Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59: Officially 3 days behind, including today.

Moving and hauling and trucking and lugging and cursing. Today was about moving.

Tonight will be 45 minutes of yoga at home before bed. This week will be tough, so I'm throwing in all three doubles...just to make it easier? Once the move is settled and this week is over, I need to write about food, camel pose, tears, quality cutlery, a good frying pan, growing herbs, composting in an apartment, loneliness, drive, control, and so many more topics.

Class: 45 minutes of the Magic four + plough, shoulder stand, and some full locust meditation
Studio: One last night in my old apartment
Instructor: Me

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 58: Dear Dude, I'm dropping my letter in the river. I hope it finds you.

Packing up my belongings, sorting through the piles labeled 'summer' and 'lovebug' and 'forgotten,' the heaps of clothing and scattered socks - the ones that never quite match - is filling my mind with memory and foresight. It's opening up a channel, and that channel brought me to the pen and paper of today...the computer. And then I wrote a letter, but I'm not sure who it's to. Maybe my future self, the one of tomorrow or 500 days after tomorrow. The me that finished my Mala odyssey; the calmer me that learned to use the mind and body together. The me of the future. Maybe it's for that me.

Dear Dude,
Life has been a strange ride the last few weeks. It's been a perpetual dive into the deep dark places that we can barely ever venture to, let alone choose to explore. Nervous breakdown? near check. Emotional outpourings? definite check. Spontaneous fits of laughter, tears, anger and utter calm? for real check, check, and check. check. Monica says it's the emotional stages of the yoga. When she was in teacher training, everyone went "nuts" after about 40 days. People would be randomly crying or shouting the nastiest vulgarities at fellow yogis. Monica said the worst day was when everyone lost it and was one breath away from falling into the pit of super nasty anger, when the girl next to her shouted "get the fuck off my mat!" Apparently, her foot grazed it during one set of triangle. I'm sure she responded with a "whoa, dude," probably all she could muster. I love Monica. And her dude comments.
The yoga has been good, though. I guess what I'm trying to explain (in this little flashback) is that yoga shouldn't just make you feel 'great.' Maybe it is supposed to make you feel like shit. or tired. or thirsty. or moody. or sad. Maybe it's just supposed to make you feel something. And I kind of like that. I like that one day, I'll feel like crying. I'm cursing the heat and the people around me who are weak; the yogis falling out of poses and taking long breaks; the ones guzzling water regardless of others and making dramatic sighs. Some days I fixate on them. I wonder why they're here; why are they bringing such awareness to their struggle. It will plague my mind for most of class. I'll obsess over one student, one girl, one early-20 something petite english major as she struggles with each breath. Everything she does becomes a moment to judge her; reduce her to near nothing; to simply watch her fail. Why? Why? Am I there for her? Am I her witness? Am I her reflection, the archetype of a yogi that she holds herself to? Of course not. I'm just lost in a room, allowing anger and distraction to fill me up. And that's alright, too. There's no right way to feel. All I can do is accept that I feel that way, and hopefully understand it. If I can learn from it, then I'm glad for it.
The Mala is changing me. Physically, my body is breaking down, shedding material that I don't need. It's like gutting an old building, ripping out the cheap insulation and really looking at the foundation. I got so thin, I was worried. Now, I'm replacing that crap with positive growth. I'm strengthening my core; rebuilding my house. My mind is clearer. I'm not happier, or more alive. I'm just more aware. And my mind is catching up to my body.
I don't know why am I writing this all to you. I'm not even sure it is for you. Life. It moves. People drift. They start a new part of the novel. I get that. I've always gotten that...maybe a little too well.
I guess I just wanted to write. Put thoughts in a form I could share. And you are the recipient of my conscious stream.
I hope this finds you well. I hope this finds you happy and peaceful and fresh. I hope this finds you.
Most graciously yours, for reviewing such an open letter. If only I could leave the address as open, and maybe it would find the right recipient at the right time. Now that would be magical.

