Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lottery of Life

So far, we still have a roof. Today will be the crux though.

It was a little hectic yesterday, in part because, as is usual in these kinds of things, it was hard to know what was really happening. While the authorities do seem vastly better organized with this fire than they were during the huge fire four years ago, in these kinds of fires, things change so quickly that even with the media right on site with cameras, it was hard to keep on top of where the fire was going, what areas were at risk, who was supposed to evacuate and most importantly, what roads were closed or open.

I ended up going to practice yesterday morning. I had dropped my youngest off at her 5:00 swim practice. It was still dark, so I had no idea that there was a significant firestorm heading our way. After practice, i realized i would need to go back home before heading to work because i had forgotten to bring my shoes and socks. When i stopped by the house, my wife was packing the car and getting the kids ready to go. there had been an evacuation order given for our area. She headed out to palm springs with the kids to ride this out in cleaner air.

I hung around to pack up a few more things and see how it developed. While our house faces east, the direction that the fire was coming from, you couldn't see much except smoke. It was thick enough to be able to look directly at the sun at mid-day and see a faint orange disk. At ground level, it looked like a foggy day. It wasn't as bad indoors though. There was a fair amount of ash in the air. We have a miniature pool out back and it was looking like the black lagoon, with probably a half an inch of soot, leaves and other debris covering the bed of the pool.

The day before, the winds had blown a patio umbrella out of its table, shattering the glass table top in the process, and deposited the umbrella upside down in the pool.

With all of the confusion about how close the fires may be, the last report claiming they were about 6 miles out, and with my wife calling me every 20 minutes out of concern, i decided in mid afternoon to pull out and join them in palm springs. As i exited our area, there were a covey of police cars preventing others from entering our neighborhood. I figured that was a sign i was going in the right direction. I hit the freeway along the coast and it totally stalled out. everybody was also trying to head north. Since the other main North/South freeway was closed by the fire, it was a very slow slog. After about a half an hour trip that gained me four or five miles, i pulled off and tried to get a hotel room. Turns out, there were no remaining rooms in the entire north county. As i got back into the car, one of the reporters in a helicopter advised that there were in fact no fires at all near the area that was earlier cited as an imminent risk to our area. So, rather than sit in traffic to drive north 30 or 40 miles to find a hotel room where i could stress out in ignorance, i decide to head back home and see how it went.

I had to semi-sneak in thru a back road. Once home, it was getting into evening and the winds died down significantly. The advantage of the dark is that i could see if there were any flames nearby. I kept climbing up the hill near our home to get a better vantage. According to the TV reports, the fire front had forked around the area of our neighborhood, following the river valleys west, giving us a free pass for the night.

I called a few of the local yogis, most of whom also had to evacuate. Almost one half of this county was given some sort of evacuation order or request. For reference, this county is three times larger in area than Rhode Island. One of them in a safe area kindly offered to put me up if needed. So far, it remains a generous but unneeded offer.

Today, unfortunately, the winds have picked back up to the very strong level. Even though the tracks of the fires were around and away from us, with higher winds, anything can happen.

I'll try to figure out some way to put up some pictures, but i don't have any really dramatic ones. just shots of a disgustingly dirty pool and smoke filled horizons.

Monday, October 22, 2007

ARMAGEDDON, part deux

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kubler-Ross Ashtanga

Previously, i have been in denial. yesterday, i went thru anger. today, i was initially thinking, "there's not much i can do, so the hell with it. can't stress on that crap". i figured i'd moved right on to acceptance. i didn't even do any research during class. just did the poses. problem was, i kept thinking about what i wrote yesterday, the issues, etc. and i kept getting angrier. by the time i had my "i'm as competant as anyone else" delusions once again shattered in the life process known as Karandavasana, i was so mad i wanted to hit someone. so i quit and laid down. screw the rest of it.

I guess i forgot that the stages take a little while and there's a few more before acceptance comes into play. I never liked her anyway.

But, i felt better lying in savasana. near my mat, a mom had her toddler with her and was playing with him. I heard my name, "that's John" and figured he must have pointed at me or something. I was going to maintian my hissy snit and just keep to myself, but realized that would be a total ass thing to do, so i looked over. sure enough, he was looking over at me, trying to suss out if i was a source of fun or if i was a threat. i reached over, picked up my hair tie and shot it over at him. he thought that was cool and went running around the room, going from mat to mat, showing it to mom and dad. so then i wasn't as mad.

after class, a friend was in the entry way. she had suddenly become nauseated. on her way to the bathroom to throw up, she asked me to cover her 12:30 class. "But I'm angry. I'm in a bad mood!!", I wanted to say. I taught the class. And the class was fun. it was in some empty office space at a big insurance company office building. Only about ten people. Most of them in the early stages of learning yoga. I probably worked them with more rigor than they were used too. I got enough looks to hint at that. i think overall that it worked out though. and i left in a good mood.

as lax remonstrated in yesterday's comments section, too much thinking. and, for sure, i was today. All i could think about during practice was some of the stuff from yesterday. No mas, for now. The rest of that crap is just crap.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What's It All About, Alfie?

Anybody here not know why we do ashtanga? To get the next pose. Right? Anybody disagree? Raise your mouse. You lie. We may wish it were for all that other stuff, but in the nitty-gritty real world we all sweat in, it's about quantitative evaluation. You do better, you get more poses. You don't get poses, you're not good enough to get them. The simplicity is attractive. It's honest, understandable and it works. We get into it, get motivated, do more and maybe inadvertently gather other benefits as well. But, for most, and probably all of us, the true motivator is: what's next.

So, why blather about this? Well, I was trying to assess if it's possible for me to get a pose. Ever. Regardless of what i am able to do athletically. There are factors that could make progression, and therefore satisfaction, impossible. Namely, access.

Obviously, poses are given in Mysore classes. At our studio, Mysore classes with the teacher who gives out poses are on Monday thru Friday, only. so that eliminates one sixth of my chances right there (working with the theoretic six practice per week regimen). Another quirk of ashtanga is that classes aren't held on moon days. presume 2 moon days per month, which will fall on Mysore class days 71% of the time. Also, the norm is to not give poses on Tuesdays, an inauspicious day (Mars' day) in Hindu culture. Scratch another four days. So, where am i so far? 30 days minus 8-9 weekend days, minus four Tuesdays, minus 1.4 moon days, that's 13.4 days gone already. Ok, the big kahuna, being a senior teacher, usually is out of town on a weekend teaching junket twice a month. Typically, he used to be gone from Thursday thru Sunday. Lately, however, he has been out for Monday too (travel recovery day?). so that's another six days per month lost to me. Two thirds of the month is already history and i haven't even entered the studio yet.

I'm one of those 'normal' people, the pretenders, one who actually has a day job that limits my ability to make it to Mysore classes. At our studio, the Mysore classes are from 7-9am on M-W-F and are from 9-11am on T&Th. Since my typical day on call starts at either 7:30a or 8:00a, the only time i can get to a M-W-F class is if i am in clinic in the morning. On those days, I can schedule my clinic to start at 10:00 and work thru lunch to make up for the late start. The only time I can make it to Mysore on T & Th is if i work overnight the night before. I get off a bit after 8, drive up and usually can make it to the studio right at or shortly after the class starts, presuming no last minute crash c-sections, etc. So, if i am to make it to Mysore, i have to either be in clinic on a M-W-F, or I have to have been on call Wed night.

Looking over the last few months, I was on call on a Wednesday night only once each month, so that takes away another three days. I was in clinic in the morning no more than twice in a given month on M-W-F. So, that gives me 2-3 days in an average month in which i might see and be seen by my teacher in a Mysore setting.

I've got two chances a month, essentially, to practice and show enough worth to be advanced. and some months, it's not even that many. There are usually many other practice chances, usually led classes, Saturday classes, or the second Mysore class, led by another teacher. Not classes in which I could "progress" though.

So, what's it all about? Self delusion. I don't think teachers think you're a real student, a serious student, one who they might think about progressing, when you're only there twice a month.

Now, this shouldn't be misconstrued as a whiny, "i deserve to be given a pose but I'm being unfairly passed over" thing. I know that I'm not doing the poses near the end of my practice well. and may not ever be able to do so. This is more a diatribe about how we can fool ourselves into thinking that we're like every one else, all the daily practice people, when, we're not. we're the de facto strap hangers, the carpet baggers. we have a place and more power to us for whatever we can accomplish, but, no matter what our ability, we won't ever be able to do what comparable daily Mysore people do, because we won't get the chance.

it still beats going home and playing internet poker.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pies to Die For

I'm going to take a cue from my e-friend lax and let people come here to get these recipes. these are recipes for a couple of ice box pies that are perfect for summer evening backyard barbeques and what not. both require very little in the way of ingredients or skill. just a bit of work for the chocolate one to get everything blended and smooth

French Silk Pie

i opted to use the link my sister gave me, rather than just post the typed out recipe, because i thought the readers'comments on the web site about making the pie were pretty good. one note, my mom, who we got this recipe from, used a deeper dish pie crust, so she would double the recipe. the recipe actually calls for an eight inch pie crust, not the typical 9 incher. so if you use a 9 incher, i would suggest doubling the recipe. this suggestion was also made by several of the ppl on the recipe web site. if you do double the recipe to make sure you have enough, you could also have a few small three inch mini-pie crusts nearby that you could use to make mini pies with any extra filling. the key is to beat and blend this stuff a lot. the recipe calls for one egg at a time with a five minute blend after each egg. it does take that long but the effort is well worth it. this is maybe the richest pie i've ever had.

Key Lime Pie

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the crust ingredients and line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Cool

4 egg yolks, beaten well
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh lime juice
Whipped cream sweetened
Grated Lime

In a bowl gradually add the milk to the well beaten eggs and mix well. Add the lime juice. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and freeze. Remove 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream and garnish with grated lime.

