Thursday, December 31, 2009

Epitome

2009 has been an interesting year to say the least.
There's a part of me that wants to describe it as zero-sum.

Then, I think:
What could cosmically happen if I did that on a Moon Day, which is also a Harvest/Blue Moon, on New Years on the eve 2010, with a lunar eclipse? Possibly none, but one never knows...there are some Fates I don't like to tempt.

Funny how things happen as they do.

Although, really,
I'm not surprised at this point.

Through the better part of the year I've felt as though I've been turning in revolution with ever increasing velocity. Rediscovering forgotten fragments, to making peace with the past, to new experiences, to simply living for the moment with surrender. Then, blending them together in various combination, filling the year with a new sense of purpose, discovery, and energy.


Should I question what this stems from?

It would be easy to point to the asana practice; however, I think it comes more from the discipline with which I approached it and the judicious choices made ostensibly "for the practice." (Obtainable in some form for anyone who studies/pursues
anything with honest inquisitiveness and fidelity.) This was mentioned in very brief passing during the workshop and I spent some time probing this further with Fluellen and Aikidoka while up in RI.

As Kino was assisting me into
tiriang mukhottanasana, there was this moment where I think I got a fleeting glimpse of the gravity of all of "this." What "this" is, I can't and don't want to define. It could be as simple as being another moment standing at the edge of opportunity and time. Just continuing to move forward, without fear, judgment or expectation.


Here's to the year MMIX and to MMX.
Wishing everyone, the best of health, peace and joy for the entire year to come
!

Prelude to an Epitome


December has been quite puckish.



Between travel, the Kino workshop here in DC and then being thwalloped by bronchitis.

Not your normal run of the mill bronchitis. Bronchitis that laid me up in bed after dragging myself to and from work in denial that I was actually able to breathe. Then there was the snow day which I decided to practice - after being in bed for 4 days watching Lost, sleeping and drinking soup and tea. Initially I had planned to just do primary. Then I did one more pose, then one more pose and before I knew it, I had practiced my entire sequence. Felt great until about 2 hours later when I had absolutely no energy and passed out for the remainder of the day. Save for the Monday before Christmas, 5:30 am practice did not happen at all last week.


A little research provided a "bronchitis" sequence in LOY - after emailing Spirited C, she recommended the "pneumonia" sequence. Something about Iyengar's sequences really not being for mere mortals let alone someone who is sick. After seeing the immunity sequence that was put together for RIMYI when Pune was hit by H1N1 this past summer, I'm inclined to agree. For those curious, the bronchitis sequence includes
such therapeutic poses as supta vajrasana, kapotasana, and dwipada viparita dandasana.

I was bummed that I couldn't immediately put everything from the Kino workshop into practice. From the strength work that can easily be incorporated into a sequence, to alignment recommendations for my 2d series poses. Sure, I have notes, they are nowhere near as copious as I woudl prefer, but they do provide mental note - and there is always hopefully body/sensory memory. I've learned this is how I truly remember things. I did practice the pneumonia sequence on my own for a few days last week, slowly incorporating some backbends and more of the bronchitis sequence - and have somehow come out of this feeling a lot stronger.


Needless to say, and much to my discernment, have kept myself to primary all week and have tempered practice a bit, no need to go crazy right?

Although, yesterday for my last mysore style practice of 2009 (520/273), I did sneak in
pasana and krounchasana and D easily assisted me to my calves in tiriang mukhottanasana (which was quite a pleasant surprise given how long it's been).

Not a bad way to end the year in the least.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!


Narragansett, RI
Sunrise, Christmas 2009



Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season - filled with light and love.
Shanti.





...and of course, champagne, bismark donuts, and laughter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

495/261: Smooth Sunday.

One of those Sundays where I was very tempted to linger in bed, take another day of bed rest from the Friday and Saturday's asthma difficulties - treated with multiple tisanes, water, soup, rest and more episodes of Lost than should probably be watched in one sitting.

SilentSpeaker easily convinced me over GChat to practice - basically reminding me that I could stop at any point I wanted to - my original plan was to go simply do Primary. Breath came so
rhythmically almost like a metronome, each pose floated into another. I ended up easily smoothly practicing through laghu vajrasana and as I move to backbends D comes over and adds kapotasna a and kapotasna b. Very surprised and excited by this - still trying to work on the illusive "stall" thing when transitioning between ustrasana, laghu and kapotasana.

Thinking maybe break dancing lessons next..
or maybe give capioera another shot...

After three long holds in urdhva dhanurasana, three quick standing to dropbacks and immediately into assisted, and down half way on the last drop, D grabs my wrists and firmly plants my hands right to the lower calves. Of course, my hands slipped down a bit, and heels came up a teeny tiny bit - but oh, that hold was glorious.

