I have always been curious about all these implements people collect to massage their surprised muscles because of the way their particular practice is going. I am impressed with some collections. Boodiba’s in particular. Among her stash she has a blue neck thingie that I covet and a wooden ballet stretcher gizmo that I do not covet at all. Susananda also has a therapy stick I think it is called that looks interesting. We ashtangis do not go for props or aids during practice with some wise exceptions but we seem to enjoy gizmos for after practice. I have survived with a meager tennis ball, but it it is time to add a foam roller. Megan from Damngoodyoga gave an excellent demo on how to use the dang thing (maybe it’s use is self explanatory for most but not for the likes of me) and I think that it is going to be ideal for the traveling spasm that has arrived to my pelvis from its original point of arrival on the right side of my upper back. Time to get serious if turning around in bed needs a strategy. Please please spend time cultivating a respectable chaturanga when you begin a yoga practice. Failure to do so will come back and bite you in the ass. Literally.
Writing Ashtangi confessions in the title gets old. A protestant preacher that I heard when I was young and searching, once called popular radio the domain of “the prince of the power of the air” (aka Satan). I’m sure he was quoting a bible verse, and at the time I snickered discreetly. Now I think he had a point. I do not listen to radio and I may have like 20 tunes downloaded on my iphone, some of them are vedic chants and the sutras which I would not qualify as pop music. When I do catch a Jimmy Fallon clip or a friend sends me some spoof or another, it gets irrevocably stuck in my head. The tune, not the words thank goodness. So what plays in my head continuously when on the mat lately? in constant rotation: What Sound Does The Fox Make, followed my the child Miley’s Wercking Ball, sometimes interrupted by Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and fortunately sometimes Lorde’s Royals. How do you shut that up? Louder breathing for a short fix then it gets incorporated. Mantras become attached to the tune, What you got that works?
Thanksgiving day practice is sort of a treat at my place of practice. Lots of out of town visitors mixing with the regulars and everyone knows it is both auspicious and wise to have shown up.I of course made up a false story in my head that practice that day is only one hour when in fact it is a 90 minute affair. I had scheduled/procrastinated so many tasks for that morning that I realized I had to leave at the one hour fifteen mark in order to make all my commitments. While I was there though I experienced my least favorite (I know bad yoga talk) kind of class which is an improv type of class. Interestingly enough through all the supposed discomfort I discovered hidden progress that does not highlight itself in regular practice. Example A: I can now hold Vasisthasana. I hate it as much as before, but I can now get into it and stay there. Not for as long as teacher’s count but before I could not even balance my body at that angle much less hold the pose. Then there were variations of Utthita Parsvakonasana that made me realize that I had increased stability during a balancing lunge and other variations of the dreaded Virabhadrasana confirmed that I had gained balance and edurance during balance. This in no way increased the level of Sthira Sukham. I was still panting trying not to. I venture to say I was not alone either. Maybe whatever the new moon does was happening ahead of schedule. And I was very sorry to have to rush my resting pose and miss the tiny love fest at the end of the thanksgiving practice where I love to give a blubbering whimpering thank you to my teacher. This morning only pranayama folks, because my sister in law Beth and I led a thorough wine tasting of white Vertliners, followed by some Dornfelders, and our beloved Cakebread Cellars Cabernet. We started at 3PM and dutifully finished by 8:30 PM.
#6 I wear perfume. Like a lot of my Latin, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern brethren, I will not leave the house without it. And guess what, nobody has died or gagged. As a matter of fact I get a lot of positive feedback. One lovely teacher at the shala who also happens to be a Yale educated professional violinist AND a shaman (aha, that’s right), once told me that she would think I am not feeling well if she happened to adjust me one day and not inhale something that smells good. I do not bathe in perfume and I do not wear synthetic godawful stuff. I also do not use it shall we say, “to conceal” anything. So there you have it. Tiny rebellions that have not caused havoc. Yet. My three favorites, in constant rotation:
But we do not listen. Most seasoned yogis come to the conclusion that talking, writing, blogging about their practice sucks some pretty essential energy from the endeavor. Most of us go nawh, reallly?Like how? You sure?Me, I don’t feel it? Until you do. Over here it is because the two steps back and how ever many it is forward (I always say it wrong) dance is intense but powerful right now and somehow beneficial and very tricky to describe. Tricky because telling it makes it sound hyperbolic and trivial when what is happening is just the opposite. writing about it feels like poking the dirt to see if the seeds you planted are making any progress, or to see if you did plant them right side up. You might not hurt anything but you know it’s not what we’d call helping the thing along.
