Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Lunchtime sunshine 

Guess it don't take much, sometimes. Cut out for a few minutes of daylight during my lunch break, perched on top of a bench on a traffic island on Broadway and 93rd Street. Watched the cars, the light through the branches, the light. Felt happy. Thought of how I've changed, in the last year. Because I have. Stronger. Softer. Braver. Still vulnerable. Still growing. Went back to the dungeons of work, half-smile I keep during practice re-establishing its shape on my face, in my heart. For a little while, at least.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

One day 

Hindsight has unequivocally showed that my knees injury last winter was directly related to stress levels from work. Work is in an office with not-nice people and every day, every moment, I am pretty much practicing and on my edge- sometimes beyond it. So, I had one day when both these people were out of the office. Day was almost normal, whatever that may be. Practice the following morning, in utter defiance of 20-degree (minus much, Celsius) temps, was phe-no-me-nal. The kind of openness and lack of resistance I have glimpses of once in a while, it was there throughout. To the point where even Eddie had to commentate, amidst one “GOOD!” after the next- “Have you been watching those Richard Freeman videos again?!” Kinda makes you think. If just one day can make that kind of difference, how would things be if I did not spend all my day, every day, in one crappy situation after the next? Really makes you think. DaddyZym was not entirely impressed at the concept of my maybe working in a book store later this winter. Because I have a “good” job. If I were an actress, no one would mind if I went from one waittressing gig to the next. It shouldn’t matter what the dayjob is.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Now? Then? 

Know thy medium: My Chiotissa blog was a spinoff from my online posts about Guruji's 2002 NY workshop, direct transcription from my asana journal, when I kept one. I have made a few edits, included a few names and am sharing, again. How I quit smoking embarked on a daily Mysore practice finally found a teacher- and in the process, embarked on this new journey.

Since April of last year I have continued practicing and learning what I can, most days. I met Lino one day in NY and spent a glorious weekend in Woodstock with Nancy, but I always come back to Eddie. Guruji's NYworkshop this year was pivotal in cementing my decision to make the trip to Mysore, against more odds than I can count. Mari D is still a challenge, but one I have stopped fighting- I have new nemeses for that, namely Badhakonasana, Supta Kurma and, recently, the oft-dreaded but sometimes relished process of doing the stand-up/drop-back/stand-up thing. Hopefully, less scary-looking and more joyful with each passing day.

Me? I am Tina with an unpronouncable Greek-sounding last name. Living in New Yawk (or New Yuck, some days recently) City. Not sure when or what I will post, but I need this, so here it is. One spirally circle coming to an end and starting a new revolution in similar yet different directions.

How much difference a year makes. I am still me, but a changing me, armed with the certainty of what my path is, needs to be. It all goes back to the practice, doesn't it? And it all comes out from the practice, also.

On Ohio 

Traces of sadness, as I say goodbye to Eddie, students, and school, for a week. Have long day and evening ahead of me (travel day) so it will be my day of “rest”; especially being that we’re practicing Saturday and on next week’s moonday. School very busy again today, several newbies, and people returning from Mysore or wherever they went for their earlyspring tans. It’s not sunk in that in just over 24 hours I’ll be flying over the country, landing in the middle of the Midwest and staying there for five days. Will really miss cat and practice and Eddie and shalafolks, although I’m pretty sure that once I get there I’ll be happy to be there and learn and rest like I need to.

"That was a heroic effort”, Tim said. You are all heroes- you have to be, to do this practice. Or something to that extent. After the sanctity and smoothness of my school, my pre-dawn practice, everything here seems too bright, unforcused, too harsh, loud. Will settle, retreat. Regroup.

My work this week, it seems, is to curb judging others. It's been a lot of work, and not entirely successful work, at that, compounded by a Mysore practice where eyes were everywhere, breathing ostentatious- and almost everyone went way further than they would've been allowed. What business is it of mine? None. I just did my practice as the strugglers and grunters kept going long after I was through with finishing postures. I was incensed, but less since Tim let each student do what they needed to do. We all have our paths, right?

4/13/03- Hanuman’s birthday
Last day. I’m clinging, grasping each moment with Tim as the last ones this trip slip through my fingers. It’s been pretty cool, and I’m happy with my choice to come here. It’s been an interesting ride. After last couple of days’ Mysore practices, we did another “improv” class that ended up being, after Surya Namaskaras A, B, and what Tim calls “C” which is a vinyasa of standing poses, pretty much the entire Intermediate Series, minus the headstands/plus some research poses. What made today really special was that we commemorated Hanuman's birthday by doing some singing to him; short and unrehearsed as it was, it felt pretty special.

It’s been wonder-full. Every day, replete with information and affirmation. No conflict just, complementary forces and an ever- expanding ability to love and respect yet another conveyor of my lineage’s traditions. I have so much to learn, so much I can learn from this man also. A softness and ability to forgive that are often lacking, both in my practice and my interactions with others. Secure enough in your beliefs, your practices, to not have to lash out or defend yourself against any and every one who poses a threat, whether perceived or real. Let people practice full Primary or do asanas from Intermediate whose names they don’t know- sooner or later they’ll come up against something that will prove a useful lesson to them. Or not. All I can, and need, to do is continue my own path, all the good work I know I’ve done and need to do. Try and stay humble while reaching, ambitious without pushing. Good work, it is. As for the rest, well, it’s for the rest to figure out and work through. I’m good with where I’m at, somewhat aware of areas that could use a tweak or three. Like not pushing so hard: not with myself, not others, both with my asana practice and as I attempt to form relationships. Again, a lesson in gentleness and kindness, an infusion of laissez-faire and que sera sera-ness. I’m so very-very grateful I’ve had the chance to come here, do some work, find some resolution on the issues I really contended with earlier in my stay.

Some talking that resonated:
... your yoga practice is not supposed to be a sophisticated way of beating yourself up... find a way of developing a nurturing practice

...enlightenment is not necessarily an event; it's a process

...kapha enough to need the practice, pitta enough to actually *do* the practice!

… relaxation is really the key to pranayama

...on learning by doing, learning from the inside out rather than have stuff force-fed to you... meticulous attention to minutiae in practice feeling more like a vitamin than a meal... the age of the dilettante with superficial understanding of many things...

Q: How loud should the Ujayi be?
A: Louder than the internal chatter!

To be the watcher rather than the doer. Because you're doing less, it's easier to develop that capacity for relaxed observation...

... One of the things we're always looking to do in practice is to reduce effort- 50% effort, 50% surrender.

How, in youth, making things happen.... versus learning to allow things to happen.


Even though the official first day of spring isn’t till next week, it sure feels like spring today. As if, all of a sudden, the charcoal snow remains that have languished on curbs and street corners for weeks, months, it seems, are really gone. The light has a different quality to it, adopting the brightness of early summer to replace the wan attempts to break through the winter gloom we’ve seen.

Very good practice today. Despite heaviness from Saturday night excess, the weather, turned finally milder, helped. Have developed great feelings of fondness for Peter, feel like he’s a fantastic complement to Eddie, a sure and commanding hand, strong adjustments, and the warmth you’d hope to see in any teacher. Eddie helped me bind Mari B for the first time in a while, and told me “now do C”. I know something is up, as I comply and do C quickly, starting to vinyasa up to stand and leave the practice room. He catches me. “Sit down. Do D a little bit today”. No! I say. But with a smile. Got some instruction on the half lotus side. First side is unspectacular but, most vitally, not painful in the least. Actually felt kinda good. Second side I relaxed into much more, gets me to bind fairly easily. “Good. Speck-tack-kewl-lar.” Again, the best part about it was not so much that I even managed an approximation of the pose (which in itself blows my mind!), but that it felt good, or “yummy”, like I said at the time. Who knew? Just like C, which had only ever been unpleasant before Eddie made it- and kept it- delicious, D always loomed a terrifying force, especially after I managed to pop something in the half lotus ankle last fall. Not so, now, it seems.

The right words at the right time. Sunday, went to painting party at the school; spent a glorious sun-kissed afternoon painting the altar doors a gorgeous shade of peachy orange. Nice to have Eddie around, talk a little, have a laugh, meet some shala-mates. The best afternoon I’ve had, in recent memory. So I’m still trying to figure out the hows and whens in getting to Vermont for a three-day workshop with Iyengari Kevin Gardiner and the logistics are just not really working out, but I’m still pushing to make it happen. After practice today, asked Eddie if I could crash tomorrow’s class in the rotation, since I will likely be away Friday and Sunday. He asks, “Yoga workshop”? I concede that yes. “With whom?” I tell him. To my surprise, Eddie launches into the longest I’ve heard him speak about one thing in the three and a half months that I’ve been studying with him.

How we are working to let the prana move more freely. How I learned something [in practice earlier] today, that I need to soften and let things happen more, rather than trying to MAKE them happen. How when I go on this retreat, I will learn new things and they may conflict with some of the things I am doing now. How we find something that works, that makes us happy for a while. How, in a relationship, not necessarily [but yes] with him, not necessarily [but yes] with the practice now, or [but yes] with someone in life, I will not want to keep looking for different, for more. And some other stuff that exactly touch on and address my issues, current as well as ongoing, concerning the practice, but not only. And echoing word-for-word Richard’s “yoga is about relationship”. Guess they know something.

He was right. Every single thing he touched on, picked up on, addressed, he is right. I held back tears that stayed lodged at the base of my throat long after I left the practice room, while at the same time a feeling of immeasurable lightness and relief swept over me. The right words at the right time. Suddenly, the complicated remarkably simple, the heavy, light. I will save my money and energy. Not dig another shallow well, embark on another relationship just as I am finally building the foundations in this one. Not be like one of those buildings you see in Greece or in India that are for all intents and purposes completed, but you still see construction and metal piping and such on the roof, left to accommodate building on top of what is already there, if need be, unto perpetuity.

I want a roof garden instead. Since I’ve secured Friday off work, I will make a(nother) new beginning and attend the puja for the beautiful new room downstairs, emerging from the soot and ashes of the winter fire. Hopefully, I will do the same, and emerge from this endless winter with vibrant colors and clean walls.

