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It’s Kate’s face

May 21, 2006

(and apparently her feet and hands and bodily proportions)…but who was the “yoga expert” that modeled the asana?

Anyone know?

And does this remind anyone else of The Britney?


A love-hate thing

May 19, 2006

Yeah, I went to Bikram today. And it was not yoga. Not even close. That said, I think it was incredibly therapeutic for my body. That, and a trip to my chirorpractor, Jaimie Blau, who totally gets me, and totally fixed my “sore misalignment” today before class. I walked into her office, hunched over, stiff, kind of limping on both legs. I walked out at least an inch taller, all of my limbs freed from their stuck-ness. It was great.

So, the love hate thing…it’s not about the chiropractic; it’s about the Bikram. I hardly ever go to Bikram classes anymore (mainly because I am busy with my Ashtanga practice, and there simply isn’t time for both), but when I do, it is more often than not that I find myself annoyed by the endless stream of dubious promises, threats and canned rhetoric. And that is what makes it “not yoga” for me, automatically. I mean, how can it be yoga when I am not in any way working with a quiet mind? How can it be yoga when I am staring into the mirror and cringing at the voice droning on endlessly from the front of the room?

So, then the obvious question: why do I go? Simple answer: because the heat feels so good, and when the heat is too much, it feels so good when it stops (paraphrasing the old “why are you banging your head into the wall…because it feels so good when I stop” truism). If you are a “heatie”, then you will understand. If not, then you never will, and there’s not going to be much of anything I or anyone else can say to change your mind. Although Bikram’s “whatever” is not yoga, and although it annoys the crap out of me, it is still worth it for me to go sometimes, if only for that wonderful melting feeling, for the feeling of accomplishment at withstanding the heat. Besides, it’s nice to occasionally take a break from the integrity of the Ashtanga practice. My teacher is not there at Bikram. I can chart my own course, within the bounds of the Bikram practice, at least. And I get to enjoy some poses that are nowhere to be found in the Primary Series (Garudasana, Natarajasana, the delightful “toe stand”), Ustrasana, Dhanurasana, Salabasana, Ardha Matsyandrasana), knowing that they were intentionally sequenced by someone who supposedly employs a method to his madness.

Today, the love-hate scale was tipping way more toward the hate side, however. The teacher was a long-time Bikram teacher. Now, in Bikram’s, unlike in Ashtanga, long-time teachers may or may not have anything good to offer their students for the simple reason that the Bikram sequence is so undynamic and so non-changing that it is very easy for a teacher to burn out. In addition, when one goes to Beverly Hills for training, as opposed to when one goes to Mysore, there is no sense of history, no teachings of philosophy, no use of Sanskrit, nothing about eight limbs. Many Bikram teachers couldn’t name even one of the eight limbs, and that includes “Asana”. But a long-time Bikram teacher can be a breath of fresh air for the simple reason that with time comes distance from Bikram, himself. And with distance, comes perspective. As a result, the rhetoric may be less didactic, the specious promises less enthusiastic, the dubious threats less extreme. Long-time Bikram teachers have had the opportunity to think about things over time, and maybe, as a result, don’t take it all that seriously, and offer to the students what it really is: a nice, sweaty, bendy workout.

Unfortunately, sometimes long-time Bikram teachers try to alleviate their burnout by attempting to “spice it up” in some way. Thus, they begin adding (I swear, I kid you not) anusara alignment principles to their spiel, or they begin giving hands-on adjustments, despite that they have no training (and no authority from Bikram, in fact, quite the opposite) to do so. They may add chanting to their classes or ring bells or gongs. Sometimes they go the opposite route and become unduly hard-nosed about students’ adherence to the idiosynchrasies of the Bikram practice, namely, standing absolutely still between postures, waiting for the teacher’s class-wide instructions before moving deeper into a pose (as opposed to trusting the teacher within onesself)…etc. I could go on, but I am boring myself. So, suffice it to say that the teacher was a long-time teacher.

I knew we were off to a bad start when before class even started, I was playing around on my mat with some vinyasa sequencing, and Bikram Teacher came into the room, made a beeline to me and stepped on my “vinyasa buzz”. “Excuse me,” she said, “I couldn’t help but notice that you were doing side-plank on the edge of your foot. I take yoga with Dharma Mittra, and you’re supposed to place the entire sole of your foot on the floor.”

I wanted to be receptive to this. But I just couldn’t muster it up.

