Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Autumn is Nigh

Slept in until 8:30 this morning, which is pretty late for me. It was nice to sleep until I woke up, including waking up for a moment at a few minutes before 7AM and getting to go back to sleep. AM and I stumbled around, took showers, I got together all the stuff I'd be taking with me later, and then we made our way to the Hollywood Farmers Market so I could get more apples.

Once I got there I breezed past the Kiyokawa booth and spotted several new varieties since I'd been there two weeks ago. I was thrilled to spot the Pink Pearl apples were out. I got some wooden tokens from the info booth (can be purchased instead of getting cash from an ATM and used at any of the markets throughout Portland) and quickly made my way back to the apples where I picked out at least a dozen apples.
Back in the car I polished up one of the Pink Pearls and took a huge, satisfying bite. So worth waiting for, not that there is any choice about that. These apples only appear at the end of summer for a few weeks. Since they do not keep or ship well they must be eaten up and then they are gone with the season. They are not very showing, being a tan color but once they are rubbed with a cloth they practically glow.
We made our way on to the Bike Gallery to get a "tube top" for my bicycle. This is a bit of telescoping tube that clamps onto the seat post and the neck of the bike so it will hang on a bike rack. I also picked up a Pearl Izumi beanie to keep my head and ears warmer (I've liked the riding gloves I got from this company a lot). My head has ached a little in the morning because my ears get so cold. The same woman who sold me my bike helped out and was fascinated by the shockingly red apple I was eating so I took her in one before we took off.
Coffee and bagels at Seven Virtues, a nice bit of routine AM and I have been enjoying for a few weeks. We check emails, talk, and I work on homework for teacher training. It is a nice quiet time together before I have to dive back into my teacher training. Then we headed back to the house so I could load up.
It was a good class, again. I'm enjoying the depth of study on anatomy and adjustments. It is very much what my basic training lacked. I've not necessarily suffered for not having that since I had studied, but it is very good to get to spend this time on these topics. I feel like I am learning the asana and theory in far greater depth than before.
The ride over to CK's was long, although I was able to keep breathing through my nose and didn't feel quite as exhausted coming up the steepest part of the climb. It was good to have the movement in my legs and hips after sitting for so long in class, however, having sat so long meant I was fatigued and hurt quite a bit. It was really nice to arrive at CK's to the warmth of her company and the smell of dinner cooking.
It really feels like autumn this evening. The air smells of leaf fall and the leaves composting, breaking down on the ground. It is markedly cooler as well. When we popped out to go get cookies and chai I needed a fleece of CK's to be warm enough. I'm really happy to spend this time with CK, anticipating the anniversary of her move up here and getting to enjoy this time of year together.

Oh, the hips…

Yesterday was a three hour hip opening, first chakra (Muladhara) workshop at Prananda. Last year during the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training workshop I ran into how intense getting into this chakra can be. I'd ended up in tears being assisted in holding a pose I feel is a true ally (supta padanguthasana). I was a little nervous about this but at least prepared.

In a couple of poses, holding them far longer than usual, I felt some tingling of the panic that shows up with IW works on the trigger points on my left sit bone. I was able to breath through these things. A few times it became so intense I would just lay down or do child's pose.

It was during savasana, resting with a flax seed bag over my eyes, that I felt the deep grief well up inside of me, mixed with some of the anxiety and fear. I felt very anxious and kept trying to just breath through it. When it got to be too much I turned my head to the side and let the bag fall off of my eyes. I stretched out my hand to touch CK's elbow as she lay in savasana next to me. She felt me and reached her hand out to hold mind.

I dislike crying to begin with, it awakens all kinds of fear in me that I'll be punished for it in some way. That's how I feel at home crying. In public it feels so much worse. After we sat up and offered three chants of Om I lay back down on my side, feeling the wetness on my face. I curled up in a tight ball, just feeling the grief and shame. CK stayed with me, helping me find my way back through.