Self-practice this morning, for the first time worked Mari D on my own. First side is just under three miles from even beginning to bind. Pushed through B, letting go of the fact that I ain’t binding unassisted just yet. When the hip opens, left side, it’s coming. Ashtangis are not a particularly loquacious bunch, post-practice- at least not the constant chitter-chatter one is accustomed to. Did a chai run with some people after class, and enjoyed longish pauses in between smalltalking. No need for too much filler talk, just companionship and togetherness. Determined to not get sucked into going to work; took and, most vitally, kept the day off. None of that “I-take-the-day-off-but-still-come-in-for-a-few-hours-anyway” stuff we saw a couple of months ago. Good work, this morning. Did some cleaning in the newly-refloored practice room- it felt really good. Eddie treated us to lunch. Looking forward to the puja tonight, except I’m pretty tired. Nothing a powernap can’t help, one thinks. It’s good. Then I have the whole weekend to do stuff like laundry and cleaning at my own place, which is in dire need of some attention, also.

Peter put me in Mari D today- different approach from Eddie, but veeery interesting; first/tough side, had me put my half-lotus knee on his leg, instead of having it suspended about seven feet from the floor, which gave us a strong foundation to let me soften into it, taking three, four breaths to fully pull the wrapping arm out and over, slowly-slowly. Boom! We managed to bind! Which of course was extremely nice. Pret-ty cool. Still shocked by how fondly I view working it- none of the terror and apprehension it inspired not too long ago. Actually feels kinda nice when I’m in it. Who knew? When the student is ready, and all that, I guess! I think D is a pretty major milestone in the Series. Best part, so far, last few days, is: no knee pain. Have been exceedingly careful not to push in finishing, to let go if it’s not happening. Snuck out of binding Mari B today. It’s important for me to not push, wouldn’t be surprised if some of the damage done back in December/earlydays was due to “too much research”, in addition to scary-looking foot-torque-ing padmasanastuff.

The weekend went by too quickly. Amazing how much Mari D is affected, more than I ever imagined, by what I eat and whether it’s been processed. This morning was a constipated one, and in the past, I could’ve still eked out an ok, if not entirely comfortable practice. D just drags it all out into the open, all that is or is not there. Was it just yesterday we bound (binded?) both sides? Today we got neither!! I like Peter’s approach; he goes really slow, really careful, does not push and as a result I push less. Learning to accept that it’s ok if today is not all I’d like it to be. Such good lifelessons. But this bides interestingly for gastrointestinal stuff; if I was pretty aware of how and what was going on when I worked through to C, like it or not, every weight fluctuation or carbs-laden meal or constipated morning will now be in my face, every day I practice. No more mucking about, it seems. Not when it can have such a dramatic effect on whether to what extent I bind… Just not worth it.

So nice to be back to a six-days a week schedule. Today being only the third consecutive day of practice, let’s see how we’re faring by Friday! After yesterday’s showdown with the surplus gut, had a more fiber-friendly food-day and lo and behold, binded both sides in D! This is just one of those asanas that I have trouble seeing myself ever swinging unassisted. The feeling of having a loong way to go is much more familiar and, as such, easy to accept. Much more so than being THIS close to binding in mari B- which I am. Just not enough rotation in the right arm to take it all the way. Then, with the tiniest of taps from Eddie or Peter, it’s all there, with plenty of room to spare.

Totally spent, and it’s barely eight in the morning. Totally sated, also. School was crowded today. Not as exhausted as I’d anticipated on this, the fourth day of consecutive practice days. Feel like I’m censoring myself today. I do know that these post-practice subway entries are hugely useful, both as a purging tool (I rarely go around harping to unsuspecting folks about practicedays, anymore) and as a learning tool (so that’s where I was at then…).

Interestingly, Eddie’s approach today was different than it’s been, different from last time he worked D with me, dare I say, somewhat similar to how Peter’s been tackling it. Only, he was more tentative, I less assertive and relaxed. There’s always tomorrow is the lesson du jour. That and, per Eddie, I need to start bringing in a t-shirt or something for the slip-y knee we’re binding since I slipped out of the somewhat tenuous bind in first side and struggled to not pop out (“keep it!”) of second side. Lesson number two: time to stop messing around with the virasana knee in tiriang mukha, no longer allowed to have it way out to the side. Eddie spotted the gap between knee and extended leg and moved it almost to touch other leg- no more license to be doing that, as my hips slowly open, it seems. Oh, and “just for fun, take your wrist” in Mari C, which I did, and it was. Fun’n’yummy. Amazingly, no pain in left knee. Consumed by how careful I am and it’s a constant battle not to push, but the war looks like it’s in my favor.

Definitely feeling it today. Shoulders, arms, legs, a little sore. Had a good practice though. More depth to the vinyasa, it seemed like. It feels great to have so much to work with, to work on. Jumping through (“stray-yit[ish legs]!”), jumping back without sound (or at least without making the floorboards shake), opening, deepening, exploring. And breathing. Eddie kept me in D for many-many breaths today. I joke, breathe!, since my breath was less than deep and slow. Eddie jokes back, “that’s what the counting is for”. I tell him what daddyZym said yesterday, about how he counts like Guruji in that video and he lowers his blood pressure, so cute, and Eddie counters with, “you should do the same.” Ha-Hhah!

Pulling sensation on outside of knee comes and goes, I need to be more careful. Have been doing a few minutes of stretching post-savasana, this week. Just sitting crossed-legged for a bit, doing the perennial fave of tight-hipped people since time immemorial, the “pigeon pose”. It feels good, and I’ve convinced myself that it’s helping. I’m so screwed. Mari D is se-heerious bid-ness! It’s feeling like, ok you’ve had time to play around and mess around and be a tad dilettante-ish about this, but now it’s time for the real work to start. I can’t imagine practicing this every day and having a big pasta dinner, or even a late dinner at that. I’m sure I’ll ease up soon enough, though.

All week I’ve had slow commutes, ju-ust missing either or both trains and having to wai-hate for the next one(s), which means I get to class after Eddie’s been doing opening at six sharp. Today, got an earlier start and got to the school just before six. Eerily quiet for that time of the day; where it’s usually full or close-to, the room was at half-capacity, if that. Both Eddie and Peter were still practicing. Friday, the great leveller, where even Eddie practices Primary. I find such solace and reassurance in the fact that this is something that I (will) can have for a lifetime, just for me, that no matter where my practice goes (assuming I’ll even finish this first series in this go-around), I will always revisit and come back to this primary practice.

Soo, I figure ok, Eddie got a late start, and he and/or Peter will take rest and be down to teach shortly. Take a looong, slowww practice, taking a few extra breaths going into- and staying in- some of the ardha-padmastuff. Get to Mari B tough side, and whoops! No-one’s around to help with that extra half-inch. How can I go to D if I don’t bind B? I resolutely go for it like I mean it, rather than “oh-I’m-just-prepping/binding-time till I get put into it…” . I’m so close. Take another breath. Try to ease up on tensing up. Exhaling, I can feel my fingers almost touching. Relaxing. Exhaling, I can touch. Touch. CLASP! Beaming, I bend forward, fully-bound, five quick breaths of relief and release and movin’ on!! Now I feel like I’ve earned D, well and truly. Interesting to note how my working-D-alone approach has shifted a little from last week’s: I actually worked on getting the wrapping armpit around the knee, rather than just sitting there like a dodo twisting a bit and letting the half-lotus leg release down a bit. All of this week I’ve worked on doing some hip openers during the day and am convinced it’s working. Everything is just much less scary-looking than it’s been in a long time, if ever. I can’t believe I got B on my own!! I don’t even remember (ok, yes I do- I was NOT) if I was binding back in earlydays at the shala. I don’t think I ever managed that! Somehow this is more of a celebration-worthy breakthrough than being given D. Especially since it was kind of a statement of self-sufficiency, after fears of Eddie-dependency. I’ve suspected for a while that not doing B “properly” has been because I won’t, not ‘cause I can’t. There’s plenty of room there, it’s just a matter of superceding the barrier- and I made leaps towards that today.

Had a hell of a time getting to practice today. Got an early start, determined to get there on time, for a change. Sprinted to the subway, ran to the transfer train, shot to the shala. Got there just in time for the 6am start. Was really feeling yesterday’s missed practice; the victim of Tibetan hospitality where drinks were served for three hours and dinner at 10, by the time I got to bed a little before 2am I didn’t even set the alarm. Nice to be back. Had a bran-new person directly to my right and. With Eddie counting the vinyasa for the same stuff I was doing, through to parsvakonasana, it was hard to get in the groove and find my own rhythm. It kind of set the tone there, for a practice that had more pushing and struggle than need be, more than usual.

Did not have a joyful practice today, something I regret. When I got to Mari B, was all tense and ready to tackle it on my own and maybe see if I could bind unassisted again. Instead, I see Peter approach as I get to it. One second, I mumble as he purposefully strides up to me, but I guess he didn’t pick up on it since he just plop-popped me into it anyway. There’s always next time. I didn’t realize how tense and shallow my breathing was until Eddie came over, second side once I was in it, and laid his hands on me. I softened somewhat under his touch, but was still strung way up there. Is this all from the backbending vinyasa class I took yesterday afternoon? Apprehension at the start of another workweek? Whatever the case may be, had to be told to soften, relax, as we worked D. Informed Eddie, pushing today! He said, “Good. Better today.” But later. I’ll take his word for it, since I am certainly not feeling it. Did about 20 minutes of so-called hip-openers, pre-savasana. Am extremely bummed tomorrow’s a newmoonday. This was going to be a shortened practiceweek for me anyway, and now tomorrow’s been wrenched away also. Waaah!

Ai-yai-yai. Late, carb-heavy dinner = heavy, tough-to-bind practice. Made an early start and got to class just in time for 6am start. Alas, was emerging from bathroom as Eddie led the opening chant. Was happy to have Peter come over for Mari D. Late dinner, I apologize, as he slowly and patiently allows for several exhales to get my arm in a wrappable position. Even on this most-bloated of bloated days, it’s still easier to approach than it was a week ago. Less pleasant, certainly. Five quick breaths and I fly out of it, relieved to be able to breathe unobstructed. “Good”, he says, and even though I beg to differ, I like hearing it. Yesterday’s Moonday excesses coming back to bite me in the butt. Learning. Pledging to show more (some) moderation next time. On this, the shortest of short weeks where I skip practice Sunday, have a Tuesday Moonday and self-practice on Friday, I need to watch what I eat today. Every day, but today in particular. Also need to get over mentality that I need to do well with an asana at any given time.

