May penetrating light dispel the darkness of ignorance, let all karma be resolved and the mind-flower bloom in eternal spring. We pray for the health and well being of our loved ones, all those afflicted by diseases of body, mind, or spirit; all those working towards the healing of those afflictions; may they be serene through all their ills, and may we realize the Buddha Way together.
The led class yesterday at IYPR was one of their rocket variations on ashtanga, which is organized on the primary series, but introduces poses from second series and a couple from advanced series. This brings some fun surprises for those of us accustomed to an ashtanga self practice. For example, there were the following variations during the standing sequence. Some people went into a three point headstand from Prasaritta Paddotanasana A. We did Bakasana at some point, as well as Pincha Mayurasana twice during that time. We also did Samakonasana and Hanumanasana.
The Janus Shirsasanas and Marichyasanas were abbreviated, and people were not asked to do the full expression of the twists, the wrapping and grabbing parts. During Navasana, we went into a headstand three times. The intent of this transition would be to lift from Navasana directly into headstand. One can see this in the early videos of David Swenson. But realistically, that requires unusual strength and in many years of practice I have only seen one yogi do that, and as a demonstration at that. So at this point it required getting out of Navasana, doing headstand, then going back to Navasana.
After Uppavhista Konasana, we did an asana that not having my books with me I could not name, but it involved bending forward while the legs where in a split. It made me observe the unusual-ness of body types in yoga. My neighbor to the left, a yogi, seemed to lack strength yesterday to finish the Suryanamaskaras A & B, but had the flexibility to do the splits. The neighbor to the right, a yogini, didn't have wads of muscles, yet she floated her feet up from Prasaritta Padotanasana into three point headstand gracefully, then returned to the Prasaritta slowly and gracefully from the inversion. I felt as if I had practiced next to these two people last year, but I don't think I did. I practiced near the door so I could leave at the beginning of savasana. There was a nice breeze coming through the window which took away the sweat I was generating from the practice. It felt good to practice with a group and hopefully I will be able to practice with them once or twice more before I return to SF next Tuesday.
- 2 14.5 oz cans of diced (or whole) tomatoes, or one 1 lb, 13 oz can
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups of onions sliced in thin rounds
- 6 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, or crushed cornflakes
Directions: Melt two tablespoons butter and mix with the breadcrumbs. Melt remaining butter. Cook the onions in the butter until golden. Mix flour, salt and sugar together and add to tomatoes. Lightly grease a 2 quart pyrex mold. Add onions, add tomato mixture in alternating layers. Top with breadcrumbs or cornflake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Serves 8. This recipe can be doubled for larger groups and baked in a 4 quart mold.
Your Center (Between Your Bathroom and Kitchen)
It is not merely enthusiasm that erodes when practice declines. Your body and mind go out of tune. You are no longer a vessel of insight. The cardinal can sing; the wind can move the ironwood trees delicately; a child can ask a wise question - and where is your center? How can you respond?
It is time to put yourself back in tune, to be ready for experiences that make life fulfilling. Take up the advice for beginners. Put your zazen pad somewhere between your bathroom and your kitchen. Sit down there in the morning after you use the bathroom and before you cook breakfast. You are sitting with everyone in the world. If you can sit only briefly, you will have at least settled your day.
Robert Aitken, Encouraging Words
In Prasarita Paddotanasa A, Noah suggested I spread the legs more so I could get the head to the floor. I got the head to the floor. Coming back was a slow affair. I felt the outer muscles of the latisimus dorsi pinging as I brought the torso back up. "No fear", I reminded myself. In Supta Parsvasahita, he reminded me to keep the non-extended leg down, pressing it with one hand and pointing the toes. When I did Urdvha Mukha Paschimottanasana, I applied what I learned yesterday of holding the heels of the feet and pointing them. I was able to get the feet way up vertical and touch the chins with my head. In Bekasana I got a great adjustment that really made me feel like an El Coqui frog indeed. The illustration is from this source, Red Lion Stencils.
