Thursday, November 29, 2012

when i'm mean 86

found this video the other day..a little inspiration for when we get older.

she's the senior gymnastics world champion, i think, many times over. I heard an interview with her, and she said she's always been athletic, as she used to be a physical education teacher, but that she started competing in gymnastics in her 50's.

Just goes to show what is possible if you keep practicing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

fall colors

happy thanksgiving. fall colors in manhattan. inwood hill park.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

sanskrit lesson

As I have all month, I practiced my sanskrit on the train, This morning, I talked to an indian man, as he was interested to know why I was writing in hindi. He told me that in India everyone has to learn sanskrit for 3 years; sounded a bit like how they required latin here a long (long) time ago. I know people sometimes look to see what I am writing, as I often look to see what other people are reading. But, it being New York, not a lot of people will cross over from curiosity to conversation.

                                                        exhibit A: this morning's practice

Learning sanskrit is a lot like learning ashtanga: you manage to do things well enough to make progress, and it feels good, but there is ever more to learn, especially in speaking it. English just doesn't have really good comparison in its phonetics.

Third home practice today. Managed everything ok on my own, and got supta K and exit all in one go. Even UHP went well: did both sides without a fall or needing second attempt (still have some dancing especially at the end of it, but hey). Not bad for not enough sleep (again) last night. It seems like if I my forward bend is deeper, maybe from within the hip socket, it is easier to bend forward over the leg, and to come up with more lightness and stability (the coming up part seems harder always). My torso seems to be more glued to my thigh, an odd image. On the first part, it still takes me an extra breath to fold over my leg, but that is a big improvement from before. On the last part, I bring the leg up a bit first then fold over it (this is as close as I get can get to that vinyasa count). Same with parshvottanasana, I am now more stable in both folding forward and in coming up. When I first attempted this posture in a vinyasa class, I could not bend forward without wanting to fall or lift my back foot. Such a different feeling now.

Still a complete mystery for me is how to come up from bhuja (I can go down about 2/3 of the way before the inevitable plop of my forehead hitting the floor..ok the plop is getting a bit softer these days). I know my weight is too far forward (hence the plop) but I can't seem to figure out how to move it back..and maybe my shoulders are still not strong enough to support my weight? So coming up feels like..stuck to the ground..stuck..stuck..ok, one foot..push..ok up now, what a lot of work THAT was. Well, there's always tomorrow.

Friday, November 16, 2012

last shala practice and jumping, scooting and hopping back

not forever...not that sort of last, I hope not, but last this month. Between the holiday, upcoming ladies holiday and more feldenkrais training, this is a good time to try some home practice. The other, more serious reason is financial. Going through months of bank statements was rather sobering; maybe I should have learned to balance my checkbook when I was younger. The shala fees are too much for me right now, so home practice it will be.

Practice this week has been good, unusually strong. I think my stresses over the holidays, my career (or lack thereof), and recent events have translated into a renewed focus on the vinyasas. Oh, and I also saw, hands down, the best video on jumping back, for those of us who are bandha/core strength and wrist challenged. What I liked about this method is that: it gives you a lot of options for how you get back depending on how much energy you have, etc..drag the feet through and slide them back, lift and send the feet back, drop and hop hop hop them back, send the feet back and land on a toe/foot and hop back. By looking forward (rather than down) you gain lightness and maintain momentum to get your feet back to chatauranga.

and trust me, even with me almost dragging my feet through my arms today (vinyasas get a bit weaker as the week progresses), that is more than enough for me. The feeling of the vinyasas at the beginning of the week was, wow! this feels possible..I will be able to do a no touch jumpback in my lifetime. Thanks Kiki! My jumping through also seems stronger because I feel like I am using less energy in the jump/scoot/hop back. Plus the bakasana exits from bhuja and supta K happen regularly, if not very neatly, though I have also started falling on my butt again sometimes in both of these.

The only side effect, from working on the vinyasas (and I can't say for certain it is from that) is that I have to pee mid practice, unless I have had a rest day the day before. Is this the dirty little secret of  learning to jump back (and jump through)? Am I working too hard? Or is it that the muscles just have to get stronger? Is this a female specific problem? I asked a male friend, and he never experienced that..but he also could do floaty jumpbacks from day one..sigh. It makes me feel like an old lady, hmmph.  Any suggestions and feedback would be appreciated.

