Thursday, October 27, 2011

How I gained the ability to wear shorts.

Modesty can be a wonderful thing  it creates people like Audrey Hepburn. It also creates a wardrobe inappropriate for Chicago summers. I have always had an odd relationship to modesty. In bars made exclusively of dark corners I feel perfectly comfortable in little corset-style tops and fishnets. However, you get me on a sunny street and I become some pre-suffragette trying to make amends with the fact that it is okay for the modern girl to show a little ankle. Or, at least, that was the case until one remarkable event. 

Getting me into short shorts for Bikram was a slow process. My first class was spent in knit pants and two layers of shirts. The first shirt was a tight tank top, so that if I had to flip upside down, my belly would not hang out (I was familiar with downward dog and prepared should it rear its ugly head). The second was a loosely fitting T-shirt so that, heaven forbid, no one could see the curvature of my body. I should mention that this behavior was not driven by some teenage angsty body image issue. More than anything, I just didn't want to assault the person next to me with unwanted fleshy bits. 

Within a month the outfit morphed into a tank top and loose running shorts (with built in undie-guards so the person behind me didn't have to see anything in balancing stick). Over the course of the next 6 months, my belly even made an appearance. Granted, the belly-bearing top had thick padded cups I would shove into it to prevent anyone from being able to see that I, like most other people, have nipples. 

This steady pace might have gotten me to the blasé attitude I have now within four or five years but a miracle happened. My first year as a yogi, I competed in my first Asana Championship. While always an enriching experience, this one was special. Rather than performing the 3 minute routine on a stage in a park, where your audience passes by at a distance of 20-30 feet, or in an auditorium, where your audience is only people interested in the sport, this competition was in a Whole Foods. Yes, right in the grocery store. 

Tucked safely between the check-out lanes and the entrance we lifted our legs, shoved our chests up to the sky (which incidentally, was not a sky, but the second floor and escalator. One competitor, when folded in half in guillotine, saw, just past her own rear, two young boys staring at her from said escalator). To ensure that no competitor would leave this day with lingering body-shame, the warm-up area was placed on a second level, past the floral department. Yes, to get on stage we had to walk past hoards of urbanite mothers and their gaping children in what amounted to our undergarments. Many a young child was educated that day on the glories of anatomy as competitor after competitor wove through the floral department, past the check-out lanes, passing the natural soaps, to the stage  clad in spandex leotards and banana hammocks.*

Aura's Guillotine

Now that my hoo-hoo has been pointed at unsuspecting shoppers of organic produce I find bearing a little ankle, even knee, quite unremarkable. And thus, you can now find me purchasing flimsy bra-tops and clingy short shorts for my practice. Problem solved. I would recommend this as a sure fire cure to any person willing to try.**

* I would like to make special note that I think this was actually a genius move. Being in such an open venue ensured a lot of visitors who would not have been watching otherwise. It also put us in close proximity to food, which was a huge bonus the second we were off stage. 

** The author of this blog will not be held responsible for any person being forcibly evicted from Whole Foods for indecent exposure.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Incredibly Efficient Sweat Glands

For the first time in my life I plan on purchasing a scale. I have, as a rule, never owned one as I can see myself obsessing over every pound. This thought is not without reason. At one point, living in my parent's house, I stepped on a scale twice a day, if not more. I worked out the averages for morning and evening, before a potty break or after a meal. I knew this behavior was obsessive and that, lacking the willpower to stop myself, the easiest solution was to never have a scale stare at me from the foot of my home commode ever again. This plan has worked out great and I can currently only guess my weight within 15 pounds. I am willing to revisit my willpower over my former obsession, or possibly just purchase a scale as a disposable item, to answer one burning question, "Exactly how many pounds of sweat do I shed in one class?" I, up until this point, have squelched my curiosity, feeling it was just too odd to disclose, until yesterday. Yesterday, The Boy expressed the exact same desire. 

You see, The Boy just had his first tactile experience with what I have explained to him many times is a phenomenon beyond explanation  the amount of sweat my body can produce in a one-and-a-half-hour period. It happened because The Boy and I got home later than intended from Occupy Chicago. In order to get seven hours of sleep before a planned 6am (zombie) yoga class The Boy and I divvied up the chores I had left that evening. The only chore I could delegate to him (could he brush my teeth?) was laundry, which included the yoga gear I had been lugging around downtown with me for the past four hours. I was hesitant, but he was insistent. After he promised me he would still sleep with me after handling my grody towels I acquiesced  I really wanted to get to bed. 

