28 February 2008

Rollin' Deep with Mula Bandha

This link is an in-depth (no pun intended!) look at mula bandha. I found it a good read, as a yoga student and teacher.

Are You Engaging Your Mula Bandha Correctly?

Bad yogi has birthday, forgets yoga

Ok I didn't forget yoga, I just didn't practice for 5 days. Makes a body cranky!! But life just took me out of my rituals and I went on the ride, just for the hell of it. I didn't try to fit anything in, anything that didn't just happen. So my birthday was on a Saturday, which means it really started on Friday and went until Sunday. There was a lot of eating and antique shopping. There was not a lot of yoga. Yoga is daily life, for me, and birthdays, well, are not-I guess.

But I did practice yesterday and HELLO! this yogini just forgot how much she loves mat time! Holy crap! I know it was only 5 days, but that's a long time without a practice. Practice is sometimes like a person to me, and when I neglect it I feel the need to apologize to my yoga practice. So I whisper to my mat "I'm sorry, you're right, you are so patient, I am bad, forgive me. You rule."

21 February 2008

Breathe In One-Two, Breathe Out One-Two

There are many times when I just don't know what to do. There are times when I dip deep into my yogi mind and still, can't seem to find a "right answer". This occurred today, when, at the gym, in the room designated for yoga a dude came in with headphones on and a jump rope in tow. There was one other girl doing her yoga practice in the room aside from me, but our presence didn't seem to phase this guy. He came in and proceeded to jump & stop, jump & stop, over and over again. I was incredulous. I mean, what balls! Here's this silent room, without any lights, clearly labeled YOGA ROOM and he seems to think its okay to bring his cardio-jam into this space.

I was conflicted; I didn't know if I should SAY something or not. I mean, I am known to act as a general policewoman in a lot of situations, but I have been working on quelling that. I thought, "maybe this jerk will just jump for a little bit and leave"? I started to wonder if it was best to just practice with him there doing his thing, I wondered if that was I *should* do according to say, oh, Patanjali. Was I supposed to create my own yoga island on my mat and go so far deep inside my breath that I didn't even hear him? Is it up to me to make a situation that could be wrong, right? I was struggling to separate my personal offense from what was more "yoga-like". And because I didn't feel like sitting there all night comtemplating what I SHOULD do, because what I really wanted to do was get on with my practice (but one could argue that this inner dialog I was having IS part of my yoga practice, whoa) I just started at him from my side of the room. He didn't seem to take the hint. And THAT made me VERY ANNOYED. He didn't seem like he was going to keep it brief. So after sitting and staring with no effect. I couldn't hold my tongue. But I DID self-talk myself down from chewing him a new asshole. I felt it might be better if I was NICE to him. I know, gasp! Nice! And I was! I just asked if he could do that somewhere else as this was a space just for yoga and the gym has a lot of spot where he can jump rope. Did he like me saying this? No.
But I was NICE, HAHAHAHA! I smiled even! So what was he going to do? Well, he was going to leave. And he did. And I felt like a yoga superhero, saving the yoga room from Jumping Man-Beast.

And then, I was on with my yoga practice, which once again at the gym, was very good. Especially with someone else practicing in the room. Much like Mysore practice. There's a lot to be said for group practice that isn't lead, just a collective consciousness promoting more focus. I also am loving how my practice is very organic and fluid these days. I don't set a sequence in my mind, I don't set an expectation, I just basically start with Surya Namaskars A & B, and then let it flow, doing standing poses and then moving down to the floor. It's very vinyasa, which I feel is so natural and intuitive - counterposes and steady breath decide what poses follow which. I was easy on myself in the twists and back bending because my backs needs the rest. When I felt like going deeper I would call to mind the concept of ASTEYA, careful not to "steal" the health of my back, not to "take" more than I needed.


A week ago today I skipped my Photoshop class and instead did a niiiiice yoga practice at home. I loved that day, and today I have to go to class, got to class and sit for 4 hours after sitting at work for 7 hours. I hear that this will all be over before I know it and May will come, birds will sing, sun will shine, margaritas will appear and 4 hour evening classes will die die die. I must believe this is true, or else SOMEONE will again be skipping class and instead flipping on a space heater and rolling out a yoga mat.

UPDATE: I quit the class. Yes, I just quit. I decided on my way there that it's just not worth it, I am learning enough from the textbook that the instructor follows exactly, I wake up Thursday morning grumpy and well, I just knew, I KNEW, that since it's was only Feb. and I felt this way, I would never make it May. So just like that, I decided. And once I did I felt so elated! So elated I went to a class at the gym, and then, of course, did yoga.

