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.






















Sunday, November 3, 2013

fall colors, janet cardiff and the 40 part motet

I finally made it out to the Cloisters today, which is a short walk from my apartment. Ft. Tryon Park had amazing fall foliage. Wish I had brought more than my phone with me. My neighborhood sits between 3 large forested parks. Up here, you can get views that really make you think you are not in New York City.

It has been a long time since I hiked up to the Cloisters, for a variety of reasons.

What got me to make the hike?..only one of my all time favorite art pieces..Janet Cardiff's 40 Part Motet. When I first encountered this piece at Moma quite a while ago, I was moved to tears, and must have spent close to an hour listening to the piece over and over again. I thought the choral piece had been taken apart and rearranged..but it was just the effect of each of the 40 singers being recorded on a separate track and played on a separate speaker, with all the speakers arranged in an oval. The sound would wash across the room in different ways, creating a very visceral feeling of the piece. You could feel the sound vibrate in the room. The installation at the Cloisters is beautiful, but the sound just isn't the same. I am not sure if the piece is a victim of its own popularity, as the much larger number of people in the room muffled the sound a bit, or the higher ceiling in the somewhat larger space cause the sound to get a little lost at times. It didn't, how shall I say..bounce and ricochet across the space (who knows, maybe what I loved at Moma was an acoustical mistake). Still, I will try to return for a second hearing on a day when it is not so crowded.

               View of the Hudson River- across the way is the palisades in NJ, still relatively pristine. (hidden from view is the west side highway..which you can HEAR)


                              Looking out towards my neighborhood and north to the bronx, from the cloisters


on the way home...the hill is inwood hill park, claimed to be the only remaining natural forest in manhattan..

                                                                   tallis' 40 part motet





Sunday, October 27, 2013

zzzzz zzzz zzzzzz!!!!!!


One of my favorite kid's books, from when I was a child, is verna aardema's why mosquitos buzz in people's ears. I loved the cool artwork and the crazy cause and effect story. Mosquito tells a lie to lizard..and the consequences of this cascade throughout the forest, until the sun itself is left to sleep and the forest left in darkness. This story also feels very appropriate for this time of year..when I normally get up and leave my apartment for the shala, before sunrise. What reminded me of this book, is that lately, I seem to have a very mosquito friendly apartment for reasons unknown to me. I live on the top floor, with no giant standing pools of water in my apartment..and it is cold outside at night (where do the mosquitos go in the winter, anyway?). For the second or third night this month, I have woken up to zzzz zzzz zzzzz! or just to itchy hands or arms from a mosquito mistaking me for dinner. Luckily for me, and not so much for the mosquito..the mosquito each time seems to just sit on the wall a few feet from my bed. Leave the crime scene is not in the mosquito's tiny brain. You know what happens next..ashimsa vs mosquito..well, the mosquito doesn't do so well.

mosquito telling a lie to lizard, from why mosquitos buzz in people's ears

Practice at the shala today was good despite not so much sleep last night and lousy subway connections this morning. I forgot that daylight savings time here is NEXT week, and stayed up later than I would have otherwise, thinking I had that extra hour. I guess I am happy I figured it out last night. Still no radiator heat at the shala, but the place was very full and the space heaters were chugging away. Since it was still rather cool in the room, I was stronger than usual, but not so bendy or twisty. I nearly fell backwards out of Mari D on the first side!  I tried to lift up out of  supta konasana for the proper exit. Tried. I think I got my butt off the floor (ok maybe just one side?) but the feet very definitely on the floor. How does this happen? Do I need to be able to do a proper lolasana before attempting it? Cold weather and the first practice or two of the week is always good for vinyasas and transitions because I need to maintain some heat in my practice and they are really calming to do. More so than the asanas at times, because I need total focus to do them.

The dropback angst is on the wane...Today was the second time that I did not have a great mental resistance to the idea of doing dropbacks. It just happens. I think some of this is because I am now working on coming up from the floor after the last UD (for normal folks that would be the 3rd one..for me it is number 5 or 6, while I try to get my legs to wake up so that my back can open up, so I can walk my hands in..and so on). I discovered that my method of standing up from dropbacks is by relying a bit too much on pushing with my hands/arms...or not pushing enough with my legs (hence the stumbling back). When I tried to "push" my pelvis forward..and push through the legs when I am in that last UD..nada, though the cold air in the shala was not helping at all. I will try to remember to imagine pushing tomorrow when I am doing my UDs..maybe that would help. Seems like I am a long way from coming up unassisted in that last one..but the assists for it seem to be solidifying my ability to drop back and then stand up on my own - today I was 4 for 4. All stumbly. The best I could manage today was to keep my left foot glued down and the right foot takes a big step back, and that was only for 2 of them. 

After that excitment, it was time to bundle up for savasana. shirt, wool sweater, knitted wool shawl and yoga blanket..and a hat! My hands and feet were freezing in the finishing room, since my hair was still damp and my clothes too (cold air doesn't prevent me from sweating), and the lack of sleep I have had since the whole standing up from dropbacks thing started isn't helping my circulation.

