Sunday, September 14, 2014

waffles purify the body (sharath's led)

If you are expecting me to wax poetical about practicing with 300 other ashtangis...you can stop here..that's not who I am..and I (sadly) suspect no amount of practice will change that. It feels more like a flash mob with a purpose..than some amazing breathing and moving in unison experience..For the most part, I was not even all that aware of the crowd in the room.

I survived, just barely. How I will do this in December, in mysore, in a much warmer room, is a mystery. how people do this at all is a mystery, I was never athletic, and led feels so much more like a test of endurance.

I know there was a bit of a conference after, but i was too busy crying or trying not to cry to hear most of what he said. I never do led classes here, this being only my 2nd led class ever (when sharath was in nyc for a day..that was my first). It doesn't feel like this was the intention of the practice. ..but that's me. I have always preferred to do things in my own timing. Savasana was 1 minute. And it looked like no one else had a problem with that! Hard to imagine starting the nerve cleansing of second when primary does such a number on me lately. This time there ware so many points where I wanted to bag the whole practice and have cry on my mat..it..was...sooooooo....hard...today. Silly me, I thought over a year of practicing full primary would make it easier.

I ended up forking out for a cab down there, as I was still sick, though much better than yesterday.  It would have been an hour by subway, and that's with nothing going wrong, which at 6am, would have been unlikely. Wish they would hold these a bit further uptown. The gym at the Chinatown y has zero ambiance. Even I would need to stay with someone downtown if I had wanted to do the week of classes, this location seems geared to people who practice at eddie's.

Practice was full of bloopers- I almost fell over in parvitta trikonasna (!?!), I was completely confused by which poses we are supposed to stagger ourselves for..as that didn't happen at all, and I jumped through to sit at the end rather than to stand for the closing chant (although I do it correctly in my own practice, and I am pretty sure I was the only one who did that). I also seemed to be the earliest back into downdog on each vinyasa..though I felt like I wasn't rushing either.. It was a huge relief to finish my attempt at supta K and play garbha bumper cars. Ut pluththi was interminable, he had not yet counted 1 and I was on 3! Needless to say, I came down a couple times to rest, so I could be only just ready to collapse at 10. Sharath has an excellent sense of when to slow down to drive us all nuts.

I think I need to do the class to prepare for india, but I do hope this is not representative of how the practice will feel there. I have to decide if it's worth doing all this again tomorrow, since I also have my appointment for my indian visa. I will probably go. I wonder if it will be a lot less crowded on a weekday.

One interesting thing, that since i didn't do dropbacks today, I was a lot less hungry after practice.  Or maybe that is just from the led practice being so much shorter than my normal practice. I stopped at bowery coffee for a muffin and tea..the amazing donuts were long gone :(

Saturday, September 6, 2014

when conditions are right

i am going to mysore this year. December. 

I am still a bit in shock..that I managed to finally get myself to commit to going (getting past the fear..the endless panic attacks during practice as thoughts of going to mysore would cause, even though I have wanted to go for as long as I have been practicing..maybe even a bit longer, as i used to read ashtanga blogs and that is what got me to start practicing ashtanga instead of jivamukti flow classes). I have my confirmation, and the time off from my employer..mysteriously, this was very easy to get. In the past, I once quit this same job to get 3 weeks off in a row..and another time, my employer pretended that I only asked for 1 week off rather than 2...so this is huge for me. But it is not just my employer that has changed..but me. I can deal with these situations with more grace than before..they don't become something which paralyzes me (though many many things still do that for me) into total inaction. 

I am the sort of person who waits waits waits for things to be easier..when x happens..then I can do y..like my life is some sort of math theorem. The trouble with this..is that conditions are never "right" on their own..you have to make them right, work with them, nudge them a bit (at least), and I am always hesitant to act. I can invent a million reasons in my head why it won't work, why I should wait another week, month, year...lifetime. I am really good at seeming to be patient..but it is not patience..

