Just a Little End-of-the-Week Rant

The day itself was cold, but sunny, which was a real treat after yesterday’s dreariness.

So as I was washing up and contemplating going into my room and doing my practice, it occurred to me that, “Shit! Today is Friday. Friday is Yoga Workout Day at the studio!

And even though I was close to positive that no one else was going to show up to practice, I told them that I would be there every Friday at 10 AM to do the Workout. So I got dressed and went.

And no one came. I could have done this same practice in my cozy little yoga room here at home, but here I was, in this vast room, just me and Yoganand (on the Ipod).

Which was fine. It really was.

I am waiting for the day when this practice doesn’t kill me. Today was NOT that day. It killed me. I was particularly aware of how weak my legs are. The standing one-legged balances? “Flying Airplane” posture? Are you kidding me?  My standing leg quakes. I want to come down so very much. It is so very, very hard.  He says , “Now, you can extend into Warrior 3” and in my mind I want to, but my body is so very, very WEAK.  And my arms are weak. And my hips are tight and weak. All I become aware of in that practice is how weak and restricted I am in every place in my body.

At the end of the practice I am exhausted. I thought for one nano-second of going to the gym and running on the treadmill afterwards, but no.  Done.  Needed to go home. Needed food. And that’s what I did. I also considered doing some cleaning, but no. This weekend I will clean. Now, I needed food.

When I walked in the house, the dog was all frisky, so I ate a handful of nuts, changed into jeans and walked her. Last night I went down to the basement and found a winter coat. My light winter coat, but my winter coat nonetheless.

Sucks.

And today I wore it again, but no hat. I kind of needed a hat, but the weather was on the bubble between “hat” and “no hat”, and there wasn’t much wind so I decided “no hat.”

Dog walked, then home to lunch: Brown rice and broccoli and a little leftover tuna. And a small bag of Pirate Booty and later, a Chobani greek yogurt (blueberry).

The stupid paper came and I read that as I ate.  This was the last paper in my year’s subscription and I talked to G last night about renewing.  I hate everything about this paper. I hate the editorial policy, I hate the letters to the editor, I hate its pro-gas drilling bias, I hate the right wing Christians who write the most insane letters to the editor.

I hate the church reports and how the only thing that people seem to get all enthused about are veterans.  Support our troops! Send cookies! Make banners and display the pictures of all the service men on Main St.

Really? There will be nothing to get enthused about if Obama sends all the troops home. Booor-ing!

I call this paper “The Aggravator” or “The Agitator.”  Because that’s all it does to me when I read it: aggravates and agitates.  So why in hell do I subscribe to it?  That’s the question I asked G.

Because I need to know where I live? Because I need to know what the enemy is hatching and scheming and thinking and doing, so I don’t walk into an ambush?

Probably.  So I just caved and renewed for another year.

(Good god.)

The Colonoscopy Song

I took a friend to get a colonoscopy today and made several observations:

#1. The “knock-out” drug for this “same day surgery” procedure appears to be pretty darned awesome. My friend woke up singing the theme song to You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown which forever more will be known to me as “The Colonoscopy Song.”

You can listen to it here, but trust me, my friend sang it much sweeter curled up in her little hospital gown with a big smile on her face.

#2. Bartenders, school teachers, yoga teachers and nurses have one thing in common: they all repeat the same tired jokes all day.  Today I heard the nurse say “vertical smile” to describe one’s ass-crack to at least 3 different patients. She also, in telling a patient their test came out “normal” said, “And you thought “normal” was just a cycle on your washer, didn’t you?”  Haha.

We all do this, and as I sat there listening to this joke over and over, I thought maybe it would just be better to say nothing, or say something genuine, rather than go around mouthing this stupid shit all day, thinking it’s clever.  Or funny.

It’s not.  So we should all stop doing this and just shut up.

#3. The final observation is that health care professionals are some of the least heathy-looking people around.  I wonder if it bothers them to be dispensing health advice all day to people when they themselves CLEARLY do not follow this advice? These nurses were all over-weight and unhealthy looking.

Time to be walkin’ the talk, I think.

Otherwise, the day was pretty good.  My friend’s colonoscopy came as as normal as the cycle on a washing machine, and tonight she is probably cuddled up in her own bed with a full tummy singing Happiness is…

If I Had A Hammer…

I have some good ideas for some entrepreneurs who might like to make some good money: teach real-life skills to people who don’t have them. Like me.

So, say you know your way around woodworking tools: circ saw, band saw, hammer, etc. Do you realize how many people out there never took a basic shop class? (me! me!) Do you realize that there are people who can scan the meter of The Faerie Queen but who can’t drive a nail into a piece of wood?  (me! me!)

