30 November, 2012

It's not because I don't love you

If I connect the dots together on my broken yoga blog calendar, there's clearly a missing entry from Friday, November 30th. It was Elizabeth Thomas, Power Vinyasa. I know this, because I do my best to make sure I attend that class every week, and I know I didn't miss it last week. I feel like I wrote an entry for it too, which probably means my iPhone lost it.

I continue to create a large mountain for myself to climb, catching up on missing yoga blogs. Can I commit (after this lapse) to getting back on it regularly again?

Yes.

Of course, I don't remember anything about the class, since it was 10 days ago.

Ugh.

29 November, 2012

Juice is the big lie

Today was Gentle Yoga with Jessica Willis.

I don't remember this class. It's part of the collateral loss of not doing these entries the day of the class. I am curious about why it's so difficult for me to make myself write every day lately. When I was on my big marathon, it became a routine. Now, I keep falling behind, and then catching up. The reason it bothers me is because I see it as a missed opportunity. The point of the daily entries was to catalog for myself (and you, I guess) how the practice is evolving, and how my experience is changing from day to day. And when I miss a week, and then try to go back and connect the dots, it ends up being a different kind of blog. Of course, I could make the argument that, perhaps, an entry like this is an interesting deviation from the run of the mill. And I realize that there are at least two phrases in this entry that should have been hyphenated, but that's not my problem. You're the grammar freak, not me.

Jessica is going to be teaching the "40 Days to Personal Revolution" workshop in January. It happens to start while I am away in Thailand, and I am pretty sure I have decided that I will not put that commitment on my schedule when I am traveling abroad because it seems to be unduly urgent thinking. I did purchase the book, and maybe will make a head start on it for the future occasion when I am able to do the course.

Lately, I have been thinking about changing the way I eat. And I struggle with that a little bit. I believe I have already made some pretty big shifts over the past couple of years, toward less junky food. But I am still heavily dependent on dairy and carbs. I drank an Odwalla yesterday that was 1 liter. The container said "Number of Servings: 4," and I drank the entire thing. If you're curious to know, that's 640 calories, and consisted of 118 grams of sugar. So, pretty much, I drank 3 cans of Pepsi, as far as my pancreas is concerned. And, most importantly, how did I feel afterward? Like shit. Nauseous, and horrible. And then very hungry not much later.

You know what? I'm just going to say it:

Juice is the big lie.

Whoever got all the hype going for juice was clearly trying to sell juice. Because it's not that good for you. It contains some vitamins, yes. But otherwise, it's pretty much sugar water. If they put 100% of your daily allowance of Vitamin C in Mountain Dew, it would not be much different.

And I know this. I tell myself, "No juice... water." But sometimes I want juice. I crave juice.

I would like to explore what it means to feed, not based on "cravings" but on what my body really needs.

So the big question is: "How do I know my body didn't need juice?"

27 November, 2012

Right Action

Today was 90 minutes of Power Vinyasa with Tina Templeman.

It was also, sadly, the last day of my cat's life. The blog's not about cats, so I'll keep it short, and say that he was 25 years old, maybe older, and he had deteriorated to the point that it was cruel to keep him alive. I say "my cat" even though he is actually my housemate's cat. But he's been a part of my life, honestly, forever. I don't know that I could have made the choice to euthanize him, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

So... the plan had been for the vet to come over the house and do it. And I had made up my mind, in no uncertain terms, that I did not want to be there for it. I did not want to see the cat go from being alive, to being not alive. I didn't want to see him stop being. He's been for so long, and I just didn't want to watch. The night before, there had been a little gathering with a few friends to say goodbye, and I hid in my room all night, not wanting to be social. Had a hard time going to sleep. When I woke up, I said my goodbyes in the morning. And I asked my housemate, "Are you sure you don't want me to be there?" And she started to answer, and then hesitated, got a little choked up, and then restarted, and said "Not unless you want to be there for you. Don't do it for me." And I went to work, planning on going to Elizabeth's class at 4pm, and feeling bad all day.

