Some backbends

Okay, a few things backbend-related:

Here’s the post on Arturo’s site where Bindi made an interesting comment about how to stack the arms/shoulders in urdhva dhanurasana. Arturo is also hosting a lurkers’ amnesty week, where people who read but don’t comment are invited to say hi.

I promised Wyrdbyrd a while back that I would post a video of the wall dropback. We established that a good rule-of-thumb for figuring out how close to get to the wall is this: sit with your back to the wall and stretch out your legs. Keeping your feet where they are, stand up. You’re within range of the wall. You may need to move in a teeny bit closer or a teeny bit further out, but for the most part, you’re in the zone. I set myself up that way for the video, and I think I was actually a bit too far out, but the rule-of-thumb at least makes sure you’re not going to miss the wall entirely, nor will you smash your face. Important considerations.

I have not been doing wall dropbacks lately. I’ve been sticking to my five urdhva dhanurasanas and trying to work into them. From the ground up, so to speak. Making the little wall dropback tape this morning (sorry about the lighting), I realized that it is just the other end of the backbend issue. You can probably get there from either direction (from the air or from the ground). Maybe a little experimenting with both is helpful. Or not. LOL! If you just keep at it, I imagine it all comes clear in the end.

Ground of being, Yoga rodeo, Backbends

From The Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Chi:

In chapter 3 of the Lotus Sutra, a rich man, in order to lure his unwary children out of the burning house where they are playing, offers them a beautiful carriage drawn by a white ox, promising to give it to them after they get out of the house. The burning house represents the realm of delusion or ignorance, the carriage with the white ox is the Buddha’s teaching as set forth in the Lotus Sutra, and the “bare ground” is the area outside the house, the realm of enlightenment.

The bare ground. I love it. Different from the opulent imaginings that people have about enlightenment.

Enlightenment, after all, is just awakening. Seeing the dealio. It doesn’t mean you are then forever sucked into nirvana (complete absorption into the undifferentiated ground of being).

So, much as women at Gold’s Gym used to worry (quite unnecessarily) about getting huge muscles from lifting weights three times a week, so we don’t have to worry that we might get enlightened and then have to go live in ethereal realms.

Just the bare ground. That’s all you get.

***

This morning, I figured I’d pay a bit of attention to see where The Cop’s practice “is.” In other words, I wanted to see where he is struggling.

Off we went, with a silent practice. At the beginning of Prasarita D, there was an exchange.

“Inhale,” I said.
He extended his arms.
“No arm extension,” I said.
Why?!
“Exhale… head down…”
“I want to know!”
*giggle* (me, not him)

As it turned out, The Cop identified his current sticking point. The lotus leg/bind on Marichyasana B. We took a moment to talk about the closed joint to protect the knee, and how the lotus foot has to flip up more and tuck into the crease but not extend past the hip, etc.

I pulled out Swenson’s manual and the modification is to lotus the leg, then just pull the non-lotus leg in closer to the body. The Cop tried it and felt like it was a good step to take. Up ’til now, he’s been folding his lotus leg under and just taking the bind. Time to start working into the lotus a bit.

And after supta kurmasana, as I did the transition from tittibhasana to bakasana to chaturanga (gingerly! my knee is still killing), he cheered.

“Yeeahhh!”

I just looked at him.

“I think we should cheer for the hard parts,” he explained.

Yoga rodeo. Today’s Goddamn It! count: 1

***

Current state of the backbend. I’ll write more tomorrow. There have been some great tips from Bindifry (in a comment on someone else’s blog… I have to track that one down so I can post it. ) and an incredibly inspiring photo on a Flicker site that Vanessa linked to.

Ack! The extension through the arms and chest! So beautiful.

Engaging my husband in dinner conversation

“What’s your favorite pose?”
“I hate them all.”

Counted practice. Not so much.

This morning I decided to use Sharath’s CD to count practice for The Cop and myself. Figured it’d be good to have him hear the names of poses and adjust to the metronome of a counted practice. Plus he could hear all of the “inhale” and “exhale” commands. I was concerned it might be too fast, but figured we’d see.

So Sharath starts in and say, “Hands up” on ekam. The Cop looks at me. “Did he say hands up?”

Oh, yes, I forgot about that.

The Cop is highly sensitive to commands that instruct what someone should do with their hands. And he does NOT like being the person on the receiving end of those commands.

Experiment results: murderous rage. Seriously, The Cop is very NOT ready for led practice. For one thing, he thought that we were going slower than we usually (silently) do. I think the real issue was just having things be different than usual.

Tomorrow, back to silent follow-along practice.

We’ll try the led experiment again sometime in the future… You know, once the yoga starts to work.

Oven woes, funny bone, Lydia

The second cake of the weekend, made to prove that the first cake’s flop was due to expired baking soda and baking powder, was also a flop. Sigh. I’ve sent away (yes, to Amazon) for an oven thermometer so I can check the temperature calibration of the oven.

The Cop and I ate some of the second cake, mostly because we wanted to have some of the yummy cream cheese frosting I made. So all’s well.

Later on in the evening we went out for dinner. It’s a tradition that we ask each other every so often how we feel our relationship is going. The answer is always that we are grateful for each other and happy for the life we have. He asked me if there is anything I’d like him to do/change, etc. I said no. Then I asked the same question. He mumbled an answer.

“What did you say?” I asked.
He demurred, and even as I was pressing him to repeat himself, my brain was slowly understanding what he’d said.
And then I laughed my head off.
He’d said, “You should improve your baking skills.”
He cracks me up.

