29 June, 2014

Decent practice at a decent hour

Today was home practice.

Finally, yoga at a reasonable hour. Seriously, this may have been the first time on the entire trip where I did yoga before 10pm. This may also be the first time on the trip where I have almost, kind of sort of reset my sleep clock to feeling reasonably rested. I owe that to a 4 hour nap this afternoon. Yoga was at 6pm, and I figured I would just do at least a half hour, but it turns out, it was closer to an hour, though I don't really know how long, since I opted not to pay attention to the clock before or after. The emphasis was slightly to hit some things I have missed in the past few days, and I also made a point to mix it up compared to the usual Baptiste sequence, just for sake of variety.

My hips are very tight, particularly the inner and outer rotation muscles deep in the joints. When doing poses like Warrior II and Triangle, in particular, can feel it on the inside hip of the back leg. Perhaps some of this tightening is from not getting enough sleep. I don't really know. Maybe it is from too much meat and potatoes.

Well, so far, the practice has continued at a respectable clip.

28 June, 2014

Decent practice at indecent hour

Today was home practice.

I went on a long day trip, which could have obviated any need to do a yoga "workout" but it turned out that our day of "hiking" was comprised more of "transit" plus short walks in a few places along the way. I was so tired all day that my mood was waning, especially in the middle of the day. I found myself becoming very negative, and complaining (silently, a lot; vocally, a little) about how tired I was. It got to the point, and I credit the yoga practice for this, that I had to consciously make a statement to myself that I was aware that my perspective was not accurate right now based on the fatigue. It didn't make me feel better, but it served to remind me not to dwell too deeply in it.

There were many transitions during the day, from trains, to gondolas, to walking. We were in sunshine, clouds, alpine frigid air, snow, rain, humidity. Many different climates. After stopping for a beverage and snack, the weather turned much cooler, and I suddenly found myself waking up, and my mood improving, and my energy getting higher. I don't know if it was the snack and the water, or if it was more the change in weather. But I definitely think I do better in cooler weather.

The yoga tonight started at 11:15pm, which is never my plan, but seems to keep happening. I hoped to do 45 minutes, and actually did 55 minutes, which usually means that, again, my energy was not bad at all. I tried to stick as true to the Baptiste sequence as possible, partly to exercise some discipline and take my mind out of it, but also because it's a good template to carry one through the (approximately) correct duration of a class of a given length. If you do all your sun salutations, your twists and crescent lunges and side planks, the standing balance series, and a modest floor series, then you're there. I shortened the floor portion a bit, and that's what made it 55 minutes instead of 60 or 70 minutes.

26 June, 2014

Fatigue affecting memory severely

Today, I think, I did vinyasa for a short 25-30 minutes.

I thought I already wrote about it but I guess I didn't, which make me even wonder if I did it. I really don't get enough sleep while I am here, and it seems to get worse every day during these trips. Since I can tell you nothing, other than that I forced myself through a tired set of poses, I won't belabor this potentially imaginary entry.

25 June, 2014

Didn't want to do it but did anyway

Today was more hotel yoga in Munich.

I was so tired, I had no idea how I would do yoga. But I figured I would try to make my way through a respectable 30 minutes of whatever I could handle, and call it good. Turns out, I managed to get 45 minutes out of it, and it was a decent practice, albeit focused more on stretching than on power. Sometimes time passes more quickly than one expects.

Still. Tired.

23 June, 2014

Getting lost in the hips

Today was home practice in the hotel again.

I did about 35 minutes of regular vinyasa practice, with a little more focus on stretching poses, and a little less focus on extreme weight-bearing (i.e. no Crescent Lunge, fewer Chaturangas). The practice was decent, and at 35 minutes I transitioned into lengthy hip opening, albeit with divided attention. I needed to tune into a work meeting via audio conference back to Seattle. So I decided that would be a good opportunity to do some extremely long Cow Pose and Pigeon Pose. I don't even know how long they lasted, but probably 5-8 minutes per pose, per side, for a total of a half hour. It feels good to get that kind of stretch, but it sure doesn't feel good exiting out of such a pose after the long hold.

I was glad to get in practice two days in a row, and am feeling determined to keep the run going, just like I am back in Seattle, and this is business as usual. This is life, and it happens, whether I am in Seattle, or Munich, or Florence, or Corniglia, or St. Remy-de-Provence, or Paris. Not that I am going to be in all of those places (though I am).

Just sayin'...

22 June, 2014

Enthusiastic return

Today was hotel yoga in Munich.