JW came over for a moment, just to check in and be sure I was OK. After the workshop participants, including CK, left the teacher training students settled down to watch more of the DVD. I lay on my side, shawl over me, and just was present for the words of the DVD. Tried not to go back into the fear or grief.

After some DVD watching we went back to adho mukha svanasana. I think I may have done the pose 24 times in a couple of hours. Reviewed the respiratory system and assists for downward dog. CK came and picked me up. I had my bike but was so utterly exhausted I knew I couldn't make it to her flat.

We stopped at Dalo's on the way home, enjoying the usual vegetarian platter. Spent a lot of time talking that night and got to sleep a bit late. Both of us taking more ibuprofen before managing to get comfortable enough to sleep.

CK was yoga'd out after Saturday's workshop and stayed home while I taught my Sunday class. It was a good class, broke down downward dog further as well as some shoulder things. Another new student today, G, a man who seems to be in his late 40s/early 50s. Unsurprisingly his shoulders are very, very tight as well as his upper back. He left saying he'd be back next week.

CK had been busy cleaning and making yummy tempeh hash. We had that for lunch topped with tomatoes from the garden, it was just such lovely comfort food after teaching and the work on Saturday. We hung out for a while, resting and talking, then walked up to the library then on to Mio Gelato where we discovered vegan sorbetto. We each had a scoop of nectarine sorbetto which tasted just like late summer!

After getting back to the house, CK brought me and the bike home, AM and I talked for a bit before making wonderful pizza. Whole wheat crust, tomatoes from the garden, grilled eggplant & "cue ball" squash from the garden, and some Tofurky Italian sausage. We've hung out in the basement watching stuff on Discovery while I've done laundry and wrote.


Homework Again!

Although I'm taking notes in my notebook for yoga class I decided to keep a separate blog, Yoga Kuru Karmani (after a quote in the Bhagavad Gita), to track work there as well. I like being able to reference what I've written in an electronic fashion, especially being able to sort through all my entries about asanas by tag. I am able to read over what I've written even if I do not have my notebook with me. Besides, the multiple acts of writing help things stick for me.

Strange and good to be doing homework again. I have better tools, in college I didn't even have my own computer, did computer work in the lab, and typed most of my papers on an electronic typewriter I owned. My parents didn't really get the whole computer thing back then (uh... 1987). I have my old, iBook, which is steady if slow. I can journal and type up work online, much like the approach I took with the writing I did on the five grave precepts using the Google Docs application.
We do have an exam, but that paper bit will only be a part of how we're graded. In that sense this follows more the concept of transmission; knowledge being handed down along a long linage of teachers. There's only one area that is not something I know on the exam, more details about each chakra, so it is time to commit those to memory.
I didn't end up going to yoga class tonight. CK was absolutely exhausted after working on a customer's release all day, although we'd discussed going to class and her having dinner here it made abundant sense for her to rest. Since JW had noted that we need to be taking our 40 asana practices with either her or RM and DM was teaching the class we were going to go to I just decided to do an asana practice at home, sit zazen and work on homework.
It was a lovely evening out, a nice breeze was coming in through the window while I moved through poses. Zonker curled up between my mat and the zabuton, the wind wiffleing through his fur, and Phoebe lay along the top of the futon. I had a lot of stiffness in my hips, very little movement although it feels like it needs to pop in several places. I'm really glad I see IW on Wednesday, my tailbone is beginning to ache again (which seems to be the indicator that it has been around two weeks since body work).
Sitting was very difficult because I kept thinking of all the things I wanted to finish doing in the room! The block shelf, should it be put in horizontally or vertically? If vertical where does the photo print go (to the living room because it is an architectural detail like the photo of the Temple of Athena Nike at the Acropolis)? Instead of the two small tables I want to get rid of the light colored one and put the small statue of Shiva dancing on a floating shelf above and to the right of the futon. Maybe get rid of the small, black table too, just find or build a very narrow table to hold the lamp and glass of water for when a guest is staying in the room. Move the wreath of shells from SR's family (this I tried to do after sitting but the screw in the wall isn't far enough out to catch the loop).
And that's how the whole time went. I'd think of something I wanted to do in the room, return to my breath, think "floating shelf", and return to my breath. Over and over, it was pretty tedious. I know it is the energy of getting this room emptied out again and available to support our practice, but still I grew exasperated with myself. Which I then had to work on letting go so I could return to the breath, again!
AM and I had dinner then I returned back to homework while he worked with some photographs while watching the Packers game, mostly on fast forward so he doesn't have to listen to the commentators. I am feeling very tired out still from the weekend. I didn't get as much done at work today as I would have liked, although I did manage to get some things set up, commented upon, etc.
CK has been around online and it has been nice to have that option to connect with her via chat, I'm so grateful that we have all these options to connect with. I know if I just need to tell her something quick there's one method. Even on nights where we don't hang out I can leave open the chat client while I'm writing and still talk with her. I don't know, it is just so nice to have these different ways to connect, to share, even when we're not in the same space.
She was noting all the blogging stuff I'm doing now. I set up the two new blogs today and set up my Twitter account a little while back and that's on top of writing here nearly all days since the end of June. I noted that I really like using these methods, it has helped me write a lot more than I was doing longhand (regardless of how much I adore paper journals and the whole idea of writing longhand, very romantic).

