31 October, 2015

Go here instead --> feeblefables.com

I wrote a few more entries after that last one, maybe for about a month. And then I decided I didn't feel like writing anymore. I don't know why, and I am not sure it was a good idea. Now, some time has passed, and I think I should write again. But I may not limit myself to the yoga topics. And I may not write about yoga at all (though, there actually is quite a bit I could say).

In the meantime, you can find my non-yoga writing here: http://www.feeblefables.com

I may write here today, or tomorrow, or never, but I will probably write over there soon.

18 February, 2015

Writing for myself

Today was hotel yoga.

I decided yesterday to stop posting my blogs publicly.

That means I am writing this for myself. I am hesitant about it. I am hesitant about what to write here, because if I take it in a truly personal direction, then I am committing to either staying private, editing content, or deleting the entries that cannot be shared publicly. It makes me uneasy. And I am not sure why, because it's not like there's some massive readership that I am betraying. It's more like, "If I stop publishing this to the world, then the commitment is only to myself, and then what does it mean if I keep it up?" And it also means that I am shifting away from writing as a means of receiving validation.

So what am I going to do...

Well, a little more about the thoughts around closing it down, before I move forward. I feel this need to explain myself to people. I feel like, "Oh, I owe someone an explanation for why I have decided not to publish it anymore." But I don't owe anyone anything. There was something that came up a few weeks ago in a conversation with someone. Anna, maybe. The point was that I don't need to explain myself. I can just make decisions and not explain them. I have always felt like I need to explain everything.

But I don't.

And it helps that I am not presently using Facebook because I would have already been posting about the fact that I am not writing the blog publicly and why I am not, etc.

The knowledge that much of the supposed readership of my blog is probably robots makes it a little less disappointing to stop.

OK. But here I am. Starting to do this. Now.

Today was hotel yoga.

I was looking forward, somewhat, to doing the practice today, and was committed to doing a good practice. It's been a difficult few days. I have experienced an immense amount of stress and anxiety about this first study that I am running for my new team. I have always gone through this emotionality around important things at work, becoming moody, anxious, etc. But this time, it felt even more major because I am working on a topic that is important, and I am taking over for a researcher who is extremely highly regarded, and my friend whom I want to impress, or at least not disappoint. So I have felt this pressure. But I guess it's been lurking just below the surface, and coming out as sadness, disconnection, existentialism, etc. It's not to say that I don't or won't experience those things periodically anyway, especially considering that my life will always have these (or may always have these) periods where I experience stress. But I really turned it in on myself and then it impacted my relationship too.

It affected my practice, I believe, in the manner of impacting my balance. For the past several days, I had shit for balance. Today, after having run my first 2 sessions, and everything went well, my balance was much better. Balance may be a useful barometer for me to measure something about my state. Of course, sometimes my balance may just be off because my legs are tired. So there's that.

I don't know why I continue to experience such stress every time there's a new milestone, when I repeatedly meet the occasion with the necessary effort. And I don't disappoint people. But I do spend a lot of time explaining myself and my emotions, and that's probably the only weird part. I don't want to be difficult to work with. I don't want to be a freak. I don't want to be one of those people where others are thinking "If I have to listen to one more time of Bob talking about sometimes he feels this, or sometimes he feels that... why can't he just shut the fuck up and do his job?!"

These are the things I fear.

Among others.

16 February, 2015

Walking on the ceiling

Today was vinyasa with Tara.

When I was younger and I would go running or do intense workouts at the gym, I would often lie on the floor after the workout and stare blankly at the ceiling, in a state of euphoria from the exercise. At the gym I attended at the university, the ceiling was very high. It was easily 40 feet, perhaps even 60 feet from the floor. In that euphoric state, it was not unusual for me to imagine that I was walking on the ceiling, and the the world was upside-down. Alternatively, I might have imagined that the world was upside-down, but I was hanging by my back from the floor, which was now the ceiling. It was interesting to try to induce the psychological sense of "fear of heights" in that position.

Today, at the end of Tara's class, I found myself imagining walking on the billowy looking ceiling of the room. I'd come into class fairly agitated. I felt sad. She spoke about some things that were happening for her, in terms of experiencing stress or contraction in a situation, and how that situation becomes much bigger than it actually is. And I could totally relate to that. I don't know why I feel the sadness lately. It's not foreign to me. It's been off and on in my life for as long as I can remember. And it's not always brought on by tangible stimuli or events that I can identify. Right now, all is well. But I have gone through periods of existential angst, and periods of undefined sadness. The good news is that they're brief, and they tend to be interspersed with periods of hours or days where I am in a perfectly good state of mind. Case in point: I felt considerably better after this yoga class than I had felt before it.

I don't know any magic trick to not feel these feelings. Some people have told me "You want to feel that way." Is that true? Do I want it? I can't definitively say that I don't, but why would I? It may be true that I am compelled to go there.

I think I have a hard time just being where I am.

The yoga mat is a good place to work on that.

Tree was only a little better today than it was yesterday. And I was only a little less irritated with it. And I recognize that there's an opportunity to let go. Balance poses are a place where it's more difficult to appear composed. In any pose where you've got two feet on the ground, there's always a modification that can be done to achieve stability. Well, truth is, the same can be said for the balance poses. But for some reason, I must be less willing to take those modifications. What does that say? It would be kind of funny to go down the avenue that I don't believe, that of astrology, and say that because I am a Libra, balance is especially a point of pride for me, and that I have high standards.

