L.O.S. Weeks 36 through 44

“Ramakrishna said that our attempts to go to Brahman and report back what it’s like are like sending a salt doll – a doll made out of salt – to the bottom of the ocean to determine its depth.  On the way, the doll will totally dissolve, and there will be nobody left to report back.”

    – Ram Dass, from Paths to God, recalling Ramakrishna’s endeavour to describe samadhi to his students

stay under as long as you can

In plain talk, we’re pretty far down the rabbit hole at this point, people.  I haven’t been able to transcribe all of the asanas for each section, nor have I been entirely clear on what specifically is transpiring in my own experience as the weeks progress, and now that I’m approaching the year anniversary of Project LOS, if I were to try to describe the full transition I wouldn’t even know where to start.  I figure having the asanas written is not so important cause if you’re reading this you probably have the book and you can look it up yourself, plus while the project remains firmly anchored in the physical body the effects are becoming less tangible, less anatomical, less intellectual even:  the shifts seem to be manifesting as dreams [which are often nightmares at this point, womp womp, requiring a steady meditative hand during the days] and flashes of people or situations in one day that manifest or show themselves in the next 48 or 72 hours.  The structural changes in the Week 36-40 series hinge around Vatyanasana and Akarna Dhanurasana, addressing iliopsoas and quadratus lumborum among others, and then BKS has been good enough to bestow Urdhva Dhanurasana on us as the final pose before rest, plus some Uddhiyana Bandha practice which will get your motor running.  It’s good spinal therapy.  Then in weeks 40 through 44 he says just “consolidate” the poses up to this point, which I’m not sure what that means in this context but I just kept doing the previous weeks’ sequence…

…and then yesterday I completed the first time all the way through the Week 45-50 sequence with all the trimmings and had my little blown yet again by the sophistication and cumulative construction of the program.  The sequences are lasting for longer chunks of time and building physical stamina in Urdhva by way of 6 repetitions; pranayam is increasing in length and volatility.  Note to any of you practicing this along with me, or who want to start it:  do not skip Nadi Shodana.

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The Blogspital


You might notice some reduced functionality on this site, since I was invaded by weak-ass search engine bombs for L0u1s Vu1tt0n spam, of all horrendous things, and the whole kit and kaboodle had to be shifted over to another WP build and server, a process that is apparently analogous to building an enormous sand castle and then deciding you want that sandcastle to be three meters to the immediate right.  So some stuff fell off, notably comment links, but I still see what you guys write so if you notice anything else made of fail please let me know.

I may also start testing the very shaky iPad WP app which seems to require updates on an alarming basis and I wasn’t really impressed the first time I tried it, so get ready for some dubioius posts and visuals.  The upside of these shenanigans will hopefully be:  more of the best blog money can’t buy:  Heavy Metta, beaches.

L.O.S. Up to Week 30, and the end of Course One

A couple of technical notes from the last couple of LOS weeks:

I was initially puzzled by the early inclusion of lotus, virasana, full Gomukhasana arms and similar tight binds of extreme shoulder or knee flexing that seem to elude the gen-pop. I’ve never really had problems with them in my own body, but as a teacher I rarely include them in a beginner or even a mixed level class, because it’s just too demoralizing..it separates practitioners instead of unifying them, or it becomes a tedious technical exegesis that doesn’t always reflect the needs of a post-work sweat followed by peace and quiet.

Because of my work teaching the good folks at my gym, I’ve been following Kelly Starret’s video/blog series, MobilityWOD. For those of you not familiar with the lingo, a WOD is a “workout of the day” and mobility refers specifically to joint and tissue movement, something often lacking in the tight strong bodies of athletes. So a couple of side notes:

– the more athletic fortitude I gain, the less patience I have for what I would term conventional alignment instruction; my internal sensitivity is reduced somewhat (although the LOS practice does help me regain it). I hold the pose for the requisite time but I do less tinkering around and futzing with subtlety. I just let it work on me.
– the more athletic fortitude I gain, the more I see that the tight binds and lotuses in Iyengar’s program are *mobility drills*: they fix e.g. The hand and elbow in the case of Gomukhasana or the foot and knee in the case of Lotus and then the relevant torso joint, shoulder and hip, MUST open. Or, open and re-stabilize with more relevance to the core, as in the case of the recently introduced Urdhva Padmasana and Pindasana in both headstand and shoulder stand.

K-Star would have an athlete under his tutelage take a hold of a vertical pole with her hand overhead and in the back plane, then hold the elbow with the free hand, so as to stabilize the two less relevant and more mobile joints, to open and then restabilize the shoulder. Much easier for the stiff and strong, but if a vertical pole is not available, I’m impressed at the biomechanical resourcefulness of Iyengar’s sequencing…and again, marveling at the consistency that different body-models maintain, even across time and out of context.

App: Seconds Pro, also good for Tabata stuff

And subjective emo notes:

I LOVE THIS PRACTICE. I am so infatuated with Sirsasana that I’m sending it inappropriate text messages. And it’s important to remember during the close of Course One that it was not always thus, in fact, the vast majority of the initial days were a gruesome demoralizing slog. You gotta stick with it. The body works slowly, its vibration is slow, you gotta just show up and do the work. Now that I am more physically able on multiple levels, I’m getting greedy (ironically): I am less patient with myself and with others, I am more in a hurry to skip ahead to other shapes. And I have messed with the program here and there, inserting some thigh stretches occasionally, and what might be charitably termed an Anusaresque hip opening sequence, but other than that trying to remain as consistent and accurate as possible.

At the end of Course One BK finally offers Surya Namaskar, since he’s been prepping the constituent poses as long holds for weeks. He also gives a little three-day sampler plate that synthesizes and re-sequences the asanas shown to date, and I went full iNerd and used my circuit training timer app to generate accurate timing of all the poses, as given by the man himself. He claims that this course will restore and bring balance to body and mind and so far I can confirm his findings.

Current events: My plan to insinuate myself into the One Yoga For The People community was effective and I will be teaching at 7:30 pm on Fridays starting this week, throughout the rest of the summer.  On Monday I was interviewed on The Yoga Voice podcast, created and sustained by my buddy Stacey, and a brilliant concept, so check those interviews out, and mine should be posted in a little while.

Heavy Metta Review – Friday Night Lights

If you are using Heavy Metta as a new media review outlet you, good sir or madam, will always be sorely disappointed, cause I’m generally crap at getting on top of good shows or viral links or hot new albums until well after they have risen, peaked and faded. The reason for this is simply that when somebody says “Check out this show/book/site/band/teacher, you’ll love them”‘ I BELIEVE THEM: as somebody who obsessively listens to one song for weeks and generates an entire worldview and lexicon around the lyrics and becomes firmly convinced of said songs’ portentious message for me in the coming years, an almost oracular faith in this song…I cannot afford, do you hear me, cannot afford to click on that link or check out your downloaded .flac album…if it’s as good as you say it is I will go deep into the rabbit hole and spend mammoth amounts of time and energy loving and processing and ruminating on this art. And so it is with Friday Night Lights.

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A checkin, some miscellany, the bliss of the tubes

A combination of a miserably slow Internet install [I’m glaring balefully at *you*, Telus] and the challenge of getting the laptop under?  around?  alongside?  the pregnant belly, combined with the below-mentioned fuzzy brain and generally slower-moving energy [both physical and intellectual] has cranked my blog pace down below sporadic to non-existent.  It’s not that I haven’t had stuff to say or write about, it’s that I seem to have some sort of attention deficit disorder that only permits me to do one thing for about ten or fifteen minutes before I have to get up and boogie around doing something else.  And although I have been trying my hardest to continue to serve our community and keep communicating the core of my teaching, I gotta say:  I weigh 186 lbs:  I’m getting freaking tired.  I’ve been super lucky throughout this whole pregnancy experience and have dodged most pain- and discomfort-bullets, but the straight up weight of these little suckers is really changing the game.  So this post might be a bit

Thanks, Al Gore

schizoid but I’m trying to catch up on both practical details, upcoming community events, and thought-nuggets of varying value.

  • Living downtown has so far proved magnificent, although I’m still kind of intimidated by living somewhere that’s so nice and keep expecting somebody to either turf me out for being a hippie or slide a Holiday Inn Express check-out form under the door.  As we near the end of our first month here I am starting to dig in a little more and get comfy.  The concrete and the building security soothes the low-level autistic tendencies in a very happy way.  And you never know how much you miss abundant electrical outlets until you live somewhere with an appropriately modern amount of them [there’s nothing like the A-Christmas-Story-like nest of frothing, sparking plugs, sealed with cat-hair, all piled into a Black and Decker power bar from 1996].
  • My last class before “mat leave” will be Big Rock Friday on April 1 at 4.  Play hooky, call in sick, if you have a pass at another studio don’t worry about the $$$, just come and visit please.  It’s a nice big space so it’ll be a bit roomier than the Yaletown sweat lodge.  As much as I’m looking forward to focussing more time and energy on these little beans I’m going to miss grownups like crazy, especially since almost all of you are continent and can speak in complete sentences.  So let’s party.  And I’m sorry about the outdated schedule that’s been up here on the blog…that’s pretty irritating…for what it’s worth [not much with a week to go] it’s fixed now.
  • Don’t forget to keep checking our Vanusara community site for upcoming events.  Sianna Sherman is this weekend and Martin Kirk’s therapeutics on April 1-3…not to mention a years’ worth of Immersions, Teacher Trainings, Philosophy Weekends, Advanced Practices and other abundant opportunities for study.

Big Rock Friday XV – Been Dazed and Confused

Another episode of BRFs That 70s Show, this time inspired by dino-rock and Wiley Wiggins and his enormous human-heart sized headphones. I really should see that movie again; I remember it as quite poignant but then I was one of those grungy teenagers completely captivated by all things late 60s/70s.

He looks a bit like my brother at that age

“Tuesday’s Gone”, Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Free Ride”, The Edgar Winter Group

“Rock And Roll All Night”, Kiss

“Space Truckin'”, Deep Purple

“Paranoid”, Sabbath

“Slow Ride”, Foghat

“Sweet Emotion”, Aerosmith

“Balinese”, ZZ Top

“Take The Money And Run”, Steve Miller Band

“Dazed And Confused”, Led Zeppelin

“Nassau/Baby I Love Your Way”, Peter Frampton

“Summer Breeze”, Seals and Crofts

“Lights”, Journey

Good stuff on the t00bz

1.  I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Leavitt the other day and we rocked out at BRF together.  She’s one of those cats that makes me remember the person on the mat beside you is a genius, so get to know them, even though you might be shy.  Check out her Heavy Metal Yoga cartoon.  Great minds, &c.

Like getting a hug, except all the time

2.  If you’ve been delighted by the preponderance of crocheted items showing up on necks and heads of students and staff at Yaletown lately, look no further than another gifted yoga buddy, LBG.  Buy her stuff.  Then give some of it away to people you like.  Then buy more.

3.  In the “Scary Brilliant” file goes this magnificent essay by Gail Hochachka, another stealth genius on the mat.  There’s so much in here I feel a bit slow and feeble unpacking it, but am honoured and humbled to have helped inspire it.   Stay tuned for a more fleshed-out post in response, complete sentences pending.

4.  Another year, another redonkulously talented group of Chris Chavez teacher training grads.  I just can’t say enough good things about these guys, nor about Chris’ dedication and diligence in helping us all become better teachers.  The word “all” is key here, because as you know, I’m not particularly interested in technologies that just reinforce existing awesomeness, since I figure that’ll take care of itself.  I’m interested in real transformation for everyone who participates, and that’s what happens when I assist these trainings.  Next one starts March 2011, giddy up!

Reality is a conversation, Part II – The unknown

Loosely continued from here, sort of

picturesque verdure

picturesque verdure

Following one of John’s many edicts I spent the last week of August running around in the forest. Well, he didn’t say that exactly, but he does often encourage those of us who wish to align with nature to spend some time with nature, so we know what the heck we’re doing. Here are some things that I’ve heard about Nature and why we should align with it:

– it’s beautiful
– it’s beneficent
– it has a pattern

which I don’t disagree with per se, except that almost every conventional definition of those words is challenged by actually hanging out in uncultivated Nature for any length of time. Breaking it down further, it seems clear that Nature, while unquestionably “beautiful” for values of “beautiful” that include “wild” and “filthy” and “beneficent” insofar as it is “ruthlessly fair”, is not arranged for OUR benefit as humans. Nature is not always picturesque. It is far from kind. It doesn’t exist for our pleasure alone, although you can frequently get pleasure out of it. It utterly fails to exist according to our organized rules and dogma, and trying to get it to fit in there somewhere is high-maintenance.

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Quoted for truth

From Pandagon‘s commentariat.

Here’s the problem.

I first noticed it around..2000-ish or so. It might have been before that, or whatever. The local chain grocery store (I was living in a rural area where there was like one largish grocery store in about a 30-minute drive radius. It was insane.) put up a big public display applauding their cashiers for making a new scans per minute metric. I think it was 80 or so. In a few months, there was another display, showing a few who made a metric of 120. There was only a few.

There was also less lanes open.

Back up in your ass with the resurrection

Back up in your ass with the resurrection

Those two things are entirely related.

For much of the actual working class, it’s all about meeting specified and trackable goals. And everything else goes out the window. This stampede towards absolute productivity and eliminating waste is at the core of the great recession. What we’re seeing for the most part, is companies using this as an excuse to cash in on productivity gains. That’s why profits are up even as sales are so low.

This is THE problem. This is the reason why Obama didn’t push for single payer/public option..the economy simply couldn’t withstand the massive productivity and efficiency gains in the health sector. And fixing it isn’t just a political problem…

All the solutions…there’s a lot of people..average, regular people who are going to be very upset with them. You could do massive direct government hiring…but you need to give those people breaks, or pay them if it’s storming or whatever. Or you make a stronger maximum workweek and lower it. Again, the idea that those lazy kids/whatever racial group won’t have to work as hard…it just pisses people off.

This isn’t some fake, Fox News trumped scandal. These are real, common, very popular tropes among the general population. And that’s the problem.

Nothing short of a complete change of the nature of work, why we work, what we get for work, is going to get the job done. And yes, the change is as much cultural as it is political. And that’s what makes it so tough to change.

Community Centre

I had a dream that all my old friends who are also yoga teachers who I rarely see anymore since we are so incredibly busy were hanging out doing karaoke and dancing 90s style to Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time”. It was awesome. Then when I woke up I was a bit sad because in addition to the usual attrition of babies and homes, it seems that yoga in Vancouver itself has experienced schisms…that is, that we have broken along tribal lines and camps, and never again the twain shall meet.

Or, I ruminated as I had the morning coffee-and-video-game-wakeup [Madden NFL ’11] perhaps we have simply exploded; grown so fast that, like a Big Bang, what once was close and nestly is now at the wild periphery. Either we pay lip service to the idea that more people should do yoga or we actually believe it: either way, our dharma as teachers is to continually grow and expand, and that will necessarily mean abandoning that closeness.

And students notice it too, and nobody seems to know why it happens: where is the Old Group, they say? Why all the politics, why the camps and militant splinter factions? Why is that every person I used to see weekly without fail at our favourite teachers’ class is now off doing Core Bootcamp on the Northshore?

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