Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beautiful Tuesday and damn you, UD all over again

It is gorgeous outside! The leaves are so green, they look edible, the sun is shining, and the air is crystal clear after yesterday's rain. I love Spring!
Mysore practice was a little absent-minded today. Could not pull myself together somehow. I guess I am not working my edge in the poses. Will do better tomorrow, I hope. By the end of the practice I asked David to help me with my stand-ups from UD. He did, observed and said that my major mistake is that I am too anxious to lift my head, changing the balance in the wrong direction. To demonstrate the point, he pressed into my sternum while I was standing up, and I fell down on top of my head! My fall had grace of a sack of potatoes, with a loud "thud". I guess David overestimated a little my ability to get up. Nevertheless, I learned something from the experience - it is not as awful as it seems. In fact, it is not scary at all. So it was good to get this particular fear out of the way. Otherwise, I still can't do it. It feels that I am either missing a whole group of muscles that other people posses, or I am missing a part of the brain which makes the move possible. Very, very frustrating.

But - the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, life is good! Right?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cold and drizzly Monday

I had an excellent practice this morning. Which is surprising, considering today is Monday. Normally it is "I think I am gonna die on the next pose" practice.I nearly caught my left leg in dwi pada, which I am using lately to get into supta kurmasana. I lost balance the last second, but boy it was close. The only complaint about practice was that I could not hold standing balancing poses for the life of me. I do not know why it is the case sometimes. I was pretty concentrated on practice, so it was not the "mind chatter". I was not tired, to the contrary, the energy level was high. So what exactly determines good balance then?
I spent $350 yesterday on a week worth of groceries for the two of us. I wonder if it is because of the rising prices on food or because I am becoming a very picky eater with CRON. I cut out a lot of meat from our diet, but one needs to get a lot more food to get the same amount of calories and protein to substitute it. It seems it is much more expensive to be a vegetarian!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday spapalooza and chinese ballet

I was busy today with indulging in massage-manicure-pedicure; cleaning the house and making plans for the week ahead. I need to finish some urgent work I took home, but there is still time.

My yoga teacher from Sun and Moon sent us this video, which is quite amazing. If the Chinese continue like that Russians will loose their position as the leaders in ballet dancing:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

B-day and missed practice.

I am 46 today. Not a very good reason to rejoice, in my opinion. What is the reason for celebration - that I made it to this advanced age? The fact that I was born in the first place is already such old news. I contemplated this for a while and decided to treat my birthday as a New Year. Much, much better holiday! I love new beginnings, NY resolutions, a sense of opening a new chapter and ending the old one. So this is the beginning of a new, 47th year of my life. I should make it a good one!
Having said that to myself, I started the new year of my life with not going to shala. I did not even practice at home. Instead, I took a looooong bath with vanilla-scented salts at 5 am this morning, then had a huge breakfast and came to work half hour late. I was dead tired yesterday, but now I am actually feeling good. I wonder if this is an auspicious beginning? Or is it a sign that I will continue to be a lazy bum the whole next year? Hmmm....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Long, long Tuesday.

I woke up after a dreadful nightmare and thought, "Oh, no, it can not possibly be the time to get up!" Walked around like a zombie and briefly considered not going to practice. I went there anyway, and was rewarded - Aliya was teaching. Good, good practice, a little slow but deeply satisfying.
This week I am extremely busy at work. My deeply satisfied body is uncooperative though. It says: " I was a good girl! Why don't you reward me with a nap, for example? Or some yummy food?". No such luck. Two major deadlines and a million of minor ones. Immunology class in the evening, followed by a journal club. I think I am ready to retire.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Not much happened this weekend. Saturday was a rest day, no yoga, no other exercise. Shopping at H-Mart, cooking for a week ahead, a little cleaning, lots of laundry and a too much of TV. I watched NCIS non-stop for 5 or 6 hours. My brain died, but my body is fully restored for the next week.

