Thursday, June 02, 2005

Yesterday we practiced at our new temporary space for the first time. This place is a major upgrade from what we've had before. Tim's old place was....., old. The walls leaked whenever it rained and the place would smell of mold when it was wet. The only bathroom was marginal. The walls in the practice room had been broken by falling yogis and then repaired so many times they were little more than tape, plaster and paint in some places. There was only one way in or out of the studio. But funky as it was, it was what we all knew. If it weren't for the moldiness, which was just too oppressive this year, it could have been okay for longer. But they were looking for a fresher, larger space, maybe with some room for retail sales. They wanted to have two bathrooms, better heating and ventilation, just reasonable amenities. They are in negotiations for a brand new space in a local shopping area. Until then, however, since the lease on the old place expired, they had to get some temporary place for us to practice. Not as easy a thing as you might think. Our first transitional space, a dungeon-like conference room at the end of the parking garage of the local Best Western hotel, was very similar to Tim's original space, except without the mold. It was dark and dingy and had only one bathroom with a leaky toilet (always a favorite thing to have to deal with: you're not supposed to wear shoes or slippers in the studio but the floor around the toilet is always wet) but it did have one amenity Tim's old place didn't: it was the world's capital of daddy long leg spiders. It was also constructed with a bit of M.C. Escher-like optical illusion, with the walls and carpet all appearing to come together at less than square angles, which could sometimes discombobulate you for a moment or two as you tried to figure out how to align yourself for a particular pose.

The new temporary space, however, is just plain nice. It's a yoga studio that the prior tenants were not going to be able to keep going. Tim was able to swing some kind of sublet/lease share for a few months. It has a carpet, which I like but I know some prefer wood floors. It is in the main area of old Encinitas, close to Tim's old studio site. It's a hundred yards from Starbuck's, for better or worse. It's a big space and it has no warts at all that I can see. Tim and his wife Carol have been working hard on getting a new lease for over a year. They ultimately decided it would be better to start with a brand new space, built out they way they wanted it, than to take over some older studio or to try and renovate some space that was being used for something else. So, when I announced to Tim all of five minutes into class that I really liked this place and that they should take it over permanently instead of going with the spot they are currently negotiating for, he gave me a dark look and quickly reeled off an impressive list of potential negatives, none of which registered with me. It was just so nice to finally have nice to practice in.

We do have to share the space with the previous yoga studio however. Tim's schedule, as I understand it, will be as he has always had it. The other tenants will have to schedule their classes around Tim's. All well and good. But when I was looking over the June schedule for the other studio's classes, I noticed that they had classes scheduled on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:15. Unfortunately, that is when Tim usually does his self-practice, and that is when I had been counting on being able to practice on the days when I couldn't get to Mysore at 7:00. Tim also has a big workshop coming up in June in which he will be using the space from noon to five each day for two weeks. The other folks have classes in that time frame too. Hopefully, the conflicts can be worked out without conflict, but whatever it takes to get me my practice times.

One quirk of the new studio popped up about half way though my practice when I went to do one of the Kapotasana research poses we usually do. I was going into a wall supported version of Viparita Dandasana, where the feet are placed on the wall at about hip level rather than lowering them all the way down to the floor. Tim stopped me and made me come down. I was thinking he was going to tell me not to use the wall with my feet because we were only subleting the place and he didn't want us leaving footprints all over the nice clean walls. Turns out, on the other side of the wall is a curio shop with various clocks and vases and expensive gewgaws on shelves and on the wall. When people have plopped up against the wall in the past doing supported inversions like handstands, some of those items ended up getting knocked down. He mentioned that the other store's proprietors didn't like that very much and would come over to let the yoga people know about it. I guess it's okay to do inversions against the wall on the opposite side of the yoga studio though. On the other side of that wall is just a shoe store, so we should be able to whale away at it without causing too much damage.

Despite being the very first day in a new location, the room was packed. I guess some of the folks who hadn't come as much when we were at the Best Western were just waiting for a place that was free of mildew and spider webs. It will be interesting to see if the students who stopped coming to Tim's and started going to the other new ashtanga studio will now come back to practicing at Tim's.

