OK. Then the other practices we did were mainly chest opening ones. We took turns spotting each other in Pincha Mayurasana. All I can remember is being aloft and being fascinated by the raised dots on my mat. It seems that was the only thing I was seeing. And they seemed black, not purple, from the upside down position. But that is not important. I'm sore from the Urdvha Dhanurasanas. Since we weren't aiming to come to standing, I made an effort to really push high on high. Is high on high a term? I may be inventing it. I pressed the feet a lot and pushed the chest towards the arms. I think this is good form.
Aha. So. What else? Oh, yea. The most important thing, and I'm really rambling out of place. The Dhanurasana practice got me the highest Dhanurasana in the history of Market St for this shy monk. What? Never mind. We tootsie rolled a blanket, placed it on the pelvis, laid on it, then kept the chest on the floor while lifting the legs way up. Then we placed the roll on the belly under the belly button. That's a lot of "b's" in a sentence. At this point in the lift, the knees stayed on the floor and the chest came way up when lifting. The final version was sans candy - the sugar free version - no tootsie roll. The brain had processed what needed to lift and how high, so naturally and without props, the feet and legs went way up. I felt I was in a Ventikesh video. I probably misspelled his name, but you know the one that Elise posted a few weeks back. The one where the teacher seemed to be corralling a cabrito with ropes in a rodeo when assisting a student in Dhanurasana? Ring a bell? No? Never mind. OK now I'm off to Seven Petal Lotus' room in SF because Springy Sitarist is out of town in Berkeley. Happy Sunday. (And thanks to Susananda for reminding me indirectly of the correct spelling of bow pose, Dhanurasana, by using it correctly in a sentence. Doesn't a joke start that way? "OK students, today I want you to use the word Dhanurasana in a sentence...")
Don't you just love YouTube? I mean I was trying to figure out how to find a clip of something by Perez Prado, and here someone posted an entire song. Listen, it's not very long and you'll get the sense of what my father referred to by just listening a little. Perez Prado seems to direct, do his guttural screams, and in the middle sing 3 lines, returning to his screams. It's wonderful, if you don't mind being transported back to 1950. (I hope my mom drags my dad to the computer to watch the clip.)
So after the first five essential asanas, I started with bridge, followed by three sets of two Urdvha Danurasanas. My intent was to see how close I could come to standing from UD. I'll keep you guessing. I got up by pulling my body up from a squat, reaching for the book case and the end of the closet. Then I practiced dropbacks. I did them:
- Kino style
- Lino style
- Limbo style
- Sweeney style
My internal dialog went like, "feet parallel, legs bent, tailbone down, pelvis forward, chest lifting, keep lifting, arms in prayer, arms over head...". At other times it was, "feet apart, pointing outwards, bend the feet a lot, lift the chest, reach the hands to the calves, can you see the folded brown towel at the edge of the mat?"
After 8 of those, I went back for another three set of two Urdvha Danurasanas on the floor. Inhale up. Hold five breaths in the wheel. (I forgot, I could have attempted walking the hands towards the feet - must remember that next time.) I remembered Anna saying to coordinate the breath. You have to be inhaling when you're going to come up. So I exhaled, pushed the chest up and back towards the wall, inhaled and pushed forward towards the front in a rocking motion. I did the rocking motion six times. The lower back felt warm and good. The arms felt tired. The breath was strong, focused and steady.
I got up by pulling myself up from a squat with the edge of the bookcase and the closet. Hey, I'm working on it...I went for another round of dropback practice. I felt a bit dizzy. I moved to closing, holding Paschimottanasana 20 breaths and doing the remaining closing poses.
When I sat down to the computer, my left knee bothered me a bit. I don't think this practice was that different than the same movements at the end of my usual yoga sequence. It just had a different emphasis. My thighs feel stronger this morning, since they seemed to get the preparation they needed to help me in coming up to standing. My back feels lubricated by the motions. Would I repeat the exact practice of today every day for a week? No. It was just a mini-workshop.
