Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Much better!

Today, practice was delighfully uneventful. I wokeup feeling alert and unachey (relatively). I think that one side effect of this rigorous practice is that the muscular soreness that goes hand in hand with it makes it tougher to notice things like colds and flus coming on. I know that when I wake up feeling bad, my first thought is always to accuse myself of just trying to get out of practice. I should recognize, finally, that if I cannot bring myself to unroll a mat, then somthing must be up with me.

But I probably won't.

Temporal bones are all better now, btw. Whew.

Kapotasana's new interim goal: to be able to breahe in both states of the asana.

YC

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My temporal processes hurt.



Or, did. On Sunday, I felt something I have felt before, and I didn't like it one bit. The first time I felt it, it was a sign of Chicken Pox, which can reappear years later as Shingles. The second time I felt it, there was suspicion of Lyme Disease, although I have since been told that Lyme Disease first expresses itself as a hot, painful joint. On Sunday, when went to take my hair down from a pony tail, my hand grazed the crest of the bone behind my left ear, and OUCH. It hurt to the touch. I checked the other side: same thing. Relieved that it wasn't one-sided (symmetry is always a useful ruler-outer of the more vile, evil illnesses that I won't go into at this juncture), I still wondered: was I about to come down with Shingles? Or was this a nasty case of Lyme Disease that the Doxycycline I took two weeks ago didn't cure? Or was it...nothing?

Well, it couldn't be "nothing". Having been schooled in the Two-Week Rule by my Radiation Oncologist six summers ago, I decided to wait and see if it resolved on its own within two weeks.

It didn't last two days. My resolve, that is.

Yesterday, after I came home from practice, I felt grumpy and exhausted. I wrote about mood swinging yesterday. The Good Doc warned me against blaming Second Series for everything. But I chose to blame Second Series anyway. At the same time, the tender temporal processes were gnawing at my fears. It didn't occur to me that perhaps I might have a low grade virus going on. Whereas I should have made the connection between feeling like crap and having tenderness where there are clusters of lymph nodes, and come up with "low grade virus", I decided ignored my malaise, blaming it on Second Series, and assumed that the tenderness behind my ears was either Shingles or Lyme Disease. Or cancer.

After chatting with a doctor friend of mine, who reassured me, but (responsibly) only enough so that I could calmly call my internist, I made an appointment to see Dr. A in Scarsdale. Nice guy, Dr. A., but getting to the village of Scarsdale is a royal pain. Worse than getting to the city for practice because there is no pleasurable payoff at the end. At the end of the journey, it's just about putting on a gown, getting blood sucked out, enduring poking and prodding, and willing my blood pressure to stay its normal low despite that I am freaking out.

Woke up this morning and couldn't even fathom practicing. I assumed I was just sore and achey.

Why do I never realize that soreness and acheyness at that level is NOT a normal byproduct of practicing yoga?

Anyway, sometime before my appointment with Dr. A, I realized that the inflammation behind my ears was all but gone. I still didn't feel good enough to practice. But I realized that I had been sick, not just tired, and that I had "swollen glands", not a serious illness.

Puh puh puh, Kinehura and all that.

Later on, I even did Five and Five and Bhada Padmasana.

Tomorrow is another day...

YC

The New York Post has been reading Yoga Chickie

Ashtangi pointed this article out in a comment to my earlier post, "The Shoes Are Cool". Seems like I'm not the only one who thinks MBT's are all that and a bag of props.
YC

Monday, April 28, 2008

Calm follows a storm

Practice was nice today, if eerily quiet, or at least eerily quiet until I started working on Second Series, at which point I start jabbering almost uncontrollably. I really need to put a lid on it.

I found today's sub to be a calming presence at first, and as my practice veered into Second, the calming presence became a downright delightful presence. She's been taught by the best, so this shouldn't be a surprise. Plus, I hear that she has a special place in her heart for the learning of Kapotasana. Whatever it is, she is incredibly patient and has the most inspiring work ethic. Or she senses the work ethic and me and is allowing me to go with it. Put it this way, after working with her on Kapotasana, I had absolutely NO desire to go any further, which to me is a sign that I am currently maxed out on my current practice. I grudgingly did Supta Vajrasana, and kept my right toes the whole time.

So, glad I didn't stop before my time. But there was no need to add Bakasana, the next one, Ardha Matsyandrasana and even Eka Pada as had originally been planned. No need at all. I think perhaps if the Good Doc were there, I might feel differently because of his different approach to assisting with Kapotasana. Afterwards, I would feel a mixture of excitement and dispiritment (if that is a word). I was happy to get further than I could ever have imagined, but I was laid low by the sheer drama of it all. The next few poses, being easy for me, would have brought me back into an even keel.

With today's sub, I worked MYSELF to my max, with her gentle assistance, as opposed to her putting me into the pose. And I was already at an even keel by the time I was finished. Supta Vajrasana was just like putting the cork in the bottle.

Or something like that.

There is no denying for me that since I have been practicing Second Series, or my chunk of it, I am a bit whacked out. Not sure how to describe it other than that. I have abundant energy. And then I have none at all, like right now. I am exhausted, but I wake up several times in the night. I am happy. Then I'm grumpy. I'm so f-ing hungry. And I want CARBS. I don't want to gain weight. I wonder how much more work I am doing - how much more energy I am burning these days.

Truthfully, I would like to weigh even a few pounds less than I do, but only because I would like to be able to lift up higher in my vinyasas and in between Navasanas. That is so lame, I know. I'm small enough already, I know. But it can be so tempting to think that certain strength moves would be easier with just a little bit less junk in the trunk.

No worries. I have no willpower beyond that which I have already incorporated into my life, which is pretty substantial. I just don't think I can raise the bar any higher.

YC

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The shoes are cool.