A lot of things have changed for me this summer..and that convergence made the thought of india..possible, again. I feel like some sort of weight has been lifted. As a friend of mine reminded me tonight..things are going, actually..well, for me. something I would rarely admit to until recently.

My commitment to go came about in a totally impulsive way. I had gone out on a date with a guy I met on the train who I liked a lot..but realized that evening, that there was no possible chance of relationship with him, even though I let him come back to my place. It had been a really long time since I have done that. I had a really intense dream while he was sleeping next to me..which made things feel really clear..I had to attend to myself..or else the changes that were starting to happen this year would not be sustained..I knew this already..but i have been ignoring it. I have been getting burned out working, teaching and doing the feldenkrais training without any sort of break for 3 years. It's awfully hard to listen to yourself..especially when you are constantly on the go (so it seems) in a noisy city like new york.

I realized that if I didn't go..and soon, I might never go at all, that is - the fear would win..and that I would so completely regret never trying, never going..more than anything else I can think of right now. It doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense financially to go while I am in the felden training (and i have a lot of work i need to be doing for that, as well as a lot of doubts over what i am doing with that at all) and while I have some other issues to deal with..and my job which always seems precarious (my mind needs something to worry about, always)..though I am learning to be better about it. I never thought I could get the time off..especially once my employer let go the other guy working in the office...how would he go for for me leaving for a month..even over the normally slow month of december? 

As my teacher says..when the time is right, the obstacles disappear..I never would have believed it before. So here I go ..to mysore, for my 47th birthday. woohoo.






Saturday, June 28, 2014

lost in translation

so my very friendly and gracious student B with very limited english skills returned to my feldenkrais class, with his friend. apparently he liked the class so much last week, that he told another woman about the class..and she showed up and brought a friend too..i think she said there were a couple other people who she thought were going to show up..just as well they didn't. it was enough to have 4 on the floor and one sort of doing the lesson in a chair.  there were 2 people with very limited english skills..especially when it comes to feldenkrais directions..and one of the women on the floor would sometimes translate for the other two..though she had no felden experience either, so i hoped her interpretation/translation made sense to the others. i still had some pointing and demonstrating and a lot of repeating to do..but i made it through the lesson. unscathed.

for now, i have to let go of my ideas of how to teach these lessons, and just be happy to get people to follow basic instructions (moving slowly and resting not in their minds yet) by any means necessary. (Feldenkrais classes are normally taught with all verbal instructions and no demonstrating or adjusting students.)  It is so hard to tell what the students' experience of the class is while they are doing the lesson. I see them working too hard, not resting, and moving faster than they ought..but at the end, when someone tells me that they feel relaxed and feel the difference where they should, all i can do is be thankful that the felden lessons work despite language confusion.

i also told myself before the class that i was not going to freak out over what people can or cannot understand..i do need to start picking up some basic spanish vocabulary..just so i can connect with the non english speakers a bit better. and i need to find some spanish language info on feldenkrais..It is going to be a challenge to teach this group this summer. 

I felt ok after teaching this time, unlike last week's post class freakfest and emotional exhaustion over not feeling understood (and i don't think it was just about teaching the class). i won't be able to be at all ambitious in terms of lessons i teach for the rest of the summer if this is the new "group" of the class..but so be it. i think i was partly annoyed last week at feeling like i had to backtrack (how dare students need something other than what i wanted to teach!)..but these folks have never done feldenkrais before..and that is enough of a challenge, even without the language issues. now i am glad that i will have a couple classes to sub in august..i can teach a bit more involved lessons to that class. 

