Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pain in the Ass

My left hip/butt has been excruciatingly painfulbothering me for a few months now. I should get it checked out. Of course I know I should get it checked out. But seeing my primary doc, to get a referral to the higher-copay ortho doc, to get an MRI scheduled, to be prescribed physical therapy that I can't afford, seemed like a very expensive rabbit hole (which under normal circumstances would be a stretch, but I'm on the hook for $500 of a big car repair, so, yikes [fucking deer fucking running into me]). My leg isn't falling off, and I'm not even taking Advil or Aleve most days, so I've been fine with just sucking it up.


Today, the super lovely Josie posted on FB this article, "A Common Cause of Low Back and Sciatic Pain — The Piriformis." Through some web-sleuthing, I'd become pretty sure that the culprit was my insanely tight piriformis, but all the stretching in the world hadn't been helping, just making the pain worse (which is can be pretty characteristic of fibromyalgia, but that could be another post entirely).

The article discusses trigger point therapy and self-myofascial release, even backing up (in the comments section) the idea that stretching is not helpful until the trigger point is released. This is sort of groundbreaking for me to hear.

Doing the work with the foam roller and a tennis ball will be hard; it will be painful. I am notoriously bad at following through on commitments to do anything for more than a week; the writer recommends starting with two weeks of daily work. But it's the least (and least-expensive thing!) I can do for myself to try to bust up the knots that have so negatively affected my quality of life the past few months, specifically.

Perseverance has never been a strong suit of mine, but now's as good a time as any to work on that. I can't wait to get home tonight to sit on a tennis ball.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A little horn-tooting

Last night after the 7:30 class with KTO, an intermittent student gave me (I think) a huge compliment.

"How many classes do you take per day?"

I gotta say, I swooned a bit. After a class that started out with a lot of wobbles, I did find some strength (and KTO noticed, too). It felt pretty good to know that a few of my postures are lookin' good.

My practice has been so all over the place (especially since February, when I busted my knee), as has my mind. I have something like 27 posts in draft version here. As work winds down in November, I hope to get back to blogging on a fairly regular basis. I miss our conversations!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Take a breather

This is one posture that makes me grumble.

I think I coined my new favorite Bikramism last night:

"If you're laughing, you're breathing."

The 7:30 pm class had four new people, and they (mostly) did great. (And by that I mean three out of the four had great attitudes. The one who walked in with an "I can do everything" vibe left the room halfway through and left the studio altogether, against the teacher's directives. Frustrating.) The girl who ate pasta an hour before class didn't throw up; I'd consider that a victory these days.

One woman, this tiny, spunky smoker, had had a nervous laugh-snort out in the lobby as I was giving them the new-student rundown. She ended up behind me in the studio, so I felt like I had to be a good example.

She did great with all of the things newbies usually have trouble with—hands to feet, grip in standing bow, staying still... I fell out of a couple of postures and was sort of grumbling to myself when she caught my eye. A bit of a giggle-fest ensued. She did the snort-laugh thing again. How could I not crack up?

I don't want to be a class clown, but I also want new students to know that it's ok—hell, even encouraged—to have fun in there. We were "debriefing" after class, seeing how the new students felt, and talked about the frequency of fainting (I haven't seen it myself, but I have very nearly done it). All the time, we hear, "As long as you keep breathing, blah blah blah." Talking with the snorter, I said, "As long as you're laughing, you're breathing."

At least for me, this one's a keeper, and a reminder to not take every posture myself too seriously.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I searched flickr for "gratitude," and this came up. fitting!
image via eekim / flickr

Just a quick shout-out and gigantic "Thank you" to the Bikram bloggers and everyone else who has commented here over the past year-plus.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of starting the work-study program at my New York studio, and although it by definition will never be the same as my first, original, home, home-away-from-home studio, it is what I have now, and I am incredibly grateful for it.