20 February 2008

Lunar Eclipse n' Stuff

There it goes, there goes the light of the moon!
I am sitting in my house in the dark looking at less of the moon every minute, it's fascinating and a good catalyst to put things that have been happening in perspective. Lunar eclipses initiate a slew of changes not to mention other general manifestations that may not bona-fide changes, but something less dramatic.
For instance, this information from AstrologyZone,
is particularing interesting for me:

"If you have any chronic health issues, such as a fluttery stomach or a cranky ankle that keeps acting up, try to take extra good care of yourself now. Sometimes chronic illnesses flair up near a full moon eclipse and can bring on a bit of stress".

This issue with my back that has this past month prevented me from doing as much as I would like to do could be seen to align with this lunar eclipse, in fact tonight I once again had to decide to not do anything physical in order to rest my back. What I am happy about is that hopefully the whole scene - the moon thang, and this back thang, are on their way out.


"If you are born on February 20 (my birthday is Feb. 23) , plus or minus four days, the eclipse on this date will have special meaning to you. The universe wants you to use your time on Earth well and will quickly pull you out of unproductive relationships that appear to have no future."

I have been struggling at work for a couple weeks now, not because of a change in my performance, but because of the change in someone else's overall vibe and demeanor. Likewise with a friend. The long and short of it is that it seems there is cosmic design over my life more than I take notice of.

The Astrology Zone also mentioned that around this time I would be heavily into my home and making it better, nicer, doing some projects that have been waiting in the wings. I just read this tonight and MAN, is it ever true, all I have wanted to do lately is gussy up my bedroom specifically. After three years of harping, I finally got Chad to agree to paint it and the weird part is - it took almost NO cajoling. Now there are color swatches all over the walls, new crisp sheets awaiting use, new curtains planned, and even a new rug in the works.

It's seriously dark out there now that there is only a sliver of the moon left. My cat Rex just HAD to go out there, so I let him out, I wonder if he'll converse with a lunar diety and learn new cat tricks, he already can say "godblessyou" after I sneeze...maybe he'll learn to clean his own litterbox this time!

15 February 2008

Reminder Post - SpinYoga

Attention Ann Arbor-Ypsi Yogis and Cyclists!
I am co-teaching (I am teaching the yoga part) a SpinYoga class in February at the Ypsi Studio, run by the lovely and vivacious Julia Collins. SpinYoga is a wonderful balanced workout. You cycle for 45 min. then I teach a 45 min. post-spinning class aimed at all the major muscle groups used in cycling. Open to all levels.

February 17 1-2:30pm
To sign up just email Julia juliacollins@sbcglobal.net

New Favorite Pose - this week

Bharadvajasana II
(a la Rodney Yee)

Twists are underused, at least in my experience, there's only really enough of them in Ashtanga. So in my personal practice I have been trying to include a lot of them. I also have a naggy soreness on the right side of my mid-back that's been around for ages and twists seem to really work into that area. I am liking Bharadvajasana right now because it's an intense twist and the chest is able to stay really open allowing for good long breaths. Not only that but it's a yummy hip-opener and I always dig a hip opener. What am I saying - I dig all yoga poses! No wait, shoulder openers can be beastly. In the most beautiful way, of course.

I am spending my Friday nights doing yoga lately; it's a great time to do it because there's no rush whatsoever. I can hole myself up in my yoga room for as long as I want with no reason to leave! Only today I think I am going to punctuate my yoga practice with a nightcap of Remy Martin, call me a naughty yogi, see if I care!

14 February 2008

Around Every Corner

Recently I have thought about studying/learning yoga therapy. And of course as soon as I decided that I am seeing it all over the place! A sign?

The "Ah-ha!" Moments Just Keep Coming

Today's practice was unexpected until about 5pm. Wasn't in the cards, what WAS in the cards was my Photoshop class that lasts an absurd 4 hours and that plan died a hard, fast and brilliant death once I let go of feeling obligated to go and assessed that what I really wanted to do was go home and do yoga. Chad and I did yoga together (no, not Valentine's Day yoga, blargh!), with a Rodney Yee video, which was, eh, ok. It is taking time, but I am coming to understand I just don't like yoga DVD's.

What I am also coming to understand is that I am always looking for a teacher, or a leader, when really all I need now is myself. I practice enough, have taken enough classes and have read nearly every yoga book published that I think if I just start to honor my inner teacher I will find great benefit. I don't need to run out to every studio in town and I don't need to rent every yoga DVD from Netflix. My best practices lately are on my own. I am more focused lately in my personal practice than ever before and well, that might be a by-product of practice! Practice and all IS coming!

12 February 2008

Practice at work

Yesterday I took my lunch hour to practice yoga at work. Strategically I wore yoga-y clothes under my work clothes so I could shed a layer and be ready to go. I just shut my office door and cranked up some ragas and away I went. I even have a nice wall space to practice arm balance inversions. I have often planned to do lunchtime yoga but somehow never managed it. It was great to transform my workspace into a whole new environment, and it took so little effort. I did only a 30 min. practice but I think it was complete and I am sure it really helped combat the havoc reeked on the body from sitting in a chair all day (although I DO it in my chair all sorts of unconventional ways).

