Monday, November 30, 2009

Fatigue Leads to Bad Things

When the alarm rang to wake me for practice today, I was in the middle of a really hectic dream. This is how much of a yogadork I am: I dreamt that I was trying to get into tripod headstand, but for the life of me couldn't get my bent legs straight no matter how hard I tried!

So in the dream, my legs were bent and resting on the back of my arms, like in this picture. And no matter how much core I engaged, and how much lift I tried to get, my legs were stuck to the back of my arms and if I tried too hard, I'd just tumble over. I was stuck on that spot and it was so irritating and frustrating and bloody frickin' tiring.

(Photo credits here)

And WHY am I even dreaming about it when I'm not even working on the pose?!

I suspect this is why I felt so absolutely shattered when I rolled out of bed. I mean, I went to bed at 9pm the night before! That's almost 8 hours of sleep, so there's no reason why I should've been so tired. (I had a throbbing headache from lunchtime yesterday that lasted all day. Maybe Lew is right about applying Sharath's theory here... No Coffee, No Prana).

As a result, I had one of those blah practices today. And my left inner elbow again got a bit of a jam on my last dropback. I suspect more and more this has to do my pelvic rotation. Every time I stand up from a backbend, I notice a slight twist in the way I come up - I can't help it, it just happens no matter how I tell myself "GO STRAIGHT!"

So, maybe a similar thing is happening on my way down and as a result my left arm isn't landing on the floor straight, causing that jam from the misalignment, which I feel is worse when I get tired (coz I'm not so sharp with keeping alignment straight). Like today, for example. I'm seeing my Osteopath again tomorrow, so maybe he can help shed some light on this too.

To top it all off, after practice, I was running up the escalators at the train station to get home to shower and change, when I tripped over a step and fell (ON THE ESCALATOR!! IN PUBLIC!!) I wasn't embarassed at the time, just more in shock coz the last thing I remember thinking was "Poor me, I'm still so tired after practice", and the next thing I knew, poor me was splattered across the escalator.

And yes, I grazed my knee and shin too! (you can even see the individual escalator grooves - thank goodness I had my yoga pants on or I would've had deeper cuts and bled my way home!)

Come to think of it, all the grazes happened on my left leg too. Hmm... if I wasn't so tired I'd probably string together some conspiracy theory about how my screwed up pelvis is affecting my entire left body today.

And no, it's not a new moon tomorrow, it's the full moon, so WHY do I feel all this apana?!?

Looking forward to tomorrow's detox, maybe it'll help cleanse away all this tired juju.

My detox drinks get delivered this evening. YAY! And apparently they're testing a few different mixes from their regular recipes, so I get to be the guinea pig and give feedback on how well the new mixes work (or not). Yay!

I did pretty well on yesterday's pre-cleanse prep. Didn't have any coffee AT ALL. Here's what I had yesterday:
Post-practice: 1x Banana
Breakfast: Muesli with soy milk
Mid-morning snack: Raw nuts with dried dates
Lunch: Spinach salad with chick peas, green beans, artichokes, brocolli (spelling?), sun-dried tomato, carrots & sweet corn.
Mid-afternoon snack: 1x Oatcake (it's almost like a savoury biscuit)
Dinner: 1x mango and a few apricots (I probably overdid the number of apricots so I wasn't counting!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Monday...

Nothing much to report today on the practice front, except there was a new teacher's assistant today. Well, she's helped to adjust there before, but hasn't for a while, so was new to me. But I had the most awesome adjust in Mari A from her today (what's the blogging etiquette - do I say her name or not?) I usually get my chin down to the shin, and today I have no idea what she was doing, but she managed to get so much more length in my stretch that even my entire belly was resting on my thigh, and my chin got many more inches forward. I felt such a good lengthening in the pose!

I think these dropbacks are definitely MINE now. Heh. Did 3 today (and solo standing up too! ...but still dancing that jig at the top of the mat though)... but I locked my elbows too much on one of the dropbacks, so the inside of my left elbow (where that bone juts out) feels a little bruised and sore now. Oops. At least I didn't break my arms like I always thought I would.

After yesterday's massive yum cha session (BLERGHHH), I've decided to start prepping for Wednesday's detox. You don't HAVE to do it, but feck it, I wanna get maximum benefit from it right? So as recommended on Urban Remedy's "pre-cleanse" page, I'm cutting out coffee from today. YIKES!!! ...I'm already struggling this morning with trying to pump out this post, sans coffee.

