Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I'm back.

We had a very nice visit with family and friends in Buffalo, NY. The trip was a combination of attending the wedding of a cousin and a family reunion. The weather was not the best. It was cool, windy and rainy most of the time. The last day there the weather turned brilliant. It is so green there, especially compared to SoCal. Huge sugar maples, spruces, oaks, all kinds of varieties of trees. Just gorgeous. All those old homes with large porches and well kept yards and gardens. The people were great. You could almost make a case for living there. Until you remember that it is winter there for seven months out of the year and they measure snowfall in feet per day.

We spent most of the time in Buffalo with our relatives at the various family functions. On the first day there, we did do the Niagara Falls thing. It was cloudy and cool but pleasant. When you go on the Maid of the Mist boat trip you get soaked unless you wear these cheap plastic ponchos they hand out. We stupidly put our ponchos back in the car before we later walked across the border to check out that Canada place. Of course, the weather in Canada really sucked. It started raining right as we were on the bridge going over. We walked around for a few minutes, blew some bucks so the kids could go up their verison of the Space Needle, had dinner then took a cab back to the bridge. To my surprise, I found out that I had to pay a toll to get back into my own country. You can get into Canada for free (did I mention their weather sucks) but you have to pay to come home!! What the hell do you do if you don't have the fifty cents for the turnstiles to get back in? I asked the surly men who guard our mighty border (the longest "unfortified" border in the world, just ask Al Qaida) that very question. I thought the guy said, "Well, I guess you're just stuck", but my sister told me later that he had said, "Well, I guess you're just f###'d". Imagine my kids' delight in hearing the F word from a uniformed representative of our great nation. Imagine my delight in having to pay 50 cents a head for the privilege. That was about it for sight seeing for me.

We found a great place to practice in Buffalo, East Meets West Yoga. They normally do led ashtanga classes and some hatha/vinyasa flow classes. One of the teachers had recently finished a teacher training with Richard Freeman and was interested in trying to get a mysore type class going for her students. She offered to let us have a group practice with her and a few of her interested students each morning before their regularly scheduled classes. A few posts back, I was commenting that I have seen few practitioners, at any level, who seemed to be able to do everything well. Well, Julie at East Meets West is someone who can. She could do it all. I thought at one point I had her because I didn't remember seeing her chakrasana on the day she did her first series practice. The next day, after yoga nidrasana, badda bing, she cranks out a chakrasana, done in what I consider the correct way: where instead of a rolling over the back of the head, you push up and lift the head and shoulders from the mat as the feet come over so that there is a quick pivot at the head. I have to say, I was really very impressed with her practice. It was totally unpretentious but so complete, so "I wish I could do it like that" smooth. She is strong, she bent in every direction, she twisted better than almost anyone that I have ever seen, she vinyasa'd in and out, she was humble, generous, etc. The whole kitandkaboodle. How do people get like that?

My practice was not as refined of course. The studio was in a really neat area, lots of cool shops and places to eat. Her place was in the bottom floor of one of those large two or three story old buildings just on the periphery of the shops. It had a cool old wood floor that really resonated when there was a significant impact, say someone were to land their viparita chakrasana a tad on the heavy side. It also had next to no heating. The teacher told us that she had no control at all over the heat for the studio, nor do the tenants who live upstairs. It's all set by the landlord. Most any other time it probably wouldn't have been an issue but the weather was unseasonably cool while we were there. Also, since it was a group practice, we would get up every now and then to help somebody bind or give an adjustment or two. With all the stopping and starting, I wasn't able to keep the heat going. I did all my postures the first day, but on the next two days I just did the first series poses. I did get up from back bends the first couple of days, though each time I've done it has been with poorer and poorer form, but I opted not to the last day as I just wasn't warm enough to try it. I didn't want to take a chance on tweaking my back because we had the family golf tournament later that day. I really enjoyed having the chance to practice. None of the people we practiced with normally practice that early, so we probably put them out somewhat. I was worried that we maybe over did it on the helping out with adjustments and stuff. Hopefully not. There's a fine line between being helpful and being intrusive.

As easy as it would have been to do it, I didn't do pranayama once. Well, I did do the first three on the last day while I waited for my wife to finish her savasana. So, now I have to see how much a difference not doing pranayama for a week or so makes when I go back to doing it here with Tim.

I had high hopes of getting to practice today, but the OR ran until 6PM so I missed out. Looks like I'll be doing led first series tomorrow evening.

It's good to be back home, back in the normal, comfortable rhythms. Now I just have to clear out all the voice mails and e-mails and phone messages and crap that builds up when you leave work for a few days. Going on vacation sucks sometimes.

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