Friday, February 29, 2008

billy pilgrim has come unstuck in time

No. Wait. That was what Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Slaughterhouse Five. I meant, Desmond Hume has come unstuck in time. In Lost. That's what the writers said, at least. Except that Kurt Vonnegut said it first. With regard to Billy Pilgrim. I guess it's pretty hard to reinvent the concept of time travel, to make it seem other than a vista of mountains in a mountain range, where any mountain is as accessible as any other. But to call the travel across the mountain range "coming unstuck in time", well, that's just derivative.

Aaaaaanyway. Not happy with Lost's episode last night. Too melodramtic. Too much like a one-off, stand-alone Twilight Zone type episode. Whatever. I expect better things when Juliet has her flashback next week.

Meanwhile, back at the shala...

I made it to the CT shala three times this week, and it was all good. In fact, my backbending feels almost exciting now, and leaves me feeling juiced and happy. I would like Val to give me the next few poses through Kapotasana because when I work on those poses, my backbends are so much better. And I can feel the progress in Kapo. Fingers are within striking distance of toes....just an assist away....maybe.

Today I did Primary only at home, except that I added in bound versions of Parsvakonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana. Oh and I did some Gomyukhasana arms before Parsvotanasana. And I did Pasasana after Mari D because I am really on a roll with getting myself bound in that, at least in my home practice, which always is just a bit better than what I can do in front of other people. Oh yeah, and after Setu Bhanda, I did Salabasana A and B, Bhekasana, and Ustrasana through Kapotasana.

So....I guess it wasn't exactly Primary only. But it wasn't my regular practice either.

If Cody is reading, let me just say that this was nearly a perfect sequence for me, although perfection would mean doing more leg-behind-head poses before and after but in sequence with Supta K. Yeah, I wouldn't leave anything out...I would add poses in.

BUT...all of that being said, my legs were excruciatingly exhausted during Urdvha Dhanurasana. My shoulders and armpits and back felt okay. But my legs did not want to fully participate. And that made the whole UD experience fairly sucky today.

Ah well...there's always the next practice...

YC

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hi Aaron

Spoiler alert to all you non-US residents.

I used to blog about Lost, mainly because doing so helped me make sense of what I was seeing. This season, I haven't been feeling it, however. Confused, that is. Somehow, the storyline has been going down rather easily, perhaps because I've been using "closed captioning" and also have been able to stop and rewind on my DVR when something confuses me, thus resolving any confusion right then and there. As a result, I've been able to watch and then set it aside until the next week.

Until this past week, that is.

This past week, I watched from Colorado, without benefit of closed captioning or my handy dandy DVR. And the ending left me rattled. The entire time, I was expecting Kate's son to be Sawyer's. I guess that makes me naive. But whatever. At the end, when the little towhead says, "Hi MUMMY" and Kate takes him in her arms and says, "Hi [..............] AARON", I was too knocked-over to really absorb it. I really hadn't been expecting that. Again, call me naive. But whatever.

When I came home from vacation and finally rewatched the episode last night, I knew what to look for, and when the final line came, I was anticipating it and was thus able to absorb its full impact.

"Hi Aaron"!

This is the baby she's been passing off as her SON? Claire's baby? Turniphead? Putting aside the daytime television-esque-ness of it all, this moment was dripping with creepiness, as if Kate had suddenly turned into Rebecca DeMornay in "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle".

I seriously had a sick feeling in my stomach from it. Literally. I woke up sick this morning. Still went to yoga, as noted earlier, but I did feel nauseated.

Honestly, I probably can't blame my funky tummy this morning on Lost, considering Adam had a minor stomach bug yesterday, but whatever. I'm still creeped out and anxious to see where that story goes.

YC

Same practice, different day

Anyone still planning on going to Islamorada? I think it is really odd that no one is talking about the fact that Guruji won't be there. Except Ashtanga sNews. I mean, Ashtanga News, although their news comes at such a sloooooooooooooooooooooooooow rate that it makes me very sleeeeeeeeeeeeepy. But guys, keep on keeping on. Don't let my narcolepsy interfere. I do sometimes wonder why the sNews gets its own special category on Ashtangi.net. There's Mysore blogs, Member blogs and....then...all alone in its own box...the eponymously titled Ashtanga News. It's not like the sNews is the ONLY Ashtanga news out there. And it's not like it's the only credible source of Ashtanga talk. Well, whatever. Who cares.

YC

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Boot Camp


So, on the off chance (!) that you haven't been reading me lately, I've been away for the past 9 days at the YC Family Ski Boot Camp.

It's always Boot Camp when the YC Family heads out west. With two days set aside for travel, and no days set aside to acclimate to the high altitude (8,000 feet above sea level at the base lodge, averaging 10,000 feet at the highest peak), we ski every single day besides those travel days. And on each of those days, on every single one of them, we awake by no later than 7:30 a.m., eat a breakfast high in protein (recommended to acclimate to the altitude, and quite effective, I might add), put on many layers so that skiing feels comfy rather than cold, and scurry down to the base lodge by 9 a.m. to put the kids in Ski School, which they love, by the way, so don't be thinking it's just so that we can ski without them.

By 9:30 a.m., we are on a lift, except the days when we take a run with the kids before we put them into ski school, in which case we are on a lift by 8:30 a.m. We carry Power Bars with us so that we don't have to stop when we get hungry; however, by sometime around 1 or 2, it usually happens that our legs are no longer willing or able to take orders from our brains. That's when we know that whether we like it or not, it's time to stop in a lodge, whatever lodge we can find, for some grub and some ass time.

