Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I wish you all lots of happiness, tons of love, plenty of luck, and yoga, yoga, yoga in your life!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is there Spring on the horizon?

Most miserable practice today. Even the fact that Aliya subbed did not help. My nose was stuffed, which made breathing problematic. I felt like a whale in SK, could not hold a bind. Got a cramp in right QL in UD. Felt exhausted by the end of the practice. Sarah and Rayna said that this is because of the cold weather, but I think it is the unfortunate combination of being fat, lazy and old.

Crazy thing with that watermain break! I do not envy people trapped in the cars and the rescuers in the cold water. I pray everybody is OK soon.

We have another lunch out at work today. How one is supposed to lose weight, I am asking you? Ughhhhh....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunchokes do not go well with yoga

Because of the high glycemic index, I banished potatoes from my house completely, which caused much anguish on my husband's part. Russian cuisine generally consists of three combinations: meat and potatoes; meat and dough; and meat and rice. Which makes potatoes a very large component. So I tried sunchokes yesterday, because some people claim they are a very good substitute. I fried them Russian-style, and they do look a lot like potatoes. Not so much in taste, but it was not bad either. I have discovered the downside of this substitution this morning, though. I woke up so gassy that the question of going to Mysore was not even considered for the fear of being banished from the place forever. After a short google research, I discovered that sunchokes have a high levels of inulin, which makes them particularly attractive to diabetics. But is causes bloating (temporarily, they claim), which makes them incompatible with yoga. I had to settle for a home practice, which wasn't bad if one does not take into account that the cats were traumatized occasionally....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The stress of the holiday season.

Too many dinner parties, shopping is not done yet, projects at work needed to be done before Christmas. Boxes are still unpacked. It is so nice without that extra-stuff though. I actually considered just dumping them into the trash. But then I remembered all my yoga books and relented.
My son is visiting for a week. Feels good to have the family together again. We watched the "Dark knight" together yesterday on DVD.
Skipped practice yesterday due to the ladies holiday, but had a good practice today. Has anybody noticed that the body becomes extra-flexible during this time? I have to be careful and hold back a little to avoid an injury.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Still in the saddle.

Day four of my uninterrupted practice week. Yesterday I was very prudent, had a long Epsom salt bath and went to bed early. Today's practice was surprisingly good. Probably not so surprising - it is raining outside, the air is not so scratchingly dry, it is much easier to breathe. Had a really, really deep backbending assist and wondered if the back pain would return. So far so good, though.
I slipped in my decision not to indulge in electronic purchases and bought myself a netbook Aspire one. The cutest laptop I have ever owned. The reason to buy it was that remembering my bad experience on the interview at Howard (they did not have a computer available for my presentation) I decided it would be prudent to have a mobile laptop to carry around for my lectures. It does sound legitimate, right? I will go with it. :)
Need to go and work now. Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Practice after a break is a bitch.

Three days in a row of practice after a long break. This morning I seriously entertained the idea of stopping at navasana and doing finishing. I thought I would collapse right there. But then the moment passed, and I finished my practice just fine. Felt great afterward. Need to remember this for the future.
I am trying to decide if my lower back pain (three weeks back) really comes from the standing up from UD or from deep assisted backbends. Two days I avoided both, just doing three UDs from the floor. Today I submitted myself to David's assistance in the backbends. He lifts my midsection very high and my hands are very close to the heels when he helps me. So far I feel nothing in the back. It seems the standing up is the culprit. Back to home-crim lagu vajrasana dips, strengthening the front of the body. Hopefully I will get my stand-ups back, without pinching in the lower back this time.
Oh, and my pasasana is back. Yay! Extra pounds are still with me, though.
Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nearly done with renovations.

My apartment looks so much better! Granted we did not yet bring boxes upon boxes of our stuff from the storage, but still. Walls, blinds, and floor are clean and shiny, some of the furniture are gone, and there lots of empty space. It feels like I can breathe easier.
My son found a job in NYC, which is fantastic in this job market. If I come to visit him, I might be able to see all my virtual NY friends. How cool is that? He just needs to graduate first.
On the other hand, I had only two (!) days of Mysore practice this week. So far it is the record of the lowest attendance in my Ashtanga history. In spite of substantial physical activity moving heavy objects, I managed to gain 4 pounds. I am feeling very heavy and ungraceful. Pasasana is gone. Can barely bind Marichi D. Time to start a new life, me thinks.
Happy Saturday!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I am going through my worldly possessions and trying to minimize them, pack them into boxes, and safely store them while my apartment is renovated. It is good I have this weekend for this purpose, with no obligations, classes to teach, people to meet. Because I have a lot of those possessions! I could swear they crawl out at night, engage in orgies, get pregnant and then procreate. Especially books, clothes and shoes. I found at least three doubled books. Which means I forgot that I already bought the book, bought it again, and never read nevertheless (three times!).

I feel stressed out because of the convergence of the obligations. Packing the stuff is most urgent, because the renovations will start next week. On the other hand, I can't help but to worry that my immunology classes will start in the beginning of January, and I haven't even started working on my syllabus and lectures. Not even mentioning everything that needs to be at work. At the times like that my most strong inclination is just to stop doing anything and curl into a ball under the covers. Too bad it is not quite possible.

I am trying not to watch TV. but but the news still leaks into my brain. A family on a meditation trip gets killed in Mumbai. With the scores of others. The reality is so ugly sometimes. :(

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why did I ever give up caffeine?!

Sunday I had a strong practice, which was followed by a very intense class that I taught. This resulted in the most pathetic practice today. I was so tired that I did not even pretend to attempt my half-ass jumpbacks, skipped dropbacks, assisted backbends and went into savasana after a shoulderstand. In savasana I fell asleep for the first time in ages. I thought I slept well at night, so there is no good excuse for such a folly. Maybe my body is assuming a hybernation mode? Even now, at 6:30 pm I am longingly looking toward my bed. There is so much to do, but no energy and motivation. I guess I will just crush, at least I might get a half-decent practice tomorrow.

Good night, everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not a bad week, after all.

First, I got the job! I lost the hope already,but yesterday there was an offer in my e-mail. Whew.

Second, we had a lab outing to the movies yesterday. We watched the "Twilight". Two of us liked it, two didn't. We went to see a 10 am showing, and the theater was full of moms. So funny kids are at school, and the 30 to 50 year-old moms flock to the movies to see a film their teenage daughters are raving about. I did like it - beautiful people, the "Muse" in the soundrack, steaming-hot romance, danger, and friendship - what else can I ask for?

Third, my apartment is going to be renovated in the first week of December. Long time overdue, the walls will be painted, carpet removed and floor finished. For me it means that I need to deal with my voluminous posessions. There are too many of them, and I hope this will force me to go over them with a fine brush and get rid of the majority of them. I can feel already the lightness of being that will bring it, but meanwhile I am dreading the ordeal. I have such a hard time parting with my books and electronics.

The last even of this week was not so good. I had a little heartbreak. Orson Scott Cart was one of my all time favorite authors. I decided to check on him as a person, assuming he should be at least as smart as his characters. Smart he can be, but he is also a rabid conservative, with bitter assays featuring such names as a"fraudmeister Al Gore", hypocrite Obama, and so on. He also considers President Bush to be a smart person and is extrimeley bitter about the liberal bias of the media. Everybody, of course, has a right to their opinion, but for some reason I felt really disappointed. There was nothing in his books that made me cringe, but there was very little in his essays that didn't. For a moment I had a crazy idea that his is playing Demosthenes, the way Valentine did in the "Ender's game", but it does not seem to be the case. Oh, well.

I hope everyone has a beautiful Saturday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I had enough of this week already

OK, the conference is over, but all the missed work came down crashing on my head. I skipped shala today because my body was exhausted. Hopefully I will make it to practice tomorrow.

The Convention center, where the meeting was held, is an interesting place because of its location. Brand new, very modern and imposing, it is surrounded by run-down buildings:

It also has some interesting "house decorations":

All objects were real - chairs, tennis rackets, bikes. There were also guitars and kayaks. Crazy!

I am so glad tomorrow is Friday. I just need to survive it, and then I will spend Saturday in bed. Doing nothing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Brain candy indulgence continues.

