Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What was I thinking?

Why on earth did I sign up for pre-7am notifications of my "not correct"? In an environment designed to change the way I do things? Take things that feel good already and make them feel different, adjust me in things I want to do independently. Then change the rules once in a while.

I'm not saying that any of this is bad or unnecessary for my progress as a human being. There's got to be a lesson in there, and the discomfort will be worth it.

I'm starting to get this protective/defensive feeling now of "this is mine" about my practice that was never there before. I'm sure it is ego (what else would it be?) and therefore not good, but it is so strong. Feeling a little toxic, been permeating my practice. Have to sort this out.

I'm tempted to practice at home for a while to get through it, but I absolutely love the community aspect of mysore and could never give it up entirely.

This surrendering stuff is hard. I don't have any answers.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kapo and Karanda attempt

Karanda clearly needs work, but I've ditched the props and I think the lack of stability is worth it...hoping that eventually this will help me learn to move my lotus through space. The exit makes me laugh, I totally straddled out in escape mode!

A few months back I crowed about getting my heels and it hasn't happened ONCE since then (serves me right), until today. Once my hands are at midsole, if I push the hips forward it gives me just enough space to finger-crawl the rest of the way. Also letting the elbows drift out a smidge doesn't hurt; not sure how technically correct it is, but I sure do it.

Haven't been blogging in a while, I decided to take a little break and try this thing where I don't think about practice when I'm not was a useful exercise for sure. I'd been getting down on myself about things that were taking a long time. Have to remind myself I've got my whole life to do this - relax!

In practice notes, still trucking along with no giant breakthroughs, a couple months back I made a change to practicing in the mornings and while it took some adjustment I'm much much happier with morning practice now. It's good that yoga is my first decision of the day as opposed to my last. It makes it much easier to say yes to yoga and drag my ass to the mat. I don't even mind that I'm tighter in the morning - was discouraging at first but now it is the "normal".

It is Pride Week in my town, there is a parade today - Happy Pride all!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The one that didn't get away

Tittibasana B is here to stay. I can't think of a single other asana that came one day and never left again, but I guess this is the one for me.

How come these difficult poses are so much easier once we are finally able to do the "full" expression??

Heels in kapo or at least a solid grip on the outside of the feet, inherent dread and emotion aside, feels so much better than toes. FWIW I never realized that kapo was loaded for me until recently. So many people experience intense emotion in the pose and I just didn't. I thought I was missing something. Well I realized today that I dread it. Hard. I love it, love it, but I dread it too. That second before the hands connect to the floor, still some natural human response there that practice has yet to erase. I think I just scientifically put my emotions for kapo in the category of "of course you don't feel right, this is SO NOT RIGHT to do with your back" even though I don't feel discomfort (anymore). Despite sucking it up and doing it, it is still emotion, still a response, still deep down not-yet-getting-the-message that this is totally OK for my back, actually good for my back. Still taking extra breaths, still fussing with my bobby my Equa straight and smooth? Perfectly straight and smooth???? Out out damned wrinkle!!!!

And how much harder is Mari D or Yoganidrasana when your hands are flailing and fingers streetttttttching trying to get that connection? How much nicer does it feel when you get it and you can really snug it right in there in a big juicy KNOT!

Even downdog. Remember downdog before your shoulders did the bulk of the work of primary, of reverse namaste, of binds to open them? Before you learn the rotation and the range of motion in your shoulders, which ones are good and which to avoid? When it all lived in your shaking burning totally incapable triceps?

The work in my shoulders remains for me the most significant transformation in my ashtanga experience so far. Apparently, for me, there was more samskaras to burn in my shoulders than anywhere else I've encountered in the body so far. Doesn't mean I won't find another frontier...but the work I did in my shoulders really tested me. Maybe because there was no escape from it. Like yeah I'm coming along with LBH but not every posture asks me to do this movement. I go to it, then I get a break, get to something I'm good at. Get to throw my ego a bone. Shoulders, if they are weak, if they are (god forbid) in pain of any just can't get away. Facing it in pretty much every breath.

Sorry, just thinkin' and writin' I had no idea this post would be all about my shoulders, it started off with my head between my legs. Hahaha! My shoulders are in a happy place right now. But the honest, repetitive, inescapable work of a bajillion chaturangas changed me as a yogi more than any bend of any kind. So far. Titti B is great though :-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Primary + Back Half of 2nd

In Sunday's Led class we did full primary followed by 2nd half of 2nd (starting with LBH). Having all those forwards bends and supta K behind me, I managed an unassisted bind in Titti B for the first time and I actually eked out an unassisted Dwi Pada A as well.

That Titti B bind makes the whole thing feel so much better - I've noticed this before when I was adjusted into it. I feel tighter, more grounded and oddly more balanced...better able to straighten through the legs.

Are Supta K, Yoganidrasana and Dwi Pada easier than Eka Pada? For me they are, and I think it probably has a bit to do with my body proportions. In the video below I am trying an Eka Pada after a Led primary class for scientific will I ever get it back there! legs are longer than my tip I got from Kino in Dwi Pada was to lock my feet, which helps quite a bit but in Eka Pada with nothing to latch onto those suckers will not stay put.

Videos are great to temper my Titti B ego-fest! Especially the second side :-)

I'm confused about how to approach the movement from the very beginning. Should the hip be a bit open to the side or not really? I usually open my hip to the side a bit to get my shoulder back there, then swing it back to the front to take the leg over my head. I think different people approach it different ways but I have to wonder what the best way is for my body, with my long limbs and shorter torso. Clearly I've got some work to do to open my hips and keep my gangly tibia from slingshotting off my shoulder-neck! Of course, practice, practice, practice...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saturday class - Viparita Dandasana prep

In A's class on Saturday we did primary to Navasana without rounding the back or folding forward. All seated postures revolved around extension and lengthening...this was to warm us up with vinyasa and flow, but not close off the front spine for the backbending to come. I found this made my back work harder. The smaller muscles were doing more to keep me upright and lengthened when it would have felt natural to curl in and fold.

We then did 2nd to Kapotasana and repeated Kapo several times...very helpful work. Usually in mysore I'm rushing a bit through Kapo in order to make it out of the pose before I'm assisted, haha! It isn't the heel-grabbing assist I mind, I find it bothers my back when I am pulled out of it. No matter where my back is touched pulling me out it gets a little crampy when pressure is applied in an area where the muscle is already contracted. I find it much easier on my body to rise out of it naturally on my own so that is what I aim for - J is really cautious about her students in Kapo and she can't resist helping us out.

