Monday, December 28, 2009

Last week of the year.

Back to the routine, thank God. Good practice today! Lifting from Kapotasana was effortless. The trick for me was to coordinate a precise moment of contracting abs and quads, in addition to a slight push with arm. It seems so strange now that the feat seemed impossible only a week ago. I love this about yoga!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How aerobic is Mysore practice?

Thank you so much for all of you who advised me on the lift from Kapo B. Something must have stuck in my subconscious brain, because I did it yesterday! Three times. Might have done it today, too, but David helped me, so I do not know. But it is funny how a pose seems completely impossible, until something clicks and it works. Just like magic...

I brought in a heart rate monitor today to practice. In one of his talks, David said that heart rate should not go above 60 during Ashtanga practice. Yeah, right. My resting heart rate is 65-75, so I am already not there. During the day - 80-110, depending if I am walking or sitting. So anyway, my results:

Sun Salutations increase to 126
Standing poses hold heart rate around 100, except for hasta padangustasana, utkatasana and both virabadrasanas - 126
Vinyasas between seated raises HR by 10 (from 95 to 105-110, approximately), forward bends decrease it back to 95-100
Starting from Marich C to kurmasana, HR does not go down from 125; supta kurmasana - 136
Blessed baddhakonasana brings it down again to 100, then it goes down to 90-somtheing, until, of course, setu bandhasana - 127
Pasasana - 130
HR does not go down at all during all second series backbends, and actually reaches 150 after kapotasana (wihich is 15 points more than lagu vajrasana)
UD and dropbacks are not quite as strenuous as I thought they were - HR up to 135
Finishing poses do not decrease HR substantially, but not raise it as well, except for utpluthee - 134
Savasana - 81

I know that my cardiovascular health is not very athletic, so this record might not be helpful at all to all of you, athletic people. But it was interesting to me that vinyasas are as strenuous as just walking (not that strenuous at all - but again, my jumpbacks suck). Sarvangasana and sirsasana are not restorative. I also expected a higher raise of the HR after twists. Kapotasana results are not suprising.

So if I calculate my aerobic target rate, it comes to 103 to 156 for my age. Which means that I keep my heart rate somewhere is the middle of this range practicing ashtanga. This makes me happy...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kapotasana B woes.

So this is my Kapotasana. Honestly speaking, this is the first time I am seeing it myself, and it is not as flat as I thought it was. I do see all that re-gained weight though, sigh. Anyway, I need some advice. That pathetic attempt to an exit from Kapotasana B is my best attempt to date. What am I doing wrong? Where should I press, which muscles to engage and which to relax? Please help! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I like ashtanga again. I think.

Several massages, being cautious in my practice and just generally taking it easy made my aversion to all things ashtanga subside a little. I somewhat re-acquired the enthusiasm for practice, though I still can't manage more than a three day Mysore week.

So while I was away:

1) Attended Simon Park's workshops at Flow yoga. Super-nice person, fun and challenging flows, I got some progress going in my handstands. I was happy but a little surprised at my lack of stamina. I think that vinyasa classes that I teach are just as challenging, but then again, I teach them, not do them. Note to self - add some cardio, Saturdays perhaps?

2) Kapotasana is a little better. My back is no longer shocked after it, and backbends are just fine. I would say that UD became better because of kapotasana. But I still can't stand up from kapotasana B. David thinks it is purely psychological (it took me forever to learn to stand up from UD). But I think it is my alleged lack of psoas minor. A girl can blame her ashtanga problems on anatomical deficiencies, right? It is a basic human right.

3) Had an energy correcting session with a shaman-in-training. Do not ask.

4) Am excited but also dreading upcoming immunology teaching starting this January.

5) Nearly all the weight that I lost with such difficulty this year came back. Makes me sad. Can't bind supta kurmasana on my own. Can't bind wrist in Mari C, D and pasasana. Somebody, please slap me.

I am going to read your blogs now. Ciao!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kapotasana blues

I have been feeling down for a while now. It is mostly ashtanga funk, the rest of my life is more or less OK. The name of this misery - well, kapotasana, of course. I am so sad about the whole thing, I did not want to write, read or even think about ashtanga lately. Dreading the pose poisoned my joy of practice completely and making myself to go to Mysore became an exercise in willpower. In addition, I hurt myself again.
It all started with waking up with a crick in the neck. Nothing new, happens when I go to bed too tired and not move enough in sleep. I went to practice, and it made it worse. Now this is a surprise, because normally yoga always helped in these situations. But I never practiced kapotasana before, and this was the pose that made a difference for the worse. Pain moved from my neck and settled in the upper back, between shoulder blades. It was so bad, pushing a door open with one hand cause sharp pain, leaving me gasping for air for a moment. It was painful to take full inhalations, sit, stand, lie down. Whew. Went to get a massage with Keith. He discovered a string of brand-new knots between my shoulder blades on both sides. The massage itself was painful, but I felt much better afterwards. So good that I practiced on my own at home, carefully and gently, but including some backbends. This morning - the pain is back, not as bad as it was, but bad enough to keep me seated like I just swallowed a stick.
I googled the upper back pain and it seems that the injury to that area is extremely rare. But again, they are talking about normal people, not ones who try to stick their noses between the feet bending backward.
So it has been nearly a week I am on and off in pain. If I were smart, I would go to see a doctor. But then I think that he would tell me just to stop doing what I am doing and everything will be fine. I can't imaging any disk problems in the chest area, because the column just does not bend backwardly there. It doesn't. There are spikes on the vertebrae that prevent that bending. On the other hand, something obviously irritated the outgoing nerves to make the rhomboid muscles bulge up. Movement of the ribs? I noticed before that really good backbenders have their ribcage sticking up when in a deep backbend, so I was trying to emulate the movement, so this is a possibility. I am not sure, though, if there is a proximity of the ribs and the nerves that exit the spinal cord. Anyway, if it is not vertebrae and the disks, then it can't be anything serious, right? Right?

Monday, November 9, 2009

New week.

Good practice Sunday, but could not wake up today at all for Mysore. I teach a very intense vinyasa class Sunday evenings, so probably it is too much yoga for one day. No matter, tomorrow is another good day for practice.

Not a lot to report, my life is as boring as ever. Little highlights:

- I assembled the bookshelves all by myself - so proud. Especially because it was said in the instructions - two people required. One big mistake - not a good idea to try to fit boards by slapping them with your hands. I did it successfully, but today I am sporting an enourmous bruise on my hand, on the base of the thumb. Downdog is a little painful.

- Tried standing up from the "wide UD" from Liz's challenge. Could not do it. Realised that can stand up from only not too wide and not too narrow UDs. Not a very good stander-upper, as it seems. Need to work on it.

- Still did not get to watch Kino's DVD - just need a good solid junk of time. Perhaps the veteran's day?

- Back on the vagon with CRON and raw eating. Feel better as a result.

OK, back to work. I hope everyone has a really nice Monday evening!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Still alive.

Recovering from a flu or a bad cold over this weekend. It felt like dying. Slept 18 hours a day in a dayquil-induced coma. OK now, only very annoying loud cough left.
Went back to shala first time in over two weeks - it is like returning home, such a nice feeling. Expected struggle, but surprisingly my body was happy and limber, and was going strong through the practice. I still did only primary, just to be on a safe side, but was very pleasantly surprised. Will probably do full practice tomorrow.
Re-introduced fat-free organinc milk into diet - and some of the "flightiness" is gone. It makes me wonder...
Oh, and I received Kino's intermediate DVD - can't wait to get home and start watching it!
Keep warm, everyone (it was freezing this morning in DC)!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Friday!

That was such a great week of Mysore practice with David Keil. I love my shala, but boy it is so nice to have all this attention in a room with 10 people in it. All the adjustments made full sense to me and I know what to work on now. I feel more confident in Kapotasana (though far from actually understanding it fully). Moreover, I had a "preview" of supta vajrasana - seems like a doable pose. I am still sore all over my body, though in a nice way, and feel like a massage would be a good treat for me.

