not merely for revenge). As the children sing, "One day Pharoah awoke in his bed, there were frogs on his head and frogs on his bed. Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were jumping everywhere." And that doesn't even get to the boils, the cattle plague, the blood running in place of water, the locusts, to name a few. There were 10 in all, and the worst one by far, the only one that really moved the Pharoah to action, was the plague of the death of the first born. Not by soldiers, but by the angel of death. But by the time the tenth plague was brought into play, Moses knew that Pharoah couldn't be trusted to keep his word, even if the death of his first born was at stake. And so, the Jews planned accordingly, getting their stuff ready to flee Egypt on such short notice that they didn't have time to let their bread rise; instead they baked it without leavening, and thus matzah was born, the bread of affliction. When the appointed time came for the Pharoah to either let the Jewish people go or suffer the death of the first born of every Egyptian first born boy, the Pharoah in his arrogance did not let the Jewish people go. His son was one of the first born boys who died. At that point, he appeared to relent. "Alright! I give up! I will let your people go," he whined to Moses. And so the Jewish people fled, and fast, because they knew that Pharoah was lying yet again. When they Jews got to the Red Sea, it miraculously parted so that they could cross it to safety. Right behind the Jews were the Egyptians who, as predicted, chased after the Jews, on the Pharoah's orders. He had no intention of really letting them go. When the Egyptians got to the center of the sea, God made the waters come together again, so that the Jews could flee to safety. After some time, the Jews found themselves on the other side, which is where Moses presented the Jews with the 10 Commandments. Never again would they worship idols. Never again would they have more than one God. And other stuff too. And that's pretty much it, give or take several thousand words, four glasses of wine, plus one for the prophet, Elijah, the festive meal, a pascal lamb, bitter herbs, etc. Gotta run to seder 2. YC

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Moderation

Sundays are always a bit dicey for me. It's hard to take Saturday off and come back on Sunday feeling soft and bendy (moondays present the same problem, of course). But somehow today was quite nice. I got to practice about as late as I possibly could (procrastination) without totally missing out on Petri's adjustments. Nevertheless, by the time I got to Kurmasana, he was already out of the room.

So, there I sweated and struggled, not minding it really. I like do take a lot of time in Kurmasana. So either way, teacher or no teacher, adjustment or no adjustment, it's a win. But today, I got the extra bonus: after flattening out on my own in Kurmasana and starting to attempt Supta Kurma on my own, Petri appeared behind me, pressing on my back to bring my chest to the floor while instructing me to straighten my legs.

My mantra was, "I'm not even here."

And it seemed to work. I felt like a wet noodle as he wrapped my arms behind my back, and I easily latched hands.

Then the real miracle happened. In the instant between Petri letting go of my hands and moving to bring my ankles together, I heard myself saying in a not-even-strained voice: let's just skip the legs today.

And so, I stayed there, hands solidly bound, feet touching but not crossed, for a solid, delicious, victorious eight long breaths. No pain. No agonizing sense of slipping from the edge of a cliff as my legs pulled my hands apart. Just a solid hand bind, without striving for anything more. It seems to make so much sense; the ankles crossing is a non-issue for me. It's always been the bind. It's always been the chest that needs to open. So, why undo the progress by crossing the ankles, rather than enjoying the bind and allowing my muscles and joints to develop some kinesthetic memory of what it feels like to hold those hands together?

It was a rare moment of the exercise of moderation on my part. And whenever my mind goes back to it, I smile.

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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