Friday, December 18, 2009


Brian Runs for the Cure BRINGS IT!!!...and I could not be prouder or more honored....


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Full Vinyasa

Click Here for the latest post (Full Vinyasa Primary plus...)


Thursday, November 12, 2009


Click here to be redirected to "Difficulty Getting to the Mat-Difficulty Getting Off The Mat Once I Started".


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

25 Random Things About Yoga

Click HERE for 25 Random Things About Yoga on the Huffington Post....


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

If everyone gave ONE dollar...

Think of how much research money that would be for breast cancer.

Remember when we all donated so that Gregg could buy sunglasses?

Remember when Tiffany wanted to go to Mysore?

Those were, of course, worthy causes, but so is raising money to find a cure for cancer.

Please consider donating by clicking on the donation button at Brian Runs For The Cure.

Thank you so much....


Monday, November 02, 2009

From Annoyance To Grace in 90 MInutes Flat

My latest Huff Post: read it here. And yeah, this one is about yoga...


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Brian Runs For The Cure

Please click on this link: Brian Runs For The Cure. It's my 12-year old son's first foray into giving back: he has organized his own run against breast cancer, which will take place in December, and oh my GOD, am I proud...

Please consider donating to this worthy cause - no amount is too small, and every cent is appreciated so very very much!!


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

An actual asana post

But you'll have to click
HERE to read it...YC

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why I failed as an atheist

Click HERE to be directed to the new post on:

Yoga Chickie: Chicken Soup For the Navel Gazing Soul.

Today's post: Why I failed as an atheist.

Thanks to all of you! See you on WordPress!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yoga Chickie has a new post on the new blog. click here to be redirected.

Click HERE to be directed to the new post on:

Yoga Chickie: Chicken Soup For the Navel Gazing Soul.

Today's post: Kapotasana = Death.

Thanks to all of you! See you on WordPress!



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yoga Chickie Has MOVED...

Click HERE to be directed to the new home of:

Yoga Chickie: Chicken Soup For the Navel Gazing Soul.

Thanks to all of you! See you on WordPress!



See you on WordPress!

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Address

I'm moving to
Yoga Chickie on Wordpress. I really liked Blogger until this week, when readers started getting "malware" warnings when trying to access my blog. I don't know if the problem is Blogger, or Blogger as it interfaces (for lack of a better word) with Google. But I find this malware thing a bit distasteful. So....I'll be transitioning. For now, you can find me there AND here.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cranked, yanked, spanked

Today, on another blog, I read this: "[P]eople sometimes lose faith in their teachers. I wonder if it isn’t more about a loss of faith in one’s self that then gets projected on the teacher. I wonder if that isn’t the root of teacher discontent."

I knew who this was directed to, since I am, at the moment, the poster child for "loss of faith" in teachers, and since this particular blogger recently deleted a comment of mine that questioned the sanity of desperately attempting to go deeper in poses that our bodies (aging bodies, I might add) simply are not meant to go deeper in. I had written that perhaps there is a "wall" at which progress stops, and why fight it?

Deleted. Truth hurts, huh?

Anyway, I would like to address it here.

It's my blog after all, and I would rather expend my words here, than waste them ...well...there. So here goes:

Of course, I can't answer for everybody, but I know why I have lost interest in being "taught" yoga by a yoga teacher (with some exception). It is because I have come to a point in my practice where I totally understand what is going on in my body and where I totally know what my body needs on any given day.

A projection of loss of faith in my SELF?! HA! Not even one bit true. It is the opposite of true.

I am a senior teacher of yoga...of myself. When it comes to teaching me, it doesn't get more senior than this. I am the expert, plain and simple, inside and out. I know what my body needs, what my body tolerates, what feels good and what causes pain. I choose not to have my body cranked and yanked into poses. I choose to honor my body by keeping it safe from harm caused by teachers who think that we WANT our shoulders dislocated and our spines bent the wrong way (newsflash: the thoracic spine is not meant to be bent in the same direction as the lumbar spine). Well, maybe some of you do. But I no longer see the point.

Yeah, see, I don't feel the need to seek approval from a teacher, and I don't need my Intermediate Series "validated" by anyone other than me. God knows, the people who actually matter in my life don't even know what the fuck I'm talking about right about now.

I am not so desperate to prove...I don't know...something...about my body, about myself, about my youth, about wielding control over the aging process...that I have any urge at all to get INJURED on a daily basis. And that is what some people are doing. Injuring themselves daily. Getting cranked, yanked, and, basically, spanked. For WHAT? To come back tomorrow and do it again? To grumble about my feelings of inferiority because I will only ever "graze my toes" in Kapotasana?

My backbends ARE inferior to some of those out there. Hell, they're inferior to many. Halle-fuckin-lujah...I still get to the mat, and I still run, and I still hike, and I still use my body in any way that I desire and any way that I am able. I'm not saving it for the mat. Who gives a rat's ass?

I like to feel good. All I get when I get put into Kapotasana by a teacher is ripped tricep muscles. I'm over it.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I will now talk about Yoga

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Fifty-Cent Word, blah blah blah. Fifty-Five-Cent Word, blah blah blah blah.

Blah-blahasana. I practiced it eighteen BILLION times today. Blah blah blah. It's not about the physical blah blah blah. I only do it for the spiritual blah blah blah.

Famous Yogi says blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Sanskrit-blah blah blah. Hindu god blah blah blah blah. Don't remind me of the truth because I will destroy you blah blah blah.

What the world needs now is love sweet blah blah blah, peace, save the children, save the rescue dogs, hate all things republican but love love love, blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah, if you don't agree with me, you're stoooopit and just not very good at backbends. Blah blah blah.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ready for autumn

It's crappy outside, yet again. It's not thunder and hailstones like it has sometimes been this summer. But it's the kind of damp, lukewarm day that makes hanging around outside unappealing. And now I am waving the white flag. I am officially giving up on this summer and looking forward to autumn.

I look forward to wearing jeans during the day, so that my bruised and bitten legs don't have to be on display. I look forward to boots and tights and anoraks and mustard and burgundy and plaid.

I look forward to apples and root vegetables and stews. I look forward to firewood and the smell of my fireplace and the smell of other peoples' fireplaces when I walk around outside. I look forward to the sound of leaves crunching under my feet when I hike, the smell and the color of autumn keaves.

I look forward to starting up at school again, to the energy of an academic environment, to walking through campus with a cup of ooffee in one hand, to using the gym at school, to running outside any time of day rather than having to wait until late in the day when the heat has died down.

I look forward to my kids coming home. I miss those little monkeys. I do. I miss cooking for them. And I look forward to helping my little one (not so little at 10, really) get and remain organized during the school year. I look forward to the structure of school days, of going back to getting up early in the morning, getting the kids out to the bus and getting something done in the morning (two days a week, it will be Experimental Psychology starting at 8:30 a.m.), getting my ass moving early.

I look forward to fall travel baseball, to the High Holidays (not so much for the synagogue experience, but for the yummy harvest-themed food).

I look forward to having my freedom curtailed a bit. God, I know that is kind of lame. I ought to be able to curtail myself to the extent necessary without the need for an external force. But, well, maybe I haven't been doing so because I know the externals are coming anyway: kids, their school, my school.

Yeah, I know, I had a lot of hopes pinned on this summer. I had planned on marathon yoga sessions, improving my backbends, long walks with the dog. The broken hand changed everything. I couldn't do any of those things. I had a very different kind of summer than I planned. I got to take some long runs, some long hikes. I got to practice yoga without vinyasa. I got to see, once again, that when you have downtime in yoga, it's still there for you when you get back. It's comforting, although I tend to forget it after a while. And I got to realize that summer is not going to be the only time in which to make improvements to my practice. It simply can't be, especially since I didn't get to make any this summer. I got to see a lot of friends, to push my social edge, to meet new friends, to have some social adventures that my yoga-intensity had never allowed me to have.

But now, I'm reminded of something Brian said to me last year about the last few days of camp. After Color War is over, despite how much he adores camp and everything about camp, he feels ready to go home. He starts to long for home a bit. I get that. It's like, summer has been really fun and exciting and filled with adventure. But today, as I noticed some fallen yellow leaves (early, yes, all par for the course with this summer's odd weather), as I nurse a hangover from a fun afternoon into late evening spent with a friend and our beagles in the city, as I start to mull over my fall schedule, I realize that I'm not going to mourn the end of summer. I'm ready for fall.

Bring it.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Yes, I practice more than just yoga criticism

Today, I practiced full-on. A first since I broke my hand back in June. Yeah, I did Second Series once, and a number of times, I did essentially vinyasa-less Primary, not to mention, venturing into Jivamukti, Bikram and Pure Yoga for classes. But today, I got on the mat in the mid-afternoon, and despite having a peanut butter and banana sandwich for breakfast and a Cliff Bar for lunch, I managed to flow through Full Standing, Half Primary and Full Second, with so little in the way of distraction and what I have come to refer to as "yoga stylin's", that I managed to finish the entire deal in 85 minutes.

85 Minutes! The way it should be done, in my opinion. But how often can I do things exactly the way I think they should be done. Granted, I am still sitting in lotus as I write this. So, maybe add a minute or two to the whole thing, and let the record reflect: I didn't do Savasana.