***

This morning we practiced together. The Cop regretted the ice cream he had last night. Now he’s starting to see why I am such a weirdo about what I eat, especially in the evening. His half primary is looking good. Urdhva dhanurasanas are coming along nicely. He noted that he still has panicky breath in backbends. Good thing to note.

Usually as he does some backbend prep, I go ahead with bhujapidasana and kurmasana/supta kurmasana before I help him with UD. Today was no different. I transitioned out of supta k with a nice tittibhasana into bakasana. Yay! It’s really starting to be smooth! And then I kicked back into chaturanga except I totally blew it and fell over sideways and cracked the outside of my knee on the floor. The TILE floor. I didn’t realize the knee has a funny bone.

***

On Saturday I had a nice massage with Lydia the disgruntled masseuse. Tried a new massage place, one of those ones where you have a monthly membership. Lydia let me know that the massage therapists are not paid for time they’re not working (i.e., time when they don’t have a customer booked). I was a little wigged out by her energy — the massage started off at a breakneck pace, no doubt due to her irritation with management practices, but once she settled down, she really gava a very good massage. I suppose I need to find out more about the massage business. Lydia made me feel like I was a customer at a sweatshop.

I did kind of wonder if it was bad policy to be worked on by an angry bodyworker, but as it turns out, I woke up the next day feeling quite good. Lydia did some funky and intense work under my shoulderblades, and some great work on my traps.

I wonder if most yogi/nis get deep tissue massages or Swedish?

Blender and other kitchen issues

Just ordered a blender from Amazon. Sorry, Carl. It wasn’t an easy decision, going Amazon. I worked for a decade in independent bookstores, so it hit close to home. But their business model is pretty impressive. And my Prime membership means I pay $75 bucks up front and they second day ship everything I buy in a year. Including Moola Bandha: The Master Key, which I’ve been re-reading.

Anyhow, this all came to pass because, like Vanessa, I found myself starting a practice with the growling of my stomach. Which meant intermittent visions of smoothies went dancing through my head. I have to remember not to putter too much on Sundays. Too much time elapses between morning coffee and finally starting sitting practice/asana practice. It’s not a problem on weekdays, when I get right to practice so I can get to work on time. But on Sundays, it seems luxurious to read and do a few chores before practice. The downside is that I end up hungry — and even more distracting, really, is that my mind has time to get all revved up with the daily business of thinking/planning. Once my mind gets busy, it’s hard to calm it down for the mat.

Anyhow, I wrapped up practice and headed for the kitchen. Rifled through the pantry, looking for the blender. Why is it stowed away in the pantry instead of out on the counter? Because I don’t use it much because it sucks.

I load the blender up with frozen strawberries and blueberries, some soymilk and a blob of vanilla yogurt. Take the whole blender into the back guest room so the noise doesn’t wake The Cop, who worked night shift last night. Hit the “Blend” button and the whole thing makes a hell of a lot of noise. Wait a bit and turn it off. Open it. Lots of whole strawberries and blueberries and some actual blended material on the very edges. Smoosh everything back over the blades and turn it on again. Not so much noise this time. Open it. Lots of whole strawberries and blueberries and perhaps a tiny bit more blended material. The freaking blades in this thing are about two inches up from the bottom of the blender, which means the fruit just goes under the blades. I repeat my attempts to get the blender to actually blend the fruit, but eventually give up and just eat the frozen stuff with a spoon. Quite tasty, yes, and I don’t mind some chunks in my smoothies. But whole strawberries is a bit much.

I await the imminent arrival of my new smoothie maker.

***

Yesterday I made a carrot cake and cream cheese frosting for The Cop. The frosting came out great, the cake was a disaster. Waaaaah! I grated all those stupid carrots by hand! Labor-intensive well beyond my usual slacker cook habits. The cake was rising just fine, then all of a sudden I look in the oven window and the whole thing looks like a 13 x 9 inch cookie. My first thought was that the stove was malfunctioning, which would be tragic because it’s only two years old and I love it.

Then I had the bright idea to check the expiration dates on my baking soda and baking powder. Only a year past expired! Why doesn’t it still work? 😉

This launched a bit of research on the difference between baking soda and baking powder and how they work. Very interesting chemical engineering, if anyone has a taste for that sort of thing. I always thought baking powder was stronger than baking soda, but nope, just the opposite. Who knew?

***

My Gift called from her kitchen last night, where she and her roommate were 1) bleaching My Gift’s short punky hairdo white blonde, 2) using their new rice cooker, and 3) steaming broccoli. The roommate, who is from the Midwest, and who introduced My Gift to cream of mushroom soup casseroles, was cracking open a new package of Velveeta.

“This doesn’t seem like a good idea,” My Gift said, as she inspected the Velveeta box.

You send them away from home, they learn all kinds of crazy things…

Zee’s Farewell

Zee left a comment on the previous post. There seem to be some issues with the links he embedded running from the comments section, so I’ve included them in this post (although Ursula’s link in the original comment was empty, so I can’t fix it).

***

I just dropped by to say Arrivederchi…. in grand style… of course
I am leaving blog world for awile…

…Ladies and Gentlemen,
……..Meine Damen und Herren,
……………Madame Et Monsieur,

It my Honour of serving you…
It is my Joy of pleasing you…
It is my Pleasure of meeting you…

Donutszenmom
Ursula …my little Sunshine… (You are kicking asses!!!)
Doctor Susan, now, you DO understand.
Owl you always understood.

only to make the precious Carl to understand

Zee is leaving the blog world to finish himself. 

You do the same… ‘cause… the second phase of the Project Hope for Homeless is coming… soon in theaters near you.

See Ya