Sunday, October 31, 2010


I had a horrible, horrible practice this morning. I felt stiff and creaky and weak. I was tired. My hamstring was cranky. My twists were not twisting and I couldn't bind Pasasana on one side. And don't get me started on backbends.

But despite all that, I really enjoyed it! I know it sounds crazy, but I really love practising in the morning. I know I would have had a harder time with a difficult practice like that later on in the day.

When I'm half-asleep, I seem to take things in stride. :-)

In the afternoon, I decided to go out and run some errands. It was a beautiful day, crisp and brilliant. The snow flurries passed and it turned sunny. I was waiting for a place to open in the east end of town when a parade suddenly marched by! It felt spontaneous and magical and had nothing to do with Hallowe'en (it was something Greek, I think).

I ended up spontaneously travelling to the far northern part of the city on the bus. I was sort of lost, then I figured out where I needed to be (but didn't find what I was looking for) and then I got stranded at a suburban mall. I literally couldn't find a way out. I was hungry, so I ended up eating at the food court there.

Hilarity ensues...what does a vegan eat at a mall food court in the quasi-suburbs? Why, Thai food, of course! I ended up having yummy noodles and a delicious eggplant/tofu dish. It was actually really good! When did food courts start offering edible food? I was so surprised!

I'm sure this has something to do with the ethnic diversity of the region. I really love this city! Even the fringe suburbs are kinda hip. Who knew?

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Saturday, October 30, 2010


My brain enjoys having a day off, but I'm not sure my body does.

All day, I was spontaneously stretching my shoulders and hips. Finally, I just unrolled the mat and enjoyed a good half-hour hip-and-shoulder-stretching session. It felt soooo good.

And then I ate a vegan mini-cake!

I love Saturdays! :-)

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Friday, October 29, 2010


I survived another six-day week! This week was the 'early morning edition' with most of my practices starting around 6:30 a.m.

Yesterday was the earliest: I was on the mat before and finished before 7. This morning was the latest: On the mat at the decadent hour of 10 because I slept in.

I love the early practices. Even though this new routine has decimated my meditation practice (I still haven't found a way to work mediation back in, it's now very sporadic...), I'm finding that my asana practice is so much easier in the early morning. This morning, I felt sluggish and weird practising late. I'm definitely a morning girl!

I had big ambitions to a do a Primary with full vinyasa this morning, but when I woke, I realised that I could: a) lounge around in bed and drink tea, then do an easy led Primary, or b) kick my own ass for two hours like I've been doing all week then race off to teach a class afterward.


I opted for sloth! Sloth is awesome! (sometimes). So: led primary (with Sharath's CD) with a long rest afterward. Wow, Sirsasana feels *short* when I'm not holding it for 3 minutes!

Princess Fur is looking forward to a lazy weekend of long walks and maybe, just maybe, someone will be around to play with her. Prettyplease?!!

Me? I just want to sit around and eat vegan cookies. And NAP!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010


I feel like a python. During the workshop last weekend, I devoured a huge amount of information and now it's just sitting there while I slowly start to digest. Digesting could take weeks. Or months.

Over the first couple days of practice this week, I started to build a clearer mental picture of what I had learned. I thought to myself: 'Okay, I kind of have a handle on this.'

But I really didn't and I don't. I will...eventually. I know for certain that a month from now, I'll still be having these awesome lightbulb moments when something D told me a million times during the workshop suddenly comes into sharp focus. "Oh. THAT'S what he was trying to get me to do!"

Case in point: Bhujapidasana.

Pre-workshop, I shot a nice little video of Bhujapidasana. This was back in my 'glory days' of Bhuja. This month, I had finally come to peace with the pose and could pull it off with grace and confidence.

Now? I'm back to struggling. Over the weekend, D got me started trying to jump into it. This hasn't been going very well, but every morning I try at least three times before coming into the pose my old way and moving on.

It took a day or two, but I finally figured out that if I shoot my feet forward with the intention of plopping them on the floor, I'm not going to get anywhere. I need to keep faith that I will actually land on my arms. I literally need to 'pretend' that's possible.

So I try and most of the time, I land on my bum. And that's if I'm lucky! When I actually *do* land on my arms, it HURTS. I have a big bruise on my left tricep from one of my hopeful crash landings.

I need to keep my chin up - literally, as well as figuratively. When he was helping me learn this, D held his hand in front of me to provide a Driste, then offered feedback on what my head was doing as I jumped forward: "No, it dropped a bit. Dropped a bit again. You did it again..."


It feels impossible. But today, on the third repetition, I finally jumped roughly onto my arms. And stayed there. To celebrate, I lowered to the floor and completed the pose. It was not the 'prettiest' Bhujapidasana in the history of the pose at least I did it.

Just don't get me started on the exit. *sadtrombone*

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I had an early appointment this morning. I was bull-headed determined to get my practice in though, so I woke up at 5 a.m. That's not too dire, but in order to squeeze in a practice tomorrow, I'll need to be up by 4:00 a.m.

I don't know if this makes me stubborn or crazy. Probably a little bit of both! Sleep is becoming optional.

So I would like to file an Official Complaint: There are not enough hours in the day. I need more. Today was a 17 hour day with two hours of downtime. That's just enough to eat lunch, walk the dog and answer urgent emails.

How did this happen? How did my life get so busy?

Thank God I'm not practising at a shala right now. I would need to forgo sleep all together!

Despite the whirlwind, there was a Big Awesome in my practice this morning. Laghu Vajrasana. I lowered to the floor for five breaths, came back up. Three times! I'm finally getting the hang of it.

Also: Goconut. I start eating this stuff and I. Can't. Stop.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I got a late start this morning. When my alarm went off at 5:30, I was so groggy and lethargic, I knew the weekend had finally caught up with me. So I slept for a couple more hours and did a late practice. I was on the mat by 9. Not ideal, but I'm glad I got the extra sleep. I needed it.

I practised for only two hours this morning. That's progress! There was minimal futzing, until I got to the backbends and then there was some hard core futzing because I'm still settling into a new routine.

I'm doing the shoulder opener that D taught in the workshops. I'm in it for a total of five minutes: 3 minutes for the initial hold, some variations, then back to the original position for another minute.

After that, I do a series of hip openers. If I have it in me, I try to do full vinyasa between each side (I didn't have it in me this morning!). Then I do Urdhva Dhanurasana 3 times, five breath hold, walking my hands in, but never to the point where my breathing becomes shallow.

After that, hang backs. Since I'm not dropping all the way to the floor now, it's occurred to me that in addition to making sure my feet are properly aligned, I can also take the 'regulation' hip-width stance (rather than the wider-than-my-mat stance I usually take). So I've been doing that. It feels different. I hold each 'hang' for five breaths then come up.

