31 December, 2014

Last class of the year

Today was vinyasa with Cobey Mandarino at Shakti.

The last class of 2014. I believe I kept up my writing this year, as compared to 2013 when I had a big lull of not making any yoga blog entries. Strangely, that feels like it was this year, but the archive suggests otherwise. There was a lot of travel, and a lot of home practice.

But if you can believe the numbers, it looks like I did about 231 classes (since today's wasn't included in the count). That's an average of 4-5 days per week. Not too shabby.

Today's class with Cobey was great. In fact, the last 3 classes I've taken have been great. I've found myself more willing and able to focus and do the practice than I have in a long time. Not sure what's different about me? The studio? I wouldn't say that I'm particularly positive these days, in my usual holiday funk, but there's something to be said...

So what will 2015 look like?

Living in a new place, and working on new projects at work. Lots has changed, and I guess that's the norm for me. Varying degrees of constant change. I hesitate to look at the list above and say that I should be doing more yoga than I did. But I would like to be doing better yoga than I did for some of this year. I don't think my practice is presently at its strongest. Well, actually, in the immediate recent past, it's been great. But this year it took a bit of a backseat to all the travel. I'll probably be traveling less, or at least less extremely in 2015.

Okay. Enough philosophizing about future and past.

30 December, 2014

Nothing lasts forever

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

Yesterday I got the news that my brother needed to have cardiac bypass surgery. It was not deemed to be an emergency, in the sense that he didn't have a heart attack or anything. But they decided to do it immediately, and that meant today. My brother will be 65 years old this year. That alone is hard to really absorb. It is an age that I can remember my dad being. In fact, when my father was 65, let's see... that would be in 1990. So I was 22. The math adds up to one truth. We're all getting older.

I didn't really stop for long to consider the fact that my brother could die, because I actually had been slightly misinformed about the severity of the procedure until after it was already done. And he didn't die. But he will someday. My mother did. My sister did. My father will (though he will probably live to be 150). And, eventually (hopefully later, rather than sooner), I will.

Nothing and no one lasts forever.

I took that with me to practice today.

Though I took class at the studio yesterday, and plan to do so tomorrow, and I could have easily decided that today would be a home practice, or no practice, I decided that today was as good a day as any to show up on my mat and do whatever I can do to keep my body and mind healthy, in the hopes that the later, rather than sooner, will be the outcome for me. Thinking about "The Big Picture," I found it surprisingly easy today to maintain focus and intensity through the entire class, and not get angry or frustrated at the long poses, or the fact that my arms and legs were burning. Because burning is not bad. It is uncomfortable, but temporary. And enduring it always brings about some positive inner change. As does learning which instructions to heed and not to heed. Today, "Go deeper into your lunge" was a "No" for me. And it was not because I can't. And not because I don't want to. It was because, right now, I shouldn't. My hip has told me this, and so I listen.

I don't mean to be morbid here, with the "death talk," though I do tend to become so at this time each year. But it's really hard to fathom that end that will surely come. I live each day, often wasting massive amounts of time, completely repressing the inevitable fact of how the time we have is finite. And even when I do start to think about that fact, I still don't know the right answer to the question "So, then what should I be doing with the time I have?" Today in yoga, Chelle read from Melody Beattie's book, and there was a bit about the reason we are here is to find and bring joy and compassion. But that's a kind of religion, in and of itself, right? It's a belief system. It's an Eastern belief system. I like that belief system. But it still doesn't tell me what I should be doing. I don't know should I be working at Google? Should I be living a simple life in the forest and eating berries? Should I be "living life to the fullest" and going on epic adventures, brushing up against the limits of both the physical and emotional worlds? What should I be doing?

I still don't know (yet).

But I know that showing up on my mat is not heading in the wrong direction.

29 December, 2014

About as good as it can feel

Tonight was Forrest Yoga with Zak at Shakti.

I thought I was doing Prana Flow. Turns out I was doing Forrest Yoga. Shows how much I know, right? The schedule lied, because Zak was substituting for Tara tonight. So now I know what Forrest Yoga is like, and I still need to find out what Prana Flow is like.

The class was super mellow, but deep. I was very cautious of my hip, not to grind into it or go too far. I think I have been mistaking "going deep" with "dumping into the hip" and it's been at least partially responsible for this discomfort that I am now working through.

As always, Zak's classes are peaceful and uplifting.

After class, I felt like I was floating on a cloud. It was very cold today, and the walk to the studio was chilling. But the walk back to the car after practice was refreshing. The same air. The only thing that changed was me.

Today I felt good to get work done. There are some things that have been looming over me. I have not felt productive for some time now. I have probably been productive in different ways (again, the being awfully hard on myself), but there are certain types of output that I feel I need to deliver to be doing my job to the fullest. Today I made reasonable progress toward one of those goals. I had even scheduled for myself a little time-wasting event. I told myself "You can look at X, once you get to such and such a point in the progress." As the day went on, I decided never to go look at X. I actually passed up the time-wastage gift that I had promised myself.

So perhaps, as the new year cusps, I am about to ricochet out of my end-of-year funk that seems to happen every year around this time. In fact, if I go back and look at this day last year or the year before, I bet I know what I'll see...

Addendum, and case in point:

"My focus on the mat has been decent lately. But I have been scattered at work. All over the place. Maybe I am being hard on myself. It is the holidays. But I feel like I don't stay on task for more than a few moments before wandering to something more compelling, whatever it may be."

That was December 28, 2013. Of course, that statement would probably also be applicable on 250 out of the 365 days of the year, but we'll pretend that's not the case.

27 December, 2014

Skimming the surface

Today was vinyasa with April Sargent at Shakti.

I've started this entry twice. Deleted everything I wrote. Then I undeleted it. Wrote some more. Then deleted it again. I've been struggling lately. I don't know how long "lately" is, and I don't know if it's just the combination of moving to a new place, changing projects at work, and the joy of the holidays, or if it's a true backslide on being present. Perhaps those are one and the same.

Let me tell you a couple of stories, and this time, from here forward, there will be no deleting and undeleting.

I cautiously volunteered to participate in a personal growth workshop that takes place online, once a week. It's being hosted by a good friend of mine, and we'd been discussing it for a long time. I had been hesitant, because I wasn't sure I could make the commitment, and I don't like making commitments that I can't keep. But I finally decided to do it. The challenge, aside from attending something for 16 weeks at the same time, is that the time was 7am on Sundays. The reason for the time is that it's actually taking place 10am Eastern Time, and it needed to be at a time that would support having participants on the other side of the globe. I am not a morning person. We've only had 5 sessions, and I have missed two of them. For the ones that I have attended, I have mostly been in a half-awake fog, and not participated much. People often share their feelings. If you know me, even from here, you know that I am not typically an "under-sharer." But I have mostly sat silent. It hasn't helped that I've had a little bit of stress and strife that has coincidentally fallen the evening before 2 of the 3 sessions I have attended, leading me to further withdraw into a shell. It's the opposite of what I should be doing (I hate using the word "should" but I think the point of participating in such things is to participate, not just be a fly on the wall).

After last week's missed meeting, I felt a bit of shame, since I have, in fact, failed to uphold the commitment, which is exactly what I was worried about when I committed. Since it's my friend who is the leader, I feel like I am letting her down, and I am sure this is my thing, and she isn't upset with me at all. I am sure she understands. But for me, I just feel like it's "excuses, excuses, excuses," and that this inability to "show up" is somehow representative of the rut I am actually in, which perhaps goes deeper than I even realize.

These are the thoughts.

Having started doing yoga at a studio again, I am realizing just how much the "home practice" had been "phoning it in," rather than going deep. There were times where I had much distraction. There were times where I went through the motions, doing the amount of yoga posing that enabled me to tell myself that I am not blowing off yoga. But what's that proving?

Time out here to say that I recognize I'm being awfully hard on myself.

So, story number two. Recently, and for some time, I had been trying to encourage my girlfriend to get involved in something that I thought would be beneficial to her. I had patiently suggested it, time and time again. Then, today, she mentioned to me that she was interested to pursue said thing. And, for reasons completely baffling to me, I reacted in a way that served as discouragement. It wasn't that I intentionally discouraged her. It wasn't that I changed my mind. It was just a sort of half-attentive, reactive response where I found some reason why it wasn't a good idea. Fact is, I had only meant that it wasn't a good idea right now but it was perceived as flat-out discouragement, and then a series of negative consequences have precipitated and piled on top of that for the last 24 hours. So there's that. The big picture version of that appears to be that I am not the most fantastic of communicators. I don't always listen well, and I also don't always say things that are very well thought out, particularly if I am preoccupied with something. The result is that I give the impression of being full of contradictions. When these apparent contradictions are pointed out, I usually find myself explaining that there's no contradiction at all. But the reason why there appears to be one is because some of my communications are more reliable than others, and they are all received at face value as being of equal importance. This is something I need to work on, I guess...

