Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Class #3: Satya, Reaching Back & Deep

Try as I might, I have never owned a pair of standard, classic black pumps. I've looked, I've searched, I've tried black pumps of varying heights and toe shapes. To this day, I have not found that perfect pair. There is always something wrong with the various "plain" black pumps I've come across. Today, I reached back into the bottom of my closet and my pair of Black NYLA d'Orsay pumps - purchased from Nordstrom’s at the beginning of April 2005. They might not be the “classic” black pump, but they are still some great black shoes.

I had forgotten how comfortable these shoes are - not to mention how cute, with the light pink stitching and slim 2.5" stiletto. I lived in these shoes for a little over a year, wearing them with a charcoal pencil skirt or khaki linen slacks. Wearing these today was like coming home on a long, cold and rainy day, to a loved one and to a bowl of hot tomato soup with homemade mac & cheese.

They were actually almost thrown out when moving back in September; however, I couldn’t part with the joy these shoes brought me and who I am when I wear them.

In a way, this is related to the focus of tonight's class, Satya – Truth.

Truth – a sentiment and quality echoed through the ages, by Socrates, in all religions, and even resonating in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. There are so many levels of Truth – personal, inter-personal, global, etc. In our days we carry ourselves through a vision of what we want to portray to the world. But does this image reflect our own personal Truth?

At the foundation of Truth is the need to let go, dig down deep into ourselves, acknowledge, and accept who we are as individuals and as a community. The way to grow into Truth is to wholeheartedly embrace who you are, inclusive of your history and your limitations. History is the one thing we each own and can only hold ourselves to – we can share it and also learn from others, but we cannot change it. In history we can learn more about the Truth of ourselves and those limitations.

In my practice I'm noticing that there are poses that come easier to me than others and there are some I cannot fully express. But, again I come back to Bakasana. Although my Crow is more of a baby Crow and I still have a tendency to topple forward – with every practice the pose is becoming stronger for me. I'm learning where my balance is, what did not work and what did.

Ultimately, it's still about embracing the entirety of the path you’ve walked on and where it takes you – knowing that you can either change the path or the shoes that you’re walking in, or both. Mindful of the past and the future, but knowing that Truth lies within the present as that is the only thing we can control.

I know that one day I will find my classic round toed black pumps – I can’t rush it, until then I don't mind continuing to search. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy my black NYLA d’Orsays.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend Yoga

The weekend is a time for pause and where we can begin to celebrate the week that has past and focus on our own worlds. To forget about putting our work shoes on and to pad around in socked feet or barefooted!

My weekend yoga practice is centered around the community - Saturday at City Fitness and benefiting various local charities; Sunday at the Lululemon store in Georgetown. There's actually a lot of community yoga out there - you just have to look around for it.

Saturday's practice was interesting in that the Instructor had us arrange our mats in a circle and the flow was very different from what I have become accustomed to. After the class, as Bauhaus would attest, I was fairly critical. Upon further reflection, I did get something huge out of it.

I *almost* held Crow - Bakasana.

I've read the section on Crow multiple times in yogajournal.com and pp 315 to 317 in B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga are well read, flagged and dog-eared. Not to mention the fact that Baron Baptiste taunts me on a daily basis in his Crow pose on the cover of his book Journey into Power.

Seeing the instructor on Saturday next to me beautifully holding Crow with ease was awe inspiring. Too often we try to fight ourselves into something, fighting against a zipper or a shoe that's just a smidge too small. In a moment I could see where both the balance point and the weight of the pose were located. Her feet were beautifully pointed into each other and neck gracefully extended.

As much as we read about something, sometimes you actually have to go out and practice, step a little to the side, and gain a new perspective. In my late-20-some-odd years, I’ve begun to notice that it’s the little things that make a world of difference.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Class #2: Intentions.

I woke up this morning in a haze, feeling off balance.

My morning rituals were all the same, nothing different, but even they felt off.

Having pulled my left middle quad during softball last night, I decided to wear my flip-flops into work. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I almost always wear my work shoes on my walk and commute into work. You could say that when I do this, I’m setting my intention for my work day.

I hobbled out of my apartment and headed down CT Ave to the metro. Half way there, I realized I left my inhaler in my kitchen. So, back I went, set my water bottle on the counter and placed my inhaler in my purse. Walk to the door head back on my way to work. I was having difficulty carrying, my gym bag, purse, and yoga mat – things I have carried together before with no difficulty. I must have been quite a sight heading down the street.

I ran into Bauhaus and my thoughts were confirmed - I was off balance, I truly was flipping and flopping.

Work was a flurry pulling together documents in prep for this afternoon. I felt like I was wheeling and teetering on the precipice, still having difficulty finding my balance. I panicked as I realized I left my water bottle sitting on the counter. I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t go.” No, I had set my intention to go. I was going.

On my way over to the studio I began to think about my intention for my practice today, consciously attempting to slow my mind. As I tripped up on the curb and strained my quad a little more, I found my intention:

Center and listen to your body. Don't go further than your body wants to go. Push the edge a little, but listen to your body.

The "power hour" passed in what seemed like minutes. The phrase, be here now is so true. The only time I became cognizant of the external was the one time I didn't listen to my body and rushed into a pose. The teacher spoke to the class, "If you're in wheel, start to walk your hands and feet closer together..." I thought to myself, "Heh, I can do that. No prob..."*crash* Think running down the cobblestone streets of Boston in leather soled high heels crash and burn. *ouch*

I broke my concentration and was listening more to the teacher than myself, not listening to where my body wanted to be.

