Monday, February 28, 2011

The hokey-pokey and group hugs

So I did practice and it wasn't SO bad. In fact, it went pretty well, all things considered.

My job during practice is to back off from any pain sensation in my shoulder. A couple weeks ago, this meant that I could barely transition between postures, I couldn't push into Urdhva Dhanurasana and Sirsasana was a touch-and-go affair.

This week, I'm able to do a complete vinyasa between postures - just without jumps. I step forward, I step back. It's like the 'hokey pokey' except I never turn myself around and that's not 'what it's all about'...but I digress.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Chaturanga. I can do that and I can do upward dog and downward dog. I can lift out of Bhujapidasana into Bakasana, but I lower down and step back to Chaturanga. I added lotus jumpbacks back in because they don't trigger any pain at all - and they're fun!

These are the nitty gritty details of my practice, the stuff that I would never normally discuss on my blog. Except...right now, they're HUGE. I don't even think about standing up from Urdhva Dhanurasana anymore. I'd be pretty thrilled if I could walk my hands into a deeper backbend. Or do a deep, satisfying Purvottanasana without pain. Or enjoy Prasarita Padottanasana C again.

The terrain has shifted and I'm shifting with it. It's 'Granny Yoga' at its finest!

Since I can't obsess about standing up from backbends anymore, I'm trying to develop New Interests. My friend Evelyn is a trailblazer in this regard. Sidelined by a similar shoulder injury, she's immersed herself in dodgy cable television: Sasquatch sightings and UFOs. Plus, she's become a Cesar Millan groupie and taken up dog-walking.

Princess Fur's ears perked as I typed that last sentence.

I've been looking for a good hobby. Last weekend, I was checking out a friend's bookshelf and my eyes landed on the Complete Little House on the Prairie Seasons 1-8. The DVDs are encased in a box that resembles...wait for it!...a covered wagon.

I grew up with that show! Too good to be true! She was, understandably, hesitant to part with any portion of this bounty, but we negotiated and I walked out of there with the first four seasons.

I've been hunkered down on the futon ever since, watching a buck-toothed Laura Ingalls (Melissa Gilbert) utter syrupy lines like Home is the nicest word there is!

*blissful cringe*

Last night, I watched the episode where Laura (and Jack, the family dog) is bitten by her pet raccoon and Dr. Baker warns that Laura (and Jack! *sob*) may have been exposed to rabies.

The family fearfully waits for the rabies incubation period to pass. They huddle tearfully around Laura, but my sympathies are out in the barn with Jack, the dog, who is tied up, alone. Poor Jack! He doesn't understand why nobody loves him anymore. He whines inconsolably. Then he starts barking wildly.

When Pa walks out to the barn with a loaded rifle, I'm in torment. I can clearly remember sobbing my heart out when I first viewed this episode at age four. Even at that age, I liked dogs better than people.

I won't spoil the story for you, though I'll bet you can guess how it ends. *grouphug*

In an era of reality TV, it astounds me that anything so syrupy and heartfelt could have *ever* graced the airwaves of network televion. These days, 'Little House' would be too cheesy and innocent for normal kids to watch. They'd make fun of it then quickly turn the channel to a Lady Gaga video or a daytime talkshow featuring mothers who get sex-change operations then date their daughter's secretly gay boyfriends.

Which, of course, means I'm throughly enjoying my foray into 70s TV Nostalgia Land. Yay, the good old days! When the good guys were really good (burly Mr. Edwards, swinging down a dirt path singing 'Old Man Tucker' and kicking up his heels) and the bad guys were REALLY bad (Nellie Oslen, scowling under her blonde ringlets, bragging about the 'store-bought rug' in her family's house. And don't get me started on her *mother*!). The lines were so clearly drawn.

Evelyn is starting to believe in Big Foot. Me? I'm starting to believe that an entire town would show up to help Mr. Ingalls stack sacks of grain so he won't lose his team of oxen to an unscrupulous Irishman. Or that a schoolhouse full of children will cooperatively pretend to learn the alphabet in order to teach a teenage boy how to read the word 'boat'. When he later reads an essay of appreciation to the teacher, the children applaud in a standing ovation.