Sing it, like Kelly Clarkson, "Oh, no, I do not TAKE REST! I go fast."

And I also listened to a mixture of tunes from my iPod that ranged from the old standby "Alone" by Ansar ("Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu..." sung by lucious female voices and accompanied by a driving trance beat) to that Taylor Swift song about Romeo and Juliet (how friggin cute is that song?!) to Gaga (Poker Face) to Brit Brit ("If You Seek Amy").

Ah, the freedom of self practice.

As the Om instructors used to say: "JUICY!!!"

Now I am meeting a friend in the city. Hope I can keep my eyes open since I was up til 3 reading a really stupidly enthralling book by Anita Shreve (she wrote "Light On Snow", probably the only book of hers worth reading, but still I try). Woke up midway through the morning, did some gardening, took some photos, went to the fish market...blah blah blah.

Since I get so easily addicted to the attention, I must think of something adequately pot-stirring to post to the Huff Post. Sooner rather than later, before I fall away into oblivion again.


Monday, August 03, 2009

Five Words That Do Not Belong In Yoga

It's not the Five Words You Can't Say on Television, but then George Carlin wasn't a yogi.


Friday, July 31, 2009

If yoga weren't a good workout, would you still do it?

When I started yoga, it was a substitute for running and biking, which at the time, didn't feel good to me anymore (probably because I was 15-20 pounds heavier than I had ever been, due to chemo and inactivity). The type of yoga I came for was Bikram. When that got boring, being the same thing day in day out, I went to a class at Jivamukti and was shocked that there was singing (chanting) and lecturing (dharma) about things like "do no harm" (ahimsa) and "eat no meat" (whatever).

I admit it: I got caught up. I sang the Hare Krishna song. And I worshipped Hanuman, sort of. Well, I wouldn't say "worshipped" exactly. But I dug the story. I bought all the must-listen-to music - the Krishna Das, the Donna Delory, the Dum Dum Project, the Drala.

And as I tend to do with anything about which I become passionate for any length of time, I grew disenchanted and began to find flaws, nitpick, get annoyed.

But one thing that I can never say about yoga is that it isn't awesomely good for the body. The stretching mixed with isometric strengthening cannot be beat. If all yoga were were sitting and thinking, or not thinking, as it were, I would be done with it in a heartbeat. But yoga is what got me back in shape and what has kept me in shape ever since.

So, I know the answer to my question. Wondering how others feel.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

People, I would like to introduce you to a self-professed "Intellect":

She calls herself "Owl". Here is a sampling of her literary jewels:

"The Empirical Self of each of us is all that he is tempted to call by the name of me. But it is clear that between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves. Our fame, our children, the work of our hands, may be as dear to us as our bodies are, and arouse the same feelings and the same acts of reprisal if attacked. And our bodies themselves, are they simply ours, or are they us?"

One might say that this is incomprehensible drivel. One might go so far as to say that she doesn't know how to write, if writing is about coherently communicating thought. But then, one might say that the Emporer's clothes were his birthday suit. And one wouldn't want to be revealed as "not getting it".

I once knew a guy who stole just under $ 1,000,000 from from some trusting investors. Curious as to how this might have gone down, I did a quick google search and found the answers in the publicly filed litigation papers. He had solicited his marks by faxing them a proposal that communicated no coherent thought at all. My knee-jerk reaction was, "Wow, he was intelligent, way beyond my comprehension," but then it occurred to me: it wasn't that he was intelligent at all; rather, it was that he concocted something that made no sense and sent it to people hoping that they would feel insecure about not being able to understand what he was saying.

He COUNTED on these people believing that "If I can't understand what I am reading, then I must be stupid. And the guy who wrote it must be really really smart."

And the wallets flew open.

People are smarter than they realize they are, except for the few posers out there who pass as "Intellects" by peppering their paragraphs with five-syllable words that don't generally see the light of day outside of the SATs. Those people are far less smart than they seem and a little less smart than they think they are.

Pompously mangling sentence construction does not an "Intellect" make.


UPDATED: yes, I now know that Owl lifted the quoted text from William James, and I note that my failure to comprehend that ALL of her text was attributed to James speaks volumes about (a) Owl's communication skills and (b) her propensity to plagiarize. Indeed, Owl plagiarized me yesterday, specifically the comment made above about "pompous mangling of sentence construction". I described her writing as such, and she proceeded to use my exact words on her own blog, without attribution. Anyway, here is a sample of what I believe to be Owl's own words, although you never know. They could be someone else's:

"In that context, light waves that move exactly like water across tree leaves is sense pleasure. Undulation, beautiful shapes, colors. The senses mix with emotions and thoughts: delight in body and company, plus a knowledge that all this is special in time and place: the experience is historically unique, so I mark it as precious. An aesthetically perfect moment, a collector’s item."

Owl takes herself seriously, of this much I am certain.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The COOLEST thing about having a blog...

is that you can say whatever you want on it.

I'm just saying.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pet Peeves of the Day

People who try to appear "intellectual" by writing in a way that fails to communicate coherent thought. You're not fooling anyone.

People who use Britishisms incessantly. You're not British. If you were, you would know that using "shag" to mean "have sex with" is the British equivalent of an American using "groovy" to mean "cool". You know who you are.

People who are ashamed to be angry. Anger is totally acceptable. Even for a yogi. When you figure that out, you will feel less angry. Ironic.

People who tell you how smart they are. If you're really smart, we'll figure it out. If you were smarter, you would know that.

That's all for now.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Realities of Aging

I do not have the same body I had when I was 15. Or 25 or 35 or 40. Or even 42. In some ways, it's a much better body now. In some ways, worse. Mainly, it's just different. My weight has shifted upwards, away from my hips and legs. My arms have gotten stronger. Sometimes I am amazingly flexible. Sometimes, I am amazingly stiff. Some days, my wrists hold me up effortlessly in backbends. Some days, they can't tolerate the slightest pressure. Some days, I bound around. Some days, I drag ass. It's unpredictable mostly, attributable to phantom factors like diet, sleep and the weather.

If my body is different every day and changing with each passing year (month, week, day), then how can one yoga practice sustain me each and every day of each and every year? Trying to fit my yoga practice into a box, or even my exercise program as a whole, is just a form of denial. Denying my age. Denying my health history. Denying my needs. And that has to lead to suffering: unmet expectations, daily disappointments, physical pain.

Yesterday, it was terribly humid out. When I got on the mat out on my back porch, I felt leaden. My broken hand felt worse than it has been feeling. I couldn't bear to put any pressure on my hand at all. And I couldn't bear to do yoga without vinyasa. I was feeling sorry for myself. But I pulled myself up off the mat, got some hiking clothes on and went off to a 90 minute hike in the cool, tree-canopied woods. It was delightful, no surprise, and when I came home, I came back to the mat and did most of standing, effortlessly just because I wanted to. Then I threw in a couple of Second Series backbends and called it a day.

I look back on the days when I wouldn't have thought of picking and choosing poses, when I wouldn't have thought of running or hiking or otherwise using my legs in a way that might tighten them up for the next day's yoga practice. And it strikes me as a form of masochism. But then I realize, there was a time when it worked for me. Of course, that was then followed by the time when it wasn't working as well, but I tried to pretend otherwise. And then there is now.

The other day, I was talking to an Ashtanga-practicing friend of mine about the possibility of meeting for a practice at Yoga Sutra. She was like, "I thought you were done with Ashtanga." I was like, "Well, I still practice YOGA." Sometimes I do it at home, sometimes I do it at Bikram, sometimes at Jivamukti, and sometimes I go to a Mysore-style practice space.

Why try to define myself? Why try to confine myself with a definition of what I do and what I am? And why base that identity on a workout anyway?

I don't know why.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yoga-Speak Translated

It's been a long time, but I finally got inspired to write another column for the Huffington Post. Here it is, but may hear your own words coming back at you, and if so...well...sorry?


Monday, July 20, 2009


I miss my kids.

They're at camp having the time of their life. Right before we dropped them back at camp after a lovely visiting day, they simultaneously broke into their camp Fight Song. They LOVE it, and it gives them such an amazing opportunity to take part in activities that I could never offer them at home: sailing, archery, tackle football, windsurfing, bonfire-building, color war (yeah, it's an unfortunate name, but no one, not one child believes that color war has ANYTHING to do with actual war).

I'm incredibly lucky to be able to give them this experience, and even more lucky that they blossom in this environment: they aren't homesick, they're well-liked, they stay out of trouble. Brian even won the award for best camper in his age-group after his first summer.

It even makes me understand why some parents might choose to send their kids to boarding school for high school. Not that I'm planning on that.

But it all comes with a price: I have to be willing to let go, or perhaps, to quote a now-cheesey 80's song, to "hold on loosely". I want so much to give an example here, and there is a story behind this thought. But I fear that someone I know might read this and see herself and be offended. Suffice it to say that when we give our kids space to grow, when we allow them to set reasonable boundaries, we give them an incredible gift. And yeah, I am patting myself on the back here. At least I'm not congratulating myself for an impressive yoga pose or a long run, which I have done plenty of over the years. This is the real deal. Helping to mold citizens of our world.