I did celebrate the no dropack angst afterwards with a good chocolate croissant, and a good book - the brain that changes itself..might deserve a post of it's own. 













Wednesday, October 16, 2013

zombies..errrr, dropbacks ate my brain

Today's inner dropback dialogue-

do I have to do these again today? why am i doing this to myself? this isn't fun at all.

where's the teacher? can I just ask her to help me today because I am too tired?

Ok, guess I will try one on my own. (nothing doing..arms seem to have forgotten how to go up. plop!)

second one (Plop! bang! dust myself off and get up)

third one..no dice still

yeah, I finally managed them. Fairly sloppy, but up is up. It is so odd..being able to stand up is so much more mentally angsty right now than not being able to stand up was a couple weeks ago. I definitely am starting to catalogue all the ways to fall while standing..and I think I am setting the record for the largest scoot back while standing up...yes, my upper body was very very sluggish today.

I am supposed to start learning how to come up from the floor after the last urdhva dhanurasana. Soon. Probably means tomorrow, knowing my teacher.

So glad friday is a moon day..hope I can just get through tomorrow's practice without injuring myself..given that I have a feldenkrais training this weekend, and somehow that tends to mean I do something stupid right before.




Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stumbly but still going...

Thank god tomorrow I have off for LH. My legs feel like putty after 3 days in a row of dropping back and standing up. Each day's attempts seems to get progressively more clumsy, as my back feels a bit less open in the colder weather, and my legs feel more tired. The first day was 3 for 3, with two where my feet stayed put (like magic!); yesterday took about 7 or 8 tries, with only 1 no stumble stand-up, and today again took about 8 tries..falling falling falling on my butt til I just decided I was going to do it. None were pretty, but I managed the requisite three. Standing up seems to depend on timing more than strength. The idea of taking my arms forward is just not quite in my nervous system yet..so I landed on my butt..a lot today. I also realized that I don't like having a wall in front of me when I am backbending..I like the feeling of a more open space..although I never stumble forward when standing up.

While I am happy to be able to do this..it is the flip side that has me down this week. Sleep o how I miss you!!! I am dead tired half the day and then anxious before I go to sleep, which leads to more anxiousness than sleep. How long does this phase last, anyway? It really sucks.

I did celebrate today with good coffee and a chocolate croissant. Oddly not feeling exhausted yet today, but I slept in (if you could call it that) and extra 1/2 hour because that gave me a total of just under 5hrs sleep yet again, which is definitely NOT enough to do full primary and work a full day.

Hopefully I will post later this week on my recent feldenkrais trainings, but I just have not had the time.


Monday, October 7, 2013

It wasn't a fluke yesterday

Stood up from all 3 dropbacks today. For the first two, I even managed to keep my feet in place. Oddly, it felt so much easier than what I was doing before. Plus the super sauna/sweaty practices of yesterday and today certainly helped to open up my back - backbending felt good today (that almost NEVER happens). Does this mean 2nd is on the horizon? Not looking forward to that.

No celebrating with chocolate after practice today..no time. The coffee guy gave me a free bialy..so I guess that was my treat.

The only lousy side effect of standing up on my own was that I had a really hard time falling asleep last night..especially annoying after being exhausted all afternoon! The backbending is unleashing a new wave of anxiety..one that I am having a hard time tamping down to go to sleep. I do hope this is a phase that passes relatively quickly. I have too many feldenkrais trainings coming up in the next couple months, plus I will be teaching my first weekly feldenkrais class starting next month.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

did it!

flourless chocolate yummmmmmmmm from a bakery near the shala...

Spent all weekend at a feldenkrais training, so I guess I should not be surprised that I managed to stand up this morning. arms forward..my new mantra. well, who knows..it was exciting at least for a few minutes.

not gonna think about tomorrow..not gonna think about tomorrow....not gonna think about tomorrow.

that chocolate thing is too rich to eat everyday, but it was amazing.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

JINX! #^%!

Impaled the third toe on my right foot this morning. Jumping through, after supta padagusthasana. I really thought I was done with this sort of stupid injury, as the last time was last thanksgiving. I was wearing my favorite black boots this morning just thinking how I was at least strong enough now not to do this to myself (jinx!) The boots, of course, will once again be verboten, while the toe heals this fall. Damn.

The toe is a similar color to my burgundy danskos, which thank god I had at work.

It's been one thing after another this month. First, the crazy illness, then my lower back went nuts from too much lying down on my old futon..and now, as that is slowly healing..whacking my toe. On the positive side, it has completely distracted me from my usual dropback induced pissy-ness post practice, which makes it hard for me to be on the subway some mornings.

Does chocolate make bruises heal faster?