There's been a bit of a return to backbending work in the cybershala - and after this morning's fairly successful exploration of tiriang mukhottanasana (LOY 418-9) decided to see where things are in the backbending department.

Started with a little chair work from Iyengar class, really working to try to get the pelvis tucked, extension through the front body, spine deep into the backbody, and lots of rotation through the shoulders.

video

And then of course, a little play with urdhva dhanurasana and dropbacks.

video

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

492/259: Rules Pondered.

We hated Bauhaus. It was a bad time in architecture... All they had were rules. Even for knives and forks they created rules. Picasso would never have accepted rules. The house is like a machine? No! The mechanical is ugly. The rule is the worst thing. You just want to break it.

Oscar Niemeyer.

* * *

Why do we push the boundaries? Over time, the chance of radical breakthroughs seems to increase as rules and their nuances are simply and slowly explored. The "rules" in place are pushed to the limits and ultimately broken - but concurrent to the exploration/deconstruction a new structure comes into formation. So, really, the original structure doesn't completely disappear - pieces remain.

Each successive pose feeds another - how they all link together - how opening/strength in one assists multiple other poses down the sequence. But can and usually does deepen expression in earlier poses.

There's truly a lot of depth to Primary.


To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan Intermediate yet.
There I said it.

Back on 10.28 D added parsva dhanurasana, ustrasana, and laghu vajrasna to my practice. I was ok having through dhanruasana. Prior to that, it didn't really "feel" like I "had" a second series - those first poses seemed more like an amuse-bouche.

Don't get me wrong I think parsva dhanurasana is quite enjoyable, while laghu vajrasna is pleasantly kicking my butt - or more specifically the rectus femoris, satoris, and would venture the tensor fasciae latae (thank you AP Bio anatomy textbook). From Primary, lolasana and bhuja pindasana are still slightly enigmatic to me. But, Intermediate seems to be doing amazing things for my backbending - Simply? Wow.


As I type this, I think - maybe it is the rules and their nuance that are close to the core of the beauty of this system.
As a result, there's hope for Intermediate.

After all, Niemeyer works in concrete with grids and structure - just with a different perspective on the rules.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where'd October (!?) go?

I could have sworn that it was just September.
So much to do and in what seems to be so little time.


I this past weekend I had a moment to pause. In that moment I realized that this is the first time in a few years that I really don't have more than a nebulous idea of the 5/10/15 year plans. It's a little unnerving - choice does not necessarily create freedom, nor does freedom create choice. Maybe it boils down to the simple idea that we do what we have to do to get where we're ultimately going.


I look at the Mathematician and the Artist both who work really hard - independently and together - leading what T.R. would call a strenuous life, others would call it dharma and sometimes I wonder if they are happy or if they are content. I decide that it's contentment with highlights of happiness.

Is it contentment that is the ultimate "goal?"


One thing that I'm certain of, I'm not content to ever settle. Settling seems almost like a concession. Not saying going off the deep end always striving to the point of obsession for something more or better, but to steadily keep moving forward, deeper into knowledge and life and all that going along with it - feeding off the world at large, both the pains and joys.



Sure it's work, but it's work that is all worthwhile.


* * *


My practice has been changing a lot recently, to fit the recent rigors of the work that pays my bills. I've spent multiple evenings in Iyengar classes, mornings or evenings practicing on my own and slowly getting back on the Ashtanga wagon at AYC. It comes and goes in fits and spurts. My writing, photography, sketching, baking and everything else has been back burnered and days have pretty much been simplified to work, sleep, yoga, and food. Not necessarily in that order, but close.


But isn't life always in dynamic equilibrium?

The pendulum will soon swing back to Ashtanga.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Question 7: Coincidence?

Pseudonyms aside for the moment, if the next tropical depression/hurricane to hit the area is named Kevin - I think I might have to seriously examine the whole Universe concept...





When the "hurricanes" that have hit DC, two weekends in a row, are 2 for 2 in terms of chronological ex-multiple-date namesakes - one can't help but to begin to wonder.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Results Are In...


Possibly not so surprisingly, I had more of a reaction to the tape that I used to apply the mat pieces to my skin than either my Manduka eKo, Manduka PurpleLite, or Jade Harmony mat.


Excellent news on the practice front. Not so excellent on the figuring out the cause of the eczema/hives. However, at this moment, things are the clearest they've been in a while.





So steady as she goes for a while as I try to hop back onto the Ashtanga wagon, not that I haven't enjoyed my three week foray into Iyengar and attempting to practice on my own. Which I did learn a whole lot - but it was so nice to be back to AYC this morning. Got a halfway decent primary in (skipping garba pindasana and kukkutasana) but really don't feel as though I'm starting back at square one - maybe more like a few steps back.

Like everything it seems, it is just going to take some patience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My mind was wandering today and started thinking about a comment I had left on a friend from AYC's blog - Nairam - what seems like ages ago.