New week, time to start new life again. Practice was decent today. David remembered to fold the legs first in Supta K, which made the pose not just easier, but even enjoyable. Kind of. My legs are sore from over-walking this weekend. I was doing 18-22K steps each day, thanks to the Society for Neuroscience conference, which is quite an unusual level of activity for me. I like it, though. I can feel muscles I did not know existed. I forced Tova to give me a massage on Saturday morning instead of her practice with June, so I feel physically good, while morally guilty.

So after I finished listening to the "Twilight" series (the teenage romance novel with vampires and werewolves) I found myself in need of a new brain candy. Especially because I was waking to and from the Convention Center - 11 blocks from my home - and needed something to occupy my mind. After a brief hesitation I downloaded a second book by the same author (Stephanie Meyer), "the Host", which sounded even sillier than the first one. It was about aliens who occupied the Earth by the means of parasitic attachment to the human brains. And surprise, surprise - I liked it, too! It reminded me a lot of Orson Scott Card's "Xenocide", but on a somewhat deeper psychological level. I even cried a little on a couple of occasions, but this does not say much, because I tend to do that quite often while reading books or watching movies.

Time to read a manual for a new kit for brain cell isolation. God help me.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I am back

Why is Palin still in the news? I was under impression that the election was over and it was time for her quietly disappear into obscurity.

Anyway, I am kinda back. Still way too busy, but stress has less urgent nature. PMS is raging, though. Yesterday David could not fold me into SK and I nearly cried. I know that this is nothing, the method "bind hands first, ankles second" never worked for me, but still. I just can't wait until I am able to get into the pose by myself. It is just humiliating at the moment. My dwi pada is progressing, actually. I can get my right foot behind the left, but at this moment my left leg goes flying. Not enough power in the neck to hold them without help of the arms. No matter, the day will come.

My dad is better. He is a real fighter. After losing his wife, having 2 strokes, impared right side and speech, he still has an amazing will to live. I wish I inherited the strength of character from him, not just bad temper and flat feet.

I think my interview went well. Not counting the fact that my flash drive was not recognized by their laptop and I had to explain everything on my fingers. The interesting part is that when I came home, I discovered that it had 3 newly acquired viruses on it. So that laptop refused to show my presentation, but gave me viruses! Tsk, tsk. Not very nice. Anyway, I could not answer a couple of questions from a guy, who was probably a zoologist, and wanted to know the differences between vertebrate and invertebrate immunity. I think I answered the other questions OK, they did not seem to be difficult. We'll see. It is not like I need this job to pay my rent. I will not be too upset if I do not get it.

This weeked the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience starts, and I will get to see Elaina again. :) These meetings are crazy, but lots of fun at the same time. Time to see lots of friends, classmates, former colleagues and new people, too. The best part - it is here in DC this year. I do not have any energy left to travel.

Missed you all. Need to go end see how you all were.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank you, Lord!

And let this day to be the beginning of intelligent, educated, and simply sane governing of America.

Speaking of educated. I have not been around lately, because I was ... studying. Not sure why I do this to myself, I thought that the days of taking the exams were so over. Anyway, I applied for a part-time job teaching immunology in one of the local universities. Good news - I got an interview! Bad news - it will consist of me giving a lecture for 20 min, followed by their questions to test my knowledge of immunology. The baddnes of this news is that I am, honestly speaking, no expert in immunology. I know something here and there, but my knowledge is so fragmented that I do not quite know what I do not know. So I am studying, and feeling stressed out. No time to read you, to time to write. Need to study, so that my public humiliation will be less humiliating. I am not asking for much. :)

On the other hand, Obama won, and I am happy!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brain candy and SK troubles.

I got sucked in into a silly teenage romance novel that features vampires and werewolves. Two evenings in a row I was a completely unproductive member of the human race. I can't wait to get my little sweaty hands on the book 2, so I could continue my unproductive life a little longer.

Two day in a row of a decent practice. Not doing dropbacks, stand-ups and assisted backbends for now, just 3 UD from the floor. A vast improvement in how my back feels. Hopefully I will completely recover by next Monday. There is only one small fear that lives in the back of my mind - what if I lost the ability to stand up altogether? Better not to think about it.

My struggle with Supta Kurmasana continues. For some reason, neither Keith nor David assist me into the pose lately. What's up with that? I did make some progress in Dwi pada - my left leg is securely behind my neck. The right one - is another matter. It is much tighter than the left one, and I just can't push it with one hand behind far enought to hook it behind the shoulder. I am so tantalisingly close, the feet are touching, but alas, it is still not there yet. Need to work on opening that right hip at home more diligently.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Too eager to practice or something.

On a complete autopilot I battled a nasty morning and made it to the studio. Found the door locked, scratched my head and then realized - today is a moon day! What a blockhead.
As a result I am at work at 6:30 am. Well, I might have some work accomplished today. If I ever detach from the internet and start working, that is.

Happy Moon day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is it Monday already?

Spent some time in a "real world", and now I am back, in my cozy corner of the cybershala. I think I do not like the real world too much now. Too much nervous energy zipping around. But I did have a very nice weekend, nevertheless. In spite of the nasty weather on Saturday, Victor and I walked around the city in Georgetown and Dupont circle. We had a lovely champagne brunch in a French bistro, a spa visit and talked a lot. Unfortunately, I did not pack his stuff for a business trip as a result, and had to skip breakfast with Sonya, Tova and Sarah on Sunday. Sigh.
My back is feeling better. I haven't been standing up ( and dropping down) from UD from Friday. I think I will wait until Sunday to try it again. Meanwhile I am working on strengthening abs/quads and lower back muscles, so hopefully the return to a full practice will not be a shock to my lower back. Pasasana is good now, I am consistently binding on both sides, but Supta Kurmasana is very exasperating. I will drink a full bottle of champagne all by myself the first time I get into the pose and bind without assistance. Not holding my breath, though...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back to the routine.

The strength is slowly coming back. Yesterday I was nearly dead after the practice, today - only half dead. Progress! Damn cold. Speaking of which, it is freezing outside! Feels like it is time to get the winter clothes out and put away the summer clothes. How sad is that?

I decided to lay off standing from UD for a week or so and let the soreness in my lower back to heal. As I said before, it seems that I am lacking core strength to lift myself up without collapsing in the lower back. Meanwhile I will do some spine strengtheners (thank you, Aliya for advice) and Lagu Vajrasana dips at home to build up the core and quads.

This week is not shaping up to be the one deserving my gadget reward. Sigh. I will call it - yoga of discipline and patience. Doesn't it sound good? Much better than me being a loser.
Time to work. Hugs and kisses to everyone! One day till the weekend...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yoga Nidra rocks!

Woke up today and felt so shaky that the question of going to shala was barely considered. Tried to practice at home, but after a second sun salutations gave up. I felt winded and my arms were not holding me. Like I suffered a long and difficult illness instead of a 3-day cold. Weird. Instead I did a Yoga Nidra and I did not fall asleep even once. What a great feeling. I love Yoga Nidra! I think I might incorporate it into my morning routine. Of course that means getting up 45 minutes earlier, but that is OK. It seems that I am a morning person, anyway.
Full day of work today. Happy Tuesday, everyone! :)

Monday, October 20, 2008


I am sick.
Spent all Sunday in bed with a mother of all headaches, oozing snot and all the other joys of cold. Did not even attempt to practice, because was feeling too icky. I will skip shala today, just to avoid spreading the germs, but have a light practice at home. Will work from home, too.
It is funny how my self-confidence was crushed. Last week I felt so invincible, walking around sneezing and coughing people and thinking "I do yoga, eat right and wash my hands often. There is no way I can get sick". Yeah, right.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The end of a good week