Concede that there’s always tomorrow, accept that there’s no such thing as a wasted practice day. Today, for example, Eddie gave me a major adjustment in trikonasana, which of course here I am thinking my form is reasonably good in. So, there ya go. There’s always stuff to work on. Did no padmasanastuff in closing today. Wasn’t up for it, don’t want to push. Needless to say, didn’t QUITE manage Mari B on my own. I love that Peter keeps an eye out and magically appears at just the right moment for that extra nudge I cannot seem to conjure up on my own. I hope the-day-I-managed-to-bind-alone at self-practice does not become some mythical one-time thing…

4/3 /03
It’s been crowded, last couple of days. People returning in droves now that we’re back on a regular schedule? The smell of spring inspiring people to practice? Got there at six on the dot and there was not a single spot left in the practice room. Was not alone starting upstairs. Happy to say, nor was I resentful- just did. Managed Mari B on my own, just as Eddie was on my mat to help.

Had such a NY-moment after practice yesterday: bought a tea set and kitsch-y tinned teas for my Columbus host at Pearl River Mart in Chinatown, then walked four blocks to the best pastry shop in Little Italy for canolis and a luscious creme-filled sugar-topped phyllo-type thing they call a lobster tail, which I duly inhaled as I watched the tourists walk by. Needless to say, aforementioned activity did little to enhance this morning’s practice experience. I love working with Peter, who kept telling me to “slow down… breathe… rela-ax…”all of which I do need to be reminded of as we work Mari D. Needless to say, I had no room whatsoever and could barely bind the first side. A lesson in moderation for next time?

Guess the good stuff emerges when you don’t expect it, sometimes. Late undigested dinner and damp snowy cold conspired to give me a later than usual start and uneasy anticipation for a heavy practice. Started slow and, failing to build much heat towards the last couple of Surya Namaskar B, picked up the pace a fair amount. Peter once told me that Guruji recommends a faster pace when it’s cold. Did little to get the ardha badha padmastuff and stop myself from insisting, from pushing. Instead of attempting and re-attempting to get the half-lotus heel in just so, try to let go of the fact that it’s not quite happening today and move on. Get help in Mari A from Eddie, who declared second side “better”. I respond with, not better- different. “Semantics”, he says. I do try not to judge. Cheat a little for Mari B, managing to bind first side, albeit only just, but staying in it for less-than-five-long breaths. More like, three quick’n’shallow ones.

So Eddie comes over for D. I preface it with not so good today… “Yes, it’s cold out- snowed yesterday.” Haha. Launches into how it’s ok for things to be good or bad rather than putting everything on one experiential level because hey, some things ARE good and some things, well, suck. It’s how we react to things that’s important (my paraphrasing). Yeah, I interject, like the fact that I had canoli for dinner last night. “you’ll feel it the next day.” I didn’t actually have the canoli last night, it was two days ago, but it was a good vehicle for my analogy and also my excuse: that’s just why I ain’t gonna be binding this baby deeply anytime soon, 'kay? Find myself constantly struggling (and, recently, rebelling by overeating) with the abrupt mandates doing D has imposed, or is trying to impose, on what goes into my stomach. Every day, still. Wonder if it’ll ever become easier, or at least less evidently unpleasant and contingent on what’s been ingested and digested.

Slow start saw me at the school at 6:20 and, as has been the case recently, started upstairs. I don’t want to play that game anymore, where I try to catch trains and run from home to train and get bummed and emotional and run from train to school and check the time and get disappointed if I don’t make it in time for 6am start. I just don’t want to do that to myself anymore. So, did some gentle “hip openers” and before I knew it, half an hour later, was called down. Started brisk sun salute (Guruji was counting today) followed by a muuuch faster than usual practice. Felt kinda nice, to not dwell, to move on, there’s something wonderfully organic to that also. But it was also almost too exciting, with little of that yummy calming effect I look for in every asana- something I was reminded of when Eddie let me softendeepen into paschimottanasana. Swiftly, I’m at the Maris and feeling OK. As an experiment, yesterday was a day of limited gastronomical excesses. B was a little more accessible, although I none-too gracefully toppled out of it at “Fo-ho-or!”. Pain from knee almost entirely absent, and I’m working first not-good side of D on my own as Peter comes by. “Goo-hood”, he purrs, “goo-hood.” Got a raised eyebrow on both sides. Yup, food intake the day prior makes a huge difference. Only one more day of practice, and then it’ll be all about the workshop for a while.

Traces of sadness, as I say goodbye to Eddie, students, and school, for a week. Have long day and evening ahead of me (travel day) so it will be my day of “rest”; especially being that we’re practicing Saturday and on next week’s moonday. School very busy again today, several newbies, and people returning from Mysore or wherever they went for their earlyspring tans. It’s not sunk in that in just over 24 hours I’ll be flying over the country, landing in the middle of the Midwest and staying there for five days. Will really miss cat and practice and Eddie and shalafolks, although I’m pretty sure that once I get there I’ll be happy to be there and learn and rest like I need to.

This Winter 

Warmer today. We may actually hit the freezing mark. I am a hero, waking up before 5 and taking the subway at 96th Street to Times Square to Chinatown or SoHo, depending on whether I grab the Express or take the Local; either way, it’s about an equidistant walk to the Eddie’s. Mari B attempts. Eddie was right there, I was THIS close, again, but no beef as far as getting it on my own. And of course, once Eddie gets me to bind, there’s miles of room to really clasp hands and not just fingers. Eddie says, “Marichyasana B much better today”, as I grudgingly concede: a bit. Eddie responds, “A bit? Miiiles better!”, which was nice but not very helpful. Although I did leave smiling, conceding that yeah, compared to how the last month has been, it IS much better, even though I’m still nowhere near getting head to floor like I was managing to do back in early days of early December. It’s not like I have a fun asana to look forward to, anyway. Mari D is hardly what I’d call a crowd-pleaser.

It’s been a good practice-week. Feeling consistent, sensing the pattern developing form Sunday to today (Thursday), where each practice evolves from the one preceding it, and prepares you for the next one.

At the threshold of a long weekend. Saturday another Moonday, then Sunday off, for some weird reason. Moon rising late? Groundhog Day? We’re commemorating the Chinese New Year? To someone as attached to the practice and Eddie as I am, there’s surely no apparent need for two whole days off, although that may be precisely why I stand to benefit from this kind of enforced rest from the practice. Plus, I’ll go practice vinyasa both days, anyway, probably. We’ll see how the energy levels are at, with this new moon, though. ‘course if I do both days we’re looking at 13 days straight, without rest. I’ve only been sleeping about 7 hours all week, and have still not been in class once for class start and chanting. It matters to me.

My spot (not chosen spot, just the 1 spot that happened to be available when I came in this morning; long gone are the days when I’d get in with plenty of spots left to choose from.… “hmmm, am I in a front row kind of mood today? Middle of the room? How do I feel today about being next to the radiator…?”) was in the back row corner, right next to where Eddie’s observing station is. He was there as I wretchedly attempted to get my entire palm down for parivritta parsvakonasana. I stop, mid-asana, face Eddie, make the appeal: hey, what do I do since/if I cannot get my palm flat? Response was, “Guruji never taught it to me.”. So, does this mean I don’t have to do it? “You don’t have to do it.” Absolved! From my least-liked pose! Neither Eddie nor Richard teach it (to beginners). Maybe worth asking in the far-off future (when I’m less of a beginner myself, when it’ll no doubt be effortless and yummy and I’ll have no gut getting in the way of proper rotation), if Guruji taught it to them later, as they progressed into the Series. For now, will be quite happily unorthodox and skip the damn thing. And if I had any doubts, it just happened that there was a beginner next to me who was being talked through early standing- Eddie did not teach the parivritta.

Alarm got unplugged overnight, woke up worried that I’d slept through class. It was only 5:10 so took my time getting ready, chilling with cat and indulging in a long hot shower. I hate the damn commute. Determined to give it at least a few months, rather than just giving up at the first sign of strife or adversity, as I’ve been known to do in a relationship or ten. Amazing how the practice/Eddie relationships so closely mirror how I react to other/all relationships. I know for a fact that I’m learning to be more open, saw that on last week’s “non-date” with the ex. Can I also learn to commit more? Or at least, some?

I guess the answer to everything is proper finishing, coupled with a longer (twenty minutes-plus) savasana. Now I remember, this was what it’s about. Not having to rush for anything, pre, post or during practice. Got in at 5:55 this morning, it had been too long since I’d been there for class starting. This was where I belong. Taking five looong breaths for everything. I must’ve spent about 10 minutes on B. I hate struggling to bind; so I don’t do it too much. Instead, I hold the knee in, let the half-lotus leg release, loosen the hip and the foot, create a more compact shape. The citta vrittis are down to nothing and I can do the work. All this makes the extra 45 minutes of sleep just not worth all the extra drama and rushing. I’m going back to getting to class at six or shortly thereafter. That’s my slot. It was so wonderful to spend an hour upstairs, taking my time with finishing.

Today at practice got to class minutes after starting. Knees were saying hello, went carefully and slowly. Took forty minute-long rest, which was rather nice if a little extravagant.

Skipped practice yesterday. It’s amazing, how much pressure I put myself under sometimes. Ate too many sweets and had no intention of getting to bed early enough to make practice- went to the movies, instead. Exploring the possibility of going to Columbus, OH for a workshop with Tim. Hey, if we’re too busy for me to take the first week in March off work to go see Richard, I can take most of the 2nd week in April. And do the retreat with him in June, instead. I can live with that, but it all needs to be addressed, and soon. I can’t have work overshadow (swallow up) what’s really important to me, and it’s been dangerously close to doing just that.