So, no more dropbacks. I miss them! But the only way I can drop back is with a wide stance and my toes pointed out. D & J are adamant about this particular alignment point: no splayed feet in backbends! If I was at their shala, I would be working on UD only and *maybe* hang backs, so I'm going to follow their rules in my home practice and see where it takes me.

In the comments yesterday, Kate asked about the 'Splayed Feet Lecture'. Here's the gist. I'm taking this from my notes, and my understanding of what D explained, seen through the lens of my own teaching and experience (any errors are my own).

On a physical level, pointing the toes out brings the legs into external rotation, which compresses the low back. When the legs are externally rotated, the gluteals contract and those muscles press together, 'trapping' the tail bone and impeding free movement of the pelvis.

When the pelvis/tailbone can't move, the tailbone can't 'tuck', which makes it more difficult to lengthen the spine and create space along the back body during a backbend.

Once I'm in Urdhva Dhanurasana, the main cue both D & J always give me is to tuck my tailbone, press down through my hands and feet and lift up through the hips (J usually places her hands on my pelvic heads and encourages me to press into her hands). This action is impossible with tight gluteals and very difficult, if not impossible, with splayed feet.

My tendency to splay my feet in dropbacks is likely due a lack of openness in my hip flexors, especially the Illiospoas group. Turning the feet out just *feels* easier and it *is* definitely easier in the initial hangback, but it can be harmful in the backbend itself.The remedy is doing hip openers to lengthen the hip flexors and learning to create length along the front lines of the body, from hips to shoulders.

D gave me some help in UD on Sunday, teaching me how to align my back, pelvis and shoulders before pressing up. He brought me into such a comfortable backbend that I didn't want to come down. It felt blissful. My breathing was full and deep. Anyone who has worked with me in UD knows what a miracle this is. I hate that pose. D had me smiling in it!

I haven't quite replicated this feat at home, but I'm trying. And the State-of-the-Backbends photos tell the story.

Look at my shoulders and hips last week, pre-workshop:

And this week (taken yesterday), post-workshop:

It's a small shift, but the shoulders are definitely more open. In particular, check out the thoracic back - there's more of a bend there, more of an opening in the chest.

On a more subtle level, any clenching or holding can create an energetic block, preventing the free flow of Prana. If the breathing is constrained in a posture or during movement, you need to find out why. In Astanga, movement is *always* accompanied by breath and stillness in a posture is supported by breath.

My greatest challenge in backbending has been finding a deep, free flowing breath (particularly a deep inhalation). When I'm aligned, it's there. When I'm not, I feel 'stuck'. When D helped me open up into the posture, there was more space for the flow of Prana and breathing felt easy (As D worked with me, he was listening for my breath and he noticed the tiniest fluctuation and commented on it).

And it all starts in the feet and hands, setting a foundation for the pose to provide an alignment that will allow the energy channels of the body to open up and Prana to move.

Seen in this light, I'm willing to give up the dropbacks in order to work within this framework. D has shown me how it works in my body. Now, I need to find it on my own.

I'll start with my feet.

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Monday, October 25, 2010


As I moved through my Intermediate poses this morning, I felt a tangible sense of relief. For the first time since I received them in August, I understand what I'm doing in these poses and why I'm doing them. They now make sense to me.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the backbending workshop. Among other things, D went through the first 7 poses of the Intermediate Series in careful detail.

I was elated! When D gave me the poses in August, he instructed me in each one, but quickly and quietly. I didn't ask a lot of questions (because I didn't know what to ask!). I forgot many of the details and some of the alignment points went over my head. Unfortunately, I wasn't there long enough for follow-up.

In the workshop, we moved through these poses in sequence, so it was easy to recall each concern and query that had ever popped up as I was practising them at home. Every question I had about alignment and action in these poses was answered. It was such a gift!

I know many of you are waiting to read my thoughts/notes about the workshops. To be honest, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all right now. It was an amazing weekend in every way and I'm feeling deeply grateful to D and J for sharing their knowledge.

Rather than a five-page run of 'workshop notes', the details of what I learned are probably just going to pop up organically in my blog over the coming weeks, as I work through things in my practice. My week has already started and in between my practice, teaching and a series of medical appointments that are dominating my mornings this week, I simply won't have time to write very much.

My practice this morning spanned two-and-a-half hours! It was lengthy in part because I was tired and sore (my right psoas has been going into spasm every time I lift my leg and I have a pathetic, non-yoga-related injury to deal with too). I'm also still processing everything I had learned over the weekend and figuring out how it fits in my practice. As I practised, I was consulting notes, correcting misalignments, adding things and subtracting other things.

Hip and shoulder openers are in. Dropbacks, at least for now, are OUT. Hangbacks with properly aligned feet are in. Standing up is out until I can drop back properly (I really *was* listening carefully to the little lecture about 'splayed out feet' in backbends).

I'm even experimenting with a different approach to my meditation practice.

Even though my body is tired and I'm feeling overwhelmed by my schedule, I'm content and happy with my practice. This seems to make all the difference.

I'll get through the week just fine.

Here's something we *didn't* learn in the workshop this weekend, but then again, this isn't strictly a YOGA exercise...

I'm a bit unnerved that 'bust line improvement' seems to be a group activity.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010


My day: 1 90 minute Primary Series practice in the early morning, 2 workshops during the day (that included a led half-Primary), a fabulous but ill-timed Indian buffet, and a salt bath.

I'm so tired, I can hardly see straight. My brain is full of thoughts about the weekend, but I'll need time to process them.

To sum up: This weekend was precisely what I needed to move forward with my practice. My many questions were answered.

I'm finally clear on the stuff that D & J taught me in the summer. I've been trying to apply these concepts to my practice, but I really had no idea why they were important, except that D told me they were! I was taking it on faith! This deeper understanding will make it easier for me to apply this stuff throughout my practice.

You've all watched me struggle with my longer practice. Now that I've adjusted to it, I feel a bit silly about the whole thing, but it's still difficult. D & J shared some thoughts about why the backbends are important as an addition to the Primary Series. I also got a detailed rundown on nearly all of my Intermediate poses in the workshop this afternoon AND J gave me a little bit of help in Pasasana that I think will be key for me moving forward.

So I finally *get it*. And I'm happy with my practice.

More tomorrow.

I feel like I've been run over by a truck.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010


I'm completely exhausted, both mentally and physically. These workshops are amazing and I'm SO glad I opted to participate in the entire weekend because each workshop has built upon the one previous.

