Wolff for Tyler and me

I listen to the same CD every morning as I practice. Shakti~Bhakti by Martin Wolff.

Tyler lies down in his playpen when I roll out my mat and turn on the music. I have no idea how I stumbled upon this CD, to tell you the truth. But I love it. And Tyler seems to, too. The Cop, well, I haven’t asked him what he thinks. Best not to know, I imagine. 😉

This morning I found a little review of the CD, along with more info about Martin Wolff. An interesting fellow from New Jersey who likes to practice Vedic chants.

The Vedic chanting brings out … this intensity of awareness, of Presence, the immanence of God, however you understand That. But because the vibrations are arranged the unique way that they are, these Vedic chants have a power to rearrange the energies inside you in such a way that there is this incredible energetic — but not frenetic —happiness.

The chanting intensifies my inner conviction that happiness and beauty are our real nature and that we always have a possibility to reach one another directly, perhaps without words at all, on this purer, freer plane of our existence. The chanting also reminds me that I can be true to my own real nature in a moment, even though I have gotten caught in some ridiculous ego-driven nightmare.

I think I should emphasize that I don’t consider myself an artist. I don’t have the usual musical skills or the temperament of a performer. But I have had the opportunity to chant in sacred settings and have noticed that often when I am chanting, the chant moves — or stills — others the same way it affects me. So I was encouraged to offer the chanting which I love; it was a natural step to make this offering more available.

I really had not planned this CD — on a retreat, the man who became the recording engineer suggested to me that we could work together and come up with something that people could benefit from. I am not trying to push anything with the CD, it is an offering and I believe it will end up where it should end up.

Thank goodness for such geekery.



My most recent spell spent at a shala has left me feeling overadjusted. So I have to mention this quote from Matthew Sweeney’s new book:

This posture is often over adjusted, analysed and manipulated by teachers and students. It may be best to leave it alone. It will gradually develop just fine without your interference.

In this case, he’s referring to downward dog. But I wonder… Once you see the direction a posture is going, once you understand the mechanics and the shape, is there really any pose to which this doesn’t apply?

Whether or not you think that’s the case, you have to admit this is a great attitude to take to a daily, life-long practice.

The Moral Matrix

The best thing you’ll see about politics this year. But you already knew that, because you’re on my team. 🙂

P.S. The website Jonathan Haidt references (yourmorals.org) is quite fascinating.

More Tyler

Tyler likes dogs, but what he really loves is people. He was so happy to go back to the vet. Greetings and wiggles for all! The lady with the cat in the waiting room, the lady with the dog who did NOT want to meet Tyler, the receptionist, the assistant to the vet, the vet herself! People! People! People!

Tyler is a great mix of his parents. His Mom stood on her back legs and snuggled up against me when we first met, even though she had her yet-to-open-their-eyes pups with her. And his Dad is a big lug, who loped around excitedly when we met him.

Tyler the Watchdog: This morning, I opened the side door as The Cop drove his motorcycle into the garage. Tyler went bounding in, wiggling away to greet… hey, wait a minute, The Cop was wearing his helmet, which covers his whole head and which has a dark visor that totally obscures his face. Tyler doesn’t care. Look! There’s a stranger in the garage! Woohoo! Hey, look at me! I’m a puppy and I’m right here!

The vet is treating him for sarcoptes scabei, which is canine scabies. Scabies are a parasite that are common on dogs, but if a pup’s immune system isn’t fully up to speed, they can proliferate and cause a reaction (i.e., itching). This step (of treating for scabies) makes sense before we proceed down the road of trying to deal with allergies. If it is, in fact, scabies that he is dealing with, then the medication will solve all of our problems.

I would not be surprised if his immune system is having trouble keeping up. He weighs 32 pounds, which means he’s put on 22.5 pounds in the 7 weeks we’ve had him. At this point, his feet are bigger than Maxine’s.


And here’s a picture.

Lazy much?

Tyler likes to sleep by the water bowl. That way, when he wakes up, he can just stick his head in it and have a drink. Apparently he didn’t learn anything last week, when he rolled over in his sleep and doused himself.

And now, Susananda!

How’s that for an introduction?

Susananda left a comment saying she hasn’t been able to comment on one of my other posts. Where I asked her about shadow yoga. Susananda, shall we talk about shadow yoga in the comments of this post?

I first got curious about shadow yoga when I practiced with Celeste Lau in Singapore. I don’t know if she still shadow yoga along with Ashtanga, but apparently she sees it as a good complement to Ashtanga.

I believe Matthew Sweeney also mentioned shadow yoga in passing during his workshop in July.

So I’m curious about it.


Poor Tyler is completely beside himself with itchiness. I will try to get him into the vet this morning. It seemed he was getting better, but for the past day he has been scratching incessantly.


Practice has been delightful and pain-free for the past week. Well, maybe a teeny bit of piriformis pain, but nothing to speak of. Been doing primary to navasana, then the intermediate backbends. Decided to leave kurmasana and baddha konasana alone until the T12 and piriformis are totally back to normal. Which should be quite soon, and I’m a little sad — because I’m loving the split practice.