I just hope (and even pray?) that my kids continue along as successfully as they have been. I just finished this book by Anita Shreve: Testimony. In it, one terrible choice by a small group of of teenagers leads to terrible, far-reaching consequences. The plot was riveting, despite that the character development was full of holes. I kept wondering after I finished it, what can I do as a parent to help my kids to make the right choices? How much of it is in my control, versus what is essentially and fundamentally IN them?

I guess all I can do as a parent is to try to provide a safe environment in which my kids can grow, and pay enough attention to them that they don't need to try to "get" my attention by acting out, but not SO much attention that they feel stifled or guilty for growing up, or worse, unable to function fully among other kids. (Again, I am alluding to something I can't really discuss here.) And to keep it to myself when I miss my "babies" as babies, as toddlers who called me "mama", as tiny blueprints of people who saw me as the most important person in their lives.

I guess that's why I have a dog now. He'll always be my baby, utterly dependent on me.

My kids - if I am to be a good parent, I have to let them grow up and discover and enjoy other people who give them what they need.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Guru of the day

Since I seem to have dispensed with all of my gurus - religion, ashtanga, shrink - it's comforting to once in a while discover another source of knowledge, a provider of light in darkness. Today, I found a guru. I am no longer naive enough to believe that this guru will remain "MY GURU" for any length of time. But for today, I was riveted. I learned. Light was shed.

Would you like to know where I found my guru (of the day)?

Wife Swap. The television show.

I'm not a big television watcher, and ever since my kids were born, I have shunned daytime television because the commercials are too depressing - diet pills, disability lawyers, those little carts that fat people drive around the mall because they are too lazy to walk and too fat to stop being lazy. But today, a super-bad hangover kept me couch-bound. And there was a Wife Swap mini-marathon. And I was riveted.

What did I learn? That every family could use a little overhaul. That extremes don't work (extreme authority, extreme laxness, extreme order, extreme manners, extreme fun, etc.). That everyone is passionate about the way they run their households, but everyone could use a little perspective. That with a little perspective, even those who insist there is zero reason to change will find something they want to change about their lives.

Rereading what I just wrote, I can see that it's all applicable not just to families either. Good stuff, that Wife Swap.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The action addiction

Yesterday was my first "day off" from physical activity in 15 days. I haven't planned rest days at all this summer on the theory that I am not working any one body part the same way on any two consecutive days, and so, any need to rest will rear its head when it does, without my machinations.

As such, no rest day was planned yesterday. But there were a few things that I had to do, and as I did them, the list only multiplied. Hate that. Namely, my root-canaled tooth has stopped being nice and silent and has instead begun to make me aware of its presence again. A little twang here. A radiating ache to my cheekbone there. It occurred to me sometime over the weekend that I hope to live a long life, and that I don't wish for this tooth to be so "out loud" for the duration.

And so I found myself at Dr. L, my trusty friend and dentist. Alas, there is nothing more that he can do for me, and so he sent me onto see an oral surgeon. Three hours later, I am now one surgery away from a tooth extraction. Dr. L assures me that if it comes to that, he will have an implant at the ready so that I don't have to spend any time walking around looking like I just came to visit from Appalachia.

That was a long afternoon, and stressful. I had some palpitations later that kept me awake. I knew what it was though, which helped it to stop more quickly. I always had such good teeth. This is shocking and horrifying to me that if the next surgery doesn't work, I will have to schedule an extraction.


All of this has led me to mentally run from the reconstruction-revision-revision plans. That, plus the fact that I discovered these fabulous bras that make me look...totally normal. And my beef isn't so much with how I look naked but how I look in clothes and even in underwear. So, my latest verdict on Reconstruction.3 is that I will wait a year - a solid year in which I make it my business to always wear the appropriate foundation - and then see if I am still so unhappy with Reconstruction.2.

I mean, truthfully, Recon.3 could look great in clothing. But naked, I will resemble Frankenstein...sewed up patches of skin making up the whole. If that's the case, then...why? Well, apart from the butt-lift that goes with the whole procedure...yes....this time, the new boobs would be made from flesh under my seat, and then the shark-bites would be hidden by lifting up the whole thing.

Essentially, I would be living the dream, ladies: take some fat off the butt and put it on the chest. And while you're at it, lift me to the butt-shape of a 20-year old.

But while I have never had THIS surgery before, I have had ENOUGH surgeries to know, and have carefully observed enough starlets in the tabloids to know, that no matter WHAT you do, no matter WHO your surgeon is, you never truly end up looking like what you had hoped to look like. There are always scars. There are always signs that this wasn't natural. Maybe it looks better than it did before, but it doesn't have a shot of looking like the natural ideal of beauty which you tried not to but couldn't help but envision.

So, after nine hours of surgery, two micro-vascular surgeons, 10 weeks of recovery, maybe I would have (a) the same butt as I have now, minus the equivalent of two AA-cup breasts, plus a bit of a youthful lift (which no one in their right mind has ever suggested that I need, not even me while standing in a dressing room amid a pile of bikinis), and (b) two size 32 AA "frankenboobs"...patched onto my chest amid hundreds of stitches (read: future scars).

And for what? To see it fail again? To see my breasts flatten if I inadvertently lose three pounds? To see my breasts get dented if some of the tissue transferred dies, which COULD happen?

Who am I trying to convince here?

I really am not up for this. And I am HAPPY to know that it is MY decision, not some asshole doctor who I met with briefly last summer. In fact, the doctor I met with this summer is super-nice and willing to take all the time in the world to let me decide. And he welcomes the opportunity to do the work, unlike the other assface from last year. And he has a well-respected partner, one for each boob. Cool, eh?

So, the plan is to keep it under advisement...wear a good bra...and wait and see. And perhaps next summer I will just have my implants swapped out, scar tissue cleaned up. Or perhaps I will find that the good bras don't solve my issues as I hoped they wood, and that I hate my ass, and it's time for "IGAP Flap Reconstruction", as it is called.

I like that I am willing to wait. I see this as an improvement on previous impulsive behaviors of mine from the past.

As for the title, the action addiction...well, turns out that that wasn't what I was interested in writing about at all. Suffice it to say that resting is difficult for me. It leaves me rest-less. Happy to be back in the swing again today.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Now, and Then

I wish the "Then" pic wasn't twice as large as the "Now", to make up for it, I took another (small) image of the pretty perennials, closer up:


Friday, July 10, 2009


Let's say there's a shrink. Let's call the shrink Marriette, just for the purpose of simplifying this story. Let's say that Mariette is a highly paid Manhattan shrink. And let's say that for a number of years a patient of hers, who I shall refer to here as Zauren, has paid Marriette out of pocket and sought reimbursement from Zauren's insurance company. Let's call that plan, Loxford, just for identification purposes.

OK, now, let's say that Zauren, due to circumstances beyond her control, suddenly has a new insurance company. Let's call the new insurance company, Flemblem.

Zauren was sad that she was no longer on Loxford, but then she began looking into which of her current healthcare providers are Flemblem network providers, she was delighted to discover that Marriette IS a Flemblem network provider! Oh fortuitous delight! Imagine, after all these years of paying Marriette directly, and through the nose, Zauren could finally experience the joy of having her health insurance company pay Marriette directly!

Let's say, then, hypothetically, that the next day, Zauren took the train into Manhattan to see Marriette. But when Zauren walks in, Marriette has a surprise for her, and it isn't a birthday party.

Marriette has a letter in her hand, from Flemblem, telling her that she is Zauren's provider, and per the contract that Marriette signed with Flemblem, Marriette must treat Zauren under the terms of the contract, which say that Marriette is to be paid by Flemblem, with a copay by Lauren.

Marriette is not happy.

Marriette demands to know why Zauren is no longer a member of Loxford.

"Not by choice."

Marriette informs Zauren that Flemblem doesn't pay even close to what Zauren was paying out of pocket.


Marriette tells Zauren that there is no way that Marriette can accept such a pittance for her services.

"I understand. So, why don't you terminate your contract with Flemblem and become an out-of-network provider the way you are with Loxford? Seems simple enough."

Marriette tells Zauren that Marriette cannot go off of Flemblem because Marriette has another patient who is on the Flemblem plan.

"I'm sorry...what? You take what Flemblem gives you for this other patient, but you won't take it for me?"

Marriette offers an obtuse reason for needing to not rock the boat with the other patient. She suggests perhaps Zauren might not mind paying out of pocket and NOT submitting it through Flemblem.


Zauren gets up to leave. Clearly, this is not going to be resolved in this manner, Zauren thinks. Clearly, Marriette is under a legal obligation to take Zauren's insurance, but she is refusing to do so. But just as clearly, Zauren understands that she cannot MAKE Marriette continue to see her as a patient if she does not want to, for any reason, so long as it is not an illegal reason, which this is, but what difference does that really make when one is being told by one's shrink that another patient's needs are more important to said shrink, and that said shrink is willing to make insane and illegal financial demands of her?

Let's say that Marriette encourages Zauren to stay anyway to talk about the hurt and betrayal Zauren feels. Let's say that Zauren stays for 10 more minutes and then leaves and takes a day to think about it, and to call her insurance company to ask if a provider is permitted to pick and choose which patients said provider will see on the plan and to ask her patients to pay out of pocket and not submit it through insurance.

