Thursday, January 31, 2008

Now if that isn't the Navigator calling the Escalade big...

Today, after a concert at my children's elementary school, I got into my suv, looked up at the windshield, and saw THIS NOTE! It was facing in at me from under the windshield wiper.

And I don't even LIVE in Armonk.

YC

Meme it forward

A very old and dear friend of mine sent me a note today telling me that his mum is at the end of a painful and difficult battle with cancer (is there any other kind?), that she is rarely fully conscious now, and when she is, she is in terrible pain. I offered my sympathy and prayers and then I offered to dedicate my practice to his family. Then I wondered if he would feel the love coming from across the Atlantic Ocean.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I found a message board on iVillage called Breast Cancer Support - a group of women bonding over their battles with breast cancer, which group was able to tolerate me for about a week or two before my personality banged up against the reigning sensibilities of the board. But in that week or two, someone in the group asked the others to jointly pray for me, in unison, on one designated day at one designated moment.

When that day and time came, I had already forgotten all about it, at least on a conscious level. Yet, there was a moment in which I experienced the most powerful and unique rush of positive feeling I could remember feeling in ages, if I had ever felt it before. It was as if the sun and the sky had enveloped me in a huge, universe-sized hug, and I basked in the warmth and glowed from the inside out. I felt happy and safe and free of fear.

It was only a few days later that I remembered that it was on that day that the group had agreed to pray for me.

I'm not big on spiritual hokus pokus, and my yoga is intentional asana practice with the delightful and wholly unintentional side effect of bringing me closer to something bigger than myself, sometimes. But this was a moment that I can't explain in any way other than the unexplainable power of prayer.

And so, I wonder - would any of you kids like to try this at home? What if we were to "meme it forward" - using our yoga, coupled with our propensity to meme, for the greater good by taking turns devoting our practices to one another? Let's see, how would this work? I could start out by nominating someone to receive the group's first "yoga devotion". I could put it in a new post, and also email the person, and those who want to join in can post a comment to that effect, or just join in without commenting. Then on the designated day, which would be the next day, all of us who were participating would dedicate the fruits of our practice to this person.

Then this person would nominate someone else, and the meme would continue.

I would love to hear whether others feel the effects of all of that love being directed towards them, so I hope at least one person joins me in seconding this motion to "meme it forward"....

If that happens, I will begin the process as stated...

Yours in a rare moment of spiritual hokus pokus,

YC

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Come sit by me

Sometimes it seems to me as if I am the only Ashtanga blogger out there who doesn't have a favorite place to set my mat in the practice room. I practice wherever there's a spot. And I could care less if it's on the right side or the left, near the altar or in the rear. I pretty much don't much care who practices next to me either, although lately I have noticed that it's kind of fun to practice within eyeshot of one particular student because when I do, we usually share a smirk or giggle at some point, which is somehow kind of nice during a two hour practice. Plus, she and I almost always start at around the same time, and even if we don't, I usually catch up to her during the standing series, such that we're practicing pretty much the same poses at the same time (until she splits into Second sometime after Navasana - it seems to be different every time). She has a lovely practice and she has given me some really wonderful pointers on opening the armpits (yes, Carl, the ARMPITS).

Oh, and during Led Primary Friday practice, I like to be as close as possible to the front and center because I've found that a front and center spot increases the odds of my getting an assist in Supta Kurmasana. Those assists really mean the world to me at this point because the less I "do" in Primary poses, the better my backbends feel.

On a side note, I often wonder, as a teacher and as a student, who really SHOULD get the Supta Kurmasana assist in a led class...the student who is most likely to get into the full version of the pose WITH the assist? Or the student who has no shot of getting bound but who might get a little further with an assist? A student like me, who can get into Supta K without an assist probably shouldn't be getting the assist, truth be told, at least in my opinion. When I was teaching led classes at Shala X, for example, if the lithe and willowy Miss T was in the room, I knew that I would not have to assist her in Supta K and that I could focus my attentions on someone who needed the help more.

But back to the topic at hand, other than my preference for a front and center spot in Led and my enjoying being near Miss M during Mysore practice, I don't really care who I practice near, or where I practice. I wonder how and why the attachment to certain places in the room sets in.

Lord, my life must be boring today for me to be writing such drivel.

YC

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another "not being in the present moment" moment...

I kept my promise to myself to get to the shala with a minimum of drama and get going with my practice with a minimum of drama and to get through all of Primary with a minimum of drama so that I might have something left to give in Second Series. And voila, what do you know, it was good. It was really really good. I even enjoyed a wonderful, peaceful five minutes in headstand and another wonderful, peaceful five or so minutes sitting before Uth Pluthi. I didn't even cheat on Savasana.

It was so good, I started to feel pangs of sadness at the notion that it might not always feel this good.

Yeah, I know, this is no way to be present. This is no way to practice non-attachment. But to witness these moments of not being present, of being attached, that is a step in the direction of being in the moment, unencumbered by desire.

OK, enough of that crap. Back to the physical realm.

So, even though I missed Kino's workshop, I did manage to spend 15 minutes listening to her talking about Urdhva Dhanurasana. Ever moment of those 15 minutes was useful. She showed us exactly how to get into UD without pain, without compressing the lower back. I'll try to paraphrase:

Set up for bridge pose, with the heels right by the hips, feet parallel. Press the feet down, really driving down with the feet until the pelvis MUST lift. Do NOT lift the pelvis. Let the feet cause the pelvis to lift. Lift the ribcage away from the hipbones and place to top of the head on the floor. Continue lifting the ribcage as you place the palms. At this point, the backbend is really DONE. All that is left is to straighten the arms. Sounds too easy. But it really works to keep the DRIVING UP motion from stopping the backbend from happening, as it does tend to do with me. Carl are you listening?

But that's not all.

Stay there for five breaths, and as Vanessa has said countless times, straighten the legs. And oddly, it CAN be done. When you enter into UD in the way described, you CAN straighten your legs. When the legs are straight or as straight as you can get them, walk the hands in, one two. That's all. Just one, two. Hold. Lower. Repeat.

There is also something she said about the tailbone, and I cannot remember what it is. Oni told me today again, but I still can't remember. All I know is that it is counterintuitive, but now when I try to intuit so that I can counter-intuit, I find that I can't do either.

I tell you, 15 minutes of Kino was so dense with information that I cannot imagine what I would be going through now if I had been there the whole weekend.

My head would probably have exploded.

YC

We heart pigs



Some are less bothersome than others. I thought this guy was kind of cute, and while not alive, not dinner either.

YC

Me and Half YC



We look a bit alike.

YC

After, or rather, kind of during

Or, really, during. We still have some gets that need gotten, like a chair across from the two leather club chairs, with an ottoman. And a large, entryway size mirror for behind those two club chairs to reflect the beautiful outdoors that can be seen outside the sliding glass doors across from the chairs.

The carpet is a bit mod for me, but the husband put an embargo on anything country, anything with flowers, anything paisley, anything oriental. I briefly considered a one-color rug, in a faux bois pattern (meaning that it looks like wood grain, even though it obviously is not wood. And then I decided that would look flat.

This room no longer says "F.U." and "Don't even think about coming in here."

Remember what it used to look like (scroll down)?

YC

Monday, January 28, 2008

Oops I did it again

It would appear that the universe is conspiring to see to it that I am not in the place where I think I am supposed to be at any given time.

First, there was the Kino incident. I took my nice scalding bath at noon, was in the car by 1:30, and I arrived at the CT Shala at 2, pleased that I had managed to not be late. I thought it a bit strange that there were so many shoes lined up at the door already. Even stranger that thirty students were sitting on their mats, watching as Kino paced stood in front speaking. They looked sweaty and tired. As I walked in and found a place, there was a bit of commotion.