Back to Story #1. This morning, I finally did manage to wake my ass up for the weekly workshop that I have such difficulty attending. I hadn't slept well all night, partly because of being still in a new unfamiliar place, and partly because I don't sleep well when I know I need to wake up abnormally early, because I subconsciously worry about oversleeping. So, when I woke up, I decided "This is it. I am not doing this workshop anymore. I just can't do it. I am not awake enough to participate, and I guess now's just not a good time." I proceeded to write a fairly lengthy message to my friend, explaining to her why I was not going to attend. But then I decided not to press "Send." I decided, I should at least have the decency to show up and discuss these feelings I am having, and at least say, to the group, "I don't know if I can do this." Ironically, I was actually wide awake by this point, so there had ceased to be a good reason not to attend other than the resistance (which I believe my actually underlie the entire problem with going, and be related to my "stuckness" in other places in my life). So I went online to join the meeting, and I discovered that there is no meeting this week. It had been unscheduled because of the holidays. I would have known this had I remembered, and I would have been reminded had I attended last week.

Story #3, which isn't really a story, but actually is just the facts of the yoga practice: Today's practice with April was quite good. It was difficult, but manageable. I am having some issues with my right hip joint. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I am injured, but I think I have gone a little too deep, too quickly, in this re-engagement with hot yoga and long classes, and it's causing quite a bit of deep aching.

That's enough for one day.

26 December, 2014

Bare minima

Today was home practice.

I had the day off today. I had all day to do yoga. I had said that I would cook dinner tonight. For some reason, I stalled, and let the day fritter away to the point that it was time for dinner, but I still hadn't done yoga. I don't know if this was procrastination, or getting absorbed in the moment, or not taking commitments seriously, or what. But I felt a little badly about it, because if you say you're going to make dinner, it's best not to make people wait for it.

The last couple of days, I have had "Obsession du Jour." One night, I spent 3 hours researching home security systems (don't even think about breaking in, because I have a robotic Doberman, 8 motion sensors, a central alarm that rings Homeland Security, and a siren that is loud enough to shatter your eardrums... or do I? Don't test me...). The next day, I spent hours researching acoustic treatment for home recording studios. What's that, you ask? It's a million different kinds of foam you can put on your walls so that the sound coming out of your speakers is accurate, and not victim of echo or reflections or resonances in the room. Boring. But I still managed to spend hours researching it.

When I start ratholing on things like this it is usually a sign that something's rotten in the State of Denmark. This is how I withdraw from normal life. Well, it's one of the ways. Sometimes, I would withdraw into various types of addiction like online gaming of various sorts. Other times, it's these types of obsessive research projects. Guitar amplifier repair... Vacuum tubes... Aquariums... When I get engrossed in them, they become the most important thing.

I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that these things tend to ramp up during the dark and depressing times of year.

All that said, today I did a rather minimal practice. It was probably about 30 minutes. It was one of those "How much yoga must I do for me to feel like I have done an acceptable practice?" That would be 3 Sun A, 3 Sun B, Crescent Lunge, Open Twist, Side Angle, Eagle, Tree, Triangle, Bridge, Pigeon. That would be the series of poses that I deem "bare minimum acceptable yoga practice for me to not feel like I have flat-out shirked."

But where was my head during this? It's interesting. I've grown pretty good at keeping the breath going, even if my head is off in lalaland. Yeah. As long as that breath is going, I'm "present," right? Um, not so much.

I recognize I'm being hard on myself again. Believe me, I recognize it.

24 December, 2014

The long awaited Lisa Black yoga class

Today was vinyasa with Lisa Black, at Shakti Vinyasa.

I started practicing yoga a little over 3 years ago. It's hard to believe that much time has passed. Ever since I first practiced, I would hear the more experienced yogis and instructors around town mention the name Lisa Black, since she was the one who pioneered "Power Yoga" in Seattle back in 2003 (I learned this when chatting with her after class today). Shakti Vinyasa, in Ballard, was the first studio of its kind in the area, and it set the stage for what is now a rather extensive network of such studios.

I'd never before gone to Shakti because it was out of my way, so I'd never taken her class, even though it was always here for the taking. But I had always been curious to experience the teaching of someone whose name is, in Seattle yoga anyway, almost as well-known as Baron Baptiste himself.

So today, being a holiday, offered me the chance to attend her noon class (the only one she currently teaches in the Seattle studio). It was the most crowded class I've taken yet at Shakti, but it was still not very crowded compared to what I routinely experienced at other studios I've frequented. There were about 30 students in class.

The class was great. The class was difficult. And the class was very much what I would hope for and expect from someone who has earned the reputation she has earned. Her teaching is essential, without unnecessary words and banter. And her tone and encouragement made me want to do even the things that I didn't really feel like doing (but not Wheel, since I'm still nursing the sore wrists!).

Looking forward to more of this studio, and to experiencing the other teachers.

23 December, 2014

Benefits of a studio practice

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

I don't think it is really possible for me to get the same benefit from a home practice as from practicing in a good studio with a good teacher. That's a bold statement. It is not meant to take anything away from the commitment that has been involved in making myself roll out the mat so many times in so many places to embark on a solo practice. But there's something to be said for a teacher standing in front of you, and pushing you to your edge. The teacher isn't even necessarily the one defining what that edge is. But the environment is one in which I, for one, find it easier to seek that edge. In the home practice, there are a lot of distractions.

Chelle's definitely one of the toughest teachers I've had, but it is an extremely sensible toughness. It's not a class that hits you with a sledgehammer and makes you want to just give up and go to Child's Pose. It's a class that sets cruise control at "The Edge" and somehow makes you want to stay in it.

I think that the practicing that I do in a studio, with an instructor, will likely keep me more on track with some of the goals I have for my personal growth, than to resort only to home practices. That's part of the reason I decided to start another membership. I need the guidance. It's not the community I need. It's the teacher. I don't reject community, but it ultimately is not the reason I show up.

21 December, 2014

What a difference a couple of days can make

Today was vinyasa with Rob.

It was a different experience than 2 days earlier. I didn't feel fabulous, but I felt a million times better than the previous class. It was not an easy class, but it was a very standard Baptiste, down to every last pose. There was one point during class where we were doing Dancer's Pose, and Rob said that there came a time when he learned that the balancing poses are not about standing on one foot. They're about being okay with wherever you are right now. That reminded me of the other day when I was berating myself for the inability to balance. And getting super-negative on myself. So I guess that means that I don't give myself a lot of kindness. When I'm not where I want to be, I am brutal. I used to be that way to others. I've become much better at not doing that. But it is harder to manage that with myself.

And that's why I keep showing up.

19 December, 2014

Everything hurts

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

Maybe it's because I traveled this week, or because I recently increased the number of longer classes I've been taking, but everything hurt today and nothing felt particularly good. My wrists were aching the entire class, and all of the deep lunges felt like nothing in my hips wanted to cooperate. And there was so much fatigue in my legs, it was hard to even stay in the poses. To make matters worse, I was teetering on the edge of foot cramps the entire class, and not from any particularly severe heat in the room. I must have just shown up dehydrated.

But this is not "the norm." Just last week I had a great class. It's important to remember that this is temporary. But it's difficult to remember. Near the end of class, we were asked to do Dancer's Pose, and I found it very hard to balance at all. I started to get mad at myself and had the negative thoughts and dissatisfaction with myself. As I felt more and more exhausted from the long time spent in poses, I even felt myself getting angry at Chelle. But not particularly angry. This is all familiar. This has all happened before.

The body ebbs and flows, and it's hard to flow when you're ebbing.

18 December, 2014

Squeezing in a gentle practice

Today was a short and gentle practice at the hotel.

I did this one in the morning before checking out of the hotel. I knew there would be almost no other opportunity to do it, and didn't want to take two days off in a row, if not necessary. That's one of my general guidelines that I am mostly able to accomplish.

I didn't have a lot of time, and my wrists are still aching a lot. I did about 30 minutes of nothing that involved bearing weight on the palms. Stretches, close to the floor. That was about it. I felt like it was a reasonably focused practice, even though it was very gentle. There's a part of me that always feels like, if I don't do 3 Sun A and 3 Sun B, then I haven't done yoga.

But that's crazy talk.

16 December, 2014

San Francisco practice

Today was hotel yoga.

I don't remember much about it. There was a basic flow. It covered all the main points, but probably only lasted 25-30 minutes. I slipped a bit this week with the writing, and that's why I remember nothing.

14 December, 2014

About as sore as sore can get

Today was home practice.

There was Friday's class, and then there was shoveling, cleaning gutters, and various other activities this weekend that pretty much has my body aching all over, with my wrists being the most severe. There were Chatturangas in this practice because my wrists were screaming even from Cat/Cow. So it was a lot of deep stretching, and breathing.