Awwww! Group hug!

That's me, 6 years old, in my 'prairie dress'.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, February 27, 2011

When things fall apart

I know, I know...I've been *really* quiet lately.

February is a bare-bones-survival month. I just try to do the essentials, focus on stuff that absolutely needs to be attended to. Accomplishing anything extra feels like a major coup. This weekend, I visited the Grumpy Russian Guy and got my hair cut AND I gave Princess Fur her spring haircut. I also did the laundry. I felt like someone should give me a medal after all that, but no such luck. So I made brownies instead.

I *have* been practising, though sometimes it takes superhuman effort just to get on the mat. Here's a recap of the past week-and-a-bit:

Friday (this is WAY back, the Friday before last): I went to Cashew's noon hot class. I sometimes call Cashew 'Echo' because she does this thing in Savasana were she gives a relaxation cue, then echos herself till it fades off. This always makes me giggle (which isn't very relaxing, but I never stick around for Savasana after hot yoga anyway). Afterwards, I went out for sushi. Hot yoga does something to food. The lunch special is never *that* great, but after the class, it tasted SUBLIME.

I'm giving the Bad Energy Meditation Group another go (I returned last month and it wasn't so bad; the crazy lady is gone and the group is under 'new management', although Crazy Lady's apparently going around calling herself our 'spiritual director' now, which is kind of creepy). I ended up having a fantastic time with the group and even going out afterward...for Indian 10 p.m. Wild! Usually I'm in bed at that time of night, so it was funny to be out and eating. I woke up the next morning with a full belly, so Saturday turned into a day off.

That's okay, though, because a nearby studio was offering free vinyasa classes over the holiday weekend. I went to the Sunday evening class, excited and full of enthusiasm but it was big disappointment; the instructor was HORRIBLE. I was shocked, given that she's a regular teacher at this location.

The Monday class was a rush to get to because it was right after my noon class, but I managed to arrive with 10 minutes to spare. Good thing I did, because the room was PACKED! (Interestingly, I ended up next to another Ashtangi) After the bad experience on Sunday, I went into the class a bit more skeptical, but I had a better experience with this instructor. I learned a helpful shoulder stretch - my shoulder injury seems to be at a point where it's tightening up as it heals so this will be useful.

All of this yoga tourism had a result I hadn't anticipated: it renewed my confidence in my own teaching and reminded me of the things that work for me (and don't work for me) as a student: Clear instruction, minimal chit-chat, logical sequencing, cues that emphasize alignment and movement of energy in the body. All of these things are basics, but they're key - it gave me good food for thought and some insight into what I want to emphasize in my own teaching.

On Tuesday morning, I returned to my full Astanga practice at home. I had a pretty good practice, though my hamstrings were tight. The gimpy shoulder was feeling significantly better (I did Urdhva Dhanurasana a few times in the weekend classes and it was feeling pretty good). I did held three UD for five breath cycles, no pain!

I went to Peanut's Wednesday morning hot class. Peanut was awesome, as usual, but I had a bad class. My balance was completely off! Half-way through the class, I got a 'flash headache' that plagued me through the seated poses, but as soon as the class was over, it was gone.

On Thursday, I woke up in a deep funk and didn't want to practice at all. I was tired, I was grumpy. I was scheduled to do my full practice. Instead, I sulked in bed and finally lured myself to the mat with a promise that I only had to do the Suryas and fundamental standing poses with finishing. I thought maybe I would be inspired to do more, but noooo...I wasn't. I grumped through it and rolled up my mat.

The reason for my ennui revealed itself the next morning: My LH arrived early. I rested on Friday and Saturday, but this morning I did a 40-minute vinyasa practice (YogaDownload, Yoga for Runner's #1 with Dawnelle). I'm hoping this will ease my return to my Astanga practice tomorrow because right now, I'm *dreading* it.