But let's not go down the occult avenues just yet. Or else I may find myself walking on the ceiling.

15 February, 2015

Disharmony and ignorance

Today was vinyasa with Jodi.

It was a really tough class for me. I don't know why, since I think her classes are supposedly gentler, but they just don't seem it to me. My balance was way off, to the point that it felt like I was taking my first yoga class, and that I didn't even know what Tree is. And since I was in the front row, that even started some of the thoughts creeping into my head about how I must look. I didn't go too far with the thought but it was in there.

At the end of the class, she read something. It was about how all of the disharmony in the world is caused by ignorance. And the specific example was very illustrative, talking about how we might react to being bumped into by someone, and about how that reaction would change if we discovered that the person who bumped us is blind. It was a very literal example, and I started by imagining that situation and I felt a good deal of emotional pain thinking about it. And after class, I took it further, and realized that it was universally true, when taken to an abstract level. If someone treats us poorly, even if it's intentional (from our perspective), there is still this entire level of unknown about that person's life, their past, their day, their problems. We are ignorant of all these things that may be impacting their behavior, and we are presented with this choice of whether to react, or to have compassion. And it doesn't even matter if they're right or wrong. The choice is between harmony and disharmony. When we react, we create more disharmony. And we only get to choose how we act. We do not get to choose how others act.

It's a pretty big thought. It feels like a burden to have that awareness and the responsibility that comes with it.

And when one takes it even further, to understand why we have our own difficulties and failings... example: why I couldn't balance today... I may be ignorant as to why my balance is off, but I still get to choose whether to be mad at my body, or to be compassionate.

It seems like it's ingrained in me to react.

13 February, 2015

Flexibility is...

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

I had a hard time in this class today. Chelle talked about flexibility. She proposed that "flexibility is saying yes to doing something when you want to say no." And I guess that really triggered me today, because I found myself battling inside about "Why is that what flexibility means?!" I felt like maybe for some people who are Type A, flexibility might be to go a little easy instead of pushing to the max. I felt like everyone has a different definition of what it means, and that why am I being asked, in the name of "flexibility," to do exactly what I am being asked to do...

But, as you can probably imagine, as time passed, only shortly after class, I realized that this may be true. But, in that case, perhaps for me, flexibility means "accepting that not everyone is going to have the same definition of flexibility as I do." And it also means that I have to choose whether to spiral out of control and become Mr. Defiance for the rest of the class (proving nothing to no one), or regain center, let it go, and keep practicing.

I often find myself dialing up the defiance channel in Chelle's class, and I am not sure why that is. But I also know that this is a great opportunity for me to explore it, rather than react and run away from it.

12 February, 2015

Novelty versus predictability

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

For the first few times I attended these classes, it all felt new, and I had no idea what was coming next. But as I've come a few more times, I now realize that a Level 1.5 Creative Flow will have a certain arc to the sequences, and a Level 2 Flow will have a particular series of things that will happen, with a few variations within that pattern. The classes are great, but once I know what's coming next, then it gets into that game of turning the mind off, so as not to overthink "What's coming next?"

I don't know what the metaphor is off the mat. I suppose it's that interactions or responsibilities in life that may be recurrent still should only be attended with presence in the moment as if it is the first time they've ever happened. For example, this is the first time that I will ever take this drive home from work, even though I've taken the same route every day. Instead I tend to find anything I can do to fill my mind and not need to think about this drive, since that's boring. Or tedious. And can't wait for it to be over.

I know so clearly how much more rich the life could be if I weren't spinning off into past, future, or other universes of possibility. And yet it remains something I have difficulty doing.

10 February, 2015

Out of sync

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

Whereas yesterday everything was flowing, today I found myself feeling oppositional. The class had a lot of "play time" in it, and experimentation, and it was not what I was looking for. And I guess I felt like I was being difficult by not wanting to participate, but I'm just trying to not have my heel hurt more than it does already, and playing feels risky right now, even if maybe it really isn't. To top it off (making excuses, I know) I'm really tired. So I'm just trying to do a solid, but conservative yoga practice. And some days are just not that.

I could tell that my balance was not good, and it was one of those "bad tree days." Those kinds of days tend to really make me impatient with myself. Today, at least, i didn't spiral into anger at myself. When I couldn't stay in tree, I just had to disappointedly acknowledge, "This is the best I've got today."

09 February, 2015

Finally landing

Today was vinyasa with Tara.

It's taken me awhile to appreciate this class, because I was getting caught up in the little things that I didn't like. I'd recognized a list of the things that I did like, namely the message that she has in her flowing words, and pondering messages that come in a continuing stream throughout the class. But I had been unable to appreciate and release myself into just what it is. Instead, I'd been obsessing over the ways in which Tara is not Michel or Carley or Elizabeth or Zak. Those are teachers whom I've admired very various, but overlapping reasons, but who are radically different from Tara. And my insistence on holding the experience up to a different template caused me to be unable to appreciate what I did like in it.