That usually lasts for maybe a half hour, during which we slurp some soup or scarf a burger (in my case, veggie, and not because I feel guilty eating meat, but because over time, I have grown to love those goshdarn meatless patties with a little cheese, ketchup, tomatoes and pickles). And by "half hour", I mean more like 20 minutes. Because any longer than that and we're staring out the window at the snow and the skiiers whooping it up, or, if we're already sitting outside in the sun, watching the schussing action around us, and we can't take any more of the sitting. At that point, we're back on the slopes until it's time to pick the kids up from Ski School. Depending on whether the kids want to or not, we then go back up to the slopes until the lifts close at around 4 or 4:30, depending on the day.

It's a long day, yes it is. But it's far from over, the YC Family Ski Boot Camp. We head back to our accomodations, where we change into bathing suits and then head out to the outdoor pool and hot tub. We stay there for a while, stretching out and splashing around, and then about every other day, I head up before the rest of them and practice some yoga.

This time around, I have a way longer practice than I ever have before. Last year in Steamboat, I was only up to Supta Kurmasana. This year, I am up to Dhanurasana. So, there was some splitting to be done. I think I ended up practicing five times over the nine days, including once at the airport without vinyasas. I only did my Second Series poses twice during that time, and Supta Kurmasana only once.

But today, it all came back to me. And it was delicious. And juicy. And sweaty. Every time I go out West, I come back so much stronger for it. You High Altituders are soooooo lucky. Come to New York for a week, and you will feel like a Superhero.

Val came to talk to me during my Second Series poses. She has been very very into the backbending, it seems, ever since Kino paid her visit. And that's cool by me. Val talked to me about originating the backbend from the root, about pressing down hard with the feet to get the lift up into the back, and it all seems so counterintuitive, but damn, it really works. We did Dhanurasana a couple of times. The second time, she lifted my feet high, and we talked about the balance between effort and surrender that is integral to Dhanurasana and Bhekasana (and, I suppose all backbends). We also talked about how leading with the chin is like leading with the brain, and that instead, the chin should come up last, and the eyes should never lift up at all. Always the driste is down the nose in backbends. THIS is where the yoga takes on its magical quality for me, where it is so incredibly counterintuitive that I just have to have faith in what I am being taught. And the result is always surprisingly rewarding.

That's all!

YC

Monday, February 25, 2008

My souvenier

Note the lovely color of the giant mega-bruise, where my ski slammed down when I tumbled. As Bebe notes in her comment, my leg is quite swollen. This is not a pretty picture. Perhaps I would go so far to say, NSFW. Or NSFA.

YC

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Things to do in Denver when you're delayed

Ah, air travel.

I had a feeling - doesn't take a psychic - that we would get delayed somewhere along the line on our way home. Sure enough...

i brought my really skinny tapas mat with me, and unrolled it at the gate. Too self-conscious to do sun sals or vinyasas, i did manage to plow through half primary. It felt pretty good too.

The husband was embarassed. Can't say I blame him. He was like, "You are going to know someone here. We always know someone here." But the need to bend is a force of nature, and there's no point in trying to fight it.

When I saw an acquaintance from my town, I got embarassed too. But I was already done with Mari D, so whatever.

Later on, a harried woman travelling alone with her two toddlers came up to me and said, "I wish i brought my yoga mat too."

Hopefully we will get moving soon enough so that I can get back to the shala tomorrow morning. And maybe the Tenth Street Baths later....

YC

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ski Cam!! Part Deux!

Today, it snowed. And snowed. And, well you get the point. Pretty much, the only hope of having any visibility at all was to ski between trees. The video above is the husband and Bri (and me, holding the camera) skiing down to a glades run. I don't remember ever skiing in this much snow.

Later on, I will post a photo of the giant bruise on my leg from when I fell a couple of days ago. It takes up nearly half of the left side of my right calf. But here's the thing: if it weren't for the yoga, I might have a broken leg. Because my body bends fairly readily, I can tumble pretty gracefully when I fall. So, even though I end up kicking myself in the leg with one my of skis, I bend, but I don't break.

And I can say that now without jinxing myself because after seven days of skiing, it is time to come home.

YC

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ski Cam!!

Well, we finally won the Snowstorm Sweepstakes, with a surprise five inches of snow that arrived in the middle of the night. We woke up to fresh powder, after having gone to sleep thinking that we'd be skiing week-old crud.

The batteries on my camera wore out unexpectedly early on in the day, but not before I was able to make this video - poles in one hand, camera in the other - as I made fresh tracks on a run called Timberline:



Unfortunately, the sound on the video makes the snow sound kind of crunchy when, in fact, new powder actually "squeaks" underneath your skis.

I wish the video could better capture what it feels like to ski on fresh powder or the steepness of the run. Ah well. There's always Warren Miller videos.

YC

Jewish American Gothic



Don't let this mini-post cause you to neglect to read the immediately preceding post, which has much more juicy stuff in it about, among other things, skiing extreme terrain, being humbled by extreme terrain, not appreciating being humbled by extreme terrain, especially when said terrain is marked as intermediate terrain, and general monkey-minded rantings of a woman whose existing vata imbalance is being seriously compromised by the thin oyxgen up here at 12 thousand feet above see level.

Got oxygen?

YC

Hard and harder

Yesterday, I skiied my first "Extreme Terrain" - the Cirque Headwall at Aspen/Snowmass. It was kind of like being given Pasasana, or binding in Supta Kurmasana for the first time. It was something I really never expected to happen.