Confession: I still brought my travel mug in my bag today for "just in case" I decide to tear out the door and run to my local joint IF I *need* that cuppa. (I've told myself it's still 2 days to the cleanse, I can still get a single-shot instead of my regular double-shot!) I'm a Producer, I always have to have a Plan B. :)

I'm also increasing the raw food intake from today and cutting out all refined carbs like bread - that's the stuff that will create mucous in your digestive tract. Gross. I've been doing salads for dinners for the past week or 2 so far already, so will keep it raw for lunch from today onwards too. Wish me luck. (I've got my stash of raw nuts & dried dates in my office drawer too... so I think I'll be OK).

Happy Monday!

Bad Yogi

I've been a bad yogi.

Saraswati was giving 2 led classes, one on Saturday and the other today. And er... gulp, I didn't go for either!

In my defense, I was "listening to my body" and needed to take my rest day on Saturday. Then one of my friends from Singapore arrived this morning to stay a week with us, and I had to wait till she turned up to the apartment.

OK OK, by the time she arrived, I still had an hour till Saraswati's class and could've made it. But she wanted to go for yum cha, and how could I refuse. (Kelly hates yum cha so I hardly ever get to indulge!) So umm... I skipped Saraswati's class to go for yum cha. Eek.

And I had TWO lotus-paste with sesame dough balls in all their DEEP-FRIED glory (amongst a bunch of other bad things, but that really took the cake). Mmmmmmmm. There is A LOT of starch and gloopy, gelatinous goop in yum cha. I think this was officially my LAST MEAL with refined carbs until I start Wednesday's detox. (I'm trying to remain guilt-free, as you can tell).

So after rolling ourselves out the restaurant (Regal Restaurant on Sussex St, in case you were wondering. Lots of good vegetarian options, surprisingly!), we decided we HAD to go to this afternoon's Mysore class to redeem ourselves of all that badness. Thank goodness KPJ Yoga's got a packed schedule of classes now! ;p

Then I found out that TODAY WAS SARASWATI'S LAST CLASS!! I thought she'd be teaching up until Tuesday, but turns out she's still in the country but will be playing tourist rather than teacher. ARGHHHHH!! I missed her last class for yum cha. Jeepers! Bad yogi. So that pretty much wraps up my Saraswati series I suppose... Hrmph.

On another note, I can't remember when the last time was that I'd practiced in the afternoon/ evening. It was quite a refreshing change! Suddenly, the poses all seemed easier coz I felt so much more limber. I still had to be bound into Supta Kurmasana but MAN OH MAN, it felt so much easier with less resistance! The only distracting thing was the kids having a piss-up on the opposite balcony. I used them as my drishti point, and somehow Ujjayi breathing while watching someone smoking has a very strange effect on your psyche (I am also an ex-smoker. It confused me.)

I did 5 unassisted dropbacks today. Only coz the first 3 were so-so. Actually, they were crap. The first one, my hands landed REALLY FAR AWAY. And on the next 2, my head grazed the floor on the way down. No, it wasn't a full-on headbutt, I just hadn't straightened my arms enough. Since I wasn't pleased with the outcome, I went for another 2 and they were much better - felt a lot deeper, making the standing up a lot easier too! (Yes! No teacher to help with the standing up today!)

I still feel like a newly-born elephant trying to walk when it comes to dropbacks/ standing up. It's the most ungainly, inelegant struggle. Very unpolished. Slowly, by slowly...

Today, my friend sent me this picture. You might know him too. (not the... er... model? in the picture, but my friend). [EDIT: This friend would like to remain anonymous!] ...I suspect it might be a picture too brazen to post for the average yogi. Here's where having a friend like me comes in handy. HAHAHA.

I thought it was an excellent reminder that even bodies who've been kissed by God still struggle with the perfect backbend. He has Imaginary Stilleto Syndrome (ISS) and the calves that go along with it. Oh, and did I mention... he's got skimpy yoga shorts, too? (Hehe, I'm on a "bad yogi" roll)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Saraswati: Day 5

Today, Saraswati rocked up in the same yellow hiphop Adidas trackpants, but she was keeping it oldskool on top by wearing a pale green cotton salwar kameez top! It was so cute! FYI - this is what a salwar kameez looks like... like a long-ish tunic top. Not as fancy as this, but you get the idea... Hiphop you don't stop!

(Photo credit here)

She's really cute, like a grandma. In fact, she even smelt like one today! It was a familiar scent, my grandma used to use too... not sure what it's called in English but Pak Fah Yeow would be translated as White Flower Oil... kinda like a minty camphor smell (not quite as strong and overpowering as Tiger Balm). I dunno why I notice these things... but she gave me a leg hoist assist in UHP again today, and my lungs were still bursting with minty-fresh tingles for the next few asanas.

