Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Some days, the closest I get to a yoga practice is having my wife tell me how her morning practice went. It's kind of a sweet and sour deal. I do like to hear about how she's doing, vicariously enjoying both her victories and her comeuppances. Unfortunately, I can't help feel some jealosy as well. I feel sorry for myself, forced to live the work-a-day life, scrabbling to fit in the occasional intro and led classes, condemned to be constantly attempting to re-stretch muscles and ligaments that have contracted from disuse, never being one of the happening 'every day' folks at the shala. Snivel. Whine. Too bad, so sad.

Yesterday was another missed opportunity. We got done in the OR at about 7:00pm, just about the time they were getting ready to do backbends in class probably. It was a really good day from the medical perspective, but... home late again, no practice, see the family for only an hour or so before everyone trundles off to bed, yadda, yadda. You're maybe beginning to wonder why I would start an ashtanga practice journal when I hardly ever seem to practice. Me too.

I should be able to get there today, but..., my teacher is showing the great folks of Seattle how to do ashtanga today thru Sunday. That's ok. As long as I get to practice, I'm good. I've wondered about the peripatetic life that some yoga teachers live. In one sense, traveling is fun, eye opening, mind broadening, etc. But doing it all the time (see the schedules of Ana Forrest or David Swenson) has got to have some real drawbacks. I guess I'm looking at it from the perspective of someone who, by dint of lifestyle choices, would be incredibly inconvienced if I had to be away from home that much. Maybe it really is an enriching experence to sleep in a different bed each week. I just am too used to the notion of "home" perhaps. I really think that Tim is getting a little too old for this sort of thing, though. Time for him to settle down a bit and keep it closer to the house. Not for me so much. No. I'm mainly thinking of him. And his family too . That's who I'm thinking about here. Unfortunately, Guruji is setting a bad example, traveling around the world for months at a time at the bouncing young age of 87.

Gotta go look in a tummy. One of these days, I'll get the chance again to pass on what practicing is like.

Monday, April 28, 2003

I managed to dodge practicing at home yet again. When the 12:00 Improv class didn't work out, I figured I'd have to go it on my own here. But, to the rescue: The Intro to Ashtanga class at 5:30! It's a very intro class, geared toward people with little or no yoga or ashtanga experience. Tim teaches this class. He spends the first 20-30 minutes going over some of the philosophical underpinnings to the practice of ashtanga. He will usually review some of the fundamental sutras, he'll go over the concepts of bandhas, drishti and breathing, maybe discuss chakras or any of a wide range of other topics. Then, when we all start fidgeting, he'll start a very gradual introduction into movement synchronized with breathing. He progresses from very basic movements into building a sun salutation, then moves the class through most of the standing postures, a few forward bends, marichy A & C, navasana and then some wind down poses, ending in savasana. He does teach a very basic roll over and jump back vinyasa.

It's a very good class for beginners and for more advanced students as well. I feel like I'm getting a review of fundamentals each time I go. It is also just about the only place, outside of workshops and retreats, where we get exposure to teaching about the aspects of ashtanga outside of the asana or practice branch. Ashtanga classes are typically not noted for a lot of verbal teaching. In contrast, in the two Iyengar classes I have been to, (see my snotty review here), there was quite a lot of verbal discussion and teaching. It is nice to be able to tap Tim's expertise in a special class like that and benefit from his verbal description on proper technique.

Hardest part of the intro class is that it is slow enough that I don't heat up much, so I stay pretty stiff the whole time.

I operate all day tomorrow, so I'll stop here. Two diatribes in one day is more than enough to put people thru.
No class again for me. My oldest daughter called from school stating she felt sick. Uh-huh. So, I picked her up. I could have dragged her to class and made her hang out in the back doing her homework I guess. But, I had already told her that, if she went home sick from school, she couldn't go to her sock hop rehearsal. When she heard that, she insisted that she would just go and "watch", and I assured her that she would not. "Sick is sick," I said in that detestable parental tone we all remember so well from our childhoods. "If you're too sick for school, you're too sick to go to sock hop practice." If I wouldn't let her go watch her sock hop rehearsal, I could hardly insist she hang out in a hot, sweaty yoga shala watching me moan and groan my way thru a class.