On a completely different note. The last couple of weeks I noticed that I have a tremendous difficulty of concentrating. Always suspected that I might have a subclinical level of ADD, but this time it became so pronounced, I actually started considering seeing a doctor and beggging for meds. When I mentioned this to my boss after a day of futile struggle, she remembered reading a book, called "The edge effect", which was talking about tyrosine, serotonine and other neurotransmitters and how they affect the personality. I did not read this book, but there was a light bulb lighting up in my head. I remembered that in one of his lectures, our ayurveda teacher Brendan Freely said that he abandoned raw vegeterian eating because it made him "too flighty" and attributed this to increase in vata imbalance. I have not been eating any dairy the whole last month, so there was no uptake of any kind of animal protein in my diet at all. So probably I am low on tyrosine, and, as a result - low on dopamine and catecholamines. Which is reflected in difficulty to concentrate practically on anything (including writing this blog). I should know these things, being a neuroscientist and all. Anyway, this is a theory, which need proving. So for now, I will take some tyrosine supplements and see if my ability to work using my head improves at all, and meanwhile research raw foods rich in tyrosine and phenylalanine. Let me tell you, this raw vegan diet, with all its healthful benefits, is a lot of work. But I still like it. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Whatever does not kill us makes us stronger, right? Right?

Second day of David Keil's mysore, and I am so sore, no words to express it. It is my own fault - haven't done yoga for a whole week. First, in Chicago, there was no room to do it, and I swam instead. Then I came home and skipped shala due to the ladies holiday. And now I am paying for it big time. It even hurts to breathe - all those tiny muscles between the ribs are not happy at the moment.
Good thing I did not complain, though. David asked a lady on the mat next to mine if she was tired. Sounded very compassionate, too. She sighed exhaustedly - yes. So what does he do? He makes her take full vinyasas for the rest of her practice! You know - those, when you come to samastihi every time. Whew.
On a positive note, it seems that my kapotasana is less sucky now. I was holding my heels both days, and it felt less terryfying than before. In kapotasana B, David somehow elongated my lower back, so it was quite bearable as well. My back was still in shock afterwards, and UD's were close to impossible, but I can feel baby-step progress. Got assistance with the dropbacks and a great squish after.
Tomorrow's practice is going to be interesting, though. The bookshelfs that I ordered from Office Depot arrived yesterday, which is good news. Bad news is that they are "extra tall", which means - do not fit in the elevator. I will have to unpack them downstairs and carry all extra-long pieces to the 4th floor myself, using the stairs. Two double cases - 8 trips at least. My husband is overseas, I do not know anybody in the building, and the super in the building is kind of old. So it is just me, it seems. As I said, mysore morning after will be intriguing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do you go for a smoke before your backbends?

– David asked me yesterday. Yes. Well, not exactly smoke, but I do take a bathroom break before the dropbacks. It is just the right amount of time – to walk there and back, breathing slowly; it helps to restore some of my energy. As a result, the dropbacks became practically effortless.
Not today, though. In spite of my pitiful record of attendance, I got the dreaded pose – kapotasana. My fear was well grounded - what a shock for the system! I did reach for the feet, but my back was not grateful. The bathroom break restored some of the feeling of well-being, but not enough even to contemplate the drop-backs. Oh, well.

Other news – we moved this weekend. I love my new apartment. Everything is still in boxes, my furniture looks pitiful (all of it is not just second, but third or fourth hand), but it feels right. The tree in front of all our windows is beautiful, the neighbors are friendly, and we already have internet, phone and cable installed. Hopefully I will settle into the routine after a month of madness.

Great day to you all!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Final stretch

We are closing the mortgage and moving to a new place this week. I have too many earthly possessions. Hurt my upper back hauling the boxes with books, so there was no yoga yesterday and today. Hopefully will be able to practice tomorrow, need it badly.
I will be back in the blogosphere after we get the internet installed in a new place (sometime next week).

Miss you all!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday woes.

Oi, another week passed. This way the life itself will be gone in a blink of an eye, and I will not even notice it. Time to slow down.
Nothing much to report, except for the fact that we are poor now. Very much so. Coming up with down payment for the apartment was difficult, but then there turned out to be closing costs, quarterly taxes, and a gazillion of 0ther expenses to be payed right now, and not a minute later! So yeah, poor.
Practice-wise, not much to report. Laghu comes and goes; it is gone for now. I do not worry too much, it will come. Not a lot of energy to practice; being anxious about getting a loan sucks up all my energy at the moment. Yesterday I decided to add half an hour to my sleep in order to be in top shape for the morning practice; but not only I was not able to fall asleep early, I tossed and turned well into the night. As a result, the practice was quite pitiful today.
Plan for this week - meditate not only every day, but several times a day, every time I feel that my heart is racing and palm are sweaty.
Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Still playing games, owning Laghu Vajrasana and no longer drinking alcohol

Nearly two weeks off the blog. Facebook games madness continues, but the eagerness to play faded a little; so there is hope on the horizon. Several things happened while I was away:
1) I need to kill my inner alcoholic permanently, because I have a life-threatening sensitivity to sulfites. Had a major asthma attack after celebrating my husband's CFA exam with Russian champagne. It is not like I love drinking wine, but still this makes me a little sad. Oh well, I am forced to live a healthier lifestyle, shouldn't complain.
2) We are thinking about buying a condo. With 2 bedrooms, which means we'll be able to accomodate guests. Wink-wink.
3) I can do Laghu Vajrasana now. Like so many yoga poses, this one turned out to be not about superhuman strength. It is all about spatial geometry, knowing where to press, which muscles to contract, which parts to release. Aliya hepled me a lot with this pose. I do not know what I am going to do when he, Rayna and Ananda are gone to Paradise (here, on Earth!). Sigh.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dangers of facebook and kitty update.

Lately I had a hard time keeping things together - I would concentrate on one thing, and ten others would fall apart immediately. And I added an additional challenge to it (like I needed one, honestly!). On a Facebook, I got sucked in into the Robin Hood game, hopelessly. The intention was to keep up with friends who stopped blogging, but update the facebook regularly, and here we go, the trap has sprang. The only saving grace for me is that facebook is banned at work, otherwise I might have gotten fired.

Kitty seems to be doing OK, though she did not greet me in the morning again, completely ignoring our morning treat-giving ritual. What is up with her? Aren't cats the creatures of habits and rituals? Weird.

Laghu Vajrasana still eludes me. My thighs are fried daily now. David said yesterday that as soon as I learn to do it, we'll be moving forward. Which kind of gave me a mixed feeling - I am not all that sure I want Kapotasana any time soon. On the other hand - I want it! Need to sit and sort myself out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some good, some bad.

Last week was the week of our summer students poster presentations, so the time went in a blur of hurried preparations and the poster session itself. Then the weekend came, and it was my husband's birthday, for which my baby came to visit. It was so nice to have the family all together again. We went to see a Harry Potter movie (we used to do it all together when Ilya was still small), bought a graduation present (a Movado watch) and celebrated Victor's birthday in a seafood restaurant at the Washington Marina. We also spent considerable time just lounging around, eating and watching tivoed "Boston Legal". I felt very rejuvenated after hectic two weeks.

Missed Mysore again - the third time this month. My older cat was not feeling good for a couple of days, and today she did not come out to greet me and to ask for a treat. Might not sound like much, but believe me, this is a big deal. Every time she lost her appetite, it ended up with extremely expensive surgery and her being on a brink of death. So I decided to take matters seriously, did not go to practice and instead dug her out from the depths of my closet, fed her hairball gel, checked her signs and watched her for some time, making sure she is OK. Well, she was not quite OK, but better than I feared. I will have to keep my fingers crossed at work today.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back from Minnesota

Good intentions of practicing yoga on my own resulted in one day of intermediate (up to lagu vajrasana) and four days of half-ass yin practices in my hotel room. I do not have discipline, as it seems. With some trepidation I stepped in to the shala today, and ended up having an amazing practice. I always knew that breaks were good for me, but a week-long break? Interesting.

