Light on Life, the Audiobook

November 30, 2005

I got it for my new iPod Video, which was a gift from my generous parents for my, er, ah …. cough… 40th birthday…. cough…. or, rather, my 16th 25th birthday, which will be this weekend (God willing, right?)…Perhaps Sir will give me Mari D for my birthday? HAHAHAHAHAHA. As if. He seemed downright irritated with me today, chiding me for my speed-yoga session (three beaths in each asana), and then further censuring me for “too much talk”.

Well, I was only replying to him…….which he acknowledged.

But is it really so bad to go quickly through the practice once in a while? I am moving really, really, really slowly in my practice these days (other than today). But this morning, MORE subway problems caused me to arrive 15 minutes later than I had planned (this time, the 6 was running on the 4 and 5 track, causing excessive delays for the purpose of essentially incoherent announcements from the MTA and confusing riders, which caused further delays…subway doors being held open as riders debated what to do….). I remained calm, but I also remained determined to get my full practice in, as long as I had 45 minutes, which I did.

Anyway, they say that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And right now, it’s looking like the universe is putting forth many challenges to my commitment to get downtown without wasting gas, tempting policeman who love issuing parking tickets without any rhyme or reason or inciting the anger and tire-slashing aggression of mentally unbalanced owners of rusted out, ding-ed up sedans. Of course, in reality, it’s just the day to day fun of living in a large metropolitan city, and everyone around me is effected just as much as me. I guess it’s what you do with it that counts.

I will not feel guilty. It was still yoga. It was still me breathing, slowly, linking breath to movement. So I didn’t take five breaths in each pose. Five breaths, schmive breaths. What the hell is the difference really?

YC


Apparently, somebody did one too many bong hits

November 30, 2005

This is not a joke. This is an actual set sequence of poses, called the Atmananda Sequence, and it’s offered as a 90 minute class at the Atmananda Studio in NYC. If I ever get tired of getting stopped at Mari C, I suppose I can just mosey on over to Atmananda and go hog wild. The only oversight seems to be that it doesn’t contain Astavakrasana, which could easily have been slipped in right after Compass Pose (Pose Number 56). I love the way they slip Yoga Nidrasana in at the end as Pose Number 66. But what I REALLY love is that there don’t seem to be ANY poses where the arm wraps around the FRONT of the leg (like, as in the Marichyasanas), as opposed to UNDER the thigh (which is WELL represented here in a number of bound poses).

A 90 minute sequence that emphasizes strength and hip flexibility. I am SO there.

YC


Resistance/Reward Ratio

November 29, 2005

I have found that generally speaking, the higher my resistance to getting to the mat on a given day, the more rewarding the practice on said day.

This morning was the first morning I was going to use the subway to get to Shala X. Had some issues with the little ones before getting to school, namely that Son Number 1 would not stop working on his math homework and leave the house (why was he working on his homework in the morning anyway?), which could have made both him AND his brother late to school, which (a) is unfair to his brother and (b) pressed the “play” button on my “I suck as a mom” tape loop. Finally got them to school, about one minute before the “Mark ‘Em Late Lady” appeared at the door, only to realize that after all that, Brian had left his math homework at home.

Brought Brian’s math homework to school, and walked to the subway, only to find that it had not been running for some time. There were MOBS of people flowing out of the 86th Street station, crowding onto busses heading down Lex and down Second Avenue. Someone who looked official said that the trains were running again, notwithstanding the outflow of people, so I went downstairs to get myself downtown.

The MTA reps and the cops all SAID the trains were running. And yet, the train in the station stood there. And stood there. And I had no desire to spend a half hour in a subway car, smashed against six other people in suits with their briefcases and backpacks smacking my legs. I did accomplish something while I stood there and waited for the train to leave so that another, less crowded one, could arrive…I arranged a playdate with a mom I recognized from the boys’ school. Good work, Yoga Chickie!

I’m pretty good at knowing when it’s time to cut my losses and not getting caught in a proverbial “Chinese Finger Game”, continuing to press on, when doing so only gets me in deeper….and so I decided it was time to give up on the subway and take a bus. When I got out into the daylight, the Lexington busses were still ridiculously crowded. So, I walked over to Second Avenue.

Unfortunately, by the time I got to Second, I had lost all motivation. This was becoming an inauspicious day to practice, it seemed. Instead of waiting on line for the bus, I went into The Little Red Hen for a scone and a coffee. Ahhhhh. Now that was good.

But what of my practice? For about twenty minutes there, there was to BE no practice. And then the clouds of resistance parted, and I found myself moving toward the Second Avenue bus….and on my way to Shala X, where I arrived 15 minutes late for the last Mysore session and somehow still managed to squeeze in my entire practice (alright, I did take only three breaths in each downward facing dog, and Madam did seem to rush me through Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana, after confirming what NYC bloggers have been saying of late, which is that we start with the leg STRAIGHT, if possible, and for me, it actually IS possible….)

At the end of Mari C, she asked me if I was practicing Mari D. I said no. And then I gave into my urge to ask…”so do you think…soon…maybe?” She said it was up to Sir. But of course.

Later, as I was leaving, I was chatting with a shala mate, who told me that Petri gave her Chakra Bandasana only to have Sir take it back the next day, saying, “Not until you’re in Second Series.”

Alrighty then!