My first video - sorry, dark and non-yoga related. My poor cat is eager to give her paws for a treat. Much improvement from a week ago, when she refused to eat even canned tuna, for which she normally would give her heart and soul.

Here is my younger cat (just to be fair). She loves technology...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday, Cranky and my cat

Thank God, it's Friday!
I got to meet Cranky's family yesterday. Loved every single one of them. Andrew is nice, a little quiet and intelligent. Molly is super funny. She is currently reading a book about a girl who can hypnotize, so she was trying to hypnotize everyone several times. She had this very serious expression on her face, while saying " You are tired. You are very, very tired". Rowan has innate happiness about him. He was a little shy in the beginning, but then he proudly demonstrated his awesome pirate book and had fun posing for the pictures. Cranky obviously doing an amazing job with these kids. I had a such great time with all of them! Food was excellent, too.
I think my cat is doing better (knock on the wood 3X). She started eating, pooping and being her usual "capricious princess" self. I can barely believe it, judging from the pitiful state she was in only two days ago. La-la-la, life is good! :)
Practice today was excellent. I could concentrate on it better, took my time and enjoyed it. I was emphasizing the updogs in each vinyasa, and the back bends felt better.
Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Damn you, UD!

David is back. Good practice, nothing earth-shattering, but that is what I need - back to the routine, drawing pleasure from each pose of each practice. I think now is one of those times when I feel that nothing is hurting (well, except for the knees a little, but I am skipping Marichi D in which I feel the pain). Such joy! The only thing that clouds my euphoria is that I completely lost my tiny ability of standing up from UD. Not sure what happened, but I can't do it. What if I never learn? I imagine myself being 80, slowly and shakily moving my frail carcass through the primary, reaching UD, failing to stand up, shaking my wrinkled fist into the air "Damn you, Urdhva Dhanurasana" and dropping dead. And the tombstone with " She tried, but failed". Ugh, I'd better start practicing it at home again :)

I am meeting with Cranky today! I am so excited!

I took this picture from a Russian forum. Unfortunately, I do not know who the author is.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

They say the Spring is here.

Good practice today. Aliya was teaching, and I love, love his adjustments! David and Keith are great, but Aliya is like a treat every time. He has a knack of getting you into the pose deeper than you would imagine you could possibly do, and at the same time it never hurts of feels bad. It is a talent, Rayna is right. He folded me nicely in supta kurmasana, flattened me completely in baddhakonasana, and gave nice pointers for stretching the hip flexors. The practice took longer, than usual, but I felt particularly good afterwards.
My cat seems to be doing better. I still hydrate her with saline and feed her with high calorie Nutrical; but yesterday and today she ate a little on her own and was willing to spend the whole evening in our presence.
I have an unbelievable amount of work to do at work. Which sucks since it is very nice outside (or so they say), and I did not see the sunlight yesterday at all. A vacation would be nice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Only two days till Friday?

I had a little hurried practice this morning because I had to be at work by 7:30. But it felt good nevertheless. Keith adjusted me in Parivritta Parsvakonasana so that my chest was facing the ceiling and the back of my head was turned towards the floor. I told him that there was no way I could keep balance and dristi on my hand. He answered that those "fixed" dristis are in fact not fixed all that much. The major purpose of dristis, he said, is to keep the gaze from wandering, and it does not really matter which point you choose for fixation.
Tova was there, too. She has such a sunny presence, she practically lights up the room. I think "Cranky" is the misnomer of the century.
A lot of work today. An immunology class in the evening. I am getting tired just thinking about it.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tight groins

I have never seen my own Urdhva Dhanurasana. I am not sure how it happened, but it's true. I realized this today, contemplating the areas of my body that hold me back in my backbends. I sneaked out into the common corridor of our apartment building and took the picture with a 10-sec timer. It came out overexposed but I did not want to risk neighbors finding me in the pose. Here it is, joining the gazzilion of UD pictures on the web:

