Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Yesterday was a mysore practice day. Today is a work day for 24 hours but then I get to do mysore again tomorrow and Friday. The weekend will be a little hectic. On Saturday, we've got a couple of soccer tournaments to go to for the kids then we bail out for the airport for our all-growed-up-kids trip to Mt. Shasta for a week of yoga.

My sister is flying in to take over the kids while we're out recreating. She has helped us out this way a bunch of times. The kids love to have her come, she likes to spend time with the kids and we get some free time. It's a win-win-win situation usually. Usually, as in not always. We got the impression when she watched them for us last year that maybe they were a little less fun to watch over all by her lonesome now that they were older and were that much better at fighting, being selfish and nasty, etc. This trip will be easier for her since the cousin who is visiting from Hawaii will be able to help her do stuff with the kids. In addition, she'll only have to watch over two of them. Our oldest went away to camp on Catalina Island for two weeks a couple of days ago. It's amazing how untrusting I am. One aspect of my work is that I have to look at most situations and evaluate them from a worst case scenario point of view. That tends to carry over to everyday thinking as well. My worst case scenario for a 10 year old girl away by herself for camp for two weeks is not a bad case of poison ivy or home sickness. I think of far worse. But, at some point you have to take the leap of faith. It hasn't helped my frame of mind that one of my partners sent his son away to a boarding school last year. He was truly loving it, he had found his element. Unfortunately, he was crushed and killed in a rollover accident in an old unmaintained school pickup truck. The kids were all in the back on the way to do some field work. Apparently, the vehicle some how stalled out and started to roll back down the hill. Either the brakes also failed, or the driver panicked but he lost control as it rolled backward. Most of the kids were flung free. Only my partner's son died. He was apparently trying to help the school dog get out of the truck instead of getting himself out and the truck landed on him when it flipped. One in a million fluke. That doesn't really matter if the one is your child though.

When we leave for Mt. Shasta on Saturday, we fly into Redding, which is about an hour and a half from Shasta. We have a rental car, but our flight gets in about 90 minutes after the rental place is supposed to close. They've assured my wife that they will have a car there but I think we're both expecting to see the rental booth shut down. The car we rented last year we had to return after we got about 15 miles from the airport when the "Engine Service" light came on. The guy at the desk tried to reassure us it was just an indicator showing the vehicle was due for routine servicing and that it could wait until we returned it. Yeah. Right. What are we? A couple of yokels from down south San Diego way? Thanks but no thanks, we'll take a different car. So, we may end up having to call the B&B and have somebody drive all the way back down to Redding to get us, then come back the next day to get our car. That or find a room in Redding for the night. Nothing like a little flux to start you off on a nice relaxing vacation.

Fortunately, as I noted above, I do get to do some practice this week before I have to go play with the big kids at the second series workshop. I had hoped for a little better preparation leading up to this than just three mysore classes, but I'll take what I can get. In yesterday's practice, in general I was stiffer than I should have been. This was most noticeable in the twists. I could tell I was not having a peak day as early as Parivrrta Trikonasana. I felt some of the usual stiffness in the gluteal area but also felt tight in the spine, which is not something I feel that often. My twisting in Marichasana C and Pasasana was sub-standard too. Going in to the class, I had planned on doing Pasasana twice. The first time I was going to do it the way I usually do, with a one inch foam block under my heels for support. After that 'warm up', I was going to do it a second time with no support to see how I would do. I was hoping that the first go round would loosen me up enough to be able to stay balanced enough to get bound and then maybe get my heels lowered closer to, if not onto the floor. Best laid plans are meant to go awry. I had trouble even getting bound in the first go around. My right side is usually my 'good' side but yesterday my arm kept slipping up and over my knee. The teacher came by and adjusted me into a better position but then I tipped over backwards. I got the left side okay but never made it to the unsupported version on either side. When I finished the first series, I felt comparatively strong, I wasn't feeling too tired. By the time I finished with those attempts at Pasasana, I was worn out so I decided to save my energy and move on.

I felt pretty good after first series yesterday but I can't fairly compare that to my usual led first series classes because I have to finish the first series poses more quickly in mysore. When I do a mysore class, I usually only do four surya A's and three Surya B's. The hold times for the asanas are shorter than is usual for a led class. If you take out the second series poses I do, the preparatory or 'research' poses for some of the second series postures, the other extra flourishes that are typically done at our place, like the splits and bakasana, take out the extra postures that I sometimes sneak in, the actual first series portion of my mysore practice probably takes 65 minutes, give or take a few.

I've surprised myself with my diligence in attending pranayama. I think I've gone to every class that my work schedule would allow me to get to except one, the morning my daughter was leaving for camp. I've still missed plenty of days, but I've managed to get through that sometimes hardest asana of all, roll-out-of-bed-asana, every time I've faced it. One reason I like pranayama is that I like early morning. I can be as lazy as the next person and want to keep sleeping, but once I'm up, I really enjoy the quiet and calm of the early morning. I'm glad it's getting darker in the morning because I like pranayama better when it's not bright in the room.

I went to the Intro to Pranayama last Saturday. I was talking with the teacher before we started class. He had asked me how regular pranayama was going for me. I had told him that it seemed easier recently than when I had first started. I explained that it seemed like Tim was doing shorter lengths of breaths and retentions recently and maybe that was why it seemed easier. He was giving me a puzzled look while I was saying this. He told me the classes are just what they have always been. I swear my counts of the retentions were shorter though. There were only a total of four of us for that Saturday class, so he said that since we had all been doing it for a while, he was going to make every thing go just a bit longer. It seemed just as easy as his normal Intro class to me. He asked at the end how it seemed and the other two felt it was harder, so maybe I have progressed unwittingly. Today, that same instructor led to normal pranayama class for Tim, since he's out town. The last time I went to a normal class in which this teacher led, it seemed just like the Intro class, almost too easy. I was expecting more of the same today. It didn't work out that way. These were at least as long as Tim's and some took longer. This teacher really can inhale and exhale for a long time. In Tim's class as we near the end of an inhale, most of us are barely moving any air. This guy is still going strong. Today I was already starting to feel uncomfortable and was sweating before we had even finished the initial section of rechaka and puraka khumbhaka, retentions after both inhalation and exhalation. Fortunately, when we started into the alternate nostril breathing, he seemed to shorten the duration of the retentions about halfway through. I ended up only taking one extra breath total for the class. The way I was feeling early on, I was afraid this was going to be one of those days where I was reduced to a mere observer, breathing secretly while the others did the real practice. One of the breathing techniques we do in called Bhastrika, or bellows breath. For this one we take a deep Ujjayi breath, then we do a series of quick breaths in and out through the nose. The technique sounds like it would if you were trying to blow a drop of sweat from the edge of your nose before it ran inside. We do about 50 of the rapid breaths in a row then fully exhale, do a long inhale and hold the breath for about a minute. We do a total of three of those cycles. When we do the rapid bellows part of the breath, I have been having problems. I lose the rhythm of my breath because I get distracted by the sound of the breathing by those around me. I don't get as forceful of an exhale or actually make an inhale out of step, all kinds of stuff. It's kind of interesting to be able to get confused like that. I had no trouble when I did it with the small group.

This is going on overly long, perhaps I'm trying to make up for the lack of material the last two weeks. At any rate, I'm being called to do some work on L&D. There, we have the women do a completely different kind of pranayama.

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