Thursday, August 28, 2008

Live Blogging From the U.S. Open

Watching Monfils versus Korolev (who the "f" are they?). It smells like curry here in the Armstrong stadium. I have no idea why.

Watches Venus trounce someone in the Ashe stadium earlier.

I find this boring, and to my delight and consternation, a glass of chardonnay helped take the edge of boredom off.

Unfortunaely, it is wearing off.

YC

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A backbend I can not be embarassed about


Yesterday, I did a super-disciplined practice from the Sun Salutations through all of Standing. The Good Doc would have been proud (I think), as I initiated every movement with the breath, I never took my heels off the mat once they were planted, I did not do any researchy things like putting my knee down to twist in Parsvakonasana B (the twisted one) and I stayed very very focused.

But when I got to the floor, I realized that I had very little time, and definitely not enough to get to all of the poses I like or am currently "working on". So, I veered off into a totally non-Ashtanga, but Ashtanga-based personal practice, which is to say that I did Ashtanga poses, but in a highly untraditional way.

I covered all of Primary up through Mari A without any vinyasas in between. Then I skipped to Mari C, then to Bujapidasana, then Tittibhasana, then Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana, then Yoga Nidrasana, then Supta Kurmasana again. Then Eka Pada Sirsasana, then straight into Kapotasana. Then Urdhva Dhanurasana.

And the funny thing: my UD was my best ever, at least my best ever caught on film. Compare the above with the below, up until yesterday, my gold standard.
















I even caught some up-down, up-down, up-down drop backs on film:





Sunday, August 24, 2008

Picnic at Hanging Rock

I recorded this 1975 Peter Weir-directed film on DVR. Not sure why. And not sure why I felt drawn to watching it late last night. But I did...and...wow. Has anyone else seen it? It was mind-blowing. It is shoving Donnie Darko aside for my most favorite movie ever. I love these mysterious, open-ended stories. I guess I love torturing myself...

YC

Friday, August 22, 2008

Free Ashtanga Classes in Downtown NYC: UPDATED

*****FOR BRAND NEW BEGINNERS:

30 Minute Intro Class

*September 28:
* 4:15
* 4:45
* 7:15
* 7:45

*At a location on the Upper East Side convenient to the 6 Train - Preregistration is required; upon registration, location will be disclosed. Email lori@ashtangayogasangha.org. Or call 212.529.9434.

*********FOR ALL LEVELS:
75 to 90 Minutes Classes

***AT THE SHALA (815 Broadway, 2nd Floor, between 11th and 12th Streets):
*Aug 28 (Thurs) 10:30 am
*Aug 29 (Fri) 9 am, 10:30 am. and 6:15 pm
*Aug 31 (Sun) 9 am

*NO PREREG NEEDED*

***AT YOGA TO THE PEOPLE (12 St. Marks Place, #4F)

*Aug 29 (Fri) 12:15 pm and 4:30 pm
*Aug 31 (Sun) 11:30 am

*NO PREREG NEEDED

Teachers are trainees with Ashtanga Yoga Sangha, where I did my 200 Hours in Ashtanga.

YC

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just when I thought I was on my way to becoming an authorized teacher...

Well, not really.

I never really gave a crap about that. And I still don't.

So, apparently, the AYRI wants its authoried teachers to refrain from teaching anything but Primary and to refrain from giving Workshops.

Feh.

What I look for in a teacher is not whether they are authorized. What I look for in a teacher as a threshhold question, is whether they have been taught by SKPJ. The reason is that while SKPJ is still alive, he is THE SOURCE. And if I cannot go to the source, I want to be taught by someone who has been to the source. Plain and simple.

In time, this will change. People will have been taught by Sharath. And perhaps someday, I will look for a teacher who has been taught by SKPJ or his grandson. Or perhaps in time, I will simply look for a teacher who has been taught by someone who has been taught by SKPJ or his grandson.

What I seek is as close to a "primary source" as possible. The further you get from the primary source, the more distilled is the teaching. I want the purest possible teaching.

