Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Class# 158-159; AYC DC Mysore Class # 12-13: WOAH! Dude.

My ego definitely got put in it's place after Friday's question. So Saturday, I went about my practice stopping the primary series at Marichyasana-C, doing a series of three Urdhva Dhanurasana into Matysana to Uttana Padasana and into the finishing postures Salamba Sarvangasana, Halasana, and Karnapidasana and into my best attempt at Baddah Padamasana thru to Savasana. You can imagine my complete and utter surprise when Marichyasana-D, Navasana were added to the primary series and Urdhva Padmasana were added to my finishing sequence yesterday.

Dude. Three postures!?!
Saturday was the first day I finally got myself through Prasarita Padotanasana A-D with some semblance of integrity to the vinayasas.

Ok. I was ok with adding the first two, BUT!
Urdhva Padmasana!

I was supposed to hold full lotus balanced on my shoulders. Uh-huh.
I was more than slightly skeptical.
My facial expression and generally transparent incredulity elicited a chuckle from Teacher.

I surprised myself - with "a little" assistance I was able to wriggle my way into the posture yesterday. Ok, so getting into it today was a little touch and go. But I got there - on my own.

Practice in Mysore builds from both ends from the beginning sequence and finishing postures, moving sequentially deeper and deeper into poses as your body is ready both in terms of strength and flexibility. Which makes complete sense. Whether in yoga practice or life in general, moving into something you're not ready for either physically, mentally, or emotionally - more often than not does more harm than good.

Sometimes it's easier for those on the outside to see the truth of the situation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Class# 156; AYC DC Mysore Class # 10: Question 2

My main doppelganger, in my various practices from Baptiste to Jivamukti to Acro and now Ashtanga are the transitions through seated to standing or vice versa. In an effort to gain knowledge, I have always scoured the internet and literature and practiced... Then, if through my own attempts or research I'm still not satisfied I'll go to a higher authority.

So, at 10:15 Email to Teacher:
I have a quick question for you regarding transitions - any and all during the series. What am I missing? Is it a question strength? attempting to engage mula bhanda more than I have been? or some combination thereof that I haven't I haven't quite found yet?

90 Minutes Later, I receive a response:
What you are missing is patience!

To be honest, deep down I knew this - was I able to admit this to myself? No.
There are somethings that are only truly heard and comprehended when coming from a teacher.

This was certainly one of them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Class# 155; AYC DC Mysore Class # 9: New Patterns

So I received my new, cute JCrew shoes. After my last post I thought that I could easily hold onto these shoes and wear them every once in a while. You know, for that all "important" meeting or nights out on the town with CoffeeShop Girl and the Sophisticate.


My arch is too high and after only a couple of days wearing flats, I think the bones, tendons and ligaments in my feet are starting to settle back to where they are supposed to be.

Just like the shifts that are occurring in my practice. I noticed this morning that I'm not having to think about what pose comes next, that I can focus on the vinyasas - the inhalations and exhalations and their corresponding movements and dristi (gaze point). And slowly breaking some of the more "cutsy" habits I've pickeed-up over almost a year of practice. I've been consistently wearing high heels for the 4+ years I've been in DC and I'm already starting to break the high-heeled-habit.

Sometimes what's cute and what you're accustomed to are maybe not the best things. It's time to settle into new patterns and begin to truly be honest.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mantra Monday: With age comes experience. With experience comes wisdom.

Last week I received one of those superfluous JCrew.com emails announcing the sale to end all sales. I must receive one every week or two and they are quickly dispatched to the trash. I have no need for more shoes, more sweaters, or more seersucker. Last Wednesday, in a moment endearing innocence, guileless fortitude, I opened the email and quickly clicked over to the shoe section. I would not even presuppose a single iota of hesitation.

There were these absolutely gorgeous
3 3/4" stacked heel, leather soled, Mary-Janes with Italian suede trim. With the extra discount, plus a store credit (I somehow remembered I had), they would be well under $100.00. These shoes, my friends, could be mine for less than 50% of their original price (of $268.00 not including JCrew's exorbitant shipping costs)!

I was a woman possessed.
I had not hit a feeling of Flow like this since going through a high flying whale sequence while in London at the AcroYoga intensive.

Before I knew what I had done, I was printing the order confirmation.

The weekend comes, Saturday night I make my way to the local bookstore and new favorite haunt - Politics & Prose. Of course I had to put on a pair of cute, yet casual, 3 1/2" heels. I notice a subtle twinge in my hips and knees. BUT! I am a Wellesley Woman, going out on a Saturday night. I must look cute, in an effortless and easy manner with a definite air of elegance. I was going to the bookstore.

