flexagon: (one-arm)
YM continued to be disorganized on Sunday, and I continued to have fun. We got into what he considers intermediate handbalancing work, skimming across a lot of things.

Presses -- nothing too new, but a lot of emphasis on cueing "butt forward, not just up". He talked about drilling the bottom part with press walks and similar, and the top part with three different straddles (open internally rotated, open externally rotated, and finally piked). Exactly person in the class could press up, the same little pole-dancing Microsoftie who wore the onesie on Saturday. Did I mention she was adorable? I kind of would totally date her, it's true. She couldn't balance the handstand after pressing, though.

Crocs -- very brief treatment. Praise for me, the only person with a pre-existing one-arm croc. He showed a "turtles" or maybe "turtling" movement that's kind of a b-boy thing, shifting back and forth between one side and the other of a tucked-up croc on the floor, and spinning it. Not a trick I get for free, but I could probably have it cheap with a few days of practice.

Handstand pushups -- several boys could, no girls could. I was closest. In here we worked on pressing up from frog stand / crow, and it felt more accessible than it has in the past. Although I still can't DO it, a light spot was enough to help, and once my butt is up I do have that range of the handstand pushup, so I wonder if that's actually something worth working toward. No doubt it's best to work the negative first. Face-plants, here we come!

One-arm shifting -- I liked this, actually, just shifting MOST of the weight onto one arm and holding it there. No need even to go to fingertips, really, for me. Just side to side shifting is good.

Stalders -- a nice drill for the negative is to start standing with a slight straddle, lift up slightly if possible, and come forward into the final position with as much control as possible. For me my feet drag on the floor, but if I'm trying to lift them then it's still the right work to be doing.

Walking -- I still suck at it. YM thought it would be really good for me to add some to my practice, and this does seem plausible. Maybe just once a week or so, like when I train on my own.

We did some random cartwheel tricks, spin-and-kick tricks, nothing I was really into. One thing I did like was a new move to end a fish flop with; just a graceful backbendy standup that I learned from a fellow student. (The same chest roll can be used as an "I meant to do that" exit from a handstand pushup negative, which is why I was practicing a fish flop in the first place.)

My left knee is tweaked now; it doesn't want to actively bend in tightly. I blame a random knee hang I did on the monkey bars, though landing from any of the jump/kick things could have done it.

Anyway, what am I taking out of this mishmash?
  • I plan to work on walking, not too seriously, once a week-ish.
  • I should try the up and down from frog, because it's hard but not impossible. Negatives in front of a crash mat, maybe.
  • Side shifts, too, are within my powers.
  • Flexibility matters more than strength for the press. I think I have some fuzz to melt out of my right hamstring over the next little while, and it's back to pike work for me after that.

Something I WANT to try sometime is eyes-closed kick-ups. Maybe with a spotter, at LCS, not so much for me but so I won't be nervous about others coming within kick range while I'm trying.
flexagon: (one-arm)
Wow, is YM ever a disorganized teacher. He says he prefers teaching small groups to teaching private lessons, and I'm getting to know him better this way and meet new people (new friendly handbalancey people!), but he's totally improvising the curriculum as he goes. Also ripping the shit out of the many fitness gurus who've disowned him so far in his career... he does a truly wicked Toledo impression, and told some incredible stories about the guy who runs gymnasticbodies.com. I'm not sure why so many fitness/wellness people promote themselves as know-it-all gurus, but it's a thing. I like YM's admission that he doesn't know everything, and engineer-style pragmatism about doing what works.

I liked some of his wrist/shoulder warmups -- particularly "eagle claws", and some of the internal shoulder rotation drills. One of these was: do a sort of child's pose thing, but with hands a little bit wider than shoulder width; then internally rotate one shoulder at a time down to the ground.

He teaches three ways to fix an underbalance once it's gone beyond where the hands alone can save you -- piking the butt over, bending the elbows (out, just lowering the center of gravity) and planching.

He teaches two ways to fix an overbalance once it's gone too far -- Mexicaning and contorting. Haha, yes, I call that latter one "the desperate scorpion". :P

In all cases, he kind of takes it for granted that the line can be re-straightened once balance is regained. Ha ha, nope... as Pokemon knows all too well, coming out of each one of those variations requires drilling and learning and finding and feeling.

