Friday, July 25, 2008

Primary

Did it.

Sweat a little.

Not loving the temperature at the Upper East Side Icebox. The Good Doc fully denies that this perception of coldness that I have is the actual reality. Instead, it's "put your chin to your chest and fully exhale."

Also, I am no longer allowed to pick up my back heel in any standing poses, not even to get INTO the pose. This is not much of a problem, you would think, except in Parvritta Parsvakonasana - that twisted mofo of a standing pose which I can STILL barely get myself into, even now, even picking my back heel up and putting my back knee on the floor and cranking. Funny thing is, when I make the effort to get into the pose without the aforementioned cheat (which I had no idea was a cheat until now), it makes my back crack in a very satisfying manner. Who knew?

For all the other standing poses, it simply takes concentration and awareness to keep my back heel from picking up.

Funny that the Good Doc would see me as a Kapha when I am so the OPPOSITE of grounded. I can't even keep my feet from flying off the floor.

YC

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pasasana is mine, the Return of Tzippy and Ric and Paint Cans

I know this sounds like old news. But I can now reliably bind it with no rolled-up mat, no wall, no assistance...at home...in the afternoon. OK, so that is not the same as binding it in front of the teacher at some ungodly early hour. But it is how things get going for me. It always happens this way.

*****************************************************************************

Today, I didn't go anywhere or do anything much except for prepare 28 cans of old, useless paint for disposal according to the Town of North Castle's ridiculous rules for disposal of paints. I had to open every can and mix what was left in the can with kitty litter and leave the whole mess curbside. 28 cans of paint, some of which were rusty and 10 years old. I HATE the former owners of my house. HATE. Actually, hate is not a strong enough word for people that leave you with 28 cans of VOC-emitting paints that have absolutely zero relationship to the walls in the house they sold you. There were paints for cars, for the garage floor, for a white house with black shutters, when our house is yellow with green shutters. There was paint for a bar - we have no bar. There was paint for a pretty pink girl's bedroom. We have no girl's bedroom. These people should have disposed of their own f-ing paint.

Yeah.

I'm pissed. Almost as pissed as I was when some crazy lady egged my car the other day, which I have not written about because the story is racially charged, and I don't want to get into all of that. Suffice it to say that it was a minor hate crime, against me, unprovoked, unless you count, "Lady, you're going to need to move your car" as a provocation when it pertains to the fact that someone double parked in front of my car, rendering me a prisoner until she saw fit to move her car.

Anyway.

After covering myself in paint, turpentine and lots and lots of VOC's, I noticed that a package had arrived in the interim. How did I not see this? I don't know. But the package was for me! Yay! And it was from my friend, Erica, who used to be behind the short-lived but wildly successful Tzippy and Ric label, which was sold at, among other places, Searle (a high-end chain of boutiques in NYC), and is now behind the wildly successful Sticars, which makes really cool magnets for cars. Sticars are in Target, if you want to go get some. My car is currently plastered with peace signs and whimsical creatures that I can liken only to Uggly Dolls.

So, the package.

I ripped it open, and inside...a touch of nirvana. At least 10 cashmere sweaters...too many, I lost count...in my size, from Tzippy and Ric's remaining inventory. It was like opening a treasure chest. Only there were no pirates with eye patches. It was just me and cashmere. Blue, pink, purple, eggshell...gorgeous v-necks in the lightest, most elegant cashmere with extra long, flared sleeves - sexy and feminine; Debpc will know what I am talking about, and if she is reading this, then she too will reap the benefits as I will send her one! Deb? You there?

What a happy surprise. I am wearing a pale purple one now. Very my style. I like to wear Capezio wrap sweaters, and these are like the high end version of that.

So happy!

Tomorrow, Primary. I must remember how much I look forward to Primary. Must. Remember.


YC

Disappointment of the day

Brad and Angie did not DO IT to make those two new babies. Despite non-infertility (apparently, this is a problem specific to the very very wealthy alone), they went the IVF route. Nothing like the need for instantaneous gratification. I'm surprised that they didn't find some way to make them come out six months early, fully formed.

YC

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Best. Practice. Ever.

Got my left leg to stay behind my head for the first time! Yay! Probably won't be repeating that feat anytime soon since it came after a lot of warming up the hips, which I was able to do only because the Good Doc had already left. Which brings me to the fact that it was also the GRUMPIEST. Practice. Ever.

When I got off the train this morning in Harlem, I decided to hop into a cab, thinking that it would get me to practice faster. Unfortunately, my driver just got his license yesterday, it seems. He took me down a wrong one-way street such that we ended up heading uptown on First Avenue when we should have been heading downtown on York, the end result being that I had to walk 10 blocks and an avenue to practice. I arrived with a mere 65 minutes to get all the way to Eka Pada.