Dug it up...



For me, the pain, anger, sadness, loss that go along with my grief will still bathe me in waves at times – although form it takes has changed over time. There is a beautiful catharsis that occurs and the process in and of itself is a beautiful and necessary one. Like practice, like moving through the primary series for the first time, it is about having patience and faith in those around you and even more in yourself. Also, realizing that you have the strength to have the courage to learn what is best for you.


~ July 30, 2008 at 2:06 pm



I'm not going to say that it is at all easy.

Maybe I needed to remind myself of tha
t.



Om Namah Shivayah.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wild and Crazy Thought.

Recently haven't quite been making it to morning practice, let alone my mat with as much frequency as I would like. I stubbornly made my way to practice this past Sunday morning to be beaten into submission yet again - stopping myself at Mari-A.

Obviously - an Ashtanga practice is aggravating the hives/eczema that have covered my arms, legs and face. Too much heat generated. I was more than a little pissed off at my body, at all of what's going on. Between D and Spirited C I have a bunch of recommendations of cooling and restorative postures that I can do - which is good.


So no Ashtanga for me until this all clears up.

grumble. grumble.


After yet another visit to the allergist, my back was taped up with a 48 hour patch test - showed nothing. Both very positive, and negative - such is the dualist nature of some things.

Then yesterday morning, sitting in mediation (b/c I'm still waking at 4:45 am), I had this wild and crazy thought.

Could it be my mat?



I use it on a fairly regular almost daily basis. And I just got a new eKo to replace my original one that blistered! So at my allergist's recommendation (and after getting a good shower in, learned over these past couple days that I am not a bath person) I'll be taping a discreet corner of my mat to my body to do a homemade patch test.


If it is the mat...
Short of covering it with a yogitoes or Mysore blanket - does anyone have any recommendations?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life.


A bit of wisdom, courtesy of the Artist:

"Unlike codfish, life is never cut and dried."





(Continuing on what seems to be the theme of the week - now all that's needed is the Universe)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mantra Monday: Everything is Patience.

Over dinner with SilentSpeaker last night, I realized something.
It's one of those lessons that keeps on coming back to me - this time as I was showing off the Artist's work hanging in my apartment:

The answer to everything is patience.

Patience is developed over time.

Time is infinite (
¥).


So given the mathematical proof, by simplification,


If:

Everything = Patience = Time =
¥
Life + Universe + Everything = 42

A + B +
¥ = 42; A & B become moot.
. :
¥ = 42

Still doesn't help with the question - but it's a start.


(This coming from the gal who wrote an essay for their college Vector Calc exam - I cannot vouch for the mathematical precision of the proof, yet I believe the logic is at least sound.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Drip, Drip, Drench.

Attorney: Wow. (sitting at big oak desk, looks up at me just in from the current DC monsoon from the papers he is working on) Did you get caught in the rain too?

Me: (in all earnestness) No. I just decided to hop in the showers down in the locker room with my work clothes on to freshen up a bit.


Attorney: Oh. (pause) Really?


Sometimes I wonder...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Somehow, I'm not angry about the party next door that kicked into gear around 12:30 this morning and began taper off around 4:30.



Not in the least. Happy Moonday Tuesday!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Class# 410; AYC DC Mysore Class # 219: Rules.

1st rule of Ashtanga: No Iyengar-esque adho mukha svanasana.

2nd rule of Ashtanga: No Iyengar-esque adho mukha svanasana.

3rd rule of Ashtanga: Go until the teacher taps you out
*or* you hit the end of your given sequence *or* you start your back bends and your teacher decides to give you another pose.

4th rule of Ashtanga: Mulabanda.


5th rule of Ashtanga:
Uddiyana banda.

6th rule of Ashtanga, No futzing with towels or clothing during vinyasas.


7th rule of Ashtanga: Chaturanga is a pose.


8th rule of Ashtanga: You must breathe.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Class# 402; AYC DC Mysore Class # 215: Squish.


Most awesome adjustment ever in bhekasana this morning.

As I pulled myself into
bhekasana and noticed D walking over I thought he was going to do his standard bhekasana adjustment - which I have yet to figure out how one does with only two arms. However, generally, things seem to kinda fall into proper place but I've really never quite found it comfortable. At. All.

But, no! This morning my frog was quite literally squished into place as I had a long and velvety exhale, D sat directly on my addcutor magnus muscles (what C calls the "thigh butt") and ever so gently lifted my shoulders. Heels straight down to the floor and deep backbend running the length of my spine.



Absolute pure heaven.



Now just to figure out how to get that exhale into the thigh butt on a regular basis.