In all honesty, I didn't find the run to be any more difficult or scary than your typical black diamond run. What made it "extreme" was it's its inaccessibility as well as its unpredicatablity.

First, it was accessible only through a series of decreasingly technologically advanced lifts. First, you had to take your normal, high-speed quad lift to get halfway up the mountain. A high-speed quad comes equipped with a restraining bar and a foot rest for your (heavy) skis and boots. Then from there, you had to ski down a short run to access a lift that is really not much more than a two-person chair suspended from a cable, with no restraining bar an no footrest.


Then, you had to hike up hundred or so feet, your heart pounding in the thinly oxygenated air in order to gain access to what is known as a "Poma" lift - a ridiculous contraption consisting of a series of long vertical rods suspended from a cable running up the mountain, each rod terminating with a dinner-plate-sized thingamagic. When it's your turn to go, you grab the rod hurtling towards you and place it between your legs so that the dinner-plate thingy cradles your rear end, kind of like a seat, but not really a seat at all. And this is all as the rod is moving around a pulley to abruptly change its direction so that it can start to ascend the mountain. It then drags you up the mountain, your skis gliding along the snow below you in a rut worn (fairly) smooth by previous riders. When you've reached your destination (and for some, that is only halfway up), you have to quickly pull the bar out from between your legs and ski away, being careful not to let it hit you in the head as it whips wildly back, no longer held still by your body's weight. It's a huge pain in the ass, literally, and a huge effort that you can really feel in your thighs, just to keep your skis moving smoothly below you as you're pulled up the mountain, lest you catch an edge and end up having a full-on ski-and-pole "yard sale", so to speak. Loads of people fall off of these things all the time. They don't get hurt, generally speakng, but it is seriously annoying and quite embarassing. But I guess all of that serves a purpose: it is a major disincentive to those would-be adventurers (foolheartedly) considering exploring some of themountain's more dicey terrain.



As you can see from the photo at left, another major disincentive is the signage that stands guard at the entrance to the run. It reminds you in no uncertain terms that no one has been there marking where the rocks jut up in the middle of your path or roping off the abrupt drop-offs. I, for one, had my own yard sale there in a giant pile of quicksand-like powder. Only a second before, I had been skiing on packed powder, which requires assertive, edged turns. So, when the terrain abruptly changed, but I was still digging my edge in to make a turn, I face-planted and lost both skis. One was nearly completely buried in the powder. But the face-plant itself is nothing compared to the agony of digging out the skis and, even worse, the torture of having to put the skis back on in snow that won't support the weight of your finger, let alone your entire body. After a few futile attempts, the husband helped me dig a hole over which to sling my skis - a wonder of physics, really - and in another moment, they were on, and we were off. Yet another reason novices should not be out there: you have to know what to do when your ski falls off and nearly gets buried in powder.

Yard sale included, it took about 40 minutes of skiing to make our way down the Cirque Headway, during which time we encountered steep bowl-shaped drops that were covered with moguls, long, flat powder expanses, natural half-pipes that ran between expanses of glades and crusty, chunky powder with rocks and pinecones strewn around. As I said, it wasn't challenging from a technical standpoint. But it was challenging from a mental standpoint.

A good place to use the yoga. To breathe. To be mindful and in the moment. To make choices that reflected the truth of my abilities (like the choice not to head down the bumps to my left, when the smooth path to my right seemed so much more appropriate to my skill level as well as my fatigue level) as well as a desire to do no harm (not only to myself but to those I was skiing with; helping a spouse dig her skis out from six feet of soft powder is no party).

Anyway, this has gotten way longer than I intended, when what I really wanted to write about was how today, we skiied an entirely different mountain that, even after my Extreme Terrain moment, completely defied my definition of myself as a "good skiier", nay, an "advanced skiier". Anyone who has seen "This is Spinal Tap" will understand what I mean when I say, Aspen Ajax goes to 11. And frankly, I prefer a mountain that keeps it at 10.

Aspen Ajax, or simply "Aspen Mountain" (as opposed to Aspen Snowmass or Aspen Highlands) has no easy runs. It's runs are marked "More Difficult" and "Most Difficult" and "Experts Only". And of the "More Difficult" runs, they range from "hard" to "harder". Simply put, there is no easy way down. None whatsoever. And that was cool by me, since my mind has identified my self as being a kick-ass, fearless, adventuresome ski diva. And hell, I wanted to like Ajax. It's the Fifth Avenue of skiing. It's the Barneys of skiing. The Princeton of skiing (I would say Harvard, in deference to my cousin, Debby of Finding Om, who actually WENT to Harvard, except that I feel that Princeton more captures the snootiness that is Aspen Ajax.

But here's the thing. Ajax humbled me.

Ajax grabbed me by the bloated ego and shook me by my puffed up sense of self.

Once on that mountain, it became clear that the "More Difficult" runs on Ajax were what other mountains deemed "MOST Difficult". And the "MOST Difficult" runs on Ajax were at the level of "Don't Even Think About Trying This" anywhere else.


I mean, look at those freaky bumps (to the left). This is an "Intermediate Run"?!

At Ajax it is.

So, suddenly, today, my mind had to wrap itself around my being, at least for the day, a fairly average skiier, cautiously avoiding the giant, YC-sized bumps, meandering around the softer, sunnier sides of runs so that I wouldn't have to careen down steep runs over less-forgiving packed powder. I became the skiier who took the easy way down.