YC


Currency

November 28, 2005

Adrianna is what you might call a “bum”. Most days, you can find her sitting on a stoop outside the D’Agastino on York Avenue near East 79th Street, screaming at passersby, seemingly incoherently. But if you allow yourself to actually listen to her, you start to understand that she is simply shouting out greetings to the people she recognizes – the people who walk by her every day. Some people walk a little faster when they see Adrianna huddled on her stoop. Some will hand her a dollar or two. Occasionally, someone will bring her a sandwich, a box of doughnuts, a loaf of bread. Often, Adrianna throws these gifts of food to the pigeons, but not without first profusely blessing her benefactors.

Adrianna isn’t always on her stoop because she actually has a home of sorts. Somewhere in the neighborhood, a kindly elderly gentleman takes care of Adrianna – gives her a place to sleep, tries to get her to eat her food (rather than throwing it to the birds), and helps her to walk to her favorite stoop each morning. Adrianna has a cane (“I’m a cripple,” she’ll tell you), but a cane is not enough if she needs to walk more than a block or two. Bill stays with Adrianna until he is certain that she is settled in comfortably on her stoop. On Thanksgiving, he escorted her to a local soup-kitchen for a Thanksgiving meal. He’s not her boyfriend, her brother or her son. He doesn’t ask her for anything in return. Some people take stray animals into their homes. Bill has taken in Adrianna.

To Adrianna, the greatest pleasure in life is smoking. Not Marlboros, she says, because “they have marijuana in them.” Adrianna acknowledges that smoking has ravaged her looks and has ruined her voice. Her teeth are blackened, and her skin is wrinkled. She speaks of having been young and attractive once, having lived in Los Angeles, having been desired by men. “I used to have eyes that changed color in the light,” she says in a gravelly voice.

“Do you have eyes that change color too?” she asks me.

I have given her a can of Ensure, which I know she cannot give to the fat pigeons that crowd around her, waiting to be fed. She tells me that she can see my soul and that it is good. She asks me if I or my dog would like a cigarette. I tell her that both my dog and I are trying to quit. She tells me that life is too short to deprive onesself of smoking.

“You can’t smoke after you’re dead,” she admonishes me, waving her pack of cigarettes in front of me, ready to give me one for the asking.

“Not today,” I tell her, tugging on Lewis’ leash, “but thanks.” I begin making my way down the sidewalk. A young woman stops me and demands to know why I have been talking to “the crazy lady”. “She’s not so crazy…she’s just a little confused,” I explain, realizing that what I am saying may make me sound a bit crazy myself. “She really does mean well,” I say. With a furtive glance back at Adrianna, the young woman whispers to me, “You don’t understand…she’s scary. She always screams at me…she HATES me…I have no idea why….I can’t understand what she’s saying, other than that she hates me.”

As if on cue, Adrianna suddenly screams to me, “Noooooooooo!!! Don’t talk to that woman. I hate that woman!”

Later on, I’m walking Lewis around the block with just my coat on. No handbag, no wallet. Adrianna asks me if I might spare a dollar. I show her my empty pockets. A look of alarm mixed with pity transforms Adrianna’s face.

“Please,” she urges, producing a thick roll of dollar bills from the pile of belongings sitting beside her, “Please take this money! You need it more than I do!” She peels off several dollar bills and waves them at me. I hold up a hand and shake my head, no.

“I’m sorry, I can’t take that from you,” I tell her.

“But you are PENNILESS!” she protests, as I start to back away, “Penniless, with a dog to feed and kids at home!”

“No, really, that’s okay, but seriously, thanks.”

“Then at least take a cigarette,” she begs me, “take two, one for you and one for your dog…no, here, take four: one for you and one for your dog and one for each of your kids.” She is already pulling the cigarettes out of her pack.

“I really can’t do that..you keep them. You enjoy them,” I tell her.

But she insists. I take four cigarettes from Adrianna. I walk away, thanking her profusely. Of course, I don’t smoke. I contemplate saving the cigarettes for my next walk around the block with Lewis, and giving the cigarettes back to Adrianna, pretending like this never happened. Then I realize that she would know. And that would be worse.

I arrive back at my building, cigarettes clutched in my gloved hand. My doorman holds the door open for me, and I offer him the cigarettes that Adrianna gave me. But he doesn’t smoke either. Lewis sits patiently at my feet, waiting for the doorman to hand him a treat – a ritual that Lewis has come to count on like a promise. Graciously, Lewis licks the doorman’s hand.

I open my own hand, and for a moment, I contemplate the cigarettes. Then I toss them into the garbage can in the mailroom of my lobby. It’s not that Adrianna’s form of currency has no value. It’s just that being foreign currency, it can’t be used where I am going.

The elevator doors close behind me.

YC


Yoga Chickie’s Best Work

November 28, 2005

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November2005a 006, originally uploaded by Yoga Chickie.


THIS is good stuff

November 27, 2005

I have nothing to say about my on practice or my own life today that Vanessa didn’t say already (and better and more honestly than I am prepared to do at this point)…

I want to be honest and real here, but I am feeling constrained these days by my detractors. I guess that means I have let them get to me. Ah well. I enjoy writing, have enjoyed publishing here and dialoguing with the good people who enjoy dialoguing in good spirit. For the past few days, however, I have been failing to press the “publish” button. My thoughts and work remain in draft because I just don’t feel like putting it out there as fodder for those who can’t or don’t resist their aggressive urges to vent their anger here.

I hope to be as fearlessly honest as Vanessa when I once again get the guts to dive in and hit “publish” again.

YC


Gratitude toward your enemies

November 25, 2005

“Now, there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So, when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful to your enemy for providing that precious opportunity.”

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama (From “The Pocket Dalai Lama,” edited by Mary Craig, 2002. Reprinted at Beliefnet.com, by arrangement with Shambhala Publications)