Realized like everything, it is more a matter of breath than flexibility or strength at this point. Both of those come from the breath.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Moonday Monday Mysore-Styled Musing

I had dinner the other night with SilentSpeaker - and over over the course of inexpensive DC sushi, topics roamed from academics to health to relationships and of course Ashtanga. We chatted about how somehow, no matter what our level we slip into some form of discipline in our lives that many who don't practice don't quite understand. From how and what we eat, time we go to bed and how sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously we generally carry out our daily existence.

But for what really?

How does knowing that one can get themselves into supta kurmasana by way of dwi pada or stand from urdhva dhaurasana - both skills that are not conventionally marketable in and of themselves to modern life - make us better people? Why do we come to obsess over things we can't quite figure out how to do and the celebration is short and yet very sweet when we figure these things out? Garnering a brief taste of pure happiness from a feat of contortion or acrobatics that we worked for - I would wager at the heart, this happiness ultimately lies in the work that went into "the achievement."

The practice is very zen - it's about nothing, except coming to know ourselves and how we react to our egos and ultimately how we react to difficulty and a sense of accomplishment. A Practice (be it Art, Law, Baking, Tango, Music, Writing, Asana, etc...), like religion, evolves over time, as society changes it should begin to change and grow to survive.

Practice at it's best is a living breathing thing.

Modern life really isn't compatible with living in a yurt and subsisting on the dew found on a lotus blossom and 8 berries.


We all attempt to find a sense of validation though community - people who understand what we do and affirm what we do. For many Ashtanga practitioners, it is that in some way we're all not crazy for getting up at 2:30/3 am to eat light breakfast of fruit before officially waking at 4:45 am to pull ones self together to practice at 5:15 am. We know that we all learn from each other - we are all teachers of what we learn from ourselves and our teachers.

What is Ashtanga in it's purest form? Part of me wants to say that really only Patthabhi Jois could have told us - but maybe that's too easy. What we learn from all of his students - our teachers - and our teachers teachers - is that everyone's practice is different. Each of his students teach differently because each of his students were taught differently - because he understood that everyone is different. Look at all of the "famous" students of Krishnamacharya, his teacher. B.K.S. Iyengar approaches the discipline from a different perspective but all to a similar end as I discovered when I found myself quite comfortably fully bound in yoga dhandasana (like the photo, except hands bound around the outside of the leg with foot in armpit) last Tuesday night. Fwiw, yoga dhandasana is part of 4th series of Ashtanga but was part of this level 2-3 Iyengar class.

Maybe the answers to all of this are with more with Krishnamacharya.
More likely, in my mind, the answers are collectively within all of us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Class# 388; AYC DC Mysore Class # 203: Question 6.

How'd I'd get there?!

Finished primary and realized all of a sudden that D was assisting my bind on the first side of pasasana. I had intended to stop at primary as my last practice was Saturday and had a really late night Monday night. Why did I do second through
bhekasana? How did I get there? Oh well.

After bhekasana, played with urdhva dhanurasana and drop backs and D brought me straight into chakra bandasana - no quick trip to the floor and walk in - right to the lower calves, just above the ankles. Let me tell you, I was quite surprised to find myself there.


I am about ready to head back to bed.


* * *


I'm finding that I have the hip flexor flexibility with bheakasana - just really lacking the flexibility in the upper part of my sternum and the front of my shoulders to really lift the chest. Salabhasana a/b don't nearly feel that tight in that area. I'm pretty sure my difficulty with bhekasana is not stemming from the lack of length in my arms.


Any thoughts on opening in the upper part of the chest and into the front of the shoulders?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mantra Monday: There's Always More Laundry.

After taking care of paperwork, organizing personal files, cooking, practice, work, etc, there's always more laundry to do.


Simple.
Self-explanatory.





(I've been trying to get a chance to write this post for over three Mondays now.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another New Different Way To Torture One's Body: Capoeira

After my first Capoeira Class last night and seeing one of the students break her ankle falling out of a handstand, I'm thinking that I might just stick with a gentle Ashtanga practice.



Then I pause, and think for a minute or two.
Really the only soreness is in my feet and had a pretty good primary this morning.

Of course I'm going back for the basics class this coming Monday night.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Question 5.

Don't they understand there are those of us who like their sleep? Find great pleasure in going to bed around 9 pm? Enjoy waking before the sun even speculates to rise and be productive?


Wait, the answer to those is probably not.

Silly young neighbors and their midweek late night loud parties.

Monday, May 18, 2009



This evening, the cooled tranquil spring air hung saturated with Holly blossoms and the twilight sky burned a velvet blue.


And for a single moment peace.


* * *

I never studied with Guruji. In my short time with this practice, I feel I have yet to begin to fathom the true depth of the legacy he has left us all to tend.



Pax.

Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, 1915-2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Class# 373; AYC DC Mysore Class # 191: One Year Passed

One full year has passed since that rainy morning I first walked into AYC for a Mysore style class at what I thought then was bright and early (6:00am).

Since May 12, 2008, I have practiced Mysore style 191 times (including today) primarily at AYC, with a couple visits to Back Bay Yoga, one at Yoga Sutra, and one at Ashtanga Yoga Charlottesville.


I have managed to stick with this for a year now. One year of commitment that really seems to be sticking and feeling so right. This coming from a gal who won't renew her PO Box for more than 6 months at a time. (Aristophanes was completely floored by my lack of commitment to a PO Box.)

Only after 9 or 10 months of Baptiste I got a serious case of wander-lust and fluttered around a bit - catching classes here and there between Down Dog, Flow and AYC. Baptiste, played with some Jivamukti which was/is fun, and attended a couple Ashtanga classes. Gentle A was covering D's Ashtanga level 1 classes at the time and after my first class he asked me if I was hooked, drenched in sweat and already beginning to feel a bit sore, I said most certainly.

After that,
I went to London for an AcroYoga workshop and while there realized that Ashtanga really was where I wanted to be - I met many people with many different practices and the ones who really had strength and grace were the Ashtangis. At the time, little could I fathom how much more there is to this practice that has the potential to be both as frustrating as a Chinese finger puzzle and a sweet as the first spring day.

I must confess, I have been dabbling with Iyengar, once a week since the start of the new year; however, I've found that Ashtanga/Iyengar can really inform one another quite beautifully. The main difficulty I seem to have is remembering how far to distance my feet in trikonasana between the two traditions.

One of the many things I love about practicing Ashtanga this way is that I've learned to accept the vagaries of my body on a daily basis, work with it, and still appreciate the way strength and flexibility develop through practice. When there is even the smallest breakthrough it gives a sense of accomplishment. However. There are always refinements that can be made and there's always something more ahead or already in the practice to continue to hone, observe and study. There's a level of discipline and meditation inherent in the practice that I find hard to find within every day waking life.

I would go so far as to say 4:45am - 7:15am are my favorite hours of the day.

After 1 year of Mysore style practice, where am I?
Standard practice is Primary up to and including Bhekasana.
But more importantly, loving every minute of it.

* * *

And a gratuitous Drop Back clip from after this morning's practice, simply in celebration of 1 year and 1 fraction of this 1st year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yzyraVAh1o

Sunday, May 10, 2009

USA v. UK Drop Back Challenge.

Yes.

1. I didn't make practice this morning
.
2. I'm not one to resist a challenge.

3. It's 100% cold.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeYSxtk_aF4




FWIW, Evidence still remains from dinner last night with Aristophanes, CoffeeShop Girl and Vespa Boy.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Class# 353; AYC DC Mysore Class # 176: Take it to the Core.

I have a secret.
I cheat myself out of my finishing postures.

Specifically, when it comes to sirasana.
My always lurking nemesis since I was given this pose.

My shoulders, neck and arms are fine - it's the bendy bit from my belly button to butt. Maybe I find balance and stability for 2 minutes, if I'm lucky. In reality, it's more like 1 minute. This morning after collapsing to my mat in my customary sirasana heap, D looks at me and tells me to go over to the wall. "Headstand there. Stay up."

Arms, shoulders and neck, strong and solid really not tiring. Legs from knees to feet solid. From the belly to the butt? The solidity of Jello. I literally had two halves of my body at work and D trying various verbal cues and adjustments to get me to engage all those muscles. I would think that I should have the requisite strength for this. It's almost as if I can't figure out how to use those muscles in that way - somewhere along the line I think I lost that section of the users manual.

Not knowing how long I've been up D walks away for a bit, returns and tells me to come down. Walking back to my spot D asks what was getting tired, I look at him and block out the area of my body from my belly to butt. Then I comment that this is quite possibly the same strength that I'm lacking when it comes to those pesky transitions. He seems to possibly slightly nod in agreement. Yes, I know I have short Polish arms, but I'm starting to realized that it's that lower core connection I'm missing when it comes to jump backs/throughs.

I'll be honest. I rely too much on bone stacking in sirasana and not enough on strength. Which creates a flimsy structure at best.

I know. I know. It's a simple fact that from relationships to buildings to jewelry fabrication to writing the key to a solid structure lies not only at the foundation but also within the core, the internal structures. A lot of that comes from a willingness to push limits and a willingness to be open.

So here's to bringing things to the core, to very heart of potential.

My goal: By July 30, minimum 7 minute headstand.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Everything in 3s

  1. 5:25 am. Leave apartment for practice, get to car, notice back passenger side window smashed in. File police report.
    No practice.

  2. 6:47 am. Go to file claim on-line. IBM Thinkpad suffers "fatal error." Go to restart computer. Computer will not start after "restarting."

  3. 8:03 am. Begin walk down Connecticut Ave to metro. At the corner of Albermarle and Connecticut, metro pass slips from iPod case and a gust of wind blows it and it's $97 down the storm drain. Literally and figuratively a sunk cost.