After that, I care about a personal connection, trust, safety, a lack of greediness about teaching poses, a joy in teaching, a certain something.

My feeling is that these new restrictions on authorized teachers are going to simply make authorization irrelevant altogether. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot...

YC

Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?

He won the lottery....and went to prison for two decades.

Don't drive drunk.

YC

It's always a good sign when I want to do a photo shoot..



So, here is the result of a summer of warm weather, a lot of Kapotasanas and sheer persistence. Maybe you can't see progress, but it FEELS better to me. I always say that...because it's always true.










Uh oh...this one was taken in June...is there really much of a difference at all...maybe a teeny bit of arm angle was reduced since June. But, crap. This DOES take a long time. For me at least.
YC

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Mad Men" is the new "Sex and the City"


Here's the latest YC post on the Huff Post:
"Mad Men" is the new "Sex and the City".

Hope you like!

YC

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Kapotasana A.

Sure, I'm using belts to pull my hands in. But at the moment, the belts are my teacher since the kids have come home from camp, and I am now "grounded" (happily, to be honest).

I got the idea to use belts from Donut Zen Mom's use of ropes. Hers were attached to her wall. Mine are secured around the balls of my feet. I couldn't see myself being able to walk my hands in the way DZM does. But I could see myself being able to hold onto a belt and rotate my arms into place as I show in this video:





I know it's not Ashtanga if you use props. But props plus my own personal intuition-based playbook of R&D is the way I have learned EVERY single pose with which I have struggled. Sure, teachers put me in those poses. But to learn to do it myself, this has always been the only way.

I never thought I would get even CLOSE to this approximation of Kapotasana. And it hasn't even been six months. I am feeling optimistic that barring some "unforseen horrible", I will one day be able to take Kapotasana by myself, without props.

Unfortunately, my Supta Kurmasana has been suffering a bit - I am not as easily putting myself into it these days. Not sure if it is the angle at which I am placing my legs, which would be a function of learning Eka Pada. Or if it is my emphasis on backbending lately. Or maybe it's just having lots and lots of Diet Snapple in my tummy - it's summer, and I have been drinking so so so much lately, sometimes as much as 50 ounces before getting to the mat.

No trouble getting into Supta K when someone else puts me in it, whether it's the Good Doc, one of my fellow students or the Husband (on the rare occasion when I can coerce him into helping me). So, not sure what the problem is. But I hope it goes away soon.

Pasasana is steadily, but slowly, improving. I can reliably bind it on my own at home. Never in the shala. Not sure why that is. Maybe it's because sometimes I have to try a few times before succeeding, and I never get the chance at the shala. What is it with that pose? Why is it even THERE?

Eka Pada is going to be a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG time coming. And I don't care. I really don't care at all. I enjoyed it initially because it took the pressure off the Kapotasana. And now that Kapotasana is coming along, and my standing-up is improving as well, I feel less obsessed with Eka Pada. So, my leg won't stay behind my head. It will eventually. The hip sockets simply need to soften up so that the leg doesn't cry out to jump out from behind my head. When it can relax itself right above my shoulders, then it will stay on its own, and nothing anyone does is going to make that happen. It just will happen when it happens.

What else, let's see...

I have been bike riding again, finally. When my kids came home, I wanted to bike again - hadn't biked all summer, maybe due to the heat, maybe due to the fact that I had been spending so much of my energy on the garden. So we have twice explored the North County Trail, a no-cars-allowed (for the most part) trail that runs up through Westchester County starting halfway up (the South County Trail connects it to New York City). I'd like to continue riding through Thanksgiving, like I did last year. It feels nice to do be outdoors, it feels nice to push the pedals, and it seems as if strengthening my legs in this non-yoga way might be good for my drop-backs and stand-ups. Well, it has been for the past two days at least.

I really like having my kids home. They ground me. And I am in need of that.

YC

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tim Miller is coming here!

Tim Miller will be in the New York area, at the CT Shala, actually (The Yoga Shala in Georgetown, Connecticut) in September!

Check it out!

YC

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thank you, yes and ummmmm, I have an excuse for that, Carl.