Around lunch time, I was really down, really upset, and my girlfriend said (over text), "Maybe you should go home, and be there with her?" I got upset, and defensive, and replied that I didn't want to talk about it anymore. And I then felt frenzied, and completely out of control. I was in Whole Foods, but I didn't want to eat anything. I felt like my brain was spinning.

And then, suddenly, something clicked: "I need to go home and be there."

It was a combination of things. First, I know my housemate well enough to know that she'd never ask anyone to do anything for her. But maybe doing things for people isn't always because they say they need it, but because you want to do it for them, just because. Second, the degree to which I was avoiding the notion of Ozone (the cat) ceasing to be was troubling to me. And I know that it was because it makes me think about mortality in general. This little guy that I have been so close to, and I will see him "transition" out of this life. My fear of it, and my utter aversion to it practically demanded that I confront this, because what am I avoiding, really? Truth. What is.

As Lola would say, "This is what is happening."

So I went home, and it was clear that it was the right thing to have done. It was one of those "If you hadn't done this, you would have regretted it for the rest of your life" kind of situations.

I don't know if, before starting to do yoga, I would have made the right choice in this situation.

Class was tough. It took me nearly half the class to get out of my head, and I was trying not to be hard on myself. Eventually, I got beat down enough from the sheer challenge of the 90 minutes class, that I settled into breath, and was okay. It was somewhere after the flows, around the time we did either Dancer's Pose or Tree or Triangle. I can't really remember.

But really, give myself a break, right? I mean, my freaking cat just died.

26 November, 2012

Temporary discomfort into lasting comfort

Today was Hatha with Patrick.

It's a good way to start the week. The positive energy of Patrick. The grounding nature of the series. I continue to feel a little better than before. So curious as to why. It's always a big investigation to understand why I (we) feel worse. I (we) seldom stop to ponder why things are better. But perhaps that is even more important. Think of life more like cooking than debugging a computer program.

The reconfiguration of my yoga life involved a bit of an internal struggle. I watched myself do all those things that I do in an effort to achieve what? Not clarity, so much as justification. I feel like one of the lessons I am learning is that it's not just about figuring out how to achieve one's goals, but determining if one is even pursuing the right goals for oneself.

Seek clarity and peace. Easier than seeking justification or validation. The latter is a loud and chaotic pursuit. The former is a quiet and conscious one.

Okay that's all.

25 November, 2012

The opposite of everything

Today was Gentle Yoga with Elizabeth McElveen.

As always, Elizabeth came to class with a lot of interesting thoughts to share. She was talking about how thoughts that are "outside of this moment," regardless of whether they are happy or unhappy thoughts, create stress in our body. That was an interesting idea. She talked about how the pain that we experienced years ago, that seems to have disappeared, may come back from time to time, and that maybe we're really just on a cycle, where things come around in a big circle. Maybe we aren't even going anywhere, in reality. And then, it doesn't really matter, because maybe it's just all about doing the practice. Something like that.

And then she said that yoga is the opposite of everything, which I kind of liked. She didn't elaborate too much on it, but I don't think she really needs to. It's obvious what she's saying. We're constantly doing things in our lives that tighten our bodies, create stress. We're always making lists, planning, and trying to hold on to the memories of everything important to us. Yoga is teaching us to not do that, for even a little while. The opposite of everything.

Without a whole lot to explain it, I would have to say that the pain in my body has been subsiding the past several days. Not really sure why. There's been a little bit of ibuprofen involved, but not enough to say that I am dealing with inflammation. There's also been a little bit of rest involved, Wednesday and Saturday, but I've been on that schedule for several weeks now.

23 November, 2012

Draw outside the lines

Today was Power Vinyasa with Liz Doyle.

Again, we colored mostly outside the lines. Sun A? What's that? Sun B? Who could be bothered with that?

Liz talked about a lot of things that reminded me of the reading we have been doing in the Iyengar book. In particular, she brought up Samskara, which are patterns of behavior or thought that we get stuck in. The metaphor Iyengar uses involves sand bars forming on the bottom of a lake, disrupting or exaggerating disruptions at the surface. It was nice having read about this so it felt familiar.

Her class is tough.