Cut to me realizing that I am stark naked, with everyone pointing and staring. And then I woke up.

If only. No, it was no dream. The Kino Backbending Workshop was from noon UNTIL two. I don't know why I wrote it wrong in my planner. There are no accidents, so I imagine that I was feeling ambivalent about dealing with my backbends in an intense workshop and about having to see this incredibly beautiful, tiny, master yogini who can bend backwards and touch her feet with her head without having first broken a sweat. Yeah, I must have purposesly accidentally put the time down wrong in my Palm.

Still, I felt horrible. I felt embarassed and out of control. Yet I went home and had a wonderful practice. A really, really nice practice, after which I felt that wonderful high. No, I didn't experience Kundalini rising and lose consciousness like the fabulous Liz Gilbert. But my good mood lasted clear through this morning.

Which brings me to the Chinese Lantern Project Incident.

For weeks now, I have been planning on helping Adam's third grade class prepare for the Chinese Lunar Festival by helping out with their making of Chinese Lanterns today. It's been on my Palm for weeks, and I had recruited another mom to help me help out. Over the weekend, the other mom had a bad cold and told me that she wasn't sure if she would make it to school today. So, I scrambled to get backup moms, and by scrambling, I really mean that I sent out a mass email and got an overwhelmingly positive, helpful response. The universe seemed to be smiling upon me. In fact, it gets even better because last night, my original partner in Chinese Lanterning emailed me to tell me that she was feeling better and would see me. When, though, she asked?

9:10 a.m., I told her.

She wrote back: But the email from Mrs. C says that it's not until 9:50.

Sure enough, when I looked at the most recent email from the teacher, I saw that the time was listed as 9:50. And so, we showed up at 9:50.

"We're all finished," Mrs. C informed us when we arrived at the art room.

Heh?

It was 9:10 after all. I had it right. But my experience yesterday led me to distrust my penciling-in skills. And so, I just ASSUMED that the time that I had originally thought I had to be there was the wrong time. But it was right.

Mrs. C apologized and offered to have us help out next week, since they will still be working on the lanterns then. Oh boy! Just what I want to do! Miss ANOTHER shala practice to get ink on my hands.

At least I got a lot done between 9:10 and 9:50, as I sat in Cafe T and made my phone calls and did some paperwork.

Oh, and I forgot, there was also the Wanted By The Police incident. But that was already last week, and I really don't feel like talking about it. I'm not going to be arrested, it looks like. But I am going to have to pay for some damage to someone's wheel bed out of pocket. Dang. I seem to be having issues not only with being in the right place at the right time, but also with being in a place where one is responsible for heating one's own house and driving one's own self around.

It's been a tough week, and it's only Monday.

Tough week, nice practices though. A brilliant one this afternoon beginning at 3. I can now bind Pasasana on my own without the wall to guide my hands into the right place. At least sometimes I can. On the other hand, it occurred to me that I would be served just as well by practicing ONLY Primary. I have a looooooooooong way to go before all of Primary is as rote (read: meditative) to me as the first seven poses of Primary. Starting with the Marichis, my mind starts to spin, devising plans for being "ready" for the next pose and the next and the next. It's kind of the opposite of being present. No, actually, it IS the opposite of being present. Another year or two of ONLY Primary and I could probably really get to that "Paschimo through Janu C" point in Marichi A through Supta K. But adding the backbends means that I have to sort of work a little EASIER, rather than a little harder, in Primary because the harder I work in Primary, the more awful my Second Series backbending is.

As
Debpc once paraphrased to me from some teacher who inspired her, why not instead of working harder, work a little easier? It seems to apply here. But if it were just Primary all the time for me, it wouldn't. Which leads me to the conclusion that I am BETTER served by having to add those Second Series poses into my repertoire.

It forces me to work a little easier.

If you're still with me, go click on that "What Cocktail Are You" quiz. Caroline...it's REALLY fun and WAY more economical than a five grand chair.

YC

It would appear that the universe is conspiring to see to it that I am not in the place where I think I am supposed to be at any given time.

First, there was the Kino incident. I took my nice scalding bath at noon, was in the car by 1:30, and I arrived at the CT Shala at 2, pleased that I had managed to not be late. I thought it a bit strange that there were so many shoes lined up at the door already. Even stranger that thirty students were sitting on their mats, watching as Kino paced stood in front speaking. They looked sweaty and tired. As I walked in and found a place, there was a bit of commotion.

Cut to me realizing that I am stark naked, with everyone pointing and staring. And then I woke up.

If only. No, it was no dream. The Kino Backbending Workshop was from noon UNTIL two. I don't know why I wrote it wrong in my planner. There are no accidents, so I imagine that I was feeling ambivalent about dealing with my backbends in an intense workshop and about having to see this incredibly beautiful, tiny, master yogini who can bend backwards and touch her feet with her head without having first broken a sweat. Yeah, I must have purposesly accidentally put the time down wrong in my Palm.

Still, I felt horrible. I felt embarassed and out of control. Yet I went home and had a wonderful practice. A really, really nice practice, after which I felt that wonderful high. No, I didn't experience Kundalini rising and lose consciousness like the fabulous Liz Gilbert. But my good mood lasted clear through this morning.

Which brings me to the Chinese Lantern Project Incident.

For weeks now, I have been planning on helping Adam's third grade class prepare for the Chinese Lunar Festival by helping out with their making of Chinese Lanterns today. It's been on my Palm for weeks, and I had recruited another mom to help me help out. Over the weekend, the other mom had a bad cold and told me that she wasn't sure if she would make it to school today. So, I scrambled to get backup moms, and by scrambling, I really mean that I sent out a mass email and got an overwhelmingly positive, helpful response. The universe seemed to be smiling upon me. In fact, it gets even better because last night, my original partner in Chinese Lanterning emailed me to tell me that she was feeling better and would see me. When, though, she asked?

9:10 a.m., I told her.

She wrote back: But the email from Mrs. C says that it's not until 9:50.

Sure enough, when I looked at the most recent email from the teacher, I saw that the time was listed as 9:50. And so, we showed up at 9:50.

"We're all finished," Mrs. C informed us when we arrived at the art room.

Heh?

It was 9:10 after all. I had it right. But my experience yesterday led me to distrust my penciling-in skills. And so, I just ASSUMED that the time that I had originally thought I had to be there was the wrong time. But it was right.

Mrs. C apologized and offered to have us help out next week, since they will still be working on the lanterns then. Oh boy! Just what I want to do! Miss ANOTHER shala practice to get ink on my hands.

At least I got a lot done between 9:10 and 9:50, as I sat in Cafe T and made my phone calls and did some paperwork.

Oh, and I forgot, there was also the Wanted By The Police incident. But that was already last week, and I really don't feel like talking about it. I'm not going to be arrested, it looks like. But I am going to have to pay for some damage to someone's wheel bed out of pocket. Dang. I seem to be having issues not only with being in the right place at the right time, but also with being in a place where one is responsible for heating one's own house and driving one's own self around.

It's been a tough week, let's just say.

Tough week, nice practices though. A brilliant one this afternoon beginning at 3. I can now bind Pasasana on my own without the wall to guide my hands into the right place. At least sometimes I can. On the other hand, it occurred to me that I would be served just as well by practicing ONLY Primary. I have a looooooooooong way to go before all of Primary is as rote (read: meditative) to me as the first seven poses of Primary. Starting with the Marichis, my mind starts to spin, devising plans for being "ready" for the next pose and the next and the next. It's kind of the opposite of being present. No, actually, it IS the opposite of being present. Another year or two of ONLY Primary and I could probably really get to that "Paschimo through Janu C" point in Marichi A through Supta K. But adding the backbends means that I have to sort of work a little EASIER, rather than a little harder, in Primary because the harder I work in Primary, the more awful my Second Series backbending is.