As I was picking out clothes for the next day I heard a shout from the laundry hallway (it can't really qualify as a room), "This is all sweat?!?" While I was expecting some variation on this exclamation, I was not expecting the tone. There was no disgust in the voice. He was expressing sheer curiosity of the scientific variety. "Yeah!" I shouted proudly back.  

The Boy is stymied by my glands' efficiency.

I am not saying I sweat a lot for a girl; putting to shame those who "glisten." While I have never been a "glistener," my current capacity for water release puts most men to shame. I am captivated by the new efficiency of my glands.  If I can weigh my towels before and after class Im pretty sure it would be a figure of epic proportions. I may be able to get into Guinness for this!

At my studio, we frequently discuss the 'top sweaters' and my name is always in the top three. Of these three, the other two are men. I like to play a game with those other two, you know, like "Monkey in the Middle" only way grosser. One of these two fine gentlemen will set up on one side of a good friend yogi and I will set up on the other. We form a wonderful sprinkler system in eagle; sweat flying off our swinging fingertips in giant arcs. Our friend in the middle gets an unwelcome shower if they don't move to the back of their mat.

One of our teachers is such a good sport, when teaching from behind me she once exclaimed, "Whoo! You got me!" I apologized and she quickly retorted, "I like it!" I have also gotten the comment (from a much taller member of the top three tier), "I didn't know such a small person could produce that quantity. I mean, there just isn't that much surface area!" 

This might seem incredibly gross but it is just how comfortable I have become with myself. At some point you just shrug it off. There is even a "two towel club" I am proudly a member of. Yup. I sweat right through one bath towel and my teachers have kindly requested I lug not one, but two towels around with me so as not to form a marsh around my mat.

So, when The Boy had his first confrontation with what I had been trying to explain to him was a miracle of the human body and reacted in the same sheer wonder I experience every day, I was all too happy to puff up my chest and proclaim, "Yes, that is my poundage of sweat you are hefting!" And that, is why a scale may just make it back into my house. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two, Two, Two Posts in One!

Am I the only one that will get that outdated Certs reference? Yeah? Oh well. Im not changing it because this is my blog and I can rave like a lunatic and make inside jokes if I want to. 

I will get to the regularly scheduled post next, but first, I would like to share with you the coolest thing I have ever seen on public transit. I can not tell enough people about it. Maybe it's all over the interwebs by now, but I haven't seen it. In fact, my fellow passengers were so plugged into their gadgets that I am the only one who seemed to notice! I weep for them.

I was on my way home from a client's office via the brown line. For those not familiar with Chicago public transit; all of our lines are elevated. This line is above ground for it's whole route, putting you at eye-level with rooftops. In this particular section of Chicago, Lakeview, you pass many four-story brownstone buildings with flat roofs. A few of these buildings have short brick walls (about three feet high) around the roof. I imagine the idea is so that one can safely work on the roof ...or paint graffiti in private.

On this particular roof, the one where I saw the coolest thing one could ever see on public transit ever, three individuals decided to dress up and enact a scene exclusively for us tired, huddled masses on the brown line at rush hour. 

Two people stood roughly 4 feet apart, dressed in brown outfits, held cylindrical, possibly by a hoop-skirt type form. The third stood in between the other two with a giant mallet. The gentleman in the center faced one brown cylinder, then the other, swinging his mallet at each when he faced them. As he swung, the brown critter getting clobbered would sink down below the short brick wall surrounding the roof. Get it!?! GET IT!!?? They were Whac-a-Moles! One of only two games I could play at Chuck-E-Cheese!*

Coolest commute EVAR. Or, at least I thought so. One yogi's only response was, "Yeah, I think you have to be a little nuts to live that close to the tracks." Point taken, John.  

Okay, now on to the yoga!

The other day my mat was placed next to a gentleman that must have been eating curry for lunch, dinner and breakfast for the last twelve years. The smell was pungent and pervasive. It kept assaulting me in waves, rushing over my nose and filling me with images of wholly unappetizing dollops of red, yellow and green sauce. And you know what? As long as my own lunch stayed down, who cares? Really. 

Knowing what I have put into the air after weekends of binge drinking, the classes during the first months of winter, when my diet consists of brownies and wine, and the worst, after one of my rare rendezvous with red meat, I have little room to complain. 

In fact, yesterday and today I have become a Glade layered scented candle from the Garbage Pail Kids' dimension. Breathing through eagle is onion. This melts away to a pungent ammonia smell that I, like all cat owners, can only relate to in terms of cleaning the litter box. Finally, from standing bow until I have flushed the last of the odiferous toxins out, the bottom scent I will refer to only as, "musky male." Let your imagination go on that one. I'll give you a second. Yup, what you just cringed at? The smell is about like that. 

I understand these layered scents are my own fault, my punishment for seven cinnamon rolls yesterday, a plate of brownies the day before, a New York strip steak the previous dinner and various other offenses to my system that were just so good smelling on the way in. I can live with that. I know that usually I do not smell. Regular practice ensures that. 

I also know that the hot room itself smells no more offensive to my olfactory system than walking into a boy's locker room. I can handle a bit of curry for an hour and a half, knowing that he will walk out smelling a little less like curry for his companions in the elevator, cubicle mate and that blind date he may have tonight.

So you, my smelly yogi sister, wafting waves of stale cheese in my direction, rock on. My yogi brethren who continue to live on Cheetos and beer long past college, hold your head high. You there, in the back row reliving your poor decision making skills at the bar yesterday (scotch? I don't even like scotch) continue to push those toxins out of your system and I will do the same.

*The other is ski-ball. Maybe "could play" is a bit strong. I was relatively proficient at that one, as long as Scott Evans would crawl up the lane and put a ball in the 100pt hole for me every now and then.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kate Runs on Dunkin'

I had one of those days today. Doing training seemed impossible, but not doing training became this weight of unimaginable proportions on my feeble back, not that I was going to any backbends even under that pressure. I would just mope instead. I procrastinated all day going to yoga, the one thing I knew had a chance of honestly making me feel better, opting instead to try things I knew would not make me feel better. Sushi, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ice cream, chips, cookies.

Just before taking the last yoga class of the day, 8pm, I gorged myself on one more pb&j, figuring I would just puke if I had to and that was that.

While eating this pb&j I decided that the one thing that would make me happy the only thing in the whole wide world was donuts. Not just any donut; I wanted munchkins. Everything is cuter small, and therefore munchkins bear even more cheering-up power than standard donuts. Furthermore, they had to be the munchkins with sprinkles. The glory that is the sprinkle munchkin is unmatched in both adorableness and sugar delivery method. These little deep-fried bits of dough are rolled in viscous sugar-glue (aka: frosting) and then dunked in sprinkles. I have a feeling this process repeats a couple more times because otherwise I can not figure out how they achieve a two-inch thick crust of sprinkles on such a small sphere of fried dough. The result is a brightly colored cuteness sugar explosion.

The Sprinkle Munchkin: Sunshine Incarnate

I would drag myself into yoga with the understanding that, no matter what type of class I had, I would bike right down to Dunkin' Donuts afterward and claim my rewards. My cute, little, sugary, rewards. 

Yoga went without the expected naps, not a bad class all in all. I hopped on my bike singing the whole mile to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts. While I can not remember the words, I am positive I sounded something like when a four-year old makes up sonnets to their puppy, "Puppy! I love you, Puppy! You are the cutest thing on the planet! the universe!...Mom, that's bigger, right?" Replace, "Puppy" with, "munchkins" and you've pretty much got it.

When I arrived, I perused the munchkins section on the wall. NO SPRINKLES. I asked desperately, as if maybe it was like a shoe-store and they kept spares in the back. No luck. They were out. I opted instead for some bland looking peanut, plain and cinnamon munchkins. That was it, nothing was going to cheer me up today. Then, a surprise. The man charged me 50 cents for the three requested donut holes! Well, that was nice! Then I got outside to gorge myself on my small non-sprinkled stash and another surprise! He had given me not three, but six munchkins!!! Oh glorious day! I camped out by my bike with my water bottle and had a tiny munchkin feast. As it turns out, I did not need the sprinkles to make me happy, I only needed six 50 cent munchkins.