Monday, September 29, 2008

Reporting My Practice

It's hard for me to do my own practice in the morning, while my mind is full of to-do lists for the day and my stomach is hungry for breakfast.  Settling down and doing nothing is just not usually an option in the mornings.  

Sometimes though, there's a shift in the wind and you do things differently.  So today I practiced when I woke up.  

Music: my itunes "Cleaning" playlist 

Quarter salutations
Half salutation, roll up one vertebra at a time
Half salutation, pause in uttanasana to loosen spine
Bow pose
Wide-legged forward fold
got a phone call
Pigeon during the call
No closing.  

Later I test-drove some songs for a savasana playlist. 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Yin Yoga

While Sarah was checking out Jason Crandell's podcasts, I was doing yin yoga with a Paul Grilley video.  We're doing our homework to prepare for the Crib!  

I love his video because I can do it anytime, no matter what my energy level is.  In fact, I usually do it when I would normally take a nap.  It's a lot like taking a nap, only more refreshing and in weirder positions.  I love how casual it is but yet it offers so much time in each pose that inevitably I come into some consciousness of my own body and how it shifts and responds to the poses like a conversation.  

Discovered the fabulous cat-tail pose, which satisfied the same desire for juicy backbending that wheel does.  Now I don't have to go up into wheel all the time.  

My mom even got down on the floor with me and did part of the video.  So that was neat.    

yoga journal podcasts

just discovered these gems. jason crandell doing 45 minute classes. even if i'm not actually practicing, it's so pleasant to listen to.
today was gentle backbends. how delightful.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reporting my Practice

All I did yesterday was lay with my legs up the wall while talking on the phone.  The thought of anything else seemed like too much work.  

Today I did a moving tadasana.  While walking at the lake, I experimented with incorporating the principles of tadasana (activate the toes, ears in line with shoulders, tailbone slightly tucked, and of course, the ever challenging shoulders rolled back and down).  It was mostly the toe activation that made a noticeable difference.  My gait felt a little more symmetrical, and less sloppy.  

And finally, I showed my mom the restorative liver-meridian pose from Arturo's workshop.  She was really tired today and has been having issues related to her liver.  So I felt that pose was pretty perfect.  She looked at me like I was insane for suggesting yoga while she was so tired until she saw what 'restorative' meant. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reporting My Practice

I always read or write in my journal before I go to sleep.  Back in Boulder I did yoga before bed, but I'd always fall asleep on the floor with my legs up the wall.  Last night I was feeling an urge to go upside-down so I decided to again put aside my books and try a pre-bedtime practice. 

I love child's pose as a beginning.  It doesn't feel like Yoga, it just feels like curling up and resting.  It always calms me.  So I started in child's pose, for a long time.  Then I just sort of rolled forward and did a headstand with the wall close by as an option in case I wanted a break.  I recalled hearing that headstand was good to do before bed, so I wanted to be up there for a long time to get the full sedative effect.  

Came down not planning to do any other yoga but as usual it pulled me along and I had to do just one more pose.  I figured wheel wasn't a very good nighttime pose but I did it anyway.  Then I still hadn't had enough backbending so I did camel.  And then, a nice long badokonasana to quiet things down again.  I never did quite cross that distinct border between Thinking Too Much and Relaxation.  I got into bed and did my best to pile my pillows into the likeness of a bolster for a restorative heart opener. 

That was the hardest pose of all.  I alternated between relaxation and discomfort.  After that I didn't want any more yoga so I rolled off and tried to sleep but couldn't for the longest time.  I suppose next time I'll do that pose during the day or at least try to follow it with something introspective.  

On another note, earlier in the day I actually managed to get myself into a handstand against the wall for maybe the 4th time ever!    

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

captain's log

another c1 tonight. something weird happening with groin/hamstring muscle. not really sure what it is, it starts right in my groin and runs along the bottom of my hamstring, but it's very short and tense for like four inches. adductor? gracilis? hamstring? anyway it feels hyper extended, esp in poses like warrior two and prasiritta. the latter has been really good to me in the past, but lately it's super painful and i feel as though my inner thighs are going to rip apart. what's the deal? i'm back to biking a ton around boulder, and walking around a lot in general. i need the flexibility pill!

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

See Ones

today i did two c1 classes, one in the morning and one in the evening after i got off work. worked through it with my teacher brain, cueing myself and constantly thinking ahead. the second class i was exhausted, and couldn't stop yawning.
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.

Reporting My Practice

A late evening practice.  

Upavista Konasana (wide-legged forward fold)
Badha Konasana (butterfly)
Upavista Konasana (the most comfortable one of my life)
forward splits (at least i tried)
side splits (again, just an attempt)
forward splits other side (got more mileage out of the yin dragon pose)
child's pose
eye of the needle twist
child's pose
ended in crocodile, felt like an upside down savasana

Observations:  I had only planned to do one pose--upavista konasana.  (amber's one-pose-at-a-time theory helped me get started) but the poses themselves often guide me to do more once I'm in them.  I was surprised by how much heat some of these slow but deep poses created; I felt it rising all the way into my face.  

When will blogger add a sanskrit spellchecker?  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reporting My Practice

My 'practice' today (while waiting for my mom to get ready to go on a walk): brief headstand against the wall.  Child's pose.  Wished for the ability to do scorpion.  Upper body felt very invigorated from the headstand.  