In Kapotasana, after doing it once by myself, Kimberly asked me to do it again so she could assist me. She instructed not to put the head to the floor when going back, because it does not give space to the arms to move back. She said to gaze at the tip of the nose, arch back, land the hands, push the hands, lifting the torso, walk the hands closer to the feet, push the hands again, walk the hands closer to the feet again, hold five breaths. In B you move the hands back from the feet, then extend them. At this point, as she was observing me, she instructed, "Don't collapse coming back up, don't do anything with the hands, let the strength of the thighs bring you up." Amazingly, the front of my thighs at that moment contracted and brought me up. Wow!
I wanted to thank people who responded to my question on dropping back. I also asked it of Kimberly, whether when I see the floor in dropping back is when I have to extend the arms to break the fall. Her response was great. She said that in reality, one should not be looking at the floor. Concentrate on the dristhe, which is the nose. People who are flexible can drop back with the hands fully extended in the air, but people who are less flexible tend to keep the hands close to the chest in prayer position. You start arching back; the legs are holding you, you are arching the chest, at this point it is okay to bend the legs a bit, but they are still holding you. The moment to extend the arms, and you do it quickly, is when your legs no longer can hold you. So you extend the arms at that point to break the fall. She then assisted me in a dropback in a way that let me feel this falling back. That was cool. She only tightened her hold when I was almost touching the floor, or actually when I touched the floor. I can't remember exactly, but the adjustment really gave me the feel of what I would feel if the teacher had not been there. Focusing on the dristhe of the nose had the effect of taking away the fear of falling.
When I was doing headstand, Noah instructed me to hold the position differently. I was placing the arms sort of in prayer position on the floor. He instructed to weave the fingers together, place the top of the head on the floor, and catch the cranium with the woven fingers. The thumbs help to close the grasp of the cranium. The shoulders need to get closer together. He said I would have to get accustomed to the new weight distribution, but that this way of doing the asana would remove tension forming in the neck.
I had so much fun and learned so much these last three days, that now I feel like a little kid who is sad to say goodbye when going away. Isn't that funny? When I get back from the holidays I might have 2 or 3 more days to practice with them before they leave San Francisco.
I received an extra nice push while twisting in Marichyasana D. When I was doing Navasana, I received the most complete instruction I've ever received on coordinating the breath during the vinyasas in this position. Let me see, after you do five breaths with the legs extended, then exhale, bring the feet bent towards the torso, don't let the feet touch the floor, inhale, lift yourself, feet included, exhale extend the legs and hands. Keep the ujayi breath flowing. Repeat the asana and vinyasa four more times.
Blue Rose was practicing Third Series seemingly effortlessly in front of me. I acknowledged it mentally, but there was not allowance for distraction. In Urdvha Mukkha Pschimottanasana, I was afraid Teacher would notice that I tend to list to the left because one psoas muscle constrict. But instead she pointed out that I needed to grab the heels of the feet instead of the balls of the feet, then point the toes as you bring the feet to the head. This did have the effect of getting the feet closer to the head. In Pasasana, she told me to remember Marichyasana D when binding, to place one hand on the floor for support while getting the wrapping hand in a good position as in Mari D.
After doing Kapotasana by myself, Noah asked me to do it again in order to help me. I wish I didn't grunt when being helped in it. I don't want to grunt. It reminds me that when Springy Sitarist in Berkeley helps me in Kapotasana, he tells me "no suffering". It also reminds me that Elise wrote while she was in Mysore that Sharath says a lot, "no fear". She mused to herself, "this guy needs new material" because he was always saying "no fear", but she came to realize that it was important to say that. My mind again plays tricks with me and says, "no drama", but that is because I like to laugh. I'm going to remember "no fear" tomorrow, and remember to breathe an audible ujayi breath.
Noah and Kimberly Williams are teaching here for a month while J. and H. are in Mysore. This was my first time practicing with them. My first Mysore teacher, Reinaldo, moved to Los Angeles when I moved to San Francisco 3 years ago and practiced at Yoga East, where he really enjoyed learning from Noah and Kimberly. They are really kind and nice teachers.
I was greeted by Noah at the door. Soon afterwards, another yogi showed up. It was eeyeore! He recognized me first. It was nice to meet him after all this time. He's a wonderful person. In the room, Honest Abe was practicing. He wrote to me by email yesterday that he was enjoying practicing there this week, although he was a bit sore.