On Thursday, after my sulky practice, I pulled out my beloved guitar, thinking some music would cheer me up, only to find that ALL the strings were lose. The ENTIRE bridge had detached from the body.

I was dismayed, given that this is my 'dream guitar', the $900 Alvarez that I paid off for months in lay away. It was supposed to last my lifetime. This is a major repair (I learned later that it's covered under the warranty).

I think it's an apt symbol of a month gone bad, when things were falling apart all around me and I felt constantly overwhelmed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Mental Health Holiday

Fair warning: This is a whiny post.

Back in my corporate days, today would have been called a 'mental health holiday'. I cancelled absolutely *everything* - day classes, afternoon classes and evening classes. In eight years of teaching, I've never done this - not even when I was sick.

I'm good at toughing things out, but lately, I've felt felt like I'm at the end of my rope. I needed to take a step back.

So I slept in. My morning yoga practice consisted of an hour of restorative yoga from the Bobby Clennell book, followed by a salt bath, followed by a long nap. I spent the rest of day in my jammies, sitting in the window seat, reading a book with Princess Fur curled up on my lap. In the evening, I rode out to the east end and took a vinyasa class with one of my long-time teachers and friends.

The entire day was very easy and soothing. It was exactly what I needed.

Lately, I've been in this sad little headspace. I'm feeling glum, uncertain and adrift. I'm probably a bit depressed. Part of it is due to the time of year. I've also been experiencing a 'crisis of confidence' in my teaching recently. And part of the blame for the funk rests squarely on the gimpy shoulder.

Yeah, I know, I know...being depressed about the state of my practice is SO typical. Everyone is doing it. I'm not trying to jump on a bandwagon, honest. But damn, I HATE this injury. The torn hamstring was never this annoying!! Or was it? I can't remember...*grump*

Sometimes I wonder, with all the modifications I'm doing, when the practice stops being Astanga and starts being something else entirely. At the beginning of the week, I experienced *another* set-back with the shoulder and I had to cut Urdhva Dhanurasana. Now I'm all nostalgic for the 'good old days' when UD was merely 'uncomfortable'. If the injury doesn't kill me, the irony might!

Anyway, enough of that. Here's a little overview of my Week of Blah:

After two years of yoga-every-day-no-matter-what, I'm finally taking a genuine day off each week. On Sunday, I did no yoga. The 'yoga streak' is officially over! I'm really enjoying the weekly respite and to be honest, it's well-timed. I really need it.

But I'm starting to hate Monday practices because after a day off, I feel SO stiff. I practised my Primary and 2nd series poses, but everything was gummy and tender. I tried to do Urdhva Dhanurasana but found it very painful for my shoulder and had to stop at two backbends.

On Tuesday, I decided to replace Urdhva Dhanurasana with hangbacks. No dice - the hangbacks felt yucky. I reverted to a variation of UD that I learned from my Montreal teachers, keeping my hands off the floor. But it all felt like a big waste of time.

Wednesday was hot yoga day. It was a relief to do a practice without modifications and I soaked up the heat like a happy sponge. Everything is going pretty well with those postures, though I couldn't seem to balance in Padangusthasana. I brought my head to my knee in Dandayamana-Janushirasana, though, and held the balance. Yay! I treated my favourite hot yoga teacher, Peanut, to some cookies for Valentines Day.

The cookies were actually a bright spot in an otherwise blah week. I spent Sunday baking and in the end, I had 108 cookies! (not just yummy, but auspicous!) I spent the rest of the week handing out cookies to friends, students (and in a few cases, complete strangers).

"Happy Valentine's Day" It was so much fun!

Today, of course, I took my 'mental health day'. I really enjoyed the evening vinyasa class. It's a good reminder of how far I've come in my yoga practice, regardless of how I'm feeling about it at the moment. This is not a particularly challenging class for me, but moving through the sequence, guided by the teacher's voice, was as comforting as being wrapped in a soft, love-worn quilt. On a day that was all about soothing myself, this capped it off nicely.