“You know,” I replied, “there are many different variations of each posture, depending on the yoga you practice. Dharma’s way is one way. My way is another.”

Maybe she wanted to be receptive to this. But clearly, she couldn’t muster it up either.

Class began. But there was no heat at all. Finally someone spoke up, and Bikram Teacher turned on one of the heaters. It never really got hot enough for me. And since heat was pretty much the sole reason I was there, I felt a bit distressed. No yoga happening for me.

Things went from bad to worse. She objected to be squatting in between postures in order to catch my breath, saying, “Sit or stand, commit to something!” She objected to me going right into postures as soon as she called them out, rather than waiting for her step-by-step instructions, which are intended for beginners; I wanted to feel the postures and hold them for the entire time allotted, rather than experience the posture for maybe five seconds at the end of a long litany of “steps” to get into the posture. She tried to give me a hands-on adjustment at some point, and I recoiled. No way was I going to be touched by a teacher who has never had any training in hands-on adjustments…I had come directly from my chiropractor’s office! Not a chance my sweaty body was going to be pushed into or out of a pose by untrained hands.

Throughout the first 50 minutes of class, I felt as if this teacher was browbeating me continually. She kept saying things “to the class” that seemed to be addressed to me. There was some kind of surreal power struggle going on between her and me, and it was ruining my experience. Finally, after she called out my name and told me to bend my knee in Parsvotanasana, I quietly told her that I was a yoga teacher, myself, that I have a daily yoga practice outside of Bikram, and that I would really appreciate it if she would please just treat me as if I wasn’t there…please, just let me do my practice.


Not a very yogic experience.

Anyway, the good news is she kind of left me alone after that, and after class, I did all of my Ashtanga Primary Series postures from Marichyasana A through Supta K, and I felt GREAT. And it was nice to be able to see what I looked like in the mirror in Mari C and D. It actually made me feel better about myself, not worse, which surprised me.

And that brings me to tomorrow, Saturday, a day off after two weeks of six days on and one day off. Ahhhhh…..


Blog and run

May 19, 2006

I have a few minutes before I head over to Bikram, so I figured I’d give a quick blog-down of my day yesterday. So, let’s see…

Ashtanga practice was really really good. Thanks to some soul searching and blogging, as well as a really good chat with Sergio, I decided that my practice was suffering from a really bad case of ambition and that if my Ego wasn’t going to ruin it for my Self, I was going to have to take a fresh view of Supta K and its role and place in my practice. As such, Supta K has become dessert, after a feast of Marichyasanas. And practice yesterday was so good, as a result, that I have decided not to sully the memory of it by trying to recapture it today. Insteady, I have decided to go sweat-box it, and afterwards, do my Marichyasanas and backbending. I do think that over time, Bikram is going to become more important to me as a supplement to Ashtanga. After discussions with mi mama, it has become apparent that I may indeed posses a genetic predisposition for troublesome shoulder joints. On the bright side, mom has the most muscular legs I have ever seen on a non-professional athlete and even at cough, 63, cough, still has NO hip or knee problems whatsoever. I would even go so far as to say that my mom has open hips. She did birth a 8 and a half pound baby without drugs back in the day. Can’t say the same for myself – Addie, my strapping 9 pound second-born – was pulled from my tummy, alas. His broad shoulders and barrel-chest were not going anywhere any other way.

Anyway…after practice, I lazed around, non-blogging, but chattting with my Canary Islands friend, then took Lewis on a long walk, and then just as I was about to sit down again to blog, I got a call from my friend Christine, who was walking around the Upper East Side and wanted to go sit in a cafe and loll away the sunny afternoon (our kids were in their afterschool activities). And so we did. And it was good. Sometime during the day I found out that Tom, of Tom and Daisy, has been sentenced to 37 months in jail. The judge said that he “deserved no leniency because he had everything going for him” when he cheated investors, “in response to a financial crisis he caused himself by spending far more than he earned.” No judgements, just an update here.

Later in the evening, I sat down to read the Yoga International I had picked up for the unreasonable, no, obscene, cost of $3.99, and saw that a whole bunch of yoga teachers were profiled as “yoga inspirations” or something like that. Christopher was among those profiled, and I loved his brief, non-overblown essay. Especially when compared with the verbal diarrhea of Cyndi Lee and John Friend, the ego-horn-tooting of Rodney “It was my calling to inspire people” Yee (yes, Rodney, we are inspired by your having left your wife and kids in California to be with your student, Colleen, in Long Island) and the incomprehensibility of Shiva Rea.