Since this is meant to be a personal journal, here is what happened. I recall another blogger writing about visiting John Scott's shala and asking him, "Should I show you my practice?", to which he replied, "Don't show me your practice. Do your practice." So I decided that I would do my practice, which on a Tuesday would typically be Second Series. I did the full standing sequence. Then I started on Pasasana. I'm getting better at it, but my feet are not exactly fully flat on the floor. I know I was being observed and my mind played a game with me. It became happy when the doorbell rang and Noah had to leave the room to open it. At least one of my sides on Pasasana would not be observed. Frankly, it should not have mattered to be observed. In Krounshasana, he said to press my chin to the lifted leg. I can almost do that on the left side; on the right side my chin is about 3 inches from the leg and my leg bends, thinking it has to jump or something.
I did Kapotasana by myself. Of course, I'm not by myself touching the toes yet with my hands. He asked me to do kapo again so he could assist me. As he was getting my hands closer to the feet, my lower back seemed to be tensing. I relaxed the psoas as much as I could to get a lift. Since he kept helping me get closer, saying I was 3 inches from the toes, I had to verbalize a grumble by saying "it's okay". My spine didn't seem to be bending more today. He instructed me to rest my head on the floor. Then he was able to get my hands within one half inch of the toes. OK, here comes the difficult part. I started setting up for Supta Vajrasana, but he instructed instead to move on to backbends. He said that I should do primary up to Kapotasana until I can by myself touch the toes, and with help of the teacher, touch the heels of the feet. He predicted that it might take me two more years to get my hands to my toes by myself.
I will do as he says in his room. I'm not going to argue with a teacher. This is where one enters that fine line of being a yoga crim if one does not take a certain instruction to the letter in every day practice. I did not know the implications of what he instructed, so as I was getting ready to close the practice, I asked him what I should do the remaining days during my visit to the shala. Should I do half of primary, half of second to kapotasana? He asked me how many years I had been practicing Primary Series. Five years, I responded. He instructed to do all of primary and second to Kapotasana. He added that unless I can get to my toes by myself in Kapotasana, the remainder of second series becomes too difficult. Hmm. OK. Yes, but we know that we don't need to get Kapotasana perfectly to do Mayurasana, or the seven headstands. Kapotasana is a life time project for certain body types. In any case, all of his instruction was given with care, compassion and laughter. He is a great teacher. Since writing is devoid of emotion, I want to verbalize that I am not writing this with resentment. I'm just observing and reporting. Later on he assisted me in dropbacks, which were oodles of fun. He suggested that I hold the forward bend after dropbacks 20 breaths, because of the great amount of backbending I did.
So now, if I may take after Dr. A's wording, I have a variety of practices to suit my complicated life. With one teacher I do half primary followed by half second to Dwi Pada, with another standing sequence followed by second series to Nakrasana, and now today I'm asked to do all of primary and second up to Kapotasana. I agreed to it, as time allows. I suspect that when one is working with a teacher over a long time, for example I've been working with Seven Pointed Lotus about three years, the teacher might allow some variances from the method to allow one to develop a practice that suits one's needs. People who sit in front of a computer all day need to do chest opening asanas to be well. I was really getting sick musculo-skeletally speaking when I was only doing primary, at least in my opinion based on the pain I experienced. It would be interesting to know whether our teachers at AYRI are observing this. When my main teacher allowed me to separate the practice, I was greatly relieved. Another point, and this is a pragmatic consideration, many of us do this practice and then go to work in our careers. I'm going to try doing primary tomorrow and second up to Kapotasana the remainder of the week. But logistically, I need to shower, get on a bus, have some breakfast, and be at the office by 9:00am. Those considerations have an impact on how many asanas you can do starting at 6:08 am. (laugh)
After I took rest in the adjoining room, I showered. As I was getting ready to leave, Kimberly greeted me. She remembered me from we met while waiting in life for a workshop when Guruji was last in San Francisco. I was standing by my former teacher and their former student Reinaldo. I gave her a hug.
When in Paschassana, by know I've learned so many details from Teacher, that I can set up rather well. He was there to keep me from falling, once from falling forward, once from falling backward, and to help in deepening the twist.
