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.

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