I jumped out of bed when the alarm rang at 4.45am today. Very rare coz I'm friends with the snooze button. I was just raring to get to dropbacks again. "I have to practice for a little over an hour BEFORE I can get there?! Sheesh!"

But when I finally got to dropbacks, I felt myself hesitate. "C'MON! You've been itching to get here! Why are you stopping now?"

The only way I could describe it is performance anxiety. I know I'm not "performing" for anybody at all, but it's the thought of "Shit. What if yesterday was a fluke and I can't do it again today?" Y'know... like how I got that mini Supta K 3-finger-bind and IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED SINCE!!

So there I was, doing my hangbacks, reverse namaste hangbacks, psyching myself up for it. But I was pretty anxious. Then Saraswati magically appeared by my side and said "Stop trying so hard".


Then she said something like "Just do". The fact that she was standing there gave me the confidence. So, I dropped back again on my own 3 times. Good golly, I hope and think and wish that maybe just maybe, these dropbacks are here to stay.

She helped me back up to standing, but each time with a little bit less help. The last coming-to-standing was pretty much all me, except for a last gentle hip tug towards her (AHA! This is why I've been stumbling around at the top of the mat when I do it on my own! The hips don't push forward enough!)

I realized today on the mat that getting to this dropback is just the first step. Now it's time to refine it and put it all together with the standing up, timing it with the breath, working with the inhales & exhales, getting rid of the spatchcock feet... The work doesn't stop! (See yesterday's comments)

My Twitter pal, @miss_om articulated it really nicely this morning, she said "There IS a place for achievement in yoga: just that it's a start point, not an end point."

Beautiful. :)

On a completely separate note, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! (it's no longer Thanksgiving here in Sydney, but it's still where you are!)

My sister lives in NYC and she sent me these hilarious photos of the floats from Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Except they're from the night before the parade, when they're being inflated with helium by Central Park. They've got nets over them to weigh them down too. Apparently it was already super crowded with people rubber-necking and elbowing their way through to watch the spectacle.

Here's Spiderman.

And Spongebob Squarepants.

Enjoy the food coma! :)

Saraswati: Day 4 (YIPPEE DAY!)



Let's just say Christmas came early. Half-early, coz no I didn't get that damn Supta K bind.

BUT!!! Yeah... I did unassisted dropbacks ON MY OWN today!! And to prove it wasn't a fluke, Saraswati made me do it 3 times. Yes, THREE times!

So after 3x UD, I hauled myself to standing, got hands in reverse namaste behind my back and did a mini hangback, like what Grimmly's been doing. It really helps get the initial opening going. Then, I did 3x hangbacks, and a couple of times between that I hung back with hands moving down my hamstrings slowly, reaching the back of my knees. When I felt confident here, I stretched out my arms.

The few times I did this, I could see my hands stretched out to the floor and thought "The distance doesn't seem THAT far" but didn't trust myself to dropback fully. Coz when you're upside-down, your perspective is all off and my spatial awareness ain't the most reliable. When I came back up from here, Saraswati was walking past me and she said "Almost coming. You do once more."

I said "Scared". She replied "No scared".

So I tried again. This time, I wasn't thinking about my Spatchcock Feet, or how I might headbutt the floor again, and I wasn't even thinking about whether I should lift my heels or not, soften the elbows or not... none of the "Should I be doing this"... or "Should I be doing that" distracting stuff. The only thing I was focussed on was - GET THE HANDS TO THE FLOOR. And I had tunnel vision for this sole purpose.

AND IT WORKED!! Solo dropback complete. Mission accomplished. Sometimes it just takes someone else to believe in you.

I almost jumped for joy, but that's kinda hard when you're in a backbend. I might have let out a tiny whoop though. Then Saraswati told me to walk hands in and she helped me come back to standing.

Then she said "Again".

Crikey. (The brain goes "No way, slave driver! I'm happy with ONE!")

But then I tried again, and dropped back the second time. This time, I realized that my previous concern with stiff elbows like concrete (thus breaking my arms) versus jello-elbows (thus landing on my head, breaking my skull) was a non-issue AT ALL. It wasn't a concrete-hard landing, there was a slight cushioning bend in the arms which still held me up, preventing the floor-headbutt. Sweet. Getting the arms outstretched first really helps me here. Maybe you're supposed to be doing this anyway, but I never realized it before. It just feels lots better for me.

After helping to bring me to standing a second time, Saraswati says "Again? Dropback 3 times yourself? ...Now you stand up by yourself."

And off I went and dropped back a 3rd time. YAY! YAY! YAY!

I walked hands in a bit closer and tried to haul myself up again, but my legs were so tired, when I stood up I landed on my knees instead. Saraswati's arms were outstretched, ready to grab where my hips would've been, except because I landed on my knees, she grabbed my boobs! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I was so over the moon that the rest of my closing sequence was complete and utter RUBBISH. But who cares?! I dropped back! THREE TIMES!! ...But seriously, I fell over sideways in Urdvha Padmasana (huh? That NEVER happens, it's such a solid, stable pose for me. Usually.) and I couldn't even get up to Sirsasana in my first attempt... I fell over sideways too coz I was too busy replaying the dropbacks in my head to concentrate on what I was doing! Hehe.

I was beaming from my ear-to-ear and gave Saraswati a dripping-like-a-man SWEATY bear hug of THANKS on my way out. On my way to the bus stop, I looked down and saw that I was sooooo sweaty, I even had... a sweaty crotch patch. Ugh.

But who cares?! I dropped back! THREE TIMES!! :)

Time to bust-a-groove with Jazz Hands in cool sunshades.

(Photo credit here)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Planning a Post-Saraswati Practice Reward!

2 posts in 1 day! Golly gee, me!

I forgot to add earlier that today, Saraswati was pimpin' in a pair of bright yellow trackpants with super-phat Adidas 3-stripes running down the sides. WORD.

I am already planning my post-Saraswati reward and was so excited I had to write about it (and did anyone mention it's a slow day at the office?)

So, this is how my mind works... she started teaching on Monday, and will teach led classes on Saturday & Sunday, so if Wednesday next week is when she's leaving... that means I'll have 9 days of practice in a row. Phew!

Since Wednesday is also a moon day break which coincides nicely with her departure, what better way to reward myself than with... a detox cleanse on my system?

Don't ask stupid questions, you already know I'm a bit loony. So in my world, a detox cleanse is the perfect way to wrap up a solid month of awesome new yoga experiences.

Enter Urban Remedy. A brand new company I've just discovered through Twitter. They're so shiny and new, the wrapping's barely come off but what an AWESOME business idea! In a nutshell, they bring the detox drinks to you - all carefully measured out, chopped up, juiced and delivered to your doorstep. Easy peasy!

I've been following the founder of the company, @emmas_well, who's also been following me, and then I discovered her new company. Don't you just love Twitter?

I dunno if you've ever done a detox before, but I've done a couple. First one was about 4 years ago in Ko Samui, Thailand - I got a pretty hardcore introduction to the world of detoxing by way of a 7-day fast with 2 colonics everyday for the full 7 days (yes, that's shoving that plastic tube up your bum and... y'know... if you've watched "Spa of Embarassing Illnesses", it's exactly like that).

I wasn't blogging then or you would definitely have gotten the full rundown. MUCOID PLAQUE and all (Go on... Google that... You know you want to.)

I came home glowing and healthy-shiny that even my boyfriend has now been asking every year when I'm going back again coz he also wants to go too. (I asked him on that first trip if he wanted to come with but he looked at me like I was mad. I mean, y'know... Straight guys and tubes up bums isn't exactly the best combo. Come to think of it, neither is straight girls and tubes... but I'll stop here before I dig myself deeper into this.)

Then you might have remembered the Candida & Parasite detox my Kinesiologist put me on. (Can I please reiterate that it was a fungus in my gut and NOT, I repeat, NOT thrush in my privates). That was a way less invasive detox and a lot gentler on the digestive system... although it was a good month where I had to cut out ALL sugar, wheat, yeast and fungus... including everything and anything that was preserved in case it had fungus in it. Which is pretty much everything that comes in a bottle. If you read labels, you'll be horrified. This detox really made me think about the concept of "you are what you eat".

I would do the occasional 1-day fruit only diet if it felt like my digestive system needed a bit of a break. Not quite a "detox" but more of a "digestive system rest". Some of my friends back home in Singapore would periodically go on some kind of juice detox, *waves to Sam & Pam* but it just always seemed like SUCH A MISSION to me... to have to get all the "weird" ingredients together, measure them all up, buy a juicer and then do different ingredient combos at different times of the day, etc. Who's got time for that when we've all got lives to live?!

So this is the deal with Urban Remedy and why I think it's such a great idea.

You go online, pick between a 1, 3 or 5 day cleanse, and you pick the level of cleanse you want.

They deliver the detox drinks to you the night before (it's 6 detox drinks you get per day), and Boom! Bob's your uncle. All at the click of a mouse. So if you're a healthy-living but lazy Sydneysider like me, listen up! ;p

They start their service proper from Dec. 7th, but I'm lucky to be on a trial cleanse while they work out details before they open (for cool people like me only) (JUST JOKING). I am in no way affiliated to the company, but thought it would be fun to give daily updates of the entire experience. Including the whole pre and post detox prep and what life is like without food for 3 days, only surviving on the detox drinks, lots of water and occasional trips to the steam room to amp up the cleanse. I'd like to see how this can fit into real life during a work week too! I mean, I love to write, you love to read what I write... so... away we go.