Thursday, September 5, 2013

moon day music



Can't wait to hear/see this piece again, when it opens at the Cloisters next week. Not to be missed, if you live in the city. I first experienced it at moma years ago, and was dumbstruck. I must have stayed in the room for an hour (the tallis piece is about 13 min long), utterly moved by the music washing across the room. It is an experience of music that you don;t normally have; even from my days singing in choirs, it never felt like this.

I am still home, sick, though feeling better than yesterday. The whole fever and chills thing is no fun, especially when the ibuprofen/echinacea/vitamin c and homeopathic combo I was taking seemed to have no effect yesterday. I forgot about the healing power of a lot of sleep. Guess that's no surprise as I don't get a lot of sleep normally. I still need to venture outside later, to buy cough medicine and other supplies. Good thing I keep my fridge well stocked, so that a couple days at home isn't an issue. I also have to decide whether to trek to nj tomorrow to see my family for new year's dinner. If it wasn't such a long trip 3+ hours each way, and requiring staying overnight at my aunt's, I would be a lot more enthused right now.

speaking of sleep, it's probably time for another nap.

hope i will feel like doing some sort of minimal practice tomorrow.

update..i found out who i caught this hell virus from...my new mantra- no sharing food with anyone anymore! bailed on visiting family tomorrow, as i know i wont be anywhere near 100% and i wont be able to eat much of a dinner at my stepmom's. being ill is not the time to mess with skimpy meals, because i don't eat meat.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

luck is definitely on your side today..

according to my horoscope.

not.

since i am sick, really sick for the first time in over a year...complete with the self pity that goes with it. skipped practice today, of course. been flat on my back mostly, think i may not make it to work tomorrow either.

I realized that since I started that feldenkrais program, i have not had a vacation. It meets for long weekends and a couple 10 day segments, so those have been my vacations..when i can get the days off. This way of doing things has to change.

Got my passport in the mail last week. Much prettier than the old one. I think it needs to be christened with some stamps.

on the practice front, I am wondering if i am doing too much..as with everything else. Dropbacks are improving. Learning to keep my pelvis more forward as i go down, and as i come back up. Earlier in the week seems to be the best time for me, since my stamina is greater then. Still no more standing up on my own..a few almost's with my teacher there.

i think it is time to finish my tea and take another nap. i wish i had some comic books..but my energy to read is pretty low right now.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

back at the beginning..getting clearer



Today I went to day 1 of year 1 of the newest feldenkrais training in nyc. Partly to make up missed days, and partly to see how things have changed for me, after two years. Boy, have they changed. When I began the program, I spent the first year in constant anxiety over whether or not I could even learn this stuff. During the atm lessons, I would feel so incompetent because I could not distinguish what I was feeling much of the time.

Today, the atm lessons were enjoyable! I was shocked. All the insecurity that often comes up for me around these training atms --just wasn't there. I could live with not being able to sense some things  What was happening during the movements was much more clear than before (though probably not much more organized! , and I did not feel the need to push myself too far. Rest more, do less movements is my new mantra. I feel like the first two years of the program were to teach us how to go about doing the lessons. This is a lifetime practice, like ashtanga. The movements even felt pleasurable at times, which was a new feeling for me. The lessons in the first few segments are ones that are appropriate to teach the public - ie. to teach someone unfamiliar with the method, whereas the lessons we have halfway through the training, are much more advanced, and meant to give us the sensory skills to teach effectively and to do one on one work. 

One of the ideas that David, the head of the program here, emphasized today, was that by "trying" to accomplish something in the lessons, with the movements, we create hindrances for ourselves. Not trying to get anywhere will paradoxically help you progress faster with the movements. I have been reading Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, lately and it recounts studies that come to similar conclusions. In one study, people who are made to verbalize their thinking when working on a problem that requires insight (rather than logic) will actually reduce their chance of solving the problem. In others, feelings of stress or anxiety (even stress of getting a good reward) will limit a person's ability to recognize unconscious or semi-conscious data/impulses/etc. I can attest that being stressed out because I can't tell which side a movement feels easier/harder on does not help me sense anything else in the lesson. Having a relaxed attitude and letting the confusion stay, just that, as confusion, allows me to eventually (or not) have it become clearer.



(as an aside, this reminds me of my dropback challenges. Trying too hard literally makes me bring my head up too early- literally leading with the head causes a total fail. more on that perhaps next week)

Training was still exhausting, however..that doesn't ever seem to change! When my brain is tired..I am tired, and no amount of sugar or chocolate or coffee will change that.

I go back tomorrow, for more. At least this means that making up days in the training this way will be enjoyable. Good thing since I have a lot of days to make up.







Thursday, August 22, 2013

hello chocolate high


photo from here

No, I didn't make it all the way up..but the dropping back is supposedly improving. I was totally wired yesterday from 2 failed attempts on my own..so I rewarded myself today with a chewy chocolate sunflower cookie from Body and Soul..an awesome vegan food stand at the farmers' market here. I usually go for their lentil wrap or the mushroom and kale turnover (mmmmm!), but that cookie was good.