Most affectionately yours (and still most graciously),

Class: Hot Silent Flow
Instructor: Claudine
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Flowing Camel and Rabbit; finding myself in a room where I'm always losing myself; breathing; forgetting about my water bottle; coming back to center; allowing the anger, or the calm, or the heat to occupy a brief image in the screen of my mind, then continue on; to know I'm moving, changing, growing; accepting what is; holding on to what matters; leaving behind what doesn't; understanding all three.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 57: It's Alright to be Vulnerable

I have a tough time being vulnerable. I hide behind this exterior of humor; mask myself in a facade of well placed wit. It's easier being funny; the one that is never short on laughs. It's easier to be what people perceive you as; something more or less than what you are. It's easier to detach yourself from a person, group or emotion; something I am far too good at. Every time I leave someone behind, I let them float out of me; they take all feelings and memory and leave a sigh. My yoga practice is reaching into to all the holes, all the bullet wounds, all the memories that I carve out of my body. I can see the space where someone once took up. I can remember how I felt. The holes are there, no matter how many new experiences I layer on top.

Vulnerable. Not weak, but vulnerable. Opening up yourself to the potential. The unknown outcome, which could either harm or heal. Being vulnerable. Accepting vulnerability. Being a person. Being who you are and showing that individual - that unique spark that defines you - to someone. Strength is not in bravado, or how many push-ups I can muster. It's accepting who you are right now and learning who you want to become. It's progression. It's yoga.

Today, I let myself be vulnerable. It was a good day.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Jennifer H.
Studio: Open Door
Wins: 3 camels and the best backwards bend ever; mixing up postures; fine tuning and paying attention to the details; making a nicely shaped bow; crying because I was sad; smiling because I was happy; laughing at the silly moments; breathing through the struggles; accepting; moving; growing.

Day 56: Strong Class and a New Book

Today was a very, very strong class. Even though it was full to the fire limit and our mats were turned, the heat never became an issue. And the cap on my water bottle stayed firmly closed all the way until Camel...where I dumped some on my head, not down my throat. It's getting easier and easier to not drink water during class. I'm not sure why, maybe it's the constant hydrating prior to arriving; maybe the consistent practice is changing my perception of 'hot'; maybe I'm just too focused on the yoga to worry about some little bottle of water. Whatever the reason may be, I'm happy to shed a security blanket. It's nice to listen to your body and know that passing on water for 90 minutes won't kill me.

Coming back after my short hiatus is great. I'm strong and my postures reflect that. Though the first class (maybe first two) showed some lost depth, my limberness quickly returned. I fell back, way back, yesterday and started to smile through short breaths and a near-crazy feeling.

I also started a new book as per Catie's recommendation: Meditations from the Mat - Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga. One lesson for every day of the year, to be read one day at a time. I so often rush through things, searching for completeness; whether it's a goal or a simple task, speed and efficiency seem paramount to me. I credit this to the American Standard of here, now, done, fast, immediate, instant. It's nice to wait; to prolong each lesson; to think it over; to digest the wisdom.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: The wondrous Jana
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Lavender towels, of course; 30+ people breathing, moving and working in one room; saying goodbye to insecurities; accepting more of the person I am as I look forward to the person I am becoming; learning that not everything has to do with me, including the ups and downs of friends; separating out my ego and understanding my place.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 54 & 55: Hot 90 and the Advanced Class

I went to both and did my yoga. It felt great and I was very thankful for all the help (corrections, adjustments and support) the teachers gave me.

Now, I will finish this demon of a biology test that I thought would be easy...since it is an online test. Nope. Obscure, ridiculous questions. I'm not cranky. Nope. Not at all. But still sensitive. very. Like boss lady told me today, "It's like you have your period...but for the last 2 weeks." Emotional phase. Hello...and goodbye?

Class: Hot 90 & Advanced
Instructors: Jennifer H and Jennifer F
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Improving my arm balance and finally getting scorpion - thank you Jennifer!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53: "I did a sit-up and a tiny bit of pee shot out..."

I told Mechelle this after class. We laughed, and then I apologized for leaving the room for a minute to finish what I started on the mat. I was happy it was just a wee bit; it could have ruined a lot of people's yoga. Laughing so hard a little pee comes out? Awesomely funny. Urinating on yourself because you compressed your bladder during a sit-up? Eh...funny hours later in story form over drinks...several drinks.

So class was really good and mostly strong. I didn't even bring a water bottle into the room, but made sure I was well hydrated throughout the day. It helped greatly, though the heat got to me by the end of spine strengthening and I was ready for my usual "pour half the bottle on my face" routine.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Mechelle
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Back in the heat.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 52: A Story of Chutney

After that bout with the flu, I came back full force today. I feel great. Being off for a few days forced me to relax, sleep and recover - something I have not been doing, at all. It was almost nice, if you cut out the part where I was near-vomiting and felt like everything hurt; apart from that, it was awesome...right.

