Dirty Little Secrets

June 30, 2006

Or, perhaps more accurately, guilty little pleasures. I have two for today.

One is so so secret, that I can’t even tell it to you. I can’t even allude to it other than to say that it is somewhat troubling to me that our the ashtanga world is perceived as judgemental of personal choices that really aren’t anyone’s business but their own. Is it that judgemental? Is the perception correct? I leave that to you to decide.

The other is somewhat reminiscent of a Sex and the City Episode (Games People Play), where Miranda notices a guy watching her from his window across the street…and lets him…and even finds herself enjoying it. The only difference is that Miranda wasn’t on her rooftop patio practicing Ashtanga, the guy watching her was totally hot, and ultimately, Miranda realizes that said hottie has actually been voyeuring out on the guy who lives beneath her. Oh, and also, there were no construction workers involved in the Miranda scenario either. So, yeah, no, it wasn’t exactly the same thing.

Nevertheless, I did end up practicing on my rooftop today because it was gorgeously sunny and deliciously breezy this morning here in New York City, and I wanted to take Lewis the Bagle for a long walk after the camp bus picked up the kids. By the time I came home, it was borderline too late for me to go down to Shala X, but it was still gorgeously sunny and deliciously breezy, and even moreso up on the roof, which overlooks the East River (thus, cooling breezes). And so, it came to pass that I ventured onto the roof to practice in the open air.

It was about halfway through the Standing poses that I realized that I was being watched by a dude across 79th Street. He was wearing a teal-blue t-shirt, and he looked kind of tall, but I can’t say that he was hot like Miranda’s voyeur because he kept his face hidden. Now I know that might sound a bit creepy. But remember, I live in New York City. I’m used to having intimate discussions in the back seats of cabs as the driver drives on in silence. I’m used to walking around in my skivvies past windows that may or may not be backlit. There’s this sense of anonymity that you can hide behind here. And so, I just kept practicing, and it didn’t bother me a bit that I had an audience. In fact…and here’s that dirty little secret thing: I kinda liked it.

Look, anyone who knows me (and even those out there who don’t can probably guess), I actually enjoy performing. I love the attention. It inspires me.

Was it yoga? Lord knows. Maybe, maybe not. And I don’t feel like entertaining that debate here, although you are welcome to do so in the comments section. I know that I felt focused on my breath, my bandhas my driste, to the point where at some point in the middle of my seated postures, I realized that he was gone, although I didn’t see him leave.

And I felt a bit deflated. It was at this point that my mind did wander off a bit to that scene in Truth or Darewhere Warren Beatty says to Madonna, who has rejected the notion of privacy while her doctor tends to her sore throat and instead invites the doctor, his tongue depressor and her throat into the camera’s eye, something to the effect that: why even bother to live if no one is watching? OK, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration for me, but I must say that when I towards the end of my practice, I heard a male voice call out from above me, I perked up a bit.

It wasn’t the dude in the teal-blue t-shirt though. It was a man working on the water tower above the building NEXT to that dude’s building. He and his “colleagues” waved to me. I waved back and finished my practice. When I rolled up my mat and woke up Lewis (who had accompanied me for my practice, as I have always fantasized that any good dog would), I looked up toward the teal-blue t-shirt dude’s window.

And there he was. He waved. I waved.

Guilty little pleasure.

Later I taught at Yoga Sutra and walked all the way home. All in all, quite the yummy day.

YC

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So, yeah, that whole Guruji-note-to-get-out-of-gym thing didn’t quite pan out…

June 29, 2006

not that it wasn’t brilliant of my shala mate to think of it. I decided, instead, to just do my thang today. And whaddaya know, the fingers not only hooked together, but Sir kept them there while he internally rotated my legs to make more space for the bind and then hooked my feet together. It wasn’t my most graceful moment, and I shan’t be expecting it to happen again any time soon. It was, however, the first moment I have had with my elusive, unreliable and generally naughty lover (Supta K, duh) where I really and truly believed, with absolute certainty, that progress is happening and that the marriage of hands and feet is possible in this lifetime.