Saturday, i hibernated at home. watched the exciting second half and then overtime and then tiebreaker penalty kicks to break the tie for brazil v. chile. it struck me that i have really been enjoying watching the world cup with spanish commentary..commentary that i cannot understand..other than names of players..and gooooooooooooooooooooaaaaallllllllllllllll!!!!! tone and volume of voice conveys a lot already. so maybe not all things need complete verbal comprehension to be enjoyed and understood.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

friday practice..a walk in the rain


My new friday practice seems to consist of yoga (a given), followed by an indian thali lunch, and then a walk through central park. The warm rain on friday was pleasant..and kept the park quite empty. I felt as if I was in another city. After living in Oregon for 10 years,  a few raindrops do not faze me

Practice was quite good friday, considering how stressed i had been all week. My feldenkrais training is this weekend, and every time i have a training weekend, i get more than a bit anxious about it - the training itself, and my inability to manage my time well or get enough sleep during these times. this time i thought i was being smart, and booked an acupuncture appointment the night before..only to have my supposedly stress reducing session cause a lot more emotional upheaval. good grief. took me til friday afternoon to start to feel normal again. oh, back to practice...i am trying to adhere more to the vinyasa count where i can. that is-trying to take the pose in seated on the exhale, etc. only where i can. not forcing it elsewhere. it has been an interesting experiment. the first time i tried this..i started to get befuddled about where i was in the series because it felt completely different focusing on this aspect of practice. then it felt more exhausting, and then on friday, the day i was the most agitated, it somehow helped calm me down and keep me more focused..until the maris that is. it also helped that i got assists in a few poses along the way..sometimes assists can really help rather than hinder my sense of flow in my practice.

I also realize that sometime soon i need to really look at what the vinyasa count is..ie..a book on primary. i am still completely uninterested in the whole idea of led classes..i hate following anyone else's timing..but i know i will have to get over that one of these days.
I am also struggling to get up the gumption to reduce the number of suryas i do..from 5/5 as i was taught, to 5/4 or 4/4 or 5/3 for the warmer weather. My general tendency to want to overdo everything plus the months and months it took to be able to do 10 suryas in a row without wanting to fall over or getting afraid i could not do that many without falling over, makes me reluctant to give up even 1 surya. silly, yes, given full primary has a hell of a lot of vinyasas. The other thing is that the vinyasas and suryas calm me down, maybe more than the postures themselves. One of the things I learned from a wonderful feldenkrais practitioner and trainer, was that feelings of anxiety/panic can be headed off by doing something physical that involves your whole self- the examples she gave were pushing at a wall or trying to lift something heavy..so real physical effort is involved here. After that, I realized that part of my attachment to ashtanga is a real need for those vinyasas. I don't have time to be anxious or upset when trying to jump back or through, or when I try to do any of the more strenuous exits.



Training this weekend has been really great. One of the easier sessions, both physically and emotionally. We are learning how to work with feet..and about the connection between the feet and the head. I had to miss a bit of friday night's class in order to teach my class..but i have had a few good practice sessions with people in my training..and feel confused, as always. but am not panicking over that feeling. Really knowing what you are doing in this method takes years..training, almost 4 years of training that i will have when i am done..well, that's just scratching the surface. It is a lifelong practice of learning to become more aware of my own body and to work with others. 


Friday, April 25, 2014

home and away practice

one of the important birds in central park 
posing for the camera with its best bat signal.

it's been an entire week of self practice, as in practice at home and even away from home, at my aunt's house. oddly it was my aunt's house where i did my first ever real non-shala practice a year and a half ago..after thanksgiving. practicing there is more about getting something done..not about a good or pretty practice. just a partial antidote to too much eating and sitting and sitting and eating. you get the idea.

i had every intention of going back to the shala this week, but i kept waiting for LH which just did not want to cooperate.  i was feeling quite sad last night (pms induced) and stayed up late watching the hindi version of the lunchbox. enough of the movie is in english already, and somehow you don't need to know the exact words. 

