Saturday, September 5, 2015

back to the shala, hand numbness, relief, teaching

we'll just skip the part about my re-entry to my life in new york city, mysore. that's for another post. it's been one hell of a ride...back to work, finishing my feldenkrais training (though still making up missed days this fall and winter), and looking at my life in general here.

things are a bit calmer for me, momentarily..and i am trying once again to get back to the shala on an (almost) daily basis. Of course, i picked the hottest week of the year to who hates the heat. it wasnt as scary practicing in the heat this time (somehow i have calmed down about that post india), but still quite tiring. I was pretty spaced out friday afternoon..chai and then a latte did not revive me at all.

It's been interesting having help again on those postures i cannot fully do on my own...supta K, pasasana and then the extra backbending of assisted. so needless to say..i was pretty damn sore by friday. mostly in my back..which luckily wasn't affecting practice too much. i would just take it more gently closer to the end..less jumping back and sometimes stepping through rather than jumping (sore ego way way better than a really sore back..i already had the really ouchy not easy to move back thing last month..while practicing on my own..not fun at all). The one thing that was getting worse while i went back to the shala, was soreness in my left shoulder..and numbness/tingling in some of the fingers in my left hand (and I'm a lefty). It got so bad that by this morning, holding anything small, like kitchen utensils..or my phone, caused immediate tingling/numbness. I have been trying to figure out if there is an asana cause for this (supta k? since it has been months since i got the assist on a daily basis) or it's just from carrying heavier bags because i am schlepping yoga gear with me to and from work.

Then I remembered the Feldenkrais lesson David Zemach-Bersin taught a few years ago..which he said was great for neck pain. What i have since that often stuff like tingling in the really an issue originating in the the neck! So i thought..might as well try this lesson..what I remembered of it, and see what happens. Well. no more tingling. I probably spent about 10 min doing an abridged version of the lesson..but it did the trick. I cooked dinner tingling when holding the knife to chop..and i carried some groceries home on my left side too..And i can lie on my left side with no shoulder pain.

the lesson--take 15-20 min with each side initially.
on your hands and knees. (it's ok to make hands into fists if too painful to have palms on floor..or to do this lesson sitting in a chair--palms on wall at shoulder height-elbows bent))
--all movements should be really small.,,so that the cheek is still on the floor..don't roll onto your forhead, chin, ear or nose..
-- do not do anything that causes discomfort. smaller and less movements is key. rest between each movement if necessary. and try imagining the movment.
--rest every few movements....the more resting the better. it's the attention to yourself and not the number of movements..or the size..that matters.
--do all movements SLOWLY..

1. put your right cheek on the floor (if this is painful..start with other side..or do at the wall).
a. roll head/cheek as if drawing a vertical from the center of the cheek..downward.
b.roll head/cheek as if drawing a vertical from the center of the cheek..upward.
c. roll head/cheek upward and downward..full vertical line
rest (in child's pose, sitting on knees..or on back)
2. on hands/knees as before. Right cheek on floor.
a. roll head/cheek as if drawing a horizontal from the center of the cheek towards your nose .
b. roll head/cheek as if drawing a horizontal from the center of the cheek towards your ear. c..roll head/cheek as if drawing a horizontal from the center of the cheek towards your ear and then back towards your nose.
rest on back
3. on hands/knees as before. R cheek on floor
a. make a circle on the floor...rolling around center point of R cheek...again. small small circle, make it smooth.
b change direction of the circle.
rest on back.
4. do other side. L cheek on floor.

I am definitely doing a quick version of this again tonight.

this is why i love feldenkrais..the lessons can have such instantaneous effects..and you have learned a new way of they stick with you.
if you made it this far..yes, i (suzanne) will be teaching feldenkrais this fall in my a cute little movement studio 2 sundays a month.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

mysore wanderings

Walking around gokulam in the early evening, my nightly ritual to buy any or all of the following items: milk, yogurt, bananas, vegetables (usually okra), and bread.

Saw a friend off this afternoon, so tonight's walk was extra melancholy. And i leave the day after tomorrow. Teared up as i tried to paint the view from my favorite spot, near the local idli and tea shop. After giving up on meeting people (or just too exhausted from practice to want to socialize) , i did meet some lovely people here. One month is just too short. I have hardly done any sightseeing, but i have tried to walk around a lot in gokulam. My sketchbook is at least 2/3 full...and the cows have an annoying habit of moving the moment i try to paint them. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

floor 1, nose 0

My nose collided with the floor today, attempting the bakasana exit from bhuja...I don't think I broke anything, but definitely bruised from it. Nothing like whacking your face during led to make me feel like a little kid again, I wanted someone to tell me it would be ok, and even wanted to pack it in and go home to new York. Though in class I only sat out kurmasana and supta k, til I could get the bleeding to mostly stop. Lucky me, I had a front and center spot so no going to the women's changing to check it. I do wonder if I should have stopped...but done is done.