Not that I couldn't have split. But don't like to split. I need my Supta K now more than ever, because after 10 breaths in the pose, I now push up to a full Dwi Pada, hands in prayer, five breaths, then press up for five breaths, then Titthibasana for five breaths. It all adds up to a better Eka Pada. Hopefully. I mean, even the Good Doc told me it would. He's the one who told me to do it in the first place. That an 108 breaths in Shoulderstand, Halasana, Headstand and Padmasana.

Anyway, I was disgruntled and muttering to myself as I walked those 10 long blocks and one avenue, thinking, "This isn't working, I can't keep doing this." When I arrived at the studio I was about to tear the girl at the desk a new asshole about how my credit card had been charged twice in one month for my shala fees when the GD came out to ask for a first aid kit. Long story short, someone had taken a nose dive in Bujapidasana. Not my problem. What WAS my problem was the fact that it was downright WINDY in the practice room. I grumbled my way through Surya Namaskar A, sweating and shivering at the same time (heat from the inside, meeting cold on the outside...blech. This isn't SUPPOSED to be a gym, you know).

Then I paused between salutations, marched over to the thermostat and simply shut it off.

You could hear it spin to a stop. You could hear the wind die down. You could see dust particles landing. Someone said "Thank you." And someone else exhorted me: "Lauren!" But GD was still with Buja Roadkill, so he couldn't stop me. HA!

In my anger and annoyance and general disgruntledness, I somehow managed to have this amazing practice. Light, floaty, bhandas, bendy, the works.

I found a way to stop worrying and learn to love the bomb, so to speak. I realized that the blessing inherent in the GD's leaving the room at 9 a.m. crossed with my inability to get there before 7:45 adds up to the thing I love the most: Ashtanga Criminality.

Yes, I engaged in some major criminality today. After everyone left, it was just me and EVP, and together, we did all of Second. HAHAHAHAHAHA! And we rocked it. The Seven Headstands! All of it. Well, not Karandavasana. I did a Tripod Headstand/Lotus Legs Lowered to the Arms thing, what is it, Urdhva Kukutasana? Whatever. Who cares?

I feel great! And now I have the will to practice in the Upper East Side Icebox once again!

YC

Monday, July 21, 2008

How to Look, Sound and Act Just LIke a Real Live Yogi



At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I give you my latest on the Huffington Post: How to Look, Sound and Act Just Like a Real Live Yogi. Just bear in mind that I too am a Real Live Yogi. Just like you.

YC

stiffness is not in the mind

It is in my body.

A wise man once said, "No good six-day-week goes unpunished."

And so it is. I had a raucous six-day practice week last week, and then yesterday the mat seemed like an alien being, laying on my back porch, taunting me with its quiet invitation to practice, knowing I would never take it. Knowing that my body looked bent and felt worse. And by bent, i don't mean in the bendy way. I mean, gnarled.

Instead of practicing, I transplanted some flowers into my back garden beds, dahlias that were overgrowing their pots, petunias that had gone leggy and needed a boxwood to climb or ar least a nice bed of soil to stretch out on, sunflowers that are too thirsty to live anymore in containers on the steps. I like my perennials so much better. Except for my beloved zinnias, I hereby vow to never waste my time on annuals and tender bulbs again. What a colasal waste of time.

Live and learn.

Ah. But those zinnias. Last year, I bought a small pot of them and watched them go steroidal over the course of the summer. This year, I wised up: what idiot can't grow an annual from seed? I mean, seriously, annuals are intended to grow from seed, to sprout, bloom, set more seed and die all in a summer. If that is not a virtual Darwinian guarantee of success, then I don't know what is.

My zinnias are just zipping and zooming, approaching three feet tall with multiple blooming shoots and bright pink flowers. I loves me my zinnias.

Also loving my Limelight hydrangea which seems to glow in the moonlight, my blue campanula and my pink petite bee balm, as well as my dwarf shastas. None of these will require replanting next year. All are perennial and will simply pop up again when it's time.

Winning the Most Appreciated award is my one little hosta, which I did not plant. The previous owners must have - silly them, deer regard hostas the way my children regard pop tarts: irresistable and easy to get their grubby little hands on. But this particular hosta popped up this year in a small previously neglected bed by my outside dining room table, which bed I have planted with the equivalent of liver and onions as far as the deer are concerned: butterfly bush, foxglove, jacob's ladder, flowering dogwood and pee-gee hydrangea. So the deer have been passing it by, and yesterday, lo and behold, the Miracle Hosta had bloomed: one tall purple lily-like shoot.