I'm in the top third of the class, which is a comfortable place to be. Oh and there this this little pole dancer girl wearing one of these sweatshirt-type onesies... I must obtain one.
flexagon: (one-arm)
OMG, what a handstand lesson. I was able to feel (as in, perceive) things that I've never been able to feel before on my own.

Things I need to practice by myself, next week when I am visiting the mothership and away from coaching:
* wall handstands, feeling like I'm tipped under (but this is actually straight), come off without losing the pelvis.
* kick up to that same place if possible (but at least be able to feel it, which matters more in the long term than actual "success").
* when doing ball presses, pay attention to where I'm LOOKING in order to not planche(!), and of course keep weight over the middle knuckles.
* get more confident in the sternum curl.
* do those horrible straddle leg-lift things, and candlesticks, and overhead stick-holding. (I know this is gibberish, sorry.)

Most stunning for today is that I did one or two really good spotted presses off the floor. They didn't feel heavy. I came down and said "that was weird!", and Pokemon said "That was correct. That was the opposite of weird! Do it again."

I am gonna get this, you know, barring injury. Don't know how long it will take, but I actually am.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
I did hear the audience clap, once,
as I held myself on one arm -- be still, be still --
and reached for the far wall with the other
and I knew three of us were reaching at the same time.
After that, nothing at all but blood in my ears,
the music, counting to eight over and over.
Later, they said the audience went nuts.
Who was the observer and who the observed?
If a tree claps in the forest but isn't heard... well...?
What I know is that I balanced,
the lights were bright,
a song played.
flexagon: (emily)

That's been my week. So many things have been so very wrong. (You know what I liked this week? KITTENS AND HANDSTANDS. Nothing else.) One thing I did do, though, is lots of handstands -- two days, I did nothing for workouts but handstands. And lots of rolling out my hamstring on a lacrosse ball. I'm not sure yet, but stubbornly doing 10 straddle-ups a day might actually lead to getting better at straddle-ups. I only catch my balance on about one in ten, but I like knowing that. When I fall down, I can be like "that's one of today's nine, good, I'm putting in my reps" rather than "I suck".

I was pleased yesterday morning to return my tweaked knee carefully to squits; I thought my left knee would be up for half a pistol workout or so, if I was careful. Sure enough, it started aching just a bit on the fourth (last) set of pistols, and then I touched my splits down on both sides. All this makes me feel good about my body -- it heals! -- and about my understanding of it. My pullups are slowly coming back too, though nothing like they were after more than 2 months off.

I'm really not as badass as I used to be. I think I'm working out less -- Wednesday, Friday and sometimes Monday are my only twice-a-day days now -- and I really am far more focused on skills now than on strength. Is that okay? I feel needlessly bad-tempered and rebellious about it, even though nobody else could possibly care. Like: I can be more into balance and flexibility if I feel like it. Free country. I can even be more into handstands this year than partner acro.

And as for handstands? I catch my balance on one out of every two kickups now, which is phenomenal (though I'm not saying I always wiggle around into having good form; I often fall out while trying, after the initial balance-catch). I caught myself on video kicking up, going into a double stag, and rotating into the other double stag.

I haven't been talking about these things to my friends, so YOU get to hear all about it, LJ. You can be bored to tears if you need to be, it's okay.
flexagon: (one-arm)
Any review of my physical state this week would have to include being short on sleep; my resolution of getting up with the alarm clock hasn't helped with everything. And it would have to include the cold I have, which is lingering about and not even necessarily getting better, but sort of wavering around some average state that is not wellness. It's all somewhat miserable.

So what is up with the last ~24 hours of physical amazingness?

First, last night Scooper and I successfully got Hovercraft for the first time. It's the trick at 0:09 of this video, and I think we actually have the first parts of it much smoother than they do. I've only seen two pairs do it before us, and it took us over a year to figure out on our own... when we got it I did the exact same clapping-with-feet that Lizzy does in the video, and we laughed and fell down and hugged and hugged. Love those moments.

Second, this morning: straddle pancake with stomach ON THE MOTHERFUCKING FLOOR. See the lack of light coming through under me? Yes it's a frame captured from a video, yes I was only here briefly. But it happened! I'm also not hurt or plateaued. So it will happen some more.