On other fronts, I got myself a library card today, and you’d have thought that I had obtained the “Golden Ticket” or the key to the city, what with the flush of power I felt: I can take books – any books – and NOT pay. Imagine! Had a delicious breakfast at the delectable, Veselka, a Ukrainian staple in the East Village. If you’ve never had kasha (buckwheat groats, which are kind of like a cross between brown rice and cous cous, but nuttier) with your scrambled whatever, then you really must partake at some point. Wandered around a bit in the East Village, bought some martini glasses because I still have a life outside of yoga and goddamnit, there’s nothing wrong with that. Wandered into a tattoo place and contemplated what I would put on my body and where I would put it if I should ever be so bold. I was thinking of something small and sweet that would commemorate four years of survival. But only the cliches seemed to call out to me – the butterflies, hearts, flowers, stars. I would think that I could do better than that. Funny, I saw a lot of crosses and Jesus imagery. But no Stars of David or khais. Funny how that works.

YC


Dear Sir

June 29, 2006

A shala mate who goes by the name Anonymous has given me an absolutely brilliant idea (see last comment on this post:

Dear “Sir”,

There bad lady in class called Yoga Chickie? She lazy to do Supta Kurmasana? Arms too short, chest too tight, mind too small? You know who I talking about. I think you very good teacher for patient with Yoga Chickie.

Now let bad lady do next pose.

Love,

PJ

Forgery. It’s what’s for criminal.

Now, if I only had the guts.

YC


The house (of cards) that Yoga Chickie built

June 28, 2006

This was the day that sucked for me.

This was the early morning sprinkle of rain
that started it off as the day that sucked for me.

This was the dog that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off as the day that sucked for me.

These were the shoes that my kids wouldn’t wear
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the camp bus that didn’t wait for my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the counselor who works for the camp
who sends out the bus that didn’t wait for my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the camp that told the counselor
to turn ’round the bus
to go pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the son who wouldn’t get on the bus
that belonged to the camp
that told the counselor
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the camp shirt that said son forgot to wear,
which is required by the camp,
which camp told the counselor
to turn round the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was me telling the bus to just leave
because of the shirt
that my son didn’t wear
which is required by the camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the car that drove us to camp
after the bus finally left
because of the shirt
that my son forgot to wear
which is required by the camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the highway that delayed the car
that drove us to camp
after the bus finally left,
because of the shirt
that my son didn’t wear
which is required by the camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the bag Adam left in the car
that was delayed by the highway
as we drove up to camp
after the bus finally left
because of the shirt
that Brian didn’t wear
whch is required by camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the clock ticking to half past nine
as I retreived the bag
that Adam left in the car
that was delayed by the highway
as we drove up to camp
after the bus finally left
because of the shirt
that Brian didn’t wear
whch is required by camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the hour it took to get back
after half past nine
after retreiving the bag
Adam left in the car
that was delayed by the highway
as we drove to camp
after we told the bus to leave
because of the shirt
that Brian forgot to wear
whch is required by camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the practice that I didn’t get to
due to the hour it took to get back
from half past nine
after retreiving the bag
Adam left in the car
that was delayed by the highway
as we drove up to camp
after the bus finally left
because of the shirt
that Brian forgot to wear
which is required by the camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was the mat that I left at the shala
from the practice that wasn’t
due to the hour it took me
from half past nine
after retreiving the bag
Adam left in the car
that was delayed by the highway
as we drove up to camp
after we told the bus to leave
because of the shirt
that Brian forgot to wear
ich is required by the camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

This was my dedication
that I practiced sans mat
that I left at the shala
from the practice that wasn’t
due to the hour it took me
from half past nine
after retreiving the bag
Adam left in the car
that was delayed by the highway
as we drove up to camp
after the bus finally left,
because of the shirt
Brian forgot to wear
which is required by camp,
which camp sent the bus
to pick up my kids
who wouldn’t put on their shoes
to walk the dog
that couldn’t deal with the rain
that started it off
as the day that sucked for me.

It sucked. But I practiced. Practice felt good, notwithstanding the lack of a mat. Kids are home. All is good.

YC


Hello, Sir? Are you reading this? Can we please just forget about Supta K for the time being and move on to the next pose?