It confirmed what I felt this morning - the tightness comes in the groin area. From the knees to the navel I am as straight as a board, no even a hint of rounding. So hip flexor stretches, here I come! (Linda, I really want to read your future post on the topic! :)

Home practice and fun with cron-o-meter

God, I love Saturdays! The weather is beautiful, the Spring is finally here. My cat is feeling better, she actually ate something today. She still wobbles while walking and needs a rest after 5 meters of walk, but still, this is progress. For me - ladies holiday. I decided to test whether the hormonal surge during this time increases flexibility. It seems to be true. I worked on the hip openings with a chair and after that was able to easily bind my legs and to touch my fingers in yoga nidrasana. I hope this will translate into a better Supta Kurmasana somehow. I also realized that I am as stiff as a board in my backbends. Not because of the ladies holidays, but in general. I attempted to do a kapotasana and was listening carefully to what was holding me back. Turns out there is something in my lower belly that feels tight (not abs, but deeper inside). I might have a subconscious fear that something will snap there and I will start bleeding inside, and that makes my backbends very cautious and uninspired. Since every tightness can be stretched, I will work on it. We will see if it can be overcome.
I am having a lot of fun with a Cron-o-meter program (http://spaz.ca/cronometer/) that tracks nutrition (thank you, Arturo!). Never before I looked so closely at what and how I eat, where do I get my vitamins and minerals. So interesting! So far I discovered (three days of observation) that by midday I eat only a third of my calories, and most of them come from carbs and protein. Like yesterday, at 4 pm I ended up with my daily allowance on carbs and proteins depleted, but only half of necessary calories consumed. What was I supposed to do, drink pure olive oil to get those calories and fat? I ended up eating lots of walnuts, which satisfied my fat requirements, but put the carbs over the limit. In spite of eating lots of fresh vegetables, I only consume roughly half of the vitamins needed, so I think I should start taking a multivitamin more regularly. In general, it is a very eye-opening exercise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Things are looking up.

Practice at the shala again, after a two-day break. Keith was in unusually good mood, and it was contagious. He explained to me the purpose of the teacher adjustment in Hasta Padangusthasana. I was always wondering, why did they come and held the student's leg? It made the pose easier, of course, but still. Turns out they try to allow you to lower the hip of the raised leg without loosing the balance. I see. The practice was nice and light, in spite of the lack of sleep. By UD, though, I was tired, and my attempts to stand up were pathetically feeble. Oh, well , the day will come and I will stand up.
The kitty update. Yesterday after work I found her in a very bad shape. She could barely walk, her lips had a bluish tint, and she was not eager to leave her hiding place. I infused her subcutaneously with 300 ml of saline, and she became much better by the bedtime. She came out by herself (though she had to rest several times and her paws were shaking), pooped a little and ate a microscopic piece of a smoked turkey breast. Yes! I think her chances improved a little. I will continue hydrating and force-feed her twice a day, and we'll see how it goes.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I did not practice this morning. Woke up at 4:30; by the time I finished with the kitty's stuff, it was already 5:30. Took a shower and went to work, so I could finish my experiment as early as possible and get back home. The cat is not doing well. I might cave in and take her to the vet, but we'll see. I will give it another day, I think.
It was so foggy today! The white and pink blooming trees looked really pretty through the fog.
I hope to practice tonight at home. For some reason I am craving something different, not just primary. I might get one of the Yoga Synergy or Andrew Lappa's DVD's and practice with them. I remember them being very tough,and I wonder if I would feel any differently after 7 months of doing Mysore.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Home today