As
Debpc once paraphrased to me from some teacher who inspired her, why not instead of working harder, work a little easier? It seems to apply here. But if it were just Primary all the time for me, it wouldn't. Which leads me to the conclusion that I am BETTER served by having to add those Second Series poses into my repertoire.

It forces me to work a little easier.

If you're still with me, go click on that "What Cocktail Are You" quiz. Caroline...it's REALLY fun and WAY more economical than a five grand chair.

YC

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Who knows One? I know One....

First off, and totally unrelated to the topic at hand, I just wanted to say that bassett hounds are like the cutest dogs on earth. I've been thinking that ever since I've been seeing Eeyore's adorable photos of (himself) (his dog) along with his comments lately . Now, my dog is only HALF bassett (.5B). But it's the bassett in him that keeps us enthralled. Far more than the whiney beagle half, I'm sure.

And from that inauspicious prologue, I begin a somber post: I could have died last night. But I didn't! There but for the grace of Adonai go I and my family.

It began with a game of Dodge Ball in my basement.

That game of Dodge Ball caused the heating system to go out, thanks to an inadvertant flip of the switch, itself caused by an errant dodged ball.

That failure of oil-heat caused me to light fires in both of my fireplaces.

The dual fires led my husband to inquire, "What the hell is going on here? And why is it so freakin' cold?"

That question led to a phone call with the oil purveyor, who helped us discern that the heating system had been shut off, and who helped us to shut it back on.

The shutting on of the heating system enabled us to stop adding logs to the fires in the respective fireplaces.

Without additional logs, the fires went out.

Without fire, the fireplaces seemed like cold, vacuum-like spaces.

The cold, vacuum-like spaces called out to us to close their flues so as not to let any more precious heat out into the night air.

The closing of the flues did nothing to release the toxic gases being released by the dying embers.

The toxic gases built up to a level that might have killed my entire family, had we not (THANK YOU GOD) installed carbon monoxide detectors.

The carbon monoxide detectors began to screech out their warnings at 2 a.m. this morning (last night to me).

The screeching sounds woke me up and got me to call 911 and evacuate my family.

And my family survived my city-bumpkin stupidity, the only damage, apparently, being an hour of lost sleep. And some well-deserved humiliation thanks to this being the THIRD time Banksville's Bravest have had to wake their asses up in the middle of the night and come to my rescue (or my alleged rescue, seeing as the first two times were false alarms, and yes, they assess OUR asses fifty bucks a pop or false alarms).

God help me. I don't know if I'm cut out for this country life.

Chad gadya, chad gadya,

YC

Friday, January 25, 2008

Making cents

I've gotten some inquiries about why I've added ads to my blog.

The simple answer is that the ads are a win-win situation, not just for me, but for anyone who meanders around these blogs.

Here's how it works, in three easy steps:

1. I fill the sidebar of this blog with ads for products and services relating to topics that I think will interest you (yoga, fitness, blogging, getting your writing published, recipes, personality-probing quizzes, etc.).

2. You take a second to click on an ad, maybe get a laugh, maybe get a small tidbit of information about something that interests you.

3. I make a few cents. Literally. Like two cents for each click.

It seems fair to me, especially when you consider that it takes me up to an hour, or sometimes longer, to produce an enjoyable read for you, and I do it on a nearly daily basis without payment of any kind.

So, if you enjoy what you read here at YC, then it would be sosososososo wonderful if you could take a second or two to click on one of the links listed on my side bar. I promise I won't spend the two cents in one place.

Thanks,

YC

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A moment of peace

Despite the waning full moon hanging low and huge in the winter sky, there is nothing but darkness everywhere my eyes can see outside the windows of my house. Not a street light, not a neighbor reading in a window, not a car shining highbeams down the winding country road. Inside here, everyone is asleep except for me, even my dog, who might otherwise be outside howling at the moon or his reflection in the pond or nothing at all.

I'm lying on the sofa in my living room - the formal front sitting room, not the giant cavernous space with the big-ass flatscreen tv holding the decor together. I'm stuck here for a while because I lit a fire a couple of hours ago here, and for some reason it's still burning, notwithstanding that I have done nothing to help it along, havent even thrown another log on. This makes me wonder if the fireplace in the family room needs a little chimney check-up, seeing as I cant seem to keep a fire going there for more than a few minutes without having to tend to it, poking here and there, squeezing the bellows to feed it some oxygen.

Anyway, the only sound is the crackling in the fireplace and the tip tapping of my blackberry's qwerty. The only light is from the fire and the lamp beside me. It's as if i'm alone in a pod, floating in space. An elegantly appointed pod, yes, but a pod nevertheless.

I'm feeling good this evening. Had a wonderful practice today, even sat for a few mintutes before taking rest (and I won't lie to you: Kundalini stayed right where it always is, at the base of my achey spine. Maybe some other time, like when I'm playing for the Hell Hockey Team, i will experience Kundalini rising...). Tomorrow is Led Primary, and can I jusy say YAY? My practice - all of Primary up to Dhanurasana - is starting to wear on me. I wouldnt want to shorten it, like many others at my shala. I feel as if they are missing the gestalt of Primary, as well as an opportunity to practice poses that they have not yet mastered, despite moving well past said poses. I mean, how is eka pada ever going to happen if you blow off supta kurmasana every day? That is just one example.

I hope that by the time im told to split my practice that i feel ready to do so.

But oh, yeah, stay present! Right now, it's tiring to do a practice that is twice as long as the practice i was doing a year ago. But i wouldn't change it for the world.

Yc

"Speak, Brag, Self-Love," or "The Four I's, Only One Of Which Matters (and it's not Italy, India or Indonesia)"

Well, Debpc, and Oprah, you big, manipulative, conquerer of all that is mundane, I do not find Eat Pray Love to be the book that changed my life, after all. When I started it a couple of days ago, I thought that Liz Gilbert came off as likeable, humble and brimming with well-told anecdotes of life as a cultural drop-out. Unfortunately, her tales have failed to live up to the hype. The portion of the book that she calls "Eat" is really about how fabulous she is at speaking Italian and how easily she makes friends and how she is supremely and uniquely capable of taking handsome lovers only to dump them later when they do not meet her high expectations (such expectations include the desire for souls to merge, among others). There's very little eating in it at all, although by the end of the "Eat" portion, she closes by saying that after four months of eating really yummy food in Italy, she now has put on some much needed weight because before she had been too thin.

BITCH. Them thar be fightin' words, lady.

We open the next portion of Speak, Brag, Self-Love with her making her way to India, to live on the Ashram of her Guru, whom she has never met. She tells us oh so humbly that she sucks at meditating, except that it's really the fault of the mantra, "Om Namah Shivaya". Yeah. She can't seem to make that work for her. So one fine day she switches to another mantra, and it is on this very day that she experiences KUNDALINI RISING!!! She no longer sucks at meditating. In fact, she is the BEST MEDITATOR EVER!

That's as far as I've gotten. I know that what comes next, the part she calls "Love", will be about her visit to an Indonesian Medicine Man, who upon meeting her once, sees something so amazing in her that, right then and there, he invites her to come stay with him in Bali.

But before I get to that, and I really want to, because it gives me something to bitch about, and rather like that sometimes, I will have to get through 35 more vignettes of Liz Gilbert's life in India, as she eats more than any girl of her skinniness and beauty while losing all the weight she gained in Italy (BITCH! Didn't I tell you to stop talking like that?) and refers to yoga as "yoking like an oxen" the discipline to work hard, or some such bullshit that I have never ever heard before as a definition of yoga.

