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Archive for January, 2012

That is a clip from the movie Enlighten Up. The name is slipping my mind but I have it at home. It is a documentary filmed by a woman very ingrained in the yoga system and about a regular guy she challenges to try a lot of yoga and see if he can be transformed. He goes to all of the major yoga studios in New York, Jivamukti, Bikram yoga, and works with Alan Finger and just doesn’t get it. So finally he goes to India and talks to the real yoga teachers, such as Patabhi Jois, in this clip. Anyway a famous quote of his, Practice, Practice, Practice and shut the f up. I added that at the end.

I love that his answer is so basic and always comes back to the sutras. Yoga is about calming the mind. Period. That is it. How do you do it? You just DO it. A lot of yogis want to delve into his true meaning and here is Richard Freeman’s answer:

Richard says:

One could speculate (as many have) for a long time about what he meant by that statement; and I suspect he considered this from a number of different viewpoints. To Pattabhi Jois you couldn’t separate asana from the other limbs of the practice, so certainly he was not only referring to asana as the practice. At the same time, he was very clear in his teaching that the mind–in the form of too much fear, too much analyzing, etc.–can hinder an asana practice. So part of what he intended referred to this; keeping the practice fluid without the interruption of mind wandering (and theorizing) via the joining together of opposite patterns of breath and movement.

Again, Richard brings it back to the basics of the power of breath. So the practice is just about the most basic elements of yoga, breath + asana = stillness of mind. Throw in a few yamas and niyamas and you got a yoga lifestyle.

Tomorrow I am going to post about the New York Times article on Yoga. No one at my studio has brought this up but is a major topic in the yoga world this week. My ballroom dance teacher did mention it last night though. A lot of great responses from great teachers and a special one that particularly resonated with me.

My practice today is after work today since dance is so late on Wednesday. Last night my husband and were able to dance with the teachers. I love these lessons. The teacher knows the steps, doesn’t step on my toes, and I don’t have to lead. (I get yelled at for this all the time.) I know enough to try to not lead a professional teacher. Boyan and I did a mad push pull at the end of the lesson. Super fun! John really enjoyed dancing with our new female teacher, Marina. She is a cute little blonde and smiles all the time. I don’t blame him.

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YOGA CHALLENGES

In order to make a goal of a training I want to go to in 2013, I have to be in the practice of the Intermediate Series of Ashtanga. Yesterday I did the FULL primary with a split from morning until afternoon. I love the primary because there are a lot of hip openers. I have been pretty deep in the hip rotators every day since last Saturday and all I can say is, get me a can opener for these hips.

The intermediate series is a little deeper in the backbends and I love the sequence of the poses. I really love bhekasana:

I do a half on one side and then rotate to the other. It really gets me deep into my knees and my heels ARE getting closer to the floor. Another pose I am enjoying is laghu vajrasana:

I have been working on kapotasana for a while and this is a good halfway pose from ustrasana. I am going deeper in this pose and it is helping me with kapotasana. Today I was looking at Richard doing kapotasana and I noticed he really is bending deep in the upper spine and I just haven’t done that. So that shifted me a little.

My worse poses in the series are vatayanasana:

I just can’t rotate my hip like that so I do a real sissy mod for it. Ha ha. Really SAD. LOL My other one is dwi pada sirsanana:

I just keep working in yoga nidrasana during this. This pose moves into a hand balance so one I get that can opener working, I am sure I can do the fun hand balance.

Then there is chakrasana and the jumps in chaturanga. OKAAAYYYYYY. But I do work on it. If I can keep this rotation going I am sure I will progress quickly until I hit a wall.

The vegan/juicing thing is really helping me with energy. I have the energy to get up in the morning to do this vigorous series and get nice and sweaty etc right in my living room. (Turn your head if you don’t like to hear this, but I really don’t need extra heat for my practice. Sorry.) I know people who will be OFFENDED by that. Too bad. My blog I will say what I want. Plus, the intermediate and primary series are intense enough. Excess heat not needed.