I dreamt that Guruji, Sharath and Saraswati opened a new shala in the US in a historical Frank Lloyd Wright building. They took out all of the furniture to allow for practice space. During a rest time after practice, Guruji was giving advice freely, telling jokes and smiling a lot. The family was inviting people to eat at a restaurant in the premises started by someone in their nucleus. They talked about taking out some walls in the space to make for a bigger practice room, but I thought that it would be difficult to get permit for that, since most FLW buildings were historical and protected from being changed too much. It was a time of the year where there where some spectacles going on in town at a new arena that curved around a plaza. Every yoga practitioner, including myself, was expected to climb out of a window in the highest level of an arena gallery, do an asana on a high bleacher, receive applause from the audience, then climb back and out through the window. Then you would go and pay respects to the Family at the new shala. When it came time for my performance, the bleacher appeared at 10 feet below the window and I requested assistance in being lowered to the platform, either by being given a ladder to reach it, or by being lowered down. I did my asana and somehow sprung out of there and went to the shala.
Now, who is going to throw out part of a tasty soup after prepared because it was packaged for two? Why doesn't the manufacturer give buyers the choice of buying the low calorie, one serving portion, or the higher calorie, two serving portion? Maybe the manufacturer does that, but my local suppliers only buy the larger size. I don't know. But you have to be careful, because the sodium content is doubled. I would not suggest eating one of these every day; it's better to prepare fresh foods. But in a pinch it can be a good choice. Also, you can take it with you when you go on board a plane and just ask for hot water, so it could serve as a good meal when traveling. You can find buy them online from the Amazon River or also from healthek, where the image is from.
My other favorite is Split Pea. I'm not a nutritionist like Jeff, who could explain all this better. There is a link to his blog on my blog roll under CRONies. I am not sure on the impact on glucose if soup is in powdered form prior to preparation. When legumes are overly cooked, they impact blood glucose higher. I don't have an idea as to whether if the legumes have been reduced to powdered form, it has the same effect on the body as if they had been overcooked. Methinks they might.
Kasyapasana sounds like a Scandinavian furniture name, which is sort of the way my body feels while in it, like a Le Corbusier lounge chair. But it's really like Yoginidrasana with one leg and the other leg in a split. It's easier to do than Dwi Pada. Chakorasana is difficult to do correctly.
In general the leg behind the head poses made my back feel good, as if I had received a massage. They also make my body feel when I'm walking around the city hours after practice, as if I had gone horseback riding for a few hours in the morning.
(The image is from accent-home-furniture.com. LeCorbusier's chair is a classic of early 20th century modernist design. The other image is of Arjuna doing Kashyabasana, from his website.)
The important thing is the honesty of one's intent. I am not a teacher. A person starting this ashtanga practice should find a teacher and follow their recommendations. After years of practice, one needs to be able to do practice on one's own as well. Is the traditional sequence is absolute? It keeps changing. So there is no sacredness to a particular order in which one practices the asanas at home in my opinion. As I have learned from my intelligent cybershalamates, one should stick to the order when practicing in community because that creates flow in the room, shows order and respect for the teacher. (Thank you, cybershalamates.) At home, it's a different story. I'm a householder and a professional architect, who juggles a career while doing yoga for health, happiness and spiritual benefit. Maybe I would like to write an entry such as the latest by Karen that focuses on one asana, that way the sequence in which I'm practicing doesn't come to bear.
And speaking about dealing with materialism as a yogi, yoga teacher Rusty Wells had this to say. That's his picture in Vrischikasasana, from the same article. He would probably be in favor of the stopping of those Bed Bath and Beyondze 20% off flyers that flood one's mailbox monthly.
Being open means being free to do whatever is called for in a given situation. Because you do not want anything from the situation, you are free to act in the way genuinely appropriate to it. And similarly, if other people want something from you, that may be their problem. You do not have to try to ingratiate yourself with anyone. Openness means "being what you are." If you are comfortable being yourself, then an environment of openness and communication arises automatically and naturally.
It is like the idea of the moon shining on one hundred bowls of water, so that there are one hundred moons, one in each bowl. This is not the moon's design nor was it designed by anyone else. But for some strange reason there happen to be one hundred moons reflected in one hundred bowls of water. Openness means this kind of absolute trust and self-confidence. If the bowls are there, they will reflect your "moon-ness." If they are not there, they will not. Or if they are only half there, then they will reflect only half a moon. It is up to them. You are just there, the moon, open, and the bowls may reflect you or not. You neither care nor do you not care. You are just there.