My comments: for me the crux of this one is the crust. i grew up in the pre-cuisinart era and we hand to use a rolling pin to smash up the graham crackers to get the stuff for the crust. after we walked fifteen miles in the mud and snow to the neighbor's hen house to steal the eggs and milk the condensed cows. it sucked, but, i felt involved with my crust. i strongly, strongly advise against buying a pre-made graham cracker crust and recommend that you make your own with this recipe. it will look much messier and be much harder to do than just pouring the filling into some perfect manufactured crust from the store. but the buttery richness of the real home made crust perfectly accents the tartness of the pie. it's a world of difference. as for those purists out there, sure you could use key limes, but imo, they are too bitter. we just used either sqeezed lime juice or those Real Lime things, the little plastic limes filled with lime juice thatthey have in the produce section of most stores. i don't know, maybe now a days, in the era of global fruit production, maybe there is not an out of season time for limes and you can get them year round. back then, nearly in the mcCarthy era, we had to use what we could get when we could get it. try it with both some time, key limes and normal limes, and see which you like better.

For both of these pies, let them set for at least several hours in the freezer before trying to serve them. and warn your guests that the key lime is really tart and that the french silk is considered a controlled substance with the same level of addiction potential as prescription drugs like oxycontin, percocet and viagra.

and leave the whipped cream off. that's for poofters. these are serious stand alone desserts.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Magical Light

I had one of those wonderful post practice euphorias yesterday. It had rained all day but was just clearing as i drove home. it was about 7 to 7:30 pm and the clearing was to the west. this allowed the sun to come in at a really low angle, lighting everything up under the still dark clouds. there's something special about that particular kind of light. I remember it very well from my youth. those of you who live in places where afternoon and evening rains are a common thing will likely think nothing of it, but those of us who live in the great western desert, where brown and grey are the predominant colors of the natural landscape and where it almost never rains, tend to just stand and gape at the effect that that kind of light has. the area of vermont that i'm in is known as the green mountains. that was never truer than last night. driving home, i was just hypnotized by the vibrancy of the views. add in the post practice calm and i was just in another world. at one point, driving down a ten mile backroad to get to my main route, i looked down and saw that i was tooling along almost ten miles below the speed limit. that was the most enjoyable drive i think i've ever had. there's a school of art called plein-air, in which the artists work outdoors to capture the effect of natural light. i'd love to see if artists could capture the kind of light that i saw as the sun came in and lit up those fields and hills.

i did my second series poses last night. I was the only one doing second, everyone else was doing led first. I was somewhat anxious starting off. you never know ahead of time if this will be one of those good practices or if it will be your day to stink up the place. being an outsider and then doing a different series from everyone else, it would look extremely bad to flail in the poses. i did okay, i didn't do anything all that well, but i didn't bring shame on my teacher either. i did a lot of my usual break taking, finding spots here and there to recover my breath. i sensed that the teacher encourages her students to try to keep to a disciplined approach in their practices, not futzing about, not taking extra breaths, not making long transitions into and out of poses. she was kind enough to let me do it the way i do, lazy as it is.

while there was nothing stand out about the poses i did, i think i focused better than i might usually. somewhere along the line of her led first series class, she decided to make it a more improv type thing and shifted away from straight first series. i heard her say at one point that she was going to skip marichy B. i don't remember anything else about what they were doing until i was moving into my closing poses. then, i heard her talking them through eka pada bhekasana. that kind of woke me up and i looked over to see what was going on. i gathered she had been going thru a modified intro to second, but i didn't pick up on it until the very end. usually, with my tendency to focus externally, i would have been more attuned to what they were doing than what i was doing.

maybe that better focus and doing second series helped lead to that all too rare post-practice feeling of happiness or whatever it is. definitely the kind of thing that brings you back for more.

the boy and i head back home today. i woke up with the light. he's luxuriating in the chance to sleep in.

as they say at the end of the madeline stories: that's all there is, there isn't any more

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Crime Against Humanity

Had to go to a laundromat to wash some of the lacrosse boy's stuff while we're on this road trip going from one lax camp to another. Talk about going down into the rabbit hole, $4.50 for one load of wash? GTFOOH!! Is this a widespread thing? i mean, you can buy a whole washing machine for about $600. Granted, the place did have free Wi-Fi (Wash-n-Wi-Fi), but i shudder to think what kind of bill my family would ring up. There's only five of us, but somehow there's at least two to three loads of wash a day.

We were in Santa Barbara last week for a team camp. My son's team was head and shoulders above the skill level of the other teams . That speaks well for them and their coach but in the long run they risk perceiving that they are god's gift to lacrosse. They had a bit of a reality check when they played in a baltimore area tournament in June. Prior to that, they hadn't lost a game in three years. In that tourney, they went 3-2-1. They played well but could tell that they had some things they need to do to be as good as the best teams.

While in SB, I went to the Ashtanga Yoga Shala to practice with steve and michelle. We had met them at one of Tim's Mt. Shasta retreats. Wonderful couple and really great teachers too. Kiran also spent one day at Damien's studio. He's the nephew of the guy i studied with when i was in the Washington DC area. It's a small ashtanga world.

Amazingly, despite being in the backwoods of Vermont for this week's lacrosse camp, there's an authorized teacher about 40 miles from here, christine hoar. She has really full classes, which is surprising given the very rural setting. The classes are led first series in the evening but she has said that if people want to do other series instead, they're welcome to do so. I didn't want to do that and be the only one so I've only done first so far.

The very first class with christine, i was able to figure out that she had studied with nancy gilgoff. some of her verbal cues and a couple of the other things, like the five minute seated meditation before class, are the same as what one of our teachers does with us when ever she has come back from her yearly two weeks at nancy's studio. i guess it's like picking out where someone grew up by hearing their accent. you can sometimes see where a teacher trained by how they do their classes. She give nice secure adjustments and seems pretty dedicated to the approach guruji advises. she's corrected a few of my poses to reflect current technique, i.e. arms forward in balasana instead of back along the sides of the body. i don't like that way, fwiw. i'll ask her about doing second this evening if i get to go. i'm not likely going to be able to do all my extraneous stuff though.

well, got to go and watch the pm session at the camp. My son is the only one from the west coast. in fact, he may be the only one not from the immediate new england area. He's not liking this camp unfortunately. they give a short teaching clinic and then let the kids play a game each half day. other than what they cover in the clinic, the coaches seem to be pretty uninvolved. there's little or no coaching during the games. live and learn. i think he's getting a little burned out on lax now too. it's been a non-stop thing since february. he still has one more travel tourney up to san francisco in early august to play some bay area competetive teams. he should be fully stoked for that trip. these guys do not want to lose to any west coast teams.

pithy, i can't do pithy.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rishis and Gods

We had a killer class today in Improv. Before class starts, there's often a collection of people zipping thru a variety of personal warm ups and stretches. This morning, no one was moving really. We were all just sitting there, sluggish and stuporous. Tim asked, "Should we do a Yin yoga class then? Lying around, doing very little?" A couple of people asked for a gentle class. So we did the Rishi poses. It was a blast. I don't get to go that often, but I've never seen him do some of these poses in this class. In fact, I've seen him refuse to do a couple of them when they were specifically requested, like durvasasana and viranchyasana. we didn't do all the rishi poses but here's the list of the ones i remember doing

viswamitrasana variation
vasisthasana variation
koundinyasana A
koundinyasana B
ardha matsyendrasana
marichyasana C
marichyasana D
marichyasana F
poorna matsyendrasana
viranchyasana A
viranchyasana B
supta trivikrmasana

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sisterhood of the Traveling Buttfloss

Well, that was awkward. If you read other ashtangi blogs, and if you read this one, then you almost certainly do, there's a thread going on in a couple of them about giving each other underwear. Like most internet threads, it's hard to explain in a rational way how that train of thought got a life of its own, but needless to say, it did. A couple of them even sent each other nether garments. When I mentioned that our studio had some underwear with the studio logo, a couple of these undie fetishers volunteered to have me share the goods with them. I'm all about enabling aberrant behavior.

After practice today, I went over to the basket that has the nasty bits. I guess they restocked it for the teacher training, oops, ashtanga intensive that is currently going on. I mean that's forty more potential pocket books waiting to be lightened. Instead of the one color, one style, one size fits all option that had been there for the last few months, there were now several colors, a couple of different shapes, but still one size fits all. That's okay. All ashtanginis are the same size. I dug around for a few moments, until i realized i was getting a couple of looks from some women who had been standing in the general area, talking after class. I grabbed a handful of stuff and headed for the counter to pay. "Oh, that's an interesting thing for you John", said Amy, the desk person. "Uh, well, see I'm getting them for these people that I don't know from the internet." She, gave me that look and said, "Oh, really. I just thought you were getting them for your wife." "No, see they have this thing where they collect underwear from people who send it to them for no reason and, um, well, anyway how much are those?" She told me and i reached for my wallet. Oops. I'm like ten dollars light. "I can charge this stuff right?" Right then, who walks in and stands right next to me, giving me that same confused, disturbed look? Vanessa, master of the EZBoard universe, world traveler and computer guru for some mega bank consortium, in town for the ashtanga intensive (TT). I quickly shuffled the small pieces of clothing in to an amorphous pile in the vain hope that it could possibly be confused with some kind of an appropriate clothing purchase and asked Amy for a bag. So, she picked up the panties, one by one, carefully folding them so they wouldn't have wrinkles I guess, and gave them to me in a bag. "Those should look good on you John", said Andrew, Tim's Mysore assistant, as he headed out the door. I looked over and gave Vanessa a weak smile, proffering the concept that I bought women's thongs all the time, what's the big deal. Why is it you can never get as small as you feel.

