Saturday, April 27, 2013

What's New, Buckaroo?

Five year update!!  One handy thing about having a blog it makes it much easier to remember what life was like at a distant time.  What was I doing five years ago? What was I thinking about?   What was important to me?  Definitely not the same things as now.  I think everyone could say that though.  Five years is a long time.

In 2008, when I last put up a post, my kids were in grade school, I had been doing Ashtanga yoga for eight years, I drove a BMW convertible and I pretty much thought I was on top of my world, or pretty close to it.

Now, in 2013, all three of my kids are in or soon will be in college (aka: bankruptcy), I've been a couch potato for almost all of the last five years, I drive a Prius and I am beginning to realize that I'm old (55 years fwiw).

Sometime around the time of my last post, I was getting kind of disenchanted with Ashtanga.  I was approaching what I perceived to be the limit of what I could do given the practice opportunities (or lack of practice opportunities) that I had to work with.  I was ok with flexability. I could do second series at an acceptible level, I could do many of the third series poses, I was able to get my heels in kapotasana, I could do front and side splits, though usually needed some prep work to do the side splits, I could have my hands pulled to my ankles in back bend.  But..., I hadn't been given a new pose in at least two years.  In fact, I was given the Nakrasana twice, showing me that I really wasn't someone that was being paid attention to.  I also had no core strength.  Despite eight years of pretty regular practice, I still couldn't jump back, I could drop into Karandavasana but could not lower into it and could not get back up at all (in fact, I don't think I was ever able to even get my knees off of my arms, much less moving back and up).  I struggled with most of the arm balances, or at least the exits.

To try to break out of the rut, I decided to try to get stronger.  I had read about Crossfit training.  There was a Crossfit gym in Encinitas and it was run by an ex-navy Seal who sometimes came to the yoga studio to practice.  I went on line and looked at some of the workouts.  I started doing some stuff at home to try to build a base before showing up and trying it for real.  I was amazed at how weak I was.  I couldn't do one pull up.  I was okay on pushups but nothing like what I was able to do when I was young and in the Army.  I decided to start taking classes anyway.  Sometimes, what it takes for a breakthrough is committing to something, just jumping in and going for it.  If anyone is unfamilar with Crossfit, their workouts involve a wide range of exercises and activities.  They are designed to be intense for even the most fit person in the gym.  For the untrained and unfit, most of the workouts are undo-able unless they are scaled way back.

This particular Crossfit gym took the intensity beyond what most places would do. Navy Seals being navy seals I guess. They would amp up standard already difficult workouts.  For example, a standard "benchmark" workout in the Crossfit world would be "Angie":  100 pullups followed by 100 pushups followed by 100 sit ups followed by 100 squats.  At this gym, they would do 'running Angie' where you had to run a mile after each of the exercises.  Instead of doing a single benchmark work out, they would combine two.  I think the first workout I ever went to was Frannie, a combination of Annie: 50 reps of jumping rope with the rope going around twice for each jump (aka a double under) then 50 sit ups, then 40 of each then 30 etc down to 10, then Fran, a short but brutal workout designed to induce muscle failure and near cardiac arrest:  21 reps of 95lb thrusters (going from a squat with a 95lb barbell to standing and pressing the weight overhead then back down to a squat, repeat) then 21 pull ups, then 15 of each, then 9 of each.  I couldn't do double unders so I had to do 3x single unders (150, 120, 90, 60, 30 reps).  after all those jumps and sit ups, I was already drained.  I was unable to push the bar up even once.  They quickly jumped in and stripped me down to an empty bar (45 lbs) and I struggled even with that.  I couldn't do any pull ups.  I was exhausted.

Long story shorter, I ended up hurting myself by pigheadedly trying to do too much and not scaling stuff back to make the workouts more doable.  I strained or pulled a rectus muscle.  It wasn't that big of a deal initially so I kept trying to do yoga and doing lower intensity Crossfit work outs.  I eventually had to stop the Crossfit and a week later stopped the yoga because I couldn't do anything that involved ab contraction (everything).  I sat around playing video games for a couple of months letting the weakness resolve.  By the time the abs felt better, I realized how much it would hurt to restart the Crossfit and the yoga too.  I had been losing yoga motivation well before that but after the time out, I just didn't want to do it any more.  I didn't see the point.

When I joined the Army after high school, I weighed 125 lbs. I college and med school, I think I was around 140 or so.  I'm pretty sure I was around 155-160  in 2008 when I eventually stopped doing Ashtanga.  When I took these picturesa couple of years ago, I think I was around 180.

