30 April, 2014

Better than nothing...

Today was hotel yoga again. Didn't have a lot of time. Didn't have a lot of focus. Was feeling a little stressed from work. Probably a combination of lack of sleep and just the business of deadlines. So the yoga was thirty minutes. More than zero. What I did was decent but not that much. Sun As. Sun Bs. Side Angle. Crescent Lunge. Tree. And I guess a few other things... Maybe a bridge and a wheel? I forget. It wasn't much, like I said. But it was yoga.

28 April, 2014

Yoga in three languages

Today was vinyasa with Sabine at Air Yoga in Munich.

First time ever at a foreign studio. When I signed in the person at front desk told me to let the teacher know about my lack of German because the teacher is fluent in English. I hesitantly did. Though I didn't really want them to do anything special for me. The rest of the class were Germans of course. But the teacher said she would teach in English. Actually she had not really taught in English much and it was hard for her. She went back and forth from German to Sanskrit to English and confused herself quite a bit... especially her left and her right.

I felt a little guilt and embarrassment that she did that specially for me. It actually made me feel quite emotional.

The class was very difficult. Slow but deep and intense with long holds. It was somewhat Ashtanga like in nature. Ninety minutes... Still feeling it two days later.

But it is still yoga. In any language. It is a practice. The words are all extras.

24 April, 2014

Das ist Yoga

Today was vinyasa in the hotel in Munich.

Not sure why I had energy but I did. It was a full Baptiste series, with good breath, good focus, didn't skip any poses due to laziness or whatnot, and even did the things I typically hate to do or skip (like abs and wheel). Not sure what got into me, really. I surprise myself sometimes. I should be jet-lagged but I am not, because I slept enough on the plane. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. One could say I am jet-lagged because it's midnight and I am not tired yet.

May do yoga at a studio here in Munich. If so, I hope they do the poses in German, because I am curious if I can follow a practice without knowing what they're saying.

Nach unten schauenden Hund.

And of course Adler, Taube, Tänzer, and Baum. And possibly Krähe. But definitely not Glühwürmchen

21 April, 2014

Quiet Monday

Today was vinyasa with Michel.

Usually the 5:30pm classes are very crowded, but today's was relatively sparse. I was dreading the 90 minutes, a little bit, in advance, but tried to find a way to maintain focus, and have it not be suffering. I recognize that choosing to experience dread is a recipe for suffering, and I found a way to let go of that during the class. There did come a point in the class where I felt I'd had about enough, and that was when they did the "playing" that often happens in Level 2 classes. I took that segment as an opportunity to go inward and stay in Child's Pose until we picked up the practice where we'd left off before that. And I also chose to mostly skip the abs workout, though I did a little bit of something resembling abs. By that point in class, I just really don't find myself wanting to go hard.

I think I know what that means in my life. It's the giving myself a break after hard work. I have come to believe I deserve downtime after hard work. What I can't tell for sure is a) if there's anything wrong with that choice, and b) what the consequences are "off the mat" if I decide it's not something I care to change.

This was perhaps my last in-studio class for more than a week, unless I decide to practice in a studio in Munich, which is unlikely but not entirely out of the question.

It will be hotel yoga for the next week.

20 April, 2014

Pondering triggers

Today was vinyasa home practice.

Felt very focused today and did an intense Baptiste practice. Didn't cut any corners, and it felt good. Focus was there mostly the entire way. It's so hard for me to say why some days are better than others. There are times where it's obvious but then, days like this, I could have imagined I would not want to practice (in fact, I didn't really want to do it before I started). But once I got into it, I knew it would be good.

Yesterday we adopted a cat.

There's a reason this is related to the yoga blog. The cat was nervous on his first night here. He stayed up all night, meowing, and wandering around the house. I probably should have just confined him to a small room with food and litter to let him sort it out for a couple of nights. But I felt like it would be punishing him. Instead I punished myself and nearly had a meltdown. As the night wore on, and I was unable to sleep, I started unraveling into panic and worst-case scenarios... this was a huge mistake... why did I have to get a cat... I am never going to sleep again... I am not going to be able to get my work done this week because I will be too tired... and these thoughts induced panic, which further kept me awake. I dozed a little here and there, but was mostly awake until 2am and then again from 4am to 6am. Finally, at 6am, I put the cat in the bathroom downstairs, and had three wonderful hours of peaceful sleep.

Why didn't I do that in the first place?

I really don't know. There are often such simple solutions to avoid suffering. The cat stopped meowing once he was in the bathroom. The small closed space was less stressful for him.

I wasn't seeing clearly because of panic. So the key is to not get to the point of panic. When is the tipping point where ability for discernment, reason, rationality goes out the window? What are my triggers for the flipping of that switch? My bet is that it is the self-implantation of some extreme, impractical negative thought that triggers it. I create my own fight or flight. For example, "I am never going to sleep again!" or "This is going to ruin my relationship!" (probably more likely the latter was the trigger). In a habit of mine, which is worst-case scenario fantasizing, I create the whole panic that disables my normal coping mechanisms. It is some consolation to note that it used to be much, much worse. But there's still something there that I am barely starting to recognize.