Being the experienced, smart camper that I am, I had attempted to kind of advise the wife that said transaction was in the offing. There's no way I could have bought that stuff without somebody asking her about it. I'm sure I'll still get hammered though. What seemed perfectly reasonable when in the concept phase, in the harsh reality of public scrutiny becomes another self kick to the groin. The things we do for blog people we don't even know.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Off to Maryland for a week. Lacrosse camp, then a tourney.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blood on the Mat

At practice, my teacher will watch me sometimes struggle over and over with something I'm not getting, getting more and more aggravated, swearing sotto voce, eventually wearing myself out. Then he'll wander over and remind me that to achieve a state of yoga, one needs to act or perform with a state of dispassion, with non-attachment.

Yesterday, I was doing my umpteenth try at Karandavasana. After toppling over once again, I noticed a smudge of red on my rug. Hmm. That's blood. My rug had worn a raw spot on my elbow, enough that I was bleeding a little. That's cool, that's a mark of valor, right? I'm not too attached, see, my elbow is becoming detached.

Yesterday was a do over day. I couldn't get in a number of the second series poses on my first attempt. Bakasana B, Dwi Pada, Tittibhasana B, Karanda, all took at least two tries to get into, some of them a lot more. That got old real quick. I had this new plan where I would stop practice whenever I got to a pose that I couldn't do. The down side was that I was eventually able to do each of them, so I had to keep going. Karanda was the least successful. I'm satisfied if I can land it, but once again, my landing consisted of bouncing off of the ground and rebounding back up onto the arms. Not one of the more accepted approaches. Tim even came over to remark that he'd never seen that particular strategy before. Just goes to show how little he watches me. I've done that a bunch of times.

I did get towed back into my ankles for Kapotasana but it wasn't as easy and carefree as the other times. Not sure what was different but I had a lot more compression in my low back as the hands got pulled back. No pain and I haven't developed soreness afterwards but it was definitely at the edge of what I was willing to go for.

I may get a practice tomorrow but probably not. I work tonight so I can't get there until 9:00. My wife made me a doctors appointment for 11:00 though, so even if I do get in an abbreviated practice, I'll be going to the doctor all sweaty and what not from practice. I don't know what the appointment is for, I think it could be a general physical. I had one of those once and I was fine, so why do I need to do another one? It's about time for me to have to start doing all of those health maintenance tests, like regular prostate exams, colonoscopies, all that good stuff. Can't wait.

Laxboy didn't play and his team got beat pretty good. They had to call a goalie up from the fifth grade team to play in his place. The kid got used pretty good. There's a huge physical difference between fifth graders and eighth graders, so I thought the kid was heroic for even agreeing to do it. Hopefully Jake will have healed enough to be able to play on the east coast tournament he has in a couple of weeks. He's milking the injury for all he can in terms of missing school but we're not going for it any more.

Have to go to sign out rounds and pick up the beeper. I have coverage for the ER tonight, so no telling how things will go

Monday, May 28, 2007

Today, I got almost as far on my own (after research) as Iyengar in the bottom left picture. Then, with assistance, I got as far as the bottom right pic.

I knew going into the back bending part of second that I was going to be able to get to the heels. The feel was there. Everything prior to that had been going about as good as I can do it. I was real close in Samakonasana. Never been that close. My calves were down. When I finally sat back and let my butt go down, my legs looked pretty close to 170 degrees. It was a good one. I got down on both sides in Hanumanasana. That one, at the risk of calling in hamstring jinxes, is gradually coming back. I also had my best pasasana to date. I got a finger or two up to my wrist on the first side and on the other side, I was barely off the floor with one heel.

It should be clear by now, that great for me is often not even doing poses correctly. It's just doing it or them better than I usually can. Some classes are high points because I manage to do just one thing better than I ever have, finally clearing some long standing physical or psychological hurdle. Today, I was hitting my all time best on a number of the second series poses.

After rocking thru Kapotasana, I let myself think ahead to Karandavasana. If I could just land Karandavasana, never mind anything else, this would by far be my best class ever. Needless to say, I plateaued. I got Bakasana B, but it took me a few tries. I did an acceptable Dwi Pada Sirsasana but my legs slipped down my arms when I tried to vinyasa out and my feet hit the floor before I could get them back.

When I got to Karanda, I sat for a second and tried to get the feel back. To no avail. I didn't really get the landing. I hit my arms but slipped off. I was able to bounce my knees and snug the lotus back onto the arms. The form was sucky though. I had to be forcefully pulled up from the tuck and couldn't even vinyasa out. Oh well. I was still completely stoked about the class. I decided to give Karanda another try so that I could at least try what Jason long ago recommended. I wanted to do a partial lower and try to get it back up. Since my lowers to date have barely been in control, I don't have a good sense of when my knees get to the horizontal or even lower. I need to work on getting them down as far as I can while staying in control and then get them back up. I asked the teacher to tell me when I got them to the horizontal plane. I did get them there but that is right past the edge of where I was able to control it and I blew out of it. At least now I have a point of reference to lower to and come back from.

Jason was back at practice today. The guy is tougher than woodpecker lips. He had his other knee operated on a few days ago. Back in the studio with sutures still in his knee. He was behind the pillar so I couldn't see much of him but I think he was doing a lot bandha work. I looked up at one point and saw the person across the room from me paused in mid drop back, looking over at Jason with a quizzical look on her face. I glanced over to see what caught her attention. He was in this weird hand stand with his operated leg extended up but his other leg held out to the side in this weird bent chicken wing kind of position. Ardha Kukkupada Vrkshasana?

My son managed to totally wreck his lacrosse season yesterday. He was over at a friend's house and somehow managed to open a slice in his lower leg that took 18 stitches to close. He's his school team's only goalie and their first playoff game is tomorrow. His competitive club team is scheduled to make a trip to Maryland to play in a tournament against the east coast kids the second week in June. That's when his stitches are due to come out. He had also gotten a friend of his to join him at the Johns Hopkins lacrosse camp the week prior to the tournament. I don't know if he'll be able to do any of that now. "But dad, I didn't mean to." God, I hate those words.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I went to the Sunday morning led second series today. It wasn't the comfort fest that last week's led first series was. Tim started off by asking if anyone knew what significance today had in Christian religions. Not one person had a clue. Buncha heathens all of us. He informed us that today was the Feast of the Pentecost. When we all nodded like unknowing fools, he went on. It's the fiftieth day after Easter and ten days after the Ascension. Yeah, yeah, sure, I remember learning about that once, I think. And? Having been to Tim's classes for a while, I knew there had to be some kind of practice related hook coming for him to go into this kind of detail. He went on to explain that on this day, the Holy Spirit came down and baptized the apostles. With fire. Oohhh. Snap. We get it now. We're gonna sweat today.

Tim used to do a number of backbending research poses before doing Kapotasana. Sometime, a year or so ago, that fell by the wayside and he would just bull through Kapo, even when people requested research. Today we did the research. That was fine by me. I've been trying to get a deeper Kapotasana. The only way I'm going to get close to the heels right now is if I've done the research for the shoulders and groins. Without doing research right before the pose, I think I can get to mid foot, maybe on a really good day getting up to the joint that sticks out below the little toe. With research, I can sometimes get a finger joint or two onto or over the heel. My first attempt today, without assistance, was disappointing, mid foot at best. I went into it a second time when I knew he'd have to come over and help. He got my fingers over the heels. Still a far cry from the ankle grab I had last week but I'll take it.

Most of the rest of the class was acceptable. I dithered a bit too much before Bakasana B, so right as I was launching he called five. I also wasn't real stable in Karanda. Both of the times that I tried it on my own, I over tilted right after I got into lotus and had to come down.

We had done a fair number of forearm balances in the Saturday Improv class, so maybe my shoulders were tired. Who knows? Today felt like one of those days when I'd have enough center to be able to lower my knees down with control, but I never got that far. The Improv yesterday was taught by one of my favorite teachers from when I first started at the studio, Kim Toledo. She's been out of the loop for the last several years raising two small children. I've been to classes where she practiced, but this was the first time she's taught a class that I've been to in a long time, maybe four years. She has the practice that I have always most wanted to emulate. She is extremely graceful in her movements, something that doesn't typify my practice at all. Even when she hasn't been around, when I'm doing stuff and trying to make it better, I think of how to make what I do seem more fluid, like her practice.

The Improv was a fun one. She did the request approach. Nothing too wild was asked for. Someone did ask for Natarajasana, which I hate. I'd much rather work on doing eka pada raja kapotasana or raja kapotasana than trying to get the foot while balancing in Natarajasana. Too much going on at one time.

Friday was a full practice for me. I got there early, right when pranayama was starting. I ended up having about two and a half hours to do stuff. I did first and my second poses and as much research as I could fit in. I ended up, once again, only doing three simple backbends and blowing off the rest of the backbending sequence and closing poses. I had worked pretty hard and was feeling tired and just didn't want to push on. I don't think Tim adjusted me once until I got to Bhekasana. That pose is kind of a given adjustment, if he or the other person are anywhere near. If you want to dodge an adjustment in it, you have to be crafty in timing when you go into it so that you can be done before they get over to you. Earlier, when I was starting back on my second poses, I wanted no part of an adjustment there. Now things are less melodramatic and most of my former range of motion is coming back, so I didn't mind the help. Tim helped me with my first Kapotasana. I usually do one go with out any research. Then I do all that backbending research crap I listed in the previous pose. I then give it an 'after' try. The research is usually good for a shift in hand position of at least half of my foot length. Tim came over to help and the other adjuster, Andrew, came as well. Andrew is the one who got me to my ankles last week. They were going to wishbone me. Tim pulled me in enough to get my fingers securely over the heels, but not thumbs and not even close to the ankles. When I came up, I wanted to say something to Andrew about having lost so much distance in just one week, but I didn't think Tim would take it the right way. In the past, like just last summer, to get my fingers over my heels would normally have been an alert the press kind of an accomplishment. Whining about not grabbing ankles would have been the epitome of hubris on my part.