As my friend Tomi told me during my first attempt at making chutney, "everything is a lesson, if you can learn from it." This said as I was frantically looking for a recipe as I was assigned to preserving various fruits and veggies by utilizing equal parts sugar and vinegar, all while making the base of my chutney a local shrub called salt bush...which most animals (people, indigenous creatures and the random passerby) viewed as a weed. Win? In the end, yes. My plea for help was turned into an opportunity to try something on my own, without explicit direction or a safety net. I was tasked with doing this by a coordinator at the reserve i called home summer's past (hippie, sustainable reserve = best most magical best best ever); no instructions were given except for "use salt bush to make a chutney...there are some recipes in the kitchen, somewhere.." I learned from this open assignment, after my initial hesitation and fear: Would I screw this up? 25 people are going to eat it...what if it sucks? I'm going to make 10 jars of, that would be a lot of suck. Lessons are everywhere, if you just look.

I learned that even if my salt bush chutney did suck, I would know "exactly what not to do next time" (Tomi's kind wit). And if a lesson could come from this, then even a negative result could have a positive outcome. Lessons are everywhere, if you open your mind to them. This is a goal for me. Find the lesson; discover an opportunity to grow. I learned from my bout of flu that my body needed sleep. My body needed a fresh start. My body needed me to stop fighting what it was obviously asking for: release. Release from the constant tug of war between the yoga and my resistance to its release; an adamant refusal to feel all that I was feeling.

Lessons. Look for them. They're there.

Class: Samana
Instructor: Renee
Studio: Open Door

Day 51: Back in the Game

Happy to be back and my body feels great. Super win today. Super Big Awesome Win.

Class: Hot Silent Flow (Barkan Method)
Instructor: Claudine
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Strong Series; Clearing out stagnant death left over in my lungs; delightful musical accompaniment

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 49 & 50: The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said...

To get back on the yoga express. After 4 days of recuperating from whatever nastiness plagued my body, I'm going back to the studio tonight. Monica told me to be restorative in the heat. "Wait until the fever passes, then come back with 50% energy, and do what your body says," she instructed. And now, I will follow. It's been a crazy few weeks and everything, quite literally, has rocked my daily life. But discipline is something you work on, every day. Focus, determination, progression. I'm in it to win it and 4 days of battling H1N1 is just part of the Mala.

I'm back, baby. Bring the thunder! Or maybe just the heat.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 48: Swine Flu? Who knew...

I feel like death. Not the cool death from Jose Saramago's book. The bad death with the coughing and the headache and the sore muscles and the flu-like badness. Son of a whore. This sucks.

No yoga today. Plenty of sleep. Doubles on Friday and Sunday, if I feel better. Not sure what happened. I was all alright, but just a little tired the other day. Then I woke up to massive congestion, a fever and the general feelings of my body falling apart. Lame.

If it is the flu, damn you H1N1 or any other variant of the much abhorred influenza, I will not be back at the studio for a few days. I'm all about sharing is caring, but sharing the flu with 30 people is definitely not cool. If so, it will be the most restorative svaroopa classes I have done in quite some time. Hello bed, I will be coming your way soon. And flu? fuck you.

Class: Sleeping, drinking plenty of tea, and recouping
Instructor: Neti pot, a plethora of tea, hopefully an appetite and plenty of Vitamin C.
Studio: My apartment

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 47: Svaroopa Yoga and a Failed Neti Pot

I tried to use a neti pot and overdid it on the salt content. Do not use enough salt to saturate the solution, leaving undissolved crystals on the bottom...stupid. Also, do not attempt to do anything involving measuring or your brain or focus or well, anything, when you are nearly sleep walking. Really. It's better just to remove the walking out of that phrase and gently rest your body on a comfy bed.

I also did 30 minutes of svaroopa yoga tonight to release some of the tension in my spinal column. It was intense. I could feel heat building in the areas that I was focusing my attention on; my sacrum felt like a small fire had started in the second part of the Magic Four. Everyone should give this style of yoga a go. It's really restorative.

Today (Day 48) will be a double: Hot 90 followed by the advanced class. Drinking. Lots. Of. Water. Hydrating is on my mind.