Maybe I'll be able to throw together enough character to do some bandha work at home tonight. One of my greatest disappointments in my practice is my utter lack of progress in being able to lift up and jump back. I think I've made significant progress is just about every other aspect of my asana practice, but not that. I have even managed to develop a semblance of a jump thru. But I'm no further along in lifting up and back than I was a couple of years ago.

I used to not really bother too much with trying to jump back or jump thru. I would lift my butt up off the floor and hold tolasana for a sec or two then roll over my knees and step back. For the forward vinyasa, I would sort of hop into a squatting kind of cross legged position, then sit down and work my way into a posture. I didn't bother because I was trying to save my energy for my postures. It all comes down to that internal calculus that goes on during each session, where we make these semi-unconscious ongoing assessments of how we feel, how much energy we have left and how to best allocate that energy to get the most out of that given practice. You would never really know how well you did with that day's "resource management" until you got thru savasana. In my usual state, which is one of fatigue, I generally figured if I spent a lot of energy trying to do nice vinyasas, I would not be able to do as well in the later postures. I held to that excuse for a couple of years but I finally got too embarrassed at how I moved and decided to at least try and do better.

My wife encouraged me to try using blocks. I didn't want to use that "cheat" because I had thought the gradual accumulation of ability was supposed to come from just trying over and over. Having proven that incorrect, I broke down and gave the blocks a try. I had seen one of our teachers show another student how to jump thru using the blocks. After she did it using the blocks, she was able to do it on her own in just two tries. So, I tried it. And it works, after a fashion. I was able to jump my legs thru like I see most of the people do in class. I was able, over time, to do it with shorter blocks and finally just my hands on the floor. And, it only took me one afternoon of trying.

When I watch people do vinyasa, especially jumping thru to sitting, I kind of categorize the approaches. There's the straight leg, full on floaty way that you see Richard Freeman, Davis Swenson and other Uber-ashtangi's do, where they jump through with their legs straight and don't let the legs or feet touch down until they are in a full seated position. Then there's the float-thru-to-crosslegged-sitting approach. It's similar to the straight leg approach in that the people are able to keep their body off the floor until they come into a seated position. They just come thru with crossed legs, sit and then go into the posture. Then, there's the shoot-thru, where instead of floating thru, the person keeps their legs straight and using momentum, jumps forward and kind of shoots the legs thru and slides into dandasana. My approach is sort of a variant to that last one. I call it the "aircraft carrier landing" approach. When jets "land" an aircraft carriers, they're not really landing. They're actually doing a controlled crash landing. That's kind of what my jump thru is like: a semi-controlled crash landing. I will occasionally bounce a toe off of the floor, (that really hurts), off of my arm, crash my knee into my chest or jaw, or otherwise screw it up, but I am getting better each day. At one point, in an Improv class where we were going to be trying to do eka pada sirsasana (one leg behind the head posture), I got so bold as to try that jump thru where one leg goes thru normally and the other leg lands on the outside of the arm where it can then be smoothly moved behind the head. Let me give one piece of advice: don't try that with the aircraft carrier approach. Wait until you can float thru. I almost broke my arm from the impact.

While I no longer feel as much shame at my forward vinyasa, my take-it-up and jump backs are another thing all together. I watch people who are truly able to float and just wonder. What is most amazing to me is not so much that they are able to make the move, but that it appears so effortless. There's one guy I see regularly, (If you follow the EZBoard site, it's JMS), who just lifts up like you or I might lift our foot. When we do the last navasana, or boat pose, more than a few of us crash to the floor in moans of self-pity and then crawl our way back into chataranga. He just lifts his hips up like he has a bad case of helium farts building up and just floats back. I think I must be missing whatever muscle or muscles these bandha people are using to get their rear ends moving back and up. I can elevate off of the floor, though I'm not real good at keeping the feet close to the body, but I have no ability to get my head moving down, my rear end going up and my feet moving thru. I've gone back to using the blocks to try and see what I need to do. I can do it on the larger blocks but that's it. Just need to keep trying I guess. Coming into tittibhasana after supta kurmasana and then trying to transition thru to a jump back without sliding off or falling to my butt is good practice. The biggest the problem I have with working on this is that it's real hard work. It's not like the jump thru where I can use momentum to do all the hard work for me. Practicing the vinyasa back is very taxing (for me). I can only give it so many practice tries, even on the blocks, before I have to call it quits. I guess it's become one of my unofficial goals: land a jump back.