First, to Claudia, thank you! Yes, it is exciting to finally feel something open when you've been waiting for soooooooooooo long. Today was much better, although not quite as deep. Still, I got my toes and felt my back actually BEND rather than feeling like my arms were being ripped off to compensate for lack of a back bend.

To Linda, yes, I was there, and you were missed.

To Carl, oh, yes, you are totally right. I laughed when I read your comment - I actually contacted Habitats for Humanity, and they never responded. So there. In the fall, I am definitely, as far as I know now, going to be volunteering at a school for troubled girls here in Westchester. It's a once-a-month thing, where we spend lunch with the girls and get to know them and chat and act girly with the, I guess. Should be some good karma for me there...

After I came home from practice, I spent HOURS fixing up my garden. I have made many many mistakes, and I am learning. Light matters, for example. Too little light, and hydrangeas don't bloom. So, why have rhodedendrons in the light and hydrangeas in the shade? Lots of transplanting today. Also moved my blueberries into the side yard near some holly - both like acid. Yeah man. Acid.

Boring, boring, boring, I am

Today.

YC

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Afraid of an ASANA?? You bet your spinal cord, I am.

I had the deepest Kapotasana today that I have ever had. S was pulling my thighs forward. The Good Doc was taking my hands to my feet. Instead of feeling a pull in my triceps or in my hip flexors, I felt my back...BEND.

I know...it's supposed to.

But I never thought it would.

It really bent where it has never bent before, and I had the sensation of closing up like a clamshell.

I know...this is desirable. This is what I have wanted. This is what everyone else is doing when they grab their heels, when they take their ankles. In fact, I am sure that what I experienced is quite a bit less than all that.

Yet it freaked me out.

I was terrified that I would break. Or something. I was terrified to breathe. I don't know why.

Tomorrow, I want to try it again...with breathing.

Also - learning to jump into Bujapidasana is finally happening for real. I can jump into a very low, wide Tittibhasana. At least I can land, right? Now, I just need to get higher on my legs. There is time. It's not going anywhere, but since I have been working at this for a while, I thought it was time to share.

YC

Summer Affective Disorder

Last summer, I felt happy and kept busy. This summer, I find myself struggling. I'd like to blame it on the stupidly early mornings I've been (needlessly) putting myself through in order to practice with the Good Doc and to be with the "sangha" (as in Yiddish, there simply IS no adequate English equivalent that holds the same subtle meaning).

But today, as I waited for the 6:49 am train to the city, wearing long pants and lonh sleeves, a chiffon scarf draped around my hips, sniffing the golden scent of the first signs of autumn in the air, I realized that last summer was really just a fluke.

See, I don't like summer. Never have. I crave structure, and summer has no structural imperative. Sure, I can make myself follow a train schedule and a shala schedule, but when I know it is merely arbitrary, that in fact I have all day to do whatever I want and could practice from two to four if I want to do so, then the imperative is absent. There is structure, but there is nothing requiring me to adhere to it.

Without structure, I am left to make the hard decisions about what to do with my day. And this is where it all goes to hell.

If I practice early, I feel resentful that I did so when I didn't need to. If I dont', I feel guilty that I wasted the morning.

Ah, fall, when just the scent and the snap in the air, when the colors of trees, create a reflex within me, a reflex of productivity. And then the structure of the schoolday forces me to get things done.

Even when I don't get things done, at least it is clear what I was missing.

Off to practice...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In the "wee wee" hours of the morning, you'll find....



This actually is an infomercial, which I THINK, based on the hookers and strippers that they must have bribed to appear in it, is for an alleged penis-enlargement product, although it stays on the legal side of things by never actually using the word "penis".

Thus, technically, it could be a fingernail enlargement product, or a nose enlargement product, or maybe it grows hair.

Watch and be stunned by the sheer stupidity and horrifyingly schlocky production values.

YC

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Who John Edwards Screwed...

His supporters.

The rest is not my business.

