Monday, June 30, 2008

10-Year Nap? My ASS.

Got my feet in Kapotasana today, with assistance from the Good Doctor at New York Yoga! I cannot believe I am waking up at dawn to practice now.

And that's all I have to say about practice today other than I am so not a morning person. Hopefully, I will get used to it and be able to move a bit faster and not stop and stare into space every five or so poses.

Next topic: my latest on the Huffington Post: My 10-Year Nap. NOT.

Check it out! Become a fan! Maybe someday, I will not be the only unpublished writer who writes for Huff.

YC

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Righto!

As in, right toe. As in, I caught my right toe yesterday in Kapotasana. Myself. Will wonders never cease?

Granted, I had to contort myself far beyond what is normally acceptable in Kapotasana. Then again, I did not have to contort myself beyond what the Good Doctor would do - a kind of spinal twisty backbendy grab with elbows akimbo.

Still, the bind was made.

The left side is not happening as easily. Not sure why the right side (the scarrier side) is yielding faster than the left. Not sure it matters why.

I am definitely sick of talking about the finer points of asana. If you do it over and over, you will yield, that much I am sure of.

Today, I practiced Primary, as has been my patter of late: skip Wednesday, practice Thursday and Friday full practice up to Eka Pada or beyond, depending on where I am (if I am alone, I might do all of the leg-behind-head poses, or if I am with the Good Doctor, apparently, I am going to be allowed to do this as well, along with Pincha Mayurasana, but this remains to be seen starting on Monday at New York Yoga), and then Saturday, pretend it's Friday and do Primary only.

Without particularly rushing it, and without checking my watch during it, I did the entire practice including Savasana in 61 minutes. This is significant because it means that I am not pausing between breaths, and I am not agonizing over postures. It used to be that I would look at Mari C and D and Supta Kurmasana with a mixture of excitement and dread. Now, I just do them. Not too much thought, even with the gimpy toe. The thought seems to revolve around how not to squish the toe. Not much other thought going on. At least not today.

Backbending was fine. Not as quick to yield today as yesterday, with all of the Second Series backbending poses as a prelude. But by the fifth or sixth (not doing dropbacks because of the toe, so I am doing six press-ups instead), I felt all bendy in my front body, all yieldy and comfy. I like that.

Something I have sort of kind of been thinking about lately is DZM's video of walking her hands in. I apologize for not providing the link, but I imagine you all know where to find it. The issue she posed and which was addressed in the comments was whether it's okay to let the heels come up as the hands walk in. I have been observing myself as I walk my hands in, and I have decided that as soon as my heels need to come up, that is when I need to STOP walking my hands in and just BE there. Once the heels come up, I find that I am just MOVING the backbend into my knees. So, what's the point then? If I want to work on opening the front body and bending my back more, then I need to not allow all the work to start migrating into the flexibility of my feet and my knees.

What I HAVE been experimenting with is taking one hand off the floor entirely and resting it on my hipbone, thus moving MORE of the work into the hand that remains on the floor. This seems to stretch the chest even more. Then I do it on the other side. It feels great. What do you call that? Eka Hasta Urdhva Dhanurasana?

I am really loving the backbending this week. Can a broken toe really make the back more flexy?

Or is it just summer?

YC

Friday, June 27, 2008

And, she's back.

I. Can't. Stop. Blogging.

It's like I've been horribly constipated for weeks now, and I took a Creativity Ex-Lax, and now all the crap is issuing forth.

Why?

Because my kids left for camp today.

It's been a rough, rough June for me. The city aint got nothin' on Armonk when it comes to putting parents through the ringer in the final month of school. Between the regularly scheduled lacrosse and baseball games and the make-up games for when regularly scheduled games got rained out, between end-of-school parties and summer-birthday birthday parties and "Field Day" and Moving Up Ceremonies and squeezing in the last of the six required Shabbat Services at the temple, and everyone inviting us over to swim in their pool (poor, woeful us) at the rate of sometimes as many as four playdates in a day (both kids included)...and add to that all of the driving, oh and it is significant here where our school district spans more than 10 miles of country roads that take as much as 25 minutes to traverse....it has been insane, and I haven't had much left in the way of creativity.