Look how happy and cool and totally CITY these kids are.

I want to be them. I want to wear the cool MBT's like they do, maybe even with striped knee socks (I bet I can get a pair at American Apparel, which is where these cool kids look like they buy their duds), and be as cool and carefree and happy and able to do Pasasana as they are!











And here is Ashtanga Barbie. She wears her MBT's because she knows that if she doesn't, she won't be able to hold it together in Pasasana and will flail around trying to bind while futilely trying to balance on the balls of her feet. Ashtanga Barbie wears MBT's and makes them look HAWT.






And for the record, I practiced today up to Eka Pada. That is where the Good Doctor was going teach me up to starting tomorrow, and my friend S, who is GD's very close friend, says that she is going to go through the vinyasas of Bakasana A and B, the next two poses and Eka Pada, because that is what he wanted. Wants. He just won't be there. YS is such an interesting place, in a good way.


YC

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The next step in the uglification of my feet


For some reason, I feel that these are cute. And I've always wanted white sandals. They remind me of the sandals I wore when I was about three years old. And they have a two-inch sole, which means that I get to stand a little taller than barefoot.

They were on sale for $139 on Walker's Warehouse dot com.

I am doing this for Pasasana.

I must be really crazy.

YC

Buh Bye Barbie Feet


Until Tuesday, it did not occur to me that perhaps the problem with Pasasana has been my preference for high-heeled shoes.

Then the Good Doctor suggested to me that perhaps the problem was my "Barbie Feet", or, in other words, feet whose heels don't touch the ground. Ever.

Hmmmm....







Against my better fashion judgement, I hauled out from the back of my Shoe Museum (aka, my closet), my pair of MBT Sneakers that I bought about a year ago, that I wore once or twice and then never again. Just too ugly, I thought. There was, simply, no way around the ugly.



Or so I thought. Until I realized that my Pasasana was suffering...







Since wearing heels is not an option in Pasasana (unless you're practicing Posh-asana, as demonstrated by my rendering of Victoria over here to the left), it was a toss-up:

Worship at the altar of fashion?

Or...

Worship at the altar of asana?














I wore my MBT's into the city on Wednesday, inauspicious day that it was. A close friend who saw me wearing the hideous, spongey monstrosities asked me, "What's the deal with the clodhoppers?" I explained, with the utmost in patience: "Pasasana requires that I put aside my high heeled shoes for now." It goes without saying that my explanation fell upon deaf ears and was met with a scathing glance at the aesthetics-offending footwear.

Whatever.

Since Wednesday, I have made a point of either being barefoot, or wearing my MBT's. And for my effort, I have been rewarded. Today I bound rather easily on both sides in Pasasana, without benefit of wall or rolled up mat. In celebration, I wore some really stylin' high heeled sandals to dinner tonight in Greenwich.

That transgression aside, I shall continue to limit my time in high heels in the hope that I can eventually put my Barbie heels back down on the ground where they belong.

Twould be nice.

YC

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Constant

In honor of tonight's Lost post-strike, second-half-of-the-season premiere, I call this post, "The Constant", which is the title of one of Lost's most self-contained and most technically brilliantly written and directed episodes.

But the Constant I refer to has nothing to do with Lost. It has to do with the teacher that is the constant, the touch-point for consistency in the Ashtanga practice. At least mine.

I have been craving some sort of stability in my Ashtanga experience. I have been wanting a teacher who could be relied upon to always be there and always be the same. Sir wasn't that because although he was committed to his singular style of teaching, he was often away from the shala in the last couple of years. I hated having subs, as great as those subs were, as much as I loved the subs, themselves. Val wasn't that because as the life cycle of her shala has changed, with an influx of students new to the practice, she has seemingly begun to spend more time with the less experienced students and less time with me. I can't speak for anyone else. I just know that things changed, subtly, but they changed. Even the paint color on the walls has changed. And then I found the Good Doctor, whose enthusiasm and energy imbued my practice with a new enthusiasm and energy. I have spent the last month enjoying my newly "caffeinated" practice; however, brewing under the surface was worry, anxiety, clinging. Would things change? There is a history there of shifts in energy, of time away. My mind kept strategizing, "how can I keep things the way they are? what can I do to make sure that things don't change? what can I do to contribute to maintaining things in this wonderful state?"

Silliness.

In my own defense, I wasn't intentionally thinking these things. They were kind of gurgling up in my brain, like bubbles in boiling water. You're not boiling the water in order to get the bubbles. But when the water's boiling, there they are.

For the past few days, I did begin to suspect that things were already shifting. I worried, unintentionally again, but I worried nonetheless: "What do I have to do with this? What can I do to not contribute to this?" And then sure enough, a shift occurred. And while it had nothing to do with me at all, my first thoughts were, "what can I do to stop this from happening?"

As the reality sunk in that change was afoot, I heard a jumble of disjointed thoughts in my head, but one that kept emerging loudly (aside from heartfelt concern for the people most immediately effected) was, "I finally found my teacher, and now I am losing my teacher."

I felt sorry for myself. I won't judge it. I won't call it childish, although that has run through my mind. My feelings are simply what they are, and I observe them, but I don't create or have a hand in editing them. To try to do so is at the heart of many a bad decision. As I mulled my feelings, I realized that they were familiar. The feeling of disappointment when I perceive that I have been let down, or even "abandoned" by parents, role models, professors, clergy, and on and on. I felt some of that recently with Val. I felt some of that in regard to Sir. Perhaps to a certain extent, in regard to the STBX of Sir.

I began to obsess about how to make my feelings go away, and some bad decision-making ensued. I decided that I needed to run off to the CT Shala and reinstate my practice there. I made arrangements that were very complicated in order to do so. I desperately needed to know that I had a teacher. The constant in my practice.

