Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3 loaves later

My kitchenaid died! LOL, my overexuberant usage was too much for threw sparks, the motor quit and we had to take it back. Right in the middle of making pizza dough, damn!

The replacement is on order but won't arrive for a couple weeks. Very unusual for a Kitchenaid I'm told, they are very well made...anyhow, I'm excited for the new one to arrive so I can test out recipes in the new book I got yesterday, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day per Karen's suggestion...haven't delved into reading it yet (Maehle owns my nightstand for the moment) but it sounds like it's going to save me time, which I love!

Speaking of Maehle, I'm enjoying the book a lot. I find it difficult to isolate parts of my body in the way he instructs but I think it is learnable so I'm trying hard...the first thing I'm tackling is femur rotation. That is visual-spatial/obvious/tangible enough that I can handle it and make changes. My reward was a full day of totally cooked hammies...I spent one practice just gently rotating my thighs inward in all my forward folds and it was enough of a change from a routine movement that my body has grown used to that I felt it, super-felt it, every.step.i.took, in my hamstrings the next day. And not an owie, hurty feeling, but a "Hi we're your legs, did you forget about us? We're still here." kind of way.

Another small change: I've been wondering how my back-rounding upbringing has been affecting my practice. Part of the femur rotation is to bring the fold a bit deeper, and to help me take some of the roundness out of my back. I want to train my spinal extensors and core to be alive in this movement so that they can withstand the pressure of LBH. I'm pretty sure this goes against what I've been taught which is a little confusing to me. Because of the back-rounding, I don't have that floppy forward fold where the belly touches the thighs. None of us do in the studio. I'd like to experience that range of motion and see what it does for Supta K, LBH and all folds really. I'm going to pay a lot of attention to what Nancy Gilgoff has to say about this - she teaches hips back, and back rounded so I can't wait to hear her take.

Another comment on Maehle - "excess adipose tissue", lol. A few others have mentioned this and I think it is pretty funny...he says it several times! I don't have the resolve to diet in the name of asana. Period! I'll live with my adipose tissue, I don't think there's too much of it anyways.

Sacrum nutation. How?? I arch back, ask myself if I'm nutated, and I have no idea. Is it something you can tell from the outside...can I tactile-ly press my hand on my sacrum and know it is nutated? Lost!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Birthday Girl

29 today. This is my gift, isn't it awesome?? I opened it yesterday, then made some chocolate pecan cookies and the best batch of bread I've ever produced...I was actually a teensy bit jealous that this machine can clearly knead way way better than my hands. I've been staring into the bowl watching the beater do its work. So cool!

Now it's coffee time....thinking about what to practice this morning Primary? Primary + 1/2 Int? Intermediate only? The most exciting thing about Christmas for me is the three days off in a row. Yesterday I had a home practice...I could really feel the effects of non-regularity on my practice during and especially now. There's a reason I'm supposed to do this daily - it hurts when it's sporadic!

I've never done the 6 days per week thing anyways. For me, 4-5 (gasp!) is what works best with my schedule and the mysore schedule at the studio. And Saturday rules be damned - Saturday is the easiest day to fit in a practice, I'm not resting.

I taped a bit of yesterday's practice, wish I knew how to edit it. My entry into krounchasana on the first side made me laugh when I watched this, I think I forgot what I was doing mid-entry so it looks kinda funny. I stopped taping before Ustrasana...had a feeling my backbends were not going to look or feel so hot, and I was right.

Does the timing seem off, like it has been sped up? I'm hopeless with file conversion...been trying different freewares but something tells me this isn't quite right. Meh - whatev!

This is the first time I taped any of these asana, and there were a few things I noticed, but I won't hash them out now, I'll just practice again today and see if I can correct them.

Next year? I will do more Intermediate. No goals, just do my practice - finally getting it. I love this time of year, the wrapping up and starting fresh.