This morning, I awoke with the sun with an idea bursting forth, which I wrote up for the Huffington. Still in editorial right now. But I banged it out between dawn and 9:30 a.m., when I took my kids first to Dunkin Donuts and then to the White Plains Bloomingdales parking lot, where the coach buses pick up the Westchester and Connecticut kids to take them to camp.

Came home and crawled into bed. Not surprising since I did the same thing last year. With a house that looks like a cyclone hit it, a gas grill that needs assembling, a yoga practice to practice, I felt overwhelmed. Not to mention vaguely depressed at the sight and sound (lack thereof) of any empty house. In between bouts of disordered sleep, I skimmed the paper and wrote the thing about the fat model.

At some point late in the afternoon, I forced myself onto my mat. Of course, I felt transformed, and the bad mood lifted. I went into action immediately thereafter, cleaning and tidying and making the house into the quiet oasis that makes it so worth it to be here pretty much alone all summer long.

And I read some more.

And I felt like writing more.

And so there it is. And some more as well:

Anyone read about the Supreme Court's death penalty decision this week? It seems that it the SC held that it is unconstitutional for a state to impose the death penalty upon a convicted child-rapist. That's fine by me. I'm not a fan of the death penalty. No, wait. That's an understatement. I actually think that the death penalty is barbaric.

But here's the thing: Notwithstanding the Court's refusal to allow the death penalty in the case at bar, the Court's decision is decidedly PRO-Death Penalty. At least according to the accounts of the case that I read today, it seems that the Court does not feel that it is appropriate to impose the death penalty unless the crime in question involved death. In other words, the death penalty is FINE in some cases. Just not this one.

And then there's this: the Court refused to address any death-penalty precedent for which a case had not been tried in the past, I believe it was 45 years. In other words, the Court limited its precedent-setting ruling to cases in which someone had been sentenced to death in recent history. Thus, the Court essentially ruled on people that were already dead, and refused to rule on situations that might arise in the future where the death penalty might be imposed.

All in all, quite Kangaroo-Court-ish to me.

Off I go to clean some more.

YC

If you're fat, then what am I?



Bitch is fat. Anyone can see that. Now, if only she could curb her appetite enough to look a little bit more like this one, maybe she could actually take her modeling career to that next level.

Right?

(crickets chirp)

(more crickets chirp)

Um, right, Brazil? What's that you say?

(throat clearing)

(more throat clearing)

Yeah, that's what I thought.



YC

Broken Foot* ( *Toe)

Is it a rite of passage in Ashtanga to break a foot (or a toe) jumping through?

If so, I am a woman now.

Yes, yesterday, I caught my pinky toe on the sticky, tacky rubberized eco-Manduka. Damn eco-friendly rubber. It was all well and good until I laid a beach towel over the damn thing to roll around in Garba Pindasana, and then moved the towel off the mat for Setu Bandasana. When I jumped through, I was expecting the mat to be as slippery as it was before. Well, damn, if rubber doesn't wipe up fast. It was as dry as dust, and as sticky as, well, as rubber can be. And it caught my lazy right toe as I tried to skim it through on the jump through.

Twang.

What?

Oooooh! CRAP!

NO, this cannot be happening the day before my kids leave for camp, also known as the day I begin to do whatever I want whenever I want for however long that I want.

Ah, but it did happen.

Nevertheless, I finished my practice, and even had a pretty delightful, albeit cautious practice (never has my chest been as open in backbending as when I'm fixated on not letting my pinky toe touch the ground), which left out Bakasana B (I just did A twice), which involved no further jumping of any kind and no dropbacks. But my backbends were so delightful, so open in the chest, that I did about six from the floor, each one held longer than the last, until I was up to about 15 breaths. That is definitely a record for me.

Not that we keep track of such things in yoga.

