Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 349

Today, this is what I feel: fat and sore. Nothing wakes up your shoulder and arms like a good number of Chaturangas and nothing says “you ate too many fried jacks in Belize” like fat rolls in your face during Halasana. Yuck.

I'm very sore in my shoulders and hamstrings, but basically my entire body feels like it's been beaten up. I guess that means that Ashtanga really is a full-body workout. Good to know!

I did a modified primary series. My backbends feel horrible right now. I don't think I'm strong enough to really lift up properly and once I'm there, I don't have the flexibility in my back to do much with it. Sirsasana was fun. I really felt my hamstrings in Halasana.

Goal for tomorrow: Do yoga.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 348

I'm back. The reason I haven't been updating this blog is simple: I haven't been doing yoga at all.

During the first week of December, I was still recovering from bronchitis and I was going crazy with preparations for the trip. I brought a yoga mat with me to Belize and it sat sadly in the corner of our hotel room, covered with sand because I was too busy snorkelling and climbing Mayan ruins to do anything with it.

And when I got home? I was simply out of the habit. Then the holidays hit.

I don't really miss yoga per se, but I do miss feeling like I fully inhabit my body. I miss the physical ease I experience in my day-to-day life that comes from my daily yoga practice. And when I'm actually on the mat, I do miss it.

I really was determined that this was the day to crawl back up onto the yoga wagon. I unrolled my mat this morning and did a sweaty, slightly-more-than-an-hour modified Primary Series. I was surprised by how well I did. I expected to be really limited in strength and flexibility, but it wasn't bad at all (or maybe it's just the power of low expectations).

Anwyays, I'm back.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 346

Lady's Holiday knocked me flat on Tuesday. I had some crazy notion that I might practice on some of those days, but I needed the full three.

Today's practice was half-primary in the morning because I was pressed for time with a class to teach and a class to attend. Crazy schedule and I'm already feeling rushed. Hopefully, more on the weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 345

Half primary today due to time constraints. I spent most of my day on the phone trying to save my winter vacation from almost certain ruin at the hands of the Angry Air Mile Gods. I'm SO over airmiles. They're worthless. Grrrr. Everything turned out okay, but I'm relearning that hard, hard lesson: Nothing in life is free.

I took a long walk in the afternoon to burn off my excess energy, then flew through my yoga practice. Afterward, I headed to the rink for the finals in my hockey league. My team was 2nd place going into the finals and that's where we stayed; we lost the game.

I really do love ice hockey and nothing gives me more joy than playing a hard game against an evenly matched opponent. I'm not very competitive about it though - I just like the game. I do my best each time I go out on the ice, but if my best is really lousy on a particular night, I just laugh it off.

But this season, my team was full of people who were taking our recreational league just a BIT too seriously. After being told I couldn't play on a line with a good friend because we were both 'weak players' who were bringing the team down and then was criticized for every small error, my confidence began to falter. Weary of the constant negativity and criticism, I stopped going to games, avoided the pub entirely and missed a large part of the season.

After each final, the teams are redrafted. Next week, I'll come to a room full of mostly new teammates. I hope this group is more interested in the joy of the game and less in who wins or loses. I'm perfectly aware that 'hockey isn't yoga' but we're also not playing in the NHL.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 344

It's cold, damp and miserable out and it's been pouring rain all day. I stayed in bed for as long as possible - until about one o'clock. I didn't get around to eating lunch until two o'clock. I unrolled my mat at three o'clock. Yes, far too soon after lunch.

I did the full primary today, in the front room of the house in my new 'yoga space'. I had a pretty good practice - even generated some of my own heat in this cold, drafty house! Afterward, I chanted and played my shruti box for over a half-hour.

The new chant we learned on Friday is much more melodically complex than the previous three. I think I'm going to need to listen to it for awhile before it really sticks.

All day, we've been working out a possible escape-from-the-city plan scheduled for early December. It's very tenuous right now, but the moment we confirm everything, I'll shout my joy to the heavens (and blog about it).

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 343

I broke my 14-day yoga streak yesterday with the Moon Day. I had to do it - I swear there was never a better-timed Moon Day. I was at the doctor's office all morning and teaching all afternoon and evening. After all of that, I really needed a break.

I've officially been sick for three weeks. The doctor needed little convincing to prescribe an antibiotic. The diagnosis - brace yourself - sinitis AND bronchitis AND laryngitis. The prescription was stupidly expensive because I'm antibiotic-resistant. The surprising thing is, I'm already feeling better. The pressure in my sinuses is gone, I'm not as congested or coughing as much.

I didn't do a full practice today because of time constraints. I had a bunch of errands to run AND I started Part II of the Shruti Box Class! Yes, there's a part two!!! I'm so excited. I'm just loving these classes. I have three more to look forward to after this one and I'm totally blissed out about it. If she offered a 'Shruti III', I'd totally sign up. I'm hooked.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 342

Last month around this time, I was struck with some strangely intense lower back pain. I practised (sporadically) through it. I had just started to get back on the daily-home-practice wagon and feared that I had overdone it in some of my forward bends. The pain felt similar to lower back spasms, though it was more concentrated in the sacrum. But now, the pain is back and I know it has nothing to do with those forward bends.

(Disclaimer: My male readers may find this TMI, so proceed at your own risk)

Last month, I experienced an extended period of Premenstrual Syndrome - not the moodiness, but soreness in my chest, some bloating and, as it turns out, lower back pain. The symptoms were so acute that I was *certain* that my Lady's Holiday was on the horizon, but no, it came right on schedule. It made for a very unpleasant two-and-a-half weeks. Because it had never happened before, I decided it was a fluke.

Apparently, it wasn't. All of the above symptoms have made a reappearance, approximately 13 days before my Lady's is scheduled to arrive.

This pain is really affecting my practice. More than a quarter of the poses in the series are now downright uncomfortable and even painful. I'm wondering if any other female ashtangis have experienced this?

The back pain, along with my continuing cold/flu/whatever-it-is makes my practice really unpleasant. Yet I soldier on... Today, I did the full primary in the morning, about an hour after waking. It felt good to get it done early in the day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 341

Morning practice today, followed by a half-hour of chanting with my shruti box. That instrument wasn't cheap, but it's turning out to be the best thing I spent money on this year. I simply love it. There's something so addictive about it. I'm using it as the 'carrot' to lure myself to the mat. Practice for one hour and I get the shruti. This is really working for me.

It's interesting to observe my own reaction to a longer yoga practice. Starting the first sun salutation is always the hardest part, then I settle into it. I find my mind wandering more these days. Julie mentioned that her 'monkey mind' kicks in after the standing poses. It's the same for me - as soon as my bum hits the mat, it's monkey time. Janu Sirsasana is the worst.

But there's something magical about those gaps of stillness when I so find them. The sunbeams falling across my mat, or the glow of candles - a sense of peace and wholeness. A deep connection with my breath. Feeling like I'm suddenly *fully* in my body.

I've missed this!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 340

I'm moving into the homestretch now, 25 days until I reach my goal of '365 days of the Primary Series'. Since I'm so close, I thought it would be nice if I was actually *doing* the full Primary Series. I've been building strength gradually and adding poses incrementally. Today, I fired up my Sharath CD and did the whole burrito.

And it was actually GREAT! I was ready. I'm certainly not up to the same level I was in June, but I'm doing every pose (or a modified variation). And, best of all, I'm doing all of the vinyasa in between, so I'm truly building my strength and stamina. Practice and all is coming.

I'm on Day 7 of my self-imposed 'yoga streak'. I find it's so much easier to practice when I'm not giving myself any other option. Practice is just something I do, every day without fail, so I plan for it and expect it. I can't say with any honesty that I look forward to it, but I've been doing this long enough to know that this comes and goes. For now, I'll keep rolling along...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 339

One of the challenges I'm facing in my yoga practice is finding my way to the mat on weekends. I spend most Saturdays and Sundays at the house and there's very little open space. I've struggled to find an area that feels right for yoga. So far, I've tried a tiny parcel of floor next to the bed in the upstairs spare room. I did that twice and hated practising there.

My favourite room in the house is actually the front room downstairs. It has high ceilings, lots of windows and natural light. Even though it's in the more 'public' area of the house, it's uncluttered and comfortable. I like this room for reading and writing (in fact, I’m writing this while seated in my favourite chair in front of the Faux Fireplace).

Because I love the room, I decided to give it a try for yoga. I moved aside two reasonably light chairs and practiced near the front of the room, next to the sideboard and close to a wide west-facing window. I brought along my travel Buddha and two tiny statuettes of Ganesh and Saraswati and placed them behind two tea candles.

I practised my sun salutations facing north (I'm used to facing east), but it was a good practice. There is also an unused wall space next to the front door where I can do Sirsasana and handstands. My only lingering complaint is that this house is COLD. My apartment is so warm that I'm considering bringing my little space heater over here to heat my 'yoga area' before practice.

I had a really good practice - my best all week, probably because I had plenty of time and didn't feel rushed. It still doesn't feel entirely like 'home' or like my space, but I think it will work. I'm hoping it will. Starting next week, I'll be practising in this house on Saturdays and Sundays.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day 338

My weekends have changed shape radically with the end of my long-time Saturday morning yoga class. For almost five years, I spent every Saturday morning wandering a downtown farmer's market, then teaching a class. Last month, I lost that space and I've been searching for new digs ever since. In the meantime, my Saturdays are free.

I totally underestimated how difficult it would be to drag myself down to the farmer's market without a scheduled reason. I haven't been back since the class ended. Fortunately, I discovered that my favourite Samosas, normally purchased at the farmer's market, are available at an organic food store closeby. But I really miss eating my weekly chocolate cookie and chatting with my favourite vendors at the market.

Fortunately, over the past three weeks I've developed a new routine. My Saturday afternoon's are now spent at a Sanskrit Chanting class. I'm learning to play the Shruti Box, an Indian instrument similar to the Harmonium. It produces a drone sound through reeds and is a great accompaniment to singing to chanting.