The reality of the situation is that the American public won't tolerate a politician who is dumb enough to get caught being unfaithful to his spouse. Or dumb enough to be unfaithful to his spouse during an election year. Whichever.

Right or wrong, stupid or smart, staunchly self-aware or staunchly self-ignorant, these are the American voters. And John Edwards played fast and loose with the rules that he knew existed.

So he screwed those who had no idea what he was doing, who had no idea that he was setting himself up for a fall.

The rest of it is simply not my business.

YC

Color War - the only war worth fighting















GAWD, check out that pitching form.

A mom can kvell, can't she?

YV

Friday, August 08, 2008

More on Kelly Bundy's Fight with Breast Cancer


A different take on my Christina Applegate post was published on the Huff Post today:
Advice to Christina Applegate: Fight the Good Fight, and then Take Savasana.

YC

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Peace


Not only does he hang out with the girls, but he is way cool.

YC

May Christina Applegate's Breasts Be In Good Hands...


Christina Applegate, the girl from "Married With Children", has been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. And according to her publicist, it's a very very special kind of breast cancer (my words, not hers): it's the kind that is "non-life-threatening" (her words, not mine).

So...hey, wow! Non-life-threatening breast cancer! How friggin' cool can you get?! I mean, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2002 at the age of 36, how awesome would it have been if my doctor had sat me down and said, "Don't worry, Lauren! You have "non-life-threatening" breast cancer, not the scary kind of breast cancer that everyone else in the entire world gets."

I mean, until I heard about Christina Applegate's breast cancer, my understanding of breast cancer was (and remains) that no matter how early you catch it, it could still come back. And when it comes back, it will eventually kill you, unless of course, something else kills you first. Like congestive heart failure caused by the chemo, or leukemia caused by the radiation. Or getting hit by a bus, I suppose.

My own breast cancer was caught as early as it could have been. I had had a normal mammogram at 35 and felt myself up on a fairly regular basis. Nevertheless, one day while I was, lalala, merrily exfoliating in the shower, I felt a lump in my right breast. A big one, rock hard too, and when I tried to push it out of the way, I found that it held the surrounding skin and breast tissue firmly in place. Without relaying all the sordid details, let's just say that I had a bad feeling about it. And so, I did not delay. Within a week, I had been seen by my OB/GYN, who sent me to a radiologist, who ultrasounded my breasts and found not one lump, but two, and took samples from them with a needle as I lay on the table. He looked at the samples under the microscope while I waited, tears rolling out of my eyes and into my ears.

"Suspicious", he announced grimly.

"Does that mean cancer?" I quivered.

"Uh. Yes. It does."


Within six weeks of first finding the lump, it had been removed from my body, along with 18 lymph nodes and two other lumps, one of which was neither palpable nor visible; it was discovered only because I had had both of my breasts removed and dissected.

My surgeon called me a week later with the news that, yay, my cancer was early stage! And by the way, three of the 18 lymph nodes contained cancerous cells.

Excuse me? Early stage but IN the lymph nodes? How could that be?

Well, it be.

You see, "early stage" breast cancer includes everything up to Stage 2B. One guess as to my cancer's stage. Right. Stage 2B, which means that the tumor is bigger than an inch but smaller than a lime, and up to three lymph nodes contain cancerous cells. One more lymph node, and I would have been Stage 3, which is not a death sentence, although it is not considered "early stage". Stage 4 is what they call a cancer that has "come back", even if it was Stage 1 when it was first diagnosed. (Stage 4 can also be the initial diagnosis - when the cancer is found in organs and/or lymph nodes outside the breast and armpit.)

Now, I don't doubt that some cancers can be said to be truly non-life-threatening, such as a basal cell skin cancer or even a melanoma, provided that it has not invaded the deeper layers of skin or beyond. But beyond those, I cannot think of any form of cancer that comes with a "non-life-threatening" guarantee. Even the seemingly "curable" cancers (early stage prostate cancer, for example, and certain types of testicular cancers) are life-threatening because they can come back. That's what follow-up visits with the surgical or medical oncologist are for. And for many cancer survivors, the follow-up visits continue on a once or twice per year basis for as many as five years.