Do you know how much call there is these days in for the ability to extrapolate the deep meaning of a poem by Milton? (None).  Do you know how crucial it is to know what you are looking at when you pop the hood of your car on the side of the road?  (Very!).

So today I was trying to drive a nail into a joist hanger and it was Pah-thetic.  Hammering is a skill, people! I wish I had taken a basic shop class in high school instead of spending all my time in AP English. I wish I had taken a basic class in auto mechanics, too. And accounting.  Accounting skills would have really come in handy now.

So if you are living around here and you know your way around a circ saw or a spark plug, you could totally start a class in Basic Woodworking for Women. Or Basic Auto Mechanics for Women. And I bet you’d make a killing!

I would totally pay for a course in those things.

Eating Little Tastes of Food Is Good

Recently I updated my computer’s operating system to Lion and tonight I just tried to upload a picture and IPhoto doesn’t work anymore.

This is REALLY DISTURBING!  I have become really attached to IPhoto ever since I got my MacBook Pro and I have spent a lot of time in there organizing pictures into Events, and putting Faces on people, and now it crashes every time I open it. I fear I will lose all my work. I have all the pictures on my photo card still, so it’s not like I will lose my photos, but I will lose my albums and all the organizing I’ve done to over 600 pictures.

If any of you Mac geeks out there know anything about this, please comment and let me know. I’d appreciate it

I was going to put a picture of the Mexican Cosmo I had at The Cellar where we went tonight for dinner.

I love to eat at Wine and Tapas bars, and that’s what The Cellar is.  We started with cocktails, and proceded to have little nibbles of different kinds of food: a little artichoke fondue, teriyaki chicken skewers, potstickers and I had a cup of butternut squash apple soup.  It was the perfect amount of food and the variety of tastes and textures was absolutely delightful.

What I find disturbing in most restaurants these days is the gross amount of food that is served.  When the waitress puts a dinner plate the size of Montana in front of me, I can’t help but wonder who this food is meant to serve. Me and what army?

Some people will recommend a restaurant by saying: “And the portions are AMAZING!” When I hear that, I know that that is NOT my kind of restaurant. Portion size should not be the thing that recommends a place.

I know some people say that they can eat there, and then take a whole meal home with them, but I don’t want to take food home when I go out to eat.  I find restaurant food leftovers distasteful. I don’t even want to open that styro box the next day. I don’t even like it when I have a lot of homemade food leftover.  Leftovers have lost “the life force” according to Ayurveda, and should be avoided, and I must say, I have to agree.

As this is turning out to be a restaurant review post, apparently, I would also like to give a big shout-out to Just a Taste in Ithaca, NY which is my very FAVORITE tapas place.  I love their food, and they also have really interesting flights of wine, which is heavenly.

I really wish I could show you that picture of the Mexican Cosmo I had tonight, but now I have to go and try to figure out what’s going on with Iphoto.

Finding the Teacher’s Voice

I have been thinking about my teaching more than usual these days because I am giving a lot more time to my personal practice.

I think my personal practice is really good for my teaching because as I experience poses in my own body I am more able to articulate what might be going on for my students in their bodies.

Even though I have been teaching full-time for almost seven years, I feel that I am only beginning to find my voice as a teacher.

It takes a really long time to find your voice as a yoga teacher.  Your voice has to be who YOU are, and that can be problematic when you don’t know who you are.

I remember as a yoga teacher in training at Kripalu being told over and over to “make your teaching your own!”  But it is hard to “make it your own” when you don’t know who you are, not only as a yoga teacher, but as a person.

It is especially hard when “who you are” is still growing and evolving. One day who “you” are could be an overbearing asshole; and the next day you could be a compassionate pussycat.

But if you follow your inclination to be who you are, this will mean that one day you will come into your class and boss people around, and the next day purr into their little ears. And they will be confused. And this will NOT be good for your rep as a yoga teacher.

So what yoga teachers in training usually wind up doing is finding a teacher with an “emulatable” style and copying them for a while.

And there is nothing wrong with this, and in fact, there is a whole lot right with it. Think of art students who sit in museums copying a Chagall just to learn how to paint that way.

But eventually the artist and the yoga teacher both have to stop copying other people and be who they really are—if they can figure out who that is.

Sometimes what it comes down to is just figuring out who you are NOT as a teacher.

I remember there was this girl in my training class who was holier-than-thou asshole and  talked endlessly about her “sadhana” and even gave herself a Sanskrit name (Santtosha, I think) and even had Kripalu inscribe that name on her diploma at the end.

