Thursday, January 1, 2004

What happened to 2003? I looked up from my desk at work and it was June, nodded and it was November, blinked, and it’s 2004!

I haven’t the time yet to formulate some resolutions for the coming year, but I’ll get around to it. I have a sneaking feeling it’s going to be a big year—-so many people I know established routines in 2002 and 2003, which means a shake-up is on the horizon.

So I’m predicting 2004 will be a big change year for people.

I’ve cranked out a bit of yoga in the last few days. I believe today was my seventh consecutive day; I also practiced twice on Monday, once in the morning and once in Tim’s intro class in the evening.

My friend Mirko was enjoying some holiday vacation time off work, and wanted to try yoga so I accompanied him to the Monday night class.

I put my mat down, and thought, “I do NOT want to do another hour and a half of asana today!” Because my morning practices have been so intense, I’m pretty well floored come evening.

But it was an intro class, and I made it through alive. Listening to Tim discuss the philosophical underpinnings of ashtanga is always worth the minimum effort required, too. The night’s focus was on the two or three Sutras that relate to asana practice.

Mirko was fairly devastated by the practice. It was very mellow for him on a physical level, because he’s an athletic guy, but he was unprepared for just how difficult some of the poses would be, particularly any involving his hips.

After class, he showed what his hips look like. I will go on record as saying he has THE most jacked hips I’ve ever seen. He has a protruding knob of scar tissue on either hip, like little horns!

Jesus, I thought I had it bad from skateboarding. Mirko’s skated since he was 9 or something, and was pro for a long time, too, so he’s taken his share of lumps.

The following day, he visited the 9 a.m. Mysore class and observed for about 20 minutes. I think he was impressed, because I got a call later: “That was some next level ish! When do I start? I’m ready to do this!”

I don’t know when to tell him to take a class, though. He’s a physical dude, so I think he could jump into a full first series class and figure it out.

Also on Tuesday, I hit the 9 a.m. Mysore class, instead of the regular 7 a.m. class that Tim leads. It was a change of pace, because normally I have to jet off to work by 9. I thought it would be neat to see how a week of Mysore practices would treat me.

So on Tuesday, I practiced near Olaf. I watched him reach back and grab his own shins in a backbend. Tim adjusted him so the was grabbing his knees. Pretty staggering. When he stood up, his eyes were flared to the size of silver dollars--—must have been quite an energy surge! "Relax your eyes!” Tim said, half-joking.

For New Year’s, I had my cake and ate it, too: Me and two yoga friends rang in 2004 at a very strange bar somewhere in the wastelands of Orange County. I will confess, I had a cocktail or two.

We split up and charged to yoga this morning for the sole class, a 9 a.m. Mysore class. One friend departed for Mysore for a three-week trip.

There were 42 people in the room this morning. Even with the glass still busted out over the door, the room was cooking.

Virtually every “regular” was there. It was nice----—not that I speak to that many people, but the room was made up of mostly familiar faces. I felt like a part of a little community—because really, only the absolute nutters are packing into a Mysore room on New Year’s Day!

It’s very profound to practice with 41 other people who have chosen ashtanga. Everyone who was there wanted to be there, so much so they showed up on New Year’s Day. How often does that happen anywhere else in life?

Regarding practice, I have a pet theory: I’ve read somewhere that when you sleep, your body produces a chemical that tells your muscles to stiffen to keep you from thrashing around while you’re in REM sleep.

When you sleep for less than six hours in a night, your body does not produce as much of that chemical. Therefore, your body is more pliable in the morning.

Of course, I have a feeling my concept of a “chemical” produced to stiffen muscles is hogwash, but …

On New Year’s Eve I ate some DODGY Indian food, drank two glasses of wine, hoovered two vodka tonics, and went to sleep at 1:30 a.m.

I awoke at 7, and was on the road by 8 to practice by 9.

Despite the five-and-a-half hours of sleep, I must confess that I had an absolutely brilliant practice.

The same phenomenon happened in New York City during my first day at Guruji’s workshop. I spent six hours wedged into cattle-class on a coast-to-coast flight, two hours on the subway from JFK to the East Village, and two hours talking to NYC homies.

The result: two hours of sleep before practice.

The practice itself: brilliant.

So this morning, janu sirsana C. The right side: no problem. The left side: different story. However, today my left hip externally rotated and I fully approximated the pose.

Also, I got a bit of insight into urdhva dhanurasana yesterday (walk the feet in to bring the hips over the feet). I feel like I will be able to stand up from a backbend in a week or so.

The only thing that stopped me today: fear. I was afraid I couldn’t generate enough strength the make it all the way up. It was there this morning, though. I was rocking back and forth and curling upwards.

After class, Tim had a bowl of half-anna coins for everyone to take for prosperity in the year to come. “Make sure you get one with Hanuman,” he said to me.

I probably couldn’t think of a better way to ring in a new year.