#DryApril

I had a non-alcoholic January and a semi-non -alcoholic February. I had a rather alcohol fueled March because every day  that my daughter has been home has been like throwing a dinner party. She needed that, deserved it, and I enjoyed it. I had decided to clean up as they say this month in preparation to maybe learning something from those good people over at AYC in San Diego next May, and don’t you know that I am not the only one psyched about being dry in April? I discovered on twitter today that #DryApril is a thing! I will only make an exception sometime around the 15th when I have a dinner date with someone from Texas. Sounds like a 40 days and 40 nights kind of biblical thing, but in my case 39 because no way I turn down meeting someone awesome just to ocd on a being on a roll.

To Not Want

I had a very interesting short conversation the other day about control, ritual and routine. It will be no surprise to hear that all unofficial data points to ashtangis being a bunch of control freaks. Even the lazy ones like me. The illusion of having control over one’s daily existence is almost like a precondition for serenity, and what better way than starting it with the ritual of practice? It is not effortless like brushing your teeth or taking that shower, You are taking action like Krishna recommends. What happens when injury, helping someone during the time you ordinarily practice, or/and waking up groggy from the two glasses of sulfite strong wine you had with friends the night before, get in the way of that practice ritual? You mean after you scold yourself for not pre-planning /protecting the ritual? You either make it up later during the day (phew) or nag yourself in 40 or 90 minute intervals. Nothing wrong with any of that until you no longer need to do any of that because well, you don’t need to. That’s all. Yesterday was a combination of realizing that I was doing all of that, and having a really hard time not doing that. Even after having spoken with conviction the night before about the illusion of control, and wanting to follow through with taking the action of letting go, I  didn’t let go. I woke up ashamed  for not feeling well, annoyed that my daughter needed the car during the window where the shala is open for practice, and practicing handicapped and physically uncomfortable that afternoon. I have always nodded when I hear “I have never felt sorry to have done my practice”. But I will admit that what felt better yesterday was not the practice itself but that I did not break the appointment/ritual/agreement, not the practice itself. In other words,  that I kept a semblance of control thank goodness. Today I am sitting with the feeling that it is 3rd Friday of the month and I strongly did not want to put myself through intro to 2nd while wanting to attend group meditation, but how odd would it be if I just drove for that. I am also sitting with the impulse of doing penance by driving up to an 11 AM led class, while it would be perfectly fine to do a laid back primary at home today. Now that is a difficult practice: Feeling peaceful about feeling unsettled, and getting there without your calming ritual or your usual go to replacement. That unfortunately also takes practice.

Proceed Calmly

If you are alarmed by someone’s verbal abuse it is important to calm those vrittis first before you take action. Sometimes the vrittis do not calm down but at least you do not botch your response to objectionable behavior. I was going to leave Sunday’s trolling unpleasantness alone until I saw that my friend was still being harassed in the comments section of her new blog entry. So after a very mentally busy home practice (it started snowing when I was about to leave) I decided to do a little retired suburban housewife with time on her hands online research. It is important to save a copy of everything you find, because for example if I had not saved an image of who could potentially be my friend’s and my tormentor, It would have disappeared by today and that image was quite helpful. Then you just need patience and time until you will eventually find a Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence with a place of employment, several Indian marriage/matchmaking registries with his data, a youtube channel, and several threads where there are inquiries about job searches in a certain Scandinavian country. So, what do you do with all this which you copied, saved, AND even printed you may ask? You take it to your local police department, You share it with your friend should she want to take it the Mysore Police Dept. and Maybe also offer it to her husband here in the states should he want to take further action. If you still have oodles of time you might want to investigate how to send this to the local police department in certain Scandinavian city, that matches his LinkedIn profile, and of course share with as many yogi friends who might want to know how to avoid receiving insults and threats. Being only 29 is no excuse for bad manners. But you have to do all this before you reveal what you collected and  generously shared because then of course there will be a lot of panicked but too late deleting. Oh, and report the verbal abuse to WordPress, but I haven’t heard from them yet.

Stranger Danger

I know a really decent female human being who is studying at KPJAYI and blogging about it. She had the audacity to mention how unfamiliar she is with the night time noises, that she saw some trash on empty lots next to very beautiful homes, and that a bus full of teenagers almost teased her. Some troll became melodramatically unhinged while reading this and accused her of being a racist and to insulting India as a nation, and threatening to find her and set her straight or make her pay, or something. I think he is still deciding. That’s fine, she can handle it, and so could I when he came over to troll my about page over here. Feel free to browse, but like I told this person, I feel that our exchange might be unproductive, so I “finalized” our conversation. What I really want to discuss is my impression that trolls are a lot more violent and aggressive with their language when they address female bloggers than their male counterparts. Does anybody else notice that? I see that not just from overly emotional possibly stressed out people, but politicians, pundits, and hackers across all social media. I generally don’t find men calling other men old, fat, prostitute, etc. or being threatened with “wait until I find you” but maybe I generalized. The other thing that came to mind, that I find more disturbing is how this overreaction to a tourist posting her observations might put her in danger, and I cannot help but think how this trolling happens around the same time that book banning is occurring in India, and how our online conversations could be vulnerable to censoring as well. My other reason to post this is that if you do check my about page and read it, I still  would like to think the abusive language will remain just verbal and onscreen only, but want everyone to be careful.

UPDATE: On the advice of my friend Boodiba, I have removed the excrement from my about page now that I have an album of screen shots of this persons “poetry”.