It makes me want to go to an Ashram and NOT be such an egotistical, narcissistic beeyotch. If that's not a good reason to go to an Ashram while my kids are at camp this summer, I defy you to find one that is.

YC

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Anyone ever hear of Kino MacGregor?

She's giving a workshop at The CT Shala this weekend.

YC

Better short than not

After boldly declaring that I was going to go to the shala to practice, I proceeded to have a huge fight with myself over whether I actually would do so. Turns out I won, and so I hauled ass over to the CT Shala, did all of standing, three amazingly crappy backbends, three really, really fine seated poses and then two minutes of rest. I had an appointment in the city, which I got to on time, and I didn't have to worry about practicing the rest of the day, although when I came home and bathed (scalding hot, but not up to my heart, Bindifry), I did many of the seated poses while soaking and then Pasasana when I came out.

Yes, I am an addict, indeed. Or, you might say that I am attached to my practice. Whichever. Can't we just say that I just like bending? It makes me feel good, and what's wrong with feeling good?

I remember that once Sir said that the yoga practice should make us feel good. Indeed.

YC

No excuses

I'm going to the city today, but I am going to practice first. Yes I am. Yes I am. YesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIamYesIam.

Heath Ledger has died right on the heels of the Brad Renfro, I watch Nip/Tuck (which now takes place in L.A.), I saw Crash this weekend (the recent Crash, the one which won the Academy Award, not the 1994 movie about people with car-crash fetishes), and let me just say, without intending to insult Owl or anyone else who lives in the Los Angeles area, I am so happy to live on the East Coast away from all the insanity. Yes, I know, Heath Ledger died in New York. But he was part of the Hollywood culture. And you don't often see 28 year olds dying naked in their beds with pills strewn around them. Not that he killed himself. But something bad happened. Something having to do with feeling above the laws that govern the rest of us, not just the "Law", but the laws of physics, biology and reason.

I looked at my pills differently as I took them one by one last night. I wondered how much of a slip-up, what degree of carelessness, what seed of self-destruction must exist in order for my regular evening routine to end in utter tragedy.

YC

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Can we talk?

It dawned on me yesterday that I might have some problems with addiction. I mean, I knew I had some addictions. But I've been of the mind that my addictions are not problems because they are not overtly illegal or unhealthy.

Well, yesterday, it began to dawn on me that I might have a problem actually, because if you take away my "source", I become uncomfortable. And by uncomfortable, I mean stark raving mad.

Now, this might sound like a joke, what I am about to say, but it's not. My most serious addiction problem seems to be my need for scalding, hot baths.

Deprive me of a hot bath, and within 12 hours or so, I am cranky and off kilter. And when I finally fill up the tub with scaldingly hot water, as I lower myself in, the sigh of relief that emanates from me, involuntarily, from deep within myself, sounds uncannily like the sigh of relief you hear from a heroin addict in the movies, just as the needle goes in.

I realized this last night, and it frightened me.

Another addiction I am just beginning to realize I have is to the handful (literally) of supposedly non-addiction-forming drugs that I started taking when I was being treated for breast cancer. That was more than five years ago. I'm not going to get into which drugs I'm talking about, especially since there are at least four that I can count off the top of my head, but I will say that not all of them require a prescription, and I wasn't even counting coffee. Although that makes five right there. The notion that anything that you ingest is totally non-habit-forming is a crock. Anything that you inegest repeatedly can become the source of an addiction, be it coffee or melatonin or even, I suppose, Vitamin C. All I know is that if I go one day without my pills, within 12 or so hours, I begin to go through the painful symptoms of withdrawal. It is unmistakable. I realized this yesterday when I woke up in a hotel near Windham Ski Mountain, realizing that I had forgotten my little pill caddy at home and knowing with certainty that I was in for a rough day. And it was a rough day, indeed.

The only difference between my drug addiction and say, a heroin addiction, or a Vicodin addiction, is that I can obtain my drugs legally. I can't even say for sure that over time, the drugs that I take won't cause health problems, despite that they are known to be "safe".

A less alarming, but completely disgusting addiction that I have is nail biting. If I stop biting my nails, I start eating more. It's like the lament of the smoker who can't quit. I can't quit biting my nails because I will gain weight. And so I have the grossest fingers of any woman in Westchester County.

There you have it. My confession.

YC

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's Bikram weather here

The mercury reads a mere 14 degrees Farenheit, and with the wind chill, it's negative three. Not a good day for much of anything but sitting by the fire, cooking up some cous cous with dried fruit and apricots and a side of General Tsao's brussels sprouts. And Bikram.

Yep, I did the Bikram thing today. Drove north 25 minutes to Bikram Yoga Yorktown, plunked down my twenty bucks and bought myself the right to sweat for 90 minutes. I stayed on track the whole time, not veering into any Bikram Criminal behavior. Even with the heat, in this frigid climate, I was still stiffer than usual, and I only sweat about half as much as usual. Afterward, I still felt like being there in the warmth, especially because after class, they turned on some Drala, which I like despite Drala's ties with Cyndi "Downward Daaawg" Lee. So, I did 10 Sun Salutations and my three seated poses. So, technically, I didn't miss an Ashtanga practice today. Not that it matters. I'm just saying.

Off to the greater whiter north now for some skiing...

YC

Friday, January 18, 2008

For the record...

(my own record), I did practice today. At home, with Brian nearby watching Jimmy Neutron. He's been home all week, sick, if I haven't mentioned that, and as much as I love him, and as much as he loves his mom, it has been a real downer for both of us. Cabin fever.

And also for the record, I practiced up to Bakasana B. Despite that my hands were five inches away from my feet in Kapotasana (by Brian's measurement). That's not bad when you consider how far it's come and the fact that I have had exactly ONE Kapotasana adjustment ever in my entire life (during an Intro To Second class, to which all practitioners at the CT Shala are invited attend).

So, I'm practicing and out of the corner of my eye, on the tv, I see a mom putting bubble wrap around her kids' arms and legs and torsos. I look up to see what this is all about. I see that the kids are going outside to play in the fresh air. They have their skateboards with them. It's a gorgeous day in a picture-perfect suburban cul de sac. Next, we cut to the mom and kids in a MUCH safer environment, one in which they do not need to be bubble wrapped: Chuck E. Cheese. Ah, yes, "where a kid can be a kid".

So THAT's what they mean by that!

Hey, moms! If you hate the idea of your kids playing outside in the fresh air of your delightful suburban enclave because they might get a boo boo or whatever, guess what? You can finally relax because Chuck E. Cheese provides a gravel-free, sunlight-free, skateboard-free place for your kids to play. Take off that bubble wrap and get your kid's to Chuck E's!

And for future reference, just remember: Playing Outdoors = bad. Video Games and Junk Food at Chuck E's = good.

YC

I can see! I've got legs! (Or, The Importance of Not Being Ernest)

Yesterday, I practiced with a friend, and since it was kind of more about his practice than mine, and he has issues with the Marichyasanas, and I really like helping people with the Marichyasanas, my Primary Series suffered (I use that term loosely) a bit. And by "suffered", I merely mean that I didn't get very sweaty, and I didn't get into any pose particularly deeply.

BUT.

When it came time to do backbends, although I didn't feel warm, and I didn't even feel like doing them, I pressed up and did three miserable backbends from the ground. No surprise there. But then my friend asked me if I was going to try to do some dropbacks. I wouldn't have if he hadn't egged me on. And so, I did. And guess what? The first one, I got up like the usual stoned monkey. But the second one...it was like someone was lifting me up. I stood up, head (nearly) last, with a look of shock and delight plastered on my face. Since I did THAT after having dropped back and holding the backbend for five breaths, I thought to myself: what could I do if I were to drop back and immediately come back up?