I've signed up for a 3-day Level 3 cleanse and will start the day after Saraswati leaves - that's Wednesday next week. And on the moon day, so at least I give my body a day of rest to adjust. I can't wait!!

I am by no means an expert with detox info, but know enough about its cleansing effects through first-hand experience. If you want to know more, you probably should read their FAQs or ask them on Twitter, @urban_remedy. Coz I repeat: I AM NOT AN EXPERT!!

So look out for more detox updates coming your way! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Saraswati: Day 3

The last rumour I heard was that she's here till Wednesday next week. (Coz if she's here for a total of 2 weeks, and arrived a few days before the opening... by the powers of deduction vested in me... that means she'll only be here for another week). Or so "they" say.

BUT! I can confirm that she will be teaching the morning LED class on Saturday at 10am and again on Sunday at 10.30am. (Gawd, I know I'm gonna regret broadcasting this when I'm squished up by the wall at the weekend... but always share a good thing, right?)

I got an assist in UHP today - I love going deeper in this pose, and love it when someone cranks my legs higher too. But either I'm breathing really slowly (it's all Sharath's fault!) or Saraswati got bored with me and was in a hurry to move on coz each variation was only held for about 3 breaths.

You know how messing with my breathing messes with my head, right?

Today's Kurmasana assist was from Sharmila - my first assist from her. She's so gentle! Almost like she was afraid to crank me into the bind in case she broke me. I guess coz she doesn't know me/ my body yet.

I was midway TRYING to get into Supta K when she came and hovered around me and gently pulled my hands together. But it was a gentle tug and my fingers were nowhere near touching, then she went and shuffled my feet together, again gently placing them by... my ears. I was like... "HUH?! No, GO HARDER, Hun!" (those damn voices in my head) So in the end, I was still huffing and puffing to get both hands & feet together.

Oh man. I can't wait for the day I finally get this bind on my own. I'm sure YOU can't wait either so you can finally stop hearing me whine about it.

So I said to her out loud "Let's try again!" and flopped back down to Kurmasana. (On hindsight now - was that rude of me to have done that?) I just figured that because I wasn't in full Kurmasana when she came round the first time, maybe she couldn't get the bind right coz I had screwed it up with my awkward fussing around on my own. But a similar thing happened still. I think she was just hesitant to go any harder coz she didn't know me and what the heck I was trying to do!!

I seem to be obsessing over Supta K and Dropbacks now. These are the 2 poses in Primary that I AM GOING TO GET!! (Christmas, pls. come early!) Or, on a more positive note... the way I'd like to see it is that these are the 2 things standing in the way of me finally "properly" getting to the Intermediate series. I mean, the rest of my Primary is fine, really. There I said it. Oh, Hello Ego! Nice to be acquainted with you.

That's probably why I'm still struggling with them. This stupidstupidstupid wanting to be moved on. S.I.G.H.

I'm cranky today, can you tell. Again, I had too much coffee-infused water from my travel mug yesterday and couldn't get to sleep properly. I was ready to skip inversions and have a full-on sleep during Savasana, but I soldiered on (in a lame-ass way).

I got a good laugh from this cartoon from The Oatmeal, though. (Yes, it's MORE Twilight-bashing. I still wanna watch New Moon even though I know it's gonna be bad. I can't help it. Edward Cullen's HAWT. And it'll be so bad till it's good!)

(Cartoon credit here. And this cartoon is really worth the read!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Saraswati: Day 2 (!)

OK, I'm going to make all you non-Sydney Ashtangis jealous now.

It's true.

Saraswati & Sharmila were both in da house AGAIN this morning! WOOOT!!

We've been kinda spoilt, innit? First Sharath, then the KPJ School opening, and now apparently she's here for TWO WHOLE WEEKS!!

I'm usually one of the earlier ones to arrive (I'm subject to the public transport timetable, so would rather be early than late), so after setting down my mat, I realized no one else had started yet. Everyone was kind of tentative and there was a weird energy in the room.

So I walked over to one of the Teacher's Assistants who was oberving today and asked him if Saraswati was gonna be here again this morning and he said "Yes". That's when he told me she'd be here for 2 weeks. Couple of the other Intermediate cool kids then asked him if they could go back to practising 2nd series rather than Primary. He seemed surprise... "Yeah, it's a Mysore class, do what you're practising, why are you back to Primary?" (umm... coz she told them to?)

Then after class, I heard a conflicting account from someone else - that yes, she's here for 2 weeks but not teaching for the full 2 weeks. Hrmph.