June 27, 2006

I felt my fingers graze in Supta K, although there was no possibility of hooking them together. Still, as Christopher H once told me, once you can touch your fingers, a bind can’t be that far behind. I’ll take that. I hate to say it, but I am beginning to feel a bit antsy with my whistle-stop at Supta K. I long to roll (and by roll, I mean literally, rolling around on my back in Garba Pindasana, rolling back and forth in Supta Konasana, Upavishta Konasana, Ubaya Padangusthasana, etc., rolling backward in chakrasana, etc.) through the remainder of Primary. I know that I am nowhere near Second Series – not even in the same time zone. Probably not even on the same planet. Perhaps not even in the same solar system. But to practice all of Primary….ahhhhhh….that is what I came to the practice for in the first place. For a long time, I had all but forgotten that, conveniently, or rather, as a matter of survival. But now the remainder of Primary is just a knuckles’ length away. And I want it. I want to get all of the benefits of the Chikitsa (for non-yogi’s: Yoga Chikitsa is another name for the Primary Series, and it means “Yoga Therapy”).

OK, so I admitted it. Lots of confessions in the past 24 hours. Callous shaving, and a callous disregard for non-attachment to progress.

Moving along, on other fronts:

Today, I overheard Sir telling a student who has no trouble at all getting into Supta Kurmasana to straighten his legs and aim them over his shoulders in Kurmasana and to take his forehead off the floor and work towards getting his chest and chin to the floor. I found this fascinating because I, who cannot bind my hands in Supta Kurmasana, have no trouble at all getting my legs perfectly straight and aimed right over my shoulders in Kurmasana and pressing my chest flat on the floor, chin stretching forward. I have heard it said that Kurmasana is a gateway to Supta K. But how can that be? This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed that a super-flat-out Kurmasana is not necessarily the key to a good bind in Supta K. Not long ago, I even asked Sir if perhaps my efforts in Kurmasana are actually counter-productive to making Supta K happen. He essentially scoffed at this notion. I trust him, so I will try to banish these thoughts from my mind and just practice, practice, practice. Or, alternatively, just practice, practice, practice.

And on the topic of practice, or rather, back to the topic of practice, I must say that NOT doing the little scootch-the-shoulders-behind-the-knees-dance/dawdle/embellishment before lifting up int Bujapidasana has greatly improved my Bujapidasana. I just jump my feet around the outside of my arms to land slightly between my hands in front of my feet and then lift. Boom. Bujapidasana. I’m starting to think that although Buja is a nice little gateway to Kurmasana and Supta K, essentially, it is more about lifting the bandhas than about getting the legs in front of the shoulders.

And said bandhas could use some work, at least as far as the between-Navasana lifts go. The trouble is that my butt is just too darn heavy, relative to my bandha strength. I wish there were a way that I could practice those Lolasanas using someone else’s butt – someone with a teeny tiny butt (Linda? Can I borrow yours please?). I am not saying that my butt is huge, but it definitely is a fairly heavy weight for me to maneuver gracefully without having already built the bandha strength using a lighter weight, akin to trying to run a marathon before ever having run a 10k, or trying to bench press 200, before ever trying to bench press 150.

And so, the bathtub once again becomes my playground for R&D. I sit in the tub, half-full, displacing some of my weight, and lift to my heart’s content. If only I could bring my tub to practice. You know, along with my Bounty?

Finally, I have big, big news!! Yoga is a workout! OK, maybe it’s not really news. But I think it deserves repeating. Today I had the pleasure of teaching vinyasa yoga to a group of 15 or so personal trainers, all of whom have beautiful, sculpted, fabulously athletic bodies and all of whom have built up a high level of fitness, including both cardiovascular fitness and sheer strength. Most were even quite flexible. But I’m happy to report, their asses were grass after class.

It’s not like I intentionally set out to beat them into submission. It’s just that they told me they wanted a really hard workout. So, basically, I gave them a 60-minute version of the 45 minute all-levels class I had taught a half hour before that at Yoga Sutra – sun salutations followed by a couple of asana sequences, followed by some backbending and forward bends. What made it harder for the personal trainers than for the Yoga Sutra lunchtime vinyasa regulars? I believe that notwithstanding their high level of fitness and grace, they were lacking the bandha strength that makes it possible to hold postures with ease.

