Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Many wishes to all for an upcoming year full of love, light and wonderful exciting adventures.

Narragansett, RI
Sunrise, Christmas 2010


Thursday, December 9, 2010


Monday this week I made my triuphant return to AYC.
Primary felt great - deep twists, forward folds, and smooth back bends.

The plan, move all asana back to Ashtanga. How I've missed it. Approach the practice with honesty and humility, only practicing primary until I could hold urdhva dandasana with some fidelity.

Monday night continued waking to take asthma meds and I haven't gotten a full nights sleep since. At work until 9pm last night, still waking a couple times for meds, breathing still sounds like an accordion and my cough and congestion is getting deeper, but still really not productive. 

Why am I thwarted at every attempted return?

Friday, December 3, 2010

#reverb10: Day 03 -- Moment.

Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year.  Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors.)

Response: The first wave I caught by myself.

Simple. Easy.

It was the Friday after my Grandfather had passed, overcast, chilly, and drizzly summer day up in RI. I decided that I was going to go set a little surfing in as the waves were decent, not too big, not too small. Just right. There were only a few others out there in the line-up and I was just chatting away and 'Rad told me to start paddling.

I felt the board catch the wave and without prompting, I was up on the board, surfing down the line.
Walk out to the edge.
Hang 5.
Hang 10.
Walk off the end of the board.

How long did it last?
I don't know.

It was a moment that lingered excitedly in slow motion. Like the drop in your stomach with that first glance where you catch the Truth of someone's soul in their eyes for the first time.

*  *  *

Another long day at work yesterday and another Bikram class.

After three Birkam days in a row, must admit, my muscles are a bit tired and the poses didn't feel as deep as they did on Tuesday. It's that cycle: Build strength, lose flexibility and then regain flexibility.

Some of the things I'm wondering about:

First: The script and the lack of deviation from it.
If I were to teach, I'm not sure I could actually teach that way.
Call me a rebel and nonconformist.

It feels a bit contrived and automated. Yet still with three different teachers, same script, each night this past week, wildly different classes. Tuesdays class hot, strong, and methodical. Wednesday night fast and on point. Thursday night hot, slow, and gentle (as gentle as a Bikram class can be).

Second: Set Sequence.
As weird as the 26 posture Bikram sequence is to anyone who's practiced Ashtanga or been through a well sequenced Iyengar class (or Jivamukti or Dhama Mittra or Baptiste or general hatha vinyasa for that matter), it's actually starting to make a bit sense. I can't explain it, but if I figure out a way to, you'll hear it here first.

I still don't agree with what they call the various asanas. Their triangle pose is not what I would call trikonasana in the least thankyouverymuch. Also, unfortunately, I still chuckle and roll my eyes to myself every time they announce the first water break and do the prep for their variation on natarajasana, called dandayamana dhanurasana. Maybe it's a bit of lingering judgmental yoga elitism.

Three: Progressing and injury avoidance.
I'm sure the teachers wouldn't let a student get themselves into a position where they are going to injure themselves. But have to wonder how with minimal correction and instruction how your average brand new yoga student will readily progress and deepen their practice, and begin to realize the benefits yoga possesses. Time can really only do so much without a little help from someone more knowledgeable. Bikram, like Baptiste, seems like a great "gateway yoga drug." It takes a special person to want to delve into the worlds of Iyengar and Ashtanga and many who practice these styles with devotion will readily admit, we're all just a bit crazy and quite possibly slightly OCD.

Plain and simple, Bikram is generally more accessible. Sure from Ashtanga and Iyengar I have little tricks to help me find some form of edge and depth in a Bikram class; however, I've come really appreciate (if not maybe rely on) the guidance of a teacher to take things to the next level, even if it is the smallest of correction. It's quite easy for me to maintain interest in Ashtanga and Iyengar. In Ashtanga you know there are a bunch of sequences out there and can begin to see how each pose/sequence builds upon the previous. In Iyengar there are always refinements to be made. How is it possible to maintain interest with 26 postures and feeling held back from your full/deepest possible asana expression so that you don't "confuse the other students?"

If that were held through the Mysore system, there were certainly be far fewer practitioners. Is that one of the main reasons people leave Bikram? I've come to realize that's one of the beauties of the Ashtanga system, that someone who practices half of primary practices next to someone who splits primary for intermediate.

At least I was able to rally myself to a little pre-workday restorative practice today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

#reverb10: Day 02 -- Writing.

Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?

Response: I must admit I'm a bit stuck on this one and find it a bit, um, how shall I put it gently - solipsistic. 

Every bit of existence somehow feeds into another. Sure my existence could be streamlined. But a gal's gotta put in her time for "The Man" to feed first and foremost her yoga habit (shoe/art/cooking habits following close behind) which provides fodder for the keyboard.

Without experience what is there to write about?  
Truth is almost always stranger than fiction and upon reflection, many of us have have lived extraordinary lives filled with adventure. The key is recognizing the adventure within a "normal" existence. Only boring people get bored.

Now I wonder if I could give up sleeping.

Nope that's all too necessary for recuperation from a yoga practice.

