One of my students sent me a link to this video. I liked the crazy Russian better. He combined strength and flexibility in a perfect balance, while the crazy dancer is just crazily flexible.
Incredible African Dancer - The best bloopers are here
Friday, February 29, 2008
I think I know what I did to hurt them. I was trying to improve my lifts/jumpbacks, and obviously overdid it. My legs are heavy, and require a lot of strength to lift them (another incentive to loose weight, like I needed more!). In addition, according to Keith, I do not engage abs properly in my attempts, which brings the brunt of the effort to the small hip flexors.
Today’s practice was good, though. The rest helped a lot, and I think I am back in the saddle. Lovely Tova was practicing the Primary today, but since I overslept and came late, I did not have a chance to chat with her.
OK, back to my immunology training. Today is the last day, and my brain is completely fried. Thank God it’s Friday!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Here is a picture of the window next to the bathroom in the convent of the Sisters of Visitation:
It is so much prettier in life!
I skipped my practice today and the groin pain is practically gone. Now I am contemplating whether to rest another day or return to practice tomorrow? I miss my practice but I am afraid to injure something so that I would not be able to practice even longer. Ugh, I am so out of touch with my own body!
Anyway, here is the reason why I am lame. I mentioned before that I do not have much life. In America, as much as I understand it, having life means having lots of social interactions, accompanied by stimulating environment. Simply speaking, it is "having fun" in a loud, bright, and a little dangerous way. I do not do that. I do get some enjoyment from parties and bar hopping, but I do not crave them. In fact, I avoid them. Must be the old age. So what do I do for fun? Most of the time - watch tv. I know, one can not possibly be lamer. Sometimes, I do photography if I manage to drag my fat ass out of the house. But it doesn’t happen very often. So here. I am b-o-r-i-n-g.
These ones I think are more or less decent:
These are so-so:
Stargate Atlantis (I liked SG-1 and Jason Momoa is hot)
Terminator – Sarah Connor chronicles (no good reason)
I am kind of embarrassed that I like these:
One tree hill
Since I am rather busy, I never watch anything in real time; all of them are tivo'ed, so I can watch them whenever I want and to avoid commercials. I also combine tv-watching with food preparation/shirts ironing/apartment cleaning. The only house chores that I can't combine with tv, are toilet cleaning and dish washing. So those I do, listening to the books on my ipod. So much for mindful living. I do talk to my husband sometimes. But the last year and a half he was very busy with his preparation for the CFA examination (first - level 1, now - level two). Since there are 3 available levels for CFA, I guess I have another 1-2 years of uninterrupted tv watching.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
In other, unrelated news - I have a new yoga-related pain now, in my groins. I know, I know, very exciting for everyone! I think it is a psoas muscle that was weak and now is overused (definitely not overstretched). Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B is very painful, as well as my pitiful attempts to lift the legs up the transition from Upavistha Konasana A to Upavistha Konasana B. Every time when I sit for a long tme (like, for example, yesterday and today i had three lectures three hours long each), as soon as I start moving, a movement that brings a leg forward is very painful. After walking for a while the pain subsides. Stretching does not substantially help, so I do not know what to do. Should I take it easy and let it heal? Or should I just bite the bullet and wait when the pain goes away and my groins turn into groins of steel? Any advice?
Monday, February 25, 2008
I really liked Boodiba's method of keeping track of 'extracurricular' yoga practice. I do some asanas at home at night, but I do not have a system and do not keep any records. I was doing hip openings stretches with a chair a couple of weeks ago, which helped me immensely with my supta kurmasana. But afterwards I started concentrating on my handstand for some reason and my hips stiffened up again. I need a plan, something like concentrating on one problem area each week. Plus 45+ push-ups every Tuesday and Saturday. Especially pay attention to the backbends which suck so badly. I used to be a decent backbender, but the primary does not promote backbending at all. Now I work on getting up from the wheel pose, and it just does not work because of the suckiness of my backbend, I think. I feel for my instructors - helping me to lift all my 170 lbs can not be easy. So here, today I will make "the plan" and I will stick to it. Mark my words!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Anyway, I had a great practice today. Aliya was adjusting and he folded me into the best Supta Kurmasana I ever had in my practice. I was able to hold it for 20 breaths, lift up into a balance before unfolding into tittibasana. I would have held it even longer, but my nails were digging into my palms. Note to self - keep the nails short!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
This photograph brings me to the question of talent in yogasana. In a way, this is a politically incorrect topic, because yoga is not a competition, one is not supposed to compare and so on. But we do compare. And we see that some people’s asanas are beautiful, while others – not so much. I wonder why is that? I guess, like in all athletic endeavors, the brain-muscle coordination matters. I bet the anatomy is very important. Such aspects of it, as the depth or shallowness of the joints that is just right, allowing lots of freedom of movement, but stable at the same time. Or the proportional length of the limbs (as well as the relative length of the bones in the limbs). Or number of accumulated injuries and imbalances in the body, both physical and psychological. I also noticed (and I might be completely wrong here) that the vast majority of people with beautiful asanas have a vata constitution of the body (or vata-pitta). Among kaphas or kapha-pittas I know very few (Andrew Lappa comes to mind, or Erich Schiffmann) with inspiring practice. I guess the vata lightness of the body is one of the aspects that make asanas beautiful. On the other hand, it is possible that being a vata is not so good for the meditation practice, and kaphas, with their innate groundness and ability to concentrate, have easier time in meditation.