So folks, never thought I'd ever quote Forrest Gump, but this yoga practice is turning out to be like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get!

And such is human nature... after practice, I had a quick chat with some of the yogis in the stairwell, and while everyone is grateful for the all the wonderful new Ashtanga opportunities and experiences we've had in the past month (Sharath, new school, Saraswati & Sharmila), everyone is starting to miss the routine now. There were some grumbles that "I want my regular practice back!" ..."Everything's been so topsy-turvy!" ..."So many great new experiences but it's enough now! I want the routine back!"

Aren't people insane?! ...always wanting what isn't there. But I think that explains that weird energy in the room at the start of this morning too. The hesitation of... What to expect next?

Quick practice update: At Kurmasana, I decided to huff & puff my way into Supta K on my own again. Then Saraswati, who was assisting my neighbour, said "You do Kurmasana, I come later."

Cool. Another assisted bind!

She definitely does it differently from my teacher. See Gledespiken's comment from yesterday. That's a good explanation of how my teacher usually gets me into the bind (although it's left first, then right, coz then later you hook the right foot over on top). It's that initial lifting of the leg over the shoulder that helps get more of an opening, then she binds the arms behind the back. And then after that, she gets the legs fully behind the head, and you hook your feet over each other.

Saraswati just goes straight to binding your arms first, then hooking legs over. It feels a lot harder on the legs this way - I haven't been able to properly get them behind my head like I usually can when my teacher does this. Oh well, different teachers, different binding styles. It's just a matter of getting used to it and working with it.

In the lift up to Dwi pada transition to Tittibhasana, she kept her hands on my shoulders (she did this yesterday too but I was a bit perplexed at what she was doing that for) but figured she probably wanted me to lean forward more in Bakasana to get that jumpback. So I leaned into her today all the way through the jumpback. And she said "Good!" :)

This morning, one of the assistants had put out a bottle of water next to Saraswati's chair. When I got up from Savasana and looked over, the bottle of water had been replaced by a takeaway coffee cup.


I wonder if she'll like these vampires and their... Orange Mocha Frappuccino!!

First Practice with Saraswati

First practice at the shala today since the official opening. Saraswati gave me 3 adjustments today. :)

It was funny coz when I rocked up at 5.40am to the shala, there was a huge crowd in front of the store downstairs. Turns out one of the teachers only had the zap-card for the lift, but not for the balcony, and no one had keys to the store where there's another entrance to the shala, and no one else there had keys to the emergency exit on the side either... So... so many doors but no way to get in! All part of the opening-sorting-themselves-out mayhem.

In the end, Eileen showed up with Saraswati & Sharmila and she had all the necessary keys and we trooped upstairs to get settled.

Saraswati had a chair she sat on next to the altar (Sharath did this too when he was here, I find this really cute) and rose from it to start with the opening chant.

Oh man! Her chant was so melodic! It still sounds nothing like the "western interpretation" of the chant where it sounds like it's in a major key... her chant was in a minor key, but you could actually hear a beautiful melody in it! I was trying to follow her tune, but got drowned out and lost by the other people who were either singing off-key or singing it the way they'd always sung it... y'know, the "western" way. It's hard to articulate this difference but it's so jarringly obvious once you hear it. (And you know how there's a school of thought that believes you need to hit the right notes precisely or the intention of whatever chant it is you're singing doesn't actually come through, right? Perhaps this is my obsession with "getting it right")

But I digress.

After the chant, people were a little unsure what was next - was it a led class? A mysore class? There was a slight hesitation while we waited for her to say "Ekam - Inhale"... but that never came. So then some started with their Suryas, and away we went.

Saraswati sat back in her chair and watched people in their Suryas. She got up maybe 5 minutes later to help with some beginners then didn't get back to her chair again.

People were a little hesitant if they should be practising Second or Primary series, and some people actually stopped after Parsvottanasana to run up to her and ask what they should do next! It seemed like if she knew you, you could practice Second, but if she didn't know you, she asked you to stick to Primary.

Sharmila was also working the room with her mother. Another of our teacher's assistants was also in the room, but only observing, she didn't give adjustments.

I was sailing along with no problems, then came to Supta Kurmasana. Urgh. That stupid, stupid bind. Or lack of. I've only ever ONCE got 3 fingers to touch on my own (and that was after teacher helping to get legs higher over shoulders). It's not happened since, I still need someone to help pull my arms together before I can bind. I wondered if anyone would come over to help.

My friend M was practising next to me (she usually has a bad-ass 2nd series practice, but was doing Primary today), and we had a similar pace throughout the class. So she was also in Kurmasana at this point, ready to go into Supta K. Usually Teacher or an assistant would come over at this point and help with the bind (they'd tell you to wait there till they could come over to assist if they were busy with someone else).