Class: 30 minute self-guided svaroopa yoga
Instructor: Me
Studio: Living room

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 46: Pathetic Fallacy

No footing. Zero footing. I completely lack my footing. And it's really fucking me up. I keep slipping as I attempt to plant my feet firmly on the ground, any ground, to feel grounded. I'm not floating, more like perpetually slipping. My feet are wobbly; spastically flailing for a stable surface. groping. longing. hoping. The ground is just the idea of the ground. it lacks physical substance and real depth. the image of ground. and my feet are lost upon it. unable to grip. slipping quickly from one false notion to another hopeful image.

Yup. That's still how I feel. My life is just full of questions, too many unknowns, causing this intense feeling of uncertainty. Unsure of what to do, how to act, where to go, I cope with things I can grasp. Things that are physical, real, tangible. Simple levels of control. Yoga (movement). Food (comfort). Reading (distraction). Anything to keep my mind away from the ominous fog of uncertainty that fills the in-between times.

Pathetic Fallacy. Giving human traits to inanimate objects. When nature reflects the emotions in human interactions. A powerful thunderstorm booming in the background during a lover's quarrel. Or today, when I went to work and my chaotic emotions and uncertainty became the driving factors in all the equipment changing at random. Or chance occurrences stacking to produce a far worse outcome: ice machine lid dislodged, scissors breaking as I try to wedge it back onto its tracks, ice coffee overflowing in the sink and spilling into open ice machine...chaos. random actions that are unconnected, but in certain circumstances, create moments which build on each other. Machine breaks, coffee overflows, ice machine becomes ice coffee machine...fuck.

Breathing. again. back to breath. And choice. Remembering that I choose what I do each day, and how to react to situations I didn't choose. Choice. My breath and my choice. Calm, clear, fluid. That's what I need.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Jana
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Lavender towels.
Not Wins: Feeling bile rise in my throat during spine strengthening; feeling out of control; feeling irritated.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 45: Falling off and Getting on

Tomorrow, I will be transitioning back to vegan (nearly), gluten-free, super health mode style and pursuing a healthy body, focused mind and peaceful soul. The tower of terror emotional drop I had this past week was enough to push me into a mega-coping pattern that would rival NFL plays (though I'm not sure such a reference is good, since I know all of zero patterns in football). But really, I hit the crazy emotional "anything will make me cry" phase, and I'm not too much of a crier...screamer? sure. rageful? when confronted with douche monkeys...yes. I'm a fan of emotions, and like that I can express a range. However, nervous breakdowns in the "my full life is now onion shaped and yoga is a massive, hairy, orangutan hand peeling each painful, repressed feeling with powerful tears" style prompted some serious the form of espresso, sugar, cheese, jon stewart, laziness and any other emotional pitfall of doom (minus jon stewart, cause the daily show is just funny).

Hello healthy, I'll be coming your way soon. Sorry for the detour. I guess crying in public wasn't my scene, so instead, I opted for false-happiness and borrowed energy. Next time I feel like crying, I'll dress in all black, put on some of my old emo music from high school and look forlornly off into the weird space between people. Hello sad little teenage me...looks like I need to see what hurt back then. Strap up...or down. Just pull out the straps and hold on. *deep breath*

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Jana
Studio: Open Door
Wins: lavender towels, lavender towels and cold, magical, unicorn-hair-750-thread-count-dipped-in-relaxation-and-all-that-is-good lavender towels.

Day 44: Hot Silent Flow and Zely & Ritz

I love Zely & Ritz. They have the most amazingly delicious food. And, it's mostly organic, local fare. Awesome.

Appetizers: House marinated olive with assorted nuts; Local pickled vegetables (from their CSA partner farm, Coon Rock).
Entrees: Roasted Beet salad with organic mixed greens + walnut vinaigrette; Bottles of wine (love on some cotes du rhone); Roasted vegetables from Coon Rock; many, many more delectable dishes.
Dessert: More wine, of the dessert variety.

If you come to Raleigh, go here. It will seriously love on you so very much. And you will love on Zely & Ritz, too. Advertisement over? sure.

Yeasayer - Odd Blood. Download it and get your 80's psychedelic-esque party on. I Remember and Ambling Alps - awesome.