September is for Apples

AM & I both slept quite late for us, it was past 8:30 when we woke up. I wrote a little about what I'd had in my mind when I went to sleep the night before; the chanting entry. A discussion about going to Seven Virtues for coffee expanded to include a foray to the farmers' market to see if apples were there yet.

Apples are one of my favorite types of fruit and when they start really coming into season it is wonderful enjoying them. Every year I look forward to a particular family orchard bringing apples to the market.

We picked up a few things at the market, including apples, before heading home. I hopped into a quick shower the loaded up my bike and headed over to Prananda. I was thrilled to get to chat with CC when I got there, what a treat!
I'm enjoying getting to spend so much time on anatomy and physiology! It is a pleasant surprise to discover just how much of this I remember. We also spent a great deal of time on adhomukha svanasana. Funny moment when everyone came round to feel my collarbones -- I was the only one who'd broken one and it can be felt. More of the DVD, I particularly liked the way Georg Feuerstein commented that, "Suffering has to do with how we relate to pain."
After the first really full day I'm feel much more grounded in this decision. It will be a tough 27 weeks and at times it will be really stressful. However, it is the next logical step in my growth as a teacher. The energy of the class feels good so far and I know I'll progress a lot in the time.
Nice, although tiring ride over to CK's after class. Lovely evening, again nice temperature and not too much traffic out even for just past 7PM on a Saturday night. The tomatoes from the garden got a little squished. CK made a yummy zucchini chowder that has cashews, nutritional yeast and tahini blended into it.

Yoga Teacher Training Begins

The day did not start well. At 12:47 one of the suction cups holding the thingy which holds the family tooth brushes and toothpaste gave loose and the two tubes of paste crashed into the tub. AM & I both sat up in bed with a start and he got up to investigate.

At the top of the stairs Zonker hissed at AM as if to say, "Did you hear that, I'm not going down there!"

AM came up told me what it was and we tried to get back to sleep. I'd been barely sleeping, uncomfortable and my mind just awake. Not lots happening, just awake and achy. Should have taken a melatoninin, perhaps if my mind was settled with that help I wouldn't have been as mindful of pain.

So I decided to work from home. Good day for it, had my monthly one-on-one call with my boss. Nice to be home for those because I don't feel like I need to walk off to talk privately somewhere. I had a good kick-off meeting for a project I'll be doing most of the code for. I tried to get PHP to work with the MySQL test database I set up but I'm still stuck on errors about the connection not working.