So we both looked up at the same point and saw each other, wondering if we should continue holding till someone came over or just try to bind into the pose. You know me and my lack of patience... I thought "Might as well just try this solo, right? These ladies seem busy."

This asana brings up so much frustration and anger in me.

Struggled with trying bring my legs higher up the arms so I could get more of my shoulders under... could feel my hands flailing around behind my back - I could feel the wind between my fingers so I knew I was close, but it just wouldn't touch.


Still no help came.

So I flopped down with straight legs again into Kurmasana (I read that some people would do this over and over again in Mysore until someone came over to assist. So I figured, why the hell not. I wasn't going anywhere on my own anyway and I didn't want to move on until I got a bind). I felt like a child throwing a tantrum even though I was just laying there in Kurmasana. Funny thing innit, perception?

(Photo credit here)

Still no help came.

FARK! So I tried again. By this time, my friend M had already done her thing and had moved on, don't think she could've been bothered to wait. Interestingly, the second Kurmasana felt more open, and the second attempt at Supta Kurmasana was just a tad bit better. My middle fingers were super close, I could feel them almost touching each other (the "wind" between them again). But in my mind, I was giving them both the middle finger. Get it? My middle fingers were giving each other the middle finger. OK, bad joke. I was just so OVER IT by now. Just goddamn get the bind, dammit!

And then at last! Saraswati came over and hauled my arms together. And got my legs over the head. She's fast, no-nonsense and it felt like everything was happening so fast! My feet weren't hooked over each other properly though, so lifting up through Dwi Pada to Tittibhasana was SLOPPY. The feet just came loose midway through my lift up.

Sailed through until Urdvha Mukha Paschimottanasana - she was assisting my friend M, and I hadn't realized she was anywhere near me when I suddenly felt another squish from behind - she really got my face in there good between my legs (again - SO FAST!)

And the last assist was with dropbacks.

Ever since my dropback headbutt, I've been afraid to attempt to drop to the floor on my own again. I've been doing hangbacks at the Limbo-Rock point... I do about 3, then stop in an attempt to "conserve energy" for proper assisted dropbacks. So I stopped after the 3 hangbacks.

Saraswati came round. I was a bit fearful coz she's a lot shorter than me! I had a doubt creep up "Are you gonna drop me coz you're shorter than me?" but then just went with it. She only let my fingertips brush the floor the first 3 dropbacks. Then she got me to cross my arms on my chest and dropback again another 3 times with arms on chest (I thought this is what the Intermediate cool kids do?) And then one last dropback, this time with hands fully on the floor, then she asked me to walk hands in as far as I could.

I think this was the number of counts per dropback, I can't be sure though coz it was all new and my mind was a bit fuzzed to remember fully.

To be honest, I didn't push it all the way here in this last dropback to the floor coz I had no idea what to expect next and again, was "conserving energy" in case she wanted me to do it again. My heart felt like it was gonna explode through my chest though, don't think I could've pushed myself any further even if I tried!

And that was it! My 3 Saraswati adjustments. Didn't get any Sharmila adjusts.

Oh... and after I was done, I looked up, and there was Saraswati doing assisted dropbacks with a HUGE guy who was probably twice her height, but she had absolutely no problems at all. It ain't about the teacher's height, y'all. Trust in their wisdom & experience.

The End.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

KPJ, In Da House!

*Here's where the cheezy DJ goes... "Make some noiii--iiise!"* (if there'd been a cheezy DJ in da house, that is).

Well... at least the spirit of KPJ was in da house and alive & well today. (How many "in da house"s was that again?!)

Yeah - it was the official opening of the KPJ school at Bondi Beach y'all. Yee-har!

A few people (read: strangers) came up to me today and said "Hey! It's you with that blog!" now I'm thinking twice about whether I should've written that cheezy Yee-har phrase in the previous paragraph. Ugh. Or maybe I shouldn't have even written about the crazy-talk that goes on in my head during practice in all the previous posts. Double Ugh.

Thou shalt not self-censor.

Note to self: to remain anonymous, stop with the cam-whoring (too late now, innit) or suck it up and just get over yourself. It's only my internal monologue that you're all privvy to now. Dearie me.

Anyhoo... the whole school & retail store are looking GORGEOUS!! And amazing how the store apparently came together in a flash... People who drove past last night said construction was still going on late into the night and didn't look close to being done. But you couldn't even tell any of that at all this afternoon when the doors opened for all the invited guests.

A coupla drummers sat outside getting people into the mood with their awesome beats.