For this reason, I won't be posting any detailed notes until the very end. My brain needs time to digest. *burp*

I will say this: As the concepts I'm learning are repeated and elaborated, they're starting to make more sense to me. Many of the things that Darby taught me this summer in Montreal have come into sharper focus, which is *exactly* what I had hoped for.

And I love the way that Darby shakes us out of the 'comfort zone' in these workshops. He has helped me rethink stuff that I thought I 'knew'. I've spent parts of these workshops in excruciating discomfort and it's been GREAT. And informative. ;-)

This morning's workshop covered the standing poses and the afternoon was spent in forward bends and seated twists (after a yummy lunch at the macrobiotic cafe up the street...eek!).

Tomorrow: Arm balances in the morning, backbending in the afternoon.

There's a huge break between the morning and afternoon workshops and I'm somewhat determined to lunch at my favourite Indian buffet. The question is, do I *really* want to practice backbending with a belly full of Indian food? Even after an hour to digest it? Stay tuned!

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Friday, October 22, 2010


This morning was a whirl of activity as I scrambled to accomplish everything that I would usually do over the course of the weekend, plus some. I did manage to sneak in an hour of Yin Yoga while the clothes were in the dryer. That hour was a lone island of serenity in an otherwise chaotic day.

So much for the Moon Day! I've hardly stopped moving!

I bought groceries, the laundry is finished, the apartment is clean and Princess Fur is huddled angrily in her basket, recovering from an unwanted bath. All of my weekend classes are subbed out, cancelled or postponed. I'm ready!

The Darbys are in town this weekend and I'm *very* excited! Over the next three days, I'll be attending 15 hours of yoga workshops with D&J. If you hear a big 'boom' in the general direction of Canada, that's my brain exploding from the information overload!

I'm treating this weekend a bit like a 'retreat'. I told my friends I would be unavailable and I've emptied my calendar. I wanted to have time to absorb the new information and think about what I was learning. It's also an opportunity to reflect about the direction of my practice in general.

This has been on my radar for a couple of months, I just can't believe it came up so quickly! I almost can't believe that I'll be getting on the subway in less than a half-hour and heading up to the very first workshop!

I hope Princess Fur is speaking to me again by the time I get back ;-)

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Thursday, October 21, 2010


At least once a month, I have a week when everything feels comfortable and though I wouldn't say it feels 'easy', it's not difficult to bring myself to the mat each morning.

This week was like that. I enjoyed my practices and even when some things didn't 'go well', I still felt happy and blessed and had that glowing sense of contentment for hours afterward.

'Early' is working for me. This morning, I really noticed my breath, as regular as a heartbeat, leading me from pose to pose. If I can establish that rhythm early on, I can ride its coat tails from the first Surya to Uth Pluthi.

Breath, bandhas and driste make it all easier. Who knew? ;-)

This was a week of solid, easy binds in the Marichyasanas and a return to normalcy in Supta Kurmasana (related to losing a few pounds, I suspect). Urdhva Muhka Pachimottanasana has been especially good lately - I can come up holding the outside of my feet most of the time and my legs feel *very* straight as I hold the pose.

Dropbacks were dodgy today, but I easily stood up from the futon three times. I'm laughing as I type this - it's either one or the other, isn't it? But...I think I was *too* close to the futon yesterday. It seems very important to push into my feet and try to straighten my legs as I rockbackexhale to give me that extra upward momentum when I rockforwardinhalestandup.

Tomorrow is a Moon Day. And I have a big weekend ahead of me!

Waking up early has been a bit challenging but I've had some help. I have a new alarm clock. I've always wanted a 'zen alarm clock' but they're pricey.

A few weeks ago, while perusing the Apple Store, I found a 'progressive alarm clock' app for my iPad. The alarm sounds with a series of 'tibetan bowl' chimes which gradually increase in volume and frequency over the course of 7 minutes (or however long you time them).

Instead of being jolted out of sleep by an alarm, my dreams are gently interrupted by this barely-audible chime. It's really changed the way I wake up. I'm less groggy and grumpy when I wake slowly.

It's also made me much more aware of what I'm dreaming in the last moments of sleep. I'm discovering periods of rare 'lucid dreaming' when I can choose to ignore the chimes and continue with whatever dream-activity I'm involved in. In some cases, I've even hurried to 'wrap things up' in the dream before the chimes finally draw me out of sleep.

The app includes a dream journal, so I've been jotting down a few notes about my dreams (still fresh in my mind) after waking. I've always joked that I have exceptionally vivid and entertaining dreams (I don't watch television, so maybe this is my silly brain's way of entertaining itself!), but now I'm realising how truly bizarre my dreams are, particularly when reading about them days later.

The app is available for iPad, iPhone and iTouch. And it's 2 bucks.


I ran some errands this morning after my noon class and took Princess Fur with me. She both loves and loathes being out and about in the city. The noise of the subway scares her, but she loves the smells.

And making a mad dash for the street car is SO much more fun with a happy dog romping at your side! :-)

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I think we have a winner! I woke at 5:30 a.m. and was on the mat by 6:30, finished with my practice a little after 8:00. I had a great practice! Very little futzing and everything flowed.

If you're thinking, "Hey, isn't that the same schedule you were on before?", you would be correct. I've always been an early-bird ashtangi. Now that I'm finally starting to adjust to the long practice, I think I can move back into my comfort zone.

Of course, this means that I absolutely MUST get to bed early so I can get 8 hours of sleep, minimum. I work most evenings, so this is tricky. I'm often so wired after teaching that I can't settle down to sleep. Chamomile tea has helped sooth me before so I'll try it.

And I need to schedule a nap during the day. I think I'll do this after lunch.

Dropbacks were fabulous this morning. The first two were by my usual standards (I can feel the bar raising on these). Today's Big Awesome was my last dropback: I was able to find a solid hang-back, then lightly place my hands on the floor.

Standups from the futon were atrocious. How is it possible that something I was doing quite easily yesterday, I can't even fathom today? This is definitely a two-steps-forward-one-step-back process. I gave it four solid tries then gave up. I had one good standup out of all that.

It's so beautiful out right now. The leaves are a cacophony of bright colours, my favourite time of year!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My practice this morning was awesome! I was up at 5 a.m. and on the mat by 6. Alas, I didn't do this of my own free will (I had an early morning appointment to go to) but I was so happy I did. It's very tempting to get back on a early schedule, sleep be damned. I love my early morning practice!

I was practising in the almost-dark, by candlelight. For some reason, this set a tone for my home practice and I was futzing less.