I am excited because tonight I will practice at the gym in the giant yoga room, all by myself and since there isn't any way to play music in there I feel like I create a super meditative space by just focusing on pranayama.

It's snowing again, fat happy snow!

07 February 2008

So early and already a success!

I did did did it!
I got up this morning and practiced! The cats were sure confused and my back felt like it belonged on George Burns, but after a while and many Suryanamaskar A's and B's, I felt hot (as in warmed up!) and happy. I put on some upbeat yoga music and just went to town. The only downside I can think of is that it was hard to stop, switch gears and get ready for work. When can I find a job just doing yoga all day??

05 February 2008

How Yogini Got Her Groove Back

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice.
Better than knowledge is meditation.
But better still is surrender of attachment to results
(of one's actions), because there follows immediate peace.

Bhagavad Gita 12:12

I've listened to the universe, the universe sent me a back boo-boo (noooo, the universe didn't really send me a back boo-boo, I incurred that from hurrying toward some unarticulated perfection in my yoga practice/running regimen), and then told me to slow my asana practice down, told me to lay off the running for a bit, to tap into the transformative power of my bandhas.

And interestingly enough, the universe really knew what I needed. It seemed once I *listened* that all signs pointed in the same direction. I did the inversion workshop and still the same message came to me - "chill your ass out!". So for about three days (that a lot of non-asana-ing for me!), I have spent some time reflecting on the yoga outside asana.

I was getting very attached, to so many things. I even got attached to feeling like I MUST practice everyday, and while I still think doing yoga everyday is pretty important, I can see now that practicing everyday isn't even something I can choose to do or not do anymore, or at least, at this place in time. Even when I can't practice poses, I still practice, as I have said, on my way to work, at work, at home, at the store, in a conversion with a friend -everywhere. But lately I have been more specific about this non-asana practice. I must consider the weird, nameless "yoga potpourri" I do when I come home from work and just basically wallow around in the yoga room in front of the space heater, and I must consider the dedicated meditation time I have been giving myself. This is yoga. When you pull back on the postures for a few days you really get into the meat of all the else of yoga.

And this week something came to me via my friend Lindsay. She sent me an excerpt from Osho:

"That's why I am talking; I am talking on Patanjali because of you.
You are in a hurry and I hope Patanjali will bring down your impatience;
he will pull you down, back to the reality.
He will bring you to your senses."

All that being said, I was able to practice asanas today and I feel like a million dollars!!

03 February 2008

Maybe it's time to focus on a non-asana practice?

Yesterday I attended an Inversion Workshop given by Kate Greer, from Sonic Yoga in New York, it was a fairly shoulder and resolve tiring workshop for me, and although I did learn a few good pointers, I overall felt really inadequate. I realize that yoga is without goals, but its nearly impossible for most (all?) of us NOT to at least aspire (better word for goal-setting!) to be better at the fun stuff in yoga, and by fun stuff, I mean inversions. Sure, I've got headstand down, and sometimes even handstand if I can kick up, but this woman opened up a pandora's box for me of all kinds of "floating" through action. What it boils down to for me is that I need to spend some serious time focusing on moola (mula) bandha, as in maybe just do a practice of just sitting with mula bandha engaged, because for me keeping it engaged through my practice hasn't come.

Also, I wrenched my piriformis somehow and have been experiencing some serious low back and hip pain, that oddly enough become dormant during the workshop, but is in full force today, so no practice, no gym, just rest. And well, it's almost as if the universe is like, "Lauren, work on your damn moola bandha for few days (or hell, a lifetime)", so I'll listen. It is after all, the universe talking.

01 February 2008

More with the Unexpectation

Snow Day! I feel like a little kid! I woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose (this low-grade sick thing stinks stink stinks) and tons and tons of snow on the ground -and still snowing fat fat snow! I am have been debating all week about taking a sick day since in the mornings I have been feeling pretty crappy and well, today it just seems like that day. It's suprisingly hard to decide to NOT DO!


Thursdays are a long day, I work all day and then directly from work go to this Photoshop class I am taking, and the damned class lasts 4 hours. So indeed I sit in front of a computer from virtually 9am to 9pm. It hard to get a practice in on these day, but its all I WANT to fit in. So last night I came home, flipped on the space heater and practiced, a gentle, slow practice filled with any pose to counterbalance desk -sitting. I imagined I would practice for about 20 min. because I was pretty tired, and am still feeling like I am on the verge of whatever this cold-sick things is and wanted to go to bed. 20 minutes turned into over an hour - there's SOMETHING about my yoga room. I never want to leave.

I pretty much did a long Yin practice, which is good for me because I really don't do enough of that. In Agnistambhasana or Fire Log pose (or Double Pigeon) I really opened up my left hip, my obstinate hip. With continued slow deep breaths I just kept folding more forward, more than ever. I can see these Yin practices becoming more frequent, which is good because it's a great way to compliment all the running I have been doing.