And so I did.

And it felt lovely, and whatever it looked like, it felt right. The standing up is coming. I think maybe the beautiful backbends that some of you all do may never be coming for me. My arms may always be at angles to my rib cage. My kapotasana may never be achieved without growing my toenails Howard Hughes-long. But if in the dead of winter, after an unremarkable practice and three rather depressign Urdvha Dhanurasanas, I am able to pull off standing up three times in a row, three for three, I'm thinking....I just might be able to claim a workmanlike standup from a dropback as part of my repertoire one of these days.

Now, if I could only make my lazy ass practice today.

YC

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pose it forward

I was perusing Arturo's blog when I came across an interesting comment from Arturo, himself, regarding the timing of giving out poses. It's almost (but not quite) a dead horse here on my blog, but as I slowly (but not as slowly as it would be at some other shalas, including Shala X) make my way through Second Series, I find myself with new thoughts on the topic and a need to beat that poor horse further into submission.

I've practiced at a shala (Shala X) where poses are given out slowly, where the next pose is not given until the last one given is mastered to a point where assistance is not needed (although assistance might be enjoyable or beneficial for deepening the practice). I did a nearly 200 hour teacher training with Sir that covered the Primary Series, in which the discussion and the hands-on portion dovetailed perfectly to help me understand this methodology of pose-giving as a function of truly helping the students to progress as well as perserving the teacher's energies for the good of all.

The Primary Series is nearly impossible for some students to master without daily adustments in certain poses. Sure, some students come in and are able to bind all of the Marichyasanas on the first day. And those students will likely progress quickly through the Primary Series, perhaps as quickly (or as slowly) as it takes for them to remember the sequence and the vinyasas (lest the teacher have to go over it with them each and every time they practice). But from what I have seen, both as a student and as a teacher, most students will hit a "wall" sometime before Navasana. And by "wall", I mean a pose that they regularly cannot do without assistance.

If every one of those students were to practice all of Primary as soon as they could remember the sequence, then one of two things would have to happen. Either the teacher would be running around adusting every student in every pose in which assistance was needed, or more likely, students would not get daily assistance in the poses in which they need assistance.

In the first case, with students waiting for assistance in each pose that they cannot complete alone, practice would extend far too long, heat would be lost, the flow constantly interrupted, and the teacher would likely burn out quickly, even with assistance. In the second case, without regular assistance, students would make little or no progress. They would be simply approximating their difficult poses most of the time. With daily assistance in difficult poses like the Marichyasanas and the Kurmasanas, the impossible can become possible. Without daily assistance, in most cases nothing much happens at all, at least physically, in a student's difficult poses. And without actually making the bind or the connection of head to leg or whatever we're talking about, heat and energy is lost.

Now, If I were teaching a student individually, as opposed to in a group setting, I would certainly let them practice ALL of Primary because Primary has such therapeutic benefits, and doing all of Primary properly helps one do ALL of Primary unassisted. Later poses are helpful in the practice of earlier poses, and the calorie burning from doing all of Primary is huge, and yes, size might play a role for some people in being able to complete certain poses (people who are naturally flexible or have unusually long limbs might be able to carry more weight and still be able to bind, say Mari D, but people such as myself, who have are relatively stiff and relatively shorter limbs might need to be skinnier to make the bind; another dead horse here, yes).

On the other hand, all of this seems to change when it comes to Second Series. Pasasana is a strange little gatekeeper to the rest of Second Series, which seems more than anything else to be a nice heat-building combination of Mari A and C, which is great if you're coming straight from Parsvotanasana, or a good spine-neutralizer, if you've just come from the forward bends of Primary. Pasasana has a "partner" in preparation for the rest of Second: Krounchasana, with its minor stretch of the quads and final return to a long, neutral spine. Other than counterposing Primary Series or warming up after a shortened Standing Series, neither seems to add anything to what comes next - the back-bending sequence that ends in Kapotasana and Supta Vajrasana.

Bakasana is akin to child's pose, balanced on the hands, so I see it as a post-back-bending spine-neutralizer, like the easier-than-Mari-C-twists that seem to act as a buffer between the backbending sequence and the long leg-behind-head sequence that follows, which is not related in any way at all to whether one has mastered the back-bending sequence.

What do any of those poses have to do with being able to balance on forearms? Or to lotus the legs and lower the lotus legs onto the backs of the arms while balanced on forearms? Especially when most of the later poses are much easier and much more accessible to so many more people (check out any Jivamukti class and you might see a Mayurasana or even Nakrasana, but never a Karandavasana)? The rest of the sequence, like the tail-end of Primary, is kind of like a "hair-0f-the-dog" balm for what has just been done. It's the downhill side of the hike. Challenging in its own way, but nothing like the uphill climb, and for which the uphill climb does not prepare the student.

I see each sub-sequence of Second Series - Pasasana plus Krounchasana, the backbending sequence, the leg-behind-head sequence, the strength-balance sequence, the downhill hike - as whole in and of itself. That said, I am not clear on why Arturo's teacher won't give him Yoganidrasana until he masters Dwi Pada. It seems to me that most people can get into Yoganidrasana fully and without assistance whether or not they can Dwi Pada themselves. And Yoganidrasana is helpful in opening up those hips to make Dwi Pada and the Eka Padas (which, to me are HARDER than Dwi Pada) happen. So, then, why not give them together? This I don't know, and I don't know Arturo's practice at all. And clearly, obviously, there is a lot I don't know about Second Series, not having taken any training in it other than having practiced some of it with Val.

But I do see the wisdom, in a CLASS setting, of giving out the poses in such a way that more than one major adjustment per student is not needed (and by major adjustment, I mean an adjustment that GETS the student INTO the pose). In a private setting, or in a tiny Mysore style setting, like, for example, five students or less, I really can't see a reason for holding students back in Primary or in each individual sub-sequence within Second.

That's all.

YC

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Supta Kurmasana from Dwi Pada

Today, I managed to fairly easily put myself into Dwi Pada Sirsasana, lower onto my front and bind my hands behind my back. When I say "fairly easily", you have to understand that if I didn't have a feeling that I was going to be able to do it, I wouldn't have even bothered to try. I just felt really loose and open in my hips today.

I am sure that this can be attributed to a nearly perfect (for me) diet in the past two days. After a weekend that included turkey on rye and tuna nicoise, neither of which is in any way "bad" from a western dietary perspective, I felt angry, exhausted and full. It just so happened that on Monday morning, I came upon an article in, of all places, that bastion of Anus-ara and all things Iyengar, that discussed the healing properties of the spices found in Indian food.

It was an "aha" moment. For a while now, I have been silently questioning why Ashtangis seem to flock to all things Indian, and in particular, to Indian food. From what I have seen, most of the Indian food available in restaurants is greasy and chock full of animal protein. And at the moment, I am the dead last person who would do anything just to emulate a particular culture.

The YJ article made a compelling case for Indian food as a source of feeling well. I decided that Indian food might be the answer to my flesh-eating, vata-imbalanced prayers. When it stopped snowing, I made my way to the local produce shop and bought the esteemed Indian spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and fresh ginger. I also stocked up on a variety of vegetables that I thought I might like to eat and that I thought might be good in combination with Indian spices: plum tomatoes (red) butternut squash and carrots (orange), broccoli, fresh cilantro and skinny green beans (green), onions and cauliflower (white). I also stocked up on canned chick peas (garbanzo beans) because they taste so much better to me than the dried version, as well as dried apricots, peaches and mangoes because I thought they would make nice feel-good snacks for my toxed out body.

