Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mysore Week Three: Standing in Change

I'm on week three of my daily Mysore practice. What have I noticed so far? How am I doing?

Yesterday, I officially made it through the Ashtanga / Mysore standing poses. Although, the power yoga teacher in me knows there are plenty of ways to warm up and integrate movement into my body, I've actually been able to feel my body come alive through the sun salutations, breaking up my body's morning stiffness, going a bit deeper with each forward fold. You warm and open the front and back lines of the body with every full body stretches. You stretch and strengthen your legs and arms--all the big muscles, all the little ones.

Generally speaking, I feel more awake, more energized, on days I've practiced than otherwise. Today is not one of those days. I've been sleepy all day. In fact, I even broke down and had coffee (half-caff) for the first time in months. Oops.

It's funny how even as your body under goes changes, the mind can stand still. Or at least hesitate in changing... Maybe, that's why I've been so sleepy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

(Less Than) Daily Practice: Excuses

Between last Tuesday's moon day and today, I've made it to Mysore exactly twice. That doesn't mean that I've only practiced yoga twice this week, but it's not far off. I got to Mysore last Wednesday, unheated power on Friday morning, and made it back to Mysore this morning.

Daily morning practice is definitely a tall order. Especially when the practice you've decided on is only available five of the seven days a week. So of the four days I didn't go to Mysore, I only missed two actual Mysore classes.

But let's hear the excuses:

The past two weeks I've fallen down on Thursday. By the time Thursday comes around, after an almost full week of teaching, and a sizable week of practice, I'm just beat. Exhaustion is excuse number one.

Number two is family. This weekend, my cousin came to to visit. Instead of going to Mysore on Sunday morning, we went out for an early breakfast.

Maybe these are totally legit reasons for missing practice. Maybe they're totally lame. I don't know. They seem kind of normal. What do you think? What excuses do you use for missing practice?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Moon Day; A Day Off

Tuesday was a moon day. Translation: no Mysore class.

I googled to find out what a moon day was and why it meant no yoga. Granted I didn't read past the first page of results, but all I could find was moon day calendars with short notes on each that simply state that Mysore isn't practiced on new or full moons. An explanation required a more direct approach.

So I asked an ashtanga teacher. He told me that moon energy is very yin, which is very much the opposite of a yang ashtanga or Mysore practice.

Make sense. Perhaps instead of a power / ashtanga / Mysore practice on moon days, perhaps a yin or restorative practice would be in order?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Adventures in a Daily Practice

Last I wrote, I was in my first week of my (still very new) daily Mysore practice. I was sore and tired, but finding gratitude and strength.

Friday, I walked into the studio for Day Five of Mysore, only to discover that there was no Mysore that day. Oops. I didn't check the schedule because I just assumed there'd be a class. So instead of Mysore, or the Ashtanga class level 2/3 that had just started, I decided to take Peter Crowley's Forrest intensive.

If you don't know anything about Forrest yoga, try a class. You move straight through your midline onwards to freedom--well, that's the idea anyway. We did classical sun salutations (something I only vaguely remembered from theater warm-ups in high school) nonstop for twenty minutes. The whole idea is to flow until all there is is happiness, no pain or anything else, just happiness. Forrest is heavy on the abs, so classical suns until you don't notice that your core is sore is a tall order. But it was amazing! Peter always kill with kindness.

Saturday was another day without Mysore. A bummer. But I already had my yoga adventure planned for the day: Yoga Nidra. What is a Yoga Nidra, you're probably wondering? I had no idea the first time I heard it mentioned. The person who recommended I try the workshop called it a very deep, meditative savasana; according to Wikipedia, it means "yoga sleep." And yes, I did sleep. It was wonderful. Peaceful. Blissful, even.

I was back to Mysore on Sunday morning, then again on Monday too. Ah, so much yoga!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mysore Day 3 & 4: Thirsty, Tired, Sweaty Edition

Mysore Day 3
I don't know why exactly people think you need heat to sweat. With five sun salutation As and five sun salutation Bs, I was sweating enough to soak my yogitoes, even without a fancy heating and humidifying system switched on. Don't get me wrong, heat serves a purpose -- it warms you up from the outside, while your breath warms you from the inside. But breathing and sun salutations are enough to get the job done. Nice and sweaty.