I can say with 100 percent certainty that if it weren't for this Bikram blogging community, I would never have had the courage or motivation to ask for work-study at this studio. It's at least 40 minutes from my home. I wasn't a regular student there (I'd been about three times in two years). I have had tons of drama with my car. And yet, the studio owner trusted me.

Last night, she expressed surprise that a work-study student had been "at it" for a year. I am not exactly sure what she meant by that, but over the past year, I've seen four or five people sign up for the program only to drop out a month later. I'm sure there are a host of reasons that happens. But when she seemed surprised, with a dash of being impressed, that I was still going strong, I myself was surprised. Not holding up my end of the bargain — cleaning and folding towels and signing people in and reassuring newbies — was never an option. Not practicing was never an option.

But I never would have started down that path, a path that has lead in many ways to the fulfillment of this blog's name, without my friends in the computer. Thanks, friends!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australian news article on Rajashree

(Click on the page, then click on the little magnifying-glass-thingy to enlarge. Or, original is here but who knows when they'll take it down.)

Thanks to @jimwehmeyer on Twitter for sharing this, and Rachel at Alive in the Fire for retweeting it.

I'd so wanted to go to Rajashree's seminar at Kripalu last weekend, but it was just too expensive for me. Everything I've heard about her leads me to believe it would be amazing just to be in her presence, and try to soak up drops of her wisdom, and compassion. Been feeling like I could use some of those lately.

Hope everyone's doing well, and staying warm!

Friday, January 14, 2011

"They are themselves. They are so good."

Birds on our porch
via davedash / flickr

“We don’t have to run away from this world. We don’t have to feel harsh and deprived. We can contribute a lot to the world, and we can raise ourselves up in this world. We should feel so good. This world is the best world. If you drive into the mountains, you may see the mountain deer. They are so well groomed, although they don’t live on a farm. They have tremendous head and shoulders, and their horns are so beautiful. The birds who land on your porch are also well groomed, because they are not conditioned by ordinary conditionality. They are themselves. They are so good. Look at the sun. The sun is shining. Nobody polishes the sun. The sun just shines. Look at the moon, the sky, the world at its best.”

- Adapted from Chögyam Trungpa’s book, Great Eastern Sun, by way of Ocean of Dharma (by way of Yum & Yuk)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Well, I tried.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, really. It comes down to knowing myself, and I know that I'm a total flake. I desperately want to prove to myself that I have the discipline to do (or not do) X, but then I pretty much inevitably don't do (or do) X.

E.g: Do 30 straight days of yoga (well, I did do that once, but life was so different then). Don't bite my nails. Do walk to work instead of taking the subway unless weather is totally heinous. Don't eat crap. (I originally typed "carp," which I haven't eaten - success comes in mysterious ways!)

When I started the work-study program at my studio in March or April, the cleaning days assigned to me were Thursday and Saturday. Since then, I have rarely missed a single Thursday or one weekend day (I switched to Sundays) of practicing at the studio. I cleaned early one Saturday morning in June before driving five hours to Cape Cod with my dad, but I didn't take class. More recently, with my car's increasingly frequent freak-outs, I've corralled my fantastic boyfriend into driving me down to the studio. (I'd just take his car if I could drive a stick. But this way he helps me clean, too!) I missed both days when I went to San Diego at the beginning of November, but I took one class (at training, woot!!) while I was there.

So, for almost a year, I've been taking two classes a week, pretty consistently. (My home practice has become almost nonexistent since 1. buying a house, and 2. getting a second dog.) I'd like to step it up, but I feel like planning to practice every day is just an easy way to set myself up for disappointment. Another idea had been percolating for a while; I decided last month to add in one home practice a week (ideally on Tuesdays or Wednesdays to balance out the Thurs./Sun.).