Look at me diverting attention from my piss-poor practice. I struggled through the whole thing. It was a mess of vrittis and cringes and whomping myself through my legs in jump throughs. No grace, no sweetness, no twist to the spine. I mean, I DID everything, yeah, but it felt like the first year again. Bound, but muscling myself in. Even now, my lower back aches.

I did my own Kapo, and then I went into the other room to finish with my friend, EVP. Not her real initials, but she knows who she is...we did a lot of chatting, and I did a lot of criminal R and D. I mean, the ashtanga was obviously not happening, so why not stretch and pave the way to better days in the future?

And i hope tomorrow is one of those. Better days in the future, that is.

Here's hoping.

YC

Monday, July 14, 2008

Shake it up

I am so so so not loving Kapotasana. Funny because I love all of Second Series up to that point, and I love it after that, right up to Eka Pada, despite that I cannot hold my leg behind my head by myself.

It just really sucks to be so inept, so strangely inept at something, disproportionately inept compared to how I am at the rest of what I do in terms of asana. Yeah, my driste could use work, so I won't say "in terms of yoga" because that would open up a whole can o' worms. So, let's leave it at "asana".

Today, the Good Doctor tried to shake my back into submission, which strangely enough, seems to make some sort of intuitive sense. It's like my back is desperate to crack and just simply refuses. I did manage to touch both pinky toes at the same time after a lot of fighting and struggling and shaking and, jeeezus, why do I do this? This must sound INSANE to anyone who doesn't practice Ashtanga. I can just imagine someone from Om reading this and going, "WHY would anyone ever want to be YANKED into a yoga pose?"

I don't know why. I just do.

Even when I say I'm hating it.

I had ZERO intention of practicing Second Series today, and I still did it. When I got past Setu Bhandasana, I just wanted to keep going. This, despite that I told my friend, S, as we walked in, that I was ONLY going to practice Primary. ONLY. As if. S, if you're reading this, you should never believe me when I say I am only practicing Primary. Even if I want it to be true, it just cannot be. Given the choice, I think I will always press on.

Meanwhile, I am totally uninspired for this week's Huffington Post. I might have to skip it entirely, which is fine. I have no output requirement. But I do like the feeling of accomplishment of writing an actual essay and seeing it published by someone other than myself.

Any ideas? I'm taking requests.

Ideas?

Requests?

(crickets chirping)

YC

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Camp!


Parental bragging alert!! Beware!!

Brian pitched FOUR innings in a tournament game (that's a lot of innings to pitch in a row), struck out two players and let only two earned runs get by.

And there's Adam, running to First after getting a hit.

My boys are the awesomest.

Yoga bragging alert!! Beware!!

I bound Pasasana in my home practice yesterday, heels only an inch off the floor, no walls, no straps, no smoke, no mirrors. It's a miracle. Let's see if it can be repeated in class, which is SOOOO much harder.

YC

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

So, you think you're so yogic?


Really?

Well.

Alrighty.

Perhaps I might interest you in a little self-examination to go with that denial?



YC

Monday, July 07, 2008

As good as they get

And that's not saying much.

I'm on my way home from the city after a fine yoga practice and a fabulous haircut with Jody at Bumble and bumble (aka Theo, if you're looking for him there) and a most sobering consult with the most dour of plastic surgeons, who I shall not name although I would very much like to, along with a string of expletives, because I haven't thought all of this through and it is still possible that I will determine that he's merely the messenger and not the message.

The message is not dire in a life or death sort of way. But it does put to death my fantasy that it is possible to put me back together again in a way that will survive the rigors of my yoga practice, and in a way that would produce results worth the sacrifice of my yoga practice, for six weeks, twelve weeks or forever, as the case may be.

I went today to Dr. Inscrutable to see if perhaps he could fix my reconstructed breasts once and for all. They are lumpy and kind of square, and higher profile on top than on the bottom, unlike that perfect Jennifer-Aniston-teardrop shape. And with each passing month, they seem to get worse. I assume that this is a function of the stretching of my chest muscles that my yoga practice is effecting; the implants are under the muscles and are likely getting squeezed and shifted by the vigors of vinyasa practice and the stretching of second series asanas.

Dr. Inscrutable: The only way to improve the look would be to remove your implants and start again with expanders under the bottom half of the breasts. Six weeks of recovery time - no yoga. Then three to four months later, we replace the expander with implants. Six weeks of recovery time - no yoga. And then if you want to maintain the results, you'll have to give up the yoga poses that are extreme stretches of the chest muscles.