Let's say that Zauren realizes, after a day of moping, that she hasn't got time for the pain. And Zauren summarily terminates her relationship with Marriette over the phone - by leaving a message - and asks Marriette to not call her back because there is nothing more to say.

Then let's say that Marriette disregards Zauren's request and demands a face-to-face meeting. And Marriette bolsters her "case" for a face-to-face meeting by pointing out that Zauren has a history of "executing" relationships summarily, and this is just another example of that sort of pathological behavior.

Finally, let's just say that Zauren just says no to emotional manipulation by one to whom she entrusted her mental health.

Not that any of this happened necessarily.

But let's just say that it did. What do we think of this?


[*edited for Zauren/Flauren disambiguation]

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Not my anemia!

I went to a class yesterday with a teacher who I have disliked in the past. She looked completely different, acted completely different. I finally asked her: what is different? She told me she had been ill - severely anemic and Vitamin B deficient. She is literally glowing now. And kind. And not "in your face". I had a delightful practice, and I started to kind of desire being in a group setting again. Not enough to go today. No. Today was either a total rest day, or at the very most, a walk-run in the woods. I did the latter. I feel great now and ready for a more strenuous day tomorrow.

Meanwhile, something unfortunate went down with my shrink yesterday. So, like God and the Torah and Ashtanga as a Cult, she too is now on the "86 List".

Oy. Such a summer.

But pondering what happened all day was not good for me, and when I finally realized that we had reached a wall, I was free. That's when I took my exercise in the woods.

Now, I'm just chillin'.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Someone's got a whole new vibe

And I like it.

Could it all be explained by a simple case of anemia?

Am I being deliberately vague?


More to come, inevitably.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yoga on the side

The first summer my kids were away at sleepaway camp, I moved from the city to my house the day after they left. I went to the city for yoga most mornings and unpacked and worked in the garden most afternoons. I knew no one here and had almost no social life.

The second summer, last summer, I went to see Christopher every morning. Despite having no responsibilities all day long, I awoke at the crack of dawn and took a train in to begin practicing by 8 a.m. Sometimes I had a meal with yoga friends after. Most days, I was shattered by late afternoon, dozing on the back porch, sometimes getting a second wind later on, sometimes not. Yoga was center stage and it ate up almost all my energy.

This summer, with my broken hand, my plans for a yoga-heavy bootcamp-like experience have been sidelined. Instead, I have been seeing friends, going out for meals, going to the theater, taking long walks in the city, going for long runs out here in the country.

I ALSO do yoga.

Today it was Jivamukti. Yesterday Bikram. The day before, I ran six miles. The day before that, I did Ashtanga at home. The day before that, Jivamukti. Also saw Hair on Broadway that same night. I love the variety. I love the balance. I haven't lost any flexibility or strength, but I don't feel overtrained, and I don't feel burnt out. Plus, I don't feel I used to .... to not take long walks, to not make evening plans, to not put yoga first.

I think that it was scary for me before, to have a life not bound by rules. But it turns out to not be so scary at all...


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hair After Jivamukti

Not my hair. HAIR. The musical. Went with a friend to Jivamukti, then to dinner at Nios at the Muse Hotel, then to Hair, my favorite favoritest musical of all time, except for, possibly Rent. (But Hair is a part of my childhood. I memorized the soundtrack as a child. Rent, is the musical my kids memorized during THEIR childhood. I prefer the ending of Rent, but I prefer the music and emotional power of Hair. Maybe I should just let it be a toss-up.)

The Jivamukti class was pretty damn good. The teacher was clearly a newbie. Her chanting was hard to follow despite that it was "Om Asatoma Sat Gamaya", which I happen to know by rote due to Sir's drilling it into our heads during Pranayama and Philosophy class a few years ago. She also went through the Guru chant (Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru etc...), but again, it was so difficult to follow her - she used the exact same chanting tune as she did for Om Asatoma, which I was JUST getting used to as being tied to the Om Asatoma words - that I ended up just shutting up. But no big deal. I don't care much about the chanting, and for the most part, would go out of my way to MISS that part when I used to be a Jiva regular. I would walk in and settle in right about the time the songbooks were being put away.

The Jiva teacher's dharma talk was just a reading of something Sharon Gannon had written a about spiritual paths. It was kind of awkward, as if she was reading it for the first time. Again, who cares? I'm there for the asana. And the asana ROCKED.

I found the sequencing to be nearly perfect for me. I wasn't sure if everyone would like it - we plopped down for Ardha Matsyandrasana right after we did Parsvakonasana not long after we started doing standing poses. But I am happy to do seated poses at this point because of the cast on my hand. Seated poses present fewer challenges for me modifcation-wise. Turns out my friend agreed, albeit for different reasons: she found the sequence so vigorous that she really was "ready" to take a few breaths from a seated pose at that point. Nice! Perhaps this particular possibly newbie teacher has a particular special talent for sequencing.

Indeed. When we got to the floor, for real, she did a hip opening sequence that allowed me to Dwi Pada Sirsasana with seemingly zero effort. My friend commented afterward that she was shocked when she caught me out of the corner of her eye making myself into "a human pretzel".

Ha. If she ever came to a shala...she would be rather unimpressed, I would imagine.

And there's the rub. At Jivamukti, in other yoga studios, there is no agenda. No linear progress. Sure, I could feel stiff on any given Jivamukti practice day, or I could have a shitty practice for one reason or another. But there is never any fear that anyone is going to accuse me of being a...wait for it...CRIMINAL!!! HAHAHAHA. Sounds so ludicrous, but yes, it would be (first two fingers making quotation marks around my face) "CRIMINAL" to modify Compass Pose (if it existed) into Eka Pada Sirsasana in an Ashtanga Class, or to do Eka Pada Sirsasana if I was not first invited to do so by my teacher.

And speaking of teacher again...this teacher saw my broken hand and wanted to give me a full-on-body assist in the Sun Salutations, which I was very carefully modifying on forearms. I dropped down to forearm plank, and the teacher appeared straddled over me. I turned around and waved my cast and shook my head. Instead of backing off, she was like, "I saw that...I was going to help you do it with your cast." I very politely declined. Seriously? What was she THINKING? She was going to hold me up while I pretended to put my hand on the floor? What would be the point. At any rate, I have had that assist many a time in my years at Jiva, and it is quite brutish. No precision at all, which is fine if you don't have...a BROKEN HAND. This was another reason that I imagined that she was a new teacher. A more seasoned teacher would leave a broken limb alone. Dontcha think?

Again though...not that it was bad. It was a delightful class. EXCEPT for one other thing. VERY poor choices in music. Kind of headbanging rock to open the flow portion of class. The first tunes to open a flow class should be of the same ilk as "Alone" (classic Jivamukti class opener), "Jai Hanuman" by Krishna Das, Coldplay's "God Put a Smile on Your face", Enigma's "Principles of Lust" or Zero Seven's "In the Waiting Line", If you MUST have the head banging rock - I like Rush's "Red Barchetta", for example, add it when things are already flowing.

None of this is to say that I did not thoroughly enjoy class. And I thanked the teacher and told her what a lovely hip opening sequence she devised.

What I did not love, what repulsed me, was the changing room. Oh my god. Hot and sticky, dirty shower- with hair on the floor that stuck to my foot at one point, water all over the floor due to an a absense of floor mats, even, for gosh sake, teak floor mats, if we want to be environmentally friendly. I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there, so I had to get dressed while still totally soaking wet, which is so unpleasant with or without a broken hand and a cast that prevents the use of the opposable thumb.

Next, dinner at Nios, which used to be, I think, District. The food was delicious but the service was downright awkward. I don't feel like explaining it, but suffice it to say that it involved a prixe fixe menu where the waiter demanded to know if you were going to want dessert BEFORE you even had your first drink in front of you. How can you know? Explaining the awkward, he told us that the computer system charges you a la carte if you don't order all the prixe fixe courses.

Dude. We don't want to know about your computer system. We're just trying to have dinner. Not surprisingly, when the bill came, there was more awkward, because the bill did not reflect three prix fixe meals and one a la cart, as it should have. This was because my friend ordered her dessert AFTER her meal. The computer system, which we really should NOT have known about in the first place, could not handle that information in a logical manner and charged her for, I don't know...another dinner? Something odd like that.

Again...don't want to KNOW about your computer system. Just want to be served and pampered a bit and then pay. Smoothly.

Without having it all deconstructed.

Hair was phenomenal. I always fall in love with it, whenever I see it, and I have seen it countless times over the years. I always also fall in love with Claude every time I see it. And then I dissolve into tears when he comes out in his last scene.......(spoiler alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

his emblematic hair shorn, an army uniform on his peacefeul, teenage, clueless body that should never ever ever be allowed anywhere near a gun....if this were an army movie, Claude would be the one who would die during boot camp, and if not then, then he would step on a land mine on the first hike in enemy territory, here one minute, waxing about the beasts in the forest, gone the next second. Having seen Hair numerous times and listened to the soundtrack since the day it came out - thanks Mom and Dad - obsessively memorizing every lyric, I know where this is going. Unlike as in Rent, there is no resurrection when the inevitable happens.

