Friday, April 29, 2005

Back from the Rotten, tightened hip flexors, tweaked knee and all.

New Yorkers are a savage people. They don't use cars! Often they don't use escalators or even elevators!

Like our nomadic Stone Age forebears, they walk, run, and jog everywhere---on foot.

I remain horrified.

We steady mobbed to LA this weekend to say goodbye to Noah and Kimberley. Like waves on a sandy shore, friendships and acquaintances swell and recede.

It would seem the Los Angeles ashtanga community has been roundly hammered in the last month, as in addition to Noah's and Kim's departure, Chuck and Maty are also departing the city.

Would now be an appropriate time to reflect on how thankful I am that Tim Miller has seen fit to show up at the studio every morning and unlock the shala door for the past 20-something years?

Well, now he's unlocking the door to the Sandcastle Room, but you get my drift.

If you head to LA, don't fear---the lovely Maia has stepped in to run morning Mysore until mid-June for the students at Noah's and Kim's.

Otherwise they all would have had to switch to Bikram's. Hah!

There seems to be a post-Guruji-tour fever of India trips in the works.

Tons of people are packing up their Western lives, putting their affairs in (semi) order, and lighting out for Mysore this summer. And god help me, I'll be one of 'em.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

As those of you who've been to New York City know, there's not a whole lot going on here. Not much to look at, not a lot of places to eat, nothing much to do.

Well, maybe there're like two places to eat. But that's it.

I'm not sure which god I've pleased lately, but some cosmic hand has seen fit to bestow spring-like weather, even summer-like, on New York City.

This isn't novel for those of us from SoCal, where there's incredible weather all day, every day, all year---for us, rain is the novelty---but let me tell you why I've fallen to my knees in thanks in the intersection of Prince and Sullivan Streets, to the amusement of oncoming drivers and the Korean guy stocking the fruit at the corner store.

White wife-beaters.

New York's unending supply of cripplingly attractive women have all seen fit to crack out their white wife-beaters. They're parading about the city, oblivious to the ensuing sprained necks and car crashes.

Yoga has happened in the dingy, grime-encrusted Russian and Turkish Baths, located on E. 10th Street.

An exhausted-looking Russian guy does you the favor of taking your money. You change in the grimiest locker in the known universe, and then descend downstairs to the "spa."

They have a Turkish steam room, a dry sauna, a Swedish sauna, an ice-dip pool, and the best room in the joint, the Russian sauna.

In the Russian sauna, the kiln in the corner is filled with rocks that are baked all night, and then left to radiate temps of 165 degrees all day. Faucets with buckets underneath are interspersed along the ampitheatre-style stone steps.

When the heat gets unbearable---about every five minutes or so---you dump the bucket of frigid water over your head and let it cascade down your body.

What follows is a milisecond of pure consciousness whiteout and bliss.

That's some yoga right there.

It was coed, which meant it wasn't a total dude-fest. I was a little apprehensive about the joint's gay quotient, and scoured the website for hints that this was any place other than an OG Russian Jewish "schvitz" bathhouse. I couldn't find any, and subsequently only got hit on once.

("Say---are you by any chance a model?" Damnit, that line works on me every time.)

I've been practicing at Eddie Stern's joint, sans Eddie, who's apparently very sick. I've heard about his dedication, so he must be incredibly ill to have missed a week of class.

The space is incredible, and there's a lot of shakti in the room. Everyone faces in the same direction, towards an altar at one end of the room, and there's a warm, inviting feel to place. Everyone's been very friendly, if not a bit harried---it is New York, after all.

I also keep running into people I've met in Mysore---maybe 10 people or so? That's a lot, man. It's been too sweet.

Of course, my experience at Eddie's is made sweeter by the fact that I will soon be returning to the Best Western's Sandcastle Room.

There are also new Mysore plans in the air. I'm at 90-percent certainty there will be an extended 05 trip. More soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A special treat: two entries in one day!

The Morrisey firestorm rages unabated.

Quite simply, the world is divided into two camps: those who love Morrisey, and those who must be pushed screaming from a helicopter.

My mom always says, "Remember when you broke up with Tiffany and then listened to The Smiths and Morrisey for the next six months?"

Don't laugh, I was 25.

In my defense, I was listening to the Mozzer before the break-up.

Well, maybe my Morrisey phase was symptomatic of some larger issues at hand.

On a lighter note, after practice today, my spine hurts. But baddha konasana felt great! I do feel a lot physically stronger after Guruji's two-week stopover.

With that, I'll let Morrisey take it away!

I was good kid
through hail and snow
I’d go
just to moon ya
--"I Have Forgiven Jesus"

Off the rails I was and
off the rails
I was happy to stay
--"Piccadilly Palare"

Angel, don't take your life
Some people have got no pride
They do not understand
The urgency of life
But I love you more than life
--"Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together"
Speaking of coconuts, how does one get the little bastards open?