I managed to pull off my full practice, Primary plus Intermediate, backbending and finishing in exactly 90 minutes. I know this is mostly due to the time limitation. But still!!! I used to struggle just to get through Primary in 90 minutes at the Shala.

An efficient, futzless practice always feels better to me.

Backbending was great! I had a little eiphany this morning while dropping back. I discovered that if I push my hips forward at the *exact* instant that I drop my hands to the floor, my landing is much lighter! No trauma to the wrists! Yay.

Standups were also good. I'm still standing from the futon. I'm starting to develop a better sense of where my hips are in relation to my ankles, so I know when it's possible to stand up.

I'm also using a little trick DR taught me in a workshop a few months ago: As I rock back and exhale, I try to straighten my legs. It's like coiling a spring - it gives me better momentum when I rock forward to come up.

Standing up was SO easy this morning, I'm starting to think about removing the cushion again and taking away my extra 10 centimetres. If my dropback landings continue to be very soft and controlled, I may do it!

The irony of the morning was arriving promptly at 8:20 a.m. for a cancelled 8:30 appointment. I wasn't notified (disorganised people annoy me, but I was really nice about it). I came home and proceeded to get a LOT of work done that I would have been struggling with later in the afternoon.

And I still have time for a nap!

I'm seriously thinking of getting up early for practice tomorrow. I love early morning practice and I love taking naps. Maybe this is the answer?

(photo was taken at the Really Big Park last week, as I explored the off-leash trails with Princess Fur)

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Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm still trying to reconcile my need for more sleep (9+ hours) with my desire to do my practice earlier in the morning like I used to. This morning I was awake by 6:30, but didn't start my practice until 8. It's hard to explain, but my practice just *feels* better, earlier.

Or maybe it's all in my head. At any rate, unless I can get to bed at 8:30 p.m., a 6:30 a.m. start isn't an option right now. As it is, I'm thinking of moving my meditation session to another part of the day because I feel like I'm doing too much in the mornings before practice.

I moved through my Primary and Intermediate very efficiently this morning. The serious futzing didn't start until backbends, but I moved though it.

Dropbacks were horrible this morning. I had no control and I was landing *hard*. On the last one, I tried to find a deeper 'hang' but instead I ended up landing too hard on my left hand and my wrist was complaining. I can't remember the last time that happened!

But I stood up smoothly and easily from the futon with hardly any effort. Go figure!

Today's Big Awesome was Sirsasana. I'm back to timing myself (I took a break from it last week). My biggest complaint about these long holds has been the pressure on my hands and fatigue in my arms. A fellow AshtangaDork advised me to work towards a light point of balance in the headstand. It's made all the difference! I think I may actually be ready for a 5 minute hold. Maybe tomorrow!

This week, the 70s Yoga Ladies would like to offer you an alternative if you're suddenly struck with an attack of asthma.

In the event that your breathing is suddenly compromised, bring your hands into reverse Namaste, then smother yourself in a Persian rug! When you're not longer breathing, the exercise is complete!

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Sunday, October 17, 2010


I'm officially on the mend. I slept for over 10 hours last night and woke up feeling energetic. I had a great practice with Primary and my Intermediate poses, plus backbends.

I was a bit worried about backbends. Throughout my practice, my back was feeling cranky. Dropbacks were actually okay, but I've definitely lost some of my 'standing up' Mojo. I was determined to try three times, even if I ended up armflailing and falling backwards. I did a lot of that, but I still tried. :-) I'll get it back!

My Big Awesome for the day was getting rid of the block in Laghu Vajrasana. I lowered down to it once, then shoved it aside and tried four more times, coming all the way to the floor and back up! I thought I might have lost strength in this pose while I was sick. Apparently, laying around and watching DVDs is great prep for Laghu. Who knew?! ;-)

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Saturday, October 16, 2010


I couldn't do it, I just couldn't.

I was feeling too ill this morning. I woke up at 6:30, ended up back in bed. I taught a noon class and met a friend for lunch (my first real meal in days) but I wasn't feeling well afterward.

In the afternoon, I unrolled the mat and managed to do two Suryas before packing it up.

So today is my 'Saturday'. I just finished a half hour of light Hatha on the floor to open my hips, a few shoulder openers and restorative backbends.

Tomorrow is another day. I'll do a Rogue Primary then.

Last Sunday, I took Princess Fur to the Really Big Park for a pre-Thanksgiving romp and I took this photo of her.

She's SO happy in this park because there are long stretches of off-leash trails. I think she's spotted a squirrel...

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Friday, October 15, 2010


I did it! I did it! *happydance* I managed to get through my Primary! And no shortcuts! It wasn't a bad practice, but there wasn't a lot of backbending either. I'm starting to worry that I'll lose all of my hard-earned Backbending Mojo from sitting out my Intermediate during this illness.

I didn't feel sick during my practice, but I did feel a bit weak and I was losing momentum near the end.

I had to teach this morning, but I tried to take it easy the rest of the day. Tonight, I'm still feeling slightly queasy.

I can't believe this bug has lingered on for so long! I'm worried about next week. It's going to be VERY busy and I'll be in workshops the next weekend. I absolutely *need* to be 100% by then.

My exciting plans for tonight involve rest and sleep. Tomorrow, more of the same. Go, Immune System, go! *pompomshake*


Meanwhile, in an amazing feat of intuition, I took a State-of-the-Backbend photo on Monday, *before* The Plague hit.

While it's not the best backbend I've ever done, I'm pretty sure this Urdhva Dhanurasana is miles better than anything I've done over the last few days.

I'll take it:

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Thursday, October 14, 2010


As soon as I woke this morning I knew I would need to cancel my day classes. I went back to sleep, bringing my grand sleep total to 14 hours. But I got up feeling like I hadn't slept at all.

I've heard horror stories about this stomach bug and I know I'm probably getting the 'lite' version of it. I haven't been violently ill, just run down and very uncomfortable. It's been about two days and I'm nearly over it.

Practice this morning was Primary once again, with lots of breaks. I skipped vinyasa between sides and didn't spend very much time at all in backbends. I practically melted into the finishing poses and Sirsasana felt incredibly, blissfully comforting.

My decision making process for practisting when I'm feeling unwell goes something like this:
- Do I have a temperature?
- Am I feeling dizzy or short of breath?
- Am I in pain, or could practice be physically damaging?

If the answer is 'No' to all of these, I do my practice.

But I *do* take it easy. The Primary Series of Astanga yoga is therapeutic and I find that it's very healing. I felt better after my practice today than I did before I started.

I rested for a few hours in the afternoon, then went on to teach three classes in the evening. I doubt I could have done that if I hadn't gotten on the mat myself.