This weekend was the first of the home projects that involved getting dirty and figuring things out. I got on a ladder. I used a shovel. I went to a hardware store. Almost like a normal person!

Along with home projects comes the constant need to recognize that there is no perfect, and that there is no done. It's an ongoing process, and a continuous stream of compromises. Turning over the soil unearths things that are not seen, and not all of them are good. In that sense, working on an old house is not much different from working on oneself. In fact, the combination of the two will undoubtedly bring about a never-ending stream of parallels.

But I guess if you're looking, those parallels exist everywhere we put our focus.

I could say a lot more about it, and I suspect I will.

12 December, 2014

Moving in a direction

Today was vinyasa yoga with Zak Endicott at Shakti Vinyasa Yoga.

Below was a voice recording that I converted into text right after the class. Sort of a stream of consciousness. I now know why it's better to write instead of speak for certain things. Ramble, ramble, ramble.

This is probably my first time taking class with Zak in maybe 2 years since just before he left Be Luminous, and it was really a fantastic class... probably one of the best classes I can remember taking. The studio was peaceful and quiet. Even though it was a Friday evening at 5:45 there were only 12 people or so in the class. The energy was just really good. Quiet music, or no music at all. The inspiring positive energy of Zak's teaching and though, the class was actually quite difficult, it was very, very focused and relaxing, and I felt like even though I was being pushed to my limit that I was going to do everything that he said to do, in a safe way, and it was going to feel good. I just found myself very able to stay focused on the moment. This class, though it was just one class, probably sealed the deal for me in terms of wanting to become a member of the studio... so it seems like that's what I'm going to do. It was nice to feel centered in a class, and to feel completely focused. It's been a long time since I've actually felt that, so just enjoying the experience and looking forward to it again.

10 December, 2014

To-do lists

Today was home practice.

It was a reasonably garden-variety practice, with Baptiste flow, maybe 30-35 minutes. I am surprised how much I felt the effects of yesterday's class. Though it was a gentle flow, I felt sore in places I normally do not, probably due to how deep we went.

This week I was trying to find a decent to-do list app. Because there are lots of to-dos when one moves to a new house. Rather, an old house. And, as you all know, the to-dos are wont to creep into the mind when on the yoga mat. As soon as we take away the noisy distractions of the day, to the calm of the mat, we create our own simulated noise with the to-do lists. Practicing in an old house, it's easy to get caught up in them, because looking around the room I can see them... need the quarter-round moldings for the floors... wonder if I could do those myself? would need a miter saw... would need to do a good job on the corners... maybe it's better to let someone else do it... need to buy weather-stripping for the front door, since the heat keeps coming on every 10 minutes... need to deal with the earth-to-wood contact around the exterior of the house since it's raining so much... and how much gravel would we need, anyway, to do that? Will we need to have it delivered? Or could we just get it in my car?

Those are the lists. And there will always be lists. It doesn't matter whether it's an old house or a new house or a red house or a blue house or a cardboard box. There will always be things to take the mind away from the boring simplicity of the breath and the body.

But, nonetheless, we practice.

09 December, 2014

New beginnings

Today was Gentle Flow with Chelle Swierz at Shakti Vinyasa Yoga.

My first yoga class as a Ballard resident. My first time at Shakti. But not my first class with Chelle. I decided that it would be nice to have one thing comfortable in the equation. It's a really nice studio, and I felt very much at home there. It's got a distinctly different vibe than the other places I've frequented. I could see myself becoming a member here? But I will take it slow and try out a few different teachers and classes before deciding whether to commit to a single studio again.

The class was 90 minutes, and it really went deep into the hips (at my request, actually), with far more variations of Lizard pose than one could imagine, spending maybe 15 to 20 minutes on those hip openers. It was good, and intense, and peaceful.

It's interesting knowing that this could become my home studio, and be part of the experience of being in a new place.

07 December, 2014

Letting go means letting go

Today was home practice.

A thought popped into my head today. Before I could edit it, I acted on it. And it was moderately innocuous. Nonetheless, it stirred up the mud at the bottom of the river, and now the snow globe is snowing. Light snow, no accumulation, set to taper by morning. But it was still an act that came from not thinking things through and not letting go fully of things. That's where the head is right now.

I missed a few days of writing, which I must backfill to get things up to date. That may be part of why these things happen. But maybe not.

Today was a very stiff day. My wrists hurt a lot, probably from the Friday class I haven't told you about yet. And my right hip was very stiff. I decided to do a very short, mellow class, focused on nothing but what my body needed. Low back extension, side bends, some hamstring opening, hip opening. Not much else. There was limited time since we just moved. But it was necessary to hold that commitment to myself to do the practice today, even if abbreviated.

There are things one must keep as commitments.

05 December, 2014

More things come to a close

Today was vinyasa with Ara Gibson, at Live Love Flow.

I have 2 days left on my 10-class pass at the studio. But I have only 1 night left of living in the neighborhood. I suppose I'll find a way to use up those last two classes, and it wouldn't be a crisis if I never do. I still have who-knows-how-many classes on a pass at Urban Yoga Spa that I could use, or maybe it's expired? I don't know.

It was a 75 minute class, and it was hot yoga, but it was not too much. The intensity was not overwhelming. She actually was pretty easy on us as things turned out.

It occurred to me this weekend that I have become a part of communities, and then departed those communities several times now. It's something about "belonging." Not sure what it is. I toy with the idea of belonging, but then I ultimately withdraw from it. It's not that I don't want connection, because I do. But I think that the connections that persist for me tend to be one-to-one, not one-to-many. The curiosity, I suppose, is why I keep toying with the idea of community. Almost like looking for a religion but repeatedly deciding against.

I never really became a part of the Live Love Flow community. I am not sure if there is one. I've never felt like it. There was something much more family-like at Urban and at Be Luminous.

What will be my next dabbling with community?

04 December, 2014

Filling in the blanks #2

Today was a home practice.

I did it without videos or anything. A basic Baptiste-like flow. Probably about 40 minutes. It was a few days ago now, and I can't remember it, actually, so all I can tell you is that I did it. The failure to write about it that night reflects the degree to which we have been busy getting ready for "The Big Move" to happen on Saturday. But that's not a good excuse, I don't think. There is always 5 minutes to keep a commitment to oneself and make it a real commitment. Now, I write 3 days later, and I have no recollection of what I felt in that moment. I can tell you a ton about what I feel now, but that's not what the purpose of this blog is.

It's a bit absurd to chastise myself here, but we're being honest.

02 December, 2014

Filling in the Blanks #1

Today was home practice.

I know it was rushed, because I was getting ready to take a flight to San Francisco. But that was like 5 days ago now, so "The moment is lost," so to speak.

I can't really remember anything, and I won't fluff it up and just ramble about whatever to feel like I've got more than 4 sentences.

Or maybe I will.

01 December, 2014

Two roads diverged

Today was home practice with Bryan Jones.

Another decent class from this guy. This one was pretty intense, and a little bit fast at times, but he was trying to create a lot of heat in a short amount of time, and it was actually pretty fun.

My hips have become quite tight. Not sure if it's because I stopped doing hot yoga, or because I haven't been doing classes that are as long or intense, or because of the weather, or because of stress. It could be any or all of those things, but for sure, I feel stiffness in my hip flexors in a way that feels like I have been set back or set into a different state than my body has been for most of the time that I have practiced yoga.

So today would have been the day that I was flying to Munich again. It would have been a 12 day trip that I had strategically crafted to take me and my colleague from Munich to London to New York. It was a world tour, and sounded so exciting, but also exhausting. But the trip turned out not to be, because of my change of projects, and my home purchase. So instead I did yoga, while my colleague(s) sit on British Airways Flight 48 (or maybe it's Flight 49). In fact, I think I might have heard it fly overhead just now. Nope. I'm wrong. It left at 5:57pm So it's somewhere over Canada right now.

It's odd to feel regret and relief at the same time. Sorry to miss the adventure, but so glad that I don't need to endure it.

Now, if only I can figure out how to get back into those hips again...

29 November, 2014

Everyday Flow

Today was home practice with Bryan Jones.

Another accidental YouTube discovery, in an effort to find good, standard yoga classes online. I've found the crazy intense Ali Kamenova videos, and a variety of other gentle videos, but it's difficult to find things that are "pretty close to Baptiste" in nature. This guy is a good example.

He had a class that is actually split up into three separate videos (didn't know it at the time that I started), consisting of the Power class, the Core portion, and the closing sequence. I did the Power + Closing portions that are shown below.



Today was a good day. We accomplished so much, one little task at a time. Mostly everything went according to plan, but there were a few things that didn't go exactly the way we wanted. But it all came together, and it was just a perfect example of one of those days that, itself, almost felt like the kind of "flow" that an artist or athlete experiences. I don't usually experience that in the little things in life, but I guess it's possible.