When I told my teacher about the injury she laughed and said "Your right shoulder, my left shoulder!" Apparently, this is a very trendy injury! All the coolest practitioners are getting it! Between the two of us, we have one set of healthy shoulders. Maybe we should just team up!

Tomorrow is a Moon Day (I'm planning to go to the noon class at Hot Central). I won't be doing another Astanga practice until Saturday. Perhaps by then (I hope), I'll feel better.

On a bright note, I managed two Urdhva Dhanurasana in the vinyasa class tonight. I wasn't sure I would be able to pull them off, but figured it couldn't hurt (too badly) to try. The teacher offered an interesting variation for coming into the pose. She instructed us to lift our heels before pressing up (and then to drop them). For some reason, this reduced the pressure on my shoulder coming up. I'm looking forward to trying it in my regular practice.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Gong Show

The week's practices have been the usual mix of hot yoga and Astanga. On Wednesday, I attended Peanut's class at Hot Central. I've adopted a new 'spot' in that room, near the upper left corner in the front row. Yeah, I'm in the front row now. I'm no 'Birkam Rock Star' but I decided that I like being able to spot for alignment in the front mirror. Also, it's less important to me now to be able to see my backbends in a mirror behind me - in fact, that was becoming a bit of a crutch.

The pose I'm working on the most in hot classes these days is Dandayamana-Janushirasana (standing head-to-knee). Today, for the first time, I was able to bring my forehead to my shin and balance there for a few seconds - on both sides! It's still a work-in-progress, but the skill set is readily transferring to my Astanga practice - Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana has never been so stable!

I brought my knee to my shoulder again in Pavanamuktasana. It's really not on the shoulder per se, but more on the front of the armpit-crease. In Astanga, students often hope to hear a 'Good!' from the teacher. These Bikram teachers like adjectives! As Peanut strolled by in Pavanamuktasana, he said "Beautiful, Kai!" and I got that warm, 'the-teacher-thinks-I'm-doing-well' heart-glow. I've said it before, but praise makes me work harder. I think that's why I always do so well in Peanut's class. He's very generous with feedback and he's good at pushing me in a way that's encouraging instead of defeating.

Thanks, boss! *grin*

On Thursday, I dove back into my Astanga practice, full Primary plus my Intermediate. After the futzy practice on Tuesday, I was determined to keep my focus. My vinyasas are still very 'bare bone'. I've been keeping myself inspired by maximising what I *can* do within the limitations of my gimpy shoulder. So I'm doing Chaturanga to the floor, into Upward Facing Dog, back to the floor, then doing a push-up to Chaturanga before coming to table pose and crawling (*sigh*) to the front of my mat for the next pose. It probably looks pretty dumb, but at least I'm building strength.

On Friday, I headed back to Hot Central for the Friday class. I'm starting to LOVE this class! It's one of the most entertaining yoga experiences ever! It's never difficult to 'get a spot' because all the regulars populate the front row and there are not too many of us. The last two rows are usually PACKED, usually with newbies or relative newbies. It's a community class so it's the perfect one to drag a reluctant friend to because it's only five bucks.

The class begins and the front row smoothly moves through the postures, while all hell breaks loose in last two rows. It's like 'The Gong Show' back there! People are whispering, falling over, sitting down abruptly, guzzling water, knocking over their waterbottles, playing with their towels and generally flailing around. I'm NEVER bored and since no one's going to 'bad lady' me about my Driste, once I get into a pose I happily watch the chaos break out behind me from the front mirror (balancing poses are my absolute favourite). It's better than reality television (and I understand Mr. Choudhury is on top of that idea too!).

Pine Nut wasn't there this time, Macadamia was covering. I haven't been to one of her classes in a couple of weeks. She usually runs overtime, but I don't care on a Friday because I'm just going home afterward. I had a great moment in Padangustasana (toe stand), balancing with my hands together for the duration, both sides. Then I totally fell on my bum at the end of the second side and cracked up. See? The front row can be entertaining too! :-D

This morning (Saturday), I just did the Primary Series. I'm going to stick to Primary on Saturdays from now on because I'm doing a lot of yoga back-to-back and I'm always tired because I seem to get to bed late on Fridays.