And then I proceeded not to sleep all night. I stayed up and literally, really and truly, watched the clock move from one minute to the next. I decided somewhere in the twos or threes a.m. to simply meditate instead of trying to sleep. After a while, I was still wide awake. Somewhere around five a.m., sleep came. But by eight a.m., I was in no shape to trek over to the CT Shala.

And besides, somewhere before the moment my eyes finally closed last night, I had a revelation:

Teachers will come and go. Everything is impermanent. But as long as I am here, I am the Constant. As long as I am here, I am not going anywhere. I can rely on that with absolute, well, reliance.

I am the Constant.

And with that thought, sleep came, and better decisions were made, and the morning was spent making crepes with my children instead of running off half-cocked for the sole purpose of comforting myself with the notion that "I have a teacher", which would have been cold comfort at that, considering the precarious assumptions on which it stands and considering that I was constructing those assumptions for the sole purpose of supporting a theory that would provide me comfort. In short: a house of yoga cards.

I am the Constant, and I will practice with myself today at 6 p.m., on my back porch, under the pergola, through which the springtime sun will warm my skin and light breezes will set errant cherry blossom petals aloft to float onto my mat.

There will always be a teacher. But I am the Constant.

YC

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Some backbending to heal the soul





Before walking in the hands (also, on self-timer)











After walking in the hands (and with the help of an 11 year old photog).













video

Dropback getting better. Standing up, not so strong today. Not feeling particularly strong today.

YC

sick

My tummy was bothering me this morning, and I debated not going in. Part of me is so glad that I did. Part of me is so very sorry. It was a rough, rough practice for many reasons, and I did not get past Bhekasana. I am wondering if I should be practicing past Laghu Vajrasana anyway.

Suddenly, I find myself at a crossroads in my practice. Which way to go. Backwards may be the right choice for now. I cannot believe I am saying this.

It is not my health, so no need for anyone to worry about me. Ijust have reservations about whether I should be practicing Kapo and beyond. For now. Or for however long I feel this way. This is one reason I am thankful I went into the city to practice today.The other reason is because I needed to be there to understand. Had I not been there, I never would have been able to accept.

For all other reasons, I am grieving.

YC

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Love/Hate

  • My thoracic spine hurts, or perhaps more accurately, all of the muscles supporting it. Ouch. And my floating ribs. And my obliques. Ouch. At least it's not my lower back. But, mother-f-ing ouch.
  • Sometimes, for no apparent reason at all, as in, not during practice, but at odd times like when bending over to put on shoes, the skin on my abdomen feels like it's being ripped apart. It's that burning sensation that you feel in your perineum during an unmedicated childbirth when you're pushing out the baby. It's the sensation of skin being stretched to its max.
  • I can't fall sleep (on the other hand, I am happy to report that I can't lie in bed in the morning either...must pop out of bed, yay!).
  • I am ravenously hungry. Okay, maybe not ravenously, but hungrier than I have been since I was running 50 miles a week. I realize that I am using way more energy now that I have added all of the poses up to Supta Vajrasana, plus unassisted and assisted dropbacks, but it is still disconcerting to suddenly have a big appetite.
  • I am terrified of getting assisted in Kapotasana, and yet I wait around to get assisted because I really, really want to get assisted. Hate it, love it, love it hate it. Confusion ensues.
  • I feel elated after practice, despite being demoralized by Pasasana (now that I am trying to do it without any lift under my heels, which is impossible for me without assistance) and Kapotasana (now that I am terrified of being assisted and fight it ever step of the way and forget to breathe, or can't breathe, and grunt like I'm in childbirth, despite being reminded in a constant refrain, "breathe, breathe, listen to your breath, no voice, just breath").
  • Did I mention I am completely demoralized, even borderline humiliated, by Kapotasana?
  • Did I mention that I am on a total yoga high for hours after practice, despite the demoralization and humiliation that is my Second Series practice?

All I wanted was to learn the cool poses that are Primary Series. That was enough. Until it wasn't. When Val offered to teach me Second, I jumped at the chance. Now, I want to master it, to feel good in it, like I do in Primary. I remember how horrible I felt every day when I couldn't do Supta Kurmasana, no matter what Sir did to get me into it. And now those days are like memories that happened to someone else. Except that they are happening to me again, only this time, my spine is curving in the total opposite direction.

I hate not being good at something. But I love a challenge. This is very confusing for me.

YC

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What's Bugs Got to Do With It? (Gotta do with it...)

As far as I know the only connection between Easter and Passover is the fact that it is the belief held by Christians that Jesus was betrayed at a Passover Seder, i.e., the Last Supper, and that he was crucified shortly thereafter, only to arise and ascend on the day that is now celebrated as Easter.

It goes without saying that the Jewish religion existed long before the year that is widely held to be that of Christ's birth, since Christ was born a Jew, so the story goes.

Passover is the holiday during which the story of the emancipation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt is told and retold, year after year so as to never forget that the Jews were once enslaved and managed to escape and receive the 10 Commandments from God. Within the story is a theme of renewal and rebirth, of death and of starting over Thus, eggs are featured on the dinner table at the Seder. Easter eggs are something else entirely, and I can't claim to know why eggs and bunnies are part of the Easter celebration.

I just wanted to clarify this.

I also want to clarify that Jews were not always slaves in Egypt. They were once prosperous and highly regarded members of Egyptian society. Their fortunes turned at some point later due to the hatred of one particular Pharaoh. I think this part of the story is very very important because it is repeated throughout history in different contexts, e.g., Spain, Eastern Europe in the Hitler years. Nothing is certain, one cannot be complacent about hate. My grandfather left medical school in Germany when things started to go downhill for the Jews there. He never became a doctor, but he also managed to avoid the terrible fate of so many Jews in Germany during that time period.