It's a little embarrassing to admit that sun salutations had me sore the next day, but after minor adjustments to the flow and alignment from Day 2, my shoulders were really feeling the burn (you could call it internal heat) of all the physical exertion. Where I had been showing off with jump backs the day before, my muscles went on strike just a day later (Day 3). I was having a hard time making it through all the chaturangas, even with my knees down, dropping all the way down to the floor. Ouch.

With child's pose off the table and after being told the day before that practitioners don't drink water during class, I was completely on my own to hold my five breaths in downdog without distraction, break or mental recourse. I actually had to do the work of breathing through the discomfort.

A note on water:
I meant to include this discussion in my previous post... I had been forewarned about styles of yoga that forbid you from drinking water, but I had never actually been told, "don't drink your water." I expected to react strongly against the prohibition. I expected to be indignant. But the instructor said it so casually, made it all seem so normal, that I hardly noticed. Truth is though, for all my anticipated resistance to the idea, without the added heat being pumped in, I really didn't miss my sips of water.

Day 4: Sans Mysore
Although I had intended to only take Sunday or Saturday off of my new found daily practice, I skipped out this morning. My alarm clock actually woke me from a dream this morning. A dream! I honestly don't remember the last time, prior to this morning, that I slept soundly enough to dream. So I somewhat sheepishly, stayed late in bed, much later than I would have expected, to soak in the quality rest. I'm still sore, but my mind feels more awake. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mysore Day 1 & 2: Observation & Salutations

I reached the conclusion sometime recently, after teaching something like 35 classes over the course of two weeks, that I really, REALLY needed to make time for and guard my own practice. There's always plenty of reasons not to, plenty of crap that comes up. But run, run, running, makes it very clear. You can't drive your friends to the party if you're on empty.

Right? Right!

I decided I needed an unheated, early morning practice -- mornings being the only time in my schedule that aren't consistently occupied by teaching, client calls, meetings, and so on, and so on. Despite the fact that mornings are incredibly difficult on my body, this is the kind of commitment that really is required. So I found Mysore on the Back Bay Yoga Studio schedule...

Mysore Day One: Observation
A lesson, perhaps in patience, and most definitely a demonstration of commitment, you're asked to observe your first class. Admittedly, my first thought was to try to weasel my way out of it, "oh, that doesn't have to apply to me. I'm a teacher." But I forced myself to hold my tongue and sit. Ego is so readily available. Beginner's mind, on the other hand, can feel like a scarce resource. This is a brand new (to me) practice, at a somewhat new to me studio, in a space where I'm not a teacher. This is a space I can learn without feeling like I need to be more knowledgeable, more capable. Brilliant. So I arrived early, sat and watched for roughly two hours, and was told to arrive tomorrow between 6:30am and 7:30am for instruction--assuming I could commit to the practice between three and six times a week. Little did my instructor know, that was exactly what I was looking for...

I probably learned more about myself, sitting there watching, then I did about the practice. However, I did notice the slight differences in the sun salutations from power (my home base) and Mysore. My body ached to participate. Run, run, running takes a toll.

Mysore Day Two: Relearning Suns
Sun salutations are like bread. Every culture has some sort of bread, and every one has a unique way of making and enjoying it, be it Ethiopian injera or Wonder Bread. Similarly, each style of vinyasa, the flowy yoga, has its own style or version of sun salutes. And of course, Mysore sun salutations have their own unique qualities. But where the ups and downs differ, even in the alignment minutia, the focus on breathing is consistent.

While I do sun salutations pretty regularly, the slight differences from what I'm used to required I bring a renewed focus to the practice. I tired myself out pretty quickly trying to keep it all straight, stay present and breathe calmly. But it all builds, in time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sandying is Vacationing

I realized yesterday that I haven't taken a day off in three weeks. So today, I'm hitting the road. Here's to a weekend of R&R!

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