Goa in 3 weeks, which I am looking forward to as a vacation and relaxation and an immersion in something that makes me feel good. Not as an opportunity to learn asana, which is I think what I had in mind when I booked the trip. That has changed.

LBH and jumpbacks and all the things I struggle with will happen here, in my living room or in the studio, when my hips open naturally, or when my bandhas show up to the party, which will take years...not halfway around the world in 3 weeks' time. I'm cool with that, and really excited to spend two weeks living yoga!

Now I will eat my 2nd chocolate pecan cookie, in the morning, before my practice and even though I'm not actually hungry - god I love birthdays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Work has been Buck Wild.

So I haven't been posting much, and haven't (sadly) been practicing much in the past week. I have nothing to report about asana!

However, despite my job-eating-my-life, a couple of things happened in the past week that have made India seem so much closer. :-)

My visa arrived today, and I got about half of my shots yesterday...Typhoid, HepA/B and Polio. Have to confirm with my doc which other ones I might need, if I've had the boosters or not already. Why don't I remember this stuff?

I don't like needles, at all, in fact they make me pass out - so the burly nurse grabbed my legs and held them above my heart (I was sitting in this weird rocking recliner thingy) and it helped, and was mildly amusing to my hubby, who joined me for the appointment in case he had to wheel me out after.

Anyway, hard to believe it is only 3+ more weeks...there is a lot more to do and plan. Hopefully my job will take a break from eating my life long enough to buy some bug spray and do some flipping yoga.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dwi Pada, Maehle book

Gregor Maehle book arrived! I raced home from work, raced to evening Mysore, raced into shower and then off to dinner with a friend who was in town...all the while thinking about it sitting on the kitchen counter.

When I finally ripped it open, I immediately flipped to the LBH section, hahaha. No patience, whatsoever! I was thrilled to read his thoughts on warming up. I often cheat in the studio and do the "cradle the shin" for a couple breaths before I try stuffing it back there.

Tonight was the first time I managed a (majorly) assisted 5-breath lifted Dwi-Pada. J stands behind me, supporting me from toppling, pulling my feet back (and I think up, a bit) while I ground the hands and push into my mat. Normally I get this horrible clavicle crunchiness when I try it so we skip the liftup part or do it half-assed.

It appears that my shoulders are now through and open enough not to compress my clavicle...interestingly, I used to get this same yucky crunch feeling in Supta K and eventually it went away so I guess the same thing happened there.

I have dinner out with friends again tonight so I think afterwards (if I can stay away from too much vino) I will do the Maehle exercises/warmups. I realized reading it that I haven't been aware of my pelvis at all in the warmups I've been doing. It is likely twisted and misaligned all over the place. Good to know so I can be more careful.

Also, last night the zing was back in alarming full force. :-( I've been having such a good run! I made a wrong move and it made me yelp out loud at the dinner table in a restaurant...twice...embarrassing! I'll do some stretching tonight and tennis ball stuff to release whatever is pulling me out of whack. It is usually my right butt. Epsom salt bath too maybe.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Led Primary

Today was marvelous. There hasn't been much to rave about in my practice lately...been missing that zoned out feeling I love. Today it was back in full force!

Is it bad that I'm "zoned out" and that's what I want? Is "zoned out" and "autopilot" different from "being present"? I worry that it is, and that I have no idea what "being present" is. Maybe I'll learn? Right now I crave "zoning out"....maybe that's a step I have to get through though toward being present. I hope so. It's all a process.

In the asana-centric sense (which is easier to describe :-)) today was all head to floor, head to knee, bind the wrist, mind in the zone. Wowza! Yoga Magic!!

The "open book" business has changed baddha konasana...I'm sooooooo glad J adjusted me that way a while back, I am seeing BK in a whole new light and I look forward to it. It causes far more sensation for me now.

Too bad it was Led, would have loved to bring some of the "zone" to intermediate.