All the same, I hope I'm feeling better by tomorrow morning because I'm *really* tired of feeling this way. I'm grateful that I don't often get sick!

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Well, this is just too awesome. *sarcasm*

I'm sick.

Me, getting sick, is a funny thing because I don't usually believe it's actually happening. I woke up in the wee hours last night writhing in pain and popped two generic pain pills, as if THAT would make everything better.

It didn't, but I got up in the morning to practice anyway. I got all the way through my salt bath, meditation and made it to the mat before I started to clue in to how fabulously awful I felt.

I decided to work my way through the Suryas and standing poses. When I got to the seated, I knew that I would doing a modified Primary Series practice, at best.

I modified a LOT. I didn't do jumps (stepped back and forward instead). I did the Marichyasana twists very gingerly and didn't even bind Mari D. Then I started taking a lot of breaks curled up on my mat. And even THEN, I was still asking myself: "Am I really sick, or am I just dreaming this up?"

The Universe had the foresight to make sure my evening classes were cancelled, so I was able to get some rest. I'm not a happy convalescent, but I managed to lay around and nap for most of the day.

So, what does the Reluctant Ashtangi do when forced into inactivity?

Well, I watch a lot of DVDs for one. A couple of years ago, when I was on bedrest, I burned through three seasons of CSI. I though Gus Grissom was my best friend and spoke of him like we were totally hanging out (which we kind of were).

This time, I have the sixth season of Grey's Anatomy on deck and it's brand new to me since I don't watch television. I love this show because the shark-jumping is abundant and breathtakingly choreographed. I think every single character has almost died or died by now. Or has been impaled with an icecicle. Or hit by a bus.

I've also been watching the polls. These polls:

Did you stand up before or after you started 2nd Series?
Claudia created this poll. I'll admit that I'm totally cheering for "Drop back after 2nd" because I think the whole "Stand before 2nd" requirement is silly (maybe 'Standing up' should be the next poll). But I have to admit, I *did* drop back before I started the Intermediate Series and it appears that most people also fall into that category.

What should Miss Stan blog about?
I voted for gossip, but her super-exciting yoga practice came in a close second for me. I've been checking back all day, to see if the baby is still winning.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I had to look up 'remoras' on Wikipedia. I thought that maybe it was a South Indian culinary specialty that I'm not wise to because I haven't been to Mysore yet. But nope, it's a fish. In fact, it's a type of shark, but it sticks itself to things instead of jumping.

(We're full circle again, back to sharks)

In other news, my Fabulous Vegan Muffins have gone viral on Twitter and they're now a Global Phenomenon! I've heard rumours of muffin-sightings in New York and California.

Muffins in Fife, Scotland:

Muffins in Amsterdam:

Apparently, baking muffins in paper cups is a European thing.

I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow, but at least I'm easily entertained.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This is the 1000th post of this blog.

On June 14, 2007, I started the blog with a few assumptions:
-I would document my experience of Astanga, a style of yoga I loathed, as a learning exercise.
-I would write 365 posts documenting my experience practising the Primary Series.
-No one would read this silly thing.

Fast forward to today:
-I love Astanga yoga and believe that, practiced correctly, it's incredibly therapeutic and life changing - and I'm still at it!
-I've written 1000 entries. Each one represents a yoga practice. Not all of them were Astanga (I practise other styles on Saturdays, Moon Days and my LH) but most were.
-On average, 350 readers visit this blog every day.

Thanks to my blog, I've come to know some amazing people, both online and in person. I've made a handful of very good friends, and I've expanded my community far and wide.

Writing this blog has helped me to connect with my yoga practice in a deeper way. Yoga, and writing about it, has become a daily practice in the truest sense. I haven't missed a day of practice in almost two years and over the past year, I've been steadfast in my commitment to a 'six day' Astanga practice. I haven't skipped a day! In a funny way, the blog helps keep me accountable.

In my inbox, I have a great number of emails from people who were considering trying Astanga, or trying a more traditional Mysore Style practice. Reading this blog convinced them to reach out and ask me questions or take the leap on their own.

More than anything else, it pleases me to know that my blog has been helpful to others and, in a very small way, it has helped spread the word about Astanga vinyasa yoga.

Thank you for reading, for commenting and for being part of my 'Cybershala'!

1000 entries is pretty awesome!! :-D

Okay, enough nostalgia. Practice report!

I had a good practice today. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Turtle was a bit finicky this morning (I ate a LOT of food yesterday). The rest of Primary was smooth and comfortable.

I've been experimenting with taking Navasana 5 times (instead of 3) as a strength builder. I wasn't enjoying it for the first couple of days, but I'm finding it easier now. I think it's probably a good thing. I've noticed that Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana C has been easier.

I skipped my 3 minute headstand yesterday, but brought it back today. It's becoming more comfortable again.

I avoided futzing in my practice today and it felt much better. Towards the end of my practice yesterday, I felt scattered and lethargic and I think the futzing was to blame (or was I futzing because I was lethargic? what came first, the futzing chicken or futzing egg?!).

Backbends were better. Deep Urdhva Dhanurasana, three solid dropbacks, and three solid standups from the futon. I left the cushion on again today because the bare futon frame was freaking me out too much. Instea, after my three standups, I took Urdhva Dhanurasana from the floor and worked on rocking forward.

I'm starting to get my head wrapped around what needs to happen for me to stand from the floor. The first part is momentum, to get the hips over the ankles. After that, it's all engagement of the legs and 'lift'. I'm still figuring out how to get this lift. Is it gravity? Is it Bandhas? Is it MAGIC? (I think it's magic!).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, October 11, 2010


I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find a vintage Thanksgiving greeting with a *living* turkey on it, but Google and I are good friends.

Behold, the rugby playing turkey, proof that these birds are more fun alive than dead!

I'm enjoying a genuine day off today - no teaching at all for two days!

Yesterday, I took Princess Fur for a long walk in the Really Big Park. It was the perfect sunshiny autumn day and the park was busy with people and other dogs. We stayed for almost three hours, including a long interlude in the middle of the woods, staring up at the colourful leaves and brilliant blue sky.

Unfortunately, most of today was spent feeling somewhat under the weather. I'm not sure what's going on, but I've been sidelined with a headache and I was grateful for the opportunity to rest.

I practised in the morning and it was terrific. What a difference a week can make! I don't think my binds have ever been this deep. As I was finishing up my Intermediate poses, a headache struck. I went into bigtime futz mode, so my backbends were not great.

But I tried my best and I didn't skip anything. Dropbacks were good, stand-ups, not so much. I ended up dropping and standing from the cushion today. The prospect of crash-landing on the futon frame was too much for my silly brain to handle.

