Saturday, February 18, 2012

sore Friday

My usual hot bath of primary on Friday was somewhat less soothing than usual due to a dull soreness everywhere.  It wasn't anything that I could put my finger on.  I almost felt flu-like, but knew that I didn't have the flu.

Finally, when I got to dropbacks, I told G that I didn't think ankles were in the cards for me because of this soreness.  He said that sometimes when we push ourselves too hard or practice without awareness during the week, metabolic waste can build up without getting flushed out.  The best remedy is to move and to sweat. 

I gave this some thought throughout the day on Friday over my first cup of coffee.  I didn't think that I was pushing myself particularly hard.  Over my second cup of coffee, I was wondering if I hadn't practiced with awareness.  Sure, I had my moments, but no more than usual.  While I was walking for a cup of chai after lunch, I wondered what could possibly be building up waste in my body without flushing it out.

Then the reason slapped me upside the head.  It was well into my day and I had yet to drink a glass of water.  I thought about the day before and was able to count the number of glasses of water I'd had.  1.  Not a very high number.  What have I been doing to myself?

The only liquids entering my system for weeks...maybe months...have been coffee and tea.  Whoa!  That's kind of extreme when you think of the way that I spend my mornings. 

So, I filled my neglected water bottle and have been carrying it with me.   For every cup of coffee or tea I've had at home this weekend, I've also had one glass of water. 

In March, I plan on doing my spring cleanse (I need to work out the dates).  Up until the cleanse, I plan on paying particular attention to how much water I drink and making sure I get the requisite 8 glasses. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Day That Didn't Work

After the workshop yesterday, there was conversation about who was going to take off practice today since we "lost" our Saturday.  I thought I'd be a trooper and practice, because we did primary yesterday, and I had to teach this morning anyway. The cosmos had something else in mind for me.

It was freezing in our apartment when I woke up. So it took me a little while to get out of bed.  I did my little routine and got dressed and looked out the back window on the roof.  There was a good amount of snow.  Great. I was going to be late.  I texted G to let him know I'd be late because I needed to figure out a non-bike way to get there.

S offered to drive me, since he was up anyway and when we looked out the front window, there was no snow.  This was encouraging.  I'd be on time.  Then we opened the door and realized that the entire front of the apartment was covered in a slick layer of ice.  Our little Versa is not great in any kind of weather, much less ice. So, we went back in where I looked for the bus schedule.  There would be a bus at 7:45.  Fantastic!  I would be able to make it and do at least a half practice before teaching.

At 7:40 I went out to catch the bus.  I scuffled across the icy street and waited...and waited...and waited.  7:45 came and went.  So did 8:00.  No bus.  I came back in to figure out what was going on to discover that the buses had been rerouted.  But to where?  There was no indication.  Now it was about 8:30.  The next bus, if I was able to find it, would come at 8:45 and would maybe get me to the studio on time to teach (forget about practicing).

I gave up and let L know that he would need to combine our classes.  I felt bad about doing this.  I hate to cancel a class.  But I was really ill prepared for this weather situation after being spoiled for months with nice weather. 

I spent the rest of the morning looking at alternative routes to the studio and found a bus that wasn't listed on the trip planner. Tomorrow, I'll be ready.  Today I accepted that it was not my fate to practice (or teach) and took my "Saturday."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Visiting Teacher Recharge

It's always nice to take a class with a visiting teacher or attend a workshop.  Today I had that opportunity when Eddie Stern (I'm told he's just know as Eddie in the Ashtanga world) taught a led primary followed by chanting and Q&A at Shanti Yoga Shala

Here were a few of the things that really struck me:

  • He has an amazingly gentle way of working with beginners and people with injuries.  His approach to them is kind, compassionate, and light.  
  • In the closing invocation, there is a pause after "Om."  He later explained that Om is made up of three syllables and a fourth silence or space.  
  • Fundamentally, we are who we are.  Our weird little patterns and tendencies that keep coming up over our lifetimes have lots to teach us about ourselves.
  • The system helps us to uncover who we are.  Sometimes a good teacher knows more about us than we know about ourselves.
  • The oral tradition is twofold.  It is the speaking part, but equally important is the listening part.  If something is passed down generation to generation through an oral tradition, it only takes 20 people to span 1000 years. 
Unrelated to anything that Eddie said or did, I learned that my friend A has a really hard noggin when we collided with each other in Garba Pindasana.  

There are lots of great teachers visiting Philadelphia over the next few months.  Tim Feldman is coming to SYS in March, Tim Miller is coming to Dhyana in April, and Kino is coming to SYS in June.  We are blessed here in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

36 drop backs

Some time ago, I read somewhere that some senior teacher does one drop-back for every year of his life on his birthday.  I don't remember who it was.  But I instantly thought, "OK.  Me too!"  This may be a decision I regret when I turn 105.  Or maybe I'll be able to thank the backbends for living to such a ripe old age.  But I digress.