What can I do on my mat to help this? What's the analogy? The crises on the mat have become far fewer than they used to be. Perhaps I need to create mat crises to practice?!

Anyhow, that's what's happening.

18 April, 2014

Piling soreness on top of soreness

Today was vinyasa with Ara.

It was another really intense class. I had forgotten that there were no afternoon classes at Be Luminous today, so I was off to Live, Love, Flow, happy that there was a teacher I like, teaching at a time I could still attend, even with the detour. Ara plays yoga music, and that's a welcome alternative to the pop music played in so many of the power classes. There are some small things that I realize only when they're right in front of me. Small things that matter a lot to me, and about which I should make mental notes. Ara plays good music. Mental note to self.

Next week I begin a trip to Munich. It will be a challenge to keep the regular practice for all the usual reasons of the huge time shift plus travel inconveniences. But I will keep it going. A reasonable goal would be 4 classes in the 8 days I am away. If I can pull off 5 classes I will call it a big win.

17 April, 2014

Special Classes

Today was vinyasa with Dave Farmar at Be Luminous.

I thought I was just coming to a regular Thursday night at Be Luminous with Tina. But when I got there, I saw Tina laying down a mat as if she was going to be taking class, rather than teaching it. And that's how it turned out to be. Michel also took class, and placed her mat next to mine, which was nice, because I'd never actually practiced with Michel before.

Dave Farmar, I guess, is a big name at Baptiste. I don't know all the names, so it was not a "wow" factor for me in the same way as if, say, Baron Baptiste himself had made an appearance. But the proof is in the pudding, and that was in the form of a very good class, extremely difficult, but very concise, and simple. Nothing wasted. There's something great about Baptiste teaching with nothing added. The class was music-free, which I prefer.

Not a bad surprise.

16 April, 2014

Quick practice

Today was short vinyasa at home.

Did only 30 minutes but it was a good half hour. My schedule with work, plus not feeling that great, has left me practicing a little less. Over the weekend, I didn't do yoga, but I did go on a long 7 mile walk, so it felt like there was at least the "exercise" part of the agenda satisfied.

Today's practice was short because I wanted to go out to dinner. I'm just being honest. The importance of yoga is not decreasing, in spite of what it might look like here. But things are just busy.

Will recommit to this soon. Though going to Munich for a week probably isn't going to make it easy.

14 April, 2014

Midday class

Today was vinyasa with Lindsay at Yoga Tree.

Work schedule left me the option of going back to Yoga Tree today. It was a good class. Difficult, especially considering there was no heat. It is my second time at the studio and my second time taking class with Lindsay. There were only 3 students.

Not much else to say. Busy busy.

11 April, 2014

I don't remember what I did, to be honest

Today I practiced at home.

I don't remember much about it. But I definitely practiced. I think I did about 50 minutes of vinyasa. The schedule just didn't work for me to make it to the 4pm and I didn't want to stay out late enough to do the 5:30pm. So that's what was happening.

10 April, 2014

More gentle

Today was slow flow with Lara.

Another slow class, no complaints here. It was the inspired breathing plus slow flow. I found that my body was pretty sore, perhaps from the slow, deeper class the other day, followed by airplane rides to California and back.

Peaceful practice. Quiet music. Love Lara's class.

08 April, 2014

More of this

Today was slow vinyasa with Jackie.

I need more classes like this. Well, not necessarily the super-mellow level of yoga intensity, but the atmosphere, the quiet, the deliberate nature. I like a gentle class a couple of times a week. And I like the more difficult classes. If only the dynamic could always be like this...

I was a little anxious for class to be done with, for whatever reason. Maybe it's because I am getting on a plane and flying tonight, and that always causes me to be a little bit uptight knowing that there's travel. Also just a low level of worry about just about everything. I don't need to do the worrying thing. And when I stop and realize that there's really no reason for it, it seems foolish to burden myself. Yet I keep coming back to worrying. That's my choice. And it's not that much fun. So why do it?

07 April, 2014

There's usually a way to get what you need

Today was vinyasa home practice.

I wanted slow. I wanted quiet. I wanted no heat. I wanted peaceful, focused flow, with fewer Chaturangas, and a lot of standing balance poses. Well, turns out, there's a way of getting that. Doing the practice by myself at home.

Before practicing, I was feeling really lethargic. I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to do yoga. I didn't want to get together with a friend tonight. I wanted to lay about and do nothing. Low, low energy. But I decided that, on this occasion, it was not my body telling me "don't do yoga." It was some part of my brain that was feeling stuck. So, I overrode that temptation and did the aforementioned practice. And it was 50 minutes of solid practice, capped with 5 minutes on each side of Pigeon (10 long breaths on each side - and it turns out that my long breaths are about 30 seconds each).