i thought LH was going to arrive today, so i turned off my alarm and let myself sleep more. when i got up, felt like LH would be much later in the day if at all today so i decided to practice at home, and of course LH arrives in the middle of practice. do i abort then and there?..nope! i finished which might have been a bad idea. my intercostals on both sides seem rather trashed, but i didn't notice it til i started closing. nothing during practice felt like it was too much on them. i tried sitting up after kurmasana to stretch each leg over my shoulders..but i made sure to not do anything too intensely. honestly i dont know why people do this..you lose momentum and bandhas by faffing around with this for a minute or so...i also tried an illegal pasasana in its proper place (my worry is that pasasana did in my intercostals). couldn't bind, but i could make a passable attempt at it on each side. no falling over, i just couldn't rotate the arm that goes round the knees properly, though i could get that hand across my feet. didn't try too hard and only tried 1x on each side. i could see that it would be possible with a teacher's help. 

standing up from the "last" ud continues to be a mess. i couldn't stand up from the floor today, which was annoying. i am sure it is my legs-- once i shifted how i am doing UHP, it immediately affected backbending. before this, i was standing up from the floor after 1-2 attempts most days, and now i have much less lift and strength/weight in my legs than before. the backbends may be getting deeper again but seems like that is more about my upper chest than my legs (might just be the sheer number of them in my extra failed attempts to stand up).  the focus on my inner thighs in UHP has made both the suryas and standing feel more stable. the only positive change with the backbending this week, is i don't have any crying fits about not being able to stand up..even if i do make a few too many attempts.

off to the park for some sun..and maybe lunch first at my favorite indian restaurant..if i can get there before their lunch special is over.
magnolias

Friday, March 14, 2014

south indian thali friday



I have been pretty insanely busy this year, with work, teaching feldenkrais, feldenkrais training, and my yoga practice..and have been sorely neglecting this blog...

Practice wise, I have been working on standing up from that final backbend. Right before last xmas, I started to be able to stand up, not pretty at all, but up is up. Since then it has improved somewhat..though very slowly. Now, it generally takes a couple tries to stand up, and I am not past the occasional (or more than occasional) loud crashing fall on my butt. Today, for example. Learning this is even more frustrating than learning to stand up from dropbacks..and slower for me, as I only do it once (I keep telling myself I will repeat it some days..but I am so relieved to stand up that I never bother) and then move on to dropbacks, no matter how undignified the standing up was. What is harder for me is to let go of it on days when I can't stand up..like one day last week when my teacher told me I was trying too many times, and making myself crazy (very true..as I had a bit of a meltdown on my mat, out of frustration). So much of this is mental..how I react to what I can or cannot do on the mat. That said, I am in awe of people who do the 3 backbends, only dropping to the crown of the head in between..and then stand up so beautifully. I feel like I am a lifetime away from that. 

The standing up from regular dropbacks has improved, since I recently discovered how to keep my head back..truly back, while I stand up. It doesn't happen every time, but I can tell the difference..and until I "accidentally" did it one day..I had no idea that I really wasn't keeping my head back (and I had a sore neck to show for it). That was the most interesting thing..suddenly becoming aware of something I was doing..an old (well, not so old as I only started standing up last fall) habit by doing something new, and then when my brain realized..hey, that's a whole lot easier..it became the new habit. A lot like the feldenkrais lessons I do and teach..discover your old habits by doing something different, novel, etc. and discover how to do the same thing,..but with more ease. Who doesn't want more ease?

Today, to celebrate the first 6 day week where I managed to stand up from that last backbend every day, I treated myself to a really good meal. South indian thalia at saravanaa bhavan. I had been there once before for an incredible dosa. Dosas, however, are not filling enough for after practice (at nyc prices, that is!) This is probably the best indian food I have had in nyc...and maybe ever..as restaurant food. Wonderfully light and tasty. Probably a good thing I don't live in that neighborhood..as I would go back, a lot! You can look up the restaurant for pix of their food. I feel silly photographing my food, but I did take some photos from where I sat and daydreamed after my meal. This may become my new friday ritual.