That's encouraging.

Imagine if it were always this way?

28 November, 2014

Letting yourself

Today was home practice with Valerie Goodman.

This was a very mellow class with another online instructor through the eFit30 channel on YouTube. Gentle Yoga with a Southern drawl. Pretty good relaxing class. The instructor used the phrase "Letting yourself..." at least 100 times in the 30 minute class. At first, my mind was thinking "Does she realize how much she's saying this?" but it turned out to be a kind of meditative thing, not so bad.

Today we decided not to move today. The plan had been to rent a truck and move ourselves. But the weather had been looking really bad. After barely sleeping all night, listening to the rain beat down on the roof, I decided that it didn't make sense to do it today. But it required me to let go of the plan that I had. Turns out this is a better plan anyway. We move a week later, have time to get some things done and ready in the new place, pack some more, etc. Not feel rushed. And we also decided to hire movers instead of do it ourselves. Why destroy my feeble (yogi) back doing something that others could do faster and more easily.

There was a moment of clinging to "The Plan" and wondering if I was being stupid to not just go through with "The Plan" the way it was. But as soon as we made the decision, I felt better, less anxious, more relaxed.

Letting yourself let go of plans, and listen to your body.

26 November, 2014

Very peaceful in times of turmoil

Today was home practice with Sophie Lühr-Tanck.

Today I got the keys to the new place. I went into the house for the first time with the staging furniture gone. Empty. Clean slate. Mine. Ours. It was weird finally seeing it as the blank canvas that will gradually become ours, since right now, though it's ours, it feels like no one's. I walked around every room, opened every cabinet and door, looked in every corner, tried nearly every appliance, explored things that were (well)-hidden by the staging furniture that had occupied the floor space when we had visited the home all previous times. For a moment I thought about how this may be somewhere that I live for a very long time. For now, it feels foreign, but someday I will know all of its quirks, and I will have taken true ownership through choices, labor, mistakes... time. It's weird to be able to look at it now, and know that it holds that future, presently unknown, but will unfold before us.

Tonight's practice was with another new YouTube find. An instructor in Netherlands. Very calming, and very peaceful. It wasn't particularly high exertion. On a day like today, I am fine with being grounded through calm words.

Even as I found it relaxing, my mind started wandering to the contractor that I need to text back about a project, and to the neighbors here in my old place that I need to email about landscaping. There are many things happening. From there, my mind started to worry about how will I get all my work done, since things will be getting busy soon at work.

But it will all get done. It will all unfold.

24 November, 2014

Didn't wanna do it but did anyway

Today was home practice with Donna Buchanan.

I wasn't sure if I should practice today, with my inner thighs so sore from yesterday's crazy "moon flow" class. But I decided that I shouldn't put off until tomorrow what I can probably do today. Found another class from the Yoga Vine of Perth that looked like a good fit, and this turned out to be fine. I guess if I'd crafted my own practice, it might have been entirely comprised of stretching of the legs from yesterday, but I'm in a "I want an instructor" mode the last few days, so this was okay too. Maybe with all of the noise in my head from getting ready to move, it's just easier to have someone tell me what to do on the mat.

23 November, 2014

Plié ftw

Today was home practice with Ali Kamenova.

For some reason I thought that a class named "Moon Flow" would involve something mellow and grounding, or moon salutations. But no. Ali Kamenova's version of a moon flow involves about 50 plié squats. I didn't even know that this was a yoga pose. Anyway, the upside is that I got a pretty intense leg workout that I had not anticipated.

Even though I didn't really feel like head was in the game, and it was tough to maintain a good breath with the intensity of the class, I found myself softening and letting go in some small ways. Actually, maybe I am lying. Maybe what I did was decided that it would be better for me to let go of something I have been holding, because of the consequences I risk experiencing if I am not willing to let go. I said something the other day about how karma has a way of taking care of unfinished business. People thought it was funny and clever when I said it. But really, what I've been doing is a thinly veiled version of trying to exact "revenge" of sorts. That's not karma. If anything, it's probably more likely to become karma right back at me. Or maybe there's no such thing as karma, at least in the sense of magical forces of nature. But there is a force that certainly does exist. And that involves the notion that the energy I choose to create will engulf me as well as everything around me. If that energy is negative and resentful, then I am choosing to live in that energy. Everyone is responsible for their own actions, and I am not the judge with the right to decide how others should behave.

So, I will try, once again, to let go.

22 November, 2014

More from Perth

Today was home practice with Kate Taylor.

The YogaVine website seems to have a lot to offer in terms of free videos, so I think I'll ride this wave for a bit. This practice was a 36 minute session that was emphasizing shoulders and inversions, though there was some stretching and basic flow too.

I really really really didn't feel like practicing today, and procrastinated it pretty late, but had promised myself that I'd do yoga today no matter what. We'd gone to a social gathering at 2pm, which included wine, and the result was coming home around 6pm and napping and feeling generally lethargic. But I did what I said I would do, and that's that.

It is starting to dawn on me that I need to pack everything I own and move it all.

20 November, 2014

Keeping the intensity up

Today was vinyasa with Marni Seneker at Live Love Flow.

I don't think I have taken her class before. Maybe I am remembering wrong. Another one-hour class, challenging, but a bit more measured than the other night's experience. We did a lot, but we did a good balance of intense sequences and mellower things. It was not wave after wave of long flows with extended burning of one quadriceps muscle.

The countdown continues. Two passes left? Or is it three? I'll be looking for a new studio on the other side of town.

I am trying not to experience stress or anxiety about moving. Everyone always says that moving is one of the most stressful experiences in life. But I don't know that it has to be. But we haven't got there yet, so it remains to be seen if I allow stress to get the best of me, or if I take it in stride.

At this point, the calm before the storm, I recognize that I have a choice.

18 November, 2014

I forgot how long 60 minutes can be

Today was vinyasa with Alice at Live Love Flow.

Alice is tough, and it was a heated class, but I told myself "How bad could 60 minutes be?" I guess I have forgotten how difficult it can be. There are some teachers who treat an hour class as just a shorter class, into which you fit whatever fits naturally into an hour. Alice seems to take it as "We've only got an hour, so get ready, here it comes!" I knew this at one time. But I must have forgotten it. The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. Well, I survived, but it was messy. Some of the long sequences had my legs burning so badly I could barely stand. And something about that studio is very dry, which means that the yoga towel on the mat is not very grippy. There's enough moisture in most studios that one gets good traction. Not there. So I eventually had to roll up my towel off the mat to get my back foot to feel safely planted. The last thing I want to happen is a pulled muscle from fatigue plus equipment failure.

Much like everything, this class came to an end, and I was glad that I did it.

But now the days are winding down for me in the Central District. It's not certain exactly how many are left, but could be as few as 7 or 8 days. So I will use my 3 remaining class passes and then may not visit Live Love Flow again. It isn't because I haven't enjoyed a lot of classes there, but mostly because life will be on the other side of town, which will be almost like a new town altogether.

Change is constant.

17 November, 2014

Yoga down under

Today was home practice with Donna Buchanan.

Well, I was planning on going to Live Love Flow today, but I discovered when I arrived that it was actually a yoga + spin class, which was not in my plans. So I came home to do yoga instead. I'd already decided I was doing a "guided" class today, so I went to YouTube and searched for Power Vinyasa, and this was the first result. Turns out to be a very good class. Not exactly the Baptiste flow, but a pretty standard power yoga sequence, and it was good to have the new instruction, and to just have someone tell me what to do, instead of needing to push myself.

Heck, I even did the headstand at the end of class.

15 November, 2014

Another day another practice

Today was generic home practice that I cannot remember.

I know I did yoga. And I know it was about 40 minutes. And that's about all that I know. I don't remember what time I did it. I remember almost nothing about it. I know that I went somewhere in the middle of the day. And then I know we went to see "Hump!" on Saturday night. And I know that the yoga was between this series of events.

The moment has passed.

14 November, 2014

Physical focus without the mental focus

Home practice.

I guess there's a lot going on lately. It has made it hard for me to clear my mind during yoga. It's not that I am incapable of it. I guess I am choosing not to try. I'm allowing myself to "go through the motions," hanging on to the commitment of a practice while not fully embracing it. I suppose that this is just a phase, and I shouldn't worry about it.

Today I had some weird referred pain that felt like a pinched nerve somewhere near my hip flexor, but ambiguously located. I have no idea where its origin was, and it was pretty uncomfortable. It actually prevented me from doing Child's Pose (of all things). Didn't really affect the rest of the practice, but it flared up again when I was lying in bed.


12 November, 2014

Activation threshold

Today was home practice.

The last couple of days I found myself getting triggered pretty quickly. I was about to make some proclamation about how I've got a lot going on right now, etc. But now that I think about it... I dunno. Maybe that's just an excuse. We all always have a lot going on right now. The truth is that I am still easily triggered. My activation threshold for becoming reactive is pretty low. It's not a judgment. It's a fact.

