Friday, March 28, 2008

No fun in being sick anymore

So yesterday was a combination of a drug-induced blur with a flurry of activity. I slept probably 6 or 8 hours in small increments during the day; but also did my taxes, laundry, cooking, a thousand of headstands and took my son to the airport. His spring break is over, and I am going to miss my baby!
I discovered for the first time in my life that the inversions help with the stuffed nose. Especially a headstand. I think I vastly improved it for my practice because I had to do it every hour or so. After the headstand I could blow my nose, use a neti pot and then nasya oil. Then breathing bliss for 40 or so minutes and the whole thing had to be repeated again. I am not sure how the headstand affected the rest of my body, but I felt like shit. Feverish, achy all over, and low on energy. No appetite either.
This morning I did an abbreviated practice at home, which left me panting. Have to go to work, unfortunately. Need to pick up my poster and print out everything for the trip, teach my class, have pictures taken for the work permit, pick up my husband for the airport, talk to a friend about taking care of our cats while we are away, and pack our bags. The flight to San Francisco is tomorrow at 6 am. Thank God I am no stranger to waking up early!

Now, I remember the times when being sick meant staying leisurely in bed, being treated with tea and chicken soup and lots of loving care. What happened to those old good times? Why am I in a headstand again?!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The mystery of runny nose and two days of sucky practices is solved - I am as sick as a dog! Woke up this morning with a killer headache, stuffed up nose and no voice. Yuck. Dug out a copy of "Light on yoga" to check out the sequences for "cold", "headache" and "stuffed nose". We'll see if Mr. Iyengar knew what he was talking about. I need to get well asap for my trip to San Francisco on Saturday!
Drunk a bucket of herbal tea, took a horse dose of vitamin C, oscillo and theraflu. I think I will go and sleep a little longer before attempting the miraculous sequences.
OK, so the sequence for "cold" includes:
Sirsasana and cycle
Sarvangasana and cycle
Kurmasana and Supta kurmasana
Yoga Nidrasana
Ujjayi pranayama with inhalation retention
I haven't done Iyengar in a while, and now it feels so strange for me to do any yoga without sun salutations. The body is stiff and achy, it feels somehow wrong to go into poses. I did first three, and it turned out that all these "up-side down" positions drain the sinuses quite nicely. The headstand did not help with the headache though, I would say quite the opposite. Then I tried Paschimottanasana, and boy, did it feel wrong! So I did several sun saluts A, and it seemed to help with the stiffness of the hamstrings. Paschimottanasana felt rather good afterwards, and the headache slightly subsided. Kurmasana was OK, SK - forget it! Yoga nidrasana - using a strap to rest a head, was OK. First it was strange, felt like there was not enough air to breathe, then it became better. Interestingly, by the time I was supposed to do Ujjayi pranayama, I could actually breathe through the nose! Very intriguing. I am sweaty and tired now, but feeling better, I think. Way to go, Mr. Iyengar!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I just want to connect with the Divine in Himalayas

I had a running nose attack this morning. In the middle of the practice – bam, my nose started running. I had to leave the room after each pose just to blow it. Sorry for the disgusting details, but I am just puzzled. It lasted the whole seated sequence and then it stopped. I am at work now and my nose is fine. I am not very prone to allergies, and I do not feel sick. May be the dryness of the air? I barely sweated today, and it was cold outside, somewhere in the low 20oF. I do not really understand how my body works. Because of the stupid nose, the practice itself was so-so, not as bad as yesterday, but not very inspired either.

I was so sleepy and slow yesterday that I left a gazillion items from my calendar not done. Today is going to be a payback time. 28 things to do at work, from small to big, then 6 things to do at home. I do not like my calendar anymore. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a cave in Himalayas, all day contemplating the union with the Divine? Aaaaah.

OK, enough dreaming, I need to cross out item #1.

I hope everyone has a very nice Tuesday!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Feeling old

It was not a good idea to sleep in this weekend. It was not like I slept too late, just till 7, but it was late compared to my regular 4:30 wake-up time. In addition, I napped both days. As a result, I did not sleep well this night. Woke up every hour or so, and then could not fall asleep again for what it seemed like forever. It was too cold, then too hot, then my cat snored, then I had disturbing dreams.

I do not handle the lack of sleep well. The practice was hard this morning. I labored through it pose by pose, and just could not wait till savasana. Stood up twice from UD from the bench, tried to do it from the floor and fell down with a loud thud; bruised my ego. Got a couple of excellent adjustments from Keith, though; one in Paschimottanasana and another in Marichi C. I was still glad I made it to shala this morning; but it was one of those practices when I feel my age, every year of it, particularly intensely.