Chogyam Trungpa, in "The Open Way," in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.
I read in iYogaClub today that David Williams said, “An asana is like a jar of honey. The further you have to go to reach its end, the more honey there is in the jar. The most important thing is the honey, the effort, the awareness, the realisation and the joy of practice”.
One practice note today is that I need to venture to get away from the wall as a crutch for Dwi Pada and do it in the middle of the practice space. That is so that I can transition correctly out of the asana by moving to Tittibasana and Bakasana exit. Next I need to plan the time more accurately to allow sufficient time to dropback practice.
As I was working at my desk yesterday, a coworker walked by saying, "cronyogitect, cronyogitect, what does CRON mean?" as another colleague laughed in the background. I must have had a dumbfounded look that said, is my personal world intersecting my professional world? He had been googling images of a particular project and my blog turned up. I think he remembered I blogged so he walked by with the question. I explained CRON means calorie restriction with optimal nutrition. hehe. No, I'm not like a parrot. But they are beautiful birds.
I found this article funny. The Japanese government goes around to measure people's waistlines. If a man's waistlines exceeds 33.5, he is admonished and given 3 months or so to bring it down. If he does not comply, he will be forced to partake in health education. Wouldn't it be interesting if something similar was tried here in our obesogenic society?
Practice was really strong. I had a good yoga week, so I was not tired. My mind was present in the moment, not planning for the day, not thinking about breakfast afterwards. I was patient in setting up in difficult poses. Since I spent a lot of time on 2nd series last week, my feet were popping out in Marichyasana D. In Pasasana, a few additional subtle pointers Springy Sitarist gave me: while the feet are fully planted on the floor, bring the arm that is going to bind way up, bend the elbow, and point it to a spot to the right of the feet, bring the elbow as far down as possible, relax there for a minute with your breath, don't tense the arm as you bring it back to bind, bring the arm behind the legs to bind, lift the chest up, look back. The main new point was the pointing of the elbow. I find this useful to do when preparing in all binding poses.
I did Kapotasana twice. Teacher assisted at the second time. I asked him afterwards how close I was to the feet. I was about a hand's distance. It appears that most of the things that make this position happen are there: the thighs engaged, tailbone down, chest lifting, arms going back, close to the body, chest lifting, dangling the body in the air, keeping the elbows in as you extend the hands towards the feet. This last part is the one most challenging currently - keeping the elbows in. But the set up reminds me of what David Swenson recommends these days of having the hands over the head, close to the body, rather than coming to the floor to then walk them in. It's also what Kino does in her videos.
In assisted drobpacks Teacher reminded me (again - me bad man) to extend the hands way out when falling to, I mean reaching, the floor. If I don't do that I'm going to hit my coco on the floor one of these days in my self practice at home. Teachers are patient. I coordinated the breath in the short ones, exhaling going down, inhaling coming up, paying attention to the legs to engage them and making them bring me up. I coordinated the breath regardless of how fast my heart was racing. I learned that in swimming.
Patanjali Sutra 3:51 (Shearer translation)
"We should not respond with pleasure or pride to the alluring invitations of celestial beings, because this will obstruct progress and it is always possible to fall."
I'm remembering that Sutra because after practice, when I was having coffee and a pumpkin muffin at the cafe nearby, two people who practiced with me at the shala waved hello. At first I didn't recognize them, because without my glasses, I can barely figure who the people in my immediate vicinity are. Today I practiced next to SweetPea and in front of The Agent. Anyway, I introduced myself. One of the practitioners said my ustrasana, laguvajrasana and kapotasana were impressive. I waved my hand in protest. I remembered the Sutra. It's nice to get a compliment, but you can't let it get to your head. Maybe in terms of where he is in his practice mine looks advanced. Anyway, I took the moment to give him some pointers of passive stretches he can do at home in the morning to open up the thoracic spine, starting by draping the back over a small exercise ball of about 15" diameter, then draping the spine over two blocks, the first one placed on its tall edge in the same direction as the spine, and the second one flat on the floor for resting the head. This is what Seven Petal Lotus taught me to do to help open the spine.
