Sunday, January 30, 2011

castor oil

These castor oil self-massages might just be doing something.  This was the second Saturday that I did it.  My practice today felt phenomenal.  Now, this wouldn't be so remarkable, if I hadn't totally procrastinated my practice and done it at 3pm and had a heavy brunch around 11am.  I was sort of dreading the mat following that brunch.  But I felt great! Light!  Bendy!  Wonderful!

I followed my practice with sesame oil abyangha.  I can't get enough of it during the week.  I'm making up for lost time on the weekend.

On another note, I worked it out with the studio owner at the Massage Center to offer my class once a month as a donation based class!  Whoo hoo!  I'm so excited.  To my knowledge, it may be the first community class in Lexington.  Nothing feels better than truly sharing what I love.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

busy busy

This week was a very good week.  I caught my heels twice in kapotasana.  A record since the Great B12 Body Collapse of 2010.  I also walked my hands to my heels in urdva dhanurasana, a first since the Great B12 Body Collapse of 2010.  I hope to catch my ankles in u.d. sometime within the next 4 months.  We'll see.

I still am not practicing pinchamayurasana without the wall, but I am creeping away from him.  Even hearing my former teacher's voice say "why fearing?" is not helping.  I just answer back "because."

These past few weeks have been very intense in the workplace.  I won't bore you with details.  And I started a class for credit and I'm participating in the Citizens Police Academy. This is a lot of busy-ness for a kapha type.  Needless to say, the diet has suffered tremendously.  This weekend I'll be doing a lot of meal planning and prep so I don't get trapped again this coming week.  That said, my practice has been that much more important for me to come back to daily and nurture myself.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NY Times and Yoga

Another blog I read rightly remarked that the NY Times seems to want to start a yoga controversy every three to four months.  I usually read these articles with a little interest.  My friends post them to my facebook wall and they are a connection to the greater yoga world.

The most recent of these articles is this one on Tara Stiles "rebel yoga."  And once again, NYT seems to be wanting to stir up a fight within the yoga community.  And once again, there seems to be little effect. Most of the blogs that I read seem to share my opinion: these articles are entertaining and do portray a certain style of yoga, but really aren't that important to the rest of us. 

That there are "non-traditional" yogis is of little interest to me. I have my practice, and I choose a more "traditional" style, because that's what resonates with me. But yoga is not one size fits all.  And I'm sure that many of the students of these "spirituality-free" genres will eventually come to a place in their practice where they want to learn more and evolve or they will simply grow bored and leave yoga for something like Zumba.   And that's ok too. 

While I was doing my sesame oil abhyanga, I was wondering why the desire to create "controversy" in yoga.  Does it come from a place of disdain or jealousy?  While I was pulling sesame oil through my teeth for the purpose of whitening them, something clicked.  The more people like me, yogis, the more the market shrinks for things like t.v. dinners, teeth whiteners, and chemical lotions.  Yogis are very bad for business.  Yes, there is Lululemon and ample opportunity to buy stuff for yoga. But frankly, you don't really need anything for yoga, you don't even need a mat.  And before you know it, you're becoming more connected to your body and eventually the greater environment.  You stop "needing" all kinds of other things.  You begin cleaning your house with cleaners that you made from vinegars and essential oils.  And boom!  You're contributing less to the corporations that are polluting our environment and trying to sell us things that we don't need.

And so there is a certain interest on the part of corporate America to get people to dislike yoga and find strife among its practitioners.  Maybe I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist, but I wouldn't be surprised to find links between the NYT and those corporations who would benefit from people leaving yoga or ignoring the "spiritual" aspects of it.

yoga day! a great day for yogis!

Wow!  What an amazing day. Today is Yoga Day.  I think this is a Yoga Alliance thing, but it's something that studios and teachers across the country do. To celebrate all things yoga, classes are offered for free.  I saw that a fellow local teacher was offer free classes today and decided to do the same with mine.

This morning, I attended Romi's Philosophy and restorative classes. She's so knowledgeable.  It was hard for me to hold the poses for longer than my usual five breaths, but at the same time, it was a great exploration of shtira sukha, the them of the class, balancing effort and sweetness. 

I offered my three pm class for free. Quite a lot of people came out to it.  Some were colleagues from work and others were new to my class, still others were my regulars. There was a great energy. I was a little afraid of offering a large mixed level class, but everyone gave it their all and maintained humor and grace throughout.  I was truly humbled.  I've inquired about permanently changing the class to a donation or community class.  Stay tuned.