After Kapo we did a fun exercise which turns out to be viparita dandasana prep. We start out in sirsasana, bend the knees and arch the back drawing hips and chest back (same direction elbows are pointing) and feet slowly approaching the floor. At some point when you reach maximum extension you drop. Then come to UD and stand from it. SO FUN! I was scared to drop feet to floor first time but A assisted me and I wasn't nearly as far as I'd thought I was so I was happy to try on my own the next few times. Something about that stretch in Sirsasana made my back feel so open that standing from UD was easy for me yesterday. Bit of rocking, then UP! And back to the floor to do it again! I can hardly imagine the opposite motion, of bringing the feet BACK over the head...I hope we try it one day. This work was the closest I've come to tick tocks and it was exciting!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Practice notes, Kino workshop

Last weekend, on a whim, I booked a flight to Toronto...Kino workshop! On Friday night, I headed to AYC Toronto for the demo, chanting and discussion. I haven't visited many shalas, but I immediately felt right at home in this one. It was cozy and had nice natural light...reminds me of my usual practice space.

Day 1 - demo...breathtaking. She did deep backbends, arm balances, LBH, twists...everything. Stunning!

After the demo was done, she wrapped herself in a shawl and proceeded to tell us that strength had always been her biggest challenge. I don't know why, but that made me feel relieved. There is hope! Strength was a theme we came back to again and again through the workshop.

"Strength is a decision you make"...every time you phone it in, you miss an opportunity to build strength. Every time you back away from an edge, you stand still. When you stay stuck in your comfort, you stop moving.

At first glance that might seem pretty darn close to "progress" and "linear" and "goal-oriented" but that's not the point she was making at all...or not the point I interpreted. She said when you encounter new, difficult, challenging, sometimes frightening situations on the mat, it's like a "laboratory" for life. Your response here will mirror your response in the real world. If you choose to acknowledge your discomfort, set it aside and move into the new/scary/challenging territory, you're building strength of character and not just strength in the body. It's not always supposed to feel good and warm and fuzzy and pretty...yeah doing your practice should make you FEEL GOOD, but working on yourSELF and your flaws and your deeply ingrained behavioral traits is not always going to be a walk in the park. Loved it, loved it as a metaphor for life and also as something I will be taking with me into my practice.

She mentioned that from early on asana demonstrates to us that the impossible is possible. So the very thing that looks insane to us in the beginning, we're doing it before we know it. Simply by facing it every day. The physical transformation in asana opens us to the personal transformation in yoga.

Day 2 - Mysore class. This was a large group so we were asked to stagger our times a bit. She also said we should practice the "series you want me to help you with". I was relieved. Because my background is a little different from many, I was a bit nervous about what to do for mysore - cognizant of the fact that a couple of my trouble spots would be where many others would be stopping and working, not moving on.

I did my 2nd and I'm glad I did. Despite the size of the crowd, I was adjusted in pretty near everything I had really hoped to get some help on. For a few asanas I waited quite a long time but I didn't even mind. There was an incredibly adept yogi in front of me and I was treated to an amazing display when I was waiting for an adjustment for several minutes! Turns out it was a teacher at AYCT, the hosting studio. Unreal!

On my last assisted backbend, she asked "Do you touch your heels?" and I said no but I went back and she asked me to walk them in and I touched. I could hardly believe it. So cool!

The afternoon session was all about strength so we worked on the foundation of a strong torso in a plank or other inversion...fingers, hands, chest, shoulders, abs, pelvis...and jumping back and through. We were given the same instruction as was given in ArkieYogini's blog, to bend the arms and walk the feet back. For the toe-tappers out there! I put it to work right away. Then we paired up and worked on floating up in sirsasana and piking to handstand (assisted).

Day 3 - Led primary. Two hours. Stick a fork in me, I am DEAD. Dropped my own ass in kukkutasana AND utpluthi. I was TOASTITOS.

Afternoon was all about backbending. We worked through the foundation of a supported backbend, with tucked pelvis, firm abs sucked in to spread the organs and make the waist small. Ribs up and out (serratus anterior?) with supporting muscles at work. Sternum up then raise arms...we paired up for assisted UDs and dropbacks.

Highlights, for me, were:
- the jumpback tips (hopefully one day the shuffleback will be a true jumpback)
- the surprising backbend assist she gave me
- the idea of strength as a choice I will make each time I practice

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Flippy exit

A few weeks ago, I had an introduction to the flippy headstand exit at another shala - lowering legs pike-style, then flipping yourself to chaturanga. Haven't been back there enough to practice it substantially and we don't do these exits in my usual studio.

So this week J showed me a similar headstand exit, which is more of a "timber" type move (no pike - body straight) and I found it much easier and really fun actually.

Now that I've learned the 7 headstands without a wall, I'm not really motivated to do them. I mean I know it is necessary practice at being upside down and being comfortable in sirsasana with hands in any formation...practice that will come in handy someday. But I'm just, um, bored with them. How can I make them more interesting? I'm not able to pike up in all of them yet, I do a little hop to a tuck and then straighten my legs. I suppose some pike work could keep me interested. But by the time I get to them I'm like blah, let's get this overwith and backbend. Must remember to pike next time.

I was playing around with Urdhva Kukku A a bit (yes I'm a criminal). I can get the lotus in headstand part no problem (someone tell me WHY this doesn't come before Karandavasana...for Pete's sake) and the lowering to upper arms/armpits but lifting the head? Nuh-uh. How in the hell? Yipes. Zipping up the arms in C is fun, but I get stuck below my elbows. Someday! No rush there, plenty to work on in 2nd.

Today's fun class was completely restorative, a series of 3 minutes holds...all of them were internal rotations of the legs. It was exactly what I needed, I've been feeling really tight all week (I didn't practice during my trip so coming back to it is always a bit painful). I remember each time I go more than a couple of days without practicing why I'm supposed to do this daily (or nearly daily). It IS easier.

The weather here is mild today, which means BBQ! And probably some wine. I love long weekends.

Also the bread break went well! We made a reunion loaf last night. I'm determined to enjoy responsibly, ie. not at every meal and upon every whim of the moment.