Knee’s acting up; learning to be more tentative than I have been. In other words, not just “do what you can without causing pain”, but doing what I can while keeping what I’ve glibly termed “sensation” to the absolute minimum. That’s how it’s got to be. Reign in the ego, stay away from anything padmasana-ish, ardha or maha (!) for the next few days, weeks, whatever it takes to make this go away. And yes, it’s pretty demoralizing seeing someone who started at the school about a month ago working Mari D already. But not, really, since I’ve had an injury setback and am still nowhere near where I was (or thought I was) back in my first week of practice here. Surprised Eddie hasn’t had me drop Mari B, again- ‘cause it certainly is not coming, at the moment.

Where I belong, in the early-morning class. So, I got the anticipated “yes, you’re owed a week’s vacation but we can’t have you out for a whole week” at work yesterday. Would be wretchedly heart-broken I can’t go to Utah in 2 weeks except that I couldn’t really afford to anyway, and I know how busy we’ve been. Got an “OK, maybe 3 days off in April are doable” so I can go see Tim in Ohio. I’m consoled. As long as my deposit can be applied to the other retreat with Richard in June, I can live with this. Taking the time off work, well, we can cross those bridges. Practice ok today despite (or perhaps because of?) low expectations = low frustration levels, and gratitude- the fact that my half-lotus knee-bend is currently at about a seventy-degree angle, at best. Half-dandelion, more like.

Had a full practice today. Breathing was excellent, if I-may-say-so-myself. Funny, how the majority of these entries have come to be on the Express uptown train from 42nd to 96th Streets. Kinda miss having more time to spend on Post-Practice Pages, which at this point have almost entirely eclipsed Morning Pages. Knee a little better than yesterday, a little worse than last week. Am reigning in the impulse to just slap myself into a mindless and scary-looking padmasana. Have refrained entirely, last couple of days- not easy to do surrounded by ubers like I tend to be at that early hour- from doing most padmasanastuff in finishing. So it’s urdhva badha konasana, crossed-legged pindasana, half utthi plutthi and crossed-legged lotus until further notice. Or until the ego takes over again.

At the Old School in Vermont, one-day five-hour trip up for part of a weekend retreat with Russell-Govinda Kai. It’s amazing how much stuff gets stirred up in these environments, stuff I strain to suppress and repress that’s so delicious in its raw emotion. Also nice to take a led class, good to check in- especially if the person doing the leading is speaking in Guruji’s vocabulary and exquisitely true to the proper way to vinyasa our way through the Primary Series. A lot of talk about teachers and gurus. Host also kind of had/has two teachers. It’s weird how I’m isolating myself a little form what’s going on. A lot to process. Learning how I’d like to be, how I do not want to be. Where I am, right now.

Doing laundry on what was to be my second week-long retreat with Richard; I paid the deposit and everything. Instead, I’m making do with a tape from The Yoga Matrix. Nothing can stop me from going to Utah in June for the next week-long; not work, nor lack of money- which were obstacles, this time around. I’m pretty devastated, This was to be my reprieve, my chance to check in, to check out. Instead, week upon week of unpleasant craziness at work as we transition and, hopefully, grow, and an un-stabilized practice. I desperately miss checking in via a daily morning practice and rushed subway journal entries.

It’s been almost two weeks since the fire at the shala and, except for a couple of led classes, I’ve not practiced at all. Part of me is happy to (be lazy) let the knee rest up a little. Part of me is entirely disgusted, appalled that the holiday weight-gain, which was not insignificant, has not been shed yet. Not jumping ship and sticking to shala and teacher are my exercise in sticking with a relationship when it is not perfect(ly satisfying). Not something I’ve really worked on in the past. It’s hard to listen, when I can’t determine what it is I’m saying.

So good to be back.
Interesting times. Trying, dare I say. Today would’ve marked my first full day at the retreat in Utah with Richard. Instead, it marked my first day back at practice with Eddie. Breathing through the smoke and freshly-painted walls, I was there, just where I’d left off two weeks ago. No worse, no better. Just, there. Knee, though rested, about the same. Except I am relishing a newly-regained appreciation for what it is I’m doing here.

A realization, in a tactile, measurable way, of how big a part of the practice consistency is. Showing up every day at the same for (always-but-never) the same practice. With the same teacher. I ignored the path of least resistance (jumping ship and shala-hopping to the next best thing when things got challenging, as I’ve been known to do), and will stick with this, and that. Words to Eddie: Good to be back. Marichyasana B not coming; next week we start backbending? “Intermediate!” Ahh, practicehumour- not funny to anyone but me. And Eddie, apparently.

Knee doing much better and, I like to think, I’m being much more careful with it. Today was the first time in a long time I felt the ardha badha padma stuff more in the hip region than on the outside of my right knee. That’s gotta be good. Eddie’s little girl visited the practice room for a few minutes, bringing a lovely energy and a few assists of her own. After seeing the dire state of my ardha badha padma pascimattanasana (“do what you can without pain”), Eddie stayed away from me for Mari B. Yet asked, “Did you finish B?”, as I was in the finishing room adjacent to what was once, and will be again soon, the main finishing room. Did I just get an admonishment for doing too much research? What else is one to do as one waits for teacher? How am I supposed to know he doesn’t plan to assist me on a given day? Do I just sit there and wait? I’ll ask some other time… In the meantime, it’s good to be on my way back.

Yesterday feels like last year. We’ve been plunged head-first into more of the same unbearably cold winter weather we’ve come to know and loathe, over the last five months. Hard to believe we cracked 50 degrees yesterday, that must be at least 9 or 10 degrees Celsius! And it felt positively tropical. And practice was more yummy than usual. It looks like Saturday’s three-hour Iyengar hip opening / forward bending workshop did some good to these hips of stone. I am working on/towards padmasana, both ardha and full (maha?!), much more intelligently and, I hope, carefully than I once did- calf rather than bull in the china shop- amazingly, feel like I am only just approaching being close to where I was when I embarked on a daily practice, just over three months ago. Happy anniversary, by the way. Truth be told, I’m quite liking the smaller class size this limited thrice weekly schedule has imposed. Eddie keeps a close eye on us and, it seems, is more apt to correct minor elements in our practice than he’s been. Like the angle of (what I thought was 85 degrees) my knee in Janu B, which was much less, it seems.

Did the no-alarm wake-up today, emerging from a work-related dream at 5:15 wondering if it was time to get up yet. So grateful that, although late, I made it to practice. We’ve had a new assistant in town, while Sharmilla is in Mysore. Peter is from New Zealand and, so far, his assists have been firm and intelligent, of the Mmm-hmmnngood variety. Lent a hand in Mari C and got me pretty deep into it; very different approach from Eddie, who waits for me to bind and then opens up my chest/shoulders/sternum and deepens the twist. Peter took the extended arm and pulled and got me into the pose- and I promptly popped right out, evoking a very Guruji-like “Yey” (as in, hey) from him. That was pretty funny. Slippy, I say, and make sure I stay put, second side. Didn’t even attempt B today, as the familiar pulling sensation is revisiting the outside of my left knee.

Slowly learning not to push, but every day, every asana, it’s such a struggle, so hard to check myself (“before ya wreck yaself”, as Chuck D of Public Enemy once put it). Practice at the school makes me happy. It’s not a chore or something I have to make myself do- rather, it’s the best part of my day, bar none, and what gets me out of bed in the mornings.

Earlydays at Eddie's 

Very early Morning Pages. Just before 5a.m. Excited, nervous. Will head downtown, check out Eddie’s place. Scared. I’ll go watch.

Later: Like nothing I’d ever seen before in my life. Never forget how amazing this was. Enjoyed my coffee, waking up ridiculously early after all the post-workshop “lazymornings”. Show up uninvited at the shala. “can I watch?”. “If you insist”, Eddie says. Get there in time for the opening mantra. Have about an hour watching, utter beginners through Intermediaters. It was wonderful. “That’s enough for today”, he interrupts my rapture. And… “Come back after Thanksgiving.” After all. It’s two weeks. Guess that’s the lesson I want to be learning now, but it’s pretty devastating, all those empty latemornings looming ahead.

So nice to wake up at least somewhat rested. My first day off in 2 weeks. My head still filled with images from the Puck and Eddie’s sacred space. It really was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Never forget. Beautiful space, painted walls, magnificent bright altar, row upon row of ashtangis of all levels doing their thing. One forgets how cool this stuff looks. I’ll probably be stopped at one of the standing poses.

Emerging from a brief pranayama/sitting practice. So much for doing it daily- it’s been too long. Have been a little depressed recently; post-workshop vacuum / blues, winter unveiling his face… Thanksgiving came and went, found me contemplative, sad even. Closed heart. Missing Guruji, Richard. Father figures. Thrilled that the real thing, Daddy-Zym in da flesh, will be coming to town in just over two weeks. Woke up just after 5 this morning, got up shortly thereafter. I desperately miss the early mornings, the early-morning practice. Figured I might as well adjust since, one way or the other, I WILL start a Mysore practice come Monday.

12/4/02, 4:15 am
It’s the most amazing thing, Eddie’s place, my new practice. I dream about it, then I go do it. A Mysore practice, beautiful morning people. Amazing. Moon-day off yesterday, missed my ridiculously early morning after just two days. Day one, all the standing poses, to my pleasant surprise; no adjustments. Which is good- I was so nervous I no doubt would’ve jumped out of my skin had he touched me. Forgot to do utkatasana. Day two was different, less nervous, more sure. Extra sun salutes had me more warm. Got adjusted in trikonasana, watched in parivritta trikonasana, allowed to continue with some seated poses. What a thrill, through to ardha badha padma paschimottansana which kicked my butt.

Day four coming up in just over an hour. It’s been incredible. Day two saw me prepared to go through all the standing poses and be content to do that and keep doing that for as long as necessary. Instead, Eddie asks, “do you know what’s next?” and I promptly jump through, sit down for dandasana, continue through to ardha badha padma paschimottanasana. Day three, again ready and happy to just work that last pose. Get the utthitta hasta padangusthasana (hereon out to be known as “UHP”) treatment, get to ardha badha and to my surprise get my head to my knee, all on my own, before Eddie has the chance to come over. Next! Tiriang mukha, and on, and on, free-falling, drunk with speed, to Marichyasana B. High all day.

