Sunday, May 20, 2012

Shaking off the Kapha

Kapha is usually associated with cool damp weather, lethargy, and heaviness.  I tend towards an imbalance in Kapha.  Spring is an especially sensitive time for me, when the tendency is to want to hide out and sleep.  This spring in Philadelphia has been very pleasant and warm, so I haven't been hit too hard with a Kapha build up. 

But I am feeling it a bit.  There's been some celebrating.  The husband is getting a paycheck.  I just graduated from my 500 teacher training (woo hoo!).  And thus there have been some poor choices in food and...ahem...beverages.   These choices have led to some mental and physical heaviness.  There have also been some grasping behaviors typical of a Kapha imbalance, particularly, the accumulation of items that I don't need. 

What's the best way to shake off the Kapha? In my experience, move!  Accept invitations!  Do new things!  This weekend was full of that.  Yesterday I attended Tim Miller's led primary.  I don't know the last time I sweat so much.  The husband helped me carry my bag afterwards and couldn't believe the weight.  It was 80% due to my wet yoga clothes!  Then we went to see the Avengers.  And this morning we had friends over for brunch for the first time since moving in last year. 

Of course, there was a good amount of eating involved in all of this (popcorn, dinner at an Indian restaurant, divine 100% butter pastries). So tonight I cooked up a nice batch of kitchari with the Kapha spice mix that I use.  I'll take it for the next few days to try to get a little more balanced.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tim Miller this Weekend!

In 2004 (I only remember because the Red Sox won the World Series that year), just before Columbus Day, I took my first Mysore style class.  The teacher was traditional and had students watch the first time they came.  I was mad, because for the previous year, I had learned the practice by heart up to Marichyasana D and was doing it at home (as a grad student, I had been too poor to take classes with a teacher).  I was ready to show off my moves.

But I didn't let that first day deter me.  She told me to come back after the holiday (there was some kind of moon day and maybe something about not giving poses on Tuesdays).  I wasn't going to quit.  I was going to show this woman that I was telling the truth.  I knew the practice!  And dammit, I did.  She let me go up to Mari D. I screwed up the arms in parsarita padotanasana.  But otherwise, I did ok.  I was thrilled.  To practice in a room with other people, carried by the sound of their breath was an unbelievable sensation.  I came back again and again that week.

Then at the end of the week, the teacher said to me that there was this really important teacher coming in for a weekend workshop.  I should sign up.  High as I was on the thrill of a regular practice with an actual qualified teacher, I did as I was told.

Until then, I had never heard of Tim Miller.  Showing up at the center in Cambridge where space was being rented for the event was so impressive. There were maybe 100 yogis there. Maybe more.  And this guy, so sweet, so accessible, so funny, was talking about asana and sutras and things that I had never heard of.  I was physically, spiritually, and mentally challenged that weekend in an intense way. 

Since then, I've been to Tim's shala and practiced next to him (another teacher was teaching - that was a totally different intensity of experience) but not with him.  I had to make some choices this year about where to spend my yoga dollar, so I won't be participating in the full weekend workshop.  But 8 years later, my practice has evolved so much.  I am eager to see how much more I take from the Saturday morning session now that I have a more profound understanding of the practice. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

experiences are better than things

I struggled for a long time with buying things.  I would amass things to hide my insecurities.  The rush of going to the mall and acquiring a bunch of stuff was always followed by remorse. Eventually, this led to a serious debt problem.

I still like things.  I still enjoy window shopping. And occasionally, I obsess over an object not purchased.  So I started to make my mantra "experiences are better than things."

Using this mantra, I'm able to forgo buying a new pair of shoes because I remember that I will want that money later for travel, yoga workshops, and dinners out with friends.

I'm looking forward to these upcoming experiences:  Saturday primary at Dhyana yoga with Tim Miller, Kino MacGregor weekend workshop in June, and Dark Shadows next week with work buddies.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Is there an alternative?

This is a sort of personal question.  I have a lot of clothes from "corporate yoga," you know, that company based out of Vancouver that sells its pants for $98.

I don't agree with their business practices or general philosophy. And yet, I continue to buy the clothes because I can't find an alternative that lives up to the quality (gussets!  I need the pants gusset!). 