Sometime around last June I weighed 197, so way more obese than in these photos.  I know I had to have gotten up to 200lbs.  I had no dress clothes I could wear.  None.  Not even a belt.  I would just wear shorts/t-shirt, sweats when it was cold and hospital scrubs at work, so I didn't need to fit any clothes.  I did have to bump up to extra large scrubs though.  One time I had to go to court for a hearing.  After going through almost every thing in my closet, I had to stop at Men's Wearhouse on the way to the hearing and get a coat, belt, slacks and shirt.

When I stood around, I could rest my arms on my gut.  Why in the world would I let this happen?  No idea.  It just did.

Both of my parents had heart attacks, were obese, had diabetes, had cancer and died from the accumulation of these problems.  What's the most difficult river in the world to cross?  De-Nial.  It was slow suicide, the gastronomic equivalent of smoking cigarettes.  Worse, I deal with obesity in the care of my patients and have a difficult time with empathy when it affects their health.  And yet, here I was doing it too.

Somehow, last summer I decided to change, or to at least try.  I knew that it was mostly going to be an issue of behavioral change, specifically changing how, what and when I ate.  I also knew I wanted to be in better shape.  I was really worried about dying from heart disease and of getting diabetes.  I've taken care of people who get sequential amputations due to diabetes, lose their vision, their kidneys, etc.  Where I was health wise and age wise, I had to change then or I would have few chances of being able to avoid those problems as I got older.  I'm still not sure what the lever was that got me off of the couch,got that bag of Lay's and the channel changer out of my hands and got me up and out doing things but something did.

I joined the Encinitas YMCA in July 2012.  They have a pool, a lot of work out areas, aren't too crowded, they are very in-expensive and are pretty easy to get to.  I didn't really do much working out there.  I started off with jogging and swimming laps.  I accepted early on that I wouldn't be able to do much of anything.  Initially, I was able to run a two to three blocks but would get out of breath with the least uphill slope.  I accepted run-walking.  I did not want to try the "be tough and just do it" approach because it thought I would probably not stay with it if it was miserable.  So, I went until it hurt , then I walked until I was better, then would jog some more.  It took me three and a half months to be able to eventually make it around a fairly flat four mile loop without stopping.  In that time, I lost 25 lbs.  Once I was able to do that flat section, I started trying to do hills.  The route from the Y to my house is almost exactly 10K and in up and down hill the whole way.  I got that done in November.  I then learned a number of people at work were going to do the Carlsbad half marathon in January 2013.  I figured, what the hell and bought an entry.  Most of my training runs sucked going up to the run, but as most people said would be the case, the energy of the event made the run much easier than the training.  I ran a steady 10 min/mile pace and finished in 2hrs 10 minutes and change.  I got passed by some people wearing tu-tus but didn't get passed by any children, thank god.  I weighed around 160 by that time, down 40 lbs in seven months.

Shortly after that run I decided to ramp up my running.  I planned to do two other half marathons in the San Diego area in the next 6 months.  I also wanted to do some trail runs.  I went ut on a check it out run for a 10 mile trail run in the Black Mountain area.  I had to walk the hills but about 5 miles in, I started to get significant pain on the outer side of my right knee.  I didn't know it at the time but quickly learned that I had IT band syndrome.  I opted stop running altogether rather than make the mistake that many do of worsening the problem by "running through it".

I wanted to strengthen the supporting muscles so I stared doing some Barre classes and joined a Crossfit gym near work.  I took a much more cautious approach to the crossfit this time.  I never did a workout as prescribed.  I always scaled it way back.  I got into it, in fact i started going too much, sometimes did two work outs a day.  Some aspects of it worried me though.  I didn't want to get injured an dthen have to sit out a long time again.  The weight lifting worried me about injury.  Moving weights around rapidly is an invitation for serious injury if it's being done carelessly or incorrectly.  I opted to get some separate training in Olympic lifting.  The person who runs the Olympic lift class at my crossfit gym is the part owner and a trainer/coach at an Olympic lifting /crossfit gym in San Diego.  It's not too far away so I decided to start going there to learn how to do the complex lifts correctly.

In addition, I was starting to do yoga again.  Initially, I just took some classes at The Y and at one of those hot yoga places near home  I couldn't do that for long though.  I would get too angry with the instructiors ruining the yoga with their constant idiodic yammering.  So I started back at the Ashtanga center.  I was no where near where I had been, especially with back bending, but I hadn't lost any where near as much as I thought I would have.