In the case of a breast cancer survivor, they continue far longer. Why? Because beast cancer is uniquely sinister in (at least) two notable ways:

1. Breast cancer has been known to "come back" (bringing the patient to Stage 4, with no stops in between) even in those whose disease was caught in the "early stage", including Stages 0 (no invasive disease) and 1 (small tumor; no lymph node involvement).

2. A recurrence of breast cancer can happen any time, even, say, 20 years after the initial diagnosis, especially , my oncologist told me, 20 years after the initial diagnosis (why "20" is the magic number here is something I cannot even begin to understand). This, notwithstanding an initial diagnosis of "early stage".

So, yeah, I am totally jealous of Christina Applegate because, apparently, her publicist has diagnosed her with the awesome kind of breast cancer that is NOT life threatening, when I had to go and get the other kind of breast cancer. You know...the kind that has a really good prognosis when caught early and treated aggressively, albeit with no guarantees. The kind that forces you to realize that being bald from chemo is not embarrassing but totally cool (even if, like me, you would never appear in public without your wig) since most people will be awe-filled and tell you that they don't think they could have done what you've done, even though you secretly know that they could have and would have if faced with a ...LIFE-THREATENING illness. The kind that makes you realize that although the scars on your chest may not be "sexy", exactly, they do mark you as lucky and blessed to have survived a...all together now ... a LIFE-THREATENING illness.

Now, in all seriousness, I am sending my best wishes and heartfelt prayers to Christina Applegate. Be well, Christina, and be brave.

And be happy that your publicist is not your doctor.

YC

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Who's uncomfortable?

If we were at a party, and you looked down my dress and saw the scars on my chest, would you be uncomfortable? Would you think less of me?

I'd really like to know. Honestly.

YC

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Reports of my having left the cult are greatly exaggerated.

I still practice Ashtanga, even if I seem to barely ever write about it these days. Lately, I don't have much to say on the topic. I practice, most of the time. And when I do, it is usually good. Occasionally it is very very good. Occasionally, it is bad.

Progress on Primary is limited "primarily" to being able to jump into Tittibhasana for Bujupidasana and Kurmasana now. I finally figured out that I need to imagine sending energy into my toes in order to commit to it. Next step will be landing high enough on my arms that I can wrap my shins in instantly for Bujapidasana and sit right down and go right into Kurmasana. I expect that will take a long time. We shall see. No rush, as no one has ever asked me to do this. I just decided that since there is little else to work on as far as the asanas of Primary go, I might as well hone in on this transitional work.

Progress in backbending is being made in fits and starts, two steps forward, two steps back, two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, three steps back and two steps forward once again. Mainly, I attribute any progress to the fact that I am walking on my hands in my backbends, forward and backward, and occasionally in circles.

Progress in Leg Behind Head (for me, Eka Pada Sirsasana only at this point) is being made a bit more reliably than in backbending. I am now able to keep my left foot behind my head without my hands, but it is kind of ugly. Still, progress is being made, and I attribute this to two factors: First, I am holding Shoulderstand and Halasana for 108 breaths (also Padmasana, Sirsasana and Savasana, okay not so much Savasana, but in theory...). This is really really stretching out my spine. Second, I am holding Dwi Pada with Hands in Prayer in the transition out of Supta Kurmasana, as well as Dwi Pada with the Lift, as WELL as Tittibhasana A before finding my way into bakasana and catvari.

So there you have it.

Still practicing.

YC

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Opening of the American Marriage?


I watch CBS's Swingtown. And I find it incredibly unrealistic...and yet...I am intrigued. Did people do this? DO they? Swap spouses, get naked with neighbors? Am I just the last puritan?

I wrote about this on the Huff Po, in The Opening of the American Marriage. Hope you like!

YC

And don't forget to love your lazy-ass self...



Somehow, I ended up with simultaneous postings on the Huff Po, and this one might make you feel just a little bit less guilty about being (as) lazy (as I am) this summer: Embrace Your Inner Sloth.

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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