Ambiguity is a huge trigger for me.

11 November, 2014

Feeling the aftereffects

Today was home practice.

Definitely felt the effects of doing a longer, more intense practice, plus the heat. I was sore in places I hadn't been sore in a long time. The muscle aches were almost as if I'd done some other type of exercise that was unfamiliar to my body. That says something about the difference in intensity between the home practice and one in a heated studio.

I decided to do tonight's practice with my eyes closed, for as long as I could. I did the standard Baptiste flow, with some minor modifications early on. It is extremely difficult for me to get into Crescent Lunge with no visual cues. The balance is not good. And it's noticeably worse on one side than the other (worse when my left leg is forward). It was almost not possible to get into it, and was wobbly even at its best. Eagle pose was virtually impossible. Tree pose virtually impossible. I tried. I really did. But my balance without sight was not solid enough and I had to keep stepping in and out of it. The intriguing thing was that after I had finished with the "balancing" poses, I took a long stride backward to go into Triangle, and instead of my foot landing on a yoga mat, my foot hit a box! I was thinking "Where is there a box? Why is there a box?!" So I felt around a bit to see where the mat was, and still didn't find the mat with the back leg! It finally was time that I need to open my eyes, having not even opened them a crack before that moment. And I was shocked to discover that during the balancing poses, all of my wobbling must have resulted it me making a half turn to the left! I was facing perpendicular to the length of my yoga mat. I had no idea that I'd turned at all, but I'd turned about as extremely as one can turn, in terms of available yoga mat for practicing. It was weird to think how much vision plays the role in our perception of where we are. I had no clue.

I could have elected to keep my eyes closed for the remainder of practice after that, but I decided that was enough, and did the floor portion of things the normal way.

It doesn't surprise me that wobbly balance would rotate me. What surprised me was how odd it felt to discover that I was not where I thought I was.

09 November, 2014

Lightheaded and fried

Today was vinyasa with Amanda Sorensen at Live Love Flow.

Yep. That's right. It's been too long with all the home practices. While it's a very valuable tool to have in the toolkit, it's also very good to go to classes where I'm pushed beyond my desired limit, and for a longer period of time than I tend to discipline myself to do at home.

Today's class was 60 minutes of vinyasa plus 20 minutes of restorative meditation. My body definitely noticed the difference between 55-60 minutes of flow versus 25-30 minutes. And my body also definitely noticed the heat. God, the heat. I didn't even sweat that much, because it wasn't even a particularly hot class, compared to many in memory. But that heat made my muscles really fatigue.

This was my first time taking Mandy's class. She was substituting for Alice. She's a very good teacher. She's essential and deliberate, with an even-paced flow. She definitely adhered to the Live Love Flow methodology, which must have come from Jaime, I'm guessing? (open twists, low-flying chairs, bringing hands back to heart center at the end of each sun salutation -- distinctly non-Baptiste moves).

It was good. And it reminded me why I do need to create a space for this practice with a guide, at least a couple of times a week.

07 November, 2014

No more travel... for now...

Today was home practice.

It has been a long time since I have been to a yoga studio. Surely, the longest time excluding when I have traveled. I've been traveling some, but didn't even go to classes when I was in town. I don't even think my membership is still active at Be Luminous. If it hasn't expired, it will soon. I have some number of classes left at Live Love Flow, which I will want to use before I move across town. I have probably 8 classes left at Yoga Tree in Fremont. And now I will probably need to find a new yoga studio. Perhaps I will try Shakti, though it's another hot yoga studio. Perhaps I will keep going to the places I've been going. Perhaps I will practice at home. Who knows.

This week's trip ends with me having a long stretch of travel-free living in front of me. I don't know for how long, and I assume that there will be trips. But there's nothing that I am planning at the moment, and it feels pretty good to not have to go anywhere. Though I guess I regret just a little bit missing one more trip to Europe. There will be chances in the future.

I've been in a little bit of a rut, I guess, with the practice, having not gone to studios. It's easy to decide that the 30-40 minute routine is "enough" yoga, and to skip the poses I don't like.

05 November, 2014

Sporadic practice this week

Today was hotel practice in SF.

I didn't do yoga last night because I went out for dinner with a friend right after work. So tonight, even though I was very tired and haven't been sleeping well (very loud at the hotel in Union Square), I did the yoga. It was maybe 30 minutes? Maybe less? But I did it, and it was a reasonable practice. I am feeling a lot of stiffness in my hip flexors lately. It was also deep in my hip joints, but I think that's getting a hair better. Not sure why the hip flexor stiffness, though I did recently decide to start using only the stairs at work instead of elevator, so perhaps there's a connection there?

The house purchasing process, second time around, is slightly less nerve-wracking than the first time. I'm being a little more realistic, a little more zen, and a little less married to fantasizing and hopes. I want to live in this place, but I am resisting "picturing what my life is going to be like" because I think that's what made the last one so difficult to release.

Life is a lesson.

03 November, 2014

Too long ago to remember (and it wasn't even that long)

Today (Monday) was home practice.

Getting ready to go on a trip to San Francisco this afternoon. It's not that easy for me to focus when I do home practice the day of a flight. It's a lot easier to do it with the discipline of a studio. When I do it at home, I always wait until the last minute, and I always have my mind racing on a million things to do with the trip, the preparation for the trip, whatever else is going on here that I will be leaving behind.

What I remember about today's practice was that I did it with our new kitty roaming the house, and he was very interested in going in circles around me while I did my downward dogs and such. He didn't actually climb on me, which I thought he might do, but he was right in there, and I had to make sure not to kick him (and I didn't).

It's off to SF for a few days to do work and see old friends.

01 November, 2014

Day of the Dead

Today was home practice.

The usual.

So, we did decide to move forward on another house. It's funny. I thought maybe we weren't going to keep looking, and maybe we'd just stay where we are. But I guess when a switch flips inside, there's a momentum that keeps things going. Maybe this one won't work out either. It is entirely possible. If that's how it goes, then that's how it goes. I guess I can get excited again. And again. And again. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that.

My girlfriend created a shrine for this day (of the dead). I had never done that before. It's nice. I appreciate the reverence. Those who are remembered are both human and feline. They are family and strangers. It should actually be a much more important holiday than it is in our culture, because it represents something that we all will face. We are finite. But our memories can last forever. It is up to those whom we've touched to carry that torch. It could be called an afterlife. It could be called immortality. And eventually we will join the others.

31 October, 2014

Starting again?

Today (last night) was home practice... again.

It was a standard Baptiste flow, with an emphasis on keeping the tempo up a bit to try to get a little heat going. Mission accomplished.

So, in other news, even though we hadn't seriously considered going right back out and looking at houses again, we decided to do it. We saw a couple of places today, and liked another one. It's possible, again, that we'll make an offer. It's a better house, in a better neighborhood, though not as close to all the action. I guess my intention to move forward must be stronger than I thought, since here I am doing it. It's hard not to get hopes, because to make the decision about buying a place, you pretty much have to picture yourself in it, and picture your life in the neighborhood. By definition, you're imagining that future, which is the essence of "hoping." So it means that one must become good at going there, and then being willing to let go if it isn't right.

I suppose it's a good form of practice. We learned lessons from the last round, and my eye is with higher scrutiny than before.

So here we go again. We'll see if this one launches, or if it's letting go again too.

29 October, 2014

Low ceilings

Home practice.

The ceiling in the family room downstairs at my dad's house is low. So a sun salutation involves the fingertips brushing the ceiling. And I am not a tall person. It changes things a little bit though, not all in a bad way. It makes one arch backward, reaching back rather than only up. So there's a bit of a stretch of the Psoas muscle even in the sun salutation. There probably is always supposed to be this stretch, but it gets lost. The ceiling can prove helpful in things like Tree or Dancer Pose, when one needs something to help stabilize while getting into the pose.

Today I wanted to make sure that I actually worked up a sweat, since several of my recent practices have been lower energy, more about stretching. The focus was good, and I did an intense enough Baptiste flow to get the sweat going, even in a room that is on the cold side of room temperature.

Tomorrow I return to Seattle. It was a good visit here. I think I've created some drama with respect to my work situation, and the home purchasing situation. Things are not nearly as unstable or dramatic as they sometimes seem.

The real purpose of this visit was to see family. And life is about finding some sort of purpose. I had a moment the other night where I was seriously pondering the question of "Why are we even here? What am I even doing with my life? What is the purpose?" But the purpose was right in front of me. It's just that I was trying to find a purpose in every single thing I was doing. Sometimes it's enough to be serving one good purpose, even if we're going through some motions for some of the time.

It is delusional to believe that every moment will feel optimized.

It is an art to recognize that every moment already is.