OOH! I have come up with something I can do without. Facebook.
I still don't get the hype and self promotion (yes, yes, blogging is right up there with facebooking/twitting but there is certainly a distinction) and why and how people can put so much time into it, then throw in all of the various changes in etiquette that have resulted. Sure I'm in touch with people I probably would have not been otherwise - but who's to say our paths wouldn't have crossed otherwise. (Ok, maybe I might not have come across my 7th grade boyfriend - who I learned is now a Latin ballroom dance instructor - again without the mystical powers of Facebook.)

That all being said, can I eliminate it? Sure. 
Would I probably miss some things that I should know? Yes.
But then I think of it like declaring email bankruptcy after a two week vacation.

If it's important, it will find a way to make itself known. 
steps off soap box

*  *  *

Last night's yoga class brought to you by: Bikram Takoma Park.

At least with these crazy work hours I've been able to get into a class.  I'm starting to wonder if my growing affinity towards Bikram has to do with the ease of availability. And I have also had these wild flutterings of temptation to do one of those crazy 30-day challenges.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#reverb10: Day 01 -- One Word

Prompt: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you're choosing that word. Now, imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Response: Chrysalis.

It's been a year of observation, processing and growing, evolving. Moving forward with little hesitation, opening to new experiences and working to achieve the balance (not necessarily with the most forthright "success") within what needs to be done and what I want for my life. With all of this, the realization that to actually do it all, concessions must be made.

2011 Manifest: Catharsis.

Emergence into an even richer sense of self - from yoga to work to art and life in general.

*  *  *

Stumbled on this little project from a friend from HS' blog. Seemed like a good thing to do to get back into the writing/blogging habit.  On multiple occasions, D has mentioned "No Ashtanga, no blogging?" Well, at the tail end of the year, I'm going to rectify this - even if by way of an outside construct.

Work work has been a pretty dominant force recently, pulling late hours. I haven't seen the light of day at 4:30am for a couple weeks now and that's beginning to get a tad frustrating.

But I'll be back to the early morning mat soon and have made plans on coupling this #reverb10 project with a daily asana practice.

Nothing like going all in at the last possible moment.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

615/324: Sentience.

Left off counting at 608/323 with Ashtanga; 614 for Iyengar 5ish months ago.

Sure I've taken classes since then - primarily Iyengar based (when I actually managed to make it there), some Bikram of late (when weekends permitted), some (semblance of passing thought of) practice on my own. In these 5ish months time there was a move and other bits and pieces of life and health stuff in there as well as some manifest time exploring options of existence.

Everything you do effects everything.

The initial idea in my mind was that I was done with Ashtanga.
My friends who practice Iyengar were shocked.

I started thinking...
...and decided that I would reevaluate my decision at the end of a year.

Well, it's been 5ish months.

I sunk into a yogasana-funk.
The funk was completely cured by Friday night pizza with my good friend from middle/high school - Tattoo'd Daisy and her friend Tea Blossom.

They got me on the subject of yoga and I couldn't stop talking or thinking about it.

I walked back into AYC this morning, with a little bit of trepidation and given the 5ish months of sporadic to non-existent practice:
  1. I was surprised by the fact that I remembered the sequence, I admit, it's a little rusty - but not bad since I had banished Ashtanga from my existence and this morning somehow I made it through some semblance of a decent complete primary;
  2. It was wonderful to see the familiar faces and some new ones;
  3. D easily (almost too easily) slid me into supta kurmasana - I'm waiting for the honeymoon to be over on this one; and
  4. Have been given yet one more sirsasana and strengthening technique, this one direct from runway (shala) of Paris.

More than anything, I have a new found respect for what is done in shalas and in homes on a morning basis.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Awareness is the point at which the mind reaches out beyond itself into reality.  In awareness you seek not what pleases, but what it true.

~ Sri Nisaragadatta Maharaj

*Dikshit, Sudhakar S. ed. I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Acorn Press: Durham, 2008. 346.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


So it's been about 6 months since I practiced with any semblance of consistency. Walking to the metro in the morning, there's a crispness that is starting to linger ever so gently in the air.

What did I learn in these 6 months?
First and foremost, that a consistent yoga practice is a wonderful thing.

Also, learned and accept that I miss Ashtanga - I miss the comfort of it, the discipline, the regimented nature of it. However, I'm not ready to go back. Padmasana is just starting to feel comfortable on my right hip again. My asthma is settling and have not been waking with breathing difficulty though the night.

Instead of throwing myself deep into it - it's going to be a methodical return. If I went back now I think it would only be frustrating and aggravating and I would probably do myself more harm than good. What good is it to only go two days and then take two weeks off?

On average it takes a good 2-3 hours to make hunter's stew or beef bourguignon.
An hour and a half for a ratatouille.

For some things, there are no shortcuts and/or no substitutions.

So I'll continue to methodically blend some aspects of Iyengar and Ashtanga, throw in a little Vinyasa Krama here and there. Maybe a smattering of something else, just to change it up.

Let it all simmer for a while.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Release through Constructs

The comments of Carl and Yogiconomist, really got me thinking.
Maybe it's a combination of the two

A duality.
A release and a binding.