Today I found myself ready, and I'm not even sure why. I shifted my perspective, perhaps? As I mentioned, I decided to move myself away from the front of the room, so as to not be seeing the little digital clock that had been vexing me in recent classes. Instead, I positioned myself in the far back corner. Maybe the shift in physical perspective enabled an openness to a different experience. I did find it was easier to hear her from the back of the room, since she does move around a lot. And it also happened that today's message was focused on the topic of "having enough" rather than "never having enough." This resonated with the existential angst that I've been battling of late. Because maybe the reason I am struggling is because I am obsessing over the lack of life that we're given, rather than the abundance. I'm not saying I'm going to become Mr. Positive overnight. But I recognize, and have certainly known, if not consciously embodied the reality that we define our experience by our perspective on it.

But I have been both struggling with these thoughts as well as shifting toward some new way, that hasn't yet emerged, but is percolating below the surface. The yoga, the practice, the guidance are all essential.

It felt good to find myself saying "I really like your classes."

08 February, 2015

Different versions of hard

Today was vinyasa with Michelle at Urban Yoga Spa.

It wasn't a very difficult class, but it felt very taxing, and it was because the humidity in the studio was near 100% and the temperature over 100 degrees. I can tell the difference between "the poses are killing me" versus "the environment is killing me" and still can't understand what the benefit is of the former. But I wanted to go to this class so I could have a 1 hour instead of a 90 minute. That may not be a great choice. I may need to just accept that this is not the place where I'll get what I came for. The letting go may be letting go of my 17 passes remaining, or gift them to somebody, because it makes no sense to keep eating from the all-you-can-eat buffet if I don't like the food.

06 February, 2015

Thanks for relative ease

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

I was really sore, way more than usual, from the previous 2 days' classes with Zak. Wasn't even sure how I'd be able to move. This was probably due to having home practiced through several days prior with the studio being closed over the weekend. But Zak also had done a lot of unusual tough moves that got muscles moving that were not use to moving. So it was a pleasant and welcome relief that Chelle was very much on "easy mode," at least by her standards. We did a pretty standard Baptiste flow, but it was actually a bit abbreviated. I'd say that we transitioned into the balancing series about 10 minutes earlier than typically happens in a 75 minute class. The order of things was shuffled around a bit, but it was still bringing about the effect of relative ease.

It was a bit of a dramatic week, and I thought that the "off the mat" experiences might be relevant to mention. I talk a lot about how critical I am of myself here in this blog, but I mention less about how critical I can be of others. This week, at work, I ran into a situation where a colleague was doing things in a way that I felt was not "right." My concern was two-fold: first, I was being strict on the rigors of our domain. Second, I was concerned that my team might be perceived poorly because of her work. So I really voiced my opinion strongly. It turned out that others agreed with me, but the result was that I really ruffled her feathers, and I also instigated a drama festival. The reality is that the drama festival may not be my fault, but I was still in a position where I possess the "intelligence, discernment, and clarity" to make a choice that would mitigate drama rather than promote it. But my triggers were squeezed, and I couldn't resist.

I think I am far less prone to doing this brutal exactness at any costs than I used to be. But I wish I could find it in myself to be a uniter rather than a divider. If someone is having a hard time, or in conflict, could I find a way to improve things, or at least to minimize harm? I tend to decide to confront "big problems" through confrontation or through complete avoidance. That's not "The Middle Way."

It's difficult to do. And especially so because I am not sure I want to.

05 February, 2015

Harder but easier

Today was Level 2 vinyasa with Zak.

Yesterday's class was a Level 1.5 "Creative Flow" and today's was a Level 2. It's true that both were difficult, but I found today's to actually be a bit easier for me. Not sure why that was, but I would not rule out the possibility that my mind was quieter, and more present, so I wasn't fighting the time and the practice as much.

I'm a front-row person, but a week or so ago, I noticed that there's a digital clock near the front of the room that is pointing sideways across for the teacher to see. It's small, but from the front row, I can see it. It's distracting. And it's hard not to look at something when you know it's there. I don't like knowing how much time is left, because it starts my mind focusing on the counting. If I know it's 6:40 then I know there's only 20 minutes left and it spirals me into "expectation-thinking." So I think the solution will be that I may need to move away from the front row. It's probably a good idea to have different perspectives in the room than always the same spot.

Today's class did a lot of the mandala sequences, which I actually like, even though very long flows can be intimidating when you finish 10 minutes of one side, and know that it's all going to happen again on the other side. But they're interesting, and often (at least on the first side) unpredictable. I guess variety is interesting. But we knew that already.

04 February, 2015

Wandering mind

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

For the first half of class today, I really couldn't wait for it to be over. It was mainly because my mind was jumping ahead to wanting to be home. And there was a clear recognition of "Thinking like this is going to make 75 minutes seem like a really long time." That's what happens, but it's hard to stop it when it's happening. About 45-50 minutes into the class, my mind finally started to quiet down. By the end of class, I was finally ready for practice. Funny how that works.

It was a challenging class, with lots of really deep stuff, and some unusual poses. I tried to do most of it. Zak brings out the curiosity in the practice. But I do have my physical and mental limits. Trying to get closer to being governed by the physical ones, but it's important to make wise decisions about which is which.

02 February, 2015

Travel day yoga

Today was hone practice.