Assisted backbends were not quite good, though. I was dropping back heavily, and it took a lot of effort for David to lift me up. He got sick of it pretty fast and made me hang back with my legs straight. Turns out I am terrified of this pose! In my dropbacks I always support my back with hands on the hips or thighs until the very last moment of bringing the hands down to the floor. I did not realise that I cound not do it otherwise. Today, there was a moment of pure panic rising, and I lifted up so fast, nearly knocked David's head with my own. Well, something new to work on. Love challenges!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eating out is scary.

For lunch my lab decided to go out to California tortilla place, one of the favorites in the area. I tagged along and gave in when we were there - got myself a regular vegetarian burrito with spinach, chips and salsa. Ate a half of the burrito, but finished the chips, because salsa was outstanding. Back to work I discovered that California tortilla had a very nice nutritional calculator on its website. I looked up my lunch and nearly fainted. My half burrito and chips amounted to 858 calories, 25% calories coming from fat; plus double daily dose of salt. My stomach feels the weight of the food even now, an hour after lunch and a 30 min walk back to work. I think, I satisfied my craving for cooked food for a long time now. The salad choices were not much better from the nutritional point of view, either.

This Sunday I am going to Minneapolis, MN for a week-long immunology training. It is going to be grueling - 8 hours a day of lectures, with small breaks here and there. I did not find a studio with Mysore practice there on-line, please correct me if I am wrong. I think I will splurge on illegal intermediate series practice at my hotel. They also have an Olympic-size pool there, so I better not forget my swimming suit.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Magic of adjustments

The first forward bend in a sun salutation confirmed what I felt since I got up this morning - my body was stiff and sore. My hands could barely reach the floor. Normally I very rarely feel stiff, but this morning it was epic. Sun salutations A did not resolve the stiffness, neither did the first B. On the second B Keith gave me a rather strong adjustment in a downdog, I even whimpered a little. But then it seems something clicked and the stiffness was gone! Like magic. Anyway, I am re-developing my appreciation of Keith's adjustments. David does not adjust me much anymore, just occasionally barks something like "Alfia, moolabandha!" or " You are not breathing, just making sounds like you are!". It is OK with me, probably means that I am doing things mostly right. Keith, on the other hand, always gives me at least some adjusts, even if the pose looks OK. In Prasarita C he manages to get my elbows touching the floor and boy that feels good. Yesterday he gave me an awesome assist in pasasana, rotating my torso so that my back ended up on the knees and I was nearly squarely facing the ceiling. Aaaaah! He also loves giving people nice squish in seated forward bends. Maybe because he himself has "runners" hamstrings? In any case, I am not complaining. Thank you, Keith!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kapotasana is looming over me.

I took a break yesterday, sleeping in and taking it easy the whole day. My bone-deep exhaustion the day before rendered me useless both at work and home. Today I felt vastly better, came to practice and plopped my mat right in front of David. Normally I kind of hide in the dark corners of the room, but this morning I felt perky. This perkiness was rewarded with 2 new poses - Ustrasana and Lagu Vajrasana. Now, I vaguely remember there was time in my life when I was craving new poses and was moaning and groaning about not getting them all the time. Now, when I feel old and tired, when my practice is so long that it zaps the energy from my body for the rest of the day, it seems that I am getting them practically every day. I guess this is the secret to getting new poses - you need not to want them!
Lagu vajrasana kicked my butt. I did try it at home before and used it as a tool to strengthen the necessary muscles for coming up from UD; but I never managed to bring my head completely to the floor. With David, however, there is just no middle ground, need to bring head down no matter what. Sure way of getting the quads of steel, I guess. On the bright side, there is no way I am getting to Kapotasana any time soon, since there is a long way for me to work on LV. Whoo-hoo!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I should just keep my mouth shut

Was talking to Sarah on Sunday, marveling at the fact that I was completely injury-free. Then in the evening I hit a door frame with my left hand, hurting the thumb. Could not do anything in the morning. Went to work, surprised that my allergies were acting up badly. Turned out - not allergies, but a cold. Maybe flu. I was in complete denial. I eat right, do yoga and wash my hands religiously - how can I possibly be sick? But fever in the evening, Tuesday spent in bed, and being barely able to move on Wednesday left no doubts. Practiced today, but it seems that the practice took all my energy away, and I am in a zombie-like state. Why have I ever uttered those words on Sunday?

On a plus side, my thumb had a chance to heal. :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Then and now.

Oh, Liz, I can't believe you made me do that!

Ok, me at 7:

Tha little star on the school uniform - an affiliation with a junior political organization "Oktyabryata"

Forty years later (yesterday, 4th of July celebration):

Yeah... The only things in common then and now - messy hair and clothes. :D

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's a new day.

My success in binding dwi pada unexpectedly yielded two new poses - dhanurasana and parsva dhanurasana. I have been doing my last three for no more than 3 seconds, and here we are, new poses. Sometimes I just do not understand the logic behind this business of pose giving. Not that I am complaining! :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dwi pada ups and downs

I bound in dwi pada on my own for the first time on Sunday. Supta Kurmasana felt like heaven after that - I thought I could bind my wrist for some reason, but alas, it was just adrenaline talking. I was so excited that I let practically everyone around me know what happened. Like, "Did you see? I did it!" Crazy, I know.
My neck did not share my happiness next day, though. Good thing is was a moon day, so it had a chance to recover. Mostly muscle tension from overworking, no structural damage (I hope!) Today the leg bind in dwi pada did not happen, even though I tried my darndest. Oh, well, it happened once, it will happen again. Aliya believes in me, and who am I to argue? :)

Work keeps me very busy lately; interferes a lot with my ability to visit the blogs. In additon, there have been a lot of subbing lately, not sure why. I feel conflicted - crave free time, but when I get it, I immediately start sabotaging it. Would be good to analyze it, but there is no time. Besides, there is one thought dominates in my head - Will I bind tomorrow in dwi pada or not? :D

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Advanced yoga

Searching for inspiration for my tomorrow's class, I came across this gem. Just could not hold myself from sharing it:

Ain't it precious?

In comparison, this guy seems to be awesome:

Monday, June 15, 2009


Whew, I am back from the trip to California. That was a lot of flying and sitting at the airports, not a lot of time with my son, unfortunately. I was supposed to arrive to LA on Thursday, around noon, but due to all kinds of trouble with the airlines, it turned out to be after midnight. So my trip to a Mysore practice on Friday was not quite plausible, and I settled for a practice in the hotel room. Boy it felt good after a whole day of sitting!

The commencement ceremony was not very festive. Turns out that two students committed suicide very recently; one in May, the second - just two days before graduation. I can not even imagine what the parents felt. The school honored them with a moment of silence during the graduation ceremony. One could tell that the mood of the crowd was very somber because of that. The gray sky and drizzling rain did not help either. B

But the city was as beautiful as ever. There were lots of trees with purple flowers, and the whole Pasadena seemed to be covered in a purple haze. Falling purple flowers carpeted the ground as well.

Anyway, here are some pics. Unfortunately, my son politely declined the leprechaun jump for me. I am not surprised, though - this is the same person who does not want me as a friend on Facebook! Ugh. I still love him. :)

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steve Chu gave a really good speech:

Purple trees

And purple carpet....

And this is a little frog - just for Arturo. It was sitting next to the pond at the Caltech campus, contemplating something scientific, I bet:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bhekasana and trip to LA

Yep, got salambasanas and bhekasana. Still feels good to get a new pose, no matter what I say about not caring anymore. UD felt really good afterward.

I am leaving tomorrow early in the morning for LA, my son's commencement ceremony. Need to have those pictures in a square hat, and now also with a leprechaun jump (Thank you, Liz!). Pity it is such a short trip, but better than no trip at all, which was a real option for a while.

Feeling vastly better today, even though I had to sub a class late yesterday, so I got only 6 hours of
sleep. I just do not understand anymore how my body works and what it requires to function properly. So far it seems that rest is not only overrated, but even detrimental for well being. Who knew? :D But it is exciting to get re-acquainted with the body again, throw new things in it, observe and make conclusions. Just like science I do for living.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In need of an energy shot.