I avoided this chick like the plague because I didn’t trust myself not roll my eyes right at her and say, “Really, Santosha? Your sadhana? Please.” Her 2 week-old “devotion” to her sadhana bugged the hell out of me. If I encountered her as a teacher, I would run, not walk out of such a class, so much do I hate that kind of pious crap.

I am now beginning to follow a blog called Recovering Yogi in which the bloggers are all pretty critical of  holier-than-thou yoga teachers with their silly language and their fake-ness.

These yoga teachers are not perfect people in their lives, nor do they pretend to be. They have problems and hang-ups, but they also are trying to follow a yogic path.  They can be  funny and irreverent and they are modeling a kind of teaching that feels more authentic to me, personally.

I don’t want to be who I am not when I am in the teacher’s seat. What I am trying to do is to live my life with integrity and be who I really am, while at the same time not pretend that what I *wish* to be is who I am already. Make sense?  (I think so.)

But at the same time I want my students to have a good experience. I don’t want to make my teaching about me. I want to make it about them. I want to find any and all connections that might exist between their experience and mine.  And I want that connection to be translated through the yoga practice.

I think if I  practice enough I will be able to articulate what I find as I begin to find it.  And how will that help them?  I don’t exactly know. But I think if I keep doing my practice and reflecting about it–especially about how it changes my experience, then that’s all I can do.

And that might be enough.

 

When Plinky Eats My Post

I have just spent the better part of the evening replying to a Plinky.com prompt and setting the whole thing up to post automatically to this site, only to have it NOT WORK.

grrrrrrrrr…..

I did not wake up at my best today. It rained all night. And I was awakened in the middle of it by thunder. In October? Thunder?  Srsly?

And then when I finally DID manage to drag my sorry ass out of bed, I was in no mood.

I did not want to do yoga. And the gym? Ew.

I could not even conceive of how I was going to grind out my 750 words. (But I did.)

Coffee helped, of course.  And as I was washing up, I knew, even through the dense green fog that was my brain, that this was THE MOMENT.  Yep.

This was the kind of day that I either had to “Warrior-Up,” or spend the day in my jammies.

So I got my yoga pants on, went into my room and snorted out about 16 million rounds of kapalabhati.  Yes I did.  Then proceeded to do postures and capped the whole thing off with 20 minutes of meditation

And after that I was fine. I had slain the Murk.  Vanquished its ass.  Go me.  And that was my day.

(So take that, Plinky.  Plinky is a stupid name anyway.)

Yet Another Post About Streaking

I am currently nursing along a little baby yoga streak.  As of today, it’s 18 days old. (It could have been 23 days old except that on Day 5, I skipped a day and had to start over, according to The (My) Rules.)

I am going up to my home yoga room every day and practicing on my own.  On Mondays  I use Yoganand’s Meditative Posture Flow CD and on Fridays I go to the studio and do Yoganand’s Yoga Workout CD.  Last week Fred and Timbo joined me for that sweat-fest.

On all the other days, I am alone with my own body, my own needs, my own thoughts. I spend a lot of time doing pranayam, and the postures I do are determined by what my body is calling for, or needs, on that particular day.

This is precisely how yoga started for me many years ago.  No teacher. No class. Just a book and a beach towel.  And I learned so much.  I am remembering all those old lessons: how to be alone; how to listen inside; how to watch my mind; how to push beyond (perceived) limits within myself with no teacher making or urging me to make a bigger effort.  I am learning to pull this effort out of myself. Again.

I think in the best of all worlds, it would be ideal to have a class to go to once a week (or more) but a class should only bolster a strong private home practice.

The home practice is the holy one, the inviolate one, the sacred one. The teacher-led class should feed the home practice, boost it, inspire it, give it fresh insight, new ways of working, but not substitute for it.

The student should use the teacher as a resource, as someone to ask questions about issues that come up in the home practice, or to get advice, or insights, or tips.

The teacher should know which of her students are working daily, at home, and what is going on for those students at home.

I have a wonderful and inspiring teacher, but I do not see him regularly. I wish I had a teacher close by to discuss my home practice with sometimes.  I would talk to that teacher about how I am trying to open up my low back and get loose and relieve that pain that’s been plaguing me.

I would talk to that teacher about my hips and the best ways  to open them, and how I am trying to deepen my back bends and stretch out my quads with little luck.  I would talk to that teacher about how I am using the stretchy band to open up the front of my chest so I can revolve properly in upavista when I stretch out over one leg.  It would be good to get some insights and tips about this stuff.

Instead, I will have to trust the wisdom of the body.

My current streak is only a measly 18 days old, but already I am starting to wonder: Who I will be when this streak reaches 180 days, or even 1800 days?

Yeah. Imagine that: Eighteen hundred days.  That’s almost 5 years.  Think I can keep this streak going that long?

We shall see.