I've found a new place in the house to do the home practice. I'd love to do it in the basement, since there are fewer distractions, with not much down there, but the ceilings are too low. I'd been doing it in the bedroom, but that felt a little weird for some reason. Now it's the corner of the living room. There's not really a perfect place for it, but I've practiced in plenty of non-perfect places. The cat circled under me a few times, and tried to get on my legs during an upward dog. But that's okay.

About to travel this evening on a one-day trip.

01 February, 2015

Still a long way to go

Today was home practice.

Not much to say about the practice, but feeling frustrated that for all the practice I do, I'm still finding that peace, calm, happiness elude me. And it probably shouldn't surprise me, because much of me still believes I don't deserve them. The problem with not deserving them is that it means I don't allow them when they're available. Instead, my mind finds a way to be without peace, without calm, without happiness. The positive feelings come when I am not thinking about them. The moment. The only place to actually experience anything. Yet somehow I choose to dwell in past or future, coloring the moment from whatever palette of negativity is available.

There's a long way to go.

30 January, 2015

Drop ins

Today was vinyasa with Tim at Urban Yoga Spa.

I'd decided to go take a class at UYS because my studio is closed this weekend. The goal was to take Cassandra's class, and I'd checked the schedule, but the schedule must not have been up to date. So it was Tim instead. Very strange being at the studio with only one or two faces that were vaguely familiar, compared to years ago, when everyone was familiar. The class was interesting, but a little complicated. Very humid, but not that hot. I guess I still have 18 more passes to use. It might take me a couple of years to use them...

29 January, 2015

Too interesting to bother getting tired

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

A level 2 class, and that means unusual sequences, interesting, challenging, but engaging. Not your garden variety Baptiste flow, in any sense of the imagination. The class may have been physically less demanding than yesterday's because there were fewer Chaturanga sequences, but there were many stretching poses, and things I've never done before. So, I expect once again I will be very sore tomorrow, as I was today from last night's class.

There are teaching styles that engage me to the point that I become almost obedient... like I couldn't imagine not following the instructions, no matter how difficult or intricate. And there are teaching styles where I check right out and spiral into my head (but we aren't complaining anymore, right?).

Zak is just amazing.

Life won't always be as enticing as a Zak class. But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it and seek it out whenever possible.

28 January, 2015

Slow, intense

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

Very deliberate, intense practice. As he put it "Here's where things get real." And it's true. The class was very hard. But it was within my limits, and I stayed within my limits as it approached them. The practice is going pretty well. I might have more to say about it. But now I am just making sure I don't forget to write anything at all.

26 January, 2015

Being without reaction

Today was vinyasa with Tara.

It was similar to the last class. I found myself thinking about talking with her after class about the aspects that I wish were different than they were. But I find myself asking myself whether it's really necessary that I try to control everything. A million different ways that I try to wriggle around the lack of control. I tell myself that it's feedback that I should really give. But why? Why me? This is what it is. This is what's happening. I can choose to go to the class and practice. I can choose not to go to the class. There are some elements of the class that I find really amazing. Things that hit home. And there are some things that I wish were different. How is that not like life? How is that not the perfect place to practice with what is? Don't change it. Learn to be with it. Don't avoid it. Don't complain about it. Don't even describe it. Just experience it and experience what it feels like to experience it.

I'm not saying it's going to be easy.

25 January, 2015

Coming in heavy

Today was vinyasa with Rob.

Still feeling major effects of my "Curling Day" on Friday. I know that sounds pathetic, because you wouldn't think curling is a physically demanding activity. But my muscles are really tight, and I just feel overall fatigue. Maybe there are other factors contributing. I took a long walk yesterday and today as well, so that might be it.

I was able to make it through the class, but just felt like I was moving through molasses. But still, I am glad that I went, and I am glad that it was a familiar face teaching.

Not much to say today.

23 January, 2015

Right side, low lunge

Today was vinyasa with Chelle.

For my sake, I was thankful that, at no point during the class did she utter the words "Right side, low lunge," or "Right side, crescent lunge," or "Right side, lizard pose," or any other variant thereof. The reason for this is that I tried curling today at a team event at work. For those of you who have curled, you probably catch my drift, but if you haven't, the sport pretty much consists of being somewhere between low lunge and lizard pose on every throw, while sliding along the ice to launch a 42-pound stone. So I was really fatigued and sore, and only on one side (since I'm left-handed, that means it was always "Right side, low lunge").

It was a great class, and it was also my first time making it into the studio in a few days, since Monday, in fact. And it was the first time that I have taken two consecutive days off in I don't know how long... weeks? Months?

The class was surprisingly gentle for a power vinyasa class, and I am definitely thankful for that.

It's been an up and down week of emotions. In the past 5 days, I've traveled to California to meet a new team, put my old house for sale, attended a team event that was pretty intense and, oh yeah, lost my cat (but we found him). It was one of those weeks that pushed me way outside my comfort zone, and I flexed, adapted, bent, broke, you name it. I did a little bit of everything. But what I am proud to have done was to have grown, and to have kept returning to center, even when I drifted astray. It's hard. When things get hard, I often find myself getting into an evasive mindset that leads me to want to jettison everything: the good, the bad, the unknown. Get rid of it all! But these feelings don't last forever, no matter how real they seem in the moment.