I've wanted one for years, but couldn't justify buying one because I really don't know how to play it. Over the summer, I received an email announcing a beginners course. I bought a shruti box in Little India and the class really has been useful for learning how to play the instrument properly. We've learned three chants in the class: So Ham, Innvocation to Ganesh, and the Shiva dity made famous by John Friend. I'm really enjoying the class and I'm sad the last one is today.

Today, I went for a long walk in the Big Park with the dog, did my abbreviated yoga practice, chanted with my Shruti Box, then got on the subway to class.

Practice was a bit rushed, but felt good. I'm still bothered by the cold and there's a faint pressure in my sinues. If this plague persists through the weekend, I'm going to visit the doctor on Monday and seek out treatment.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 337

This sinus infection is driving me crazy! I've added the forward bends back into my practice. I now seem to alternate between doing Vinyasa between poses and blowing my nose. Moving up and down really stirs everything up. I'm really tired of being sick and I can't believe this plague has persisted so long.

My practice today was low energy and exhausting. I'm definitely feeling wiped out after two intense days of teaching classes. I dragged through the sun salutations and lingered in the seated poses. And it was just really hard to drag myself to the mat.

Given my reluctance, It's probably a good thing that I had to keep moving this morning in order to fit my walk and my practice in; there was no opportunity to dawdle. This afternoon, I'm going to see a matinee showing of 'Changeling' and then heading to a dinner. And tomorrow, I'm going to sleep in!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day 336

I practised in the morning today, after my long walk and before lunch. I had a good practice! This is probably the most energetic I've felt in a week. The weather is fantastic out - sunny skies and crisp, yet pleasant temperatures. For a brief moment, I thought about moving my yoga mat into the park, but it's not *that* warm out.

Lately, I've been leaving my iPod at home for these long walks and using the time to do some deep thinking about my life and habits. It actually pains me to write about this, but over the past few months, I've fallen into some really unhealthy habits in terms of diet and exercise. And I've gained some weight. I'm full of excuses about why this happened, but here's my big one:

Some of you may remember that in early September, I was very ill and briefly in hospital. Ironically, I lost a lot of weight during that illness. Unremarkably, I gained it back as I recovered - and then some. I was too weak to exercise. I had trouble digesting anything but the most bland, starchy foods. I got in the habit of eating those foods and continued eating them far longer than I should have.

Also, I've discovered that it's more difficult to follow a healthy diet when you're sharing meals with someone else. When I started dating, I let my diet slide. It was just too much fun going out for brunch and eating fruit-and-cream-cheese-stuffed french toast and yummy desserts.

But the fun had to end eventually. I'm getting my strength back and I can digest raw vegetables perfectly fine. It's time to climb back up on that wagon I fell off of two months ago.

1) One small sugary snack per day
2) Long walk with the dog every day
3) Yoga EVERY day (yes, even Moon Days and Saturdays - I need to get back in a routine)
4) Log all my meals in my nutrition planner, daily

*waves as the wagon pulls away, with me onboard*

Let's see how it goes...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day 335


I'm so excited and pleased with the election result!

I was up until the wee hours last night, following the election coverage. I was supposed to go to an election party, but I was far too sick to leave the apartment. I'm still sick with this stupid infection. For most of the night, I was feverish and struck by fits of coughing. Instead of partying with friends, or dancing around in Dundas Square, I was hunkered down with my computer tuned to CNN and the T.V. tuned to the CBC's coverage.

Obama's speech was an amazing moment! Tears streamed down my face as I watched. For the first time in 8 years, I'm proud of my country-of-birth.

Practice today was still abbreviated due to the silly sinus infection. It's amazing how quickly I can breeze through the sun salutations when I'm only holding downward facing dog for one breath. I felt good during my practice, though, as long as I was upright. Obviously, Sirsasana is out of the question right now. Any inversions, really. *sigh*

But I'm delighted to report that the laryngitis seems to be fading. This is excellent news, as I teach 7 classes over the next two days.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could be healthy for a whole week? Or practice 6 days in a row? Yes I can?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 334

Don't practice and all is not coming.

That’s how I feel right now - really frustrated with my practice and the state of my health in general.

After a couple of great days finally feeling energetic and strong, I was hit with a cold, then with my Lady's Holiday. And *then*, just as the cold started to fade, I picked up a serious sinus infection. I laid low over the weekend, in hopes that the extra rest would restore me to health, but instead I just feel worse.

I did my extremely modified half-primary today with further modifications to prevent my sinuses from exploding (at least, that's what it felt like). Basically, I removed all standing forward bends and didn't hold downward dog in the sun salutations.

If I keep taking stuff away from my practice, I'm afraid that eventually there will be nothing left!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 333

Happy Hallowe'een!

I'm totally sidelined by this scary cold. I practised for a half-hour this morning, but didn't make it much further than the standing poses and one back bend. I crumpled into savasana, exhausted, then staggered off to teach my noon class.

Then I got my second wind when I carried a heavy pumpkin home! ;-)

Tonight, I'm going to decorate out the front of the house with fake cobwebs and pumpkin balloons and we're going to carve the pumpkin. Then we'll give out candy to the little trick-or-treaters. In past years, I've always been at the apartment (or sometimes, I've been teaching), so this will be fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 332

I'm so exhausted today. I ended up napping away the morning (after spending the early morning volunteering at the soup kitchen), so I did a short practice in the afternoon. This head cold is really taking a lot out of me and, even more troubling, it's moving to my lungs and my throat. My voice has been very scratchy today and the *last* thing I need right now is laryngitis (it's kind of hard to teach if you can't talk!)

This same cold (along with the threat of losing my voice) seems to hit me every year around this time and I would love to find a way to dodge it. And no, practising CR doesn't make me immune to all illnesses, though I tend to be healthier than average and fight bugs more efficiently.

Today was a big Sirsasana day for me. I haven't been doing the pose lately, because of the head cold and because I haven't felt strong enough. But we had a wall to work against in my noon class, so I decided to teach it. And, in teaching it, I did the pose several times to demonstrate. And it totally ROCKED! I've really missed standing on my head! I practised it again in my own practice and enjoyed it.

It's really gratifying to see parts of my practice coming back to me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 331

I took a long walk this morning and practised afterward. Something about the walk helped get me going. Sun salutations felt easy and strong and my hamstrings even felt a bit more open.

Unfortunately, I think I'm getting a cold, a different cold than the one I had last week. And I've been feeling a bit run down. I've had trouble motivating myself to get anything done this week, but for some reason I felt a surge of energy after my yoga practice and managed to do some cleaning around the apartment. I felt so much better after that.

I think it was a combination of the activity, creating a clean environment and a focus on self-care. This time of year, when the days start to get shorter, I can be a bit grumpy and I have to develop strategies to combat the blues. I haven't started using light therapy yet, but I will soon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 330

I took a bit of a break due to Lady's Holiday, then the Moon Day. It was actually frustrating because I had finally started to fall into a routine of daily practice again. It's amazing how easy it is to fall *out* of that routine. My goal for this week is to practice four days in a row, including my busy teaching days.

Today's practice was in the morning. I'm feeling very stiff and not particularly strong after my break. Hopefully my hamstrings will open back up again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 329

Another good practice today! I'm teaching hip openers in my classes this week, so I had the opportunity to practice Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana (Pigeon Pose) over and over again as I demonstrated it in class. Not an Ashtanga pose, but it is a powerful hip opener and for some reason, I'm feeling it in a big way in my right hip. It feels good, like something is being released.

I'm still feeling strong and energetic. At the beginning of the week, I was hopeful that I could put in five days of practice this week. Alas, my lady's holiday is coming up any day now, so I'll save that hope for another week (maybe next?)

What I would really like to do is get back into a routine of a six day practice. I think I should do this before I start easing back into full primary. The goal is to gradually build back up to full primary six days a week, which is what I was doing before I got sick.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 328

Today was a great day! I felt more energetic and alive than I have since before I got sick in the summer. It was amazing - I had energy! I went for a walk, I cleaned and winterized the balcony, I ran errands, cleared my desk...

I did my practice, meditated and even picked up my shruti box for awhile. I had such a great day!

Practice felt really good. I'm still doing half-primary, but little shifts are starting to happen. I no longer feel back pain in Marichyasana A and I was able to bind in Marichyasana C. I'm still doing Supta Padangustasana in place of Janu Sirsasana, but today, instead of using the strap, I was able to grab my big toe. I'm feeling big opening in my hamstrings and this has taken so much pressure off my low back. My practice is actually starting to feel good again!

Now, when I'm feeling stiff, I have something to contrast it with. The other day, someone asked me how my body was feeling and I said that it felt 'gummy'. It's like I have glue in my joints or something. Must be a lot of toxins in there still, that I'm flushing out gradually.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 327

Then, on Thursday, I got sick.

Nothing dramatic, just a cold, but I've felt unmotivated and exhausted and achy ever since. I stayed home and rested over the weekend, spending hours of quality time with the Grey's Anatomy Season 4 (which I never watched because I got out o the TV Habit last year) and Sarah Waters' latest novel (which was wonderful and now I've developed a Sarah Waters Habit - I've moved on to one of her earlier novels).

On Sunday morning after brunch, I was all lively and energetic after such a lovely morning (a long walk in the crisp air, lovely fall colours, french toast stuffed with cream cheese and apple slices at Yasi's). I was determined to hit the mat. Alas, I sat on the sofa to rest and was asleep within a half-hour. I slept for four.

I did better this morning. After breakfast, a walk with the dog, and an hour on the phone settling a billing issue with Bell Canada (argh!), I was ready to practice. Okay, I wasn't really 'ready' but I bribed myself with the promise of a nap afterward. Besides, Alfia's sick too and she's practising. I'm not alone in my misery.

As for the cold, it's moving along. I think I may be seeing the tail end of it. Last night was rough because I was so congested that my sleep was affected. I had very strange dreams. In one dream, I was in a yoga class and couldn't do Urdhva Dhanurasana no matter how hard I tried. I woke up very alarmed and during my practice today, I made sure to do one very solid Urdhva Dhanurasana.