I know that I'm not alone in this.  So, I'm open to suggestions.  Where do you get your yoga duds, would you recommend them for Ashtanga, and why? 

Happy Mother's Day!

While we should celebrate mothers every day of the year, this is the one day specifically dedicated to it.  I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful caring mom.  People often remark how much we look alike.  I am essentially her clone.  From my mom, I get my sense of humor. She is sharp and witty.  The best part of my day as a child was coming home from school, sitting in the kitchen and watching her cook and sharing my day.  If I can cook today, it's because of my mom.  She also taught me patience and unconditional love.

Happy Mother's Day to you, mom, and to all the moms out there. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Confessions of a Bad Lady!

After approximately two days without practice, I was already going a bit stir crazy. 

Confession #1:  Not once during the time that I was off from my practice did I take a meditation practice.  Why do I struggle so much with seated meditation?  I enjoy it once I get started.  It's just so hard to take a seat and do "nothing." 

Confession #2:  I did not wait 11 days to take asana up again.  I got on my mat yesterday (only 4 days resting!) and took primary practice.  It went pretty well.  The forward bending was fine, but even micro twisting (as in the janu sirsanas) caused some tugging in the stitches.  I also eliminated ubiya padangustasana, urdva muka paschimatonasana (for the rolling on the spine), and setu bandasana.  I didn't roll in garba pindasana.

Hi, my name is Rochelle, and I am an incorrigible asana junky. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

No Bending for 14 Days - 11 if I'm "Good"

There is a sad Buddhist story about a father who believes his son to be dead. The son comes to the house and knocks on the door.  He says "It's me father."  The father doesn't believe him and sends him away.  He never sees his son again.  The moral of the story is that we should not be so stuck in our own beliefs as to refuse the truth when it is in our face.

I had such a moment several weeks ago.  A woman came to my class that I had never met before.  After class, she asked to look at the bottom of my foot.  I thought this was strange but obliged.  She noticed an unusual mole when I was demonstrating a posture.  She had some medical (and maybe personal) connection with melanoma.  She said that I needed to have this mole looked at.

I had never previously seen a dermatologist for my moles.  Maybe I should have.  I am fair skinned and have had a few serious sunburns (not because I love tanning so much, but because I love the sun).  I made an appointment with Center City Dermatology.

The doctor was extremely nice.  She saw nothing wrong with the mole on my foot but did a full body scan and discovered an abnormal mole on my low back.  She had it biopsied.  It was in the mid-range of abnormal moles and she wanted to remove it before it moved into the serious/melanoma range.

That's where I was this morning.  The excision itself was very easy and painless.  The painful part were the instructions for recovery:  No bending for 14 days.  But my yoga!!  Ok, 11 days if you're good.  But if you're not, it could take longer. 

It looks like I have an "opportunity" to work on my seated practice for the next few days.  I'm very attached to my practice and have a deep fear of losing ground - whatever that means- especially after my health set backs from last year.

Have you ever had to take a break from your asana practice?  How did you deal with it? 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Are You Ready to Burn Down (not literally!!)

In the apprenticeship meeting a few weeks ago we had an interesting discussion about non-attachment.  Someone mentioned a quote by a Swami somebody along the lines of "When you are ready to burn down your house, then you are ready for (non-attachment)".

This really gave me pause.  I don't actually own a house, or anything else for that matter. But I began to substitute other things in my life: certain relationships, certain "needs", etc.    And I began to realize that I'm not as un-attached as I like to believe myself to be. 

What would be most difficult for you to "burn down"?  If you're not sure, try this.  When we do our cleanse, we are to take one day to "fast."  It doesn't have to be from food.  It can be from t.v., internet, phone, gossip.  A good way to determine what you need to fast from is to consider it. The first thing to pop into your mind is probably the thing that you would best be served fasting from.  But you'll likely continue to look for other things.

The same applies to this larger question.  So what's your biggest obstacle to practice non-attachment?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Happy 60th Birthday to My Dad!

Today is my dad's 60th birthday.  While he does not do yoga, his "yogic" values inspired my love of the practice: his connection and dedication to the environment, his selfless commitment to stand up for what is true and right, his ability to forgive and love with an open heart, to name just a few.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you.  When I grow up I still want to be just like you.