Maybe the strict discipline and regimented lifestyle of an Ashtanga practitioner
is no longer needed within the context of my daily existence. But there is still a need and desire for a daily practice, for that discipline and mindfulness, release within a construct.

Nothing light of a quandary to be sure.

Ashtanga allowed me to lose myself in something that wasn't work, that wasn't family, that was completely outside of where I came from in order to forget some, to remember some, but ultimately to really begin another stage of healing.

To form an intense bond with something which joins physical expression with that mind-shift coveted by most artists - is nothing short of a remarkable experience.

It stays the same, I changed.

At a workshop with M. Manos in RI at the end of June, he said something that really stuck with me. Paraphrasing: These practices can allow the world to open up. For some that path is solely asana, for some it allows many new experiences to open up.
Just go with it and enjoy the ride.

Nothing that wasn't understood at least intuitively, but the validation from an outside force is always welcome.

Right now, what I think I need to learn is self-discipline within my current context, constructed by me to allow all the plates to spin to their optimal degree.

Yes, there are a plethora of great teachers and classes here in DC - but then practice is
structured around and reliant on an another's existing time construct.

How am I going to really get going in this new art thing,
if I cannot even find/schedule 90 minutes on my own, let alone 30?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Renegade Flooding.

Wish I had my surfboard.
Might have made getting to work a bit easier.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Like Spinning Plates

Only 1 plate missing.

Friday, June 11, 2010


A week or so ago Bindifry had this great post.

I've kept on rereading it, especially given it's relevancy over my current bit of on-again-off-again Ashtanga practice AYC. I’ve been trying my darndest to draw boundaries, allocate time and find balance between work and life and yoga, this I know I need to work on but at the same time, some things are out of my control.

I have only made it to AYC for practice 4 mornings since my last post.
No apologies.

Moves happen.
Document reviews happen.
Allergy season happens.
Dreams happen.
General life happens.

Somewhere in the mix, practice has continued on my own, snippets here and there on a new hardwood floor in the only spot devoid of cardboard boxes. An Ashtanga practice slowly evolving into something more of Ashtanga-Iyengar cross breed.

There's something about the discipline of working though something with body practices that start to make sense in terms of "real" world applications. Look at any artist or performer or scholar or high power attorney or captain of industry, they devote the bulk of their life to their Art, more often than not eschewing convention for what they feel inherently is right for them. Body/movement arts seem to tap into this at a base level, cultivating a desire and a system of application.

Over time.
Equilibrium is reached. Granted, more often than not it's a dynamic equilibrium, but equilibrium nevertheless.

Passions develop over time and deepening occurs.
Cultivated by those who we choose to surround ourselves with, by getting us to look at what we're doing and our true motivations.

Also, give a healthy dose of reality, or at least turn it on it's head.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two Years...

320 Mysore Style practices.

Sweet practice this morning with a free standing Tiriang Mukhottanasana.

* * *

I proclaim this upcoming year for me: the year of Lolasana.

I will get my butt off the ground.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flights of Fancy

I walked around the office yesterday with a little smile knowing that, like all the best superheros, I too have a secret identity that few know about or understand within my corporate environs.

[I also had forgotten how awesome it is to fly.]

Friday, April 23, 2010

Confluence of Passions.

Due to a confluence of articles, ideas and conversation flying about with friends - I realize my prose has been short and images slightly more bountiful when I do get around to posting. I'm coming to terms with the idea that this whole yoga thing - specifically Ashtanga - is what one could call a passion project for me.

Why though?
Why Ashtanga?

Why haven't I been able to channel this into something like juggling, music or at an even more base level, Art?

Art. Something that I have vivid memories of - sitting in a RISD Saturday morning art class, sun streaming through the windows of the Market Building at the age of 7 and proclaiming emphatically to the teacher: I'll be an Artist.

Of course, over time my idea of Art has morphed some. But if something is going to endure, doesn't it have to evolve over time? I've come to realize that working with my hands is something I truly enjoy, creating something tangible. After all, I am the daughter of my parents, who with the help of their parents, built the house that they still live in. Even today, with his photography, the Artist stretches the canvas himself and the frames are assembled by the Mathematician.

There's some fear in taking those steps to create.

Devoting what limited time remains in my day or weekends to pencils, paper, fabric, metal, photography or however this would manifest itself - doesn't leave much time for the normal pursuits of your typical 30 y/o female. That being said, I recognize, I'm not your typical 30 y/o female.

Over dinner a couple weekends ago with Aikidōka at the apartment of another of his childhood friends, Banjo Pilgrim, along with Conservation Sprite, I silently marveled at their collective energy and freedom. Not only the diversity of each of their creative pursuits, but more the seemingly fearlessness with which they approach them.

Something I have also always seen in the Mathematician and the Artist.

Something I want to cultivate further within myself.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

589/312: Contorture.


Two sides of the coin. Same practice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It's a MoonDay isn't it?

Concessions: a lovely brisk 2 mile walk in & an overpriced mediocre chai from the 'bucks.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Then to return to perpetual motion.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

General Frustrations.

I'm still having difficulty with my asthma/breathing at night.

Practicing I'm fine.

Consciously controlling breath.
Moving. Gently opening and controlling the body.