I feel better. :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 326

Busy, busy in the midst of teaching classes this week. I wasn't sure I would make it to the mat today because I was so exhausted from teaching last night, but I managed to coax myself. My back is a bit sore this morning, but I'm feeling so much stronger in other parts of the practice that it's really like night and day. My hamstrings are gradually opening up again - and my hips. My shoulders and arms are stronger and I've even felt some significant opening in my shoulders.

Ironically, I've been struggling with the Marichyasana poses. They used to be my favourite, but now I find that these poses put a real strain on my low back and I just dread them. Even Marichyasana A is difficult for me. I can't bring my forehead to the floor in B and I haven't been binding in C. I skip D altogether.

For Janu Sirsasana, I've continued to lay on my back and use a yoga strap to stretch my hamstrings. This modification is my favourite part of the practice. I think there's some angst in them there hamstrings!

Shoulderstand is difficult theses days, not because of shoulder pain (that's gone) but because of the lower back pain.

And I'm still doing a partial practice - never more than Navasana. I simply can't imagine doing Kurmasana right now. Torture!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day 325

Mid-morning practice today. My back is a bit tight, but much better than last week. I haven't been using the Sharath CD this week, finding it easier and less fuss just to hit the mat and *do it* rather than mess around with my computer and the speaker and whatnot. I feel like I'm getting stronger in body, but I haven't yet rediscovered my great enthusiasm for yoga. Once I'm on the mat, I'm fine and I enjoy myself. It's the motivation that seems to be MIA.

Also, I'm struggling with maintaining my daily practice when I'm spending time at the house. There really isn't a space for me to do yoga at the house and every time I've practised there it's felt haphazard and awkward. I know that part of the problem is me grasping on to excuses. I'm not sure how this issue will be resolved and I suspect I'm sort of waiting around for it to resolve itself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 324

Each week, I start with a fresh resolve to resume a daily practice, but I seem to be practising about three days a week despite myself. Stuff just comes up.

Last week, the 'stuff' was lower back pain. I think some of this may be related to pre-lady's-holiday-syndrome. And probably my return to full-time teaching. By the time the weekend rolled around, I was feeling lazy and in 'holiday mode' and didn't feel like practising at all. So I didn't. Pure laziness.

My yoga practice was fine today, despite the fact that I felt like a beluga whale on the mat. Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving and though I didn't stuff myself too badly, I did feel get that weird bloaty feeling from eating so many unusual foods. I spent the holiday with friends and brought my American-style candied sweet potatoes. They initially raised some eyebrows but quickly won converts.

As of today, I'm back to eating healthy and more-or-less on CR. I have no more excuses until Christmas!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 323

I didn't skip any of the vinyasa today, but I'm still not jumping back or through. I'm taking my time with that because I suspect jumps may have been aggravating the problem with my back. Still, I can feel my strength coming back and it's fantastic.

This illness, and coming back to the practice after a hiatus, has shown me how amazing Ashtanga truly is. The changes in my body during the first year were so slow and subtle that I couldn't really appreciate how incredibly strong and flexible I had become. With my 'beginners mind' and a new perspective, I'm now in awe of my own body.

Today, I smoothly moved through the new routine I've created for myself - a very, very gentle version of Ashtanga, Primary Series up to Navasana. I'm still doing Urdhva Dhanurasana - just once - before closing and enjoying it.

I’m particularly enjoying shoulderstand these days. I wasn't able to do the pose for months because of that shoulder injury but the shoulder feels fine now. The only thing holding me back from really rocking the closing poses are my tight hamstrings. Just being able to do shoulderstand feels miraculous and fun. Yesterday and today, I did Urdhva Padmasana and was overjoyed!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day 322

My arms no longer hurt. And my back doesn't hurt either because I'm making modifications to protect it.

Deep in my heart, I've finally come to accept my practice as it is. At the moment, it's not that great. And that's fine.

I'm backing off, listening to my body (something I always implore my students to do). I've started to modify without feeling like it's cheating. My strength is coming back quickly - Chaturangas were better today. Soon I'll be doing vinyasa between sides again. The biggest issue is now flexibility, specifically, my hamstrings. And the tight hamstrings are contributing to the cramping in my low back, I'm certain of it.

My hamstrings are really, really tight. How tight? Well, I'm barely resting the tips of my fingers on the floor in Uttanasana and using a yoga brick for the standing postures. My head no longer reaches the floor in the Prasaritas. For the time being, I've swapped out Janu Sirsasana with Supta Padangustasana, but using a strap. I'm doing everything I can to gradually lengthen my hamstrings.

Funny, I can do Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, I just can't straighten my leg :-D

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Day 321

I just had to take a break late last week. After doing my own practice and teaching four classes on Wednesday, I was so deeply exhausted. I opted out of Ashtanga and opted in for three loads of laundry.

That was a good decision - among other reasons, I was out of socks. :-D Also, I woke up on Friday feeling absolutely wretched: headache, body aches, bone-deep-exhaustion. Clearly, I was sapped out from two days of teaching. I don't teach on Friday right now, so I had the day to recover. I slept until noon, got up briefly to eat and walk the dog, then went back to bed.

On Saturday, I was feeling better. Today, I spent an hour on the mat with Sharath's soothing voice leading me. I practised up to Navasana and did closing. I'm still feeling some cramping in my lower back/sacrum during my practice. This is a brand new problem and I'm not sure what to make of it. Some instinct led to me do one Urdhva Dhanurasana and it felt really good, so I think I'll keep that in my practice from now on.

I really appreciated C's comment on my last post regarding recovering from illness and how it affects yoga practice. I first returned to my practice with a deep determination to continue where I had left off, or to at least do the full Primary Series. *shakes head* This is clearly impossible for me right now. I've been humbled by my newly-weak body.

But during my practice today, I really noticed my breathing with great clarity. If I'm honest, I will admit that back in June, I wasn't practising with a strong Ujjayi breath; it was a bit flakey and inconsistent. Since I can't go as deeply into poses now and I'm struggling with new tensions in my body, my practice is all about the breath!

And I do need to cut my self some slack right now, particularly since I'm still a full-time yoga teacher. My class schedule (which is mercifully light at the moment) has been very challenging for me. By months end, I'll be teaching a full schedule and I need to be ready for that. Patience, hard work, rest and recovery will be key.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Day 320

My Fall teaching schedule kicked in this week and today I'm teaching four classes. I practised yoga in the morning, managing to squeeze in an hour before leaving to teach my noon class.

I had a sweaty, sore practice. Yes, still feeling sore. I'm also still plagued by lower back spasms, but find that doing cat/dog tilts between poses helps to ease tension in my low back. Today, the spasms didn't hit until I started the seated poses, which makes me suspect that forward bending (and tight hammies) is the culprit. I was too exhausted at the end to do a proper closing sequence or headstand. I'm not yet doing Urdhva Dhanurasana - the very idea is incomprehensible.

It will be interesting to see how I feel after teaching three more classes tonight. I'm looking forward to teaching, but I'm a bit worried about my endurance. I've been walking with the dog every day (my usual 45 minute walk) and my diet is much, much better. I'm back to CR and I'm able to eat vegetables again (for a short time after my illness, I had an aversion to everything except toast and white rice).

In general, my energy levels are lower than usual and I often feel tired. I usually try to nap in the late morning or early afternoon. The other day, I slept 11 hours overnight and still fell into a deep sleep for two hours in the afternoon. I never sleep this much! It's almost comical!

I teach four more classes tomorrow. I'm already looking forward to Friday - I don't have anything scheduled on that day and I plan to lay around with a book and snooze!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 319

Today was a bit better, but boy, am I ever sore! Also, yesterday afternoon I fell into bed and slept for two hours after my practice, clearly exhausted by the effort.

My arms are shoulders are aching. My low back felt fine (until I started to do my practice, then...ug). My legs are sore - this is unrelated to yoga though. On Sunday, I was impatient while waiting for elevator so I took the stairs - all 15 flights - down. I was fine yesterday, but this morning I woke up to painful calves. My hamstrings hurt. My neck is a bit stiff.

However, that shoulder pain that was bothering me earlier in the summer is nowhere to be found. If it wasn't for my tight hammies, I would totally be able to do Halasana!

I'm doing vinyasa between postures, but not between sides. By the end of my practice (Navasana, then closing), I'm shaking with exhaustion. This feels far more difficult than when I first started Ashtanga. I hope it gets better!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 318

I'm back.

It's been a long recovery - far longer than I ever anticipated. I'm usually so strong and healthy, it was a tough adjustment suddenly being very ill and being required to take bed rest. Even then, I was stubbornly determined to get back to my daily activities when I got out of the hospital. During those first days, I tried to take the dog out for a long walk but returned home after a few minutes, absolutely exhausted. I unrolled my mat but was too exhausted to even sit for very long. I slept a lot but had little appetite for food. I lost a lot of weight. I've gained some of it back, but my diet has been terrible.

I only had a few more weeks left at my contract, so I decided to focus all my energies on finishing it up (I was done on the 19th). The plan was to return to my Ashtanga practice the following week. I did try to practice on the 22nd, but 5 A's and 5 B's completely exhausted me. I spent the rest of the week resting, taking occasional walks to build my endurance, and working on small projects around home.

Today, I unrolled the mat for real with the intention of doing the full Primary Series for the first time in months (I had been doing a modified version of the series during the contract because of time constraints). I only managed to practice through Navasana. And I finished in a puddle of sweat. I'm absolutely stunned by how much strength I've lost in a month. I had to start modifying Chaturanga Dandasana because my arms were shaking from the effort. My hamstrings are so tight I can't touch the floor and my low back was having spasms. I've lost much of my core strength.