The shoulder felt sore today - I couldn't do Urdhva Dhanurasana, so I came up on my head instead and focused on working my legs. A few hours after practice, I started playing around with some hangbacks and I'm wondering if they might be a vible alternative to UD as I'm waiting for this shoulder injury to heal. They felt GREAT.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Return of the Orb

As I was coming into the second side of Uttita Trikonasana this morning, my eyes were suddenly filled with a bright, intense light. A flash of heat hit my face and I squinted in the sudden glare.

Hail! What is this bright orb in the sky, sending beams through my window?

It is the SUN! I feel like I haven't seen the sun in weeks. In fact, since the "snowstorm" last week, it's been snowing almost continually and the skies have been dark.

There are things I absolutely love about these chilly winter days: curling up with a good book, knitting, drinking hot hot tea, walking around my neighbourhood as snowflakes lightly drift around me.

But the gray? I can do without that. So I'm happy to see the return of the orb. I'm not sure, but I think its absence could explain the tiny bit of a funk I've been fighting over the past couple of weeks. I take my Vitamin D regularly, I use the LightBook daily, but there's no substitute for the orb! :-D

I did my full Astanga practice both yesterday and today. I think this is the first time since December that I've practised Astanga on two consecutive days.

It was fine, though I was just a *bit* futzy today. God help me if I stop at any point in my practice. It's like stepping off a train. It moves on without me and then I have to run like crazy to catch it!

Taking the day off on Sunday was eye-opening, especially the 'after effects'. I did do some restorative/hatha yoga on that day, but only for about a half-hour. I didn't teach. And when I stepped on the mat on Monday, my gimpy hamstring was SCREAMING at me.

Though I don't demo a lot in my classes, I almost always do the first few steps of the sun salutations with my students, which includes those forward bends. I believe that's what was missing and I *really* felt it.

I felt better today - everything, including my left hamstring, was more open. Best of all, my shoulder is feeling better every day! Whatever I'm doing (or not doing) is working for me so I'm going to continuing doing (or not doing) it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, February 6, 2011


As I started to construct a new 'practice schedule' after completing my month at Hot Central, I knew one thing for certain: I wanted a day off, a real, genuine day OFF. Last year, I was teaching 7 days a week; there wasn't a single day that I wasn't doing something yoga related, whether teaching or a vigorous practice. It was wearing me out!

Late last year, I *finally* cleared my Sundays. With a work-free day available, I've decided that henceforth, Saturday will be a practice day and Sunday will a rest day (it's not the Astanga standard, but very little of my practice is these days). I often do a bit of yoga on my day off, but it's usually Yin or Restorative - something low key. I've decided that's allowable in my new scheme.

But I decided to add another, somewhat contentious, element to this day of rest: no work-work (business-related/cleaning/errands; with fun personal projects excepted) and NO INTERNET.

Originally, the plan was for 'no computers or internet' but since I've gone 'paperless', much of my life now revolves around the screen. My journaling is done on computer, my magazines live there and even many of the books and articles I read are electronic (what I can't get at the library, I buy on my Kindle).

As I moved through my Sunday, I was amazed by how often I referenced something on the iPad, even without Internet available. I keep a dream journal, jot down quotes, look up recipes, maintain a list of 'books read' and 'books I want to read', and use a meditation timer.

So, what did I actually DO with my work-and-internet-free day? Lots! I read, read, read, mostly. I finished *two* books and started two others, which kind of amazes me. I also took Princess Fur for two long walks, enjoyed a hot bath and visited my favourite South Indian restaurant for lunch. I cleaned out a bathroom cabinet, drank lots of decaffeinated-green-tea-chai and took an afternoon nap. I did some restorative yoga and meditated.

