Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sugar and Tangerines (aka Ojai Yoga Crib)

Above: Megananda snuggles in during Arturo and Cheri's Restorative Yoga Class. 

There's truly SO much to say about the Crib.  It was my third and most intense Crib yet.  It was such a full, amazing, wonderful experience.  I gave more of myself in some ways and I allowed myself to do more of what I needed to do (like eat french fries on the Ventura pier and leave the dishes in the sink).  This year I had the sense of being a freshman in college; why take the time to sleep when there's so much socializing, studying, and activities to do?   

I took class from Jasmine Tarkeshi, Scott Blossom (twice!), Arturo Peal and Cheri Clampett, and the queen of hearts herself, Kira.  Jasmine invoked Obama as a model of grace in any situation and taught one of the most truly flowing vinyasa classes I've taken.  Scott offered the suggestion that wheel doesn't have to be a fiery pose, but can actually be more lunar and cooling.  He comes from such a subtle, energetic place that I can't always follow, but it's a road I definitely want to go down.  I think I 'got it' during his slow sun saluation, because my down dog felt more grounded than ever.  He helped me with my camel and it felt sooo soft and aligned.  Arturo and Cheri's restorative class left my muscles and my SOUL too relaxed to even fold a blanket at the end.  Cheri told me I had a sensitive aurical feel which I've been feeling proud of ever since, as if I won a prize.  And something just felt right about my class with Kira.  I felt open, safe, peaceful.  I love her.  

I wish I could live the Crib every single day.  5 hours of yoga every day surrounded by sweet, fun friends and nourished by Farmer and the Cook food would be (and was) heaven.  And Ojai was lovely with its trees popping with persimmons and tangerines.  

There's so much more but I think it will come out later, as I process everything and put it into practice.  I wanted to write now, while I'm still feeling a residual Crib high.  Ashley at the Crib is a different person than everyday Ashley looking back.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tokyo Banana

Hi from Japan. I just arrived and am waiting for my connection to Singapore. Not going to break down the Yoga Crib weekend just yet, because HOLY moly is there a TON to break down!! What a great week...

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

Say Hello to the Ground

Above: Saying hello to the ground.  Downward Facing Dog on two tree trunks at Saylorville Lake in Iowa.

I'm back where I was a week ago--sitting at Mars Cafe, drinking Puehr Ginger tea.  I came to town to go to Maggie's class at Firehouse again, but less than 3 people showed up so she didn't hold class.  Instead she said I could practice on my own in the studio.  

My first poses were all done lying on my back.  You know, windshield wiper, gentle twisting, padangusthasana, wind-releasing pose, happy baby, and badhokonasana in no particular order.  I can do those poses in 'public,' because they require less commitment.  I can easily pretend that I'm not really doing yoga.  I'm really just casually laying around.  

As the poses grounded me, I committed more.  I pushed up into wheel.  I breathed more purposefully.  Eventually I made the drastic switch to Down Dog.  And then found myself feeling somewhat in the flow and doing a sequence of poses that refreshed my back and hips.  

Back in Ojai, Nadia planted the seeds of Grounding by teaching me to connect to my body even (and especially) when in the presence of others so that I don't take on their emotions.  And last night I read a book about what grounding can do for your health.  The book suggested all sorts of visualizations to help, like imagining you have deep roots like a tree, or even that you are chained down to the earth.  I needed such a dramatic grounding image that I pretended my chain went all the way to China and all of China was pulling on it to keep me down.  The chain image is a little Promethean but I like it for that reason too.  Maybe he wasn't in such a bad situation, being chained to a rock for all eternity.  I wouldn't mind that so much if it had a nice view.   

It's amazing how difficult it is to stay grounded when other people are around, but even more amazing is what a different perspective it gives you on the same exact moment.  And if I'm grounded, I'll lose my cell phone less frequently, which I think everyone would appreciate.  

Disclaimer:  My brain is missing the sequencing gene.  So this is really random, but I'm hoping that attempting to write it out will help me get better at knowing what order things are supposed to go in.  (I'm also missing the up dog gene.  Sis, you should teach me what you learned at corepower cuz mine never feels right.)   

Down Dog
Down Dog
Revolved Dog (right leg)
Side Plank--the cool version I learned from Uschi! (left side)
Down Dog 
Down Dog
Revolved Dog (left leg)
Side Plank (right side)
Down Dog
Upward Facing Dog (my personal wimpy version)
Child's Pose
Down Dog
High Lunge with introduction (left leg)
Vinyasa all the way through Tadasana and back to Down Dog
High Lunge with introduction (right leg)
Down Dog
Long Child's Pose 
Brief  grounding meditation to end

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Firehouse Yoga

Sometimes no challenges or worries can stop you from doing something you just have to do.  Today I needed my independence; I needed to finally go to Maggie's yoga class; I needed THIS relaxed post-yoga moment.  I am currently sitting in the amazing Mars Cafe in Des Moines drinking Puehr Ginger tea and watching the rain pour down outside and listening to--yay!--Weezer.  Yoga ended 20 minutes ago so I can still feel the slight shakiness in my warmed-up muscles.  

What a full morning it has been to get to this point.  I slept through my 6 am alarm, woke up at 7:15, and rushed to the Ankeny bus stop 5 minutes later.  Completely unprepared for the rain in my scrubby yoga clothes, I got in line behind at least 30 young, polished professionals to take the commuter bus into Des Moines.  Oh how I'm glad I'm not them today.  

Maggie, the young owner of the yoga studio, led us through a 60 minute all-levels vinyasa class.  She strongly emphasized a lulu-esque approach--do your own thing, do your own thing, did i mention, please do your own thing!  A Laughing Lotus poster in the corner made me feel I was in good hands.  The studio values also show in the products in the front of the store.  She sells Boulder's Pangea products, her own used and homemade clothing, and also has a free yoga library with a great book selection.  

The theme was not forcing yourself to be a certain way, but instead opening up to what is.  Still I caught myself thinking things like "I hope I don't look fat," "I am a coward for not doing an inversion," and "I hope I look at least kind of like someone who has done a teacher training."  But opening up to what is means not worrying about those things and just being yourself.  

I suppose the thing that perked my ears up the most was her discussion of how we have good days and bad days emotionally and physically.  Sometimes you'll feel awkward in your body; sometimes glorious.  Sometimes you take the bus in the rain and don't care, and some days it makes you feel sorry for yourself.  In any case it will pass and you don't have to become consumed by it, or take it as the permanent truth.  This is one of those basic life lessons I must have missed in elementary school guidance class.  Or maybe I just didn't believe it.  I thought, things will never be hard for me!  I can handle anything, make any situation 'work.'  SO not true.  

Weezer is giving me my ending now:  

I have many fears about rejection, I have many memories of pain, I have always been a little shy.  So I'll turn and look the other waaaaay.