Sunday's Mysore practice was a little touch and go. My hips and knees were a little stiff. At various times lotus was a little difficult. I easily rationalized that - I was just tired and I didn't do Mysore practice Saturday, so I was just a little stiff. Monday, today, would be better.

Today, Monday. Practice - I'm rocking and rolling through my vinyasas and then I hit upon Ardha Baddha Padma Pashimattanasana (the long winded way of saying: right leg in bound lotus and bend over, touching your chin to your shin). Now, I know my hips are tight, from stress and from playing field hockey, but I thought the were loosening up! Then I move into Marichyasana-B (fancy way of saying, right leg bent into your butt with your left leg in lotus, and then fold forward, with your hands bound around your back). Things became a little crazy there - but I made it through. Then
I came to Marichyasana-D (basically B but twist your arms and waist in the opposite direction, into a full spinal twist) couldn't even remotely find it. Not even the mere speculation of a full spinal twist could be realized.

I completed the sequence and moved into my finishing and resting postures.

I rolled up my mat and hobbled the long mile back to my apartment, got ready for work, not after applying copious amounts of China Gel (think Vegan Ben-Gay, used in Jivamukti Practice and by many massage therapists). Begrudgingly, I wore my Dansko clogs to work. While comfy and cute for New England wear, they just really don't work for entertaining clients and attorneys in DC.

So I took action, performing diligent and extensive research on the inter-webs for shoes that could save my knees and hips. The Mathematician and the Artist both recommended MBTs. Yes. Great for posture and the like. Not so, um, stylish and law office apropos. Further research reintroduced me to the EarthShoe. The local Bauhuas contingent continually extol their virtues. I found a location near my office that sell them and as soon as placing them on, my knees breathed a sigh of relief and I could have sworn I heard heaven's angels singing in my hips.

I couldn't purchase them fast enough.
These were the first pair of "sensible" shoes I have purchased in longer than I can remember.
The Artist's response to my purchase. Finally.

My coworkers could hardly believe their eyes when they saw me wearing flats - many asking me if I felt ok or if some horrible tragedy had befallen my soul or if I was in fact an imposter.
"No," I replied, "I'm just taking care of myself." My mind was racing - But what about my beautiful JCrew Mary-Janes? They were meant to replace the JCrew shoes I had bid farewell to in the twilight of last summer.

There's certainly something to be said for moderation and the realization that indulgence certainly does carry a price. It's just knowing when to be sensible, and knowing when to be flirtatious - all coming from age and experience.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Class# 149; AYC DC Mysore Class # 5: Question 1.

So this morning, while being pulled and twisted into Marichyasana-D, I was on my third inhale, and a question bust into my consciousness - completely and utterly shattering any semblance of composure I might have had in that moment.

How is tying myself into knots going to help me find enlightenment?!

Promptly after class I regaled the Artist and the Mathematician with this question. The Artist calmly provided a reasonable enough conclusion, certainly in the spirit of Mr. Miyagi:

Concentration & Discipline.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Class# 144 - 148; AYC DC Mysore Class # 1 - 4: Back to Basics (yet, again)

It is truly a humbling experience to fly on your own, with the gentle yet firm guidance of a teacher. As part of my revamping and reinvention, I'm now waking at 5:15 am and heading out the door after 15 min or so of meditation, walking a mile to a Mysore class, a mile back to my apartment and then a mile to the metro to work. So, by the time I would have normally still been considering getting up, I've walked two miles, done my morning meditation, got in a yoga practice, had breakfast at my kitchen table, and now writing today's entry.

So, some of you are probably wondering what exactly is Mysore? Mysore Style is a traditional Ashtanga self-practice with the assistance of a teacher - named after Mysore, India where Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, the modern master of Ashtanga, teaches at his school, the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute.

I went into this thinking that I knew the flow. Thinking that I understood the sequencing of asanas. Thinking that I understood what vinyasa (moving with breath) was.

I will be the first to tell you that I had no idea of what practice meant, until I began this process. When you're accustomed to 90 minutes of yoga practice, to be cut off after 37 minutes (in class #1 on Monday) and taught 3 finishing postures (which you still can't seem to sequence quite properly with breath let alone, order by day #4) - it's quite humbling. In the span of four Mysore classes I have begun to systematically break down old habits and hopefully lay a new foundation, slowly building on itself in form, flexibility and strength. Really, truly stripping down to the base layer.

They don't teach you this in any of the books.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm here.

Back, front, sideways, and recently, more often than not, upside-down*.

Yes, so the Mathematician and a couple** others have pointed out that I've taken a bit of a vacation** from blogging, yet again. All waiting with baited breath for the rundown of my 4 days of 6 hours/day of AcroYoga while in London, and all the various things alluded to in my last (and only) post, last month.


All will become apparent or transparent - as the case might be.

Hello again!

* Quite literally and figuratively actually.
** understatement