But interestingly, while the novelty makes it tough, the novelty is also a kind of break for the body from the regular Baptiste routine. Doing the same series again and again can be a kind of Samskara of its own if one is not careful. Though the reason for this is our tendency not to stay purely in the moment, but bringing memories of past classes and expectation of what is to come. I suppose that is "The Practice" but it is nice to really shake things up sometimes.

Right?

22 November, 2012

Thanks, but no thanks

Today was Power Vinyasa with Julie Andres at Live Live Flow.

Yep. A new studio! Fun times. I'd been meaning to try it out since it is so close to my house. And the thanksgiving plans made this a good day for firsts. Whereas my other studios were sporting only 2 hour classes, LLF had a 75 minute which seemed like a better idea for my body and my turkey.

The class was crowded but not overly so. Julie was a great teacher with lots of positive and uplifting energy. She is just coming back from traveling so I think this was her first class in some time. The studio was bright and airy with a cool black ceiling that is nice to stare at during savasana.

Class was tough but I suspect that was more a function of my general difficulty with morning classes.

At one point during class, Julie asked us all to yell out something we were thankful for. I struggled with that instruction and remained quiet, having a hard time even conjuring the thing I would say if I were to have done it. Though it is not because I am ungrateful.

I look forward to another class at LLF. Seems like it could be a good Saturday spot?

20 November, 2012

Attachments

Today was supposed to be gentle yoga with Elizabeth.

And there's the problem. Those attachments. "Supposed to be" often leads to disappointment.

In reality, today was 90 minutes of power vinyasa with Nicole. And it was just fine. It was hard, but it was yoga.

I was so set on doing this class today. But my schedule at work trapped me in a meeting that I could not quite escape for all my best efforts. And as the meeting wore on... 3:30... 3:45... My resentment was growing. Anger directed primarily at one colleague whom I felt was wasting time, pontificating about unnecessary things. Bleeding the time away. I started to believe that he was trying to make me miss the class. While that's not entirely out of the realm of possibility (we don't have a fantastic relationship), the more likely explanation was that he was talking to serve his own purposes.

The point is... the attachment to this class actually took me out of the moment and had me feeling worse than what was actually right in front of me. I know that complete surrender and acceptance would be to take all things in stride. The idea of getting so bent out of shape about a yoga class feels, itself, to be ironic.

I found a glimmer of a message in my mind: my "intelligence" if you will, saying to me "another yoga class will be fine. This is an opportunity to practice with what is." But, much as I knew this, I cling to the attachment and the resentment.

And what did it buy me? Only I felt bad. No one else. But it made me less effective and probably less pleasant to be around. The faster I can let go, the more effective I can be. The happier I can be. That seems simple.

But just as it is difficult on the mat to "tolerate" that 6th Sun B (when you expected there would only be 3 or 4 of them), it's even harder to accept (radically!) when things don't go according to plan in "real life" where the perceived stakes are higher.

Amusingly, after finally accepting this reality, I had built up the new mental preparation around my Plan B which was to be Tina's 5:30 class. And I had a fair amount of apprehension because I know Tina is tough and I am sore. But sure enough, I got there and Nicole was subbing.

I think the lesson here is to make plans... but don't be surprised or disappointed when they change, and don't bother thinking through how something is going to be, because it is probably going to be different.

19 November, 2012

Long time no see

Today was power vinyasa with Jo.

My body wasn't really up for an intense class today. But my choice was intense or nothing at all. And I am feeling like I need the yoga lately. Even though it has been hurting, I need it.

Familiar faces that I haven't seen for a while. I miss these people. It feels warm, the welcome. I decided today that I do want to keep the practice going there, and did a class pack. I know that the heat is harder on my body and I will likely pepper these classes in to my schedule because I want to see my community there. But my body needs ease. And that can be hard to find. Still pondering if I need yet another studio for the gentlest of the gentle yoga needs. Maybe.

Class started off not too hot being a 4pm but it quickly escalated to the point that I was feeling sensations I haven't felt in a while. For me it's the fatigue and weakness of muscles that grows in the latter part of the class. I just don't hold up well.

Blah blah blah.

18 November, 2012

Rekindling the love

Today was gentle yoga with Elizabeth McElveen.