Saturday, August 17, 2013

when conditions are right

This has always been my mantra for, well, putting things off. I'll do that when.. X happens..or after Y happens. I have a hard time with just initiating changes, or prioritizing where to put my energy. Yesterday morning, I went to yoga and for most of the time, I just beat myself up mentally about going when I knew it meant missing the skype  feldenkrais study group call that a bunch of us are trying to do on a regular basis. I kept telling myself that I should have practiced at home and done the call, and then gone downtown for errands..but no..The other factor being that this new study group thing will happen 2x a week..so it is not the end of the world to miss one. What was so upsetting was just how I could not accept the priorities I had made for that day.

The other upsetting thing was how my mind just spiraled down this past week about the dropbacks. At one point, in midweek, I could not even drop back on my own anymore (due to a sore back muscle and seriously whiny attitude). I was shocked how I just wanted to give up working on it at all, after this. I thought I would go in the next day and just skip the whole dropbacks/assisted part of practice. Luckily I didn't follow through on that thought. But working on dropbacks is quite a major headgame.

I did apply for my passport yesterday at the post office. Had to go in person as my old passport is ancient. So one small thing out of the way. I looked again at my training schedule this fall, and the potential make up days I can do for free. Looks like I will be busy with this every other weekend til December. I am also still trying to line up the feldenkrais class another woman and I will be teaching this fall. I would like to do more than just that teaching gig..but am a bit unsure how to go about finding somewhere to teach..

Last night I made chickpea cake, kudos to smallbluepearls for posting about this recipe. Sorry, I too am lazy and you can click the links for photos.

It turned out AMAZING,  even cold the next morning, as my pre-breakfast snack. Did I mention that it was amazing? I used a combo chickpea and fava bean flour, which I think improved it. I love farinata, which is made with chickpea flour only and a lot less oil, but this had a much more complex and addictive taste. I was so tempted to eat the whole thing at 1230am last night, when it came out of the oven. The only downside was that I wish I had read the post more carefully before I put it in the oven. As usual, it somehow took 2x as long to cook, as I used a large glass baking pan (baking in metal means you are eating whatever was coating that metal..yuck), and thought I would need to cook it at a lower temperature..nope. Turned out that the "cake" transforms from a scrambled egg texture (and color) when hot to a dense cake texture as it cools.

This morning, when I told one of the guys at the farmer's market about it..he badgered me to bring him some, sometime in the future. They had lucked out today when some other customers brought them pancakes this morning. See, New Yorkers are friendly at times. Anyway, all this culminated in an embarrassing moment for me when we introduced ourselves (I have seen and chatted with him before, but never knew his name..he seems to always like how I dress), and then shook hands..then total embarrassed silence. oops! Apparently I am no better at this now in my mid 40s than I was in my teens. OY VEY. I stopped by later to bring the whole crew from that stand some of the chickpea cake..just to keep my word, and hopefully they didn't hate it.  I had thought about bringing some to the shala on sunday, but another time.

Afterwards I discovered that there is one place around here that can make americanos properly (at the other shop the coffee does not live up to the attitude of the baristas), and armed with my milky espresso, I headed off to the park to do some reading in the sun. I also got to finally see the local temporary public art intallation..that bubble thing in the water- which reminds me of the sphere that would capture patrick mcgoohan every time he tried to escape from the island in The Prisoner.


This sculpture is made of discarded umbrellas and water bottles. Sadly, it looks better in the photos than in real life.






Tuesday, August 13, 2013

mysore musings

Lately I have been thinking (again) about going to mysore, despite the difficulty of getting time off, losing income, etc. I just can't get the idea of going out of my head, even though it rather terrifies me. 2 led classes a week, the big shala, traveling there by myself, working around my feldenkrais training program obligations, etc. I am such a fraidy cat about trying new things or making changes if they require a lot of work. Will it be too hot there for me if I try to go in February? A full shala seems like it would be awfully warm/hot no matter how it is outside. Even at my shala, I can really feel the heat coming off some people on days like today. My idea about going in December is now moot as I read today that the shala is full through the end of the year.

Meanwhile, I am assembling the required items to apply for a new passport, and I should probably start looking at what is required to get a visa for India.

No progress in standing up today..no surprise as it was again very humid in the shala. The humidity just kills me every time. UHP was a travesty on the second side- my stamina was gone and I could not balance at all. I did manage the tri-fecta in the middle..all binds and exits (go me!)..bhuja through kukkutasana. The hamstring/hip thing was a little better today too. I am sure it is the hip, I have added a hip opener stretch to my warm up-not pigeon, but the modified version you can do on your back, because I can control the stretch much more easily. Mari A seems to be the most affected pose right now, with ubhaya padangusthasana a close second. Most everything I can just go into slowly or do less deeply or work around the sore area. It is tricky since I don;t always feel sore in an asana, but I might feel the soreness afterwards, in the vinyasa. This whole doing less thing..is still very hard for me.