Now I am inanely staring into the computer screen and mindlessly trying to compile some words together for my blog. And I need to work – only four days until the trip to San Franciscko; the poster is not ready, I am not ready. OK, I am starting NOW!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I am legend and a lint owner

I brought home a bunch of movies which I missed in the theatres over the last couple of years. We decided to watch "I am legend" with our dinner, which obviously was a big mistake. What a scary, scary movie! It left a bitter taste in my mouth. As usual, I felt the worst for the dog. Secondly, I felt bad for the poor aggressive mutants. It was obvious that they had intelligence and they cared about each other, but it was ignored somehow in the film. Thirdly, I sympathised with the doctor in the beginning of the film, whats-her-name who announced that they found a cure for cancer. There was a time in my career when I briefly flirted with oncology, and, in particular, with the viral gene therapy. For the research people use viruses that are incapable of proliferation, they just do not have the right genomic material for that. In order to become infectious and dangerous again, they would need to re-acquire somehow a bunch of genes, which is highly improbable. But then again, I guess the moral of the story was that the scientists are an arrogant bunch, and they always assume that something is impossible, which turns out to be not the case.
To remove the bitter taste from the mouth, I turned on the next movie from my stack of DVDs - The "Enchanted". My son immediately left the room, saying that this movie is an abomination (he watched parts of it on the plane). And so it was. An abomination. The movies yet to see - "August Rush", "Atonement" and "Beowulf". We'll see if we had a better luck with these.
I had a very strange dream this night. I do not remember the details, but the gist of it was that somebody called me a lint owner. As in "You are such a lint owner!". I asked what it meant, and the answer was that I thought I had something valuable in my life, but in fact it was filled with the most worthless substance on Earth - lint. Now I am walking around and trying to decide if it is true or not. Kind of depressing.
Oh, well. Cardio and push-up today, maybe a little of crim activities. Then shopping with my son. I think I do not want to watch any more movies for now...
Happy Saturday!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

My son is home, this makes me a very happy mom. But because of his arrival I missed my mysore yesterday; I also could not wake up in time for yoga today, which makes me a grumpy yogi. I am a little conflicted, as you see :).
I have not been to a movie theater for a long time; I want to take my son to see a movie or two on his break. Does anybody have a recommendation for me?

Happy Good Friday, everyone!

And let's send good vibes to Annabella, who has a surgery today.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~ vibes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ vibes~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ vibes

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Break

I am not as hyper today, as I was yesterday. But still in a very good mood. One of the beautiful girls in the studio told me today that she would never guessed that I had a 21-year old son. How sweet is that? She totally made my day.

My practice was weird today. I did not sleep well at night (lots of dreams about running somewhere and being constantly late), so I was trying to preserve some energy for the backbends. To do that, I was relaxing into each seated pose, really allowing the body to go limp in the places it was not engaging. As a result, I actually fell asleep it Janu B. I did not sleep long, maybe a second or two, then woke up with the start. Isn't it bizarre, though? Never happened to me before.

Still cannot stand up from UD from the floor. But my bench attempts were less strenuous, I think. I am getting there.

My son is coming home for a Spring break tomorrow! I am so excited. Have not seen him since last fall. Luckily, it is going to be also a break in the studio where I teach, and there will be no immunology class next Tuesday. If only I did not have to work. Oh, well, nothing is perfect.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Feeling good

I think the Spring is here. Not because it is warmer. Not because the trees are blooming. Because the shala is packed! People are coming out of the winter hybernation and start preparing for a swim suit season. I even had trouble finding parking at 5:50 in the morning. In addition, I had to move my mat, which usually never happens because I always practice in the least desirable spot - next to the door. Amazing! In spite of minor incoveniences, it is fun to have that many people to practice in the morning. I like it ! :)

I stood up from UD 3.5 times today. That 0.5 time I slightly crashed into the wall and had to sit for a sec, coming back to my senses :D I did it again from the bench, but I hadn't even attempted to stand up from the floor, trying to preserve energy. I was returning from the bench, practically skipping and stupidly grinning from my own backbending awesomeness,when my eye caught a sight of K. in kapotasna. Honest to goodness, I was a very good dristi girl for two days in a row now. It just happened. Her kapotasana was amazing. She was holding it already for a long time (hands on the calves), when David stopped and adjusted her so that she ended up holding her knees. How cool is that? I find it so inspiring when I see people doing something amazing. Aaah...