I broke my own rules and did a tiny bit of work that I had forgotten to finish yesterday and, of course, I'm writing this blog post. But frankly, I'm astounded by how much 'free time' I liberated simply by turning off the cellular connection on my iPad. No tweets, no RSS feeds, no email. I miss it, but I kinda don't miss it.

Verdict? It was great and I plan to make it a weekly event.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Intention, meet Action!

Last week in one of my youth classes, a new student arrived - a little boy. He's around six years old. He asked if he *had* to take his shoes off. I confirmed that he must, so he carefully removed them, then unrolled the mat I gave him and sat down, cross-legged.

He looked me in the eye and said, very earnestly: "I'd like to learn how to fart in my own face."

I've never had a student more clearly state their intention for taking yoga practice.

Without skipping a beat, I replied: "Well, yoga can help you with that!" And I got him started on preparatory poses for Tittibhasana B.

(photo credit: Arjuna's wonderful website

I'm sure DR and Miss Stan will be happy to know that the yoga mats they donated to my childrens' yoga programme are being put to such GREAT use, helping the next generation of Ashtangis to develop *ahem* important life skills!


The end of week always feels very 'yoga-heavy' to me because I go to Pine Nut's Friday night hot class and go to bed almost immediately after coming home. Then I get up the next morning to do my Astanga practice. Yoga, yoga!

Last night's class was fun! As usual, the room was incredibly hot. These Friday night classes are very different from the morning classes I'm used to attending. The room is packed and there's a jolly atmosphere, like someone's having a party.

That 'someone' is Pine Nut, the teacher. His dialogue is energetic and fun and he keeps us all laughing. The sheer mass of people gives the room a bright, intense energy. And there are always a good number of brand new people which is SO MUCH FUN to watch and listen to. Hilarious!

Oh, and by the way, I'm not the only one bestowing nicknames at Hot Central. Actually, there seems to be a culture of nicknames in the hot yoga world (during teacher training, Bikram himself called poor Peanut "Bald Man"

My nickname appears to be...wait for it..."Miss Astanga".


I think I'm going to get one of those big ribbons to put across my chest - you know, the kind "Miss Universe" wears. :-D

I expected to have a difficult practice last night because it was SO hot, but I didn't. In fact, I had a terrific practice and nailed every single pose. All of my balances were solid, I brought my forehead to my knee in Dandayamana-Janusirsasana on both sides (first time!) and I held toe-stand on both sides.

Contrast this to last Wednesday's class, when the room was a more moderate temperature, yet I was suffering throughout the entire class. I always assumed my good and bad days in the hot room could be explained by temperature fluctuations. Turns out, just like in my Astanga practice, they're really influenced by ME (and, more than likely, my silly brain).

Good to know!

I really enjoyed my Astanga practice this morning. I moved through my Primary and 8 Intermediate poses, futz-free in 75 minutes. This still amazes me. I can still remember last summer when I couldn't get through Primary in under 90 minutes and it was sometimes nearly two hours.

My shoulder felt better today. No pain at all! (but I was backing well away from any transition that caused discomfort).

The highlight of my practice today was Sirsasana. I'm feeling strong in that pose and I think I may be ready to start extending my hold to a couple of minutes again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Astanga Limbo

It seems to be 'existential angst' week in the Cybershala. Meanwhile, always lagging a bit behind the herd, I'm happily plugging along with my practice, such as it is, happy as a clam.

This morning, as I rolled up the Manduka after doing my practice, I thought: "I like this. I LOVE IT! It makes me happy." And it does. Because for 90 minutes, I don't need to think, I just need to try my very best in each moment I encounter.

But it wasn't 90 minutes, actually. My current practice is so *entirely* futz-free that I speed through all of it - the Primary and the Intermediate and the backbends - in a tidy 75 minutes. I was rereading bits of the blog from the Fall, during the 'long-difficult-lonely' era of my practice. My practice doesn't feel long at all right now, it's not hard and I'm too busy practising to feel lonely.

My shoulder still hurts sometimes, but I seem to have hit upon the magical formula that allows me to move through the series while remaining deeply connected to my breath, but backing off from any pain sensation near the site of the injury. I know exactly where that edge is and I can tip-toe around it.