28 October, 2014

You'd think I'd have let go by now...

Tonight was home practice.

I'm not going to say much about the yoga, because it was just yoga. Started at 11:30pm, which was not optimal, but it was a fine practice of 30-40 minutes. I'm still focused on the "letting go of the house" thing. I've been going in waves, back and forth, between "over it" and "angry still." Thought I was over it, and then I got angry again, and realized that I could just write a big long blog entry about it, naming names, and soiling those who "harmed" me. Last night, into the wee hours, I wrote, until 2am, composing a full history of the episode that couldn't be interesting to anyone other than myself. I named the seller. I named the agent. I included the address of the house, the address of the construction project. The name of the neighbor. Basically, I included a bunch of things to increase the chances that someday, someone would Google something and find this blog. It was to be my alternative to taking fruitless legal action. I wrote it. I posted it. And then I thought about it. I realized that if I really pissed someone off, they could exact consequences on me. It could get messy. I thought about it some more. I decided to "unpost" the blog and leave it in draft mode and decide in the morning.

I woke up this morning, not completely over the angry, but also not completely over the "maybe this isn't a great idea" thing. I decided to remove the names of the seller and the neighbor, but leave everything else. And I posted it. I didn't write anything dishonest or libelous. I didn't even make any assumptions or accusations. I (think I) just called it like it is.

But I am also aware that this is all about me.

It's self-centered. It's reactive. It's not letting go. I am not practicing being with what is. I am not accepting that "This is what's happening" (as Lola would put it). I'm clinging (and releasing... and clinging... and releasing). In waves. I know I need to let go. I don't even want the house anymore, given the reality dose that I have ingested, both with respect to the construction and the issues with the house itself. But I still feel the sting of having had hopes.

Hope. Therein lies the rub. The high hopes got me into this clinging state of being.

And it's so damn hard to stop hoping, because hoping is kind of fun.

While it lasts.

26 October, 2014

Late is always better than early (and never)

Today was home practice.

I didn't start until around 11pm, but my body really doesn't seem to mind doing the yoga this late. Not a problem at all. It's painfully evident whether one is a morning person or a night person based on the yoga practice. I think I could do a power yoga class at 2am no problem. My energy is good once I'm awake, and I really don't fade or hit a wall. But I am a slow starter. I guess I get that from my mother. She would need to sit in darkness in the kitchen with her coffee for an hour before anyone else got up, so that she could have time to wake up alone without anyone speaking to her. I never understood how she could be such a monster in the morning, but I think I understand it better now.

And it's especially evident when I come home to visit, and I find myself needing to answer my father's morning questions. Nobody wants to answer questions in the morning. I don't even want to hear other people speaking in the morning, even if they're not speaking to me. This morning, I was getting coffee out of the machine at work, and there was someone else getting coffee, and they were in a conversation with one of their colleagues. The colleague was proudly not a coffee drinker anymore. And he was explaining in great detail how he gave up caffeine and has been feeling so much better since he stopped drinking coffee. The last thing anyone needs to hear when they're waiting for their coffee is someone else pontificating about their recovery from caffeine. I wanted to hit him over the head.

And that's why there is the yoga mat.

Not a morning body

Today was home practice.

It was 9am but my body felt like it was 6am due to the time difference to Boston. My body felt extremely uncooperative probably also from stiffening during my flight yesterday. Everything was tight and heavy. Especially my upper back and hamstrings. I did the best I could and kept it mellow. As I neared the end of the 30-35 minutes, things started to improve, and I felt a bit of movement coming back. But it was not pleasant.

I am still having a hard time letting go over the thing with the house.

Found out today that the house, which was back on the market, already has sold again. Surely, it has sold to yet another prospective buyer who is unaware of the construction that will be happening next year. It makes me angry, and I am not really sure why. I guess what makes me most upset is that I got my hopes up for something that was not real. I guess the strength of emotional responses is not based on absolutes, but on relatives. We were on a relative high because we thought we'd be moving to this new place, in this new neighborhood. Perhaps the lesson is to not get ones hopes up... but it's so difficult to not get excited about things. The challenge, then, it would seem, is to not resort to "reacting" and wanting to send that in others' direction when the consequences of a false hope come to roost. It's not really the seller's fault that I am unhappy. Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn't. They didn't tell me everything I should have known, but they didn't make me unhappy.

This is boring.

The point is to say that I am still trying to work through this...

23 October, 2014

Moving forward

Today was home practice.

I already wrote my big long bit about what's been happening off the mat. Tonight I did a quick practice, even though I wasn't feeling excited to do it. Nothing hurts, but my mind is abuzz with continuing to process the events of the day. And I am (on top of that) getting ready to fly to Boston tomorrow for a week. I really wish things were slowing down, but they're actually going to busy over the coming months. Less busy than before, without an upcoming move and home sale. It still seems like a lot, which probably should make me realize just how much more I had coming than I really needed.

The practice was very short and very sweet. I did limited Baptiste series, about 30 minutes. I did my favorite poses, I won't lie. But some days, getting oneself to do only one's favorite poses may be better than no poses at all.

I am already moving forward. There may be slips backward, but the net motion is positive.

Letting go is not easy to do

Off the mat.

I was going to buy a house, but now I'm not.

We had an offer accepted, we did the inspection. We did all the right things. At the last moment, before we had to send our request for repairs from inspection and pass "the point of no return," I learned from a neighbor that there's going to be a big giant apartment building right in my backyard. The seller didn't tell us. It would have resulted in huge construction, noise, and almost complete loss of sunlight for a big chunk of the year. I was lucky to find out. We backed out of the offer.

The seller should have disclosed this. Technically, they're probably required by law to have disclosed this knowledge. But they didn't. And it cost me time and money. And it also cost a lot of getting our hopes up. We were excited for a new place in a new neighborhood.

I spent yesterday coming to grips with the fact that this was no longer a house we wanted.

But I'm spending today getting angrier and angrier at the seller for not having disclosed this information. We know that she knows, for reasons I won't describe. I feel bad for whoever ends up buying the house, because they probably won't know until it's too late.

Now I am mad and having angry thoughts about wanting to take the seller to court for all of my inspection costs... but I know that this is not "letting go." And I know that this would go badly, and it would only have a tiny level of reward for me. It is not necessary. I want someone to be punished for my misfortune. But there's not a lot of mileage to be had in that emotion: revenge. I know I just need to let go and move on. There were lessons here, and the outcome was as positive as it could be, given what happened. I might have not found out until next week (too late), or next year.

I want to take away from this the lessons that I learned, and see it as "$700 is not a bad price to pay for some life lessons that will stay with me." But then I think about someone trying to trick someone... trying to leave a "problem" on someone else's hands to save their own financial misfortune of owning a property that's about to become less desirable. And that sense of justice makes me start clinging all over again.

I want to have some control over the seller's choices. I want to make her do the right thing. But I don't have control. I can't make her do the right thing. And, ironically, she might come out of this mishap better off than she was, because this time they'll only accept an offer that waives the inspection. The next buyer probably won't have the opportunity to back out if/when they learn of the construction.

Still clinging... but it's not my problem anymore...

Letting go is the only sensible option. And that is always the case.

21 October, 2014

Gentle practice today. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Home practice.

How was that for a boring title. This was a practice from 2 days ago. I was still in the throes of the home purchase process that imploded over the last two days. I don't think there's anything I can say about it that will be insightful. I kept it gentle. Got deep into the hips and did a lot of stretching, rather than doing much exertion.

It is the past. It is not now. Next.

20 October, 2014

Trying to keep the practice going through trying times too

Home practice.

This week has been a bit crazy with going through the process of buying a home. I'm writing this blog about a class from 3 days ago, so the moment is kind of lost. In fact, the home I was in the middle of buying fell through because of things you can read about in a different blog entry (Thursday's entry). It is a time to try to stay centered and calm, but I am not sure that I really did. I think I hastily moved forward on a decision because I got caught up in the excitement, and lost my center. I didn't practice over the weekend, which is not a crisis, but I usually try to practice.

I don't know what else to say about the past. I can't recapture whatever I was feeling 3 days ago. It was radically different from what I feel now, so the best thing would be for me to practice tonight and then write what I'm feeling now, don't you think?

17 October, 2014

If you're only going to take one hot yoga class in a week...

Today was vinyasa at Be Luminous with Elizabeth.

It had been 8 days since my last hot yoga class. Actually, it's now been 7 more days as I write this, since I am behind on my blog entries. Last Friday, actually, is when I took her class. As you know, I've been shying away from the hot yoga. But this was a fantastic class. Deep, slow, focused, with great energy. It makes me want to keep going to classes with great teachers. But this past week I just haven't had the inclination to go to the studio.

