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.

Friday, April 13, 2007

End of the Trip

I couldn't live here in New York. It's too easy to eat. And I don't even mean all the restaraunts. We've only been in one real restraunt so far, a Mexican place over in the West Village or some such neighborhood. Man, that was really good food. After reading the menu, I told our host that I hated places like that because I wanted to try almost everything I saw on the menu. You can get hurt just by the little neighborhood convenience stores and grocery stores. They all seem to have these amazing hot food deli sections with piles and piles of really inviting food. Take the Amish grocery store down the street from us. I thought the Amish were supposed to be non-violent, but they did some serious harm to my wallet every day. And that was just the pastry section. Everything looked good, the produce, the meat section, the hot line. I couldn't go in there after a while. There are two Italian restraunts within twenty feet of our front door. Fortunately, budget-wise, we were never able to try them, as the kids only seemed to want pizza from one of the many by-the-slice places or pretzels and hot dogs from the street vendors.

It didn't take us too much walking around the city to figure out which eating establishment is the most ubiquitous in NYC, the kind of place found in any two block area. Yes, it's Dunkin' Donuts. They are everywhere. Near our place there were even two within a block of each other. My wife really likes their coffee though.

Walking around the neighborhoods, there's a bunch a stuff I didn't quite get. Like what's up with the papaya and hot dog places. There's Gray's Papaya, Papaya Dog, Papaya King, Mike's Papaya (and dogs), etc. I don't get it. Can you think of two more incongruous food groups?

Once we get back home, I'll never be able to eat at what we call a "food court" again. Not after the concourses at Grand Central and some of the other places. Guiliani's efforts have been in vain, New York City remains a very dangerous place. The only thing that saved me was my kids idiotic food preferences. We're in the one of the world's gastronomic cornucopias and so, where do we eat today? T.G.I. Fridays near Rockefeller Center. Disgusting. I only ate two and a half mozzarella sticks. But my dietary good intentions were undone by the witchery at Auntie Anne's Pretzels In the Rockefeller basement concourse. I went to get tickets to the observation deck while they went to get my son his first pretzel fix of the day. As we walked to the security line to get on the elevators, my wife said, "Here try these cinnamon and sugar stick things. They're really good." I downed the entire bag by the time we got to the security guy who checks the bags and cameras for possible purse sized nuclear weapons. I then tried a little of my son's pretzel. This was not one of those disgusting things the umbrella boyz foist on unwitting Times Square oglers. This was delictitude. Salt, greasy crispness, dough with just the right degree of slight sweetness. Unfortunately, when I turned back to him to steal whatever pretzel he had left, he downed the last of it and smiled at me. So, after the female contingent went over to Saks for a quick look, I took Jake next door for a tour of St. Patricks Cathedral. Once I had him bored into stupification by explaining the stations of the cross and what the whole candle lighting for the saint thing was all about, I steered him back over to the Plaza and down to Anne's for another pretzel go-round. We went up to the skating ring and ate while watching for people doing face plants.

New York also has some of the nicest studios I've ever been in. Yoga Sutra, on Fifth Avenue, was very refined. It has a very nice, open lobby with marble floors, very clean bathrooms with showers, and multiple practice rooms, one for every genre: Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa/Other. The prtcie room has big pillars in in that pretty much prevent people like me from doing much looking around. You can really only see the three or four mats around you. The view of everybody else is blocked. But, while in Virabhadrasana, you can look out the window and watch the people on the street below scurrying in and out of traffic, trying to avoid getting wet from the rain or hit by the taxis. Guy's was a more introverted kind of place. It has a darker wooden floor. That, combined with the below street level location and the quiet, serious practice going on, gave the practice room an almost womb like feel. Very good for helping draw the attention inward. Today, we went to Shiva Shala. Although having to use a buzzer to gain entry was a little disconcerting, the studio was gorgeous. It has lustrous, dark red flooring made from timber bamboo. There are a bunch of windows to let in light and two balconies overhead, one running abve each side of the rom. "Hmm," I thought, "I wonder if we go up there to do our finishing?". The ceiling has all this ornate molding, or whatever it's called. I kept my eyes open during Savasana and just looked at it. I kept thinking, "You know, if there's a big earthquake, who ever has their mat below that pretty chandelier is going to be swiss cheese.