Tomorrow I'm going to do 2nd, either as self-practice or at a nearby shala. The custom at the nearby shala is full vinyasa in 2nd so my choice will depend greatly on my wine consumption tonight and resulting energy level tomorrow, haha!

Happy Easter weekend all :-)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back in town

Lots going on the past 2 weeks - trip home to see my folks and a baby shower, then a wedding in South Carolina last weekend. Busy! I have to say, Southern people have to be the friendliest, sweetest people EVER. Any where we went I would be gawking and gandering at things (like a tourist) and randomly by accident catch someone's eye. And everyone smiles. It's so weird, the first day I kept checking my shirt to see if I had crap on it or something on my face or had this eery feeling everyone knew something amusing that I didn't know.

But no, it was just a basic human reaction - when you catch eyes with someone you smile! And get off on the right foot! I mean I live in a small city so it isn't like people are completely closed off but I'm not in the habit of looking strangers in the eye and smiling (mainly cause I walk home from work in the dark quite a bit - no stranger danger for me). I loved it and started smiling back. I felt like Mary Poppins by the end. Such sweet people!

Had a nice basic half primary tonight, J was putting on a community class at lulu and several peeps from the studio were there to support her! She's doing led 2nd tomorrow evening at the studio, hopefully my job behaves itself and I can make it.

I'm really looking forward to a weekend at home after being away the past two. I'm going to fill it with yoga and homecooked meals. And maybe some chocolate bunnies. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bake Me a Bread Coffin

So I've gone a little overboard on the, um, breadbaking the past 6 weeks. Since my little kitchenaid showed up and I discovered the amazing things I could make with it!

I've gained about 5 pounds purely from loaf consumption - can't really pin it on anything else. Maverick has been eating it too, but he couldn't gain weight if he swallowed a brick of gold. He does feel like he could use a break too we've declared the house a bread-free zone for the next couple of weeks. I'm already in withdrawal!

It's just so easy...and, comforty...and buttery...why have an apple when you can have toast? Why have a salad when you can have grilled cheese?

Haha, you see how it goes. We will make an Easter loaf but until then no bread!

It's a moon day so no ashtanga...I will be doing some stretches and working on LBH. I took a clip yesterday that was too absurd to post, but I think I can see what part of my problem is. I'm bringing my knee back, which is great, and stuffing everything back there - but my ankle isn't back nearly as far. Think I will try some pigeons with my knee at a right angle and shin parallel to front of mat, get my femur more rotated externally (if that makes sense). Then maybe some more karanda tries!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hips, Cheesed, Led Intermediate

Normally in A's Saturday fun class we do lots of backbending. Yesterday, I was excited when she told us that we'd be doing hip openers. I love backbending, but right now my biggest block is the hips so I was thrilled to learn some stretches and work on them. We ran out of time and didn't actually make it to LBH but I did learn a few things I can do when I play at home. We did pigeon on a chair, it was crazy hard but I could tell it worked. I felt like Beyonce walking down the street afterward. All pop and snap and shaZAM with those hips!

After class I grabbed a coffee with a yogini friend and then we wandered up to lululemon...I've been hauling my big black mat between two studios with an annoying strap holder thing and I decided it was time for a mat bag. Something a little easier on my shoulder hopefully with some extra storage to boot. Didn't see anything that fit the bill, however I picked up a gift for someone and a strap for myself (the one I've been using for karanda doesn't have buckles and constantly slides apart).

The lulu checkout girl rang in my order, looked at the strap and said, "you'll have to let me know how this works". I was puzzled and said, "really? sure." thinking it better work as it cost eight dollars. She elaborated, "well I don't use a lot of props in my practice so..."

I gotta say, I was a little cheesed and felt oddly defensive? Takes quite a bit to miff me (perhaps you've noticed my maddening good nature, my writing is peppered with emoticons and exclamation points - can't help it! just happy!) but that annoyed me. I reined in my ego, politely asked for my receipt and complained to my ashtangi pal after we left the store - she thought it was hilarious!

Yeah it meant nothing, just feeling defensive about my props. I don't use them when I practice traditional ashtanga. I use them when I "play"! Slippery slope maybe…

So today in Led (I'm over it - back to happyland) we did full primary and intermediate. Yowza. It was a blazing hot energyfest for 2 1/2 hours. Stick a fork in me, I am DONE. I have done nothing but soak in epsom salts then lie on the couch and listen to my iPod this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Karanda attempt

Plenty of work to do, but it's a start. The thing I'm holding between my hands is a flip-flop, I got the idea from a video I saw on Youtube - I think it was a pincha tutorial. It helps a lot with the stability, not something I'd want to use forever but it helps keep things lined up if I'm going to be trying it a few times in a row.

Been able to do lotus in headstand for a while but my pincha has never been stable/consistent enough for me to feel confident giving karanda a try without someone adjusting me. Something about Nancy telling me to learn to fall, and to just keep trying had me thinking about this one since I got back from Goa.

And long live the liberator in all it's black velvet glory!! Is there anything this prop can't help with? :-)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Led Primary

J is back next Sunday so we'll be back on the Led Intermediate train (yay!), but I was leading the practice group today so we did Primary.

I'm glad I'm not doing primary all the time anymore, it makes me love it again. I'm also finding that 2nd has helped my primary a lot...Supta K feels better (LBH work), my nemesis bhujapidasana is smoother (bakasana and tittibhasana work). Even the shuffleback has benefited from something, maybe bandha is a teensy bit stronger? Of course it's still a shuffle, no flying and floating for this gal yet.

I need to get my brain off LBH. I haven't been obsessing about the other asanas and eventually things just come together. There are other things I can't do in 2nd that I'm completely OK with. I accept that I'll learn them and do them in time, with practice but LBH really brings out my emotion/attachment/defeat. I guess it is part of my lesson maybe. Everyone finds a roadblock they struggle with somewhere and LBH is definitely mine.

Someday I will be a good yogi and not obsess about any of it and just DO IT and then let it go...I'm not there yet :-)

It is beautiful here today, the sun is shining and it is the nicest weather we've had in weeks. Maverick and I are going to walk to a nearby art gallery this afternoon and see some pretty things. Then we will make our freestyle vegetarian lasagna for dinner...mmmm!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I've been so preoccupied with LBH, that backbends haven't been something I have really been pining for. This morning, however, after it happened, I felt (and feel) like a five-year-old on Christmas morning.