Eventually, it became too much.  I first dropped the running, then phased out most of the yoga.  Now, I'm not even doing the crossfit that much.  I can't think of an activity in which I would be more out of place than going to an Olympic weightlifting gym, but that's where I'm at right now.  I'm trying to keep my mouth shut, stay out of the way, not look too much like an idiot and learn what I can.

It's pretty humbling to be this weak.  There is no one in the gym who lifts as little as I do.  Every woman there moves more than I can, most of them a lot more.  The guys all pretty much lift multiples of what I can move.  I just keep telling myself that I have never done anything strength wise in my life so I shouldn't expect to be able to do much.  The lifts are complex, to me any way, so I need to focus mainly on technique while I hopefully build some baseline of strength.  That said, in the 2013 Master's National Weightlifting, the lifter who won the 69 kg body weight class in my age group didn't lift that much more than I can do now.  Granted he was the only lifter there in that age and weight class.  But still, a win is a win.

I'm happy to be trying new things, something I try to get my kids to do.  I'm happy I'm no longer slowly dying on the couch.  I just hope I didn't die too much already.  I'm glad I'm back on the yoga mat and running and getting stronger, however slowly it takes.    It's better than what I was doing before.  And, my old clothes fit.  Well, actually,they don't.   I went to a retirement party recently and I had to choose a different set of slacks as the first pair I tried was too large.  Cool.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009



ANTARA KUMBHAKA Suspension of breath after full inhalation
BAHYA KUMBHAKA Suspension of breath after full exhalation
BANDHA Bondage or fetter
BEDHANA Bhid = to pierce, break through
JALA (As in jalandhara) Net, web, mesh
KUMBHAKA Retention of breath
PURUKA Inhalation
RECHAKA Exhalation
SITALI Sitala = cool
UDDIYANA Flying up


Jalandhara Bandha: During Antara Kumbhaka (inhale retention)
Uddiyana Bandha: During Bahya Kumbhaka (exhale retention)
Mula Bandha: All of the time


1) Rechaka Kumbhaka and Puruka Kumbhaka
2) Puruka Rechaka Kumbhaka
3) Nadi Shodhana
a. Sama Vrtti
b. Visama Vrtti
4) Bhastrika
5) Bhedana
a. Surya Bhedana
b. Chandra Bhedana
6) Sitali


3 Ujjayi breaths (with ujjayi breathing, ratio of inhale to exhale is 1 : 1)
Inhale, with the exhale chant AUM


a. Rechaka Kumbhaka
Inhale, exhale then hold breath
Repeat for a total of three breaths
Then immediately begin Puruka Kumbhaka
b. Puruka Kumbhaka
Inhale, hold breath, then exhale
Repeat for a total of three breaths
c. The ratio of the length of the inhalation of breath to the exhalation of breath should be 1 : 1
d. Ratio of the length of the retentions for exhale (rechaka) vs inhale (puruka) is 2 : 3, for example, if the retention after the exhale lasts 6 seconds, the retention after the inhale should last 9 seconds
e. 3 Ujjayi breaths as a transition before next stage of pranayama


a. 3 breaths with retention after both the inhale and the exhale
b. Ratio of retentions for inhale (puruka) vs exhale (rechaka) should be 5 : 4. for example if the retention after the inhale lasts 10 seconds, the retention after the exhale should last 8 seconds
c. 3 Ujjayi breaths as a transition before next stage of pranayama


a. Sama Vrtti (same action)
1. inhale through both nostrils
2. exhale through left nostril, no retention

3. inhale right, hold 1st retention
4. exhale left, hold 2nd retention
5. inhale left, hold 3rd retention
6. exhale right, hold 4th retention

7. inhale right, hold 5th retention
8. exhale left, hold 6th retention
9. inhale left, hold 7th retention
10. exhale right, hold 8th retention

11. inhale right, hold 9th retention
12. exhale left, hold 10th retention

b. Visama Vrtti (irregular action)
13. inhale right, hold 11th retention
14. exhale right, hold 12th retention
15. inhale right, hold 13th retention
16. exhale right, hold 14th retention
17. inhale right, hold 15th retention
18. exhale right, hold 16th retention

19. inhale right, hold 17th retention
20. exhale left, hold 18th retention

21. inhale left, hold 19th retention
22. exhale left, hold 20th retention
23. inhale left, hold 21st retention
24. exhale left, hold 22nd retention
25. inhale left, hold 23rd retention
26. exhale left, hold 24th retention

