Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Impression: Happier Had He Been a Pizza

I had plenty of time to prepare for my first encounter with Bikram Choudhury (the yogi who put together the series of hatha yoga I engage in). Not that the trip to the 3rd annual European Advanced Seminar was well planned on my part. The entire trip was the result of a joke I made regarding my multi-cultural friendships being motivated primarily by a desire for world travel. In other words, "You seem nice, are you from abroad? Good. Let's go visit your home-town! By the way, my name is Kate."

I said this at the Lululemon warehouse sale where I purchased my much beloved hoodie-of-shame. I was getting a pre-sale pizza with my yogi friends from Bulgaria, China and the Philippines (more recently Hawaii) when I made this joke. During post-sale beers, the advanced seminar in Croatia was mentioned. One month later I was dragging The Boy to the Balkans, where my Filipino friend, Jen's, partner was born and raised.

I feel the need to state that I love my friends, even the ones who have no international ties.

Yes, because of my impetuousness the longest time I really had to debate the gravity of what I had just roped all of us into came on the plane, bus and taxi rides to the seminar.

This time was unexpectedly expanded when our plane from Zagreb to Dubrovnik landed in Split, where we traded our plane for a bus seven times the recommended* size for the twisting, cliff-hugging roads we took along the coast to Dubrovnik. The bus ride was four hours longer than the paid-for plane ride, so we were compensated with a 6oz bottle of water and a fancy Croatian Kit-Kat bar.**

We would have arrived several hours too late for the introductory lecture but The Boss has the gift of gab, (okay, maybe the gift of endless jaw) so he was still going. We slid immediately into the lecture.

This was maybe not the best way to meet the boss, with my blood-sugar swimming in the Adriatic far below us. The impression was not good. I will not bore you with the details, but here is an excerpt from what I heard: "Kale, celery watermelon. Bread hot soup. Sandwiches Danish-cheese!"

Mercifully, he closed the lecture with just enough time for Jen and I to dart to the hotel restaurant to mow down everything placed in our path.

Day one, impression one: misdirected anger at the person blocking me from caloric intake.

*Recommended by me. The driver was fine with it, judging from his maniacal use of the gas pedal.

** I eat every two hours. The Kit-Kat bar looked great for four minutes until I realized that was going to be all the food offered. Going into hour four my teacher, sleeping next to me, started to look like a pork-chop.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

So Good to be Loved

I am back! The seminar was beyond all expectations, as was the week-long tour of Bosnia and Croatia that followed it. I have decided I will report my findings in chronological order after this post. First, I must share with you the adorable dementia that my cat suffers from.

Sidney is happy to have me home. So much so that she can not bear to leave my side. Not hyperbole.

Whenever I am out of sight she panics, afraid that I might have left her alone again. I can almost understand this fear when I leave the room, or wander into the front hall. I start to believe she is maybe not-so-bright when my darling wanders away from me and forgets where she left me.

This is now part of our routine:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Respect the Millimeter

If you have done yoga for more than five minutes you have probably found yourself boring people to death with photos of perfect standing bows. If you have done yoga for a year or more you have advanced to boring your friends with poses of nearly identical bows, which you insist are nothing alike, to highlight the mammoth difference a rolled out hip makes. Rolling your eyes, you say, "Can you believe she did that? I mean, sure, her leg locked out, but at what cost? Her spine is a hot mess!"

Your friends' (if you have any non-yogi friends left) glassy eyes roll over yet another picture of a girl in a swimsuit. They regret the days they feigned interest. Now they are in too deep. Subtle hints do no good and they are afraid that just running is no longer an option -- yoga has made you a beast of pure endurance that could hunt them down like a cheetah after a lame wildebeest. A cheetah bearing photos of people in swimsuits. Swimsuit photos not resembling those found in Sports Illustrated Magazine.

The Boy enjoys yet another round of, "Guess What's Wrong With This Pose?"

I would like to draw attention to the photos. We have been so bombarded with Lululemon videos, International Competition videos, Equinox videos and the like that we see near perfection at every turn. It gives the impression that tiger scorpions are a dime a dozen. It can be discouraging to say the least. We forget to to worship, the years of work between seeing your toe creep up over your head in standing bow and a vertical leg with locked out knee. And, brother, there is a lot of sweat betwixt. i would like to give a shout out to all the millimeters in-between. If you haven't mastered bow, well, buddy, you and 50 million other people. That does not mean your progress is worthless. It does not make that millimeter small. I mean, technically it is, but we are talking a whole different scale here. Ask the nano-scientist if a millimeter makes a difference. That's the sort of changes we are pursuing, nanometers. Tiny, incremental changes that can be gained and lost a thousand times before the advancement becomes a part of our consistent pose.

That first time your toe appears is a milestone. So is when you can see the baby toe too. And the heel! Whoo-boy! You are talking sweat-hours worthy of praise! I raise my glass* to each tiny change that I will hold proudly in front of The Boy in the coming years. I know full-well that he has no idea why picture A is a vast improvement from picture B, but I will know that a tiny sliver of my shoulder has disappeared behind my head, like a waning moon it is getting smaller and smaller in the mirror behind my giant head. This process will take a lifetime and every phase is important and hard won.

So, Boy, this is your fair warning: you have years more of standing bow pictures to look at and none of them will look any different to you. I don't care. Those millimeters contain buckets of sweat and you are going to appreciate every one of them with me.

*What? It's kombucha! Okay, so it's beer. Sue me.