And now, my energy feels a little better, and the rest of the evening (and week) does not seem so unbearable.

It can be difficult to discern between what the body needs and what the mind thinks it wants. This practice is supposed to help us learn to discern, but sometimes the practice itself gets caught in the frenzy.

Nobody said the path is simple.

06 April, 2014

Barely making it through

Today was vinyasa with Alice.

It is supposed to be a restorative class. But to get to that point, one must make it through her extremely difficult flow. There are usually no standing balance poses. And there is usually not much of a floor series. It's all flow, of ever-increasing duration and complexity. Until the short wind-down. Then restorative. So this 90 minute class is, in reality, more intense than a lot of 90 minute (non-restorative) classes.

Today there was not much heat at the beginning due to a technical glitch, so Alice upped the intensity of the flows to compensate. This was not what my body was asking for, but what can you do? I did sort of the best I could, and just skipped out of a few things that I didn't feel suited me.

Her flows usually include what she calls "Low Flying Chair." I am pretty sure there is no Sanskrit name for this, because I am pretty sure it's not a yoga pose. A few teachers do this from time to time. And I don't like the way it feels on my low back, and don't feel like it really fosters good form through that motion. It means that one never is really "landing" in Chair pose. So, today, I decided "No Flying Chair" and just did regular Chair and held it. Sue me, right?

I just had no energy. Lately I have had many days of low energy, and not sure why that is. I am starting to half-paranoid wonder if I have a carbon monoxide leak in my house or something.

The other factor about which I will complain (and this complaint has been building for some time, so it's only coincidence that it gets unleashed with respect to Alice's class) is the type of music that is played in most yoga classes I attend in Seattle. It's probably true in other cities too, based on my sampling. It's a lot of pop music, with pumping guitars, and drums, and pop vocals. There's nothing calming or meditative about it. There is no space for hearing breath. And, in many circumstances, it is almost impossible to hear the teacher's cues, because the music grows so loud. I don't understand how this is part of the yoga. But I guess I do understand that it is part of business. To get a lot of people to come and pay for yoga, it needs to be closer to a workout, and less like a spiritual exploration.

Truth is, I want to hear my breath. I want to hear others' breath. I want the silence, and the peace. But that's me. I always want silence and peace. Not just on the yoga mat. I can choose to go somewhere else that has no music. But I have chosen to go to the places I go. Usually, Be Luminous is pretty good about having quiet parts in the class. But yesterday, at Live Love Flow, Alice was actually doing a book reading to us, during Savasana, with the music still playing at volume. That's chaos, not Savasana.

I dunno. I like having a studio near my house, so I doubt I will drop the hammer and say "Not going back there again." But I guess I don't understand why yoga can't just be yoga. Why everything needs to have a distraction. And if there must be music, why, for one hour, can't we listen to something that is more in sync with the energy of the practice.

I'm showing my age, aren't I?

04 April, 2014

Just what I needed

Today was vinyasa with Carley.

It has been a long time since I've taken a gentle class that goes deep into stretches and holds, and really works on the hips, and does a lot of seated poses. Today, that was just what we got with Carley. I had asked for something like this before class, and then a few other people asked for similar. And it was nice to have this kind of practice, since so many of our practices at a power yoga studio are high intensity.

I still feel like my body is very tight, but I am comparing myself to a room full of people who are younger than I am, many of whom have been doing yoga for years. I am not that tight. I am just keenly aware of the ways in which I am tight. There are advantages and disadvantages to awareness. But I think the advantages outweigh.

03 April, 2014

Finding new things

Today was vinyasa with Tina.

I discovered the other day that I can almost sort of look up when I am doing half moon. I had gone so long feeling like there was no way, that I had stopped trying. And then somebody suggested it, and I tried. And it was not completely impossible. The same was true a couple of days ago with raising a leg in side plank. These are actually a bit similar to one another. And also, sort of true for revolved triangle. Not entirely dissimilar as well. These are things that I previously just didn't do, period, the end. But then I tried, and found that I could sort of do them. Well, sort of. I tried the side plank deal with my left hand down, and it works. But when I try it the other way, no-go. And I can physically understand what the difference is between the two sides.

So, now I am trying, sometimes anyway.

Because sometimes we stop wondering what's possible. And that's probably never a good thing.

02 April, 2014

There was definitely something weird about that place

Today was vinyasa at Ripple Yoga with Michele.

Last class of the 5-class pack. It was worth checking out a small local studio. I will miss the quiet and the wide open space of having only 2-3 people in a class (not a sign of success for a studio, but can be nice for practicing). But there was definitely something weird about that space, in terms of the floor, the colors, the lighting. Never felt like I could find my balance in there. You know there's something weird when you're falling on your way into Warrior II. What's that all about?

This week I have had a weird negative energy going, and it's been making me irritable and snippy with people. Aggravated, impatient. It's strange because I am not in a generally bad mood, but I am finding myself easily upset. Maybe it is the pending pressure ramping up at work again.

Something to notice...