We were once free, but then we were slaves.

We were once slaves, but then we were free.

And so on? Let's hope not.

YC

Friday, April 18, 2008

How to stay skinny the Renee Zellweger way

No utensils.

I've seen several photos of her recently in which she has a full plate of food in front of her, but NO UTENSILS. Everyone around her has utensils. But she has none. You can't eat fusilli in an evening gown without a fork, correct? Works for her, apparently.

If this truly is the way that the once fresh-faced, now squinty-eyed, puffy faced actress keeps herself on the slim and narrow, then, well, wow. I want to be judgemental and say how sick that is, that she has to demand that her assistants remove all eating utensils so that she won't be tempted to nourish her body. But then, I have never walked even a step in her Louboutins. I have no idea what it might be like to have to be skinny in order to make a living but to be constantly tempted by delicious and sumptuous food at industry gatherings.

Maybe if I were a celebrity, and being rail thin meant the difference between a big fat paycheck and doing dinner theater in East Podunk, I too would require that my place at the table be set with no silverware. Maybe. But hard to know.

No practice today - had my first annual physical with an actual internal medicine doctor in about seven years. I found it really disturbing to be poked and prodded in ways that are different from the way that my breast-related doctors poke and prod me. I also found it disturbing that my doctor asked me, "So, do you work out at all?" even though I had just finished explaining to him how much yoga I do each day.

I am literally falling asleep at the keyboard..............

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

YC

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The lost entry


I was sitting in Dr. H's office today, waiting for my bi-annual check-up, which I have been dreading for about two months now when the urge to blog struck. Writing about today's sucky practice and blaming my sucky practice on the vrittis associated with visiting Dr. H allowed me to separate myself from the experience of said vrittis.

I had a lot to say. I talked about the fact that the appointment up at Columbia forced me to drive into the city, which meant facing the usual, awful rush hour traffic and not getting my lovely, relaxing train ride. I talked about how all the traffic put me at YS with only an hour and a half left to practice with the Good Doctor. How all was good with Half Primary, but that I hated missing out on Supta K and resented having to do so in order to get my Second Series poses in. How if I had had a good Supta K, my horrifyingly awful Pasasana and my Kapotasana bail-out would not have smacked my ego around so badly.

How I felt vulnerable to begin with today, all raw around the edges, and then insult to injury, a fellow student tried and failed to get me into Pasasana until I turned to her and said, "Ok, that's enough!" I told her it was not her, it was me. But then she told me that she had never assisted anyone in Pasasana before. So, maybe it was her, and not me. (All I needed was someone to stand behind me for balance and hook my waiting hands together. But she was doing all sorts of stuff that just didn't make any sense at all. I should mention that she is the Pasasana Goddess...perfectly flat feet, perfectly gorgeous bind. So, I guess the GD thought that her talents in the pose would trump her inexperience as an adjuster.)

Anyway, this should have been a non-event. But because of my samskaras, and the loudly chattering vrittis, hurling insults at me, telling me that I suck and then I suck some more, this was pretty devastating to the rest of my practice.

Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses. Sometimes a bad practice is just a bad practice. And if you take the GD's advice, you just breathe. Feeling vulnerable? Breathe. Feeling scared? Breathe. Feeling angry? Breathe. Feeling flustered? Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Listen to your breath. And breathe some more.

I remember, vaguely, dimly, the times when the thought of getting assisted in Supta K would color my entire practice. When getting an assist would feel like my collarbones were being crushed, or torn apart. When getting an assist would inevitably end in my cursing into my mat because once again I couln't put my damn hands into a bind. I hadn't learned to breathe yet in that pose.

I have not learned to breathe yet in Kapotasana, and my fears are only increasing.

I left for Columbia a defeated yogini. Ignoring the reality of impermanence, I told myself to get used to it becauses this is where my body is at.

And then I got a clean bill of health.

I didn't jump for joy. It doesn't happen that way. I am just relieved and a bit hung over from the stress.

But my body expresses its joy at another six month visit down, only a lifetime more to go, in its own unique way. My body stops the car in front of my gate, takes one look at the detritus of last year's (maybe the last decade's) leaves strewn all around the property that sits in front of our stockade fence, and grabs a rake to tackle the job. Six bags of leaves later, and a pile of boulders I plan to use to hardscape a rock garden, I crawled into a bath with epsom salts and Martha Stewart Living and stayed there for an hour.

And now, I try to recreate a blog post that was really nothing more than the ravings of a sad, angry, vulnerable, cancer survivor masquerading as an ashtangini. That blog post disappeared when Dr. H appeared to usher me into her office. And that blogger went back into hiding when Dr. H opened the door and set me free.

For approximately six months, I mean.

YC

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

From now on, everyone will wear their underwear on the outside

Special prize for anyone who can name the movie from which the above quote is paraphrased.


And now, for something completely different, henceforth, Yoga Chickie shall take nabi chakra driste on all FORWARD BENDS! Thus spaketh the Good Doctor, and I believe that it comes down from David Williams, and I know that this has the potential to make some people absolutely crazy. But that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. I cannot even begin to describe how this prepared my spine for Second Series today.


Here's how it works:


  1. Sapta inhale jump through to Dandasana....do whatever to prepare the pose and before exhaling into the forward bend, inhale, head up, eyes up, chest lifted.

  2. Ashtau exhale into the forward bend, naval driste (i.e., rounded spine)

  3. Nava inhale head up, eyes up, chest lifted.

This, coupled with my urdhva driste in Updog, left my spine smooth and supple for Second Series. It was nothing short of miraculous, I tell you. Of course, I'm all wacked out from the backbending. Couldn't sleep a wink last night. I hope that settles down soon.