Dr. Luigi Fontana, a calorie restriction researcher at Washington University School of Medicine recently contributed the results of a study titled, "Long-term low-calorie low-protein vegan diet and endurance exercise are associated with low cardiometabolic risk." In my opinion this spells good health prospects for many of us ashtangis. Basically we can expect lower body mass index, better blood pressure, glucose levels, and blood lipids that protect us from cardiovascular disease.
Here is an excerpt from this study, with some information snipped:
BACKGROUND: Western diets, which typically contain large amounts of energy-dense processed foods, together with a sedentary lifestyle are associated with increased cardiometabolic risk. We evaluated the long-term effects of consuming a low-calorie low-protein vegan diet or performing regular endurance exercise on cardiometabolic risk factors.
METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, cardiometabolic risk factors were evaluated in 21 sedentary subjects, who had been on a low-calorie low-protein raw vegan diet for 4.4 +/- 2.8 years, (mean age, 53.1 +/- 11 yrs), 21 body mass index (BMI)-matched endurance runners consuming western diets, and 21 age- and gender-matched sedentary subjects,
consuming Western diets.
RESULTS: BMI was lower in the low-calorie low-protein vegan diet (21.3+/- 3.1 kg/m(2)) and endurance runner (21.1 +/- 1.6 kg/m(2)) groups than in the sedentary Western diet group (26.5 +/- 2.7 kg/m(2)) (snip). Plasma concentrations of lipids, lipoproteins, glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, blood pressure (BP), and carotid artery intima-media thickness were lower in the low-calorie low-protein vegan diet and runner groups than in the Western diet group (snip). Both systolic and diastolic BP were lower in the low-calorie low-protein vegan diet group (104 +/- 15 and 62 +/- 11 mm Hg) than in BMI-matched endurance runners (122 +/- 13 and 72 +/- 9 mmHg) and Western diet group (132 +/- 14 and 79 +/- 8 mm Hg) (p < 0.001); BP values were directly associated with sodium intake and inversely associated with potassium
and fiber intake.
CONCLUSIONS: Long-term consumption of a low-calorie low-protein vegan diet or regular endurance exercise training is associated with low cardiometabolic risk. Moreover, our data suggest that specific components of a low-calorie low-protein vegan diet provide additional
beneficial effects on blood pressure.
I was shaking my booty in a little dance of excitement last night, while looking at the section on advanced vinyasa, in anticipation of letting myself do ashtanga improvization today.
Shake, shake, shake.
Shake, shake, shake.
Shake your booty.
Shake your booty, yeah.
(KC & The Sunshine Band)
I might attempt to do as many of 3rd series as I can do. It's been maybe a year and a half since I did this in my home practice. I'm pretty sure I can do up to Durvasasana without too much difficulty. My renditions may not be purhdy. My first ashtanga teacher went to a Nancy Gilgoff training once at Yoga Vermont. Upon returning, while standing talking to us before we started our Mysore practice, he put one leg behind his head, getting into Durvasana. Now, he is someone that is challenged by binding asanas that don't typically challenge me as much. If he did Durvasasana, I could too. Yeah. I know it will be difficult.
I love the balancing of Astavakrasana. The legs just dangles there on the armature of your crouched body. It won't be easy to get into it from the three point headstand, though. The ashtanga aristos will tell me that this is crim activity and that the method is to add one each week or month to the end of Second Series practice. Yes, thank you. I'm just ashtanga riff-raff trying to sneak by and advance. I wouldn't do this in front of Teacher unless allowed to. This is my home practice. I'm going to go contemplate on the power of Avalokiteshvara Boddhisattva, and she'll make it possible. :))
Hmm. It's easier to talk about these plans than actually carrying them out. So if for some reason I poop out, I promise myself that within a week I will carry this practice out. If I change the subject in my next few posts, then you can intuit what happened.
In the current way of practicing the Seven Headstands, does one get into one of the headstands, breathe five breaths, then move onto the next one without a vinyasa? I think that is the current way. There is a natural break for a vinyasa in between the first three (unsupported ones) and the remaining (supported ones). In some books, they recommend a vinyasa in between each headstand.