In the mean time, I am thinking about the Kino workshop this fall in Montclair. I would have to find a place to stay there, as it's too far by train to commute. And I have never really considered myself a good - workshop person. I tend to injure myself or become disillusioned with the style of yoga a result of taking workshops. I really don't want to have that happen with ashtanga.






Sunday, August 11, 2013

finding new ways to fall

No repeat of Friday's standing up on my own. Lots of momentum (which I didn't need on Friday) and one spectacular crash onto my butt this morning. Then my teacher came over to assist me. I was trying way too hard to repeat what I had done on Friday without paying any attention to what I was actually doing- ie trying to bring my head up too soon. Well, there's always tomorrow. When I manage this again (standing up on my own, not falling on my butt), I am going to celebrate with pastry (hopefully with chocolate) from my favorite bakery.

Otherwise practice was rather gimpy. Though I have been making progress with dropbacks, it has been playing havoc with my right hip and hamstring attachment. I haven't managed a pain free practice for the past 2 weeks, and the poses that cause the most trouble are not always the same from day to day. I spend more time easing myself into poses like kurmasana and going less deep in the janus and mari A.  Most of my energy today was spent paying attention to that area, the sitting bone/hamstring thing is not something I want to have get any worse. I injured it about 4 years ago, then it took a long time to heal, but it did. Ironically, it was practicing ashtanga which healed it (the cure for a forward bend injury..is more forward bends apparently). It had been re-activated after I started the dropbacks this spring, but I managed to get it to calm down by taking it more easy and using a foam roller at night on the inner thigh. And now that I closer to standing up, it is acting up again. I think I am just not yet strong enough to use the correct muscles to stand up.

Just looked at the photos of myself that I took for my passport application. I will have to get someone to take a photo of me. My new idea is just to start going through the motions of planning a trip to mysore..step one..get the damn passport!!!! as I can't apply for time to study at the shala without it..or if someone knows otherwise..please let me know! It seems that I can still choose my own start and end dates for studying with sharath..the previously mentioned starting dates of the 6th of each month was pretty much a deal breaker for me.


Friday, August 9, 2013

leap of faith

For the past week, my teacher has been saying that I am "close" to being able to stand up on my own after dropping back. While I believed her, I also felt like..getting the hands a bit off the floor didn't seem "close" to standing up, to me. Well, soon, once again meant much sooner than I thought-- as in, today. I managed to stand up from a backbend for the first time. It wasn't pretty - my feet scooted way back as my upper body came up..but standing is standing. I was quite dumbfounded. I wasn't expecting to make it all the way up. I was just playing with shifting weight forwards and making little lift offs with the hands after walking in and rocking. My teacher had already left for the morning as it was after the official end time of practice (we can do closing on our own afterwards). It was just me and the woman who is starting to assist us practicing in the main room. It felt like a version of..if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it..will it still make a sound? 

I couldn't repeat the miracle..seriously weird feeling to come up..down makes much more sense..you can see the floor..up is a total leap of faith. The key right now is to not have any expectations of standing up. Also, really strong legs grounding into the floor. Will be interesting to see what happens on Sunday, when my teacher assists me. 

I just started reading


image taken from here

which I am enjoying greatly. I love anything that tells a moving story..philosophy and religion are just too dry for me without it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

lessons, though i can't say they have all been learned


don't look at the floor when trying to shift weight forward to come up from a backbend.

rest days and moon days make me feel physically rested and mentally restless

let the emotion out before practice..i.e cry if i have to. makes practice much easier afterwards and less angsty

wondering..can i lift up from bhuja (or insert the name of another pose) basically makes it impossible.  if doubt and worry do this to practice..just what exactly is the effect they have on the rest of my life?

it is ok to do less..though that falls into the live and don't learn category for me right now.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

we have lift off

Friday I discovered that I can make a little bounce after I land my dropback. It is amazing what you can discover when you are too tired to mentally resist what your body seems to want to do. Mostly, this works best if my teacher is right there to catch me and bring me the rest of the way up. Apparently, the hardest part of standing up again is supposed to be getting the hands off the floor. Wish I could say how it is done, but it is still a bit murky. Seems to depend on -strong legs going down to the floor making for a softer landing and keeping my pelvis as far forward as I can on the way down. The other thing that I think helped me get to this point of being able to shift my weight forward was a crazy -undulation- atm lesson that we did in the training. It was about flow and by focusing on the flow of the small movements (pressing different body parts into the ground in sequence) rather than perfectly making each movement, I was able to better synchronize movements with my arms and legs. This is what led to my first (scary!) experience last week, of shifting weight into my legs so that my hands could unweight themselves in a backbend.