Third, handstands tonight! I felt like I had some stillness and calm in my body left over from acro; I had an easy time settling into my hands, and had a lot of long holds including a 35-second one (it was supposed to be 30s with spot, but she never touched me and I went 5 seconds over).

But best of all is something that won't even sound like a big thing to you. We were practicing kicking up on our own to an open straddle handstand, and naturally I was catching the balance (when I caught it) with shoulders a little closed and back a little arched. But my balance on my hands was good, so good. And for the first time ever, I slowly opened my shoulders and un-arched and un-piked all at once, without coming down or losing balance. My coach was right, I guess it can be gentle and slow! I've never managed that adjustment before, and I've been trying to for a long time.

Quite exhilarated.
flexagon: (conf room)
My body totally remembers how to do the straddle press off the stacked crash mats! We didn't actually do that in Bender's class today, but the stack was set up for the sake of another student and I kept sneaking over there to do my precious new thing.

Eight times. Basically never failed, in finding that first float off the mat. Never stuck it at the top, never minded that. So happy. I'm already thinking how to drill myself on Sunday, to slow down, to get the float and stick it right there in a straddle pike, to try to raise my legs carefully; but for tonight that doesn't matter. All that matters is that last Sunday wasn't a fluke.

I didn't get my press in 2013, but I did find my way onto the path.
flexagon: (conf room)
To my intense joy, the wrist pain I wrote about last month has continued to subside. I'm still on a steady diet of ibuprofen, but today after many weeks off I decided it would be fine to practice handstands on my own instead of saving it for class-time.

I was right! And, damned if I didn't figure out how to repeatedly straddle press up from crash mats. This is something I've been working on with coaches; I'd managed it ONCE on my own before. Today I did it about 12 times, eight of which are caught in this video (along with two split presses, for fun).

Murphy's Law still being in full effect, the two times I pressed up and held my balance are not in the above video. They happened, they did! But the above is all press-and-fall, most of it with lousy form.

The reason this makes me so happy is that I'm not limited by strength, on this, and probably not by flexibility. It's proprioception, the feel of the fucking thing, that's so hard for me. If I get good at pressing off of here, I think I'll hit a point where I can progress down to lower surfaces fairly straightforwardly.
flexagon: (conf room)
Beautiful... I think she's my new ideal. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] apfelsingail for this one:

I don't mind that I'll never get the one-arm, but I'd sure like control over leg variations like she has. As for body control, I'm astonished -- the bit from 5:00 to 5:10 reminds me of something I saw Rebecca Stronger do in a routine once, and nobody else, ever.

I'm happy when, very occasionally, I can hold a tuck handstand, or a straddle pike one. I did this last Thursday:

I'm going to try to start getting more photos of my handbalancing -- they're kind of astonishingly instructive (the body position that feels THIS way looks like THAT, wtf?) and there is progress to document. Incremental, molasses-slow progress, but still.
flexagon: (Default)
Yesterday kind of rocked (if you leave aside the part where I said I'd do half a day of work and really did about two hours). After [livejournal.com profile] ellenclaire mentioned I maybe shouldn't stretch deeply every day, I skipped three days, but yesterday morning I did my splits (after 6 sets of pistols on each side) and got a full fifteen-count in my left splits. That's a personal record. It didn't even hurt that much! Flexibility, fickle bitch that she is, is playing nice with me right now.

An estate lawyer talked to us who didn't mind answering my questions, and now I know a LOT more about what happens to make someone's will get carried out after they die. Also, I think we are actually going to wind up with wills.

Lastly, I went to a chiropractor who cricked my wrist and my back a little. Then two hours later (was the scheduling of this really terribly wise?) I was doing handstands. My stacking is getting better. I credited my increased focus, but later realized that's wrong: the improvement is from flying hand-to-hands every Tuesday and every Sunday. My body is stacking and stiffening better because now it thinks I'm flying. Duh!
flexagon: (Default)
I split a semiprivate handstand lesson yesterday, and it was AWESOME. This kind of thing is exactly what I need. And by "need", I mean it will definitely help my handstand over time, not that it will do me the slightest bit of good in yoga class two hours later when my shoulders are considering mutiny. But anyway, it was intensely valuable to get a real evaluation of where I am with respect to press handstands and various press handstand drills, and come away with a list of relevant exercises that I can actually do. It's so incredibly great to have an acrobat teacher in town!