And that's fine, right? It's the way it is. And that's what you go with, right? It's like when you wake up stiff and you go to practice, and you don't force yourself into poses because that's not who you are that day. Satya, truth, you know?

But today, I was like FUCK Satya.

Today, I Ajax humbled me to the point that it stopped being fun. Imagine that?

But really, do I need to be humbled when I'm just having fun? Yeah, Satya, Ahimsa, whatever. Know your true skill level, don't do harm to your body. Fine. But can't I do that on a mountain that lets me see myself as the skiing goddess rockstar diva that I want to see myself as?

And just so I'm not alone in my delusions, I give you this video, taken by my eight-year old. Think skiing goddess rockstar diva thoughts, please!




YC

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Aspen Day 3 and 4

Apparently, there is ANOTHER type of sweepstakes that goes along with ski vacations. I totally forgot about it. It's the Sunshine Sweepstakes. And apparently we WON! Yay!!

It was kind of cold the first day, but yesterday was nice and warm, and today was positively baking. We only kept the ski stuff on because we spent a lot of time high up on the mountain (12,000 feet above sea level), where the winds are higher, and although the sun is strong, it doesn't feel warm enough to go without a jacket. Down lower on the mountain, people were shedding their jackets.

Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same. There might be snow after that. So, it's a win/win.

Practiced Half Primary two days ago, and yesterday I did Second Series up to Ustrasana and about five UD's. I have to say that I am a bit stiff out here. It might be because I am skiing harder than I have ever skiied before, really really going all out on the bump runs, and taking few breaks from the bump runs. I suppose that when I get back, the stiffness will subside. It's not like I can't get into poses. It's just that it feels like work to do so. It's not like buttah. It's the opposite of buttah. But 'sokay. As long as I get to the mat, right?

Not that anyone's going to answer me. Apparently, after that whole thing where a certain Northwestern Rodent and I ceased to be friends, I have become persona non-gratis around these parts, removed from link lists and all that. A lot of power that fluffy-tailed, acorn-eating rodent has, it seems. But what can ya do? I've never blogged for popularity. I blog because if I didn't, I would have no creative outlet at all. Writing in my journal just isn't the same. And I never go back and read it, whereas with the blog, it's always there and easily accessible. Even if at times it makes me cringe.

Maybe I'll make some new friends out in the blog world one day.

YC

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Aspen Day 2 - Lost the Snowstorm Sweepstakes


BUT it turns out, this mountain (Snowmass) is sooooo awesome that it didn't really matter. There is just so much snow. And I skiied like I've never skiied before on a first day. Or maybe like I've never skiied beefore, period.

And the yoga matters. A lot. The husband has been skiing for way longer than me - since he was a kid. And he's quite a bit more accomplished than I am when it comes to his skiing technique. But today, it hardly mattered. His fitness regime of stairmaster, the occasional yoga class (once a week, if at all) and maybe a bit of pushups and situps left him sucking wind and complaining of leg cramps. By contrast, I sailed through the black diamond mogul runs with nary a whinge. Not that it's a beautiful sight to behold, me careening down the bump runs. But still, I felt good. It's like with the backbending - maybe it doesn't look all that pretty. But if it feels good, I must be doing something right.

We ran into a friend of ours while picking the kids up from Ski School, and when he asked us how things went, and I was all, "It ROCKED" and the husband was all, "It sucked - the altitude, the heavy snow, the bumps killed my quads..." and our friend was all, "hmmmm?", the husband had to concede: She's in better shape than me. There, he said it. The YOGA. It's the yoga.

In particular, I would have to say that my emphasis on the legs in backbending, coupled with my repetition of Pasasana in my home practice (usually about three times), has served to strengthen my legs and more importantly, to increase my muscular endurance. When you think about what Pasasana is - a deep, deep, squat plus a twist - it seems like a really important posture for prepping for a ski vacation.

I'm going to bathe now, and maybe do some Sun Sals. I will try to do a full practice at least one day this week. But I am not going to worry about it. That would be counterproductive, no?

YC

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Aspen Day 1 - The Snowstorm Sweepstakes begins...


Here is the view from the condo we rented for the week. Unfortunately, Aspen looks a bit bleak right now. It doesn't always look this bleak. When we deplaned early this morning, the sky was a bright cerulean blue, and the sun was so warm that we were overdressed on our ski jackets and jeans.

But now it's four fifteen in the afternoon here in the Colorado Rockies, and the bleak, white light pictured is actually good news. It means that it's about to start snowing. And if like the YC family, you are here for the powder, then that is exactly what you want to happen every day between the time the lifts close at around 4 and when the lifts open again in the morning.

I've been spending a week or so out west since I was about 25 (give or take a couple of years in the middle when I was either pregnant, or my children were simply too young to partake, by which I mean, under the age of two). This was when the husband and I started dating, and he insisted that I learn to ski. I wasn't going to argue this point. I had always wanted to ski. Alas, I do not come from a family of skiiers, and when there were high school ski trips, my parents wouldn't let me go. I can't say I blame them. I seriously dread the day when I get that first handout from the high school ski club, inviting my child to ski...without me. I got engaged on a ski slope in Telluride, Colorado. I spent half of my honeymoon skiing in Lake Tahoe. And I even skiied when I was in the middle of chemo, in between treatment cycles, although that year we stayed on the east coast, in Vermont.