I missed two days. There was the travel day, and one recovery day. We did a lot of walking around, but I just was not finding myself having the energy or the time to do yoga until today. And the jet lag really hit today, so it was a 3 hour afternoon nap, and then 60 minutes of yoga. I didn't know how I was going to have the motivation for it, but I found myself surprisingly very ready to practice again. Things that normally feel tired, didn't. And things that normally hurt, didn't. So I did a solid, intense hour of Baptiste sequence from start to finish. It felt good to be feeling fresh, and like the yoga was a "return' to something I had been missing. Even though the room here was not particularly hot, I found myself sweating a lot, almost like in a heated studio. I guess that's a good thing.

19 June, 2014

Last class before the long trip

Today was vinyasa with Jessica.

It was a special treat, in a couple of ways. First, I had been planning a noon class today, since my flight was in the evening. I expected I would be taking class with Nicole, which would have been great, since I haven't taken her class in a very long time. But it turned out there was a substitute, Jessica, visiting from New York. And that was great, because I am even less likely to have the opportunity to take her class. She pointed out that she is teaching a very different style now than she used to teach (this was during our conversation before class), and this was true. She was very deliberate, very slow, with long holds, and many instructions about proper alignment, given in a level of specificity I have not had the opportunity to hear in any classes before. It really changed the way I practiced, and I think much of her guidance will carry forward into my future practice. It was also one of the hardest classes I have done in a very long time, even though it was not particularly hot. There were many long, and very deep holds, and it was just super-challenging. And she didn't let people find a "half-way" effort level. She was noticing, and calling people into the full effort.

The other special part of practice was sharing it next to an "old" friend, who also moved to New York a year or so ago. She was back in town, and we met for coffee, and she decided at the last minute to take the class. So that was nice.

It was an interesting little shift to the norm, having that series of experiences on the same day that I am embarking on the longest trip of my life.

I had some debate in my mind as to whether I should bring my yoga mat on this trip or not, because I wasn't sure if it was being realistic to think I'd make the kind of time for yoga that would justify occupying a space in a suitcase with a mat. I thought about just practicing without a mat, whenever I could. But then I thought about it some more, and realized that this is a choice I can make about what kind of priority the yoga will be. Whether I am here, France, or on the moon, the practice is within my power to choose. Though, I suspect, Crow pose would be easier on the moon.

Anyway, I decided to bring the mat, and pack light, and do yoga. Because that's how I want to live.

17 June, 2014

Easier than it should have seemed

Today was vinyasa with Michel.

That 90 minute class again. With Michel. And it was really no different than any other class of hers. But somehow it felt easy. What was it? Lower heat? Fewer chaturangas? Or was it just my attitude?

I honestly don't know. And it honestly doesn't matter.

Been continuing to work on not panicking. Trust that everything will be okay. Do what needs to be done, rather than worry about it, wasting energy, and suffering. It definitely feels better. I wonder what ever pulls me back to the old ways. Fear? Some strange comfort?

Who knows.

But each time the mind starts to go there...

So... Hum...

Sometimes easier is harder

Today was gentle yoga with Jackie.

It was definitely slow and gentle, without anything that would elevate the heart rate or break a sweat. But it was still noisy in my mind, today. Harder than a power class. It was definitely good to go deeper into stretches, but it seems like my mind got busy when the body got quiet. And then, for whatever reason, that devolved into negative thoughts about myself. I started the class with my t-shirt on, which is normally not the way I practice, due to how much sweating there is. But since the shirt was loose and flapping around, it was bothering me, so I took it off. But then, when we were doing seated stretches, I started getting uncomfortable and self-conscious about my body. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that's what was happening. So that was a mixture of negative self-talk and then more self-berating for why it is that I am that uncomfortable.

But it's just one class. And it's over. Tomorrow is a new day.

14 June, 2014

Seeing the rough edges

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

It's a Basics class. And, as I often find myself doing, I wanted to do the Chaturanga and Upward Dog poses, even when Chelle was calling out Low Cobra, and putting our knees down. There are reasons why I want to do it: 1) I like rolling over the tops of my feet, which is absent from the modified version, and 2) I don't usually feel the need to take the easier version.

But today, Chelle made a very clear point to the class, saying "I am going to ask everyone to please follow the instructions that I am giving, even if you are used to doing something different." And, though I wasn't looking all around the room, I think it may be the case that she was talking directly to me.

And I thought about that for a moment. My first thought was "Why is she telling me to do the modified version?" I started to wonder if it was about being in control of the class? But then I wondered, "Am I being an asshole for doing upward dog when everyone else is just doing what she said?" I wondered if maybe my ego is in the way, and I am taking some advantage of this being a basics class, and showing off, "Wow! Look what I can do!" I don't think I am heavily driven by that energy, but perhaps there's an ego aspect to not want to take modifications that I don't feel are necessary.