I'm finding relief from tinea cruris, jock itch, by spraying the area between the legs at night and when I wake up, with water with vinegar in it. This dries fast and provides cooling. If I don't do anything, I tend to scratch, which breaks the skin and later the area can get infected. That in turn requires using an antibacterial or hydrocortisone lotion. But using water with vinegar in it, a tip that Tony gave me, seems to resolve the problem. In my case it helps to wear loose cotton boxer shorts for underwear. It's really warm in SF, up to 76 degrees today. I'm also trying out witch-hazel, which is a good astringent. (Since writing this post this morning I added the wikepedia link because it contains good advice for this problem and offers good solutions.)
This is a difficult subject to write about, but it relates to blog etiquette - ways we can behave online that help us build community. I began blogging over a year ago. I discovered other bloggers writing about similar subjects that interest me. By leaving comments in their blogs and receiving comments to mine, I have felt I have gotten to know some people and build community. There is one person who has attacked me about four times when I have left comments in other people's blogs.
I participate in nutrition forums, where I learned that when you don't agree with something written, whether by the original poster or by someone commenting, in a response, it is better to not attack the person. One can explain why one disagrees on what was expressed, but not judge or belittle the person. Blogging and commenting in people's blogs is a form of participating in a forum. So we should be civil here as if we were face to face in a meeting, or in an online discussion. We all have different backgrounds and experience and naturally will not agree on all matters. If a person reacts to someone's comment in another blog and attacks in the response, that is called an adhominem attack. That person is attacking the messenger, rather than addressing what was said. It's not cool to hide behind the anonymity of the net to behave that way. We know who these commenters are; they leave clues; our community is very small. Most probably we won't have to meet in person, and if we do, the pain duration of a hello will only take 90 seconds and you will move on. I say this because most probably, if we like people we meet online, we will like them when we meet them in person; the inverse is probably true.
Here is my suggestion. When visiting another person's blog, one is visiting their living room. It's not good manners to go to the bathroom in their living room. If I see that person that tends to attack me has left a comment, my mind will go, "Oh, I see so and so commented, check, I don't have to read it" and I move on. That way I keep the peace. We have friends in common. We have to maintain a sense of community. If you need to say something, please do so diplomatically. Don't attack the messenger. Read what you wrote and think before hitting the send button.
Dropbacks are really improving a lot. I must have gone back five times with Teacher's assist, although I needed to be reminded to land with the hands extended. We also did the arms crossed one, exhaling down, inhaling coming back up, one time resting the head on the floor. I wasn't sure if I was going to have the energy for dropbacks but I went with the flow. He recommended extra strong shoulder stand and head stand as a counter to all of the energy expended.
There were a lot of beautiful practices in the room. I believe that The Agent, whose practice is strong and flows nicely, stayed about 2 months in Mysore a couple of years back. Besides studying with the Family, he also studied with Venkatesha (does he go by Venkti?) when the Family was out of town.
What were you doing five years ago?
I was living and working in Orlando, Florida,learning about the design of airports, learning to prepare raw food dishes, learning yoga.
What are five things on your to-do list for today?
Yoga in Berkeley, groceries, ironing clothes, sutra reading, completing some drawings for a friend.
What are five snacks you enjoy?
Mild salsa with a bit of peanut butter in it, carrot sticks, apple, nuts, V8
What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?
Continue my education in architecture, be my own client, travel, buy a place in SF, establish an education foundation.
What are five of your bad habits?
Eating cookies, eating cakes on cake day, drinking wine after eating cake, eating cheese after eating cake and drinking wine on cake day, not avoiding doing these things.
What are five places where you have lived?
In reverse order, San Francisco, California; Orlando, Florida, Miami, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But wait, there's more...
What are five jobs you’ve had?
Project architect, designer, intern, CAD manager, Research Analyst
First, some observations. I went to the same retreat, at the Hartford Street Zen Center a month ago. There is a bit of construction across the street in a house being divided into apartments. The workers, mainly Mexicans, make noise when screwing gypsum board onto partitions with automatic guns that from a distance sounds like bees humming. In the back another home is being renovated and added to. The construction workers are probably talented and crafty Mexicans, if the ranchera music they play is any giveaway. San Francisco is a city where real estate is so expensive that it's not uncommon for many homeowners to consult with professional architects on any home project, something that might not happen elsewhere.