So there I am weeping, bent over my legs crying into my knees, and Claude jumps up for the curtain calls. "Let The Sun Shine" changes to a bit more upbeat version, and everyone around me is getting ready to run up on stage and dance.

Look, I just have a SERIOUS problem with teenagers getting sent off to war, to die for their country. I have an even MORE serious problem with teenagers who neither understand nor believe in the war getting sent off to die for their country. And an even MORE more serious problem with the parents of these same teens, when those parents withhold their love and support, making no effort to understand their own children...the implication seemed to be that had Claude had any parental support, any other possibilities besides living on the streets moment to moment, he might not have had to go at all. Perhaps he would have stayed in school. Perhaps, like my dad he would have gotten married and had a baby.

I think...I am not positive about this...that I am a Vietnam Baby. A shield against the draft. Born in 1965, I seem to have heard murmerings of this sort of thing.

Anyway, Gavin Creel's Claude is MAGIC. That's the only word for him. Will Swenson was so adept at playing Berger as an irritating, obnoxious, cocky and of the moment-ly arrogant late-teenage boy, that it made me consider for the first time in all the times I've seen Hair, how young and unformed these kids were, yet facing such terrible, life-altering choices.

This was also the first Hair production I've seen in which the Jesus/Religion imagery came through so, hmmmm, for lack of a better word, passionately. Claude as Christ. Claude as spiritual leader, compassionate, kind and decent even when treated poorly. Claude as sacrificial. Claude as resurrected in acid trips. It's not a strong connection, but even to a non-Catholic, it somehow adds power to the message. Not sure why. Purely a visceral thing.

It is also the first Hair production I've seen as a mother. And I really felt my age. These kids up there: they are not my peers. Even if I hadn't been busy wiping my tears during the curtain call, I don't think I would have put myself up there to dance on stage. I felt it was for the younger crowd, those who still might hope to dance on a Broadway stage for real someday. Not for me, a middle-aged woman in a sundress and cardigan, living an upper middle class life which would have provided all the exemptions my children ever needed to dodge the draft bullet in the 1960's.

That made me feel my age more than anything else has in my life. I need to work on
feeling okay with that. With my age. With the passage of time.

Meanwhile, I have to go read some online guides to "parents protecting teens on internet social networks", since I discovered yesterday that my 12-year old has a YouTube account, is a sometimes-contributer to discussions on YouTube regarding the band, Green Day, and its lead singer, elfish Billie Joe Armstrong, and has YouTube "friends" with names like "Green Day Girl" who said in a recent message, "Itunes always fucks up the album year". I mean, who the HELL is Green Day Girl?

Oy. I feel uneasy. But I have six more weeks before he is home again, so I have plenty of time to read up on how to keep him safe during these interactions. But I do feel uneasy.

Woooo!!! Is my head spinning or what?


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Delightful quiet

I miss my kids. But I love my quiet, quiet house. And I love the fact that I no longer follow Ze Rules, whereby I spent my seven weeks of quiet last summer waking at dawn and railroading it into the city where I had my arms yanked halfway out of their sockets and my triceps stretched to the point of feeling that same burning, ripping feeling that I felt when I was giving birth to my first child, unmedicated.


This summer, I awaken at Whatever The Fuck Time I Awaken. It's a lovely time to wake up, let me tell you. And I exercise in Whatever The Fuck Way I Wish To, which means running as many as six miles at a time without worrying about the tightness it might bring to my hammies and quads, or taking to the trails at the nearby nature preserve, or taking a Bikram class, or doing whatever portion of the Ashtanga series' that I am able with a broken hand. And at the end of the day, I experience this wonderful thing called "Not Being Ridiculously Tired at a Ridiculously Early Hour", which means that I can do wonderful things like...see friends (for lunch in Bedford, for dinner in the meat packing district)! go to the theater (Hair)! watch a stupidly long movie (Benjamin Button)! stay out til 2 a.m. (after dinner in the meat packing district)! sleep in my friend's townhouse in Manhattan (after staying out til 2 a.m.)! sleep late and meander over to a diner for some scrambled eggs, toast and coffee and the walk five or six miles around the city without worrying about the tightness of my hips or whether the food will make my twists nauseating!

I do admit that abandoning Ze Rules leaves me feeling, at times, a bit adrift. But it's a good kind of adrift. I see friends I hadn't seen in years. I do things I never would have dared to do.

And yet: the world has not cratered.

My jeans still fit, are maybe even a bit looser, perhaps due to more intense cardio and less anaerobic yoga. My heartrate is still in the low 50's. My skin is soft and smooth and clear. My demeanor is calm. I do not feel this intense desire to spend my days strategizing how I will get my toes in Kapotasana and talking about it incessantly.

Sure, I feel a bit like a leper in the Ashtanga world. My former Ashtanga friends no longer call or write. And sometimes I am haunted by then notion of having given so much power to my teachers over my body and my happiness...and by the realization that those who I perceived to have had all of the answers, whose minds I would have paid beaucoup bucks to unlock and understand, were as clueless as I was and as arbitrary and at times capricious as anyone.

But this is what happens when you extricate yourself from a cult.

And it seems worth it to me to be my own master right now.


Thursday, June 25, 2009


I feel much better now.

Kids are leaving tomorrow, and I am not falling apart at the seams.

My hand is still broken, but I ran six miles today. I have no idea how that happened either other than the putting one foot in front of the other.

No time for yoga today (what with running and taking the kids swimming), but I did lay on my 55 cm ball to stretch things out.

My arthritic fingers are noduled up in full force these past few days - hand surgeon says it relates to the stress of having broken my hand. But I'm alright. My fucking reconstruction is looking worse (to me) every day. But I have a plan.

Maybe all this good cheer is simply the result of having a housekeeper these past two weeks. It's so much easier to keep at the fingerprints and the dog hair when someone else is doing the bathrooms, the sheets and towels and the vacuuming. That said, I look forward to really polishing this place up this summer and moving the kids toys - all of em - to the newly finished basement. Assuming that it actually is finished one of these days. Right now, the walls, floor, ceiling, lighting, doors, bathroom - all done. What remains is the paint job. Then it's time to get the place up and running as a full-on recreation room (my yoga room needs nothing but paint of course).

So, someone called me a chicken shit today - an anonymous commenter. Ha. I am so NOT chicken shit just because I choose not to suffer unduly. Not that I owe an explanation. But I felt like giving one anyway.


Modifications, Flexibility,'s not about the yoga.

So, there I was, all cock-sure and arrogant about being able to cold-turkey rehab myself off of some pychotropics on which I have made myself dependent over a period of more than a decade. For a few days, it was nice. All of the smiles with far less of the irritability that seems to come from the dosage being higher than my current needs. I liked the cold-turkey idea.

But apparently, it did not like me. After watching Transformers (stupidest successful movie ever; yes Megan Fox is hotness personified, but holy Shia Lebouf, where was MY eye candy? And re Megan yes, but I was disturbed and taken out of the moment in the movie when occasionally the camera captured her in the background of the frame, wearing what appeared to be a slack-faced look of utter stupidity that could not have been, and surely was not intended to be, acting. But yes, she is hawt. Like a steam engine hot.), I drove my kids home, put them to bed and suddenly found my eyes watering, leaking salty fluid onto my cheeks. What is this? When was the last time I wept? I couldn't say. I don't know if I ever weep, per se, where nothing is really going on, and yet I just start crying.

I am going to miss my kids terribly, that is for sure. But weeping two nights before they leave? Certainly, they are the lights in my life, providing me with seemingly endless entertainment, giggles, engagement in good thought, engagement in strategic planning, filling my heart with pride every single day. Every. Single. Day.

Something was wrong. Clearly. I pondered. I was weeping. If I have been working on ANYTHING these past few years in yoga, in psychoanalysis, in meditation, it has been to try to be GOOD to myself.

Of course, the other side is the valid argument against psychotropics: what is WRONG with some negative emotion? What is wrong with feeling our feelings?

I let the two sides debate it in my head as I alternately enjoyed this novel feeling of feeling deep, unmitigated sadness over the upcoming seven weeks without the joy of my children right here in my house, tears leaking out of my eyes in puddles and streams, while realizing, this isn't going to help me function tomorrow. Feeling one's angst is all well and good, and no drug should remove all of it the way I feel my drug of choice has been doing for years. But does one need to weep until their eyes look like they're bleeding? Does one need to kiss one's child good night and run out of the room choking down a throat full of mourning? And what if the mourning is way out of proportion to the events being mourned? Isn't there some level of appropriate affect to be used as a threshold test?

I got on my computer and looked up withdrawal symptoms and half-life for the drug in question. I saw very sane things written, things that resonated about wanting to feel all emotions, even sadness, but not wanting to collapse into non-functionality. I lay in bed and pictured myself today, on my kids' last day home before camp. And I pictured myself picturing horrible things happening to them, to us. Bus crashes. Car crashes. Food poisoning. Aneurisms. Choking incidents. Things that have no place in a functional mind, with the exception of the occasional pass-through that makes little or no impact. These images, on the other hand, had major impact. I began praying to God, apologizing to God for not believing before. I wanted him to take away the images, which I can only describe as akin to the voices heard in A Beautiful Mind. You KNOW they are wrong. But you can't make them go away. You CAN ignore them. But I was finding them rushing at me with such velocity that I knew I would remain vigilently in battle mode.