Class: Hot Silent Flow
Instructor: Claudine
Wins: Change-ups; uncovering deeply buried feelings in class; moving with my breath; Delicious food; Yeasayer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 43: When your body says no

My body said "no" today, mainly with the feeling of lunch in the upper regions of my esophagus. From the onset of class, I had nausea to the point of tasting partially digested vegan energy bar swimming in coffee. I barely got through 3 breaths in the first set of pranayama and struggled to fully exhale for 6 seconds. This was the first time in over a month that I struggled with breathing. But this is also the first time in a month that everything has been completely different-my diet, my sleep pattern, my stress levels, my emotions, my whole life. My inability to control my breath and my body reacting so poorly was a reflection of my intense feelings of being out of control. Now, sitting down to my new favorite dessert (kefir and frozen blackberries), I'm breathing easily; calming down my chaotic day and evaluating all that caused such a stir.

When I'm stressed-physically, emotionally-my body has interesting ways of telling me to stop, drop and roll...or just to stop and think (but fire safety is for real, too). Like breathing shallowly, or feeling like I'm about to revisit lunch in a most unpleasant way. My body is saying "yo dude, what the fuck are you doing? chill out. it's fine. really. stop screwing me up with all this bullshit food; stressing me out with all this anxious energy." And it's right. All the stress is creating a terrible environment inside of me, which is reflected in all of my choices. This last week has been a series of band-aids on real problems. Instead of coming to terms with them, I've been masking them up; using the convenient, American "there's-a-pill-for-that" style of handling a problem. But a pill won't work. Nor will ignoring it. It's time to figure all this emotional junk out...and what better time then the emotional stage of a yoga adventure: Day 30 through 60 (Pulled from the 101 blog, which pulled it from Mary Jarvis' writing):

Day 31-60, we start to get into the emotional "stuff". As in the first 30 days, where we re-adjust the entire physical body, the next 30 days we re-adjust the entire emotional body while simultaneously regenerating and rebuilding every single cell in the body. We also begin to get into some serious realignment of the spine and the entire central nervous system. These next 30 days, you really begin to feel mentally fatigued, even in spite of the fact that you physically feel better than you ever have in your entire life!!!! This is the emotional readjustment.

And yes, there it is. Hello opportunity to handle some of the big, putrid, emotional gunk buried in the "I'll save you for later" section of my psyche's library. 
Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Jennifer
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Um...about this term "wins." Yeah, I'm going to need you to go ahead and come in on Saturday. And while you're at it, Sunday too. Yeah, um, it looks like I'll need a double on sunday, as well. Yeah, um, thanks. Have a good weekend. bye. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 42: No Mirror For You!

Yup. I came in a few minutes before class and wedged myself into a space, which unfortunately put my in line with another person. So, gazing forward, I saw another yogi's derrière instead of my reflection. And man, did I say the nastiest things in my head. Hello 5 year old me...what a nice temper tantrum you just had! Oh no, she's not an "inconsiderate bitch" for failing to move to one side. Nor is she that distracting to my series. Really, she's not...even though her foot kicked me in each set of balancing stick. Not distracting. I am distracting myself by allowing a change in my routine, or a clear view of the mirror, to drastically affect the way I do my yoga. Lessons! Oh so many lessons...

So, yogic lessons from this: be on time; accept what you cannot change; learn to be calm when you're uncomfortable; focus on your practice; move in a new way; revel in the unknown; feel alive.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Jana
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Jana and her lavender towels; spine strengthening flow; Jana kicking our ass because someone mentioned her classes are easier (definitely not true today!); really great shots that CMP Boss Lady pulled for me the other day; accepting flaws; drowning my rearing narcissism; finding balance internally instead of relying on the externals.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41: Skip, and Why It's Okay.

Work was long and sleep was short. After 8 hours at the shop, my friend Catie spent an hour talking to me about my yoga practice and re-balancing my body with some much needed acupuncture (she even brought me slowly back to myself with tuning forks - awesome). Post needles, I went home and started working on a chem lab report, homework, reading and prep-work for a new lab assignment; all of which needs to be done by tomorrow except for my homework, which is due in 2 hours. 5:30 sneaked up on me and I had to postpone my yoga until the 7:30 class. It's now 7:25 and I am still in my house, finishing up work. Today will have to be a skip. And that's alright.

