Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I felt really small, I think. I was a little bit panicky about where I was in the city. I'd never been to that gym before, and although it was directly next to Sarah's office, I still felt lost. I just got overwhelmed and couldn't deal with being at the gym, so I showered quickly and came back home.
Wish I could have practiced more, though, outside of my house. I need some inspiration. I haven't been attending any actual yoga classes in almost two months; just teaching myself and others. Maybe that's part of my lethargy--I'm just not inspiring myself. Nobody's watching me except me, which certainly makes it a lot easier to poop out and hit up the sauna.
Those of you who read this, what do you do when you're feeling alone and uninspired in your yoga practice? Let's discuss!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
As many of you know, I don’t speak Chinese. At all. I’ve barely mastered “thank you”, “hello”, and sometimes, after a strong cocktail and in search of another, I work up the guts to say “Hey, Foo-yen!” which means “server”. I point to things on menus, and pull out scraps of paper with addresses in Mandarin to show taxi drivers. My mobility is limited, and looking at maps only seems to confuse me more.
In spite of all this, I’ve managed to find a yoga studio that reminds me a little of home. It’s called the Yoga Yard, and it’s a small, home-y studio on the sixth floor of a building that houses, among other things, a tanning salon and a spa. They offer a variety of classes, including kids yoga, restorative and level 1-3 vinyasa.
The first class I went to was a restorative class, which was billed on the brochure as a time to RELAX!! This should have been a signal it wouldn’t be super relaxing—am I the only one who equates capital letters and exclamation points with yelling? But then again, this is Beijing, a city where conversations compete with cars, cell phones and the bright, distracting scenery of constant movement. So maybe we all need to be told to RELAX!!, or we just wouldn’t.
Unfortunately, even the loudest CD of gentle waterfalls can’t drown out the street below, even six floors above it. The restorative class wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, either. Most of the classes there are offered both in English and Mandarin so demonstrating is more important then the verbal cues. The restorative class felt a lot like kindergarten naptime—a welcome thing most of the time, but I wanted space and clarity, not a nap. Beijing overwhelms me; I’ve said it here, and I’m sure in any number of emails I write home. I have to remind myself to breath here, and there are times even when I do remember to breathe that I just don’t want to: The smog hangs like dirty curtains in front of buildings and every other street corner smells like sewage, skunks or sweet potatoes. Okay, I don’t mind the smells of the last two, but sometimes I sure miss the true blue dream of Colorado skies.
The instructor wasn’t as focused on breath; in fact, she mentioned it twice in the ninety minutes we were together. But I still relaxed, if not restored. In a supine heart opener, sprawled across a bolster, I actually fell asleep for a few minutes, which was undeniably pleasant. Benjamin took the class with me, and I was getting so sleepy for a minute there it seemed natural to crawl over to his space and snuggle under his blanket with him. That would have been weird, though, I suspect.
The second class I took at Yoga Yard was a level 1-2 hatha class. It’s an hour and a half class offered in English and Mandarin for both beginners and more advanced students. The studio we practiced in was small and oddly shaped, recalling memories of Lulu’s. We started with a similar easy sit side stretch and moved our way slowly—s l o w l y—into Sun A. Vinyasas were offered to “level 2” and level 1 students were directed to downward dog. The vinyasa was plank held for four beats and back to downward dog—only the man next to me and myself ventured into an up dog, and when I realized we didn’t have to do it, I stopped.
For whatever reason I found myself exhausted during the practice. It was slightly boring; maybe, and too slow; we did crescent, warrior II and triangle for standing postures. I couldn’t gather enough momentum to really care about the class, and after each vinyasa I found myself in wide legged child’s pose. The instructor seemed to be taking a few cues from me, and each time I got into child’s pose, she cued the class to do it as well.
Beijing exhausts me, certainly, and even the task of getting to the yoga studio takes a bit of patience and energy. I spent a great deal of time in the class considering how I would get back home—if I even knew how to get back home, so I wonder if once I become more ‘local’, the openness and ease I find in my 'normal' yoga practice will come easier to me.
Anyway, it’s all a lesson for me to let go of what I expect, or even what I want, and accepting what I get. Finding a place to move with and be present with what’s actually happening, on and off the mat.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
But hey. I'm in Singapore. Today there was a thunderstorm to end all thunderstorms, and Benjamin and I ran outside to the overpass above the interstate and put our faces into the rain. As we raced up the stairs laughing, a small woman scurried down, huddled beneath an umbrella and said something in Chinese with a smile on her face. I guess I could have done some Warriors up there, but instead I lifted my dress and yelled HEY SINGAPORE! to the traffic below.