The feldenkrais training was exhausting last week. I passed my teaching test, which was no great surprise, since they pretty much pass everyone. I ended up teaching a 45-50 min lesson to a class of 15-20, by myself, after my group imploded..i.e. the incredibly passive aggressive and angry woman I had inherited as a partner blew up at the head of the program. I am too old to work with people who don't contribute and that are just too difficult to work with. Teaching by myself was really valuable, but it made me soooo stressed out before. I still have not had a full night's sleep, and I taught on Sunday. Hoping to get it together to do some volunteer teaching for the parks department here this fall - they offer free fitness classes - and feldenkrais counts for that. Would like to find some other teaching opportunities as well.






Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cloud Watching

I have started getting ready in earnest for my teaching authorization in my Feldenkrais program. That means trying to figure out what language works best when I teach my test lesson, both for giving directions on the actual movements and for the other process related stuff, like reminding people to move slowly, rest often, and breathe. I need to come up with some commentary on my lesson. It is a foot lesson, but really about orientation in space. The movements in the lesson are not difficult when you are in a typical orientation - with the foot standing on the floor. When the floor is taken away, however, the formerly simple movements become more challenging. We are so used to having the floor to tell us where "neutral" is for our feet. What about when it is not there? Why does it often feel like it is somewhere else..and if that is what you do when you have no floor as reference..you probably carry that extra effort in your leg and foot muscles into your daily life..standing, walking, running, etc.

In the primary series, think about where your hands seem to be in space the next time you are in prasarita C, if they don't reach the floor. The first time my hands touched the floor (with an assist), I was completely discombobulated. My first reaction was that I was touching the ceiling. No joke. Our awareness of what our limbs are doing in space behind us is not as developed as when they are in front of us.

The few times I have practiced teaching the lesson, it has been really fascinating to watch the people on the floor move. Granted, my "class" has been only one or two people at time, but I can see that this will be really interesting to do.




Post practice cloud watching in Central Park last Sunday. When I stepped onto the grass near Strawberry Fields, I could feel the steam rising from the ground. Luckily it wasn't so bad in the shade.


Monday, July 8, 2013

cranky

yeah, the summer heat makes me cranky.

Finally survived (barely) all my work deadlines. Enough at least to want to hibernate most of the holiday weekend, which was easier to do than usual, because of the rest day plus a rather late ladies holiday. I did get to practice teach my atm lesson to friends in my training program, and that was very very enlightening. The major challenge of the teaching test isn't figuring out the atm lesson (although my lesson is a foot lesson..and not easy for me to do), but working with the other members of my teaching group --which has been nothing short of utter disaster..one is injured and probably won't participate and the other is on the "difficult" side..though she doesn't mean to be that way, and I have been working so much last month that I had hardly any time for dealing with this. Somehow I also became the organizer of the group. bleah!

Practice has been tough, but it is what has been holding me together, so to speak. I am having a new round of emotional reactions to practice. Crankiness, crossness and general irritability afterwards (dropback induced I bet) or just plain ole sadness. Sunday, I really needed to have a good cry right after, but the shala wasn't empty and I didn't have enough time before sanskrit class. Other days I find myself starting to panic in savasana - I can feel myself not breathing (enough). Very very disconcerting. Still, I feel better and more grounded on the whole the days I practice than the days I do not.

And there are the dropbacks. It is getting a bit easier. I am now fairly convinced I can land on the ground..still pretty much stuck once I land. I can walk in a bit, but I think I am scared of getting myself in the correct configuration to come back up (if we just stop and imagine that I have the strength to come back up..which I dont think i have yet..but stranger things have happened.) Thus far, the best day was sometime last week, when my teacher made a point of doing less to bring me back up from the ground. Whoa.

Glad I only have 2 more weeks (today included) til I am off for a week, for my 10 day training. Hopefully in August, I will finally get out of town for a bit.




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

harvest

From the windowsill garden. ok, it isn't much more than a symbolic addition to my meal..but it is satisfying to grow even a tiny portion of my food.

plus the hot weather means I probably won't have much more growth from the plants.

6 dropbacks today. 3 on my own. my low back can really feel it this week. I am bendier and less strong in the heat.  Then again, being able to do supta K on my own is nice. As far as dropbacks go -- all I am working on is getting more comfortable with the idea of dropping back. My breath is constantly out of sync on the way back up..and on my own, I am pretty much beached on the ground once I land. My teacher and others at the shala make it look so graceful.

Friday, June 21, 2013

pre moon day chaos

Really wondering if there is something in the air out here..

Came into work to get a passive aggressive email threatening my job if I don't "work harder" and stop coming in "late", sent not to me privately, but to the company email that my coworker can see as well...wtf? To clarify, I have worked for this firm for over 10 years, and never received anything like this ever or even a hint of some of the issues raised (other than my interminable lateness..which was ok by my boss as of 2 months ago)

Then one of my teaching test group wants to jump to another group (ok, that could be a blessing in disguise)

Good practice today, despite all the chaos I later walked into. Last night I had a major anxiety attack over my inability to have time to practice the feldenkrais enough. Didn't help that I felt really vulnerable and tired and pms-y last night going home on the train, after my friends practiced on me. So I decided to sleep in, til 6am..though I didn't even get close to 5 hours last night. My breathing, however, was steady, thanks to the feldenkrais.