During my talk with Catie (and numerous other yogis - especially Jill from wandering yoga), we discussed the importance of yoga as an honored time for yourself, not an obligation to further stress over. When you try to squeeze in 2 hours for yoga and class suddenly becomes an obstacle in your day, it's alright to skip. You can make up the time. Right now, finishing all my class work for tomorrow is more important than going to a yoga class that I would view as time consuming, instead of liberating. So instead of fretting over one missed day, I'm going to do 30 minutes of svaroopa yoga before bed. I'm going to finish all of my work in the next 2 hours and get to sleep by 10. I'm going to get 8 hours of restful, restorative sleep. I'm going to listen to my body; it's telling me to take a breath and take a break.

Class: Svaroopa yoga: The Magic 4
Instructor: Me
Studio: My living room with a chair, my mat and a stack of books serving as yoga blocks.
Wins: Breathing; Finishing all of my work; 8 hours of much needed sleep.

Day 40: Emotions and Wheel

My emotions are going fucking crazy. crazy. I'm on the verge of a breakdown in the morning, with little things like wind in my face or discovering new policies at work pushing me to the point of crying. crying. Shedding tears like I just found out my penis is going to fall off on the same day I'm destined to meet the most perfect disney-prince-charming lad...all while the the storm of the century wipes away most of the Northeast...and California breaks off into the ocean. That's how I feel. What? What!? Hello, emotional roller-coaster, I'll have all 54 seats; one for each of the insanely singular emotions that will consume a hyper-intense period of time throughout my 17 waking hours...each day. Thank you. Oh? This ride has a 580...thousand...gillion foot drop? Awesome. 33 loops? Super. 48 story climb? Win. And then it goes all the way back in reverse? Fuck me. Breathe. Breathe. Catch your breath. *Deep, slow exhale* pause *Insanely loud scream*

Wheel, from flat to curved:
Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Monica
Studio: Open Door

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 39: Rut-ut-ut-ut...putt-putt-putt

Stuck in a rut. Stuck. Oh so stuck. Looking up, maybe over. Seeing the rut. Staring at it. Rut. There you are.

Procrastinating. Putt-putt-putt. Moving so slowly. Distraction is my motivation. Everything is shiny, bright. Attention. Attention. Here. Have it.

Yoga. 90 minutes of shutting all of that out. Not being consumed by the rut your in, or fixating on how you got there. The rut disappears and you are just there. Present. Motivation becomes release. Internal dialogue of scattered thoughts is trumped by one clear, strong voice guiding you through a posture.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Mechelle
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Listening to the teacher; a disappearing rut; focus replacing "everything is so shiny."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 38: Scorpion, The Mechanics of Awesome

Class: Samana
Instructor: Renee
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Everything.

Samana. We lacked the usual pleasantry of musical accompaniment today. The class was stacked in two full rows, 12 in each. We twisted, folded, stretched, bent, lifted, lengthened for the first 50 minutes. Oh, and we toned...for real. We contracted abs in isometric holds, saluted the sun many times and became intimate with our hamstrings...very intimate. Wheels were made toward the end and 24 ploughs took position in a class that reached a humidity level of 100%...we made it rain. rain. That beautiful H20 condensed on pipes and streamed down the mirror, walls and each of our bodies. The mechanics of awesome: Samana.

After class, Renee demonstrated a beautiful scorpion:

 -Start with your forearms extended out and with your elbows under your shoulders.

 - Push up (as in the first photo) into dolphin pose with Scorpion arms.

 - Kick up your feet one at a time, moving into an arm balance.

 - Hold here to establish balance.

- Begin to sink your heart down, pushing your head/neck forward.

 - Your shoulders will drop down and exaggerate the curve in your lower back.

 - Let your feet come forward and down as a natural counter balance.
- You are not sinking your feet down, but pushing through. This is the hardest part to get (I still have trouble with this).

My attempt at Scorpion, from arm balance:

Final Part of Scorpion (For now):


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 37: Hot Silent Flow and Tim's Magical Push

Hot Silent Flow happens every Saturday. Claudine studied the Barkan Method in Florida and teaches his flow-style hot yoga in a candle lit room. Awesome. It's a smooth, steady flow based on Bikram's 26 postures, but with added variation. At the start you do two sets of pranayama breathing, and then move into a sun salutation series to warm-up the body. After several of the intro poses, you move into Bikram's series, but alternate second sets with different postures. The variation is great, and adds an additional layer of focus as you try out new poses. Just as practice makes perfect, incorporating new postures opens up your body to different stretches (and therapeutic effects).