Driving home from practice I was thinking about the shuffleback (or any asana) as vritti. Today there was an amazing jumpbacker parked in front of me so I was treated to a view of her many floating transitions - OK, I guess I wasn't THAT zoned out :-).

Anyhow, I remember the shuffleback and lots of other things feeling dumpy/slow/awkward and eventually becoming natural. Taking a new/uncomfortable/awkward movement and committing to replacing an old and familiar movement with it until the new and correct one becomes comfortable...that is how we're supposed to treat our ideas and thought patterns too, right?

Maybe this is already obvious to most yogis, hahaha - I kind of just "got it" today!

Training the body to convince us it is possible to train the mind. Hmmm, I like it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hip switch

Yoganidrasana is doable but Dwi Pada is not? Here are some of the reasons I think this is the case...

- Gravity is on my side in Yoganidrasana with the heavy legs
- Don't need to balance on my butt
- I can get away with more curve in the back (not so much in Dwi Pada)

There was nothing spectacular about practice today, it was good and steady...the only thing I noticed was the yoganidrasana thing, and it made me curious about why I can't apply whatever I'm doing there to dwi pada.

Also one of my hips was switched at birth and doesn't belong to my body. Haha! Why is one so much tighter than the other? And which one is my real one? The loose one I hope?

Today I left the office run an errand. I arrived at 1:55 and the note on the place said, back at 2:20. I cursed aloud, then sat down on a bench for 25 minutes. It was excruciating. Sitting and doing nothing. Hadn't brought my blackberry so I couldn't even work or answer emails. Didn't have my notebook with me to do a grocery list. My impatience continued to grow. This made me realize that a meditation practice could probably do me some good. Is 25 minutes that big of a deal? It shouldn't be.

I am probably the person you see on the street speed-walking to work, charging from desk to water-cooler to refill, avoiding smalltalk so that I can get on with the list of tasks and projects I've planned. Passing by the kitchen if the microwave is in use (that microwave dinner they are heating up means 4 more minutes I could be working before I eat my lunch!). Such a nerd! I used to make fun of people like me. People who race everywhere.

Maybe I need to slow it down a little. Or at least try. This I learned from taking my boots to a kiosk in the mall to be retreaded.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Led Primary

No repeat of the bhuja a-ha today but that's fine. It might be because it was Led. I probably need some more mysore time to fuss with was good though, musta banked some from yesterday! Got a foot cramp this time (same leg as yesterday's calf cramp) but it wasn't until padmasana so I could tough it out OK.

The shuffleback is still the same as always, although it seems a bit more natural and easy now that it is normal. Shuffle shuffle shuffle...then one day maybe pickup/jump? :-)

Today there was someone wearing perfume in the studio. It was really a distraction...I don't understand that at all. Even an otherwise nice smell (in whiff-size doses) seems noxious when you are breathing deeply through the nose! I would think it would be difficult for someone wearing it too, although maybe they are used to it.

Got a great Baddha Konasana adjustment...J opened my feet "like a book" so that only my baby toe side of the foot was touching and BOY was it different. I think this is how I was supposed to be doing it all along, and will going forward, but I didn't actually realize my body was capable of it until she showed me just how exaggerated the "open book" can be.

Heat's on tonight...ah bliss!

Pashasana, Winter, Cold

Last night was one of those "everything feels great" nights! I bound my wrist in pashasana for the first time...rolled up my mat under my feet which seemed to make a big difference. My feet don't touch the ground on their own so stability helped me get deeper into the twist since I was less worried about balancing.

BHUJAPIDASANA - I got my head down AND BACK UP! Something was knees weren't super high on my shoulders, they were lower toward my elbows...which made it easier to manipulate the distribution of weight and let me come back up. There's no shortcut in this one, I need more bandha, but it was an a-ha moment for me. I can't wait to play with it some more.