Yes, it's Tuesday.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Class# 351; AYC DC Mysore Class # 174: Doh.




This morning, D pointed out to me that I *might* be trying too hard.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Class# 350; AYC DC Mysore Class # 171: Integration

After a bit of a hiatus from writing due to life in general, (asana practice, work, social life) I'm back. I had so many plans for this weekend thwarted by the warmth of the sun and recovery from some evil stomach bug that knocked me on my butt for the better portion of last week.

When I have made it to practice, averaging 4 days per week, things keep on opening up - save for one part. My left shoulder - man it has felt stiff. But binds really haven't been that much of a problem, if anything they' generally felt pretty sweet. I emailed K on Friday asking him about this and if he had any suggestions or thoughts. It's not injured, just feels disproportionately stiff to my right.


So this morning K took some time with me and my shoulder during down dog,
parvritta trikonasana, and urdhva dhanurasana. The "problem" with my body, is that I can be too bendy and really need to engage much more so that my upper back and shoulders collapse into themselves. In DD K gave some very precise Iyengar style tricks. Which means for me, really rotating my arms in a manner that feels somewhat like the rotation in urdhva dhanurasana. (Fwiw, my triceps are currently on fire.) For me that shoulder rotation really resulted in broadening my upper back and I was able to really engage my legs, and might have found a bit of that elusive mula bhanda.

In
parvritta trikonasana, as he pressed against the extended arm to align my hand arm and shoulder (apparently I'm hyper-extending my shoulder), he used the word integration. A concept I've been thinking about a lot recently.

Anyone who knows me knows that I talk a lot about trying to find balance and oft comment that I'm just trying to find balance. Flippantly stating or offering that it's just trying to find balance. But I'm starting to wonder if it's more of a process of integration. When I "integrated" the muscles of my arm, shoulder and back, the energy of the pose completely shifted. It was much more work, but the way it felt made the work all worthwhile.


I brought the concept of this to the rest of my practice and there was little stiffness apparent in my shoulder. Save for
pasasana on my left where I couldn't get the proper rotation of my shoulder to reach the bind.

But back to integration. I'm almost tempted to say where balance can ultimately be stagnant, integration provides and promotes strength, growth, and forward movement. It's really like a relationship, friend or lover - there are many who come and go overtime, but there are a select few who become so deeply integrated and entwined with your existence that they grow and (promote) change with you. These are true friends - when they are not present there is a void, when they are around life becomes that much more full.


* * *


My blogging here might become a bit more sporadic as I have started a little project for myself - journaling about each practice, each class I attend. Something I've intended to do for awhile now and finally getting around to it.


I'm sure some thoughts will migrate from here to there and quite possibly from there to here. I've come to see this a bit more like a composite of my life - from yoga to art to food to life in general and the things that make it blissful. For me, this really isn't the place for the nitty gritty detailed analysis of each and every asana practice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Class# 343; AYC DC Mysore Class # 167: Beginnings of Deeper Openings.

Drop backs this morning felt wonderful, spacious, light and the most free since that workshop with SD out in Charlottesville. There was so much space in my upper and lower back.

D came over for dips.

After the third dip, down and into
a complete and total freak out / panic attack as D attempted to assist me into chakra bhandasana. After a little over 5 minutes in paschimottasnasana, I recovered enough to complete my finishing postures.

It's really true what others have said about heart-opening and how change manifests in this practice.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Class# 336; Iyengar I/II #7



Thursday night.


One class.
75 Minutes.



Six poses.









Pure. Heaven.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Question 4.

If I'm going to be stuck on hold with D.C. Superior Court for over 25 minutes now, why can't they play at least a palatable or vaguely tolerable version of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - II Romance (Andante)?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mantra Monday: Really, it's all just stuff. Nothing more. Nothing less.

When Aristophanes proclaimed himself a "Tawny-Headed-DemiGod" after completing his final push to sort and clear out the remnants of clutter from his place, I started thinking. There was a subtle change in our conversations and a lightness that surfaced which was not previously apparent.

Then I started noticing.
All the
stuff that has accumulated over the last 5 + years here in DC.
I was just going to start with a box. One box.

It was
that box (that probably everyone has or had at one point), filled with extraneous / superfluous cables and wires that go to nameless electronics delicately bundled like a rat's nest. My rationalization, if I needed a cable I could always go to RadioShack.

To get to the box, I had to pull* everything out of my hallway closet.

That was the closet full of crap that broke the camel's back, armed with a healthy dose of pop music and kitted out in shorts, tank-top and bandanna in my hair - I was a woman on a mission. A whirling tornado of a dervish. One and a half days, 8 garbage bags, 2 packing boxes of trash, 3 loads of laundry, and 13 cups of tea later:

I can see the floor in all of my closets.
My apartment feels fresher.