It' been well over two weeks of general asthma difficulty and a week, of being unable to wake for morning practice. 5:30 am start time is not so reasonable when you've been waking every two to three hours for a nebulizer treatment and then to roll into work for a 8.5 hour work day.

Granted. It's been a gorgeous spring here in DC. Which means there's proportionally that much more pollen.

I'm really starting to wonder if this asthma difficulty is more muscular than formal asthma attacks. An epsom salt bath at 3:35 this morning relieved most of my symptoms. But I don't know if that is just from the normal effects of magnesium sulfate - which I've had in the ER multiple times as a treatment for an asthma attack and was part of the hospital trials when I was a kid. Looking back over the days I've practiced and when I've been getting up for meds/having breathing difficulty has coincided conscious work at attempting to engage jalandhara bandha though to moola bandha.

Integrating both halves of the body.

Do I need to teach the body that muscle tightness in the chest cavity, isn't necessarily an asthma attack?

Something to ponder at least.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

578: Ending Moments.

To the Thursday Night Crew,


To Spirited C,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

576/307 Consistency.

I have this sneaky suspicion that there is something to this regular consistent practice.

Wednesday last week D re-added supta vajrasana.
Yesterday bakasana was added <-- not that I can figure out how to "Sprung nach vorne, Balance auf den geraden Armen, die gebeugten Beine in der Luft*" nor do I have the correct / adequate strength yet.
But progress is being / will be made.

And oddly enough, I'm finding supta vajrasana quite enjoyable.

Dare I say it?
I'm starting to enjoy 2nd series.

*jump forward balancing on straight arms, bend legs in the air,

* * *

I realize that I haven't spoken much about the workshop out in Charlottesville with John Campbell. I probably burnt out a bit on talking about it. Suffice it to say, it was an amazing experience - he truly is a fantastic teacher. Not one of those "big names," but certified and more importantly simply and honestly a solid teacher.

There was a lot of depth to what he had to say and his adjustments. And when I did pause my practice it was interesting watching him work with those there who were unfamiliar with Mysore style and the students who were more advanced. But of the two, it was really good watching/hearing him work with the beginning students. In lecture it was really good to hear him talk about the practice and the philosophy surrounding it - giving a depth to the practice which the academic in me believes is really important.

He talked a bit about how he goes about teaching Mysore style - really taking the time, spending the time to lay the foundation for the rest of the system. First week is sun-salutations A/B and the basic finishing postures. Period. Then going in to how this is a very conservative system, rooted in how things were traditionally/culturally taught - by pure memorization, something that is not valued in contemporary society. A lost art if you will. He gave the example of young children in India begin taught the Vedas, before they could even begin to fathom their meanings they learn the exact words and the exact pronunciations and intonations (like learning the vinyasas). Which of course also lends itself to learning Sanskrit and going back to the original texts to be able to understand the nuance of word and phrase choice.

In terms of asana there were nuance differences, but such is the nature of this practice or any other practice. A student picks up the habits and nuance of their teacher whether they like it or not, ultimate fidelity will always be lost unless going to "original" source material.

His work with me on tiriang mukhottanasana (a/k/a chakra bhandasana) on the Saturday was amazing and still dumbfounds me that my body/back could get that depth. He had me ultimately at my upper calves, straight legs standing by lightly holding me up by his fore and middle fingers pressed lightly on each ASIS. He really exploited my back flexibility by use of breath. I wasn't cranked and yanked into the pose. Of course, I freaked out and my breath got choked when I realized where I was and sprung up slightly bewildered.

Ultimately, the weekend showed just how important the correct vinyasas
with solid breath are as the mechanisms for delivering a solid asana within the sequence.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back & Hit the Ground Running.

What a solid weekend!

Somewhere along the line I think I had forgotten why I fell for this practice. This past weekend reminded me - the grace and strength, the intelligence of the sequence and system, and the philosophical undertones.

But first and foremost, it still comes down to the grace and strength.
Note that I don't say bendiness.
Bendiness does not strength and grace make.

While giving the whirlwind 55-min recap to Aikidōka Sunday night, I realized just how much I learned in such a short time. Come to think of it, I hardly paused for a breath. Ultimately, I came out of the 250+ miles traveled refreshed ready to settle into and working with Ashtanga. None of this mucking about and flitting around, save for some sporadic play here and there to keep things fresh, fun, and the asana tight.

Further to the philosophical bent which is obvious given his pedigree, John Campbell was really into vinyasa. So that's what I've currently tasked myself with - I figure if I can really get things synched-up, maybe I'll begin figure out that whole moola bandha issue. Obviously, I have been flitting around because of continual frustration at my lack of both strength and general anatomical integration for jump back/throughs and inversions and hoping beyond all hope that someone somewhere would provide some immediate magic answer.

Abracadabra-presto-chango-*poof* Jumpback!

I know I'm not moving efficiently through the vinyasas and this just bugs me.

I'm coming to terms with the reality that I have a
long way to go on the bandha issue.
It would be nice if I could muscle my way through this. That doesn't seem to be an option. Besides, I've always had a penchant for doing things technically proper - which usually takes a bit longer at the onset.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Perpetual Motion Machine

I begin to wonder if that's the fate of modern life.