That was on the 3d of 4 Urdhva Dhanurasana or Wheel Pose. For the remainder of that pose, I slipped into Bridge. There was one more repetition to go. On that 4th and final wheel pose (!!!!) all I can say is watch out US Olympic Gymnastics Team! Okay, maybe I'm slightly over selling myself - but for that final wheel, I pushed my hips up on high and I managed to walk my feet and hands much closer together than I was ever able to.

I went back to work more centered and focused. If you're curious, on my commute home, I carried my purse, gym bag, and yoga mat with great ease - wearing my Charles David pumps.

Coincidentally, the shoe style is called "Joyous."

Today’s lessons are as follows:

  1. If you let your body guide you, and follow your intuitions, 99% of the time you’ll make the right decision and you’ll surprise yourself.
  2. Don’t let the external sway you from your path or decision, there’s great strength and flexibility from defining events and not letting them define you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Class #1

I just realized I haven't posted anything about my first honest to goodness, hot-Baptiste-yoga class!

One word. Wow.

That sums it up. After drinking a vat of water between the studio and home, I felt amazing. My arms continued to burn long into the night. I was a little worried about heading into strength training with MaxBob the morning after. But rest assured, everything was okay - there might have been just a little extra burn while doing squats and leg press. That's all really.

I went to the first class of the beginner series - I had little clue of what to expect. From the heat, from the teacher, and from the philosophy. The class is broken down into segments, each class building upon another, until by the end of the series a full flow is practiced. There are many levels in the class from those who have never been on a yoga mat to those who have been practicing for a few years. You know, it is always good to start at the beginning for two simple reasons:

1. If you have some knowledge in a subject, you will get that much more out of the basics and be able to refine the fundamentals. I'm reminded when I took the Fabrication#1 class out at Revere Academy this past January. I went in fairly advanced, knowing a lot of the fundamentals, because of this, I was able to focus on the tricks to work more efficiently and cleanly in the studio.

2. It's good to get a new perspective, challenge your own perceptions. (This is actually quite similar to the point above.)

To be honest, I was also a little disappointed that there wasn’t more emphasis on the philosophy. But, it can be argued that a large part of this practice is about personal discovery. This is not something that can be taught on the first night of an hour and fifteen minute introductory class. Go figure. A bit like asking a novice painter to paint a piece on the same level as El Greco, or Caravaggio, or Monet, or Manet…well, you get the picture.

I'm missing the second class in the series tonight, due to softball, but I'm certainly going to a class tomorrow and the next beginners series class this coming Tuesday.

Oh? The shoes today?
You guessed right.
[photo coming soon]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mantra: I have many shoes...I have enough.

2:30p.m. Check email.
Shoe sale at Nordstrom's!

I immediately check out the pumps, there are two absolutely fantastic pairs. [See?] I email Courtroom Cowboy - maybe he'll enable me to make another shoe purchase.

Phone rings.
Back to work preparing exhibits for an upcoming deposition. Saved.

Over dinner tonight I was telling CoffeeShop Girl about these shoes. Her comment to me, "some people wear lots of different hats. If you think about it, you wear lots of different shoes. Aren't you trying to pare down, do you need to add more?"

I looked at her, took a sip of my PBR, and I blinked a couple times.

CoffeeShop Girl was right.

In the book Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life, Judith Lasater ends each chapter with a series of modern day mantras. These are not the long chanting mantras of Sanskrit. Lasater’s mantras do, however, reach to the core of the philosophy of a Mantra.

My understanding of a mantra is that it is a short phrase that brings a depth of thought and emotion, leading to focus, lending itself to clarity, comfort, and healing.

I have a feeling that the true meaning of a mantra has been pretty much lost on the majority of our society. How many of us have begun and ended a yoga class with a resonating "Om!" and had no clue why we were doing that, blindly following our teacher?

The "Om!" is a unifying force, bringing teacher and students together.

“I’m fine” is not a mantra. This statement purely suppresses and crams a blistered and hammer-toed foot back into the same uncomfortable shoe. It might look good, but it will eventually hurt like hell, if it doesn’t already.

“I have many shoes… I have enough.” I would consider this something of a modern mantra. I am content with what I have and all the different shoes I try to wear. I now think of those beautiful red suede Stewart Weitzmans, purchased at the end of last July, that I could wear all day and long into the night.

How often have I worn those?

What shoes am I wearing tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I woke up this morning and had this strong desire to begin blogging. I can only think this was brought on by two things:

1. Imitation. The sincerest form of flattery. (Yes, CoffeeShop Girl)
2. Timing.

Wearing my first pair of expensive shoes (purchased at BR in 2002) and juggling my navy blue Kate Spade purse, gym bag, and yoga mat, with the crowds on the Metro this morning - the concept came to me in what can best be described as a purple epiphany. Immediately, I pulled out my moleskine and began frantically brainstorming ideas for this blog. In recent months, as many are well aware, my world was quite literally turned upside down and inside out. I’ve talked at length with my parents (The Mathematician & The Artist), Courtroom Cowboy, Sophisticate and CoffeeShop Girl about life and recently often about yoga, coinciding with my deeper involvement with the practice. I am a firm believer that things occur as they do within a time and a place for a very specific reason.

Tonight is my first hot-Baptiste-power yoga class and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a blog. Why not share the beginning and the process? I figure, now is as good a time as any other.

So often we are caught up in the product. For me, yoga is about process, evolution, revolution, and learning – much like life when you get down to it.

I’m not going to bore you with the specifics now, they will trickle out in their own time. Ultimately, I hope my words can provoke some thoughts. Always feel free to comment, agree, disagree, or share something.

Grab a nice cup of tea, sit back, stay awhile.