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:


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