I feel like I'm going back to the very beginning.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On the mend

Just a quick update. I realise I left you all hanging. Apologies for that!
I was released from the hospital into my partner's care. By Saturday night, I was feeling well enough to join friends for a dinner out, though I didn't eat very much. On Sunday night, I went back to my own apartment, cleaned and did some laundry in preparation for the week ahead.
I'm still not up to full strength - I'm very weak and get tired easily. I taught a class and did a half-hour of restorative yoga on Saturday morning and I was absolutely wiped out afterward. I've done no yoga since then. Clearly, my Ashtanga practice is on hiatus for the immediate future while I recover. Even meditation is difficult because I'm often in pain and sitting is tiring.
At the moment, I literally have no appetite! Foods that I normally covet, like ice cream, cake, candy and cookies just turn my stomach (my sweet tooth is broken!). I can't even drink green tea. Water seems to be the only beverage that appeals to me. For now, I'm sticking with simple, bland foods: prepared soups and low-sodium Ritz crackers. I've been drinking a meal-replacement shake every morning in an effort to maintain some level of nutrition.
I'm still in some pain and my sleep is disrupted. According to my doctor, things should improve significantly for me in the next day or two. In a week, I should be back to my old self.
In terms of yoga, I was amazed by how tight my entire body is. It's like my body crumped up into a fist from the pain and the trauma. I'm also releasing a lot of toxins and I smell 'funny'. I normally don't have a body odour, but I certainly do right now! And I'm astonished by how weak I am. I hope that I haven't lost my strength completely when I do get back to my practice.
In some ways this illness has been really bad timing but on the other hand, I'm really glad it didn't happen in October when I was carrying a full-time teaching schedule. I guess there's never a 'good' time to end up in hospital. I'm just glad I'm out and on the mend.
Thank you for all of your kind emails and comments! I'll be back soon...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Out sick

I've been very ill for three days. Going to hospital now. Will update soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 317

Okay, I'm back. Ladies Holiday hit me like a tonne of bricks this month. I was out of commission for a full three days and needed one day extra to recover (that never happens). I hit the mat at 5:30 this morning and it felt good to stretch.

I'm still doing the short form. My Grand Plan to do a longer practice this week never materialised. Maybe this weekend...or maybe not. I have a feeling I'll get my full practice back when I leave this job.

Just three more weeks...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 316

I had an interesting practice today - I didn't practice at the apartment. Instead, I practised at my partner's house. I can't remember the last time I practised in a different space. It might have been on the beach during my camping trip last year.
I woke on my own at 5:30 a.m., tottered sleepily down the hall to the front room, where my old Maha mat was already unrolled. With minimal fuss, I did my practice (at that time of morning, I'm generally too sleepy to stall). I like to face east, so I found a way to do that and I found a wall to steady myself against for Utthita Hasta Padangustasana and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (since my balance is still wonky). The room was warm, but there's a door I can open if I need some air.
As I was finishing up, I happened to glance out the door where I could see the dog on a step, waiting for me to finish. I invited her in as I did my last few poses, then I 'took rest' while cuddling with the dog.
I'm housesitting for the next week, so I'll be practising in this yoga space for the next several days. I've never had a separate yoga space to practise in, so it should be interesting. I'm also hoping to start expanding my practise back into the full primary series. I figure this is a nice opportunity to focus on my practice, since work is slow-er.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 315

I rolled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. into a very enjoyable practice. Sweaty, calming, lit by a pink sky. I wasn't sure if I would actually do my practice - my life is shifting and expanding. I'm seeing someone and that someone stayed over last night. But somehow, it just felt right. So I got up, quietly unrolled my mat and did it.

And it was fine. One more puzzle piece gently settling into place in this new routine. I was worried that in my new life of 'we' and 'us' there might not be space for my yoga practice, but there is, and it feels better than ever.

This is turning out to be my best year, my best summer!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 314

Yesterday morning, practice simply didn't happen. When I awoke, I realised that it just wasn't practical, so I let it go.
I had a wonderful weekend with my new friend. :-) We happily spent our days awash in a happy daze of domesticity: walking the dog, talking to neighbours, preparing meals together, going out for brunch (and savouring a fabulous mushroom risotto at a sidewalk cafe in Little Italy).
We made a terrific team mowing the lawn and doing yardwork. Two people can accomplish four times as much as one - and it was so much fun because we really enjoy each other's company.
This morning, it was really and truly back to reality. I rolled out of bed onto my mat at 5:30 a.m. and did my practice. Practice is easy when it's routine - it's when it's not routine that it all falls apart.
I think I need to start forming new routines - ones that incorporate this new life I'm building. All of the (mostly positive) changes I've experienced this summer are forcing me to fit my practice into brand new contexts. The shoulder injury continues to demand that I modify my sequence. My two-month contract introduced a time-squeeze. My new relationship is pulling my energies in different directions.
I believe this change is all normal and wonderful and it's a brilliant segue into my last 50 days of the Primary Series, as I begin to explore how Ashtanga will be part of my life moving forward.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 313

I had an ordinary, kind of wonderful practice this morning and that's saying a lot, considering that it was 4:00 a.m. when I stepped on the mat.
I did the short form, but I added Mari B just because I miss it and I did Urdhva Dhanurasana because I sometimes feel like I'm not 'pushing my edge' enough in my practice and backbends always do that for me.
My shoulder felt just a tiny bit tender.
Yes, I know it's a moon day but I really wanted to take the weekend off, so that's what I'm going to do: no yoga until Monday. I'm ready to be a sloth!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 312

I've developed a fabulous skill over these busy weeks: I can roll right out of bed and onto the mat and start my practice. From stillness to buzzing activity in less than 30 seconds. And it doesn't stop for the rest of the day. Last night after a full day at my office job, I taught an evening yoga class, biked home, briefly phoned the Girlfriend and went to sleep. I got 9.5 hours of rest and I really, really needed it.

Of course, now that I'm caught up on sleep, I'm behind on everything else. I've stumbled upon a great new CR strategy: It's called "Too tired and busy to eat supper". My lunches and snacks have been very strong on the nutrition side so I can get away with this. And if I'm sleeping, I'm not mindlessly snacking. Not preparing an elaborate supper frees up time to catch up on other things. I make up for my culinary laziness on Tuesdays, when the Girlfriend comes over for supper. This week, we had sushi.

Life is Beautiful

Practice this morning was the short form. I know, I know, I said I was going back to a full practice, but for now, this is what I can do. Yoga isn't the only part of my life that is being neglected. The apartment hasn't been cleaned, the laundry needs to be done, the fridge needs to be cleaned out.

I only have the energy to feel guilty about one thing at a time and today it was this blog - I've fallen behind on my entries. Rest assured, I'm still practising, albeit abbreviated and distracted and often exhausted.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 311

I reluctantly rolled out of bed at 5:30 and onto the mat this morning. I did the short form again and again, my shoulder is feeling sore. It still bothers me at night and first thing in the morning. Yoga does help and this morning, I laid on top of two tennis balls. It felt simultaneously horrible and terrific. I could feel the muscles along my spine twitching as they released. My poor erector muscles...I have no idea what I did to them.

I ate a healthy lunch and supper yesterday, but I wasn't hungry for either. I felt like a snake who had swallowed a mouse and was waiting for it to digest. Today, I finally got my appetite back, though I wasn't famished. The Buddha Belly is receeding. I really, really don't like feeling so swollen and I could observe the impact this has on my energy levels. This is a great inspiration to avoid the junk food. I had an opportunity to grab some yoghurt-covered almonds while I was at the store this evening and I happily passed them right by. I'm really feeling keen for my greens and other healthy fare.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 310

I felt overstuffed and very round today in my practice. It didn't feel very good, but at least I practised.

Last night, we capped off our weekend of decadence with a trip to my favourite low-brow Mexican restaurant, Sneaky Dee's. There was guacomole, chips and a humungous veggie burrito to plow through. This is one of my favourite things to eat in the city (their veggie fajitas are also good). Afterward, we shared a strawberry-and-vanilla-ice-cream crepe at the Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe in Little Italy.

Then I rolled home in the wee hours.

I really, really need to get back to CR and my healthy eating habits this coming week. Although I greatly enjoyed my weekend of excessive dining and sloth, I'm not feeling very good today.

I don't think this Buddha Belly is going to make me any more Buddha-like in my outlook ;-)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 309

I was a bad Ashtangi yesterday and skipped my practice. I was out late the night before attending a film festival in a nearby city with my girlfriend. It was lots of fun (the reception was fabulous - two words: sushi. buffet). Since I didn't get to sleep until after 1, I ended up with less than four hours of sleep.

I numbly stumbled through my day and fell into a deep, dreamful sleep on the shuttle ride home. Then I slept some more on the subway. Then some more at home, nearly sleeping through our 8:30 dinner reservation at Bangkok Garden, a poncy Thai place downtown. A friend from San Francisco was in town visiting and we had a fun night.

The food was absolutely spectacular! We ordered a variety of appetizers and entrees. The vegetable soup was just mediocre, but everything else was fresh, flavourful and decadent. Eggplant stirfry, red thai curry, tradional pad thai and a wonderful tofu dish. There was coconut ice cream for dessert and to decadent to the decadence, we went to a cafe in my neighbourhood for tea and chocolate mousse cake. A CR night, it was not. But it was lovely!

True confession: I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm technically a pescatarian these days; I take cod liver oil as a supplement and occasionally eat fish and seafood. I've gradually started adding more fish to my diet - often putting wild-caught smoked salmon in my maki rolls. But I adore scallops and last night, I ate them for the first time in 17 years. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Practice this morning was heavy. I practised at the gym, after teaching a class. I did the short form because my shoulder is bothering me again. And also because my life feels too full these days. I'm struggling not to react with stress to all of the various demands being placed on me by the new roles in my life.

I'm absolutely not complaining, though. Life is good!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 308

This morning, I did the Primary Series up to Navasana without skipping any poses. I think I'll be stopping at this point for a few days, as my body adjusts to a more intense practice. It felt good. I can't bind to wrist in Mari D anymore, but everything else was the same. Halasana and shoulderstand were dodgy. The muscles in my back feel very short these days. I hope I'm able to get this part of my practice back - it's frustrating!

