Feel Like a Natural Woman

Last night I watched the DVD I bought recently called “Yoga Woman.”  It was decent. It was a documentary with interviews with all the marquee women yoga teachers: Patricia Walden, Seane Corn, Angela Farmer, Donna Farhi, Colleen Saidman Yee, and others.

One thing I noticed was that except for maybe Seane Corn and Donna Farhi, none of the other ones looked too good. I have been thinking about it today, wondering if it was the lighting, or just that they are all getting older, but none of them glowed.  I expected them to be “lighter” somehow, in their personalities and their physical appearance.  I don’t know what I mean by that exactly, but they all seemed worn out.  Maybe it is just really hard to be a famous yoga teacher, or maybe I am just used to seeing them all Photoshopped-up in Yoga Journal.

It’s hard to imagine this kind of thing going on in Yoga Journal, but it probably does. I remember when this YouTube made the rounds on Facebook

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v_azJv50KQ

Disturbing.

I Do Not Need An IPhone

This morning started with a massive software upload that now allows me into the CLOUD.  My Touch and my Ipad now have new apps, and everything syncs with everything without the computer. All I have to do is plug my Touch or my Ipad in to recharge it and it syncs with everything across platforms.

I watched an informational video from Apple about this new Cloud technology and it had me drooling.

Some people love shoes and clothes. Some people love to go to Broadway shows or the Opera. Some people dream of redesigning or redecorating their houses. Some people drool over travel brochures. Other people go wild in Williams Sonoma and want a fancy espresso maker or a set of Calaphon pans. Some people could live in Ikea.

Not me.  I want fancy electronic gadgets: Iphones, MacBooks, IPads, teensy-weensy external hard drives that will store a trigobyte of data.  I want gizmos.

I don’t NEED an Iphone, not a bit. But today I WANTED an Iphone.  The thing is, I hate my phone.  And it’s not just my phone, which is the antithesis of a smart phone, in fact it is a dumb phone. The truth is, I hate ALL phones, smart or dumb.

When my phone rings, I cringe inwardly. I don’t want to answer. I’d much rather get an email or a text. The phone does not meet my needs for connection. The phone makes me feel fake.  I can never get my voice to match what I feel. I want the person on the other end to be able to see my eyes, my mouth, my teeth. I want them to see me scratch my head, or tilt it. I want them to read my body language.

Which is what I am sure people who LOVE their phones are happy that the other person CANNOT see. I get that, I do.

But the Iphone can take pictures and edit them and send and receive email and there are all those apps and, and…it’s so well designed and pretty.  I want one.

Apple makes me want things that I don’t need.  I played with an Iphone today in a store.  I calculated how much an Iphone would cost per year, compared to what I pay for my dumb phone.  The dumb phone wins.

I will not get an Iphone. But I still want one.

Sunday Dinner

Much to my delight, G has been bitten by the trail running bug. Last weekend we participated in the Ives Run Trail Challenge and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves,– which is saying something, because neither of us like to run. But for some reason, running in the woods feels better, less like work, and more like fun.

There are no crowds, for one thing, and not a lot of overt competition.  People running through the woods seem kinder, friendlier.

So this morning we set out early and went back and did the Lynn C. Keller trail.  A piece of this trail was part of last weekend’s run, but we did the whole thing today.  Round trip, about 4 miles.  There is a lot of steep uphill, culminating in a very nice vista.  And we returned along a ridge line, so the downhill was more gradual and more fun.

Kath on the Lynn C. Keller Trail

Back at home, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen making Cauliflower Maranca for dinner. She made an apple pie in between football games. We invited Ira and Fred to join us and had a really nice time talking about politics and Occupy Wall St. among other things.

It felt like a really good Sunday.

October leaves

Today we drove to Corning to buy food and for other assorted stuff. It was cloudy and windy and rainy. As we lugged groceries from car to kitchen, I thought about getting out the crock pot, making stew, getting into my pjs and sipping wine by the fire.

A few days ago, G took this picture in the backyard:

leaves in October

Just goes to show, you never know how long beauty will last, do you?  You can never be sure when you will spy your last golden tree before the rain brings down the leaves.

I was happy when I saw this picture today. It warmed my heart.

Musing About Yoga And Belly Fat

I am currently teaching a class called: Yoga for Core Stability and Strength.  This is not the first time I have taught a series with the word “Core” in the title, but every time I do, the issue of belly fat rears its ugly head.

Here’s what I see in almost all my classes: As soon as I start to lead a forward fold–especially a seated forward fold, I see abject misery. I see people with limber spines who could easily fold deeper into this posture if it were not for their belly fat.

And especially when we are in an introspective pose like a seated forward fold, there is no escape. There is nothing for this person to focus on but the girth that is getting in the way of their going deeper into the posture.

The longer we hold, the more miserable they become. Not because the posture is difficult, but because they have to confront their belly fat.  They feel (pick one): embarrassed, ashamed, disgusted, angry, defeated.