27. inhale left, hold 25th retention
28. exhale right, hold 26th retention

29. inhale right, no retention
30. exhale left
c. Ratio of inhalations, exhalations and retentions is 1 : 1 : 1 : 1
d. 3 Ujjayi breaths as a transition before the next stage of pranayama


a. In a seated position, hold the tops of the feet and pull them back into the abdomen
b. Slow inhalation
c. Perform a series of rapid, vigorous exhalations followed by reflexive inhalation through both nostrils (50 to 100 cycles)
d. Pull the lower abdomen back strongly during the exhalation, using both uddiyana bandha and mula bandha
e. With the last exhalation, fully empty the lungs
f. Slow inhalation
g. Long retention after inhalation, 20 – 40 seconds
h. Exhale
i. Repeat the inhale, vigorous exhale/reflexive inhale x 100, slow inhale, hold x 20 - 40 seconds, exhale sequence for a total of 3 cycles
j. 3 Ujjayi breaths as a transition before the next stage of pranayama


a. Surya Bhedana
1. Inhale through both nostrils
2. Exhale left, no retention

3. Inhale right, long hold (retentions are for 30 – 60 seconds)
4. Exhale left
5. Inhale right, long hold
6. Exhale left
7. Inhale right, long hold
8. Exhale left

b. Chandra Bhedana
9. Inhale left, long hold
10. Exhale right
11. Inhale left, long hold
12. Exhale right
13. Inhale left, long hold
14. Exhale right

15. Inhale right, no retention
16. Exhale left

c. 3 Ujjayi breaths as a transition before next stage of pranayama


a. Open the mouth and form the lips into an “O”
b. Curl the tongue and extend it slightly through the lips
c. Inhale through the tongue, short retention (3-6 seconds)
d. Exhale through both nostrils
e. Repeat for a total of three breaths
f. 3 Ujjayi breaths


Begin chants during exhalation


Om Narayanam Padmabhuvam Vashistam Shaktim
Tatputra Parasharancha Vyasam Shukam
Gaudapadam Mahantam Govinda Yogaindram
Athasya Shishyam Shri Shankaracharyam
Athasya Padmapadancha Hastamalakancha
Shishyam Tantrotakam Vartekakara Mukyam
Asmat Gurun Santatamanatosmi

(I am always bowed to our teachers—Narayanam, the first teacher, Brahma the Lotus Born, Vashista and his son Shaktim, Vyasa and his son Parasharancha, Gaudapada the Great, Govinda, Lord of Yogis and his disciple Shri Shankaracharya, and his disciples Padmapadancha and Hastamalakancha, and the author Varteka Trotakam)

Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
Sandarashita Swatma Sukhava Bhode
Nishreyase Jangalikaya Mane
Samsara Halahala Mohashantiye
Abahu Purushakaram
Shankachakra Asi Dharinam
Sahasra Shirasam Swetam
Pranamami Patanjalim OM

(I respectfully bow to the lotus feet of my teacher, who teaches the knowledge of the Self that awakens us to great happiness, who is the Jungle Physician and dispeller of the poison of conditioned existence. Taking the form of aman up to the hands, holding a conch, a discus and a sword, and having a thousand heads of white light, Pantanjali, I bow to you.)

Sahanavavatu Sahanau Bhunaktu Saha Viryam
Karava Vahai Tejas Vinau Adhitamastu
Ma Vidvisha Vaha-i-i
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

(May wisdom protect and nourish us, let us work together for wisdom, may our study be illuminating, may we never be at discord)

OM Namo Brahmavidibhyo Brahmavidya Sampradaya Karatrobhyo Namo
Vomsharishaibhyo Namo Mahadibhyo Namo Gurubhyaha
Sarva Uplaplava Rahita Prajnanaghana Pratagarthaha
Brahma Iva Aham Asmi
OM Tat Sat
(Salutations to Brahma and the originators of His wisdom, salutations to the sage of our family lineage, salutations to the great teachers. I am Brahma only, perfect consciousness, devoid of al misfortune.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It took ten tries to land Bakasana B today. Both Julie and Tiffany were there, the two people with whom i made deals with to pay them a dollar for each failed attempt i make. cha ching. So much for the value of the threat of aversive consequences. The Mysore fund and the Seattle fund are rapidly swelling. I landed it pretty well just a couple of days ago too, only took two tries.

Today was my second practice in almost a month. Well, not really. i guess i did a first series practice a week or so ago. When i went a few days ago, it was my first try at second in a while but it went okay. I was doing fine but for some reason couldn't get my right foot hooked around my left in dwi pada sirsasana on my own, so i quit after that. So today was my first full practice. I was able to get dwi pada ok. I even got bound Tittibhasana B, much to my surprise. I thought i was going to be too pleasantly plump to pull it off.