After all these years, it has finally dawned on me that skiing is a sport that, itself, gives rise to another sport, an armchair sport: the sport of Snowfall Speculation. If you make the trek out west to ski, and the sky literally pukes out massive amounts of fresh powder, such that at night you can hear the steady thunderous pounding of human-created avalanches (a safety measure the mountain resorts take in order to preclude inadvertant avalanches the next day), it's as if you won. You WON! It's snowing, and it's for YOU! You picked the right mountain and the right week. You ROCK. It's like you picked the winning team in during March Madness. It's what everyone talks about by the fire in the lodge. It's what amplifies the "happy" in the apres ski happy hours.

But if you wind up on the other side of Mother Nature's generosity, if you arrive out west after having planned your trip for the better part of the year only to find that the good trails are roped off, nothing but rocks and ice, and that the trails that are open are so skiied off that you might as well be skiing on the east coast where ice, or "hard pack" as it is euphemistically called, is the norm...if that is the hand you are dealt, well, it feels as if you lost your big hand at the big stakes table. Or like you bet it all and lost it all on the favorite horse in the race. You and your comrades in skiing all look to the sky and wonder, when is it going to open up and give? You ask each other, "do you think...tonight maybe?" When you wake up to the same old skiied off chunks, you feel like you lost again. Like you went to the Superbowl to watch your home team, and they didn't deliver the goods.

So, I'm counting on the bleak, white sky to be my lady luck right now. Counting on bleak white sky to turn into torrents of champagne powder. And then turn to bright, cloudless blue in the morning.

We shall see....

YC

Friday, February 15, 2008

Urdhva Dhanurasan-ography: A Retrospective
















Shown above is the latest. I feel changes, even if not visible. And just in case you were wondering, I am not practicing in underpants. I am wearing boyshort bikini bottoms and a sportsbra.

Here is where it started the UD-ography started, nearly two years ago. My armpits are clearly very tight and restricted. My arms and chest form an almost 45 degree angle, when ideally they would be 180 degrees. My back barely bends and the expanse between my sternum and knees is nearly flat:

















Then there was this a few months late. My armpits are still restricted - you can see the fake saline boobs standing motionless, like rock-hard mountains on my chest. This is most likely the root of all problems in my backbending back then. The expanse between sternum and knees is no longer flat as my lumbar spine begins to have some flex in it. Clearly my hip flexors are quite stiff though, and my knees are bent too deeply, but that was the only place where I could freely bend back then. Also, notice that my palms are lifting off the ground. I had a very hard time making palm to floor contact then:
















Not long after I had surgery to, among other things, remove all that nasty scar tissue that had begun to strangle my mobility, particularly in my armpits and the fronts of my shoulders, there was this marked improvement. Still, the hip flexors are restricting movement in the lower half of the backbend, so it appears that my ass is dragging the whole thing down. It wasn't! I swear! You can also see where my hip flexors jut slightly downward instead of pressing up. My palms are getting more contact with the ground, and that is an improvement.
















Lately, there has been this (taken not long after I moved into this house, July 2008). My hip flexors are just barely beginning to allow me to push through my legs into my feet, and my armpits are showing signs of softening.























The most recent before today, which was getting better. But this is before I had my 15 Minutes With Kino, in which I learned how to engage my legs, push through my feet and -DUH-engage uddiyana bandha to actually get a deeper backbend (seems so counterintuitive - to firm the stomach in order to soften a backbend, but hell, it seems to work). The main difference between then (just a few weeks ago) and now is that I am now engaging my legs, maintaining that firm belly and pressing into my feet, with the visual result being a backbend that is (1) less painful and (2) more evenly distributed throughout my spine (as shown below):







Oh, and hi, lurkers! There are so many more of you these days relative to commentors! Cool! YC

And just like that...

the Boring Chickie packed up her bags and left.

Not so long ago, a person I know admitted to me that they created the original Yoga Chickie Satire Blog. Remember the I Luv Gurji blog by "Adrian"? I've often wondered why this person would take the time and energy to create and maintain a blog, with phantom commentators and pretend friends, especially when she has her own blog in her own persona. It's compulsive behavior, fueled, I would imagine by some obsession that deep down has nothing at all to do with me.

This same person wrote to me last night requesting that I never again speak of her on my blog. When I made a quick phone call to my friend in law enforcement, he agreed with me that it looks suspicious, that evidence points to this person being the person behind Boring Chickie.

Assuming that is the case, then let's see how this all would work:

1. She cooks up a blog called "Boring Chickie" whose sole purpose is to attack me as a person and as a writer.

2. She sees references to herself on my blog, maybe specific, maybe implied, I'm not going to say, and begins to get cold feet. Boring Chickie gets deleted - or rather, made private, which is essentially the same thing.

3. The deletion/privitization of Boring Chickie is followed up immediately with a request that I cease all mention of her on my blog. As if a deal were being negotiated.

Well, the logical question is: Would it be okay if I cooked up a fake blog where I wrote mean things about her instead?

But that's not my style. (Rick.)

Instead, here's what is: I will not be told what to write and what not to write on my own blog. I measure the appropriateness of what I write with my conscience and with something else which I will get to in a moment. When I have mistepped, I have made the appropriate deletions. Always, I have taken responsibility for my actions. Never have I done it under veiled personalities.

So, what is the other element with which I measure the appropriateness of what I write? Simple. I ask myself this: Would I put my name to it? If the answer is no, I do not do it. Only if I would be comfortable being associated with my words do the words ever make it to the public eye.