For some reason, I am not in a blogging mood lately. Feel physically tired. This fatigue is not practice related - I was exhausted yesterday evening, and it was a moon day with no mysore in the morning. Took an hour-long nap at 6 pm, but then by 8:30 was ready to retire to bed completely. This is not normal, no? Might be a side effect of "detoxing" or somesuch.

Today's practice was a little slow, but very satisfying in the end. David asked me what my last pose was and whether I was ready to move on. Hell, yes! It has been nearly a year since I got a new pose. I know he is just being cautious with all my multiple injuries, so it is OK with me. I feel that at last I got over this urge to get a new pose. Or maybe I lost this urge temporarily because I have this challenge of getting into Dwi Pada - Supta Kurmasana on my own, and it keeps my competitive fibers occupied at the moment. Whatever is at work, I feel good about my practice at the moment.

At work craziness starts with summer students arriving. It is a good kind of craziness, though. Two of them are here already, one will be here next week. Our quiet lab is not so quiet anymore!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

OK, I am at peace with this week after all.

Two days of ladies holiday gave me an opportunity to spend some time with a beautiful baby Ananda. We got along really well; the first day he did not cry even once in 2 hours, the second - briefly a couple of times, but then he got into a good mood again. My son was not such an agreeable baby.

This morning's practice was really good. I did not eat anything in the morning, and felt fine through the practice. Blood glucose level was 94, so probably there was lots of fuel to go around. No farting today (thank God), though lubricated skin-to-skin traction during arm insertion in Garbha produced a suspiciously similar sound.

I can consistently bind now in SK, but I can't get there on my own yet. Aliya claims I am hair-thin close to being able to do it. Just need to believe in it myself.

I am subbing a vinyasa class late tonight. Maybe I manage to sneak in a nap sometime today? Would be nice.

It is raining and kind of cool outside. Lots of things to take care of, so I should better start.
Have a great day, everyone!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can we start this week over, please?

My new diet is not without glitches. Yesterday I tried a slushy mixture of frozen medley (cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) in pomegranate juice and loved it. Strong taste, but very pleasant. This morning I decided to repeat this recipe before practice and regretted it already on my way to shala. Heartburn and big, loud burps, combined with feeling of movement inside the belly. As a result, the practice was not a happy one. Every time I was upside down, my heartburn got worse and I was feeling a little sick. Tried to get myself into supta kurmasana without any success. Aliya came by and squeezed me into the pose and out of me a big, loud, juicy fart. Feeling sick to my stomach in both figurative and literal way, I briefly considered quitting yoga or switching back to Iyengar, but this passed by the end of the practice. I guess breakfast is not a good place for experimentation after all. The funny thing is that after practice I felt absolutely fine, no heartburn or burping. Go figure.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fighting friction.

Day three of practice this week was heavy. But again, I need to memorize that feeling of well being afterward, even if I felt tired during the practice.
Anyway, I found an interesting cheat this morning. I was wearing cropped pants, and a tank top with open shoulders. So I sprayed some water on my leg before attempting Dwi pada, and it really helped to slide that stiff right leg back. I still was not able to bind the legs on my own, but both of my feet touched and it felt that I was much closer to success. Keith helped me to bind the legs and I bound my hands on my own in supta kurmasana. Practically for the first time in my life.
I am so excited! :) Then I lifted up, and uncurled into tittibasana. No friction there - my legs went down with unexpected speed and crushed loudly on the floor. Something to pay attention to.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial day

It seems that I fell off the blogging wagon. On the other hand I had a very productive week. I wonder if there is a relationship between the two?
First of all I did not skip Mysore during the work week, which is lately unusual for me. Only on Sunday I made a mistake of deciding to "sleep another 20 minutes", waking up two hours later and realizing I overslept practice. It was funny, because in fact I woke up early, finished all my morning routines and had an extra 30 minutes before it was time to leave when I decided to take a nap. Well, maybe my body needed it or something.
Aliya was teaching the whole week. I am currently struggling with dwi pada transition into supta kurmasana (which is all-time bad because of my left leg injury), so I asked him what I can do at home to open up hips in this direction. He said that he bets $50 that if I come to practice 6 times a week, in 6 months I will do it without any problems. Which is a challenge I could not resist - that is why good Mysore attendance. The problem was that half way through the week he changed his mind and said that I could do it even now, just needed to overcome a psychological block. Hmmm.... The problem is that I can't throw my right leg behind my head using only my right hand, even if there is no left leg behind. But who am I to argue? Will keep trying my hardest.
At work things were going well, too. It was a slow beginning of the week, but then things picked up, and I managed to finish every single thing on my task list every day. What a nice feeling! Maybe I learned at last to make manageable lists? We also went for a short brisk walk every day after lunch, which bumped up my daily step average from 5K to 8K, with 3K of aerobic walk.
Sweet Rayna gave me a book about 80/10/10 diet, which I decided to try. It is a raw fruitarian diet, which attracted me because I loooove fruit. Before I tried to minimize fruit in my diet, because eating them made me fat in the first place, and it made me sad a little. According to 811, one is not supposed to eat more than 10% of fat, which means no fat added at all, because most of the fruit have around 10% fat in them. According to the author, Dr. Graham, this make a huge difference in the way body deals with sugars. Supposedly this diet is beneficial for diabetics, too, which is completely counter intuitive. So after a trip to Costco, I started the diet three days ago, and so far I am loving it! I remind myself a cow a little, because I am eating practically every hour, but my God this is easy! Wash and weigh the fruit, and this is all the cooking involved. I am not hungry, and feel pretty great. The greatest challenge is getting enough calories. Could not get enough iron, selenium, calcium and vitamins B12 and D, so I took supplements. Need to research more which plants will provide those. Morning glucose level is 95 average, which is better than before I started eating so much simple carbs. Even weight went down 2 lbs last week! So far I am very happy. My husband - not so much. He looks very sad, eating alone. But he ate much more fruit as a result, too, which is good for him.
And this is a Memorial day, combined with a Moon day! Time to be lazy, I think. Or not. :)
Happy Monday!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Not so happy anymore

Guruji left his body. Though I did not get a chance to get to know him personally, I feel privileged to live and practice at the time he lived. I hope he feels all the love and gratitude of so many people who's lives he changed forever.

Me happy...

I had three days of home practice before I returned to shala this morning. I was concentrating on hips and backbends, nothing drastic, just slow yin practice. For the backbends I used a big ball. It felt really good, but I was not sure if this practice achieved anything. However this morning, during the first updog I suddenly felt ache in my upper abs. Not bad pain, but the sensation that I actually stretched something there. It was a pleasant surprise - I have never managed to go into a backbend deep enough to stretch abs. Love my ball! :)

The practice today was great, everything seemed to be working my way, all the poses were nicely satisfying. Aliya was subbing, which is always a plus. He helped me into SK via dwi pada, and I did not feel much in my left leg (afterwards - s little nagging sensation, but nothing dramatic). Did it heal completely? I will try to be careful in putting it behind my head, but I should definitely push a little and work on getting into SK on my own. Back feels good, too. I might be a little too cautious these days with standing up from UD, but it beats getting hurt again and thrown back for another year.

All in all - my body is happy, and so am I. Happy new week, everyone!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The benefits of chemical modifications of the body.

I went to practice yesterday after taking Theraflu a night before. Practice was good, though I felt a little shaky from weakness. Yesterday I did not take any meds and woke up incredibly stuffed up. Now, how do people practice if they can't breathe through the nose? I had a light home practice and my sinuses cleared up after all sun salutations, but I had to blow my nose after every single one of them. Disgusting. Now I am wondering, should I take anything tonight to be able to practice at the shala tomorrow, or I will recover sufficiently to go drug-free? Hmmm...

The weather is amazing - a little cool, but in a nice, crisp and sunny sort of way. I hope I will be able to go for a short walk after lunch today. I am trying a walking meditation again, and it goes so well when it is beautiful outside.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cold dropbacks for DZM

I decided to contribute to the team USA with an icy-cold dropback (did 2):

Pictures from New York

Just wanted to cover up my whiny post. Here are some pictures:

Just a girl on Park avenue. I like how she was catching the sun nonchalantly among crazy traffic.

