Yoga Vita

Musings on Yoga, Life, and the Yoga Life


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G#d@$mn F%#$&ng Yoga

The things that were going through my head during practice this morning would make my grandmother faint.  My mind was being so grumpy!  My inner being became a pouting, sneering five-year-old with a overly-colorful vocabulary.  It was rather humorous to observe, really, but I couldn’t stop it.  Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say I didn’t try to stop it.  I’d be doing, say Setu Bandhasana, thinking, “Goddamn f@#king Setu Bandhasana,” all the way though, yet it would be a lovely posture.  I was enjoying myself during practice despite the pouty-grumpy mind.

So strange.  Strange things are happening with my practice in general.  Since my little pit-orchestra day, it’s like I’ve pulled out some kind of stopper, ripped off the duct tape, opened the floodgates of effing strange.  I’ve been having really long, vivid dreams.  I blame second series.  All this backbending craziness.  I’m trying to take it really easy in my progress through the series to keep the mental weirdness at a level I can manage.  Goddamn yoga.

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Ride the Wave

Practice was crazy this morning in a lot of different ways. A few examples:

1) The shala was as full today as I’ve ever seen it. My glasses steamed up as soon as I entered the changing room, and the studio floor itself was quite thoroughly covered in bodies, which I had to pick my way through to wriggle into a spot D created by moving people around a bit. I often feel overwhelmed being in a space with a bunch of people, but this morning I just let that wash over me and pass. I think I’ve inadvertently learned how to do that by exposure therapy- – crowded bus sides six+ times a week, busy office, school events, etc. Hm. I’m becoming less jumpy.

2) I kept having this strange sensation- – and now that I’m trying to grasp at it, I realize I really have no way of explaining it- – but it was like. . . let’s say my practice normally feels like a little clarinet doodling away at it’s little clarinet melody, and today it felt like a symphony. Ok, not a symphony, but maybe a pit orchestra. But at any rate, polyphonic. On the physical level, I wasn’t really doing anything different, but I felt so much more flow, so much more dimension. Out of the blue.

3) In kapo, with assistance and with much effort, I made it to about 85% of my best version. Yet something crazy happened- – I feel like something in my chest and throat ripped open, not literally, thank god, but the feeling of a cord being broken was there. Pop! Very interesting. I wonder what comes of this. Maybe nothing.

Trying not to feel too graspy. I’d like to ride this little wave of woooaaaah as long as I can, but chances are I’ll feel strangely shitty starting sometime this afternoon and then I’ll feel kind of bummed out for feeling so shitty after such a great morning. Yoga highs are so mysterious. All I can do is feel it while it lasts.


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The Social Politics of Neigborhood Names

I live in a kind of physical and social borderland- – an interesting bit of geosocial real estate in the city of Seattle. If I look at a city map, I can see clearly that my third floor apartment is located well within the geographical borders of the Central District. But if I take a walk around, I can see that this area is in a phase of becoming culturally, racially, and economically more and more Capitol Hill. I never know what to tell people when they ask where I live.

Do I tell them I live in Capitol Hill, and thus associate myself with white punk-rawk hipsters, grown-up liberals with trendy glasses and well-dressed babies in designer organic cotton attachment parenting slings, seedy gay bars, ultra-hip gay bars, overpriced restaurants and coffeeshops, Seattle’s old-money-haunted-mansion enclave, and so forth? (And if they’re geographically savvy, will they know I actually live in the CD and think I’m being snobby?)

Or do I tell them I live in the Central District and associate myself with crack-dealing busts, shootings, low-income housing developments, African immigrant communities, and the only part of town in which Black people were historically allowed to live? (And then, if they see that I live in the spacious third floor of an old Victorian with a view of the Cascades and Lake Washington in a pretty decent part of town, will they think I’m trying to let on like I’m “slumming it”?)

cd-house-1953.jpg

(Central District, 1953)

These questions seem to be shared by all of the many people and businesses who occupy Central District geographical space and Capitol Hill social space. Granted, neighborhood distinctions are constantly shifting, and some people identify more with their smaller neighborhood than their larger district, but I believe that these shifts and various identifications are telling.

The yoga shala, also within the geographical borders of the CD, advertises itself as being in Capitol Hill. And the thing is, it is Capitol Hill–white-dominated, affluent, hip (ish). The somewhat dilapidated Ethiopian restaurant, the car repair lot with the handmade signs, the mosque that operates out of a run-down house, and the Philly Cheesesteak place, all on the very same street, however, are Central District.

The Trader Joe’s here calls itself the Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s, even though it too is in the CD. But the people shopping and working in it are Capitol Hill.

Well within the Central District, there are a number of tiny islands of white affluence- – a two- or three-block section of 34th Street comes to mind. It boasts no fewer than three wildly overpriced French restaurant and a popular gourmet cupcake shop to boot. This area refers to itself only as Madrona. (I haven’t seen a single actual madrona there, so I’m not sure how that particular name came to be.)

The Planned Parenthood of Western Washington main administration office and clinic is also in the Central District- – it’s right next to Mt. Zion Baptist Church, in fact. However, at least one staff member who I’ve talked to here refers to the office as the Capitol Hill location. Is she perhaps concerned about the shady, “back alley” abortion image that may enter (mostly white) people’s minds when they learn where this clinic is actually located? Or does she actually not know the name of the district she works in? She honestly may not.

When Z and I first moved here, he asked a friend whether to tell people we live in the Central District or on Capitol Hill. She said just tell people you live on Capitol Hill- – people know where that is. What people are we talking about, exactly?


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Yoga Vita

It suddenly hit me that “Yoga Vita” sounds rather reminiscent of a nutrition bar or some kind of healthy, flavorless . . . cracker. As in, “Yoga Vita: Full of fiber and heart-friendly flax! For a delicious snack, try it with low-fat cream cheese and a sprinkling of chives!” Wasa brot- – that’s what I’m thinking of. Uh-oh. It may be time for a change. Any suggestions out there? Or perhaps I should just embrace my healthy snackfood nature. . .


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KapOH!tasana

Start by standing on your knees.

Okay, I can do that.

Then bring your arms overhead and lean wayyy back.

Alright, here I go.

Now you just grab your heels and put your face in your feet.

What!? You’re kidding me.

Welcome to Kapotasana.

. . . What a damn crazy posture. I still need to be yanked into it to touch my toes. But I can get my elbows to the floor–woo hoo! I don’t know if that means anything, but it feels good. Actually, all of kapo feels good. Until a few hours later or the next day, when my body realizes it has done something practically impossible and decides to hurt all over. Kapo hangover.