I have been doing yoga, though. Mostly uninspired mini-practices. I've become one of those people who drive me nuts, the kind of person who says, "I love yoga, but I really need my cardio". Gag me! Yoga is Cardio! I said in response. Ever been to a power class? And yet there I was, day after day, rolling up my mat at the gym so I could hop on the treadmill. I warmed up and warmed down with yoga, but for a few weeks I haven't done a full class.
I did a practice this morning around ten thirty, after a long and early morning waiting in line at the Chinese Embassy. A few lunge salutes, a long sit, two bridges, a wheel, warrior dance. In that order. See? I can't organize my thoughts OR my practice.
Below: the Milo Dinosaur
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
- fairly content with touch of melancholy about mysteries of finding lasting happiness
- peaceful from reconnecting with old friends
- would prefer to listen to recently acquired music
- would also prefer to clean
- would also prefer to go on a walk
- would also prefer to blog about yesterday's practice
Monday, November 10, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The things I paused to break down were downward facing dog, chatarunga, the half lift and ustrasana, which we only did part way. It's hard because one of them can't straighten her knees at all in downward facing dog--she's basically in puppy dog. I was doing a lot of demonstrating, which I think helped them but was exhausting for me to talk and demonstrate. My homework for myself is to come up with three solid cues for each pose, which was totally a CorePower homework assignment that I only did a little bit. Woops.
We also dialed in to the breath. I cued it quite a bit during the actual class, and again paused for three breaths after each vinyasa, which seemed quite helpful. We also cut out the chatarungs and did baby cobra to rocket cat instead.
We did lots of swamp monster rolling into warrior I. Very popular and fun. I made them do sound effects.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Here's the deal:
sitting side stretch both sides
sitting forward fold
side plank stretch both sides with knees down
down dog for 3 breaths
hop/step to rag doll/roll up to tadasana
1/4 sun salutation
crescent lunge with three options both sides X 2
vinyasa with baby chat/up dog/down dog
1/4 sun salutation
down dog for 3 breaths
extended side angle
prasaritta or hammock
vinyasa with baby chat/up dog/down dog
same on other side but horse play(horse to five pointed star back to horse) instead of hammock or prasaritta
down dog one breath
pigeon both sides
hop/walk to standing
1/4 sun salutation
forward fold to malasana
bridge x 2
seated forward fold
knees to chest with some hip play
Sunday, November 2, 2008
It's quite hot here, as one might imagine being on the equator would be. The humidity is triggering a lot of headaches and migraines and I think I'm still adjusting to the timezone because every night around 10 I get so unbelievably tired I can't keep my head up. I've been doing a practice every day, though, just simple stuff to keep my body lose. I'll post the sequence later on. I woke up one morning with a terrible headache and in my daze thought doing inversions would help. In fact, it did not. As soon as I got into down dog I remembered I had it backwards and thought, no no no!
This afternoon I'm teaching a class to two people from INSEAD. It evolved sort of on its own, after chatting briefly in the garden with a woman about what I do. She got totally excited and started telling me about her neck problems and all her stress. So we're doing a class today on campus. Another friend of Benjamin's also will attend--and hopefully Ben, if he doesn't have class. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited about teaching, but nervous they won't show up.
At the gym the other day I recreated Jasmine's class for myself and worked on Bird of Paradise and binding a lot. It was really fun.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I fell asleep in badakonasana on the plane. I had two seats next to each other all to myself and I used them for some seated forward folds, bicycle sit ups (no, just kidding) and knee to shoulder to massage my poor bloated travel belly. Here's a tip: don't board an eleven hour flight after having just had oatmeal and the hugest latte known to man. It doesn't feel good.
I also did some super minor salutations while waiting in line for the bathroom. Tadasana, forward fold, half lift, fold, baby backbend. You know the drill. Some people smiled knowingly at me, some looked alarmed.
Channeled the tender loving spirit of Arturo for some deep belly breathing upon first boarding. Panic, fear, nervous sweating at first. I sat up in lotus and put my hands on my belly to remind the breath where to go. After like twenty minutes of that, I watched Flight of the Conchords on my laptop and tried to let every doubt escape. Now I'm like, Singapore? Ain't no thang. Om.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
tons of core stuff tonight. it was a good class, but i might have benefited from a deeper, softer class. today was a strange day, and i really wanted to get into some stuff in class. but it felt good to just work out, too. but i can ride my bike for that...i'd do some yin postures but now it's late, i'm in bed and watching star trek. i might start calling all my entries 'captain's log'...i wonder what captain katherine janeway would do with a pulled groin muscle..
