Blocks, nausea, rain

I’m noticing that three words will cover most of the info I’m likely to include in any given entry.

Mysore practice this morning. On Mysore days, I get up at 4:30. This morning, though, I was awakened at 3:30 by the sounds of an astonishing deluge. My mind was sleepy, and my first thought was of my fuzzy slippers and how they would get wet as I walked out to the car. I think first-thoughts of the morning are most amusing. They tell me a lot about where my mind is at. Lately, it seems I have anxious thoughts first thing in the morning. Not sure how to adjust that, though awareness of it is a kind of step, I suppose.

I thought about the camera on my way out the door, but didn’t take it. I was busy being anxious about whether I had enough gas in the Jeep to make it to the gas station for a refill. And I also ditched the camera because I didn’t want the pressure of “looking” for a good shot. I like the idea that if I wait, good images will appear. And one did. The moon, almost full, in a cloudy sky. Oh wait, I ditched the camera so I wouldn’t be pressured. Hmmm. Obviously there was a flaw in my logic 😉

Practice was HOT. Volleyball Guy cranks the heat on cold mornings, and I love it. It was the first time I’ve felt really warm in days. Yay! I was telling The Cop last night that I have huge respect for people who maintain practices in cold climes. I don’t know how you people do it.

During urdhva dhanurasana, Volleyball Guy decided to have me do the pose with two blocks under each foot. Ah, a challenge at 6 AM! My inner monolog was very clear that it is NOT SAFE to do backbends with my feet on a stack of blocks. It was kind of fun, though. And I could get my arms straighter. Especially when Volleyball Guy cranked on my upper back by pulling it away from my feet. Yikes!

Then dropbacks. At which point I felt nauseous. Was my nervous system kicking up a fuss? I know I used to get nauseous when I lifted really heavy weights for reps. This, though, mostly just felt like I shouldn’t have had my coffee.

Is that possible? Could I make my way to practice without the benefit of coffee? I’m trying to imagine, but it’s very difficult. I really don’t want to give it up, but I really did feel awful this morning. I don’t want to hamper backbend progress by my unwillingness to give up the coffee. On the other hand, I would hate to give up something I love SO DEARLY if it isn’t absolutely necessary.

I might try tomorrow at home practice. It’ll mean I can sleep in for the amount of time it usually takes me to drink the coffee. Mmmmm. Now I’m starting to feel a little sold on the idea…

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Chocolate, camera, back to work

My Gift told me an amusing story when she visited this weekend. The Frenchman was visiting her at school one weekend and they went to Starbucks. My Gift spotted some Godiva chocolates at checkout and bought them to share with The Frenchman. He was perplexed when she bit off half of a chocolate and passed the rest to him. She didn’t understand why he didn’t know that THAT is how one shares chocolates.

My Gift and I always shared chocolate that way. I’d take the first bite and give her the other half, or vice versa. I understood that this is how I shared chocolate with my daughter, but she thought it was how everyone in the world shares chocolate.

Uh oh. There may be similar issues due to her being raised by wolves by me. For one thing, we didn’t have family around us, so we made up a lot of “traditions.” Never one to eat ham and potatoes at Easter, for example, I just asked my Gift what she’d like to have for a special meal. So Easter turned out to be about guacamole, pineapple and marshmallows.

And she was encouraged to wear fairy wings and costume jewelry and a cape and sparkly high heels. You know, because they are beautiful.

As she moves more and more into the world, there’s gonna be some ‘splainin’ to do.

***

I bought a new digital camera this morning. I guess the “digital” part kind of goes without saying. Just a simple little device. I am eager to take some yoga pictures, and just want to do some visual stuff. My undergrad was in visual arts, but then I started writing, and that’s been my (creative) focus for many years.

Lately I’ve been feeling kind of restless, though. Like I am tired of the word thing. LOL! No more words for me!

Well, at least I’d like to take some time to use (and enjoy) my eyes again. I even have a hankering to do some drawing.

You know those subconscious belief systems we invent for ourselves? I find that I have one that thinks that writing is more “valuable” than drawing or taking photos. More “useful.” Yeah, um, okay. Because poetry is MUCH more functional than, say, a photo 😉

***

Tomorrow I go back to work after two days off. I still need an attitude adjustment about work. I get too caught up.

