flexagon: (Default)
Tuesday: I went to my first ashtanga class in a long time (it was a 2nd series one) and it was really great. I got all sweaty and got my lotus pose (this only happens when I'm really warmed up), but at the same time it didn't kick my ass nearly as much as ashtanga used to. I may keep going to this one since it seems to feel so good, and make Monday my rest day. Decisions.

Wednesday: nothing because the Red Line had some kind of emergency and I couldn't get to acroyoga. Dreadful!

Thursday: 25 pullups at work with [livejournal.com profile] rifmeister in the afternoon, and then went to acrobalance where two things went very strangely indeed. First, there were 29(!) students in the class -- the previous max was 15 and that was considered a crazy influx of people in its day. It was temporary too. Poor Z-dawg hardly knew what to do with such a giant group tonight, and the floor was crowded. That said, the other weird thing was that I totally did a back walkover for the first time in weeks, and then another one and then another one. Then I went off into corners to obsess/practice until I was so tired I started dropping myself on my head and had to stop... I probably did 15 of them tonight all told. It felt AMAZING. It's the first time I ever had them consistently enough that I could actually practice the move on my own, repeatedly. After the first one they didn't even overstretch my rib muscles... they felt good. :-) I am totally in love and want to do about eleventy trillion of them tomorrow instead of going to work.
flexagon: (Default)
Dear girl in front of me in yoga class,

I have to ask what the HELL you were doing walking into something that said "advanced vinyasa". Perhaps you thought "vinyasa" was Sanskrit for "beginner" but I regret to inform you that this was incorrect.

I noticed you when we went into Warrior 3 near the beginning of class. "That girl in front of me might kick my head", I thought, and moved a few inches to get out of your way. But when I checked, you seemed uncomfortable with standing on one foot, and you lifted the other one maybe twelve inches. After that, it was hard not to watch you. I seriously never realized what good courtesy it is to maintain proper form and alignment, especially in an advanced class where super-detailed cues are not given... doing this enables the people behind one to be sure that one is NOT ABOUT TO BLOW OUT A JOINT RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. Seriously, you were scary. For future reference: please do not pronate your foot as much as possible in every single lunge. Do not relax your spine in a weird swaybacked way in every vinyasa.

Do not, and I may be beating a broken record here, do NOT come to advanced class at a studio if you don't have some reason to believe that will be appropriate. I was trying out a new yoga top that, as it turns out, is quite questionable and kept wanting to put my breasts on display. But even the rosy glow of my right areola saying hello for the fifth time was not enough to tear my eyes away from the trainwreck of your supposed dancer's pose. You remember that one, right, it's the one where the teacher was practically building scaffolding around you in order to steady you. (Again with the standing on one foot thing. Yes! You have to be able to do that!)

I'm not a yoga snob, and in fact I'm constantly looking foolish myself for trying things that are half a step beyond what I can do. I recognize that inspiration can be a catalyst for growth. Also, I've been to classes that are too hard for me, and I know some of what you must have felt as the rest of us did ridiculously difficult things around you. Probably you won't be back to the same class. In addition, I realize that both morally and according to the waiver you had to sign, your safety is ultimately your own responsibility.

All the same, if it were my studio I would have asked you to leave and given you credit for another class of your choosing.
*shivers*
flexagon: (Default)
I haven't told LJ anything about my acrobalance classes, ever since I found out about them. I've been to two now, one of which was even recorded on LJ in some detail, but not by me. Aside from finding out that there's a strange, gaping hole in the bus schedule to get there (you can be 20 minutes early, or 20 minutes late), they've been tremendously awesome. The teacher, who I will call Zed, is awesome also, and nice to stand on.

I have this one particular insight that I was given with respect to front handsprings: after starting a strong drive with my back leg, I should tighten my abs in order to transmit that force to my upper body and bring me upright as a single unit.

Duh! Force transmission! If my middle is loose, the force and momentum in my legs won't affect my upper body much (until certain limits of flexibility are reached, at which point ouch). But if it's tight, it acts as a conductor. This is the answer to soooooo many of my problems where I thought I couldn't kick hard enough to "get over" in some rotation or other. The same EXACT insight is what's going to get me my back kickover and then walkover soon if I keep going. And the same exact insight is going to get my cartwheels faster the way Zed wants them to be. (Mind you, I still think slow cartwheels are pretty, but I'm happy to practice them different ways.) This makes me incredibly happy because I have a strong core already; it's not like I have to develop some esoteric strength where I currently have nothing. I just have to apply what I have.

As a side note, today in yoga class I touched the ball of my foot to my forehead in a wall-assisted backbend. I love that -- it's just not something you get to feel every day. I always wiggle my toes on my forehead to distract myself from the discomfort of the stretch.