The intermediate series moves FAST. That is another challenge for me. So I skip a few vinyasas and try to hang in the poses I need work in. Richard warns at the beginning how LONG it may take and to be patient and have fun. ASANA should be FUN! I had fun.

I didn’t make the raw carrot cake. I am hoping Sunday and will post a pic for you.

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Pretty well thank you. This mornings orange/strawberry (my favorite):

I was busy the last few days and was working on a political post after watching the Republican debates on Saturday and seeing a LONG article on Rick Santorum’s tax plan. (All the Republicans are pretty much throwing out similar drivel.) I thought a long post on why flat tax is not equitable would be appropriate, but I trashed it. I used to be a tax auditor so just a hint. When a politician tries to make these ‘simple, easy, fair’ plan sound good, they aren’t. They don’t understand how the tax code works any more than most normal people do. They are just politicizing a topic that annoys everyone. Taxes. Um. Yes, so their tax plans totally favor the rich like everything else and especially this one so don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I had to transition from all juice on Saturday to a juice/vegan plan that includes food since the following happened to me:

1. I turned into an insomniac.
2. I turned into a raging bitch.
3. I wasn’t able to practice a strong yoga session although I was feeling very flexible.

So besides the juice I am having this today:

The recipe is in the current yoga journal. It is a really delciious kale/white bean soup. For dinner I will have more juice and maybe some steamed spinach, mushrooms, and onions. Not sure yet. But I did practice most of the primary series with Richard this morning and will be able to finish the rest this afternoon.

So it is all good. I highly recommend juicing but would be careful about committing to it long term. It is good for a short term detox and I watched the moving, Fat, Sick, and Dying. I get it. Love how it worked for Joe and LOVE the work he is doing, but it isn’t for everyone like I said. Anyway, I juiced for two weeks straight and am glad it is done, but still love the juices.

I am going to incorporate some food/recipes as I explore this and I am going to make a huge carrot juice tonight and use the pulp to make raw carrot cake. I hate throwing all that pulp away and yes I will start composting for the garden.

Speaking of gardens, with the warm and dry water, I keep looking in the back yard and wonder if the asparagus is going to shoot up or what. I am not complaining about no snow and am fine with Wisconsin weather this winter so far.

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ADVANCED PRANAYAMA

The web site, Soundstrue offers online courses and events and I was THRILLED that there is an Advanced Pranayama series being offered by Richard Freement next month. I highly recommend this:

http://www.soundstrue.com/shop/Pranayama/3817.productdetails?component=coursesevents

I will be tuned in and will download it to my Itunes. I have his pranayama class on the Ipod and use it frequently.

I also have the Yoga Matrix on the Ipod and listen to that while I practice yoga. Yoga Matrix is great.

I don’t have a juice to share today. Yesterday I made a huge batch and made a delicious orange/raspberry/blackberry, but I think orange/strawberry is the best so far. There is nothing better than fresh squeezed orange juice. I usually use about four oranges and a whole carton of strawberries. You could use fresh strawberries by adding it to the orange juice AFTER you juice, and then putting it in a blender. You can’t use frozen fruit in a juicer so it would be more of a smoothie, but still delicious. I often put an apple in too.

Today’s yoga practice is either going to focus on open legs or more core. Not sure yet. Will see how I am feeling it later. Standing splits are a great way to open the legs up.

Most people probably feel as though they are splitting the legs more than they are. I am sure that is true for myself. Sometimes I like to bring it to the wall so you are splitting up the wall. You can back into it and open a little more.

The same thing is true for dancer pose. Most people feel the pose like this:

Most REALLY look like this:

But go with how it feels, not how it looks.

Also what is it with tree pose. Everytime I see a celebrity who practices yoga, they show a pic of them in tree pose. I will pull together a compilation some time.

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JUICING IT UP

HA HA Not THAT way.

That is NOT a large Stabucks Americano, it is the morning juice. I started a month long juice journey on the first of this month. In lieu of stopping at SB every morning, I load up the Jack Lalanne power juicer and take one for the road. This one is oranges, an apple, raspberries, and blackberries. Later in the day I will make some green juices, typically with kale, celery, beets, cucumber, apple, lemon, or some combination of those items.