Every class with Elizabeth is like a gift. I would pay just to watch a video of her class while sitting on the couch, her voice is so lulling and her words so wise.

After the various great yoga stories in my year of practice, I really have been hitting a wall. A bit of a letdown. What is next? And maybe it's nothing. The honeymoon is over and now practice is sort of like life. Just something I need to do every day.

As Madonna says, "beauty's where you find it." I am sure she was quoting someone else. But the beauty is Always there. At times it's harder to see.

Elizabeth is helping me find it again.

16 November, 2012

Working my way backwards

Today was Power Vinyasa + Meditation with GUEST TEACHER.

Ok. Guest teacher was actually named Cole. I guess he was going through a potential new teacher evaluation with Scott and Michel (who were both in the class). I was curious about who a guest teacher might be, and eager for the experience, since most of these unexpected experiences have been good ones.

Turns out, class was really good tonight. Even though I have been pretty much hurting for days, and days, and days, this day was a little better. Who knows why? I certainly don't. I don't think I took any ibuprofen today, which is usually what makes things better.

From the Iyengar book, I have been thinking about the breath a lot lately. Reading about the different stages of the breath really makes me more conscious about them. Especially these elements like holding the breath at both the top and bottom of the cycle, and about exhaling just a little bit further at the end of the exhale after pausing. I have tried this while reading the book, and now I have been trying it while on the mat. It's easy to do in Child's Pose or Savasana. What's harder to do is pay attention to the breath in the same way, hitting the same points, during a pose like Crescent Lunge, or Chair. But it's just as relevant there. In particular, I have always felt like it is hard to go through a Sun B because, at the end of the Downward Dog, I am out of air from an exhale, but am supposed to continue exhaling as I step forward, before inhaling up to Warrior I. But now it makes a little more sense, because I can imagine that step forward as being that little extra exhale at the end of a breath. Instead of being freaked out that my timing is off, wondering what I did wrong, did I exhale too quickly, am I suffocating, I am now just taking it as the natural step in the process.

An interesting transition.

Being a new teacher, Cole, who is actually just moving here from New York, brought a slightly different dialog to the classroom than I have heard elsewhere. "Halfway Lift" was "Prepare your spine." But the words don't really matter. In some way, I feel like "prepare your spine" has an interesting different connotation to it. I think about that motion differently when it's a "preparation" than I might for a "halfway lift." Halfway why? Lifting why? Why halfway? Not all the way? Well, I guess it's because I am preparing my spine. For what, I guess I will have to ponder some more.

Anyway, after a long series of rough days... days I didn't even want to write about... a pretty good day.

15 November, 2012

Flashbacks

Today was Gentle Yoga with Jessica.

It was one of those classes, from start to finish, perfect.

We started class each saying something that we are struggling with, and something that motivates us. It was a small class. Only about 12 people. We had lots of space. It felt intimate, and was interesting to hear the things people said around the room. Deep, honest sharing.

I'm struggling with the pain in various parts of my body. At most recent count, it goes as follows:

Old Stuff: shoulder, hips, groin, Achilles tendon
New Stuff: wrists, palms
New Old Stuff: knees

It all hurts. Some of it feels like injury. Some feels like ache. Some feels like inflammation. And some days are better or worse than others. The struggle I have is integrating my desire to practice and get the emotional and physical benefits, while not doing harm to myself. At the same time, I want to do all this without feeling badly about myself, and rejecting or resenting my body.

We did Moon Salutations today. Instead of jumping forward and backward into our Downward Dog, we took a long stride forward into a Runners' Lunge, and then brought the other foot forward. It was exactly like we did on the retreat in Italy when Sue was teaching. That was how she did her Chaturangas. And when Jessica had us doing this, suddenly, I was transported by this flow back to that time, that place, in the studio where we practiced. I closed my eyes, and I saw Sue. I could hear her voice. I could feel Lola off to my right. And I could feel Linda, Mary, and Joanna off to my left. I can still feel and remember every minute detail of the room... of the entire trip. And this flow took me back there, and I started to feel super-emotional.