Monday, September 22, 2008
it was good, though. i needed two classes. haven't been sleeping well and i think i needed to physically exhaust myself to feel good about going to bed.
i've got some sort of weird knee thing happening. it feels like a growing pain. as usual all the triangles and warriors caused my groin muscles to hurt. i need to figure that out. i get so many different cues from so many different teachers as they gaze with confusion on my long legged stance and deep lunge. it's not an achey pain, or a burning pain. it feels like a tightness, like a rubber band being pulled too far. but i do feel the power of those asanas in my thighs, hamstrings, quads, etc, so i don't know why my inner thigh won't work along with it.
been feeling anxious, overwhelmed by choices and being back in my regular life, as regular as it can get these days. getting into my body was good. i needed the clarity and the sweat.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I googled Yoga in Fairfield before we went thinking that for SURE there would be at least one studio there, what with the hippie presence and the Maharishi school. But no. There are a couple women who give regular classes but no real studio to speak of that I could find, and nothing on Wednesdays. So I was disappointed.
You can buy yoga clothes there, and if the clothes are any indication of the prevalent yoga style, I'm not excited. The clothes are a Maharishi brand that comes in colors worthy of the Lacoste alligator polos. The male catalog model looks like a ralph lauren model doing yoga. he seems to demonstrate the usefulness of half lord of the fishes as a pose for drinking gin and tonic and seducing someone poolside. His warrior 2 looks like a tango move. In the course of one rainy afternoon, I spotted no less than 3 people throughout Fairfield rocking this line--white pants, UCLA-blue polo, and white hat. I guess that's what it looks like when spirituality meets business school.
I haven't done any yoga here yet. Not on my own and certainly not in a studio. I noticed last night as I lay down to sleep how naturally my body fell into a comfortable position without my thinking about it. Like it was doing yoga without me. It felt sort of like being in tune with the shushuma/gracious channel.
It's strange but I sort of enjoy my in-between yoga times. All the kinks that show up in my body louder than ever prove how much yoga does help keep them away. My stomach starts to hurt and I feel that it's connected to my lower back, which just needs some good vinyasa flowing to loosen up. So I suppose I'll get around to a little yoga eventually. Who knows...
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
There are no yoga classes in Fontainebleau. I practice yoga on dusty carpets in the living room and on cold wooden floors at the gym. Yesterday I ran through a C1 class by myself, skipping balancing and about half the chatarungas. The gym on campus has a room for aerobics, weight lifting, etc, a hell with fluorescent lighting and warped mirrors. Staying with my practice demanded special effort; pausing in down dog for four or five breaths, half hearted warriors being judged by the invisible yoga teacher in my ear.
Finding myself in a place of judgment and declaration. Like, I won’t eat baguettes for the next thousand years, and to prove my point I nearly eat an entire loaf, topped with rhubarb and butter. Like, I will do all eighty chatarungas in this series and to prove it I drop to my knees. I couldn’t stay present in the practice yesterday, couldn’t find a place to be practicing in a full and present way so that when I am not practicing, I might also feel that presence and fullness. When I finished, I felt as though it never happened. The same can be said about this relationship with Benjamin. How to be with him in the fullest way possible so that I still can be without him in the fullest way? When I’m alone I can’t understand my being so timorous and, I suspect, neither can he.
What does this have to do with yoga. Is it being wary, nervous, afraid of attempting all eighty chatarungas and collapsing on the sixty seventh? Like, I’m embarrassed someone will see me unable to complete a pushup?
In Paris over the weekend, Benjamin and I ate at least four chocolate éclairs. In one day. Being in the city, and being in the city with him, was perfect, in a less dramatic sense of the word. The city makes me want to meet it with its same pace, sound, life. The desire to dig deeply into the ground where I am walking is nearly overwhelming. What I say next sounds like something Kira would say, and so I attribute it to her: We start journeys because there is a feeling that something could be better. I say the same about why I began practicing yoga, and why I flew to France.
Monday, September 1, 2008
I liked the lack of instruction during the headstand. Having lower energy and needing something that felt really nourishing, I chose legs up the wall instead. I think if Kira had guided us through it step by step I would have been more tempted to go along and try to experience the pose through her words. So it was interesting to see what I did with the perceived freedom.
Mouse pose, it turns out, is way less effort than I thought. I figured out I can do it if I just put my hands out a little further in front to give my feet room to pop up. It doesn't necessarily feel 'right.' It feels diminutive and mouse-like, unlike other flying, nobler arm balances. You're just barely off the floor like you're sniffing for cheese. It's a pose you can't take too seriously. Everyone giggles when Kira demos this (including Kira).
I feel so far away from this Saturday experience here in suburbia. There's a new housing compound in town, built by a company called "Character Homes." There are endless identical houses that go on and on. I am confused. Where do the people inside go to live their lives? I don't see the grocery stores, the shops, the yoga studios.
-lopsided lunge pose was great.
-the mystery continues, of how and when yoga teachers decide to give the coveted yoga compliment; it's never when i'm thinking i deserve one :)
-warrior one felt really awkward. i felt more like a person standing in a goofy position than a graceful yogini
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I admit there has been little to no yoga happening on this trip thus far. A few downward dogs in the mornings to shake off the stiffness and some sun salutations on top of a mountain in the Alps are all I have to report. Instead, I have been eating a lot. Pastries, baguettes, cheese. Even some duck sausage. Bad yogini, bad.
There is a yoga club here with no president. Benjamin refuses to step up, so I begin my studies of Sanskrit-French-English. Le Chatarunga, Les Down Dogs.
Monday, August 18, 2008
So many insightful moments. I learned a lot. I wasn't sure what to expect and was decidedly nervous, thinking that maybe we were going to learn massage or something--I was clueless. Turns out, I wasn't asked to DO anything to anyone, but just to BE with them in more effective ways. It was like majoring in Touch with concentrations in Energy and Healing.
Saturday Arturo guided us through the softest, slowest meditation on touching. I was in a group with him and Kira. We slowly felt our way from the outermost energy layers through into skin, squishy layer under skin, connective tissue, muscle, bone (Arturo says the lighter the touch often the more you can feel). It was a beautiful way to just BE with someone and I felt safe and warm and totally in love with Kira.
Getting touched (Arturo on one arm and Kira on the other) was a more difficult experience but a fascinating one. I vacillated between accepting this wonderful feeling of being cared for and an anxiety I often get when touched. But I didn't worry about showing the anxiety since I had already shared (with the entire class) that it might happen. I just felt their presence as something to come back to when I was taken to a scary place.
Sunday was also amazing. The self-meridian massage was a fun way to learn to feel chi. I practiced it this morning to start my day. Molly cracked me up during the laughter yoga exercise, and I didn't think I would ever be able to stop laughing.
We also practiced Grounding and Centering our energy. A partner pushed our shoulders and to resist we had to make our energy larger, wider. This gave me a whole new way to relate to my emotions. Instead of diving into every little blip that comes up on my busy emotional radar, I can change my energetic shape, and grow into something bigger (Arturo discussed ways to respond to attacks, by taking on the energetic shape of square, circle, or triangle). During this exercise Craig called me a grasshopper, which I took as a great compliment. :)
Craig and I were partners again for the final partner exercise, a Healing meditation. Arturo chanted the word HEAL while we did our best to resonate with a Healing Quality while holding our hands over a spot of our partner's choosing. I chose my left knee, and throughout the exercise I felt the slight pain there dissipate and reappear in the bottom of my foot and then disappear completely. Craig said my energy felt "jagged" just over the top of my shin bone, which happens to be a place where I've been feeling a faint tingling for the past couple of weeks. Crazy.
I got chills when Arturo talked about the Tibetan monks' ability to heal the sick just by chanting , "Already healed. Already whole. Already well."
Arturo talked about how you can't just drop your shoulder off at the shop to get fixed--healing is something a person has to be wholly involved in. In fact, he said, he often doesn't have to do anything but hold a safe space in which peoples' own "body-mind intelligence" can do the healing work. So when I had a headache later that night I didn't look for a quick external fix; I held my hands on my head and thought 'heal, heal, heal.' I softened and relaxed myself until the pain dissipated.
How can I ever live without Lulu Bandha's?
Friday, August 15, 2008
Man or fish? Guillame Nery setting a freediving world record in a spectacular demonstration of kumbaka, or breathholding.
I am happy to report that we contain ancient, fishlike abilities. As soon as the face comes into contact with cold water, a state called bradycardia sets in, slowing the heart rate. This is the first step in the activation of our body's underwater survival mechanisms. Scientists call it the mammalian diving reflex, and we share it with animals like dolphins, seals, otters. This water-triggered reflex means that a person can actually survive without breath longer underwater than above.
Like anyone exploring the unknown, freedivers learn that to go deeper, they must relax all resistance (any extraneous effort means depleted oxygen) and accept (their thoracic cavities literally accept the depths, filling with watery plasma to equalize the pressure from without). It's such a perfect analogy for the way yoga seems to work...the further we dive, the more relaxed and accepting we have to be.
I've noticed that often I battle with what I find within myself. I can feel like two Ashleys (two zen muffins?) during yoga. I get confused about which one is real, confused about what yoga is 'supposed' to feel like. If I'm not blissed out and peaceful I think I'm doing it wrong. Sometimes I wonder how to 'use' yoga--as something to CHANGE the way I'm feeling in the moment or as something to help me feel that moment more strongly.
It's funny how easy it is for the mind to find something beautiful, appealing, inviting, like freediving. But to get the rest of the self to go along with it is the trick. Despite my fascination with freediving and my innate piscean nature, I've always lost underwater breathholding contests and feared the ocean. Yoga allows me to ease in gently, safely, and choose whether I float at the top gazing down or dive fully in.
Friday, August 8, 2008
leading a class through an hour of power yoga!
thai yoga massage
realizing i actually enjoy core strengthening and don't feel like a tool teaching ab work
feedback from class on my voice and presence
meeting and spending 14 hours a day with some fabulously dedicated yogis and seriously funny ladies
getting really tuned into alignment
sipping coffee in between sun a and sun b series during our early morning practices. yeah, gross, i know. get over it.
staying true to my inner yoga voice and keeping my practice through out the training
wearing my teacher pants and student pants
more deets later, but right now my main concern is reading this guide book to france and sipping on some white wine. here's to me, two yoga teacher trainings in one summer and a trip to france at the end of the week. my life is pretty okay.
tomorrow afternoon someone's coming to the house to do an hour session with me. i said noon because what really sounds nice to me after 100 + hours of yoga is a cup of coffee, the sunday times and a long sit in the morning sun.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
high to mid plank with some up dogs. below i'm pushing back from chatarunga to up dog. in class, erin placed her hand on the crown of my head and told me to push into it with my head. my habit is to look down, since that's the direction i'm going, and keep looking down until i'm in updog, and then thrust it forward at the last minute. in class we also did a few rounds of that vinyasa with straps above the elbows during chatarunga to prevent splaying. for those in the group who are already quite accomplished in their chats, this way was harder.
with the pictures i can see the habits i have during this part of sun a. dropping my head, dropping my hips, forgetting about my feet.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The most radical thing that happened for me was the slumpy seated meditation. Kira suggested we sit "the way our mothers always told us not to." During the opening meditation I tried this but felt too strange and straightened up. I have accepted the meanings normally assigned to slumpiness-hiding, lethargy and depression. Oh, and office work.
But I have to admit that I don't entirely enjoy the stick-straight posture usually required for seated meditation. I never feel quite right or quite able to breathe.
So during closing meditation Kira offered the slumping idea again and I stayed in it. I rounded my back and let my head hang down. I felt a steady tug on the back of my neck where my scar is and thought 'hey, do-it-yourself scar-releasing bodywork!' The rest of my spine pressed pleasantly out and I felt safe and tucked away like a hedgehog in a ball. My mood was soft and warm. I felt like I was taking care of myself instead of trying to be something I'm not. Hedgehogs definitely know the value of safety.
- worked on musika or mouse pose, which was adorable but difficult.
- everything's better when done with the sacral belly
Monday, August 4, 2008
For me, the best part of waiting for the gift is asking Hana what she thinks it might be. "An elephant?" she guessed. "A macaroni bowl without macaroni?"
Nothing else gives me such a sense of how astonishing desire is. Desire gives equal weight to things of radically different worth. Hana cycled through the possibilities at every meal. "A piece of glass?" "Crayons?" "A cloud?"
Desire erases boundaries by easing through them. Desire is wonder in motion. Desire finds that reality's border is loosely guarded; someone-"reason's viceroy"-is always asleep at his post. My 3-year-old girl knows already what many poets would do well to learn: desire pushes through the limit of what is possible; it does not recognize it and retreat.
My practice (with Bjork's Post cd):
start in tadasana
very slow dive forward waiting until the last second to round my back
- cat tuck/cow tilt
round to plank
uncurl into side plank following full course of the cow tilt into a drop back
- drop to dolphin
- walk toes forward for sirsana (headstand)
- attempt kira's transition rocking from sirsana prep back to crow
roll forward padha hastasana
after feeling quite energetic at the beginning i started to get disinterested and couldn't continue with my PLAN for an active practice. wondered what was wrong with me but decided to try a yin pose to while i wrote down what i'd been doing
Frog ---yin turned out to be just what i needed, this pose always feels detoxifying and slowing down allowed me to notice i was tired
hip circles with hands planted and cobra
hanumanasa (splits) attempt each side
supine badakonasana (butterfly)
Friday, August 1, 2008
A friend was in town recently, from such far away places as my email inbox and Singapore. He stayed with me last week, at my house which is not my house, in my bed which is not my bed. The house sitting is getting to me. I didn't notice until he was here and then I was acutely aware of the sprawl of my life across the town. A little paper trail from house to house. We shuffled from the house with the swamp cooler in east Boulder to Alice's when we stayed in town drinking late. It was interesting having a guest in town with no place to keep him of my own. No way to say this is me in all those normal ways of home ownership; no quirky coffee cups to use or records to play.
He kept asking to take a class with me, and I kept finding reasons not to go. Some legit, some less legit. At the end of the week my body felt manipulated, as if it had believed until then I had been putting it to good use. The same energy that held us together in bed was similar to the energy I use on my yoga mat. There was a weird power struggle there: when I practice yoga I'm responsible for my body, my muscles and bones respond to me. And suddenly I felt my body respond to something else entirely, to someone else. The physical space I've created was shared again, suddenly, surprisingly. And at such close range I could not find the space to share more. Towards the end of his visit I did a small practice at home while he slept, feeling safe enough in the solitude of early morning to even get a little sweaty. A black lab named Ruby observed me from a silent curled position on the couch, a tail wag of approval when I moved into the standing postures.
So the question that remains is the one I hardly know how to pose, let alone answer. What do I think I'm keeping to myself, what do I think I'm letting go of? Would I have preferred someone get to know me by handing him the Boy Scout coffee cup with the broken handle, or letting him peer into my bedroom to see my record collection or the books on my shelf? It is not that I didn't want to share yoga with him; I am notoriously annoying about begging my friends to come take class with me. I don't know what it means that we didn't take class together, and if I did I might not say it here. It's about exposure, about showing your full extent. Chasing after backbends and heart openers with abandon, hurling yourself into handstand like a kid in the grass.
But I have been practicing at home, with the air conditioner and Ruby looking on from the side, chasing after muscle and meaning, meaning which becomes unraveled and lost, the inhales that become the meaning, feeling blessed between each space of movement, the pause and intake of breath, trust and distrust of my map-less body to move toward the place it will inevitably arrive. Back to the beginning, or the end, where it has so lovingly chased towards itself. But I could say all those things about spending a week in bed with a visiting boy, and so I must admit I have not fooled anyone.
Erich Schiffmann:"Yoga is a way of moving into stillness to experience the truth of who you are. It's a matter of listening inwardly for guidance all the time, and then daring enough and trusting enough to do what you are prompted to do."
things I've been working on:
rounding into plank
vasistasana holding leg straight up and hips open
bakasana into sirsasana II and back (complete with the "ee ee" creaky sounds of kira)
eka pada urdhva danurasana (this helps having someone there to tell me how high my leg is. for some reason i have no concept of height or length here. also, i can't seem to lift my leg if my other foot is flat on the ground. on my tip toes it seems much more possible.)
purvottanasana. keeping my neck softened is a giant task. feeling my shoulders round up, trying to keep close to my ears.
finding myself instinctually moving into revolved extended side angle quite a bit. it feels nice to be open in my chest but somehow bound up, too.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
started with upavistha konasana (the therapeutic benefits were multiplied by the soothing warmth of the sand on my legs and hands!)
- chest press
- curl forward
- hip press
move aside, observe beautiful pattern in sand
down dog (with face towards the ocean of course)
tons of time in uttanasana looking at ocean and enjoying new access to hamstrings
roll to standing, turn to face ocean
on each leg:
- triangle (played with an idea from uschi's class, to rotate top hip forward--it feels twistier that way)
- utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose) with bind
- crescent lunge
vinyasa to finish salute
on each side, standing forward fold with ankle on knee (to get hip stretch)
- attempt arm-balance (name?)
- stand and evolve to padangustana
tadasana, turn to face inland and attempt to drop back to urdva dhanurasana (upward facing bow) but to no avail. too scared? self-conscious about falling in public?
malasana to ease low-back
short childs with forehead hovering over sand (got a little surprised by a wave here)
casual prasarita padattonasana (wide-legged forward fold) in the water to wash limbs.
savasana-ish experience at the park in the roots of the 136 year old tree.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
i read that a reclining hamstring stretch (supta padangustasana) is the best way to get in there without straining the low back at all. it took me a while to find the right spot but finally it was TOTAL bliss. i took each leg up, then out then over. afterwards my legs felt so warm and light and awake. plus this was the easiest possible transition from reclining in bed--just simply lift the leg, you don't even have to open your eyes!
rocked from happy baby to seated upavistha konasana with legs in the air, fingers around my big toes
landed in a squat
rocked forward to crow
fell out of crow but tried to land gracefully and ended up doing some jumbled stretch that opened my side ribs
ardha matseyendrasana to left
eka pada koundinyasana on left hip
same to right side
childs (first rolling forward onto top of head with fingers interlaced and lifting off back)
then just childs, all tucked away in a cozy little ball. ahhh! felt something a lot like sleepiness
observations--really easy to forget to breathe and go too fast and sort of mechanically. when i noticed i was doing that was after the eka padas. curling into childs brought me back into myself.
amazing how if you just START with one small step it can lead to so much more. the immense good feeling created from just one simple round of supta padangustana pulled me forward into more poses. i've just got to find those doors in--in this case my tight hamstrings were the door that got me to do my own yoga practice today and find a little magical ability to self-heal.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I haven't forgotten you, Yogery. More to come.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
but now that i'm here and back ordering black coffee at the shop on the corner where everyone i've ever known in boulder orders their coffee, it feels as though i've never left. i see a lot of my friends today, by accident. boulder feels as small as ojai. can i turn a corner without seeing someone i know? but today it is welcomed; i am shocked to write it is a pleasure to be home. they ask what i learned. no, that's not right, they ask did you learn a lot. yes or no. some don't know what questions to ask and i don't know how to say over coffee i've changed and we end up talking about pollution, or LA traffic. i run into a newer friend; we don't know each other well, and our conversations are friendly, toothy, transparent. he is interested in yoga, we talk about a time for him to come take a class with me. yoga is the next natural step for him, he quit drinking a year ago and now he wants to quit smoking. we decide on next wednesday. it's a new moon, he says, grinning. is he coming to yoga so he can quit smoking or kiss me? i don't know, but i decided a few weeks ago both motives are respectable so when i see him scribble in his planner i can't help but grin back at him, merry as christmas. i mean, it's yoga. what can go wrong?
i'm avoiding. yoga summer camp came to an end. i'm back in boulder after two and a half weeks in southern california practicing yoga. learning to teach yoga. i designed two classes this afternoon, in an effort to put off returning to work and real life a little longer. but i grew tired just putting the pen to paper. should i be doing this? do i know my elbow from my ass? completing the training articulated many unnamed fears, wants, needs. the sentence i want to teach yoga sounds much different when you're actually enabled to teach yoga. it's like the beginning of a relationship, when everything is still a bet. doubt, desire. he calls, i call him back, he leaves a message on my answering machine.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Not having the freedom of my time is getting to me, though. My eating routine is off. I'm not really rolling with that as well as I wish I could. Knowing my job will be changing at my studio in Boulder upon my return is bothering me. I find myself at that studio just as much as I'm at Lulu's, with the way it pops into my mind. And boys, I'm thinking about boys.
Just staying present is my big task. Remembering to do little things in the moment I'm in, like looking forward with my head while trying to jump into handstand. Who cares what happens after I'm up? What I'm trying to do is get up.
At one point during our practice today I thought I felt a psychic 'phone call' from a friend. I think that statement sums up a lot of my mental state during this training. This friend and I once sat lotus style in front of one another at a hot springs in New Mexico, trying to communicate silently. It was one of the most pleasant afternoons I've had in a long time, and while a lot of the telepathy business was rooted in shyness and wanting to just look at him, I'm still hoping one day I'll be able blog psychically. Oh, yes.
What does this have to do with yoga? That is the eternal question in my posts. Yoga has to do with everything. I could write an entry about buying beans and it would be about yoga. The deeper I get into my practice the more things become connected.
Kira talked a lot about resistance today. Saying no to say yes. Some of that resistance is in our physical bodies--the way you can trick a muscle into stretching by contracting it first, and some of it in our emotional bodies. We did handstands today--a big anxiety pose for me. I said no a million times in my head, and gave my usual lame attempt at the wall, mostly for posterity. Look, I tried. Happy now? And lo, I was tricked into it.
No, not tricked. Kira pushed her feet into my shoulder blades which gave me the stability to push my legs out to a right angle. But somewhere in there was a moment where I said ok. I stopped sending psychic messages to my legs and arms like DON'T LET ME DIE and I stopped, for a second, thinking about the second that was coming after that one.
And it was great. Of course. I'm getting to be more and more honest with my body, trusting it more, loving the places it lets me get to. Trying to settle into the sensations of whatever world I'm in. Maybe I'm not as ready as I'd like to be to teach, but I'm understanding I could be. Like sending and receiving psychic messages with John--it's probably not going to happen, but thinking it could is pretty sweet.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
It's hard not to feel inspired in Kira's studio. It's a small, light space with open windows and pale blue walls. Almost nothing reminds me of my studio at home; in fact,the windows here open up to big, green trees. No gas station or apartment complexes in sight. The pace of things is different here, which suprises me. Students don't start showing up for class until a minute before it is scheduled to begin. Do I feel somehow threatened by this? A chance exists that I rely on arriving thirty minutes before the class to spread my mat out, roll my neck around, focus. I don't know how to just arrive. This morning (Sunday) Ashley and I woke up only ten minutes before 8, actually driving the three blocks to the studio so we could make Uschi's strong vinyasa class. I tried not to panic, but I did a little anyway. How do they do it, these people who just stroll into class, thunk their mats down and forward fold?
I need to start my yoga homework. Something about sequencing. In the interest of not letting these posts of mine drag on and on for days, I'm pressing "publish post" and just letting what I've said be what I've said. The end.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
the only thing keeping me halfway calm is reading erich schiffmann's book. he's working really hard to convince me that yes at my core i am actually goodness, love, peace, calmness. like everyone. i'm trusting that i can stay with that during this training and that whatever shows up for me it will be ok!
i'm working on finding my own voice and that's what i hope to get out of this endeavor--a little more knowledge and peacefulness about who i am, whether i end up being a yoga teacher or not.
i just threw an entire bag of spinach on the stove. warm, calming, sugar free FOOD. that's what i need right now to fortify me for the journey ahead!
Monday, June 9, 2008
Sarah’s here from Boulder, the teacher training is only four days away, I finally cracked open the Bhagavad Gita and I actually like it, and my energy and excitement is starting to flow back into my life like a stream of fairy dust.
How are we supposed to relate to our own emotions? I’m noticing that I tend to get completely taken over by them and then I can’t enjoy them, good or bad. That non-handstand was so revolutionary for me because I enjoyed that fear. So my next question is, is it possible to notice the fear and do the pose anyway?
Last night I did manage to kick up and do a handstand against the wall of my apartment, twice. The first time my arms buckled slowly and I landed on my head. Sarah was there and we laughed at the horror and humor of it. The second time I kicked up and stayed up for a couple shocked seconds in which I looked at the upside down room around me and waited for the pose to enlighten me. So I know I can do it, in a carefree environment completely free of things that trigger my self-consciousness and overthinking.
Listening to Fleetwood Mac, “I’ve been afraid of changes…time makes you bolder, even children get older and I'm gettin' older too.”
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I've moved into the apartment above Alice and Bill's house and am feeling out a new routine of early mornings with the boys, late afternoons with the girls and in between practicing yoga and working at the studio. Reading a few books in the transitions, some good and others great (E.B. White essays and Joan Halifax's The Fruitful Darkness), and trying to find my writing voice again. Having the space to live in and call my own for the next few weeks is wonderful. I feel so welcome in their home, and knowing I am needed and wanted there is wonderful, too.
(i've been listening to tons of bob dylan lately, and certain songs i've never really liked have suddenly endeared themselves to me, "up to me" being one, which is where i got the subject for this post.)
I've been taking few yoga classes this week, and when I do take them they feel juicy and delicious. I took HPF with Trista a few days ago, and it was almost perfect. Sweet, strong, moving. She reminded us throughout the class to come back to our breath. She said a few times if we didn't have that deep, cleansing breath in our postures we were missing the point.
I confessed to Richii Jai Jai this morning my fear of going upside down in class. I felt teary just saying it to him. I think of you when I don't want to come to yoga, I said, I think of all the things you'd say to me. I meant this to be a little funny, to poke fun at his exaggerated eye rolls and sugary energy, but instead he stopped what he was doing on the computer, made me stop what I was doing on mine and flipped me over upside down on the couch. We talked like that for a few minutes, the tops of our heads on the floor and legs crisscrossed on the back of the couch. Forget what the studio wants you to do, he told me. Just do what you want.
It seems so stupid when I try to write about it now, like I don't know who I am or what I'm doing. Mostly I don't, mostly I do. Working at the studio seems to have added this extra pressure to my yoga practice that sometimes I like (when I push myself to find new postures like peacock)and sometimes I don't like (the gym-like mentality of needing to 'work-out'). There is a strong possibility I'm just as sensitive and soft as I was as a little girl, that my constitution is something slower and subtler than the yoga I'm practicing. I love the yoga I am doing now--I just don't know how to make it my own.
The thing about the work-out stuff at CP is that I like myself the way I am. I don't come to yoga to re-shape my body or whip into something lean and mean. I feel a little inadequate at the studio sometimes, I worry someone will catch on my resistance. Of course my body responds to what I ask of it during class with increasing strength and I can't help but admire the results. On a superficial level I love it, I love it. My confidence feels bought, though; insured somehow. Like, as long as you're in this studio, you're okay. Like we whisper to one another with enthusiasm on the way to class Let's Get Our Yoga On! And when I miss class for a few days I feel it i my body, and my brain responds in an ugly, demanding way. I'm missing yoga, I'm losing muscle, I need my work-out everyday, so on and so on. And then the same question shows up: Do I practice yoga because I love myself, or because I hope one day I will?