Last Sunday I decided to be more mindful in my purchases and implement a reward system. If I fulfilled 80% of everything I planned, I can buy a gadget I wanted for some time. The plan included not skipping Mysore, doing home yoga, doing meditation every day, packing 5 hours of writing (work paper) and 2 hours of preparing a package for the job search; monitoring my eating, and so on. Quite a few items. One of them was losing 2 lbs as a result of careful CRONing. Though I was quite satisfied with what was done, one big thing failed - not only I did not lose 2 lbs, I gained 2! Not sure how it happened. I was eating very good, 1/5- 2 hours of yoga every day, 6-8K of steps, 3 liters of water. What is up with that, I wonder? I really hope this is a temporary setback, body getting used to the idea of returning to healthy eating. Anyway, the plan was fulfilled only by 70%, so no gadget for me, sigh. But I am still happy - it feels I can show something for this week, regardless. I will tweak the plan a little for the next week, setting more realistic goals, so that I can indulge myself with the new shiny gadget.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Backbending woes

On Saturday, in my acupuncturist’s office, I noticed some soreness in my lower back. It does not hurt in everyday life, but it was painful when she dug between my vertebrae, looking for the reference points. Then on Monday, when Tova gave me her magical massage, I felt the same – very sensitive lower back. I might have overdone it with deep assisted backbends. I do feel it in the updog and my UD, especially when I stand up from it. So today I decided to try a new tactics – to squeeze in the buttocks and the hamstrings in all the backbends. It really worked in updog and UD, but not in standing up – I kind of lost all coordination while concentrating on the squeeze. So I am not sure how to proceed. Should I give up all backbending and wait for the soreness to be gone? Or should I try more with engaging the legs? I obviously do not do the standing up right – at some point there is a collapse in the lower back. The good news is that I see the problem, the bad news – I have no idea how to deal with the problem. Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rested and perky

I had such a great weekend. Slept a lot, but also had plenty of things done which reduced the stress level substantially. Good practices on Sunday and Monday, and a Moon day today. Just a perfect schedule. Why can't we have a Columbus day every Monday and a Moon day every Tuesday? Life would be so much happier. What was even better, my Monday practice was enhanced by a following massage from Tova. Magic hands from a magical person. Me very happy.
I actually was looking forward to work this morning. It did not last too long though... Now I am sitting again buried in paperwork and wistfully thinking about the weekend. May it is time for my meditation? Or some tea with a snack? No, I should better gather my willpower into a fist and start working, working, working! A 15 minute meditation will be my reward in an hour.
Happy Moon day!

Friday, October 10, 2008


I have been feeling a little bit overwhelmed and overstretched lately. Skipped practice not only on Wednesday, but Thursday, too. Today I had a very miserable practice. I am either bloated or gained weight, but I felt simply ginormous. No surprise here, with all the work deadlines and home inspections I did not watch my food. No, the food choices were fine, but the quantities were not, I think. Haven't been using my Cron-o-meter either. But - I was still doing meditation! I am probably hooked. 10 minutes of seated meditation feels like a safe heaven, or an island in the midst of the storming sea. It is funny how setting the intention of doing meditation for a month can overcome the need of doing urgent work, or need to cook, or other necessary things for which I do not have enough time. And boy it helps to pull a self together!
OK, back to work. The good thing is that this is a Friday before the long weekend. So the task is to survive this day in one piece and everything will be great. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Meditation, days 5 and 6

Life is crazy. Forcing myself to meditate everyday made me a little stressed out for a moment, but then actually relieved the stress a little. I am doing 5-10 minute sitting meditation these two days, and it seems to be the hardest type I tried so far. Maybe because life picked up its pace all of a sudden and it is difficult to concentrate overall, leave alone on doing nothing. I was so tired during the practice today, nearly cried. I am considering taking a day off Mysore tomorrow, but I will decide in the morning, depending on how I feel.
Need to get back to work. An important presentation tomorrow morning, to which I have not done anything to prepare. And a gazillion of other small things that needed to be done yesterday. Oi.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Meditation, days 3 and 4

Fridays are very hectic for me - two yoga classes to teach plus a lab meeting, in addition to morning practice. Knowing that I mostly likely will not have time for yoga nidra in the evening, I tried a walking meditation, based on the instructions taken from here. The method is based on bringing mindfulness to the mechanics of walking, concentrating on the feelings in the feet and the movement of the foot. One is supposed to name every part of the walking process, such as "lifting, pushing, pressing down" or something like that. Eventually, with experience, one should be able to divide the process into even smaller sections, name them and keep pronouncing the name during the process. Let me tell you something - you can't walk fast while doing this meditation! Moreover, the walk becomes somewhat robotic, when you lift your foot and then get stuck in the mid-air, trying to remember which name goes with this part of the movement. But it was interesting, nevertherless. I tried it yesterday, spending 10-15 minutes on working out the details, and actually liked it a lot. Probably entertained some of my fellow NIH co-workers,too.
Today I had a lot of walking done - first to Dupont circle to my accupuncturist, then to Georgetown to get haircut-manicure-peducure, and then home, to Foggy Bottom. I left home well in advance, giving myself plenty of time for the robotic walk. But the meditation went well, although only with 3-part naming of the step. It was somewhat difficult to keep the attention on the walk, because the weather was amazing and the city looked so pretty early in the morning. Nevertheless, I did get 20-30 minutes of pure meditation done, and it felt interesting. The rythm of walk and relentless repetition of the same words puts you in a some kind of trance, not altogether unpleasant. I will explore it a more!
I like my new haircut! It is a little shorter than I had before, and a little sassier. Of course, it will look completely different tomorrow, when the effects of the blowdry are gone, but I can enjoy feeling pretty today, right?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Second day of meditation.

I chose a shorter, 35-min version of Yoga Nidra this time. Could not do it at 7 as planned, did it at 8:30 pm. Dosed off a couple of times, but woke up shortly afterward and actually heard the ending of it. Yay!

There was an interesting effect on my sleep. I use a sleeptracker watch to wake me up, and it also keeps track of the “nearly awake times” during the sleep. My normal average time between these “nearly awake’s” is around 25-30 minutes. This night, all of a sudden it was 46 minutes. This means I slept deeper for longer stretches of time. I can’t say I feel any better. In fact, I am very, very tired today, and barely made it through the practice. So I am not sure how to interpret these data, but I find it all curious. Well, there is the whole month ahead to experiment; I hope I will have enough data points to draw conclusions.

Happy Friday! :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Meditation is hard

Meditation yesterday was a partial success. I pulled out Xenia Splawinski Yoga Nidra and actually dedicated a whole hour to it. Meaning that I went to bed at 8 pm, instead of 9. How ridiculus is that? Anyway, I got comfortable, and started to go through the rotation of the conciousness. At this moment my body started to itch. I actually thought we had bed bugs! But no, it just my monkey mind was playing tricks with me. I diverted the attention from the relaxation of the body, and the itch stopped. So weird. Anyway, the rotation of the consciousness went fine, but then my mind strayed and I started thinking about a work problem. Did not even notice that, only after a very good idea came to my mind I realized what was happening. Since very good ideas do not visit me quite often, I sacrificed the meditation and got up to write it down (I have a sad experience of completely forgetting things that were worth remembering). Got back to bed, and restarted the recording. Do not remember what happened next, because I was fast asleep. Big problem! But I would say I got about 15-20 minutes out of 45 without sleeping and thinking about something else. Not too shabby for me! My sankalpa (intention for change) was to become more disciplined. I did not get to repeat it in the end of the practice, but there is still hope.
Anyway, since the plan is to meditate every day in October, I will implement the following changes:
1) do it not in bed, but on the floor
2) do it from 7-8, hoping it will help not to fall asleep
3) banish the cat from the room (somebody crawling on your body during meditation is not conducive for concentration)

I had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist this morning at 7:15. Had to skip practice and acquired a brand-new set of burns on the neck. Not as bad as the first time, thank God. I might practice after work, but we'll see, with meditation and all if I have time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday already?

Days are going by just way too fast. I do not seem to manage much during the day, and then there is a very short evening, and after that it is 4:15 am of the next day. And everything repeats. I need a time management workshop or something of the kind. It feels like additional 3-4 hours a day would make a huge difference, but probably this is just another illusion.
At least I have yoga. Even though I understand that not only it takes 1.5 hours of my time every day, it also eats part of my evening, and the time when I prepare and teach classes. But every time I skip yoga, the day seems even shorter, less organized and productive. So probably yoga in fact adds to my time, I just need to be smarter about spending it right.
Today David said "Not bad" to my pasasana. Which translated to normal human language would sound like "Very good" or even "Excellent". He does not spoil us with praise. I could not wipe a silly grin from my face until the rest of the practice. :)
Oh, I am going to meditate today - thank you, Yogamum for the initiative! I have been ignoring meditation for way too long. BTW, does Yoga Nidra count as meditation or not?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Economic downturn does not bother me as long as my practice is good.