Anyway, you might have guessed by now that I am an unbalanced kapha with short limbs and shallow joints, lacking any stability. To improve my asana practice, based on the above-mentioned considerations, I decided to increase vata vaju in my body. My ayurveda teacher ones mentioned that his experiments with raw vegetarian food increased the lightness in his body tremendously. In addition, Rayna also told me that it helped her practice. So here we go, a copycat as I am, I started eating raw vegetarian. The results are not very encouraging. Vata vaju (wind) is definitely increased. A lot. In my belly, that is. So the legendary kapha power of concentration is now mostly channeled on trying not to share vata vaju with the rest of the shala. Probably I should just come to peace with the conclusion that we, kaphas, are not meant to fly?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I am trying to curb my impatience. I know am not ready. I am still not over all aches and pains that the transition from a "once a week yoga" to a "daily intense practice" brought. My hamstrings need healing, hips need opening, abs and arms need strengthening, and stamina needs to be acquired. I understand that this impatience also come from the deep fear that I started too late and do not have much time left for the physical aspect of yoga. Which is silly, because I personally know amazing yogis, deep into their fifties and sixties, who have beautiful practice. So I guess it is time to tell myself to stop worrying about how far I can get and just enjoy the ride!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This morning I had a "turbo practice". Once in a while we have a very early experiment at work, so I have to be there at 7 am. Actually, my work normally starts at 7, but most days it is relaxed, and I can arrive at 7:30 and have no problems.In the "early experiment" days, I start my practice around 5:30-5:45, and finish it by 6:30. It is not quite possible for me to finish the full primary in 45 min, so I hold poses for 4 breaths, and try not to spend more than half a breath while transitioning. Did not have time to work on my getteing up from the wheel though. Nevertheless, the turbo practice is much, much better than no practice at all, I feel just as great as after a "normal" practice.
Monday, February 18, 2008
….If you want to strengthen your mula bandha – change your diet. Include lots of legumes, fresh fruit and vegetables. If you need an extra help – substitute your sugar to xylitol. Your mula bandha will be stellar; you just will not have a choice but to hold it for your dear life. Or be forced to change studios every week. And do not trust the likes of BEANO or X-gas, they just do not work.
… If you get a carpet burn on your face or anywhere else, it should better be from a night of wild passion. Not from the effort TWO instructors exert, trying to fold you into supta kurmasana.
And, at last, note to self – do not forget to blow your nose BEFORE demonstrating Kapalabhati pranayama in class.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I was very restless this morning during the practice. As a result, I could even not hold the balance in hasta padangusthasana. Normally, during the practice, I am trying to "empty the back of my head" everytime I hold a pose for five breaths. I am not sure, why it is the back of my head I am emptying, not front or the sides, but it is something that helps me to ground and to start really feeling the pose. Today, however, the back of my head resisted the emptying and there was a loud buzzing noise in my head throughout the whole practice. Only in a headstand, of all poses, I suddenly calmed down. One of those buzzing thoughts, running around in my head, was the question - "Will I get a new pose today?", which is totally ridiculous, since I am nowhere ready to move forward. And yet it kept popping up, until it became clear that this was not going to happen. I have got an interesting adjustment though. Normally we never get any adjustments in Mari A. But today, K. brought my shoulders closer, so that I could clasp my wrist instead of the fingers, and then pressed down on me, so that my nose first bumped into the strainght leg somewhere below the knee. I had to turn my head slightly in, to give the room and then I practically reached the floor with my nose. The hamstrings behaved nicely, so there was no harm done, but nice, deep feeling of the release in both hamstirngs and the shoulders. Aaaah!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
My left sitbone still hurts in all forward bends; I was bending my left knee to protect it. I wonder if it can cause misbalance in my pelvice or something of the kind. I would really hate to start skipping practice because of overstretched hamstrings though.
In my day work I have to sit at the computer for long stretches of time lately, and I noticed that when I get up, my legs and hips hurt until I get my muscles working by walking a little longer. What is up with that? Old age? I can’t wait until the time when I am no longer hurting from my practice. Will it ever come, I wonder? Things are better, of course, compared to a couple of months ago, when I suffered from the collar-bone pain (supta kurmasana) and knee pain (an accident while teaching). But every time I start feeling good, I rush into practice with all force, and end up hurt again. Should start learning from the mistakes, I guess!
I just realized what a whiny post this is! Oh, well, it goes without saying that the practice brings joy and comfort, general feeling of well-being and confidence into my life. I need to remember it more often, so that the struggles and pains would not cloud the big picture.
I am a middle age, overweight woman, who enjoys yoga immensely. I started my yoga practice seven years ago, at my peak weight of 203 pounds, and very poor health, both physical and emotional. I tried desperately to loose weight, but could do little since physical efforts induced asthma attacks, and the challenges and stresses of graduate school I was attending were not conducive to my efforts of loosing weight.
I remember very vividly my first yoga class. I was the oldest and the fattest person there. I could not do either a table pose or downdog, because both of my wrists were agonizingly sore. I have come a long way from that summer. I finished a yoga teacher certification program, lost 30 lbs and regained my health. Though there is still a need to loose another 20 lbs (or decrease my body fat by 8%), I seem to be in the best physical shape of my life. Six months ago I started Ashtaga practice (morning Mysore, 5 times a week). Now I am doing the complete Primary(well, not completely complete...).
I still struggle in many poses of the 1s. Janu C is completely impossible for me now. I could do it in the beginning, but then I blew both of my knees, so I am not even attempting it now. Can't jump back or jump through with straingt legs. Can't fold myself into supta kurmasana. Can't do chakrasana or stand up from a wheel pose. But I think it all will come eventually...