That's got to be a lot like yoga.

22 January, 2015

Not gonna not do it

Today was home practice.

I really didn't have the energy after a long day. But after missing two consecutive days, which I really hate to do for whatever reason, I was determined to make this day happen. We'd had plans for a team dinner after work, and there was no missing that, so I knew I'd need to do yoga late, and on a full stomach. Neither of those are optimal. And it was a bit of a crazy stressful day. My house was going on the market today, which is panic-inducing for even the calmest of minds. This morning, there was some sort of a glitch that caused my listing to not initially be posted correctly. Not all the information was showing. And it made me panic thinking "People are going to see this messed up listing and they aren't going to be interested in my house! I am doomed! My house will be worth nothing! I will be destroyed! This is a disaster!" It turns out (and I can say this for certain since I am writing this two days after the fact) that this was a very minor issue, and most of the potential buyers never even noticed the glitchy listing. But it was REAL DANGER in my mind and I was fuming.

Somehow I made it through the day of work activities, and then the team dinner. I didn't even drink any alcohol at dinner, because I knew that I wanted to do yoga, and was committed to doing it. But when I got home I was so tired, stressed, and just emotionally drained, I didn't think I could do it. I was horrible company. I almost fell asleep at 8:30pm. But somehow, around 10pm, I dragged myself into the living room, rolled out my mat, and did a pretty good practice of 45-50 minutes. My mind had quieted a bit, perhaps because I was too tired to obsess or be angry about anything at that point.

I ask myself, in hindsight, how could I have chosen to keep cool, and not panic, and not imagine that the sky was falling in that situation with the minor listing glitch? It was not major. It was not life-threatening and, even if it were, anger or panic was not going to solve it. And that's where I'd say there's still someone in me that likes the drama. Someone that likes when a circumstance arises that is culturally acceptable to lose my shit. Because, who wouldn't agree that having your home sale not go smoothly is a BIG DEAL? So who would question me for losing my shit? Right? But the thing is, it's not about being justified. It's not about "Who wouldn't?" It's about what I want my life to look and feel like. I subjected myself to stress, and I also subjected others to that stress in smaller ways. And it didn't change anything.

What will I do the next time this type of situation occurs?

19 January, 2015

Getting to know you

Today was vinyasa with Tara Dyberg.

Tara was one of the few instructors at Shakti whose class I hadn't yet taken, so I'd been looking forward to what it might be like. I like to have a good sense of all the instructor's styles so that I can plan my class schedule during the week, since it really does matter who the instructor is. And, as you all know, it's not just that there are "good instructors" and "bad instructors." Different styles and energies work better for different days.

I'm reflecting back on this class, which was actually now about a week ago since I failed to do my yoga blogging this week, so my memory is foggy as to how I felt. But I do recall that this was a class with a lot of instructions. There are teachers who say more and teachers who say less. And sometimes less is more. And sometimes more is less. And sometimes more is more. It kind of depends. But I found myself having a little difficulty staying with the flow today because I was doing a lot of anticipating, and often guessing incorrectly. That happens some days. I think I felt a little bit rushed in the class because I knew I'd be going to the airport to fly to California later. That can make it difficult for me to just be in the moment. So I think I should give the class another go (or two).

18 January, 2015

Slippery slopes and mixed feelings

Today was creative flow with Jodi Boone at Shakti.

Having done yoga 2 days in a row, I wasn't sure I wanted to do yoga 3 days in a row, especially since last night's class really took a toll on my body. But there's a possibility that I will have no way of making it into a studio for 3 consecutive days this week (but somehow I will do yoga), and I opted to get it while I can.

Today was a day where I had originally thought I might be spending the entire day watching football. And I had mixed feelings about that. I've probably written elsewhere about how I have great difficulty allowing myself to support "corporate sports" and to watch all the ridiculous advertising-infused fanfare and hype. About how I find it baffling that people claim a sense of personal satisfaction and victory from watching a bunch of random people wearing uniforms that happen to be playing a game in the name of the city in which they live (or, more often, a city within several hundred miles of the city or town in which they live). I could go on and on. But the mixed feelings come because I really enjoy watching the game, and a part of me, from my youth, has the enthusiasm for my home team.

I don't know why this is yoga blog material. It's just what was on my mind today. I decided that I didn't want to spend my day doing something that I don't want to believe in. I know it's not important, and that it's an old obsession that I've outgrown. I also know there would have been nothing wrong with watching it. I dunno. I suppose if I had cable TV this conversation wouldn't be happening, because I would have certainly watched if it had been easy.

Ramble ramble ramble. Blah blah blah.

So, the second part of my title related to the fact that I'd had a massage before yoga today. I don't usually do it in that order, but that's the way the schedule went today. I wanted to do yoga, and I had already had a massage. The downside of this is that my skin was pretty slick from the massage oil or whatever she uses. Thus, a few poses were hard to do because of not having enough friction in the places that it's needed. Tree, for example. I couldn't do Tree properly. And it made me angry. I got these really angry hateful thoughts toward myself. And I don't know why I had these thoughts because I knew exactly why I couldn't do the pose. It's not to say that I should be angry at myself on any other day that I have a challenge, but it was especially odd that I felt such anger even though the explanation was clear. And I think it's because I'm worried about other people seeing me not doing a "good Tree" pose. I am worried about how it looks. I am proud of my Tree, and I don't want anyone to look at me and think "Wow, he really can't do Tree at all." And I realize how ridiculous this is, because nobody is judging me, and they may not even be looking at me. But then I worry that I am "that guy" who is making it hard for other people to balance because I am wobbling all over the place and messing up their drishti.