People waiting for the start of the practice in Chinatown YMCA.

Me, grinning stupidly next to Sharath after the practice. He was very nice, though he firmly refused to allow me to take pictures during the practice.
The next pictures are from the Central Park zoo, which was 3 blocks from my son's apartment. I always wanted to live close to the zoo!

Polar bears are now forever associated in my mind with the "Lost". Need to cut down on TV time!

In the spirit of Mother's day. This baby monkey was a riot! He tried to ride his mom and some others without any succes, was jumping around like, well, a monkey, but always returned to his mom to get a hut and just to sit a little, tightly squeezed to her.

This bird was not only very pretty, but also very fearless. It walked around under everyone's foot, practically tripping over unsuspecting visitors. I wish I knew it's name!


As soon a got back from NY, I found myself in a zombie-like sleepwalking state, where nothing mattered much, everything was a bother and just one thing was important - sleep. I was sleeping at night, napping during the day whenever I could find an opportunity and then noded in all meetings, lectures and other public events I had to attend. My value as a worker was very close to zero, and yoga just did not bring any satisfaction. It was very annoying. Then on Friday it dawned - I am sick! All those allergy meds I was gulping up did not help, because it were never allergies. Aches were not from the ladies holiday. Headache was not from the low atmospheric pressure. Yikes. I hope this is not flu, because I probably shared it with everyone I got in contact with. Anyway, I stayed home on Friday, slept probably 18 hours in total, then slept 15 hours on Saturday and now am contemplating whether to go and nap a little at 8:30 in the morning on Sunday. I wonder if I got bitten by a fly with sleeping sickness trypanosome. Wait, they live in Africa, not New York City. Definitely time for a nap. Then I will do Iyengar's sequence for cold and flu and see if it helps any.
I hope your Sunday is better than mine! :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Home, sweet home.

The week in New York was a quite intense and wonderful. It was great spend some time with my son, to catch up with Tova, Anna, Sonya, and Karen, and to meet new wonderful people. I practiced, and walked, took some pictures and generally enjoyed myself immensely. The trip back was a breathe - slept through the most of it. When I came back, however, the craziness started immediately. Right from the bus I needed to have my picture taken for the visa renewal, because we forgot that it was supposed to be done digitally these days. I had only 20 minutes to get from the bus station to the Photo store, so I jumped into the first car that was on the taxi stand. It turned out to be a very old car, which barely made it through DC traffic, coughing and sneezing all the way. In the end, we submitted the papers, 2 or 3 minutes before the closing of the office.

At home I found my older cat in a state of protest over my absence. She pooped and peed all over the apartment; my husband cleaned it as much as he could, but there was still a strong smell in the air. At least she did not get sick this time, thank God. But I was in for a substantial cleaning time over the weekend.

Then on Monday at work all the tasks that I missed last week crashed on me like a ton of bricks. Every single one of them interesting, but there are too many of them and they were supposed to be done yesterday. How ever do people take vacations?

But practice was good yesterday. Again, this is that rare time in my life when nothing really hurts (unless I try to force my left leg behind my head that is). Today I opted out for a lighter home practice, anticipating a long day ahead. I am looking forward to Mysore tomorrow, though. It feels that home practice was somehow not quite satisfactory.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New York

OK, it is day #3 in New York City. Where did the time go?

We reached New York surprisingly well, considering my non-existent sense of direction (mostly thanks to Tova and GPS). I brought 4 huge boxes of books to my son, so any other modes of transportation, other than a rental car, were out of the question for me. He lives now in a large studio apartment midtown east Manhattan, practically three blocks from his work. Awesome neighborhood - practically everything you need to survive is there within 4 block radius. Though food prices are atrocious.

Anyway, I was a little apprehensive the first day of the classes with Sharath. They were held in a huge gym in Chinatown YMCA. Lots of people, though Tova says that it was not quite as crowded as last time, when Guruji was there. I still thought it was an impressive crowd. The practice itself was not as scary as I imagined. Sharath counts very slowly, but he does it in all poses, hard and easy, so there was lots of time to recover. He does 5 sun salutations A and 3 sun salutations B. He also skips paschimottanasanas B and C, only does A and D. No dropbacks, just holding Urdhva Dhanurasana 3X forever (5 loong counts), then chackrasana, vinyasa and paschimottanasana D for 10 counts. No water for Garbha Pindasana. I had to sneak in a tiny bottle of water, otherwise the pose is inaccessible to me. No help in Supta Kurmasana - no wonder, because for the whole crowd he had only one helper - Eddy Stern. Sirsasana was a killer, though. 20 slow counts, and then the ardha variation for 10 very slow counts, back up again, and only then rest. His favorite form of torture - utpluthee. He counts - one..... and then in half an hour - two..., then smiles and starts counting at a normal pace.
So the primary was not scary. Apparently all the drama was happening in the intermediate section. Lots of people got "tapped at the shoulder", meaning that they were supposed to stop and move to the back. In some cases it was not in any was dictated by the quality of the practice, but by other motives. Today we were allowed to observe the intermediate practice and saw it happening. All the drama aside, it was such an inspiring sight! So many awesome yogis doing awesome practice in one place. Sharath even demonstrated karanda himself - amazing. He snaps into lotus with both legs simultaneously and really fast. And the lift seems to be effortless. Unfortunately no photography was allowed. Pity - my hands were itching to start snapping pictures.
Time for bed. It seems that the days fly so fast that I get a whiplash. In a good way.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I think I am on vacation today.

I thought I would have more time last week, but I was mistaken. Grading the exams, giving make-up exams and extra-credit assignments, explaining my grading system to students individually - ate all my free time. On top of that my laptop broke, taking away all the grades, changes and notes that I made for the course, as well as all my cronometer data. Normally I am very religious about backing up, but not lately. Had to pay through the nose in terms of time and effort in restoring data.
Oh, well, life lesson I guess.
Thank you all for your birthday wishes! We celebrated it yesterday in a French restaurant and the day was just perfect. One wrinkle - I came home and checked the nutritional values of a creamy mussel soup with saffron that I ordered; and one serving of it turned out to be 566 calories. No wonder it was so tasty!
Tova and I are heading to New York today for Sharath's classes. I will have a chance to try out my new Harmony mat. This is going to be my first vacation in ages (5-6 years?). I think I will just sleep, sleep and sleep some more all the time away from yoga. Though I am taking with me my big camera and lenses, maybe I will manage some quality photography time as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Things are looking up.

Things definitely got better this week. Proctored the last exam in my immunology class, graded them yesterday. Today I am battling the onslaught of e-mails with requests to boost a grade a little. Firmly holding my positions so far.

Mysore - 4 times. Not quite brilliant, but a whole lot better than last week. A little sore all over, but this is to be expected. I took an advantage of a spa-week promotions and got myself a facial, mani-pedi and a massage. What a luxury!

And yesterday we had such a glorious weather. Perfect day. I wonder if there is a place on Earth where every day is like this? Hawaii, perhaps?
Tulips are blooming:

Birdies are flying:And here is an alternative view of the Washington memorial:

Cron report. In spite of 112% in calorie consumption, I lost 2 pounds. Maybe I miscalculated the baseline? 4 times Mysore and ~6K steps a day - I think it is quite a moderate level of activity. Perhaps it is active for my age? In any case, I am not complaining. Feels so good to be lighter. And finally I stepped into a "normal" BMI level of 24.8. Whoohoo!
Low on fat, selenium and vitamin D. Everything else is pretty good:
Nutrition Summary
Report generated by CRON-o-Meter v0.9.5
Nutrition Summary
April 12, 2009 to April 18, 2009

Daily Averages over 7 days
General (91%)
Energy2008.1 kcal112%
Protein64.9 g144%
Carbs347.3 g129%
Fiber70.9 g236%
Fat48.1 g65%
Water3260.3 g82%
Vitamins (96%)
Vitamin A45743.8 IU1961%
Folate476.0 µg119%
B1 (Thiamine)1.6 mg147%
B2 (Riboflavin)1.8 mg161%
B3 (Niacin)20.5 mg147%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)6.0 mg120%
B6 (Pyridoxine)10.7 mg824%
B12 (Cyanocobalamin)26.8 µg1116%
Vitamin C1599.9 mg2133%
Vitamin D103.7 IU52%
Vitamin E14.9 mg99%
Vitamin K930.7 µg1034%
Minerals (96%)
Calcium1214.1 mg121%
Copper2.4 mg268%
Iron17.6 mg98%
Magnesium446.2 mg139%
Manganese5.5 mg305%
Phosphorus831.2 mg119%
Potassium4959.2 mg106%
Selenium31.7 µg58%
Sodium2264.6 mg151%
Zinc9.7 mg122%
Lipids (70%)
Saturated8.3 g41%
Omega-33.0 g276%
Omega-612.9 g108%
Cholesterol117.7 mg39%

Sunday, April 12, 2009

One week - done, one to go.