Did not go to work today, stayed with the kitty. Good thing my boss is the nicest woman on Earth, otherwise I would be in trouble. So the stupid cat does not eat or drink. I did manage to enema some poop out of her, but now she is severely dehydrated and nauseous, so I am force-feeding her liquid food every 2 hours. It is stressful for both of us, but I think not as stressful as it would be if I took her to the vet (she nearly faints every time when we take her there). She keeps me quite busy today. I just hope she survives. :(
I missed Mysore today, but had a nice and leisurely home practice. Spent some time on backbending, stood up from UD using a couch several times. Knee felt tender, but lotus was possible, so it seems to be healing nicely.
Time to feed the cat again. I feel like a mom with a newborn!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Separation anxiety

Things are not going my way these days for some reason. As a result, my practice suffers. Isn't it funny how we measure the quality of our lives by the quality of the morning practice?
So first, I hit my left knee yesterday against a very sharp edge of the metal desk. Swivel chairs are not safe, I am telling you! No lotus today, and the practice felt truncated and unfinished.
Second, my cat is sick. She does it every time when we leave somewhere, and our neighbour (a very sweet lady) comes to take care of our cats. First time she did it when we went to a family vacation in Florida. She just stopped eating. When we returned, I discovered that my black and white cat had a yellow tint to her skin. Diagnosis - hepatic lipodosis. She had to have a surgery, a tube was inserted into her stomach and I had to feed her through the tube 5 times a day for a month. Good thing I was in a graduate school then and my school was only 15 minutes of walk from the house. The surgery and all the required analyses cost us $3k. Next time we left her with the neighbour, she stopped pooping. She had to have several enemas ($250 each) before the final diagnosis - mega colon. Surgery removed a part of her colon and made us another $4K poorer. For three years afterwards she was a happily eating and pooping kitti, until we decided to visit San Francisco last week. Just four days, but that was enough for her to stop pooping again. Grrrr! For two days now I am torturing her with enemas and walking around the apartment with a paper towel and sanitizing spray, because the poop is everywhere. But it is not a very productive poop, unfortunately. I shudder to think how much will this trip cost me in the end. And my heart aches for my kitty! And my practice suffers because the lack of sleep. Ok, I am stopping my whining now.
I hope your day is shaping up much better than mine!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Crowd or solitude

I realized today that I do not enjoy a packed shala. Not because it is inconvenient. I feel that it the crowd drains my energy. I was always afraid of crowds, but now it seems that I made another step in the direction of deepening my psychological deficiencies. Oh, joy!

Speaking of the crowds. Is it really too weird to be afraid of them? I am talking about real, big crowds of people. There was in incident in Minsk in 1999, when people started to run from a strong rain into a subway station. There were so many people coming down that they trampled people coming up from the train that just arrived. 52 people died, more than 300 were injured. The majority of the people who died were girs from 13 to 17 years old. The whole week after this tragedy Minsk was burying its children. The girls were buried in the wedding dresses, which was a Belorussian tradition for unwed women.

I do not know why I remembered this. I was just trying to justify my deep dislike of the crowds. But the people in the shala have nothing in common with the wild crowds I am afraid of. And yet I feel very tired every time I practice in over packed shala. Is it psychosomatic? The most people I know love to practice with as many people as possible. They enjoy this feeling of common pulled energy of people doing yoga together. I think our teachers love it, too. They seem to be more energized, more active, in a better than usual mood. What is wrong with me, I wonder?
Linda: check out my little Ganesh statue. This was a present from a dear friend! :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Back to normal, I think

I was hoping that my practice today would easy after yesterday’s break. Not so much, though. I got this new “uncertain” feeling in my lower back. I am not sure whether it was after a long flight, practically one long day of sitting, or it was a result of my overzealous attempts to stand up from UD. In any case I decided not to risk it and just did 3 wheels from the floor, 5 breaths each. Probably it is time to start respecting my advanced age and take it easy when I have pains and aches.
I think I need to do some dieting or something. All that San-Franciscan sourdough made me too voluminous to bind even in Marichi D, which normally is not a problem. Supta Kurmasana was quite pathetic as well. Sigh.