From one thing to another. Every cyclical, upward spiraling - connected. Circles intersecting for a fleeting moment on a regular basis or just sporadically. Speeding up and slowing down like the well heeled soles of a tanguera on the floor of a milonga, moving with her partner, synched with the staccato notes of the accordion.

But also like an accordion, cramming and stuffing life into a small space and time.

* * *

This weekend I'm going to try not to even think about what class I'm registering for next session at UnityWoods or how balancing Ashtanga and Iyengar works. I've loved every moment of just practicing Ashtanga this week in preparation for the weekend.

Of course I have been running around all week - cramming 5 work days into a normal 4. Shopping, cleaning, cooking, and laundry when back at my apartment, collapsing into bed after short but sweet and warming evening conversations.

Tomorrow will start some pause - forget about everything.

Just the forecasted rain, my iPod and a 3 hour drive.
A weekend with no internet and spotty mobile service -
A weekend of Ashtanga and philosophy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 21: Three Weeks Gone.

The flexibility in my hand is not quite back but close, the swelling is minimal, and maybe just a dull ache. All major improvements from 21 days ago. Twenty one days of running the gambit. Initially impetuously halting practice, then tentatively and humbly returning to a modified practice, frustration with not healing faster, and today another return to contentment.

Intuitively I think I'm starting to understand what D has expressed to me on multiple occasions about not mucking about "with all those different types of yoga." Just doing one. Allowing the nuance and intelligence to appear. To some extent, I don't think I was/am allowing that to happen. Sporadically making my way to AYC in fits and spurts - collapsing in sheer exhaustion the day after a class at UnityWoods.

What was I really becoming so hell-bent on getting to?
All in the name of what? Really?

Just as life is really not all about the Benjamins, sometimes I need to remind myself that this is not all about the poses.

Consistency and quality over quantity any day.
The poses are merely markers.

I can begin to see why teachers within any of Krishnamacharya's students' methods tend to ask their students for fidelity. There is a system. Systems are put in place for a reason. The reason only becomes apparent when you actually immerse yourself within that discipline - and usually things happen faster. Work at something with a disciplined approach and shifts will occur.

Go off and play. But return with fervor, perspective, and respect.

Looking at the major branches of asana practice (on face) derived from Krishnamacharya, his students, the fathers of these branches were probably taught in a way specific to their respective strengths and weaknesses. The mark of a brilliant teacher.

Balance needs to be found and the systems should be self regulating - naturally coming to an equilibrium.
That's a lesson learned on the first day of HS chemistry and is still applicable.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 19: Follow-up Honesty.

I'm winged and I can't get my friggin' butt off the ground.
Even if I wasn't winged
, it would be the same.

Yes, this is the obligatory weekly doom & gloom post.

Day 19: Connectivity & Compartmentalization.

A long, long time ago, back in second semester of my senior year of college, I had the wonderful opportunity to study figure drawing with Bunny Harvey (yes, that is her name). I loved the skeleton project and at home drawing assignments, there was always a way I could conceive of the connections between that and work in architecture studio - something along the lines of Ashtanga and Iyengar - she tenderly nurtured that.

When it came to working in class with our wonderful model Lib, for some reason, unless the cosmos properly aligned I could never get her body to consistently appear as whole.

The top half of her body would be gestured/sketched/rendered well, as would the bottom half.
However, probably 50% of the time it looked as though her body had been cut in half and haphazardly sewn back together. (Fwiw, the one day we had a pregnant model that was the one day filled with consistency and thankfully I could align all the seams properly.)

Fast forward to 2005, I decided to take a life drawing course at the Corcoran.
Same body sewn in half issue - but much worse - the top and bottom halves of the body might as well have been drawn on two separate newsprint pads.

Instead of torturing myself, the teacher, and the models, I dropped the class.

Plodding my way through primary and sitting in
marichyasana-a this morning, shoulders down my back and chin lightly grazing my right knee, I realized something - quite profound. For me, for the most part, the asanas in and of themselves prove little quandary. The micro-muscular movements are there, engagement of the various bhandas while in a pose are there. There is strength and counter forces and intelligent use of flexibility. This is why I probably enjoy Iyengar so much, as most classes/sequences are asana-centric.

Sure I can sit in a pose.

But ask me about vinyasa, I become all left-footed.

Grace flies out the window. There is no connection between my top half and bottom half, let alone the breath of my body.

How do I find connectivity?

Lightness within a dense Eastern European-Anglo female frame?

Movement with breath that's not robotic?

The main reason I started practicing Ashtanga was because of the grace, the vinysasas.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 18: Rumination.

Chopin's 200th birthday was March 1.
He passed away at the age of 39 from TB.

What did he accomplish in this time? Many highly complex solo piano pieces.

How does one accomplish so much in so little time?
Would that even be possible in today's society?

Are we suffering modern sensory overload?
Too many distractions coupled with too many things we feel we have to do?

When in reality there are truly only a few simple things at the core...

Practice is the one time of my run-of-the-mill-day where everything else disappears. All that other stuff?
Just evaporates.