I am not sure I really comprehend fully what that retreat did to me. But I think it shifted something in me. I don't know that I feel better, necessarily, right away, anyway, as a result of the experience. It did something though. I came back, and things shifted. I started going to a new studio, I started, actually, turning inward. Perhaps too much so, I think?

I wanted to have a big "A-Ha!" moment on the retreat where things magically became clear. I wanted to have a breakdown. Anything. Others did. But I just went through it, feeling gravity of it, but not a big bang. But I think a big bang did happen, perhaps in the form of an implosion of something.

I do think I am better off than I was. Changes are occurring in my life. The practice of yoga, I suppose, is just being open to whatever the practice brings.

14 November, 2012

Not the thoughts I want to be thinking

Today was power vinyasa with Carley.

I have been in a negative place lately. A bit of regression. Seeing the bad in the world. Focusing on the negative in my life and in those around me. Obsessing over the bad news in the media. Dark. Dreary. Heavy.

Today it was on the mat with me. I hurt. And I really started to hate my body. Not the vanity type of hatred but more the resentment for it letting me down. I want to feel light and flexible and strong. And instead, I am sore and broken and aging. My parts aren't moving the way I want.

It was a class that I only just survived. It's still a joy, somewhere deep under the gloom, to have an opportunity to practice at this place with these teachers and students. But I am hanging on right now.

12 November, 2012

So long ago I don't remember

Today was power vinyasa with Vanessa.

The night before had been a potluck with some of the same people from this class. This community. I was happy to be coming into class, for the first time connected to the people, as well as the practice we share. I am not forgetting my community that I already have. But I guess more community isn't a bad thing.

I knew Vanessa would be tough and she sure was. But it's a good class and she has a good message.

It would be nice if my freaking palms would stop hurting.

11 November, 2012

More that I do not remember

I think I did Elizabeth's class last Sunday. But I waited so long to write about it that it's now a blur. Was it her class? Did I do yoga? Who am I? Why am I here?


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09 November, 2012

I promise myself...

At some point there was a class with Elizabeth Thomas that I failed to document. I believe it was Friday the 9th. I remember it. It was hard because most of the classes, with exception of gentle yoga, have been hard lately.

The point of this blog was to document the day to day. But it's slipped a little bit. The reason I'm making myself even write these entries now is because I'm trying to just discipline myself to stick with the intention even if it isn't really the way I wanted it to be. I feel like allowing myself to just lose these entries even though they're so far after-the-fact would be setting a precedent that is historically the way I fall out of good habits and routines. So in a sense, this is me, trying to remind myself of consequences...

Unfortunately at your expense.

08 November, 2012

This is enough

Today was gentle yoga with Elizabeth McElveen.

As always, magical.

How do I get more of this.
Because this is what I want.

I suppose it's in me. She just has a knack for bringing it out.

I had more to say but it eludes me now.

Darker and the same

Today was gentle yoga with Jessica Willis.

Still I am trying to do as much gentle as possible. Now I am shooting for three a week if I can. It's a big change in focus because it means I am accepting that yoga isn't all about the big cardio workout. It's more about what it is doing for me on the inside. That means I should probably start thinking about other ways to remain fit, particularly diet. I have been eating a bit worse and worse. It has been under the guise that I can eat whatever I want when burning so many calories. But that is a slippery slope of thinking. I see myself eating fattier, sweeter food and craving it. And caffeine increasing. Jessica is doing a special 40 day program involving meditation and healthier living. I am curious if I can do it. Not so much the grueling bodily challenge of the 108 days. But a different challenge. One that feels less about ego and more about inner health. Must read about it.

Today was gentle but not simple. The flow still was pretty deep and complete bit it spared the places I am sorest: the wrists and the shoulder (which is already getting better).

The writing is still not coming easily but I tell myself that really sticking with this will take me somewhere. So I am doing it for that reason now.

05 November, 2012

Willing to walk through the fire

Today was Power Vinyasa with Michel.

I knew how difficult the 90 minute class would be. And I knew that my body was sore. But I just had to go to Michel's class today. After being in the book group with her last night and feeling the connection in that group, I just wanted more of that channel. So I elected to walk through the fire, carefully, to enjoy those rewards.

