Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the Heat!

Generally, I like the heat.  The hotter the better.  And I'm a fan of humidity.  I don't like my skin feeling all dry and itchy. 

But here in Philadelphia, we are coming into our 5th heat wave of the season.  And it hasn't quite been cooling off in between.  It's just been less heat wavish.  Walking around outside, it feels like you're moving in slow motion, through a cup of hot soup. 

This has been great for the practice.  The body has been feeling like a super supple wet noodle.  By the time I get to parsarita padotanasana B, streams of sweat are pouring down my face onto my mat.   But binding the feet in supta vajrasana is a bit tricky and jumping onto slip and slide arms into bakasana B nearly impossible.  Nonetheless, at the end of practice, I feel completely wrung out.

Rather than trying to beat the heat, I'm trying to roll with it.  Here are some things that I'm doing these days:

1.  Taking a clean towel to yoga.  The towel helps the binds, can be used to wipe up the errant pools of sweat that the teacher will otherwise slip on and brain himself, and of course are necessary for the obligatory post-practice shower.

2.  Taking a yoga rug.  I love my yoga rug.  I may be too attached to it.  It's hard for me to imagine practicing past standing postures without it.  In the summer, it keeps my mat from becoming a slip and slide.  Year round, it makes jump-throughs easier.  But you must take your yoga rug home and air it out EVERY DAY in the summer.  No one likes to practice next to a moldy smelling mat.  Putting it in the sun is the best solution, but mine airs out in the cubicle until I get home and put it in the sun for a few hours before sunset.

3.  Smoothies.  They are easy to digest which makes the body work less hard thus keeping it cooler.  I can't get enough of them these days. 

4.  Lassis.  Same as smoothies with less chunks.  Here's my easy lassi recipe, no blender necessary, just a travel bottle with a lid:

3:1 ratio of water to yoghurt.  I get the whole fat stuff.  Life is too short.  Besides, you're already diluting it by three parts water.

A teaspoon or more of honey depending on your taste for the sweets

A teaspoon of freshly grated ginger.  Don't skimp on peeling it with this one or you'll end up with nasty fibers in your lassi.

A dash of Cardamom

Put everything into your bottle and shake vigorously.  I make mine before bed, place in the freezer and take out when I go to practice.  By the time I'm finished, it's thawed out.

4.  Eat less.  Substitute lassis and smoothies for part of or entire meals. 

5.  Eliminate or reduce garlic and onions.  Your teacher will thank you.  Besides, these are medicine.  If you're not sick, you don't need so much.

6.  Stay hydrated.  Add lemon to your water to help absorb it and add electrolytes.  In the morning I cheat and add Emergen-C.  It keeps the heat headaches away.

7.  Coconut oil.  Put it on your feet if they are dry and cracked.  Put it in your hair if it is "voluminous" and frizzy like mine. 

8.  Get outside.  Relax.  Watch the fireflies.  Soak up the sun.  Smile.  Laugh. Walk barefoot in the grass.  Find an outdoor yoga class. 

Some more excellent heat-beating techniques can be found on my teacher's website www.ayurvedaboston.com.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Find Your Correct Posture

This Sunday several people had questions for G during the little conference and chanting we do after led primary. Someone asked about Sharath’s feet in the vinyassas. Apparently, in his video, which I haven’t seen, he scrunches up his toes when he transitions through the vinyassa.  They were asking if this was correct.   G said that it was not correct, and that he had seen many people imitating it because it was Sharath doing it.  In fact, Sharath does it this way because he had some illness as a child and always has issues in his ankles.  He also has trouble in certain asanas like pasasana. 
G said the trick is to find your correct asana through practice without simply falling into your bad habits and patterns.  But your correct asana won’t necessarily be exactly the same as G’s or Sharath’s depending on your body and needs. 
We also did our chanting through the 19th sutra.  I’m surprised how much has stuck from my little chanting practice.  But now we’re getting into sutras that I haven’t worked on as much.  It will be useful to learn the correct pronunciation.
Tomorrow I start my intermediate practice again.  Yesterday I was goofing around in the living room and to my great surprise I stuck pinchamayurasana.  I was so shocked that when I realized what had happened, I immediately fell out of it.  But it was quite exciting for several breaths!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

new community

If it hasn't already been said, I am so grateful for the new Ashtanga community that I've found here in Philly.  They've really welcomed me with open arms.  I did my first 6 consecutive days of practice that I can remember in a very very long time. Each morning this week, I looked forward to getting up and riding my bike downtown to practice with my peers.  It probably doesn't hurt that I can get up at 6 and still have time to do a full unrushed practice before going to work...and actually arrive on time. In Kentucky, I would have to get up at 4:30 to do that.

This week, per G's instructions, I practiced Primary all week.  It felt really wonderful.  The series truly is therapeutic and every day I felt like I was ringing out more and more gunk.  G gives great adjustments and seemed to give me a different one every day.  We also worked on getting my hands to my heals in drop backs. By the end of the week, it was easy!

Also, G said that next week I can practice intermediate again!  Woohoo!  But now, of course I'm scared.  Why?  Well, pincha is not so great.  I can't bind in pasasana without A LOT of help.  I have a hard time keeping my feet in supta vajrasana - it's been almost a year that I've even tried since I didn't have anyone to help me.  Jumping into bakasana B is coming back but it's been gone for almost two years.  So!  There's a ton to work on.

G also asked this week if I'd be interested in assisting.  He's doing an apprenticeship program for 2 or 3 people.  It's very tempting.  I can tell that he has a lot to teach.  But I'm afraid that my own practice will really suffer.  I'll have to talk to him about it some more and see what we can do.  I don't want to miss out on the opportunity, but I also don't want to over extend myself.

And finally, this is what the Schuylkill looked like last night after some quick heavy rainstorms in the area

Sweaty Sunday Mysore Monday

This post was actually from earlier in the week.  The internet was down, so I didn't get to post until just now!  Whoops!

Practice this morning was delightful!  The room was hot and humid and sweaty. I felt after the practice like I had been wrung out. 
We started practice today with a puja mantra to Ganesha: Om gum ganapataya namaha.  We chanted it 108 times.  G says that Guruji recommended doing puja two days after the new and full moons.  I wonder why it was two days after instead of the day after.  He also said that fasting 11 days after the new and full moons was recommended.  However, Guruji didn’t recommend much else in the way of fasting and cleansing.  According to G, he thought those practices were reserved for illness.  Doing them while healthy could make you sick.  That made me think of my vitamin B12 problem last fall.  I suspected that part of it was due to the fact that I was eating kichari even when I wasn’t on a cleanse.  It was probably too extreme. 
Tomorrow I start Mysore practice at the Shala.  I’m very excited to practice alongside other yogis. Besides my Sunday practice in Lexington and the occasional Mysore practice when traveling, I haven’t been in a Mysore room for well over a year.  I’m thrilled to be starting my day this way again. 
G wants me to start by practicing primary so that he can see my practice. Then we’ll start putting back the intermediate poses “after a while.”  This makes me a little nervous.  What’s “a while?”  A week, a month, a year?  I’ve been working hard on my intermediate postures. The ego isn’t nuts about letting them go.  Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait to see how things go.