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Holiday Aftermath

December 26th, 2010 No comments

Yesterday I had myself a bit of a rant. Yup, I’m not a fan of Christmas and I wasted an entire blog post bitching about what I didn’t like about it.

Today I’m better, so that post is gone. I’m still not a huge fan of Christmas (no Dickensian revelations for me), but why the hell should I harsh everyone else’s mellow? Last night I got to see Hagfish play a reunion show to a fantastic hometown crowd, so all was well with the world.

All-in-all, yesterday wasn’t that bad. I think it’s all the lead-up to Christmas that really raises my ire. Frantic people bustling around like ants under a magnifying glass all at the last minute and with a “drive” and “purpose” that pretty much isolates many people from such common things as politeness and human decency.

Never is it so apparent that people suck than at the holiday season. Thankfully, that’s over. All we have left is the “amateur hour” drinking holiday of New Year’s Eve: a night where every year people are shocked and appalled at the number of DUIs and other police incidents. Since we are moving towards a semblance of economic recovery, I’m very curious to see if this year is worse than the past few, or better.

Then we can move ourselves right into 2011. I know I will be annoyed by the packed yoga classes I will encounter for the first few weeks of the year as people attempt to adhere to their resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I find it very encouraging when people make the effort (however slight it may be) to follow through with some sort of self-improvement plan at the start of the year. I’ve attempted and failed so many times that it’s almost funny. I know the larger yoga classes will annoy me a bit, but kudos to those folks who actually got off their lazy butts and got in the room. That’s the hardest part of the process.

Bring it on.

Categories: monkey, Ravings

Yoga Days 9 & 10: Rant, Double-Down and the Dizzy

December 16th, 2010 No comments

First off I’d like to apologize to the folks who are probably getting tired of my yoga ramblings and are yearning for one of my typical idiotic postings talking about food or pop culture or some other drivel. Don’t worry, I’ve got a stack of material I need to address over the next several postings, so the idiocy will return!

As a lot of my readers/friends know, my life is in a sort of upheaval right now. It is what it is and I’m working through it step by step. One of the main reasons I started doing yoga ten days ago was as a result of these life changes. I’m really not that good at taking care of myself and that had to change.

Luckily for me, the process is in motion and yoga has really proven to be the pivot point around which I am changing my life. I quit smoking about two and a half weeks ago. Yeah, I know I’ve said that before — on this very blog even — but this one has the best chance of sticking that I’ve tried yet.

Usually when I make the move to quit I have a couple of days where everything is really good and then something goes awry. This time, I rode the anxiety pony for a week to keep me occupied. In midst of that I decided to sign up for yoga.

By the time I started yoga I was to the point where I usually start wanting a smoke again. I didn’t ever smoke an awful lot, it was just something I did when I hung out with friends. Once class began, though, the thought of a smoke sounded just about as appealing as drinking concrete.

I quickly realized that I had some work to go with my breathing capacity and breathing is a huge part of yoga. Different than previous quitting efforts, my brain is in 100% now. The thought of sucking down a few smokes while hanging out and then getting up early to do yoga makes me nauseous. This is the type of progress that makes me feel better about myself.

OK, now down to the nitty gritty. Yesterday was a hard day for me. My usual Wednesday has been a ritual practice for many years: a ritual that I have changed in the past couple of weeks, so the old anxiety pony was riding up on me hard on Wednesday for some reason. I went to class Wednesday morning (a Fire 60) and did pretty well. There was nothing too remarkable about it except that Fire continues to be the hardest class I have taken.

Amazingly, yesterday was also gorgeous. When it is almost 80 degrees in the middle of December, one must take advantage of it. Since it had been a while, and because it often helps reduce my anxiety, I took the scooter out for a nice ride. I went around the lake, I rode through Deep Ellum: that pony was still with me. That’s when it hit me: there is a Earth 60 class at 4:15. Dare I pull the double so early in my practice? Sure, why not!

Earth is one of my favorite classes. I can really feel it moving the energies around my body lifting away my worries and helping me to center myself. I know that sounds like a lot of New Age hokum, but it works for me. Part of me making myself “better” is tricking my brain into new behaviors.