All that kundalini goodness aside, I did have a minor freakout about 10 breaths into Kapotasana A, when it seemed as if my right tricep was going to burst free of the skin of my right arm. It was a similar feeling to childbirth, that burning sensation that those of you who chose to forgo the drugs might recall (I pushed out my older son sans drugs; never did that again, thank you very much).

My arm is fine now. In fact, it was fine by the time I got to Supta Vajrasana a minute later. And my UD felt great, and as I've been saying for a while, that's what I want more than anything, for backbending to feel good.

I do think it is sad, however, that instead of feeling the stretch in my pecs, my delts, my armpits, my groins, I feel it in my right tricep. This hints to me (or smashes me over the head with an anvil, really) that the area of my modified radical mastectomy (my right armpit and the right side of my chest) is basically stuck like cement, and whatever give I am going to get in Kapotasana, or any arms-up backbend really, is going to have to come from somewhere else.

YC

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I have a practice twin


Not being exactly a *joiner*, I never thought I would be saying that I now have a practice twin. We are to arrive at the same time and practice near each other and stay on track together, and when we get to Bhekasana and Supta Vajrasan, we are to assist each other, and after Supta Vajrasana, the next time we practice together as twins, we shall get more asana...I am guessing up to and/or including Eka Pada Sirsasana.

This will likely not be until a week from Monday to come. Until then, it's Kap-o-Mania.

Oh, here's the thang. If I told you to imagine my practice twin, would you think of a petite ashtangini with a propensity toward foward bends? Well, you would be right about the propensity toward forward bends.

Not so much the petite ashtangini.

My practice twin is a tall strapping man, about six feet and change, about 200 pounds of pure muscle, with a lovely stand-up from Urdhva Dhanurasana and a slightly better Kapotasana than mine.

I find this ironic.

YC

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prana-stealer!


They look so innocent, don't they? And yet...I am told...they steal your prana.

This is what the Good Doctor told me that he was told by his teacher, SKPJ.

It came up because after Savasana, I got up, energized and brought a block back to my mat and proceeded to come into Kapotasana, with said block upended (the tall way) under my back. My feet were touching the block, and my hands were gripping the block, which meant that with the help of the block, I had gotten my hands as close to my feet as I had ever gotten them without the help of the Good Doc - about three inches apart.

Elated, I skipped out to the lobby, where GD was hanging out before his noon class, and interrupted his conversation, block in hand, to tell him what I had done. The rest you already know....block = prana stealer. Wall = prana stealer too, by the way, which I can attest to, myself, since after about three Kapotasana research forays at the wall, although I was able to hold my toes in Kapotasana with GD's assistance, when it came time for Kapotasana B, I literally fell on my ass. Prana all gone. Wall sucked it out of me.

Yeah, yeah, you could look at it as a case of me just exhausting myself with three versions of Pasasana (basically, Mari A done in a squat, Mari C done in a squat and then the full version of Pasasana....no more rolled up mat, and I didn't even miss it, although I only touched fingertips on the first side and on the second side, my wrapping arm kind of slid off, but whatever), two versions of Ustrasana (one with hipbones pressed to the wall, and one without the wall as a guide), and then at least four versions of Kapotasana before I even got my assist. TOO MUCH.

Note to self: chill. After 15 months in Supta Kurmasana, you'd think I would learn that all is coming .... slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowly.

The Good Doc told me that if I insist on departing from the way in which he was taught (which I do NOT), there are some girls who practice at the shala who use sundry torture devices to prepare themselves for poses. I believe that I know of whom he speaks, and further, I am quite sure that no tet a tet will happen vis a vis blocks and racks and ankle weights. Ha.

Note to self: see above note to self.

YC

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tick

Not the good kind either, as in the kind that is followed by a tock. This is the kind of tick that you find on, er, in your skin when you are just minding your own business, having a nice bath.

Or rather, my skin, while in my bath. At first, I thought I had a bit of dirt on my leg. But it wouldn't scrape off. My heart started to pound because I then thought, "holy crap, is this a cancerous mole that I am scraping at?". That thought quickly gave way to disgust and shocking pain as I realized that at that very moment, I was pulling a tick's face out of the tender skin on my inner thigh.

It was still alive, still is actually. I put it in little plastic baggie and went on with my day, which, coincidentally included a class trip to a nature preserve for some hiking and identifying of early spring woodland creatures.

You know, like Deer Ticks.

Which my new plastic baggied pet was identified as.

So, I called my oncologst,Dr. H, whom, as I predicted a month or so ago, told me (actually, had an assistant tell me) that it is time to cut the cord. Get thee to an ordinary internist,primary care physician, whatever all you normal people see every year,or call for a Z Pack when the flu strikes.

Not too happy to be abandoned in my time of need. I feel like Galatea must have felt when Pygmaleon saw fit to abandon her. Or Dr. Frankenstein's creation, in Mary Shelley's telling of the tale of what happens when the creator abandons the createe. Oh, it's a tale told often. In many forms. And though I am not the creation, exactly, of Dr.H, I certainly owe my life to her, at least in part, as well as who I am today.

So, here I sit in a strange (to me), new (to me) doctor's office on the outskirts of Scarsdale Village, not looking forward to giving my medical history, telling and reliving it all over again.

Nah, it's no so much a big deal. But it's often the small stuff that gets ya bent out of shape. And no amount of yoga can take that away from me for more than a few moments at any given time.

Primary later today, at home. Took on more classes at Yoga Sutra - next Friday intermediate/advanced and two lunchtime vinyasa classes in May. Should be fun!

YC

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Held onto both my feet today at the same time!

(like this)

I actually "bound" in Kapotasana!

It is such a joy for me to be able to do the seemingly impossible. Pure joy.

Impossible without a good teacher such as the Good Doctor. Possible because he believed it to be so.