I got my heels! Towards the end of a fun and intense non-traditional class, including just the right mix of quad, groin and shoulder openers (along with many others), I reached my heels in kapo.

Dropping back I hung and held and waited and breathed, finding the balance point with the hips far forward. I could see my toes. I tucked my tailbone in a big scoop and aaaaaaaaaarched my thoracic (yes, with 9 a's) and let my hands land quietly on my mat just a short distance from my toes. Spider-crawled my fingers in and heard A instructing someone else to try walking along the outside of the feet...changed tactics and crawled up the outside...past toe, footpad, midsole...holy crap, past midsole??? Kept going, scoop hips, take bandha, push hips forward, crawl aaaaaaall the way up to heels and BIND. Glorious!

I let my elbows descend to the floor and breathed deeply 5 times. No panic, no pain, it felt amazing (which is remarkable considering the bitching my back has been doing lately).

So usually when I have a breakthrough like this, it shows up and blinds me with happiness and excitement, then goes away for a while. It always comes back though. So I expect the same for heels in kapo. Now that it has shown up, I know it will be back, so I'm going to let it go. But only after treating myself to a massage to celebrate :-) Happy Saturday everyone!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Led Intermediate

Today, with assistance, I bound Tittibhasana B for the first time...I hadn't been assisted into it before and the closest I'd come on my own was a fingertip brush. Boy that clasp makes a world of difference! I could ground my heels, really work on straightening the legs more and coming through them. Felt great, demanding on the quads still, but great...I had always wondered why this one didn't seem to be coming to me although I can do Supta K and (usually) Yoganidrasana. I'll be asking for this assist for a while I's got to help me manage it on my own.

This was also a teacher I hadn't been to before so I enjoyed a new/different perspective. I like the idea of having a regular teacher for consistency but I think it is good to hear a different voice once in a while....not because one is better or worse, but sometimes it is valuable to hear something explained to you in a different way. There are so many ways to describe asana. The energy, the anatomy, the mechanics/physics...each teacher usually leans more toward one way. Sometimes I'm so dense that need all 3 ways for it to sink in!

Kapo was actually nice today, I got footpads alone with less discomfort than I've been feeling lately.

Pincha was sweet! The teacher assisted me for the first 5 breaths then left me and I held for another 4-5 on my own in the middle of the room.

Gold medal game today, so excited. Probably going to make mudslides. Mudslides are like the best thing ever, Vodka, Irish Cream, Kahlua, Ice Cream and Ice in the blender, with chocolate sauce for garnish. They are a special treat for special days. An Olypic gold medal hockey game where Canada has a shot is one of those occasions! GO CANADA!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Props galore

The Saturday class I look forward to all week is a non-traditional intro to 2nd series and features backbending, long holds, and a ton of props. I love it! Today we used the wall, straps, blocks, sandbags and my new favorite, the chair.

We started out with supta virasana forever, then I'm-not-effin-kidding-you like 25 sun salutations. 5As, 5Bs and at least 15 anjaneyasana variations (sp?) some with hands pushing on front thigh, some with arms up, some with back knee on ground. All designed to get into the groin and hip and quad. Let me just say, namaste to you if you've done 108 sun salutations. I have never done it and I don't think I could!

I was dripping with sweat before we even began the asanas...A spoke to us about pashasana in a way I hadn't thought of it before - as a chest opener. My tendency is to tuck and round and get low to get the bind but she urged us to open to back shoulder and lift the chest. Got a great adjustment here. She spread my shoulder/hip, and I felt like the space between them doubled - it was crazy!

What can I say about the chair? It's amazing, I want one in my house...just a standard, folding gymnasium seating-type chair with all kinds of places for you to stick arms/legs, grab with hands and open your back.

The best thing about the chair is the support. I'm still working through whatever the hell is going on with my back. I don't know what it is, but I think 2nd is putting me through some physical confusion. I've kinda lost my backbends - there is pain in the lumbar and SI. So the support allows me to keep that area from participating too much, while getting into other areas that maybe weren't pulling their weight before, like shoulders and thoracic, even triceps. It is amazing what the hard edge of a chair can create in your shoulder blades. It doesn't hurt, it just starts with an unfamiliar discomfort and we hold it long enough that it starts to feel absolutely great.

I'm dying to do kapo in this class. We've done it once or twice before, but generally by the end of class I feel so open I just want to try everything!

Best part - in UD I felt something very different and it felt great. I think it was the groin work...I hope I'm not crazy. I think my pubic bone actually pushed through my hips bones and forward. Is that possible? Am I nuts? I felt this crazy mobility in the front of hips that I don't think I've experienced before. It felt great for my low back, whatever it was.

Anyway, I might check out a different led 2nd class tomorrow. I haven't been to this one before (it isn't my usual studio) and I will probably be stopped at one of my trouble points but that's OK.

Happy Saturday!

Also FRIGGIN EH CANADA!!! Way to go against the Slovaks last night...I can't wait for the gold medal game Sunday. We watched the women's curling last night too, and while I don't know much about curling, it was plain to see that Cheryl Bernard is amazing. I actually felt sick when we lost in the extra end.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Led

Today was a nice practice. The studio was freezing when we arrived, the door had been left open overnight so it was about 11C in there. Agh! I started to panic slightly and then a few people showed up and everyone agreed we'd heat it up with our movement. I was leading today (so no full led intermediate). There were only 5 today (no surprise as numbers dwindle when J leaves town) and given the lack of heat we decided to do primary and then 2nd up to Ustrasana.

So first time speaking during practice? Difficult! But manageable. It wasn't as bad as I had expected. I lost count during the sun salutes (ha! I think we ended up doing extra of both A's and B's) and was most worried about keeping the pace reasonable. My natural tendency is to practice fast, which I've been trying to correct. I asked for feedback after and all agreed it wasn't too fast so I was really relieved. It was actually really fun!

Mysore tomorrow, assuming I get out of the office on time - looking forward to some intermediate.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Intermediate = my practice

The biggest change since Goa has been my commitment to make intermediate my practice. To use every mysore class I go to as an opportunity to do intermediate, and intermediate only. To not miss a Sunday led intermediate class (a new treat we're enjoying at the shed). I'm in it. I'm intermediate! Whether I can do it or not.