Maybe today I'll work some more on visualization. I've been doing that a lot. It's not as hard as trying to actually do it.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

I'm here at work with my son Jake. The girls were away on sleepovers and my wife wanted to go to the 2nd series class at 8:00, so off to work with me he went. Like a lot of Ashtangis, things at our place tend to revolve around yoga--who's trying to get to what class when and what hoops they have to jump thru, or convince others to jump thru, to make it happen.

Used to be, when Jake would come to work with me while I did rounds on the weekend, I could just have him color or something to keep him occupied while I did my thing. Now, he stays busy by succumbing to the mind control system called Yu-Gi-Oh. If you're not familiar with it, consider yourself lucky and move on. It's kind of like Pokemon on steroids. He plays it on his GameBoy, when he hasn't lost that, or uses the actual cards, when he hasn't lost them, which he has today. That, or he watches Nickelodeon reruns of Spongebob Squarepants, etc. I guess I should find that objectionable too, but I like Spongebob. It's a great cartoon.

Sounds like the better half had an interesting class today. She was trying to do that thing after backbends where they walk their hands in and grab their ankles. Except she sort of did a cartwheel instead, sort of. To which the teacher, Tim, loudly gave her that time honored response, "BAD LADY!!"

The Sunday second series class at our place is a led class. It's part of Tim's weekly practice, so he does it along with the class instead of roaming the room adjusting. He does get up and help people at various places along the series. Even here, most folks in that class need help with karandavasana. Some need help with dwi pada sirsasana or even kapotasana too. There's kind of a mixed bag of people who go to that class. I've always thought of it as a sort of "By invitation only " class, but I don't know whether or not Tim feels that is how it should be. Some of students who go who are not yet accomplished full 2nd series practitioners. They're in the process of working thru that series. Others who come have not been given any postures in the 2nd series, they just want to try it. Most who go are quite good though. They're the "big kids".

A nice side effect of the 2nd series class is that the room has been nicely heated up for us 1st series students who come in for the 10:00 led class. In fact, around this time of year, late spring to summer, it is sometimes overly nicely heated. Steambath like at times. The led 1st series class on Sunday tends to be the most crowded class of the week. We're usually mat to mat. So, the extra heat that is left over from the exertions of the class ahead of us is sometimes overkill. One class that I remember as being on the edge of too hot, after people had rolled up their mats when the class was done, there was this one spot where you could see the outline of where the person's mat had been because the surrounding rug was wet from the sweat that had run off. That's some serious sweating. But it is nice to walk into a warm humid practice room in the winter. My wife is one who doesn't believe there is such a thing as a room that is too warm. She's one of those who is set up within a mat or two of the heater each day. I didn't used to like it when it got really hot, but now I appreciate it more. It used to bug me because the extra sweat would make me have to wipe my face even more than usual. I wipe my face a lot because when sweat starts to get in my nose, I have a hard time with ujjayi breathing and it all just falls to crap. The heat doesn't seem to bug me as much now. Could be old-age induced cold intolerance, but I think I'm not having to work as hard to do the postures lately, so I sweat less.

The Sunday classes tend to bring a lot of folks out of the wood work. It's probably like that everywhere. People who can't get to weekday classes make the effort to get to the weekend class with the teacher. There's usually a fair number of visitors from other areas as well. Problem is, there's too many people to actually be able to see how they all do. On most days, we set our mats up along the length of the room, facing the middle of the room (its a longish rectangular space). As such, if you're so inclined, you can see how at least half the class is doing with just a quick glance. On Sundays, for the 1st series class, we have to set them up facing the front of the room to get the extra people to fit in. So, even if I wanted to be a voyeur and scope out people's practices, I can't see most of them because of how we're facing. Plus, I don't think Tim is real big on folks looking around. He got asked once why there were no mirrors in the classroom. He said, "In Ashtanga Yoga, there is no such thing as "mirror" drishti."