I tweaked my back today. I was expecting to get some kind of injury or something before this. I've been doing o little for so long now, that jumping into daily full (or near full) practice was just an inury waiting to happen. This one may not be too bad. I'll kno more tomorrow after we get off of the plane. I was doing Marichyasana A. The teacher had already adjusted me on the first side. She had me get a more legitimte hip and leg position witht the straight leg than I usually get on my own. I did the second side on my own as she was busy helping someone else. I was just coming out of it when she came back to help me. I went back down. I ws expecting the adjustment she gve me on the first side. So, instead of backing off of the forward bend a bit to see what she was trying to do, I kept the forward bend going while she adjusted my hip. As I extended into it, I felt that "proing" broken guitar string feeling in my right low back. I immediately came up. I've hurt that area, on both sides, a number of times, so I knew what that sensation meant. I was expecting to get some immediate stiffness and discomfort but I didn't really feel any discomfort when I came up, so i tentatively did the rest of the Marichy's. No further problems. So I pressed on and did the first series and closed. I did do stand ups and drop backs but blew off trying Viparita Chakrasana.

I probably made the teacher feel bad. When I hurt myself, I gave an audible "Uh oh" kind of thing and then announced in a not quiet enough voice that I had tweaked my quadratus. Then, when i was doing Supta Kurmasana, she was trying to get my feet crossed. I tried to tell her she could go ahead and put my feet behind my head. She moved them up a bit but really only to the top of my head. I'm sure given that my face was flat on the floor that she couldn't understand me and if she could, she probably didn't want to go too far knowing that i had already complained out loud about hurting myself. Then, when I was trying to do my first stand up after dropping back, she came over and helped me up. As she put her hands on my hips, I told her, "I can do it. I can do it." But she went ahead and brought me up. She told me she couldn't hear what I was saying. She said, since I had been up on my toes, she wanted to help me ground my feet as I came up. So, I told her that I knew my feet were up, I was going to try and get them down before i came up and that I wanted to try it once or twice on my own to see if I could get it. "Okay," she said, "I'll leave you alone for the rest of the way" No! No! that's not what I meant. I wasn't trying to tell her to leave me alone. I just wanted to give it a try or two on my own. I could see what's probably going thru her head: "Try to help people and what do you get? Some uppity, snot nosed tourist telling me to leave him alone. Fine. Do it however you want." After I came up the next time, I stopped and went over to tell her that I really wasn't trying to brush her off. I hope she doesn't hate my guts. She was very nice.

We did meet Boodiba today. She was almost finished by the time we came in. As she was leaving, my wife got up and talked to her a bit, to say hi and what not before she left. When we later walked onto our subway train to go home, Boodiba was getting on too, to go to work or home or wherever. I didn't get to say much, just a hello, before our subway stop came. Sometimes, that's enough. Just to put a real face on the persona that one has imagined from reading their writing, that makes the person more tangible or something.

It's been hard trying to keep track of all the little scenes and vignettes from this trip that, at the time of their occurance, I thought would be interesting or maybe entertaining to write about. The kids have been hogging this computer, something about it being theirs, so that when i do get a chance to write, I can't remember a lot of the funny little experiences, like the time my daughter tried to pull her gloves off in the store and it got stuck on her braces, leaving her with this black glove hanging from her mouth for the five minutes that it took us to stop laughing and get it untangled from the wires on her teeth. It's been a great trip, the weather not withstanding. The kids were tired of running around yesterday, so they opted to stay home while my wife went out and did some more shopping and saw a movie. So we, the kids and I spent the day watching about 13 consecutive episodes of America's Top Model, while I made about four trips to that evil Amish grocery for sustanence. I still can't believe Jade didn't win. She seemed like such a lock to me. Further proof that I know diddly about the world of fashion.