Such a satisfying practice today! I felt so strong by the end of it, I could go for another one. Aliya gave me his permission :) Had to go to work instead. Bummer.
I bound pasasana on both sides. Keith gave me an awesome adjustment, rotating my torso towards the ceiling. Then in an assisted backbend I grabbed my heels and held the pose for nice five breaths. Aaahhh! Life is good.
My acupuncturist gave me some herbal concoction to drink twice a day as a tea. She was apologetic about the taste, claiming it was too strong. I was very surprised to find the taste not only not strong, but quite pleasant. I then remembered that it took me sometime to get used to my lapacho tea which I love now. Nothing is too strong in comparison!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mellow Moonday Monday

Long time out of blogoshpere. Ladies holiday combined with a moon day resulted in 4 days without Mysore practice. I feel really rested now. I still did some yin yoga at home. In addition, my yesterday's vinyasa class kicked my own ass, so I do not feel like a slacker. But I am looking forward to tomorrow's practice.
Overall I feel very mellow for some reason. I have lots of things to to, but it does not bother me at all. SAMe at work? I like it!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Little Fountain and chewing gum on a sidewalk

A day of rest did a world of good to my practice. It was not my regular "ready to die any moment now Thursday practice", but a very nice a strong one. Touched fingers on my left side and bound on the right side in Pasasana. Standing up from UD - I feel light as a feather. Deep assisted backbend. Very satisfactory! :)
Yesterday my friend Jane and I went to a "Little Fountain" restaurant in Adams Morgan. It was very cozy. A single table outside, way below the sidewalk, but in a beautiful tiny garden, drowning in flowers. So lovely! And the food was too good for my own good, I ate too much. I generally do not like going out too much, because I get easily bored by waiting for the food, then eating for hours, then waiting for the check and so on. Seems like such a waste of time. But Jane is such a interesting person, with 75 years worth of fascinating stories, I never get bored with her. Her stories yesterday were sad though. She talked about her best friend Helen, who died from cancer at 41. She got the same cancer as her older sister, who is still alive today (way over 80). Helen, however, did not want to follow her sister's successful, but brutal traditional treatment and went through the alternative ways - cleansing through coffee enemas, healers, herbs and so on. When she realized they were not working, it was too late.
One of Jane's nephews who lives in Singapore told her once "DC is disgusting! Look at all those chewing gum traces" and he pointed out to the dark blotches on the sidewalks. I have never paid attention to them, but now I am very curious - are they really traces of chewing gum? It is hard to believe that there are so many of them. Not sure how to investigate it though. Any ideas (not involving picking up and tasting)? They are flat, dark and non-sticky.
Have a great day, everyone!
PS. Googled it and found this about chewing gum: Chewing Gum Graveyard. Looks very convincing...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who needs reality, anyway?

Most bizarre experience today. I prepared clothes and food yesterday, had a nice slow yin practice and went to bed well before nine. This morning, my ipod woke me up with cheerful chirping at 4:15, I got up, fed the cats, prepared my shake, turned on TV and computer. Something felt a little off, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Prepared for the shower... and then my cat woke me up. At 5:45! I could not believe it. The dream was so real, so vivid, I still remember some bits of news I heard on TV. So not only did I not practice, but was late for work. Not sure why I am so surprised, though. This is not the first time something like that happening with me. My relationship with sleep is very complicated.
I am at work now, and even though I slept nearly 9 hours, I feel sluggish and sleepy. As much as I would like to practice today, I do not think it will be possible. Lots of work, and in the evening I am taking my dear friend Jane out for her birthday. She is one of the most interesting people I met in my life and I am looking forward to seeing her and listening to her stories.
OK, time to wash my face with cold water to wake up and start working. I hope you have a beautiful Wednesday!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I got noosed!

And just like that, after a completely uninspiring this morning's practice, 9 months after receiving setu bandhasana and 1 year 2 months after starting ashtanga mysore, I was moved to the second series. I could not bind on any of the sides of pasasana on my own (I used to bind easily on the right side, and with difficulty - on the left), but that did not diminish my joy. I think I will be fine even if I stay here for another year - it is just the symbolism of the pose that makes me happy. I need to go and bounce around a little. Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crim but fun

I was working on the opening of the hips for better supta kurmasana. After a while I noticed that this pose (do not know the name and too lazy to look it up) became easy to do. Decided to document in the common corridor. The downside of the arrangement is that it is hard during the 10 seconds of the self-timer to get both into the pose and into the frame completely. My cat had much better luck in this regard. And neighbors walked to and from the elevator every 2 seconds for some reason. I will never be able to look them into eyes from now on.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Good day. Love Saturdays! I had laundry done, visited an acupuncturist, and helped my friend with her house. Not much of a help, but I had a wonderful time planting flowers in her garden. Read books, watched TV, enjoyed myself so much, I can't wait to start working again. :)
Here is one of the roses I took pictures the other day. Why do I like dark pictures so much - no idea.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I was so sore and so tired today. Still glad I made it to practice, though now I am wondering how to make it to the rest of the day in one piece. It seems that many people felt the same way in the shala today. Just very low energy in the air, in addition to not too many people there to begin with. On the other hand, I felt really flexible. It seemed that there was no energy even to resist the stretch. Backbends were flaccid, too - like there was not much of a backbone to bend. I wonder if I am going to pay for it later? Hopefully Saturday rest will help.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Good practice and "I am confused..."

Incredibly busy the last two days. Did make to the shala, though. Good practice. Aliya was teaching today,which is always a treat. In MariC, he twisted me so much, I thought I would be able to see him from the opposite side if he turned me a little more. In supta kurmasana Aliya folded me somehow differently today. I could not hold it all that well, but he claimed it was rather deep. All in all - very satisfying Mysore. If only I did not have to work after it, it would be so lovely. But alas, no such luck, need to work, work and work some more.

My beautiful friend Genevieve just sent me this:

Subject: I'm confused .....

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

* If you grow up in Hawaii , raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.'

* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers: a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

* Name your kids Willow , Trig, and Track: you're a maverick.

* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating: you're well grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of
the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl (sports caster), 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

* If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America 's.

* If you're husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DUI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Nairam tagged me for a meme:

3 joys:

1) Seeing a really good movie. I love movies, all kinds - chick flicks, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy. Not horror, though.
2) Talking to my son
3) Spending time with my husband

3 fears:

1) Growing old, feeble minded and physically incapacitated
2) Something bad happening to my loved ones
3) Some global catastrophe with no possibility of escape

3 obsessions:

1) books (own too many already, no time to read, but must have them…)
2) yoga
3) electronic gadgets

3 surprising facts:.

1) When I was small, I was a pathological liar. I lied to so many people about so many things that at one point the stress of it became unbearable. So at the ripe age of 9 I decided to stop lying and gave myself a promise to be as truthful as humanly possible. And I keep it even now. Not being entangled in a web of lies makes life simple.

2) I wanted to be a journalist and used to write well. OK, you can stop laughing now. First of all, it was a looong time ago, second – I am much more eloquent in Russian!

3) I think I am not afraid to die. At least not too much. Once my friends and I crossed a small river to find a secluded spot for nude sunbathing (we were so stupid then!). It was a nice morning, and the river was more like a little creek. In the afternoon, when we decide to return home, we discovered that this little trickle of water became a wild brown stream, carrying branches and even little trees along. Apparently, this river was fed by the glaciers in the mountains, and after a very hot day and small rain it became impassable. In addition to the increased width and depth, it was so noisy; nobody could hear us from the road. As I mentioned, we were young and stupid, and decided to cross it anyway, using a fallen tree that was half submerged under the moving water. All my friends passed it safely (not without screaming) and I was the last one to go. As I was moving along the tree, the something hit my legs (it might have been a stone rolling on the bottom, I am not sure) and I lost balance completely. I was able to catch a thin branch of the tree and was flailing like a rug in the water. I looked up and could see that the branch I was holding was slowly detaching from the trunk under my weight. At this moment I kind of decided that I was going to die. And did not get upset, or scared or anything like that. I just accepted the death as a reality and was absolutely at peace. Then I grieved for a moment for my parents, but that passed very fast, too. Any way, the tree turned around because I was pulling at it and a brand new branch became available for me to grab. I am still alive, but I remember that peace and calm at the moment of mortal danger. I hope I will feel the same when the time comes!