I'm gonna have to try and watch out for repeating here what I may have already written about on EZBoard or somewhere else. Don't want to be too repetitious over and over again. I have intended this to be something that is read by others, not some writing that is meant just for me. I don't think I could write stuff "just for me". For me, there'd be no point to that kind of writing. I tend, for better or worse to have a tome like style. I have seen enough of other's blogs to know that most just post a few lines, their thoughts of the moment, and maybe some links to other interesting places. I kind of make you work, digging thru five or six paragraphs to see if I've managed to say anything interesting that day. And just as soon as I can actually get some practice in, I'll start writing about my practicing ashtanga. Kind of a dry spell here.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Just back from the big guy's bez ball game. I don't recall my games as a kid being that interminable. Hard part is, he doesn't really seem to like doing it either. His team basically sucks. It's not a good sign when he's one of the best kids on the team. Bad work on the part of the parents who divvied up the teams. Some of them are overtly stacked with oversized, athletic eight year olds. Others, like my son's, are full of diminutive kids who seem to be learning how to throw and hit for the first time. It's a bit hard to see kids really trying to do well, but missing ten or twelve pitches in a row, and even at this early age, having to deal with the kids on the other team laughing and making fun of them. My son can hold his own, but it just isn't much fun to play on a team that's getting spanked like that. He knows that who ever is on first isn't gonna be able to catch the ball when he throws it to them. He doesn't see why he should bother to cover second base, because he knows nobody will figure out they should to make the throw there, much less would be able to do it if they even thought of it. He would like baseball if it were a "fun" team, so I'm not gonna pull him out. Hopefully he won't lose too much ground to his friends on the other teams.

Back to yoga. I tend to go to class on Saturdays if I'm off and if I get spousal dispensation. That rest day stuff is for the teachers, not me. I get too many undesired rest days as it is. My choices for classes on Saturday at our studio are either an Improv class or a Intro to First series class. If I'm trying to get somebody interested in going to ashtanga classes, I'll go to the Intro class with them. Otherwise, I go to the Improv class.

The teacher who taught today's class tends to give us what Tim went over in his Thursday morning Improv class for the "big kids". Most of the people who give Improv classes around here will start out with some surya A's and B's, then, instead of the usual standing sequence, will do what Tim calls Suryanamaskara C. It's a flowing sequence of postures that incorporates most of the standing sequence, plus a lot more. There's not one set sequence of postures, it will vary from class to class. There's usually something in there that will put everybody at their edge somewhere along the line. It usually works great at building heat and opening your mind and body to new things. After we finish that, we often do a sequence of postures that may help "research" a given area of the body or a given range of motion. Or maybe do a sequence that many folks don't get to see to often when doing their normal first and early second series practices. There's usually a few, or sometimes a whole lot, of postures to open the groins. Usually some shoulder work, and often some back bending stuff. One of the best sequences I had was a class where after the Surya A, B, and C's, we did some groin opening stuff, then we did most of the 2nd series postures leading up to and including kapotasana. But, before each of the second series asanas, we first did a setu bandha sarvangasana and a back bend, five breaths each. By the time we actually got to kapotasana, we were pretty open. And pretty tired. We then finished with 2 sets of six backbends. At first glance, that may seem like torture to some, but those back bends were some of the best ones I have ever done.

Today was sort a of run of the mill class. For some reason, it just didn't grab me. The sequencing of the Surya C didn't seem to flow as well as it usually does. We did a few things that we don't usually see, marichy E & F, Sapta sirsansana, urdhva kukkutatsana, etc, but it just was't as edgy as usual. Don't know why that was so. I wasn't able to get real sweaty. Oh well. Every day can't be the best practice ever.

Tomorrow is another day when I'm on call, no practice. I can feel myself getting stiff already. If I don't do my usual practice for more than two or three days in a row, I start to get stiffer and stiffer, especially in my forward bends. When I know I've got a few days in a row coming up where I'm gonna miss out, I think I start getting stiff just out of anticipation. I've got a chance at a noon improv class on Monday, but that still doesn't help that much. It may be a bad week, practice wise.


Friday, April 25, 2003

No yoga today. An imposed day of rest. I'm at the hospital for the next 24 hours. Where I work, we stay in the hospital when we're on call. I actually take call at two different hospitals. The one I'm at today, I'm the only OB doc for our group here. That's great if it's not busy because there's no one there making sure that any free time is spent doing busy work. It can be tougher when it is busy, there's no one else to help out. All in all, I guess I prefer this hospital, with the solo coverage, to the other one where we have any where from three to five docs on call. When I'm here, I sometimes get the time to do stuff of my own, like try and figure out how to work this blogger stuff. Or surf the net looking for ashtanga related things. Or try and find an MP3 of the soundtrack to "The Fairly Oddparents" cartoon that my daughter needs for her sock hop skit. Important stuff.