Mind body. Mediated, as is often the case, by the eyes.

Where will we be without conceptual associations triggered by semantic stimuli?

Marco… … … Polo…

…reality is originally devoid of ontological properties and it is only via an incessant and largely unconscious habit of emotional self-reference and categorization that a conceptual structure is created and ultimately reified; a process necessary for daily life, but that also tends to condition the individual into predefined patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Meditation is believed to counteract this tendency in favor of a condition of equanimity where the provisional nature of one’s own conceptual structure is realized, bringing about a greater freedom of thought and action as well as a decreased sense of self-attachment.

…the attempt at mental regulation through meditation involves developing a progressive familiarity with the interplay of voluntary attention (often directed to the breath and/or the posture) and the spontaneous conceptual processing that appears in its fractures…


…we tested the hypothesis that the habitual practice of being heedful to distraction from spontaneous thoughts during meditation renders regular meditators, as compared to control subjects, more able to voluntarily contain the automatic cascade of conceptual associations triggered by semantic stimuli.


I’m not sold on the word/nonword task — why not just use real words at intervals and MRI the brains to “look” for indications of conceptual thinking? Still, between this and LHC and the ongoing research of yogis, we’re getting closer. And, funnily enough, further away.


Dog school, Soap opera name, Learnings from crim week

Today was the second session of puppy school. I was a little suspicious on week 1, when our class included a 6 year old dog who is animal aggressive.

Basically, she is perfectly fine around humans, but wants to attack other dogs.

At first I was simply horrified, but then my mothering instincts kicked in and I decided I’d kick her ass if she messes with Tyler. Now everything is fine.

Today we practiced “come,” “sit,” and “stay” commands. Tyler pays attention when he wants a treat. He’s such a cutie. He’ll do a bunch of sequences of the training, then look around to see what his little Yorkie friend Teddy is doing.

Tyler, Teddy, and Zoe the Pug are always in the same corner of the room. Teddy is all fuzzy, rather like the fuzzy toys Tyler likes. He loves Tyler and jumps up to lick Tyler’s face. Tyler wags his tail and bites the fuzz on Teddy’s chin or ears. Tyler and Teddy both pretty much ignore Zoe. Perhaps they think she’s high maintenance.

Our instructor is kinda wacky. I suspect she’s stalking Cesar Millan. She runs an ad hoc animal rescue from her home. She also seems suspicious of my ability to raise a dog that’s going to be as big as me. She mentions the fact that his breed tends to be dominant rather often. I was tempted to make some joke about being a dominatrix, but let it go.

So Tyler’s doing great with school. He’s a smart fellow. Well, I guess he isn’t ALWAYS a smart fellow. This morning he fell asleep near the water bowl in the kitchen, then rolled over and spilled it all over himself.

Puppy class lasts 8 weeks. I think it’s mostly just to get him used to being in a new environment with a bunch of other dogs. We’ll carry on with obedience classes (I’m tempted to say “real obedience classes”) after this one.


You want to know what your soap opera name is, don’t you? Find out at the soap opera name generator. I don’t watch soap operas, but I do love the names.

My soap opera name is Emma Huntington.

Miss Emma Huntington to you.

Miss Emma Huntington, Dominatrix.

It’s also worth noting that soap opera names are perfect names for cats.


Crim week yielded some good learnings. Yes, from the Anusarans. I guess I could *hear* them because I was off the daily practice treadmill and practicing a bit of awareness.

Not that I want to be aware all the time. Don’t really have time for that sort of thing every morning. After all, I need to be in the office pretty early.

That’s a joke. But not really.

I suppose it’s unfortunate that I can’t spend all my time cultivating deep awareness — that some of my time is really just all about the logistics of getting myself where I need to be at a certain time. On the other hand, there’s a certain beauty to the whole thing. I can’t overindulge myself — I need to be prepared to practice and then to move on. I try to bring as much of it with me as I can, but I figure “tomorrow’s a new day” when the awareness wears off and I find myself at work, irritated with someone for something silly.

Okay, so learnings:

1. ZIP UP the front ribs.

This is big for a rib splayer like me. If the T12 drama was not caused by the front rib splaying, splaying definitely exacerbated the problem. And, of course, it took an Anusaran to say something like “zip up your ribs.” I did it mid-urdhva dhanurasana, and was surprised how different it made the pose feel. Before I zipped, my chest felt like a butterflied shrimp. Afterwards, it felt like, well, a closed shrimp.

2. Hug the midline.

Yeah yeah yeah, right? We all know this. I forget, though, truth be told. So I’ve been very conscious of setting up salabhasana, dhanurasana, and parsva dhanurasana with my thighs, knees, and ankles touching.

And then pull into the midline.

I have to stop — I can’t stand myself when I talk Anusaran. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it.)

3. Day to day practice and a linear sequence can get me a little too focused on what I CAN’T do, a little too focused on what ISN’T “right.”

Knock that off!


Need to go get ready for a cop party. Men with beer, guns, and barbecued meat. Not your mama’s Anusara.