I did land my Karandavasana. Twice. Don't know if I've ever done that before. The first time was a little crash-landie, but I was in there and stable. I held it and waited for someone to notice. No one did. I cleared my throat. And waited. I cleared my throat loudly. And waited. And then I gave up and rolled out onto my butt. "What a waste" I thought, "No way I'm gonna be able to that again." I had to give it another try though. As my knees came onto my arms, I almost rocked backwards to lose it but but managed to get my weight forward and settled in. By then, Andrew had come over and he helped me back up. I guess my arms had had it because my elbows splayed out and my hands slipped inward, making stability in Pincha hard. I held it Pincha just long enough to dismount and finished up the last two poses. All in all, it was apractice I was quite happy with. I did a lot and was pretty worked.

Well, one of those endless 'details about practice' postings. I have to go check a wound that's bleeding so I can't fill in with interesting anecdotes or stories about my kids and whatnot. Next time.

Friday, May 25, 2007

When Enough Just Isn't Enough

At various times, I do these extras. I doubt I ever do them all. When I'm only doing first or only doing second, I tend to do most of the ones that go with each series. Lately, if I'm doing both first and second, I do less. I don't have enough energy to do most of them. Some of these poses I don't really DO, I just attempt to do. Many of the names are sanskrit neologisms, made up names. I know I've gotten some of the names wrong because I can't remember exactly what name Tim made up for them.

1) samakonasana and hanumanasana, after the prasaritas
2) press up to tuck handstand vs do bakasana A, after utkatasana
3) eka pada bakasana A, after virabhadrasana B
4) viranchyasana B, after janu C
5) handstands, after each navasana
6) urdhva kukkutasana C, after garbha pindasana
7) kandasana, after baddha konasana (done only occasionally)
8) press up with wide spread legs, after supta konasana

9) virasana, ardha virasana, urdhva moola ardha virasana, supta virasana (in our studio, virasana/supta virasana is a normal part of second series, the part of the korunta eaten by the ants), done before bhekasana
10) back bending research (usually done after the first attempt at kapotasana)
10a) adho mukha pincha mayurasana
10b) adho mukha pincha mayurasana with extended arms, A, B & C
10c) salamba viparita dandasana (viparita dandasana with feet against the wall)
10d) salamba eka pada viparita dandasana (one foot on the wall, the other on the floor)
10e) viparita dandasana
10f) eka pada viparita dandasana
10g) salamba eka pada raja kapotasana (lunge with the forward leg, the knee of the back leg on the floor against the wall and lower leg up on the wall, hands reaching back to the foot)
10h) urdhva hasta raja kapotasana (lying on floor with the lower abd/chest against the wall, arching back, possibly bending legs and grasping knees)
11) urdhva kukkutasana D (urdhva kukkutasana from handstand), done after the ashtau up from kapotasana
12) poorna matsyendrasana, done after ardha matsyendrasana
13) eka pada sirsasana research, done after matsyendrasana
13a) adho mukha eka pada raja kapotasana
13b) parsva adho mukha eka pada raja kapotasana
13c) parivrtta adho mukha eka pada raja kapotasana
13d) supta eka pada raja kapotasana (lie on back and bring bent knee to same shoulder and foot of the bent knee to the other shoulder)
14) kasyapasana, sitting up into eka pada sirsasana (the typical entry for eka pada sirsasana at our studio)
15) sayansana, done after pincha mayurasana (rarely)
16) vrshikasana, done after karandavasana, from forearm base
17) urdhva sirsasana, after ardha sirsasana
The Who am I Meme

1. I grew up in Oklahoma, but I've never worn a pair of cowboy boots or owned a cowboy hat, I hate country music and have ridden a horse maybe four times in my life.

2. I can do a caesarean section in less time than some people need to do a circumcision.

3. I've taken off in a lot more airplanes than I've landed in.

4. I'm a convict.

5. I've only had white cars. Ever.

6. I have a history of rodent abuse.

7. I once worked in the zoo.

8. While I know many people and am friendly with almost all of them, I have few friends.

9. I've always wondered about number 8.

10. My love for my wife and my kids is enough for me. Screw number 8.

yes, that's ten. i don't like to obey the rules that much (#11). as noted in other places, most blogs that i read have already done this or have been asked, so the chain slows down here. I wonder how back trace-able these meme things are? can you actually walk your way back thru the different layers of tag lists to find the originator?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

have to give this embedding thing a try. here's a video i hadn't seen yet. it has one of tim's first yoga teachers, gary lapodota. they're doing the knee poppers from fourth series and raja kapotasana. if anyone can make out what guruji says after he tries to cram tim into raja kapotasana, post it in the comments. my audio is pretty sucky

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Cure for What Ails You

Led first series. Who knew? No research. No added-on 'fun' poses. Just the basics. It worked for me anyway. Had a really good class Sunday morning. It all felt quite do-able. Granted, I got there an hour early. I got off of work at 8:00 and class wasn't until 10:00. The kids were fine at home. So, I went to the studio early. I watched the folks in the second series class do some of the harder poses. Then I sat down and did my little pre-class stretch out.

THe class wasn't too crowded. Tim is away on one of his weekend workshops, to Nova Scotia this time. As the teacher who led our class said, "Wherever that is." When he's away, the numbers drop off a lot. The room was nice and warm though, thanks to the efforts of the second series class. There were a number of people I've never seen before. And they all seemed to have strong practices--Bhujapidasana to Tittibhasana to Bakasana capabilities.

For my practice, there was nothing I felt bad about. It all felt pretty good. I finally managed to get a legitimate Supta K. Not a toe tucker but a legitimate ankle cross. It took me a little bit of futzing about to get into it but , i finally got it back.

Have to keep this post on the short side. I've been called to the OR.

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Is the Point

Today was so bad, if I wasn' there, I woulda left.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


No practice today. I did go yesterday. That made it six in a row. Just like the big kids do every week. I opted to just do first series. Mostly, I was being lazy. I could have gone on to do second. I finished first series and still had about 50 minutes to go. I had worked the night before though and just didn't feel like doing everything. I decided to use the remaining time and energy to work on back bending.

After each back bend, I made myself walk it in further. After the first couple of hand shifts, I had to start lifting my heels to be able to get the hands in closer. I could eventually get the heels back down. To do so, I had to really lift up through my shoulders. It's was getting pretty edgy by number 6 though. I don't think I was able to get the heels down on that one and there was a lot of compression building in my lumbar area. I wanted to know how close/far my hands were from my heels. I can't see my heels, so I can only presume. It "feels" like they'd be close but that kind of thing is usually wishful thinking. Prior to that last attempt, I checked to see where on my mysore rug my feet were positioned. When I did the back bend, I looked to see where my hands were (I have a striped rug, so I can use the different colored stripes to mark where I end up). They were about a foot apart I guess.

Sensing that was as far as I was going to get on my own, I did the unassisted stand ups and drop backs then had the teacher help with the assisted variety. I usually don't do the assisted ones, primarily due to sloth but also because I haven't felt they would add much to what I was doing on my own. When I did them yesterday, I felt as loose there as I ever have. After the last drop back, I tried to move my hands in more, hoping the teacher would get the hint that I was trying to get in position to go for an ankle. I had to lift way up on my toes. The teacher said, "You're getting really close" but did not try to get me in the rest of the way. That told me I wasn't really that close. When I came up, I asked him how close I was. He held his fingers about a foot apart. Crap. I was hoping for a few inches.

In reading some blogs, I've learned that there are those who can grab their ankles in back bending but who don't claim to have a great kapotasana. I've even seen a few people who had what I initially thought were very flat back bends be pulled in to their ankles. Given that, I understood that ankle grabbing from urdhva dhanurasana does not carry having an incredibly bendy back as a pre-requisite. I figured if I could be pulled in to my ankles in Kapotasana, surely I could get my ankles from backbend too. Not yet anyway.

I was able to get my supta K. Sort of. I usually bind my hands first, then go for the ankle cross. I guess I was so worked up about getting that left foot under the right that I totally forgot to do the hand binding. I got the feet in, mentally thought to myself, "Yeah!", then realized my hands were lying loosely on the floor. I tried to get them together but there was no way. So, I had to uncross my feet and go back and do the hands first. By that time, the teacher was there and I guess he presumed I was incapable, so he grabbed my hands and pulled them in to bind. I couldn't really just let go and then rebind on my own, so I kept them together and tried again to get the feet crossed. I did get my left toe under, just the toe but that's enough to count. Given the hand assist, technically I still haven't gotten it on my own though.

The whole practice felt much more like the one I had last Wednesday, lots of ease. Most of the poses were on. When I did the Samakonasana and Hanumanasana sequence that we do after the Prasaritas (samakonasana, hanumanasana right side, samakonasana, hanumanasana left side, samakonasana), I got pretty close for me on Samakonasana. I was able to touch down on both sides in Hanumanasana. Usually I can get down on the left but the right is still very fearful for me. It always will be. I hurt my hamstring doing Hanumanasana on that side at a time when I had been getting all the way down and even folding forward without too much in the way of histrionics. Losing some of the fear definitely makes the whole practice more peaceful. It's been a while since I had that post-practice calmness. Still no euphoria, but I'll take the calm.