This change is awesome. I bloody LOVE intermediate now and I used to hate it. Been talking for months before Goa about just doing it and there I'd be, in flipping dandasana, doing primary, every mysore class.

I've noticed how powerful the breath aspect is, and how the pace and intensity of the breath affects the pace and intensity of the practice. If you're at 100% take the breathing down and back a notch. If you need to get your body off the floor in nakrasana, take it up a notch.

Another change is that I have a sudden and weird interest in 3rd series. Which I can't believe I am writing here, but there it is - embarrassing me as I reread it. Obviously not tomorrow or next month or next year, but some part of my mind has just accepted or become comfortable with the idea that I will probably learn more than primary and intermediate in this lifetime. 6 months ago that would have seemed completely unfathomable to me. Intermediate was more than I could bite off and chew. (It's still all I can chew).

So those are the biggest things. Asana-wise I don't think I have anything mind-blowing to report. It just all feels a bit better in a way that likely isn't all feels more cohesive in that I'm not exploding and panting at random intervals through it (much). Still can't do all the things I couldn't do before, LBH, Mayurasana, Karanda etc...but the effort feels...less strenuous? More enjoyable?

I'm leading a practice group on sunday, which will be fun. It isn't really teaching, I just practice and call the counts and asanas, everyone's familiar with the practice - I've never done that before so I think it will be interesting!

Goa Recap #7 - final

Nadi Shodhana - alternate nostril breathing, the right side is heating, the left side is cooling. If you are plugged in one, your body temperature will reflect it. Also apparently putting your fist under the opposite armpit will help to clear it. I was clogged on the same side every day we did this but I can't remember which side now (am a bit clogged in both today - there is my gross update).

Today we talked about home practice. Nancy said she herself enjoys her home practice and that many people "figure things out" at home that they may not in the studio so it is important to try it. That is true for me, personally, and I know it is for many. We discussed modifications for postures at home that we usually need adjustments for. Supta Vajrasana, she said a heavy piece of furniture will do - try to bind yourself, but OK to use a strap if you can't do so yet. I finally got the guts up to ask a question and it was the dreaded karandavasana. If you normally take the adjustment, how should you practice at home? She asked me if I could get into lotus up there (no) so she said to work on that, but that it was important to learn to fall safely so that I wouldn't have fear. She was really kind and basically said just get up there and do your best :-)

V asked about the difference between tucking the tail or sticking out the butt (for lack of a better description!) in backbends and the answer was that it depends on the body but for most the tuck is most appropriate. Same with the feet. She demonstrated the foot position she learned to drop back and come up in and it was wide-legged with toes pointed slightly out. Different feet and hips for different people. I loved this. She did stress that lifting the heels is not good - the importance of grounding.

Saturday as a traditional rest day? Nancy is pretty sure that Saturday was chosen by Guruji's family as it was the best or most convenient day to have together. She didn't think it was overly important which day you take rest as long as it is one day a week. I also love this as Saturday I don't work and it is easy to practice. Moon days and ladies holidays are non-negotiable in her mind though. I must confess to observing neither of these (aside from the occasional unbearable LH when I welcome it).

Last week of practices: I did intermediate every day. Sadly, my back did not recover for about 3 weeks so I was unable to drop back or come up, or have a comfortable Kapo in my remaining time there (I made do with crummy, crappy ones - no skipping). I did, however, have zero complication and got plenty of great advice on the non-backbending areas of my practice and I enjoyed every moment. The "pushing out" with the elbows in Pincha has stayed with me, and I shared it with a pal at my home studio this week - she was also thrilled. I have just started dropping back again this week and am glad to have it back.

A few interesting things happening in my practice and I will share them in another post now that the Goa chapter is closed :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Brief non-Goa interlude

Maverick dabbled in a few power yoga classes when I started up in 2005 but it never really stuck for him as he was surfing and running and doing lots of other things. It has been years since he's done any yoga.

He finally took a beginner Ashtanga class this weekend (Primary to Navasana) and had this to say the following day:

"I hurt in all the places you've ever complained about."

I am loving this.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Goa Recap #6

Monday practice - back to intermediate, have some low back pain so I'm not going to push it. Even Shalabhasana feels weirdly congested and achy. I focus on pulling myself forward as much as possible and try not to worry about kapo. Sigh.

This is the first time Kapo has caused me real anxiety. For me this pose has been all about exhilaration and excitement and "rush", not fear and claustrophobia. Today I am scared as I go back and feel my lumbar & SI protest. It isn't injury-pain but it is at the very northern tip of discomfort and I know better than to push it. Proceeding with caution. Toes, breathe, up. Relief. Dropbacks will be out of the question today.

Bakasana was very nice. I am really trying to pull my feet higher every day. Starting to feel myself bringing a bit more bandha to the party and less brute force as the feet rise up higher. Also now that it is more reliable/stable getting in and staying in, I'm trying to use core strength to scootch my knees in a little higher once I'm up. It's probably imperceptible but even doing it in my head is a start. The higher the feet, the more comfortable the jump back.

Dwi pada arrives and I try it on my own, the real thing, for the first time. I've always either modified it or been adjusted into it. I allow myself the struggle today. Surprisingly, I get the left leg back there - I balance precariously and try to swing my right leg up. It catches momentarily, my head is deeply bowed, but I hook into the balance needed and I can see just for a breath, what it will feel like to do this on my own. Right leg slips out, but I feel utterly thrilled with this small victory, and I modify for the rest of the breaths.

I bust out my old man tittibhasana, with superbent legs and I decide for fun to try straightening them in A. They can actually go straighter, I've just been lazy. My theory on this is that before Goa I haven't really learned to manage my energy in 2nd. By the time Tittibhasana rolls around I'm dead. My Titti A is just dead weight swinging in the breeze. I engage and lift and it's much better. Still bent but better. Still can't bind B-C-D on this mother but I get a fingertouch today which is lovely.

S's elbows-out advice for pincha worked today!! I get up there and hold 5 breaths and am amazed! The idea is not to physically move the elbows out but concentrate on "pushing" outwards (this likely has the real physical impact somewhere in the shoulders but forearms are easier to instruct and have that tangible connection with the ground) and the difference is amazing. I am so stable that I bring my right leg in to my hip and I seriously start thinking about the left...ZOMG!