Then I got a mean calf cramp heading into Laghu...I didn't drink enough water yesterday. Ugh, I was so full of energy, but even stretching didn't loosen the thing so I decided to be gentle and close. I had fully planned to do all of intermediate after primary, that's how guns-a-blazing I was feeling!

Later at home it turned into a foot cramp. Today, H20 and bananas...I'm excited for practice tonight, I'd like to think I "banked" the energy I was feeling last night for later use, LOL.

Winter and cold. My husband and I play this silly game where we wait until we can't stand it anymore before we turn on the heat each year. It is a competition as to who can take the cold longer, we employ fleece sweaters, blankets, magic bags, whatever helps...the person who turns on the heat loses and this year he lost and I WON! Last night he turned on the heat. I had figured we could make it straight through to Christmas but I am very happy to be in a warm house again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What does it all mean?

Lots of inspiring stuff in blogland these days - food for thought! It is making me think about what I'm doing with my practice and how I got here.

It's so interesting how each yogi's experience differs based on teacher/shala/geography.

I had done yoga on and off for about 3 years, mostly power-type yoga. I had a great first teacher who then left town. So I went to whatever random classes I could find, even some Bikram, yup.

Then I wandered into an Ashtanga studio and was promptly humbled by the most physically difficult 70 minutes of my life. Full Primary. There was no stopping in Led either, no time to say uncle, no mysore attention to put you out of your misery and halt do the whole thing. Well, assuming you could keep up. There were binds and twists and lotuses and all kinds of things I'd never seen! The friendly shapes and sizes on all sides of me were wrapping and binding and kurmasana-ing with ease.....I was thrilled and excited and couldn't wait to get started. The teacher, J, was tough/kind/stern/dry and pretty much exactly what I needed.

I spent about 9 months fumbling my way through primary. I did not (!) master it before moving on to intermediate. My teacher believes that the milder backbends are beneficial and worth practicing to balance the folds of primary so she lets many of her students do up to Ustrasana after they learn Primary.

Based on the experiences of others that I read about, in a stricter shala, I am pretty sure I wouldn't be doing intermediate at all. I would still be working on my strength, transitions and my nemesis...bhujapidasana! I don't actually hate it, I truly love it...each time I practice I run into Mr. Bhujapidasana and it's like, "are we really going to do this again? all right I guess we are."

I was quickly given the rest of intermediate, in maybe two or three more chunks over a couple months. Despite not being able to...jump back, or do a good clean bhuja, or a hands-free setu bandhasana, or a full-on wristgrab in supta k. Or the plenty of other cleanup things I could work on. Chakrasana even (which I avoid because of prior neck complications, and probably more than a little fear).

I now know that's not the traditional method really, but until I started reading blogs...I had no idea that that was different from anyone else's experience - LOL!

I trust my teacher and I love my practice. I aim to have enough physical challenge to distract my mind and keep it from wandering - I'm not nearly advanced enough to turn it off at will, I rely heavily on the physical challenge.

At the moment I can't imagine wanting more poses, as intermediate is more than enough for me to chew on!

Like anyone, I love the idea of someday fitting my leg comfortably behind my head. Despite the impatience or frustration I might sometimes feel, then talk myself out of...I am beyond happy with my 70-90 minutes of escaping the world. :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good morning

It was open studio this morning. I felt like a shorter practice so I did primary to navasana...added bhuja and supta k (I could do this because there was only one other person there, who wouldn't have noticed!) and then closed.

Yesterday I wrapped up my team's performance reviews - so relieved!! It amazes me how open my team members are to constructive discussion as long as you can tailor that discussion to their interests and goals (assuming you know them, hopefully). It's a really interesting and rewarding process to work out a goal with someone, develop a plan for it, give them tasks to test them and opportunities to demonstrate that they've met it.

I'm super task-oriented by nature so the focus on people is challenging for me. I've been through a couple of cycles of it now and I'm just starting to get comfortable now.

Well yoga is done for the day so my evening is free! Guess I'll cook dinner and watch Glee :-)