I didn't have my yoga towel with me, so I ended up using one of the jade mats at the studio, knowing that my manduka would be way too slippery without a towel. But I had to try to convince myself not to sweat too much nonetheless. I am not sure that mind over matter really works when it comes to perspiration, but I did the best I could. Wearing a t-shirt helped.

I won't probably take a hot yoga class for another week, since I am headed to Boston. But you never know. Maybe I'll drop into a studio in town.

Otherwise it will be yoga at my father's house.

16 October, 2014

Wide swing tremolo

Today was home practice vinyasa.

There's not much to say about the practice, other than the fact that I did it, in spite of today being a big day, and the last 24 hours being pretty big emotional swings. I was going to skip it and go out to dinner (to celebrate), but my girlfriend actually said to me "You need to do the yogas." That's a good partner. Keeping me honest even when it would have, on the surface, seemed better to say "Yeah, let's go out!"

So yesterday, we made an offer on a house. It was not entirely unexpected that such an event could occur, but it happened yesterday, and it was a bit more exciting of an opportunity than I even expected it could be. But we didn't know if our offer would be accepted, because you know how the market is right now in Seattle. Last night, I went to sleep not knowing what the outcome would be. I didn't sleep very much or very well. I was so wired, I was in bed looking at my phone, looking up the sex offender map for the neighborhood, not because I was worried about sex offenders, but because what else can you do when you're wired and can't sleep and have potential exciting things on the horizon?

Woke up this morning to learn that there was one other offer on the house. So we had to do the Seattle thing where you add in the statement that you'll increase your price to beat other offers, and all that. But we still didn't know what was going to happen. The seller was supposed to get back to us by noon, but that didn't happen. The realtor told me to assume that the other offer was probably better. But as the day went by, we found out that our offer was better and that it would likely be accepted. And then it was accepted. We also found out that there ended up being several other offers, but the seller chose ours because not only was it the best offer (among several similar offers), but we also seemed most excited about getting the place. And that couldn't be more true.

So after last evening being spent in a mind-racing wondering frenzy, and today being spent preparing myself for the potential negative outcome (which really would have been okay, I told myself, and it's also true), not to mention the fact that work was bizarre on a variety of levels of chaos, this evening ended with a joyous fantasizing about what it's going to be like to live in this new place in this new part of town. What type of furniture will we want? What will the garden look like? Where will we go for coffee? How far of a walk is the movie theater? (10 minutes)

Yet, in spite of all that, there is the yoga.

That is the practice.

14 October, 2014

Home practice and rolling with the changes

Today was home practice.

I kept it on the gentle side, focusing on the stretching and opening rather than on a million sun salutations today. The mindset for me right now is trying to "go with the flow" because I have encountered a lot of resistance (internally) over the last few weeks. I've struggled, battled, resisted, complained, lost motivation, and generally started seeing my life as not exactly the way I want it to be. And it becomes evident in so many areas.

Working on a song I've been recording... getting so close to finishing, but finding little things that I can't seem to get past, and stalling out rather than moving forward, and sidetracking myself. I even ended up completely sidetracking from the recording and mixing of the song on to a minor issue with my computer, where I found myself rat-holing on what type of backup hard drives to purchase, and worrying and laboring and struggling to figure out the best solution to a problem that had suddenly become EMERGENT in my mind, even though it wasn't really a problem, and wasn't really new or urgent at all. Whenever I start thinking along those kind of OCD lines, it usually has to do with resistance to other things.

Dealing with the uncertainty at work... I've been resisting diving into anything because of feeling like no path was clear. I have resisted finishing a few things that I've actually already done, because of... well, damn if I know why I have resisted. I found out that I need to travel again, and my initial reaction was extreme frustration and resistance. I was asked if I would be willing to take on a new, high-priority project, and my initial reaction was hesitation and caution.

There are some who would say I am not "Being a Yes."

Yes. It's true.

So I've made a conscious effort to try to shift that energy back into fluidity rather than rigidity. I agreed to go on that trip. I agreed to take on that project. I ordered a new backup hard drive to solve the most immediate of the concerns around my recording computer configuration (namely, having no backup system at all).

The way to get momentum is to start moving.

13 October, 2014

New teacher, new studio

Today was vinyasa with Lia Hall at The Seattle Bouldering Project.

Lia is a friend whom I met through my girlfriend. I went to her wedding. It's the first time I have ever taken a yoga class with someone whom I met previously not through yoga. It's nice to see the face and hear the voice of a friend instructing.

The studio is kind of interesting because it's primarily catering to climbers, and the clientele in the room were distinctly different from the standard yoga class population. It was crowded, but not chaotic. The music was quiet. Lia's voice is calming and steady, much as it is in all other contexts where I have interacted with her. The class was quite difficult, with lots of Crescent Lunges.

It was interesting to be in a different place. My body didn't fully cooperate with the sequences, because it's tough for me to transition through some of the moves that were repeated. Warrior II to Crescent Lunge is one that I have difficulty with. It challenges my balance, and also is tough on the ankle where I have the continuing pain. But I did the best I could and focused on my breath.

Even without heat in the room, I sweated a lot. I guess I generate a lot of heat.


12 October, 2014

A year older, a day wiser...

Today was home practice.

I did a standard Baptiste series, abbreviated.

Yesterday was my birthday. I've been practicing yoga about 3 years now. It's hard to believe how quickly the time has passed. I regularly wonder if I have progressed in the practice, or just slid sideways after the rapid growth in the beginning. But I know that growth is more like tectonic shifts, not like weather patterns. Sometimes the body is advancing. Sometimes the mind is advancing. Sometimes things completely imperceptible are advancing.

I guess the big shift in this past year has been toward doing more and more of a home practice. That's a kind of growth, in that my discipline and commitment is no longer dependent on "Is there a class that I can take today?" It's changing my goals about my practice, and it will likely open me up to new teachers and new experiences. It has already opened me up to revisiting past teachers from whom I had learned much.

Things are always changing. I keep wondering if there will be a time where everything feels completely stable and "This is what life is." But I don't think it ever happens. Change is the one constant. I decided to practice so that I could be more present and find a kind of sustainable fitness.

The practice today was pretty good, though I did want for it to be finished. No particular reason, just a bit wanting to be done today.

Last night I had one of the worst headaches I can recall. It was bad enough that I didn't sleep in the bedroom, took 7 ibuprofen in about 3 hours (and yes, I know that's not a great idea, and no, it didn't get rid of the headache). I have no idea why I got the headache. It was not from alcohol. It was not from dehydration. It didn't feel like a tension headache. I have no idea what a migraine feels like, so I can't tell you if it was or not. I only know that I don't want to feel it again. When I woke at 4am, it was gone, and the last 4 hours of sleep were among the most wonderful hours I've experienced in a long time.

There's nothing as peaceful and contenting as the absence of recent pain.

10 October, 2014

Going out of my way to not go to the studio

Today was another home practice.

I am doing my best not to get into thinking in absolutes, and saying "I am not doing any more hot yoga" because I am sure that I will, and this is a phase. But right now, my body and my brain are not enthusiastic about going to the hot studios. I could start rationalizing to you and giving you the thousand reasons I have given to you a thousand times before. But I don't need to justify it. Right now, I am doing what I want to do.

I may take a class on Monday with a friend who is a yoga teacher. I've never taken her class before, but thought it might be fun.

Today's practice was vinyasa, but on the slightly lighter side. No chair poses. Focused a little more on the stretching, since I am still quite sore from the Ali Kamenova video the other day.

This weekend is my birthday. I am not excited about birthdays, and generally deny myself and others the right to celebrate. I am not sure why I feel that way. Just don't like having attention drawn to myself. Except, obviously, in that I write blogs on the internet and desperately hope that millions of people (or five) will read them. So it's a weird kind of plea for attention. Remote attention. That's actually more apropos to my life than you can possibly imagine.

I'll celebrate my birthday by going to the Boeing Factory Tour, and then looking at some old WWII airplanes at a Paul Allen museum in Everett. That's the way I like to do things.

09 October, 2014

Jumping jacks

Today was vinyasa home practice with Ali Kamenova.

It was kind of a crazy class. Not highly untraditional, but to achieve the "cardio" goal that she promised, there were lots of chair poses, and lots of jumping and squatting. I am not sure it was exactly what I needed, but it wasn't a bad idea. Don't think I'll do this particular one again, though, because it doesn't really feel like yoga.

07 October, 2014

No need to decide this right now

Today was gentle yoga with Elizabeth at The White Studio.

I think I've said it before, but it's a perfect antidote to a really intense power yoga class. The space, the energy, the peacefulness.

Elizabeth mentioned how one of her students was having a tough time at work and was trying to make a decision about whether to stay or leave her job. Elizabeth's question to the woman was "Do you really need to decide right now?"

And that sort of reminded me that so many of the things that I struggle with are decisions that have become urgent for me, even though they are not urgent at all. It's just that when my brain starts running an analysis, it feels like there needs to be a decision and an action immediately, so that I can neatly close it up and move on to the next thing. But that's fiction. Not required.