J appears and watches for a second. I lose it and come down - we're going to do his karanda-vrischi adjustment today. In Vrischi, I have to tell him when to stop as he rounds my body for (presumably) a head-toe connection. My lower back is not on board with this at all. I hope he doesn't think I'm a big baby, I probably should have mentioned my back beforehand. I thank him afterward. That was a highlight.

Headstands feel dynamite today. I hopped the legs up together for most of them and didn't need a wall touch for the toughies - must learn pike. So many things!

Moral of the story, even when backbends suck the practice can be great. Leave it with the pose and move on to the next.

At breakfast there was a designer selling her jewelry. I am smitten with a gorgeous, giant blue topaz ring and immediately claim it. She tells me it isn't part of her normal collection, and it's the only one she's ever made. Perfect.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Goa Recap #5

Saturday, rest day - last night we went to Shorebar, had pina colada followed by wine. I was soooooo excited! Practice has been feeling so good, I'm torn between being glad for a rest and worried I will lose my steam (as if that matters). After the nightcap, I had my longest, deepest sleep since arriving - a full 8 hours. Actually used a blanket for the first time last night.

Still not eating much, not sure what it is. Lost my appetite, not food-motivated at all, which is incredibly unusual for me. I have to figure it is the different flavors, because my nature is to crave food all.of.the.time. So in order to keep energy up, if I ever do feel hungry I just eat as much as I can. Not terribly scientific, but seems to be working.

Speaking of which, we're now at the German Bakery and I've just ordered a cheese sandwich, fruit juice and delicious coffee. E and I skipped out early in the morning to get a quiet coffee and breakfast.

I'm wondering if there will be a demonstration of 3rd series at some point in the retreat. I'd love to see it, having never seen it in the flesh (no one practices advanced at my shala) but understand how weird that would be for someone to demo their practice. It would be Jason and we'd have to get up early to watch (fine by me, up anyways). We'll see if it comes up.

Poolside afternoone - I spoke to a girl who was stopped at a pose in primary for 2 years. I admire her dedication and non-attachment and ability to surrender to the teacher/process without ego. I'm weaker than that, I would have moved on, I know it. I feel fortunate to be learning in the environment I'm learning in - not that it is any better or worse than any other environment, but it works for the type of person I am.

Miss maverick.

Epiphany of the day - Practicing daily is much easier on the body than randomly or even 4 times per week, huh? Today, rest day, is the first time I feel sore, following led primary which killed me with the pace.

Sunday - today felt off right from the start. So I decided to do primary to navasana then eka pada. I made it to the tittibhasanas then started to feel dizzy and blackness coming into my eyes. I went to close, no dropbacks. Blech. Tomorrow will be better.

Nancy tells us that primary and intermediate are sufficient for physical wellness. Her opinion is that advanced is necessary for god realization. She herself practices advanced and feels that everyone should learn (when they're ready).

I asked Jason about my "zoning out" which is something I have wondered about for a long time. It's not "wandering off", it's not making a grocery list, or thinking about work, it's just lost time I guess. I wake up to my breathing and don't remember the last 5 things I did. He said he thinks that's fine, why do you need to remember the last 5 things you did. Haha, when put that way I agree!

Cucumber + Melon + Mint = delicious Juice from the Juice bar down by the pool. This one is my favorite.

Starting to think about a long bubble bath in a clean tub and my king-size bed at home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Goa Recap #4

Thursday Q&A:

Pashasana - one of those things that some people get right off the bat, with heels down, and others work 10 years for. She advised (as something to try, not necessarily every time) grounding the heels and taking right shoulder to left knee then reaching forward with left arm (instead of wrapping) to get the feeling of being grounded while maintaining balance. You could try gripping the front of the mat with left hand to keep you there. Unfortunately even this is impossible for me, so tight are my achilles.

Utpluthi - 100 breaths as fast as you can do em, with equal inhales and exhales. I've been doing 25-30 so I decide to give it my best shot tomorrow. She couldn't even do one breath when she arrived to learn from SKPJ (he held her) and at the end of 4 months was doing 100.

Pregnancy - no twists, no navasana. Bharadvajasana is the modification for Mari C&D. Each practitioner is different and will need something different. (She said more on this, I kinda zoned out cause I'm not planning kids immediately - sorry!)

Back rounding or straight - she mentioned maha mudra (Grimmly, thought you would like this)! She showed us pictures from Yoga Mala where SKPJ was not straight or elongated. She said he taught them to first make a forehead to knee connection then slide the nose and chin forward, all the while head touching the leg.

Full Vinyasa - is OK once in a while if losing heat or if it feels right. I was surprised by her answer to this as I didn't think it was traditional to do so but she seemed very flexible on it if it was occasional.

Tone - have fun, laugh, don't be too serious. The atmosphere when she was learning was more like a gymnasium, with talking laughing and joking.

Splitting and practice length - if you practice both, you can either alternate primary and intermediate or do all intermediate except for once a week. When you know all of intermediate you can do that, or full primary then start at eka pada to finish 2nd. Or primary to navasana then start at pashasana. With proficiency, the practice should become shorter, not longer. A good exercise is to knock minutes off your practice until it becomes as fast as you can do it, then add minutes until it becomes as slow as you can do it. Somewhere in between is the middle ground. Breathing sets the pace. In her personal practice, she does 1st-2nd-3rd twice in a row to make her full week.

Surya B - tough to keep the correct breath here, when bringing the leg forward. Her advice is always to move faster to be in line with the breath, rather than holding or taking extra breaths. Although taking more breath is preferable to holding it, always.

Backbends - when she learned, UD wasn't a part of finishing. In fact, when they practiced primary, finishing was the final 3 lotus postures. UD was taught after intermediate. Dropbacks definitely weren't taught until all of intermediate was done (I forget about shoulderstand and fish pose, when these came into play). I found this interesting, and it made sense to me. Probably the biggest departure from the norm, but I like it and as she said, it's how she learned. Doesn't mean it stayed that way but it's how she learned in the beginning. (See disclaimer!! hahaha)

Friday Led class - Realizing that I practice much too quickly. This class was very difficult for me, because I found the movements much slower than I am used to. Legs were shaking! Got a great shoulderstand adjustment from Jason, he lifted me up so I could completely turn my shoulders out and get them under me. It felt amazingly straight. I did 80 (superfast) breaths in utpluthi.