In other news – I love yoga! This Saturday I had a migraine attack, slept poorly and woke up on Sunday not only with a mother of all headaches, but also a crick in my neck, which extended to the shoulder blade. Briefly considered not going to shala. But since we agreed to go to have breakfast with Anna and Tova before, so I decided to go anyway. Sun Salutations were horrible – I felt like barfing every time my head was down, but that passed soon. All things considered, it was a decent practice, though I could not do my backbends because of the pain in the shoulder. We had a very lovely breakfast with the girls afterward, and I felt much better. By the time of the class I was supposed to teach, I was fresh and pain-free, like a newborn. Yoga rules!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Join the peace intention experiment!


From the website:
The Intention Experiment is embarking on a series of scientific studies to determine whether "group mind" has the power to increase peace and cooperation in war-torn areas around the world experiencing high levels of conflict and violence.

Lynne McTaggart, architect of the experiments and author of the best-selling book The Intention Experiment, has enlisted a team of internationally recognized scientists from University of California, Princeton University and University of Arizona and elsewhere, to help design these studies.

Although many meditation groups and other peace initiatives are being formed and studied, the Peace Intention Experiment represents the first scientific study of whether collective targeted intention can restore peace.
The TM research

This project was sparked by the numerous Transcendental Meditation studies showing that when a critical mass of meditators regularly meditate in an area, the crime rate goes down.

The TM organization has also targeted global conflict. In 1983 a special TM assembly met in Israel to attempt to use meditation to resolve the Palestinian conflict. During their sessions, they made daily comparisons between the number of meditators working on the project and the state of Arab-Israeli relations. On days with a high number of meditators, fatalities in Lebanon fell by 76 per cent. Ordinary violence - local crime, traffic accidents and fires - also all decreased.

But the TM studies mostly concern group attention. In many instances, the meditators are not people who maintain a focused intention to change something else. The Peace Intention Experiment will take their work one step further by examining what happens when a large group sends a highly specific intention to make a change.

The first study will begin on September 14, 2008, to tie in with the Unity Church's Eleven days of Unity, and run for 10-minute intervals each day at the same time for one week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Which pose represents your Friday?

I felt really stubborn today. In spite of going to bed late and then having trouble falling asleep, I made myself go to shala, even though I was practically weeping inside. Do you know this feeling, when you are miserable, but also angry at yourself, so you make yourself do something? Strangely enough, the practice was strong and satisfying. Keith is back, things seem to be settling back to the routine. I will practice on Sunday, and that will be my week - shala and yin home practice every other day alternately. I actually liked it a lot. We'll see if I continue with this schedule or go back to 5-6 day shala practice.

I am teaching two classes today (which makes it 4 hours of yoga), and there is also lots of work in the lab. I was in utpluthi today and thought - Hmm, this pose is like my Friday - one last big effort and then blissful rest. Which makes Saturday my Savasana. Sunday would be sun salutations, lots of energy after the rest. Monday - Warrior 1, determination to work and accomplish. Tuesday - Janu A, determination dwindling down. Wednesday - Supta Kurmasana, not a happy day. Thursday - exhaustive UD drop backs, no energy left for work or life. Here we go - a week in a form of the Primary series.

I have been obsessing over Sade's "Flow" lately for some reason. Matches my melancholic mood. I think I will use it in my class today:

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What am I doing up?

Played with my camera a little. As a result, went to bed late. Hobbies are detrimental for ashtanga practice!
Here what I came up with. Composition-wise could have been better, but I think the technique is interesting - I was using a small key-chain laser to get the "shining from within" effect. What do you think?

Can the IT band be overstretched?

For some reason this week I am having "every other day" practice at the shala. Skipped it today, too, but had a slow eclectic practice at home, concentrating on the areas that needed special attention (hip flexors, hip flexors and hip flexors). I hate to admit it, but I think I developed a new injury - the IT band area. For sometime I was terrified that this was sciatica, because I could not sleep on the side (any side, left or right) - the whole outside area of my left thigh was hurting. Not a terrible pain, but a gnawing, annoying ache, which made the sleep problematic. I backed off the backbends, but it did not help at all. It seems that the worst offender is the reversed triangle with the left leg forward. Used to be one of my best poses. Now it is painful, and I have to bend the front knee to make it work at all. Any stretching makes it worse. It does not seem to affect any other poses so far, so I will just take it easy in the reversed triangle. But boy, this is frustrating. The feeling of injury-free well being does not seem to last longer than two weeks at most. Maybe I am too old for ashtanga, after all? Or maybe I need a major attidude makeover - just stop pushing at all and back off? Need to think. Mew.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gadgets should be excluded from Aparigraha considerations

Slept in yesterday. Was so sore, I just hated the idea of getting out of the bed. Which was OK, because today’s practice rocked. Damien is so damn good. In the last assisted dropback I landed very close to my heels, and it did not hurt my lower back. Yum!

Some brave souls are looking very closely at their Yamas and Nyamas observances. While I still prefer to live an unexamined life, one thing is clear: I totally suck at Aparigraha. Apple unveiled it’s new Ipods yesterday, and the minute they updated their on-line store, I got myself a new ipod touch. Feeling really guilty now. Well, not really. :) Can’t wait for it to come! I am also eying a sewing machine at Costco, but I might be able to keep myself from buying it for a while. It is bulky, and I decided that first I need to get rid of something that is twice the volume of the machine. This way I will actually decrease the number and bulk of my possessions, not increase them. Sly, huh?

Have a great day, everyone!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Walking funny

Life is good again. My baby is home, on a break before his school starts. I managed to make myself work harder on the projects and that did a world of good to my psyche. The only problem at the moment is that I am sore. Very sore.
So I had an excellent practice on Sunday. Damien is subbing, he is quite amazing and it is also good to have someone new with a fresh perspective. Then in the evening I taught a very vigorous class. For some reason I got lots of beginners in my vinyasa class, so I cranked the intensity up a notch so that they would decide if they really wanted to stay in this class. This class in nearly full and I do not want to disappoint my regular students with slowing down for the yoga beginners. I teach an easier class on Friday (which has an attendance problem), so hopefully some of the beginners will migrate there. Anyway, it was intense even for me, though I did not do everything. So this morning I was sore to begin with for Mysore. I decided to hide in the corner of the room, the one that gets least of the teachers attention. Boy, did I pay for it! Damien was either very busy, or he did not notice me for a while, but I spent in Kurmasana 50 breaths before he helped me into Supta Kurmasana. Which was fine for a while, but in an hour or so after practice I noticed an increasing soreness on my butt and the outsides of my thighs. I was sitting and working on my paper all day long and that did not help the matters at all. Getting up from the chair became excruciating, and my walking now is reminiscent of that of a pregnant woman. Or a duck. Esthetically speaking, it does not matter since I still look like a typhoid patient with the spots all over my neck. Practically speaking - highly inconvenient. Tried to sit on a tennis ball and roll it around - too painful. Now I am writing this, and dreaming of getting home, taking Advil and Epsom salt bath. So want to be back to being spotless and graceful!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Do not like myself