No.

Came home, went about my business for a little bit, soon decided to go to the Rexall for some tape so that my toe wouldn't be hanging off of my foot, which kind of exacerbated the pain, and my pharmacist took one look at me, shoeless, breathless, a bit disheveled and said, "Get yourself to Northern Westchester Hospital, NOW."

I argued with him: I don't wanna get an X-Ray. I don't wanna wait to be seen. I don't wanna be told I have to stay off my foot.

Needless to say, I lost the argument, and off I went. An hour later, I had a splint and a pair of crutches.

I will be at practice on Monday though. New York Yoga with the Good Doctor. Broken toe be damned.

YC

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obam-asana: Three Essential Yoga Poses for Michelle Obama


What are the three essential yoga poses that Michelle Obama must practice if she wants that "re-introduction" to the American voter for which she seems to be jonesing (see, e.g., The View)?

Read my story on
The Huffington Post, and find out...

Obam-asana, ya'all!

YC

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sticking my neck out

Ow. Ow. Ow. Eka Pada feels really good, except the next day when my neck feels the strain of having a leg pressing against it and my ass muscles feel all stretched out.

Wednesday: off.
Thursday: full practice
Friday; primary day
Saturday: full practice and then some - added everything up to mayurasana, left out karanda, of course.
Sunday: ouch. Five surya a, some stretching, and then nada. Too tired, too achey. Fell asleep midafternoon sitting up on the sofa, proofing some non-blog writing.

So, today is officially saturday. Tomorrow begins a new week.

YC

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weird, non-Ashtanga Ashtanga practice

Met S in the city for a home practice. Easier to do a home practice in someone else's home, especially when that home is a condo with a gym and yoga room in the building. Halfway through standing series, I found myself dreading the tedium of my ridiculously (but usually gloriously) long practice, and so, S, contributing to the delinquency of an ashtangini, suggested that I do Second. As in skip Primary and go straight to Second. I am not sure if it was her idea or mine, but it quickly became clear that I was going to do ALL of Second.

And, so I did.

But I also added in the Marichyasanas after Ardha Matsyandrasana (my new yummy pose) because I really really really felt at loose ends about practicing Pasasana "cold" with no Marichyasanas to get me ready. And so I backtracked to Mari A and went through to Supta Kurmasana before hitting Eka Pada.

S was flabbergasted when she came back to the room after picking up her son an I still hadn't done Eka Pada. I explained that I really, really wanted her to see my Eka Pada. Then I went straight through to the Seven Headstands, although I forgot one - the one where the forearms are on the floor. S helped me with the first half of Karandavasana. Then I just sank to the ground. I had no desire to even attempt it. Plus, I feared that S would get a hernia - she just had a baby less than a year ago, after all.

Tomorrow, I go to the CT Shala, having spoken to Val and having cleared my practicing my entire practice (ONLY up to Eka Pada) with her. I won't be able to see the Good Doc at New York Yoga until my kids leave for camp, although I am going to try to work out some mid-morning semi-privates. But until then, it's piecemeal. And I will be the only constant, so I better up the discipline, by which I mean, the discipline to do my practice and not MORE than my practice. And the discipline to do my practice in under two hours an before noon.

I should be able to do that. Right? RIGHT?

YC

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What is it about frogs?