High all week the first week. Like bungee jump landing, up, down, up, up. Having trouble sleeping for more than 4 hours. I wake with a start, sit up wide-eyed, “is it time yet is it time yet?” Look at the clock, ascertain I have a few more hours of sleeptime, go back to sleep, only to wake up an hour later: “is it time yet is it time yet?”. Hyper, obsessed. This really is the perfect vehicle to fuel the fire of my yoga obsession.

Am so happy to be there, everything just fell into place, waking up at 4 every morning for my 5:30 start time so I’m about through with my languorously slow surya namaskaras around six when Eddie comes in and we chant the opening mantra and resume practice without skipping an inhale. Just, the most amazing thing. Took a led class on Saturday and realized I’d been skipping pindasana in finishing. Who knew I would feel so much love and trust so early on in my time at the shala? A couple of days before I was due to start, I dreamt that I went to see Eddie and he was a doctor and I trusted him. So monkeymind may have had doubts but the other levels already had trust firmly in place.

Another day, another thrill. Despite sensation in knees, my Marichyasana B “better today”, according to Eddie. I miss his cue and proceed to vinyasa up, obliviously focused, until I hear the command “Tina take C, sit DOWN”. I comply, bind on my own, no problem. “Straight back”. I think my breathing was deep and steady enough in B, and my head low to the floor enough. Working on B and C will be good prep for D, my anticipated wall.

Lazy Sunday today. I showed up around quarter to six and there were 5 or 6 other people at practice, whereas the room would be about full on a workday. Very nice to have such an intimate atmosphere. Eddie came in a little after six and started. I am so happy and grateful for the chai stand, have made it a point to chat to most everyone and meet people.

Went to practice late, today. In class at 6:05. Very weird having two subs, very conscious, distractable. Sharmilla gave me utthitta hasta and came over for Mari B, after I’d spent an agonizingly long time doing prep and easing my way into it. Definitely had sensation in the knees today. Bound quite easily, second side. Gave up on 1st side. Despite pasta and dessert dinner last night, C was ok. Feel like I’m at a weird stopping point, needing help with B (first side only), yet going on to C. Nice that I get to work on refining C and I’m confident that the marriage of these two will build a decent foundation for dreaded D. With time, take the fear out of approaching it.

OK, Sunday morning, or certainly this particular Sunday morning, Times Square subway at 5something in the morning is particularly horrible. Just nasty. Jesus-Saves bearded guitarman continues playing undaunted as a guy pukes at his feet not two feet away. Seat myself far far away until the stench hits me, turning my stomach and me away: two seats away is an obese homeless guy, luggage and all. Nothing like the smell of weeks-old feces in the morning. And of course, it being Sunday, trains are running on a reduced schedule and my train is taking forever and an hour. Actually, it’s taking me about that, from uptown to downtown: an hour.

Happy again. Zyms in town, Eddie’s back, got some rest. It’s been pretty interesting, trying to spend long hours at work and time with the Zyms and going to practice early in the morning, invariably following a late/heavy dinner. Took two days off- moon and rest days. “Good”, Eddie says as my body snap crackles and pops under his firm but gentle touch. “Knee pain?” Sensation, I concede. “Goood”, he says.

Blessedly back to practice. After missing about six days when my left knee tightened up on me big-time, it’s good to be back, even if I’m not at 100%. Bounced up off my makeshift bed-on-the-floor, wide-awake and ready at 5:30 and made my way downtown faster than hoped. So nice to be back. Claimed a cubicle for my unwieldy black mat, saw Eddie, did my practice. Tentatively. Carefully. Hopefully not pushing. Stepped back more than jumped back, walked through more than jumped through. Still got stopped at Mari B. Eddie just watched, today. A little surprised, in a good way, by how gentle he’s been. "Don’t push", the day I pushed too far, and "do what you can without causing pain" when I had pain.

Note to self for next time: no need to suffer through missing practice for endless days on end. Much better to go and just do what I can, or "walk, crawl back if you need to, but come to practice". So I will. It was so nice to practice. Even with my limitations on the second side, swam through standing poses and swept through seated, as much and as carefully as I could. Stopped myself from spending too much time doing prep work. Love this practice so much, it’s crazy. It feeds and fuels me and I can’t wait till next Sunday. Take rest and healing in the meantime.

Late again. It’s been tough getting up, what with heavy meals late at night and sleepless hours on the floor. It’s a little before ‘yate" and I need to be in and out of class by 9:15 at the latest. Fastpractice. I’ll do snappy Guruji-fast counts, instead of underwater-swimming Richard-slow. Somewhere therein, between the two polars, lies my own pace, my own rhythm. Not just in breathing and practice.

So GOOD to be back! Despite a late-ish (10;30-ish) night, woke up at 4:50, no problem. Got in with just enough time to grab one of the less-desirable spots (near the wall), with just three spots left in class at 6:10, plop my mat down and put my hands together in Anjali Mudra for the opening mantra. So nice to catch that, on the day I view as a new beginning kinda day. Zyms left yesterday and, although sad to see them go, a little relieved also. Grateful to be in a position to be able to get an early start on my morning, with the minimum amount of rushing and time for a gloriously long savasana. Find myself missing, thinking about "my other teacher". Really want to make the retreat in March happen. Knee seems to be "much better today", as I told Eddie. As if it was necessary. He did give me a yummy utthitta hasta- nice to see legs float up higher. Placed his hand on my bad knee, protectively, as I bowed my head down. That was cool. Healing touch? Ardha padmasana was still a few inches from being, but my Mari B was better than it’s been in a while, knee down on bad side, and binding, no problem, on the not-so-bad uninjured side. I think I’m going to take advantage of this time to work on my jump-backs, taking it up "properly" as I exit asanas like Vira B, Tiriang-mukha, the Janus and Maris. Slowly-slowly. Good for the ego, to try and fail so many times in one practice and yet to know that, whether immediately evident or not, it’s coming. Just, good work.

Padmasana is back, more or less. I know I’m doing other good work right now, but right now I just want B back. Slowly slowly.

I was so sick yesterday! Not sure whether it was food poisoning or some intestinal virus doing the rounds, but I slept poorly, felt hugely nauseous (ended up NOT "pulling a Sampras" and puking during practice, but barely). Raced through practice, taking a few quick shallow breaths in each asana, convinced I’d do first just the sun salutations, then just standing, then managed through to Marichy A, sneaking out while Eddie was Not In The Room. Doing complete finishing was unimaginable; fell into a half-hour savasana that left me feeling well enough to make my way home and pass out. Managed a half-day at work and a lot of ribbing from coworkers. Went to bed early, passed out before ‘yate" and although not entirely rested, woke up at 4:40 ready for practice. By the time I had my coffee and made my way downtown, I was in great spirits and rearing to go. Blasted my way through the sun salutes and took off from there, ardha padma stuff better than it’s been in what seems like forever. Worked on Mari B, like I have been for a while, by myself for a while. As I’m working attempt number three (so close, so much better- and no pain), Eddie asks/states “much better today”, and as I concur he asks did I do C. I say, I’m working on B. “Do B, then C.” Alrighty then! Do B, first (unbindable) side as best I can (so close, so much closer), and work C, binding both sides on my own as Sharmilla comes over and opensopens my chest and shoulders up, so yummy. So grateful, such a good poracticeday before Saturday’s enforced day of rest. Slowly, slowly, not so fussed about getting D or Navasana but I really want to start with backbends and not take a year of regression before we get to doing them. But it’s so early, too early to ask Eddie. Can’t believe I’ve only been there for just over a month- it feels like it’s been a lot longer than that. In a good way.

Had the heaviest practice in a long time (if ever?). Even during the holidays, I was conscious of what I ate and most often, if I had a heavy, carb-ridden meal late the night before, I generally didn’t go to class the next day. Yesterday was awful; had some fast food then Chinese food and then, just to guarantee I feel like crap the next day, had more (but they were wholewheat!) waffles than I can count. Woke up sleepy, considered sleeping in. Wore a fat-day tank top, got to class at 6:10, had to start in the cold upstairs. Movements slow, jumpthroughs low and heavy. Few things I’ve learned, last few days: 1. Hands clasped so that palms are together in Prasarita Padotanasana C (Eddie put together and brought down to floor yesterday). 2. Dandasana is “not a full lock… no tension in the throat.” from yesterday. Still love Sundays, less people, softer energy early in the day. Starting at 7 works well. 3. Janu C’s foot placement is different than I thought, than I’ve been doing. Food for thought. Breakthrough du jour: got me to clasp wrists, both sides, in Marichy A. That was ce si bon. Scooted out of there after attempting B and C, still not getting B first side. Interesting day.

I got it! At the risk of sounding like the asana grubber I don’t want to be… hey, screw that! It feels good to get a pose after working so hard for it, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. So, on the coldest day of the year (20 degrees as I left home at 5:20something), I was working B for the second time when the first stubborn not-hurting-anymore side became workable! I lower my head, finger clasped for dear life, as a big bubble of relief, glee, and fear rises up. I don’t stay in it for long, jump back, do the second side, no problem. Told Eddie, who says, “I know…”, gives me soft assist on second side, “that’s fine” as I keep trying to go for the wrist. Yeehaw! C is no problem, work on straightening my back, expanding my sternum, stretching my shoulders and exploring as much of the pose’s yumminess as I can. What I learned today: in utthita hasta padangustasana, if extended arm bends, elbow points down, not back, as I’d previously done. Talked to Eddie: down? “Yes.” Hm. That’s new. “No, very old.” New, because elbow didn’t use to bend, I explain. Hmm. So nice. Feel like the extended leg is higher, breath smoother, body calmer with every day.

Thank gods it’s Wednesday, mid-week already. It’s been so cold, I’m surprised I haven’t stiffened up to rewind to a year ago. It was quiet early this morning, with plenty of spots in the practice room left even at about 6:20. Gratefully started in the soft light and warm walls of downstairs. Eddie put his hand on not-good knee again, spreading warmth. Was so relaxed and balance in the pose formerly known as humbleasana: utthitta hasta padangustasana. Got help with Mari A today, so yummy, chin to shin, no problem. Almost got B alone, Sharmilla helped at the last minute.