As i was finishing doing my Urdvha Dhanurasana, Tim was showing Rich, his assistant, a couple of back adjustments he gives people sometimes. The things that open your back and often cause the vertabrae to pop. Tim was using another student to show Rich. After they finished, I motioned Rich over and told him to go ahead and try the adjustments on me. He had to get Tim to come over and show it again. The first one didn't do anything but the second one totally caused this zipper like series of pops. Then they tried this funky thing where the you lay on your stomach and they lift up on the skin of your back on each side of the spine to cause that section to release. kind of ouchie for me, very pinchy, but a friend on the next mat over who had them try it really like it.

Had to take my car in for a 100,000 mile service (it's a 2003) and to get a series of minor things looked into. Couldn't afford to get several of them done. The radio, which according to the service guys needs to be replaced to be fully functional, would cost $1000. They have no idea why it does what it does. It shuts off exactly twenty minutes after it's been turned on. If you restart it, it will turn off twenty minutes later. When it first started doing it, it shut off after thirty minutes. I thought it was a clever way they had designed to warn you that you were past due for a scheduled service. But the BMW gear heads say no, it's just haunted. I also needed new tires on the fronts, new brakes and rotors, etc, etc. $2.5K later, i'm driving home with about half of the things fixed. Not the most timely of expenses right now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Arrggh!!, Not more photos!!!

I don't intend to do this 'photos of me and family' often. I promise. I'm just sitting here at work with an under-filled schedule, a lot of free time, a disc with scanned in photos on it and a congenital inability to be idle. These are some of the earliest known images of Okrgr. If they are embarrassing, well not embarassing but just look kind of dorky, it's just reward for being mean and shallow yesterday.

First, the kids. From a couple of years ago


Now me, very early me

For the Owl, later me, hating life in my little Lord Fauntleroy's

Lastly, for Carl, my stick. Notice, mine's bigger
Old and Tired

I dumped on my son yesterday. There are occasions where I am able to step back, weigh out consequences and decide to let small things that bug me drop. Such situations are too few unfortunately. Yesterday i just didn't have the resources left to do it.

My wife, our household financial overseer, had told me we were too close to the red line. We had a bunch of upcoming expenses: three tax quarterly payments in 6 months, several cross country trips for sports activities and camps, impending car fixer upper things, replacing worn out and broken things around the house, etc. To cover things, I picked up a number of extra call shifts for the next several weeks.

Last week's load was maybe a bit too much work. i picked up several calls for that week alone. I ended up working tuesday night, thursday night and saturday day and night. since i picked up the week day calls at the last minute, i also worked the day before each shift and the morning after, as those had already been scheduled with patients. I did fine thru the first two calls but was pretty worn out by the time i finished on saturday. All the little annoyances with our new charting system had worn me down and exposed my worst tendencies.

Some of this extra work was done to help cover the expense of my son's upcoming lacrosse trips on a travel team. After I got back from work, I watched his practice yesterday and he was just kind of jacking around. He hasn't done one single extra thing to get better outside of his team practices. He'd rather play Halo or World of Warcraft. After practice in the morning, he left his bag in my wife's car. I guess he just expected that she would drop it off at home for him, unasked, so that he could get it for a private practice session that had been set up with his school coach later that afternoon. When it came time for going to practice, it became apparant that he had no gear. It was all in his mom's car. That just set me off. I practically killed myself, working over a hundred hours last week to help him with lacrosse (well, to pay all those other bills too, but at the time, it was all to pay for his lacrosse) and he couldn't even keep track of his gear and missed a private training session. After dropping off his friends, i kept jabbing away at how disappointed I was in his effort. I didn't do the "angry" thing so much, just the "you're never going to make it like this" rigamarole. On and on. "You know how many times your sister has forgotten her volleyball gear? NONE. Never. What does that tell you?" That kind of stuff. I guess we're equally disappointed in each other now. Bad dad. Guess I'm not as good at sleep deprivation as I used to be.

Yoga? No, not lately. Mis-aligned stars or something. Not one full practice since mid February. That's why there's only pictures of babies and dogs up.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Slide Show Time

Zoe, now age 11

Jake, now age 13

Emma, now age 14

Friday, February 29, 2008

Coming Out, Everybody's Doing It Now

Our old multi-function printer had gradually become enfeebled, losing each of its functions one by one. The last one, printing, finally went by the wayside last week, so I had to go out and find a new one. Having canvased every single variation of consumer electronics stores in our area, I finally managed to make a decision and today plunked down a hundred bucks for a new AIO scanner, printer, copier and popcorn maker. In an initial testing of the fruits of my shopping labors, a scanning in of some of our family photos, some more embarassing than others.