OK, this week was dismal from the yoga point of view. I do not remember anything worse in years. I did ONE mysore practice and zero home practices. There was no even teaching yoga, since it was a spring break between sessions in our studio. Ladies holiday and hectic schedule are official excuses, deep seeded exhaustion is probably the real one. This week is the last one for my teaching immunology, so hopefully life will get back to normal after that. Average steps - 5348, aerobic - 1255. I am telling you, just dismal.

Food - did not pay too much attention to what I was eating, just trying not to overeat too grossly. Result - did not get enogh of folate, B3, b5, D, E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc. Weight is the same, 75.4 kg (BMI - 25.2).

Nutrition Summary
Report generated by CRON-o-Meter v0.9.5

Nutrition Summary

April 5, 2009 to April 11, 2009
Daily Averages over 7 days

General (89%)
Energy2034.0 kcal113%
Protein75.3 g167%
Carbs291.2 g108%
Fiber44.5 g148%
Fat57.6 g78%
Water2150.9 g54%
Vitamins (89%)
Vitamin A19213.1 IU824%
Folate302.4 µg76%
B1 (Thiamine)1.2 mg109%
B2 (Riboflavin)1.3 mg115%
B3 (Niacin)12.5 mg90%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)4.1 mg83%
B6 (Pyridoxine)7.2 mg557%
B12 (Cyanocobalamin)15.0 µg626%
Vitamin C814.7 mg1086%
Vitamin D142.0 IU71%
Vitamin E8.0 mg53%
Vitamin K312.4 µg347%
Minerals (87%)
Calcium998.1 mg100%
Copper1.4 mg154%
Iron13.8 mg77%
Magnesium306.4 mg96%
Manganese4.6 mg253%
Phosphorus646.8 mg92%
Potassium3362.7 mg72%
Selenium31.8 µg58%
Sodium2071.2 mg138%
Zinc6.3 mg79%
Lipids (76%)
Saturated13.7 g68%
Omega-32.0 g183%
Omega-69.8 g82%
Cholesterol155.6 mg52%

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another week is gone.

The week zipped through, felt like a day. This is the final stretch in my immunology course; only 3 lectures and 1 exam left. My students are nervous and are constantly asking to give them some extra work to improve the grades. For me this extra work is what it is - extra work, and lots of it. Next time around I will do things a little differentlly.

It seems the DMV tickets became a part of my weekly routine. This time I got a speeding ticket. I do feel the need to slow down,which is now monetarily reinforced. Breathe...

Yoga - again, a 3 day Mysore week. I am not going to beat myself up for that. Of course, 3 days are far from ideal, but it is 3 times better than no Mysore at all. Leg is aching, lower back - too. Got myself a portable ultrasound (thank you, Boodiba!); we'll see if it makes any difference. Practically no home practice this week.

On a positive news - my son graduated from his school! Whew. He already got a job, found an apartment and moved to NYC. We might all go to his commencement ceremony in June. I will get to see him and his apartment when I go to Sharath's week in the end of April. So excited!

Nothing changed in my eating patterns, except now I am lacking iron and potassium. 5K steps weekly average. Need to move my ass more! :)

Report generated by CRON-o-Meter v0.9.5

Nutrition Summary
March 16, 2009 to March 22, 2009
Daily Averages over 7 days

Energy2170.5 kcal121%
Protein115.5 g257%
Carbs305.7 g114%
Fiber52.5 g175%
Fat62.0 g84%
Water1747.4 g44%
Vitamins (100%)
Vitamin A24621.5 IU1055%
Folate561.2 µg140%
B1 (Thiamine)5.1 mg460%
B2 (Riboflavin)5.6 mg513%
B3 (Niacin)21.8 mg156%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)13.4 mg268%
B6 (Pyridoxine)15.2 mg1166%
B12 (Cyanocobalamin)58.7 µg2446%
Vitamin C1787.5 mg2383%
Vitamin D410.9 IU205%
Vitamin E28.9 mg193%
Vitamin K386.0 µg429%
Minerals (97%)
Calcium1144.1 mg114%
Copper1.6 mg178%
Iron16.1 mg89%
Magnesium401.9 mg126%
Manganese3.8 mg209%
Phosphorus775.7 mg111%
Potassium3579.2 mg76%
Selenium77.6 µg141%
Sodium2708.8 mg181%
Zinc9.9 mg124%
Lipids (87%)
Saturated13.8 g69%
Omega-34.1 g372%
Omega-614.7 g122%
Cholesterol237.0 mg79%

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

CRON report

In terms of nutrition - a little better week, but still not good enough. In terms of yoga - below average. Mysore - 3 days, taught 2 classes, home practice - 2 hours. In terms of works - total disaster. I botched a very important experiment somehow, no one is happy about it. Overall, it was a very unlucky week - in all things, big and small. Missed and forgotten chores, $100 parking ticket (I was late by a matter of seconds), and so on. I am glad this week is over; hopefully the next one will be a better one. Besides, it is one week closer to the end of the semester, only 3 weeks left!

Report generated by CRON-o-Meter v0.9.5
Nutrition Summary
March 22, 2009 to March 28, 2009Daily Averages over 7 days
General (91%)
Energy 2059.6 kcal 114%
Protein 77.3 g 172%
Carbs 250.3 g 93%
Fiber 47.9 g 160%
Fat 75.0 g 101%
Water 2113.7 g 53%
Vitamins (100%)
Vitamin A 13788.9 IU 591%
Folate 415.1 µg 104%
B1 (Thiamine) 6.6 mg 597%
B2 (Riboflavin) 6.9 mg 630%
B3 (Niacin) 25.6 mg 183%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 17.6 mg 351%
B6 (Pyridoxine) 15.3 mg 1174%
B12 (Cyanocobalamin)66.9 µg 2789%
Vitamin C 1358.1 mg 1811%
Vitamin D 247.2 IU 124%
Vitamin E 3.7 mg 244%
Vitamin K 167.3 µg 186%
Minerals (90%)
Calcium 1149.8 mg 115%
Copper 2.0 mg 218%
Iron 17.5 mg 97%
Magnesium 480.3 mg 150%
Manganese 5.1 mg 286%
Phosphorus 921.7 mg 132%
Potassium 2820.0 mg 60%
Selenium 41.1 µg 75%
Sodium 1061.0 mg 71%
Zinc 14.6 mg 183%
Lipids (73%)
Saturated 11.8 g 59%
Omega-3 3.5 g 320%
Omega-6 20.3 g 169%
Cholesterol 104.8 mg 35%

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Practically full practice.

Well, not exactly - still no supta kurmasana, though I made an attempt to doing it myself. Also, I have never been able to do the transition between Upavista Konasana A to B. But otherwise - did everything, chakrasanas, dropbacks and standing ups included. Whoo-hoo! There is a dull ache in my left leg now, so probably I should take it a little easier tomorrow with lotuses and half lotuses. But at least I can do it! I am very excited.

The weekend was a total blur - had my taxes done, all the paperwork for work permit, taught classes, and prepared for immunology classes. Haven't even noticed beautiful weather on Sunday until it was time to go and teach. But the feeling of accomplishment should count for something, right?