Who wants that?

And so, I went downstairs to where I have been keeping my stash and took a stepped-down dose of my pills. And I passed calmly into sleep, woke up with a spring in my step and am actually able to talk about this today, without shame, without fear, as if I were talking about someone else, as if I were describing a character in a movie.

I look FORWARD to crying real tears again someday when the time is appropriate. Not when I am responding to made up waking-nightmare images that I can't seem to banish from my head. Not when I am responding to nothing really in particular other than sending my kids off to the exact place they are literally DESPERATE to go.

For now, I am back on this lowered dose, and I consider that to be a modification. Or an exercise in flexibility. To this I will add the strength to structure a step-down program that will be, to the extent it feels healthy, VERY structured, with dates and amounts written and planned in a calendar, and tied to the healing of my broken hand, whose unexpected inherent disappointments has added a layer of pathos to my life, which perhaps makes a cold-turkey withdrawal not right for ME at this time. Maybe it would be right for me at another time, or for someone else at this time. But for me, the same way that I have to face the fact that the arthritis in my wrists is going to keep me from ever having the kind of Full Wheel that I would wish to have (because it just fucking HURTS like a MUTHAFUCKAH to support any portion of my weight on wrists bent at 90 degrees), I have to face that this is not the right time to go cold turkey. Give me a rehab center and a rubber room and a daily group session and my own crisis counselor, and yeah, I could do it. But seeing as I am just living my life here now, I think this modified plan is best.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting clean

I find it interesting that "clean", so long (and still) associated with being free from drugs and alcohol, is now a word that describes a way of eating that does not give rise to guilt. More specifically, "clean eating" is another way of saying "virtuous eating" or "not making a pig of myself". Sure, for some people, it means more avocado, olive oil and tofu, while for others it means more lean meat, red wine and iceberg lettuce. But ultimately, it is used to refer to partaking in foods that are not "bad foods", whatever they are.

I try never to use the word to refer to food. I do use it to refer to what I have been doing to my house these days, both inside and outside. I prefer clean, uncluttered lines. I prefer closets that could double as rooms, or nooks, as it were. I prefer gardens that are fairly symmetrical and orderly, although definitely NOT formal gardens (although I reserve the right to some day create one).

Today, I cleaned the back porch, which, due to the endless (16 of 18 days, or 17 of 19, can't remember which) rain in June, has begun to grow its own ecosystem on the floor between the flagstones. Can you say "ew"? I may have gone camping once, and I may enjoy hiking in the woods; I even enjoy digging in the dirt. But unidentified mosses and the like growing on grout just disgusts me to no end. And this, theoretically is my summer yoga studio. The downstairs yoga room is supposed to be my winter studio. It's just gotten a LOT of use these days, unfortunately.

It was yucky. Bleach galore. And then water galore to dilute the bleach so it doesn't kill the plants growing along the sides of the porch.

Another horrid side effect of the endless rain? BUGS. Not in my house, but on my plants. Plants that never saw any insect damage before are lacy with holes, the handiwork of hungry bugs brought out by the excessive moisture in the air. I don't understand the connection. But I have been told that bugs are out in force this spring/summer due to the rain.

I realize this is boring as hell.

I also had my MRI today, to check whether my left implant has ruptured. Yeah, fun. I fell asleep. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. I guess I can never claim to be claustrophobic. I am very very very low grade anxious about the what if they see something they weren't even looking for, if you know what I mean...? But that's what I thought when I had my head CT to diagnose my deviated septum. So nothing new there.

Anyway, still boring.

So, yeah, speaking of clean, I've decided to go cold turkey on some of the meds on which I have been dependant since seven years ago, when I was diagnosed with cancer. Tapering doesn't work for me. Maybe cold turkey won't either. But tapering gave me too much to ponder. Too complicated. Cold turkey is much better for me. I think. We shall see. It's been two days, and so far so good.

Hand-disabled yoga later today.


Friday, June 19, 2009

How to Do Ashtanga

I thought THIS was LOL-hilarious on so many levels, including the notion of TELLING your teacher how to put you into the pose. I want to find more Ashtanga how-to's so I can giggle...and be elitist for just another moment because I kind of miss that now that I have kicked myself out of the cult.

I am in WAY better spirits today, in spite of the rain, which I had better be getting used to seeing as it has shown no signs of stopping any time soon. And here is a goofy, overly maudlin analogy to go with that notion: Today as I was walking around my property, like I do most mornings, I was taking note of the insane growth of many of my shade-loving perennials and shrubs and of how my sun-lovers are kind of stunted for the most part. I was feeling a bit cross about that, when Adam, my 10-year old, brought my attention to the brook that runs along one side of the front yard. He wanted to show me how the water level was the highest he's ever seen it. What I noticed was that next to the brook was a rogue Hosta - a highly-prized shade-loving perennial that costs good money to purchase in a nursery, and is often a waste of time around here because the deer consider it to be their version of a gourmet mesculun salad. Yet there it was. In the wild. I certainly hadn't planted it. And it wasn't there last year. Would it be gilding the lily to note that next to the Hosta was a patch of Lamium? Another perennial that I have never seen available in the wild?

I haven't decided whether to leave these endlessly-rainy-season prizes where they are or to transplant them to beds where I already have already cultivated some of their kind. But I kind of found myself cheered by the fact that I have that choice now.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Enough with the whining and bitching

Some days I just want to do yoga. Especially on days when it is torentially downpouring and being outdoors is impossible. Today was one of those days. And I spent my entire morning, mourning. Bitching, moaning. Negativity. Was so depressed that I went out of the house without noticing that my shirt was on backwards.

Came home, complained some more. Tried to envision a summer with no vinyasa, just asana, and not even any inversions.

And then I just said ENOUGH.

I got on my mat and did 10 modified sun salutations (Inhale arms up, exhale fold forward, inhale look up, exhale fold forward, inhale arms up, exhale samasthiti - second five with utkatasana). Felt great. Then all of Standing - but grabbing opposite elbows in Parsvotanasana, and stabilizing myself against a wall for the two standing balancing poses, and when it came time to do the vinyasa leading to Utkatasana and the Virabadrasanas, I did the following: INhale arms up, EX fold, IN look up, EX step back into a lunge...and then a series of lunges on the one side, leading to Hanumanasana, then the other side, finished with Utkatasana and then sat down for Primary.

In between each pose (not in between sides, at least not today), I did Navasana, then crossed ankles and skootched forward for forearm plank, lowered into sphinx, then pushed back to Virasana. Then got into the next pose. When it came time for Navasana, I did Ardha Navasana in between instead of pressing up. When it came time for Bujapidasana, I got up and did a bound Parsvakonasana, then Tarasana instead of Kurmasana. Didn't thread through for Garba, but rolled back and forth in Lotus pose, and the rest of Primary was totally doable.

Did an unbound Pasasana (prayer hands), Krounchasana, Salabhasana, then Ustrasana. Then instead of Urdvha Dhanurasana, I pressed up on my forearms. Then I turned around to the wall and did Pincha against the wall (for stability...can't play with weight bearing on different parts of the hand when wearing a cast!). Then Plow, to Karna Pidasana to the Lotus version of Karna Pidasana to headstand to the Three Seated Finishing poses, minus Uth Pluthi.

And I feel good!!!


I just don't want to get all sullen about my modifications. I know that this is only temporary, and I just have to remember that...


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

She was thin, thin, thin.

"Ruth Lauer-Manenti, a senior Jivamukti teacher, relayed the story of how she first went to Mysore to practice with Pattabhi Jois. “Sharon Gannon [director and co-founder of Jivamukti] had just come back from Mysore. She was thin, thin, thin. She looked kind of green and she had a dislocated shoulder. She said, Ruth, you gotta go. So I went the next day.”" ---- Yoga Nation

I'm not sure I understand the point of this anecdote, which was relayed at the memorial for SKPJ in NYC earlier this week. All I know is that standing where I stand right now, the prospect of a dislocated shoulder, severe weight loss and a green complexion would have me running in the opposite direction.

That said, I am working towards balance in my life. And that means not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Ashtanga has done a lot of good for me. The negatives that I see should not define it for me, and I don't think they do.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

so bye bye

Apparently, while I was off somewhere paying attention to really important things like how to get my head up my own ass while backbending and twisting at the same time, I missed the men's magazine that voted Sarah Jessica Parker the Unsexiest Woman of the Year (or of all time, not sure which).

That sucks. That truly sucks not just for her but for the rest of us when the woman being dissed looked like the photo above.

Is it any wonder that she went ahead and removed her mole and surgically stapped on some skin-colored melons to try to fit into mass media's idealized version of a hard-bodied stick figure with giant mammaries and feet that were made for walking in red-soled stiletto platforms?

Sigh. It's not her fault really, exactly. It's more like she is just trying to get by in this highly demented and mysogynistic world we live in. Sure, we could wish that she could have bucked the trend. But why should we expect that?