Class was super-intense. I felt good, though, knowing that I was choosing it. For good reasons. I was careful and took modifications, managing not to do any harm.

But I will need time to recover from this one.

Mindful of the transitions

Today was Power Vinyasa with Cassandra.

When I walked into class it was 106 degrees with the doors open. This was amusing, for a change, but it didn't stop me from making a comment to Cassandra before class. Of course, it was a passive comment: "it's 106 degrees in there right now with the doors open." What I meant was "it's too hot in there, can we turn the heat down a little bit."

This is sort of a theme for how I handle things and it has come up in many areas of my life. I become frustrated when things are not as I feel they should be. But instead of taking useful action, or learning to accept, I passively struggle: complain, get unhappy, etc. It's just something to think about.

The class, other than the oppressive heat, was quite good. We did abs in the middle of the class, for an interesting variety. I tried modifying my flow in various was to take pressure off my wrist and shoulder. But it still hurts.

04 November, 2012

My hand puppet duck has a sore throat

Today was Gentle yoga with Elizabeth McElveen.

I knew that gentle was the right plan for today. But I am surprised that, even in a class where we only did like five Chaturanga, I still experienced pain even with modification. The pain I had in my shoulder has led to an even more acute pain in my wrist upon flexion in either direction. I've tried using my fists instead of palms down and that helps a little but also increases the intensity of the weight bearing sensation. I guess my body is saying I should modify further.

I invited a friend to class today, who is recovering from an injury. It was really important to me that she have a good experience. It felt like this was the right class for her. And it seemed to go very well.

I found it relatively easy to get into a calm state at the beginning of class.

I don't really have much else to say today.

02 November, 2012

Forced to listen

Today (Wednesday) was Power Vinyasa with Carley.

For Halloween, we had somewhat of a themed class. We started off class by introducing ourselves and saying what superpower we would want. I said invisibility, because that's what I have said for years. But for the first time, it didn't feel true anymore. That's what I used to want. To be a rogue. To see what is hidden. To go where is forbidden, fearlessly. To know what is concealed. All this, while giving away nothing of my own darkness. To have control.

But after I said it, I realized that I probably would want some other power now instead. Maybe I want to be like Bruce Willis in that movie Unbreakable. Maybe I want to have the power to heal myself and others like a Druid (another World of Warcraft character). Maybe a Warrior! Fearless and powerful.

But to be invisible?

Maybe not so much anymore.

Class was hard because the shoulder has found its way down to the wrist and palm as well. The pain is distributing itself through favoritism. The Low Cobra helps a little with shoulder. But not the wrist. Carley made a suggestion after class, which I will try today: fists instead of hands flat.

Let's see how that goes.

Keeping it gentle

Today (Tuesday) was Yin with Nicole.

I intended to take Elizabeth's class, but I had forgotten that Nicole was substituting for her. This turned out to be a good thing for my body, because it meant another day without working my shoulders. Elizabeth's "gentle" class is an Ashtanga-based, slow class that can actually be quite intense. Nicole's version of Gentle yoga is Yin. Much better for me right now.

Compared to many experiences I have had with Yin, I was a little more forgiving of my own body today. A little more patient. I guess, in some way, just grateful that I would not be doing any harm to myself.


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It's harder when it's your own journey

Today... well... Monday... was Hatha with Patrick.

It was easier to write these entries during that time where I felt like I was writing for an audience. It was not the original purpose of the blog. Though maybe I am kidding myself. But there came a point where I became obsessed with getting a readership. And I did. But that sort of crested and waned, to mix metaphors.

So here I am. Back to just me again, give or take. And the journey of exploration is back to the personal one. And I find myself not wanting to write here.

That's interpretation #1.

The other interpretation, the more likely one, is that I am closing off, in terms of my willingness to share this. There's a lot more evidence for that. But I don't really want to pursue that line of thinking.

For the first time in over a week, I felt strong in class, and not much hurt. It may be the rest I has the last few days, with Friday and Sunday off. That, and the fact there were no Plank poses.

I need to find a way to keep Hatha in the mix.