If you can't admit to writing something because you're too embarassed to admit it, then don't hit publish. If you think people would dislike what you wrote or dislike you for writing it, and you care, don't hit publish.

It is so simple. Could you say it to my face? Then say it here. If not, then don't say it anywhere.

YC

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Backcrack

I forgot to mention that for the past two days, I have been noticing my some cracking sounds when I backbend. It feels good when I hear the cracking. And I'm wondering if the cracking is a good sign for my spine flexibility?

YC

Whatever

I don't care much that someone out there hates me enough to write a hateful blog that mocks me. I don't care because it's just one person. Maybe a lot of people hate me, but that is to be expected. Not everyone can like me, and a lot of people read this blog. So do the math.

I do find it amusing that someone who says such hateful things about me could call me hateful. I guess that's why Boring Chickie is anonymous. But we all do know who it is, don't we? I mean, look who isn't commenting on this blog anymore.

Anyway, pratice is chugging along, nothing new to report. Just working hard on staying focused on backbending, not phoning in the backbends. Leaving for Colorado in two days. Looking forward to the break from the everyday practice. Looking forward to being athletic all day long. Looking forward to hanging with the family and our friends.

That's all.

YC

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FINALLY!!!!

Finally we have a brilliant, original satire! And even though I am the target, this is very good
shit! Keep it coming!

YC

Lurkers Appreciation Week

Some Ashtanga bloggers have recently held "Lurkers Amnesty Week", meaning, as it sounds, that lurkers are invited to come on out of lurking and comment. Nor have I any clue why one who lurks would stop lurking and start talking just because they are invited to do so. Nor am do I have any clue from what punishment the "amnesty" provides immunity. As far as I can see, lurkers lurk because lurking is a lot safer than speaking andbecause it takes a hell of a lot less effort than commenting. If I were to grant lurker amnesty, whatever that is, I imagine that I would have to allow anonymous comments on my blog, which I have no intention of doing any time soon. Anonymous comments have been a major failure here on the YC blog, in that allowing people to speak under the cloak of anonymity provides the few haters out there with the courage to say outrageous things that they would be unlikely to say if there were a chance that someone might be able to identify them as having said it.

Anyway, for some reason, a one-blog-at-a-time rule seems to apply to this Lurker Amnesty Week" extravaganza, and this week is Yogamum's turn. Not one to break unwritten rules (I note that I have no problem at all with breaking the WRITEN ones), I will do nothing to stand in the way of the lurkers flocking to Yoga Gumbo to delurk and discover their inner commentator.

BUT...I would like to announce that this week is LURKER APPRECIATION WEEK here at YC. And what is that, you might ask? It is the week in which I celebrate you for lurking and bumping my readership up to close to 500 page hits per day. YAY, YOU!!! YAY, LURKERS! You GO! I do not ask that you begin commenting now. And if you did, it would be fairly unlikely that I would start a dialogue with you since I don't sit at a desk during the day. And I find, often the yoga blogs that can boast thirty, forty, sixty comments per post are blogs authored by people who sit at desks and are looking for a diversion from work. So, you'll find that anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of all of those comments are from the blogger themselves, responding to comments.

And I say, why bore you all? Whatever I've wanted to say that day, I have probably pretty much covered it in the post. Thus, anything I might say in a comment, would be repetitive. Or talking to myself. And even though my eight-year old informs me that everyone talks to themselves sometimes, I don't feel like doing so in public.

So, lurkers, this one's for you!

Thanks for lurking and helping me earn approximately 47 cents per day in ad revenue. You keep those home fires burning. You bring a smile to my face.

I love ya, man.

YC

Change of mind

So, we got rid of the mod and went with a simple, less jarring pattern of blocks that coordinate with the cranberry felted wool shag in the tv/fireplace area in the rear of the room. The screen behind the club chairs is mirrored, if you can't tell, and it is intended to pick up the colors of the back yard and also reminds me of the french doors that we (sadly) decided we needed to get rid of, that used to hang in that rear passage you can see in the photo, which leads from family room to formal living room.

Home today, with sick child, wishing I could have gotten to the shala. Glad I went yesterday though, and I am reminded that I need to get there whenever I can because I'll never know when I won't be able to, even when I want to do so.

YC

Monday, February 11, 2008

Aspen, baby


Yep, Aspen's where I'll be starting Saturday. It's the annual Yoga Chickie Western Skiing Extravaganza.

For the past five years, I have found that the skiing has improved my yoga, and vice versa. Hopefully, this will prove to be true once again.

YC

Sappy

Feeling all full of gratitude over my practice. How lucky I am to have had a wonderful practice today. It makes me feel light and powerful for the rest of the day. I feel like I'm floating through my activities today, and there are many. The yoga has left me well prepared for a busy day.

Oni got me very deep into Supta K today, and then readjusted me again after about five breaths and got me even deeper. One day, my ankles WILL stay behind my neck and not touch the floor. Not sure when. But someday. And someday I will not have to do so much prep for Urdha Dhanurasana. Someday. Not any time soon. But someday.

I do curse backbends still, on and off. Today was an on day with regard to swearing during UD. But all is forgotten after about five minutes in headstand. Thank you Kino for the suggestion. I cannot believe that 15 minutes with the woman has changed my practice so very much.

YC

Sunday, February 10, 2008

There Was Blood

The triumph of reason over faith is brutal and not a triumph at all.