I did Bekhasana and he requested I do it again, during which time he helped deepen the pose. You can feel this pose a lot in the shoulders. The shoulders need to either be flexible or strong, I'm not sure of which, but you surely feel it there. Springy Sitarist comment was to widen my heels while in the pose. After he left, I touched my heels, so as to make a mental connection as to what part of my feet he was talking about. Sometimes you have to internalize this stuff.
I did Kapo by myself rather well. I can't wait until I can touch my feet. It will come after I get more bending in the upper thoracic and cervical spine. Cranky's spine bent beautifully in Kapo, the way it's supposed to, in a video she posted. After assisting in Supta Vajrasana, Teacher asked how my hips were doing after my S-I joint injury. Frankly I felt no pain today at all. I attempted to get into Dwi Pada three times by myself today, each time rolling back to the floor. But on each attempt, I could feel what needed to happen for my body to stay up. My head and chest need to lift, the legs need to be soft and not engaged. The left hand in front helps for balance, the right hand helps to bring the right back behind the left. I think I may be close to getting this position by myself without assistance.
Assisted dropbacks were oodles of fun. Frankly I had not done assisted dropbacks for several weeks since the slight injury. I can't wait to when I can come up to standing by myself. That's a goal for 2008. I wished Teacher happy holidays and won't be back in his shala until January 6th. After the yoga I ate a banana - bran muffin and coffee at the Bread Workshop, located near the shala.
Why, in our ashtanga yoga community, don't people write more about dating and the conflicts with our practice? Is it because some people started their yoga journey already coupled and their spouses became supportive? A lot of fellow writers mention their significant others, husbands, people they are dating, girlfriends, etc. Some people who blog practice with their significant others. What I'm curious about is the difficulties that our practice brings to dating.
I had not given it thought previously because I have not dated in six years. I've focused on career, yoga and meditation. But recently I've become open to dating and find that I'm so rigorous with my work and yoga schedule that it takes an understanding person to put up with me. A date has to finish early. As Boodi says, 8:30pm is already late for an ashtangi. Even people already married or in relationships have to date each other, making time for one another. For those with young children it's even worse, I suppose - too many responsibilities.
I mean, this is not a negative post. An ashtangi shared in a get together that his partner appreciated him more due to his becoming calmer because of yoga. The same would be said of me. I used to display a bundle of nervous energy prior to practicing yoga (read: worry wart.) Now things don't bother me as much. So doing yoga makes you a better partner, husband, wife, girlfriend, significant other, whatever.
Another weird thing about this practice, and maybe this is just tied to being human, is how do you explain that there are people I practice with that I love, others that I adore? There is no sexual implication in this and it does not matter the gender of the person. There are some people that the moment our paths cross my heart seems to expand. Again, this is not about sex or about seeking a relationship in a practice room. Far from that because the practice is spiritual. It may be about finding people with whom you share a lot in common, sort of like family. What do I do when I find myself in front of a loved family member? I drop everything, give a hug as my heart expands. It's sort of like that. Maybe it's just being human. Do dolphins smile at each other and get warm fuzzies when they swim around together in their schools? They are mammals after all. If so, are ashtangis like dolphins?
Another topic of quandary is the whole topic of going to India for extended periods of time, and the toll it takes in relationships and marriages. But this is a whole topic in itself, beyond the scope of this post. I'm talking more about simple day to day living stresses that our practice might bring and how people cope with that.
A unusual thing about me is that if I travel alone, I'll try to find a place where I can practice in the morning and do sightseeing the rest of the day. That might limit the amount of time I have for sightseeing, but I'm the only person I'm impacting. Since I'm an architect, I prefer that the city is one with good architecture. A remote island in Crete would just not do it for me. If I'm traveling with someone, and to a place without a mysore program, I might practice early on my own so that the remainder of the day can be given to joint activities.
A1 to A2: "That's the fifth time I've seen you in here, digging into the popcorn"
A2 to A1: "Yes, but I'm only grabbing half fists-fulls at a time. At least I'm not standing here pretending to be healthy while shoveling peanut butter into my body."
A2 and A1 look in my direction. A1 adds, "He makes it appear healthy because of the carrots."