For example, the decision about whether I will keep doing hot yoga or not. I don't actually ever need to make that decision. I may need to make a decision (not yet) about whether I will renew an annual membership somewhere, or choose some other payment method. But that decision doesn't need to happen until that time comes. The emotional attachment is that I had a bad experience, and I wanted to react. Decisions are a way for us to react to the world. "If the world does this to me, I will do that!"

Usually the urge to take that action subsides, and often it subsides very quickly.

I made a bad decision the other day. Actually, before I tell you that story, I should back up and tell you about a book I have been reading. It's called "Thinking Fast and Slow." It's by a behavioral economist. It's very good. In one part of the book he is talking about how, when people have only good options, they tend to be risk-averse, whereas when they have only bad options, they tend to be risk-seeking. What does that mean? Here's an example.

Let's say I gave you two choices:
  1. I give you $900.
  2. You play a game where you have a 90% chance of winning $1000 (but a 10% chance of winning nothing).
Which do you choose? Well if you're like most people, you take the $900 and call it good.

Instead, consider this set of choices:
  1. You pay a fine of $900. 
  2. You contest the fine and you have a 90% chance of losing $1000 overall (but a 10% chance of getting out of paying the fine).
Which do you choose? Well if you're like most people, you take the gamble.

So why is the choice the opposite in each case? Read the book and find out why :)

But to my point about the bad decision...

Meh. Actually, maybe I don't need to tell you about my bad decision.

06 October, 2014

Hot yoga may be nearing its end for me

Today was vinyasa with Michel at Be Luminous.

Having been such a long time since my last hot yoga class, I knew it would be a strain to do 90 minutes in the heated studio, but I chose it anyway. But it started to hit me during the class that I am really not sure I want to do this anymore. It's not that I don't like the community of a practice in studio. But there are so many factors I can do without... the extreme heat, the crowded room with no space to move, the smells in the heated room of all various kinds, the loud music that often accompanies class, the sometimes-over-the-top energy with which the classes are taught. I think what I want from yoga is something more grounding. I often get it in classes, it's true. And I usually experience it for parts of a class, though not always for an entire class. But I don't like burning through so much energy that I don't even want to do the grounding portions of the class or stretching poses, because I am "all done," so to speak. I also know that perhaps I am giving up. I also know that perhaps today is just one of those days and I'll feel differently tomorrow. But then again, I also know that I might be moving to the other side of town pretty soon, where I won't be commuting past South Lake Union on my trek home, and it may not make sense to have a membership at a studio there. That will be a time for me to reevaluate if I'd rather pursue my practice entirely at home, or at an unheated studio, or some other option as yet to be determined.

I was good for about 60 minutes today. It was frying me, but I was good. But after we finished the last of the standing poses, Michel had us "rest" for a moment so she could talk about handstands (which I had neither the desire, nor the intention of doing). At that point, I went from Child's Pose to Savasana, and decided I was over and out, had enough, down for the count, not getting up. Even though there should have been no reason that I would not be able to participate in the remainder of the class, which consisted almost entirely of floor poses, many of which I actually enjoy and was somewhat looking forward to, I still opted to remain in stasis for the final 30 minutes of class.

I guess I gave up? But I just felt I'd had enough, and there's been some pressures on me lately that just had me feeling like I wanted to let go. So I did.

But then the sounds of the class continuing around me made me feel guilty, which I recognize is my choosing. Michel made some comments about people having to know the difference between being wise and resting when their body needs it, versus just deciding you don't feel like it. And I know which one of those I was today. But I guess I don't feel like I need to have a voice that sounds like judgment announcing that. The Baptiste method is supposed to inspire, but it often amounts to goading the students into working past their limits, almost like a drill sergeant.

Maybe this will pass...

05 October, 2014

Practice in action, and letting go

Today will be home practice with Ali Kamenova video.

Not sure which one, since I haven't done the practice yet, but wanted to share what's been on my mind for today, as it relates to what we strive toward in our practice: being okay with what is... letting go... non-attachment... There are lots of different ways of saying it.

Decided recently that perhaps we'd move forward with looking for a new home in another part of town. Today was the first day going out to look at houses. I've done this before. For any of you who have, you know that it's a mixed bag. Sometimes you see lots of garbage, sometimes you see lots of great things that are wrong in one small way or another, or are out of the price range. I didn't expect that we'd even see anything worth nothing on this first day out. But as it happens, we saw "the perfect house." It had an amazing fenced yard with beautiful landscaping. It was in a great part of Ballard on a quiet beautiful street. The interior was exactly what we wanted, with the right amount of space -- not too much, not too little. And the price was better than we could have imagined, even with the knowledge that we'd likely need to go over the asking price to get it.

We actually thought, "Wow... we could actually make an offer on this!"

So our realtor contacted the listing agent, and it turned out that the place sold last night, after only 1 day on the market, and that it sold for a little over the asking price. One of those things where maybe, just maybe, had we been a day earlier, that might have been our house. There are a lot of other reasons why it might not have happened, but one can see the possibility.

In the past, I might have become super-bummed about this. And, of course, it is a small disappointment. But it was never ours. I choose to take it as an encouraging sign that, if we found something that fit our interests that quickly, we'll find something else. This was not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And it was never ours to have.

It's good to remember that, and I think that the practice helps one be alright with these things much more fluidly. The pose is over.

With that, it's time to start the actual practice...

It was a little bit of an unsteady practice today because she did a lot of Level 2+ moves, most of which I modified or skipped. But it was still decent, and continued to feel good doing the home practice. 

I guess I have a lot less to say about what happened on the mat than off the mat.

04 October, 2014

Continuing to avoid the studios and the heat

Today was home practice.

I thought I would try to go to the studio both days this weekend to "push myself" since I realized I haven't been to any studio since the Thursday before last, when I had the challenging experience in Tina's class. I guess part of the aversion was due to my being sick most of the week. But now I am finding, more often than not, that I am looking for reasons to do yoga at home, rather than looking for reasons to do it at the studios.

Today was a pretty standard Baptiste flow with only minor variations. About 45 minutes.

No words of philosophical wisdom to share. Sorry.

02 October, 2014

Almost back to normalish

Today was home practice.

I did a regular Baptiste kind of class today. At home. No videos. No frills. I even did Wheel pose, if you can believe, though it was pretty feeble, even for Mick Feeble, and my shoulders didn't have a whole lot of openness in them.

Even though I've been sick this week the energy was almost back to normal.

Trying to be okay with what is... speaking of the ongoing ambiguity with respect to my work situation. It has already been making me anxious, and then today I was told that there will be some sort of announcement to my team that will apparently affect us in a way that will require people to want to "discuss" it. Drama is the word of the year. And I have enough problems trying not to create it in my own head. When someone else gives me Drama Seeds, I have more than enough water to make them sprout.

So tonight I will go to sleep wondering what news tomorrow will bring. Last time this happened it was that my manager was quitting. It was less apocalyptic than I'd expected. This time, it probably won't be a manager quitting, since it's my new manager. But it could very well be finding out that I'll have a different manager, or that I'll be working on a different project. No telling, really.

Or maybe it will be nothing. Sure fun to worry about it though.

But there was no worrying on the mat, at least...

30 September, 2014

Company in the other room

Today. Home practice. Gentle.

Just what the doctor ordered. And the doctor was me.

I spent about an hour sitting at the computer, procrastinating, delaying the inevitable yoga that I had promised myself I would do. Today and yesterday I've had a bit of a cold, and really not feeling fantastic. Combine that with my entire body feeling like it went through a meat tenderizer (named Ali Kamenova), and the only option today was to do something very gentle. I was thinking "No Chaturangas, thank you."

So it was very much based on stretching the long muscles, opening up the sides, the hip flexors, the hamstrings, and keeping the practice mostly close to the ground. The only true standing poses I did were Warrior II, Side Angle, and Triangle, with everything else coming in the form of stretches starting from a Low Lunge.

It was actually a relatively long practice, and I found my breathing and my physical state improved quite a bit during the practice tonight, and my focus was not bad.

There was an opportunity to go out to dinner with some folks visiting work this week. But I really just wanted to come home and do the yoga and relax. I never used to be like that. I would always choose socializing over alone time. I think that, in some ways, having a significant other, especially when you live together, makes it a lot easier to thrive in down time or personal time. She's in the other room working on her projects. I'm in here writing, or doing yoga, or doing music. And I don't feel alone because company is right there within reach. I think that when there was no company within reach was when I would tend to grab at any chance to have connection. It's almost like a kind of hoarding of connection because I was afraid of being alone when I didn't want to be alone, so much that I would sometimes make myself be not alone, when I'd rather be alone. And that's paradoxical.

It's good to be okay with oneself.

And it's good to have company in the other room.