Monday, November 12, 2012

i love this mat

No, this is not an ode to my manduka travel mat, which is fraying, by the way. The extremely humid summer at the shala did it in. It is still quite usable, but next summer I will have to get manduka to replace it. I think it took about 3 months for it to start wearing out. This is what I get for sweating buckets during practice over the summer, and not learning until it was too late, to roll the mat up with a scarf to keep the moisture at bay.

No, this is an ode to this mat:

the padmanailmat. A friend of mine lent me his mat, and I quickly bonded with it. This mat is great for sore muscles and injuries. I use it just about every day, for a few minutes. It may look ouchy..but it isn't. It gives you a sort of accupressure massage, which seems to work well for me, as actual massages don't seem to work well with my body. I can feel the energy move from blocked areas when I lie on this mat. Brilliant. While massages seem to stir things up too much, and create recurring patterns of tenseness and soreness ( I am convinced my wrist issues would have been better served by not getting bodywork of any kind), this mat just gives my muscles a more gentle release. Standing on it was particularly helpful when I whacked my toes from a botched bhuja exit this summer.

Oh, am I glad it is a moon day tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

and on to the konasanas

I haven't really wanted to post much about practice lately. It's been..well, emotional on a daily basis. I am either teary in the suryas (and/or when I am doing my pigeon prep before starting). Other days, things in the shala will annoy me..stupid stuff like how the person in front of me put their rug down, or if I feel hemmed in, though honestly, I am used to truly crowded practice rooms from Jivamukti. And I won't even go into what's been going on in my head before practice these days.

Today was no different.

I did manage to have a good practice in spite of feeling agitated initially by where I was practicing in the room. I even moved my mat after the first surya..called it a do-over, and started again. Oh yes, and I somehow forgot what I was doing in that first surya..too busy eyeing the empty space behind my mat, and suddenly realized I had stopped at the forward bend after stepping forward from downward dog. Later, I managed UHP on both sides by myself, with much goofy arm antics after the second nose to knee on each side. Still, no falling out of it. I am mystified about how to make the transitions in one breath. I need extra breaths to get my nose down to my knee every time.

The other thing that seems to be returning after a longish hiatus, is the exits from bhuja and supta K. This, I think, is due to a small change I have made in my so-called jump/hop back. Now, I am focused on keeping my head up and looking forward, rather than down at the ground. I remember my teacher telling me that looking forward and keeping the chest lifted was the key to those 2 exits, but after impaling my toes while jumping back from bhuja, I have been too afraid to really attempt them. The past week, I have found myself suddenly able to get my legs organized in such a way that I can jump back from bakasana. Not every time, and it could be a lot cleaner, but it feels more solid than it was before I whacked my feet.

I have gotten 2 new poses in the past month, baddha konasana and uphavista konasana. Baddha konasana was really weird to learn. I mean, I thought I knew how to do it (wrong!) and then I thought, maybe my arms are too long for the C variation (years of slouching over my desk have not helped for this one). I still have to figure out how to not use my hands/arms as much in all parts of this posture, but it will come. One day, I was even sure I had hurt my wrists from trying to use my hands too much for leverage. Meanwhile, I have either learned to lengthen up from my spine, or my arms have shrunk a bit.

Today after practice, I had my second sanskrit class. I almost have the alphabet down, as in writing it and sort of saying it. I can place my tongue in the proper part of my mouth for the consenants..but the sound I make does not seem to resemble the sound the teacher makes. Learning just the little bit so far makes me really appreciate chanting, which I have always loved, even more.

Monday, November 5, 2012

pratyahara at work

I went to work today, after a week off due to the storm. I work in the financial district, so I got to see some of the damage of the storm, and feel the change, the withdrawal of life, in the neighborhood where the flooding occurred. Shops and parks closed, rent-a-generator trucks humming along on the side streets.

At work, there was another kind of sensory withdrawal. No phones, no cell reception in the building..and no internet. Oh no! How can I possibly not go nuts at work, I thought at first. After a little while I settled into this unexpectedly quieter day.

view from the christopher street pier, 2010

Sunday, November 4, 2012

daylight savings yoga

The once a year chance to relive an hour..happened while I was sleeping, of course. Hope everyone enjoyed the extra hour.

window at Time Pieces, NY. summer 2012

From sanscrit class today i learned (2) important things. First, after about 10 minutes of chanting, I realized that sanscrit is read from left to right (it just reminds me of being in synagogue..and kicks in my instinct to scan from right to left for patterns in the almost indecipherable hebrew text), and second, that my apartment might have been trying to say om..ohm..aaaaahhhhuuuuummmmmmmmmmm during the storm.