The Good Doctor tells me that they are lucky - that they are the only animals to whom hymns of the sacred Vedas are dedicated, because they have pure nadis (and because they "sing"). Well, they certainly do. Birds sing too, as do crickets, and hound dogs. But there is something about a frog's song in the middle of the night. In the first few weeks of living here in the country, the sound of frogs singing in the darkness was the first sign for me that I really wasn't in Manhattan anymore.
Anyway, all of this came up because the frog in the photo at left? He was tucked away in my yoga mat when I went to unroll it yesterday to practice my Friday Primary. Why do I assume it is a "he"? I don't know. I just do.
Despite that I dislodged him from his comfortable Tapas-mat nook, he stayed beside me for a good long while. At first he sat next to my mat. Then he made his way back onto my mat. Then he ate a bug. Then I got into down dog, right over him to see what he would do. He just blinked at me and stayed put.
He was in Bhekasana, of course. An auspicious pose for an auspicious creature.
As I stood at the front of my mat to begin the Invocation, he leapt over to a planter and tucked himself away again.
I think he liked me, and I am fairly sure that he brought me some luck. After all, my
HuffPo article made it to the top of the front page of the Living and the Spirituality Sections yesterday and has received more than 70 comments. But even better: after a horrible practice on Thursday (stiff, weak, completely unfocused), I had a wonderful practice yesterday and an even better (totally criminal) practice today (my entire practice, all the way through Eka Pada Sirsasana, which is going quite well, despite that I need to hold my leg with one hand at this point; hell, it's only been three days). Or, I should say, tonight, since I practiced at 8 p.m., in the dark on my back porch, listening to the sound of the rain and, of course...the frogs.
Now I understand Arturo's frog obsession. At least I think I do.
YC

Friday, June 13, 2008

Posh-Asana: Do You Have To Be Rich to Do Yoga?



Um, maybe not, but it sure helps?


See what else I have to say on the topic at:

The Huffington Post: Lauren Cahn.

Become a fan too while you're at it. Leave a comment, whether you disagree with my take on the topic or not. ESPECIALLY if you disagree, actually.

Please? I'll remember you when I'm slightly more famous than I am now, which is not really that famous at all, but still...

YC

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Christopher @ New York Yoga starting next Wednesday, June 18

Christopher wanted me to get the following message out to his students who wish to continue their practice with him, and to those who wish to begin their practice with him:


"Beginning next Wednesday 18 June, I shall be teaching Ashtanga weekday mornings from 7:30 to 9:30 (opening and closing times are flexible)

at New York Yoga, 1629 York Avenue at 86th Street.

Showers will be available for Ashtanga students at the New York Yoga office directly across the street,

and at the New York Yoga HOT studio at 132 East 85th Street around the corner.

I hope to see you soon!

Christopher"


Christopher didn't mention this, but when I went on New York Yoga's web site, I saw that the monthly fees are only $139 per month. Pretty sweet.



YC

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I prefer Second

This is a moment. A mere moment. But at this moment, I prefer Second to Primary. I like how fast it goes...whoosh! I've been practicing with the Good Doctor at the place in the West Village where the good J is providing him with space (even in her absence! She rocks!). I guess I need to call it something. La Escuela? Those who have been there might understand why. It has to do with the beautiful tiles on the kitchen floor and walls. And it also has to do with our new pronunciation of the word, "proprioception". Apologies if I have misspelled it. Lord knows, I only barely know what it means and can only barely ever say that experience it, it seems.

Anyway.

I'm loving the flow of Second. Primary just seems to draaaaaaaaaaaaag along sometimes. Then I get to Pasasana, and it just flies by. And in spite of not dillydallying in any of the backbends, I still manage to make progress in Kapotasana. Today I kept my fingertips on my feet, with the Good Doc holding them there, of course.

Bakasana B is fun, fun, fun! I do have a tendency to hold my breath in the exit of both A and B. Must work on that.

And then those twists! LOVE them, especially Ardha Matsyandrasana, named after some really important dude in the Hatha Yoga tradition. Who he was and what he did are escaping me at the moment. That pose just feels RIGHT.

Then, ah, my new favorite...Eka Pada Sirsasana. Why is it my favorite? Because although I cannot, absolutely CANNOT, do it without assistance, I still enjoy it, am not in pain, not uncomfortable and not scared in it. I even make a total ass of myself jumping into it - I can't get my straight leg through my arms and the only advice I have been given is "Jump higher". And I still love it.

Will this pass?

Ah, look at me clinging. Always clinging to what I enjoy. I look outside at the beautiful weather and count the months that are left before the leaves are gone. I enjoy a posture, and I worry that soon I will not.