For Eor: The "Unbreakable" paste lid

For AnnaBelle: Our Akitas

For Boodiba: My Brother and I

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pox of the Out-of-Towners

It's been raining in San Diego ever since all those visitors trundled off. They seem to have blessed us with their normal winter weather, just like a visiting pet leaves your home infested with its fleas and vermin. I never even saw some of them and i still get to slosh my way to my car each morning. Not sure who is to blame. Doubt it was Eor, since if it was from him, it would just be cold and foggy. Likewise, JLafitte is probably in the clear. New Orleans can be insufferable, but i don't think that it's due to cold winter rains. So, that leaves those New Yorkers and Carl. Carl from Seattle. Where it rains every day. It's the precipitatory antithesis of San Diego. But, it could be the women. I hear it's snowing in NYC, so maybe they did drop this winter crap on us. Share the pain kind of thing. Give us back our sun you interlopers!!

My plans for the future were rudely disrupted by a couple of Georgia rednecks. I was all set to turn in those early retirement papers and, bam, they end up being the sole winners of that big 270 million dollar lotta paycheck. I could have lived with a split payout. Greedy crackers. So now, I have to keep delivering babies and taking out uteruses. I don't mind work, I like what I do. But our work setting has become a pretty unpleasant place the last few weeks. We're doing a major change in how we document what we do, going from the time honored paper charting approach to a completely electronic record. The change over is on a national scale, not just getting a few workstations into a mom and pop sized practice. Given the scale of the project, even the simplest of tasks are ridiculously complex and arcane. The possibility of effecting any changes to make the system more user friendly are essentially non-existant. So, until the next lotto run up, I have to deal with it.

I'm going to do one of those shameless idea stealing things once i get a new all-in-one printer for our house. I want to put up some blast from the past photos like i had seen on someone's blog. That would allow me to post something potentially interesting or entertaining without having to think and type in coherent sentences, something that has always been a challenge for me. Our current scanner has been on the fritz for about a year and a half, so i can't do it now. Next week's project perhaps.

Back to L&D. None of the other docs on call is a "normal" doc, just me. I'm on with a resident and a per diem md, so theoretically, I'm the one who best knows how to solve charting issues. That sux butt.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Empty Nest

The last of the visiting bloggers leaves in a couple of hours. Eor came mid-week last week, but was only here long enough for some bending and brunching, then had to go back to the City. JLafitte headed up north on Friday for another week of west coast action with the LA crowd. I think he'll be going to classes with OvO. The ashtanginis, Anna and Linda, left yesterday evening, redeye-ing it back home to NYC after a week in the sun spread between Del Mar and LA. Carl, the sole remaining scribe, flies back to the mist this evening. He's getting in one more class this afternoon, the Intro to 2nd class with my wife at 4:30, then it's off to the airport. Thrifty man he, he used all ten of the classes on the card. I tried to get him one more go out into the surf today. I dug my old wetsuit out of the garage and gave it to him to try on after he got all the old spider nests and mouse poop off of it. He tried it but then handed it back, indicating that it was too tight in some places, like the crotch. Thanks Carl, you testiculus maximus you.

Carl and I went to led first series this morning. I think we both got a little more worked than we expected. I hadn't done first in something like three weeks, so i had regressed a fair amount in a couple of things, like Supta K. I must have also put on some poundage, because i had to work to get my arms thru in Garbha Pindasana, even after slathering all available sweat onto my legs and arms. After the class, Carl said that he had definitely felt the previous day's surfing session. Jois' Dictum: Ashtanga makes everything else better, everything else makes ashtanga harder.

So now comes the post-sybaritic pause, the return to reality check. Play is over, back to the babies, back to the socks, back to the computer monitors, back to the briefs, etc. It will probably be easier for me, as i don't have to leave our weather and I don't have to endure a long trip home right before going back to work. On the flip side, I don't get to go to happening places like NYC, Seattle, New Orleans or San Francisco. Like Steve Martin in "My Blue Heaven", I'm embedded in suburbia. It all balances out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Carl, Don't Trust Me Ever Again

