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.