Once home, I followed the directions in YJ to mix up the spices. Then I sauteed onions and fresh ginger in extra virgin olive oil. Then I threw in diced tomatoes. After about a minute, I threw in my spice mix and let it get aromatic (about another minute) before tossing in cubed butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. Oh yeah, I also threw in some dried porcini mushrooms for texture. I had those in the pantry. I decided not to fixate on how long each would take to cook and instead decided to allow all of it to stew together with some vegetable stock that I had on hand. I let it cook down for about 20 minutes, and can I just say, YUM?!

I had some for lunch with some jasmine rice. Dinner was peanut butter and bananas on flatbread enriched with flaxseed. I had some yogurt before going to bed and woke up refreshingly empty. I had some Snapple (sorry, I just can't give that stuff up; don't wanna) and a Balance Bar, took a bath and did my practice.

As I said, my stiff hips and bloated belly were gone, and I give all the credit to hot, spicy, freshly cooked sattvic food (I know, onions and mushrooms not so saatvic, but I have heard good things about both in small quantities, vis a vis healing properties), as well as having put an end to the ridiculous over-training that WoPoMoFo was inspiring in me (I took Saturday and Sunday off from practice, except for some vinyasa-less stretching on Saturday).

Added bonus: Brian, my pickier eater, smelled what I was cooking tonight (essentially the same spice mix, this time with chick peas in place of the cauliflower and no mushrooms or fresh ginger (I had to resort to powdered because I ran out of fresh) and asked for some for dinner. Of course, he had it ladled over his chicken nuggets. But we all have to start somewhere, right?

I don't expect to be getting into Dwi Pada again very soon, no matter how nicely my diet shapes up to satisfy my ayurvedic needs, especially since I plan to be at the shala again tomorrow, weather and sick-child permitting, and I can only Dwi Pada when I am leaning back against a wall, and that just seems unseemly in a shala setting (although at the CT Shala, almost anything goes, it seems, although not for me, which is a whole nother story for another day).

And on other topics: Mary J. Blige used steroids? I don't get it. What did she use them for? What did they even DO for her?

YC

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Five Reasons You Might Hate Me: Updated

Thanks for the idea, CODY, if that is your real name, and I'm fairly sure I remember you saying it isn't (please click on Cody's blog for the origination of the "Five Things You Hate About Me" meme).

1. The Duck Pond Lie.

I say I live by a duck pond, when really, it's a pond that is full of geese. Everyone loves ducks. See, e.g., Donald Duck and Daffy Duck. Not so much, geese. See, e.g., Duck, Duck, Goose, that children's circle game which blatantly discrinates against geese in favor of ducks. Also, the geese in my pond are Canada Geese. Even Canada didn't want them.

2. I Use My Children to Improve My Position.

I have a red-headed child. Because of this, no one suspects that I color my hair. I get to play the natural red-head because I happen to have a child with the good hair gene. I also have an eight-year-old snowboarder. From this, I can borrow vast quantities of cool. I bask in the reflected light of his awesome coolness, in fact. It's enough to make to make those whose children merely ski sick with jealousy.

3. My Home Town is Basically a Hollywood Farm Team.

I grew up in the same town as Scott Wolf and Ian Ziering. But wait, it gets better: I went to the junior prom with Scott's brother when most people don't even GO to the junior prom. And I hung out in the same crowd as Ian all throughout my junior year of high school (he was a senior when I was a juniIor). Don't even get me started on my tiny New England university, which I attended with Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt, Tracy Chapman or law school, which I attended with John Kennedy, God rest his soul.

4. I miss Cheri.

Cheri was cool. Way cooler than Adrian, who was cool in that she based her existence on none other than making fun of me, which was totally awesome. And even cooler than Bad Lady, who was just a dirty old woman. What ever happend to Bad Lady anyway? Who cares? Cheri gave me attention. And there's nothing I like so much as attention except attention from a cool kid like Cheri.

5. I Don't Care.

I don't care if you hate me. In fact, I like that you hate me. There's something really fun about it. The worst thing you could do is NOT find me at least a little bit annoying.

YC

Atonement

SOB!

YC

Friday, January 11, 2008

Led Primary Series is F-ing HARD

I don't say "f-ing" very often.  But I think it's deserved here.  Today I marshalled all of my strength of will and made myself go to Led Primary at the CT Shala.  I often skip Led Primary Fridays because, um, well, because, yeah, because, ah...because I am a lazy piece of crap is why, and I'll take any excuse to sleep in and practice later.  There's really no other reason. 

At first I was going to say that I often skip LPF's because I don't need the assistance to do "only" Primary, so why drive all the way to Connecticut to not get any assistance anyway, when I can do the same exact practice at home?  But that's not a good reason at all.  The truth is, it's NOT the same exact practice at home. When I do it at home, I barely break a sweat. There's no pressure to move from down dog to the next seated pose without adding a bunch of breaths. There's no pressure to get into poses quicky enough to be in them for five breaths. There's no pressure to stay in poses for five breaths either. I can phone in a large part of the first half of Primary and still be ready for the Big Kurmasanas by simply taking my time once I get there.

It's quite different when you're on the classical counting system, when you know you're going to have exactly five breaths in Kurmasana to prepare for Supta Kurmasana. When you can't do 10 minutes of research before doing your full wheels.

We finished in 96 minutes, and at the end, I was nothing but a puddle of sweat and exhaustion. I guess that's what it's supposed to do, right?  Burn off the toxins, burn off the thoughts.  There was very little room for thought while I plowed through every pose for Val's count of five breaths, which turn out to be longer than the five breaths I usually do. 

I am simply amazed at how my practice is soooo much easier when I do it Mysore style, even when I go up to Dhanurasana, even with six or seven or more full wheels, depending on how much R&D I'm doing.

I am really on the fence about whether I want to come to the mat tomorrow. I didn't sign up for the World Practice Whatever. But I was there in spirit, until last night, when I ate my weight in chocolate chip cookies at midnight, which I attribute to overtraining. When I overtrain, I overeat. I crave, and I can't or don't bother to control it. I realized this morning that doing my practice every day is not necessarily a good thing for my body. I think that World Practice Month makes sense for people who wouldn't otherwise get to the mat as regularly as I do (like, every day besides Saturdays and moondays, and sometimes even on moondays, since my shala is open on moondays). But for me, I think it might be not such a good idea.

Of course, I could go to the mat and sit for 10 minutes tomorrow. Just sit. But even assuming I were capable of just sitting, why would I do that? What would I be learning from that that I couldn't learn simply by not taking my mat out at all?

Hmmm....This can't be what WoProMo is about.

That was rhetorical, by the way, all you WoProMo-ers out there. I know why you're doing it. I just don't know why I am.

YC

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The buck stops here

I did the privilege meme that I saw on DZM's and Owl's blogs. The results are in. I was privileged, pretty much, except that I lacked a tv, a private tutor, a propensity for family cruises and a mutual fund (my mother told me I DID have a credit card, which I do not recall, but okay). I am fairly sure that my children will lack the same things. Apparently, we have reached the highest heights of privilege that anyone in my family will ever reach. It can only go downhill from here.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
9. Were read children’s books by a parent.
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
16. Went to a private high school.
17. Went to summer camp.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child.
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
25. You had your own room as a child.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
31. Went on a cruise with your family.
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were to your family.
YC

The Mini-Me Generation

Back when I was a kid, my friends were my friends, and my parents' friends were theirs, and there was nearly zero percent crossover. I wouldn't dream of hanging out with the children of my parents' friends, nor they me. My parents would not have dreamed of having supper with the parents of my friends.

Now, the world seems different. Or at least my world seems different to me. I'd been thinking about this for a short while when on Saturday evening, out to supper with my younger son's best friend's parents, who have now become friends of mine, a couple came over to our table to say hello. It was the parents of a fifth grade girl, who is friends with the fifth grade daughter of the couple with whom we were breaking bread. The parent of the fifth grade daughters are friends. Nothing unusual there.