My practice yesterday was another upbeat one. Nothing was real standout but it was just good overall. I did get all the way down in Hanumanasana on both sides and was able to fold forward as well, although the forward bend was incomplete and off center too. I am unable to fully square the hips so I still sickle my back leg a fair amount . It's a lot better than it was just a few weeks ago though. This was the first time in a long, long time that my neuromuscular/central nervous system feedback loop was not screaming at me to pull out of the pose after more than a few seconds. Usually the internal dialogue in the pose is something along the lines of:

groins/hams: Okay, easy there, that's far enough big boy.
me: I haven't even straightened my leg yet
groins/hams: So? Hey! Hey, Hey, HEY! Hold on, I said go slow.
me: I am. just a little bit more today... almost near the floor...
groins/hams: well, that's plenty far enough for today thank you. Iyengar wasn't bent in a day you know. Time to do something else
me: yeah, ok, ok, let me just try to see if I can....
groins/hams: OMFG!! what the hell do you think you're doing? I'm dying! AAAAUUGH! Please stop. plz, plz, plz, pleeeeze, just stop it. You said you were going to stop!!
me: I never said I was going to stop. you did. There, I touched down. Ooooh, that's intense. Now, let's see if I can just fold forward over my leg...
groins/hams: AAAUUGH!! you dirty motherf#%#er! stop this crap NOW. You're not some teen aged mother f%#%ing cheerleader!! You're a god damned 48 year old gynecologist!! you don't need to be doing the splits. GET YOUR STIFF ASS OUT OF THIS RIGHT NOW YOU...... (remainder of expletive discussion deleted)

Then I would do the other side. Yesterday was more amicable. I was able to just be in it with out the neuromuscular stretch receptors going into panic mode.

I'm getting better binds in Pasasana lately too. I don't think I've lost weight, which I thought I would need to do to be able to get back to where I was before. I guess my shoulders and my quadratus muscles are letting me twist better lately. Wouldn't hurt to lose some weight though. I can't help wonder if I wouldn't be better able to jump back, twist and bind, etc., if I weighed what I did twenty years ago (and 30 pounds ago). Odds are good we'll never know.

I ran out of energy again around Karandavasana. I gave it a few tries then let Tim help me do it. He did get me down into it and then let go. I initially started to tilt toward my butt but he repositioned me and I held the pose on my own momentarily before he yanked me up and out of the pose. As hard a time as I'm having getting into the pose, I'm going to have an infinitely harder time ever getting out of it.

Viparita Chakrasana was more of the same. My first couple of drop overs were not quiet but I did okay with my next two tries. I went on and did the drop over and then stand ups and then Vrshikasana on my own. I then stood at the front of the mat to wait for the assisted drop backs. Tim came up and gave me a questioning look, "Viparita Chakrasana?" "I did", I told him, "but not coming back over on my own." He pointed to the back of the mat and we did it all over again. When I was doing the initial drop overs on my own, as I was repositioning myself to try and hop back up and over, I was looking straight down at the floor and it struck me that if I hopped upward and did the needed arching through of my chest but didn't make it and fell, I could potentially land with all of my weight directly over my chin and neck. Comforting thought. Not surprisingly, I had pretty feeble attempts at coming back over. But I didn't fall this time.

Today I did the 6:00 Mysore class at the other studio. For some reason, I wasn't moving through things as efficiently today. When I finished my try at Karandavasana, my last pose before closing, it was almost 7:00. I did three quick backbends and blew off most of the closing sequence so that I could get to work on time. Good thing too because there was a snafu on one of the railroad crossings nearby that routed a lot of traffic that would normally go on the coast road onto the the road that I take to get on the free way. I lost about ten minutes crawling along that 2 mile stretch and made it to work with no time to spare.

All the good practices had to be followed by a less than stellar one at some point and I guess today was that day. I wasn't able to do a lot of things that I typically can do or that I had been able to do just the day before. I couldn't get down easily on either side in Hanumanasana (groins/hams: "see, you need us, you're not going anywhere unless we let you, so next time LISTEN when we say stop!!"), I couldn't land any of my attempts at Bakasana B, Kapotasana was shallow, I never once was able to fold over to any degree in Karandavasana. It was just one of those off days. I didn't attach too much to it. I had stayed up till around midnight reading. I woke up several times before finally getting up at 5:15 to get showered. Doing the class in that kind of rush mode setting is off-putting, I almost expect it to not be a good class. I just want to get it in, keep it going. Hopefully, I'll put an end to this blog post soon and get to bed so that I can get up and go tomorrow as well. That will be first series if I go. I'll have to figure out what to do to get it all done in 60 - 70 minutes: leave stuff out, like leaving out the closing poses today or go really, really fast. Or just sleep in.

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