Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brain candy and SK troubles.

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Too eager to practice or something.

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

Happy Moon day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is it Monday already?

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back to the routine.

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yoga Nidra rocks!

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

Monday, October 20, 2008


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

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The end of a good week

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Backbending woes

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rested and perky

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

Friday, October 10, 2008


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

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Meditation, days 5 and 6

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

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Meditation, days 3 and 4

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

Friday, October 3, 2008

Second day of meditation.

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

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

Happy Friday! :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Meditation is hard

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

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday already?

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


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