In the course of this brief conversation, it was mentioned that the woman (not the one with whom we were dining) is friends with the mom of a fifth grade boy, who happens to be a friend of my son's. I found myself surprised. And then I found myself surprised that I was surprised.

It occured to me then how seldom it is that I hear of parents being friends with other parents if their children are not friends. Nowadays. Not when I was growing up.

It has always been said that "the apple does not fall far from the tree". But I wonder if this is particularly true in the generation of apples who are growing up now. Are we growing those apples to be more like us than our parents grew us to be vis a vis them? Are parenting trends different now such that the children grow up more identified with their parents, more similar in terms of social characteristics?

I was quite different from my parents socially, and I think they would agree. I was a social butterfly on whom my parents pushed violin and academics. But what I really liked was gymnastics and Barbies and accessorizing. When I was 14, I flubbed my All-State Orchestra audition, and I was free. I became a cheerleader and had my first beer at 15, my first cigarette at 16, all to my parents' chagrin. My mom was the valedictorian of her high school and considered herself an "us" to the popular girls' "thems". I am fairly sure that she considered me a "them". I ended up graduating in the top 10 percent of my high school class and getting into a prestigious New England university But it was a far cry from valedictorian. And all along, my mom seemed to pride herself in being different from the moms of my friends. They played tennis. She had a career. They belonged to country clubs. She didn't need such things.

I don't belong to a country club, but I don't shun people who do. And maybe some day I will join one, because I like being among "them". As do my kids. Even my older son, who is brilliantly academic and introspective, is also very much a social being at heart, to whom sports is equal in importance to academics. He plays the flute, but the flute takes a distant back seat to practicing his pitching and his shooting. And today he told me that for his upcoming eleventh birthday, he wants a BIG party. My younger son was born relating to people. He was a merry baby, and jovial toddler and a fun kid. As he "chugs" his apple juice, while being goaded on by his eight-year old cronies, I assume that someday, he will be pledging a fraternity and wearing stilettos around campus in the middle of winter after a night spent watching My Dinner With Andre for five hours straiht, all to show his commitment to his friends.

Somehow, my children are very close versions of myself and my husband, and their choices of friends make it easy for us to make friends of the parents of their friends. And vice versa.

Just this past week, my mom told me that she really thinks I ought to push Brian (I don't think she used the word "push", to be fair) to spend more time developing his musical talents. I reflected on that briefly, and as much as I would like to be that mom who can do that sort of thing, well, it's not me. And as I realized that, I also realized that I am raising my children in a highly "empathetic" style. I am doing for them what I think they would like to have done for them, rather than what I think I would have liked to have done for me, or rather than what I want for myself.

And, I think, there's the rub. I am starting to formulate this idea that my generation is following an "empathetic" parenting path. Breastfeeding. Co-sleeping. At times, perhaps a tad too permissive, at least according to our parents. Letting them dress the way they want instead of the way we want them to dress. Letting them keep their blankies and teddy bears even as they approach the age of 10 (mine was gone before I was six, to my dismay).

It might seem like a paradox that if we raise our children to allow their true selves to flourish, as opposed to pressing them to become more like ourselves, that they would end up becoming MORE like ourselves, with friends whose parents are more like ourselves. How to explain that paradox? I am not sure.

I know that Bebe is going to give me some MAJOR push-back on this post. But Bebe is a trained Child Psychologist. So, it would be great if she could put aside the emotional objections to what I am saying and help me to put together my theory here.

And I would love to hear any other thoughts you all might have.

YC

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I guess I just can't say no


Well, not when I drive 35 minutes only to find that it's a New Moon. The CT Shala is open on moon days, so I practiced anyway, figuring out it was a moon day only because there were just six other people there.

Nice practice. Pasasana is really coming along. Backbending is still filled with dread. But whatever. That's not news. You can just subsitute backbends for Supta Kurmasana and read all my posts from last year to reminisce.

So, what is new today? I discovered a fantastic radio station that's always been there. Only I never knew it. It's WFUV, out of Fordham University in the Bronx and Westchester. It's like all the music I love, except it's not the singles, it's tunes from the albums. It's a public radio station, so they can do what they like. And me likey.

I discovered a couple of cool tunes and downloaded them right away:

Late Morning Lullaby by Brandi Carlisle
Sleeps with Butterflies by Tori Amos
Johnny Cool Man by Toots and the Maytals
Lovesong of the Buzzard by Iron and Wine

Now I have to go find "I'm Too Sexy" because my younger boy asked me for it for his shuffle (which was my shuffle at one time, you know, the old kind, the one that's like a pack of gum?)
Oh, and I also can't say "no" to Laksmi. So, here you go.

YC

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bad production values aside...



See Laksmi? You CAN try this at home.

YC

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Today's Backbending Entry...

Progress is slow, almost imperceptible to look at. But what can you do? It is what it is.

My armpits feel more open, even if they don't quite look it. And I know my updog feels better through the lower back and hip-fronts.

It's been six days of January, with six days of practice. Yesterday, just 10 Sun Salutations, followed by a backbending R&D session. Today, all of Second at home. I really love those Seven Headstands. I wish I loved backbending...

YC

Friday, January 04, 2008

Yoga sans sangha; sangha sans yoga

Primary only today was lovely. I practiced at home, in front of the fire, in the late afternoon. Practice in the late afternoon rocks. It's a special treat. Can't have it too often. But it's delicious when I do.

I'm in a particularly joyful mood for some reason this evening. Went to synagogue this evening, mainly to fulfill our six-times-a-year requirement that goes along with having a bar mitvah age kid and because one of my new friends up here was doing the pre-service greeting and hosting the Oneg Shabbat (each of us has a chance to greet and host at some point in this community-minded congregation). But I realized something as I sat and listened to the singing of the songs and the chanting of the Torah portion and looked around at my fellow congregants: in a community where the houses are acres apart, and the kids get picked up and dropped off by the school bus rather than being walked to school with their moms/dads/caregivers, you need something or some place to come back to time and again, to see familiar faces, to see any faces at all, really. Had I not gone to temple tonight, I would have seen no one today outside of my immediate family.

Not that that is such a bad thing. I quite like nesting here. I've learned to get a really good fire going, with about four pieces of kindling and two logs, and if I stir and poke and use the bellows here and there at just the right time, I can keep it going for hours and hours with just a few more logs. This is no small feat: when I first got going with making fires here, it was disasterous. Black smoke billowed out of the fireplace into the house instead of up the chimney, and when I finally figured out that I needed to OPEN the flue, my efforts yielded fires that consumed themselves in a matter of minutes, leaving half-burned logs and piles of newspaper ashes. Learning from my mistakes, I've become quite the pro. Or pyro, as it were.

I'm loving the challenges of winter in the country. Of staying active and occupied despite being housebound. Without going to malls. I've turned to crafts, like sewing, as I've written. And this week, I've been framing some old art projects, both mine and the kids', to add a folksy feel to the kitchen. Growing up, I used to spend time at my grandparents' house, my mother's parents, and my grandma was an artist. Her work was all over her house. So, I guess it's in my subconscious to like the look of homemade art. But to do it right, to really give it that homemade feel, the framing can't be done by some expensive frames store. The framing has to be homemade too. And so, it is. Needless to say, I have discovered Michael's Arts & Crafts, a phenomenon which does not exist in Manhattan.

Maybe I'm just on a Young Coconut high. I swear, that fruit has magical properties. Whenever I include a coconut a day in my food repertoire, I notice an uptick in my quality of life. Things just feel better on coconut.