Had to work early today and I am on tonight, so no practice for a while. Tomorrow's screwed secondary to voodoo. I might have a chance to go on Thursday and/or Friday though. This is starting to add up, $15 a shot. I wonder if I can convert to a monthly rate for this month. Then I could go the rest of the month for free. Or maybe that would jinx me. Maybe I should just keep paying the daily rate and keep doing first series and I'll get to practice as much as normal people.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Start Making Sense

If anybody 'gets' this yoga stuff, clue me in. My best 2nd series practice this week was the one I did on Wednesday. Prior to that try, I hadn't done second in months. I had really only been doing all of first for maybe three weeks. I did a combined practice that day, so I was relatively low on gas going into the second series poses. And yet, I did great, for me. I did fine in Pasasana, where before I was sometimes barely getting fingertips, I did an ok Kapotasana, I landed Bakasana B, I bound in Tittibhasana B and I lowered into Karandavasana with a measure of control. Life is good, no?

Today, after two good nights of rest, I went to led second series. Given the surprisingly capable outings I had had in the days preceding, I had no reason not to expect at least a middlin practice. Instead, it was my worst second series this week. I couldn't land bakasana B, but I don't have that back completely, so no panic buttons there. I did the Eka Pada Sirsasanas but the depth of the leg wasn't what it had been--bad omen for Dwi Pada. Sure enough, for the first time this week, I couldn't keep both legs up. Later, in Tittibhasana, no binding. That was the cruelest cut. I had thought I had lost enough weight that I didn't have to deal with that demon anymore. I couldn't get any more than one digit to interlock and was too sweaty to be able to pull that any further in to get a better bind. Landing Karanda is an increasingly fading memory. Today I stayed up in the pose just fine, but couldn't get any levity on my descent. Lots of knee to arm impacts, leading to some especially nice bruises on my left arm and elbow. That's always good. If I can't do it, I can at least have some wounds to show for it. The rest of it was nothing great, nothing bad. There must be a cosmic expectation meter out there that ensures inverse outcomes commensurate with how people think they will do in yoga. That's what I get for breaking my rule about not doing second again until I can get my first series poses back. Tomorrow, back to first.

Unless I have to take Jake to the doctor. He's cultivating a chest cold. Hurts too much to cough deeply enough to clear his throat. Having some trouble breathing. Of course, there's no way he could manage to go to school tomorrow. Too sick. No problem with doing two different lacrosse practices today, in addition to Pop Warner football tryouts.

I heard that Jason and Tara, a wonderful couple who practice in our studio, are not just going to Portland for six months soon, they are moving there for good. I also heard, less officially, that another couple, again both highly skilled ashtangis, may be moving away too. That's a huge power vacuum. Those four have amazing practices, smooth, powerful, very light. All of them inspire. Things do change.

I started classes at Tim's in June, 2000. My wife and I had a talk the other day about how many, or how few, people are still practicing regularly at Tim's that were there back when we started. Many of the old timers, the studio 'seniors', have developed a degree of facility in their accrued time with Tim. Most of the others I can think of have moved to the top of the skills heap, many of them doing third or being quite capable second series people. In the same time frame, I have managed to achieve a remarkable degree of stasis. I think I got my first second series pose after I had been going to the studio for a couple of years, something like the Fall of 2002. I slowly picked up poses over the following months and years, getting my last pose, Nakrasana, almost two years ago. And I do it well. I think anyway. I just can't do the harder preceding poses all of the time, and have never come close to doing Karandavasana. Probably just as deciding, I don't have the life that is conducive to progression. I think sometimes I am perceived as not wanting to do the work. There is probably an element of that in me, but my perspective is that I am slow because I don't have the opportunity to do the work. When I am there, I do work at it.

I think one of the attractions of Ashtanga for many of us is the open endedness of the asana challenges. No matter what you manage to achieve, there's always the next pose and the next series of poses. I think that has passed me by. I'm reaching, or have reached my asymptote, the point of no improvement, no progression. Then what? I know the inevitable age related regression in ability is ahead of me. But, barring injury, I think that is still a few years away. I'm doing some of my postures as well as I've ever done them, even the some of the more challenging ones. Answering what's next will be something of a mind shift. Can't look at it anymore as what's next posture-wise. If a wall is permanently hit, what do you do next? Pranayama? Meditate? Just do what I do now until I can't anymore and then do what I can then? Wait for the next go round? Well, I guess I could start doing some ab work.

Hope everyone had a nice Mothers' Day. I didn't do much more than get some flowers for my wife. But they were some really nice peonies. You almost never see peonies in florist shops here, so I jumped on them. She bought the gift she wanted a week or so ago. There's a general consensus in my house that's it's better if I'm not involved in the shopping. Going out to eat? No one likes to do that anymore. She spent the day with my youngest at a movie, while my oldest sat at home nursing a headache and watching TV and while I sat watching Jake chase a bunch of balls and whack his buddies with a stick all afternoon. Sick lad that he is. Probably not her most rewarding mother's day ever. We all do love her, so maybe that helps. Sometimes not having to be doing stuff is enough of a gift. That's usually all I ever want for Father's day but I'm probably in the minority in that respect.

At work once again tonight. That's why I get to have a chance, just a chance mind you, to practice tomorrow. I've got a feeling it's not going to happen though. The yoga gods don't normally allow me six in a row. I'll probably be doing pediatric clinic pranayama with the jakester. Have to get it done in the morning, if possible. Wouldn't want him to miss afternoon lacrosse practice. Cough.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Shot My Wad

Have to write something. Too much yoga to not say anything. Four days now. Mysore the last three and the Saturday morning Improv this morning. Tomorrow, my first go at full second since maybe last summer. I don't remember when I last tried it. I might even have a chance to practice Monday morning. As Tim said to me when I left class Wednesday, it seems like I'm moving out of a long term retrograde.

After Wednesday's full spread of postures, on Thursday I figured I wouldn't be full speed, so I did second only (with research). I don't remember much about that class except that I did not have much in my middle. In my preceding practices, I had been feeling incrementally stronger on my attempts at lifting up to vinyasa back. Half the time, I had been getting my feet to or almost thru my hands before they hit. Not on Thursday though. Just couldn't get it up. I had a hard time holding up my Pincha Mayurasana too. Must have tried to do Karandavasana five or six times before I ever got as far as trying to lower. Kept unbalancing one way or another. I tried, but the control wasn't there. The day before, my shoulders felt rock stable. On Thursday, I was Mr. Weeble. No Sthira. No Sukha either.

I had plenty of time Friday morning, I didn't have to be in to help at work until 10:30. I went to the studio early again, warming up to the breath of the pranayama group. I was figuring I'd be too tired again to do much, so I planned on doing First and then see where I was at. I got within a toenail of slipping my left foot under my right in Supta K, but the right wouldn't have it yet. No one came by to do me the rest of the way, so I just laid there, feeling like a squashed cockroach. Lest I make it all out to sound like incompetence, it does feel like I'm getting most of the poses back.

As I neared the end of First, I got something of a second wind. I decided to go ahead with the first half of second and then, if I had time and energy, I could do the Eka Padas, or whatever else I felt up to. I usually regret going on to do second once I start to do Pasasana. That pose can really be an energy suck. That and Salabasana. I just don't want to work that hard that early in the sequence. So, I cheat and minimize my holds in one or the other of them. Or both.

I did have a good backbending day. My initial Kapotasana, I got to something like mid foot, maybe as far as the bone that sticks out at the base of the little toe. After doing that Kapotasana, I usually take one of two forks. If I'm out of time, energy or motivation, I usually either quit right there or do the next three poses and then close. If I'm still feeling strong, I have a sequence of research poses I do that work my shoulders and groins and then my back. I can usually tell by the research what the final Kapotasana is going to be like. On Friday, in a couple of the research poses, I was hitting new highs. Given that, I was hoping to maybe get to that holy grail of backbending, the heels in kapotasana. I've been pulled into it once, getting a finger or two over each heel. I didn't want to pulled into it. That doesn't count. I wanted to get over my heels on my own. I think I got close but my finger was just up to the curve, not really around or over the heel. I tried one more time on my own but only got to the base of the heel. I let my head come down too soon and couldn't get my hands far enough up my feet to allow me to walk them in the rest of the way. Not willing to let it go, I nodded to Andrew, Tim's assistant, asking him to come over and do his thing. I had my hands in pretty deep when he took over and he easily got me the rest of the way. Usually, when I get pulled into it, it's at the extreme edge of what I feel I can tolerate. This time, I was at ease. it felt like when the instructors each get on one end of you and both pull you in opposite directions, what they call the wishbone. It feels remarkably good. That's how this felt. No straining, easy breathing. My elbows were all the way down. Even the B portion felt easy. But after those four attempts, I was ..., depleted. After each of the backbends in second, we normally do an "ashtau up" vinyasa, doing something along the lines of a tuck or full handstand, then dropping down to chaturanga. I came up from Kapo B and just sat there on my heels for a minute. I didn't think I could get up off of the ground. There was just nothing there. I managed to do the next couple of poses, but decided after a few futile attempts at Bakasana B to hang it up and enjoy the fruits of the day.

Today's Improv class was a nice recovery. She had us do a fair amount of core work, but nothing that drained me. I clearly over did some things earlier this week, but when I get positive practice reinforcement like I did this week, I tend to push it. Ruled by the id. Hopefully, the mojo will be back for tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Born Again

Should have paid the monthly fee this month. Made another practice today and I should get to go tomorrow as well. I had clinic scheduled for this morning. A few months ago, I told my schedulers that for any day that I'm scheduled to be in clinic for the morning, to start me at 10:00 instead of the normal 9:00 start. I have to work thru lunch to make up for that extra hour but it's worth it. Plus, we never really get lunch any way. Tonight, I'm in the hospital overnight on call, so i get tomorrow off. And mysore starts at 9:00 so, between today and tomorrow, I get two mysore classes in a row.