It's about wanting to feel perfect.

And it's not going to happen.

17 January, 2015

Anticipation

Today was vinyasa with Ben Grieshaber at Shakti.

There are times where my mind wanders in class because I am worrying about what pose will come next, or dreading what I know is coming next, or thinking about what I will do after class. Those types of anticipation I am trying to address. Today's anticipation came via a different variety. For some reason, the cadence of Ben's instruction seems to find me anticipating transitions when they're not imminent. It's almost like when the quarterback in a football game plays around with the snap count to try to draw the defense offsides. And several times during today's class, I received 5 yard penalties (I'm trying to throw in some football metaphors, in honor of this weekend's playoffs).

So I found myself thrown off a bit, and that led to some frustration, and probably exacerbated my sense of fatigue. But it's all part of the practice. During class, I thought about whether or not I wanted to talk with him after class about the timing of the instruction, but I decided that I should wait and see how I feel about it next time, or the time after that, or the time after that, or never. Not really sure.

I expected it to be difficult to go back to hot yoga after a week away and it was, indeed.

16 January, 2015

Last East Coast yoga for now

Today was home practice.

I had an hour to spare before heading to the airport for the trip back to Seattle. Just enough time to get in the day's practice, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity. It was a decent practice, but it's still definitely weird doing yoga in my childhood bedroom, especially because the wall that I face is now decorated with family photos, so I'm constantly facing these images of parents, siblings, nephews, aunts, etc. It's a little nutty, to be honest.

Looking forward to returning to the blanker slate of Shakti's yellow walls and calming (and warm!) environment tomorrow. I am sure that the heat will be a bit of a slammer after being away for a week, but it will still be good.

The trips home are a source of validation for me because I understand what's important when I'm there. To be there for family and to fulfill responsibilities and give someone a sense of being loved. There are times where I forget about this, and I become snippy with my dad, but I am trying not to cling to the memory of the moments that I snap at him, and to focus on the majority of the time where he is grateful for me to be there. And I am grateful to have these times to connect with him as well.

On one hand, I had some sadness that I didn't do this fully 30 years ago, and that I did not have the opportunity to have this deep of a connection in my mother's later years, though I did have a strong connection with her when I was young (which probably explains most of my neuroses, but that's another deal altogether). But on the other hand, I feel glad that I did this at all. With my sister gone, and my brother up in New Hampshire, I recognize where and how I am needed.

At times where I am wondering what the point of it all even is, I should recall this.

14 January, 2015

So tired

Today was the day where the time difference caught up with me.

It was gentle yoga in the hotel room. No Chaturangas, lots of slow stretches. I half-thought I should just take a nap, but I didn't want to break the commitment to myself to do yoga. Just to wake up beforehand I decided to walk from work back to the hotel, across the Longfellow Bridge, in the frigid temperatures. It was enough to get me to the point that I was capable of practicing, but still not energized. Once again, I turned the heat up to 80 degrees, mainly because I could.

Not much to say other than that. It's hard to shift time zones.

13 January, 2015

Why is it so hard to stay in the moment?

Today was hot-el yoga in Boston.

I turned the thermostat in the room up to 80 degrees. I mean, why not, right?

Today's schedule left me no option but to do yoga after dinner, which is never a great idea, especially when dinner is heavy (Italian), and not completely without wine (Chianti). But you gotta do what you gotta do. I had the promise to myself that today was A YOGA DAY and that's just the way it goes.

Was pretty tired and didn't think I'd be able to concentrate. It's really shocking how constantly my mind wanders to other things -- anything! It could be coworkers, projects, my health, my family, what happened last night, what's happening tomorrow, whether I should go on vacation, booking work travel, etc. And that whole time, right in front of me is the entire practice. The pose that I'm doing that moment. The breath. The sensations in my body. And it's so so hard to keep locked into those things. I actually don't think it's that I am avoiding being with my sensations. I think it's that it has become a habit to "multitask." I (we) am (are) always trying to find ways of being more efficient. On the commute home it's the perfect time to plan the evening, or think about the day. On the treadmill at the gym (which I don't do anymore) is the perfect time to ponder all kinds of things. There's (supposedly) not enough time in the day, so I make it up by always doing two or more things at once. So, it's no surprise that I do the same thing on the yoga mat. Because it's the perfect time to focus on the same shit that I focus on every waking moment that I'm not fully engrossed in some mental task at hand.

Completely understandable.

But... not the practice.

And I'm working on how to remedy this. But it's hard. Because it's like an addiction. It would be so easy to say "I am going to try to focus 100% on whatever my task at hand is, from here going forward... when I am driving, I will focus entirely on the experience of the car, the road, the events in the visual and auditory field around me as I drive... when I am doing a project at work, I will place all of my attention on completing the task... when I am at dinner in a restaurant, I will completely immerse myself in the atmosphere, the conversation, the meal..." How could it not be great? But then I think, "You mean, I can't look at my phone? I can't check Facebook? I can't daydream?" And I don't know if I can do it.