Still haven't proofed the last post, despite reading it over and seeing tons of typo's. Use your imagination. I can't do this one yet either. I have to take this thing in the other room to plug it back into the charger and once I do, the kids will slap me around and take it away. Tomorrow, I might get in one more practice, depending on how sketchy the pre-departure preparations are and depending on how my back is functioning tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Well, We're in New York. We had a fairly uneventful flight. The airlines are quickly changing how they "manage" their customers. Once upon a time, they gave you full-on hot meals. They usually sucked but they were free and therefore were desirable. After a wave of corporate efficiency nazis being hired to run companies, the airlines cut costs by eliminating the hot meals and instead handed out bags of sandwiches, pretzels and some kind of cake or cookie or something. The cake was usually all tightly wrapped up so that the frosting stuck to the plastic and you didn't really get any unless you licked the saran wrap covering, much to the distaste of your seatmates. Then, in another cost cutting purge, the bistro lunches, as they were pretentiously called were also gone. We had returned to the way they did it back in the dawn of commercial flight, when they would give you a bag-o-peanuts and a cup of gingerale. And now? Now they give you nothing. Instead, some genius figured out that the captive, hungry customers, trained over the years to handle sitting idlely for hours at a time by consuming food and drink(s), would willingly pay money (i think it was $6, i dunno, i didn't pay attention, i had my candy all picked out pre-flight) for the right to eat a stale turkey and cheese product sandwich on a mega bun with a scraping of mayo-like stuff to serve as a gastronomic lubricant, enabling the actual ingestion of an otherwise inedible sandwich. And, for an additional cost, (only $3) the customer could also buy a bag of chips or a cookie. At least the drinks are still free. For now.

So, it's springtime in New York. I thought that was supposed to be a good thing. We got the winter version. It's been in the 30's most of these days, with temps ten to fifteen degrees below norms. We're going thru the lip balm like it was free Crystal. The weather hasn't been awful, really, it's been sunny so far, but it's hard to get motivated, or more importantly get the kids motivated to go wandering around exploring the neighborhoods when it windy and cold. It all goes down hill later today aparently. Some kind of rain thing called a noreaster is supposed to move thru. I thought easter was last week.

My wife had planned to practice at Guy's studio for most of the week. I kind of wanted to try more than one place, while i had the chance. I've read or heard about the various studios and teachers, so I wanted to flesh them out. Guy's, Shiva Shala, Yoga Sutra, i figured I'd try everyplace i could, except Eddie's. I know he's not a big fan of drop in, short term students -- yoga tourists like me, so I figured I'd save us both the trouble. On Sunday, Guy's was closed. Easter. He was't the only one to close up that day. I guess the City That Never Sleeps has to get home for Easter dinner. We couldn't find anywhere to eat that evening, everybody had rolled the metal cages down over the store fronts and was gone. Thankfuly, there was a Bengali place a near our place that was open till 11pm. My wife wasn't practicing Sunday. S he took the kids out to Central Park. I was supposed to link up with them after practice. I decided to go to Yoga Sutra. I did okay, other than making a lot of noise when I first settled in. I got there a bit on the late side so I was in the back row by the windows. It never really got fully warm back there. I got some sweat going but not enough to get into Garbha Pindasana. I wasn't sure how Supta K would go but fortunately, I didn't have to find out. I was able to bind my fingertips. As i started to wiggle my legs around to try and get the ankles crossed, the teacher came up and put my feet up on my head. I can be put into it pretty easily, I can't do it on my own though. I decided to go ahead and see how much of Second that I could get through. First time I'd tried second in a long time. Pasasana was surprisingly do-able on the first side but I couldn't get bound on the second side. Kapotasana was only a toe tipper. I gave Bakasana B a bunch of tries. After six or seven tries, I landed but couldn't hold it. It took a few more tries to be abe to land and hold. I decided to quit while I was ahead and moved on to back bends. I was able to do my three dropbacks and stand ups too. All in all, a pretty good day given how long it's been since I tried some of those poses. I joined the family in the Park. We were pretty easy to pick out. We were the fool tourists who rented bikes to ride around the park in the snow flurries. God, that was cold. The only reason we kept ging was to get back as soon as we could to get out of the cold. One loop around the drive and we were out of there. Fun to see all the places you've seen on TV and in movies: the reservoir, The Tavern, Balto, etc. More fun to go across the street and warm up in Whole Foods. I found my daughter warming her hands up inside the heated case for the rotisserie chickens. She said it worked better than trying to use the vats of warm soup over in the deli section. Gotta love spring in New York.

The next day we got up and took a cab to Guy's studio. Guy is very welcoming and has good, firm adjustments. I did most of the same stuff but blew off the drop back stuff. I set up my mat near the back of the room. Guy came up after a few minutes and asked me to shift my mat further up in the room. He keeps the back of the room open so that people can move there and do their closing poses. I've seen that done at a few other studios too, but I've never understood that approach. I can understand guruji doing it in his original 12 person studio when he had 100 students looking for m, or even now when there's still many more students than can practice in the available floor space. In most studios, however, there is not a comparable supply-demand imbalance. Why not just let people practice and rest in the same place? When I was finishing, there were three people left in the room. And one of them picked up his mat to go to the back of the room to finish. I liked Guy though so I don't want be too critical about such a minor quirk. He had some nice adjustments and the students seemed pretty serious.

We've gone to Sutra for the last two days. On Sunday, I practiced with Bay, who was subbing for Christopher. I wanted to practice with both Christopher and with Gregg at Sutra. I continued to do the same practice on both days: first and the first half of second. Yesterday, in Kapotsana he pulled me into the level of the bone near the little toe. Today, he clearly wanted me to do more. He pulled fairly firmly and I panicked a bit and bailed out on the pose. I apologized for wimping out and used my old, "I got dizzy" excuse. I asked him to give me another try at it. This time, I was much looser and he got me in deep enough to get one finger over my heel.e then helped me do SUpta Vajrasana. I can't hold the bind of the toes on my own and traditionally rely on either someone else helping me hold my hands to my toes or I grab a towel that I have looped around my ankles and back behind me. I was doing the towel thing when Christopher came up. He gave me a questioning look, not unlike one of Tim's looks, and said, "I don't think I've ever seen that set up before." He let me kep the towel in place and just helped me keep my feet in place. I couldn't land Bakasana B yesterday, so I cut it off there and did backbends. Today I was able to land B, again after about ten tries, so I finished the last couple of poses in the first half. I did my drop backs and then figured, "what the hey, gotta try viparita chakrasana sometime". I was pretty nervous about doig it because I hadn't been doing a whole lot of backbending recently. I was able to drop over with reasonable control--not too much noise. Not a chance of coming back over though. I didn't really try. Maybe I'll look at it tomorrow. After my last drop over and stand up, I gave Vrshikasana a go. I balanced but wasn't really able to scoop my upper body through to well. I asked Christopher to give me a hand with it. He told me that it's really called Adha Mukha Vrkshasana. I didn't want to come across like, "well, at my studio..." so I just nodded my head. He sood on the opposite side of me than I'm used to. He was on the side that I'm coming over to. I'm used to people standing on the other side, my chest side. I got much deeper with his help. I totally screwed up the exit though. I don't think he was expecting me to come down and wasn't in a position to stop my movement. My arms gave out a bit and I almost landed on my back. Kind of embarrassing, but as those things go, I've done much worse in the self-mortification dept.

Tomorrow we're going to try and make it to Gregg's class at Sutra. He has a great rep amongst friends tha twe have in NY and also in some of the ashtanga blogs. gotta see for myself, presuming doing stuff with the kids doesn't interfer.

I won't subject anyone reading to a "when I was in NYC with the family, we did the following things..." kind of trip summary. We did go see a show last night. I didn't know what would be good but we ended up trying The Pirate Queen. If anyone else is going to NY soon, let me do you a favor and save you a few hundred bucks: see something else. I had read that the critics had ripped the show for being a lot of fluff, no substance. Le Miz-lite they called it. I should have listened. They were right. Tonight, we're going to see Legally Blonde. It can't be much worse. At least it's suposed to be a comedy.

Time to call it quits. I'm having trouble typing on this keyboard. We gave my youngest a laptop, which had been promised to her last Fall. It is just a weird coincidence that we finally got it in time to bring along on a trip to NYC. It's been a pretty handy coincidence though. I keep mis-hitting key sthough. the "feel" is very different than I'm used to. I'll try and proof this but there's probbly a ton of things I'll iss. I suck at proofreading

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I got in one more practice before we head east this weekend. I doubt I'll get done with work in time to go an evening class tomorrow. I'm in the OR but I'm assisting others in their cases. That always tends to take a bit longer. I'll have to be done pretty early to get up north in time for a 5:30 class. With Friday afternoon pre-spring break traffic to deal with, if I'm not out the door by 4:30, I'm not even going to try to get to the studio.