Lots of work today, plus an immunology class in the evening; no time to do any additional practice today (except for my 45 push-ups). But - it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me - and I'm feeling good!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Für Elise

I am no Beethoven, but I want to express my gratitude to Elise for the wonderful tips on how to stand up from UD. She posted them in the comments to Elaina’s post, and I found out about them from Arturo’s blog. Ugh. But, as a result of this very convoluted path of knowledge, I stood up today! Granted, it was just once and from a low bench we have for this purpose, but that is the beginning, right?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

15 min at a time Saturday

I love Saturdays! For me they are never productive, but always relaxing and fun. Unfortunately, this is a bad time to be relaxed and have fun, since I am behind in so many areas of my life.
First of all, my apartment really crossed the line in terms of the mess. It is no longer in "can't have guests over" state, but "can't have anybody over, including ourselves and cats" state. The chaos in my home directly reflects my stress level. Right now, because of our immigration status problems, the stress became a little overwhelming, which resulted in a horrendously messy apartment. So I decided to dedicate my precious Saturday to cleaning. I took my ladybug timer, my ipod with "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert and started moving between 5 areas - kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room and the hall, spending only 15 minutes in each at a time. To make things more interesting, I threw in a 15 min of meditation once, my Saturday push-ups twice and one 30 min lunch combined with blog-reading. So it is nearly 6 pm, and I can actually see a lot of progress! It seems that I enjoy this kind of homework, but do not endulge myself in it often enough because it is too low on my priority list. Need to change it. I bet this mess made me even more stressed out than I already was, so I was spinning in a vicious circle. There is still a lot to do, but the place looks a lot better, even the air feels healthier. I also found a bunch of stuff for donation and dumping.

I will stop cleaning in an hour, because there is another thing that is weighing on me - the taxes. I need at least to download forms and start sorting through the papers.
There is also some work that I brought home, which needs to be finished before Monday, but it should not take more than two hours, can be done tomorrow.

I also need to clean my hard drive on the laptop, because it refuses to make DVD copies (not enough room for the temp files). It is needed for a project we are doing with a friend, who is going to South Africa with Peace Corps.

Anyway, this is how my Saturday shaping up so far. Oh, I also had an oil changed in my car and went grocery shopping. No yoga today, and there will be no Mysore tomorow, because of the ladies holiday. I will still need to teach my Power Yoga class, which is fine. I love this class!

Ok, back to my 15-min cleaning spree. And back to the book, which I actually like, in spite of all the negative reviews I heard from the ashtanga community.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Работа, trabajar, work

Not very motivated today. Workwise, I mean. Practice was good, slow and deliberate. Keith helped me into dwi pada and I went into supta kurmasana from there. Could not bind by myself, though. I feel the gained pounds mostly in the increased volume - it is hard to bind in marichi D and SK. Need to start watching portions again.
Anyway, though I am not motivated to work, I really have to. Lots and lots of work, plus teaching of 2 yoga classes today. Need to survive Friday. Can you hear that buzzing sound? It's me, straining my willpower.
Happy Friday to everyone!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost - flexibility and backbends, found - health and happiness

When I was doing my yoga once a week in the class and ocasionally a pose or two at home, I did not know what "stiff" meant. The first couple of weeks of Myosore practice this happy ignorance continued. I would start the first Sun Salutation A , practically touching my nose to the knees in uttanasana, and felt the both sets of sun saluts served only to heat up the body. Eventually things changed. I started to notice that early in the morning my forward bend was less and less deep, it took longer and longer to start feeling limber and mobile. Also, early in the ashtanga practice I could not understand the adjustment we were getting from the teachers in downdog. The teacher would come around and press his hands into the lower back, lifting and pushing at the same time. I was puzzled - was he trying to say that my down dog was bad? Was I supposed to lift like he showed? What was the purpose of this adjustment? I am no longer puzzled. In fact, if I do not get this adjustment (practically never happens, the teachers are very good in our shala), I feel that my whole pracitce is sub par. Now I know that this adustment is not to correct the pose, but to release the hamstrings for further stretches. In other words, I feel I am much less flexible now than when I just started Ashtanga. Isn't it counter-intuitive? Also by backbensd suffered, I think because of too many forward bends.
Other things changed for the better. I am stronger and have more stamina. I acquired the muscle "knowledge", and don't fumble into the poses. My hips are much, much more open. Both kurmasana and supta kurmasana were not quite possible before I started Ashtanga. Overall, in spite of some drawbacks, the primary series made me a healthier and happier person. Now, will my happiness double when I get into the 2nd and triple when (and if) I get into the 3rd?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PPC is not good as an alarm clock

