Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kinda Like the Green Lantern's Ring

This is the last post before the advanced seminar in Dubrovnik! While I am away the lovely Borislava will be posting for me. She is a close yogi friend of mine who's determination makes an ant bent on climbing a bear to lick honey off its lips look wimpy. Take it away, Borislava!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Still on That Road to Dubrovnik

My yoga buddy in crime, Jen Palma, is going to Dubrovnik with me. We are doing some homework to prepare. It's nice to have someone to encourage you. 

As always, the pictures shown are not accurate to form. Do not imitate cartoons at home, people. Bugs Bunny can't really hover when he runs off a cliff.

Followed by fits of laughter. This trip is gonna rock.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On the Road to Dubruvinik

I have started taking advanced classes to prepare for Dubrovnik. What a surprise, this has led to more epic falling! In deference to the fact that this blog is turning into a regular bloopers reel, I will attempt to convey the massive FAIL that was this, most recent, fall. 

I attempted, with the guidance of the oh-so-generous teachers* to stand up from a backbend (with both feet and hands on the floor) by simply** using my core muscles to lift me up. 

I did not get into this backbend to cool way (from standing), rather, I pushed myself up from the ground like you do in grade-school gym class. Once I was in this back-bend arc the instructor asked if I could stand up. I knew I couldn't because I have tried it countless times. However, I have this part of me, which is turning out to be rather helpful, that says, "let's see" whenever a teacher asks me if I can do something. They could pretty much say, "Now levitate!" (which they have) and I will honestly give it my best shot (which I have). Sometimes the results are better than expected, most times not. I have yet to levitate.*** 

It seems to me that the times I fall over are well worth the 1% of the time that I don't. 

With a plethora of helpful hints and a whole ton of cheerleading, I managed to pull off the most awkward, flailing, catapulted reverse of a pose ever. I rocked, rolled, pushed, launched forward, very briefly passed through a standing position, and flopped onto the floor. Once I found myself stationary I proudly looked up from the floor -- exactly opposite my previous position on the floor -- and beamed, "I did it!"

A brief encounter with the goal of standing

A reunion with the floor

The other, much more advanced yogis in the room, did not cringe but only suggested that I try "grounding myself." In other words, sink the heels in, flex the correct muscles and next time manage to end up standing when attempting to stand. I like to call this "finessing" the pose. 

*Seriously, these guys are awesome. I have no idea what I am doing yet nobody seems irked at the extra attention I need. Everyone has been super nice, even joking with me about how great Im doing when I manage to wrangle myself into a pose. Such a great group. <3

**Please note the massive sarcasm.

***Yes, this is a joke, I am not a 'floating yogi' or whatever that sect is called. It seems really odd that I feel the need to clarify that.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Have Paid a Man to Kick My Ass

Here is my coming out post. I will be gone soon for two weeks (posts will still go up). Some observant yogis might note why. I am going to get my ass kicked by The Boss himself in Croatia. No turning back, they already have my money. ...dear lord, what have I done?

I am giddy and scared to death at the same time but I don't think this is generated from the physical undertaking. I think it is the idea of coming face to face with Bikram himself.

It's certainly not a hero-worship thing. In fact, I fear that he won't live up to the meager bar I have set for him. I currently explain away the eccentric, controversy-loving man behind the mission with reasoning I can admire. His showmanship, flashy cars and pimp-like fashion sense has done wonders to draw in publicity, as an advertiser myself I don't count this as a bad thing. With all his sex-talk, wild living and complete lack of regard for what we think a yogi should look like, he isn't so 'other.' He can be human. Like us, flawed....way flawed. The practice seems less out-of reach that way. I don't have to 'om-shanti-shanti' my way through life to practice.

I also love the admission that some of this stuff hurts. Hurts like heck, in fact. He acknowledges that we want money, that we hate to work and that self-improvement can suck a lot of the time. If we can admit that, I am willing to step in and curse my way (as nicely as I can muster) to a better me. I mean, after all, isn't being honest with yourself the first step? I'm not being honest with myself if I can't even admit that I have a really rough time getting myself to class.

The only controversy I think holds any traction with me is the copyrighting issue and it doesn't hold much. Yes, we want free and open things. Open-source = good. However, quality control is also good and let's face it, there is virtually none in the yoga world. We've all paid for a class only to discover this studio's version of Hatha yoga is sitting in lotus listening to a woman drone about tree roots for an hour. That's not really the class I have the beef with anyway. It's the one where you can hurt yourself because you aren't being watched and the teacher has no idea what they are doing. It's the wild-west of yoga out there and I just want one section of yoga to say, "If you find yourself in Iowa I still promise you can walk into my studio and know you are getting quality." To take that 1 step further, I am glad he is willing to protect those teachers who take the time to put his name on the studio too. Maybe Ill expand upon this later, I think it's a subject that deserves addressing further.

So here we have the problem. I am now going right to the man. I would hate to discover he is not, in fact, ensnaring our egos to capture the ego-centric Western mind, engaging us on our own territory, playing with our sense of 'right' and 'justice' but is, in fact, just an ass. An ass who has a lot of my money.

The Boss

So here we go, the proverbial 'belly of the beast.'  I take solace in the fact that, no matter how wonderful or heinous the man is, I walked into Bikram yoga expecting nothing and received amazing benefits. He gave me something wonderful. I can take that gift without taking the parts I don't agree with. You can call this cherry-picking in an admonishing way but I choose to see it as common sence. There are very few things I buy into whole-heartedly and none that I buy into without a healthy dose of examination. I am a firm believer in Buddha's teaching, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." I love that.

This is how I see my Bikram practice. I like what I've gotten. I ask a lot of questions and my teachers answer in ways I agree with. Pieces I don't agree with I put on a shelf to examine later and decide on when i have gathered enough facts.

When I get home, I will report on my experience. I will do so honestly as I can. Ass or genius, I hope I can still appreciate the plethora of benefits I've gotten from him. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Affectations

I now own my first Lululemon  hoodie, although, now being indoctrinated, I do not call this a hoodie but a, "scuba." My hoodie in no way resembles diving gear, so I have no idea why I call it a "scuba" except that the sign at the warehouse-sale listed it as such. The new name for the familiar item of clothing is comparable to a 'grande' at Starbucks. If I ask for a medium I get that blank hampster-fell-off-the-wheel look. To avoid confusion I have just learned to replace my nouns with whatever the marketers tell me to.

I adore my scuba, yet live in shame that I am now the owner of a $70 hoodie. Excuse me -- scuba. Now I will attempt to justify this cost.

LLL scubas are unique in several aspects:
  1. They are long, preventing coin-slot. (A feature worth at least $10. I like a warm bum.)
  2. They have thumb-holes.* (These can be created for free, but then you have to hem them. My time is worth $65/hr. I am a bad seamstress. $90 feature)
  3. They actually have curvature -- going in at the waist, rather than hanging limply around the middle and squeezing the bejezus out of my hips. (not walking like a penguin is worth $10 to me)
  4. The signature logo smeared all across the front, although a bewilderingly bad logo, is fantastic at showing off those curves. I am suspicious that the logo was only created in order to sell 'scubas'. ( -$40, I hate being a billboard; even a curvy one.)
  5. The materials are amazingly high quality. The fabric is so thick and soft it could take bullets. Do not test this theory.** (I hear kevlar is expensive; $80. I'm going to take the high road and avoid pot-shots at the cities I have/do live in *achem, Detroit*)
My scuba also comes with a feature that leaves me flummoxed. The  sleeves detach. The brushed metal buttons holding them on are esthetically meaningful, adding that je ne sais quoi...'I may be over 30 and wearing Lululemon, but I'm still tough,'  but I can not think of a time I ever wore a hoodie and thought, "this would be perfect, if only it didn't have sleeves."

I have thought of removing the sleeves just for the sake of utilizing all the features of my LLL scuba (I mean, isn't it wasteful not to?) but the look is rather like a tailored version of an 80's muscle-T. I would be forced to complete the outfit by lurching forward with a wide-set gait, knuckles inches from the ground, grunting. This sounds like a lot of work so, for now, I will utilize all the features except the neanderthal impersonator.

Lookin' good in my LLL muscle scuba

I still love my ridiculous hoodie. Scuba. Whatever. Don't judge.

This is supposed to be Jon Stewart. He disproves of my $70 hoodie. Why Jon Stewart? Because I was watching The Daily Show and wondering if I could do portraiture. That's why.

*Why has it taken snow-board companies and LLL this long to catch on? I was WAY ahead of my time. In high-school, my best friend and I spent many an afternoon gnawing holes into our sleeves to poke our thumbs out of.

**LLL scubas are not to be worn in place of kevlar vests.