Me: Well, how about...

Dr Inscrutable: No.

Me: Well, what about....

Dr Inscrutable: No.

Me: Wh....

Dr. Inscrutable: No.

Me: Um?

Dr. Insrutable: No.

Me: Okay, so, it sounds like this is the end of the line for me, as far as aesthetics fitting into my lifestyle go. (Wistfully) You know, it's funny, this is the first time in the six years since my cancer diagnosis that I have actually mourned for what I've lost.

One might think that Dr. Inscrutable might have dropped his act at that point, shown a shred of empathy.

One who thought that would be wrong."I'm not the only plastic surgeon in town, Dr. Inscrutable intoned defensively (defending what though?) "You could consult with another if you don't like what you're hearing."
.
Me: (flabbergasted) I just meant that I never thought twice about double mastectomy, and I thought it would all turn out fine, somehow, appearancewise...I...

Dr. A-hole: You have a lot to think about. Alone. You and your brain alone in a room. Bye.

Cut to Kindly Physician's Assistant opening a book of Before and Afters to show me what I might look like if I choose what is still behind Door Number Three: Implant removal, no further reconstruction.

I took note of the fact that the Before pictures - showing a straigh scar and a boyish (as in pre-pubescent boy) pancake-flat breast - looked okay to me. But KPA reminded me that Dr. Fuckface had said that I would look worse than the Befores, because of excess skin (why he couldn't remove that, I am still not clear on; see above dialogue for why that might be).

I also took note of the fact that every single woman in the album looked far better After than before the Before, as in, each of them had horrifying pendulous, stretched out, droopy breasts before cancer, but after cancer, they had the perky adorable stripper quality breasts that I used to tell myself that would be my gift from the breast cancer.

Well, clearly, that was not the case, and now, it has come to pass that the guillotine has dropped on the delicate neck of my dream that someday it WOULD be.

Sure, I'm alive! Yeah! Yay! I am thrilled and greatful and joyous that the "End of the Line" is about aesthetics today, and not about something far more unpleasant than loss of the dream of nicely resurrected breasts.

But I won't lie: I am grieving. I feel a painful, empty hole where that dream was. That dream was always there to accompany me wherever I went, whatever I wore, however I felt when I looked in the mirror. And now, nothing.

I have had a sudden shift in attitude, one which I was not prepared for. I have to make space for that in my life now. And it will be okay because it has to be.

Breast cancer brought me many gifts, the first and greatest is an appreciation of my life, which could have been lost long ago. Then there's the yoga. Then there's my dog, my love of gardening - both of which are a way of rejoicing in the life-ness of life. On a more trivial level, I got a tummy tuck and a nose job out of the deal, indirectly in the latter case. And I have made scads of friends, again indirectly, by way of the yoga. And I was given a reason to stop spending my life in a law office, can't forget that.

But the gift of the rejuvenated breasts? That is not to be.

YC

Sunday, July 06, 2008

He's so articulate(d)!

Just look at this Obama action figure.

Look at the fine detailing of the six-pack (eight pack?), the strong hands, the shiny white teeth, the assertive stance.

But mostly, look at the beautifully articulated arms and shoulders. With arms and shoulders like that, this version of Obama could manage a pretty impressive Kapotasana, even if his ribcage isn't capable of articulating away from his spine, even if his chest is significantly muscle-bound.

I haven't been keeping up with the action-figure yoga classes over at Yogabeans of late, but I wonder if the next yoga lesson could possibly feature this fine specimen?

Not long ago, I mused about how Michelle Obama might benefit from some bending. I think it's time for Obama to get in on the act.

YC

Thursday, July 03, 2008

...and the livin is easy...

But not so much the asana. Sometimes. Like today. Miracle of discipline that I even got my hung over ass to practice this morning. Went to David Burke & Donatella for drinks and dinner with friends from Bedford. The bartender rather liked me and kept filling my martini glass with increasingly creative versions of my initial pomegranate lemonade with citron vodka, straight up. At some point, there was even champaigne poured into the glass. That was delish, by the way.

Soused before we even sat down at our table, I was.

Dinner involved some insanely expensive bottle of red - the other couple's pick. Husband o' Mine gritted his teeth and bore it like a man. And the pouring was continuous, a veritable bottomless glass.

There was animal flesh consumed as well. And gossip. And scathing criticisms of a couple of "townsfolk" who can't seem to "get" the interracial thing with any level of couth or grace.

This morning, after consuming all that tamasic food and digesting it with the bitterness of speaking ill of others, my body was shot. Not so much inflexible as utterly lacking in strength.

But i did it, so yay me!

Yay me!