The strange thing about these home expansions is that the architecture is not entirely consistent. Every one keeps a Victorian traditional facade, even in new architecture, but in the back it's all modern. If feels like women putting on make up to put on a face, but dispensing with the formality in private. The front and back of these houses experience a strange dichotomy.
Anyway, the garden last time was in full spring bloom, with lilacs, orchids, wisteria, and many other flowering trees. Now it is transitioning to summer. There are some flowers, but they are fading. Today there was a cactus in bloom. What is in bloom is the neighbor's garden, where giant rhododendrons are everywhere. The bees hover from blossom to blossom, reaching their centers. There is a symbiosis between insects and plants in the garden. The rose vines there are also full of flowers and they topple over the fence.
So I settled into my meditation in the Zendo, possibly cutting a funny picture. I wrap myself in a Scottish tartan to keep warm in the space, which is typically about 66 degrees Fahrenheit, to practice an eastern tradition that comes to us via Japan. Western tartan meets Eastern Japanese black robes. Had I traveled to India already I might be covered in some other robe, perhaps looking like a Sadhu.
What did I learn? Why do we go to these daylong meditation retreats? To understand our life. When we do sitting meditation our bodies become calm and we can observe the mind. When a lake is calm, it reflects the sky. If the water is disturbed, it won't reflect the sky clearly. If you imagine our minds to be the sky, when our bodies are calm, our thoughts can be reflected on them. Dogen, the founder of the Zoto School of Zen, said in a poem that meditation on the moon upon a clear cloudless sky, you can see the shadows cast by it.
In meditation we focus on the breath. In the course of inhaling and exhaling we (our bodies) are like a swinging door - allowing movement. The door is not important; it simply moves out of the way to allow passage of air in and out.
We remind ourselves of the proper posture for seated meditation. It's the way we can ground ourselves to be seated still for a period of time. It's not the time to shift the body in response to an itch. The feet are crossed, or in half or full lotus, the knees touch the ground , the thighs are thrust forward, the buttocks are pushed backwards, the spine is erect, the chest open, the shoulders are back and pushing down, the head is pressed back, the eyes are slightly closed, the gaze is 45 degrees downward. No thinking.
Meditation is a great way of not harming others. During the course of our every day life, when feelings of judgement, envy or hatred arise, one can return the mind to a meditative mode and let go of those poisons. It's why it's important to remember to breathe whenever one is tense or in a fearful moment. You create space with the breath.
I also learned at the retreat that there is a way of writing that is a connection between the mind and the action of writing. The writing is resolving issues in the mind as it flows on the paper (or computer). Writing becomes an expression of the mind. Technically it would be more correct to say that I re-learned that, because (OvO) had mentioned it and many in our community of bloggers show expressions of this.
Finally, Napoleon said that from the sublime to the ridiculous there is but one step. I imagine he would agree that the inverse is true. From the silly to the sublime there is but one step. Am I complicated? I'm the same person that can be blabbing about funny happenings I observe on the way to work, get all cranked up about my diet, obsess about my yoga practice, report on architecture and also reflect a contemplative mind. Maybe I'm not complicated. It only seems so.
I had a small area heater in one half of the room and another closer to me that I would turn on for short periods of time when the practice area became cooler.
I've been remembering Karen mentioning that Celeste emphasized keeping things soft in the practice when she went to Singapore. Springy Sitarist has been emphasizing this recently as well. So I played with how soft I could get my muscles while engaged in Prasarita Paddotanasana C. It helps to loosen the back muscles.
I'm also remembering Pema Chodron saying in Awakening Loving-Kindness that people sometimes want to wait until things are perfect, but it's better to "come as you are". Start where you are. Don't wait for things to be perfect. I have to take my body where it is at this moment in the practice.
As I practiced I reorganized the space around me to optimize its use. I freed up a wall of any obstacles so I can do Matthew Sweeney-type dropback practices.