I woke up this morning feeling well rested. I thought "what's up with that?" since it happens like, never. Looked at the clock - of course, overslept! I use a pocket PC as my alarm clock, it is the only device in the house loud enough to wake me up and soft enough not to wake Victor. I changed the clock on it yesterday, because the poor thing did not realize it was the summer time. As a result, all my calendar appointments at work and on my home laptop changed by an hour. Grrr! In addition, the stupid device reverted to the old time all by itself sometime at night. Result - home practice + was late for work. Double grrr!
So I had to have my practice at home, very hurried, no vinyasas between sides, to time for criminal activities. But at least I am very well rested!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bad lady.

Practice was really good today. David showed me that I had wrong dristi's in a couple of the poses. When I got to Supta Kurmasana, David was busy elsewhere, so I had time to warm-up. And I discovered that I can keep my left leg behind my neck without holding it! Well, at least for several seconds. I did not have enough balance to throw my right leg on top of the left, but that is a beginning. So I have a little competition going on in my practice: which pose I will master first - supta kurmasana by myself or getting up from UD?
Yesterday home I tried Pincha Mayrasana. It was as hard as I remembered it. I can get to it at the wall and hold a balance without the wall for several seconds, but then my shoulders get tired really fast. Kapotasana is not happening yet. It was very exciting to try myself in the forbidden poses, I felt like a criminal. But, as I can tell, a life of crime definitely has its moments!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I do not have ADD

I might still have a bordeline narcolepsy, but it seems I do not have ADD. I think it is a good reason for celebration!
It was an excellent workshop that I attended today. Sorry, not yoga-related. The topic was "How to teach science", and the lector was amazing. She discussed different learning types (you know, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) and turned out I was a flaming kinesthetic type. I have to move around to be able to pay attention. If I am immobilized - I promptly fall aseep, no matter how fascinating topic of the lecture is. And, turned out, it is kind of normal. There are many people like that and they do not have ADD, as I thought all this time. Of course, it is a much bigger challenge for me and the likes of me to sustain a meaningful meditation practice, but who said we are afraid of challenge? Especially now, when we know that there is no need for medication. Whew, what a relief. Anyway, somebody suggested something for people like me to use during the times when we can not move - to contract and then let go of some of the muscles (hamstrings, quads, calf and but muscles) slowly and imperceptibly for other people. I tried and yes, it helps to sustain attention a little more than usual. So here we go, in addition to the groins of steel I am going to have buns of steel and may be some additional knowledge from attended lectures. Ain't life wonderful?
Practice - good, but still could not stand up from UD. I had such high hopes for today's practice! Well, I think I need to practice at home after work, because I want to start second series while I am still in my 40-s...

Sunday, March 9, 2008


I looked out of the window - sunshine, the trees in bloom, very beautiful. Looked into the calendar - the 9th of March. OK, I thought, it is Spring. So I put on yoga capri, sandals and a t-shirt, on top - a light jacket and went to practice. Boy, was I in for a surpise! 280F, gusting wind, the car felt like an icicle! I turned on the heat on my seat and the heater of the car to the highest mark. By the time I arrived to the studio, my ass was slightly fried, but the rest of me was still cold. I was practically blue in the face. The lesson learned - I am not going to venture out ever before consulting my friend internet.
The practice was great nevertheless. I always feel wonderful after a day (or, in this case - two days) off the practice. Only I know that tomorrow I will pay the price, but that is OK. The whole practice I repeated mantra - take your time, no need to rush. I spent 6-7 breaths in each pose, enjoying each and every one of them. Aaaaah! Then I nearly got up from UD, both of my hands lifted a foot or so off the floor. I am so close! It's a pity that the lack of stamina does not allow me to make more attempts at it. By the third attempt I am pooped, and go for assisted backbends.
Happy Sunday to everyone and Happy Birthday to Boodiba!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Welcome to the old age, Alfia!

My health seems to be improving in all areas, except for the eyes. I saw a doctor yesterday, and, turns out, I need reading glasses in addition to the distance glasses I am currently wearing. Or progressive glasses instead of both of them. I also have dry eyes, which I suspected I had, but could not decide if it were dry eyes or allergies. At least this year she did not say that I have flat eyes, which she mentioned without fail five or six previous years. Honeslty! In addition to flat feet I have flat eyes, to which modern contact lenses can not even cling properly.

