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 I rewarded myself today with a chewy chocolate sunflower cookie from Body and 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 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 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 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 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 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.