(After class I was talking with the teacher and some people, and tried coming down from tripod headstand into one-legged crane after the teacher said she thought it would be impossible / really hard. I succeeded, and she said "Rock star! I guess it's possible.")

I'm hoping that tomorrow I can get Zed to walk around with me a little bit while I'm standing on his shoulders. He's turned in place but not really walked, yet. And I'm kinda proud because so far it's only me he's tried moving with -- the other fliers are too nervous just being up there.
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: (putt putt putt)
Holy shit, was tonight ever a yoga class.

For the first time ever, I did an arm balance whose name I don't know. It's like chaturanga, but you spread your legs out wide to the sides and, um, balance on your hands. It involves hunching up the back to get the pelvis touching the elbows, and I've never ever gotten my feet off the ground before. Today I did it for a second, "one one-thousand", before I crashed to the floor with cramps in both hips. You could call it a proof of concept.

Next, also for the first time ever, I did this:



except, you know, with less chest hair, and I actually only had the ball of my foot to my forehead. :)

Then I demonstrated scorpion handstand for the class, when the time for scorpions came around (as it must in every perfect yoga class, don't you agree?) and I was actually able to float it off the wall and balance it for what felt like forever but was probably really 10 seconds. Unbelievable! It was probably my personal best and people actually saw it. Everyone saw it!! Crazy, that never happens!

I was due for a night like this after the last few months of just slogging along. Yoga's so very irregular... you put in constant effort, and the payback comes at completely random times, and there's always further to go. Just last Friday I saw some guys jumping back and forth between down dog and crane pose -- it looks like an antigravity trick and feels like something I'll never be able to do. Still, I'm not totally sure I'll say that in five years... only 98%. You never know.

I found this quote yesterday:

Uncertainty, when accepted, sheds a bright light on the power of intention.  Intention is what you can count on: not the outcome, but the motivation you bring, the vision you hold, the compass setting you choose to follow.

~Joanna Macy

Goddamn, that inspires the fuck out of me... the vision you hold, the compass setting you choose to follow. So I guess that means back to work, because all is not well. I'm just choosing to blog this good stuff while I can still feel the enthusiasm.
flexagon: (Default)
I got a picture of the random yoga pose I was all happy about last Wednesday. Yay! It looks as cool as it feels! I present... the ankle-grabbing backbend.

<strong>



</strong>

For the record, grabbing the ankle is relatively easy for me. Lifting one hand off the ground in the first place was much more difficult; it's scarier than lifting one leg. Last week was just "oh yeah -- the ankle is within reach from there too, how spicy!"

ETA: check out that vein in my arm, yo. I am a vampire's dream victim.
flexagon: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] heisenbug and I went to see a belly dance show at the Green Street Studios. Some of the dancers I found myself unable to appreciate, but some of them were just amazing. I love that whole boneless, fluid, slow thing that some belly dancers have going on. I took classes in that once... and would love to do it again, truth be told. Maybe after spring semester is over. I don't naturally have the slow, twisty arm movements, but I'd sure like to learn... and it's one of the few forms of dance where a long torso comes in handy.

In the spirit of [livejournal.com profile] islenskr's once-a-week picture posting, here is a yoga pose I failed to adequately describe to someone today:



It's a little bit face smashy... but oh, my arms look ripped. :) Pleasant surprise there.

Someone told me recently that she always feels self-conscious and tries to be really unobtrusive in the gym... just does the machines, doesn't do experiments with the equipment, etc. I was expecting her to say she felt fat or not strong enough, and then she said "I worry about making people feel bad by shining too brightly." Wow! That's sweet, and quite the opposite of what I usually hear, but I wouldn't have any fun at the gym if I acted like that. Let 'em eat cake and wear sunglasses, I say.
flexagon: (Default)
I had people over for a craft night last night. I love having people over... there were 8.5 people there at the fullest point, doing everything from literary criticism to musical composition (some knitting, some dreamcatcher making and some beading occurred as well). It was basically old friends plus Apples, who I would perhaps like to be be old friends with someday, and of course the Galica who is simply not old enough to be old friends with. The hot spiced cider crossed all boundaries and was the most popular attendee of the evening. All in all, it got bigger than I thought it would and went better than I thought it would (I mean, I wasn't even the one who started the late-night acro!) and maybe I'll have another one after the holidays. (I'll probably still be working on the same sweater, too, though I got over 3" of the sleeve done last night and that gives me some hope for the future. What would it take to get that much done every weekend day? And how depressing is it that the same amount of knitting will be about 1" worth when I'm working on the front and back of the thing? Agh.)