It is still scary and I still gasp. I even cried out "oh my god!". That part will take time, which is fine. It is a rare and intoxicating ride.

YC

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ever hear the one about the driste for Urdhva Dhanurasana?

It's defeat. I mean de feet. Er, the feet. Look for your feet. Your FEET!!!

That's me talking to myself. Please excuse the lame riddle format. Must remember to look for my feet. It would be a good idea to keep my eyes open in Kapotasana too. And to not grunt audibly through an open mouth.

That aside, best Pasasana in a long time. I've decided to abandon rolled mats and blankets and go for the full achilles stretching Monty. And it was good. Totally would have fallen over if Arthur had moved away, but good nonetheless. Right now, I am only focusing on the bind. The heels will help me balance some other day (year; decade; epoch).

Loving and hating Kapotasana. I feel so much fear every time it comes up as the next pose. Then I go to the wall to research it, and I feel so much fear as I begin walking my hands down. Then I feel so much fear as Christopher pulls my fingers to my feet - the balls of my feet today.

But I do it anyway. I do. I do not try. I do.

And today, I was able to come up from Kapo B, which, I suppose bodes well for more consistency in coming up from UD.

This is amazingly good fun. Amazing what the body can do with proper training and the requisite discipline.

I just don't know what to do about how ravenously hungry I feel afterwards.

YC

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Nothing new to report. It's Tuesday after all.

After any length of time practicing Ashtanga, you learn eventually that new poses are not given out on Tuesdays (exceptions notwithstanding). Something about it being Hanuman's day, not an auspicious day for whatever whatever. Actually, I really don't know, nor am I particularly interested to know.

What interests me is that it is not just the Ashtangis of the world who consider Tuesday an inauspicious day for new things. According to the canon writ in this French New Wave film I just watched -
Cleo at 5 to 7, the French have a superstition that new things must not be bought on Tuesdays - not even TOUCHED.

I just found that kind of thrilling to put that together.

OK, off to my job as a chauffeur of four foot tall people.

YC

p.s. oh wait - I forgot. There was some progress in Kapotasana. Touched both feet at almost the same time - which is progress for me. It's only been, what, three days? So, let's not expect too much here. But it was cool to feel some real articulation around my floating ribs. Never felt that before. Love that "OH MY GOD" feeling. It can never be reproduced (it's about the newness). And such a thrill.

Monday, April 07, 2008

practice and all is ..... ?



Supta Vajrasana, or, It's OK to suck

I was asked again today if I wanted more asana. If you ask me twice, I'm going to say yes. I guess getting asked again made me more sure that it wasn't some kind of misunderstandinf because frankly I am shocked. I can touch my toes, one at a time, with assistance in Kapotasana and only after researching it at the wall a couple of times first, in order to warm up my armpits and/or mental ability to cope with the intensity of the pose and the adjustment.

And then there was the guy who got all of the poses up to Supta Vajrasana today - all of them, one after the other - and bound at his ANKLES in Kapotasana without assistance.

And then there was me hurtling into the wall on my final stand-up today. Well, honestly, my achey shoulder is preventing me from supporting myself fully with my hands in order to rock up gracefully.

Yeah...that's why.

And, um, that's why my Pasasana is getting worse, not better. Total regression. And that's why I couldn't push up from Kapotasana B today.

Uh huh.

I think I'll hold onto my excuse, I mean injury, just a little bit longer.

I feel like I have a lot on my plate now on the mat. Three poses that I need help in. One pose from Primary that I enjoy getting help in (supta k). And the still not-the-way-I-want-them-to-be backbends.

An awful lot of drama for one yoga session. Must learn to cope with that and detach from the drama that starts to come up in me. It's just a pose, just a practice. It doesn't matter. But still, I like to be good at what I do, which made my practice really mellow and easy when it included just one pose I needed help with (Pasas) and then the "needs improvement" backbending.

I love progessing. But I can't help but feel somewhat nostalgic for the days when I was only working on mastering one pose at a time, for months on end. On the other hand, I wouldn't trade this experience for any other on the mat. Everything has a time and place in life, and I guess this is the time for me to be releasing control of my "performance" and allowing myself to learn the asanas I didn't think I would ever be learning, or even ready to learn, and by "learn", I mean "suck at for possibly a long time to come".

YC

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Like a nat-u-ral womaaaan...

Today was gorgeously sunny, so it seemed like a good day to check in on last year's compost bin. I started it last summer - around mid July, so for those would-recyclers of nature's gifts, it is never too late to start, and there's no time like now. Basically, you're just taking your cast off veggies, fruits, newspapers, cardboard and dead plants and letting them rot into a dark, rich, nearly black soil, with no foul odor and so so much potential for use as top soil, or as "compost tea", which you "brew" by mixing compost with water and tapping the runoff, which you then use as fertilizer when you're watering your plants.

I realize this sounds gross. And my latest project might sound even more gross: vermicompost, which means composting with...WORMS.

Worms may look kind of useless, what with no appendages and all, and given their liliputian size. But from what I hear, the little guys get the job done, and fast.

Anyway, vermicomposting is really not gross at all though. All winter long, I've been putting my fruit and veggie peelings, rinds and discards into a garbage pail in the woods near my driveway. It's not compost, strictly speaking, because it is all "green matter", and for a good compost, you need "brown matter" too - newpapers, wood chips, dirt, dead leaves. In fact, you need a lot more brown than green. So, my fruit and veggie bin was merely a prelude to my spring composting project. The bin doesn't smell bad at all. It just smells....well....green. It smells green.