I feel much less encumbered.
I feel drained. I feel rapturous.


I'm not going to deny it, going though some stuff was hard. It never ceases to amaze me at how much emotional stock a piece of paper or a dried flower from 10 years ago or an empty chocolate tin can carry. All this stuff that we and others put weight on, place emotion and value on, really do become a burden.

Really, it's all just stuff. Nothing more. Nothing less.


On the phone with Aristophanes last night, he asked me: How does a designer know their piece is completed?
Me: Um...after...How?
Aristophanes:
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. It was Saint-Exupery who said that.
Me: (pause) Yes. I can see that now...



There's still a lot left to be done, but this all happens slowly and in it's own time -

opening the way for more experiences.

This, my friends, is only the beginning.






*pull is loosely defined as topple here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Class# 333; AYC DC Mysore Class # 158: You might be a little tired...


...when placed into what feels to be the best
supta kurmasana you've ever been in, and you find yourself dozing off.

Class# 332; Iyengar I/II #6

So. You know how standing and dropping back was a big issue?

One would generally think Iyengar yoga is supposed to be "sweet" and "gentle," largely therapeutic? Last night in my Iyengar class, Spirited C introduced me to what I currently call the Iyengar torture vinyasa of setu bandha sarvangasana to salamba sarvangasana.


I can achieve salamaba sarvangasana to setu bandha sarvangasana with only a slight lack of grace. Again, going up seems to be a problem.

Back to the mat, or drawing board, as it were...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mantra Monday: Just go with the flow.

Life has been a bit on the busy side - painting with broad strokes, juggling work, practice, a creative artistic outlet, and a burgeoning social life. To be honest, I'm not surprised that things continue to go well. I would venture that even with today's snowfall, things are flourishing.


Amazing what happens with a little radical self-acceptance and when you hit a point of flow.


Hi. My name is Portside.

I had an inversion aversion. I had a fear of breaking the rules. I would over analyze things. I might have even forgotten how to play.

Nevermore.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mantra Monday: The secret is to begin. (Revisited)

Four to six days a week, you'll find me up and and on my way to practice bright and early in the morning. Systematically over the past nine months, my asana practice has evolved. As I see it, one of the many beauties of the ashtanga system and practicing Mysore style is that as your body grows in strength and flexibility there is more to discover within what you've learned. If you had said to me that in nine months, I would have received pasasana, the first pose of second series this morning, I don't know if I would have believed it possible. Granted, my pasasna did not look anything whatsoever like the link provided, but it was a start.

Over the past couple weeks I've been thinking, there has to be a way to apply this systematic growth of an Ashtanga practice to Art. I have had so many ideas jumbled around in my head, back logged and beginning to slam against the breakwater. I just didn't know where to start. Just welling up inside, like right before I began standing from urdhva dhanurasana.

But how to begin?!

Do I go back to my painting? What about my bass wood? Do I pull out my hammers and torches and begin pounding on metal?


Then I realized, I just needed to look around my apartment, pick something and begin. Like the first sun salutation, I just need to start. Like self-practicing, I just needed to stay with it and work through it. No dawdling making tea, writing emails, baking cookies, or cleaning. Just let it come on its own.

I set up a drafting lamp on my dinner table and pulled out my $2.99 Benny's chess set. A pencil and just kept on sketching pawns. One, two, three - moving the light. I kept myself from using an eraser to allow myself to make "mistakes" and work with them. Soon they smoothed themselves out. I've always had a thing for the Knight. So at some point, I added him to my sketches.

I lost track of all time.

Over 4 hours of sitting.
Sitting with my chess set.
A sketch book.
An HB pencil. A pencil sharpener.
An eraser.
A drafting brush.

Sitting. Drawing. Loving every minute.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 17 & 9 To Go.

For the half-life of that med.
Then in another 26 days, half of that amount will be gone from my system and so on and so forth. By April it should be completely out of my system. Nothing I can do to speed it up.

Things at my doctor's went well - again the best pulmonary function test I've ever had! Of course, he was disappointed that I've been pulled from the treatment because, save for breaking out in hives, I was responding well to it until recently. Details. So I'm just on my standard maintenance medications. There's really not much that can be done save for waiting and watching to see how things progress.

As the Artist and the Mathematician pointed out to me, I'm taking the best care I have of myself, from diet to regular asana practice and to sleep - maybe any "problems" will ultimately be negligible.

So, I'll be logging pretty much my entire life, from practice to what/when I eat/drink, when take my meds and my peakflow and when I sleep. Somehow, I'm sure there's an art project lurking in this self study...


Still every thing remains to be about patience and persistence - funny how all this seem to work.


(Of course that does nothing to mitigate general aggravation and frustration, but at least it makes it a little more palatable.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mantra Monday: To Sit In Silence.

It was so nice to sleep in today.