It feels like I am sleepwalking again. Once in a while my life becomes somewhat unpleasant and I slip into this zombie-like state. It is not quite obvious from outside - I function and communicate well, and seem to be in a good mood. But the hours of my TV watching increase dramatically, I either listen to the books all the time or daydream. It's like I am avoiding myself big time. I said I function well, but it is not quite true. I seem to function well. Things are not getting done. The first sign of this slippage - the state of my apartment. It is the first to go, since my husband does not really care if it is orderly or not. I get laundry done, but it is not ironed or sorted, and the laundry bags accumulate in the living room. I stop cooking, cleaning, doing dishes. I go through the motions at work too, getting done something small and easy, while the important and effort-consuming tasks stay unfulfilled. The number of things that are not done rises and starts nagging on me, which makes me try to escape even more. If I do not snap out of it at this moment, I start playing computer games. Yes, it is true, I am a middle-aged woman who spends hours and hours playing computer games. I also stop watching what I eat; in fact, I eat like the food goes into somebody else. Amid all this mess there is one thing that keeps me anchored - my yoga practice. It is the only thing that I can keep together, no matter how low I go in my zombie state. Thank God for yoga.
I hope I can climb out of it by myself this time, before I reached the game-playing stage. I realised that I am getting there, right? The first step. Could these be the symptoms of depression, I wonder?
Hello, my name is Alfia, and I am a zombie.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I still look like a carrier of a horrible infectious disease. Sweating this morning did not help - all the spots on my neck became angry and freshly inflamed. Yuck.
But practice was very good, though I felt incredibly self-conscious. Jump-throughs are better, not as noisy and a little lighter. I was practicing lolasana at home with the blocks, but so far I do not see any progress with my jump backs (granted, I only practiced it twice at home, no reason to expect big changes). I felt good afterwards, and I think this is the most important part - my Yoga practice makes me feel strong and young.
For the home practice:
1) stretch those hip flexors to remove the lower back strain in backbends;
2) strengthen those hip flexors with lolasana on the blocks - 10X
3) open hip for supta kurmasana with a chair.
4) Linda's push-ups 45X
Should keep me busy tonight. :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cancer prevention week.

Yesterday I had two appointments - a mammogram and with a dermatologist. I am not sure if this how it works for everyone, but the stupid mammogram hurts! I have regular size breasts, but it is sill hard to imagine they can be reduced to the thickness of pancakes by squeezing between the two plates. I could feel a substantial tug on the back of my head. Which reminds me this old joke about a woman who was so addicted to the face lifts that even her plastic surgeon got tired of her. He made a knob on the top of her head and suggested that every time she felt a need for a lift, she tighten the knob a little. After a while she came for an appointment and he asked how the contraption was working for her. She said she loved it very much, but there was a problem - she had persistent bags under her eyes, which would not go away, no matter how hard she tightened the knob. The surgeon looked carefully and exclaimed "But madam, those are not the bags, those are your breasts!"
Anyway, the next was a visit to a dermatologist. She removed three suspicious moles and then she started burning skin tags on my neck. Apparently, I have a high pain threshold, so she got all excited and burned every single imperfection she could see, including broken vessels and whatnot. As a result, I looked like a leper yesterday, and today I look like a leopard. I had no idea there were so many imperfections! These burns do not bother me too much, but one of the removed moles hurt all night long, and I did not get enough sleep. Skipped shala today, had a slow yin home practice. But my yearly program of cancer prevention is practically fullfilled, only left a gynecologist visit for a pap smear, and I am done!

Time to go to work and scare the anesthesia patients with my spotted neck. Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nice, long weekend

Due to the sacrificial goat quality Ladies holiday, no yoga asanas the last four days. But I did some meditating and a lot of thinking. Started to plan for the 15-week fall session at the yoga studio where I teach. Got to spend time with friend's wonderful kids. Went to the Zoo with other friends from out of town. Had a lab lunch with co-workers. Did a lot of home cleaning and laundry. Nice weekend all in all. Today - back to the shala! My body is screaming for the movement and stretch.
From the Zoo - Arturo, here is a little frog for you:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Feeling better.

And just like that, my anger is gone. In fact, I felt a surge of affection towards David when he told us it was his birthday. Note to self - before acting out on rage and resentment - check your calendar!
Anyway, practice is still strong. Naked+Anutra+Green vibrance+MSM for breakfast turned out to be a golden combination for me. David grunted approvingly while hlelping me in supta kurmasana, which made me happy (we are so not spoiled by praise!), and spent some time in helping me to hold a "high and proud" kukkutasana. It seems that what I needed at the moment the most - just a sign that I am not forgotten, and I am back to a contented self.
In other news - Rayna is back! She was so radiant and beautiful with Hawaiian flowers in her hair. Aliya will be back in shala by Sunday, too. Things are getting back to normal. Even better than normal, because we have Tova here, too. So wonderful!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emotional pit.

Was incredibly tempted today to stay home and have an extra hour of sleep. Went anyway. Was just as angry as yesterday. What is funny, though, I am having the best practices of my life during all this turmoil. It feels like anger fuels the practice, makes me more determined and less prone to slacking off. So much for the tranquility of the mind and the cessation of the fluctuations and so on. This energy does not last long though. I collapsed yesterday at 8:30 and barely made it to the pillow.

It is sad that we do not have much choices in DC in terms of Ashtanga. The only other studio does not have a very early Mysore, so it would not work for me. Sigh. I am being silly, of course. I love David and Keith, and me being mad just reflects more my own shortcomings, and less theirs. Sigh again. OK, I think I am done with the tantrum. Sorry, everyone!

Monday, August 25, 2008

This is that special time when I am very, very bitchy

Yesterday we had our new "traditional" Q and A session at the shala. David talked about cleaning up the vinyasas, instituting moon days, about all the buzz news coming from Mysore. In particular that they were going to "tighten" up the speed of moving people into the intermediate (in a sense they will not move people as fast as they used to. Huh?!). My heart sunk. A month ago David asked me how long I was pain-free, and explained to me that the ONLY reason they did not give me pasasana was their rule of having a pain-free months after an injury. So a month passed, nearly the second is over, and still, not even a hint. OK, so I asked after the Q n' A, what exactly was holding me and what should I work on. Let's see, says David, can you jump through? Yes. Can you lift up from Supta Kurmasana into Tittibasana? Yes. OK, he says, I will look closely and I will tell you what to work on. Hello! What happened to the "only" reason?I know I was just irking David further, because it is not a "good" manner to ask for a pose. Just could not stop myself. So today I was a mess. I managed to completely convince myself that I will never get moved to the second. I will be doing the primary forever. What is the point of coming to shala then if they were not going to teach me anything new? Wouldn't I be better off doing it all at home? Should I spend money just to get a couple of the same adjustments daily? All these thoughts were racing through my mind, enraging me more and more. By shoulderstand I even cried a little. Thank God nobody noticed. I left the shala, and while walking towards my car, a thought occurred " what is wrong with you?". I even stopped for a moment. And then realized - I am having a PMS moment! I did not feel any physical symptoms, but this rage was totally uncharacteristic for me. I am generally a very happy person. Well, uncharacteristic in 99% of the time. During our 23 years of marriage, my husband and I fought exactly four times. Every single time it was my PMS period. Apparently my bitchiness raises to unbelievable levels, so that even my husband's angelic patience couldn't take it.
Having realized that, I decided not to make any drastic decisions and ask any more damaging questions. Let things be, my life outlook might be back to normal by the next week. Let me tell you, though, PMS sucks!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who is more flexible than a yogi?

A rhythmic gymnast, as it seems. This such an amazing sport, though not very popular in America. It seems there was only one woman from North America, who qualified for Beijing. But what an amazing sport it is! So much beauty, grace, flexibility and precision. And the bodies of rhythmic gymnasts look so much better than the bodies of the "regular" gymnasts.

And here some highlights from Beijing:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Friday.

Again, two days in a row of very strong practices. I do not remember having a week like that before. It seems that combination of MSM + Naked Machine works wonders for my stamina. Even after working hard on all my jump-throughs, I had more than enough energy for UD stand-ups.
Me happy. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back on the vagon.