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekly report

Trying to get back on CRON vagon, and failing miserably. 121% on calories! Ate like a pig. Weight went down a little, nevertheless, which is strange - 75.2 kg (BMI 25.1 - so close to normal!)
Mysore - 4 days, home practice - 4 days. I started holding poses in my home practice for 5 min with a timer. Felt torturous in the beginning, but now I am enjoying them immensly. In some poses I wait for the timer ring desperately, in some - I feel disappointed that the ring came too early. I concentrate on hip openers mostly, then do backbends and gentle twists. The most intense poses so far - happy baby with the sandbags on my feet and a backbend over the chair. The last one I do using a meditation cushion on the chair seat, because otherwise it starts hurting like hell after 30 seconds. I am a whimp.

Report generated by CRON-o-Meter v0.9.5

Nutrition Summary
March 16, 2009 to March 22, 2009
Daily Averages over 7 days
General (88%)
Energy 2170.5 kcal 121%
Protein 115.5 g 257%
Carbs 305.7 g 114%
Fiber 52.5 g 175%
Fat 62.0 g 84%
Water 1747.4 g 44% (was forgetting to mark down all the water I drunk)
Vitamins (100%)
Vitamin A 24621.5 IU 1055%
Folate 561.2 µg 140%
B1 (Thiamine) 5.1 mg 460%
B2 (Riboflavin) 5.6 mg 513%
B3 (Niacin) 21.8 mg 156%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 13.4 mg 268%
B6 (Pyridoxine) 15.2 mg 1166% (too much?)
B12 (Cyanocobalamin) 58.7 µg 2446% (I wonder if it is OK? Seems like too much)
Vitamin C 1787.5 mg 2383%
Vitamin D 410.9 IU 205%
Vitamin E 28.9 mg 193%
Vitamin K 386.0 µg 429%
Minerals (97%)
Calcium 1144.1 mg 114%
Copper 1.6 mg 178%
Iron 16.1 mg 89% (need to find better sources)
Magnesium 401.9 mg 126%
Manganese 3.8 mg 209%
Phosphorus 775.7 mg 111%
Potassium 3579.2 mg 76%
Selenium 77.6 µg 141%
Sodium 2708.8 mg 181%
Zinc 9.9 mg 124%
Lipids (87%)
Saturated 13.8 g 69%
Omega-3 4.1 g 372%
Omega-6 14.7 g 122%
Cholesterol 237.0 mg 79%

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trotting along.

Wow, it has been a week already! Time flies, mostly away from me.
I am aiming for a 5-day Mysore week this week. Had to skip Tuesday, because I overworked my leg on Monday. It did not hurt in the beginning, but then after a couple of eager half-lotus positions it started aching. Wednesday and today I took it easy, had slow and deliberate practices. I actually like it this way - knowing that my practice is shorter than normal, I do not have to hurry and can take my time in any of the poses I like.
Aliya was subbing today, always a treat. He told me to show my leg to a doctor. I think I should have done it two weeks ago, right after the accident. Then I was actually limping and in pain. I imagined myself coming to the doctor and asking for MRI, just because I can't take lotus and supta kurmasana. Do not believe the doctor would be very receptive to the idea. Oh, well, what matters is that it is healing; I just need to avoid doing something customarily stupid and all will be well.

And I started standing up from UD again today - first time after a 3-week break. So far, so good, no back pain (fingers crossed).

Need to work. Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back to practice.

Back to practice after a 5-day break. My leg is healing nicely, I can jump back, in or though without jarring pain on landing. Any half-lotus positions and supta kurmasana are still out of the question, but it seems that probably not forever. Without all these poses my practice is kind of short now.Back is not hurting, so I probably should start standing from UD on my own now.

The lack of free time is weighing very heavily on me. Things are going to get worse before getting better. Need to do taxes early, so I could apply for the next year's work permit and visa asap. I feel moody, not quite happy. I miss reading blogs, and talking to all of you! Need to survive until the end of April, need to survive. New mantra. At least I am practicing again.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Everything was going so well. Mysore with David was amazing, I started to look at the old and tired poses in a completely new way. He took in some of the poses much deeper than I was used to, in others - backed me off, allowing to concentrate more on the alignment (Marichi C and D comes to mind). And yet, the new shape of the poses did allow me to deepen them in the end, like in Marichi D I can now consistently bind my wrist. I was doing only assisted drop-backs and stand-ups, so my back is feeling much better and soon I will give another try to un-assisted variations.
So everything was going amazingly well, until I hurt myself. How can a person doing yoga for many years be so clumsy? My left leg slid to the rigt side on a piece of ice that was on ice. I righted myself, but not before I put pressure on the knee with the shin in an unnaral position and my leg made an unpleasant crunching sound. Result - no lotus, half lotus, jumpbacks, jumpthroughs, supta kurmasana, and so on. Limp while walking. I am crippled.... :(

Monday, March 2, 2009

Braving the elements.

The stubbornness pays off sometimes. I was contemplating the snow-covered roads this morning and decided to try and get to David Keil's Mysore anyway. I made it in twice the time my Tomtom calculated, but made it there nevertheless. It was good that there were no cars on the roads, because my car moved like it was driven by a drunk. Turned out I was the only one in 6:00 time slot who ventured out and had a nice private session as a result. How cool is that? I have never had that much attention paid to my practice and we uncovered lots of little things I can improve on. For example, gripping my buttocks in updog is apparently not good for the lower back, so we worked on that. I was still doing my practice when 7:30 people slowly trickled in. David helped me with the dropbacks - standups. For the dropbacks he made me do them with arms up, which is a completely unfamiliar territory for me. Lots of fear to work on.

The way back was very adventurous. My car stalled on one of the hills and then started sliding back, while there were several cars behind me. They had to swerve around me, and then zipped up like there was no hill. Very unnerving. My commute to work took 1h45min instead of calculated 26 minutes, but at least I made it there in one piece.

I am so looking forward for tomorrow's Mysore! Do not remember the last time I felt like that about my practice. Whoo-hoo! :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Workshop with David Keil

Twelve hours of adjustment workshop this weekend with David Keil (KAIL, as it turned to be properly pronounced) left me sore all over but quite satisfied. Very good workshop for a yoga teacher. Everything he said made a lot of sense. I will have a week of Mysore practice with him, so hopefully will experience all those excellent adjustment first hand.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Assisted dropbacks and Dwi Pada

So it was not too bad. David was supportive and he did not take away any of the poses. Of course, being David he could not just let me have it and made it as difficult as he could. His assistance in lifting me up from UD consisted of pressing two fingers into my collarbones. Nevertheless, it was better than nothing, and my back was not screaming. Which kind of tells me how little of extra energy I need to stand up safely. Where to access it, that is the question.
He also allowed me to get into Supta Kurmasana via Dwi Pada, which is exciting. Normally he frowns upon this travesty, saying that Dwi pada is an advanced pose and we have no business attempting it. And I am so close to being able to do it myself! My right heel touches the toes of the left foot when I try to throw the right leg back. Need to practice it at home.

Have a great day, everyone!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stepping back.

Thinking yesterday about my back problem made me realize that this is the right time to face the truth. I should completely stop standing up from UD on my own. Until I am fully pain-free that is. Otherwise it is a vicious circle - my back heals a little, I start standing up, hurt it again and everything repeats over and over. There are two major problems here - I do not want to admit to myself that I can't do it correctly, and I do not want to admit to David that I am in pain, because it will delay my progress for a decade or two. My poor Mysore attendance lately was in part because of my psychological fear of the backbending end of the practice. So here, I am going to ask David to allow me to revert to the assited dropbacks- stand ups, and if he takes away my intermediate poses, so be it. Just writing it down makes me unclench teeth and relax shoulders. Why have I allowed my yoga practice to stress me out so badly?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Busy bee

I think I did something wrong with my immunology class. I was so eager to teach and to assess their progress that I gave way too many homework and in-class assignments. The result - I am behind in grading, and there is seems to be no end to piles and piles of papers yet to grade. Thank God fro the Presidents Day! I would probably explode if not for this day off my day-time job.
Yoga wise - nothing new and noteworthy. Met with Tova to remedy my backbend woes, but even her magic touch did not improve my standing up from UD much. She gave me some sound advice, though, so maybe long-time effects are yet to come.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Survived this week; Sharon Gannon's workshop

Back to normal, I think. Still sporting purple cupping spots on the back and newly acquired cold sores on the lips, but feeling vastly better. Proctored first exam in my immunology course. A little disappointed by the results, many of the students cheated, but it is OK, I guess.