Ironically, the most interesting part of the whole practice was Urdhva Dhanurasana. I haven't tried to 'rock up' from the floor in awhile so I gave it a go. It feels totally different to me now! I'm coming right up onto my fingertips and staying there for a micropause and...I don't know. It just felt indescribably different. Less scary, or something.

I decided to have my Thanksgiving supper today (in Canada, it's common to have the meal anytime during the holiday weekend). Back in my university days, I remember the grocery store selling a 'Thanksgiving-in-a-Box' for singles who wanted a holiday meal, but they were all meat-based.

Yesterday, I found the vegan version of Thanksgiving-in-a-Box!

So, of course, I had to buy it! It contained two Tofurkey breasts, ingredients for stuffing and a packet of instant vegan gravy.

I supplemented the meal with my favourite zucchini dish, brown rice, kale salad and my famous vegan version of 'American-style Candied Yams' (which have been a consistent surprise favourite at all of the 'Orphan's' Thanksgivings I've attended over the years). Dessert was vegan 'carrot cake' muffins.

It looks eerily authentic to my eyes. I haven't eaten 'real' meat in years, so I have no idea what it really tastes like.

The Tofurkey was 'okay' and I've had better stuffing. The best part of that deal was the plastic storage container included to hold the leftovers!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 10, 2010


And the disorientation continues! Today feels like Monday!

I was struck with nagging insomnia last night, but woke before the alarm this morning. I took my time and stepped on the mat around 9:30. Seems my practices are getting later and later with my new, wacky sleeping patterns.

I had a good practice with an easy start and minimal futzing. All of the binds are solid this week, including Supta Kurmasana. Marichyasana D was actually comfortable, and I don't often say that!

Ditto for Pasasana. The bind was so effortless that I stepped it up a bit. I grabbed mid-hand, working towards the wrist. I'm not there yet, but this is how it starts. I also flattened the towel under my heels a bit more.

I'm wondering if the problems I had binding Mari D and Supta K last week (and the nagging cramp I now have in my right shoulder, where Nitara, my gremlin, is now living) is an opening of some kind.

Backbending was good, dropbacks were great. Standing up from the futon was easy-peasy.

So I decided to step it up a notch and remove the cushion from the futon, subtracting about 10 centimetres of height. Definitely harder! And crash-landing on the bare pine frame is MUCH more punishing than landing on the soft futon cushion. *ouch*

With this lower height, I have to rethink my strategy. Before, simple momentum did the trick. Now, in order to successfully stand up, I need to keep my head back and think "UP and FORWARD" as I rock up. This is forcing me to confront my fear of the 'knee crash' (which scares the heck out of me for some reason).

Any flakiness whatsoever spoils the whole thing (I don't come up, or I fall backwards again).

I managed one successful 'stand up' from my new launch pad. Who knew that 10 centimetres could make such a difference? I have my work cut out for me this week!

I'm back to 3 minute holds in Sirsasana. I tried 4 minutes, then 3.5 minutes but finally settled back to 3. This duration seems challenging enough for the time being. I don't want to sap ALL the bliss out of my finishing!

Six day week ahead! Fasten your seatbelts...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Ahhhh! *deepsighofrelief*

It was SO nice to get back on the mat this morning. Even as my body was resisting the effort, I was basking in it. All it takes is a few days of NOT practising and I’m far more appreciative of the quality that daily practice brings to my life. The after-effects of my practice coloured my entire day. I floated around, full of happy!

I had a great practice with a few fun surprises. Usually in a led, I don’t get around to binding to wrist in Marichyasana D, I just grab fingers (there’s just not enough time to wiggle into it). Somehow, I managed to find the wrist bind today, even though I came into the pose very casually. I still remember when this started happening in Marichyasana C - it’s a very good sign that the pose is deepening!

Supta Kurmasana was an easy bind as well and I think I know why. I’ve been doing loads of shoulder openers lately, particularly with the awesome Erich Schiffman shoulder sequence. Over the summer, I bought a digital download of a basic sequence that included shoulders and it was worth every penny! I’m thinking of getting his backbending video as well.

Since I was doing Primary today, I spent the rest of the day reminding myself that it’s NOT Friday! Even now, I’m still in ‘Friday Mode.’ I’ll have a rude awakening tomorrow when I step on the mat for my full practice and it feels like a Saturday!

Good thing this is a holiday weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving) and I have the day off on Monday! (and I *really* have the day off, no classes!).

I was thinking ahead last week and took the State-of-the-Backbend photo on Tuesday.

Not bad, though it felt a lot deeper than it looks. I was having an exceptionally good backbending day. Everything felt really open.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, October 8, 2010


I had every good intention of doing a led Primary this morning, but that's not how the day unfolded. Instead, I slept in a little bit and took Princess Fur for a long walk in the Big Park, then I ran errands.

As of today, I no longer have broadband access at home. I'm completely reliant on my iPad for absolutely everything. Except for a few websites that require flash, this works really well for me. Over the past month, I've been transitioning my daily routines (mostly scheduling and communications) onto the iPad.

But I've been blogging from the laptop. A month ago, I was bragging about how great the touch keyboard is and it IS great, compared to the one on my iPod Touch. But I never really adjusted to it completely and found it frustrating. I didn't feel at ease writing on that keyboard for long stretches.

Today, I bought a Blue Tooth keyboard and I'm *kicking* myself for not doing it sooner! If you're blogging on an iPad or an iPhone, do yourself a favour and buy a keyboard. It's incredibly functional and SO much easier.

(End of 'Geek Rant')

Practice didn't happen until the evening. I did a half hour of easy Hatha, mostly revolving around hip and shoulder openers. It was a relief to get on the mat - my whole body felt cramped.

Three days without Astanga and I'm falling apart at the seams, not only physically, but mentally as well. I've been a bit glum. Is there a 12-step programme for this? ;-)

I think I'm going to be a 'Rogue Ashtangi' tomorrow and do a led Primary in the morning. I've had quite enough rest and I'm keen to get back into some kind of routine. It will be good for me!

This week's Princess Fur Photo:

Princess Fur is NOT a fan of preppy.

Even if it IS a genuine Polo Ralph Lauren.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Wheeee! Look at me, having a holiday from Astanga! *yawn*

Yesterday, it occurred to me that with the timing of this LH, four days will have passed before I’m back on the mat doing my full practice again.

Last night, my body felt all weird and twitchy without yoga, but I know this is temporary. The feeling will soon fade, replaced by an urge to sleep in and sip tea in bed in the morning, while reading a good book. In other words, I’m getting a bit too comfy-cozy with this new routine (the ‘sleeping in’ part of it, at least) and the upcoming 6-day week is going to be a challenge (particularly, the ‘getting up’ part of it).