I'm a bad man. I had promised Carl that I would come pick him up at his hotel and bring him to the pranayama class. The class starts a little after 6 AM and he would have otherwise had to walk about a mile uphill at 5:15 to make it there. I hopped out of bed in plenty of time, but I guess I got into daydream-land while in the shower, envisioning the great practice I was bound to have. I knew I had screwed up when I walked out the door. "Oops! It's not supposed to be that light out." I turned on the car and saw the clock read 5:56. Since I'm one of those neurotic types who keeps their car clock set about seven or eight minutes ahead of the real time, I knew I really had about twenty minutes to get him there, if the class really didn't start until 6:15. I got to his hotel in about 15 minutes, reasonably good time with no tickets. I screwed up trying to beat a light though and lost some time just shy of the shala. I dropped him off to scurry up to the studio but he didn't make it in time. They had already started and were about half way thru the second pranayam. Young innocent that he was, he went ahead and sat down and joined in. No problems.

This had been an unusual week of practice for me. The typical pattern for me is to get gradually better with each successive class, if they are done within a day or so of each other. I expected my first class back from snowboarding to suck wind. I was somewhat sore from the snowboarding and I had driven for six hours the night before. The class actually was a great one, for me. I managed all the hard stuff pretty well and even almost grabbed ankles (assisted) in Chakra Bandhasana after backbending drop backs. But from there, the rest of the week's practices went parivrrta, all bassackwards. Each following practice was a little worse. Went from landing Bakasana B on the first try to taking six tries to giving up today after eight or nine flops. Thank god Tiffany and Julie weren't there or I would have had to go to the ATM.

Yesterday's practice wasn't notable for much for me. The other guys had some fun though. Carl went to the Valentine's Day improv and had his heart opened. Tim did lots of backbending stuff. I think Carl had a good time doing stuff that was new to him, Natarajasana, Anjanayasana, Vamadevasana (I think that's what he was describing). In the Mysore class, Stu got wishboned in Kapotasana, one of the best feeling adjustments known to man. He's also been stoked about being helped to his heels in that pose, which he claimed he wasn't able to do.

We all practiced together today. They did the party line first series and I thought I'd give second another try. Shouldn't have. I was very defocused. Just zoned out several times. I kept to my internal punitive rule system in which I have to quit if I don't make it into a given pose. Since I lost the battle with my heavy butt in Bakasana B, I went to backbending after Ardha Matsyendrasana. My original goal this week had been to get better enough each day that I would be able to get back over at least once in my tic tocs. As sad as this sounds, I was really counting on having Boodiba there to motivate me to get it. Sometimes those external motivation games do the trick for me. I didn't do that bad with it but still didn't get past halfway sticking point. I got my heels after drop backs, with Tim's hearty assistance, but didn't get the heels down. It was an unfulfilling practice in a lot of ways early on, but the finish brought my mood around 180 degrees.

I waited outside the studio, drinking coffee while looking at the snow on the nearby hills, while I waited for Carl to get done. Man, those two guys are polar opposites. Stuart flies through and he finished in a little over an hour. Tim came by to do drop backs with him. "Finished already?" he asked, "Some kind of new land speed record." Carl is much more measured. He's the one person I've seen who takes longer than I do to get through a class. I'm usually the last one out of the room when I have the chance to do a full Mysore and not have to rush off to work. He was still going today when I got up from a long Savasana. Carl and I had some coffee and talked a bit, then we went home. Stuart was just getting ready to head out to go north to LA for a week. After he left, I did some honeydo-es, then grabbed the kids and we all went go-karting. Carl almost passed on it, preferring to work on the computer, but we all called him a pussy from Seattle and he went for the hook. After the post-practice infusion of speed on the track, we then had a yogic lunch of bacon and cheese fries, buffalo wings and cheeseburgers. In the car, we listened to my son replaying all the songs from the Tenacious D DVD that had curse words in them (as in, all the songs).

I'm in a much better mood today than yesterday. Just felt a cloud of gloom. I guess the rainy weather can affect us more than we know sometimes. Since we never get it much here, we don't know to watch out for it. Carl is probably immune to it.

He is planning on a surf lesson tomorrow morning, so i need to work on him for a while with shark and sting ray stories. I'm once again abandoning him though, forcing him to walk the mile or so the beach for the class, as I will be with my kids at their sports things. He'll do well catching waves. He's an athletic guy. I had hoped to be able to film it for him but that didn't come thru.

I hope to be able to see everyone who came out again sometime and I hope everyone has a safe trip back home. Best of luck to Annabelle on your upcoming exam. Be the bar!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bloggerpalooza Went Bloggerkaplewie

Bloggerpalooza (sound of air rushing out of a balloon). The idea was to have as many ashtanga bloggers as possible meet up out here in San Diego. We had all kinds of acting up planned: video pose offs, tequila tastings, a party or two, sleep overs. it was gonna be fun.