My first attempt was yesterday, when I stayed home sick from work. It went something like this:
Give bones to Leo (2) and Lucy (10 months).
Try to keep dogs off rug long enough to roll out mat.
Roll out mat.
Separate dogs, who are fighting for the "good" bone (?).
Remove Lucy from mat.
Press "play" on iTunes Bikram class.
Start pranayama breathing.
Transcend these odd barky noises.
On fifth breath, throw bone into kitchen so Lucy will leave me alone.
Transcend, transcend, transcend.
In forward bend, untangle (my) hair from Lucy's mouth.
In through the nose. Out through the nose. I am the perfect picture of peace.
Balance tested severely during standing head to knee, when Lucy walks underneath my picked-up foot.
Fall out five times, get back in six times.
Apologize profusely to Leo for kicking him in the ribs while stepping out for triangle. (He shouldn't have been on the damn mat!)

I got as far as standing separate leg forehead to knee. Working that pose, this is what I saw:

Leo's tail is the blur. I think he was trying to get the "good" bone away from Lucy (on the floor). On the other hand, this is how they play, constantly.

At that point, I gave up on trying to practice and chased them around the 20-degree backyard for a long time.

Chalk it up as a learning experience: Now I know that home practice goes much, much more smoothly when the boyfriend can distract/deal with the dogs. The hiccup there is that he's spending hours every night, post-dinner, studying for architecture exams. It shouldn't be a big deal to ask him to *not* study one night a week. Right?

I might have to get the dogs their own mats. Lucy would look great in Shakti.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Be moderate in everything, including moderation.*

*Horace Porter, 1837-1921

Gorgeous shot via Gregg Le Blanc / flickr

Yoga for Hangovers

This New York Times Wellness blog entry is harmless, but some of the comments on it have gotten me a little steamed. Some of the same people who define (their style, natch, of) yoga as one glorious thing go on to define alcohol drinking as one awful thing, when it seems so obvious to me that people can only speak to their own experience. Yet that caveat is never included in the comment.

Maybe my hackles are residually raised from my time in Utah, and I'm still hypersensitive to all-or-nothing, us-vs.-them claims. Or maybe my perspective on this has come from being in the Bikram community and exploring its place in the larger yoga world... It's so often under attack; it's not "real yoga," according to someone(s) who've declared themselves deciders for the rest of us. That judgment, that sense of superiority that makes it OK to judge, really bothers me.

And maybe oddly, the same goes for comments like this one:
The purpose of drinking is to numb oneself to life’s challenges, forget your troubles, lower ones [sic] inhibitions, and enable oneself to have a good time, It requires no work or effort. It has the potential for bringing short term bliss and longer term misery, unpleasant recuperation, and long term physical harm.

It's simply not true across the board. No doubt there are people for whom numbing and forgetting is the purpose of imbibing (in fact, I dated one of those people; it was terrible). But there are many, many more people for whom some alcohol is healthily integrated into daily life. As far as the commenter's claim about alcohol consumption bringing "long[-]term physical harm," well, he or she must not have heard any of the science linking red wine with heart health. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...

It may seem like someone who gets so amped up about this must be on the defensive, must have some deep personal attachment to drinking (or insert any vice here). But I'm not, and I don't. Yes, I work at a wine magazine and on some level, surely have a vested interest in people continuing to consume alcohol. Yes, I really like the taste of beer (IPAs, mostly). I'd guess that I drink four times a week, including a glass of wine with dinner some nights. But if for some reason I had to stop ingesting any alcohol right now, I'd be fine. It's the principle here, people.

I just looked up quotes about moderation, looking to cite this post's title, and it was funny how many of them, across cultures, related to "the drink." I particularly liked this one:
It is better to rise from life as from a banquet - neither thirsty nor drunken. ~Aristotle

So go and take part in that banquet, and enjoy its bounty, and rise from life knowing, reveling, in that fine place of balance we've worked so hard to create.

And for Pete's sake, can we stop the obsession with defining what's correct for everyone??

(Grrrr. There are so many things I've wanted to blog about in the past month; it feels a shame to start with this one. And so ineloquently, too. Harrumph.)