Jump-throughs are happening. I'm not grazing the feet; not hurting the 5th metatarsals as I did before in jump-throughs. When thoughts flew, I returned to the breath. My heart rate when up in Supta Kurmasana
If anyone wants to share an opinion on whether I should cut out the 15 minutes of warmup prior to practice, feel free to do so. I do some thoracic spine opening by draping my back over a 18" ball, then over a block. Then I do pigeon pose. I do bhanda workouts that I learned from David Williams in one of his workshops, then pelvic exercises with a 3" ball. Then I start practice. The thing is that if I don't do these prior to practice, I would have to do them some other time, such as before going to bed. But that is a busy time that includes meditation as well. Regular asana practice takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Hmm.
At Urdvha Danurasana time I told myself, " common, pretend you're going to come up to standing." I could feel the thighs engaging, which I guess it's what is supposed to happen. But at that time I usually give up, possibly thinking I'll be in pain if I continue. I don't know why it needs to be painful to have transferred the weight to the legs then springing up; but the mind perceives it as such, since without assistance I have not yet done it. I practiced a lot of dropbacks, on the mat and on the wall.
And now for your entertainment, more tales from Stockton Street. As I was returning to the office from lunch, on Stockton Street in front of Macys, an interesting pair was walking in front of me. She was a looker in a green dress, strawberry blond painted hair, sashaying body parts with a bit of trouble because her tall boots slipped as she walked. Her movement and appearance got a lot of attention from other passing men. Her companion was a tall, dark haired man dressed in a fancy suit. They talked slooowly.
She: "So! I saw you yesterday in the park... You were with Monica... "
He: "Uh - ooooohmm, we weren't doing anything..."
What was that? A yeallows girlfriend? A boyfriend concealing that he's dating other women, among her pool of friends? I don't know, but looking back at what I've written about in the past year, I've told many odd tales of what I've seen and heard around Union Square, so I've got to keep on reporting, because it's odd and entertaining at the same time...
In general, I paid attention to the flow during the standing sequence, listening to the breath and keeping breaths between poses to a maximum of about 3. The problem I'm having is losing energy early in the seated sequence and closing the practice. This is not normal for me. So I'm planning to change my schedule around. I have been for some years waking up at 4:00 am, eating some fruit and nuts and herbal tea, and then practicing from 6:00 to 8:00. This was to get some food in my body but still allow some time for the body to digest it, so the stomach is not full before practice. I'm going to experiment with something different, waking up and having some strong coffee and maybe seven almonds, then practicing from 4:30 to 6:30, having breakfast afterwards. As our Teacher might say in India, "Drink strong coffee before practice. Even dead man come alive."
The reason it's necessary to find a solution is that during the week I'm practicing at home presently. This is a different form of energy. You don't have the sangha of other yogis practicing with you. So you have to internalize your focus and motivation. That is why I do things around my space to motivate myself, such as lighting a candle, burning a stick of incense (which I am now planning to switch to an electric aromatic oils diffuser, in case incense is potentially carcinogenic), passing the dust mop, showering, heating the space with some area heaters and beginning with warmups. So I'm already setting up nicely to motivate myself to practice. Maybe I'm overheating the room, so I need to watch that. I could play some inspirational chanting music, but I would not do that if I'm using earplugs that day. Also, I'm concerned about playing music if it's going to bother the neighbors. But I have used music successfully in the past.
Calorie wise, I've cut out processed food, the bad sources of saturated fat that raise the glucose in my blood to unhealthy levels. The body has started a good ketosis mode, getting rid of two water pounds. I breathe better when sleeping. My blood pressure is lowering. It's in the normal range usually, but the diastolic is usually borderline hypertensive. Which brings me to a recent discussion about how some people where freaking out about buying peanut butter of the type that you press the button and out comes the peanut butter, from roasted, unsalted peanuts. They are concerned that it may have aflatoxins, which are found in peanuts. So I bought instead store brand peanut butter containing only roasted peanuts and salt. I've been taking Mary Robinson's idea of consuming salsa at snack time, doing a variation of putting three or 4 teaspoons into a jar of the salsa. This way I get my peanut butter taste but keep the calories low. The mix can be eaten alone or with baby carrots. But if the peanut butter has salt already, this is going to lead to water retention and possibly exceeding my daily RDA for sodium. So I'm considering buying the peanut butter from the hopper again. I have to chose my poison, sodium or aflatoxin. Which is worse, a potential cardiovascular event inducer or a potential carcinogenic? LOL.