But I did what she said anyway and decided it didn't really matter why she said it.

But I also thought about how I have a tendency to not want to take the exact instruction of others, either in terms of yoga teaching, or in terms of any particular type of administrative guidance. I don't like being told what to do, except when I do like being told what to do.

The fact that this got me thinking is probably the most interesting part of it.

13 June, 2014

Barely made it, but made it

Today was vinyasa with Elizabeth.

I forgot class started at 4. My mind was aiming for 4:30. So, I left work with the goal in mind of doing the 4:30 class over in my neighborhood. I'd really wanted to go to Elizabeth's class, but reality was not going to allow for it. I left work at 3:47. And it turned out that I made it to Elizabeth's class. A drive that usually takes 25 minutes, and sometimes takes 40 minutes, but this time it took me 11 minutes. 

There's a lesson in here, I guess. And it's one that happened to me off the mat too, in my panics leading up to recent studies in the lab at work. It doesn't do any good to panic about whether or not you're going to make it. Either you will, or you won't. 

Today, I chose to be indifferent to whether I made it or not, and the impossible became possible. It's not to say, in this instance, that attitude affected anything. But I spared myself a lot of discomfort by recognizing that it was not important how this one turned out. More often than not, it's much less important than I believe it to be, since I have a long history of feeling like everything is infinitely important.

She asked us at the beginning of class what we would be doing with our lives if we were independently wealthy, but we still needed to show up at some job for 8 hours a day. I didn't have to think long, and I said "I would still be making pizza." I am not actually sure if that's true. I don't know if I'd be doing this, or making pizza, or becoming a personal planner, or who knows what? I really don't know. It's the kind of thought exercise that probably doesn't matter, since I am not independently wealthy and I don't expect to become so anytime soon. Maybe we're supposed to strive toward living our lives as we would if money didn't matter?

That, I do not know.

12 June, 2014

Tired but good

Today was vinyasa with Tina.

My body still feels the effects from Tuesday night class but it was a good class. I am keeping with the intention. I don't know if I consciously chose the intention but I see it is there. The intention is to follow through and not let my attitude fall apart at the end of things. It's a challenge because my instinct has been to start the savasana before the class ends. On and off the mat.

So it's a good thing to recognize.

10 June, 2014

The Perfect Class

Today was vinyasa with Carley.

After a long break from studio classes, what would be a more perfect return than Carley's class? From start to finish, it was difficult, but perfect. And, despite the difficulty, I found the strength and focus to stay with it through every pose, even when I really didn't want to do it anymore. Those 90 minute classes...

Attitude is everything, I know. And, I guess right now my attitude is good.

08 June, 2014

Back home, doing yoga in the bedroom again

Today was home practice in Seattle.

I didn't make time to go to the studio today, but made time to practice at home. I was hoping to at least practice 30 minutes, and it ended up being 45 minutes. When I first stood on my mat, Hatha sort of called out to me, but then I realized that I wanted Vinyasa, and wanted the extra intensity. I strayed from the usual Baptiste order, to weave together some sequences that were a little more challenging, or at least more interesting, if nothing else.

Feeling pretty good. Glad that I am staying on top of it.

Also glad that "The Panic" has been subsiding. Maybe I will learn... we shall see.

07 June, 2014

Low ceilings and slippery carpets

Today was vinyasa home practice in Boston.

The ceilings in my Dad's house are low. I never really thought about it before, but when I do a Sun Salutation, my finger tips brush against the ceiling, and I am not particularly tall. And the yoga mat migrates its way slowly in a counter-clockwise direction as my practice progresses, slipping on the carpet. Who knows why that is? Probably the same reason why my feet move toward the left side of my mat when I practice with my eyes closed. The interesting thing about this is not the details, but the fact that our practice teaches us to make these connections.

Interesting to me, anyway...

05 June, 2014

Keeping things in perspective

Today was vinyasa home practice.

I missed two days in a row. As you know, I don't like to do that. I had told myself that I would find a way to squeeze the practice in, but it was just not realistic, given other priorities. I am still justifying it, even as I type this. It's funny, almost, how hard I am on myself. I flew to Boston on Tuesday, and I got to my Dad's around 8pm. I was tired from the flight and, of course, I wanted to spend time with him (and we ordered dinner together). I could have forced myself to do yoga that night, but I decided to just enjoy the time with him, and relax. Why I need to convince myself this is okay is beyond me. Then, the next day, I didn't get home from work until almost midnight. And I was dead tired, with only 6 hours of sleep. So, it would actually have been unhealthy to force myself to do yoga.