Long week, this one’s been. Got up at 5-something OK, despite a late-ish 10-something lie-down. It’s been colder than it has any right being in Manhattan, it’s like, excuuuse me while I wait for my eyeballs to thaw! The trains are more frequent when I get a later start, just over half an hour today (consider Sunday, that saw me spending over an hour getting to class). Decided that when I do have to start upstairs, I get to do a couple of non-Series stretches before starting, like I’ve seen others further along the asana-path than I- i.e. who “should know better” that you don’t need anything but the Series- do. On a cold day like this, felt like I needed a couple of hip stretches. As I’m doing those, it came to be time to make my way downstairs, anyway. My spot was at the very front by the wall to the right. I kind of, uh, forgot Janu B until Janu C felt a little weird. Later asked Eddie: should I go back and do over, if that happens? “Next time don’t forget”. Haha. Now I’m wondering if I should even be going through to C. but he said, “do C”!!

I like Fridays at Mysore class. You know tomorrow’s a day of rest and just push (try) a little harder. Working on jumpbacks and jumpthroughs, finessing, refining. Worked late yesterday and was too wired to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. Got up after 5, in class at 6:30. It’s an ok time to be starting. For some reason, it’s always more quiet when it snows and today was no exception. By 6:45, most who started super-early are doing backbends and there’s a lull between that group and the second wave. Found myself in the eye of that today, with Eddie sitting and observing the room, doing his man-with-a-thousand-eyes thing. It’s really pretty amazing. Snuck up and gave me Mari A, as it’s been, just luscious. Heartbeat drops, I’m entirely relaxed, pliable, ambrosia. For B, trying the heretofore mostly unbindable /hurtknee side. Knee noise, by the way, has subsided to almost nothing; for the first time in weeks, walking without a limp. So Eddie just saunters off for B and gives no indication of imminent return. Ok ok, seems like I’m about where I need to work it- and get it- alone. What stunned me today was how monstrously frustrated and tense, I got when I was THIS close to binding alone. THIS close. Second jumpback, spent a good five breaths in downdog, just chilling out and collecting my furies a little. At this point, I don’t even remember if I could even bind with help a few weeks back. When this side was impossible, light years away from happening, no problem being positive and chill about it. But when I’m so close to managing on my own, my collective reactions are apparently a different story. Eddie seems to know just how long to stay away, and as I’m THAT close and fighting hot tears, comes over and gets me into it, immediately steadying my breathing and calming my flight and fight. I ask, sorrowfully, am I still doing C? “Of course”, Eddie smiles and gets me to hold wrists and open chest and feel better in C as he proclaims, “Nnngoohood”. What a nice day before a SaturMoonday.

Had a tremendously tough practice today. For one thing, last 24 hours have been colder than anything I’ve ever seen before- as low as just 10 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday- what is that, like minus 45 Celsius?! These kind of temps do not exactly do wonders for the old asana practice and still-nagging left knee. Moved carefully, contended with stiffness (as opposed to pain). Yet again, THIS close to getting the stubborn side in Mari B all on my own. Eddie asks, “did you finish C?” C? C?!

Endless cold, frozen streets and stiff joints. Interminable winter. How come this winter seems like it’ll last six months? October through March. What happened to global warming? Are we done yet? For the first time in manymany years, had no interest in staying up for the seven-hour long sparkly self-congratulatory Golden Globes last night, but did tape them just in case I woke up today and felt like my life won’t be complete unless I watch the ceremony. Instead of staying up through endless acceptance speeches and tiresome tributes, did the pre-alarm wakeup at 5, hung out with cat, had a quick coffee and, much like yesterday, just missed two trains. Shala was empty at 6:30, with tons of spots up for grabs- took one near the radiator. Have been taking longer rest, forsaking chai and sweetstuff. Five bucks a day is twenty-something a week, nearly a hundred a month- which is some of my airfare out West for retreat with Richard in June. Looking forward to ladies’ holiday this time; it’ll give me the chance to do laundry for the first time in over five weeks, take a vinyasa class, sleep later.

Back to practice yesterday, after what seemed like an unnecessarily long ladies holiday. On the subway, en route to a vinyasa class and then a led class. Why is a lead class a “led” class? Maybe it’s one of those things where someone, somewhere, misspelled the word and it’s become the canon. Kinda like lite, nite, thru. Annoying. So glad I didn’t grow up in an English-speaking country- less likelihood of my everyday speech to be eroded by daily usage. Went to class about an hour later than usual, and felt like quite the hero for it anyway since it was something like minus 15 Celsius and windy. Sped through (thru) a creaky practice, with the knee being heard as it said hello-and-be-careful. Get to Mari B, see it isn’t going to happen on first side, jump back without hesitation, stay in second side for eight breaths, do C for eight breaths each side, vinyasa up, fold my mat up, walk by Eddie: “You did, properly?” Not B first side, I reply, too cold. “Mmhm[or something to that effect, whatever effect in question may be]” Ha! Eddie is used to seeing me attempt and re-attempt and work on the pose, surprised I up and left! Hate winter. I just hate it. Layers and scarves and gloves and hats and more layers and stiff knees that won’t heal and wool and cashmere and down feathers- I’m so over it. But, apparently, it’s not done with us. What’s up with six months of winter, and where did the seasons go?

A grey January morning en route to Sunday volunteering stint. Totally slept in this morning; didn’t get back from the (heavy mealed and wined) baby shower until well after 1 am, no way was I getting up at 6. Although I did consider it.

So nice to be back at practice. Had a late-ish start (the later I head out, the shorter my commute- 23 minutes, station to station today), got to class a little before 7. Thankfully, still nabbed a decent (read: not next to wall or window) spot. Went through the motions of attempting Marichyasana B on that stubborn first side that has pleeenty of room to bind but just won’t. Cannot believe how infinitely frustrating it is to be that close, so much more so than when I was thirty feet away. On third attempt, after spending the five breaths in downdog to regain some composure, Eddie says “close”, and ventures near as I whine, I knooow! Gets me to bind, no problem. Just a fraction of extra rotation in my right arm is all that’s need at this point, a fraction that I’m to be incapable of conjuring up alone, it seems. Is this one of those things that are all in my head? That I need Eddie to help me? Is it fear? That Mari D is on the horizon? Is it that my right shoulder is more tight? Whatever it is, C is feeling nicer and nicer. Oh, and another pearl from Eddie: “Don’t force”, he says. I tense up and try to muscle my way in and that does not work. On a lighter note, I am making decidedly less noise in my jumpbacks.

Grrr, nightmare reverse-commute back uptown to work today. Guess I’ve yet to really strike a consistent balance between not waking up ridiculously (read: 4:30) early and having ages to spare post-practice/pre-work, and waking up at a manageable hour (5:30) but having to rush through finishing and limit rest to 10 or 15 minutes. You’d think waking up at 5:15 might do the trick? Taking less time to get ready (but I so like to sit down with my coffee for a few minutes). Maybe take my coffee on the train (but I so like to do my breathing on my way to class). Bit by bit.

More from the Puck 

Mhhhmmm, I could get used to this. The move to the ground floor was an adjustment. The changing/leave stuff room serves multiple duty as our Ganesha Tea Stall prep area and changing room / coat rack. Except there is no rack, and no changing room- the floor serves rather well, cold muddy tiles be damned. Week three will see us back in the relative luxury of the 2nd floor.

But the room. Aaah, the room. And so toasty-warm, from the get-go. Although impractical (read: veeery wide and less rows), aesthetically it warms this chickadee's heart. Floor to ceiling windows all around, with white gauzy curtains shading us from the dumpsters right outside, with pillars shrouded in white Christmas lights of the non-twinkly variety. For those of us who care, so nice, especially when filled wall-to-wall with fellow ashtangis and ashtanginis.

No subway serendipity for me, first day: I beat the trains at their own game and arrived at the Puck around 5:15 on Monday. Some familiar faces, but not as many second-weekers as one might think. The first row hadn't even begun filling up (from the center out- no-one, it seemed, was too eager to snap up the spots on either end, about 2 miles from where Guruji would presumably be standing). Guilty as charged: I waited, and put my mat down dead-center, second row. Would not dare the first row, but wayyy closer than I'd ever been.

We started right on time, with Guruji and entourage coming in, all business. I never know how many As and Bs we do (5 plus 3, I think); once I get into the groove I’m happy to just let each one wash over me… We got only one "BAD lady"; front row woman stuck mid-roll in garba pindasana. He of course went right over and rolled her the unsuspecting lass all the way around and up into kukkutasana.

The most interesting thing I took away from my stay amidst all the inspiring long-timers was- so many of them in my peripheral view are cheaters!! Sorry, but it’s true. You read it here folks: several people I'd noted/noticed over the previous days float around and hardly touch the ground were going into their urdhva mukha svanasasnas with knees on the floor, and easing off asanas as Guruji turned his back!! The funniest part was in Utth Plutti, which, it seems, offers a plethora of cheating options. One guy got caught not lifting anything at all, but most just domino down as teacher walks by them. Hey, I'm the first to admit I can never stay up for the entire "ten" breath count (yet!), but I have few qualms plopping onto my sorry butt in full view of the teacher!!

Love the view in my peripheral from the back, love the energy. Having said that, I kinda miss practicing amidst the ubers. They are all coming in late practicing Second Series at 8 after we’ve been ushered out. Tim has been here all week,; Nancy also swept in for a day (or two). No spectators this year.

Kinda miss being one of the ones that get tons of adjustments, being that compared to the people who inhabited the first three rows weeks one and two, I AM a stiff one. Now, I get nothing. Guruji always find 2 or 3 burly guys, Sharath and Saraswati are running around correcting beginners, and I am truly one of the middle path, making my way through the series. With just a glance or a smile.

But aaah, what a treat it's been to go through the whole Series like we have been. Being of the "stop at Marichy D" variety myself- and that's on a good day- it's been delightful to experience the cumulative effects of the series as a whole. Plus, most of the fun stuff (all that rocking up, down, back!) is after aforementioned gatekeeper. I get it now. Again, likely not IT, but bits, here and there...

