About mariavlong

I'll tell you about what today is like for me. It will include Yoga, chasing after some pretty or yummy thing, trying to be nicer & less of a big baby.

Strength Is Not Aggressive

That statement is probably the most important thing I remember Louise Ellis saying to us during last weekend’s workshop. Whatever intention, resolution or promise you made to yourself in regard to your practice, you must sustain it not with force but with conviction, faith, and time. Everyone knows I try to ditch Intro to second series whenever I remember which Friday it is, because it leaves me rattled and sometimes frankly hostile. Today was not one of those days when I remembered, and even though this time I  thought I was not emotionally taxed I did manage to annoy me knee enough to not want to bend it at all. How did I do that? By being aggressive. Aggressive how? By applying force against the wall to stretch my quads in preparation for Bhekasana even though I had already felt discomfort during Krounchasana. Now I have a swollen knee that I am icing hoping it is good enough to dance a bit at a wedding tomorrow, and strong enough for the Climate March on Sunday. Another important thing that Louise said was that Ashtanga is not a self improvement project. It is a spiritual practice with beneficial side effects, but it is not a fix-transform-version 2.0 more powerful improved body mind project. It is also not an escape, she said. If you subtract aggressive discipline/enforcement, self improvement delusions, and other external motivations for practice, it is no wonder that as Richard Freeman says, that when you get really good is when you quit.

Auto Pilot

Never a good thing. Instead of checking the schedule I was sent, I assumed Mysore with Louise on Monday would be at the same time. When I showed up there were 2 people left in Savasana and Louise had just left, I was told that I was welcome to stay and to lock the door when I was done but I declined because what if someone else shows up?? I have a sore throat anyway.

Comfort Zones

I’ll make this short because I’m hungry and exhausted, but what else is new?? It is cold as you know what here in Arkansas. I packed for 88 degree weather, which is how I found the best thrift shop I’ve ever been to. God bless college towns. If you are ever in Fayetteville visit Cheap Thrills. I saw Leonard dresses from the 70’s (those are Emilio Pucci inspired prints) for 30 bucks. Not my size and I don’t wear prints but still. Okay, about the yoga. If you know Kristen Albertson who owns and runs Ashtanga Yoga Fayetteville you already know she is a delight. Calm, steady, and ready to laugh after getting off a plane after a grueling business trip and ready to greet everyone with coconut water fresh juice and good for you fancy snacks. Feel so lucky to have made friends with this one. Louise Ellis is beautiful. I need to mention that because it is distracting and because it is the testament to the benefits of many decades of Ashtanga practice. She doesn’t just glow, she sort of vibrates. So. Mysore practice in a small room 12 students, pretty darn wonderful. Yin practice in the afternoon? I have done restorative yoga in the past which I love. This Yin yoga makes a liar out of you if you have ever dared to say you can stay in the present moment. Which brings me to the title of this post. This is my second day of driving having no idea where I’m going. I eventually arrive but it feels pretty awful to be lost driving a car that is not yours. I got a traffic ticket already, but I am doing better with the feeling of having no idea of when I will arrive. Which is sort of like Yin yoga, you have no idea when the pose will end. Fortunately Louise has the most melodious voice, AND she imparts such valuable information/1% theory while you are holding the pose that it helps focus the mind, but darn do I wish I had pen and paper to write down everything she said. More of that tomorrow because I have to jot things down while I remember and I am starving. Tomorrow old school led with full vinyasa.

Probably Not

Would I practice Ashtanga if I was still working? Probably not. I had to wake up at 5:30 AM to get the 6:26 to GC and get to PS 214 at 7:45. I woke up at 4:30 AM today to get to the Bowery at shala time, and afterwards, fell asleep at a table, in a crowded restaurant waiting for my waffles. It was a lovely practice. I  am glad that I heard Sharath say (and I paraphrase) that vinyasa purifies the body while asana, breath, and gaze clarify the mind. what better goal than to obtain pure clarity, huh? huh? But I have to start  that project at 7:30 or 8:00 AM. It was lovely to hug N and P but we can do that on a brunch date or something from now on. Pre-dawn practitioners, I salute you but cannot join you.


My right shoulder hurts loudly. It starts at the back of my right shoulder and it travels all the way down to my index finger and thumb. I have self diagnosed it as a yoga slash computer injury. I am assigning equal blame to my heavy yoga bag (I loveyouhateyou Manduka) and the mouse on the Macbook pro.  Why do I bring this up? Because it is not horrible and it is also not great to whine. But whining or talking about aches and pains is not a huge yoga problem.  And here I is where I for the first time ever (hopefully only once) share a Facebook comment I made on a post sharing a blogpost which title is Yoga Is Not Hard.

Learning IS Hard. Once you figure out how to move your body to the boundary of NO injury it becomes easier. But learning how is hard. You can enjoy or you can abhor the effort. but you have to make an effort to learn something you do not already know. Whining about your wrist or your hip, or your back, is just shop talk. Tennis pros and golf pros do it to shoot the breeze, grandpas at the barbershop complain about aches and pains. HS athletes complain/brag about what hurts. Humans Kibbitz like that sometimes, it’s not the greatest topic but it is not unforgivable either.

I am going to say it is okay to complain about a sore shouder the day before I am going to Sharath’s Led Primary and two days before my Louise Ellis workshop. Repetitive movements like walking and driving and keyboard typing make you sore, just like yoga.

How the 1% Does Yoga

Please bear with me. This morning before practice I checked headlines, Facebook, Twitter, which is contraindicated by any yoga teacher worth their salt. So of course I am instantly outraged by the arrest of a human rights lawyer who was waiting for her kids to use the bathroom and did not explain this to the cop because in the USA you can stand on the street without fear of arrest, unless you are brown and expressed compassion for Palestine in a demonstration that had just ended. I double up by reading next, that fast food workers have also been arrested for sitting in front of McDonald”s  demonstrating for a fair wage. These two things happened in NYC not in some backwater all deals are off, we never see people of other ethnicities kind of place. So I leave for yoga outraged, but get this, Outraged over here also subscribes to GOOP  (points  and respect if you do not know what that is) which is waiting in my inbox. Gwynnie (who oozes style no need to lie)  has curated ( WHY IS EVERYBODY CURATING??) ideas on how to dress your bed for fall, yummy smelling lotions I cannot afford, and a recommendation for this service called namastenewyork.com

It has this video in the blog section. And that is why everybody thinks that yoga is for self obsessed ladies like this one quoting “sutra 52 I think it is?” I have nothing against what we sometimes call “privates”, but I totally understand why some people smirk a little when I tell them I practice yoga because  they probably run into something like this online.

Habits From Summer

I don’t know when I decided that “correct method” was arriving, unpack/set up quickly, stand up straight, dedicate, chant, go! I considered any variation of that was”faffing”. While at home with no audience to behave in front of, I developed a sort of sitting practice where I told myself that starting was all that was required, that I could go as slow or as fast as I wanted to, that I could stop at any point that I wanted to, Or just sit and breathe in front of the candle the whole time if that is what I wanted. Don’t you know that I got up and practiced more consistently than during any other time since I started half a dozen years ago. Yesterday was my first day back at the shala, and it was like the first day of school, very enthusiastic and good. So enthusiastic that I messed up my problem left knee during a simple vinyasa. Today, Three different vehicles of varying sizes tried to cut me off in the scant 20 minutes it takes to get to Georgetown. I arrived with my heart in my throat. So I sat down and did the sitting thing until my heart went back to my chest. I think I am going to sit down and breathe for a little bit before standing up from now on.