My actual birthday was a moon day.  I took my 36 drop backs yesterday.  Oddly, once you get past ten, such a rhythm is built up that the rest are pretty easy.  I was just rocking back and up to the rhythm of my own breath.  It was beautiful.  I was left with such an ecstatic feeling when I was finished.  Energy pulsed through my body the rest of the day.  I felt serene and light. 

Though when G suggested, in jest I hope, that I take 36 every day, I did decline!  I think that could literally lead to madness. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sugar Overload

Happy Birthday to Me!

I made myself (to share at apprenticeship) these vegan chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing (always my birthday cake!) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

And L brought in delicious treats from Sweet Freedom Bakery

And my lovely husband S had cake and chocolate covered strawberries at home for me.  Whew!  I don't know when I last at so much sugar.  But it is my birthday!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Diverse Thoughts

Today is the last day that I will be 35 years old.  Hmm.  Interesting.  Tomorrow I will be 36.  Will that be any different?  I doubt it. The big difference was between 29 and 30.  I feel like now everything will be same same for a while.

For the first time in maybe a year, I did full primary AND my intermediate postures.  It felt wiggly and wet and divine.  At Mari C, G asked if I was taking a Super Bowl practice.  I said, "No silly.  I'm taking the whole thing."  He laughed.  I only did 10 drop backs which means that 36 are coming on Wednesday.  After the full practice, I had to make a choice between 36 drop backs and taking my calves.  I chose the calves. 

G is back!  Hooray.  I get adjustments again.  My poses didn't deteriorate in his absence.  

I bought a new bag today from Corporate Yoga.  I had been using the same bag for a very long time.  Despite many washings, it permanently stinks from sweat and rain.  It was time.  This new bag is BIG.  I'm very excited about it. 

Final thought, "Remember the teachings, if not the teacher."  This comes from an Elephant Journal post in reaction to the scandal that is surrounding the head of another style of yoga.   That line, "remember the teachings, if not the teacher" really struck a cord with me.  The first yoga class I ever took was in France.  I really enjoyed it and my teacher seemed to like me.  After a few months, he told me that he was studying Thai massage and asked if I could help him with an article that was in English.  Then he asked if he could practice on me.  That was all fine.  But at our second "practice" session, he made a very overt and completely inappropriate pass at me.  I told him to stop and ended the session and never returned to his yoga class.  This was in May and I was set to go home in June anyway. 

I often wondered why I continued with yoga when I returned to the States, despite this rather unpleasant encounter and have never quite been able to articulate it.  I think this line "Remember the teachings, if not the teacher" sum it up perfectly.  Even though this man turned out to be rather despicable, what he taught in his yoga classes was not.  The yoga resonated with me beyond the man who was teaching it.

This is also why communities of Ashtanga yoga can survive many changes in teachers.  I saw this at BBY and I see it here at Shanti. Students do become attached to an individual teacher.  But when that person moves or goes to India to study, the students continue their practice with new teachers, because the yoga is larger than the individual presenting it to them.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Snapshot of the Crazy Subbing Week

Here are some quick highlights and lowlights of my crazy subbing week.


Letting JC fall on his head in drop backs.  I really didn't mean to do it.  It scared me more than it did him, I think.  He asked me to do it again the next practice.  I refused.

Getting sick from working too hard and running around too much.


Early morning practices before the rest of the world, even other ashtangis, were awake.

Teaching with the other apprentices assisting me and getting to know them better.  

Seeing so many of my 1/2 primary students show up for the full primary this morning and practicing ahimsa with the more advanced postures.

Landing in Bakasana B for the first time is 2.5 years today.

Having the new coffee shop open next to the studio.

I teach one more class for G tomorrow.  Tuesday is a moon day. Wednesday we return to normal. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Maybe my insane schedule is catching up to me, maybe it's the weird spring weather evoking a kapha freak out, or maybe people just get sick because other people are sick.  Whatever it is, I have my second cold of the year (first was in November following the trip to France).  I don't get the flu and therefore never get the flu shot.  I think I last had the flu 5 years ago and before that it was about 15 years before.  But colds, oh man does my kapha constitution like to get some nasty snotty colds.

So here I am on my couch on a work day under a pile of tissues and my computer stewing in my own mucus and anger.  I get angry when I'm sick.  I'm mad that I had to miss work and mad that I had to turn this morning's mysore practice into a self practice.  But if I hadn't, I would have made everyone else ill. 

Now I have to work on defeating this sucker.  I had a bowl of homemade garlic and lentil soup for lunch.  My friend Andrea sent me this recipe for garlic soup which I will make for dinner:

Vegetable broth (or chicken if you eat it)
2 bunches of kale
2-3 inches fresh ginger chopped
1 onion
20 cloves garlic
salt/pepper to taste
If you have a crock pot cook it in that for 4 hours, and add hot sauce for sinuses.

If this doesn't kick it out of me, I don't know what will.  While it simmers, I will watch the Shit fill-in-the-blanks Say memes on Youtube and read my apprenticeship homework.