Also, I just finished a delightful book: Anita Shreve's Light on Snow. It was on my bookshelf, although I didn't know how it got there. Probably my mother gave it to me, although she claims to not like Anita Shreve. So, I'm left wondering who gave it to me. Doesn't matter though. It couldn't have been a more perfect book to read in winter in Northern Westchester.

Speaking of Northern Westchester, and of my compatriot in Northern Westchesterness, I am very very sad that Hilary Clinton lost in Iowa. Maybe I'm just a rube, but I really have been of the belief that if Hilary doesn't get the Dem Nom, there will not be a democrat in the White House for another four years minimum. I just don't see Obama or Edwards pulling it together to win against whomever the Republicans put forth. Seems like the Democrats have a real split going on, and it suddenly occurs to me that although I have been gender blind up til now, perhaps the country is not really ready for a female president. Will it be any more ready for a black president? Or a president with a wife with Stage IV breast cancer? I'm not so sure. If it were a re-election year, we'd be completely screwed. As it is, we are probably completely screwed anyway. Maybe if Bloomberg decideds to run as an Independent, he'll pull Republican votes from Huckabee or whomever (probably Huckabee, right?).

And that, is likely to be the last political semi-rant you ever hear from me.

YC

That World Yoga Month Thing

I was curious about all the people who wrote about signing on for this because I had been under the impression that everyone whose blog I read practices every day.

I mean, I do.

If I'm lucky, it's a nice, normal day, and I wake up and go to the shala and do my practice the way it was taught and the way David Williams says the pieces fit together like a combination lock. If it's a day like today, when my body feels kind of beaten up, and after seeing the kids off to school, I crawl back into bed until noon, I still practice. I'll just do it after I digest my breakfast, wheatberries and almond milk sweetened with turbinado sugar, a breakfast I chose because it will not only nourish me in a saatvic way but also because it will digest easily, promoting my practice. If I go skiing, I still do yoga at some point that day, not necessarily my entire practice. But yoga nevertheless. If I have family obligations that span the day and evening and make practice seemingly impossible, I'll still do something. Or I trade a Saturday-Off-Day for that day. Or I'll practice on a Moon Day if I need to make up for a day when practice just wasn't feasible (or so I thought until I heard about the "Just 10 Minutes" rule).

So, WoYoMo thing just didn't seem like a big deal to me, personally.

Then I got a taste of it on New Year's Day, when the Husband and I slept out and then had to pick up our kids in two different counties and then spent the day with friends in Long Island and didn't get home until after dinnertime. I wanted to do yoga. But there was no time for a full practice. And so, I did the 10 Minutes Of Practice, which turned into 30. I did 10 Sun Salutations and then some yin stretches.

Today, I still have yet to practice. But I am sure that I will. I've set it up that way. And I want to. And part of it is that I want to meet the "Do Yoga Every Day" challenge.

So, I get it. Now, I get it.

YC

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dhanurasana

Got a new pose today. It was bound to happen soon since I was starting to become impatient about it. When I get to the point where I feel I need to tape my mouth shut to keep from asking for a new pose, it's usually right about the time that my teacher (whatever teacher, it's a pretty universal intuition that I have about pose-getting) tells me it's time to do a new pose. Not TRY a new pose. To paraphrase Yoda. Yeah, I know, I am coming late to the party on this one. But I just rewatched Star Wars Episode 5 (The Empire Strikes Back) and discovered to my family's utter non-delight that YODA is...YODA. An 800-year-old master of masters, teacher of teachers, he teaches Luke Skywalker to stand on his hands. Then on one hand. Then on one hand, holding Yoda on his feet. Then walking through the forest, holding Yoda on his back. You might as well substitue 90-something-year-old master of masters, teacher of teachers, teaching the yoga equivalent of Padawans to martial their bhandas, which is to say, THE FORCE, for good, not evil, without ego, with patience, facing their fears.

NB: Occasionally, he stands on his students.

Yoda: You do not try. You do. Or you don't. Try, you do not.

Or something like that.

Has anyone else ever written about this? If so, I mean you no derivativism. I assume this has been written about to death. But I just had to say it because, honestly, it got me through my practice today. You do. You do. You do. I kept hearing that.

Practice is feeling kind of long lately. As if it wasn't long before simply by virtue of my tendency to drag things out with R&D. Now, if I just do one breath per movement, it's still quite long. Not that I'm complaining. It just is. Long. And it's not going to get any shorter any time soon. So, it's time to tuck in and just do.

YC

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Dead Things Post

Not to be topped by Laksmi, although, sadly, I admit to being scooped, I am hereby posting a photo of a dead thing. And one which was subsequently dissected. Although not in what you would call a scientific way. My version of the "dead things" post is as such:

On New Year's Eve, I attended a party in which a dead pig was roasted on a spit.

I know, I know. Yuck, gross, you could see it's teeth, how disrespectful to display that poor pig's carcass for our entertainment, yeah, I know. As my mom says, "Food chain." And if that's not sufficient to get you to the next paragraph, then try this: Inhale let, exhale go.

I do think the roasting of the piggie was intended ironically, since the theme of the party was essentially Cowbgirl Whores and Men in Wifebeaters. How that theme came to be conveyed to the partygoers is another story entirely, involving an invitation in the shape of a boot and a request that we all bring our "ho on down" for some bourbon and some BQ. The message was a bit abstruse; however, if you wanted to get it, you did. Which is kind of the point, isn't it? And I kind of wanted to get it. As such, I purchased myself a "sexy cowgirl" costume from BuyCostumes.com, although in its execution:



I resembled not so much a sexy cowgirl ...

as ...

... Jessie, from Toy Story 2:












But that's okay. I just let myself be aware of this, and then breathed it away. See, there's yoga even in decking oneself out for a costume party in which roast pig-with-teeth is served! Who knew?

Most of the gals were dressed like Jessica Simpson in the Dukes of Hazzard - short denim shorts or skirt, button down buttoned low and tied at the ribcage, all with cowboy boots and bare legs. I coulda done that too. But I like cheezy ostumes too much not to sieze the opportunity.

A good time was had by all, and once again, it was pretty special to party with some of whom, it turns out, have become my very oldest (and dearest?! who knew!) friends. Much libation was imbibed, not by me, but by my peers. I have decided that alcohol is not my friend, and I need to spend far less time with this not-friend of mine. I am not saying that I am going stone cold sober. I just want to spend some time being mindful about my alcohol consumption and not drinking just because everyone else is and because I know that half a martini has the power to trasnform me from the quiet and contemplative but highly content girl curled up on a sofa just outside the crowd to the HI-LARIOUS, witty quipping, sexy dancing, utterly engaging belle of the ball that I am in my own mind when that martini starts to work its magic. Know what I'm sayin'?

Besides, drinking tends to ease my eating inhibitions, which will eventually catch up to me if I don't nip it in the bud now. What I don't need is to start having trouble binding. It's the one thing I actually CAN do at this point in my practice. Odd how things change over time in this practice. This ASHTANGA practice. Because I am, after all, an asthangi.

Pig roast, not my idea, might I remind you.

And I am quietly, almost but not quite secretly, participating in this WO YO PO HO BLOW thing that you all seem to be doing. You know, at least 10 minutes of yoga a day, regardless of moon days, ladies' holidays and Saturdays, for the month of January - and by yoga, you seem to mean ASANA. Hmmm. I can do that. No Mo Problomo with that. Except it was difficult to squeeze it in today. Lots of family and friend stuff going on here at Planet Yoga Chickie. So, for perhaps the first time ever, I did some A's, some B's, and the final three and called it a day. It made me hungry for more, which is kind of cool. We shall see if the sentiment continues through tomorrow morning when I have a full practice at the CT Shala planned, hopefully with the assistance of a teacher.

And that. Is all.

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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