Goa Recap #3

Tuesday night I slept poorly, the dogs are just utterly insane here. I laid in bed for a few hours staring at mosquito net then got up at 6 to make a nice coffee and sit. There is no talk Wed night so we're doing the beach.

I miss Maverick. And I'm dreaming (literally) about BBQ ribs. Awful, awful. This has motivated me to reduce my meat intake though, which is a great thing. I'm not actually missing it daily, it just shows up in dreams. I also dreamed of bread/buns....guess I am a bit attached to preparing my own meals. The food here is lovely and usually delicious but sometimes it just isn't what I want. I've been eating far less than normal and I don't even feel hungry. Kind of nice to be reminded how little food I actually need (when flavors and preparation are in my control, I'm apt to stog my face). Sleeping far less too and not feeling tired/dreary.

2nd again today. Got a wicked Supta Vaj adjustment from Jason, he got me to bind my toes at the top each time and then lose them as I go back. I noticed that J loved this adjustment so I'm hoping she'll bring it back to Hali. I can immediately see how this will help eventually stay bound for the whole thing. Ardha Matsyendrasana felt like a dream afterward too, I felt like I could grab my whole ankle my shoulder/ribs were so open!

LBH, sigh, sigh. I suck at this. But I do it anyway. Nancy came over and rocked my world with a Dwi Pada assist. She somehow helped me orient my hips better (in a way I don't fully understand) and coached me verbally to bend the legs (don't straighten, don't straighten!) and point my feet. She pushed my chest through and it was comfortable. I was thrilled. I thanked her afterward, it was the most comfortable assisted Dwi Pada I've ever experienced. Maybe my body does this? Who knew?

I crapped out on dropbacks again. I stood and arched and did some hangbacks. Waited a few minutes (lot of people dropping back at the same time) and then got nervous and gave up. Got annoyed with myself at dinner (how's that for being present, haha!) for coming halfway around the world to skip my flipping dropbacks. J really helped me, she said "it doesn't have to happen all on the same day, it's OK Katie". She's right. But I'm doing them tomorrow.

Thursday - Intermediate again, I'm on a roll. It feels better every day, truly. I'm starting to realize what I've known all along and haven't made a reality. Intermediate is my practice, warts and all. It doesn't make me feel good about myself, it doesn't feel smooth or easy or nurturing. But it's my practice and I have to do it, always. No more defaulting to primary, unless its led. Point finale!

In Kapo I spidered my fingers past the footpad, easily. Why have I been stopping at toes forever? Thank you, Nancy.

Dropbacks. I stand, I arch, I hang, I wait. I fidget, I think. I wonder...I almost sit down. I don't. Nancy appears and takes me through the funnest part of the trip. Now I'm not used to dropback assists, I've had them kind of erratically and more from A than from J, few and far between. So I get her to coach me through the breathing and we do:

- 3x back on an exhale just barely touch the hands to mat, then up on an inhale (quickly)
- 3x hands across chest, back halfway
- 1x down and hold for a breath and come up

For the rest of the day, the 1000 volts of electricity running through my body are very pleasant! I feel so happy I did it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Goa Recap #2

Practice # 2: I did primary again, then 2nd up to Ustrasana. Nancy helped me in Pashasana by grounding my heels first then wrapping the arm. I was leaning my full weight into her because my heels are nowhere near touching the ground. She is surprisingly strong, for such a slight woman. The practice feels good, again, the floor is quiet because it seems to be concrete so the jumps sound light whether they are or not.

In the evening talk, Nancy tells us that when she first learned Ashtanga, she learned both primary and intermediate in 4 months. She was very weak and ill at the time and not able to jump back or through. Guruji helped her by carrying her forward and back between postures. They did only 3 A's and 3 B's in those days, and she encouraged us to try this out the next practice, even just 5 A's and 3 B's. I had mixed feelings about this. For one, I am all about conserving energy for 2nd, but for two, every bit of opening helps especially before 2nd! Haha! Having faith I immediately switched to 3Bs for the rest of the retreat and was fine. I will try to do this in Canada too but the cold weather might make the extra B's necessary.

Breathing - the most important thing is that the length of the inhales and exhales should be the same. Even if every inhale is not the same length. Ideally they are all the same but most can't do that for a while. So aim for inhales and exhales of equal length and then for all equal breaths.

One of Nancy's assistants joined our table at dinner. After some chatting, he encouraged E and I to do 2nd for the rest of the retreat. He said that's why you're here, to learn and to improve and to get our help. The postures don't have to be perfect. E and I were relieved and decided to do as much 2nd as possible for the rest of the retreat.

Practice #3 - bit the bullet and did full 2nd. Another great pashasana adjustment from Nancy. I went into Kapo on my own, taking my toes, then I felt someone lightly lift my head, place it back about 2 inches and hike my fingers up to midsole - it was Nancy and then she was gone. It all happened so quickly, a half-breath, it was amazing - there was no fear and minimal sensation either. It made me realize that if such little negotiation and fanfare is needed to reach midsole, it is something I should be doing on my own daily.

Dropback drama. I skipped them. I was worried, scared, unsure, tired? I am more comfortable doing dropbacks at home alone with minimal warmup than in a studio or with a master teacher after a full practice - splain me that? Weird. I tell myself I'll do it tomorrow.

Disclaimer: I have a poor memory and sloppy shorthand...these entries are to help my own recollection of the retreat, and for your entertainment. I couldn't possibly recount everything Nancy or her assistants shared with should really see her yourself to get the full picture. Any views of hers that I share here are things that made an impact on me or altered my view of life/practice - not meant to be controversial in any way. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Goa Recap #1

I am unfit for global travel due to being geographically retarded. Until shortly before take off (from Halifax, on Canada's East Coast), I'm convinced that we will be crossing the Pacific Ocean to get to India. Also, it is only after we land in Doha that I realize Doha is not in India. It is in Qatar. We flew Qatar Airways. And yet all of this is bewildering news to my Gravol-ridden brain.

We arrive in Goa to find that the driver we arranged is not waiting for us. None of us had the foresight to write down the phone number or address of the retreat. A number of cabbies descend upon us, trying to take our suitcases out of our hands. They have no idea where Purple Valley is. Thanks to the kindness of strangers (in this case, airport staff) after an hour or so of hanging about, we get a printout of the address off the internets and secure a ride. Even at 4am with few people on the road, the ride is predictably swift and terrifying.

