31 March, 2014

Unexpected plans

Today I was planning on doing my final class at Ripple Yoga, and trying out Jordana. But the SLU traffic was so hosed, that I had to call an audible and head over to Be Luminous to avoid the traffic. Thus it was 90 minutes vinyasa with Michel. Not a bad backup plan, huh?

It was a good class, and my energy was pretty decent.

Still am working around the pain in the foot. I wonder how long that's been hurting now. I should probably review my own blog to see. My guess is that it has been giving me a problem for at least a year.

30 March, 2014

Sunday afternoon zoned out

Today was vinyasa with Alice.

It has been over 8 weeks since I took a class with Alice. Actually, it's been since January 5th. But it didn't seem that long. I knew she'd gone on maternity leave, and I've traveled a bunch. So it was nice to go back to one of the teachers who I trust most (even if she kicks our ass every time). I really like that the ass-kicking is delivered slowly and deliberately, I guess. There's a clear sense of breath, and a pause in each posture.

I wasn't that enthusiastic about going to yoga today, feeling quite tired. And my body felt it in the poses. My "glutes" were really burning in every lunge pose we did. So I managed to hang in through the practice anyway. During the "restorative" part at the end of class, I almost fell asleep.

Zoned out.

Glad I did it, now that it's done, but still want to lay still and vegetate.

28 March, 2014

Twice in a week

Today was vinyasa with Carley.

Second time in a week. I cannot even tell you the last time I took two classes with the same teacher in a week. I used to do this all the time but, as my yoga has become slightly less frequent, and spread across travel, home, and a couple of studios, it has become less likely that schedule will land me on the mat with the same instructor in any week.

Carley was filling in for Elizabeth Thomas.

Today's class was quite a bit different from Carley's usual routine. Not sure why, but it was pretty far afield from the standard Baptiste sequence. That was fine with me. Very difficult though. Unfortunately I don't remember much about it, because my mind is empty of what happened only 2 days ago. I only recall that I was really worried I would not make it there on time, because of unexpected early traffic. I'd left work early to attend an early class, and start my weekend early. For whatever reason, that was a decision that I made this week, and it seemed reasonable. Though it looked like there'd be no chance of me making it there on time, somehow, as is often the case, I made it. But these experiences lead me to not want to cut it close again, rather than to push it further and trust that I will always make it. I don't think I would like the feeling of missing a class due to traffic, and I feel very strongly that you don't show up at the studio late. It really irks me when people enter the class late. This is especially true when they are very late, like 10+ minutes. I believe they should not be allowed into class. But the truth is, I even find it irritating when people are 1 minute late. When you arrive at the studio, you know if you are going to be late. And my feeling is that I can go do yoga at home if I am going to be late, because it's disruptive and disrespectful. There's a lot of judgment in there, I recognize. And I totally understand that there are reasons for people to be behind schedule. I also realize that we all "need" our yoga. But it's just a line I draw for myself.

Rant, rant, righteous rant.

I have been nursing a little bit of soreness in my wrist from overuse in the yoga studio. I don't know why it would hurt now, but it does. Being a little careful about it.

27 March, 2014

Time to unlearn this thought

Today was vinyasa with Tina.

I had it my head all day that I was going to a different studio today. I would go to Ripple Yoga, and take a class with a teacher whom I've never had before. And the reason for this was that I was trying to avoid Tina's class, because I always imagine it's going to be grueling and that I am probably not up for it. But today, on the drive there, the switch flipped in my mind, as it often does when pondering Tina's class and, at the last moment, I decided to go. And, as usual, my experience was amazing, and Tina's energy was amazing, and felt like it was the absolute right thing to have done today.

It's funny, then. Why is it that, in spite of having this experience over and over again, my gut reflex is always to think "I'm not sure I want to do Tina's class today." Perhaps I am always glad about most classes I attend, or perhaps I have misconceptions about what I really need? Who knows.