I need a vacation from my life. Dreaming about jobs that I can do, that I like.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Field trip

Got to escape the office this morning, which is always a good feeling.

Practice was really good today, despite even less sleep than the night before. I guess the dropbacks from yesterday must be the reason. Today I could feel that point where it would be possible to come up, if I could  push into my legs..or something like that. Weird feeling. No energy crash after practice, which didn't surprise me as my breathing and focus were better. Interesting how the two are connected for me.

After work, I met up with some friends in my feldenkrais program, to practice a bit. Because we are a group of 3, and I am really timid about trying to work on anyone when someone else seems more sure of themselves than I am, I got to watch and to be worked on. Left feeling really good, like I might actually sleep well tonight, for the first time in 2 weeks. Then again, I have to be up before 6am, and its just past 11 now. Good thing tomorrow is friday.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

i need one of these



yes, I need a duplicator...if only it were so easy.

The mental exhaustion and the dropbacks continue. Today was one of those -I think I'll put my teacup in the refrigerator days. Couldn't remember which number surya I was on..during the A's. Always a bad sign. All my breathing/sound tics and weepy feelings were back this morning..and my focus was on vacation, except for the mid section of seated...hard NOT to focus on bhuja thru kukkatasana. At least now I sort of know that the breathing and whimpering thing..it's a sign of any sort of mental and/or emotional overload. Dropbacks were uneventful..other than there were...5! I land on my own, and then try to figure out how to walk my hands in..and move the weight forward. I'm in no rush here..can't imagine adding anything to my practice for quite some time.

Afterwards, I was shell shocked from the extra backbending..then wiped out for a couple hours. Hope I sleep tonight..don't have high hopes on catching up on sleep til friday night.

Now where did I stash a cardboard box?






Monday, June 17, 2013

tri-fecta and mental exhaustion

Today I hit the tri-fecta -- I managed bhuja through kukkutasana on my own, with all correct(ish) entrances and exits. Usually on any given day, I can manage any 2 of the three. I obviously don't yet jump into either bhuja or kurmasana..doing the jump the feet in front of my hands, and then take a few breaths and organize myself into bhuja or kurmasana lift. That I could bind supta K by myself was amazing..yeah, felden training always has this effect on me..opens my hips like crazy. The open hip thing came back to bite me when I got to drop backs..as I had been relying on my tight front hip flexors (???) to keep me from curving too much in my lower back. Still, I made it down 3 times, up is merely an idea..as is the rocking forward on the inhale.

Feldenkrais training tends to leave me mentally wiped out. Which, oddly enough, feels a hell of a lot worse than being physically wiped out. I felt like I was getting the flu -achy and cold and couldn't keep my eyes open. Woke up like that on Sunday -tried minimal home practice to make myself at least sweat it out, though that didn't help much. Finally, after my one on one session (which did wonderful things for my entire right side- I can breathe more into that side now..), I had had enough, mentally, emotionally and physically. I have to figure out how to get more sleep before these trainings (working extra before is a bit of a nightmare) so that I can manage the whole training. Went to work today instead of the last day of training (good thing about living in nyc is that I can make up days with the next training that starts in late August), because it seemed to be the simplest thing to do. Today at least I don't feel the exhaustion -am hoping my nap on sunday did the trick. Apparently, it is pretty common to need to sleep more during and after the trainings - your nervous system can only take so much. It was a good weekend, despite that, and I am feeling much more like I can learn this stuff..given time and effort and practice.

Going to an ayurevedic practitioner today..interesting to find out what he might have to say about this..

Thursday, June 13, 2013

backbending makes me feel like this...

The windowsill garden is taking off! my cabbage, bok choi and tat soi plants are all growing at last. Hope this cooler weather continues a bit longer so I can get a real harvest for once. Not really sure how the cabbage plant will congeal into a "head" of cabbage...is it a big bud made of bitty bitty leaves that gets bigger all at once...or are the leaves going to somehow curl into a ball.

So so glad tomorrow is Friday. Dropbacks continue. I can do them on my own, but sometimes I need my teacher there for moral support (like today, when my mat looked really far away from my hands- did my legs grow taller?). Today they were rather loud because the shala was so so warm and humid, and I was tired by the end of practice.




Sunday, June 9, 2013

dropping back and playing chicken, part two

I did manage to drop back on my own on thursday, much to my surprise..my teacher came over to help me and I shooed her away, as I wanted to do a couple more hanging back attempts to warm up both my back and my courage. As I knew she didn't go far away, I realized I was going to have to get this dropping back thing over with..and I went for it. It wasn't so bad, really, maybe I was just in a bit of a shock about it. I tried to imagine my teacher giving me an assist to come back up..but that only went so far...as in hands staying on the floor still! and then, luckily, she brought me back up. Landing with straight arms is still a work in progress, but I can feel the difference it makes.