Today went to Sharon Gannon's workshop at Flow yoga studio. This was the first time I was there, and might be the last. Do not get me wrong, it is a beautiful studio, with lots of cushions around to rest after or before class, and people are very friendly. The problem for me was that this is one of those places that use lots and lots of incense, which immediately constricted my lungs into a pre-asthma attack. I was very peeved with myself, because I forgot to bring my inhaler, my mat and, most importantly, my towel. I am one of those people who start sweating profusely the second they lift arms in the first sun salutation, so this was one huge mistake. The room was too warm, and densely packed with people. One girl was attempting karanda for warm-up, which was doubly impressive considering the distance between mats was an inch or so.
So first there was a signing of her new book, which I of course bought and had signed. Then the whole workshop was dedicated to the importance of being vegan for everything - Earth, humanity, our bodies, etc. I get this topic, I do. I would be a vegan myself, if it did not mean cooking two sets of food for me and for my husband, for which I do not have any energy and enthusiasm at the moment (besides, I think it would be a little inconsistent for a person killing lab mice for living). Anyway, I am not opposed to the idea of veganism in any way. But there was something in the way she was presenting it that left me unmoved. It felt a little insincere to me. Or just lacking true passion. I am not sure, but I was utterly unimpressed. I hope her book will leave a better impression.
The rest of the workshop was OK. Half of it was attaining true fluidity in a sun salutation (there were no jump backs or jump throughs), the rest - a couple of sweet flows, finishing and savasana. Sorry ABY, I was not as enchanted as you were; she might've been too tired or something. Other people loved it, though.
I liked her hair color - it had a cool bluishly-purple tinge to it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

No longer blue, but very snotty

Turns out I was getting sick wit a cold or flu. I am snuggled in bed now with a cup of hot tea and sporting huge purle circles on my back. They are large, perfectly round, and slightly blistering around the edges. My husband provided hot tea, my accupuncturist - purple circles, result of cupping efforts. I called the acupuncturist's office in advance, to warn them of my sneezing-coughing-snotty state. They said it was OK to come, in fact, they might be able to help with the cold. I thought - how brave of them! When I came though, I discovered that a receptionist surrounded himself with an array of burning candles, very smelly ones. So much for bravery, but I appreciated his prudence. He is a very nice guy, I should not make fun of him.

Feeling blue.

I feel a little down, hence - no online activity. The latter is also because I do not have any time anymore, but this is hardly an excuse, right? It is just the cold, gray skies, sucky practice and have I mentioned I do not have any time yet? Which also means that all the tools to pick myself up - good book, good tv show, good movie, good time talking to friends or DH are not available anymore. Every time when I indulge myself with something non-work related, I feel guilty thinking about piles of un-graded homeworks and unprepared lectures, and it poisons the pleasure.I used to be such a devoted lazybum, those were good, good times.

About sucky practice. No progress in standing up from UD. I think my abs are made of steel now, since I have been practicing lagy vajrasana dips religiously every day. Back strengtheners, too. But alas, this did not help. I mean I can stand up; but when I do it three days in a row, the bones of my lower back start hurting again. Not muscles, but the spines of the vertebrae. I can picture them grinding against each other, and that adds to my psychological unwilligness to do it. David says that I am holding my breath standing up. I feel this is not the reason, but a consequence of the injury - I am just too scared to hurt myself, I can't help it but to hold breath. Oh, well. Blah.

Need to dig up that St.John's wort. Herbal modifications of my body always worked for me, hopefully they will keep me afloat until Spring comes.

Time to grade papers while my experiment is running on its own. Have a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Icy morning

I so love snow days! Even though we did not get one at work, my evening lecture was canceled, and I spent leisurely evening watching all the shows I have missed recently. Boy that felt good. I think this constant time pressure dries out my soul. I needed this therapy evening.

This morning I was all ready to go to practice. I was a little late, so I jumped out of the front door and immediately fell. Got up, fell again. The sidewalks were pure ice. Made it to my car, and discovered it was completely covered in a layer of ice even thicker than on the sidewalk. Eyed the shiny driveway and decided against going to Mysore. Such a wimp! Went back home, watched TV for an hour, had a lazy-ass slow yin practice and steeled myself for going out again. The driveway was already treated, thank God! It took some time to de-ice my car, and I am at work. It seems many people had the same problem, because the garage was half-empty and there is an echo in the corridors. I like it this way. Nobody to distract me, and I can do whatever I want. Just regret missed practice, but otherwise feel really good.

Anyway, about practice. Back pain is practically gone, and I even attempted standing up from UD again. I have been practicing Lagu vajrasana dips so much that my quads are killing me now. But maybe that helped my backbending problem, who knows. I do feel the engagement of the hip flexors and quads a little more (maybe because they are sore from home practice), so The Plan might be working. Yay!

Keep warm, everyone!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Laziest person on Earth gets new boots

For a person who does not have any time anymore, I do a lot of useless things. Today, for example, I drove to my car dealer for a 5K intermediate check-up, or something like that and to check my brakes which I noticed were making noises the day before yesterday. Only to find out that I was 2K miles short for a check-up, and my brakes stopped making noises, which were probably a result of cold weather. An hour of life - wasted.

Last week was bad in terms of Mysore attendance - only 2 days, one of them - incomplete practice. I do not even have a decent excuse for that. Home practice was lazy, short and altogether unsatisfying. I am not sure what is wrong with me.

In spite of such bad behavior, I rewarded myself with new boots from Aldo (thank you, Susan!). They look strange, but they are incredibly comfortable and have thick soles. I was too cold in all my other shoes, so I guess it was a necessary purchase.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday already.

Two days in a row of Mysore feel good, even though I had an abbreviated practice today.
Had an acupuncture session with Kelly from the studio; he seems to be quite amazing. He was reading my pulses for more than 5 minutes and correctly diagnosed my heart valve problem. He told me that my spinous processes of vertebrae are most likely grind against each other when I stand up from UD, that much I have guessed already. So my plan is - again work on quad/psoas/abs strength for another week before even attempting to stand up, and see if it helps. If not, I might need some technique remediation.

Work is waiting.

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Delusions of immortality

I grew up close to a cousin who was two years younger. Being older, I was an instigator of all kinds of shenanigans, for which as a rule only he got in trouble. He did not seem to mind though; invariably he would come over and play with me, pretending to be an Indian from the books of James Fenimore Cooper, a pirate searching for the treasure, or just competing in climbing the highest tree. I eventually outgrew my mischievousness and became an adult. He, on the other hand, stayed in the childhood perpetually, only pretending to be serious. On the surface, he looked a lot like Tim Russert, just yonger. My cousin died yesterday.
There is something to be said of being a child in a man's body. Children think they would live forever; they do not take care of themselves. Over the years, my cousin grew overweight and developed a bunch of ailments, including diabetes, which went undiagnosed. He learned about them only three days before his death. He had a stroke, which was undoubdetly a result of unhealthy living. People just shouldn't die in their early forties. My heart is so heavy now. I am thinking about all my other relatives and friends left back in Kazakhstan; how inadequate the health care is there; what kind of unhealthy traditional diet they are eating and how little they can do to improve their health because they are in a constant struggle for survival. So sad.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Big crunch.

I do not have any time anymore. Between preparation for the classes, grading the homework, teaching and working in the lab the only time that is left is for yoga and sleep. Thank God for the upcoming long weekend. I might be able to catch up with cleaning and reading a little. I miss my blogosphere friends! I hope things will cool down a little when I develop suitable routines; at the moment, thought, it feels like a constant rush to catch up.

Sending a big electronic hug - happy Friday!


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