Today, I took a short squat container - about the size of a large convection oven -

- and I filled it about a third with set shredded newpapers. I've also been saving newspapers for this purpose. Then I took a drive over to the local "sporting goods" shop in Katonah. I say "sporting goods" with my fingers in little quote signs because this shop aint no Sports Authority. It ought to be called Northern Westchester Guns and Ammo. I felt nervous when I put my hand on that doorknob. It was like stepping out of my Acura MDX and into the Wild West. There were rifles of all sizes and makes leaning against a wall. Fishing rods and hooks and funky non-live bait hung from peg boards. There were packs of firewood specifically labelled "for camping". I asked the owner if he had live bait. Earthworms, specifically. He took me to the refrigerator in the back.



And so it went. I went home with half a pound of fresh live earthworms. Red Earthworms, specifically.

When I got home, I released the little guys into the bed of newspaper and then gave them their first feeding. I dug out about a pound of my rotted fruit and veggies and plunked it down. Then I threw in some fresh strawberries and some lillies of the valley that I had grown from bare roots but that had already seen better days.

Then I took my trusty power drill and drilled air holes along the top third of the vermicompost bin, put the cover on, and set it down inside my garage until it gets consistently warmer than 50 degrees. Earthworms no likey cold nights. Who can blame them.

After my adventures in worm food, I planted the hydrangea that my neighbor brought over for me today as a thank-you gift for babysitting her FOUR CHILDREN yesterday while she made a trip to the hospital with a raisin stuck in her throat. Everyone's fine. She survived. The children survived - even the 15-month old who had never even seen me before. And I survived and made it out in time to put on my Herve Leger bandage dress for the Big Benefit for our school system. It was the suburban version of bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan.

Then I put up deer fencing around my little vegetable patch along the side of my house. I've decided to grow my own lettuce, basil and tomatoes this year because I find that I waste so much of all of those when I buy them from the store. This way, I can use what I need and turn the rest into gifts and....compost.

I frickin LOVE this country life. I can pretend I'm a farm girl, but then I can be in the city within an hour. I can walk around in my Sloggers (awesome, awesome gardening clogs), grab a coffee and a cookie at the Village Patisserie, buy my Advil at the local Rexall, but then put on a pair of Clergerie wedges and drive over the the CVS in White Plains or the Target in Mt. Kisco if I want the comforts of Big Box store.

Or maybe the backbends of Second Series are just making me into a manic lunatic.

Whatever it is, it will change anyway. Try to define yourself, and you're practically guaranteed to be wrong a minute, an hour, a day or a week later.

YC

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It who must not be named


has an achey shoulder too.

Strange.

The Good Doctor prescribed "Stop doing that weird twisty thing with your arms."

But how?

"Can you point out to me when you see me doing something strange?" asks the Blogger Who Must Not Be Named.

"Starting with when you first walk in the room?"

Bah dum bum.

I am loving my practice, even if I winced through ever jump through today. The shoulder pain is deep within my right shoulder, and it is only apparent in a limited range of motion. As I start to move the arm, the hurting isn't there until I reach a certain critical point, then the hurting starts and then I can move the arm past the critical point, and the hurting ends. Thus, I was still able to bind in all the Primary Series Poses, although not without a wince each time I got to that critical pain point, and Pasasana, although the second side was uncomfortable throughout the entire range of motion and to my chagrin, I am really needing assistance now on that side.

Since the shoulder doesn't hurt at all in backbends, I was able to do everything I normally do, plus Kapotasana, which Doc got me into, sort of, kind of....as I gasped for air.

First the right hand on the foot. Then the left. All the while, "BREATHE!! BREATHE!!!" When I finally decided to obey, I took I giant gasp with my mouth. Bad lady. I admitted that I was terrifed of the whole thing. It was suggested that I practice at the wall to lose the terror.

By the time I got to dropbacks, I was depleted. My standups were really not very good compared with yesterday. I kept wanting to repeat my best-executed standup, where my head actually came up last, and my body didn't look like Zed. But it was not to be. My shoulder, while not hurting, left my arm weaker and sort of lame. Like, literally lame. Not lame as in "that was so lame", although it was kind of lame.

Alas. It can't always be a big, giant, yoga high. Some days, you just have to be thankful that you have the time and the energy and the health and the body parts to practice for two hours.

I don't think I worked this hard athletically since...ever. When I was training for the three marathons I ran, my weekly mileage ranged from 40 to 50 miles per week over a three year period. That's like a bit more than 8 hours per week. Now, with six-day practice weeks (five and a half, really, because of moon days), it's more like 11.5 hours per week. I have been hungrier lately, but not sure what to add to my eating to reflect the additional work I am doing, having gone from stopping at Supta Kurmasana to doing all of Primary to doing all of Primary plus anywhere from 11 to 15 poses of Second, depending on how you count Salabasana's two asana states and Kapotasana's three. My practice has gone from 60 minutes to 75 minutes to 120 minutes.

Girl Scout cookies taste good but are clearly not the food of choice. Must buy more cococnuts. Must make the Thai Tofu recipe that I saw in Cooking Light. Must buy molasses for the Molasses-glazed Halibut recipe I saw in yesterday's Dining In Section of the NY Times.

Shoulder, please feel better soon. Please? Me no likey feeling lame.

YC

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ka-poh-taaah-sahn-ah

Yep, this time I am not kidding. And even weirder, the Good Doctor said that I could have more asanas if I wanted. I declined for the moment...would like to work those backbends deeply right before UD.

I swear I am not kidding. It's April 2. I don't like feeling like I can predict what is going to happen tomorrow. What if I don'tlike what I see?

YC

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Finished Second Series Today

I wasn't going to post this at first because I didn't want to be all braggy and seemingly asana-greedy. But when the Good Doctor asked me if I was interested in getting to do some more asanas, and I said, "why yes, that would be great," he proceeded to assign every single pose of Second Series to me.

