Thursday, December 04, 2003

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.

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