Let’s see…what else?

I am getting that ammonia-smelling sweat thing going on again – like I did last summer. I wonder if this means I am burning fat? That would be cool.

Finally, I am seriously thinking about going on this Ashtanga Yoga Shala Summer Camp weekend at the end of July. This is the retreat I have been waiting for: Asthanga PLUS ayurvedic cooking lessons. But here’s the thing: If I go, I will have to sleep in a tent. A tent! Me!! I don’t own a tent, but I know I could buy one, even rent one, I suppose. I don’t own a sleeping bag, but I know I can buy one of those too and then pass it onto Brian for his sleepaway camp weekend later this summer. Most people who know me would say that they cannot see me sleeping in a tent. Or using an outhouse (I am not sure if they are wrong about the latter point). But that shouldn’t be the limiting factor, now should it? That is utterly preposterous. Isn’t it? What’s that they always say on my beloved Lost….Don’t tell me what I can’t do…?

Alright, that’s it, I think I am finally out of steam…..

YC


A confession

June 27, 2006

I love my Tweezerman callous shaver. Too much, I think. I have little cuts all around the perimeter of my heels from overzealous callous-shaving. I am sporting about four bandaids on each foot.

And yet, I find myself unable to stop. It is indescribably satisfying to see literally years and years of dead skin peeling away, like snake skin. I feel as if I have lost a shoe size. The color of my feet is even different now (not counting the blood and scabs), having gone from a dull yellowish to a pretty pinkish color – the color of live skin! I had no idea I was carrying around all that dead skin.

But I really need to lay off until the little cuts heal. It’s going to be difficult.

My pal in the Canary Islands believes that I may have a problem here. That’s probably because as we were chatting today, I disappeared for a significant period of time to tend to my wounds. Even as I continued my callous-shaving. But it’s not a problem. Because I can stop anytime I want.

I can! See? I’m not callous-shaving now! And see? Not callous-shaving now either!

Yoga makes for some pretty damn calloused feet. But I’m cool. I’m still typing. Not shaving my callouses….NOT. SHAVING. MY. CALLOUSES.

YC


Yo! Gateaux! The People!

June 26, 2006

I admit that I had trepidations about hauling my mat downtown to St. Marks Place and practicing in a space that was entirely foreign to me. I tried to talk myself out of going, but I saw right through myself, and I won out. No wimping out over some silly, albeit very human, attachment to a space that is altogether impermanent. Turns out, Yoga To the People is a BEAUTIFUL space.

I will say that given the newness of the space, the high ceilings and the open windows, it was somewhat shocking to inhale deeply and find that the scent of body odor was nearly overpowering. And it was somewhat surprising also, that the space was so incredibly hot. Notwithstanding these challenges, plus coming to the end of my roll of Bounty, I had a wonderful practice. XTina wasn’t there, which meant I was given very few adjustments: one in Mari A, which is really rocking now (wrists firmly grabbed, or even beyond wrists, chest to thigh, chin to shin and eyes on the toes; my grounded foot no longer wishes to peel its heel off the ground either). One side of Mari C, and of course, K and Supta K. I was pleased to find that I was able to do what I needed to do, without much fuss or drama in each of Parvrittta Parsvakonasana, Prasarita Padotanasana C and Mari D. Yay! And I was surprised to find myself in Urdvha Dhanurasana without having done a bridge first. I just forgot. And up I went.

Maybe the new space energized me. Maybe it is that I didn’t have a PowerBar before practice, like I had been doing recently. I added that in because I had stopped drinking Chai when the whether got warmer, and I felt depleted and un-energized without any pre-practice calories. But it seems that perhaps that was one of those temporary adjustments. All adjustments are temporary, actually. We adapt to our changes, and then we need to change again. It’s always good to keep that in mind, whether we’re talking about adjustments to poses or just adjustments and tweaks in our personal lives.

Last day of school today! A bit sad. But my kids love camp, which starts tomorrow. So, I am happy for them.

YC