YC

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Life is good!

Sometimes, I'll just have this realization that I am so effing lucky to be alive. We all are, right? But I feel sometimes that there but for the grace of God go I. And by grace of God, I mean to use a cliche, and I do not mean it literally, except a little part of me does.

It's a beautiful day, a new moon, my trees are all planted, my rock paths are pretty much "set in stone", all of the perennials that I was planning to plant this year (it's a many-yeared project) are planted, the annuals I planted from seed are coming up (zinnias) or have already bloomed (short sunflowers galore, plus sweet pea, my plum tomatoes have popped.

What's left is for the compost to finish cooking so that I can amend the soil in the woodland garden for next year's plantings. Whoevever said it takes as little as a few weeks was totally lying. I have composted in three different ways, and none of them is there yet. One of them is still cooking since being put together last year, in a commercial bin no less. My guess is that the quickest cook will be the ones that are in open-topped piles, enclosed in fencing. They seem to get the hottest.

Today, no practice. Yesterday's was great. Touched each toe, but couldn't keep the left while holding the right. In any event the Good Doc says that I'm where I should be in Kapo and all is well.

Eka Pada is fun, but still not happening without either my hand assisting or the assistance of the Good Doc. I am far better with the two-legged Leg-Behind-Headers, at this rate, NOT that I practice them. Ha. Even the Good Doc knows that I do.

Anyone who wants to practice in the EARLY traditional style, the style in which David Williams was taught, should make the pilgrimage up to New York Yoga on York and 86th to see Christopher. There is a LOT to be said for being taught slowly and methodically and not getting Supta K before binding in Mari D on your own, yes. But there is ALSO something to be said for practicing ALL of Primary EVERY day and gradually opening it ALL and building up stamina and burning off more energy and, finally, and I think this is really important: doing ALL of the Yoga Therapy that is Yoga Chikitsa.

There's always more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak, and apologies to PETA. But if you are someone who is inclined to want to be given a LOT to work with and to be EXPECTED to EXPECT to progress (whining, "I can't" is frowned upon), then go see Christopher.

Which reminds me - there is a SUPERSTAR Ashtanga Intensive (my description, not their's) at Ashtanga Yoga Shala in the East Village that I want to tell everyone about. It begins August 2nd, and the faculty are as follows:

Lori Brungard - can't say enough beautiful things about her. If you are into talking about asanas and thinking about asanas and breaking down asanas, then you need to take a workshop with Lori. I've taken her Primary Series In Depth Workshop, and as a result, at least one vritti is wiped away from my practice: I know the vinyasas cold. I never ever have to think about what comes when and which breath goes with which movement. Lori helped me make sense of it. She also gave incredible physical adjustments and anatomical explanations. I'm even quoted on the website gushing...

Christopher Hildebrandt - The Good Doctor will be doing what no one can do so well: teaching Sanskrit, Mantras and Meaning. In his words, because mine would never suffice:

The breath, so central to yoga practice, is expressed through sound. The sounds of Sanskrit are elemental and pure, and create vibrations that help us to purify speech, body, and mind. When seen in this way, Sanskrit is an important key to the ultimate goal of yoga practice, the unification of body and mind through the vehicle of the breath.

Tristhana, the three important elements of Ashtanga Vinyasa, or breath, asana, and drishti, also correspond to these three purifications. In this course, we will learn the sounds of Sanskrit, how to use them to pronounce correctly and decipher the Ashtanga Mantras, counting, and asana names. The course is open to anyone.


He is also teaching Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy.

Petri Raisanen: Adjustment Workshop - I practiced with Petri for several months at a time, several times. You can read about him on my blog - just put him into the search box. He's awesome and with that impish glint in his eye, his energy is infectuous. I adored learning adjustments from Guy, and I can only say good things, but I have to say that it would have been awesome to have had Petri there as well. He gives amazing

Sarah Plumer: One of my first teachers ever. She was as patient as patient gets, as I pushed her and prodded her to get her to let me do what was not to be done at her shala (Eddie Stern's shala, really), which was to practice all of Primary without really mastering any of it. Sure, she could have let me do what my ego wanted, but she patiently taught me "why not". And apparently her knowledge of anatomy, wrought from a dance background before the yoga, is incomparable.

Jessica Blanchard and Jenny Meyer, I do not know, but apparently their reputations are stellar. And Lisa Schrempp is doing Ayurvedic Consultations!

You can take the modules together for a 200 Hour Certification, which will be acknowledged anywhere you want to practice yoga (except, presumably at a shala that only hires AYRI authorized teachers), or you can take it in bits and pieces, as I intend to do this summer.

See you there?

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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