But back to John Friend….I have to admit something: I have no idea what the hell he is saying. I have taken classes that claim to be Anusara, or that maybe even are Anusara, and I have never understood a word of it: “Flowing into grace by saying “yes” to the whole magical spectrum of life”? “All of creation is divinely danced into existence for the simple delight and the play of embodying the Supreme’s own blissful nature….”? “The highest intention of practicing Anusara Yoga is to align with the Divine. As we deepen our alignment with the Supreme, we step deeper into the flow of Grace. It is through the revelatory power of Grace that we awaken to the truth that this Divine flow is our essential nature”??

The hell?

I’m not big into things that are incomprehensible to me. I’m a fairly smart girl, and I have come to realize over the years that if something is as impermeable to me as all that, then it just must not make a whole lot of sense. And maybe some people like that. Maybe some people feel that if it is too hard for them to understand, then it must be really, really SMART STUFF. But I don’t buy into that anymore. If it is impossible for me to obtain any sort of meaning, then it must be drivel. Or it must be intentionally incomprehensible – for the purpose of intimidating those who feel that a guru is not a guru if you can understand what the hell he’s saying.

Anyway, time for Bikram, which comes complete with its own mumbo jumbo (“After doing this class, you will have a whole new body!” “If your spine is healthy, you will never get sick!” “This posture replaces 8 hours of sleep!”), not to mention the WORST pranayama EVER (if you have ever taken a Bikram class, then you will know exactly what I am talking about).

But I feel like melting today. So, off I go.


The Lost Diet

May 18, 2006

Not a bad idea really: mangos, papayas, guava, home-grown herbs, freshly grilled freshly caught fish, coconut meat, coconut water, spring water, the occasional black coffee, the occasional alcoholic beverage in airplane-bottle-sized portions, the occasional (air-lifted) snack-food drop (Dharma Mac and Cheese, Dharma-O’s, Dharma Milano’s, etc….).

No wonder these Lostaways look so damn good (even Hurley, pictured above, seems to have lost some of those man-boobs, despite occasional binges on Dharma Ranch Dressing).

Excellent episode tonight, by the way. Harold Perrineau is one good actor, as is Josh Hotaway, I mean Holloway. In fact, there’s really no slouches on this show. And unlike Grey’s Anatomy, character flaws in main characters are not intended to ingratiate us to them or to satisfy our baser desires. They challenge us to see them in a new and ugly light.

On other topics, I spent a whole lot of time today feeling sorry for myself, bemoaning the fact that I can’t seem to get my shoulders to rotate freely in any direction and that when I AM able to get some movement, it is only with a whole lotta heat and repetition, staring grumpily at my swollen knuckles (Seriously – I now wear a size 7 1/2 ring! That is not normal for someone of my petite size. Is this arthritis? Seriously. My grandmother had gnarled knuckles, and my mom’s are not really dainty either….I have always assumed that this is arthritis, but I sure as hell don’t want to go beating down that door since I have a whole shipload of doctors who call me a patient and I really, really, really don’t want to add another….), “feeling” fat when I weigh exactly what I weighed last week and the week before, when I was happy with my weight (and sadly, the Husband is of no help in this area, since he is “manorexic”, by which I mean that he worships at the temple of Skinny, and no matter what I weigh, I could always weigh less, according to him). In addition, I’m pissed off that I have to take so many drugs each day and endure their f–ing side effects (hello, joint pain!! at least as it plays out for me, what with the yoga and the healthy lifestyle, it is not so much pain as it is stiffnes that makes me walk hunched over when I get up from a chair and that makes me limp if I sit too long with one leg bent) and that I still need some minor reconstructive surgery.

Jeeeez. Do I hear myself??? So shallow. So lame. I’m alive, I’m feeling well. I’m heading into my fifth year of survival. Which sort of explains a lot, I guess. The further away you get from the fire, the easier it is to forget the burn and focus on the minutia.

So, let’s not be beating up Yoga Chickie. And that includes you, Yoga Chickie. Sometimes you just need a reality check. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Talking (chatting, really) with Sergio this afternoon seemed to help. It was like a mini-therapy session (thanks!). Ultimately, he helped me to see that it’s better for me to focus on the postures that I HAVE some movement in, and some success with: the Marichyasanas, especially given that Sir told me that these are the keys to Supta K for me. Instead of trying to “get” Supta Kurmasana, just “do” Supta K, treat it like the fact that I am able to include it in my practice at all as a GIFT! And in the meanwhile, work on the Marichyasanas, go back to letting those be a major focus. It makes so much sense.