Also: I’m miserable and this sucks.

I know, I know! I’m supposed to be Revelling in the Sacred Power of My Womanhood, but I don’t enjoy this. In the metaphorical Red Tent, I’m the one everyone wants to kick out because I’m bitchy and won’t stop broadcasting my misery. I don’t enjoy feeling like a stranger in my own body and I don’t like being forced into inactivity through sheer necessity. And it’s not lost on me that the two most uncomfortable days of my month neatly coincided with the two busiest teaching days of my week.

So I’m taking deep, cleansing breaths, resting when I can and just trying to get through it.

I did a some restorative yoga in an effort to balance out the turbulence. That was nice, but everything feels just a bit Twilight-Zoney and up-in-the-air without the steady routine of morning practice to ground me. Makes me appreciate the ‘anchor’ that Astanga usually provides in my life.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do a modified led Primary tomorrow. Until then, I’ll put on my ‘happy face’ and carry on...


Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I have a question for you.

Say you’re on a beach at low tide, retrieving Princess Fur (who is eating something she shouldn’t, like THAT never happens!), when an Australian Shepard dog races past, followed by a Collie. An angry elephant and a hippo with a big, sharp horn are pounding down the beach, close on their heels (do hippos even have horns? well, this one did). The hippo and elephant turn and charge you. You’re frozen in place, terrified, and Princess Fur is trying to scramble out of your arms so she can continue noshing whatever it was she was eating on the sand.

What do you do?

Well, it happened to me!! And this is what I did: I woke up. *phew*

Then I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I washed the dishes, cuddled the dog, cleaned the kitchen, and read a book and finally, around 4 a.m., I managed to drift off. I woke up at 9 a.m. and my Lady’s Holiday slammed into me like a Mac truck. Pure misery for the rest of the day.

No wonder I was having nightmares!

I did some very light Hatha for about 20 minutes this afternoon. I’m reserving my remaining energies for getting through the day, including the 3 back-to-back classes I’m teaching in the evening. On minimal sleep. While feeling ‘under the weather.’

Good times.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Getting to the mat today reminded me of a game of ‘Chutes and Ladders.’ The alarm went off at 7:30. I went back to sleep. Again, at 8 and again, I went back to sleep. I was finally up at 8:30, but I checked email and got sucked into the ‘Internet Vortex’ for awhile. Around 9, I took a salt bath and sat down to meditate. That’s when the locksmith arrived to do some work on my door.


Between Princess Fur’s anxiety: Woof! Roo, roo, roo! (Translation: Strange people! In our home! HIGH ALERT!) and the noise: POUND, POUND, DRILLLLLL! (I already had a headache *owmyhead*), practice wasn’t an option. So I waited it out and ate a BIG breakfast. By noon, I was still feeling miserable, but at least it was quiet and I had some privacy again. Princess Fur was napping.

It was one of those days when I seriously didn’t think I would get through my entire practice. I was almost certain I would stop at some point and give up. My belly was full of breakfast. My head was pounding. The whole practice just seemed so LONG and difficult.

When I feel this way, I don’t think about the whole thing. I approach it in bite-sized parts:

First, I decided to just get through the Sun Salutations. Done!
Then I tackled the Fundamental Standing Poses. Okay.
Then I decided to get as far as the Janus....and so on.

I didn’t make a decision about my Intermediate poses until Setu Bandhasana and then I was all “Oh, what the hell...I’ll do them!” (It’s only 8 poses, after all...). Once I got through the Intermediate backbends, Urdhva Dhanurasana and the dropbacks seemed like recreation (right now, dropbacks are my favourite part of practice, closely followed by trying to stand up from the futon *armflail*).

I wasn’t expecting a great practice today, particularly given the HUGE bowl of cereal I ate right before I stepped on the mat. I didn’t think I would be binding *anything*. Well, SURPRISE!!! I was binding *everything*. The wrist bind on the first side of Mari D is back and I was able to bind Supta Kurmasana. I guess I can’t blame my Buddha Belly (I still have it).

Dropbacks are getting better and better. No futzing necessary! I just drop back. The feet *drumrollplease* are now back on my Manduka, though woefully splayed out. Alignment! I know! I’m working on it...

My first attempted stand-up from the futon was fabulous! The second, I didn’t even get a rock in before I catapaulted wildly forward and landed on my knees. OUCH! How did THAT happen?!

It was too much for my silly brain. I tried two more times, but I couldn’t get over the new Fear. This time, it’s a Knee-bashing Fear. At least I’m coming up every time! That’s a new development.

Something is happening in my back. An opening? Nitara, my infamous ‘gremlin’ has moved into my left mid-back and she’s manifesting as muscle spasms. Side bends quiet her down. In the meantime, my backbends are getting deeper...

Behind-the-scenes footage. While I work hard trying to stand up up from the futon, Princess Fur naps:

(in my next incarnation, I want to come back as Princess Fur!)

Monday, October 4, 2010


Phew! I’m glad THAT practice is over with! I had a hard time this morning. My practice was so bad, I gave up on Astanga and invented an entirely new yoga: I’m calling it Futztanga. It’s a style of yoga where you do a pose then take an extra breath or two. Do another pose then carefully study your fingernails. Vinaysa the dog! Jump back and...child’s pose! Or wander to the window and see what the weather is like. Or...

A few times, I realised that I was just standing there on my mat, gazing around in an addled way, completely lost. I had become so caught up in the fascinating whirls of my own brain that I just lost my place.

Um...where was I?

Yeah, it was THAT bad.

Also, I felt stiff and weak. How is it possible that I can barely lift up when I’ve been doing this for years now? Hey arms! Get with the programme!

And the Turtle is still MIA, which made me feel like the Big Loser Ashtangi who can’t bind her own Supta K (not that there’s anyone around to help me anyway, though for a moment I was tempted to recruit my neighbour).

Ahhhh....bad practices! They make the good ones sweeter, right?

Ironically, backbends were all easy-peasy and terrific today. Maybe it was the Magic of Low Expectations!

After I finished, I was making breakfast and dropped a band new jar of really terrific gourmet-organic-fancy-expensive almond butter on the kitchen floor. SPLAT! Almond butter, now with glass shards...yum.

And that’s when I finally realised what was going on. Some women get pissy with PMS. Others get depressed. Me? I get really clumsy. And a bit bloated. And weak. And stiff. And frustrated. My LH is incoming, probably before the week is out. No wonder the Turtle fled!