Things have changed somewhat in our shala while I was away. I saw new people, some of them very strong practitioners. Interesting, how easy it is for me now to distinquish a “newbie” from an “oldie”, even if I look at them for a second or two. There was an Asian guy I have never seen (or noticed, which is possible since I am not wearing my glasses during practice), who jumped back while I was walking by. His jumpback was exquisite – effortless, slow and gracious. Then there was another new girl practicing next to me – gorgeous practice, very fluid and precise. The only thing which was weird – she had a tendency to moan in the poses. Not very loudly, but distinctly. Oh, well, nobody is perfect I guess. It was hard to say how far those two were in their practice, since everyone did a primary today.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

San Francisco, continued

Some pictures from the trip:
Our hotel was very close to this building. Which was very nice, because we could see it practically from everywhere and it served as a "homing" landmark. A very impressive structure!

San Franciscans surely love their shrooms!

Chinatown is very colorful.

It is right next to the Financial District

Seagull population was not affected by the increasing food prices. These birds are enormous! First I thought that my sense of perspective suffered from the flight, but then a passing by tourist from Australia noted the same. He said " These birds have a wing span of pterodactyls! The gulls are much smaller in Australia"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

San Francisco

We returned home very late last night. One of our connecting flights from Chicago got cancelled for some reason, so we had to spend four hours there, instead of two. When we returned, the cats were very happy to see us. The younger one didn't let me walk, she seemed to be permanently attached to my feet. She did not even mind me stepping on her a couple of times. All night long she was squeezing into me very tightly, trying to assure herself that we are really here.
We liked San Francisco very much. What a beautiful architecture! Nice people, too. Two things left me unimpressed, though. First, the weather. Where is the fabled California heat? We were half frozen half of the time. The second - the amount of beggars on the street that caught me unprepared. Even quite nicely-dressed people would come up on the street and ask for money to buy some food for the children or some such. I think I left a sizable chunk of my son's college money on the streets of San Francisco!
Arturo met us early morning on Sunday to take us to the studio in Berkeley. Arturo looks very young, much, much younger than his age, and very fit. This CRON thing must be working very well. It took quite a long bus ride plus and additional short bus ride to get there. What a dedication on Arturo's part! When we came to the studio, there were no one, except for the teacher practicing. Eventually the studio filled up; it had nice energy.
I had a very nice adjustment in Tiryaìgmukhaikapada Paçchimottanäsana and Baddha Konasana. Since Arturo was practicing in front of me, I had a chance to observe the same Baddha Konasana adjustment being done on someone else. The teacher was seating behind the student in mulabandhasana, both hands on the hip creases of the student, rotating the hips backwards and pressing the pelvis down. With the rest of his body, the teacher leaned on the back of the student, nudging the extension of the spine and gently pressing down at the same time. Boy it felt good! My hips said "Aaaah" and opened really wide. I also had an excellent help in the backbends; but it seems that I completely lost my ability to stand up from UD again. I will chalk it off on the recent cold and hope that the ability will be regained...
On Monday I skipped practice because I had to present my poster on the conference. In the afternoon we were roaming the city for so long that around 6 pm we collapsed and did not get up again till the next morning. On Tuesday I dared to venture to the "other" Arturo's studio, though it was cutting a little close to the departure time. It worked out well, nevertheless. It was a very beautiful studio, with a large boutique, several practice rooms, and changing rooms with showers. There were not quite as many people there as in Berkeley, but the feel of the practice was just as wonderful. Catherine was very nice, indeed. She took her time to work with me on my UD, and said that if she had more time with me, I would stand up in no time. Alas, the time was an issue. I was really happy I had a chance to practice there, especially taking into account a full day of sitting in the planes and airports ahead of me. It was good to see Arturo practice again, too.
When I think about all the people I met either virtually or in real life thanks to this blog, it fills me with a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. So far the experience was absolutely wonderful, and I hope I will continue transferring my virtual friends into "real" ones one by one. :)


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