I have tried doing yoga here while on call a few times. I don't like it much. I don't even try it if I have any one in labor. But even if there's no one here, the nature of obstetrics is that anything can happen and will. When it does happen, you have to be able to respond immediately. I once had to do an emergency c-section in the cardiac cath lab on another doctor's patient who's baby had a deceleration in the heart rate while they were doing a study to find out if the mom's coronary vessels were blocked. We didn't even have time to move her to L&D. We opened her right there. Some people even go so far as to sleep in their scrubs so that if they get called, they don't have to waste time getting dressed. If I try to practice here at work, I could be in the middle of trying to avoid faceplanting in bhujapidasana and I might get a call from Labor and Delivery because some lady who just walked in needs an immediate c-section because she's in labor and her baby is breech, or has a low heart rate, or whatever. I can't just shower and freshen up a bit, I've got to go right then. It's kind of poor form to be dripping sweat when you walk up to the patient and family and advise them that you're the one who is going to be responsible for safely delivering their baby. So, even if it's a slow day at work (SDAW), mentally there's always that possibility, that distraction that pulls you back from a good focused practice. Plus, my call room is too small to allow me to do a lot of the postures without some major shuffling around to fit my body into the available floor space as needed for a given posture. It's not very warm either. It's twice as bad as trying to do hotel room yoga. I may just be making excuses but I just haven't found it real productive to do it here. I do throw in a few forward bends in the shower though.

And just like that, I get paged to the ER. I hate the ER. Gotta go.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

I did make it to practice today after all. We got done in the OR about 4:00 so I got to class in time to stretch a bit. That makes all the difference for me, especially after standing in the OR all the afternoon.

Practice was reasonably good. Not quite as satisfying as yesterday's but still OK. I was a little distracted though. Not by others, by myself actually. I stunk! I forgot to put on deodorant this morning, so I could 'detect' myself pretty easily by the time I was stretching out before class. Hopefully I wasn't so noticible that I was bothersome to the yoginis on each side of me.

Tonight was a mostly yogini class. I think there were only three guys out of a class of about 20 people. I have this theory about class gender ratios. If the class is usually led by a person who is fairly good looking, the class will consist mostly of students of the opposite gender from the teacher,

One good thing about classes that are smaller than the morning mysore classes: the walls aren't as slippery. I've been trying to work a bit on coming up from back bends. When I'm in a spot where the end of my mat faces the wall, I've been trying to work my way up the wall for the last two or three backbends. In mysore class, I usually have to give up on that because the walls are so wet from condensed sweat that I can't put any pressure against them without my hands sliding out. Not real confidence building.

That whole shift of the body weight away from the hands/arms and out over the feet is alien to me. I just can't figure out what it is that I am doing and what is is that I need to be doing instead. I find it hard to analyze when I'm upside down. I think mainly what I am doing is fearing but there's a component of inflexibility (physical) too. My wife finds backbending so easy that she is unable to comprehend where hackers like me are coming from. "You have all your weight over your hands." she tells me. "You'll never be able to stand up like that. Shift the weight into your feet. Push your head closer to your butt." Oh. I see. I'll get right on that. Just as soon as you tell me HOW!!!! I am progressing though. I've restarted my shower routine of bending back as far as I can a few times. My wife says I should be able to see the floor before I try to actually drop back. So far, the best that I can do in the shower is to see the 13th shower tile from the top. There's a total of 16, so I've still got about a foot to go before the floor even comes into peripheral view. I'm not in such a hurry to be able to drop back and to stand up that I'm willing to incur much injury risk. I can't afford not to work. So, fearing plays a role for me every day. One good thing about taking up yoga at this stage of life (peri-geezerhood) is that it's not hard to be humble.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

And.... it was a very good practice. I actually caught myself just as I was about to make the hugest mistake. I starting thinking to myself at one point, "You know, I think I'm actually starting to get supple." I quashed that mental vrrti immediately. There's gods out there who's only responsibility is to make people who make comments like that eat their words big time.