It started when I harangued Boodiba into coming out here for a relatively cut rate ashtanga vacation when it looked like her usual winter Mysore trip wasn't going to pan out. Her shala mate Annabelle also bought into my pitch and they made plans for a week out here. Pretty quickly, the wisdom of spending a normally frigid week in February in balmy San Diego doing yoga and hanging out with previously only imagined web personas struck a few other bloggers and it grew into a near event.

But. What would the world be like without buts? But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Unfortunately, these plans for the gathering of ashtanga bloggers weren't that well laid. First crack in the dike was the fact that most of the San Diego bloggers already had out of town plans for that week. Mike (laproxdoc) was going to Costa Rica, Tiffany had to go to Vegas for a work thing, Julie, the head mofo, had a week of skiing planned with her family.

Just me and the out of towners? No probs. I can handle that. I'm tons o' fun. (stifled snort of derision from my wife). Anyways, turns out, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Literally. After years of promising but not delivering, I had promised my son we would finally go snowboarding together. They get out of school for a week each winter for this, so we were going to go then. Never occurred to me to check and see if the dates overlapped with everyone else's trip. Why would they? So, when I finally got around to sitting down and making the ski trip arrangements, imagine my surprise. Well, I could handle that. We were only going to go for four or five days. Maybe I could split the week I had off, half skiing with Jake and half hanging with the ashtangis.

Then things really turned south. The day the ladies were supposed to fly out from NYC, a fire occurred in Annabelle's apartment and she had to cancel her flight to sort things out at home and throw together a flight out the next day. Boodiba, who doesn't drive, had to come out alone and make her way from the airport to Del Mar on her own. I have no idea what that kind of taxi ride costs but I’m sure it was enough to put a damper on the mood of an already darkening trip.

I wasn't there for the first four days of the week that everyone was here. When I got back in town late Tuesday night, I quickly read over the blogs. Somehow, it had gone from south to shit. A couple of unsatisfying/unpleasant experiences at the shala seem to have turned the ashtanginis off to practicing there. Plus, this was a working holiday for Annabelle. She was commuting to LA to meet with her bar exam advisor. So she ended up opting to practice at home or at studios up in LA. I'm really bummed out about Linda's experience here. I've known people whom Tim didn't hit the right chord with, but reading things over in her blog, I can't help think that things would have gone better if I had been here like I had originally talked up. I enjoy my shala so much. And I enjoyed studying at her shala too. It just doesn't seem right that she and Annabelle wouldn't get the same kind of enjoyment at our place that I have.

Things sort of dominoed into everyone else's experience, because at least a part of the anticipation for this kind of get together was about the potential interaction with each other. When I went to practice Wednesday morning, only three bloggers were there: Eeyore, Carl and JLaffite. Eeyore finished up ahead of me, so I went over and said Hi as he was rolling up his mat to go. He gave me his number to try later that day but he was flying out at 4pm so we didn't manage to link up for a real talk. It's too bad. He's definitely one persona I really wanted to get to know as a person. He even had the cajones to sign in as Eeyore. Maybe the next time I get up to San Fran. Maybe we'll get around to doing that weird naked yoga he goes off about.

I have been able to spend some good time with Carl and JL. We had pizza and some wine at our place last night (more guilt on my part, I poured with a heavy hand). They wanted to try surfing but today was rainy and windy, so we just hung out at my place after practice. Carl got suckered into playing Halo after watching my son and his friends spend hours zomby-ing out with the Xbox. My daughter, who is pretty good at guitar hero, wanted me to get JL to play her. JL has a masters in music performance. He has played professionally and now teaches guitar in college. "Guitar Hero is nothing like playing a real guitar. I'll kick his ass!" she said. He did give it a go later today, and did reasonably well, but she would have kicked his ass.

Not sure if anything will develop tomorrow, the last day most of these folks are here. I'm a little reluctant to push on getting everyone together because I can't tell if that's what everyone wants to do. I feel a bit guilty and pretty bummed that the trip didn't work out as originally planned for all the people who came so far.

I'm going to practice in the morning and then I'm going go-karting with the kids. I had told JL and Carl I'd try to help get them a surf lesson if the wave conditions improved but Kiran, my wife, is now in bed sick, so I'll likely have all of the kid care responsibilities tomorrow.

Funny how far afield things can get. It's the nature of expectations I guess.

What am I supposed to do with all this tequila we were going to taste?

Late addendum: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, our house didn't burn down.