#5 This one is kind of ugly. No, it is quite very ugly. You see the person who started just a little while ago and give or take a few pounds, give or take a few years, give or take the amount of coordination, you make a comparison that you are similar. But guess what? Not really because she, besides being cool & nice, is cruising by and is going to start second like anytime. You feel envy, then feel bad for feeling envy, and then bad for feeling bad about a feeling you do not know how to kill, then really bad about not deleting this one. I wish there was a laxative for this feeling. Maybe posting it will be like a very technological innovative toilet flush.
Because I woke up just an hour ago, 10 AM EST. Wide a wake during the full moon, meaning could not stay in bed, or read, or surf the internet. I just sat around and waited for whatever that was to pass. I also have been nagged with what I can only describe as waist pain for the past few days. It starts during the surys and it feels like I am wearing elastic pants that are cutting my circulation and it progresses to a spasm that prevents me from trying upward facing dog, so I have to go straight from Chaturanga to downward facing dog. So today after I write this I am going to do a practice in my very narrow hallway following some fresh insights from watching Dr. Kiki and Lacy Korb go through Surya Namaskara A & B. I think I have been doing some weird overstretching and dipping during the 4th and 5th vinyasas. I don’t need the narrow hallway for that but I need it to press my feet against the walls during seated forward bends because otherwise my hips will not face forward trying to avoid the pinch on the waist. We shall see. I’ll throw in a hot bath into the research as a form of useful procrastination.
Before I share #5 I would like to mention that after two weeks of daily pranayama I will go ahead and confess that I do not notice a great difference in stamina. What I do notice is a remarkable difference in my levels of equanimity and calm mindedness. I know this because I am being quizzed and challenged on that daily. Every day since October 7th. I did get interrupted by 3 days of a a very clogging flu, so I am still optimistic about stamina results in the near future.
So #5: Always assuming that the teacher is heading in your direction because you are doing something wrong or half assed. Maybe I am doing something that she notices that has improved and I just need a tiny assist to finally get to the full expression of the pose, but is that my fist thought? Never. I see people waiting patiently to see if they get a little help, and not just the ones practicing second. Me? It’s always why attract the fuzz, blend, blend!!
#4 Eh, one day late but better than skipping right? I am sure this is not “traditional” and who knows if it is “correct method”, but teacher has a couple of assistants now and one of them occasionally does the loveliest thing. During the formerly known Savasana, now called rest, she might sometimes come by and will smooth your shoulders and gently touch between your eyebrows. That somehow sends me to a happy land that very few and far between massages (the pampering spa lady girl kind) have sent me to previously. I leave the place feeling like if I was tucked in for a short nap by my mommy.
Not really. Just finding away to describe my neti pot mishap. I managed to receive the flu last night, and since I do not see lots and lots of people I have a very short list of who the donors were. So I am quite congested last night and decide to use the neti pot before bed. Someone needs to share that when your sinuses are very congested the water flows into other directions, like lets say the ear canal causing searing salty pain. I am trying some oil pulling this afternoon to see if that helps. If not, it is off to the mercy of Dr, Papaharis rather his Physician’s Assistant. I have not seen Dr. Papaharis since the beginning of this century and thank goodness because that means nothing serious has happened. In the meantime let me leave you with this gentle reminder from THE HOUSE RECOMMENDATIONS at Ashtanga Yoga: Ann Arbor: