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

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