This is where the yoga is needed.

YC

Up to Eka Pada

Bakasana B on the third try. Couldn't get Eka Pada to sat behind head without holding it. Yet. Day One, that is. Day Two here I come. Let the fun begin.

(And to answer the question on the previous post: it is neither jumping forward or back - it is the liftup after Ustrasana).

YC

Sunday, June 08, 2008

We have lift-off







Sometimes a picture really does tell a thousand words.

YC

Friday, June 06, 2008

Can you touch your toes?

Not in a forward bend, mind you. In a back bend. This is what it's like to be an Ashtangi. Simple things like touching your toes become surreal. It's not enough to bend down and touch our toes. We have to bend backward and grab our heels.

Well, maybe not the heels. If you're me, that is.

Today, I did a semi-private (second this week, although the first was more of a quadri-private) with the Good Doctor today. We spent like two hours chatting before we even got started practicing, and by the time we started, I really didn't know if I even wanted to practice at all. I had kind of lost my nerve.

But since there I was, I got on my mat when we finally got around to realizing that morning was quickly dwindling. It was gone, in fact.

I had an interesting practice. Primary was kind of challenging for me, but Second was a delightful relief. Even Kapotasana was kind of nice. I managed to get both toes again, and actually hold it and BREATHE.

That was the focus of my practice today: breathing. Initiating movement with breath, rather than the other way around. Not sure if that is what made my chest feel sprung-open, but it did.

I am so tired. Must sleep now.

Note to self: must find feet in all backbends. Must actually SEE them someday.

YC

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

To the New Yorkers Who Want to Practice with a Certain Teacher Again...

I have it on very very good authority that Pure Yoga is opening on the Upper East Side in a very very convenient location (86th Street!), right near the 4, 5 and 6 Line and is offering monthly memberships for a mere $130! Can you imagine?! Even better, they are going to attempt to get a Mysore Program going.

I say "attempt" because I have never heard of a Mysore program being successful on the Upper East Side.

Now, why is that?

I am pretty sure it is because no Mysore program on the Upper East Side had a senior teacher authorized by SKPJ. And more specifically, no Mysore Program on the UES ever had Christopher.

But Pure is very open to bringing Christopher on, which I would think would virtually guarantee the success of an uptown Mysore program. Finally! (This is very very good news for someone like me who has to commute INTO the city to get the good Mysore fix...)

If this is something that is as potentially exciting to you as it is to me, you can email nicole.dimiceli@pureyoga.com and let them know. They totally want to hear from us.

Just think...$130 per month, Christopher, Mysore style on the UES. What is not to like?

YC

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It's no Chakra Bandasana. But it's mine


So now, even I can SEE that I am making progress. These are actual backbends. Not my former flat-topped table-top. Yay!

Here's another problem with posting about yoga: I can't even say what it is that I am doing differently now because every week it seems to change. This week, I seem to need to put my feet kind of closer together than before, toes pointed slightly inward in order to really straighten out my legs. If I splay out my legs and feet, then I can't straighten the legs at all. Must have something to do with where the tightness is in my groins; the tightness is experienced, I am guessing, in the inner thighs, which is called upon to release when the legs splay out. That tightness is bypassed when the legs are turned in.

Anyway. Moon day, pheh. I have taken many non-moonday holidays lately. I would like to make this a six-day week.

YC

YC

Monday, June 02, 2008

Just when I think I'm out...they pull me back in...

Just when I think I'm going to drop this blogging thing for good (for the greater good, in fact, some might say), I get an invitation to become a blogger for the Huffington Post. THAT Huffington Post. Seriously. I'll be in the Living section. Lending my voice to spirituality discussions. Or some such.

I thought I was being punked.

And after perusing the other bloggers' bios, I still kind of wonder. See, here's what I found: real writers, people who write for a living and get paid for it. People who've won awards for their writings. And Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, of all people.

And then there's me: obsessive naval gazer with a laptop.

Kind of exciting though.

Now, what to say?