It was difficult. But, honestly, it's not more difficult than Sean or Carley's classes. I perceive Sean to be as difficult and Carley to be not as difficult, but I think their classes tend to kick my ass far more. That may also be related to Tina's class always being 60 minutes, rather than 90 minutes (yes, that is most definitely a big difference).

Been slipping up on the writing a bit lately again.  I have been busy, which is a fair reason. But I have let it slide longer than that, to the point that I have to ask myself if I am avoiding capturing the emotions when they're happening. Perhaps it is time to get stricter again.

25 March, 2014

For the sake of completeness

Today was vinyasa with Carley.

Actually, I am writing about a class that happened 5 days ago. It was crowded. I was fatigued. It was 90 minutes, and it was difficult. The energy in the class was very sedate. I think Carley did some kind of headstand workshop in the class, which I took as an opportunity to rest. Although I am no longer afraid of headstands, I am now averse to the pain that seems to arise in my shoulder blade when I do headstands. It is not worth finding out if it will come back again since, each time it gets aggravated, it takes over a week to recover.

Not much else to say.

23 March, 2014

Up Cat Down Cat

Today was online yoga with Brett Larkin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3Ij4qxosIo

A friend of mine who is not part The Yoga Circle suggested this teacher. The classes are on YouTube. And it was a great recommendation. The class is a relatively slow, but pretty deep vinyasa sequence, with quite a different energy from the Baptiste that we find everywhere. She just had a different energy and approach. Today was home yoga because of my schedule, but also a desire to avoid too much of the heat, since it's been difficult on my body again lately.

The hour went by very quickly. I started off quite peaceful, having come from a massage a little bit earlier. It's not a bad place to start from, compared with the usual, which would be to plunge onto the mat from the work environment or some other active setting.

I can understand why people say it's better to start the day with yoga, but my body doesn't love that.

Okay. That's all.

21 March, 2014

Ninety minutes goes by a lot faster when it's only seventy-five

Today was vinyasa plus meditation with Scott.

I had it in my mind that today's class was a 90 minute class, and that there would be about 15 minutes of meditation at the end. But the Friday evening class is actually a 75 minute, with meditation, so it was only an hour of yoga. Went by much more quickly, obviously, than expected. In spite of having not had enough sleep the night before (5 hours... sigh), my energy was pretty good.

And class wasn't too too crowded, which is also good.

Things are pretty good right now. I think I have said that a few times, but I will say it again, so that, when I look back at some future point in time to see how things were before, it will be easy for me to find plenty of mentions of them being good.

Scott mentioned in class that we have a tendency to only notice when things are not good. He gave the funny example of the showers at the studio sometimes being cold, and there are lots of complaints about them. But when the showers are great, nobody says a word. Intriguingly, the showers yesterday were the best I have ever had. The water was so warm, I actually needed to dial it back from the hottest setting a little bit. I wonder if they had fixed something. But it's a fair point to mention.

It's worth noting when things are good. Recognizing it can make it even better.

19 March, 2014

Slippery when wet

Today was vinyasa with Michele at Ripple Yoga.

As I mentioned, I think there's one class left on my 5-class pack at Ripple. My next class will probably be my last class there. Michele's a pretty good teacher. The class was pretty good. I think it's a little tough for teachers to get a big energy going when there are only 4 people in class, but her sequence was interesting and her pacing was good.

Today, I made the major major mistake of deciding not to bring a yoga towel with me. Since I was going to Ripple, I had my Jade mat with me. The Jade mat is pretty sticky. In an unheated class, it's got perfect traction. Ripple is heated, but it (supposedly) isn't as hot as other studios. This turned out to be a huge mistake. The temperature was probably only 95 in the room, but I dropped a giant pond of sweat, and the mat became puddled to the degree of being dangerous to go into any wide-legged standing poses. So I spent a fair portion of class trying to mitigate the risk of tearing a hamstring or groin muscle. So I guess the fact that my impression of the class was still slanted pretty positive is probably a strong indicator of Michele's teaching.

Perhaps I will take my last class there with Jordana - the other teacher, whom I have not yet met.

It's not that this studio is unacceptable. I just feel like I should not spread my yoga thinner than necessary across the city, especially given how much I travel and how much home yoga I do as it is. Right now, I still have 9 classes at Yoga Tree in Fremont that hopefully never expire. And I have god-knows-how-many classes at Urban Yoga Spa that will likely go unused due to my shift away from there (unless I drop back in again for Hatha, which is not out of the question). And there's Live Love Flow, where I will continue to do occasional classes.

Be Luminous is my home, though.

18 March, 2014

Darkness on the edge of town

Today was vinyasa with Carley.

It was a 90 minute class. You know how I feel about those. But it was inspiring, because it was Carley. In the middle of the class, she had us do Tree pose, and suggested that we stare at our thumbs, and slowly raise our arms without taking our eyes off of them. She suggested that we notice what comes up when we try to do this. I couldn't do this without falling out of the pose. And the first thought that came to my mind was a brutal criticism of myself. Sadly, it was along those lines of telling myself that I was a piece of crap. I don't normally have those thoughts, at least overtly, in my day-to-day life. But there I was thinking that. And then I started worrying that people around me (especially the guys, for some reason) would see me unable to do it. And I felt completely self-conscious and inadequate. I stopped trying. And just tried to do any version of Tree that I could, which was also hard because my legs were shot. This left me feeling pretty bad.

As the class continued, I tried to move into a place of neutrality about what happened. Instead of dwelling in the emotions of that thought, I tried to observe the fact that this was what came up for me. But it's very difficult to get "curious" about something that feels so bad. How do you allow yourself to sit with strong negative feelings? I guess that is why we hold the poses that are uncomfortable. I can't say I was able to go deeply to the root of it. But I did at least allow myself to coexist with it, rather than hurl it to the side.

Is this something I carry with me everywhere? That I am not good enough. That I will be judged as inadequate by others. That I am not okay as I am. That there's no excuse for falling short or for imperfection.

I never look around a yoga class and feel badly about what the women can do that I can't do. It's almost always a few guys in the room that have me doing the comparison game. When they're doing more than I am, I judge them for showing off: "Why does he have to do the freaking handstand on every Chaturanga?! He probably just doesn't want to do Chair pose!" or "What's with all of the annoying warm up poses before class when everyone else is chilling? Who does he think he's impressing?!" Judgment Judgment Judgment. All that judgment.

And I do it to myself ten times worse.

I know where it came from. But we are here now. And it really doesn't matter to understand where it came from. This is what's happening.

So what am I going to do with it?


17 March, 2014

Knowing a great thing when you've got it

Today was vinyasa with Gary at Ripple Yoga.

This is a new studio, as I've mentioned before. Maybe they'll get off the ground. Maybe they won't. Really hard to know for sure. I joined because Cassandra started teaching there. But it turned out that she didn't teach there for very long. So now I am biding my way through a 5-class pack at a studio that isn't really my place of choice. It's true that the yoga is the yoga, and practice really comes from the inside, but it's also true that going to a studio with highly experienced instructors has its benefits. Be Luminous has that. Live Love Flow has that. Urban Yoga Spa has that. But Ripple is just getting started, and this is not a criticism as much as a fact.

It's nice to be in a quiet, uncrowded studio, but it's also nice to practice in my bedroom.

15 March, 2014

Letting go of shoulds

Today was Power Vinyasa with Sean.

I took 4 days off. Yes, that's right. I don't think I could tell you the last time I took 4 days off. Maybe 2 years ago? I don't know. And I wasn't injured. And I wasn't unable. I was busy, but no busier than any other time that I've managed to fit it all in to the schedule. I was in California for work, had my yoga mat with me, and just didn't do yoga. I recognized that there was a lack of sleep, and we were out at dinners as a team in the evening, and I had work and other things I wanted to do. I guess the best way of describing it would be "I decided not to do yoga." And it feels weird saying that, because I normally do not even allow myself to utter those words.