Also wondering what my alternatives are to ice here for the swelling and bruising. Yes, yoga can be dangerous, but mostly to my ego.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


A long time ago, i saw nicholas roeg's movie, walkabout. I think i was in high school,  and I'm pretty sure i didn't really understand what i was watching, but it made a huge impact on me. Not that i am wandering through the outback here, but this trip has been a break for me on many levels and a chance to have a lot of solitude, in an unfamiliar place. Photos are from my walk on Sunday afternoon. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

a night at the palace

Last night, on the eve of the solstice,  i went to see the mysore palace, my first real sightseeing since i got here. I love to go for walks, but venturing to the city alone hasn't been one of my interests. I am really glad i got over my inertia, and hopped a rickshaw to the palace. I arrived at dusk, and the place was crazy crowded, almost all local people. I realized almost immediately that i should have come a little earlier to see it all first in the daylight.  On Sunday evenings, they light up the palace with lightbulbs that cover the buildings. It's a cross between an amusement park strategy and the old films you can see of Edison's era, showing the uses  of the newly invented lightbulb. 

That's the palace lit up. They only keep the lights on for about 40 minutes. I need to come back in the daytime to see the inside of the palace which is supposed to be magnificent. A visit to a tourist site would not be complete without being mobbed by schoolgirls who want their picture taken, and then to take pictures with you. I feel bad that i know about one word of kannada, the local language, but the kids speak pretty decent English. 

Another view towards the front entrance of the palace grounds. The archway in the front is attached to a temple (another temple is on the opposite side of the entrance). Being india, a palace isn't just a palace...but has a number of temples on the grounds: one for ganesha, one for siva and the last i don't remember. I spent time in each temple, my first experience of a hindu temple in india (other than getting locked in the grounds of the local Krishna temple, though i was too timid to go in the main temple there.)


Explaining the right way to pray?

The ganesha temple near where i came in. Here is was allowed to take photos, though i felt a bit sacrilegious doing so. No sooner did i snap the photo below, looking into the closed main temple room, than a group of people arrived to worship. I felt so much like the clueless american tourist. There is something really powerful about seeing others' devotion, especially in an environment like this. Several times during my visits to the temples here, i was quite moved by what went on around me.

The two temples that flank the main entrance were open. You leave your shoes outside,  and go towards the main shrine room, where the priest comes out. You make a small donation, and are given blessed oil and flowers, and the red powder that goes between your eyebrows. I was pretty ignorant about the entire procedure, and completely messed up at the last of many edicut mishaps i have had here. In each of the temples, i felt acutely aware of being alone, despite the crowds outside. I also felt perhaps the sacredness of the space, even though it is not my religion, and i dont feel especially connected to the rituals and gods of hinduism.

The view into the siva temple.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mysore, week 3

I can't believe i have less than 2 weeks left here. This week i seemed to need much more sleep, though i haven't managed to catch up at all. The week started out very solitary, which is my preference here, and ended with more social activities than i normally do at home. I am in real need of solitude this weekend. And sleep.

Yesterday I went to a wonderful talk by ani samten chodron, on the meaning of the Buddhist mantra "on mane padme hum". I was really touched by how the mantra is used, that it can be carved into stones and then walls are made with these stones. I would like to see those some day. I also found out that this mantra must be chanted out loud to work.

Today I have stayed relatively close to home, venturing out on an ill fated trip to get a thali. Thalis here are not dinner, only lunch. Which was too bad since I napped this afternoon, rather than rush out for lunch. I have been discovering that places often close in the afternoon, just as I want to venture out.

The shala is emptying out for the holidays. I actually had space on either side of me during led today. Shambhav showed up at the end of led class, announcing himself, calling out "8"! While we were in headstand ( I think). He saved us from an interminable utpluthih today too :), or perhaps sharath thought we all needed a break after two 6 day weeks in a row. Shambhav returned during conference, wandering in and out, and doing his best to distract everyone. Sharath never scolds him; he lets him be a kid, which is quite lovely to see. I suspect sharath is the least distracted by shambhav's hilarious antics. I think the real lesson of conference today was their interaction, and sharath's focus, more so than the things he was saying about the practice.