Sunday, August 22, 2004

I was talking with a guy after practice today while we waited for the bathroom line to move along. He's from out of town but I had recognized him from a previous visit to our studio. As we chatted, he asked me, "Aren't you that guy with that blog thing?" I thought to myself, "That's the second time in my life somebody's ever asked me that." When I nodded yes, he then asked, "Whatever happened with that?" Uhh, good question. Whatever happened with that? I got disenchanted with the effort that it takes to seem interesting, I guess. But, I keep trying on occasion. I told the guy, "You know, I was actually planning on putting a new post up today right after practice." Yeah. Right. It's now almost half a day later and the only reason I sat down here was that my wife left me sleeping on the sofa to go watch a movie. Nonetheless, words are appearing.

Lots of stuff I could have written about since my last posting during our trip to the Mt. Shasta second series workshop. The rest of the trip was great. I had really good practices. I mentioned in the last post that in one of the Mysore style classes I tried some poses well beyond my current practice range. I talked with Tim about it later. I was worried he'd think I was trying to show off to try and get moved forward. I wasn't. I just wanted to see if I could do the poses. I asked him if I had been 'inappropriate' in trying them. He kind of shook his head and said, "Hey, it's your funeral." Okay. Message received. I told him it was a one time thing, no offense intended, blah, blah, blah. That evening during the mat in the middle session in the yoga room, he kind of jokingly commented, "I don't know what got into John today, doing those poses from third. Back home he's always so obedient." When I replied that I was counting on him to stop me if I got into inappropriate ground, he said, "Ah, just testing limits then?" I guess so, maybe, but not really.

The other Mysore classes, I just did second series, with every research poses I could think of. I even did that on the Friday class. On Fridays, the current tradition in Mysore, India, and therefore in many of the Ashtanga studios of Guruji's students, is to only do First series. Tim told us we didn't have to do first or only first if we didn't want to. He noted that the First series only on Fridays is a fairly new tradition, that it wasn't always that way. I was glad to hear that. At home, if I get the chance to go to a Mysore class on a Friday, I'd hate to miss the opportunity to do my second series poses. Although it doesn't happen very often, when it has happened in the past, I would do all of first and then my allocated second series poses because I thought we had to. Now, I'll feel better about just doing the second series poses.

On the last day of the workshop, everyone gets together in the yoga room for goodbyes and what not. This is the first year we've made it to that session. In years past, we left on Friday, right after the last practice. The week in Shasta is powerful enough that the goodbye session has become known as the Circle of Tears. Everyone gets a little emotional and snivelly. Even I. First time in probably seven years or more.

After all that time in the refreshing mountain air, we then flew into LA. Our oldest two kids were at camp for two weeks at Catalina Island, about 30 miles off of the coast from LA. Our youngest stayed in Shasta with us but was going to Catalina herself for a week the Monday after Shasta. On Sunday, we all went over to Catalina to see the older two kids for Visitor's Day. They had been having the time of their lives. Our son, however, got a little homesick and wanted to come home when it came time for us to get back on the boat. We had been warned by the camp staff before going over there that this is pretty common. They get over it as soon as we're gone for 20 minutes. Or so they say. We chose to not give in and made him stay. He got pretty mad and went off to pout. That made me feel a little better. If he had gotten really upset and cried, I would have worried that something was not going well. But for him to get mad meant that he was fine. Our daughter e-mailed us a few days later that by then he was "so not into going home", so we felt relieved. Our youngest was enthralled with all the camp goings on, especially all the hand clapping, foot stomping and yelling games the campers did while they waited for their turn in the lunch line. She practiced the hand clapping routines endlessly that day in anticipation of her getting to go there the next day. Prior to dropping her off, we went to Noah and Kimberly Williams' studio in Hollywood for Mysore practice. I felt a little guilty doing it, but I did all of second again. I knew Noah could tell from my performance that I shouldn't have been doing much of it, but I wanted to maximize my chances at doing it while I could. We had lunch with them and a couple of friends of ours who are students of theirs and then we dropped Zoe off at the boat for her trip to camp. We now had a full week at home with no kids. First time since our kids were born.

Kiran spent much of the week teaching classes. She subs for a lot of people in our area and has her own class at a studio in La Jolla on Wednesday evening. I went back to my usual routine of work. The schedule of work made it such that I was only able to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. So, I went twice on each day. I hadn't planned on doing that, but there was no one else at home, the kids were gone, the wife was teaching, so why not. Wednesday I was post-call, so I was off during the day. I went to the noon class, which is an improv type class. Then I went to Tim's led first series class that evening. That was the first time I had done the first series in at least a couple of weeks. I did okay with it. I wasn't as stiff as I thought I would be but did get a bit more tired than I was happy with. It turns out there was a person practicing there that night who is famous. I wouldn't have recognized her at all if I hadn't heard that she may be there. She was very attentive to her practice. I guess one benefit of celebrity is that you learn to control your gaze in all aspects of life to avoid inadvertently encouraging people to come over and bother you if you make casual eye contact with them. Her practice, what little of it I could see from where I was set up, seemed very nice. Smooth, very capable. She left after half way through Savasana. She did it very discretely, not in the , "Hey, look at me. I'm leaving class early. I've got waaay more important things to do than lay around in savasana. Okay, you can lay back down now, I'm leaving" way that tends to piss me off. I realized that she probably has to do that to maintain any sense of privacy. Kind of felt sorry for her that she has regularly miss out on something like Savasana.

Thursday morning, I went to Tim's Improv class before going to work. I've been to this class maybe three or four times before. It's a class that tends to challenge everybody in one way or another. We did some poses that I've never done before. He did take it a little easy on us. When he got a request for arm balances at the start of class, he ended up doing mainly hand stand variations and pincha mayurasana variations and not the more challenging arm balances from the third series. They were fun though. We even got to try Sayanasana. One of the students asked at the start of class if we could do a pose called "Bird of Paradise". Tim said if the pose doesn't have a sanskrit name, we don't do it here. Another guy asked if we could do the pose where you stand with one leg behind the head. Tim demurred on that one too. "That doesn't sound too therapeutic for this group." he noted. That evening, I got away from work in time, so I decided to go ahead and do the evening improv class. No celebrities. Just regulars. I asked for the Bird of Paradise pose. It's harder to get balanced in than it looks, but then, my hamstrings are pretty stiff. We did some of the other fun poses that we had done that morning too, including one Tim called Svastikasana, from the fifth series. It looks like a combination of Garudasana and a pose in the Bikram series where you put one foot in half lotus then lower down and balance in a squat on the other foot, but the foot is kept flat on the floor, not up on the toes like in Bikram. I should note that the term Svastikasana is also used to describe one of the sitting postures, one that looks very similar to Sukhasana.

That was it for practice until this morning. Led first series again. I worked last night so I couldn't get to the second series class. Both classes were packed, more so than usual. I did okay with the series. It's a little limiting when we're set up real close to each other. There's some inhibition in some of the exits, like coming out of Supta Kurmasana and Bhujapidasana. It's very easy to whack someone, even with jump throughs. We had a really long Savasana. It was great. In most classes, they never seem to have enough time left for a decent Savasana. I was really thirsty by the end of class (I have maintained my pledge to not get up in first series and take a water break any more) so I spent the first half of Savasana imagining someone turning on a faucet of cold water from Shasta and running it wide open right into my mouth.

I haven't looked ahead yet to see what my yoga prospects are for this week. I already know that Sunday is out--moon day again

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