I haven't put these together into an actual exercise routine with reps, timing or sets yet, but here's my basic homework that I can do in addition to just practicing balancing my handstand, and my usual shoulder stretches.

Roll through my middle splits repeatedly, as well as I'm able (this means lifting up and over them), with hands outstretched. When lying down forward of feet, try to tuck the pelvis.For a wider straddle. This is exciting because I want that anyway, and often have responded well to repeating brief stretches 10 or 20 times. Why've I never tried this?
Headstand curl-ups and curl-downs, pressing, all the way to/from knees if possible. Train myself how to roll up and roll down. My regular headstand presses are great, but I'm used to doing them with a straight back, even when piking, and curling feels very different.
Press handstand against the wall (negatives; later, with jumping up?)Train myself how to roll up and roll down. Probably I'll be starting with just partial negatives, just to the point where I start to lose it (which happens fast).
Banana handstands with really open shoulders, everything arched backGet my shoulders used to being really open but with weight on them.

Anyone who might have suggestions on how many times or how often I should work this stuff (ahem, [livejournal.com profile] nevers), feel free to give advice. :) I'll be experimenting today soon to see what feels right.
flexagon: (Default)
What a long, surreal weekend. Going to acrobatic flying today was the right call. Sadly, though, I didn't get ANY PICTURES of myself... not a one! I would love nothing better than a photo shoot of the things we did, but in the meantime I've tried to find pictures on the web for illustration.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: inversions, thai massage and acrobatics. )

What did I actually learn that I want to remember and keep practicing?
  • That whole massage sequence I didn't describe.
  • If I'm basing and my flyer has a layer of slipperiness over their hipbones, pronating my feet so that the feet cup their bones can help a LOT.
  • In handstand, it is good to practice pressing off the wall with one toe and finding balance with the fingers.
  • Acroyoga teaches that there is no way to correct an underbalance in handstands, which seems kind of silly to me, because yes there is.
  • The ribcage part of the hollow body is still too hard for me to find. Maybe I need to do that often, like Kegels, when I'm lying in bed or bored in a meeting.
  • Those "handstand walk" mini-presses. I need to find a productive way to work on them. Maybe I'd do better going from a step to ground level.
  • As a base I have to push into a person so they'll be comfortable falling onto me. This goes triple for new people who don't realize I'm strong and don't trust me to start pushing at the right moment.
  • I am pretty freaking awesome and can do great things, and am capable of learning more!
flexagon: (Default)
Last Friday [livejournal.com profile] flexagon finally got to see what [livejournal.com profile] apfelsingail's circus posts are all about. That was planned... unplanned is that we wore almost identical outfits. Hint for confused viewers: only one of us has enough hair to have a braid. :)

Here is [livejournal.com profile] flexagon doing a layback under the careful tutelage of the mandatory tattooed instructor:

[livejournal.com profile] apfelsingail displays impressive flexibility on the Spanish web. Take note of her (lone) ninja-foot!

More pictures: handstands, more trapeze, more spanish web and a kitty! )
flexagon: (Default)
For my lifting friends, a new adductor exercise to love ) 1:30 and 1:55 handstand holds today for the non-record. I did do a straddle-up when completely exhausted, though. That is good.

Such interesting things are stirring, career-wise: it looks like TBC and Dan the Cat and I may all be making separate bids to get into Google this year, for various reasons. Only TBC and I would be colocated in Cambridge since this would be the Cat's way of making a break for Manhattan, but still, they are probably the two people I would most like to work with again in any capacity, so if this were to work out it could be stellar. Bit of a shame we all have our sights set on a place that's wicked hard to get into. We're good, but going three for three is statistically not likely. Wish us luck... and [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug too, of course, for those tasty little referral bonuses.
flexagon: (Default)
Last night, studying NASM stuff with my friend Pole Dancer, I was nattering on about something, maybe the heartbeat: the atria contract and then the ventricles (based on the same nerve signal, but the AV node slows it down en route), and thus we get the classic two-beat lub-dub that you hear when you press your ear to someone's chest. She said "You make this stuff all so interesting!" I said "It is interesting and cool... isn't it? All this stuff is real, it's about what's inside us all the time!" And she said "It's exciting and interesting when you teach it. Have you ever thought about being a teacher? You'd be a great teacher."