So, tomorrow, I FEAST on Marichyasana A, B, C and D. And then dessert will be Bhuja and Supta K. And Navasana? It shall serve to cleanse the pallet.


You’re fine; you just need to work on patience

May 17, 2006

Thus spaketh Sir.

I had one of my typical internal debates this morning before getting my ass down to practice. It went something like this:

Ego: I can’t show up to practice feeling all stiff, my sacro-iliac joints practically immobalized with inflammation, with the taste of garlic and butter croutons still in my stomach after munching on them mindlessly while the Husband ate his dinner last night, to boot.

Self: You need to go to practice when you feel like that. Let it be a lesson not to eat disgusting croutons, not to eat after dinner, and not to eat white flour for that matter.

Ego: You don’t understand. I can’t show up like this. What will Sir think? How will it look?

Self: Life happens. You still practice. You don’t practice only when you think you’re going to look good. That’s not practice, that’s performance. You go. Now!

Ego: NO. And, Self? Shut up ya big bitch.

Self: OK, woa, that’s no way to speak to your self. Do you want to practice Ashtanga? Or do you want to ruin it for yourself by setting up all these silly expecations? You need to practice on days like this. They may be even more important than the days that you feel good. Resistance to the mat is a natural phenomenon, especially after a particularly good practice. Just move through it, and get to the shala.

Ego: Alright, alright, alright.

And so I went. Ego complained bitterly. Ego explained to C that my s-i joints were stiff, as a way of excusing some pretty sad looking bending. C asked if that meant I wanted her to go easy on me. Self squelched Ego there, and said, “No, I was just complaining. Don’t listen!” Self, kind as she is, did recognize that the stiff s-i joints are likely the result of the work I’m doing with my hips and lower back in Supta K. So, Self prevented Ego from rushing through practice in order to get a Supta K adjustment. Self thought it best that Yoga Chickie do Supta K on her own today and gently too.

I ended up spending a lot of time neutralizing my spine after Supta K and working on opening my shoulders in backbends and decided to skip most of the finishing sequence and go straight to the three sitting poses. I also happen to think that I am in need of a chiropractic adjustment, so I wasn’t really anxious to potentially exacerbate my
subluxation by balancing on my neck and then on my head, as much as I enjoy doing so. No, really, I do. I am an inversion fanatic. It’s just that my spine tends to get out of wack after a couple of weeks as a result. Those of you who don’t do chiropractic are probably giggling now. But don’t knock it til you try it…

And as I finished up, Sir came into the room to open windows and what not. I decided to ask him what postures prepare the body for Supta K. The Marichyasanas, he said. I asked him if he came across many students like me, who can’t even be adjusted into the posture. He offered me the truism that every body is different, but he did explain most of his students are deeper in the Marichyasanas before they get to Supta K. This was a bit horrifying to hear – if that is the case, then why am I even DOING Supta K? He must have his reasons. It’s not like I demanded a new pose, or even asked for it…….I suppose that Supta K will ultimately help me with the preceding postures, but it’s going to be a while before my body adjusts to it, gets used to it, finds some consistency with respect to it (the way I have found consistency in every posture that comes before Mari A).

Before my head could spin 360 degrees around into a veritable vritti vortex, Sir said, and I repeat it here in case I ever forget it, this way I can look back and remember that this really happened: “You’re doing FINE. Your work is learning to be patient.



Diagnosis: Sharketh Jumpeth

May 16, 2006

OK, well, there’s one series I won’t be coming back to in the fall. Spoiler alert here, people. If you haven’t seen the final episodes of Grey’s Anatomy yet and you don’t want to be “surprised” (as if), then stop reading now.

Some filler goes here to keep you from seeing the big “suprise” in your peripheral vision. Practice was fabulous today. Everything that was supposed to move and release did. On a good day like today, if you practice near me, you’ll hear what sounds like popcorn popping coming form my fingers, my wrists, my feet, my ankles and especially my spine, especially when I twist. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. It’s all good. VERY good. Supta K is, of course, no closer, but I just know that someday…someday….