Then off to Prananda for my first teacher training class to start! As usual for me I felt anxious about it. The ride over there helped with some of the nervous energy as did the asana practice for 90 minutes. By the time we were doing two hours of sitting down and talking about the next seven months I felt much calmer.

I knew I wouldn't be the youngest, but I'm not the oldest either. There is quite a age difference between all of us, which is really cool. One solitary guy and 9 women, plus Joy. Again in a group I'm interested to hear how many people move to Portland. I'm one of a few with a meditation practice. There's several of us with back and hip problems, chronic pain, and muscle spasms.

We watched Yoga Unveiled for about 30 minutes. I was really enjoying the deep history of yoga. There were seals from Harappa discussed and shown which show people in early yoga poses. Tracing yoga back closer to 5000 years! Not sure if anyone else was as into this bit as I was, I know a few people were finding it a bit deep to follow. I'm looking forward to the rest of this DVD.

One of my fellow students has just moved here from Hood River and had rode to the class. She lives on the way I take home from the studio and hadn't put her light on her bike yet. She also hadn't known the best way to take back to her neighborhood so she followed me to her street. It was interesting to be the person who know something about bicycling in Portland!


Riding over I5 at night

It was a great night for riding home after the first meeting of my yoga teacher training. Not a lot of traffic at all, not too cool or hot. It was nice riding through the neighborhood to the pedestrian bridge on Bryant. It struck me how much changed in the last 10 years. Here I was, 39, riding home at night from yoga teacher training, 150 pounds less. At 29 I'd pretty much given up on riding a bicycle a few years prior, had not notion of taking yoga (although I was still swimming then), and spent a lot of my time distracting myself from all the messy emotions I had inside, which is what I had been trained, forced to learn to do as a child.

I was quiet, just my breath and the appreciation of change, the late summer night. I enjoyed the noise over the freeway. Even at 9:45 or so the traffic was still rushing both north and south so there was a constant hum. The loud, present roar that is the buzzing hum in the background of my bedroom. I peddled up over the rise of the bridge then coasted down the other side, mindful of the changes, the feel of the night air on my face and the drone of I5 in my ears.

After that it is an easy, pleasant coast to my house. I quickly rode across Albina then turned to coast down the hill on Commercial. Standing up on my peddles, leaning up into that feeling of flying, and coasting along until I braked at the house.

There were frogs singing as I stopped. I stood on the lawn for a moment just listening to them; so beautiful.

AM had pumpkin curry waiting for me when I got inside. Spicy and sweet, it is warming after the ride home (my legs get cold quickly). I'm tired, but feel more grounded in this commitment than I did earlier today.


Recognizing Anxiety

Woke up with a bit of a start when CK's alarm went off. Not being used to her setting one, much less one that made intermittent buzzing noise, I was disoriented at first. Then fell back asleep for a while longer. Yes, of course I know I should have leaped from the bed and gotten on with my day, but I felt so tired.

Mornings are like that. I really like the idea of getting up an hour earlier to do zazen and yoga practice before showing and heading into the office. It is rare that I have enough resources to get up some mornings, much less earlier. This is where my therapist would point out that I need to, once again, cut myself some slack since most people don't do all the things I do and manage chronic pain as well.

I have to admit that I am nervous about the teacher training starting tomorrow. I'm also feeling the hard work I've been putting in around my own intimacy issues, which is just draining and at times leaves me feeling emotionally raw and exposed. I can tell I've been anxious these past few weeks, my hands look a little bit up here and here. My dentist was also reminding me yesterday that that unless I'm chewing or talking my teeth shouldn't be touching.

On the positive side I made some progress at work today. Got MySQL up and running in my dev/test environment. Tomorrow I may even get to play at setting up a database and tables. I'll have a quick Denver trip next month -- they're getting together a team I was part of to celebrate our completing a project. Dinner out, the whole things. I feel a little small saying this, but I kind of wish we'd get recognized without a trip to Denver needed!