This week, the 70s Yoga Ladies don their tights, unroll the persian rugs and strike a pose.


I know some of you are probably wondering what on earth they’re doing.

So I looked it up:
“This is an exercise that will give you that slim waistline so desired by every woman, and ‘spare tyres’ will disappear.”

Awesome! I’ll try this. Maybe my Turtle will come back!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


The Spiritual Posse got kettle corn this morning, a little break from the healthy stuff I usually offer them. ;-)

I’m still meditating, mostly on days that I do a full Astanga practice so that’s about six days a week. I’ve worked meditation into my pre-yoga routine: 10 minutes before I step on the mat. I feel much more focused when I meditate before practice and my breathing is more consistent. Less futzing too! I really do notice a difference.

I had a good practice, but weird! I couldn’t get the wrist bind on the right side of Marichyasana D and the Supta Kurmasana bind is GONE. I couldn’t believe it! I tried again and again before I finally accepted that it wasn’t going to happen. I haven’t lost this bind in months.

I guess I need to eat less kettle corn (hee, hee!). And cookies. And muffins. *ahem* I’ve been trying to cut back on sugar, but this weekend was really epic.

Ironically, the bind in Pasasana was just fine! Oh, Astanga! You confound me!

Backbending was really intense today. I’ve added the shoulder and hip openers back in as a preparation for Urdhva Dhanurasana. They make an huge difference. I did the pose 6 times, walking my hands in to deepen it. It feels awful. Today, I was trying to pinpoint exactly why, but I couldn’t decide. Mainly, I struggle to breath deeply. I wonder if I’ll ever feel like I can breath deeply in a backbend?

There’s been a HUGE shift in my dropbacks lately. They’re starting to feel effortless! While teaching a youth class last week, I spontaneously dropped back (cold!) and it felt natural and easy. I don’t have to gather up my courage to do it anymore and dropping back feels really good. Fun, even! I always drop back to the futon before standing up and today I noticed that instead of ‘dropping’, I’m actually arching all the way back and gently placing my hands on the futon. My back is opening up! I’m definitely feeling a shift!

I’m still ‘standing up’ from the futon, but I’m gradually getting more ‘hits’ than ‘misses’; it’s becoming more consistent. While reviewing the video clips I shot last week, I observed that I’m mainly moving ‘forward’. I think I need to also move in an ‘upward’ direction, lifting up from the mid-torso. I’m now visualizing the ‘up’ as I work on these stand-ups.

Here’s a screen capture from the infamous ‘standing up’ video:

Holy Flailing Arms, Batman! I look like I’m drowning!!

I feel like I should draw in an arrow pointing upward from my belly button!


Saturday, October 2, 2010


My inner-party-animal is alive and well! I was out VERY late last night into the wee hours, hanging out in a pub and laughing with friends. It was SO much fun! Then I slept in until 10! I can’t remember the last time I slept in so late! Decadent :-) It was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits.

But I’m still feeling a bit tired and disoriented. I really and truly ‘took a break’ today. I did a little bit of Hatha yoga this morning, but no more than 15 minutes because I was pressed for time.

Yesterday, I took my weekly State-of-the-Backbend photo (I didn’t get around to this last week):

No big changes here. I’m still in a ‘holding pattern.’

My State-of-the-Dropback video clip shows some good progress, especially in contrast to the last time I filmed myself:

My feet are closer together, toes are not ‘pointing out’ *quite* as much and my landing is much more graceful. Heels are still on the floor throughout!

I also filmed a ‘State-of-the-Stand-Up’ video, but I’m not going to share it here because I don’t feel quite ready to share the ‘State-of-My-Messy-Desk’ with the wider Internet (and that clip offers an panoramic view!).

Maybe next time! ;-)

Friday, October 1, 2010


I did a led Primary this morning and for the sake of variety, I popped my old favourite, ‘Power Yoga’, into the DVD. It’s the DVD I started with, the one by Beryl Bender Birch and I haven’t practised with it since the spring. My practice has taken leaps and bounds in the past six months, so I thought it might be fun for comparison purposes.


I wasn’t even doing Chakrasana the last time I practised with this DVD and I wasn’t doing Setu Bandhasana either (because Beryl mentions very specifically that you’re supposed to ‘learn the pose from a qualified teacher’). I waited until I was practising at the Shala to learn both Setu and Chakrasana.

I had a great practice and savoured all of the moments when I was nailing a pose that I used to struggle mightily with. It was a good confidence boost and a reminder that ‘all is coming’, even if something feels impossible in the moment (Like, at the moment, all of Intermediate!)

I can clearly remember my struggles with Marichyasana C when I used this DVD regularly. And it’s an easy pose for me now! And it was fun to do Garba Pindasana, while remembering how completely *impossible* it felt to me even a year ago.’’

Quite a few of my friends and readers are working on Garba Pindasana right now and having a tough time of it. Bruises! I remember the bruises!

I recently posted some tips on the ‘Practice and All is Coming’ Blog by Amaranthinestudent and she found them very helpful. I thought I would repeat those tips here, along with some additional ones.

Tips for coming into Garba Pindasana:
- LOTS of water on the arms! Focus particularly on the area around the elbow and the wrist. On the legs, the top of the calves and the inner knees.
- Come into Lotus and insert the right arm, first lifting the left foot up out of the way to make a bigger ‘hole’ in the legs. Once your arm is through, pull your right hand toward you (even bracing it against the left hand for leverage) to get the arm further through.
- Push the left arm through the left leg. To get it further through, again try pulling the hand toward you (like you were ‘flexing’ your bicep).
- Curl your body toward your hands, round the back! This will help you get your hands over your ears.

Tips for rolling:
-Establish a smooth, steady breath *before* you start to roll.
-Move with your breath, long inhale up, long exhale backward. Try to ‘pause’ at the top of the inhalation.
-Use your Bandhas to power the rolls.
-Round your back and look toward your belly button (the ‘official’ Driste is the nose, but this really helps until you get the hang of it; tuck your chin!)

Finally, here is a small, rather embarrassing video clip that shows me doing this crazy pose. I’m hoping that it will be helpful to those of you struggling with the pose. Sometimes, it helps to ‘see’ how someone else goes about it.

I wasn’t aware I had such a ‘chicken neck’. Ug! *eyeroll*

For all of a nanosecond, I was part of Owl’s groovy bookclub discussion on Trungpa’s book, ‘Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism’.

I wanted to continue, I truly did, but Princess Fur is a sloooooow reader and I haven’t been able to get the book out of her furry paws long enough to finish it (the dog didn’t ‘eat my homework’, she’s reading it!)

Here’s Fur, taking a break from her ‘beach reading.’