Here's some yoga progress for those who are interested...Scorpion pose through the ages )

I would SO LOVE to experience this with feet-to-head. I'm not sure I can do it safely, but today I may try to do this in such a way that I can lean the whole thing forward, shins on a wall, and get more leverage toward the final pose. (What's the worst that can happen, I drop myself on my throat? Eh, I'm sure that doesn't hurt.)

Weightlifting before that, though. And coffee before that.
flexagon: (acro-anim)
I found them! I found playful acro-people to play with me! Yes, tonight was the night of the acroyoga workshop. I thought I would know at least one person there, for the rather good reasons that one person said they would go with me and I advertised the event to about 10 others, mostly yoga or gymnastics people, who I thought might like it. In fact I did know one person there: the yoga-teachin' husband of one of the regular teachers at 02 Yoga. And so I was right all along, but for the wrong reasons. Story of my life. :)

If you don't think acro sounds like fun then maybe I can't tell you why it's good to lift another person, or be lifted and stretched, or giggle and be dropped. There is something primal about it, supporting and being supported, that makes me feel human and happy, and there's a showing-off element and most of all it's just about playing. I'm not here to convince you, and I don't have the slightest idea why stuff like this doesn't sell out when boot-campy Ana Forrest garbage does. I will, however, post some pictures when they get sent around.

Here are all the things we did in class that I want to remember )

One of the women there I really want to stay in touch with -- she apparently has acro get-togethers semi-regularly at her place, and she knows some stuff about Nimble Arts and general cool things. And in 3 days I get to do acro-in-the-park with [livejournal.com profile] nevers in the city at the center of the universe! My acro-cup runneth over.
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)
This is the outcome of all the time I spent with iMovie last week. It doesn't have audio, partly because I got impatient (with real life calling me again, I can't keep spending two hours a day on this) and partly because I misremembered the memory limit youtube will accept. I think it came out pretty well though! It's a mix of Mexico in general, Maya Tulum and yoga.



This other, much shorter movie from Mexico is about a little cat I met on Thursday. I wonder if it's legal to have a margay for a pet in Massachusetts...

flexagon: (Default)
Ahhhhhh, basics class on Thursday. I'm glad I reined myself in for the gentle reintroduction. I felt like taffy, like stone, at all the right times. It was great to be able to do everything well and just reawaken my system after all that time off (and it's time I admit that yoga does this better than the weight room, these days). Then the two-hour master class on backbends on Friday with all the really good people... what a sweatbath. Oh my god. Up dog and the sweat droplets move down my chest, down dog and they start to move back up. I never sweat that much! I did lots of awesome things including lotus again (happy wiggle), binding half lotus on the left side (fairly new for me), one-legged crane on both sides... I can't even remember. I got a deeper bind than ever before in revolved side angle, and I can't even find a picture of that bind by googling. Anyway, great class. Now I notice my cough -- left over from when I used to be sick, good thing I'm NOT sick anymore now -- is getting worse. Um, that wouldn't be cool, if I were still sick.

I am having lots of thoughts about changing things, changing the world outside my tiny little demesne. And I'm having lots of contradictory feelings, which is good because it means I'm probably getting near something important. I find it very interesting that it's my older, most adult self that's most afraid of suggesting changes in general. When I was younger I did think I'd change the world in some way... now I'm trained to be an engineer, not a leader, and I've learned to value not rocking the boat over little things. What's big enough to be worth it? What do I even want my role to be? I like my idea of running a little gym, because it's turning into a great thought experiment. For example: when I think of the possibility of someday owning a small neighborhood business, why do I simultaneously feel snobbish (i.e., that's not a big enough goal... do you really want to live out your days running one piddly little gym in Arlington?) and intimidated (whoa, that takes more money than I have, and a LOT of risk, and what makes me think I could handle being an employer? also, my head fills with visions of all the current members hating me and quitting). I used to think I would be a leader someday, somehow. Now I don't see a way clear to that... and I don't even think it's me wanting that. I don't hate the corporate world but I don't want to be addicted to it either, and already it feels scary to contemplate getting along without it. I guess seven years is long enough to form a habit.
flexagon: (Default)
I still can't believe I did lotus pose yesterday. It felt so dreamlike at the time -- and in fact last night I did dream about it, and woke up and was afraid it was all a dream. It happened though, and without knee pain too. Now I have to go back to not working on it, because actively working on lotus pose is one of the more prevalent ways to get hurt in yoga. What a great practice though... ashtanga gives you something so good to do with coffee energy. :) I felt so light.

Forgot to mention that L-dawg came through town last week, and we did acroyoga in my living room. L-dawg is such a tiny person! She does work out a lot, and she could hold me up but couldn't keep me balanced. How I want someone I can do candlestick on! (I can do it on [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug but it hurts his wrists, which makes me feel guilty.) We talked for a while about how we're both more comfortable than we used to be about touching other people. For me it's mostly about knowing great stuff like acroyoga and the hamstring massage trick I learned a couple of weeks ago (which I've now done on three people, I think, and they all loved it and planned to beg for it from other people. Why are we not taught this stuff in school, whyyy?). Competence makes me comfortable, that and the fact that I haven't had a negative touching experience for quite a while now.
flexagon: (Default)
Today was an exciting day because I got to go to Home Depot (squee!) with [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis (yay!) and then in the afternoon I went to a 3-hour partner yoga workshop. (We discussed the Home Depot squee-ing, briefly, and I for one am jaded about being jaded. From now on I'm going to consider the good, exciting little things exciting, and I'm not even going to take crap for it. Despite how I behaved for years and years, there are NOT gold stars handed out to those who can damp positive emotions the fastest. Those people only get stupid green stars... fuck that.)

Flying before yoga, basing before yoga, partner stretching, one really bad pun )

[livejournal.com profile] heisenbug's plane is late but that's not enough to ruin the day at this point.
flexagon: (Default)
grouchy but peaceful about straddle-ups )

I've been meaning to post about last Friday's yoga class too. It was a 2-hour class on transitions. We did the following:
  • Jumping out of high and low crane
  • Drills toward jumping through hands with straight legs, using a towel under our feet
  • Jumping into crane from down dog
  • Jumping into tittibhasana from down dog (!)
  • Some neat drills with coming up into handstand on an inhale, then down on an exhale, then spending another breath coming up into a lunge
  • Jumping forward and back with straight legs
  • Jumping through arms with one leg straight and one folded
  • Jumping up into an almost-handstand with ankles crossed, then lowering down gracefully
...and I'm probably not even remembering everything. It was incredible to see people actually doing some of this stuff. It made me want to be about five times as strong as I am so I could do some of it too.
flexagon: (Default)
Great yoga class tonight... Read more... ) Then I came home and did a straddle-up to handstand, just one because my wrists are about done for the day. I don't think I kept my legs perfectly straight -- knowing that's the idea and being able to focus on that during the intense pressing step are two different things. Still, I clearly got it again. I guess in the end it took me a month to begin to be able to do them, from the first time I tried for real. That's sort of encouraging. Makes me think that soon I should stack a zillion risers under the step and start working on piking, although part of me also says to stop worrying about getting up and start focusing on balance.

Work right now is pretty ugh. My attention is torn in several directions. I expect it to get a little easier after this week when a somewhat weird political situation will end. I know I've grown up a lot become way more cynical taken too many Dale Carnegie classes lately, because lately I've been watching one woman totally ruining the Colubrid career of another, and my thoughts are mostly I've got to cultivate that person so she'll consider me a friend and not try to undercut me. When I was younger I would have thought that is clearly a bad person and I don't want to be friendly toward them.
flexagon: (Default)
I've invented a drink.
1/2 cup unsweetened almond soymilk (WestSoy)
1 shot (2 tablespoons) Kahlua
Couple of ice cubes

It's kind of like a white Russian, only it's soy. And toasted because of the almond, of course. I like it.

Oh aaannnnnd... this forearm balancing thing came clear for me just in time for me to get lucky in an advanced class tonight. We did scorpions, and who balanced in a scorpion for ~5 seconds? Me me me. It was so fun, I want to do that every class for like the rest of my life and possibly beyond. But I'm sure if I show my face in that class again we'll end up doing some impossible hip thing and it will just be painful. So... it's one more thing to do against the wall at McGym when I feel like being looked at oddly.
flexagon: (Default)
Well, yay. Actual progress on my forearm stand! The instructor helped me out a little in class yesterday, and after following her advice I actually balanced for about six quick breaths without touching the wall. Then today at McGym I did it again. Suddenly I have a little square of support within which I can stay once I find it, instead of feeling like I'm trying to balance an egg on a thumbtack.

I think this is how my learning process goes for the upside-down poses:

1) Do it against the wall
2) Get into it against the wall, then balance without touching the wall
3) Do it next to the wall but without touching the wall
4) Do it away from the wall
5) Move into and out of it with good form

Although they aren't presented that way, these poses (headstand, forearm stand, handstand) are in a series -- each one has a smaller and smaller base of support. So it's really all about finding your inverted sense of balance and refining that sense as you learn to place your center of gravity over a smaller and smaller place, and of course having patience... people don't learn to balance on their feet overnight and they don't learn to balance on their hands overnight. But they do learn. The body has feedback systems that work quite independently of our conscious thought.

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