Anyway, McDreamy is a McAdulterer, and Meredith is a selfish little bitch. Destiny schmestiny; the two of them have a choice, you know. If he doesn’t love his wife, and he can’t make the marriage work, then he should be honest with his wife and make plans to leave. Until then, he’s just a weak man with a very low integrity score. I mean, he couldn’t keep his pants on at the hospital prom??? With his wife in the other room? And Meredith couldn’t resist him? With Handsome McVettie waiting for her, telling her that she makes him want to make plans…for his life? Is the only person on this show with any integrity George O’Malley, who genuinely seems to like Callie, and who isn’t going to run away from the relationship just because she’s a bit more enthusiastic about the relationship than him?

Last night’s double episode/season finale had a clear theme running through it, and that is that if you get to be loved, even once in your life, then you can die happy. Denny – he died happy. The 17-year old with cancer – she can die happy, as she told her uncle, the Chief. The Chief – he will die happy. The dog died happy, for chrissakes. So, why couldn’t Meredith and Derek just leave it alone, knowing they were loved?

During the time that they loved each other, without acting on it, you could look at them as star-crossed lovers. You could sympathize with their plight. You might even be able to relate to them, thinking back to the one who got away, the one person out there who, well, if only….

But once they went down the rabbit hole with each other, what was noble becomes defiled. Something that could have been achingly beautiful becomes dirty and ugly. A relationship that seemed special becomes mundane – just another cheating spouse story.

In the final moment of the season, we have Meredith, standing in a triangle with Derek and Finn, each of them calling her name. Addison is somewhere in the room, presumably. If Derek is going to leave Addison for Meredith, is that really the time, place and manner in which to do it? After a furtive quickie with Meredith down the hall? With Addison in the room? If Meredith is going to be with Derek, did it have to be in that moment, with Finn standing right there?

Interestingly enough (at least to me), it is not just what happens on the television that has turned me off to Grey’s Anatomy. It is also what is written on what the show’s writers try to pass off as a writer’s blog (I say “pass off” because all of the entries are written in the exact same voice, despite that they are all supposed to be written by different writers). On this blog, the writers talk excitedly about what is going to happen between “Mer and Der” and how they JUST KNOW (!!) that the fans want Mer and Der to get together. And maybe it’s true. Maybe this is what most of the fans wanted. But I didn’t.

It’s gross. I don’t need my television protagonists to be perfect. I enjoy them being flawed. But not so flawed that they become unlikeable. Like “Mer and Der”, Grey’s Anatomy went too far this time. In my opinion.

And yeah, cousin D, got your email, and yeah, I think I am….


Lost perspective

May 16, 2006

I haven’t slept well for the past two nights, and I’m pinning the blame on Lost. I’ve been rewatching the entire series, episode by episode, and I’ve been staying up past midnight doing so. Not that that is so unusual, me staying up late and zoning out in front of the tube. But it’s one thing to watch rerunsof Carrie Bradshaw punning her way through a shallow, cocktail-infused life. Apparently, it’s another thing entirely to become emotionally involved with a (fictional!) group of castaways who have a a host of personal problems that seem to have followed them onto a non-deserted island that doesn’t seem to exist on this planet, all the while being pursued by the “island militia” whose purpose has yet to be revealed. For some reason, Lost has been invading my dreams, weaving its way through both sleeping and waking thoughts as the night drones slowly on (at least now I understand why “sleep” is one of the causes of the vrittis). I wake up sweaty and achy and exhausted.

I wanted to blame it on getting too much sun on Saturday while watching the kids’ little league games (no pesticides, thankfully). Then I wanted to blame it on dinner last night. But grilled tilapia, steamed vegetables and a nice Cabernet? Nothing so bad there. I bagged on going to the shala this morning and bitched and moaned to friends, who offered alternate theories: allergies, low barometric pressure, high humidity, gray skies. But as I sat on the sofa and watched a few more episodes of Lost, and as it slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t enjoying watching it, but rather was watching it simply because I somehow felt compelled to do so – like an addict, I realized that the problem is the show.

So, I quit Lost. Oh, I’m sure I will still watch the last two episodes of the season. But I’m going to watch like a normal person, not a crazy, obsessed person.

Speaking of crazy and obsessed, I practiced yesterday. It was good. Nothing interesting to report other than (1) it really sucks to practice without having eaten anything now that I know how good it is to practice after having eaten something and (2) I had to stay in Kurmasana a loooooooooooooong time before I got adjusted into Supta K, and this was very difficult, but very very good.

My practice today consisted of around 10 A’s and 10 B’s, and then some restorative stuff. I am glad I managed to practice at all. I hope tomorrow is better.



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