* * *

Today practiced my first almost-fully-unmodified primary in almost three weeks now - fairly easily, smoothly.

Maybe a little gingerly - but good ntl.

No thoughts. No whims. No pressure.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 17: Equipoise & Convalescence

Checked in with the osteopath last Thursday - with another round of x-rays. All is healing quite nicely - he was actually quite impressed with how much my hand improved in the span of a week. Amazing what following doctor's orders, castor oil wraps and modifying practice will do...

Currently, no splint - just mindfulness. A tiny set-back might have been suffered in the name of the men's national ice hockey team - but a little pain in the name of one's country during the Olympics isn't such a bad thing.

It will still be another week before I can begin to speculate to get back into hand-balancing. That being said, easing back into the groove has been relatively smooth. Somehow I feel a bit stronger for all of this - spent a lot of time working with the core, not relying on the arms and have dialed it back a few notches, maybe found a bit of renewed contentment with practice. Also have discovered some new limits to my body by holding poses longer, focusing on breath and with modification finding a little bit of play. Sure, there is still some lingering aggravation and frustration with not being able to do everything.

But, right now, there is no rush to get anywhere.
Don't get me wrong, by no means am I becoming complacent.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 11: Semper Ubi Sub Ubi.

Oldie, but goody.

Must figure out how to pack
from practice to work.

(At least my work is near a Macy's.

Day 9: Pity Party's Over.

Monday I got off my cranky butt and decided that I was going to actually practice as much of primary in sequence as possible modifying and omitting where necessary.

First roadblock, obviously is at vinyasa 4 = catvāri, chaturanga. Solution?
Return, inhale to halfway lift as in vinyasa 3 trīṇi, exhale, to
uttanasana 5 br as adho mukha svanasana. Wonderfully enough - this has worked. The vinyasas actually work out properly so that chaturanga, up-dog and down dog can be omitted. For surya namaskara B? Just step back to virabhandrasana a. Yes it is slightly awkward, but it still works.

Except for pada hastasana, the entire standing sequence is in with various modifications - trikonasana and utthita parsvakonasana have to be slightly modified so that I'm not placing my hand flat on the ground, and working off of the extended leg. Prasarita paddotansana A, arms similar to mukha hasta sirsasana b and for parsvottanasana arms similar to those in prasarita paddotanasana c or just grabbing elbows. If grabbing elbows, working on engagement of intercostals, extending as far out over extended leg as possible.

Transition to floor, step forward move down to pasasana legs, extend one leg out hang there for a breath and very inelegantly plop to the ground.

Poses out from primary completely:

That evil lift between Navasanas (really not disappointed about this)

Bhuja Pidasana



Lifted Dwi Pada Sirsasana

Sticking the hands though in Garbha Pindasana



Urdhva Dhanurasana




The remainder of the poses are in - the binds aren't bad as long as I bind on the wrist and use a light grip with my pinky and ring finger. Faux-transitions between poses, lifting half way up from cross legged seated without using arms or from seated knees bent to pasasana legs.

To get my back bend fix, setu bandha sarvangasana (really grounding through the balls of the feet), ustrasana/kapotasna modification of thighs against the wall (working in and up the wall, chest up and over and hang back), and standing hang backs to hold.

Also, Monday night got my inversion fix on the ropes at UnityWoods.

I'm really missing sirsasana and
have been unable to come up with a solution/modification that I can easily incorporate without the use of ropes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 6: Simplicity of Practice.

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."
~ Charles Mingus.

Patterns and listening to the subtle body.
The subtle body sits, patiently, as who we are, and yet, we oft deny it for some perceived ideal of who we believe we are and how others see us.
It's easier that way.

Many out there in the cybershala and the DC/extended-Cru have reminded of this in their own ways recently - something that Spirited C has gently been trying to teach me over these past couple months, began to sink in with the snowy blizzardy DC weekend in chatting with
Aikidoka and has hit me like an ACME anvil dropped from sky with this whole hand thing.

I've had to let go of how I wanted to feel about my practice before I head to Charlottesville in a couple weeks to practice with John Campbell (who has a crazy beautiful backbend). My fears of practicing with Lino Miele in May and Manouso Manos in July, yeah, they're still there. Yes. Things could be worse, much worse - but when mired in personal reality, perspectives are skewed. Honestly, my ego is still smarting some but there's time - where and why am I rushing anywhere?

Honesty in Simplicity.

Allowing the practice itself to be the teacher.

Something that Jois aims at in his 125 page tome and Iyengar himself reiterates over and over in his diffuse writings. Listening. Real time feedback. Observation without judgment and expectation of the Self. There is such a beautiful potential within any practice - there is no reason to fight it - it fits when it is necessary and will hit a point of stasis when necessary within its process.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 5: Grabbing at Air

The ace wrap has been removed. But, one more week of a splint with further follow-up again next Thursday. Contrary to what the ER doctor told me, I should be making some use of my hand, opening and closing every once in a while. Still icing but not as feverishly.

Personally, it seems a little silly to me that they still can't tell if there are minor fractures to the distal ends of my metacarpals or if it's just soft tissue damage. Basically, if I still have pain next week, there are probably small fractures in there. If not, all's well that ends well.