It was a crowded class for Wed evening. Tim's classes are usually fuller than any others, naturally, but this was more so than usual. He's been out of town a fair amount the last three weeks, so that may have prompted more than the usual number to show up. Even so, it was nothing like the crowd for the mysore classes in the morning. It did get the room temp up though. Between that and the higher than average humidity, I found out that I had miscalculated my exertion levels. I started getting tired a bit in the marichys. That used to be the point at which I would just outright fall to pieces, but in the last year I have gradually gotten stronger. I normally try to pace myself to preserve enough gas so that I can give my best effort in bhujapidasana, kurmasana and supta kurmasana. and also later on in backbends. Kind of got worried that the heat was gonna make me fade tonight, but I did OK. Came close to getting my feet crossed in supta k, but still don't have it. That's the last pose in the first series that I haven't been able to do on my own. I can be put into it, but can't yet get it.

I didn't realize until after we had completed the class, but I did very little of my usual looking around tonight. I was more inwardly turned than usual. I'm one of those incorrigible types who usually will take every opportunity to wipe my brow, blow my nose, fidget around getting into a pose, etc., all the while looking around and checking out other people. I am usually curious to see who is there and how they practice. I don't care if they're good or stiff, I just like to see what people can do and what they can't do. I love classes where there's "new" people practicing, so much more to see. Tonight there were actually quite a few new folks and some faces that used to come a long time ago but haven't for many months. I never saw them. I was kind of surprised at myself.

I miss the way the evening classes used to end when it was dark outside. It seemed to accentuate the post-practice calm. Now, it's still light when we're done. The walk to the car is not as enjoyable. Too many visual distractions. Bitch, bitch, bitch

Well, time for shower number three, then off to bed. Clinic in the morning, then assisting another doc in the OR tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully, I'll get done in time to make it to the 5:30 pm led class but I've learned not to plan on that.
I'm going to be going to an evening led first series class tonight. Tim, my teacher, will be leading the class. This class is one of the few of his that I usually can get to, so it has become something of a priority for me. Hopefully I won't be too stiff. I played a round of golf this morning. I worked last night, so I have today off. Usually, being off all day and going to an evening class results in me being at my least stiff, but walking the golf course definitely stiffens up the hamstrings. I'll have to go slow with the surya namaskaras, the initial postures that we warm up with in ashtanga practice. it's easy to pull something there, I think that's exactly how I strained my left hammie earlier this year.

Before going to golf, I stopped by the dermatologist to check for any lesions. I live in SoCal, where the number one cancer is skin cancer. Plus, I had an aunt who died from melanoma. Despite that background, smart guy that I am, I drive a convertible. So, I try to get screened every once in a while. After the derm doc gave me the all clear on my skin, I asked him about the constant itchiness I have been having on my upper back. He thought it was from dry skin. "Do you shower a lot?" he asked. "No, usually just two or three times a day," I said. "But, I do stay in for 20 or 30 minutes at a stretch." He gave me that smile that doctors sometimes use that says, "You're an idiot, do you know that?"

Well, not to be obsessive or anything, but if I sit here too long, I'm really gonna get stiff and will hate practice, so time to bag it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

And now, some background. You kind of have to do that, don't you? No. But, i will anyway.

First a quick aside, for the benefit of any who do find their way here. I've never been that good at 1) using capital letters when I type--seems like a waste of time usually. 2) typing legibly--I think I have some kind of dyslectic disconnect that prevents me from typing something correctly or at least from being able to recognize it when I give it my usual cursory attempt at a proofread prior to posting. The errors become immediately apparant once I have posted however. I've promised myself that I'll do better with both. We'll see.

On with the show....

