June 30, 2009
It’s the first day of my summer vacation!
School got out on June 19, but I opted to do a summer project to earn some extra money for yoga. I started going to yoga again at the Ashtanga Yoga Center in DC – must read back in my infrequent posts to see if I mentioned that already, but I don’t think that I did. It’s a bit of a drive at 25 minutes to Tenleytown, but definitely worth it to continue Ashtanga, and I really like the instructors. I took the (financial? commitment?) leap and paid for unlimited morning Mysore classes, too, so I’ve been going almost daily since June 15. Mysore classes refer to the style of teaching/practicing in Mysore, India, where you attend and self-practice under the guidance of an instructor who adjusts your postures and adds new ones to your practice as you memories the sequence. There are people in my classes who are far more practiced and those who have far less experience as well. It actually makes me very comfortable, and I feel refreshed and energized for the day when I go to Mysore in the morning. (Thank goodness, because it’s certainly hard for me to leave the house at 6:45 am or earlier.)
I haven’t forgotten my running, though I’ve done it a little less of late. Instead of running 3 times a week, I’m going once or twice. However, last week I went three times between Sunday and Saturday, including running the Potomac River Running Twilight Festival Four-Miler in Ashburn on Saturday evening. I had my usual goal – keep running the whole time. Once I got underway, I also amused myself with a secondary goal of running it in under 45 minutes, but I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I hadn’t achieved that goal. But I was successful in both! I ran a very steady four miles, with my average pace for the first two miles at 10:49 minutes/mile, and my average pace overall at 11:09 minutes/mile, and I finished in (do the math) 44:36. As a testament to my steadiness, I was able to sprint the last 50 meters or so, and I felt great doing it. There was great swag at this race – not only did I get an awesome orange technical t-shirt and a $1 off at Robek’s coupon in my race packet, but all runners got a free burrito and drink afterwards (and a beer, which I gave away). There were free massages, a moon bounce for kids, and post-race snacks and drinks courtesy of Wegman’s. Fancy! It about made up for the heat, serious lack of shade on the course, and of course for the “scenery” of Ashburn.
We’re back to painting the house (no, we’re not done yet), so that’s part of what I’ll be spending my first day of vacation doing. Most recently we had painted the ceiling and trim in our bedroom, leaving the walls a mess and in need of the blue gray that will soon go up. But we decided yesterday to start in on the small bedroom first, which is a light (to me) green-blue color. I’ll be working on the ceiling in there and the guest bathroom today, then moving to the trim, then the wall colors. Allen decided that we could pick a new paint color for the hallway (yellow since about six months ago, and I haven’t come around to liking it yet), rather than spend another $50 on the last gallon of Benjamin Moore paint we’d need to finish the upstairs part of the hallway. I was overjoyed to hear that we didn’t need to wait a couple of years to declare the color a failure and repaint. (And yes, we could spend the money to try sample patches first. But at least 4 out of 5 times, if not 9 out of 10, I’m happy with the color I pick on the first try. So I’m cheap and risky.)
There is a limit to what we’ll get done this week though because on Saturday we leave for a week in St. John. Allen’s parents built a house down there, which they rent for 10 months of the year and visit for two. They’ll be down there for the whole month; we’re just there Saturday through Friday.
Enough with the blogging for now – hopefully I’ll have more time to post now that it’s summer – but it’s time to get to that painting.
April 30, 2008
In which Lauren’s fingers connect with her toes…
Today marks another foray into stretching myself to the point of pain and really kind of enjoying it. The craziest thing happened in yoga today. (I just have to warn you. You will not think this is crazy.) Basically, it is this: I bent at the waist, feet straight in front of me, and I curled my hands around my toes. That’s right. I touched my toes. I more than touched my toes. I held my feet.
Honestly, two weeks ago, I would not have been able to do that. Heck, I could have been walking around with this power for days now and not even realized it! Phenomenal what the human body can do!
In which Lauren decides how much of a Puritan she is…
I normally come to yoga all dressed in my workout pants, sports bra, and schmancy green tank top that I love. But many of the other students don’t. They’ll come from work or studies (as one would expect) dressed as normal people who didn’t just wake up and take a shower within the last half hour (and it’s noon). So these people strip out of their work dress and into their yoga kicks in a very small area behind the counter of the studio. What I mean to say is, men and women strip to their underwear mere inches away from one another in order to change clothes.
When I was in high school on the swim team, it took me years (yes, I mean that) to become comfortable enough to flash some nudity in front of my teammates. Now I’m not so uptight. All of my friends who go shopping with me are thinking, “But it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if you were just a little more uptight about getting undressed in front of people, Lauren.” Fair enough.
But today I tutored before I went to yoga, and I opted to wear street clothes. (I did however wear my sports bra all morning.) So when I got to the yoga studio, it was time for the show! I bared my very pale thighs in front of men and women (none of whom, I’m quite sure, were looking) and survived! I didn’t even blush, so maybe I’m not such a Puritan after all.
Of course, later in the lesson when Vanessa, the instructor, was having us visualize every part of our bodies during meditation, I did get a kick out of her asking us to visualize: the left breast…, the right breast…, the space between the breasts…
In which buzzsaws interrupt meditation…
There’s not much more to that one. We’re all breathing softly, envisioning every part of our body and what all, and all of a sudden BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! Some kind of electric saw starts shrilling away in the building next door. Calming. Very.
April 24, 2008
After strep and a bit of recovery time, I finally got to go to yoga again today, two weeks after my last class. To tell you the truth, I was scared because I now consider yoga quite hardcore, and I’m pretty sure Alexandre knows I’m not hardcore. I wondered if he’d ask me why I hadn’t bothered to come to class for two weeks.
But it’s not like that, right? It’s only in our minds that the judging goes on. Once the class began, I remembered I was there to better myself and so was everyone else. No one was being petty about my attendance – they don’t know me! And my fears about Alexandre’s class kicking my butt… Okay, well those didn’t exactly go away. But I’m becoming a masochist.
This week, I felt like I was better able to measure my breathing, keep my abdomen in use, and concentrate on the movement of my body. If I felt myself shaking or faltering, I slowed and steadied myself, willing my muscles to stretch or balance to come.
I felt more in control, even during the push ups. I haven’t done push ups since I was 16, when I had surgery on my wrist for a cyst that was pinching a nerve. The doctors accidentally cut my tendons during the surgery, and I’ve never properly regained flexibility. To be honest, I didn’t try hard enough at the time. So my wrist is sore now, but my whole yoga adventure is part of a quest for flexibility and strength, and I suppose that includes my wrist.
I sweated a lot today. In every posture, I thought I could push no further, but then pushed, and found I could do more. At one point the teacher pulled me into some position I was certain I couldn’t have achieved on my own, but I could hold it.
At the end, during the meditation, I listened to Alexandre prompting us to feel the pressure where our bodies touched the ground and feel the ground reciprocating that pressure and supporting us. I felt deeply relaxed. I thought, “I’m glad I came.” The thought came on through the haze of purposefully not thinking of anything, so it reverberated in my head like a little revelation. I think I may go on Saturday too.