I like the creative design part of it, when I collaborate with people to make products. I also love the managing part, where I listen to the individuals on my team and try to help them be creative and happy. Can I just have those parts and totally be free of everything else?

Haha! I just had a thought that I should bring my camera to work with me and take pictures throughout the day: I can use it to document moments where I think, “Now I am happy,” and “Now I am thinking life sucks.” That would actually be a pretty cool way of being mindful.

For Suzie, and all of us

There always seems to be so much drama about aging. I think of Vanda Scaravelli. Check out this interview, and take a nice long look at her pictures. You’ll note she says she started practicing at “around 40, 45.” Hard to remember, I’m sure, when she gave this interview (still practicing!) in her 80s.

Yup, that’s my plan. I want to be practicing when I’m in my 80s. Scaring the crap out of all the people around me as I do backbends with my little old lady birdlike bones creaking. It’s going to be so f*@&ing funny! I welcome any of you out there to join me.

Scaredy cat

Crazy train of thought: 1) Krink in the left sacrum. Not horrible, but there for the past week. A minor annoyance. 2) I tend to compensate when one side of me has an issue (this is true over many years of sports injuries: one side has a small issue, and a while later, I turn up with a more significant issue on the other side of my body as a result of trying to compensate). 3) Because of the left sacrum krink, I am worried about the right hamstring, which was hurt almost a year ago in kurmasana. 4) As I get closer and closer to kurmasana, I get more and more distracted. I actually think about stopping at navasana, which is something I haven’t done since…well, since I jacked up my hamstring in kurmasana. 5) I suddenly feel really hungry. 6) I should go pee. 7) Maybe I should ditch this practice and go to led class later on this afternoon.

I finally get to kurmasana, with a rather dramatic sense of foreboding, and of course everything goes off without a hitch. Like it does, um, every single morning.

I think the key to this panic was my experience in hanumanasana at Saturday led. On the second side, I can slide right into the pose quite comfortably. On the first side, though, I hover about an inch off the floor. I am reluctant to push myself on this side, since the right hammy has had its challenges. As I hovered above the floor, though, on about the fourth breath, I felt a little bit of give in the right hamstring, and it felt slightly overtaxed and reluctant. It scared me. And apparently threw me back into fear-of-kurmasana mode.

I need to really make friends with kurmasana somehow. I had this fear thing happening before, and I just worked it through by being very mindful of the breath. There’s something more, though, that needs to be done, and I’m not quite sure what it is. Making it into a game, maybe? Looking for a new challenge in the pose? Somehow it needs to be both more playful and more mindful. LOL! I have to find a way to make it fun again. Exciting. Something to look forward to.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I took today and tomorrow off from work. Is there anything more luxurious than waking up without an alarm, drinking coffee at one’s leisure, and starting practice when it feels like a nice idea?

Saturday

Saw this meme where you take the closest book, open it to page 123, go to the 5th sentence and then post the next three. I guess I think it’s cool because I always have tons of books around me, and this little exercise yields results with little effort. Slacker meme.

She seemed to have read every spiritual text that was available to her. When she talked about the union of wisdom and love, which came with understanding the Way, it sounded more like the sermon of a Christian priest than of a Zen teacher. Though she rarely refers to it, she and her husband Kohaku had been baptized in 1935.

I like the meme, too, because I love random stuff.

Today’s led class was primarily a “survival” practice for me. That’s what Volleyball Guy calls it when you pretty much just manage to pull yourself through. I was really tired this morning, and kind of sluggish. I’m taking Monday and Tuesday off from work. I was feeling utterly exhausted and decided I needed a couple of vacation days to rest and relax. That was almost three weeks ago. I couldn’t get a couple of clear days until this coming week. I think I just kind of crashed last night, realizing I am going to have four whole days to rest, and that made it hard to build up energy for class. I had already gone into relax mode.

No matter, though. Class was just fine. Lots of new people. I think they might have been teacher training people who were there to check out an Ashtanga class. Unclear if it was a required thing, or if maybe some of them just got curious and stopped by.

The exhibit at the science center last night was a trip. For one thing, people look WAY smaller when you take off their skin. And the muscles aren’t what I expected, either. I’m not sure if it’s because of the plastinization process, or if we are just accustomed to seeing the plump, hormone and grain-fed muscle of mass-produced meat at the supermarket, but all of the human muscles looked surprisingly stringy and dessicated.

There were lots of quotes decorating the walls, various philosophers talking about death. I felt a little perplexed about the quotes. I think of death as a process, and the body at the end as an artifact. But I don’t see cadavers as embodying death. Actually, the philosophical quotes generally used the term with a capital D, which may have been my issue. The exhibit didn’t make me think of death at all (except for a few examples of diseased tissue), and it certainly didn’t make me think of Death, in the sense of an ontological matter.

I mentioned this to My Gift, who chirped, “That’s why you have no problem with this desecration of corpses, and why you brought me up to think the same way!” Very funny.

She may have a bit of a point, though. Apparently this exhibition has been quite controversial for a number of reasons, and one of them is that some people don’t think dead bodies should be put on display. I’m sure it seems incredibly offensive to anyone who feels that way.

I, on the other hand, was pretty fascinated. As it turns out, I have a great curiosity about diaphragms, livers and quadriceps. I knew about the quads thing, but was very amused to find that I like to look at livers. Forget about lungs and hearts and brains. Livers are much more interesting.

I really wish there were some asana poses in there. The cadavers were posed in more dramatic fashion — diving for a soccer ball, shooting an arrow. Asymmetrical stuff. I would have loved to have seen a symmetrical, quiet pose.

If you need to convince someone to quit smoking, take them to see the smoker’s lungs. Quite persuasive.

When I went into the room for Mysore practice this morning, Volleyball Guy handed me a bunch of photos. Including one of the endlessly-held urdhva dhanurasana. It looks pretty good! Woohoo! My extra backbending days are actually making a difference. My lumbar and thoracic are good, legs good — all that’s left is getting my shoulders/arms to really straighten out. I see light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, I did — until Volleyball Guy decided to give me a boost on the bakasana after bhujapidasana. Boost, as in hoist. Hello, brand new tunnel!

Quite honestly, what I usually do after bhujapidasana is just balance on my arms, then pull the right leg and then the left into a very vague and slackerish semblance of what someone might, in a very generous moment, call reminiscent of bakasana. Kind of a bakasana without lifting your butt at all.

He tried the same thing after supta kurmasana, no doubt assuming that I’d have learned something during the first attempt. Not!

When he springs this new stuff on me, I am just a ball of dead weight with a muddled brain. I will try to figure it out a bit more next time. I think I need some expansion. Usually I just kind of contract myself into the crappy bakasana and then call it a day. I know what it is: finesse! That’s what I’m missing. Haha!

My Gift is coming down for a weekend visit. She wants to go to opening night of Bodyworlds. She, The Frenchman and I will attend. The Cop has to work. I am amused by My Gift’s endless appetite for science. She’s a Discovery Channel junkie, and is unrepentently nerdy about this kind of stuff. And I am obsessive, so no doubt I will look at all of the bodies with an eye toward understanding what’s going on in different asana. Guess the likelihood of them having someone posed in bakasana is pretty remote, huh? 😉

Further adventures on the neurological highway

Ah, more vaguely migrainous feelings! Not the pain, thank goodness, but the strangeness. Like the world is slightly “off.” The thing that’s kind of cool about this is that I trained myself over decades to immediately relax and chill when migraines threaten. So it’s a little biofeedback loop that has me going into meetings today feeling very relaxed and laid back. Nice.

So yeah, the backbending continues to adjust my neurology. Yesterday, Volleyball Guy assisted me in dropbacks, then had me hold in urdhva dhanurasana while he… slowly… looked… around… for… his… camera… set… up… a… shot… paused… to… comment… on… my… patience… told… me… to… smile… laughed… hysterically… at… his… joke… reconsidered… the… shot… set… up… another… paused… chatted… with… another… Mysorian… told… me… to… stay… strong… laughed… some… more… and… then… finally… took the damn photo.

I really felt it this morning. In the gluteus minimus, I believe. And my traps, it seems.

There are two opposing forces at work inside me when it comes to backbends. The patient, methodic, optimistic, diligent, mindful backbender. And the hysterical, this-is-something-I-will-NEVER-be-able-to-do, impatient backbender. I am amused at how swiftly I can alternate between the two perspectives. Sometimes back and forth a few times all within the the time it takes to do just one pose. This morning’s practice was all about careening back and forth on that continuum.

Am I learning anything about backbending? Yes. Am I clear about what it is that I’m learning? Well, I am, physically. Intellectually, not so much. And for some reason, I find that utterly delightful.