Yoga Vita

Musings on Yoga, Life, and the Yoga Life


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This Week in Search Terms

Apparently Yoga Vita pops up if you type any of the following into your trusty search engine:

squirrel + disaster

YOGA + “SELF HATE”

my body feels heavy I’m all thumbs

I would also like to point out that whenever I type “ashtanga” in this blog, the editing tool suggests that what I really meant may have been “fishtanks,” “mustangs,” or “tangents.” Hmm.


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An Auspicious Beginning . . .

Last Tuesday, I was having a really hard time practicing during mysore class, probably due to low blood sugar and/or pms. It was getting toward the end of my practice and I felt like I wouldn’t have any energy left to walk out the door when I was done, so I skipped the last few postures of primary series. Skipped postures! This is something I have NEVER done during mysore, so I was feeling a wee bit criminal as I scurried away into the back corner of the room to start on my backbends. And then Surfer Dude calls out my name from half way across the room. Oh shit, I think, I’m going to have to explain myself and it’s going to sound really pathetic. He walks over and as I’m thinking of a way to explain that I’m really not a big old cheater, he asks if I want to start second series. Ha! My guilty conscious was all wrong, as usual. Now I get to cook up some second series magic at the studio, instead of just doing my renegade postures at home- – yeah, I’m ready. I was to start next Monday, after the moon day.

But the auspicious part (to me) is this: This Monday, after tacking on my four new second series postures to my usual primary, I stood up from my backbends without the use of a pad! Wa-haa!  I just sprung right up, nice and clean, and it felt as if I had been doing it all my life.  I think it was a combination of factors- – including having had a break for ladies’ holiday, drinking some coffee and juice before practice, and most importantly, having been practicing this damn trick for months- – but I think the little confidence-booster of moving on to second series helped me do it.  Silly but true.

So now I’m on the path of longer practices, getting up earlier, and having new kinds of soreness in my body.  I love it!  After having been in yoga-is-such-a-chore mode for a while, I’m definitely back in yoga-is-so-fun mode.  How refreshing.


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A Family Conundrum

Or, “Everyone Should Just Be Vegetarian so as to Make My Life Easier.” Or, “Why Is It Always So Awkward Introducing One’s Lover to One’s Extended Family?”

So my Grandpa’s 8oth birthday celebration is coming up next weekend, and Grandma of course invited me and Z, who has yet to meet the fam. So I figured, ok- – big, awkward extended-family time back in farmland- – sounds great, we’ll go. But upon further inspection of the hand-written invitation, I realized that the celebration is to be a dinner party at good ol’ Max Dale’s Steak & Chop House. I’m vegetarian, he’s vegan, and this is the kind of place that doesn’t have a single vegetable on the menu and even puts bacon on their french fries (I’m not kidding). Ain’t no Seattle steakhouse with at least some kind of “Asian” veggie wrap or whatever for the pansy-ass herbivores in the family.

The simplest solution- – to go but not eat- – is not an option, because they’ll think we’ve joined some cult and are observing ritual fasting or something. My extended family already thinks I’m some kind of weirdo radical yogi ascetic, which is fine, but I can’t drag my partner down with me. Not so early on, anyway.

So the sensible thing to do in order to save face and not freak anyone out is to call ahead to the restaurant and request veggie pasta or some such thing that they already have all the ingredients for anyway. We’ll be eating, they’ll be eating, everyone will be happy, and hopefully the questions about vegetarianism will be politely kept to a minimum. But I have a feeling no one who works at the restaurant will have ever heard of a veggie-tare-ay-uhn and will completely misunderstand my request. I mean these are people who put cheese sauce on halibut. They’ve got to be a little funny in the head. (Wow- – look at me go. Hey, we can all just sit around and judge each other– – that’s something we all enjoy.) But I suppose I’ll have to take that risk.

What an annoying situation. I know it’s just a couple hours, but when that’s all the time I spend with my extended family in a year, it seems important. I really want to make this work out- – it’s better than being the family outsider who just stops going to birthdays and holidays completely. Or is it?


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On Dreams, Backbends, and Yoga Mudra

Just the other night, in a dream, I did something I have never done before- – I stood up from a backbend without assistance. It was amazing. In practice the next morning, however, dreams did not become reality. I still need those two inches of plastic under my hands to get the right leverage to hoist myself up.

BUT in that same practice, I finally, miraculously grabbed both of my toes in yoga mudra, after several weeks of being totally blase about that particular posture. I had pretty much resigned myself to just being “a person with tight hips” who couldn’t do things like that. And then poof! without really trying, I bound in yoga mudra. Huh. The body works in funny ways.

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But back to backbending. I just had my S.O. take a few pictures of me in a normal, non-warmed-up backbend, and it was a strange sight for me to actually see myself in a backbend- – I looked so. . . bendy. I looked like someone who should be standing up from backbends! But I guess I don’t get to decide when things happen, I just keep practicing. The whole type A thing just doesn’t work out in yoga.