The funny thing is that I can do all of them. With assistance, yes, on some. Kapo, I actually touched my heels with my middle fingers on both hands, with assistance. Unfortunately, I am having a bit of trouble standing up straight now. Thank goodness for the Leg Behind Head poses, though, because without them, I might be walking around in a backbend all day. With a bit of assistance, I was able to deeply get the leg behind the head on each side...and it went from there.

As you all know, the balancing poses are no big deal, so Pincha and Karanda were like...okay, not easy, and I was a little tired, but I was soooo pumped, that they felt good. Again, needed a bit of help on Karanda. But after that, the rest of the practice was completely smooth sailing.

I LOVE that one with the Garudasana arms. I can't remember the name, but that's okay...I have plenty of time before I get to Third Series, at least a few weeks, so I will have time to get to know the names of the postures better.

At the end, we ticked and tocked, and he let me try Moolabhandasana. Which ROCKED the house. I am not sure why we skipped all of Third Series and went to Fourth. But GH was doing the Moola pose, and I guess it kind of led to some inspiration and creativity on the part of the Doc.

And if you believe any of this....you are an April Fool!!!!!!!

YC

Thoughts on American Gigolo

Yes, that American Gigolo. I realize that I am late to the party. This movie is going to be 30 years old before my older son is a bar mitvah. But I DVR'd it, mainly because (mom, please look away now) I heard that Richard Gere does full frontal in it over an extended monologue. True dat.

I could think of a few things to say about this flick, but the one thing that keeps coming to mind above all else is how the main character, Julian Kaye, an aggressively heterosexual hustler in a gay and bisexual hustler world, allowed everyone in said hustler world to call him...JULIE. WTF?

How feminizing. How amiguifying.

OK, fine. Could be ripe for analyzing some underlying text of sexual ambiguity in 1980's Los Angeles. Or something like that. Except I couldn't make sense of it in the context of the movie at all. I mean, if there were an underlying message to the movie that all hustlers are homosexual underneath it all, or that Richard Gere was in love with his (gay) pimp or otherwise confused about his orientation, I can understand the "Hey Julie, how's it going" that generously peppered the script. But here was a man who LOVED women. He considered his job to be an act of generosity, to give love and attention to women who craved it. Once in the film, he pretended to be a gay interior designer (named BARON SCHOENFELD of all things...some of you will get that reference), but that was only to protect his client's reputation when she was seen with him in an art auction house.

Why call him Julie? WHY?

Other than that distraction, and other than the fact that I was astounded by Richard Gere's absolute failure to age since 1980 (sorry but a thick head of wavy grey hair is NOT enough to make a person look 30 years older), oh, and other than the problem of Lauren Hutton's wooden line reads and her aged voice and appearance which made it seem as if she were old enough to be Gere's mother, rather than his slightly older lover, the film was entertaining and engaging and followed a compelling story arc: Julian's proud, Armani-clad strut gradually dissembles into a Salvation Army-bin shuffle as he is framed for the murder of one of his clients. In the midst of this, he is developing a romantic bond with Lauren Hutton's character, Michelle, a senator's wife. Essentially, the forces of money and power are beyond Julian's power to seduce, and at every turn, he is knocked down further.

What could have been an appropriate, if not horribly depressing, ending to the film was the climactic scene in which he confronts the pimp who is framing him, and there is a fight, and the pimp falls to his death from his hotel balcony. Julie is left holding the pimp's red cowboy boots.

Maybe I've seen too much of movies like There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men. But this seemed like where Gigolo should end. Hustlers get into trouble and they can't pull themselves up by their...bootstraps. The end.

Instead, there are a series of short scenes, each ending abruptly in black screen. These scenes awkwardly narrate the growing involvement of Lauren Hutton's Michelle in Julie's murder trial until the final scene, in which she goes to see him at one of those glass-partitioned prison visitation rooms, and she tells him that she would rather die than not lie in order to provide him with a credible alibi. He responds by dropping his phone so that she has to just read his lips as he says, "Oh, Michelle, why did it take me so long to come to you?". He then leans his head against the glass, where her hand is waiting. How poetic. If there were no glass, she could stroke his hair...but there IS glass...will there always be SOMETHING between them?

As interesting as that question might be, it is entirely unnecessary and felt completely tacked on. I kept trying to think of how the movie should have ended, if say, it was totally unacceptable to end it on the sour note of Julie standing there holding the pimp's red boots. And I came up with nothing more than the final scene. All the short-cut scenes in between were just weirdly distracting and again, very tacked on. It reminded me of two other really poorly ended movies: AI (Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence) and Sliver (did anyone besides me even see that one?). AI just kept tacking more and more onto the end, when it should have just stopped. Like someone stammering an excuse and adding more and more and more until it doesn't make any sense at all. And Sliver, well, the ending was like a punchline. I don't even remember it, but it reminded me of when an entire season of Dallas turned out to be nothing more than "Pam's Dream".

Anyway, there you go. This is what I am doing when I should be sleeping. Or talking about my practice and thanking the lovely and talented ELISE from Mysore Mysings for the tip on coming to my fingertips before standing. WOW. Such awesome advice. I got several thumbs up from shala mates at the CT Shala today. We shall see if I can reproduce it tomorrow in NYC.

I find myself thinking about Kapotasana, and wondering if CH thinks I am already practicing it. I ask myself this because he wanted me to assist someone in Supta Vajrasana on Sunday, and he generally does not allow you to assist on poses you are not already practicing...so it dawned on me that perhaps he thinks I am practicing up to Supta Vaj? I was relieved that the assistant teacher was already on the task and that I wouldn't have to deal with the whole issue. Well, I guess if he wants me to do Kapo, he can always ask. Until then, I have decided I am ready to wait as long as it takes to be given that pose. It looks like a LOT of work. And while it has been fun to dabble in it at home, do I really want to commit to that work every single day...yet?

Nitey nite,

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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