After the walk, did upavista konasana (wide-legged forward fold) while selecting a packing playlist.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

Teaching Yoga to Mom

I taught some yoga today!  To my mother.  A couple years ago I tried to teach her yoga but it was disastrous because I just launched into sun salutation and it was too much too soon.  At least I didn't scare her so much that she wouldn't try again.  Today (with a new Lulu's training under my belt) I went for a gentler approach.  This is what we did: 

Savasana (with Wah! music to transform the living room into a serene yoga studio)
Eye of the needle 
Supta padangusthasana (i allowed for a moment to 'feel the effects' between each leg and she said 'i feel like i have more length.'  kind of magical to teach that to someone for the first time!)
Here we tested out down dog but it was probably too much for both my yoga-speak proficiency and her strength and flexibility.  
Instead- extended childs.
Roll to tadasana very slowly (she commented that she really enjoyed the rolling up.  i do too.)
Warrior 2 with the dance in and out which seemed to make it less rigid
Uttanasana/roll to tadasana
Repeat other side
Half lord of the fishes 
Yin badokonasana (she found this one hard)
Hug knees to chest and rock

and that's it!  (that's actually what i said after she came back to seated...not the most graceful ending)


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reporting My Practice

Does it count as yoga if you're talking on the phone while doing it?   My body felt good, even if it's probably not the most spiritual approach.  In any case, here's what I did and it did feel good....

Pigeon both sides


supta padangustana Left side

happy baby

supta padangustana Right side

hug knees to chest and roll

3 bridges (not while talking on phone) 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flexible Rules

In accordance with the accountability principle (see kira's blog about the correlation between food-journaling and weight loss), I think I will post every bit of yoga that I do.  To see if it helps me to practice more on my own.  No bit will be left out.  Even if it means that my blog looks like "did wheel while waiting for the iron to get hot."  and that's it.  true story by the way.  

sometimes i hold myself back from doing more intense poses because i have this idea that it's wrong to do them unless i do warm up stuff first.  but i've always had too much impatience for warming up so i'd end up doing nothing.  it was exciting to do that wheel without any warm-up so now i'm going to do whatever pose i want whenever i want.  doesn't that sound spoiled?  oh, and add "however i want."  (i wonder if i ever would have developed this attitude of flexibility around the rules without lulu's)

sometimes my practice is too small to count as yoga in my head.  but this way i get to count everything.  like, i don't give myself credit for constantly sitting around in toe and foot torture.  now i'm going to count that.  and stop feeling bad that i'm not a real yogini just because i don't sweat and work on my core every day while wearing short shorts and a sports bra.  (no offense loweball i'm just jealous)

today i also did a slightly more by the book practice complete with an intention to feel peaceful.  it happened accidentally while i was trying to download a free Yoga Today class.  it didn't work and i got bored waiting so i did sun salutations -first quarter, then half, then full.  i had a minor emotional breakdown during the full salutation and laid down in childs pose.  not sure what happened exactly, but the thoughts were along the lines of "i'm not good enough."  it happens i guess.  i propelled myself back to life with a healthy dose of anger that allowed me to rebel against my own silly thoughts.  i didnt do a symmetrical practice at all.   pigeons were involved.  
ended in meditation.  current favorite seated position is seiza.  i want to use the word 'humble' to describe the effect.  though i had completely forgotten about the original peace intention i artificially set, i was pleasantly surprised to notice that after meditating for a few minutes, i managed to feel some small level of peace.  and what else can i ask for?  

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Research for the "-ery" part of the Yogery

the photos can't express the feeling this lemon meringue pie inspired. also the peach cobbler i ate right before digging into the meringue was pretty inspiring. viva la france.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Barely Yoga

This morning I shuffled from my bed to my yoga mat, and ended up reading a magazine while lying on my mat feeling stiff and hungry.  Then I had the idea to try an online Lulu's class.  But the internet gods were against me and the connection wouldn't work.  As I sat there waiting for my luck to shift, I figured I might as well do a little half cow face.  And that felt good.  

That one pose led to a few other poses too, in a detached, rebellious little sequence mixed in with some very unyogic things, like popping my shoulder and checking my email.  It got me wondering, what should a home practice look like, especially for someone even thinking about being a yoga teacher?  Of course it's different for everyone, but why is it SO HARD for me, and I think for some others, to get one going?  How do I break through the contradictory values of 'going with the flow' (which lets me justify my slacking) and the value that Yoga is Good and beneficial to those who actually practice it?  

Going to a good yoga class is just like getting your hair done at a salon.  It's always better than what you can do at home.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Today my mom and I went on a road trip to Fairfield, Iowa, as blogged about in the new surviving Iowa blog.

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

Le Yoga, Part II

September in France finds me under prepared physically, aesthetically, emotionally. It brings us rain and grey clouds, and only a few trees have begun turning red. Today I feel a bit blue. Weary of the same loose black sweater and dirty jeans, of the hair falling in my eyes. This feeling of home is fleeting and soon to be far flung—I fly to D.C. on Sunday. Benjamin asked a few times if I would like to put my things in the drawers, but they’ve remained in piles atop my luggage. A metaphor, if you know what I mean.

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 ├ęclairs. 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

Last Lulu's Class

I'm in Iowa now. I took my last class (for now) at Lulu Bandha's on Saturday: Sweet Vinyasa with Kira. It was like any other class with Kira: fun, fresh, juicy-feeling, relaxed, a good mixture of the familiar and the new things to play with. An oasis.

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.

Other notes:
-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