I dutifully carted around trays of food in an attempt at helping out - papaya salad, spring rolls, chestnut & coconut desserts and drinks. Sorry, no pix of these. Too busy to take photos!

But guess who came? ...the 2 ladies who were practicing in front of me during Sharath's 2-week workshop! YAY! Finally got a picture with them. (A & R, sorry about the lack of flash)

(One of them's decided to start a blog too. Yay! Another Ashtangi blogger. AN%, I can't find your link though, send it to me and I'll link to you here). And yeah... she's also the same person Sharath said "No coffee, no Prana" to as well. SMALL WORLD.

Guess who was the VIP guest of honour? None of us knew this before... Saraswati and her daughter, Sharmila! (Yo, that's Sharath's mama, aka the Guru's daughter, who also teaches, for all you non-Ashtangis)

Surreptitious Saraswati & Sharmila photo-taking in action...

But I took a pic for @Ashtangikali who's practiced with Saraswati before. This one's legit.

(What's weird is, because I hadn't ever met her before let alone practiced with her, I kinda felt it wouldn't be appropriate to ask to take a pic with Saraswati).

A couple of priests led the puja blessing for the school chanting a few mantras. It was quite hypnotic listening to the repetitive melodies. I looked over at Saraswati occassionally, and she was smiling and singing along at some points too. Very cute!

Guess what?!

Midway through the Puja, I saw someone scurry in with 2 takeaway coffees, leaping over people to get to the VIP bench. She was taking them to the Jois' family!

HAHAHAHAHAHA! How classic, especially after my last post?

And in her opening speech, my teacher related delightful stories of Guruji and her close ties with the Jois family. One of them was a coffee story. Hehe. Apparently Amma, Guruji's wife, used to have a pot of strong coffee ready for all the yogis to drink after practice (in the old days in the smaller shala). Apparently Amma said with a strong practice like Ashtanga, they needed strong coffee to keep up.

Heh. I like Amma already. :) :) :)

Another story was about how even though she knew the Jois' family for 20-something years, it took about 7 years before Guruji and her really connected. Apparently for 7 years, he would call her "Amy" (her name's Eileen). Even Sharath would correct him saying "no, she's Eileen". But Guruji would say "no, I know you're Amy".

She would frequently travel around India with the family, and once, Guruji insisted she came along for an opening of a temple and stay for the full 3 days of opening festivities. At the end of it, when they were back in Mysore, Guruji said to her "Amy! Where were you? Why you no come?" Teacher said... "but... I was there for the 3 days like you asked me to!" HAHAHA.

She also announced that Saraswati & Sharmila would be teaching in Monday's mysore class! YIPPEE! How blessed am I to be able to experience this so soon after Sharath's workshop?

Saraswati and Sharmila both also gave really moving speeches. They were both moved to tears when they spoke about how great it was to walk into the shala to see pictures of their father/ grandfather and mother/ grandmother on the walls, seeing how Guruji's legacy of Ashtanga Yoga is being passed on. And also that he had given his blessing for this school, another branch outside of Mysore.

Now, here's a corker for you yoga dorks. No, I mean ASHTANGADORKS.

Eileen and Mark gave a demo of the advanced series!! It's breath-taking strength in action. There was a live band playing kirtan throughout as well. I got a couple of videos, so knock yourselves out!


Duuuuuuuuuude. Check out their transitions. Bandha POWER.

Best part is... after the 20-minute demo, Eileen wasn't even breaking a sweat. Her face was still perfectly matte-powdered. It wasn't in the least shiny!! (?!?!!!) Mark was glistening with sweat. But I suppose it doesn't take much for an average guy to break a sweat. And with a body like that, who's complaining if it was glistening? ;p

And then she announced their line-up of teachers. Between the 8 of them, there's about 130 years of yoga experience. Aiiight.

It's no longer gonna be just Mysore only from 6-9am. It looks like there will be classes on throughout the day!

Mingling in action...

...and then someone else from my shala came up to me and said they just found my blog too. Didn't know whether to be proud or embarrassed (y'know... the "OMG! I know this lunatic! She's from my shala and I practice next to her!" moment). But can I just say... P hung out with Sharath while he was here and her husband even has Sharath's digits! (Am I a Fangirl-SharathSpotter or what? NOT.)

It was kinda cool to see everything coming together. My teacher said every new year for the past 20 years, she would write down that her vision would be to have a yoga studio in Bondi Beach with a retail outlet. It's so cool to see someone's dream become a reality. And even more fabulous being a part of it.

...And somehow I suspect we'll no longer have as much space between mats as we've had for the past couple of weeks. In an unselfish world, that's actually a pretty awesome thing.

Om Shanti.
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