So then the question becomes, "Well, perhaps if I work on doing it on the mat, I will become better at doing it off the mat." But one could also argue the opposite. But that's unlikely to happen, because the reason for "the mat" is to give us a (theoretically) simpler place to achieve these kinds of goals.

I am somewhat of a subscriber to the idea that if you want something badly enough, you'll achieve it. And that makes me wonder, "Do I not want to be present?" And if the answer is "No! I do want to be present!" then why am I not achieving it more quickly? And if the answer is "Correct. I do not want to be present." then why don't I want to be present? Why would I prefer to be all over the place but now? What is the goal?

What is the goal?

Huh?

11 January, 2015

Home practice: Version 2

Today was home practice.

Bedroom practice. Fortunately, today's football game was not quite as loud as yesterday's because my father opted to watch the television in the kitchen during the time that I practiced.

Yesterday I did a fairly energizing practice in the traditional Baptiste flow, with all the usual poses. So today I decided it would be more of the focus on grounding, stretching, lots of deeper poses, but fewer Chaturangas. It was by design, but probably also what my body was asking for.

I find when I'm not actively finding excuses to abbreviate or rush, the basic sequence of whatever I decide to do takes about 40-50 minutes, which is a good length for the home practice, I think. I could easily make it be longer, and know what and where to add, but I feel reasonably complete at that point. Before this recent reinvigoration of my practice, I was skimping down to 25-30 minutes, and it was truly conscious omission. It's not like "I have had enough yoga," but more a case of "I think I can get away with not doing any more yoga." There's a shift.

The home visit is good. I think I've only been particularly unpleasant to my father once :)

10 January, 2015

Focus... focus... focus...

Today was home practice.

It's hard to focus when the Seahawks game is on in the other room. And it's not that I care about the Seahawks, but just knowing there's a game and the noise, and hearing the television. I managed to dial up the breath to the point that it was barely detectable, but then there's a kind of distraction of "I know I need to keep breathing this loud or I'm gonna hear the announcers, and then I'll really be distracted."

It's also hard to focus, believe it or not, when I am doing yoga in my childhood bedroom... it's not a place that I associate with my yoga practice. This house isn't. It's not a bad place, but it's a place that has my mind already elsewhere (The Past). Perfect place to practice, right? I find myself getting into the mindset of "I just have to make myself do X minutes, and just get through this, and endure it." But that's not really practicing. That's something else. To really practice would be to say "What is the yoga right now? What is it to practice right here?" I was able to reject the thoughts that came up about "I just have to get through this. I don't feel like doing this." But that's not being with those thoughts. It's suppressing them. I was forcing myself to be in a practice that I am accustomed to, rather than really experiencing what it means to have the same presence that comes so easily and naturally in a yoga studio. I don't know what I'm talking about.

I did a basic Baptiste series. It amounted to about 42 minutes. That's all I have to say. For now.

08 January, 2015

Hard... real hard

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

This was a Level 2 class, and it was one of the occasions where there was a clear difference in difficulty between this and the Level 1 classes. There were many creative sequences, and many long holds, and few rests. The crowd was smaller than yesterday, for which I was thankful.

I do the best I can in such a class, in terms of maintaining focus and not getting discouraged when fatigue sets in. And also making sure that I stay in "my practice" regardless of whether I need to modify. No checking out. No giving up.

Pretty happy with the shift that has occurred with me coming to classes more. It's strange how I went through a phase where I thought I might be done with regular studio practices, but now I feel that it's very important for me to go there. Not sure if it was that I am just following what I need at different times, or if I had a lapse in my commitment. It's hard to know, and it probably doesn't matter which it was. Now I am here.

07 January, 2015

40 Days to Personal... Space

Today was vinyasa with Zak.

Just when I'd come to be pleased and contented with the relative space and peace of Shakti and it's relatively sparse classes, we now have 40 Days To Personal Revolution. The result, along with all the New Year's Resolutions, is that there were about 70 people in class yesterday. We were mat to mat, with little room to move, starting late, with people shuffling in after class started, and little noises and disruptions. Everyone's gonna get their yoga on. But that's the way it goes. In 40 days, it will likely be back to the peaceful surroundings. In the meantime, I shall endure!

Zak taught a great, if extremely challenging class. My body was really burning. Not from the heat in the room, but from the intensity.

But I must be getting stronger with all this yoga, right?

05 January, 2015

Someone to blame

Today was vinyasa with Ben Grieshaber.

Today's class was tough. And while it was a good class, there were a few moments where I wasn't sure what was coming next, and got a little twisted up. Not because of expectation, but because of timing. There is definitely a time where you're flowing, and you do need to know what comes next. And, in my fatigue, I started to get irritated. An off-the-mat analogy might be appropriate.

Then when we were doing our balancing series, I was finding it harder to stick the poses. My legs were definitely very fatigued, and I do have to recognize there are days where, for whatever reason (possibly not even physical), the balance will be off. It happened to be the case that Ben was moving back and forth in the front of the room, passing through my "drishti" and I started to get angry at him, like "C'mon! How am I supposed to focus if you're moving all over the place?!"