On the fatigue factor:
It hit me REAL hard first week. Now, I'm a strong girl (as evidenced by my kick-ass chakrasana, no momentum needed) [ok, DOWN ego, DOWN! It's just, I work so goshdurned hard for it/ on getting it...], but I was still exhausted and sore by day three or four, though among the last to emerge from savasana, still probably only a few minutes and not nearly enough. That changed after a trip to my local drugstore and $1.49 later: earplugs. Now, I am warm and relaxed as the sensation of feet THUDding by my head softly lulls me into relaxation, and the sound of 200 people speaking is a buzzzzzz. I emerge refreshed and, more often than not, surrounded by Intermediators angling to take my spot. Translation: at least 10-15 minutes' rest. Nice. No more sore shoulders, no more stirred-up stuff. Just, nice.

On rest:
By the way, last week (when I was still going for the "a question a day" thing) , when asked what the ideal amount of rest is, Guruji said "30 minutes". As I laughed and indicated how people jump up and speed away, he said, "you go home, you take [proper] rest". Of course, I joked, "I go to work, I take rest there- zzzz!" That was good for a giggle.

On watching the late crowd:
Everyone, and I mean every one (story going around about a 3rd Series woman who's been going to Mysore forever who was not allowed to watch- kinda makes me feel good that there's no distinctions/favoritism, as there easily coulda been.) is unceremoniously removed from the room , pretty swiftly; being one of the perpetual [mal]lingerers, trying to suck every last bit of marrow from this, I often, out of courtesy to those-who-wish-not-be-watched, often pack my bag/get shoes on at the chai stand outside. Apparently (I asked "why"), the no-gawkers policy enforced this year is because a few [couple of? two? dozen?] requested that there be no spectators. I definitely feel ambivalent about that, but certainly respect and understand the sentiments behind it.

On the end looming:
Hey, remember how by the end of the summer, maybe last day of camp or holiday, you had finally gotten that cute boy/girl to look in your direction, the popular group had just said "hi" to you for the first time, you were THIS close to feeling good in that one item of clothing you bought "for when I lose those 5 lbs/ 2 kgs.", your tan just getting to where you want it to be, those endless sweet summer afternoons bore no hint of autumn- and it was time for goodbye? That's kinda how today feels.

Today was as it should have been. We grabbed a cab that whisked us to the Puck by 5:20something, a very respectable fourth row about to start filling up. I took my spot smack bang in the center- love having a bit of a view and catching Guruji's eye with a smile. The usual (from first 2 weeks) suspects populated the front rows and the whole place buzzzzed with anticipation and excitement. The room filled up in a hurry. Guesstimating about 300 people. Too excited to do the usual (hmm, fix hair/quiet mind/fix hair/ stretch hips/look around/wake up spine/fix hair). Guruji made practically no adjustments during standing poses. It felt more like, ok, this is the showcase session. This is were we are filmed moving like honey being poured into a jar, like waves on a beach, synchronized, fluid, together, strong. All of us. Guruji just sits back and enjoys us.

Which he does. Enjoy us, that is. My last question to him (was it just yesterday?!?) was, "what do you like most about New York?" After a few attempts at paraphrasing, he conceded, "the people... the people who study, very good people... they work very hard all the time, good people." I'll second that. Today just blew my mind, and I loved every second of it. A few days ago, I think I was vaguely complaining/commenting on the fact that I get no attention in session anymore; I didn't attribute any credit to the fact that hey, ya know what? Maybe my practice is shaping up more than I allow. Like, those thrilling-fun jump-throughs where I land all ready for tiriang-mukhah. I certainly didn't do that last month. Or, a half-decent lift-off after virabhadrasana B (one leg hooked). Or, consistently getting my chin down in utthita hasta padangustasana. And, was it just 2 weeks ago that I'd never attempted full setu bandasana, which I now plunge into fearlessly (but carefully)? Etc. So nice. And I'm looking forward to going back and finessing, refining, learning, coping. Bit by bit.

I flew through the Series. Breathless, but happy, strong, and in the moment. Post Uth-Plutthi, as Guruji boomed, "jump through. Stand UP!", a big well of emotion bubbled up inside me. I'd missed the one other occasion he did the extra surya namaskar & closing mantra last Friday. Now I know it was to make this one extra special. I got misty eyed as "Ekam" rang out, "trini" had me hold back tears and pretty much sobbed, "Sapta" through "Swasti, praja bhya, pari pala yantam...". If I could bottle the emotion in that room at that moment, I would need no other memory-preservers.

I was among the first to say hello to KPJ, pre-savasana. Tears that I didn't bother to conceal still drying on my cheeks, as I went up he was wiping his own eyes. It was dusty, he was tired, but I like to think he was as touched by so much love as we were. I did my thing, gave the man a big hug and joked I'd be back for pictures. I have a ton of them, and each will be a moment frozen for me. Unforgettable days and lessons, always lessons.

The transition to the other world where moments like these are not always viable possiblity makes for an interesting one. But also increases the value of all that I've so gratefully received.

Week 1 from the NY '02 World Tour 

Well, it's been quite a trip, already. I arrived at the Puck a little after 5:30 am (the NYC subway at that hour is a fascinating scene I'll save for another time) yesterday and lined up at the entrance. The line moved pretty quickly and we snaked our way up the stairs, buzzing with anticipation and chatting with familiar faces. 15 minutes later my mat was down (in the center of the center, a little back from the first few rows that Guruji prowls) and the room was filling; last I heard, about 200 of us.

People were still filing in at 6:15 as finally Guruji, Saraswati and Sharath came up the elevator. After a quick intro by Eddie, no time was lost as Guruji’s voice boomed out: "SAMASTHITIHI!" And we were off! The brightly-lit, on-the-chilly-side room heated up in a hurry as we flew through the Surya Namaskaras and standing poses. Sharath sauntered by and gave me and the woman to my right the [in?]famous utthita pada hastasana treatment, both sides. Amazing. Lots of smiles and laughter as the inevitable bad man or lady bobbed up into up-dog before "pancha". As a result, I've already learned to not be in a big rush to jump back; we are inevitably left suspended in chatturanga for a good 2 or 3 breaths, waiting for everyone to catch up. After "chatwari" number 50 or so, it starts to take its toll on the old shoulders...

Seated poses, and then "jump through / straight legs / lie down"; again waiting for everyone to lie down with "STRAIGHT!!" legs, pre- urdhva dhanurasana. Only three, with no resting in between. Kinda sheds light on how one's habits form in practice... Like Richard says, the longer you wait between wheels, the less eager you are to go up into one more! We got “inhale- UP, exhale- down, inhale- UP!” By the time it was time for finishing poses, I was beat! Very grateful for the 10 breaths only in Sirsasana and the omission of ardha, or adho mukha dandasana... Oh, and we did 6 Navasanas, lots of tittering as folks jumped back only to be told "one more- UP!". Rest was non-existent, as people popped right up to greet and thank Guruji.

Day two
Day two started earlier for me; I woke up at 3:40 and made my way downtown earlier. Got a spot in the center about 4 rows in- far enough back that I'm not under constant scrutiny by Guruji (um, I think!) but forward enough that I'll maybe have Sharath give us a hand. It was nice practicing closer to Guruji today; he actually came over to me, 2nd side on Marichyasana B (which I can bind on my own) and "helped" me lower my torso further down than this scaredy cat has in a while, if ever. I actually cheated, fearing the man, and rested my forehead on my half lotus leg- rather than let him attempt to get my nose/chin all the way to the floor. Bit by bit... So nice.... I thanked him. Actually far more gentle than I thought he'd be, may help ease up on the fear factor as the days go on... Sharath came over for Marichyasana D, got me to bind these sweaty arms on both sides. He strikes me as being infinitely compassionate, just a very soft presence, a perfect complement to PJ's "Head down! Head DOWN!!" approach. I'm a middle path person- neither on of the "blessed stiff" ones that always get adjusted, nor one of the inspiring ones that need no adjusting in primary series.
Less laughter and admonishments today, tons of smiles. We are learning to behave, it seems.

Onward and upward... By a combination of serendipitous train-catching, I found myself at the Puck by 5:25 or so. There has been no line since Monday; you just go straight up and either flash your weekly card (front: Guruji as a young man in "trini" / back: the opening mantra transliteration & translation) or pay your $45 for the day. So here I am, mat & blanket in hand... and the third row is just filling up. After a moment's worry ("gee I don't want Guruji stomping on me in kurmasana or Marichy D!") I said f%^$ it and put my mat down alongside looong-time practitioners (unlike yours truly, one-year anniversary coming up) like Russell K. and Petri R. We started right on time, all business. No laughter either. I certainly was feeling it, going through full primary 3 days in a row now. Ignored screaming shoulders and soldiered on.

No bad men or ladies today- it seemed like we were all moving in synch. Or at least, the floaters surrounding me effortlessly flowed. Ya know how I said yesterday that I'm not one of the "blessed stiff"? I certainly re-evaluated that today; compared to the folks around me (not that I lost drishti or anything) ( ;o) I am her royal highness Ms. Stiff! But hey, if adjustments from Guruji is what I wanted, I got that! I didn't bind second side on ardha badha padma paschimottanasana and sure enough, he came on over. A gem from the man: "take both hands". Instead of staying two miles above my leg as my fingers clutch my slippery toe, barely, I wrapped my hands around my foot and got my chin down to my shin (ok, maybe it was closer to the knee!). Reeeallly felt that heel press into the navel, which I understand is oh-so important and an effect I was denied in my quest for the toe. Yummy.

Richard has a story about how when he and his wife first went to Mysore, it was just the two of them and Guruji for a while. She, apparently was one of the stiff, knees up to her ears in badhakonasana. Of course, she developed a multi-colored bruise from her knee to her hip on the side where Guruji would kneel. Begged him to take mercy one day; instead he took his spot, and something just gave; she had her knees and chin to the floor in an instant! Wish I had a similar psychosomatic breakthrough. Actually, I kinda do, in my own little realm. I am "careful" (lazy!?) with aforementioned pose (by the way, we only do one badhakonasana) and just try and fold from the hips, keeping back straight-ish and feet turned up. No chance of getting within view of the floor here. Well, Guruji was doing the rounds and came right up to me. "Relax". As I exhale, down go the knees and, wait! Head touches feet! No pain! Flew back to chatwari. From thereon, any noise from aching muscles subsided, cold-affected shallow breath became deeper, practice and mindset more focused. And grateful. I get it now. Maybe not get "It", but when folks speak of how Guruji's presence and touch affect them, it will be less vague theorizing and more tangible, tactile and comprehensible for me now. Pretty cool.