I enjoy the idea of muscle confusion and the added challenge of trying something new. And the following Monday, when I go back to the straight 26 (with maybe some added pigeon-great stretch for the piriformis...butt muscle!), I am seriously in it to win it. The class is usually always one of my strongest series; my alignment stays true as I explore new depths. And Claudine's voice is perfect for this class: strong, calm and sincere. You just do what she says and the light music in the background shuts out all the other crap floating in your head. What's that you say? Oh, why is awesome.

Speaking of all things awesome, Tim, the sweet man of the Morning Times, helped me stretch out my back at work during a short respite from the onslaught of patrons. Though it looked  borderline pornographic (on a scale from 1 to having sex on the counter), it was the best push I've received in quite some time. I did a quick forward bend, wrapped my hands around my ankles and flattened my back separate-leg-stretching style. From there, Tim pushed on my lower back, which quickly brought my head to rest on the crumb-covered floor. It was back cracked and popped, and then just melted down. I felt immediately better as I reversed the pose and thanked Tim repeatedly for being awesome. Super awesome. So thank you, Tim, for being the sweetest man around.

Class: Hot Silent Flow
Instructor: Claudine
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Claudine and her clear voice; flow; Tim's magical push.

Day 36: Corrections

Today was a fairly good day. Work was long and even though a monsoon moved over Raleigh, it was still a pleasant afternoon. I even managed to make it to the studio without skidding into a ditch. And dying. So that marks a great day.

As for class, it was awesome. Awesomely full of corrections. I really appreciate a "hands-on" approach when it comes to yoga. It's so easy to be turned off by teachers constantly correcting you, adjusting your stance and calling out your name just as you feel the pose is perfect...when it's not. I really don't mind. Honestly, I enjoy it. In this class, I found several new alignment changes that completely shifted poses, allowing greater depth and an overall stronger series. Poses like separate leg head to knee, where I could never figure out how to shift weight back. Jennifer came by, rotated my hips and changed my stance. Boom. Weight in the back leg, and it felt completely different.

Corrections. Teachers give them because they want to help you get everything you can out of the yoga. So love them...teachers and corrections.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Jennifer
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Strong and flexible class; many helpful corrections

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 35: Half Ass

Today was a half-ass day. I tried just enough on my first chemistry exam to probably walk away with a high B, maybe low A. No extra cramming for it. Not even a last minute "I need to remember this" sweat. I daydreamed for the full hour and 20 minutes of Biology. I ran through my lab assignment just so I could leave an hour early, hoping to catch some extra mid-day-break reading time (which I covet so much). I lazily walked to the coffee shop, grabbed my bike and pedaled home...even this was half-assed. Not leisurely, just lazy. A real ehhh pace.

Half ass. And this was also the way I did my yoga. There was no sitting, nor any breaks. No reconnecting with my breath or pushing my body into new depths while maintaining proper alignment. I would be fine, maybe, with sitting out; knowing that my body had reached a point where I needed an impromptu savasana. But that wasn't the case. I just kept going at a meager 30%. And that's lame. Only the poses. Only 90 minutes of a fairly mediocre series. The instructions were clear and fluid. Heat was definitely at an appropriate level. All the other students brought energy, either new "i've never done hot yoga" vibes or that calm, driven veteran energy. My energy...ehhh.

This happens. I'm not happy about it, nor am I proud. I'm just accepting it. Tomorrow (today) will be different. The end.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Jana
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Jana and her sweet demeanor; lavender towels.
Not Wins: Being a bum to the extreme.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34: Indulgence

Today was a coconut brownie sort of day. This day doesn't come around too often for me. Maybe once every 2 months (okay, sure...sometimes a little sooner). But I knew it today. Everything pointed me in the direction of sweet toasted coconut atop rich chocolaty goodness complete with toasted walnuts. The infamous coconut brownie at the Morning Times. I didn't even look at the fruit bowl. My concentration was not swayed by the vegan Heart Thrive bars. Even the marginally healthier Raleigh Times Bars (complete with peanut butter, homemade granola, honey and chocolate chips-fucking awesome) held no power over me. It was brownie, coconut brownie, all the way.