I’ll tell you this about the double, that second class seems a lot easier. I was bending deeper into poses and my muscles were actually participating in what I wanted to do (not always the case). Sure, I still seem to lose track of my left from my right in class (stupid shiny mirrors are distracting. I’m like a parakeet that way), but it was a great class. I went to bed last night feeling victorious with myself.

Then came this morning.

This morning was my tenth class at Sunstone, so I decided to take a Fire 90. Luckily for me, the instructor who taught my intro classes was the instructor for this class. As a part of Sunstone’s program, practitioners are rewarded with different colored silicon bracelets when they reach milestones. The tenth class is one such milestone, so I got my band at the beginning of class. As cheezy as it sounds, it was a very fulfilling experience. Then came the yoga.

When I got up this morning I was a bit dizzy (not even sure why), but I thought it would all be ironed out when I got into the room. Boy howdy was I wrong. I did great through the first quarter of the standing poses, but any time I did anything to compress my chest, thus pushing blood into my head, the dizzies got worse and worse. I was getting frustrated with myself and made up my mind to push myself rather than take to the floor in savasana. About twenty seconds after that decision, I mentally smacked myself. That is exactly the type of “old” thinking that I was trying to break. Was I trying to hurt myself? Was I trying to prove to myself that I was “tough?” Idiocy is something that I excel at; and something I’m trying to reduce in my life. Savasana it was. I rested and focused on my breathing through a couple of poses and then got back up and re-joined the class.  This continued several more times through the standing series. Rather than get upset with myself, I reminded myself that every day is different and each practice cannot compare with the previous. Another small victory for me and my self-rebellious brain.

The seated positions were much easier (aside from my usual issues).  Part of me thinks that I probably over-worked myself by pulling a double yesterday, but this is all a learning experience.

A small part of me wanted to go to a Wood 60 class this afternoon, but I thought better of it. I’ve committed to a year with Sunstone, and there is absolutely no need for me to burn out like a meteorite hitting the atmosphere in my first month. I will push/reward myself with doubles (that’s really the only way to sanely think about them) as my practice improves. Kinda like an ice cream sundae topped with three quarts of sweat.

Namaste bitches!

Categories: Uncategorized

Yoga Day 5: Defying Earth

December 11th, 2010 No comments

Taking the various classes offered by Sunstone Yogahas been eye-opening. I can definitely see the differences between the classes and the intended foci that each class were geared towards.

Having taken Fire and Wood classes, I ventured into an Earth class this morning. The major difference between Earth and the other two is that music plays over the Earth class and the poses aren’t really held in the same way; rather a focus on flow and energy is prevalent.

Sun Salutations, familiar from my previous yoga practice experience, took up a good chunk of the first part of the class. Here was the Downward Facing Dog that I remembered from all those years ago. Lots of Warrior poses and a crap-ton of Chataranga.

This was one of the most rewarding classes I’ve taken so far, and it made me realize something about myself and my yoga practice: yoga is a weapon.

Now, when I say “weapon,” I don’t mean it so much in a harmful way: I mean that it’s my Sword of Omens, Infinity Gauntlet and Cosmic Cube all rolled into one. In the five mere days that I’ve been doing this, my mood has gotten better, my anxiety has subsided, my posture improved and I’ve lost a chunk of weight. I know I should have probably started doing yoga again a while back, but, right now, I feel I’m doing it for the right reasons and not just as something to do.

I’ve got my head in the game and that’s right where I need to be.

Unfortunately for others, I’m sure I’m much more annoying now that I have been for the past several months. I’ve got a new-found confidence that I wasn’t aware was missing.

At this point, it would not surprise me to look in the mirror and discover myself animated.

Over time, I’m sure this feeling will mellow as it becomes a standard part of my life, but, for right now, I’m happy to be the Trix Rabbit.

I gotta get me another Earth fix soon.

Categories: monkey, Yoga

Yoga Day 4

December 11th, 2010 No comments

No, I didn’t give up after my bad day; I just got lazy. By lazy I mean I didn’t come home and do a write-up of the awesomeness that was my Day 4. Instead I tooled around town and got a whole lot of nothing done and then the day was over.

Here I am about an hour before my Day 5 class and I figure I better get my Day 4 off of my brain.

Day 4 rocked. I attended the second half of the two-part intro class which is really just a Fire class with more interaction. My big bonus for this class: I was the only one. So, I basically got a private lesson as part of my $10 for 10 days deal. It doesn’t get much better than that!