My girlfriend listened patiently while I yammered on about my yoga practice last night - afterward, I realised that most of it probably went over her head. But she's very supportive of my practice.

All of the quirks that I thought might difficult in the context of a relationship have turned out to be non-issues. She's not bothered by my yoga or my practice of CRON. She appreciates that I can be flexible with both. So far, I've managed to maintain CR, even with our frequent meals out at restaurants. Earlier in the week, she came over for supper and I served a vegetarian, CR friendly meal. (she's astounded by the amount of food that I consume; I wasn't aware my salads are so huge!). I guess I'm not so weird after all!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 307

I skipped practise this morning in favour of sleeping in, but promised myself that I would spend some time on my mat in the evening, after teaching a class, walking the dog, making my lunch for tomorrow and the kazillion other things I need to do. But I did it and it was fantastic!

My shoulder has been feeling better and tonight, I added a bunch of 'problem poses' back into the short form, including UD, shoulderstand and headstand. It felt magical to do backbends again! (I'm sure I'll get over it...) I even did a handstand. I'm relieved that I haven't lost my abilities in these poses. My backbend probably needs some work, but I was able to hop/push up into handstand, lift my legs into headstand. I've lost Urdhva Padmasana, though.

It's been so long since I did the Primary Series proper that I'm actually hungry for it. I wonder how much of my lethargy and weight gain is due to not doing a proper practice. All I know is that I haven't felt 'right' since I stopped.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 306

Although I'm grateful for the opportunity to work this summer, I'm feeling a bit overscheduled. Last night I went to bed late, so I slept in a bit this morning to compensate. As a result, I didn't have time to go for a long walk and I just barely squeezed in my practice. Breakfast was rushed. I hate feeling rushed.

I have a lot on my plate these days. I'm still teaching three classes each week and the commute to this contract makes for a long workday. My social life has blossomed, both with dating and spending time with good friends.

My shoulder felt crampy and weird this morning. For days, I'll feel better then I'll wake up in the morning and it suddenly feels worse. No rhyme or reason. I don't get it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Day 305

I enjoyed a quiet morning around home, took time for a leisurely practice then ate my breakfast on the balcony and took the dog out for a long walk. Today is the 'civic holiday' here in Canada. In Ontario, it's Simcoe Day, named after Lord Simcoe. I'm very grateful to Lord Simcoe for the day off!

In the afternoon, I met up with my new sweetheart for a picnic in my favourite park (it's her favourite park too!) and a lot of lazing around. I'm feeling deeply relaxed and totally not ready for the week to start tomorrow.

I'm still doing the short form and I'm really beginning to miss the full primary series, especially the inversions. I nicked a couple of tennis balls from a club I work at and I've been laying over those in Savasana, gradually rolling the balls down my back on either side of my spine to massage the erector muscles, which I suspect are the root cause of my ongoing 'shoulder problem.'

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 304

I got a quick practise in this morning before heading off to the market and then teaching my Saturday class. I really didn't feel like doing yoga today, but I suspect that I won't be practising tomorrow morning because I'll likely be out late tonight (enjoying a sushi dinner with the sweet woman I'm seeing - yes, it's going well).

I felt very aware of my breath during my practice and it made me realise how many things I've let slide since my shoulder problems and switching to the short form. I haven't been very focused on Ujjayi breathing, haven't been engaging the bandhas and it really shows in my practice. Everything feels floppy and unfocused. I need to change this.
No practice tomorrow morning. I'm heading out to 'the country' with friends for a beach picnic, swimming and kayaking. It's a holiday weekend here. I'm all giddy with joy because I don't have to go to work on Monday.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 303

I did a quick practice this morning, fully aware of the internal churning that always precedes my Ladies' Holiday. A few hours later, it started.

This is actually great timing; an Ashtanga vacation. I'll have three days off, then the Moon Day (which I'm observing on Friday), then the Saturday. I intend to do some gentle Hatha Yoga during this time to continue to stretch my shoulder. It has been feeling much better over the past few days.

I'm really looking forward to sleeping in for a few days!

I'll be back on Sunday.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 302

So much for taking Saturdays off instead of Sundays. I just didn’t feel like practising yesterday. To do so would have put a rush on my weekly trip to the farmer's market and after a week of rushing around, I was craving downtime. So I practised this morning (Sunday) instead.

I had a good practice - very slowly and mindfully meandered through the short form. Today's theme was breath. I felt very light and soft.

I went out on a fabulous date on Friday - this was one that I actually looked forward to, since it was with someone I had met in 'real life', rather than online. She treated me to a scrumptious meal at this incredible café, we took a walk down through the city, then caught funky art film. It was a great night. She doesn't seem fazed by my early-morning Ashtanga schedule (though she was curious what past girlfriends thought of it) or my practice of CR.

We're meeting up again today for bicycling and the beach.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 301

Yesterday evening was less than optimal.
I decided to walk home from the shuttle-drop, stopped by Whole Food$, was treated rudely by a cashier, then insult was added to injury when the skies opened up as soon as I continued my walk home. I was drenched.  The protein bars I bought on sale turned out to have deceptive packaging: I bought them because they were touted to have150 calories per serving, but one bar actually constitutes *three* servings (making them next to useless for someone on CR). I'd take them back, except I had already opened them to split them in half for my snacks next week.  They're now in the freezer, to be eaten 'someday' or foisted on my Non-CR friends (they're actually quite yummy, the bars, not my friends :D ).
Deterred by dark skies and torrential rains, I sent out an email to cancel the yoga class I teach in the park.  30 minutes later, it *completely* cleared up, sunny, beautiful, sparkly, despite a forecast for rain all evening. *headdesk* This compounded my feelings of overwhelmed frustration and I didn't even enjoy my 'time off'.  Instead, I phoned Whole Food$ to complain about the rude cashier (they promised to investigate and offered me a gift card).  Then Bell Canada phoned about a rate hike on my DSL. *argh*  I spent the next half-hour doing battle with Customer Service.  Then I cut my hair (yes, I cut my own hair) so I'd have a feeling of accomplishing *something* positive.  And I went to bed early.
Even glass-half-full people have the occasional rough day.
And that concludes the kvetch portion of this post.  Now for the yoga installment:
Mornings are so much easier when I get enough sleep.  That's my goal for next week: Enough sleep.
I think it's debatable whether my practice lately even qualifies as 'Ashtanga'.  I still do the sun salutations and vinyasa between poses, but this week, I dropped all jumps from my vinyasas.  This is a ploy to rest my shoulder and I think it's working. I'm also doing a routine of neck, shoulder and upper back stretches that I put together for myself, based on my knowledge of anatomy and similar problems I've seen with my students.  Results so far?  My shoulder is feeling much better. Nights are usually the worst when everything tightens up, but I really didn't notice it very much last night so I'm optimistic.
I'm also enjoying my practices a lot more.  Perhaps it's the sleep, perhaps it's the lack of expectation, but something has shifted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 300

Woo hoo! It's Day 300!

I didn't practice yesterday. The sad truth is, I haven't been getting enough sleep. With my existing sleep deficit from the camping trip last weekend, I was growing deeply exhausted as the week progressed. Yesterday, I woke up at my usual time and realised that I just couldn't do it. I went back to sleep.

So last night, I went to bed early. Since I already go to bed early by most people's standards, it felt silly turning in even earlier (it was still light out). But I managed to get to sleep, then I woke up in the middle of the night thinking it was time to get up (because I had been sleeping for about 5 hours already). But I had a good night of sleep and I'm feeling better this morning.

I had a low key practice this morning. I've scaled back to the original 'short form' and added a series of neck and shoulder stretches to my routine. They really seemed to help . I'll do this for a few days and see how it works for me.

I'm struggling to maintain my CR while working this office contract. While I made a vow to only eat food I bring (and not to spend a penny at the variety of junk food vendors on site), there's something about sitting at a desk for hours on end that makes me *hungry*, actually physically famished. I know it's not the tremendous energy expenditure (though perhaps it is, just from the stress. ug.).

In reviewing my food diary over the past week, I discovered that I had forgotten to add my lunchtime samosa into my calculations *oops*, so I was eating about 200 more calories than I thought. I know this doesn't sound like a lot, but it does explain why I've *gained* weight this week when I was hoping to shed a couple of pounds.

For the next week, I'll try to stick to a weight loss level of CR. My goal for the moment is to lose 2lbs. Then I'll re-evaluate and see how I feel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 299

My shoulder is still bothering me. I can do plow and a very weak shoulderstand, but usually not in the morning. I don't know if my shoulderstand is crooked because I'm out of practice or because of the tightness in my shoulder. It's all a big mystery and one that will not likely be solved by traditional medicine, but rather by a trip to the chiro or an osteopath. I want my massage therapist to have a look and nudge me in the right direction.

I hate body-drama.

The new contract is okay. It certainly is different. I've been thrown to the sharks and they're not lawyers: I'm working in health care rather than legal. Surprisingly, I'm doing fine with the terminology. It's the procedures that are driving me nuts. No civil procedure here, kids. It's all about different coloured papers, files with funny names and letters written in illegible longhand full of arcane terminology that has me scrambling for Google. And no one bothered to train me. I forgot to mention that part: I've been flying by the seat of my pants. When I'm nervous, I chew my fingers to bits. Ugly.

On the other hand, I'm making happy fistfuls of money which I will eventually put in my savings account. After I've finished buying clothes and DVDs, that is! ;-)

Anyways, I woke up at 4 a.m. like a good little ashtangi and did my modified practice. I love the way I sweat buckets even in the cool morning air. I love the candles on my altar. I love the way the practice flows and there is nothing to distract me from it at that early hour. I just hate getting up for it.