November through the end of 2008 was a whirlwind of activity - between changing firms, the holidays, and eeking by to get everything done. Then January came and I continued to dance along. I managed to get a minimum of 45 minutes of asana practice in each day of the month - and somewhere along the line I was given my final pose of the primary series. I traveled to Sarasota, to Boston, to RI, to Charlottesville. Spent time with many friends and family and met some great teachers - I was tired and felt a bit "off," but I was dancing along.


During this time, there was something lurking.

I was having more difficulty than normal with my asthma and various other things that go along with that - all easily explained away by various stresses. The days after moon days I would find myself broken out in hives to varying degrees, more sensitive to various triggers, and on and off prednisone. I went so far as to wonder if there was something going on between the moon and my body. The last Tuesday of January, I woke again to hives and difficulty with my asthma. That morning, I resigned myself to a self practice hopped up on Benedryl. In my finishing postures, I tarried in padmasana, longer than normal.

This was the first time I had truly sat, in stillness, for what seemed like months.

Consciously ignoring the itching and burning at my joints and skin I began to wonder, was it one of my meds? Could it be the medicine that once seemed as though it was my salvation?


I called my doctor as soon as his office opened and he considered the idea. Three days later I was still shooting Benedryl shots and chomping Pepcid to no relief of my hives. I called my doctor again, insistent. There was something wrong. He called the drug manufacturer and their physician terminated my treatment with this medicine.


Tomorrow, I go to my doctor to review my asthma management plan.
It would be mendacious to say that I'm not worried. But in the grand scheme of things, I'll take asthma difficulty over a severe allergic reaction.

What does the future hold?

Time will tell.

At least I'm actually learning how to listen to myself.
You can hear a lot in Silence.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mantra Monday: Just Dance Along.

Somehow, January seems to have slipped from my perception of space and time. But I'm still calm and put together - if not more so than most of months of late. For what it's worth, both my desk at work and apartment are organized and I've practiced for a minimum of 45 minutes every day. How have I managed to do this? The practice, all the travel, all the activities and visits, and work?


I found my answer while reading on the commuter rail from Boston to So. Attleboro last Monday:

"The secret of this kind of climbing," said Japhy, " is like Zen. Don't think. Just dance along. It's the easiest thing in the world, actually easier than walking on flat ground which is monotonous. The cute little problems present themselves at each step and yet you never hesitate and you find yourself on some other boulder you picked out for no special reason at all, just like Zen." Which it was.
- Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. The Viking Press: 1958; ed. Penguin Books: New York, 2006. p. 48.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Class# 295; AYC DC Mysore Class # 131: Another Eureka Moment.


Brought to you by Post-it Notes.
I did it - I dropped back.

No crash.
No drama.




Just a little assist from a simple post-it note.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

We don't realize, do we?

I had lunch today with a friend and former co-worker of mine, whose teenage son played paintball with Parson. She said that last night they were hanging out, watching TV, and he looked up at her from the floor of the den and asked how to spell Parson's last name.

She responded and asked why he wanted to know.

His response?


You'll see when I'm 18.




* * *

I'm not just referencing Parson here.
It's each and every one of us. Every person we've met, interacted with, in any capacity.

I would venture none of us can truly fathom the importance of our distinct roles.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tending to the New Year

I had this idea that once the holidays were over things would not be quite so frenetic.

Heh.

What may you ask am I doing / will be doing with my time?

  • This coming weekend a visit with Fluellen in FL.
  • The next to RI & MA to escape the hoards of reveling masses who will ascend/descend on DC (not much of a fan of crowds) - and get in a visit with Lady Apollo, a member of Bauhaus, hopefully Sweet Bro as well as Mr/s A, and of course the Mathematician and Artist.
  • The following weekend to Charlottesville to visit a couple more members of Bauhaus and attend a workshop at Ashtanga Charlottesville.
  • The final weekend of January, the Mathematician and the Artist will be in town for a show and will be working with them.
In an ideal universe, it would be nice I could do all of those things I've wanted to start doing - sketching/writing during my lunch break, simplifying and eliminating clutter in my apartment (in turn creating a space conducive to artwork, writing, mediation, sleeping, you know the basics), and maybe get myself a haircut.

Optimistically looking at things, I've certainly been taking small steps to achieve them. You know, utilizing those odd minutes here and there to clean, organize, etc. Like this morning's post practice/getting ready for work bathroom cleaning.

Totally stoked about that.

Maybe what I'm hoping to achieve is, to take some of the discipline that my ashtanga practice has cultivated and apply it to the other 22 odd hours of my day. No small task when you take into account everything from daily work to tending to friends and the self. Besides, what's the purpose of a day, or an hour, or a minute or a second (for that matter) but to mark the passage of time?

In toto,

2009 is going to be a great year - it will involve a lot of work and patience - but it will be a great year.

There's a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon.



...and a bathroom that's clean.