I think she thinks a bunch of things about me that I think about Dan the Cat. Without trying to duck the compliment, it's kind of scary to realize it's all relative. I feel a certain weight of responsibility -- which I guess is the whole point of studying with someone else. I don't necessarily mind, because if I'm studying while thinking how to not only understand but teach the material, I'll learn that much better and I know it.

I hope I have mentioned that working on handstands every day is the bomb. I'm used to extremely slow progress, but, well, not lately. Today (when I took my daily PT-stretch-and-handstand break) I held a freestanding handstand and counted to 20; it probably was not 20 seconds but I bet it was a record. Tonight at gymnastics I also measured that mat I straddled up to last week: seven inches thick, not four or five. Tonight no such heroism was on display: I just straddled up normally in front of a crash pad, again and again and again. Once or twice I caught my balance for a few seconds, but I made it up, I don't know. Definitely over 20 times. I still seem to lose the feel of straddle-ups in between sessions, but by the end of a session it feels like I hardly need to jump. And every time the neural pathways get reinforced. You know what I really like? The word accretion. Yep, and tamales and dodecahedrons. :)
flexagon: (Default)
I have to hand it to gymnastics, which is running two nights a week now: it's capable of training me plenty hard without bothering my hamstring. I've been doing handstands every day at work, and when I mentioned that the teacher said he could tell I'd been working on them -- which almost has to be a lie, but a kind one. Anyway, I did handsprings in the harness on the trampoline again, then tried to take the front handspring over to the tumble track, where it promptly evaporated. Le sigh. Maybe that is what Wednesday is for; today is definitely a rest day. A rest, go to PT and have a date with my bug day.

I'm done reading Code now, and the book club at work is beginning to move into the book we're really covering. Near the end, Code was covering binary-coded decimal numbers, which meant talking first about binary numbers that fall between integers. These work about the way you might imagine -- the numbers after the dot represent negative powers of 2 instead of negative powers of 10. So, 1.1 in binary is 1.5 in decimal; 0.11 is 0.75 in decimal, and so forth.

That dot is referred to as a binary point. And I honestly thought it was a typo. What? There's nothing inherently base-10 about the term decimal point, I thought. Hello, does the "dec" in "decimal" mean nothing to you?

The Numerical Relations office is probably going to send me off to sensitivity training if they ever get wind of this.
flexagon: (blech)
I just got back from a long-awaited inversions workshop with Ana Forrest, who's a big name in the western yoga world.

This is the kind of thing Ana's famous for:

So one wonders where, in this workshop, the inversions went. In two and a half hours we did two forearm stand poses, one handstand and no headstands. We did do some evil, boot-campy ab work, some pranayama I wasn't familiar with, and some sequences leading up to koundinyasana, one-legged crow and an (admittedly very cool) shoulderstand variation called twisted cypress. Perhaps I should be more forgiving -- one-legged crow is almost an inversion if you get the free leg up really high -- but I just don't feel forgiving. For this I risked my hamstring, even though I quit my regular yoga studio for a month to avoid reinjuring it? Bah. I feel like I've barely been upside-down today.
flexagon: (Default)
Through great good luck I found out that Eliott from my studio was doing an arm balance workshop yesterday -- it wouldn't necessarily have been an inversion workshop except that Eliott loves handstands. I'm doing an inversion workshop (actually an inversion workshop) with Ana Forrest next weekend at Back Bay Yoga, so I feel especially lucky in my handstand training lately. This balances my bad luck in being sick all week, and therefore really weak. :b

The best thing we did in Eliott's class is practice falling out of handstand into wheel in the middle of the floor. I didn't really straighten up into my full handstand before falling, just came over with knees bent. Up and... thud. Up and... thud. Up and... thud. It was rather cathartic, actually. I still wonder why gymnastics people caution against doing it that way, while yoga people caution against cartwheeling out and rolling out. All three ways seem okay to me. The gymnastics ways do seem lower impact as long as a person is good with working with momentum, but I'm getting better at falling into backbend and I certainly see it as a legitimate way out. It probably helps that I have a pretty comfortable wheel.

