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.




Monday, December 30, 2013

this year was lousy, but at least it was familiar

Continuing with the Calvin and Hobbes theme (you can never have too much Calvin and Hobbes IMHO) today. I can totally commiserate with calvin on his hatred of change. I am terrible with change, and prefer the familiar, even if it is not good. I used to get almost sick with worry before the first day of school, in elementary school. I am a little better now, but not much. Teaching my one class wipes me out emotionally. Often I spend far too much time and energy worrying over things that might change, but that don't need my attention in that way. Or I take so much time to decide to do something, that I sometimes lose the opportunity to do the very thing I had decided upon. Other areas of my life, which could use some (well maybe a lot of) attention, get ignored.

Calvin and Hobbes

image taken from here

I am definitely going to write some resolutions for 2014.

I don't feel like the year was lousy for me..but it has been exhausting, with working more hours (close to full time for months, though not paid for full time), no vacation time til this week (and not getting the full 2 weeks I should get), continuing with the feldenkrais training program, starting to teach feldenkrais classes (and discovering I have a love hate relationship with teaching), anxiety over looking for a new apartment (but then not moving), other anxiety issues, and continuing my practice no matter what. Working more has meant less time for keeping up with friends here (and re-thinking what I want in a friend), although the training program has introduced me to a lot of new interesting people over the past couple years.

I am looking forward to some quiet time on new year's eve and new year's day. Really happy new years day is a moon day, even though I have no official plans for new years' eve.


Friday, December 27, 2013

chocolate helps backbending

Well, I doubt that it helps, but backbending certainly seems to create a craving for chocolate...





I managed to stand up from that last UD at the shala today. Bit of jogging back and to one side, but up is up..and it sure made the 3 dropbacks afterwards easier. Celebrated at home with some chocolate, of course!

Off to a museum tonight..though I still have to decide which one. 10 days of freedom from work..first real break in a year. Much much needed!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

plastic jesus

When I was a kid, I would spend holidays at my aunt and uncle's house. After dinner, my uncle, who loves to entertain anyone, especially kids, would get out his guitar and play songs for us to sing along to. I really loved those sing-a-longs, and feeling like part of a bigger family, especially when my parents weren't getting along so well. I remember a smattering of Beatles songs, various folk songs (embarassing me always with oh susannah!) and then songs like this one...which I loved, and thought my uncle was just sooooo cool for playing.


Since I live in a mostly Dominican neighborhood, you can even buy your very own little plastic jesus' at the 99 cent store around the corner from me.
The neighborhood is also rather gentrified..there is now a starbucks, almost down the street from me. Makes for a total of 3 coffeeshops yet nowhere truly pleasant to go for coffee and sit and read, which is perhaps the one thing I truly miss about living in the northwest.

Practice update: Practiced at the shala today. No miraculous repeat of the xmas eve miracle of standing up from that last UD. Fell once, but on my butt, not my head. Had one very good dropback and standup, much more controlled than usual., so I guess yesterday's mini breakthrough has had some positive effects on my dropbacks. I suspect it may still be quite a while til I can stand up from that last UD at the shala though. And, in typical holiday and pre-LH fashion, my neck and also my back are annoyingly tweaked and sore. Was it the standing up attempts yesterday? How I slept? Something else? Good thing I get tomorrow off for LH. Hope this all settles down by next week, since I have next week off work. Friday practice will be interesting. Neck tweaks seem to be my new thing..replacing the toe smashing of the previous year.

Spending a quiet night at home, eating chocolate (LH demands it!) and reading Where'd you go Bernadette, which is both funny and sad in turns. Highly recommended!



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

the snoopy dance!

This pretty much sums up what I felt this morning, at home, after standing up from that last backbend from the floor.

di


will I replicate it tomorrow at the shala. who knows. I hope I manage it again sooner than the 3 months from first accidental standup to real standing up from dropbacks. All I know is that I told myself I could do it..and I did it. Twice, since the first time I might have used my hand brushing my futon sofa as a bit of a help on the way up. Second time I managed it clear in the middle of the room.

Wish other things were that simple.

happy holidays!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

future worries..as if the present ones aren't enough

Sorry for the long break. It has been quite a fall. I started teaching feldenkrais classes, which has a humbling process in some ways. I was unprepared for the emotional energy required for teaching, and the aftermath - the buzz from it that would last for hours. Not great if you are teaching on a Friday night, and want to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. The first few weeks were pretty good; I started to learn to deal with my infernal nervousness about speaking in front of people, especially people I don't know, and to learn how to teach (which was never really taught in our training program), which is a long long journey in itself. I am learning what lessons are good for me to teach to people who are completely new to feldenkrais or any other sort of mind/body awareness system. Then Thanksgiving came, and my class dwindled away from 5 people to 1 person (and 0 on one cold and rainy night! how demoralizing that felt). The only good that came of this, is that for the past couple classes, I seem to have one student who is really committed to the method and the class. I am trying to change the time/day, but I think the recreation center where I teach does not want to change it, because they have no other available time. 

I still get very nervous before teaching, which manifests in various procrastination activities, which "prevent" me from doing the lesson more times and more thoroughly, as well as feeling extra tired, because I practice too hard on Friday mornings at the shala...anxiety always increases my practice intensity. I need more exertion in order to feel calmer off the mat. Right now I should be making more notes from a recording of a similar lesson that I want to teach tomorrow night, but instead..voila..blogging! See how this works.

The other thing that has happened with respect to the feldenkrais, is that it went from being the thing that reduced my anxiety..to an amazing degree..to being something that causes me anxiety, because I am teaching. Unfortunately, as much as I want to give up even teaching my one class..I know I have to perservere, and see how it feels in 6 months, or a year. 

I have been really enjoying reading the mysore blogs lately, and this has led me to my own new set of mysore worries: can I even manage to go there? not in the can I get the time off, etc (which is a whole other ball of wax) but am I strong enough mentally and physically to plan and make the trip and even last a week at the shala. This keeps coming back to me when I am practicing lately. thoughts of -why the hell do I want to go there? what am I thinking? That mysore is the last place on earth that I would want to go to (ie. it is the great unknown). Then I finish practice, go to work (where I really don't want to be!), and then I go home, read a couple blog entries..and remember. Future worries, as if my day to day stuff was not enough.

I am now consistently standing up from my dropbacks, and lately I have even learned to keep my feet still -no stepping back at least, when I stand up. This came as quite a shock, since right before I managed it, I took a huge spill on my head trying come up from that last UD. I am still working on standing up from that last UD, which might as well be jumping from the earth to the moon. I could really use the moon's lesser gravity to help me out here! But alas, I am on the earth. It is getting closer, I can feel that..but still seems like a vast chasm to cross to move my pelvis far enough forward to be able to stand up. I watched my mat neighbor do it when I was conveniently in the praseritas today..and it helped somehow. Made my best effort to date which wiped me out for everything that came after. I even fell spectacularly trying to stand up during dropbacks, something that hasn't happened since the day I bonked my head. I am convinced that if you are not willing to fall (a lot), that it is much harder to learn to stand up, or to do anything else. Falling is willingness to not know what I am doing, what I should do..and other than a bruised tush (and ego), it isn't going to cause major damage in the mysore room. Wish I could learn to fall more in other aspects of my life.