Also, in the spirit of what I'm calling "2011, the year of new things" I tried the castor oil abhyanga that some other bloggers talk about.  I've had my castor oil experiences, but have never used it externally.  At first, I was a little put off.  Unlike sesame oil, castor oil is so thick, sticky and cloying. But once it began to sink it, it really penetrated my skin.  My dry skin felt like a sponge drinking it all in.  I will definitely be making this a part of the Saturday routine. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

rock and roll

Many moons ago, I started practicing Mysore style with a woman named Carrie at Back Bay Yoga.  She was delightful, but was only there for about 3 months after I started.  So I didn't get to know her very well.  But one thing that stuck with me was her "rock and roll" Thursdays.  Traditionally in Ashtanga there is no music.  This is because the practice is so breath-focused.  How can you hear yourself breathe with Michael Franti blasting in the background?  But Carrie mixed it up a little, a bit of an outlaw, and played music on Thursdays.  I don't remember what style, I think it was a mix of kirtan and pop type stuff.  But she called it "rock and roll" Thursdays.  During that brief stint, I really looked forward to Thursdays.  And so, in the spirit of new things for 2011, I have resurected "rock and roll" Thursdays! 

My Thursday practice is usually a bit different anyway.  I eliminate props, research poses, and general "futzing" (to borrow another bloggers term) and just flow letting what happens happen.  The practice is usually very high energy.  Today combine the regular Thursday routine with the new diet and the "rock and roll" and I was flying.  I felt very free.  Beautiful.

I also got my heels for in kapotasana again!  I reached the point I had been stopping (about mid-arch) and just began repeating to myself "keep going, keep going"  and I did.  I love catching my heels in the pose because I can really pull on them then to increase the sensation around the hip flexors and deepen my breathing. 

This is very encouraging to me and feels like one of the final pieces in the puzzle to coming back to full health after my October implosion.  I've gone about 4 days now without something on my body going tingly and numb.  I should hear soon about the results of a recent follow visit with a real doctor. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

better week

I think that New Year's resolutions should really start the week after New Year's.  How about starting them on or after January 6, King's day?  Enjoy a piece of cake, maybe eat the toy sadistically buried inside.  if you don't choke on it, you start your resolutions? 

That would work better for me.  The first week of 2011 was an epic FAIL on just about every resolution front.  This week is going much better.

I've finally been able to plug into my Kapha style eating regime.  I don't take breakfast in the morning, only coffee.  Then I have a large yummy lunch.  And from there a light dinner of only a small salad, a soup, or a chai (to list what I've done the last few days).

The results have been pretty incredible.  I have LOADS more energy.  I always equated food with energy. I guess you can actually short circuit and send in too much energy and blow out the fuses.  That seems to me to be the Kapha situation. 

There have been noticeable changes in the energy level in my practice too.  I'm flowing through almost effortlessly and enjoying each asana.  It's been a really lovely change.

Pincha mayurasana is still coming.  I'm inching further and further away from the wall. Baby steps. 

Something that Jason in Oregon focused on with me is really helping.  I have a chronic leaning tower of pizza style headstand.  He told me to think of navasana as I come into the pose to create a long straight line of energy.  He also told me to slightly tuck my tailbone.  Being kinestetically challenged, I couldn't figure it out in his presence and felt like an ass.  But I have since gotten the hang of it.  It is really helping the pose feel lighter and more stable.  I'm taking this same cue into my pincha mayurasana and it's enabled me to balance longer away from the wall (I've worked up to 10 breaths).

Good things are happening in 2011!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I got so many books this year for Christmas.  I can't wait to dig in.  Here's the list:

Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Yoga Body
Ayurvedic Remedies
Autobiography of a Yogi
What We Say Matters

I already ripped through Yoga Body.  At first, I had a hard time getting into it. The tone is a bit academic.  It is after all the dude's dissertation.  But once I got around that, I really dug it.  It challenges a lot of assumptions about what is "authentic yoga" and particularly questions some of the myths surrounding Ashtanga Yoga.  The thesis, if I'm not misinterpreting, is that what we practice in the Anglophone world is really an amalgam of western practices that made it to India's YMCA and Indian yoga.  In particular, Ashtanga may borrow a bit from Danish children's gymnastics. 

Personally, I don't feel threatened or betrayed by any of this.  The author himself says that he didn't write this to invalidate the practice, but rather to clarify the origins.  I know what I get from the practice, little does it matter to me if it was really found in a text written on banana leaf which was later eaten by ants, or from gymnastics.  It's great fun, makes me feel calmer and more at ease, and keeps me in shape.  Although the banana leaf version of the story of Ashtanga's genesis is much more interesting. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

This year's list is going to be a long one!

1.  Get clothes out the night before.
2.  Mysore practice every day (with exception of Saturdays and Moon days). No excuses!
3.  Get up at same time on Moon days and meditate.
4.  Fast on Moon days.
5.  Pinchamayurasana, no fearing! no wall!
6.  Bring back handstands into backbends.
7.  One yoga class "out" a week.  Get to know the local yogis. Do something new.
8.  No more talk of politics.
9.  Believe in myself.
10. Be truthful, compassionate, present...always.
and, drum roll please...lose 20 lbs!  (come on, it has to go on the list, right?  :)