I haven't whined yet on LJ about having a slightly torn hamstring. :-( It's my right semitendonosus, for those who really care. The massage therapist wants me to go to physical therapy, where the badly healed-up fibers in the muscle can be ultrasounded away and where they will give me exercises to do. Also, I'm supposed to not be stretching it too much. It's hard for me to feel the difference between the good stretch and the bad stretch, so I may just take this opportunity to focus on other muscles for a while. I suppose this could screw up my annual stretching pictures in March... only the hamstring ones though, and healing up properly is more important. Goddamn hamstrings.

I'm still strongly considering NASM peronal trainer certification. I have a friend who will do it with me if I do. We're about to start up another technical book club at work, so I might be studying a lot this spring.
flexagon: (Default)
Gymnastics was great last night. I brought a... friend? A weak social connection?... well, I brought a person, and she and I worked on handstands the whole time after class broke out into individual work. I taught her how to roll out of one, and for the first time ever, I straddled up a few times without rocking back strongly first to build some momentum. I also worked with Noah again on cartwheeling out of a handstand -- it's getting a little more intuitive. I still don't know how long it will take until I can do that from a real, accidental overbalance, but soon I'll probably start trying.

What Noah has to say about handstands is this: Think about how a little kid learns to walk. You have to learn handstands like that. Try them every day, preferably more than once per day, and it doesn't matter if you have to walk around a bit, or break form, or fall. It doesn't matter what you do. That's how the body learns, just slowly building up intuition and zeroing in on those balance points. I don't agree that the best way to learn is to do a bunch of perfect handstands with a spot -- it's better to have to fight for it and learn how to get there.

I feel pretty damn tired today. It bugs me that I'm doing more and more things that would really seem to warrant a day off afterward, but I am. Maybe I should drop to working out 5x/week. Or maybe it could be argued that skating at lunch on Tuesday really wasn't so kosher since that was supposed to be my day off. How do you all decide when to rest?
flexagon: (Default)
Am I ever exhausted! Slacking off in CA was lovely but it seems to be over, and now I'm fighting off something. Two things though:

1) I read The Tipping Point while on the airplane to CA last Friday. It suggested an experiment that I decided to do: you list about 40 non-family, non-coworker people that you'd consider your "social circle", then for each person figure out who introduced you to that friend, and who introduced you to that person, etc. For example, I met [livejournal.com profile] miyyu all on my own, so I'm the introducing agent; but I met [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis through J who I met through H when I posted an ad looking for a subletter for my apartment. Apparently in most cases you'll find yourself discovering the same name over and over again; much or most of your social circle will trace back to the same "connecter" person.

What I found is that this isn't true for me. I met a lot of my social circle all by myself. There are only a couple of cases where I'm now closer to someone than I am to the person who introduced me to that person; [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug, who I met in concert choir because Vicky persuaded me to take it, is one, and [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis is another. The longest causal chain in my social circle that I could find is this: I met Whiplash Boy through Dark Sister who I met because she was friends with [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis, who was going out with J who was best friends with H when I posted that fateful ad. Of course, I just realized that I wouldn't have come to LJ if not for [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis, either, so maybe my LJ friends should all reference her. Maybe I'm a little bit wrong and I have a prime mover in my social life after all. :) I have a lot of ex-coworkers though, and ex-roommates and other people I met without help.

2) I went to adult gymnastics at MIT for the first time, and not only do they have actual equipment there but the teacher is so much less insane than the Jamnastics guy. We actually warmed up! He also spotted me a few times on cartwheeling out of handstand, and zowie, it felt weird. No wonder I wasn't getting it on my own. That really helped. I also did a pretty decent negative hs press, tucking down in a semi-controlled way, and that was nice. So that's what I'll be doing on Wednesday nights for now; just have to avoid the evil drill where we did cartwheels from kneeling, because that seems to have done some trashy things to my right hamstring. To make up for the lost yoga class I'll be taking advanced yoga on Mondays instead. Possibly Saturdays too. I really want to get back to doing yoga 3x/week.


flexagon: (Default)

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