Strong practice yesterday and today. Bought MSM at last, and what a difference! No nagging aching feeling all day long, the the practice is back to being actually enjoyable. One of the things I noticed lately is that I tend to hold my breath in some transitions (jumping back to chaturanga, updog to downdog, and some others). I tried to control it today, and the breathing was much smoother. In terms of energy it is all good, too. For breakfast I mix half a bottle of Naked green or blue machine with either Anutra or some other fiber-containing mix, and the carbs in Naked carry me through the practice with no problem. I get hungry only an hour or two after the practice, when the adrenaline wears off.
I got back on my CRON vagon. Following Arturo's advice, I prepare the food for breakfast and lunch an evening before, weigh everything and enter the data into Cron-o-meter. In the evening, I look for whatever component is missing from my diet, and make a dinner accordingly. Lacking the necessary ingredients, I take supplements. So far, this week's diet was stellar (a little high on carbs, but within the calorie limit). Can't wait till Sunday to see what the scale tells me. Not that it ever tells me anything good.
Too much work at work for some reason. I was hoping for a slow season after the summer insanity, but no such luck. When is that Labor day?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Never give up.

I just liked this picture. A friend of mine posted it in her diary, on a Russian site. The translation is: Never give up!

Feeling immature.

There is something wrong with me. So yesterday, I was such a good girl - prepared food, clothes and everything for Monday and by 8:30 was in bed with my laptop. Since there was a half hour of free time before bed, I decided to check out the chess program on my Mac. Lost. To a computer! It did not agree with me at all, so I played another game. Lost again. One more, and another one. I won at last, but it was nearly eleven. How stupid is that? Of course, I could not wake up on time, slept an extra hour, missed shala, did not practice. And since there was an extra half hour in the morning, I played chess again. Can you guess what happened? Right, I am late for work! For a forty-something year-old woman I behave unbelievably immature. Ugh. At least I managed to buy MSM yesterday, so hopefully tomorrow I will be ready for a good practice. Meanwhile I need to go an knock my head against the wall a little.
Happy Monday! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday practice

Not a very good practice today. First of all, it felt like Saturday was not enough for rest - all my muscles were achy and miserable. Second, I think I developed hypoglycemia by the end of the practice - felt so noxious during the backbends, I had to abandon them all together. Barely made it through the finishing. It seems that the new protein shake Glucerna that I bought to have for breakfast before practice, is not working. Too low on carbs. I will need to supplement it with something. And get my MSM at last!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tova's hands and MSM addiction.

Yesterday practiced at home. Lots of crim - pinca, eka pada, dwi pada, yoga nidrasana, pasasana (which I can no longer bind on the left side). Brief flurry of work, then doctor's appointment (check-up, all good), and Tova's massage! She has magical hands, let me tell you. Aaah! Granted, I could do nothing anymore after that, but a lazy evening was more than welcomed.
Today's practice was usual Thursday sucky self, no surprise here. No energy left be the end of practice, could barely stand up from UD, handstand was shaky from pure exhaustion. Since I know now that this is a normal situation for Thursday, I am not even upset. It is also possible that my 103 Cal breakfast is just not sufficient, need to up it a little. Oh, and there is no MSM in the house! I can feel its absence in my muscles very clearly. MSM dependency.
OK, time to work. Happy Thursday! I hope your weather is as amazing as it is here, in DC.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Boring diaries and Alzheirmer's

In the ongoing Nun Study, the investigators studied the diaries of those nuns who kept them from the childhood. The interesting finding was that the nuns that were "destined" to get Alzheimer's later in life had the least number of ideas per unit of writing. In other words, their diaries were boring. I looked at my writing and got really scared. Need to look up all those things that ward off Alzheimer's. Vitamin E was it?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ready for the new week!

My baby is gone to NY, I miss him already.
This was one of the laziest Sundays I had in a long time. I did make it to Mysore, and the practice was good. I also taught my vinyasa class (tortured them with ab work). Otherwise, we spent the rest of the day literally in bed, watching the Olympics and eating, eating, eating. No guilt, though, just pure hedonistic pleasure. We need those days once in a while.
Oops, the American gymnastic team is not doing so well in qualifying. I need to concentrate on cheering. Good night, everyone!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Saturday - the best day of the week.

Oh, well, this week is over, thank God. My baby is here, came on a Chinese bus this morning. I have forgotten how tall my son is. He is nearly one head taller than me, and I am relatively tall myself. Things got more or less done. I started the paper on my major project, it is coming along nicely now. Summer students are gone, the poster session was a success. Paperwork is finished, hopefully I will start getting paid now. The apartment is in a pretty good shape; it is not immaculate, but no longer a dump. I missed three shala practices, but did some yoga at home, which made my shoulder feel really good. My eating was less than stellar this week, but I am OK with it. Tonight we will eat out for Victor's birthday, and tomorrow I will re-start my CRON.
So I am back in the game! Looking forward to practicing full primary tomorrow at the shala.
How beautiful the opening ceremony in Beijin was! I was never a sports fan, but there is something about the Olympics that makes watching sports interesting. Things changed so much since we watched the Games last time. Women lifting weigths! Not even women, but tiny girls lifting 114 kg. Amazing!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A little overscheduled.

Not much happening in terms of practice. I had to confess today to David about the uncertain feeling in my shoulder (the leftover injury) when he tried to make me put more effort into jump-back-jump-through action. I guess this means no new poses for another year or so. I am so tired though, that I do not care anymore.
I just need to survive this week, and all will be well. This is the last week for out summer students. I will need to sub a class on Thursday, and teach my regular classes on Friday and Sunday. Also, it is my husband's birthday this Saturday, so something needs to be done there. My son will come from NYC for that weekend to celebrate with us. Need to plan meals. Clean the apartment. Write a paper. Finish the paperwork at work (which would allowed me to get paid and get health insurance). Several other things needed to be done, but I do not remember which ones, only remember they were important. OK, I am hyperventilating now. Taking a deep breath ....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lazy Sunday

Very good Sunday so far. I went to practice today because Rayna was in town, even though it was ladies holiday. The practice was OK overall, I felt a little weak and voluminous. But there is always one moment that can make or break a feel of the practice, isn't there? Today it was assisted dropbacks, where David helped me so that I touched my heels. Yay! It felt great, and absolutely unexpected. I had no idea my hands were even in the neighborhood!
Tova practiced in the shala, too. Her dropbacks are stunning, just stunning. After the practice, Tova and I went to Whole Foods for breakfast and had a lovely chat with Rayna, Matt, David and two people I haven't met before - Leo and Mike. Leo turned out to be a Russian from St.Petersburg.
I came home afterwards and had a long nice nap. Aaah! If not for a class I need to teach tonight, I would say the life is perfect. After a frenzy of the previous week rest felt precious.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jump backs and Zumba equal one tired mama.

Me tired.
The practice was good today. I was a little surprised, because for two days now we also do Zumba in the morning at work, and I feel mighty pooped afterwards. One of our summer students is getting a certification as a Zumba instructor, and he is instructing us for practice. He is great, and zumba is a lot of fun. Anyway, back to practice. So David tells me to get the jump-backs and jump-throughs straight (mine suck). I really did not want to let him know that it still hurts a little in my shoulder blade when I press down in a hand-standish position, so I was trying my best to emulate the motions without hurting myself further. Boy, I was tired by the end of practice! All that breakfast-induced power promptly went "puff" into the air. Well, I guess it is time for me to learn them, because they do separate the Real Yogis from the wannabes like me. But I am sooo tired now. It is only 3 pm, but I am ready to go to bed and sleep till tomorrow. Which is a dreaded Thursday!
Here is what Zumba looks like (taken from here

Monday, July 28, 2008

Highlights of the weekend

Busy, busy weekend. And yet very little accomplished. Not a good combination.
Anyway, this weekend was my one-year Mysore anniversary! I feel like a big girl now.
I also met Anna and Katie from New York. Both are so beautiful! Anna's practice is very elegant and fluid, and Katie's is pure power. I hope we'll have a chance to get to know each other better next time. :)
On Saturday I acquired a new skill. After locking my car key in the trunk, I learned how to break-in into the locked car.
Today's practice was very heavy. It might be the result of nervous eating this whole weekend. I am even afraid to get on the scale.

Have to work. Happy Monday to everyone!

Friday, July 25, 2008

This week just does not want to end.

Very decent practice today. Keith gave me an awesome adjustment in Marichi D, I was able to bind my wrists and hold it for what is seemed forever. He also observed me doing my drop-backs/stand-ups from UD, so I guess there is a hope for me to get a new pose sometime soon.