Oh, and speaking of boobs...looking into a whole nother procedure. The breaking of the hand has liberated me somewhat...if I can't do yoga for two months, might as well be recovering from major surgery too....Fingers crossed...this one seems like a good one if I should be so lucky to qualify...


Monday, June 15, 2009

SOO depressing


Why would anyone do such a thing?


Existential questions

Why do you try to touch your feet to your heels in a backbend, my orthopoedic surgeon asked me.

Why do you need to push your thoracic spine into a bend when its natural form is kyphotic (curved out, not arched in)?

Why indeed?

I was asking him what I should do about my Stage I osteo-arthritic wrists, when they hurt in full wheel. His answer: don't do it when it hurts. Joints experience degeneration over time, he explained. Do you want to exacerbate it?

Hmmmm. Well, I explained, most of my teachers offer suggestions for me to deepen my backbend to get the weight off my wrists.

That was when he pulled out the big ammo: WHY?


Why do I do this?

I do yoga to stay fit. Period. I wanted to do all of Primary without help. Check. I wanted to do the beginning of Second in order to get my backbends back after years of Primary-related neglect. Check. The rest? Hell if I know.

I explained to him that the teachers pull students into poses they can't quite do on their own. I explained that the teachers get us deeper than we otherwise might. I told him of suggestions by teacher-level cybershala students to "take the leg behind the head and PULL DOWN WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT".



Sure, some yogis are doing the crazy poses well into their 60's and beyond. But they may well be the exception, and not the rule.

Maybe at age 43, with signs of impending arthritis in my joints and a very real limitation in my backbending ability in the form of scarring and skin-tightness due to my double mastectomy, I should just ENJOY where I am in the practice and stop striving to improve?

Maybe it is time to just say no to any form of being muscled into any pose? Like, just saying no to having my fingers pulled to my toes in Kapotasana? Because there is this other possibility that I don't seem to have ever considered, and that is that over time, some poses get easier and call for a deepening (example: paschimotanasana), but that deepening could happen naturally, as opposed to the result of a teacher yanking limbs, however artfully. That deepening could be discovered by the student finding her own hands reaching her own toes.

I am shocked by my receptivity to being essentially called a fool for buying into this manhandling in the name of "going deeper". Maybe it made sense some years ago when I was getting started, when my goal was clear: finish Primary because it is supposedly therapeutic as a gestalt, and indeed I believe it has been. But now, what IS my agenda? I don't have one really other than "get my feet to my toes in Kapo"?

But WHY? Kapo is not necessary for "yoga chikitsa" (yoga therapy - putting the body right). Kapo is just, well, it would be an ego boost for me. But that is flawed thinking.

As for Legs Behind Head poses, those will come or not if my body reaches for them. I no longer will cajole them into existence. If getting deeper in Eka Pada Sirsasana suddenly calls for me to have my leg lying softly across the backs of my shoulders, then I'll know. But until then...WHY? Why push it?

I KNEW this was happening. First I gave up Torah. Then "God". Now Ashtanga.

I want yoga to enhance my life, not to take over my life.

So there you have it. Today, I took my innaugural five-mile run down the main road between Bedford and Greenwich, in the drizzling rain, and it was lovely. No worries about my hips or hammies going tight, which is ludicrous because:

WHY? Why would it matter? Would I lose my job with Cirque du Soleil? Oh. Wait. I don't bend for a living. And I don't want to live to bend. I just want to bend, and live and age gracefully, not fighting aging as an enemy.

Later tonight, I'll watch some boob tube and do some stretches to stay supple. Reasonable goal.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

frazzled. broken. optimistic.

Broke my hand today doing titti c. so dont expect good grammar or spelling. it's called a boxer's fracture. funny because i have been watching Burn Notice on tv and recently heard the main character talking about all the little bones in your hand that you could break while punchin someone in the face. when i lost my balance, and broke my fall with my thumb, i heard a little snap.

like a chicken bone.

oh, snap.

of course i kept going, even did the seven headstands. even did backbends on one hand. and such good backbends too. oh well. they will still be there in 6-8 weeks. maybe even moreso, since i wont be muscling-up with vinyasas. the plan is to run and hike for exercise and the legs behind the head, backbends that don't involve balancing on hands...for example, dwi viparita dandadasana, which is yummy anyway...and non-binding twists, like ardha matsyandrasana.

i like challenges.

but why frazzled? because i have so much householder and other stuff to deal with. a small leak on the third floor causing mold on the second floor, a bunch of anthills i want obliterated, brian's pc needing geek-squad attention stat, a broken dishwasher (husband is doing all dishes until it is fixed, hopefully thurs, because he is steadfastly refusing to buy a new dishwasher until he can convince himself that fisher & paykel isn't really going to replace this lemon) as well as a sudden urge to redo my fucking-awful re-reconstruction and the urge is deep and distressing, a haircut appointment tomorrow morning, a new housekeeper coming tuesday morning (praise science), and now to find an orthopedic surgeon/sports medicine doctor to deal with my ongoing hand care (emergency room is only the diagnosis and quick cast).

and also: class parties, masters program orientation, playoff games (brian's team made the semi-finals...go brian!!), packing for camp (trunks leave on the 20th!!).

but as i said, i love a challenge. love when i have to make due. it may be the drama queen in me. so, i am psyched for a different kind of fitness experience this summer. whatever it is, however it turns out, i have no choice.

might as well roll with it.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Rest Day, sort of, and kind of bummed

I did 10 Sun Salutations and then had to start chauffeuring around. It was suburban-driving hell. No, wait, this wouldn't happen in a normal suburbs where things are close to each other. This was sub-suburban driving hell. Rural-regional driving hell.

Anyway, I had another window and decided that I needed to prune some perennials and that I would just take the day off from yoga and start again tomorrow. I did feel a lot better after the pruning. I think the need for pruning was weighing on me. All that rain has really desicrated my gardens, leaving the peonies lying all over the ground (I knew that was coming though), the mop-head hydrangeas mopping the dirt, and the weeds...oh, the weeds...they have gone steroidal. And then, some perennials grow like weeds, like, for example, Montauk Daisies. They bloom at the tail end of the summer, and up until then, they grow and grow and grow and can get up to two feet tall or more (daisies, remember, so that's kind of weird to be so tall). Anyway, the Montauk Daisies that border my back garden were beginning to remind me of the garden equivalent of an 80's hair band, so basically, I just gave em a flat top.

Problem solved. They really look quite spiffy. Kind of like my kids with their buzz cuts. Something powerful about a well-shorn head, be it a human head or a plant head.

Even though the pruning made me feel less cranky and out of sorts, still, something is weighing on me. And let me just say, it is a good problem to have. But it sucks anyway. It's my boobs. Lately, I've been getting the feeling that they are getting worse - flatter, more striated with muscle, more misshapen and pulled by scar tissue. I'm not sure if it's my imagination or not, but I was certain that there was a strapless bra that made me look good only a couple of months ago. And now, that bra just kind of sits there and does nothing. In fact, all of my bras are too big on me now. Where did my boobs go?

I can only surmise that it is the yoga. The pulling and stretching. And there is no way that I want to stop the yoga. I remember last summer when a doctor had the audacity to suggest as much. Asshole.

I'm really honestly kind of depressed about this.

And I've begun to toy with the idea of having the implants removed and having all the scar tissues eradicated and just going with pre-pubescent flat-chested. Ribs and nibs, minus the nibs, I guess. Or, maybe with. Who knows.

I can't go back to Dr. S, the one who did the silicone reconstruction a few years ago. He really offended me, and I don't want to get into that. I don't care if he is a good plastic surgeon. Bedside manner matters to me. Besides, maybe he isn't such a good plastic surgeon for me - his work ultimately failed on me, after all.

I could go back to Dr. A, not because I necessarily want him to do the re-re-reconstruction. But because I think it might be useful, and kind of low-stress, for me to return to the original doctor who was there at the very very very beginning of all this. He was the one who gave me the original saline implants. He was present at the original surgery giving rise to the need for the implants. So, a consult with him might be useful with regard to removal of the scar tissue and at least achieving a smoother result. Plus, I can bitch to him freely, since I know him for a long time, or at least I did. It might also be fun to just turn up at his office: alive.

Wow, I feel better having just gotten all that off my chest, er, to have expressed all that turmoil.

Monday. I will call Monday. Now that I have this resolved in my head, I need to do it now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But Monday will have to do.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yesterday and today

Yesterday, a very quick Second Series practice, minus Standing Series. I know that seems odd, but I did Sun Salutations in the morning then had to stop and do other things. When I came back to the yoga later in the day, I already felt very warm and didn't feel like running through the Sun Salutations again, or any of Standing for that matter. I just got right into it. And it was fine. Some days are like that.

Today, I kind of sleepwalked into my yoga room and began. Before I knew it, I had finished Primary, and barely 50 minutes had elapsed. Had I gotten the time wrong? I was just about to do backbends when I got a phone call from upstairs (it's ridiculous, I know, but the yoga room is pretty damn soundproof, given that it is constructed partially within the house's concrete foundation) saying that the baseball game for tonight was cancelled. So, I got back to practicing, did Second up to Kapotasana plus a LOT of backbend research. I used my trusty step-ladder, and I strapped my legs, then my arms, then my legs and my arms. And I wonder if I will ever bother backbending again WITHOUT a strap.