One thing that I really noticed in my horrific Day 3 was that the heat isn’t affecting me as much as it did on Day 1 or Day 2. I’m not sure I’ve ever sweat as much as have been in these classes, and I have definitely been sweating more over the past two days than the first two days, but I know that is just all the toxins in my body making a hasty retreat. At this point, I may actually be approaching a toxin to normal ratio that is lower than a WIPP site. There goes my Superfund grant application.

Going through the Fire poses with one-on-one attention made me very aware of all the muscle groups that I needed to be paying attention to. I discovered a few poses that I was doing “wrong” are actually a lot easier than I was making them.

The biggest thing I took away from this class was that I have a hard time pulling my abs in while doing most of the poses, and I think I know the mental block that is responsible for this: I’m lazy.

This morning I hurt. I’ve done more constant exercise of a wider variety of muscles in the past four days than I have in years. I enjoy running and I wait in anticipation for the day I can return to the soccer pitch, but this is some of the best all-over exercise I’ve ever gotten.

Four days in and my energy has spiked and my mood improved drastically. Sure, forty minutes into each class I’m screaming at myself in my head, but it’s not even an option to me to give up.

Who the hell is this motivated person?

Categories: monkey, Yoga

Yoga Day 3: in the losing team’s locker room

December 9th, 2010 No comments

For this first portion of this posting, imagine me sitting in front of a bank of microphones behind a press table with some terrible satin curtain or backdrop behind me.

Reporter 1: “What happened today?”

Me: “My head wasn’t in it and that’s got to be one of the most important things to bring to the game. I started out strong, but quickly realized that this was a long-haul endeavor and my mind just wasn’t on the prize.”

Reporter 2: “What would you have changed?”

Me: “That’s what is so frustrating:  I’m just not sure. Maybe it was the time of day, or maybe it was the barometric pressure. Hell, it could have been the traffic patterns on the way to the studio that threw me off. I’m just not sure.”

Reporter 3: “Is this going to affect you long term?”

Me: “I hope not. I’m chalking today up to a good learning experience. Nobody is 100% 365 days a year. Today is done and tomorrow is right around the corner. All that I can ask for in myself is that I remember what transpired today and use that to strengthen my resolve. Today wasn’t my worst effort, but it was definitely disappointing.”

Reporter 2: “What comes next?”

Me: “Didn’t you already ask me a question? Geez, give the junior reporters some space there. Either way, tomorrow comes next. It is unfair to make brash decisions based on one bad performance.”

Reporter 4: “Is this going to ruin the rest of your day?”

Me: “Definitely not. In fact, it’s already forgotten. Like I said before, it’s was a good learning experience and I’ll take that experience with me as I move forward. I’m goint to take some time today to figure out where my head was at and try and find a way to make sure such distractions don’t affect me in the future. Just making the effort is all I can ask of myself. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, but that’s all the questions I want to take today.”

Needless to say, today’s class wasn’t my best effort. I’m sure my body is a tad mad at me for doing three days of yoga in a row after a pretty sedentary lifestyle for the past two months. I shook out of most of the standing poses and my balance was totally shot to hell. While other students were going into the bow pose, I was working on just standing on one foot.

In the prone poses, I could just feel a lack of concentration in my core. It was like trying to pick up a dozen tennis balls:  I’d focus on another aspect of the muscle groups I was working and something would relax or fall out.

The instructor was really helpful in tweaking my poses so they would work for me and, of course, was amazingly non-judgemental as I flopped around my mat.  Hell, she was even encouraging as I was leaving, but I had disappointed myself a little. I guess disappointment is too strong a word for it, but the closest word I can think of. I recognize that I am making progress, and I realize that every day is going to be different — good or bad, but I know I didn’t give 100% today and that’s what I’m ticked about.

Oh well, pity party over. Tomorrow’s class is just twenty-four hours away.

Categories: monkey, Yoga

Yoga Day 2: I can haz wood

December 8th, 2010 No comments

After surviving pretty much 24 hours after yoga, I thought I’d celebrate with another class. I thought I’d do a nice “Fire” class to follow up with my “Fire” intro, but, in my yogic euphoria I misread the schedule and ended up at a “Wood” class. “No problem,” I told myself, “Core strengthening and stamina are things you should probably work on.”