The perimetre of that edge is getting smaller, though. I find myself able to do more and more. I've read that these type of injuries can take up to 12 weeks to heal. That would place my full recovery (not that this means anything; my hamstring is still 'recovering') sometime in March, the month I was *supposed* to travel north to see my teachers.

If I wanted to have some existential angst, I guess I could have it about THAT. Because I don't know if I'm going to be able to travel in March. My schedule is unclear, money is very tight. And I don't know if I *want* to go. I know that sounds vague, but I guess I'm feeling uncertain about teachers-in-general and perhaps I'm a little bit disenchanted with the Astanga tradition right now. Even as I'm feeling happy with my practice, I'm feeling very disconnected, as if I'm stuck in some kind of Astanga Limbo.

But as long as I'm on this topic, if YOU live in Montreal (in the city) and you have a couch or a floor I could sleep on for a day or two (I'm really not picky), please get in touch (I'm on google mail, username: reluctantashtangi). I'll be spending my time elsewhere (probably the Shala, maybe my friend D's gallery, and very likely myriad cafés). I just need a place to sleep from 9 p.m. to Stupid o'clock in the morning. I'm a quiet, non-demanding guest and I bake terrific muffins. If you'd like to host, get in touch.

I'm guess I'm feeling very content, but uncertain about many things in my life. And to be perfectly honest, I think all of this uncertainty is really good for me so I'm going to sit with it for awhile.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Breaking news! It's snowing! In Canada!

In fact, it's snowing pretty much *everywhere*. Except Hawaii. And Belize. We're having a storm!

Since I live in a Happy Little Yoga Bubble and rarely partake of mainstream media or news sources, this information came to me a bit late. I was teaching a kid's yoga class last night when one of the six-year-olds blithely informed me that a 'big storm was coming' and that 'school was cancelled'. I thought she was joking until I Iooked at the forecast.

The first snowfall hit overnight. It was enough to close ALL the schools, but not enough to keep me and 11 other people from attending Peanut's 9:30 class at Hot Central. And it wasn't enough to deter any of my noon students. I taught a fiery vinyasa practice to a full room!

But all of my evening classes were cancelled, which means I had a rare and wonderful 'snow day.' I spent the day curled up in the window seat watching the second snowfall cover the city with a white blanket. Then Princess Fur and I played in the park.

Princess Fur is not a fan of her winter gear. She averts her eyes and refuses to look at me as I put her boots on, then she stays rooted in one place, barely moving a muscle, abject misery written all over her face. Until the elevator comes and I force her to 'come'.

She's fine once we get outside. In fact, she loves the snow! She was a November puppy, so this is what the world is *supposed* to look like in her eyes.

Snow removal is a bit funny in our city. There are strict laws that govern the shoveling of sidewalks. Home owners are required to shovel the walks in front of their property - strict fines are levied if they don't comply. But the actually *streets* in our neighbourhoods are sometimes not cleared for days, as the city plows focus on the main roads.

And of course, the park ice rink is cleared right away, hand-shoveled by eager little ice hockey enthusiasts who are home from school! (I've done it, back when I used to volunteer for the rink - it's a heavy task!).

Practice Report

Today, I took a class at Hot Central. Surprise! Midweek Bikram Yoga!

Last week, I went to the Friday community class and that was great, but I keenly missed Peanut's Wednesday morning class. Wednesday were always my favourite day!

I was mulling over various options for class passes when the universe firmly intervened. I was offered a discount on classes which brought the price into an affordable range and then that *exact* dollar amount magically dropped into my account. When the universe speaks *so* clearly, I must listen. I'm set for hot classes through the fall. I can even occasionally attend Almond's Monday morning class.

For the foreseeable future, the weekly plan is: 4 days of Astanga, 2 days of Bikram, 1 day of Yin (on Sunday, which is now firmly my *day off*; no classes and very light practice).