That brings us to today. Once again, I only got 5.5 hours of sleep, because I had a hard time sleeping. But I drew the line on myself missing days of yoga, and decided to practice anyway. It was about 40 minutes of yoga. I didn't do anything that would be risky or harmful to a body that is fatigued, but I did a reasonably good practice. The most notable thing was that my IT bands (I did "cow pose") were so incredibly tight. I don't know if that's from missing days, or from stress, or from sitting on an airplane, or all of the above. But it was surprising.

I can't say that I am entirely okay with what I still call "letting myself off the hook" for missing those days.

And that brings us to my other topic, off the mat, which is intimately related to this. The reason for my trip here was to run a study. And, as I mentioned previously, I have had a lot of stress and anxiety about whether it will go successfully, or if we won't be ready, or if I will fail. I put all of the burden on myself. Once I committed to doing this study, anything short of running a study with the exact plan we set out to do, and I would consider it a failure of myself and all. I drive toward hitting goals, and don't take excuses for not achieving them. Others around me are not so stringent. I had colleagues whom I was depending on who were not delivering what I needed when I needed it. I found myself wasting time trying to even explain to them what I needed from them, even though my feeling was that it should be their job to take ownership themselves of their part, and figure out what was needed. It was not outside the realm of possibilities for people to contribute this. But, as it turned out, I wasn't getting what I expected from others. My manager offered us the option to throw in the flag, and just let the pressure off. But I felt that there was no reason why we couldn't succeed, and that we absolutely, positively must go forward, finish the materials, and deliver exactly what we promised to deliver.

And we did.

On one hand, I could say to myself, "Maybe we didn't actually need to drive so hard for success? Maybe it would have been okay to do less, cancel, let ourselves off the hook?" I could also say to myself (on the middle road?) "Why worry so much, because maybe this is just the regular process of hitting deadlines, and all's well that ends well, and next time I will just know that things will be okay." And on the other hand, I could say "That was really a bullshit fucked up experience, that shouldn't have been so stilted, and shouldn't have required so much hemming and hawing and hand-holding, and we need to figure out what went wrong, so that next time, people do their jobs, and we are ready without such a circus of drama."

All of the above are "valid" options. And they all have their representation on the yoga mat. There's "Child's Pose." There's pushing through, and beating up our body, and forcing ourselves to do poses that maybe we really shouldn't be doing today. And there's the middle road, of being mindful, compassionate and receptive to what is actually happening in our bodies (or on our team, as it may be), and pushing or backing off as needed, all the while, remembering that this is just a practice, and trying to find the joy in the moments.

I find myself always taking the angle of "There's no excuse for failure." Which has two falsities in it. 1) that I am making excuses, and 2) that the opposite of whatever bar I am holding myself to would be "failure." I know where it came from (thanks, Mom, I love you), but I don't blame her. We are all taught a variety of things, and there comes a point where we must choose which ones we want to carry with us, and the ones we want to let go (give up what you must, right?).

I am becoming increasingly aware that I want to give this up - this fight within myself. I know the trade-off, and I see clearly the choices I have.

But it's still taking time.

02 June, 2014

Last one before the road

Today was vinyasa with Michel.

The panic over all the stuff that's coming up has been slowly subsiding, but there's still a lot of pressure that I am applying on myself for things to go "perfectly." Sigh. Perfection. That slippery jewel.

I sneaked away from work today at the lunch hour to do Michel's class because it was the only time that would be available before I head to Boston tomorrow, and I wanted to get in the studio since I didn't know when I'd be able to do a class in a studio again, with my upcoming schedule.

It was great to be in her class, and great to do a lunchtime class. My focus was good, and I felt strong. She has this uncanny habit of saying things that seem to hit me just right in the moment that I am on whatever day it is. I can't remember what she said, but it always catches me off guard, and often makes me smile at life. Maybe it's all so universal that it's always applicable. She's that kind of teacher.

Another home practice

Today was vinyasa home practice. Again.
I was more enthusiastic about yoga today than yesterday. Did about 45 minutes and it was a very good practice. Half Moon. Wheel. I didn't skip much of anything. The schedule this weekend just had me rather making time at home than dragging to a studio. It's great that this is an option.

Quick but thorough

Today was vinyasa home practice.

Didn't have a lot of time but still had a reasonably complete practice in about 35 minutes. Chose silence over using a video. Not much to say besides that.

Trying not to worry about all the business at work this weekend. It has been taking a toll, all the worrying. So I am somewhat forcing myself to be work-free and have a nice weekend life.