I've been quite the disciplinarian with respect to the yoga practice. By and large, that's a good thing. But it's not the end of the world if I choose not to do it.

As such, Sean's class was mighty difficult, after 4 days off, but it was easier in some ways, because my body was pretty well rested.

I will make the conscious effort not to allow yoga to become the exception, but remain the rule. But all things in moderation, maybe?

10 March, 2014

More home practice

Today was vinyasa home practice.

Another trip to the airport this evening, so another quick (45 minute) home vinyasa practice. Followed the Baptiste sequence pretty faithfully. Sometimes it seems to take a little less time than in a studio, even though I feel like I am actually doing more of some things. But I guess there's usually a 5 minute "integration" phase, and a 5 minute Savasana (there's 10 minutes), plus some abdominal work (which I usually don't do unless a teacher or recording is guiding me). That'll make it just about 45 minutes.

Not much to say beyond that.


09 March, 2014

Almost back into the groove... in time to go away again...

Today was vinyasa with Alison at Live Love Flow.

Have I taken her class before? I don't think so. Maybe I have. Yesterday I had a massage with someone I thought I'd never seen before, but it turned out I had. My memory ain't what it used to be. I am not sure if it was the fatigue this past week from jet lag that made yoga so hard, or just the shift back into the mindset of "home," or maybe it was the fact that I hadn't taken any hot yoga classes in ~2 weeks. Probably all of the above (that's almost always the case with all of my explorations into "Why?"). Today, after two days of rest, I was almost kinda sorta feeling back to normal in class. It was pretty hot, and pretty intense, but I felt almost normal, not like I was going to die. And my attitude was pretty decent throughout the class.

Just in time for me to go away again tomorrow. For four days.

I may try to get on top of this a little more this week, since it's only a trip to California, and there's no time difference. Perhaps even make an appearance or two at the hot yoga studio in downtown Mountain View, where I may still have some class passes left.

Ebb and flow.

Things are pretty good here.

07 March, 2014

Breakthroughs and resistance

Today was vinyasa with Lara.

I'd planned on taking the day off, in this supposed cause of giving the shoulder more rest, though I don't know if it's really that, or if I just don't feel like doing yoga. I have been tired this week. I tell myself I don't have jet lag from the trip, but I guess I have been staying up later, and waking up earlier, and feeling lethargic and unmotivated. So perhaps there's something up there.

But I took a guilty peek at the calendar, feeling the "shoulds" of yoga (yes, there are those) and saw that Lara was subbing for Tina. Since a Lara class is not all that often of an opportunity, I decided it was good enough reason, coupled with making a comeback from yesterday's meltdown, that I should get back in there and have a good class.

It was very crowded, being a Tina class (with Lara teaching), and the half room size. It was very humid. But I had a pretty good class. Things didn't feel great, and I do feel heaviness in my arms. A day later, feeling soreness in the trapezius muscles that normally is not there, and don't know why. I must just be fatigued.

After class, someone approached me who is part of the Baptiste community, and said to me, paraphrasing "I was thinking about you today... I really think you should do a Level 1 training! I think you would have a breakthrough."

My immediate reaction to that was to be a bit defensive (internally, and perhaps, even, externally).

Why do I need to have a breakthrough? What's wrong with me? Are you saying that I am stuck? Are you saying that I am deluding myself? Is there something wrong with me?

I mentioned that if I were to decide to do a teacher training, I would probably rather do it at Be Luminous, in the community I know and love. And their response was that I should do both, then. But definitely do the Baptiste one.

So... you're saying there's definitely something wrong with me, then... I'm getting that loud and clear.

I must be telling myself stories.