– – –

Correction:  Z reminded me that a few months ago I did stand up from a backbend on my own.  Once.  What happened?  I think I just didn’t have any expectations.  But now I kind of do, and they’re getting in my way.  Well, that’s something to mull over a bit. 


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Do active dreams make you tired?

This happens to me rather often: my head hits the pillow, and two minutes later my brain takes off on all these crazy adventures in La-La Land that seem to go on forever, and when the alarm rings, it’s like I’ve just come home from running a marathon and all I want to do is sleep another eight hours. I wake up exhausted and confused. My brain is fried from all the weird logic and strategizing of my dreams, and I can barely cope with being in the real world again. I need re-entry time. The last thing I want to do is get out of bed.

Today, the last thing I remember before waking up is that I had chartered a huge Thai longboat and boatman to take me across a wide river on a gray, stormy day. The boatman had to dodge other boat traffic, and sometimes we would simply slide over the kayak-like hulls of other boats traveling perpendicular to us in order to keep moving ahead. The weather was getting progressively worse and the water rougher- – I remember the feeling of being buffeted by unexpected waves, some of which sent us flying. We were nearly to the other bank of the river and I woke up. Wow- – thank god I’m in a bed, I thought, because I need a nap!

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It was 6:15 and time to jump out of bed to go to the shala, but I just couldn’t do it. It seemed wrong in my sleepy dream-logic mind. I didn’t end up getting out of bed until 8:00, major grasse matinée for an ashtangi. Lucky for me, I was able to have a good, solid one-hour practice at home this morning anyway. But these dreams. . .

So can dreams actually physically wear you out? Why do they mess with my mind so much? Am I crazy? Am I thinking too much during the day?

Heh- – I might make an interesting sleep study subject.


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Breathing

I found it difficult to breathe in yoga this morning.

It wasn’t asthma or congestion or anything like that, but rather a feeling of tightness in my ribs and abdominal muscles. I’ve never really felt that way before- – it was rather uncomfortable.

So I decided to just simply observe the sensation as I went through my practice, and I realized that I a lot of people may actually feel this particular kind of tightness much of the time. Of course I can’t be sure, because I don’t know how other people feel, but I suspect it may be true based on observations I’ve made of others’ practices when I’ve been teaching. My difficulty breathing came along with difficulty doing certain postures- – parivritta parsvaknoasana, Marichyasana D, urdhva dhanurasana, and others- – and it led to a certain heavy, restricted way of carrying myself in general. The change wasn’t necessarily obvious to an outside observer, but it was profound. I’ve noticed the same set of characteristics in other people’s practices, and I wonder how much of it is related to restricted breathing. Hmm.

At any rate, I have a renewed appreciation for breathing.


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Skis and Squirrels

I just got my very-own first-ever pair of cross-country skis. Z and I are going to take up XC skiing this winter, and I’m totally stoked, because I haven’t been XC-ing since I was maybe twelve, and more importantly, because now I actually have a reason to look forward to the dreary, cold, S.A.D.-inducing, Christmas-kitsch-infested winter. So the big question is, will I be a kick-ass Nordic skiing goddess. . .

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. . . or an uncoordinated, embarrassing (but cute!) disaster?

skiing.JPG

Only time will tell. (Come to think of it though, the skis on the Life cover actually look exactly like those I just acquired- – perhaps I should take this as a sign.)

I know what you’re thinking. Cross-country skiing takes about as much skill and bravado as sliding around the kitchen floor in your socks. Well, you’re wrong! It’s hard! And dangerous! It requires coordinating all four limbs. There are nasty gullies to fall into and trees to run into. And you have to ski uphill as well as downhill!

The thing is, I feel like I’m just naturally awkward and uncoordinated. You could say I’m not particularly kinesthetically gifted. Maybe it’s just the way I was born, or maybe it stems from a long-held distaste, first developed on the elementary school playground, for most sports. But either way, getting my right leg to do one thing while moving my left arm in such-and-such a manner while my left knee bends and my right arm does this-or-that is usually just a bit out of my realm. Not to say I can’t do it, I just require many, MANY more attempts than my more kinesthetically gifted counterparts.

On the other hand, perhaps I am underestimating myself. On the other-other hand, perhaps all my years of yoga have actually somehow helped me out in the coordination department. But any rate, I’m absolutely certain that yoga has helped me out in the patience, focus, and non-self-hate departments, and I guess that’s all I really need. Even if I am a skiing disaster at first, I’ll have the patience to stick with it, the focus to keep learning, and the self-acceptance to not think I am a terrible person for not being immediately skilled at something. Wow.

In other news, I am sitting alone in the kitchen right now and I can hear our dear pesky house squirrels industriously (and loudly) chomping through the wall in the bedroom. We’ve had squirrels living in the roof since before we moved in, but this is a new development. Good god, I think they’re going to tunnel right into the bedroom and move in with us. Little bastards.

Skiing and squirrels. This is going to be a great winter.