This is what I got from There Will Be Blood, which I saw last night at a tiny old style theater on Elm Street in New Canaan, Connecticut. It was a miserable two hours and forty minutes in my life, and yet here I am thinking about it still. Yet I wonder, is it that the film was thought-provoking, or is it that I am struggling to get something out of what might have otherwise been nearly three hours of time wasted in the dark, staring at darkness?

Plainview is a man of no faith. When we first see him, his existence is bound to the earth, and in fact, deeply tied to what lies below the surface of the earth. Nevertheless, it seems that more than anything else, it is those driven by faith that motivate Plainview and propel him forward in his life. This is because Plainview thrives on beating those who would compete with him, beating them into submission, beating them senseless, even beating their brains out.

Plainview's greatest nemesis is a young man named Eli, a faith healer and preacher, whose own nemesis might be his brother, Paul (if Paul exists at all, as opposed to being Eli, himself), who is responsible for bringing Plainview to their little town. On a tip from "Paul", for which "Paul" is financially compensated by Plainview, Plainview comes to Little Boston, as it is called, to suck the oil from the land, in return for a promise to move Little Boston into a prosperous future, where crops will grow and bread will no longer be a luxury, and where the Church of the Third Revelation will become the cultural center for the God fearing people of the region. Plainview's business partner is his son, HW, whom Plainview took in as a baby when the baby's father was killed working with/for Plainview on an early and rudimentary oil derrick. Plainview is tender with his son, but does not tell him the truth about his adoption.

From the moment Plainview arrives in Little Boston, there is no sign of Paul, only of Eli, who appears identical to Paul, but whose life is about God, not about money, except insofar as money will build and maintain his church. Eli goads Plainview, mocking him, implicitly, for his lack of faith, holding that lack of faith over him when things go wrong. Plainview stands for none of this, beating the crap out of Eli on a fairly regular basis throughout the film until in an abrupt turnaround, Plainview finds himself being slapped silly by Eli in a baptism that is forced upon him by one of Eli's followers who has seen Plainview commit a (possibly justifiable) murder and seeks nothing from Plainview other than Plainview's repentance in church.

During the baptism, Eli forces Plainview to say, "I have sinned; I have abandoned my child" (after a drilling accident, HW has gone deaf and has been sent away to boarding school), over and over and over again, screaming it like a zealot. Plainview feels nothing but contempt. Or does he? Immediately after this, he brings HW home from boarding school and resumes taking care of him, providing him with a full-time sign language interpretor and once again teaching him the oil business and treating him as a partner. Not long after, we see HW grow up and marry Eli's sister, Mary, in a religious ceremony.

For that brief moment, it would seem that faith, as embodied by Eli, has triumphed over reason, as embodied by Plainview. But the end of the film provides a very different resolution, one which is a complete reversal of what happened in Plainview's baptism. Plainview forces Eli to admit that he is a fake prophet. And as with Plainview's admission of abandoning HW, Eli's admission quickly shifts from insincere to heartwrenchingly authentic. Only unlike Plainview's admission, which is followed by forgiveness for his sins, Eli's admission is followed by his being bludgeoned to death with a bowling pin. Plainview stands over Eli's dead body and tells his butler, "I'm finished now."

And then the movie cuts to black. Credits roll. But rather than being left to wonder what happened next to Plainview, I felt that he had already answered the question. He was finished. His battle against faith was finished. And that was that. Reason won. But there was no great spoils to the victor. No great prize. Just the business, the mansion, a son who was by now disowned and no other family. Of course, there was the bowling alley in the basement and the butler who might or might not help him clean up the mess.

I wonder if anyone else who saw TWBB got this out of the movie.

YC

Friday, February 08, 2008

Primary in the morning, Second in the afternoon.

Yep, I did it. Went to led Primary at the CT Shala this morning. Then I came home, rested for a bit and did all of Second.

My fingers are about two inches from my toes in Kapotasana. I wonder if that is close enough such that an adjustment would get me the rest of the way. Well, I probably won't find out for a loooooong time. Anyway. Also, I won't even attempt Karandavasana without being taught it (the same was true for Pasasana, at least right up until about a week before I was taught it by Val) because there doesn't seem to be much point. Instead, I do it with my head on the floor. Other than those two, I am amazed at how much easier Second Series is than Primary. Sure, the leg-behind-head poses are challenging. But they are within reach, whereas when I went to my first Led Primary class, I was shocked that ANYONE could do Mari C or D since I was fairly sure that I would NEVER be able to do so. And then it was several years before I was actually able to do so. And let's not forget Supta Kurmasana. Shudder.

Although it was really fun to practice like it was 1975 (in Mysore), don't know if I would do it again any time soon. It just seemed like a lot of time to be spending on the mat. Plus, I need the Swenson Practice Manual beside me once I get to Mayurasana, which breaks up my flow. But I have to say that it's kind of fun to practice poses I don't often get to practice. And Second, itself, offers much of what Primary offers, although less in the way of deep twists and more in the way of leg-behind-head. And of course, all that backbending. And inverting. I guess what I am saying is that in practicing all of Second, I don't yearn for Supta Kurmasana because I have all the leg-behind-head poses. And I don't yearn for Mari D because I have Pasasana.

And man, this is so boring. I can't bear to type any more of this.

So, yeah, I practice twice today. Primary in the a.m., Second in the p.m. I hesitated to reveal this dark secret because I know exactly who it is going to piss off. But whatever.

YC

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Carl, it was fun beating you up

on that other blog. The blog that shall not be named, which shall most certainly not be named on this blog, although I am sure that the authoress of said blog that shall not be named shall turn up soon enough to leave a comment that will link back to said blog that shall not be named.