Our room is rustic, lovely and insanely hot. Think it might be due to the lights having been left on all night in anticipation of our 4am arrival, we’ll see tomorrow.

There is a chalkboard proclaiming Beginners at 7:40am, Mysore at 8:00am. For some reason, likely exhaustion, this sets off a wave of anxiety in me. I think it has been called imposter syndrome before. Do I belong here? Is this a trick? Do I deserve to be in India? Am I a beginner? What time do I go? Decide that I’m on vacation and shouldn’t be worrying so much. After 2 hours of dozing, we make our way down to the shala for the 8am start time. Apparently there are no beginners because everyone seems to arrive at the same time. Phewf.

Despite jet lag, exhaustion and dehydration, it is one of the most comfortable practices of my life. Primary feels nurturing, as it should. The warmth and humidity bathe my joints, and everything feels easy. I am parked behind a large support pole and blissfully I do not notice much of anything else going on in the room although there are 40-50 other people practicing. I score an amazing Paschimottanasana squish from Nancy herself. She is superlight and confident in her touch and very quick.

We convene for the evening discussion and mainly cover admin/etiquette. The rules:

Take care when rolling your mat and towel out or up if someone is practicing next to you. Don’t kill their tapas by sending a breeze their way. Makes perfect sense, we have this rule at home too. Eliminate “flourishes” (I didn’t 100% understand this, but I take it to mean any movement outside of the breath count or traditional description of a posture) and keep to your mat, being aware of others in the space around you. Bring a small towel for the assistants to use when adjusting you. Bring a name tag for the front of the mat for a few days so the adjusters can learn names. Raise your hand or wait for help if you need to be adjusted in a pose. Skip vinyasa between sides if you’re being adjusted.**note here: it wasn’t clear if this is general etiquette or simply a logical way to spread 3 adjusters across a room of 40-50 people more efficiently. Regardless, as soon as I started practicing intermediate, on day 3, I was very grateful for this rule as the wait for an adjustment could be a few minutes if you were hitting backbends or karanda at the same time as a few others.

No Place Like Home

I'm so happy to be back in Canada! Even though it is motherflippin' cold.

Goa was incredible. I took a pile of notes following daily practices, during the information sessions and after a couple of small chats with Nancy. I will be sharing these over the coming days once I organize myself.

I am 100% digging her message, delivery and physical adjustments. This woman is incredible. She shared some interesting insights on what matters and what doesn't, and the way the practice was taught to she and David Williams in the early early days, which is in many ways different from how it is being taught in Mysore today.

It shouldn't be so serious. It should be fun. It should feel good. The body is only a vehicle.

More to come!

Friday, January 15, 2010

2.5 hours

Leaving my house in 2.5 hours for the airport. I'm not planning to blog while I'm away but I'll take good notes so I can share on my return. And there is internet there so who knows...maybe I'll check in :-)

Here's what I'm hoping will come of this:

- a full two weeks of vacation, sans blackberry
- asana practice for two weeks without interruption, no distractions
- opportunity to ask some of the questions I have about the practice of a long-time practitioner
- meeting cybershalamate V!
- a tan

That's all, nothing crazy, just the opportunity for immersion in yoga and meeting like-minded yogis. I'll fill you in when I get back. Wish me luck with the body-scanners at the airport, blech!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dropback clip

OK - I did intermediate this morning and try as I might, during finishing I couldn't muster a solo dropback in the shala, even after multiple tries, using the wall as a prop, on my comfy thick manduka, and relying on physical then verbal cues from J. Couldn't do it alone.

So I came home, rolled out my crappy travel mat and had a go. Boom, first try! Well, the good news is at least I can still do it, thumpus bumpus landing and all. :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dropback sans Liberator

Last night I was playing around and managed my first dropback without the liberator. In my shala few people do dropbacks at all because the custom is to do them only after you complete a full intermediate practice (yes, I know this is not the norm). Usually when I've done a full intermediate practice I'm wiped and tired and go straight to UD. My full intermediate practices have also been sporadic and inconsistent energy-wise, which may be why J hasn't pushed me to drop back.

I dropped to the liberator and then kept coming more and more forward for each one until I was off the liberator entirely. I hit the ground, quite thumpily (have to figure out how to deal with that impact and take it out of my shoulders) and rocked three times to come back up. Immediately banished the liberator and vowed never to use it for backbends again. Dropped back and came to standing several times sans-liberator to ingrain the memory of the movement. I'm dropping back! Euphoria!!

I will try to take a clip at some point to show the drop-thump. Been perusing others' videos and no one seems to have this crash-bang, so it might be a learning stage or something important technique-wise that I need to change.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Sardines again! 16 people showed up today, I was one of the lucky 5 who made their way to "studio 2", J's living room. We didn't get nearly the heat of "studio 1", but I enjoyed it a bit cooler. The energy was different, and yes I felt a bit tighter in a cooler room but not much. I didn't feel drained by the heat and sweat, it was really really nice actually. We did primary and stopped at Ustrasana.

We had our Goa Q&A after class and I got some useful info about cash and currency. I think I know what I'll do now, combo of USD and Rupees, and bring my plastic. Five more sleeps. :-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Led Primary

Led Primary to Ustrasana today. We were packed in like sardines! In a nice way, I guess. J had to send three people into the house to practice - a record of 15 people showed up (the absolute max for the space is 12). I was a little anxious during the Suryas but got over it once we hit standing. Honestly, it takes a bit of effort to forget that I'm surrounded on all sides by mat is climbing the wall in back, someone's feet are directly in my face and there are mats directly on either side of me. Just like India, right? OK. Not my favorite way to practice, but it got bearable after the Surya's. And of course with that many people the heat and energy are high. And it was humid. :-)

Yesterday's weather bomb was a bit dramatic - super high winds, storm surge...we walked to moksha and it was shutting its doors because of the weather, so no hot yoga for us. I'll have to take him another time, maybe next weekend. When I started getting ready, I walked into the bedroom and there was a bunch of his gymwear on the bed - laid in piles. He needed help picking an outfit, OMG cute! I love that guy.

Despite my Kitchenaid kicking the can, I've already made two batches of bread with this new book, "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and it is absurdly easy and delicious - Thanks Karen!

Back to work tomorrow, groan. Sigh. More bread, nom nom nom.

Updated with pics for Claudia :-)