But then I realized that this was the PERFECT place to practice. Because it's so bloody true off the mat. When things are shaky, or uncertain, or challenging, or not going exactly the way I want them to go, I tend to look outside myself for someone to blame. Someone is causing this. It's not my fault. And the flip side is that I turn it back inside, and blame myself as being inadequate at my core. What is wrong with me? Why can't I do this? I am worthless!

Neither of these extremes is the right path. And neither is necessary. Neither of these is walking the middle path. And I think that recognizing and enduring these feelings is precisely what it means to walk that middle path.

04 January, 2015

One big distraction

Today was vinyasa with Jodi Boone.

I had kind of expected that today's class, though 90 minutes, would be on the mellower side. I don't know what gave me that idea. Maybe because I'd never taken a class with Jodi before, and I knew that she might teach one of the gentler classes? Though I may be wrong about that as well.

In any case, it was intense, and I spent the entire class distracted at a low level by the things that were on my mind before I came to practice. I have to say, in some ways, being distracted by one specific thing is less of a distraction than being generically distracted by whatever wanders through my mind. At least with one big distraction, it's easy to stay focused on that distraction, and that's almost like being present. Heh. Presence via singleminded absence. There's a new concept.

The flow was a little bit different from the standard, hence the class being called a "Creative Flow." I think the time passed reasonably fast, even for 90 minutes, and it wasn't overly hot.

Regarding the distraction. Well, I won't go into it, other than to say that the issue has to do with letting go. I recognized myself unwilling to let go. I knew that what I needed to be willing to do is let go of the thought... let go of the frustration... let go of control of all my situations. And it's hard when I really don't want to let go. There's a child inside of us (me) that seems quite resistant to reeducation.

That's why there's a good reason for practice every day.

03 January, 2015

A dislike for consequences

Today was home practice.

The schedule didn't really allow me to go to the studio today. Actually, turns out, it would have allowed me to do so, but someone who was supposed to come by my house and talk to me at 4pm ended up not showing up due to a miscommunication. It was a contractor who was going to do some work for me. I ended up deciding that I didn't want to work with this person because of their no-show. I will spare the details, except to say that I felt badly deciding to "penalize" them for not keeping an appointment. I felt guilty like maybe I didn't give them a fair chance. But the facts (that I am sparing you) would probably have you feel the same way I felt. I guess it's in my nature to feel badly about exacting consequences on people. Though there are surely contradictions to that.

Anyway, the commitment today, in this home practice, was to do an honest, full class, not an abbreviated form. I even turned the heat up a bit to get things on the warmer side. And I did about 54 minutes, which I consider to be acceptable. It was nothing out of the ordinary, just followed the Baptiste flow, but I didn't want to cut it short out of laziness or boredom.

There's a lot of work that I need to be doing, both internally and externally, and I don't feel like I am doing it. I am uneasy about that. I am also uneasy about traveling for a week that is coming up soon. It's not a good time for disruptions, and I feel anxiety when I think ahead to it.

02 January, 2015

First class of the year

Today was gentle yoga with Sharon Lightfoot-Pound at The Yoga Tree.

I don't often go to this studio. I'd bought a 10 class pass when I first started working nearby, and have only used 3 of the passes to this day. It has the advantage of being close to work, but I haven't found myself drawn to the place yet. Today's class was called Hatha 1-3, but it was not much like the Hatha classes I've taken elsewhere, and the intensity level was very low. Thus, I'm "categorizing" it as a gentle class.

Today's attendance here was to accommodate evening plans I had that would conflict with after-work yoga. I didn't attend the New Years' Day workshop at Shakti yesterday, because I got off to a late start, and didn't really feel like doing yoga right after waking up (yes, at 10am). So that put me in the position of not wanting to miss 2 days in a row to start 2015. And, hence, this.

It's hard to set intention or resolutions when I am not really sure what I want from the year. I can get scattered scrambling thoughts like "I am going to pursue these hobbies" or "I am going to do these improvements on my new home" or "I am going to spend more time with these friends" or "I am going to focus on being more relaxed and attentive to the moment" or... the list goes on. Those are all really easy intentions to clutch at. But the (slightly troubling) thing is, I don't don't really know what I want to intend or resolve to do. I've got everything I could possibly want in my life, with the possible exception of infinite vacation time, and infinite funds to spend on said vacation. But I don't really know what comes next. Nothing's wrong. It's not a rejection of status quo. I mean, could it possibly be that my intention or resolution is to just keep doing the same thing? Or perhaps to become more content, accepting, or whatever, that doing the same thing is an acceptable thing to do?

If I have a thought "I am bored" then my mind always races to "What am I going to do next?!"
If I have a thought "I am not creative enough" then my mind pressures me to try to create.
If I have a thought "I should be in better shape" then I start worrying about that.

But what if, instead of all these judgments triggering reactions, I just resolved to look at my trajectory from the outside, recognize that it's all pretty hunky-dory, and just sit with those thoughts and not react?

It's not that I don't have any resolutions or intentions to set. Some of them are right there. But they're hard. Things like "Be nicer." Things like "Be more patient." Things like "Be more accepting."

And with that, I will say no more.