Yeah, that was a rookie move.

“Wood” started out great enough. Lots of active muscle stretching and poses that didn’t make me look like the new guy in class, but then it really descended into a dark place.

Beware the lift-legged crunches. They are pure evil.

Because it was a 90 minute class, these crunches went on for eons. Honestly, how the hell am I supposed to keep my legs up in the air while I try and do 128 things that I haven’t been doing in years?!?!?! Yes, that was 128! We did ‘em legs together, we did ‘em legs apart. Rather, the class did them and I tried to keep up. I probably did about 55% of the 128, but I’m not sure. I was too busy listening to my brain tell me that I was a moron for torturing myself in this hot room.

I learned a lot about my limits in this class. I also learned that I have a tad more flexibility than I thought, but not much. Poses that were familiar to me from way back in the day came easily, and new spins on “stand on one leg and do this” failed horribly as I apparently have terrible balance.

That will all change with time.  Hell, even the instructor fell out of a few of the balance poses: that’s just human.

All-in-all, great but gruelling class, and I’m damn glad I did it. Now I can say I tried out something different before retreating back to the “Fire” regiment to get my comfort level back up with how my body is adjusting to these new strange things I’m doing to it.

Tomorrow will either bring “Fire” or a rest depending on how my lower back and abs feel. My shoulders already hate me as a result of yesterday’s efforts, but it’s that good kind of burn that makes me feel satisfied with what I was able to accomplish.

Categories: monkey, Yoga

Yoga Day 1

December 7th, 2010 No comments

The last time I took a yoga class, Bill Clinton was just starting his Presidency and I had no concept of what working out in a “hot room” was about.

Today, I returned to yoga and lived to tell about it.

Because I have managed to fill my active time with other activities for the past couple of years, I basically shunned yoga. In the past few months, many things in my life have changed and I reached a point where many signs were pointing to me initiating a yoga practice for a variety of my physical and mental needs.

So I did it. I jumped right on the internets and signed myself up for the wonderfully frugal “$10 for 10 days” special at Sunstone Yoga. After all, the hardest part is just committing to yourself that you are actually going to do it.

Fortunate enough, there are quite a smattering of Sunstone studios around Dallas and one right down the way from one of my favorite watering holes. My brain being determined, I looked up the schedule and set about planning to attend the first of the two-phased introductory classes offered.

I fretted a bit; I even got a bit anxious in the time leading up to actually walking out my door and heading to class. I was going to be putting my body into poses I knew I couldn’t hold in a room set to around 98.6°F for ninety minutes. That’s pretty intense. Pretty much the only thing I had going for me before the class started was that I’m really good at keeping myself hydrated (one of the most important things in life) and I knew that I wouldn’t be judged when I passed out.

It turns out, that’s all you can really ask for. My class consisted of me, one other student and the instructor: serious one-on-one attention. We started out by just doing savasana (I excel at this pose) which basically consists of lying flat on your back and focusing on your breathing. It’s not as easy as it seems in a room as warm as you are. After acclimating to the temperature for a while, the instructor took us through the basic poses of a “Fire” class at Sunstone. Sunstone has their classes broken into elemental designations. It makes it quite easy to see on the schedule and the outline of each element gives a good rundown of what will be covered for each class.

The class was intense, but went along pretty quickly. Before too long, I was attempting to work on my balance (my feet are constructed horribly and were probably first intended to be flippers) and then the lengthening of my spine (did I mention I have a freakishly long torso?). Adjustments to poses were made and, after no time at all, class was over.

The basic progression of the class went: standing poses, savasana, lay on your back poses, lay on your belly poses, savasana. Lots of twists and tweaks and shaky muscles happened somewhere in the middle along with at least a gallon of sweat.

Coming out of the class, I felt very rejuvenated. I felt a couple of inches taller and, remarkably enough, my horrible hearing was definitely better.

I know I’m going to be as sore as hell tomorrow morning, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying out another class. More benefit comes from new students keeping at it than not and I’m really liking the progress I made with my old broken body.

There might just be some new tricks in this old dog. Oh, and, Namaste.

Categories: monkey, Ravings, Yoga