This evening, I taught a class and it was such a relief to get back to teaching yoga: Greeting the students, reading the room, breathing, counting, adjusting, suggesting, soothing. Afterward, I felt better.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 298

The camping trip was really a mixed bag. By Thursday night I was freaking out because nothing was packed, I need to go grocery shopping and I hadn't prepared any food. I woke up in the wee hours on Friday to pack and shop for food. On a whim, I headed to Canadian Tire (it's like an 'everything store') to buy a new tent and a fancy schmancy air mattress (the latter item absolutely *transformed* my camping experience; I've never slept so well in a tent). Yes, the era of the 1-man 'pup tent' has ended. I knew that the pup tent wasn't waterproof and rain was forecast.

Sure enough, Friday afternoon, we arrived in a rainstorm. I managed to get my new (roomy! fabulous!) dome tent up in a lull before the torrential downpour resumed. In another lull, we put a tarp up and that's where we ate supper: under the tarp. But Saturday dawned sunny and fabulous and stayed that way all day, despite an 80% forecast of rain. I went for a long hike, swung in my hammock and visited with friends.

Saturday night? Rain. Sunday morning? More rain. Breaking down camp in the downpour was less than fun and we left early, missing out on a full day of potential outdoor activity (hiking! canoeing! hammock-swinging!), had the weather been better.

Sunday night, my balcony was covered - in fact, it's still covered - with soaking wet, muddy camping equipment. And now I have no time to pack it up. Egad. I may get to it on Wednesday.

As for yoga, Friday was a moon day, Saturday was my day off. Sunday? An army of Ashtanga Enforcers could not have dragged me to my mat yesterday. I was numb with exhaustion and slept all afternoon and into the evening.

This morning, I was on the mat by 4:15, doing the short form - the very short form since I scaled back this morning. I'm unhappy with my shoulder, with my practice, with my weight (I've put on at least 5 lbs).

Alas, I really have no time to do anything about it. So I'm doing what I can.

My new mantra: “I will do my best”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 297

Woke up to pouring rain and thunder this morning. The dog whining outside the door of the closet to be 'let in' so she could hide away. Practice was slow, sluggish and I didn't go for my walk. I ended up leaving for work a bit early, which was handy, since I now have permission to shift to a slightly earlier schedule. I still teach in the evenings, so this gives me a bit of breathing room.

I took the dog for a quick walk around the neighbourhood before heading off to teach a class. I noticed that my favourite used bookstore is shut down. The owner was a small, strange man with a great love of the Harry Potter books. I bought all of mine from his store, including the very last book, last summer. I stopped by prior to my camping trip to see if he would cut me a break and give it to me a day early, but he was true to the hype: he made me wait until the book was officially released.

This is a photo of his cat, Emma, lounging in the window of his first store. I'll miss him, the cat, the memories and the musty, fusty atmosphere of this disorganised but beloved store.

Emma and The Bookman

Tomorrow: Moonday
This weekend: The annual camping trip in the Kawarthas. Rain is forecast - fooey! Send some drysunnyweather energy my way!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 296

Uh...be careful what you wish for.

Last week, I was twiddling my thumbs and bored out of my mind. This week, I'm in full freak-out mode because everything is happening at once. I feel like one of those cartoon characters on a speeding treadmill that I can't get off of.

Today, the grim reality of this camping trip that I have done absolutely nothing to plan for struck me full force. Then my ride up to the campground decided that she's too sick to go. Had to arrange another ride. And did I mention that I still haven't bought rope for the hammock and the tarp? Need to go to Canadian Tire for that. The MEC store phoned to let me know that the items I had on order had come in.

Finally, feeling overwhelmed, I left work early and headed downtown to run my errands. And it was fine. Got the rope. Picked up the stuff. Came home and sorted it out. My menu is planned and I have a packing list for the trip. I can do the grocery shopping on Friday morning (we don't leave until the afternoon).


Yoga: Bright and early at 4:30 a.m., I did the short form. This morning was special because I actually got enough sleep for a change. I collapsed in an exhausted heap at 8:30 last night - it finally caught up with me, I guess.

Funny how there's no procrastinating or stalling at this godawfulearly hour. If I dawdle, I'll be late, so I just DO the practice and it's SO not a big deal. It amazes me that it used to be such a drama getting on the mat. No drama these days! I practice and it's done and I go for a walk and it's done and then there's breakfast and I watch Joe climb up the tower into his Crane Pod and then I'm off to work. I actually leave for work earlier than I used to get up.

I guess I just needed a fire lit under my asana.

Prasarita Padottanasana B rejoined the morning line-up. I'll see how that goes, then add another pose back in next week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 295

Yesterday, I overslept a bit because I just couldn't peel myself out of bed. As a result, I was in a rush and I hate being rushed. That thought was enough to get me out of bed this morning quickly and without complaint - I value my morning routine. Right now, my wake-up call is 4:30 a.m. This gives me time to practice, take the dog for a long walk, get cleaned up, eat a leisurely breakfast and get out the door in plenty of time to bike to the pick-up point for the express shuttle.

I'm working at a location north of the city, but there's a shuttle bus that picks up from a downtown satellite office. They have bike racks in a secure area - important because bikes are often stolen in my city. It's a 15 minutes ride to the pick-up point and another 20 on the shuttle. Not too bad, and I can read (or sleep) on the way. I wonder how I'll feel about it in two months?

Practice has been good - really good, considering the big life adjustment I'm making right now. The apartment is dark at that hour of the morning, so I practice by candlelight. I'm gradually adding poses back into the short form I'm working on. A few days ago, I added the revolved standing poses. My balance is really lousy before dawn! ;-) Tomorrow, Prasarita Padottanasana B will reappear. Slowly, but surely.

I need to get more sleep, though. I'm falling asleep at the keyboard and it's only 7:21 p.m.!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 294

Up early. Peeled myself reluctantly from my comfy bed. Dark apartment, lit candles and did my practice. Walked the dog. Breakfast eaten while watching Joe The Crane Operator carefully climb up five levels of ladders to his control pod. Public transit to my new job assignment because I didn't yet have an I.D. for the shuttle. Hot, crowded.

New assignment: I was told that I would be floater and start training on reception. But I wasn't there three hours before I was promoted to a higher level administrative position. By the end of the day, I had my own large office with a beautiful view of a nature preserve and a quiet, unpretentious gentleman as my new boss. Wonders never cease. I don't know how I luck out like this, but I do. I wish this synchronicity would carry over into my love life.

Going from all-the-time-in-the-world to no-time-to-think will be an interesting adjustment. The time crunch is tremendous!

But I'm liking it so far.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 293

So what's up with all the sore left shoulders in the Cyber Shala these days? I have one. Alfia has one and so does Chitta Vritti. I did a search for 'shoulder injury' on the EZBoard and a bunch of relevant posts came up. Is it all the Chaturanga Dandasana we do?

I didn't take the muscle relaxants last night and woke up in quite a bit of pain. It immediately diminished after I did a few simple stretches. Now, it feels absolutely fine. I guess my shoulder tightens up overnight - I will probably take the muscle relaxants for a while longer, just so my sleep isn't affected.

After I picked up my weekly supply of Samosas at the farmer's market this morning, I went to the studio early and did my own practice before my students arrived. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed practising in this environment - I really love the energy it brought to the room for my class afterward. I did the short form and played around with headstand. I can come up with no problem and hold the pose, but half-bend puts too much pressure on my shoulder. I decided not to do shoulderstand at all today.

I know it's not traditional, but I'm seriously considering moving my 'day off' to Sunday. Since I teach on Saturday, it makes a lot of sense for me to do my practice on this day. Sunday is my routine 'day of rest' in every other respect and it would be nice to have a full day off free of all commitments, yoga included.

After class today, I did something very fun and, for me, out of the ordinary: I went shopping for clothes. I lost quite a bit of weight last year and had to replace my 'casual' winter wardrobe. Thanks to a 'skinny phase' I went through a couple of summers ago, I had some shorts and skirts that fit me (well, they're a little too big, but they look okay) for casual wear this summer. But I no longer own any 'work clothes' to wear for my upcoming contract.

So I went to Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), a Canadian outdoor and travel store. The work environment I will be in starting Monday is 'business casual' and I was hoping to find some comfortable, tailored travel clothing. MEC didn't disappoint! I found two pairs of stretchy, breathable slacks, and four shirts.

To round out my summer wardrobe, I bought a new pair of 'camp pants' (Patagonia pants with zip-off legs to create shorts) for my upcoming camping trip. My old camp pants no longer fit me, but I don't have the heart to give them away (I love those pants), so they're stashed away in the closet. I also bought a pair of much-coveted Keen sandals. I've been admiring these all summer and I'm thrilled to finally have a pair!

So I'm all fluttery with the excitement of New! Clothes! and enjoying a quiet afternoon out on the balcony, reading and hanging out with my dog. Perfect weekend so far!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 292

If I titled these posts, this one would be called “Manifest”.

All that good energy I sent yesterday apparently found its way to my agency because within hours of 'dedicating my practice' to the agency ladies, one of them phoned me with a possible assignment. It was confirmed this afternoon and I'm now booked to work a two-and-a-half month administrative contract. It's potentially interesting work, pays well and I can bike to the office. I start on Monday. Helllooooo 5:00 a.m. yoga practices. Good-bye free time.

I'm really excited!

I spent the day finishing up the items on my to-do list. cleaning, grocery shopping and prepping food for next week. I was so busy being busy that I actually forgot that I hadn't practised yet. It finally occurred to me as I was doing the dishes. So I took my mat out on the balcony and did my sweet little Short Form. I spontaneously added the Parivritta Trikonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana which is a good sign. And I was able to do shoulderstand for the first time this month. Clearly I'm feeling better!

Today, I dedicated my practice to winning the lottery.

Just kidding. But I did keep all of the fruits of my practice for myself, dedicating them to success in my new gig and for good things to manifest over the balance of the summer. I really could use some good mojo.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 291

As I practised today, I could definitely feel an energy shift - away from self-judgment and self-pity and towards a more positive focus. As one commenter pointed out, at least I *have* my practice. For all that it's scaled back, I'm still doing far more than I was at this time last year, when I was first starting out in Ashtanga. It's all relative.