He had us hold Uth Plutthi forEVER today, with an unending chorus of "one more" at "eight" and "nine". Every time he'd catch some bad person taking rest, it was "one more". To the point where I started a flood of semi-hysterical giggles, and down-right laughter that resonated in the great hall. Hard to breathe when you're cackling! Finally let us make our way back to chatwari. I can feel my strength (mental? physical? both? neither?) grow with every practice. With my thank you, post-practice, I asked him about the ardha badha padma paschimottanasana thing. "If impossible to take toe, both hands forward is better. Heel into navel is good." My ego was like, hey, it's not imPOssible to take toe second side! But my mind said, This is good. This IS good.

The first week has been grueling and wonderful. I'm still battling a nasty cold (the funniest thing! Guruji stepped onto one of my meticulously-folded snot-rags after adjusting me on Friday; it stuck to the bottom of his foot for a few steps before I could retrieve it, thoroughly mortified and apologetic!!) and yesterday's day of rest has not yielded the much-yearned for results: good health and some breath. Guess that's the lesson I need to be learning right now.

Last day of the 1st week (Saturday practice!) was packed, I think probably 280 people plus. After a bad commute on Friday, that saw me arriving at the "late" hour of 5:40 and putting my mat down somewhere in the 6th or 7th row, I made it a point to get there early (5:20) on the last day. I can practice non-attachment to these things when Guruji is no longer here. After tasting what it's like to be a) in the midst of uber-ashtangis & -ashtanginis, and b) so close to the master, I am ok with waking up at 3:30 for the next couple of weeks. Crazier things have been known to happen. We seem to be moving faster, finishing by 7:45 or so. Only four Navasanas, instead of the six we'd gotten the day before. Only one "CHATWARI!!" to a bad lady who ventured into up-dog too quickly. Oh boy- Guruji tackled a rather rotund lady for Marichyasana D, kept us in there foreeever while he got her arms around her body, gently but surely. I got a photo, asked Guruji "what's a good book to read?". The man said , "Hatha Yoga Pradipika. All in Sanskrit. English translation. Some slokas are bad[ly translated]." "but to me, who knows nothing, everything good!", I attempted to joke, triggering a chuckle. Also, "many-many translations, Yoga Sutras. Good."

Looking forward to tomorrow, and week two: a whole new batch of bad men and ladies who are not up to speed with how things are done at the Puck!


Dreaming about smoking. Last night, getting home, dealing with Maria and her smoking while we talked, having dinner… it was hard. This morning is hard. When I’m home, every time I pass the coffee table I think I’ve misplaced my cigarette, my ashtray, my pack of smokes. Then I remember I have none of those anymore.

Will attempt a few minutes of pranayama, a few of sitting practice. In a minute there are visions and revisions which a minute can reverse. Or something close to that. I cannot believe I got up there and “did” “Prufrock” for the people at the retreat. Raw, open, exposed- felt good. Such kindness in the intro I got, which echoed Richard’s words over dinner a few days back “we need more English literature–background teachers”, or some approximation thereof. Not quite in and of this world, yet. Which is (mostly) ok. Will drop off my (3 rolls!) film en route to The Shala.

The flagship product at work is being featured on the Oprah Show today. Potentially a pretty big day for us. Still doesn’t mean Jack in terms of whether the company will survive to see ’03. Nervous about how today’ll go. All I know is, I have led class in 11 hours. That helps, and immensely. Still I think about the retreat, and Richard. Lots of spots still left for all-day intensive next month. Can I go? Mmm, coffee. As Steph aptly pointed out, even if I don’t over-eat, the weight-gain thang is a losing battle: my metabolism is no longer being sped up by the (pack-and-a-half-plus!) cigarettes and I will pile on the pounds until the body readjusts. Humbug.

Thank god it’s Thursday. Played with the Snooze button this a.m., hoping for the extra ten minutes that would allow me to emerge rested from a rest-full sleep- not to be. The first of what is anticipated to be a long string of badweather days. NYC hosting the 2012 Olympics? We have no room!! Was so wired apres-work last night, missed/skipped class, as I’m likely to do again tonight. Downpours for today and tomorrow- but then it’s the weekend. I’m doing mostly ok though. More an annoyance than the devastating loss I was experiencing last time ‘round.

Evenings are the hardest. Taut nerves, wired body. Mornings are more ok. Attempted a second night without the patch, and it’s ok- I’ll play with that some more. Talk about lasting impact- still thinking about the retreat. I was such a teacher’s pet, the me of yesterday would be amused. I needed not have been (mildly) annoyed that I got next to no adjustments from Billy, since I got a ton (by his standards, anyway) from Richard himself. I’ll feed off the tenderness with which he helped me build my blanket “terrace” for pranayama practice for a while; “and if the heart caves in, teacher will come over and make it shine again.” Or something.

At Omega for the weekend workshop: I’m happy again. Just cornered Richard at coffee early a.m. Had a few words. Apparently, not “too early” for questions. Asked the burning “what would Guruji say?” re: villoma question (answer: breath retentions too short to really be considered pranayama), and also Eddie’s as a good “cooking” school for daily practice. In a very roundabout way, got the go ahead to “check it out”. I think. What else? He’s also going to go “check things out” at Eddie’s next week. Confirmed what I’ve suspected, that I actually don’t have very many options in NYC about finding a teacher for asana practice.

The day before my birthday. The rain has stopped. Just got a lovely smile and “cheers” over coffee from Richard across the cavernous cafeteria. Actually haven’t done as poorly as I could’ve managed, as far as stealing time with teacher, in this huge place with multiple concurrent workshops and hundreds of people; had dinner with him, and post-class chat ’n’ walk to the dining hall. Hoping for some of the same today, before we go back to our respective lives. Maybe he won’t stay for the farewell lunch? Nah, he loves his students and his meals too much for that. I really do want to go next week; all-day intensive, skip work, 200 bucks. Worth it? Think I’ll talk to him about it. Happy one-month since I quit smoking to me! I’m gonna celebrate it today. It was four weeks yesterday, a month tomorrow- so.

Well, I’m 28 years old. It’s ok. Birth day itself was pretty mellow, but nice mellow. in great part thanks to Maria’s presence. Worked all day to stay balanced at work. A lot going on. Took a lovely evening vinyasa class at The Shala. Nice to shake things up a bit, defy expectations, objectify the experience. Twenty-eight. Wow. Left work with a happy heart: asked (told) the boss I need next Monday off. That’s it. As soon as I (kind of) got the ok, any doubts just dissipated into nothing. I knew I did the right thing, for me. Came home to flowers and a lovely meal and went to home completely sated, both physically and emotionally.

Endlessly busy week. Skipped evening vinyasa class to attempt to make a dent in the mountains of dirty clothes I have towering in the corner of my room. Frustrations with the boss’s callous behavior aside, work’s been more interesting than when there was less going on. We’ve had more sales in the last 2 weeks than we did over the entire summer. Although this means little in terms of the company’s long-term prospects, at least morale is a little higher, the minutes and hours of the workday go by a little faster. And, who knows- I may yet get my do-just-yoga-and-travel fantasy fund out of all this after all. I have little desire to see the ex. Remind me again, why we were going to get together? I’m still raw, still hurting. Preparing for what will hopefully be a fruitful period of bramacharya. Not necessarily in the literal sense (although likely) (VERY likely), but just moderation in thoughts + actions, a little discipline and structure to my daily life.

Can’t wait. Next week should be veeerry interesting, with Richard on Monday, and then, boom, Puck Building starting too early on Tuesday. Psyched, nervous. Can’t believe it’s time. Got an adrenaline rush out of talking to Eddie the other day. He says, taking new students “after Thanksgiving”, but we’ll see about that. Relieved with the playful repartee (the man has a sense of humor!) we had during our conversation. Can I swing 6 a.m. practice? God help me, I can do this. Free up my evenings, once I’ve adjusted to the pace. Wondering if I can / will adjust. Said farewell to first ashtanga teacher who is a student of Eddie’s. Left little unsaid. Sweet in its sadness. Always grateful to her, recognizing when it’s time to move on.

Fresh from a 15 minute (mostly) pranayama practice. Clean and clear. Such an exciting weekend: vinyasa class in a little while, the Sheraton for Guruji + Sharath’s demo tonight, The Shala tomorrow, evening vinyasa with Jessica for maybe the last time in a long while, Monday with Richard instead of work. So nice. Went to a bar for maybe the last time in a while. It did nothing for me. Smoky, hard, drank too much, ate some greasy food. Just not where I want to be, not what I want to be doing. My mind is full of goodstuff while my body’s full of not-so-good stuff.

Very short Morning Pages, splayed on my mat at the Sheraton, awaiting the start of Richard’s all-day intensive, finally. It’s been interesting, getting here. At an interesting point. Very exciting. Hard to sleep with so much going on. No room for anything else. Have a bit of a fever. Trying to not get sick- we’ll see whether and to what extent I’ll succeed. Room’s filling up nicely.

Now and then 

Me? I am Tina with a long vaguely Greek-sounding last name. Living in New Yawk (or New Yuck, some days recently) City. Not sure when or what I will post, but I need this, so here it is. One spirally-circle coming to an end and starting a new revolution in similar yet different directions.

Know thy medium: My Chiotissa blog was a spinoff from my online posts about Guruji's 2002 NY workshop, direct transcription from my asana journal, when I kept one. I have made a few edits, included a few names and am sharing, again. How I quit smoking embarked on a daily Mysore practice finally found a teacher- and in the process, embarked on this new journey.

Now? How much difference a year makes. I am still me, but a changing, softening me, armed with the certainty of what my path is, needs to be. It all goes back to the practice, doesn’t it?

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