Yesterday A2 saw me pasting together the print of Matt's CR lab results and thought that, maybe, I was health conscious. Today he's expressing his doubts about my healthy habits. A2 may be right to question my eating habits; he may be a secret boddisatva trying to help me. I would prefer to kick the peanut butter habit. It makes my daily consumption of fat too high, regardless that my total caloric intake is low. Perhaps kicking the peanut butter habit needs to be a goal for 2008.
I have been holding bridge before Urdvha Danurasana for about 25 breaths. I like to start bridge with something Kino taught, of holding your sitting bones with your hands. Seven Pointed Lotus had some pointers to make this a better position. Lay on the back, feet bent. Point the toes. Bring the pelvis up into bridge. Bring the hands under the buttocks to support the sitting bones. Pull the arms together underneath. Push the chest towards the head, and the head towards the chest in jalabara bhanda. The scapula of the shoulders should be on the mat, but most of the cervical spine, upwards from the upper thoracic spine should be lifted off the mat, as it should be on shoulder stand and padmasana. It's really a comfortable position. Later on I held UD for about 25 breadths as well and closed my practice.
Maybe my fellow practitioners are wondering what names I came up with for them. (laugh). OK, how about QE2, Marin Man and Bendy Guy? I didn't invent this last name. Another fellow blogger in another city uses it also. I used to refer to A. as Ralph Bender, but he's moved to New York. And now we have the new Orange Blossom, because the previous Orange Blossom wilted away. This is getting silly. Thanks for your tolerance! Really I don't write about other people's practice, unless someone did something unusual that makes me reflect on where I am with the same asana. It may be that I want to do it with as much grace as another person does it, or that I need to recognize that someone was inspired and with a flowing practice one day.
Tomorrow is my annual checkup. It will be interesting to analyze the blood results against the last two years while practicing CR. It's been difficult to be consistent with calorie restriction. There are too many temptations - chocolates and nuts sent by grateful consultants, holiday get togethers that involve eating. L.N. mentioned at our get together on Sunday that she sat at three full square meals one day because each involved meeting people. She is used to eating very lightly, as we ashtangis need to. Peg mentioned last Saturday something along the lines that when you practice CR, it's difficult to eat out if you are accustomed to preparing your own meals. And socializing revolves around eating. Some fellow CRONie bloggers figure out how to eat sensibly in a restaurant. I tend to make mistakes from the point of view of limiting calories when eating out.
1. What were you afraid of as a child?
Becoming morbidly obese.
2. When have you been most courageous?
When I completed a very difficult project.
3. What sound most disturbs you?
4. What is the greatest amount of physical pain you’ve been in?
Wisdom teeth removal.
5. What’s your biggest fear for your children?
Don't have any.
6. What is the hardest physical challenge you’ve achieved?
7. Which do you prefer: mountains or oceans/big water?
I like both, particulary mountains by the ocean.
8. What is the one thing you do for yourself that helps you keep everything together?
Yoga and preparing my own meals.
9. Ever had a close relative or friend with cancer?
10. What are the things your friends count on you for?
Warmth and support.
11. What is the best part of being in a committed relationship?
12. What is the hardest part of being in a committed relationship?
Making time for it.
13. Winter or summer ? Why?
Spring. I grew up in a land of eternal summer.
14. Have you ever been in a school-yard fight? Why and what happened?
Yes. I was being harrassed. My dad suggested I fight back and I did, never to be bothered again by bullies.
15. Why blog?
16. Did you learn about sex, and/or sex safety from your parents?
No. My big brother took care of discussing sex. Safe sex information was dispensed by the media in my 30s.
17. How do you plan to talk to your kids about sex and/or sex safety?
Don't have any.
18. What are you most thankful for this year?
My work, yoga, my spiritual life, my family and friends.
It was nice to discuss with Alpine Hiker, who assists in our classes, regarding my slight injury to the S-I joint in Yoginidrasana a week ago, because she says it has happened to her too. One's back is so rounded in that position, she says, that it is vulnerable when one is trying to lift the chest by pushing down on the legs.