YC

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sun Salutations in the Sun

videoI practiced in the late afternoon sunshine on my back porch today. My chest felt like it was really popping through my arms, and I was curious as to whether it showed. So, I decided to take some video footage. It turned out rather poorly, production-values-wise. And, actually, my Updogs don't look nearly as good as they felt.

BUT...when I look at this video, it actually makes me feel very very calm.

Can watching yoga make you feel calm?

Well, yeah. I think it can.

I remember one time just a little over five years ago, when I used to practice Bikram, and I was finishing up my chemo, and I had a horrible eye infection because after six months of chemo, I was left with like zero white blood cells to fight infection, and I had to have an MRI of my eyeballs. It was scary. Not so much because my head was in a vice while the machine of doom whirred loudly and the techies standing around me were instructing me to hold still for about 15 minutes. But more because I was scared shitless about what the MRI might show. Sure, they were looking for infections in my eye sockets. But what was to stop them from finding a brain tumor?

Somehow I had the presence of mind to visualize the Bikram sequence. One by one, I saw myself practicing each asana in my mind's eye. And I remained calm. And still. And the techies got their film. And it was over in what seemed like a moment or two, even though it was far longer.

It was a nice practice. I told myself I only had to do Primary. So, naturally, I did my entire practice. Funny how that works.

YC

I have some AMAZING news

If you are interested in seeing Christopher and practicing with him on Monday, June 2, please email me. He will be in NYC and teaching a Mysore session in a private home of one of our fellow students, and I have been given permission to pass along the news.

Ashtangi - that was one of the greatest comments I have ever gotten. I love the fact that we are moving past the issues.

Not to sound too maudlin, but today is one of those rare and awesome (literally, awe-some) days where I feel as if the universe really provides: I had mislaid my keyring, with my car keys (I do have one spare) and house keys (I don't really need house keys because my garage doors come with a remote and a combination key pad, as does my front gate), and this has been gnawing at me since yesterday, leaving me feeling out-of-control and lost and a bit pathetic. Today, I decided that I was going to sit down and really THINK about what I might have done with them on Friday, which was the last day I remember having had them in my hand (I used the spare all day yesterday, and given my propensity to lose things, using my last spare is NOT a safe or wise thing to be doing). But first, I had to procrastinate. So, procrastinate, I did.

First, I cleaned out and vacuumed my car. I figured that perhaps the key ring had fallen in between seats, and what better way to kill two birds with one stone than to clean the car as I searched. Unfortunately, as I suspected, no luck.
See, I knew that randomly searching wasn't going to produce my keyring. If I was going to find my keys, I was going to have to sit down calmly, literally, sit down, and mentally walk through my day on Friday, at least from the time I came home from the city.

But that seemed terribly daunting. Sitting. Thinking. Action always beckons when sitting and thinking are called for, and so it was that I found myself dragging out of my garage a 15-foot length of four-foot tall plastic fencing and a bunch of wooden stakes. Instead of sitting and thinking, I created my second compost pile (I really, really need compost because my planned Woodland Garden has almost NO healthy, organically infused soil - it's all clay. I could build a statue with that soil, but I don't think I can successfully grow shrubs and perennials; mixing in fresh compost ought to rectify the situation). Then I filled it about a third full with leaves and grass clippings.

Afterwards, I stood back and admired how cleaned-up the planned woodland garden area is looking and metaphorically patted myself on the back for re-using natural resources in order to green up my property. Planting equals carbon-absorption, you know. And beauty is always a good thing to behold.

I was so chuffed that I decided that I would go have a lazy nap in the hammock by the the brook. And if that led to some "sitting and thinking" about where I might have laid my keys, then all the better, I figured. As I climbed into the hammock, I heard a familiar metallic jingling.

My keys.

Aha. On Friday, when I drove in, I was on the phone with my friend, S, and I decided to finish the phone call in the hammock. Apparently, my keys did not make it out of the hammock and spent the weekend relaxing there. Lucky keys.

Thank you universe for helping me find my keys.

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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