I was teaching a class yesterday that I share with another teacher for the summer. I used one of the tricks I learned in Adrienne Reed's training (thank you, Miriam!). To distract people from the effort of holding garudasana for a long time, I made them turn their faces to each other and do the "lion face" - a loud exhalation with the tongue out and eyes crossed. Then they turned to the other side and did the same. It was a lot of fun, we laughed like crazy, but held the pose for much longer than usual. The students liked it a lot.

Lots of things to be done at work. There is not enough time in the day.I used to stay up late to finish things, but it is out of the question these days. I am not sacrificing the quality of my practice for work. I have my priorities straight.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Swimming and yoga do not seem to mix well.

I did not make it to the shala today. Thursday is always the most difficult day of the week for me. In addition, a friend of mine invited me as a guest to her gym yesterday, and I swam for more than an hour, then spent time in a jacusse and sauna, and then swam for another hour. I love swiming, but do not get many chances to do it; so I guess I overdid it a little yesterday. Was dead tired in the evening, and simply did not wake up this morning. My alarm has a very low setting so not to wake up anybody but me, but I did not hear it all. Nevertheless, that extra hour of sleep did me a world of good, because I feel particularly fine (if a little sore) today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Uninspired Tuesday

Practice today was not quite as strong as yesterday, but not too bad. It seems breakfast matters, after all. Keith managed to miss all my drop-backs and stand-ups. It looks like I am not getting my pasasana any time soon. I am so ready for it, though. I need to expand my horizons and discover brand new ways to injure myself. Oh, well.
The members of our lab visited my friend today at the hospital. She had the surgery done this morning, it took only 50 minutes. They did lumpectomy as opposed to mastectomy, because her third tumor turned out to be benign. Even better, her lymph nodes were clean! At last some good news here.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Brand new week.

My practice always feels wonderful after a break. Today was no exception - it was soooo good to be back. My body felt both strong and flexible.There was a little twinge in the shoulder in Supta Kurmasana, but it is OK now. Urdhva Dhanurasana is my favorite pose from now on. Standing up was so easy, I have no idea why it was such a struggle to begin with. I was not even tired afterwards. Awesome.
There are two possible reasons for the strong practice. The first, most likely one, is the "honeymoon" feeling after a long break. The second one was that I actually had a breakfast before practice (for the first time ever). At 4:20 I had a glass of fat-free milk with Spiru-Tein shake (179 Cal, 14 g protein, 8 g of sugar). Practice started at 6 am, which gave me 1h40 min to digest. I felt it was not quite enough time, because I was burping a little and had a short-lived heartburn during the practice. On the other hand, this discomfort was very little, and if this is the price to pay for high stamina, I am willing to pay it! I need to investigate it further. It is quite possible that I am habitually crashing by the end of my practice and that is why I do not have energy for multiple UDs.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I am back!

I am home at last! The trip was wonderful, even though I managed to hurt my big toe and thumb in addition to my shoulder. Adrienne was amazing! She is one of those people who exude energy and share it generously with all around her. The program was well thought, organized and fun. There were five of us - elegant Genevieve, gorgeous Miriam, precious Jason and wonderful Adriana. The studies were very intense, but we managed to have a lot of fun in addition to learning. I think I laughed this week as much as I laughed the whole previous year. Unfortunately, we did not have time for anything else, so I still do not know anything about Tampa. I saw an alligator once, but nobody believed me. Oh, well, next time I will visit the beaches and roam the city.
I am going to shala tomorrow morning. It seems I have not been there for years, but it is only been three weeks. I wonder if they will take away some poses from me.
I will post some pictures tomorrow!
Mwah, everyone! I missed you all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I have not practiced for two weeks now and I can feel it in every muscle of my body. It feels like I am being embalmed or slowly mummified, stiffness setting in, freedom of motion going away. Sigh. But my shoulder blade is much improved, I think. The only truly painful motion at the moment is sneezing. The thing is that I am going to Florida this Saturday for Adrienne Reed's teacher intensive for a week, and I am hoping so much that I am not going to be incapacitated by the stupid shoulder! Because intensive it is going to be - 11 hours a day for 5 days in a row.
I am a little overwhelmed at the moment. In addition to work, I found myself in a sea of unfulfilled obligations, which are weighing on me like a huge boulder. Procrastination sucks!
My boss has multiple appointments every day for either MRI, a CAT scan, or a surgeon consultation. She also decided to start a blog, so I checked out the breast cancer blogs on the net. My God they are depressing! Not because the women are in a depressed state, no, the majority of bloggers I read exhibited an incredible strength of character. It is because that in that community of bloggers somebody dies all the time. There is always a tribute to one blogger or another, who died recently. I like Ashtanga blogosphere so much better!
Anyway, depending on the time and Internet availability at the training place in Tampa, I might not be able to post for a week or so. Please do not forget me!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I am positively becoming a social butterfly

My social life perked up recently all of a sudden. On Wednesday I met Elaina, who were here for a work conference. It is so interesting to talk to a person who shares the same interests in life - neuroscience and yoga. Elaina came to visit me at NIH, we talked science a little, and then we went to the Great Falls park. It was interesting, we just met, but I had a feeling that we knew each other for a long time. She is wonderful! Very warm, intelligent and absolutely beautiful! Then Thursday was a blur of activities , including sending my husband to New York to spend time with our son and long time friends.

Friday - we met with Karen for another photo session and also went to the Great Falls Park (love that place!). When we were driving back, I noticed a note on my windshield. Good thing I decided to stop and read - turned out I lost my licence, insurance card and car registration; somebody found them and turned them to the visitor center, and the park person actually tracked my car on the parking garage and left a note. People are nice!

In the evening, I was supposed to meet with friends for a 4th of July celebration, and this turned out to be an unexpected hassle. The police blocked out the most useful roads and bridges and it became really hard to move around, especially for a directionally challenged person like me. We managed to have a great time nevertheless.

Yesterday, I stopped by to check on Tova. She moved and now they live in a lovely two-bedroom apartment. I am so excited to have her here!

Ugh, anyway, that is why I did not have any time to be here. I am not accustomed to too many days in a row of actually having social life. I am not complaining, it is just something unusual for me. Oh, and today after I teach a class, I am going to Karen's going-away party. It sucks that Karen is leaving. Anyway, can't deal with this now. Sorry for the incoherent ramblings! Here is a real (not social) butterfly from the park:

I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence day

For some reason, I can never get the fireworks right. Photographers, any suggestions?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Love my gadgets!

Tried my new camcorder with Karen - check out her astavakrasana A.

And B:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Life is not fair

My friend, who is getting a divorce, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is ER+, which is a relatively good news. It is not known if there was a lymph node involvement. She is holding up amazingly well. But it is a very sad atmosphere now in the lab. We just feel helpless somehow. :(

Monday, June 30, 2008

Brand new week

The Internet access in my house was intermittent at best this weekend, so I gave up on it completely. As a result, I was incredibly productive and accomplished a lot, which made me feel really good. Is it possible that the Internet is the source of all evil after all?

On Saturday, I went to see an acupuncturist. She was a very pleasant woman, young looking, with some yoga experience in the past. She was taking my pulse a lot, and inserted two kinds of needles into my back - the regular ones and the "cones", which she heated up with an open fire. I have not realised how very hot these needles were until she first cooled down one of them by putting it in water ( the hissing sound clued me in) and then dropping one of them on my back (the hissing sound was coming from me this time). Here is a picture. My back is not normally this spotty; she marked it with a marker and the red spots are where the hot needles previously were:

I practiced on Sunday and my shoulder blade was hurting really bad afterwards. But I was glad that I went anyway, because I ascertained that I can lift up from UD, not only after a dropback, but from a static pose as well. Yay! Second, I attended the Q and R session with David, where he talked about breath and bandhas, which was interesting and useful. Third, I found out that one of our Ashtangis professionally practices acupuncture and his office is two blocks away from my house. I wish I knew this earlier! Now I have to let go of the pleasant lady in favor of my fellow ashtangi. I hate doing that!

So my shoulder needs healing. No practice for this week. Luckily, there will be no teaching as well until next Sunday, so I can heal without interruptions. This sucks, of course, but I learned the hard way that my impatience hurts me every time.

This going to be a short and sweet week. Happy Monday!


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