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