Indulgence. Every now and then, your body says eat a brownie. Your mind agrees. Your spirit says, "fuck yeah!" And then you do. You really enjoy it. It tastes great. No guilt. No bad feelings. No "Ugh, I have so so so much running to do." Screw that. An indulgence, better yet a treat, is something you have once and a while (like once a month, not once a day) that makes you happy in so many ways. Next month, it might be a full day of watching old buffy episodes. Maybe even breaking out the Xena. Hell, I might bike to lilly's and get a pizza. Treats. Things you occasionally indulge in for celebrations or random moments of happy. Try it.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Monica
Studio: Open Door
Wins: coconut brownie treat; productive meetings; worrying more about my alignment then how high my leg gets; PELVIS!
Not wins: feeling exhausted all day; dreaming all night that I was in a house that was suddenly massive and under attack by nazi-esque invaders who wanted to easy-bake-oven me as I attempted to escape through the woods and took rest under a rock on the ledge of a cliff post securing edibles at a convenience store....which I had to steal from since I had no money, only fear...what the fuck; another flat tire!

Day 33: I'm Just Going to Grab Your Butt

Stretching pose. The one that follows head to knee pose. You set up by grabbing your big toes and inching your butt back...resting on your sits bones. Okay. I got this. I'm not rounding too much. Look how low I am getting! wow...this is..."Chris, pretend I'm grabbing your butt and pulling it back," Monica says, interrupting my feelings of awesomeness within this posture. Okay, my butt is back. "Push it back," she reiterates while pressing on my lower back and helping it to straighten out. "Okay, here, I'm going to grab your butt...okay? I'm going to pull it back for you so you can feel the difference." Um, sure. I'm completely waterlogged, but you're cool. And no one has touched my butt in a while, so hell...grab on! She, quite literally, pulls my butt out and forces me to lift up higher. Extending up with my ribs, flattening out my back and stretching properly. "Do you feel the difference?" Yup. Yes, yes I do.

My hips don't usually tilt that way. My pelvis is a firm believer in "no, I don't want to." I would welcome the discomfort if I could even figure out how to tilt my pelvis. Pelvis is an awesome word. Pel-vis. Okay, yes, so tilting that awesome anatomical structure. I just spent 5 minutes not feeling awkward about massaging my own tookus as I attempted to find the tilt I had in class. It was insane to move my pelvis with my hands, feeling my bones rotating around. Bizarre. Really, there's a lot going on down there. You should make an excuse to feel it out, too.

What I learned? Hamstrings. Has to be my hamstrings. As I stretched up, lengthened my back and tilted forward-BOOM-my hamstrings said, "oh fuck you." So, yes, I think it's my hamstrings, which are so very very tight (still).

Thank you for the very hands-on class, Monica. It was quite memorable, and brought out a few laughs.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: The very pregnant Monica
Studio: Open Door
Wins: Butt massage; having fun with my pelvis; Key lime pie Larabars! (free at Open most amazing yes yes moment).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 32: What heat? Stop fighting it.

The heat is less and less and less...oh, and less of a distraction. Even when it's thick in the room, I just do the inhales that help me. The long, slow and deliberate ones. I don't yell at myself when I fall out of bow, or when I get a bend in my "it's supposed to be locked solid" knee; I just lower my leg and start over with a fresh breath.  I am amazed with the amount of energy and focus I can give to my practice when I'm not wasting energy fighting myself.

Fighting myself. What an awesome expression. Think about how much you fight yourself. The dagger eyes of concentration tensing your whole body; a tight jaw as you muscle your way into a certain depth. All that energy spent on tensing, straining, grinding is energy you could put towards productive movement: steady, calm breathing; fluid extension; a solid foundation.

We are constantly battered with the idea of who we should be that we end up fighting, nearly constantly, who we are. I'm far from the idea of who I should be and still fight myself all the time. "I should look this way. I should be able to do this. I should be stronger. smarter. better." All of these should statements are bullshit. Bullshit that is so stupid hard to let go. I'll most likely work on this for the rest of my life, but that's alright. It's a progression. I'm not waiting for the train to stop at perfect-ville. I'm just happy to be on the train and moving forward. The only thing I really value is growth. Not the capitalist "bigger, more more more more" sort of growth. Growing more into the person I am by losing all the imposed ideas of the person I should be. Growth in the positive, enriching and magical way.

Class: Hot 90
Instructor: Monica
Studio: Open Door
Wins: No problems with my breath; fully (maybe?) adapted to a hot, hot room; Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros make me happy with the large smiles and bright eyes; Not worrying about anyone else in the room.