Feeling all energized, I went outside afterwards and cleared the weeds out of two beds (that I haven't photograped yet, since neither is in flower). One is looking good - the Catmint is starting to bloom, and behind the Catmint are a cluster of pink Astilbe. Catmint loves sun, and it gets sun. But this bed peaks out from under a tree, so behind the Catmint it's all shade: hence, the Astilbe. I transplanted a whole bunch of Columbine seedlings around another shady edge of that bed. We shall see how they do. But I am spurred on by the amazing Columbines in my woodland garden. They seem to have taken off without any help on my part at all, except for the initial planting.

The other bed I tended to today is sorely disappointing. At the back are some evergreen shrubs: Boxwood alternating with Andromeda. Next to that is ivy climbing a bare wall and in front of that, a trellis with a beautiful, young Wisteria. In front of all that, I had thought that I would create a cutting bed of Zinnias, my favorite summer annual. But having planted hundreds of Zinnias, only a handful have come up. And they're all concentrated around the front edge of the bed, leading me suspect that the bed does not get enough sun for Zinnias. I'm not convinced yet, however, since it has barely been sunny at all this spring. Tomorrow, if I am still motivated, I am going to transplant a whole mass of Foxglove seedlings. Foxgloves can handle part-sun.

I also have a bunch of Hollyhock seedlings which I am not sure what to do with. I think they need sun, like Zinnias do.

Must think. Man, I am so much more obsessed with my flower gardening than I am with yoga.

I should call myself Aesthetic Gardening Chickie.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Today, yesterday and the day before.

Not in that order. Sunday, I got on the mat for the first time after six days off the mat - I had a really bad cold, the worst I have had in years. I could barely get out of bed for a couple of days there, and even now, I sound terrible, even if I am feeling mostly better. Did Half Primary, then three backbends, then closing. It was fine.

Yesterday, having only done Half Primary the day before, I was hungry for more asana, but I kept it to Primary and then a lot of backbends, then closing. Uneventful except to note that my back was bendy, but my wrists are still not great. I really don't know what the problem is with my wrists, but I assume that the bendier my back is, the less the wrists will matter.

Today, I was exhausted and sore, but I got myself to the mat anyway. Since I wasn't up for all the vinyasas of Primary, and I was curious as to what it would feel like to do three different practices in three different days, I did full Second, starting immediately after Parsvotanasana. Since I was also pressed for time, I made myself just plow right through it and not do any extra prep for anything. And you know something? It was awesome.

I love how I have no particular attachment to any poses in Second Series. I can't have any taken away, and I can't be given any. I know that Kapotasana isn't happening now, or maybe ever, or maybe just now. We shall see. And I couldn't care less about Karandavasana, so I just enjoy holding Pincha Mayurasana twice, each for 10 breaths. Finally, I know that Eka Pada comes and goes, but that even if I have to hold my leg in place with one hand, it doesn't matter because I am not looking to practice the Third Series poses where you have to keep the leg there without hands. Hence, no attachment. I just don't care, the way I used to not care when I took vinyasa classes and Bikram classes, and there was no linear agenda.

No linear agenda. Very very nice.

Bottom line, it was a great practice, and it went super-fast. From start to finish, less than 60 minutes, and I was sweating my ass off (which helped immensely in Yogi Nidrasana and Tittibasana C, but not so much in Mayurasana).


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Last year, this year

Last Year:

This Year:

Last Year:

This Year:

Last Year:

This Year:

Last Year:

This Year:

These were taken at the same time of year - late May/early June. What a difference a year makes. There is one weird a way, I feel nostalgic for the bare, empty gardens. They had so much potential, they filled the mind with so many ideas, so much inspiration. It's like seeing my kids go from babies to teens. It's a tiny bit bittersweet...

There's more, but I need to locate the before photos...and also take some 2009 photos when some other flowers come into bloom...


Gabrielle Anwar on vanity and aging...

"I don't have anything on my lips. My daughter tells me that I have horrible things written about my lips, my leathery skin, and my tits. So, whatever. My lips look big because I over-line them with lip liner because I want to look like Angelina Jolie. My skin is leathery because I love the sun and I'm not as vain as I am in love with the sun. And my tits got really big because I had a baby and then they got really small and then they got really big again because I had another baby and then they got really small and then they got really big because I had another baby and then they got really small. You know what? It's called aging. So, I guess that would be nice to clarify."

I just LOVE this woman.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I can't belive I JUST found this...

This is a photo of Val (CT Shala Val), performing in the 1984 Olympics!

Way cool.

Still sick today. Don't see much chance of any yoga. But not ruling it out if I feel better later.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The excuse

I have a cold. A bad cold. Probably the most uncomfortable cold symptoms I have had in a year or more. I did not practice yesterday because I didn't want to, and I had practiced every day of the preceding five days. But last night, as I lay in bed with my scratchy throat and post nasal drip, I realized that my muscle soreness and joint stiffness was due to the cold, not due to the yoga.

Today, I rested again, although it wasn't a restful rest with a morning pediatrician appointment, a noontime trip to The Home Depot to pick out doorknobs and shower trim for the construction project downstairs, and an afternoon shivah call (that's pronounced SHIH-vuh, not SHEE-vah, and it's a Jewish condolence call).

I feel like hell.



Monday, June 01, 2009

There are no words.

OH MY GOD. How is she even alive, let alone practicing yoga???

And yes, I saw this on another person's blog. So what.


I need an Easy Button for backbends

Is there one?

I haven't been reading the blogs much and have been trying to catch up a bit and saw, perhaps out of context, a number of bloggers trying out "cold dropbacks".


Why would anyone want to do that? If you want an excuse to stop practicing yoga for a while, you don't need to get yourself injured...

Am I missing something?


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Second Series Today

Not because it's Sunday. To "certain days being associated with certain Series", I say, "Meh". I practiced Second Series today because my body was kind of achey from a night of dancing last night, and maybe a little too much Pinot Noir over too many hours, and Second Series has less Vinyasas overall - and more to the point, less chaturangas. I also practiced Second Series today because give a choice, I will always focus more on forward bending than backbending, to the detriment of the backbending. And Second Series does not give me that ability, if I do it in order. It starts with backbends, after the first two poses, that is.

It went rather nicely, I have to say. There were moments when I was like, jeez, is this ever going to end? That was when I was doing Kapotasana, which sucked as badly as it ever has, maybe moreso and then a rather painful, crampy, cranky Supta Vajrasana. The Eka Padas were pretty rough too since I had zero opportunity to warm up for leg-behind-head. But Dwi Pada through Tittibhasana was fine, and then it all progressed so quickly once I was past my two Pincha Mayurasanas (since I have zero desire to even approximate any aspect of Karandavasana, other than the Pincha part),

I found it interesting that Tittibhasana C was not problematic, given that Eka Pada was so stiff and unyielding. I also found it interesting that Mayurasana was so easy, given its placement in the Series. Most pleasant suprise: I did every one of the Seven Headstands coming up in a pike. I have never been able to do that before. Perhaps this is a function of doing them after just Second, instead of after Primary and THEN Second. Perhaps the same goes for Mayurasana. Less is definitely more, I am finding. Over and over and over again in my life, as well as in yoga.

Also pleased that Pasasana was fine without the Maryichyasanas. I don't know if I have ever even attempted that before. Or if I have, I doubt I have ever been able to do that before. Then again, I am rolling my mat under my heels now. MUCH better. And why shouldn't I? I am a Westerner. A short Westerner who wears heels every single day. How can I be expected to squat like an Indian?

Final comment about it, reinforcing the bit of wisdom imparted to me at some point during my Om teacher training, that there is no yoga adjustment or alignment advice that does not have an expiration date: I decided to try stepping up to Virabhadrasana in the Surya Namaskar B's straight from Down Dog, rather than putting my heel down first, as the Good Doc had demanded of me. At the time that the Good Doc gave me this instruction, it made sense. It helped me, I remember. Not sure I remember exactly what it helped me with, but I know I remember thinking that it was helpful. But lately, I have been noticing that it kind of messes up my rhythm. So, today, I exhaled into downdog and boom, just stepped forward...and it was nice. Nice and smooth.

Maybe someday I will go back to the heel down/step forward method. But right now, my teacher is telling me to do it the other way. And by my teacher, I mean, ME.

All in all, backbends sucked today, as bad as ever. Yet, here is the oddness: my dropbacks and standups were quite nice.

Go figure.

Haven't walked Lewis today. I did rake all of the goddamned Oriental Bittersweet out of my shade garden paths. That stuff is horribly invasive, and I don't even know where it came from. Last year, I don't rememer there being any Bittersweet at all. This year, it is threatening to take over. It's a pretty chartreuse color, but don't let that fool you. It vines and climbs and tangles and gets woody, and ultimately, it will kill everything it can overpower. So, I did what I had to do. But Lewis still needs a walk. He is already losing weight on his new fitness program. I guess, after supper.

As for tomorrow...who knows? Primary? No practice at all? I love the flexibility of my new program...


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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