L.N. talked about the time she was at the teacher training with Tim Miller in San Diego and found out about ashtanga bloggers who were talking about their experiences at the workshop. She and another attendee tuned in and found the discussion funny and fascinating. I discussed the benefits to blogging about this practice of ours. Alpine Hiker says that unless we had a gathering like the one today we would rarely have an opportunity to discuss our practice, so she saw the benefit to people discussing what they have learned in their blogs.
By the way, I love Kino MacGreggor and Tim Feldman and I came across this image from a poster for a workshop they gave in Puerto Rico at It's Yoga PR. It's too beautiful not to share. During my visit for the holidays I hope to do yoga a couple of times at that shala in San Juan.
Yes it's interesting to live in San Francisco. Witness this interchange. While I was eating a ginger biscuit at Whole Foods, a woman left her purse dangling on a chair. I alerted the calorie restricting man sitting next to me. He went around looking for her, but didn't find her. I took the purse, went into the elevator, where a young man with his five year old son looked at me twice to understand why I was carrying a purse, while I asked him why he was returning to the store, since he had finished shopping. I left the purse at the front desk. When I returned to the seating area, the man in the neighboring table said in reference to the lady who forgot her purse, "It's a moon weekend. I can feel the craziness. It's made her be forgetful." Being compassionate, I said, "Yes, I know it's a moon day tomorrow. I do yoga and we don't practice on moon days."
I was able to do Supta Vajrasana completely today. SPL adviced later to keep both sitting bones grounded on the floor when doing Ardha Matsyendrasana. When doing Balasana (child's pose) after Sirsasana (headstand) she said that Guruji currently teaches that one can leave the hands extended forward in this one. I was putting the hands back towards the feet.
The chapter in Matthew Sweeney's Ashtanga Yoga As it Is on injuries is very helpful. For back pain where the hamstrings join the femur, my current area of sensitivity, he talks about rubbing flaxseed oil on the area. I will have to look for that oil in Whole Foods this weekend. Usually I see it being sold for food preparation, I had not seen it offered as something to apply to the body. Won't my body smell unusual?
I carried my practice from the mat to my work today. I asked myself if it was possible to put my heart into my work. Yes it is, but if I focus on my heart, I'm in for an emotional roller coaster ride. I may be entertaining these thoughts in anticipation of reading our next installment in the reading group, City Dharma: Keeping Your Cool in the Chaos, by Arthur Jeon.
My weekend may turn out most unusual. I may meet fellow CRONie Peg for lunch on Saturday, a friend for a walk later on that day, and our fellow Mysore practitioners for brunch on Sunday morning for a Holiday get-together. The most unusual possibility is that my first Mysore style yoga teacher from Florida, R., has been working on a project in Silicon Valley and may be able to join us at the brunch. He recently went to Mysore for a month. I am thankful for the early knowledge of the practice that he imparted to me - and he did not teach only asanas. He also talked about nutrition, the number of days to practice, the time of the day to practice, etc. I was probably 12 pounds heavier then, four years ago, and imagine the effort he must have expended in helping me get into Karandavasana.
There's nothing to report on the asanas. I did them the best I could. I did get some extra instruction from Seven Pointed Lotus (SPL) on bakasana (crow pose). I need to get the knees to press against the shoulders as much as possible when setting up. Then when I have lifted, I need to straighten the arms as much as possible and not lose the position of the knee with respect to the shoulders.
I wrote more, but it was silly, so I erased it. Hope everyone is having a good day.
After completing the standing poses, it was near the time for SPL to arrive, so I sat outside in order to mention to her personally what was going on in my body. I explained what I thought happened last Thursday. She said that it could be that I overstretched the S-I joint (the sacroiliac joint), the muscles that hold the femur in the socket. It happens to her sometimes and she finds in those circumstances dropbacks help a lot. She added that it's unfortunate when we're excited to have progressed with the practice but then the body needs to adjust. She suggested that I continue with my second series practice, but avoid the leg behind the head poses (Eka Pada, Dwi Pada, Yogidrasana) until those feel right. Later on she helped me in Kapotasana. For Pincha Mayurasana I did dolphin pose, staying on the ground. Maybe I'll do Pincha Mayurasana to its full expression tomorrow, but I did not want to push it this morning.
The rest of the day I felt pretty well, except that in periods of sitting at my desk, the bending forward caused some soreness in the area. Getting up and moving around once every hour helped. That should be a good practice on any regular day anyway, because sitting down without giving the body a circulation break is not good.