And although I'm sticking with my practice, I *am* being cautious and listening to my body. I had 5 days off when this problem first manifested and I found that the break from yoga actually made it much, much worse (which is why I did a light practice last Saturday and will likely do so again tomorrow).

Today, I felt a significant improvement. The pain is less cloying and more like an ordinary soreness. I don't notice it at all unless I turn my head a certain way. I really feel like I'm doing the right thing by working the area gently and maintaining my regular activity levels.

Yesterday I ran errands, today I worked on my to-do list of projects. I cleaned and tidied my clothes closet as I was doing laundry. I also tackled the storage closet, resolving to just do the shelf that needed the most attention. Turns out, it was the only shelf that needed attention. Everything else seems to be in good order.

I did some inner-reorganising as well. At the end of Savasana, when I dedicated the fruits of my practice, I turned the focus back on my own situation. I sent my positive energy and the fruits of my practice to hardworking ladies at my agency, who are working on finding a fabulous placement for me (Yes, Cody, I did this in my underwear! Shhhh! Don't tell them!).

I resolved to have faith that everything will unfold as it should.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 290

Today, I didn't even entertain the thought of doing Full Primary. Instead, I resolved to do a slightly beefed-up version of the Swenson short form and to still the voice of my inner-critic. I focused on working very hard at the poses I *am* able to do, while engaging the bandhas and breathing. As a result, it was the best practice I've had in ages and, more importantly, I felt really good about it.

I think on some level, I felt like I was avoiding my practice by opting out of parts of Primary. For now, until this shoulder pain clears up, I think the short form is precisely my speed and exactly what I need to be doing.

I even did a *very* modified version of shoulderstand at the end (the one I teach to my raw beginners in Ashtanga Intro classes) and a long Savasana.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 289

Hot, sweaty afternoon practice today and boy, I wasn't happy about it. I slept in this morning, so the afternoon was my only option. It's almost, but not quite, motivation for me to get up earlier. Unfortunately, for various reasons, dawn practices haven't been in the cards this week.

I didn't do the full Primary Series today. To be honest, I haven't really done a truly 'full' Primary Series since the shoulder pain kicked in. For the past few days, the pain has kind of plateaued. I'm not sure what I should do about this. If I go to a doctor I can predict the answer: don't do yoga. But I found that taking a break from my practice only made this worse. I think it's important that I continue to move my body and stretch the area without overdoing it.

Just for today, I did the Swenson short form. I'll see how I feel tonight and re-evaluate tomorrow.

I'm not sure if it's due to my modified practice, or the fact that my work schedule has dwindled, but I've been feeling very frustrated and melancholy lately; a low-energy sort of ennui. This has made if very difficult to get to the mat, though I seem to do it every day, nonetheless. I'm sure a portion of it is related to the unhappy conclusion of my last love interest. I think I'm also feeling (as predicted) 'at loose ends' during my slow months for teaching. While growing up, my father pounded a stringent Protestant work ethic into me, so I just don't feel content sitting around.

And there are some other things - it all seems to accumulate. It's just been an odd month so far, an odd summer. Summer is usually my favourite season, so it's a shame, but I'm hopeful things will turn around soon.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 288

Uh oh. *Somebody* woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I just couldn't coax myself awake; excessive use of the snooze button. I did the full Primary with my many, many modifications. But I did do the Kurmasanas and even took a stab at Garba Pindasana.

My back is feeling much better. I have regained full range of motion in my neck, but something still feels 'blocked' in my left-upper-back, like a sob that is stuck deep in the chest. I just want...it...it...whatever it is to release. It's like my back needs to have an orgasm. Sorry, I know that's definitely a weird analogy, but that's exactly what it feels like.

In Savasana, I fell fast asleep. I *never* do that. Usually, I have trouble settling down in Savasana. I wonder what's up with that?

I was cranky all day. And moody. I felt out of sorts for the rest of the morning, took a long nap in the afternoon (I had too - I literally could not stay awake). Now I still feel groggy but I have things to do so I really need to rally. The whole day just slipped away from me. Time for supper, but I can't conjure up the motivation for it. I wonder if my body is fighting that bug that's going around and the slow-down is a way of forcing me to rest?

This body is such a mystery to me.


The Big Construction Project going on next door to my building has proven to be vastly entertaining during these long, lazy summer days. In the morning, after practice, I eat my breakfast and I watch the crane operator gingerly climb up 5 levels of ladders to the tiny operators booth at the top. His booth has a small air conditioner, but after he gets up there, he strips off his shirt and shoes. I call him Shoeless Joe.

All day, I watch Joe working. Today, as most days, his crane lifts big bowls of wet concrete over to the construction site where other workers carefully spread and dry it.

Right now (as I write this, out on my balcony), I can see that Joe is winding down. He spent the past ten minutes fixing something on his crane. Maybe by the time I get my supper, he'll be gratefully climbing down his five levels of stops to the earth and going home to eat his own supper.

Full circle, or something like that.

Shoeless Joe, the Crane Operator

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 287

I woke up early this morning all excited about my day: I had plans with a group of friends to drive out to a conservation area for a beach picnic, kayaking and hiking. But instead, I checked my email and discovered a message from the organiser canceling the entire excursion because she woke up in the night with a sore throat.

So instead of practising yoga, I spent my time on the phone, making sure the friend I had invited didn't get on the subway to travel to my place so we could rendezvous with the carpool.

Seriously, who cancels a relaxing excursion to the country because of a sore throat? And just a few hours before the departure? Six people were suddenly stuck with potluck food and no plans for the day. Yes, I feel bad for my friend, but she often overreacts to small things and I'm certain that this was one of those times.

I finally did my practice - quickly breezed through the Swenson short form with little enthusiasm. By that point, it was later in the morning and I was hungry for breakfast. I felt like my routine had been usurped by all the confusion and I was in a mood. I just didn't engaged with my practice.

In the afternoon, Umbrella Girl and I carried out Plan B: we rode the ferry to the island and hiked around, had a picnic under a big tree and laid around on the beach. In the end, it was good day. Any day that includes rhubarb tarts is a good day. :-D

Shoulder is feeling a few degrees better. I skipped shoulderstand and headstand again. I'm finding that supine twists are soothing and use them to replace problem poses in the series.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 286

I did a 'crim' Saturday practice today because I really felt like my body was crying out for it. I woke up this morning in a bit of pain, but practice smoothed out the rough edges and I was actually feeling good by the time I got through the series.

I made all the modifications from yesterday, plus skipped the Kurmasanas and didn't do any kind of closing - just Savasana. No backbends at all.

By the end of practice, I could look over the right and left shoulders without pain, and pain was significantly reduced when looking at my belly-button (as I'm sure you can imagine, this shoulder Snafu has greatly limited my tendency toward naval-gazing...ha, ha, ha! Oh, never mind...).

All in all, I feel better today.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 285

I was up early like a good little Ashtanga trooper and on the mat by 5:30 a.m. After practice, I went for my walk. It was novel to have all of my 'essentials' covered by 8 a.m. It's nice - gave me the rest of the day to be a lazy beast. I spent the day on the beach, sunning myself, and riding my bike. Don't have a job yet so might as well live it up.

My upper back/shoulder area is still bugging me. Certain movements cause a dull ache in the area around my left shoulderblade. The mobility in my neck is very limited. There's some pain in axial rotation, a bit when I look to the right, but a lot when I look to the left. Still, it feels at least 60% better than it did yesterday. I'm trying to limit my time on the computer be mindful of the tension in my shoulders.

I'm loathe to admit this bit of personal weirdness in a public forum, but it's likely the cause of my current 'injury'. Here it is: I like to sleep on the couch. I grew up on a sailboat and frequently slept in spaces that were not beds - couches, benches, v-berths and the like. I like to 'lean' into a wall as I sleep and I find limited space comforting. Last month, when I was struggling with some insomnia, I started sleeping on the futon folded up as a couch. It was the only way I could sooth myself to sleep.

Alas, I think this may have triggered the current problems with my back. So I'm sleeping on my futon like a normal person again. I'm massaging heat-rub into my upper back and taking muscle relaxants before I sleep.

I went easy on myself during practice this morning, making modifications in spots. Supta Konasana and Sarvangasana are out of the question, so I sit those out. I've also been modifying the entrance into Ubhaya Padangusthasana and Urdhva Muka Paschimottanasana, then skipping the bridge that I usually do as a substitute for Setu (a modification for my modification, oh my!).

I did backbends and they felt okay, but very shallow.

This can only get better, right?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Days 283 & 284

I don't know what happened to Day 283 - I know that I *did* practice on Friday and I seem to remember that it was lacklustre and uninspiring, as were most of my practices last week. Apparently, Day 283 just wasn't interesting enough to blog about. More obviously, I needed a break.

Fortunately, fate felt my pain and offered me a yoga vacation. Due to a coincidental combination of a Saturday (day off), 'Ladies' Holiday' (three days off) and a Moon Day (yesterday), I had five whole days of rest! This break coincided very serendipitously with Gay Pride celebrations in my city, so I felt free to par-tay, stay out until the wee hours, sleep in every day (and nap in the afternoons) and eat a horrifying array of non-CR-friendly foods. In short, I had a ball.

Funnel Cake is not CR-Friendly
OMG Funnel Cake III

Now it's back to reality, and confronting the consequences of my life of excess. I'm six pounds heavier than I was a month ago (no joke!). I feel weak and awkward in the sun salutations. That little upper back/left shoulderblade problem that was plaguing me a few months ago is back with a fury. My back and neck were so uncomfortable this morning that I couldn’t do Supta Konasana or Shoulderstand. And the plantar facitis in my left foot flared up over the weekend. Good times.

But I'm determined to get back up on the Ashtanga wagon this month. I need to. This slip of self-discipline in my asana practice is seeping into other areas of my life (diet, meditation). So this morning, I was up at 4 - yes, 4 a.m. and I stumbled through the full Primary Series with Sharath's voice leading the way. I went for a walk (I haven't been walking in order to rest my foot). And, as of Monday, I went back on strict Calorie Restriction, a bit scaled back for weight loss (basically, I've cut out all nuts, wheat and sugar for the time being).