What I really liked about beating you up on that other blog was that once again, I got to be a Barbie doll, which is the realization of my truest wish in the world. Being an ass-kicking Barbie is merely the icing on the pink-frosted cupcake. And being an ass-kicking Barbie with a Kundalini headband is, like, oh-my-god, the rainbow jimmies on the pink-frosted cupcake.

Now, enough about you. Let's talk about me.

I had the most kick-assiest practice ever today. Alas, I was alone in my house, so the question remains, if I had the most kick-assiest practice ever and no one was there to see it, did I really have it? Here's how it went down. I had an hour, and I decided to just do whatever I could do in an hour. And what could I do in an hour? Why, my entire practice through backbends, including dropbacks, that's what.

Of course, I could only afford three breaths in each posture other than Parivritta Parsvakona, the Marichyasanas, the Kurmasanas and Pasasana, all of which I allowed myself five whole breaths. In, out, done. No waiting in downdog. No dropping to onto my belly and waving my shins around to open up my sacrum. IT'S ALL CRAP. None of it is necessary. Not today, at least.

OK, time to go. Must neti and then off to the prom.

YC

I aint gonna

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Neti, my nostrils thank thee


Today, on the way to voting (NY Primary Day), I stopped at Whole Foods for a new buncha coconuts, and I got a lovely bunch too. I also got a "neti pot", my first ever. I have been feeling kind of blech today, couldn't get to the shala for the past two days because of kid-related obligations that fell during the morning hours, ended up taking yesterday as a "personal moon day" rather than waiting until Wednesday, blah, blah, blah, lots of excuses and excessive sensitivities that pretty much add up to nothing more than a not-so-subtle structure of attachments and aversions, blah blah blah...I needed a pick-me-up. Plus, seriously, I had a weird taste in my mouth, which tells me I might be catching a cold.

And so, I took home my brand new, pretty little neti pot, and got right down to business. I was skeptical, but excited to try it after hearing about it over the years. I didn't think it possible that I could flow water from one nostril by feeding it into the other nostril. And yet....it worked. It worked beautifully.

I am already a big believer in the benefits of salt water. There's a simple scientific principle called "osmosis" that holds that if you bathe cells in salt water, the cells will, in turn, expel water in an attempt to bring their own salt to water ratio into balance with the salt to water ratio existing outside themselves. (The old saying, "water seeks its own level" applies to salt as well.) Thus, if you flood your intestines with salt water, your intestines will react by pulling as much water from your body as possible in order to bring the salt-to-water ratio within its cells back to balance. The watery bowels must go somewhere; hence, the laxative effect. This is why salt water is used in Western as well as Eastern colon cleansing practices.

Salt water baths relieve aches and pains in the body in the same way. They cause the cells of the skin and the tissue that lies just below to expell water, which reduces inflammation. Love my epsom salt baths. And who doesn't love to swim in the ocean?

So, neti should work the same way. Not only does mechanical action of the water flowing through the nostrils help to clear mucuos, but also the osmotic reaction of the nasal walls react by expelling fluids, thus shrinking in the process, thus making the breathing passages wider.

I know I feel good now.

Now, to practice. Because in the battle between me and my obnoxiously loud mind, which is spinning lots of excuses for not practicing and lots of ways to delay practicing, the only one who loses is me.

YC

Monday, February 04, 2008

Life is good

What is there to say when life is good? My practice seems to be chugging along, little things happening, subtle things as well as bigger things, all things that I could not have imagined previously. Yesterday, we had people over for the Superbowl, and since there were kids there, of course we got into a whole tumbling thing, and at one point, one of the kids did a sort of "flipped dog" into Urdhva Dhanurasana, and I flipped my dog, in turn, and then suddenly, I found myself in UD. I have never done that before, never thought it was possible. It's not a big thing. But it's nice.

My spine cracks so much more readily now. I little twist here, and crack. A little bend there, and crack. To me, this is good. A sign of increased suppleness. I love the cracking. Without it, I feel stuck. And my spine has felt stuck for a long time. It's slowly unsticking, I think.

Last night was deliciously fun. Good food, good drinks, good friends. And the sweetest part was when the six kids that were over, including mine, went outside at halftime, the stadium lights in my backyard blaring, and played an impromptu game of football. This could never have happened in the city. This is what living here is about...

YC

Friday, February 01, 2008

Meme it Forward...to Nona

Please Meme it Forward to Nona, a/k/a Everyday Yogini, who was the first to respond to my suggestion of a meme in which we dedicate our yoga practices to one yogi and see if they feel the love. The next official Ashtanga practice is Sunday, so Sunday will be the day to shower Nona with the fruits of your yoga practice.

Here's what to do if you would like to participate in this love-spreading meme:

1. Dedicate your next practice to the designated blogger.
2. Check back with the designated blogger's website/blog the next day to see how they experienced the power of group karma.
3. The designated blogger then chooses the next designated blogger (Tag!) and posts this italicized text along with the day on which the Meming it Forward will occur. The only caveat is that the designated blogger cannot turn around and Meme it Forward to the blogger from whom their own tag was received. In other words, if I tag you, you can't simply tag me back, lest we go round and round in circles.
4. Participants are encouraged to comment here to indicate their intention to participate, but one can, of course, participate without revealing that fact publicly.
5. If anything is missing, logically or logistically, from the procedure delineated, please note it here.

To Nona, on Sunday.

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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