Moving on to the subject of being able to laugh at situations life presents us, I've found it funny how some bus drivers like to flush you out of their buses. On Sunday early morning, I was one of two passengers on the bus in Berkeley. The driver must have been anxious to get to his break stop because he was driving very fast. After signaling my stop and standing to gather my yoga mat and bag, I noticed that the door was open as we were still moving to arrive at the stop. I jumped out and then laughed at how I felt expediently flushed out by the driver. Today a driver in SF was in a hurry to get to the next stop, so I turned to the passenger next to me and said, "It looks like he's trying to flush out." We had a good laugh over that.
I moved to a corner of the room, practicing behind Motorcycle Diarist, with whom I practiced at Open Door on Sundays for a long time. He's a few years older than me and has been practicing many years. His practice flows impeccably. My practice today was similar to when I was beginning to do ashtanga. Over the years, I've grown more flexible, since it is a conditioning of the practice. But today I practiced gingerly and when flexibility was there, I allowed it, when it wasn't, I moved slowly. By the time we reached Kukkutasana, I was too distracted to continue.
I admit that I was a bit greedy with Prasarita Padottanasanas A through D last week, wanting to get my head as close to the floor. The hamstrings and gluteus maximum need to be loose to allow this. My practice was to get the head to the flat end of a block. But even in just doing that I was being a bit pushy with myself. I guess it will come with time.
Oh, and by the way, here is an example of why Jeff Novick says to never pay attention to the nutrition claims printed in bold on packages. One of the nut packages I bought says, "0 transfats". The may not have been fried in hydrogenated oils prior to packaging, but they are foods that are high in fat.
On another subject, I would like to state that while I don't put my teachers on a pedestal because they are human and doing so would make them go crazy, I respect them and acknowledge the energy they have. It irradiates when they walk. Which brings up a question regarding a comment by Carl. He says that blogging etiquette dictates that you don't mention a teacher's name in a post. At first, I always wrote, "Teacher said," or "Teacher assisted with" and let people inquire if they wished too know who I was talking about. I go to two shalas not because I'm a difficult person. It evolved like that because two years ago there was a diaspora in our ashtanga community. The big studio where I practiced on Sundays closed. Students moved around following teachers. My teacher went to India for several months. I started going to Berkeley on Sundays. Slowly, several shalas opened with ashtanga programs and I started practicing in a shala during the week, not just on Sundays. But I didn't want to stop going to Berkeley on Sundays. Notice, I haven't mentioned Teacher's names.
If I kept saying in my posts, "Teacher said" you would have to figure out that if it's Tuesday, it must be ______, while if it's Sunday, it must be ________. So then I migrated recently to mentioning the name of the teacher once in the post. Does that sound like a good compromise? I could use initials, I suppose, as in Teacher V. and Teacher C. It would get more complicated such as when we have visiting teachers. Two of mine share the initials L.N. I'm not kidding. (Laugh). And what about when we have certified Teachers visiting?
I don't want my teachers to feel uncomfortable. I don't do yoga for ego enhancement. I do it for health and wellness and for spiritual development. I think my teachers share those values. I blog about the subjects important in my life. My first love, despite that I write more about yoga, is architecture, followed by yoga and nutrition. Vanessa mentioned that blogging helped her development because it helped her to know that other people are going through the same challenges with their practices. So it helps to write about our practice and to read about how others have dealt with their problems. The first yoga blog I ever read was Karen's.
The highlight of my day was a two hour meeting with fellow Buddhists. Among them were people who have dedicated their entire lives to helping others with their spiritual development. I was in august company and you could see the goodness emanating from them - their deep rooted kindness, the great values they espouse.
On a bright physical note, I wrote this entry while waiting for my laundry to wash and dry, reclining on a mat in Cobra pose. That actually shifted some of the body's energy to the upper thoracic and away from the lower right back, where the discomfort is. Thank you mat, thank you floor, thank you teachers, thank you yogis for helping me heal myself.
Pema Chodron says, " 'If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.' If we can practice when we're jealous, resentful, scornful, when we hate ourselves, then we are well trained."