After my horrible, absolutely miserable practice this morning, I booked an appointment with Mr. Beefy Hands, my massage therapist. For 45 minutes, he applied his considerable muscle to my wonky upper back. It was pretty ropey. I just crawled out of an epsom salt bath and I'm now sitting out on the balcony and steaming. The massage was fabulous, but my back is still wonky. Only time will tell if this resolves the issue.

For the month of July, early morning practices are the rule. Let's see if I can stick with it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 282

I had a plan for yesterday: after meeting my lunch date, I would let the food settle a bit, then take my mat out to the park again and do yoga in the sunshine. Except...lunch date wanted to hang out. We ended up going for a walk and I didn't get home until supper time. Then I met up with another date for drinks after supper. This what happens to the best laid plans...no yoga for me yesterday.

It serves as a gentle reminder to me to plan my practices a bit better - preferably, practice in the morning. Of course, that's easy if I'm all fired up and enthusiastic about my yoga practice. If I'm feeling a bit lacklustre and 'blah' about it, it becomes far too easy to feel around for an excuse.

This morning I tackled every single item on my to-do list before finally coaxing myself to the mat for a completely unremarkable practice. But at least I did it. And at least I manage to get some stuff done. I'm counting down the days until July, when I'll very likely be working in an office someplace and wistfully reminiscing about this month, when I had 'so much time.'

But the truth is, I'm a bit bored and feeling at loose ends. It will be good to get back into a solid work routine. You're totally allowed to tease me about this post next month when I'm feeling overburdened! ;-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 281

This afternoon, I headed out to the park with a cheap red yoga mat, mysore rug and the dog. I had Sharath loaded onto my iPod Shuffle (he's a flexible guy). I laid out my mat in a quiet shady spot and did the Primary Series while my dog chewed on sticks and the world buzzed around me. It was fantastic! I have no qualms about doing my practice in a public place - in fact, there's a nice energy to it.

During every surya, my left hand brushed the low-hanging branches of a pine tree. Each time I looked up, I saw leaves, then sky. During headstand, I watched the upside-down cars roll by and thought about how all cars look pretty much the same when you're upside down. The temperature was perfect - not too hot, not too cold. Blissful. I can't believe I hadn't done an outdoor practice yet this summer. Need to do a lot more of it!

As I was practising, three children rode up on scooters. I was in the midst of Ardha Padma Padmottanasana and they were ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over it. So I turned Sharath off and said hello to them - they ended up doing most of the practice with me. They also gathered sticks for the dog to chew and eventually started piling handfuls of grass on my mat to 'make it softer'.

Then their nanny called and they went home for cookies. I turned Sharath back on and did my finishing poses. Afterward, I lolled around on my mat, reading a book. Perfectly content.

All summer days should be exactly like this. Really. No attachment here, no siree! ;-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 280

I'm trying to get back in the habit of morning practice using the Sharath CD to do the full Primary Series. Mixed results so far. I seem to be deeply entrenched in the 'lazy mentality' that comes with a slow work schedule. I've been keeping a very busy social schedule!

I was up until 1 a.m. last night after spending a great evening with friends, so the early thing just didn't happen this morning. I did use the CD but ran out of steam by the time I got to the closing sequence. My closing sequence consisted of one pose: Savasana. But tomorrow is another day...

More observations on dating (right now, dating is pretty much my full-time job, so I think about it a lot):

- The more self-aware someone is, the more aware (and compassionate and tolerant) they seem to be of other people. Those who are not self-aware seem to be naval-gazing and unfocused. I'm starting to realise just how important self-awareness is to me. In fact, it may even be a deal-breaker.

- People are frequently dishonest when dating. The lie tally so far includes: location (claimed to live nearby, actually lives far away), weight (claimed to be slender but is actually quite heavy), employment (no job, unemployed for years), orientation (claimed to be gay, but is straight and experimenting).

- People are really quite fascinating and weaving conversations out of common experiences can be very soul-satisfying. I'm greatly enjoying this aspect of the dating process.

It's been a lot of fun following Krista's reports from Mysore, particularly her synopses of Sharath's conferences. In the latest installment, I learned that I have been binding correctly in Marichyasana A and B. The wrapping arm is the grabbing arm. I've also been exciting Padangustasana incorrectly. I'm very appreciative of Krista's generous efforts to put this information up on her blog - it's very beneficial to Ashtanga practitioners who don't have the resources to go to India.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 279

Friday turned out to be a big day for yoga. In the evening, I attended a Solstice party on a beach. With a view to the west over the water, we celebrated sunset of the longest day of the year with great food and interesting conversation. But before the other guests arrived, my friend (a personal trainer) and I did our respective workouts on the beach.

She did loads of push ups and crunches and body-work that isolated muscle groups. I did the Swenson short form of the Ashtanga Primary Series with some of my favourite poses thrown in for good measure. It was interesting for me to try some of the exercises she was doing. I found some of them hard and some quite easy. I was frankly surprised by some of the things she found very difficult: holding Navasana for any length of time, Urdhva Dhanurasana. I think my overall physical strength surprised her more than my flexibility (it surprised me too, to be honest).

We also had some fun doing cartwheels and handstands on the beach!

Observing her practice as I did my own was really interesting to me - not in the sense of making a judgment or comparison, but in the different skills and benefits found in each. She has great abs (a perfectly flat belly). I can do headstand. She can do many pushups. I can hold Navasna for several mintues (this was news to me, actually!).

My sense is, that Ashtanga provides more of an integrated strength - the different parts of the body are both stronger and more harmonious in their function with one another.

I also believe (and this is judgment) that I enjoyed my practice more. She grunted and moaned and transitioned abruptly from one thing to another, seemingly randomly. I just breathed. And flowed. This practice makes sense to me; to each their own!

Doing Ashtanga on the beach near sunset was absolutely marvellous! The weather was great, temperature was perfect. Doing a headstand with the lake as a drishte is trippy! I enjoyed the sound of the waves lapping up on the sand as I laid in Savasana.

I enjoyed a great day off on Saturday - all the usual, with trips to the market, wandering a street festival, napping. This morning, I was up bright and early at 5 a.m. to practice. I haven't done an early morning practice in a while and I enjoyed it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 278

I jumped back on the taking-my-practice seriously wagon today and did a full, non-nonsense practice using the Sharath CD. Sheesh, he counts slllloooowwwwly! In some ways, it's just easier to listen to Sharath and do everything without fuss (I'm guessing that this is even more true if you're actually in Mysore listening to Sharath). At least, it felt that way today.

This month is speeding by! I can't believe that it's already the Solstice. Tonight, I'm attending a Solstice party on the beach. The coming weekend is jam-packed, with friends, festivals, outdoor plays, and dates.

Yes, I've been dating in a big way. Two dates per week, though this week will probably be off the charts, since I already had two dates over the weekend (both on Sunday, and another cancelled or it would have been three). Who goes on a date at 9:30 on a Sunday morning? Apparently, me! Then I went to a Quaker Meeting, came home for lunch and headed back out to the very same Café for another date. The staff there must think I'm a player! ;-)

The tally is up to 7 dates so far this month and I have a few others I still need to schedule in. I'm learning some interesting things from this process:

- There's a lot of suffering out there (of course I knew that, but some of my worst dates really confirm it); many people do not know how to be happy. Many people are ruled by their pain and cannot see the good things in front of them because they're too busy looking backward. There are some deep lessons in this for me, as I move forward.

- By the time the time our 40s roll around, nearly everyone has some weird, dramatic piece of 'baggage' they're carrying around, whether it's a nervous breakdown, an ill-thought-out marriage (*raises hand*), a stalker ex-girlfriend, unhinged relatives, the ten-year relationship that fell apart, the mental illness, health problems, a partner's suicide...the list goes on. The question is: do you put this stuff on the table on the first date? Apparently, you do...*cringe*

- Chemistry is hard to gauge. I'm a great first date (I also rock job interviews) because I'm warm, engaging and able to carry a conversation with almost anybody (and believe me, on some of my dates, this skill was a real lifesaver!). But it often takes me a long while to really warm up to people. And it takes me even longer to figure out if there's any real chemistry. This can be a disadvantage for online dating because there seems to be an expectation that things will be snappy.

I suspect the last item is the biggest issue for me. It took me 15 months to figure out that I was actually attracted to my last love interest. Emotionally, I'm sometimes a slow learner.

However (as one of my friend is fond of saying), I'll never meet anyone if I don't get out there. So off I go...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 277

I ended up taking the Moon Day after all. As my day unfolded, a practice simply didn't manifest and I was fine with that.

As it was, I had a great Moon Day! The morning was lazy. In the afternoon, I met up with fellow CRONista and blogger April. We enjoyed a fabulous CRON-friendly meal at one of my favourite neighbourhood restaurants and did some shopping (in between rain showers). We even wandered through Honest Ed's! Then we took the subway to the west end of the city and walked in High Park, stopping by the Labyrinth and ending up at the Grenadier Café with green tea and great conversation (lots of talk about CR, yoga and our spiritual pursuits). When I delivered April back to the hotel, her partner MR came down to chat with me!

Great conversation with like minded, bright people always makes me really excited and happy! And now I'm all the more eager to attend a CR convention.

Practice today, alas, was sluggish and slow. I've been meeting up with friends all week and eating foods that I'm unaccustomed too. For example, I normally don't eat very much salt and I think the amount I've been consuming lately has caused me to retain water and bloat. My body feels bruised and swollen. I'm considering fasting tomorrow to re-introduce some equilibrium back into my system.

I think my body is also still affected by the cold I had on Monday. I'm nearly back to 100% (just a mild sniffle remains), but occasionally I feel sapped out.

My practice ebbs and flows - right now it's ebbing. Soon it will flow again.