The doctor specifically reminded me no handstands - for some reason.

Day 4: Not Soooo Grumbly Wednesday Night.

Actually, a quite successful practice, if I do say so myself (also, having a package from to open after practicing definitely helped keep me on track). One thing I realized, just how much truly goes into sequencing. Having gone into practice without a real plan seems to have worked decently, looking at it this morning typed out, it looks to be a hodgepodge of Iyengar classes more than anything else.

(sequence segments are blocked together and as always, if asymmetrical pose, right leg leads, left leg follows, repeated second side)

belly bolster

back bolster

trikonasana - back flush to wall, pelvis curved in, forearm of bottom arm to thigh, front femur rotated into hip socket, line of torso as straight as possible

parivritta trikonasana - face wall, revolve triangle, pelvis level, top shoulder flush to wall using core to pull up

prasarita padottanasana - back against wall, pulling back of pelvis up to wall, torso through legs, arms through legs

trikonasana - free from wall

parivritta trikonasana - free from wall

virabhadrasana I - lengthening back leg straight from socket, squaring pelvis, torso straight up from pelvis

virabhadrasana III - lengthening in opposite directions from lifted foot to upper chest (too my stress on hand extended)



virabhrasana II
utthita parsvakonasana

virabhadrasana II

utthita parsvakonasana

ardha chandrasana - lifted foot on wall, bottom arm lifted from ground by torso


- extending arms out over leg

ado mukha svanasana - over the back of a chair

urdhva chaturanga



eka pada virasana - to supta

virasana - to supta - to bolstering shins to drop pelvis "below floor level"

triang mukha eka pada pascimottanasa

janu sirsasana c, b, a - legs and forward fold, no binds

baddhakonasana - sit bones bolstered to ease adductors and gracilii muscles


bhujangasana - look ma! no hands!

salambasana a
dwi pada viparita dandasana - supported through folding chair

viparita karani


And such a good sleep into this morning and off to the osteopath in just a few minutes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 3: Grumbly.

This whole hand thing is a lot more of a challenge than I thought it was going to be.

My sleep has been restless and uncomfortable so practice in the morning hasn't been happening. D was right, there's nothing quite like practice in the morning and I don't think I fully appreciated it until now. Mind you if I practice in the morning, practice in the evening seems to come much easier.

In the morning, there's no stress pent up from the day, no distractions running through my mind, no race to practice in so that I can cook dinner and get to bed at a reasonable hour.

I was whiny yesterday. Really whiny.

It worsened and spiraled over the course of the day. For practice, when I finally slogged myself to my mat, I riffed on Geeta Iyengar's menstrual sequence - figured that would do my mind good. I had nowhere near the necessary mental pliability for either a full on restorative practice or a "regular-modified" practice.

I know I should have gone by pose names - flash card learning and all - but doodles were much easier than writing. The simple exercise of doodling / planning the sequence was in and of itself quite cathartic.

But how I am yearning for urdhva dhanurasana, any inversion, and even bhekasana.

Santosha. Annica. Ishvarapranidhana.
I know. I know. I know.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 1: Breaking Down the Ego; Day 2: Exercises in Creativity and Play.

Talk about humility. I didn't realize how much much weight we ask our hands to bear during any practice.

Just look at the primary sequence alone - from balances to binds.

Sunday's winged practice limped along as I half-heartedly muddled my way in and around primary, half distracted by fresh cranberry dark chocolate puddle cookies and general frustration that I don't have my regular practice right now. I've been good - keeping my splint on so I don't use the hand at all.

The better part of the day was spent avoiding my mat, avoiding practice, until I pulled out my practice journal and my copy of Ramaswarmi's Vinyasa Yoga during lunch. Flipping though both I started to see ways I could modify my practice - down dog over the back of a folding chair pressing the forearms into the seat, etc as part of the integration sequence. Spent the majority of the practice exploring forward bends and Ramaswami's triangle sequence with long holds.

If I had to pick the coolest thing from practice today, urdhva chaturanga dhandasana. Just one of those things, no reason not to try right?

Think I've certainly found something to continue to work with - the floor forces the correct pelvic alignment, shoulder and forearm alignment, and extending through the balls of the feet pressing against a wall seems to get deep into my core.

It was actually quite liberating not to be bound by a set sequence or counts.
To sit with a pose, to allow the body to dictate what it needs.
Practice without expectation.

To dance instead of fight.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fall from Grace

10 days.
No weight bearing poses - certainly no upside down trees or balancing or dogs. Standing poses and forward bends and hip openers for me.

Lots of ice - at least DC has plenty of that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Written Material

There seem to be myriad of books written by B. K. S. Iyengar.
There's only 1, singular book, written by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. 1.

There are some Iyengar-centric blogs out there, but really in the vastness of the blog-sphere very, very, limited (based on my searches). Ashtanga-centric blogs, on the other hand, there is certainly no shortage.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The first sentence I read during my commute into work today:

"Nothing can be achieved without knowledge, action, devotion, and will."

Iyengar, B.K.S. Astadala Yogamala. Volume 1, 85.