I went to this mornings practice early. The pranayama people had just gotten going when I walked in. I really don't like to go in when they're doing pranayama if I can avoid it. It can be a distraction sometimes to have people moving around when you're trying to maintain mental control in pranayama with Tim, when every message in your brain tells you you're dying from acute hypoxia. The wooden flooring isn't anchored to the underflooring that well. When you walk on it, it squeaks. I did a short bout of stretching to get loose and began practice at about 6:30. I took Savasana at 8:50. I did all my poses, except I ran out of time, so I just did the three back bends and skipped the rest of closing except for the last three poses.

That's the first time I've done all of first and all of my given poses in second in forever. Well, not quite all. I forgot to do the standing Ardha Baddha's. I've come to accept these inadvertent omissions as the normal sequelae of geezerhood. I still can't get my ankles crossed on my own in Supta K. I had to spray myself again to get into Garbha Pindasana. Everything else in first was okay. Other than the lift out of Karandavasana, I can't think of anything in second that I wasn't able to get. I was able to do all of the Tittibhasanas, and bound B reasonably easily. I got myself into Dwi Pada Sirsasana, though it was ugly. That one I could tell pretty quickly that I was out of second series shape. Tim came over to adjust me in it after I got the second leg crossed behind my head. It took him a while to get settled in and get me how he wanted me. When it came time for him to let me go on my own and balance for the five breaths, my neck was starting to collapse forward out of fatigue. I was surprised that I was able to do those two poses though after a long layoff. I also landed Bakasana B, after only four or five tries. I could have had it on the first try but I over cooked it and went too far. I landed Karandavasana the first try, another pleasant surprise. I thought I was going to be too tired but I was able to focus on holding the lift and let the duck come if for a reasonably soft landing, not one of my usual, "Look out below, Incoming!!" type drops from on high. I was tired by the end, but was pretty satisfied with how I did.

I also did all of the researching poses for the second series backbends and did Hanumasana and Samakonasana. Usually, in the past, the few times that I have tried to do all of those poses, I wouldn't do the researching too, as doing everything takes too long and is pretty fatiguing. I would typically reserve doing the researching if I was only doing second series. I wasn't expecting to be able to hold up for all of that, but I never got that message from my brain that usually tries to convince me to abort the session early. Don't know why and don't know if it's going to be something that's reproducible.

I've got to figure out how to approach tomorrow. I won't have time to get to all my second series poses if I do all of first, like I did today. I'll only have two hours at best. So I can flash the first series poses, or I can truncate the series at some point, or I can just do second, or I can see how much I can get in without doing any of the research (well, I going to keep Samakonasana and Hanumanasana). I had promised my self I wouldn't start doing only second until I had my first series back. But, I was so pleased with how second went today. I was expecting to have to fight my way back thru it a pose at a time. Some of the poses today seemed to go even better than when I was doing them last summer. Who knows why this stuff happens.

Got a couple of Tim comments today. First he strolled by while I was doing my version of Marichyasana D. As lame as it looks now, just four weeks ago he was having to winch me into it. He looked over at me as I made my bind and said, "Ah, some reducing has happened!!" So nice to have your adiposity pointed out. Later, I was being assisted back up from Karandavasana. Once I was back up and out of it, I didn't have a real stable forearm base and had to struggle a second to get balanced so that I wouldn't fall out of it before making an attempt at the vinyasa. He told the person on the mat next to me, "He really showed true grit on that one, eh?" I must have been making unconscious noises, grunts, wheezes, groans, what have you. He walked off saying, "Yep, true grit, he's the John Wayne of Yoga" It was funnier sounding when he said it anyway.

Anyway, the good vibe from a good practice is still with me, twelve hours later. I wish they could all be like this, but, they aren't. So, for now, motrin, try to get some sleep tonight and we'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


If there really is such a thing as too slow of a day at work, and I don't believe such a thing exists, then this would be it. My production for the entire day consists of doing two circumcisions. That's it. Nothing on L&D. There's only been three patients who have even come in all day, all easily handled by the mid wife and the resident on call. I'm getting paid to sit here and get gradually stiffer as the day goes on. I'm on call tonight too. There's no way that things will be like this for a full 24 hours. After shift change at six, I'll try to do some simple stretches in my call room. That will bring them in for sure.
Damnation and Ruin

Jake's team lost. These guys haven't lost a game to anyone in two years. The normal coach didn't even make it to the game. Must have been busy. One of the high schools kids who helps as the assistant ended up doing the coaching. He played everyone pretty equally, which means he didn't play them to win. On the bright side, it's one less thing for Kiran to have to lug him to next week. The serious lacrosse team is starting up their practices now, so, in a way, it's good to be done with that other team. Doing three teams at once would have been too much, even for Jake the lax fanatic.
Do Over

Second attempt at this. First time out, I was rolling out a bunch of thick paragraphs whining about weighing too much, not being interesting enough, blah, blah blah. I quit before I even finished it. I had no interest in it even as I was writing it. Self-flagellation is the most boring form of expression there is.

I did get to practice eventually this week, i made it to a couple of improv classes. One was Tim's Thursday Improv, and then also Alison's Saturday class. Alison's class has always been an evolutionary thing. At one point, she pretty closely followed Tim's model of allowing the student's some input on what poses to try or what areas of the body to focus on. Despite a long career in practicing and teaching Ashtanga, she has also kept her self exposed to other influences and approaches. Her approach to the Saturday class always seems to change a little when she has come back from a new workshop or a visit to another teacher. I haven't been to one of her classes in a while. When I had last been going, she had been attending a number of advanced anusara workshops. She had been adding in some of the Anusara stuff to her own class but without any of the flowery oral diarrhea that some of the Anusara teachers use. The class yesterday was a fairly simple one. No audience suggestions, just her leading us thru stuff. We did a fair amount stretching of the hip flexors, but not with the same old interminable lunges. We used to do so many lunges in her class that I got to where I couldn't stand to hear her, or anyone say, "Now step your right leg forward between your hands..." She finds ways in her class to stretch things that don't usually get stretched in ashtanga, but that when they are done, do help quite a bit when doing the ashtanga poses.

For some reason yesterday, she had us do sayanasana. This is one of my favorite "can't do it yet" poses. It's a pose that feels oh so close to being do-able but yet remains out of reach, in part because I get to try it once or twice a year. I have figured out a few things about the pose. It's an inverted balancing pose that originates in Pincha Mayurasana. Once stable in Pincha, you then lift your hands and arms from the floor and place your hands on your chin, balancing on your elbows alone. The difficulty in balancing is that it is hard to figure out the counterbalancing move. What occurs is not that intuitive, at least to me. The tendency as one lifts one's hands and arms is for the center of gravity to shift such that the legs and hips drift back towards the direction you are facing and you start to fall back down to the floor. To actually get the hands up to the chin, you have to extend your feet out more behind you to counter that weight shift. When you're trying to do the pose, however, you think that the exact opposite is going to happen. Since you are going up onto those pointy little elbows, the belief is that you are almost certainly going to tumble over onto your back. So people (well, me anyway, but looking around the room, I'm hardly alone) tend to tilt the wrong way as they lift the hands. Once gravity starts to happen, it's all over, the feet go right back down to where they started. Very frustrating. I did get my chin for a second or two once yesterday but it was really just a delayed fall. Tim suggests that you let your knees bend before trying to bring the hands up. Leads to the same kind of counterbalancing effect. But then you have to unbend your knees once you get your hands up. I've seen some really good yogis not be able to do this posture, or at least do it very poorly. I know of two people who have completed all of fourth that really only get the hands up when they do this pose. The forearms are almost flat on the floor. I love poses that I sense I might be able to do better than people who are better than I am. I want to get this pose. And yes, the elbows don't feel real good when you're in it.

In Tim's class on Thursday, one of the requests was for Viparita Dandasana. Since there weren't a whole lot of other requests, Tim decided to let this one ride for a while. We ended up doing about five or six variations of it. Between all of that and then all the stuff on the forearms and elbows on Saturday, the skin on my elbows was getting rubbed raw by the rug I put over my mat. By the end on Saturday, I could barely feel my elbows though, they were numb.

Musings from my earlier aborted post: if losing ten pounds has allowed me to do this much better in my practice this past couple of weeks, imagine if I could get back to what I weighed when I started residency, or better, when I started college. I don't think I want to get back down to what I was when I got out of high school. I weighed 125 when I took my physical to go into the army after HS. I was always that skinny, scrawny kid. The monkey boy who could climb up into the gym rafters to get the balls that got stuck up there. No mas.

I've got to call in and check on how the boy is doing with his lacrosse games. He won his first game today, the one where he's the goalie. He took a shot to his thumb that may be serious though. He's now playing in a playoff game for his other team. On this team, he's one of the attackmen, the guys who get the most chances to score. It's the semifinal playoff game. They beat this team by one in two overtimes last week, so no telling how it's going to go.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bad Man!! but, while you're up, will you get me a slice?

I think I've got this losing weight thing pretty much down.

Today after class, I had a late breakfast with my son, ingesting a waffle with butter and maple syrup and one and a half side orders of bacon. and a glass of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.

This afternoon, while everyone else was out doing errands, I ate a third of the fresh baked cookies someone made. I tried to pick which ones to eat so that it wouldn't like any of them were missing.

L&D erupted this evening and I got called in to help cover it. When I got there, it was clear it was going to be sketchy for a while and it didn't look like anyone was going to be getting breaks or dinner. I ordered pizza, the ultimate seratonin releasing drug for dealing with stress. Only two slices for me though, on account of how I'm on this mission to lose weight. One slice of pepperoni, and one slice of sausage, onion and jalapeno. That's always a good one to burp with when you're scrubbed and your face is covered by an OR mask. Really clears the lacrimal glands.