What upsets me the most is that I actually wrote a paper “Yoga for the eyes” for my TT program. I researched everything very carefully and made an argument that we have to exercise the eyes in order to keep the eyesight. And did I do all those exercises? Nope. Why? Because I am a moron. But I will start today and I will do them, 3 times a week. I think.

Here they are, my poor dry, flat and myopic eyes:

Why couldn’t they be more like these? Nobody would call them flat, I bet! :D

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I am so sleepy, and having this cat next to me doesn't help in keeping me awake:

Good night, everyone!

Is it spring yet?

I did my practice home today. It is funny how I tend to cherry-pick the poses I really want to do and discard the ones I think are a waste of time (like dandasana, Marichi A, and B and some others). Doing practice at home does not really save me any time, but nevertheless it eases the anxiety of the constant feeling that I am late, late, always late. I wanted to have some of that peace, because it was shaping to be a very hectic day. Lots of work, then an optometrist’s appointment, and then a meeting with our lawyers. We are applying for a waiver from a 2-year physical presence requirement. This is one of those things that you know would not work, but you do them anyway, just for self-assurance that you did all you could.

But - the days are getting noticeably longer, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping. Life is good no matter what!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I had a very long day yesterday. On Tuesdays I attend a very interesting class that explores connections between brain and immunity. The class is from 5:30 to 7:30, by the time I reached home it was already after 8 pm, so I only had time to pack my lunchbox, yoga backpack and work clothes before it was time for bed. Normally, I have my dinner right before 6 pm, but yesterday, because of the class and other distractions, my last meal was before 4. As a result, I crushed today during practice. When I started, I had the feeling that something was not quite right with me, but continued, hoping to shrug it off. Somewhere in the midlle of the seated sequence I hit the wall. The feeling was that if I move a litlle more, I would die. Deciding to stop pushing, I moved into the finishing, and in shoulderstand felt so noxious, I thought I would barf right there. I have never felt that bad during practice! Savasana helped a little, but not much. When I was changing, my hands and legs were trembling and I had to sit a little before going to my car. I guess my blood shugar levels plummeted too low for me to hanlde. I should keep a chocolate bar in my yoga backback for the future.
BTW, during my pitiful practice today I still tried to do bhuja pindasana with chin forward. It was so not pretty! My nose still looks flattened a little... :D

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fat but obsession-free

As I mentioned before, I am struggling with my weight for the last 8-9 years. I have been steadily loosing weight, and practically reached BMI close to being “normal”. A year ago I became a little dissatisfied with the speed (or, more precisely, the lack thereof) of my slimming. So I started trying different systems, most of which worked. The problem was that I became slightly obsessive about it and was weighing myself 3-4 times a day. OK, I was weighing myself every time I passed my scale. So I decided to take control and started doing weigh-ins every week. I guess it is more difficult to quit smoking, but I suspect, not by much. My legs were trembling every time I walked near my balance. And have I mentioned that we have a couple of scales at my work, right next to my favorite bathrooms?
My will power prevailed, and, encouraged by this success, I decided to do it monthly. This year. So, yesterday was my weigh-in #2 of 2008. Guess what? I gained 7.5 pounds during the month of February! I gained weight for the first time during the last eight years. AAAaaaaargh! So the question is: what is better, to be fat and obsession free, or skinny, but obsessive? I am seriously considering the latter. Because I have my priorities straight – there is way too much of me to hug in supta kurmasana now.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I can get no satisfaction

It is such a beautiful day today. Spring is coming, spring is coming!

The shala was customarily packed. There were lots of people whom I never see in the mornings of the work week. I wonder - are these people doing Mysore only on Sunday? Do they practice at home other days?

Practice was OK, not too bad, not great either. Today was one of those days, when I felt good physically, but had trouble concentrating on the practice. On my practice that is, because I was constantly catching myself staring at other peoples asanas and commenting on them in my mind. It wasn’t a judgmental bitching, but rather musings about how good the asana looked or reminding myself to avoid doing this or that. It felt like I was teaching, or something, while practicing myself, with very little self-awareness left. After struggling with my attention, I did win, but only by the finishing sequence. As a result, the practice did not bring deep satisfaction which I feel if it is done harmoniously. Oh, well, there is always tomorrow!


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