The Monday night level 3 at UnityWoods is kicking my butt.

It's shown me that I rely waaaaaay too much on flexibility.

(And continues to keep me up long into the early hours of the morning - if anyone has suggestions for winding down after a night class filled with backbends, inversions and arm balances, I'm open to pretty much anything at this point)

Pose after pose alternating twists and various arm balances with
urdhva dhanuarasana. Those long holds of UD seemed like a walk in the park and a much deserved rest. The first three arm balances were ok. Not the prettiest eka hasta bhujasana or first stage of astavakrasana or bhujapidasana (alternating ankle cross mid pose) but actually got some air.

4th arm balance was second stage of astavakrasana. My interpretation looked more like legs crossed around either right or left arm while collapsed in a contorted heap on the floor pose. Gravity was in full effect in my 28" x 68" area - more so than anywhere else in the room. Teacher called me out from her mat at the front of the room, "Where's your arm balance? Use those intercostals girl!" Nope. Not firing whatsoever. Only me crumpled in a contorted heap in the pool of sweat that had accumulated on my mat - shaking, struggling to lift the bottom hip from the floor.

Moving in to sirsasana teacher commented that she wants to move into some of the more advanced arm balances later on this session. Boy do I have my work cut out for me - part of me really wants to retreat back to the level 2 or 2/3. The stubborn part won't allow that.

I've heard many comment on how humbling an Ashtanga practice can be.
This Iygengar class has certainly shown me what my knees are for.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

527; 532/281; 534/282: A Whole Different UHP

In Iyengar class, 13 days ago, 10.01.07 we compared the Ashtanga and Iyengar versions of utthita hasta padagusthasana.

Huge mathematical difference between the two. Ashtanga one hand, two fingers to big toe raise leg to π/2 or at most /3, and then forward fold, chin to shin (if going "old skool"). Iyengar, lift leg to π/2 or to position where foot can be grabbed by one hand and then both hands and raise leg as close to π as possible then chin to shin. Of course theoretically the pelvis should be kept square and level and perpendicular to floor - in both versions.

Then to work on correcting the alignment of the hip and femur and leg, Spirited C had us line up against the wall, butt, heel, and back against the wall. It's hard stand like that - let alone to keep everything aligned and raise that leg, then to grab the foot with both hands - not even considering personal anatomical (short arm) issues. Thank goodness for straps.

Fast forward, 10.01.17, AYC DC Sunday morning, cruising along in the standing sequence. D walks by my mat and points towards the ropes wall and directs me to put my butt and heel against the wall and instructs me to enter UHP. I m
aybe was able to lift either leg to π/3 without toppling - reaching an arm to the big toe, not even able to merely speculate the possibility.

This morning, exiting parsovatanasana, I stood at the front of my mat, glance around and decide that humility is the best option for a Wednesday morning. Back to the ropes wall...

Are they knowingly or unknowingly in cahoots?

* * *

Three things of personal note when I wasn't toppling all over the place and hanging on the ropes:

1. Padabandha of the standing leg very important.

2. With D's assistance to actually get the raised foot, I was able to get this amazing stretch in the outer hip and inner calf of the raised leg.

3. Correct alignment, seems to accentuate where flexibility and strength are lacking
(and it's quite amazing how the body can easily compensate).

Monday, January 18, 2010

The path is always significant.

18 days into 20-10 and already things have somehow spun into warp-speed.

I've already put some travel for a couple workshops on my calendar and my weekends seem to be filling fast with social engagements. In conversation, Mrs. A and I have toyed with the idea that January 20-10 seems to be more of an annex of 2009 than it's own separate entity. Maybe that it's more transitional than anything else.

Right now a lot of things feel as though they are in limbo - the only two things that seem to provide stability are work and yoga. But I'm still trying to work out how to best balance the Iyengar classes with Ashtanga - so really the only thing that isn't in flux is work. (?!)

I'm taking a level 3 Iyengar class at UnityWoods one night a week. First, I'm normally in bed by the time it's over and in the first class of the session, I was quite surprised that I didn't doze off in handstand. Second, this teacher loves dropbacks and inversions and as a result of the sequence, I was absolutely wired for sound until 2am. Which now that I think about it, could be a great time to work on art related stuff.

Part of it is that that I'm trying to figure this yoga thing out - how it fits, how the rest of the world fits, and where this all "goes." As many of us know, this practice can easily become all consuming - as a whole or in parts. Ask the Mathematician and the Artist, I have always readily become obsessed with the esoteric and dogged in a search for something if I feel it significant. I have piles of books I want to read and things I would love to do extra work on "in my free time" (getting both my butt and feet off the ground between navasana simultaneously would be nice for starters).

But to what end and sacrifice?

Saturday night with SeattleSunshine - sharing some wine, laughs, tears, and dreams - nothing was resolved but I have some better ideas. She asked about my 5 year goals/dreams. I drew a blank and she wouldn't let me change the subject. I feel as though I'm still on the verge of something and have to make a decision. Maybe not a final decision, but just a decision to refine direction - to offer further perspective.

I can say with certainty that time and space always seem to provide this, like with all things I think that, ultimately, it's just having patience (with a dash of persistence).