Ironically, I was feeling somewhat 'off' this morning; a bit low energy. The room wasn't too hot, but for some reason I was dizzy and queasy - a first for me. But I just carried on as usual and it was fine.

I warmed up with my usual hip openers and six Urdhva Dhanurasana, then stood on my head until class started. The standing poses were tough, but I was fine for the seated. Peanut is very generous with feedback and he pushes us without being an asshole about it. I learned a few new things about standing-head-to-knee today and with his encouragement, I touched my knee to my shoulder for the first time in Pavan Muktasana. Honestly, I never thought I would do that!

It was fun to see some of my Bikram 'shalamates' again. After 30 days of morning classes, I had started to know a few people. I chatted with the guy who always sets up his mat to my right. A local teacher also comes to these morning classes regularly. We rarely talk, but it's nice to see her around and to know there's a fellow Ashtangi in the room.

It felt comfy falling back into the easy routine I followed in January, even if only for a day. Tomorrow, it's back to Astanga.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jumping the queue

Yesterday, there was a lingering delay on the subway line. Already running late, I despairingly watched train after train come and go, packed to the gills with commuters.

When the third one was about to leave the station, I succumed to desperation and stepped up to the door and pleaded: "Please, everyone. Squeeze in and make room for just one more. I'm a yoga teacher and if I don't make this train, 20 people are going to miss their yoga class!!"

There was a pause, then a shuffle of bodies. A voice called out "Let her in!" and I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea! I was packed in next to the door like a sardine, but I was on my way.

As the train sped west, the woman wedged to my right quietly said "I would just DIE if I didn't have my weekly yoga class!" I wondered if her voice was the one that rallied the troops to make space earlier.

And I kinda felt like a super hero! :-)

I'm about to mull over some Lady's Health Issues now and, taking a page from Skippety's book, I've decided to issue a warning to the squeamish.

-----WARNING: I am about to talk about my uterus!------

Most of you know that I have a very conflicted feelings about the pharmaceutical industry. In general, I try to never take drugs of any kind. The top shelf of my kitchen cabinet is packed with natural remedies...and a single over-the-counter pain medication.

Some of you may also have an inkling that my Lady's Holiday is a miserable time for me. I'm in agony for at least 24 hours. If this 24 hours coincides with a busy teaching day, it makes for some interesting classes. Cristina (an Anusara teacher) has observed that she teaches some of her best classes when she's feeling under the weather. I concur; I become incredibly focused, my instruction is crystal clear.

But there are those very 'special moments' when I have to put an entire class of 25 people into Balasana and excuse myself to the washroom so I can double over in pain and weep.

This month, I tried a little experiement with a drug commonly used to treat menstrual discomfort. I'm not going to name it here, because I'm not in the business of promoting the drug industry, but if you're really curious, email me.

Per instructions, I started taking it as soon as I knew my LH was on its way and stayed on a specified dosage through my 'holiday'. And it worked! It was AWESOME!

The first day, I felt some mild discomfort which was eased immediately with a mild pain medication. And then, NOTHING! I didn't feel a thing! It was like a miracle, which is why I'm sharing it here. I can't believe this stuff existed all this time. I had NO IDEA.

I'm still leery of putting chemicals in my body, but I'm happy to continue with this one because of the positive effect it has had on my quality of life. I almost seems 'to good to be true'. I hope it works next month!

-----Okey dokey, I'm done talking about my uterus!------

I did my full practice this morning and it was fine. I had some slight shoulder discomfort but *only* after I got a little bit of The Stupid and tried jumping back and forward a few times. Oopsies!

Each time I've practised since my month break, I've struggled with Bhujapidasana, but not today! Today, it's like someone flipped on the 'Bhujapidasana Switch' in my brain. I effortlessly dipped down and placed my chin on the floor. Even as I was doing it, I couldn't believe I was doing it!

The thing I notice most about my practice these days is that I'm content with it. I enjoy it. I don't stress out too much over it and when I'm not practising, I don't think very much about it.

It's a fine state of affairs and I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad