A much needed getaway

What an amazing weekend! It is currently after 1am on Sunday night (Monday morning, if you want to get technical) and I am getting through an overnight shift at my part-time gig. I’m cruising through it on the leftover happiness from the last four days. My husband and I rented a car on Wednesday evening and ran away to spend time visiting some much-loved friends and family. First we went to a cottage for two nights and stayed with old friends of mine who now live in Bangkok. It was so relaxing hanging out on the dock, swimming in the lake, sitting around with a glass of wine (a very rare occasion in my life!). I even did my Friday primary on the dock and my husband took a few pictures.

Friday primary by the lake.

We left the cottage on Friday and spent that night with another group of old friends of mine from college. We shared a nice meal and laughed until our faces hurt. It was fabulous. After Saturday brunch we left for Toronto to see our sister-in-law and niece. Another wonderful evening. We got up this morning (Sunday) and went to practice at AYCT, my favorite!

Heading to Sunday morning mysore practice at AYCT

What an intense practice I had today! In a good way. It was crazy hot, as usual, and I was kind of distracted by all the awesomeness happening around me for the first 10 or 15 minutes. I got into a groove at some point and had a pretty typical day with primary. I was a bit disappointed not to get any assists, because usually someone will come over and give a little love, maybe even just a foot cross in supta kurmasana (still no dice on that one), but not so lucky today. I started to feel a bit awful during second. I was nauseous and shaky, probably a combination of low blood sugar and my ridiculous sweaty messiness. David even asked if I was ok, because I had to stop and collect myself or risk dry heaving. I was in kapo B when David came over and took my hands to my heels to do it again. It’s amazing how easy it felt when he did that. I’m not sure what it is about him, but right from the start there has been total trust. I just surrender to whatever position he puts me in and do whatever I’m told. He also did supta vajrasana with me and he squeezed my lotus super tight and held my hands to my feet, which I normally find pretty impossible. I was shaking through bakasana and sweating like mad, so when I got to B I had little hope that I would land it (especially since I haven’t actually accomplished it once). I tried a bunch of times, then David came over to give me some pointers. He had me take my regular down dog (not the shortened, cheaters version I’ve been trying to jump from) and bend my knees, sinking my hips low and pressing my chest forward. I just jumped straight forward from there. I actually landed it on my third or fourth try! I couldn’t believe it!! David gave me a few words of praise as well, which was nice. I struggled through the next couple of poses and then did back bends. My first drop back felt pretty good, but the next two I stumbled a little, which I’m chalking up to being tired. David came to finish up and grabbed my ankles from the air on my assisted back bend, which didn’t feel nearly as awful as taking my ankles from the floor. He was impressed by how much my practice has changed over the last year and mentioned my hard work, which was pretty good to hear. I do work hard and it’s easy to lose sight of how much my asana practice has changed because I’m so in it and there is still so much that I need to work on. My sister-in-law and I had been playing the night before and I did eka pada, then told her I was going to do it at practice the next morning and cheat. When it actually came down to it, I was in no shape to do more poses then what I’ve actually been given, so much for cheating! Anyway, it was another inspiring practice at AYCT and I can’t wait to go back. David is doing a 40 hr ashtanga intensive at AYO next month and I don’t have the money or the vacation hours to do it (so sad!), but I am looking forward to having mysore practice with him everyday for a week! It’s always sad to leave Toronto and I wish I had a yoga partner here the way I do there. I also often think that my practice would be different if I lived there because the expectations at AYCT are different, much less live and let live and more adherence to a “traditional” ashtanga practice. But then again, who really knows. I think the atmosphere at AYO has been very nurturing for me and I’m grateful for that.
So, a fabulous weekend wraps up and I’m starting to look ahead to my week. After tonight it’s back to the regular 9-5 of my full time gig. I hope work goes a little easy on me, but even thinking that is just asking for trouble.

 

A comfortable week

Moon day tomorrow! That means no intermediate poses until Sunday, so I’m pretty happy and so is my back. Practice has been feeling great. I’ve just really been enjoying it this week. I’m not too sure whether there’s been much improvement in my poses, but I think I’m in a comfortable place with my current line-up. In fresh asana news, I actually grabbed both ankles in my assisted back bend yesterday and, let me tell you, it was seriously intense! Not painful, but lots of sensation, LOTS. My obviously very trusted assistant had to keep telling me to breathe. It’s bizarre how often I have to remind myself to do that. It’s during the very focused moments, or sometimes during a longer (read: sloppier) transition so I can “stick to the vinyasa.”  I don’t think it counts when you have to hold your breath. One of the many things I love is the universality of the ashtanga experience,  so I’m 100% sure that I’m not the only practitioner that does this. Tying in to that, I had an awesome moment yesterday with my neighbour. We got to kapotasana at the same time and were on our knees psyching ourselves up (out?) before attempting to turn ourselves into the letter D, but we shared a high five and a laugh first for support. I love that ashtanga is an individual practice, but you have a community of people to walk the path with. It’s a nice feeling when you smack your face off the mat (something I also did yesterday) and there’s someone there to laugh with (or at) you. I always know I’m not the only one who tries and struggles and falls and sweats. I guess some of this unoriginal observation comes from my shitty adherence to my drishti. Oops.

Off to a cottage with friends for a couple days, where I will enjoy Friday primary outside by the lake. Sunday practice will be at AYCT, so there’s lots to look forward to on and off the mat over the next four days. Friends and relaxing and time away are much needed right now!

In brief

– Kapo is kicking my ass, but I did manage to get my heels yesterday. It was extremely taxing.

– Practice has beenCRAZY HOT! Oh, the sweat waterfall.

– My right knee is sore and it’s making half lotus difficult, but not so much full (maybe because I’m much warmer by that point in the series).

– I’m feeling ready for eka pada, but not for having a longer practice.

– Backbends have been awesome, except when my teacher has been trying to get me to catch my ankles. My body says “no way, Jose!”

– I wasthis close to landing bakasana B today, but still haven’t managed it even once.

– I’m 25 days into a diet shift and feeling good. Yes, I’m still eating meat (still feeling guilty), but more ethical meat.

In summary life is stressful, but my mat is my sanctuary. You can’t find me there, work stress!! HA!

 

A year of practice and a weekend of family

A very important anniversary came and went last week and I think it bears mentioning. June 26th, 2011 was my very first mysore practice ever (at AYCT) and the 28th was my first practice at AYO. Frankly, I didn’t think I’d like it. I was intimidated and I thought the idea of doing the same practice every morning was dull. And then there was the early morning issue! My, how things have changed. It amazes me that I’ve stuck with it, and, after a bit of a touch-and-go phase during our courtship, I’ve fallen madly, deeply in love with it. I’ve heard all of those ashtanga clichés and I rolled my eyes a little in the beginning, but I’ve discovered that the more your commitment to the practice grows, the more you start to experience them for yourself and suddenly you’re the one making people inwardly groan with your earnest monologues about the life changing journey of daily practice. Now here I am, it’s one of the most important things in my life. Who would have thought?

One of the amazing things I’m grateful for in my life is having someone to share my yogic journey with. My sister-in-law, who was the reason I went to that first mysore practice, is here this weekend and we got to practice next to each other this morning. One of my most favorite things. The shared energy was a huge help this morning, after a long night at work, and I had a great practice. I did my full practice, right up to ardha matsyendrasana. My sis-in-law assisted me in supta vajrasana and I got the usual back bend assist, but otherwise I wasn’t touched the whole time. Almost had supta kurmasana and kapo was ok. It was kind of an awesome morning. No screwing around, just focus. I think my jump backs are getting a little better. I need to work more on core strength, though. I really enjoy having someone to dissect my asanas with, and my sister-in-law and I do it every phone call, every visit; both of us sharing frustrations and mini-triumphs. While asana is certainly not all our yoga is composed of, we both really enjoy picking apart our experiences of the physical practice, which definitely provides much fodder for discussion.

Working tonight as well, but looking forward to practicing with my favorite yoga buddy again tomorrow morning.