I worked last night so I was able to go to the 9:00 mysore class today. My wife showed up with my son's lacrosse coach. She had talked him into trying her Intro class last night and he liked it, so he came this morning for the real deal. I think he's had some previous yoga experience but not in Ashtanga. She asked me to do 1st series along with him so he'd know which poses to do when. As might be expected with a history of playing Division I college lacrosse, he had some knee issues, but other than that, he did really well. He seemed familiar with most of the poses, other than the ones in the last third of the sequence. He tried them all, though, except for the one I forgot to do, Tirianga Mukha. I couldn't have done the whole first series in my first go like he did. And, he could jump back!! I've been trying for seven years and he does it in his first class? I almost walked out right there. My wife paid for his first month's shala fees in return for some private lacrosse lessons for Jake. Win-win. I hope he can stay with it. He has real potential. As we were rolling up our mats, I offered to get him some tea or something at the coffee place downstairs and he said, yeah, he was heading there anyway. When he didn't show up, I figured he was talking to Tim and people out at the sign-in desk.. My wife came by about fifteen minutes later. "Oh, yeah," she said, "He's with Maura. They got to talking and I think they went out to get something to eat." That didn't take long. I told you Tiff, check with Kiran. She's got the handle on the hottie jock boyz.

This was the first class in a while that I sweated like I used to do in the good old days. I slid thru into Garbha Pindasana with no probs today, where just a few days ago I was having to put all my weight behind the corkscrewing of my arm to get it thru. I was also able to bind in Supta K, but still couldn't quite get the feet crossed. Five pounds and it's mine.

We're coming up on the last minute packing and planning phase of the trip to NYC. I don't know what my wife has planned for us each day, so I'm not sure how practices will fit in, or even if they'll fit in. Surely there will be a couple of days that we can be yoga tourists. I'll leave the 'where' decisions up to her. Last time she went to New York, she did the whole gamut: jivamukhti, Dharma Mitra's place, Guy's studio, I think one other place too. She may just want to stick with one place this year. We'll see. When she went last time, she walked to the different studios. It was a couple of miles to most of them. That ain't happening this time. Instead, we'll have the studio send their courtesy car to pick us up. What's the tip for that kind of thing?

I don't know if I should study with Guy. He may still be mad at me. Once, long, long ago, in a different time-ether continuum, he posted a response to someone's question about diet and yoga. I, having all of four months experience under my belt, felt obliged to use his helpful response as a source of cheap humor and ridicule. It's what I do best. Right after that, he quit posting general discussion comments completely. I don't think he likes smart ass ignoramuses. In going back over those old posts, I think I figured out who BadLady could be: Blondeismorefun. Who? You had to have been there. They're not the same, of course, but they're both inspiringly irreverent.

My wife informed us we'll be getting off of the plane to snow flurries. God, I hate global warming. She's been out trying to find some warm coats for everyone. My son has some warm stuff because he went snowboarding this year. But for everyone else, she's having to call her friends and beg for loaners. Nothing yet in all those boxes in the garage, just Christmas decorations, old camping gear and stuff left over from cleaning out my mom's house. I hope they heat studios in New York, since they don't out here. It's going to suck trying to get into Garbha wearing long johns.

Still don't know if I can handle doing the Sex in the City bus tour. Maybe if I drink.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I picked up an extra call tonight at the last minute, so I'm back at my desk, trolling about, trying to keep my mind occupied. God forbid it should be allowed to go still. God forbid I should use the time to go practice while it's still relatively slow.