Once back home, I resumed the not quite juice fast by drinking a glass or two of organic grapefruit juice. Gotta stay healthy.
Swing...., and a Miss

I knew that, after bragging about how consistently I have been practicing for the previous two weeks, I was due for a correction. Every possible opportunity has been pulled out from under me lately. The schedule change for the OR wiped out Friday morning. Had to miss Friday evening class for kid issues. Same for Sunday morning and afternoon classes. But, today was a lock. Today, I knew I could practice. I worked last night. I was totally off today. Mysore didn't start until 9:00. Today was my day to get it back. Despite not getting away from work until 8:25 for what is usually a 45 minute drive, I got up there before the 7:00 class had even let out. The best of omens walking up to the studio: I couldn't see inside because the windows were all fogged up. It was was going to be hot and sweaty today. Booo-yah. I walked in the studio entryway, packed with people waiting to set up for the 9:00 class (how much better can this get?) and saw my wife and.... my son? It's a school day, What? "Hi dad, my shoulder still hurts, so I'm going to do yoga today." Uh, okay buddy. We went in and set up our mats up three across, family style. "You're going to do first series today, right?" my wife asked. Sure. Meaning, I guide my son thru what portion of the practice he can do. Surprisingly, I didn't mind, because for once he seemed motivated to try doing the poses correctly. Well, many of them. Some of them.

We did the suryas, which is what he had the most trouble with. Somehow, he hurt his left pectoral area while dancing at Jason and Tara's wedding. "Dancing?" I asked, uncomprehendingly. "Well, freaking", he said. Oh, I nodded, uncomprehendingly. He added that he did do the worm once, so maybe that was what did it. At any rate, he had a hard time lowering down to or holding chaturanga. I told him to just go down to his belly and to do cobra instead of a full up dog, using his back to lift rather than push with his hands. I think it helped gradually.

He has always sucked at most of the standing poses. He usually loses all motivation to do things well in this section. I think his native hamstring and adductor stiffness make this section painful and unrewarding. He knows he's not doing the poses well. He only wants to do the things that he can do well. We're in revolved triangle, struggling to get his hand down onto a block and he looks over at Tara doing Pasasana or something and tells me, "I can do that one easy." He did okay today though. He tried to do most of them. I think he didn't want to do Prasarita C but he did everything else. Later, in the seated poses, the monotony of the forward bends began to get to him. What kept him going was the fact that he can smoke me doing jump backs. I decided we'd stop after Navasana. He did all the closing poses fine, including a reasonable headstand, with assistance.

I apologize to anyone who was near us today who might read this. We made so much noise telling him what to do and what to stop doing, it had to be distracting.

God, there was all kinds of people there today. Jason and Tara right in front of us, (honeymooning?), Casey and Charisse just across the room, Andrew and Jessica two mats down, Julie over in the Shakti side of the room, bunches of people I'd never seen before. And the glorious heat. Oh well. Next time.

After class, Jake and I went to the pancake house. He made me eat a waffle and a side of bacon, and further, he also made me eat the uneaten pieces from his side of bacon. I think he was full from all the whipped cream that came with his chocolate chip pancakes. I should have brought it home to the dog or something, but it was bacon.

I've got to decide what to do about the hair. I've been informed by the style police (the person who asked me to grow it long in the first place) that I look stupid. Great. I don't seek to look fashionable or stylish or all done up. My only goal with regards to looks is to not look stupid. My hair has some natural curl or wave or whatever it's called. I normally keep it tied up in a ponytail most of the day. The simplicity of that is that I only have to brush my hair once a day: shower, brush, ponytail, done. The downside is that the part that is past the hairtie thingie stays all curly, kind of a shirley temple coiling up thing. The part closest to me gets straightened out by being on stretch all day with the hair tie. So, when I go with my hair down after it's been up for a while, half of my hair is straight and half is all curly. But, when i brush it out, it's not just curly. Instead of being all coiled up in one collective ringletted ponytail, when it's brushed out, it becomes this mass of frizzy looking chaos at the ends. I'm sure that does look stupid. But it's taken me too long to grow it out just whack it off. I don't like to keep it up all the time, it gives me headaches sometimes. I'd rather let it stay down all the time, but that's hard to do with the car top being down. It doesn't work that well at work either. At work, I can keep a ponytail fairly discretely tucked away under one of those bouffant-ey OR caps. If it's not tied up, it's hard to pack it all away. And it's noticeable. I'd rather my hair not be that noticeable at work. Not everybody wants a doctor with long hair. It can rub some people the wrong way. Maybe I can try keeping it up with those sticks the Japanese samurai guys used to use. Plus, I'm starting to get those bands of grey along the sides of my head like the Paulie guy on the Sopranos. Free streaks. The longer hair is like the rings of a tree. "See way back here at the ends, my hair is still all brown. But over here, notice that gradual onset of grey maturity. And up close, silver baby, pure silver." For now, I'll do nothing. It's not that often that anyone sees it anyway. Once I get to where I've got the longest hair of anyone I know, then I'll cut it. It's no fun if you can't make a game out of it.

Time to get ready to do the afternoon kid chauffeur thing.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Practice didn't work out this evening either. Next time.
So That's What Those Muscles Do

Well, I'm sore and stiff in most of my upper body. especially my neck. I guess not doing any of those harder poses for such a long time has led to atrophy. I don't remember neck stiffness before. It's along the sides and back, most noticeable as i lift my head to look up. Every action involving the upper body is now a conscious one. Awareness has been achieved. I thought that was supposed to be a good thing.

I checked my OR schedule yesterday evening before leaving work. Today was a day I was scheduled to assist other folks in my department with their cases. Luckily, I didn't have to be available until 9:45. Even with the longer commute, I would still have plenty of time to do a full practice, especially if I got there early and started while the pranayama group was still going. I envisioned making an attempt at all of first and as much of second as I could do, finishing with the full backbending regimen. However. There's typically a "however" when it comes to my practices. I was parked in front of the studio getting my stuff ready to go. "Let me just check with the OR to make sure the schedule I read last night was correct," I thought, in my best worst case scenario mode. Good thing, as someone made a command decision overnight and changed the order of cases, moving the one I needed to be there for up to the first OR slot at 8:30. There I was, dressed and raring to sweat at 6:30. I had a 45 minute commute to factor in. I could go up and jam in as much practice as possible in an hour and then bail out and join the rest of the lemmings on the freeway, or I could just leave then and take my time going in. I decided not to have a stress-out practice and drove off for work. I had a good vibe going too. I knew there was going to ba a lot of people, lots of heat, I was in a place practice-wise where doing everything was finally becoming a possibility again. Next time, next time.

There's an outside chance at evening practice but that's rarely happening anymore, not since the studio moved to Leucadia. I have to done with work by at least 4;30 and that seems to happen less and less often these days.

I read a book on my flight back from NYC. I'd seen it first on one of the ashtanga blogs and saw it in the airport kiosk, so I picked it up. It didn't have to be great, just readable. Plus, it's always interesting to see what other people find interesting. The main guy in the book was described as a Beta male. Most people have probably heard of Alpha males, the lead dog in a pack, the warrior, take charge, kick ass and take no names kinda guy. The beta guys are not that. They're the ones who don't charge off to meet any challenges. they peruse he possible outcomes, figure out what has the least risk and take the safest course. I had to laugh at myself when reading that book because I'm a Beta prototype I think. It paid off today, calling in to check when I had already confirmed the schedule just last night. Well, I guess I would be a beta male, but I forget half of the time to worry about what could happen. There was a test at the end of the book, kind of like one of those quizzes that they give in magazines (I was going to say women's magazines, but now all of the metro mags have them as well.) to figure out what kind of person you are. "Answer these ten questions to find out if you're a tiger in bed or if you're a cuckold in waiting." This quiz was to help you see if you were an alpha male or a beta male, or even worse, way down on the scale, an omega male. I looked over the first couple of questions and said to myself, "this isn't very scientific. I'm not even going to bother with it." I mean, what's it going to tell me that I don't already know about myself.

Grr. I'm getting old. I came up with several concepts of things to post on while I drove in today. Now, after having my attention diverted by doing that first case, I can't remember anything I wanted to write about.

Come on Motrin, time to kick in.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Humble Pie

Bad week for yoga. Work wasn't going along for the ride. It was looking like this morning's Improv class was going to be my only chance all week. I've been feeling okay about my first series stuff but Improv can end up being anything and everything. I didn't really have many options though, so I showed up early and loosened up for half an hour. Sure enough, somebody just had to ask for the third series arm balances. That's right in Tim's wheelhouse. I think somebody asked for something else that was peripherally related to third so Tim went with that and basically did two thirds of third series. It's been too long since I've tried some of those things. I had no lift. I couldn't get anything back up. But...., I was able to get Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana. Not legitimately of course, just get into it. I had to start off grabbing a towel that was wrapped around my foot. I was able to work both hands out to the foot and let the towel go. And it wasn't that hard. What is hard for me is letting go of the foot. I can't get out of that pose gracefully at all. It feels like my leg is going to slam full force into the floor as soon as I let go of it. When I do let go, the sudden release in the back tension makes it feel like the whole thing is going to cramp up.

One of the requests was for Viparita Chakrasana, aka tic tocs. We didn't really do that. Instead we did Viparita Dandasana several times and worked on the return back over from that. I guess maybe that was perceived to be an easier thing to accomplish. Not for me. I've been able to come back over in V. Chakrasana, okay just three times ever, but I've never really been very close to getting back over from V. Dandasana. There's way more pressure in my back trying to come back from V. Dandasana.