The Desire For Perfection

You probably know we all have been reading David Garrigues’ post on perfection. Maybe you also happen to read Chris Courtney’s  Yoga for Perfectionists over at yoganonymous.com. They appeared on my FB news feed on the same day. Maybe you should not be reading the opinions on perfection from someone who started her practice around 10:45 AM today, but here are my two cents. Desire for perfection (or any other damn thing/situation) comes from unmet needs. Why do you want perfection (in this particular instance)?? Be careful how you answer that because I have recently discovered that as soon as we give ourselves permission to go after what we want most of us realize we don’t actually know exactly what we want. Maybe you do so in that case proceed. Perfection becomes a non issue when there is a foundation of self trust. Trusting your impulses without judgement determines whether any learning or improvement project is going to be approached as war against the faulty self or as a discovery that transforms the already pretty good self. Notice how much practice it takes to use the term pretty good on yourself honestly. In public. Anyway, I just noticed that one post was approaching desire as benign and the other was noticing desire as compulsion. Perfection can be sought through war against the self, or through peace with the self. My guess is both get it done. Only one way with less carnage.

I suggest that you check to see how I filched everything here from Charles Eisenstein’s chapter on Struggle from his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.

Eisenstein

How to Appreciate

A perfect day:

1. Watch a movie too close to your bedtime the night before. The Butler in this particular instance.

2. Fret about Mariah Carey’s character, and Oprah’s character while you toss and turn most of the night.

3. Turn off the alarm and think I’ll go to J’s 11:AM because in the fog you think it’s Friday not Sunday.

4. Wake up to the smell of fresh croissants & coffee because your hon has gone to get the NYT paper edition.

5. digest the dough and coffee while you talk to daughter  for over an hour on the phone while you plan what to do/eat/go when she visits for the entire month of March.

6. Go upstairs to commit to at least 5 As & 5B’s and make it all the way to 1/2 primary.

7. Have a 2PM lunch while husband reads you articles from the Economist and you take sips of HIS glass of Cabernet.

8. Finish a leftover carton of Jeni’s Whiskey and Pecan ice cream because even though it is over a month old it is too expensive to throw and you freshen it up with a dash of Talisker.

9. Read a couple of motivational ashtanga blogs ( Sadhana in the city &  The Journey of My Practice) because tomorrow is Monday and you need to get over the fear of driving in the snow to get to practice.

10. Inhaling your freshly laundered towels and realizing you finally figured out the right amount of baking soda to add in order to get that sesame oil smell out of  your towels because  that is what ends up happening when you do abhyanga daily.

11. It is one minute to 4 PM and you find no fault in the way your day has gone.

The Length of a Breath

photoDay who knows, of a winter of home practices, and I have at least discovered this: Even though my very valuable marker for the length of each of my 5 breaths in each asana is David Robson’s 4 in/4 out, My fours are a lot faster than my fellow practitioners both live and online. I think I have mentioned before about getting flustered when someone else starts at exactly the same time I do during Mysore practice, and I inevitably end being one or two poses ahead. My inner critic yells slow down right away, but eventually I am ahead again. That is actually one of my biggest distractions, wondering if my breath is cheating. I have heard teachers (Nancy Gilgoff among others) say that Ashtanga should have a dynamic and energetic tempo, but I still measure my breath not by how my body wants to do it but by the tempo of my teacher’s led count. Don’t get me wrong, if it were not for her count I would be moving through my practice like a sped up cartoon video clip. What I just realized is that my natural breath is somewhere between her count and a labored pant. This means that my primary lasts one hour ten, nice and drenched. It is what it is. Will I slow it down during led? Duh, absolutely. But I will no longer feel like I am cutting corners with the length of my breath

Ashtangi Confessions

#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:

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Interrupted

I am usually beyond thrilled when a moon day arrives on a Friday or a Sunday, and don’t get me wrong, I have a nice  white Bordeaux chilling in the refrigerator. It is however only the second day of my pranayama for energy experiment and Wednesday was a bust because my niece faked me out pretending she wanted to go to yoga. I then decided that it would be best to do a 10 AM led. When she was unable to wake up in time on her own, I left in a huff  to a led HALF primary, so that does not count. Today I won’t lie, I was still exhausted when back bending came around but I focused on what I did right instead of what is still stuck. So I’m doing three rounds of kapalbhati and three of nadhi shodan first thing in the AM.Those are what teacher taught me and I am not in the business of assigning myself independent studies in breathing techniques. Any suggestions I might want to bring up for when I talk to her about this?

Sneaky

I had such a wonderful experience yesterday afternoon during my first ever restorative yoga class, that I woke up this morning with the sun AND refreshed. I only use the word refreshed and woke together maybe on vacation by a warm turquoise ocean. I am so glad I went, and I had to choose between that and a wine tasting benefit! I am totally growing in places. I could have gone to Mysore this morning but I knew teacher had been with her teacher Tim Miller  at his workshop in the city. And when she goes to a workshop she always has something interesting and new to share. She cannot really talk about it during morning mysore but during the 10 AM led classes/workshops and Friday/Sunday led she does get a chance, so I decided to go to that this morning. She did have a lot to share… About INTERMEDIATE! Serves me right, I thought to myself, but by the end of practice that serves me right comment had a totally different meaning. She has talked about how to move your sacrum and your pubic bone  in preparation for back bending a million times, but it was only today that I finally heard and understood what to do during Ushtrasana. I cannot believe I’m looking forward to trying what I learned tomorrow. Intermediate makes me spacey. Lot’s of driving mistakes on the way back to the ranch. next time I’ll check email and drink some coffee at Tusk & Cup for a little while.