Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Missing the Point

First of all, let me start off by saying that I am not a third sister, although I'm often confused for one of them. However, I have brought a third state into the mix. I know, things just got interesting. Hold on to your pants.

I was asked by Z-Muffin to contribute to this blog. I'm not sure how Toast feels about, but I hope she understands.

I am an amateur at yoga. I pretended to do it on my own throughout college and have taken part in several classes at various studios. I feel the perspective of "Sometimes I know what I'm doing, but most of the time I'm just stretching!" is a nice supplement to what has already been discussed by Z and T and.....oh, right, just Z and T.

I've been looking for a studio to attend since I moved to Chicago a little over a year ago. I've spent a lot of time researching and writing down times and hanging "free yoga" fliers on my fridge, but I haven't gone to one class. Until last Saturday, when I attended a free class at a Dahn yoga center near my apartment. Dahn yoga is all about breathing and releasing stagnant energy, and meditation. (btw...if you're new to the Dahn, which I was.) The class was great. A perfect way to start my morning. Simple poses and Jung Choong breathing techniques. A fresh serving of herbal tea with Amy, the instructor who took a picture of my aura...

...too helpful and caring.

As it turned out, "the master would like to have an individual class with" me. "Holy crap, I'm awesome!" thought I. "For only $15?!" I went to my one-on-one class yesterday, which was delightful. We moved around quite a bit as a warm-up, Master Joy striking my side as I stretched, knocking out all of that stagnant energy. We then went into a warm, cozy room with mats and candles and pictures of Korean visionaries. I laid down and breathed while Master Joy massaged my intestines. It's true, my breathing did improve, and I did feel great. My mind was relaxed for the first time in a long time.

Then came the hard sell. Joy pulled out a piece of paper and she started writing down all of her recommendations for what I should do. The Dahn Center is not a place that entertains wishy-washy yoga-ers. You have to be a member. You have to pay $280 for 3 months. This is how the conversation went... Me: I cannot afford that. Master Joy: Well, this is a long-term investment and you really need to focus on your health. Me: Ok, but I can't afford that. My brother is getting married in June in Japan and I have to pay for my ride. MJ: I know you want to go to your brother's wedding, but you need to focus on your health and focus on yourself. In my head: So, you're saying I shouldn't go to his wedding and should instead pay for your dinner?

Somehow, I was convinced to pay $80 for 5 classes. It's funny. I felt incredibly panicked and anxious all day.

You know that Friends episode where Chandler keeps trying to quit his gym and once he gets there, they convince him otherwise? He has to take Ross with him as back-up and Ross ends up joining, too. Well, that didn't happen today. I quit. I quit my yoga studio after 24 hours.

Next Saturday I will practice yoga at Moksha Yoga Center on Clark. And I won't pay.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday Jan 27, Home Practice 5:30 P.M.

After a day of sitting at the computer I needed to move. This may seem sacreligious, but I put on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to energize me. Music has the nice effect of helping me stop thinking so much.

When I start a home practice session (I’m not saying how rare these sessions actually are), I start out trying to plan a nice sequence of poses that resembles something like what a studio class would be like. Something active, full of fast vinyasas, preferably even sweat.

What I actually end up doing however, is finding all these nooks and crannies during the warm-up and spending the whole time softly stretching those out in yin-like postures.

So what I did tonight (approximately) was:

Cat-cow
Balasana (Child’s)
Dog
1-legged dog on both sides
chatturanga dandasana
sphinx with neck stretches
locust
“rocket cat” (a kira invention)
Dog rolling to cobra
Windshield wiper
More cat-cow! (this pose seems to always lead to something unexpected)
Looong pigeon on my easy side. I stretched my torso out on the floor away from the front knee. Not sure if that’s still ‘yoga’ but it really dug into this perpetual tight spot in my outer thigh and stretched my side waist nicely. Mmm.
cow-face on the same side.
Badakanasana (butterfly)
Upavistha konasana (wide-angle forward bend on the floor)
Vinyasa
Medium-long pigeon on my tighter side with some of the same stretching away from the knee. At this point, lauryn hill was singing “When it hurts so bad, why does it feel so good??”
Cow-face on the same side (this time I straightened and shook the leg out first to break up the folded up position)
Full saddle pose
Child’s, but this wasn’t enough relief for the low back so
Malasana (squat) followed by
Paschimotanasana (forward fold)
Supine twist on both sides with Happy Baby in between
Savasana!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kira’s 9:00 AM Soft Vinyasa Class

I had a rough week and brought the residual emotions to the mat today. I didn’t think I wanted to go to class but I made myself at the last minute. Even once I was in the studio on the mat, I felt an urge to cry and for a moment I considered leaving or at least hunkering down into child’s pose. Similarly, in my life I will entertain fantasies about fleeing, quitting this or quitting that, moving away, tossing out all my stuff.

Yoga only sort of helped today. I stayed mired in my little pool of sadness for much of it. I even felt guilty because I was afraid that I would ruin the energy of the room and make everyone else depressed too. I thought I shouldn’t have come. I was mad at myself for being so unhappy. So much heaviness.

But there were points of lightness too. Kira’s always funny. Today I liked her irreverent delivery of the line, “Surely the point of life is not to make a great plan and execute it.” And of course unlocking my morning tightness felt so nice. I am very interested in Kira’s new focus on feeling prana. I maybe almost felt it in my legs during prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged forward fold).

It’s amazing how much active effort it takes for me to really feel. I sometimes use Uschi’s suggestion—I think “I am willing to feel” as I inhale. Then I relax about it as I exhale. Sometimes this helps me find feelings that my body and mind have conspired to hide from my awareness to protect me or something.

I’ve been a little anxious during savasana lately, as well as at night before going to sleep. I’d like to be able to relax deeper more often and let go of the thoughts that cling to me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

this just in: broke like a joke. no yoga until next week.

Thursday, January 17, 2008