What no one mentioned before was how much of an adrenaline rush it turned out to be. Even the following day, I didn't really feel like I NEEDED coffee. It doesn't seem to happen as strongly when my teacher assists me.

Last night, after a restful day of doing feldenkrais lessons, cooking, reading and such, I saw a mouse in my apartment. Grr. I bought traps late last night, but then I didn't have the heart to set them. I guess I felt sorry for the mouse. It's a big building and I am going to see if I hear the mouse again...I did squeal like a girl. So embarrassing, but only the mouse heard me. The whole thing did throw off my sleeping, again...just the start of overwhelm mode that will only get worse as the month goes on. Today, I didn't have enough sleep and my right shoulder is sore from too much computer drafting at work, and the floor felt a lot further away, so I was back to playing chicken again. Maybe tomorrow I will feel more brave, and more flexible. I have to manage it on my own again soon or else fear may set in.






Thursday, June 6, 2013

underwear

Not sure what reminded me of this poem...other than a trip to american apparel's outlet store tonight to buy some underwear..

When I was in elementary school, my mom took a creative writing class at the local community college. Sometimes I would pore over her one textbook, an anthology of american literature. This poem was my favorite back then, probably for the humor and the subject matter--who else writes poetry about underwear?

Happy moon day.



Underwear

BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI
I didn’t get much sleep last night
thinking about underwear
Have you ever stopped to consider   
underwear in the abstract   
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised   
Underwear is something   
we all have to deal with   
Everyone wears
some kind of underwear
The Pope wears underwear I hope
The Governor of Louisiana   
wears underwear
I saw him on TV
He must have had tight underwear
He squirmed a lot
Underwear can really get you in a bind
You have seen the underwear ads
for men and women
so alike but so different
Women’s underwear holds things up
Men’s underwear holds things down   
Underwear is one thing   
men and women have in common   
Underwear is all we have between us
You have seen the three-color pictures
with crotches encircled
to show the areas of extra strength
and three-way stretch
promising full freedom of action
Don’t be deceived
It’s all based on the two-party system
which doesn’t allow much freedom of choice   
the way things are set up   
America in its Underwear
struggles thru the night
Underwear controls everything in the end   
Take foundation garments for instance   
They are really fascist forms
of underground government
making people believe
something but the truth
telling you what you can or can’t do   
Did you ever try to get around a girdle   
Perhaps Non-Violent Action
is the only answer
Did Gandhi wear a girdle?
Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle?
Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep?   
And that spot she was always rubbing—
Was it really in her underwear?
Modern anglosaxon ladies
must have huge guilt complexes
always washing and washing and washing   
Out damned spot
Underwear with spots very suspicious   
Underwear with bulges very shocking   
Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom   
Someone has escaped his Underwear   
May be naked somewhere
Help!
But don’t worry
Everybody’s still hung up in it
There won’t be no real revolution
And poetry still the underwear of the soul   
And underwear still covering
a multitude of faults
in the geological sense—
strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks!   
If I were you I’d keep aside
an oversize pair of winter underwear   
Do not go naked into that good night   
And in the meantime
keep calm and warm and dry
No use stirring ourselves up prematurely   
‘over Nothing’
Move forward with dignity
hand in vest
Don’t get emotional
And death shall have no dominion   
There’s plenty of time my darling
Are we not still young and easy
Don’t shout

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

playing chicken

I am at the point where I will soon be dropping back on my own. Today I tried to go back as far as I could, while waiting for my teacher..and I just could not make myself take that final little leap of faith down to the mat. Turned out she was waiting to see if I would manage on my own. I'm a big chicken about that stuff...though I almost managed by myself when she was standing there; she only made my landings a bit lighter after I "plunged" (ha!) back to the floor.

Moral of the story..I can drop back, but it is fear that stops me. (like that is a new thing to read about backbending...)

What else have I been afraid of lately...oh, it's quite a list.

-Driving a car (ok, I have a licence and I have driven ages ago..but not gonna tackle this one in nyc)
-Dating
-Inviting new friends out to do things
-Asking questions in my feldenkrais training (ie. speaking in those big 70 person discussion/q and a sessions)
-Trying to find people outside my training program to practice teaching feldenkrais atms to..as my few friends      here are not receptive to this.
-Asking for time off at work, because we are so busy and I have had such an up and down (mostly down)     time of it at work this year
-Looking for a more suitable job
-going to india, though i would love to go to mysore at the end of this year-not so much the trip itself, as just the planning involved and the changes it might mean to my living and work situations

hmm...I know there is more..

I did tackle one of the list items today..got a discussion started with my boss about me taking a week off in July (though I will have to work some fridays to make the time up beforehand, unfortunately). Hope it works out, as I need the week for my feldenkrais training. I had been nervous about this for the past few weeks, actually, trying to find a time to ask when I would not get snapped at, etc.

I guess there is always tomorrow to try again with the backbending, and maybe another item on the list.