I dunno. I am being somewhat facetious, but these are the reactions that come up for me. I did a 1 day Baptiste workshop. And I shared in front of a room full of 350 people. And I saw what it could do. I know a full week of training has a lot more intense activity. And I don't rule out the possibility that I would experience some new perspectives. I find the word "breakthrough" to be a little bit loaded, because it's like therapy.

And why do I need to have a breakthrough?

I have done a lot of work on myself. And I have come a long way in the past 5 years. And I do know that I have a long way to go. The road is never-ending. Maybe the language of the Baptiste teaching is something that I now find laden with extra meaning. Or maybe there is no meaning, other than that which I attach.

A friend of mine once told me about the approach that a recovery program encourages with respect to bringing people into the program who are currently not part of it. It's simple: "Attraction not Promotion." The idea is that if people can observe the changes something has made in your life, they'll be a lot more curious than if you go constantly telling the how they really should come to a meeting.

And I guess that is sort of how I feel about the Baptiste program. I only know a few people who have done Baptiste trainings well enough to say what impact it may or may not have had on their lives. I don't doubt the value of doing self-work. I went to the 1-day workshop because I was curious. It was what I expected, perhaps a little bit better.

But I am not sure I want to do the work with 100 other people whom I don't know. And I know that I could become their "best friend" during the course of the workshop, as often happens in immersions. But I would rather build stronger bonds with the community I am already a part of, and support the teachers who I put my trust in day in and day out.

I don't resent being told that I should go to Level 1. And I don't even really wonder why they said it, since I know it was just to be supportive, not critical.

But I will choose my own path, in light of, or in spite of the suggestions of others.

05 March, 2014

Experiment and results

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

I came to class feeling the usual resistance to doing a 90 minute class. For whatever reason, I decided to "inform" Chelle before class that I might have some limitations because of my shoulder blade business. But I am not sure what was really going on there with that informational bit, since my actual experience in class was a lot more about resistance than it was about injury. After about 45 minutes into class, which was difficult, I made a decision: "I'm done." I laid down on the mat, in Savasana, and told myself that this was what my body needed today. In the locker room before class, I had mentioned to someone that I'd like to take a nap. So perhaps that was my unspoken (actually, spoken) intention. I don't know if I needed to stop, but I just felt like a wet dog, and like I wasn't getting joy from it. Excuses, I suppose. It's all in the past now, so probably no point in overanalyzing. She actually started winding down the class shortly after I dropped to the floor. I could have rejoined. But I didn't. I remained still, on my back, until nearly the end of class. When things started to really wind down, with the whole class coming to the floor, I started to experience a bit of unease. Suddenly, remaining still began to be difficult. I started feeling restless, and it grew and grew, to the point that I wanted to run screaming from the room. But I didn't. I tried to remain still. At the end of class, she had people sitting in meditation, which I also did not do. Instead I rolled to my side and laid there like a pile of wet dirty laundry. There was clearly no reason for that, other than resistance.

Not sure what was happening today, and I certainly made things difficult for myself.

I call it an experiment because I haven't really ever completely ditched on that much of a class before. The interesting part, as unpleasant as it was, is that I started feeling this restlessness and uneasy feeling after remaining still for too long. I don't know what to make of it...

if anything.

03 March, 2014

Dragging

Today was vinyasa with Michel.

It was courageous for me to go for a 90 minute class feeling as lethargic as I have been feeling. But I really wanted to take Michel's class today, even though I was probably more excited about just being there than about actually doing the work.

Avoiding all of the "play-time" in classes lately, with the reason being my shoulder business. I think I'm gonna trust that is a legitimate reason right now, since it started hurting again immediately upon restarting a headstand effort last week.

Not much to say about this one now, since I have forgotten any of the subtle details. I do feel like I am going to be in recovery mode this week after the intensity of the trip.

01 March, 2014

Back into the heat after a long break

Today was vinyasa with Sean.

My first time in a studio since before heading to Europe. It was really hot.