So far in these first few days I have detoxed from caffeine and sugar and am crabby as hell. This is part of my journey into Veganism. I read Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat To Live and was patterning my eating on his believe that a diet very nutritionally dense in low calories that are plant based is the healthiest way to go.

As I said before, I have a lot of resistance to this. People are afraid someone will die from juicing for 30 days, and although this is hard, I do feel better.

I am part of two online Facebook groups doing this. One is for the month of January and the other for 21 days. It will be an interesting journey. I will update daily and if I fall off the wagon, will let you know. Perfection is NOT the way to go, it invites failure.

I am mostly practicing Forrest yoga this month, some Ashtanga, but feel Forrest is HEALING at a deeper level. Today I will practice deep hip openers and arm balances.

I do have to say that turning vegan has improved my practice and I know of a yoga teacher who practices all raw and will research some of his stuff and report on it here.

Lastly, I am not advocating anyone do this. Or that EVERYONE should be vegan. The meat eaters ALWAYS try to draw me into an argument. Not going to work. People have to make their own choices and I don’t like to be preached at. I got preached to last week by a student about something and DO NOT appreciate it on my end and don’t expect anyone else to. Mind your own fing business. Anyway messing with me now, bad idea. I even talked back to my sweet ballroom teacher last night, Boyan. LOL BUT he was wrong. I MADE the right step and my husband made the WRONG one. LOL

I will post some from the juicer too. I am pretty fast now at juicing and cleaning up the juicer, which is a total PAIN, but I have it down now with minimal drips or flinging juice around the kitchen. I did have a few disasters and am sure at some point I will have a major spill, becauses that is JUST how I roll.

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ON THE ROAD

I am rereading On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

I read this in college in the 70s as part of a research project for an English class in Beat poetry. I was reading Ginsberg’s Howl, a precursor of modern day Rap, and became interested in the Beat movement. Prior to this class I thought Sonny and Cher were the beat movement.

Wow. Hippies.

At any rate some of the Beats had experienced Big Sur and Esalen in the early 60s. Jack Kerouac also wrote on the experience in his book Big Sur, next on my list, which chronicles his early demise and later stages of alcoholism. His experience at Big Sur was WAY different from his. He was fearful of the high cliffs and the sounds of the waves drove him deeper into alcoholism. It was NOT a cleansing, calming experience for him at ALL. I don’t know if Sonny and Cher every went to Big Sur, although I did see a view of the ocean from one of her homes at the end of her Infinity Pool. It was calming for me.

ALso, in the early days of Esalen, the Beats and early hippies experimented with LSD, mescalin, and other psychotic drugs in their journey to experience different levels of consciousness. We all know how that worked out. Luckily Ram Dass figured it out. Being present without external influences or manufactured chemicals worked WAY BETTER. Be here NOW.

So one person’s experience is NOT necessarily transformative for all. Of course, I am not a genius or alcoholic like Jack, and even long road trips for me haven’t been revelatory or particulary transformative or interesting, a lot of the times it is just endless driving, a stiff back, and too much fast food.

Same thing for yoga classes. Different students experience different things. I have attended trainings and classes that were transformative where other people weren’t particularly experiencing that. I have attended a lot that were very MEH for me and transformative for others.

So maybe rereading On the Road will be different for me in 2012 than 1978. I will review when I am done.

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ADVANCED POSE OF THE WEEK

This relates back to an earlier post but here is the goal pose:

I can always go back to Ana for inspiration. In an earlier post I showed this one:

The pants look the same. Takes a very open hamstring and open hip. Some good prep poses are runners lunge and this from Ashtanga Intermediate series:

I love krounchasana. When I teach it people always get a SURPRISED look on their face. It is more difficult than it looks, but you can bring a very YIN factor into it and soften it a bit and hold it longer. A lot of people use a strap, but I think it is better to sit on a block and use your arms to pull the leg into the torso and sit very UPRIGHT. With a strap I notice people lean back a bit more.

Love this pose:

Gorgeous execution. Tittibha on FIRE with a lot of supporting strength from the legs. WOW factor.

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