At one of my practices this week, a guy who I thought I recognized but if so it was from a long time ago, began setting up his mat. He went up to talk with Tim at the start of class, so I was pretty sure he was either new, had an injury or was visiting from somewhere else. When I heard Tim comment that the class was a mysore style class and that the expectation was that the student would go through the practice on their own, with assistance from the teachers, I figured he was a new student. He then set up his mat and watched most of the rest of the students get going with their practices. After about ten minutes, he got up and started doing a couple of sun salutations but not quite ashtanga sun salutations. After doing just a couple of A's, he then went to the back of his mat and started to look down at one of those posture cheat sheets. I knew then that he didn't have a good idea of what to do or how to do it. The class was a little full, so I knew the two teachers wouldn't have enough time to walk him through first series. I went over and asked if he wanted me to parallel him so he'd know what to do. He readily agreed. We practiced together through Navasana. He was starting to get fatigued I think. He got up to get a bottle of water near the end. I told him we'd stop there and do closing. When I started to show him the closing poses, Tim told me to keep practicing and had the guy just take rest. Walking into a class like that can be awkward for people that are really new to ashtanga. It is fairly easy for the wrong message to be received and for people to get turned off and decide that it's not what they want. I actually enjoyed the practice. I got sweatier than I did on either of my other two practices that week. The guy was holding poses a bit longer than I normally do on my own. Plus, either Tim or his assistant were regularly coming over and adjusting the guy, so I ended doing a reasonable amount work with the longer holds. That was actually the class that I first felt that my 'bad' hamstring was starting to feel the same as the other 'better' hamstring.

After class, I saw Tim while waiting in line at the coffee shop downstairs. He thanked me for practicing with the guy. Turns out he had practiced with Tim before but quite a while back. He'd been out with some kind of health issues and I guess was now looking to try ashtanga again. The guy was surprisingly good. He was at least as old as I am, maybe five or ten years older. He folded forward okay. Tim helped him with the leg raise at the end of utthita hasta padangustasana. His leg was one hell of a lot higher than mine gets. I gotta give the guy credit. He stayed with me the whole way. We did a lot more than is usually done in the typical gym ashtanga prep or vinyasa flow class. Doing all the way thru navasana when you haven't done any yoga in years is more than I would have wanted to do if I were in his shoes. I quit well before that plenty of times when I had just missed class for a few weeks. I don't know if I helped though, because I haven't seen him back since. Maybe I shouldn't have made him do janusirsasana C.

It has been interesting, in this recovery year (for want of a better term), to see what I lost and what didn't seem to go bad as I missed time. As I mentioned in my last post, I've had almost a full year of hamstring dysfunction. Forward bends, I regressed to levels comparable to early in my first year of practicing. Bandhas? Never a strength of mine and what little I had was quickly gone when I decreased my second series work. It was like I had never done bakasana B. Jump back from tittibhasana, or even get into bakasana from bhujapidasana? So much easier to just let those heavy old feet just sink to the floor and walk back. But back bending? There is some shoulder range of motion that I have to get back but I can still do pretty close to what I used to do, at least with urdhva dhanurasana. I haven't tried the second series stuff to really test this. I know kapotasana will be more of a toenail touch than really doing the pose. But, after I get a few shots at doing my prep work, I just get the sense that I'll be right back where I was. Hard to believe that, in a relative sense, backbending is now my best area. It says much more about the degradation of everything else than about my backbending, but it's still surprising to me. Why wouldn't I regress in my back as much as I seem to do everywhere else when I lay off for a few weeks?

Tim even commented after my last practice that I seemed to be finding my old stuff. That class was the first time in forever that I did dropbacks and standups after finishing my back bends. Tim's not one to give compliments and this wasn't one, but it was nice for him to let me know that he noticed I was progressing. I told him it was too bad, because it was going to be another week before I could practice again.

We had a yoga social event a couple of weekends ago. A couple of Tim's long time students got married on the beach in Del Mar. They had Tim officiate the wedding for them. The bride was the teacher I've written about so many times who teaches the Saturday morning improv class. The groom has been studying with Tim about as long as I have. I think they've been a couple now for three or four years. It was a beautiful sunny day at the beach, though slightly windy and chilly day in the shade. It was a chance to see a lot of people who I've seen or known in the past but whom no longer come to the studio or who have moved away completely. I didn't get to go to the reception. That's where all the fun usually is, so of course, I worked that night. My wife and kids did go and stayed fairly late, dancing away. Good thing they don't take after me in that respect. I'm an inveterate wall flower.

Too bad tomorrow's a moon day. I could have used the practice. I'll just have to use visualization.