I'm going to have to miss Jason and Tara's wedding, the second yoga social event of the season. I have a twenty four hour shift that day. All kinds of "blast from the past" folks in town. Friends of Jason and Tara's who are former students of Tim's that moved away but who have come back for the ceremony, people they have met in their travels, lots of new blood. Unfortunately, I've lost my ability to watch others and do yoga at the same time. It's too bad. I'm missing some good yoga.

Got to do some practice faceoffs with my son, hopefully not breaking any furniture or body parts

Monday, April 23, 2007

Best Laid Plans

Well, I meant to get to bed by ten last night, but i got to futzing around with the last entry and didn't hit the pillow until after eleven. So, of course, I had to get up early to assist on a section. It was only 2:00, but the other call doc who would normally have assisted was tied up doing another case in the main OR. I tried to get back for a little rescue nap, but they got me up at three and again for good at four.

Not the worst as call nights go but not what i had hoped for. Practice wasn't too bad though. I had a pretty good first series. When I came in the room a little after nine, it was really warm. Somebody had cranked the heater. Ideal. Tim's out of town, so none of this conserving energy crap. Tapas baby. When the 7:00 Mysore class leaves, there's usually a much smaller number of people to keep the heat going in the 9:00 class, so having the heater already turned up was an unexpected surprise. I thought we had it made but the 9:00 teacher apparently turned the heater off when he came in. The room cooled way down. So did the energy level of my practice.

I thought I'd end up going fast and doing as many poses as possible, but an hour and a half in and I was just finishing first series. I looked over at my friend Holly, trying to gauge if she was going to go on and start second series when she finished her first. I started off in second hoping she'd stop so that I could then also feel free to stop. I couldn't quit if she was going to keep going strong. Fortunately, she must have tweaked something in her back, because she got out one of those back roller things and started doing some work on her sacral area. I was free to be a quitter. I did go ahead and do backbends and the finishing poses, which left me about six minutes for savasana.

I've been trying to force myself to pull my legs further thru each time I try to do a jump back. I was actually having an okay day of it until I saw Holly press way up and easily glide back. Not in my repertoire. Seeing her do it so easily broke my spirit or something because my next three or four attempts had barely enough lift to even get my feet back to where my hands were. When I am able to get the feet up and back to my hands, I'm getting screwed up on the pull thru by my feet position. My toes keep catching on my hands or arms. I usually go back with my feet extended. It feels like I can lift better when I do that. If I lift with my ankles flexed, there's more room for them to fit thru, but I can't lift as well and they don't clear the floor. I think that's my weakest thing, the internal lift that brings the foot of the bent leg up and away from the floor. I've seen people lift straight up from Tiriangamukha Ekapada Paschimottanasana and keep the toes of the bent leg right next to their butt. I can't even get my foot off of the floor when I try it.

I had an epiphany recently. It struck me that, since I haven't really made a whole lot of progress in jump backs for years now, maybe I'm just not strong enough to lift my current weight enough to do the move. As I see it, my options in trying to over come this roadblock are to 1) get stronger or 2) get lighter. Of the two, the second option definitely seems the easier to achieve. I think it's do-able.

My wife needs the computer to send out some lacrosse team e-mails, so that's enough for tonight.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Uggh. I'm not good at this "code" stuff. Blogger code. Html code. They all suck. For some reason, my comments and my archives disappeared from my blog. I wasted the requisite amount of time looking thru Blogger's "help" section. It was loaded with reports from others having similar blog symptoms. Unfortunately, nothing that i could find helped me figure out what had happened. Since blogger has recently gone thru some kind of update, i tried switching my layout to a new version. When i previewed the page, i could see my archives again and there was a comments section. "Cool", I figured, "It's all fixed." I clicked to switch over to the new layout. I was able to again access my archives but it looks like the old comments have been lost, gone into the purgatory of the ether. That is less troublesome to me than if i had lost the first two years of my posts. That would have pissed me off. Even when i was posting, I didn't usually get many people adding comments. Certainly not like the more modern day ashtanga bloggers, like boodiba and samasthiti, where the comments sections can have as much content, and sometimes more, than the actual blog entry. I enjoyed the comments that i did get, who doesn't like attention? But, it wasn't such an important part of the blog that losing it would make the blog lose it's character.

I also lost the extraneous sidebar stuff that i had cobbled together the first year or so when i bothered to try and play with the layout. Now, no picture of me in the header, no links to old, expired blogs or the links to me doing a couple of asana, no pithy sanskit aphorisms, no out of synch moon phase thingie. Just plain old blog entry text. It'll have to do for now. I'm at work and can't get to any of the photos and I don't feel like playing codergeek anymore. God, imagine if i had to do that all day for a living. Give me a scalpel anytime. I'm glad that there are people who live and breathe that stuff. It makes using the web and doing stuff like blogging possible (with the exception of Blogger, of course). But, all day, every day? I'd rather work at Hotdog on a Stick.

With the new layout, my archives show an interesting pattern documenting progressive sloth: year one - buncha posts; year two - half as many posts as year one; year three - a fourth as many as in year two; year four - one post.

Okay, enough about blogs. What about yoga? Well, I've managed to keep up at the two to three classes a week pace. That's a waay good thing, btw. When I wasn't going and was having various dings and pains, I wasn't enjoying things. The loss of practice, the ground to be made up, it made it unfun. Now, that I've made up a good portion of that ground, and lost a few of those extra lbs., it is again enjoyable to practice. I was frequently looking for reasons to quit practice early: am I sore? am i tired? do i have a bad attitude? is it Tuesday? Now, I'm trying to get in more and more each time. I'm still not ready to go back to doing what I had been. I used to mainly do my second series poses. Now, I do my first series poses and up thru ardha matsyendrasana. I'm going to begin doing eka pada and maybe dwipada sirsasana again, though i think I'm too heavy still to be able to do dwi pada. we'll see. I know i won't be able to bind yet in Tittibhasana B, so that will be my stopping point until I can. Then hopefully i can again begin to work on Karandavasana. I have been given the two poses after that, but they were mercy poses. Even when I was at my peak, I struggled to land Karandavasana on my own. I never, ever had a hint of any lift back up. So, I still have room to improve and roads to re-travel. Maybe I'll learn and be less Sisyphus-ean about the whole process. I could actually work at improving instead of just trying to do it. The "just do it until you can do it" way probably works, but the glaciers are melting faster.

We're back from New York, of course. We missed the torrential weather by a day. I did one more practice before we left, a Saturday led class at Shiva Shala. I was intrigued because I'd never done a led class that did all of first and also the first half of second series. We did up thru Kapotasana. It was a fun practice. There were a lot more people present than from the day before. My back didn't hurt at all. That really surprised me. Every other time I've had that sensation, my low back would be hurt for about three to four weeks. I think the hour long hot bath I took in the extra big tub in our rental condo may have done the trick. I had the same teacher as the day before. I guess she didn't want any part of me since she touched me twice, once in down dog and once in balasana. I don't blame her. It makes sense not to do much in the way of adjusting if someone says they hurt themselves the day before. This class had a good number of skilled practitioners. Nobody that I saw was new or fairly stiff. There were a number of people that I thought had really nice practices. Most people stopped after we got to the second series though. There were only about five or six of us who went on. I din't look around too much, so I didn't get a feel for how people did. Didn't matter. I just wanted to do it myself. I don't remember too many differences from how we do things in my studio. They did do a short handstand session before closing: go up into an handstand and hold for ten breaths. Or not. They also did three drop back/standups after the three backbends. Oh yeah, they did all four paschimottanasanas and three baddha konasanas (we usually only do two versions of pashimottanasana, A & C I think, and the first two baddha konasanas).

My first practice back home was a mysore class. The teacher in the class before had turned the thermostat up to 84, so the room was pleasantly warm when we got going. I finally got a real sweat going. I got my arms thru in Garbha Pindasana with no problems. Only problem with that is that when i then rolled up into Kukkutasana, my legs slipped right back down below my elbows. So, being incapable of getting my hands thru into GArbha leads to me doing a better Kukkutasana. But, it also leads to these great big bruises on my arms. I had thought when I first saw them in NY that they were from me making so many attempts at Bakasana B. After one particularly painful episode balancing in Kukkutasana, however, it became clear what the actual culprit was. In recent mysore classes, I don't feel like I'm going slow, but compared to back when i was regularly doing all of first and some of second, I'm moving pretty slow. I used to get all of that in in less than an hour and a half. Thursday, I ran out of time and didn't get to try Viparita Chakrasana. In fact, to have enough time for a decent Savasana, I had to skip closing and just do the padmasana poses.

I was getting ready to do my Uth Pluthihi when i noticed a friend, Jason, do his. he just had arthroscopic surgery to work on a damaged knee meniscus about nine days before. the stitches were still in his skin. and he was in there practicing. Since he couldn't really do padmasana at all, he did his Uth Pluthihi with his legs held straight out in front of him. And he held it up, steadily, for a long time. A guruji type long time. Try it some time. Amazing. The guy is just an inspiration. He weds in about a week, so no doubt, like me, he'll soon get all overweight and lose all his bandhas too.

Well, this was going to just be a test post to see if the "new" layout, "new" blogger worked. It's time to get to bed. I'm at work. After three o'clock, I'm first call to take care of whatever comes up, so I have to go down now if I want to get any rest. Should be able to practice tomorrow morning. I've got a couple of people I have to see in the morning, including one patient in the unit--she tried pretty hard to die on us the other night--so I'll have to get my rounding done early if I want to get out of here in time to make it to practice. Hopefully, I'll have a chance later tomorrow to fancify the blog a little bit.