Friday, January 9, 2004

I figured I’d post twice this week. Miracle of miracles!

I’ve embarked on an absolutely insane yoga schedule for the last two weeks or so. But it’s working out pretty well – meaning I have a lot of energy, practice has been great, and work and social life have yet to suffer. Well, work/social life isn’t suffering any more than it has been.

(Perhaps “suffering” isn’t the greatest word. Let’s amend it to “transforming.”)

The new routine: alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. I have two alarms rigged up, my cell phone and an alarm clock. The cell phone is on the table by my bed, and it goes off first. I turn it off. A few minutes later, my alarm clock goes off. It’s positioned across the room on my bookshelf.

When I lived in SF, I practiced at Ahimsa Yoga, a studio run by a former student of Tim’s named Alice. After a few months of three-to-four-times-a-week led classes, I felt that there was something more to this yoga thing, something I could feel but wasn’t picking up on.

I asked Alice about it. I wanted to know what the next level was. She informed me that, traditionally, ashtangis practice in Mysore-style, or self-paced classes, six days a week, at 6 or 7 in the morning.

I was floored, I remember. “SIX days a week? At 6 in the morning? Are you out of your mind? There’s no way I could get out bed that early!”

Alice told me that initially she was the same way, until someone gave her these tips on getting up early. It proved to be some of the wisest advice I’ve ever received: Drink lots of water before you go to sleep. And put your alarm clock on the far side of the room so you have to get up to shut it off.

And both tips work. So the alarm fires at 4:30; generally I smash the snooze bar and drift for another 10 minutes. I’ve also set my clock to a country-western station, which pulls me out of bed right quick, too.

I shower, more to rinse off the sleep than get clean, because I will shortly be leaking sweat anyway. I turn on the computer and fire up the brand-new espresso machine I bought at Target ($30!).

From 5 to about 6 I answer and send e-mails for work, and/or read. Latest morning material: Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Such a yoga nerd.

I leave for the studio at about five to 6. It’s literally two blocks; I drive because I have to leave for work immediately after practice. The last few days, it’s still been night when I’ve left the house, and the weather has been brick. That is to say, cold as hell.

The extra two hours before asana really give my body a chance to wake up. The hour of pranayama really fires up both the bandhas and my hips, because it’s essentially sitting in lotus/cross-legged posture for 45 minutes.

I’ve also been practicing nauli kriya between surya namaskar A and B, to both increase internal heat and really activate the bandhas. It’s strange, because one day I went from 5 As and 5 Bs to 3 each. I don’t remember how or why. It just happened, and for right now, that’s all my body needs to warm up.

The nauli really activates the core muscles. Sweat beads my brow almost immediately. Nauli has greatly improved over time, too. I used to have to shift my hips back and forth, whereas now I can get the abs to roll back and forth with no hip movement.

It’s uncanny to look down and see it happening. Certain muscles, tendons, and organs don’t flatten, so you can see their distinct outline as the stomach rolls over them. The right side is harder to flatten and control, too, I suspect because there’s a major body part there. The top of the stomach? Liver? A kidney? My anatomical ignorance stands revealed.

During one of Tim’s “dreaded” Thursday classes, he mentioned they used to practice nauli between A and B “in the olden days.” I asked him if he practices it now. “Every day,” he said.

Anyway, we’ll see if the new schedule works out, or proves too impractical in the real world. These 9 a.m. bedtimes have murdered my old social life, and one might imagine (correctly) that I’m not sharing my bed, because who in his or her right mind would sleep with someone who gets up at 4:30 in the morning? For yoga, nonetheless?