This was to be a record of my ashtanga experiences. That will mean very little to most who may read this. So, I'll give a little context, trying to adhere to the word little. I'm a 45 year old householder. Got a job, wife, 3 kids, house, no dog, we put him down a few months ago. I've never been too athletically adept though i was never one of the worst at anything. If I work at things, i can become better at doing them than many people but usually never really great at anything. I also tend to do things in phases, where I might spend my spare time pursuing one particular interest, rather than a broad range of activities. I attribute this more to a lack of spare time than anything else, but it may well be a character trait. Through college, med school and residency, most of my leisure time attention was given to volleyball, though I did get into gardening as another way to avoid studying while I was in med school. I moved to the San Diego area after residency, around 1990. haven't played volleyball since. I started surfing after being here for a few months (how can you not, it's kind of a local requirement, isn't it?). I surfed for about three or four years. Very enjoyable, meditative activity, though often frustrating too--days and days of crappy surf. Then, phase shift, I took up golf. Never would have pictured myself taking up golf. In fact, I kind of always sneered at golfers. But, my sister had started doing it, so I had to see how I would do at it. It's actually a great game, it has the potential to teach someone a lot of things. Those who are competetive, mainly with themselves but also with others, will usually be captured by it. It's an activity that's hard to do when it is just being done occasionally. So, for a variety of reasons, i shelved my surfboards and played golf. That was my thing for the next few years. I even won a member/guest tournament, though we were in the weakest bracket. We still won. I guess if they had handicapping in baseball or football, i could have competed in those sports too. Any way, I promised a short story. My wife had been going to a local gym for workouts. She complained to a friend who worked there that the spinning classes were making her sore and stiff. The friend recommended she try one of the yoga classes at the gym. The classes were ashtanga style yoga. At that time, they were taught by very experienced ashtanga students. My wife loved them. Her father's side of the family is from India, so that may have colored her view. Ashtanga became "it" for her. She told me to try a class. I had seen a few of my partners at work accrue various injuries to their backs, etc. as they tried to put their gradually aging bodies thru workout regimens. I had always been able to rely on my relative youth and mild athleticism to avoid injuries but I could see and feel the writing on the wall. My day of debility was coming too. So, I figured maybe the yoga thing was a good idea. I had the usual ignorant perceptions of what a yoga class would be: some lame stretches by a circle of chanting new-agers with incense wafting around. Well, there was incense, but that was mainly to mask the odors that build up from the gallons of sweat that students leave behind each day. If any one reading this has done ashtanga, they know that it is a very physically demanding activity, one of the hardest things that I had ever done to that date. But, it was just hard enough to entice. I was able to do some of it, not all. The challenge was there. So, I started. Now I still get in a round of golf every once in a while, maybe four times a year. I still work, do stuff with the family, etc. But, my free time is spent doing yoga. Or thinking about doing it. I'm one of those who is willing to go to great lengths to get to a class, but am too lazy to do the practice at home if I can't get to a class. So, anyway, I have been doing ashtanga, with gradually progressing regularity and diligence, for almost three years now. And I hope to soon be able to become regular and diligent. A very good practice week for me is making it to 3 or 4 classes. most typically I get in two to three classes. as such, my progression in doing the postures has been fitful, and often it has been more of making up lost ground than progression. By one of those fortuitous quirks of fate, I live where I can go to classes taught by one of the most respected teachers of ashtanga outside of Guruji. Unfortunately, I can rarely get to classes that he teaches. I instead attend the led classes (as in, not mysore style) given by students of his. I have thereby gotten an early lesson in non-attachment. you don't always get what you want, you have to do the best you can with what you have.

sorry, that wasn't so little after all.

As for blog style, I have to think some things over. I guess it's prudent not to name names, or even give enough info about people for them to be identifiable, to themselves or others. We'll see.

To myself, i guess for now.

Well, enough of wishing that I had kept journals or logs of various sequences of my life. I'll just start one now, mid life (at least I hope it's mid life). Ha, say those who have read enough of these to know that most of us aspiring journalists fizzle out after just a few months of overly zealous journal writing, rapidly fading out to just occasional entries and finally surrender and abandonment. We'll see. I guess I'm no better or worse than anybody else in that respect. No real compelling reason to start a blog now either. No seminal events occuring that need archival for future generations to wonder over. I have read a few blog entries, just a few, but was intrigued by the ones I read. I do post messages with some regularity on an ashtanga bulletin board . I guess that experience, the enjoyment of interacting with others through writing, was what made me decide to go ahead and try my hand here.

One thing I'll have to develop fairly quickly is a purpose. I had initially thought to post this as a journal of my ashtanga experiences. It may still end up as that. Or it may just be a repositiory for whatever hits my mind that day. I'll have to learn as I go along. Hopefully, I will learn some style as I go along too. That's what made the few blogs I read worth reading. Their writing was as interesting as what they were writing about. Sometimes, what they were writing about may have not really been that interesting, but their writing made it so. And, I'll have to learn when to quit tinkering with a posting. The tendency for me is to write it out, then realize I might say it a better way and re-do it several times over, losing some or all of what i originally wanted to communicate in the process. Like this last paragraph.

More later, gotta go do a circumcision.