Sometimes after class they will even try to talk to me about this; they will tell me what I already know, and that is: if only they could get rid of THIS (it’s here they point to their abdomens) they could really DO the posture.

Yoga puts people in touch with who they really are: how they live, what they think about obsessively, and what they do. This isn’t really what they came to yoga for, though. They came for a hour of breathing and stretching and un-kinking tight muscles.  But what they get is a reality check. They have to confront things like belly fat. And this is hard.

Most people who practice with me do so once a week. They don’t do yoga at home, they haven’t adopted a yogic lifestyle, they are not on a PATH.  They just “go to yoga” once a week to stretch out.

But if they would practice at home a little, eat brown rice and vegetables, not eat to satiety but leave a little bit of emptiness in the stomach at each meal, over time, the belly fat would disappear, and they could go deeper into their forward folds, deeper into themselves, deeper into their experience, deeper into their lives and the lives of the people around them.

The thing that is getting in their way isn’t really their belly fat, but what the belly fat represents, and that is a desire to insulate themselves from seeing things in their lives that are hard and uncomfortable.

As soon as they begin to realize that, and to decide what they REALLY WANT, (i.e. freedom from pain and suffering and remorse and embarrassment and disgust.) And to decide that they want this more than they want the Cheetos, or the wine, or the candy, etc.), then the idea of a diet of brown rice and vegetables, a little emptiness, and a daily practice becomes a joy, and pretty simple, actually.

It all comes down to deciding what we really want, doesn’t it?

 

Pedestrians Have The Right-of-Way

I can remember a time, and it wasn’t all that long ago, that I would take my good old time sauntering across the street(oh yes I would) in the crosswalk (takin’ my time), walkin’ with the light (check my hips), while cars waiting to turn into the lane where I was walking (yeah, you wait, bro), would just have to…wait.

And why?  Why would they have to wait?

G would urge me to step lively. ‘C’mon girl, on the hop!”  And I would politely correct her.

“No. Pedestrians have the right-of-way.”

And she would say, “Yeah? Tell that to the ambulance driver. Now, MOVE!” And she’d yank me through the intersection.

Fast forward a few years. Now when I make a crossing at the intersection, with the light, I RUN!!  And when I reach the opposite curb and I am still breathing, I give thanks.  In the intervening years the traffic at the light on Main St has increased ten-fold, if not more. There are lines of traffic at all hours of day and night. Sometimes only 3 or 4 cars get through on one green light.

To give you some idea of the traffic now, I can walk to my studio in 6 minutes. I can bike there in 4 minutes. I can drive there in 15 minutes.

These days everybody is antsy to “make the light.”  Today, one of my students, friends, and all-around amazing yoga students, got hit in the crosswalk by a truck.  She had the pedestrian right-of-way.

She’s banged up, but no broken bones, thank god.

So if you are a pedestrian, irregardless of the law, know this: You do NOT have the right-of-way. In theory you do, but in reality? Not so much. As a pedestrian, you are IN THE WAY. So you better well move it, or be killed.

RUN when you get the light! And if you are lucky enough to make it to the opposite curb in one piece, count your blessings.

(And Kestrel?  So happy and relieved that you are okay!  Love you!)

 

Empathy

Today I had to take Boomer to the vet for her annual shots.  As I sat in the waiting room a couple came in carrying a small dog. It looked like some kind of wire-haired terrier, small, white, with some black markings.  I never talk to people in the vet’s office unless it is clear that they have a healthy pet who is there for a wellness visit. I talk to puppy owners, mainly.  People with sick pets don’t want to talk to you. They only want to talk to the vet.

I had to wait for the results of Boomer’s heartworm test which takes about 10 minutes, so I put Boomer in the car (because she is kind of a pain in the ass) and returned to the waiting room.  All of a sudden it became clear that the couple with the little wire-haired dog was there to put their dog to sleep.

The vet tech started to explain the procedure to them, then left to ready the room.  The man began to cry and wipe tears away. The woman put her nose into the dog’s fur and wept. I began weeping too.  Soon they were asked to bring the dog into an exam room, and the door shut shut behind them.

Boomer’s heartworm test came back negative. As I gave the receptionist my credit card, I couldn’t see to sign the receipt because I was crying so hard.

Buddhists say that one of the main causes of suffering is attachment.  If we could just understand that everything is impermanent, our joys and as well as our sorrows, then we would be free from pain and suffering.

When we get our new puppy, we are so happy.  But when we have to put that same dog to sleep, we weep into its fur, and feel the most heart-wrenching pain imaginable.

Today I realized that I am not a very good Buddhist. I am VERY MUCH attached to the things that I love, and as a result I am in for a whole world of hurt.  I even suffer when I see the pain of other people because I realize that that will be my fate some day.

Psychologists call this “empathy” and it’s touted as a good thing.

But it hurts like a mother.