Monkeys do it, and here I am with my opposable thumbs and giant, evolved forebrain, smashing the thing around the parking lot like an idiot, unable to get at the sweet, sweet meat inside.

I'm right fucked if I ever crash-land on a deserted island.

I've been using the DeWalt drill to bore two holes into the coconut, after which I insert a straw.

Even with the DeWalt, I still can't get it open as fast as Beg the Coconut Man of Mysore, who holds the coconut in one hand and swings a machete at it with the other---yet still has all his fingers!

My Electric Lady betrayed me the other day. Tim's been running Sunday classes in the Sandcastle Room much later in the day, so I've been practicing at 1 PM.

Like a true Western yoga student (read: "idiot"), I ate a banana and some almonds at about 8 AM, and immediately washed it down with my vaunted Electric Lady Hammerhead. And that was it.

Needless to say, by 1 PM I was a jittery, sugar over-loaded, dehydrated mess.

Back: not bending. Muscles: trembling. Demeanor: shaky.

After practice, Andrew and Jess told me they'd eaten pancakes for breakfast that morning. Pancakes! Doubtless covered in cream. Nothing like a bit of common sense to set one on an even keel.

As Jay-Z says, streets is talking, and the mean yoga streets of Encinitas is talking about the location of our new shala.

I don't want to say anything about the new spot just yet.

I'm fighting an immediate knee-jerk "Jesus-Christ-are-you-fucking-serious!" reaction. What I'm trying to say is that I'm still trying to process the information.

What else is yoga for, than to recognize our conditioned patterns of behavior?

Change is good, right? Things can't stay the same forever.


I'm trusting that regardless of where Tim hangs up his new shingle, he'll imbue it with the same degree of love and devotion as the last location.

I mean, we all gather because of The Big Guy (in this case, Tim. But through him, the Other Big Guy---Guruji).

We don't gather because of the studio space. The studio space will become a reflection of The Big Guy's personality.

So maybe the new spot is flash, but just like the last spot---which was funky, literally and figuratively---it's going to have the same vibe.

In New York City news, I've roughed out a practice spot for the next 10 days or so. And I am psyched!

So if you're in New York City and see a long-haired, string-bean guy with nut-hugger yoga shorts and characteristic tattoos (chief among them Hanuman, hence the blog name. Duh) at your studio---that's me.

I will not be lurking through the streets in the nut-hugger attire. Normallly I wear clothes. However, for a nominal fee, I will don my grape-smugglers and come to your house to perform a series of erotic dances for you and your friends.

I'm going to start an on-line poll: just how bummed do you think my work will be when I quit---again!---to go to India?

Since I've made up my mind to go again, the hardest part has been NOT going. Meaning, there's a tendency to make my target date earlier and earlier ...

Finally, in sartorial news, I have procured a new Morrisey shirt. It doesn't even say his name! It's just a picture of the young Mozzer! Thus far, it ranks as 05's hottest purchase. So so def.

Ladies! You can either form an orderly make-out line, or just tackle me en masse.

Friday, April 8, 2005

The Pope's been buried. Good fucking riddance, I'm tired of reading about it everywhere, all the time. Who knew he had such a devoted following?

(I posted this a few minutes ago, thought about it, and came back to edit it out---but you know what? Fuck it. I'm going to let it stand and hope no one declares jihad on me. Or molests me and then covers it up.)

Today, BBC News' website has a photo of an Iraqi woman's face as the thumbnail image for a photo essay. Is it wrong to think she's totally hot? Inaam Tadra, student, 24---if you're reading this, drop me a line.

We had a massive moon-day breakfast at Andrew's house. The poor guy got shanghaied into whipping up pancakes for about 10 yoga homies (yomies?) from the studio. He also makes a great latte. (Of which I had two, thanks.) He only has himself to blame, for being such a damn fine cook.

I also have come to appreciate the Australian way of eating pancakes, which is to pour cream on top.

The only way to build and sustain a community is to do it. Which means breakfasts, coffees, lunches, dinners, and around these parts, child-watching.

I'm currently reading a copy of the Gheranda Samhita, which Julie was kind enough to float my way. It's actually a great version, but more forthcoming ...

My homeboy at work and I have spent the last hour browsing espresso machine websites, as we've concocted this fantastic plot to order an illmatic espresso machine for the office and expense it to the company. Charge it to the game!

In days of yore, when in Vegas for a trade-show, I'd always somehow end up at Crazy Horse 2. The homies would be running up cash advances on their work credit cards (getting those Crazy Horse dollars) and purchasing unholy amounts of lap dances. The recurring battle-cry: "Charge it to the game!"

Is there yoga in a lapdance? In the stripclub? It is a place filled with ritualized behavior that harnesses a deep, dark (dare I trot out "cthonic"?) energy. Tantric yoga, maybe.

Perhaps this line of inquiry bears further investigation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

I probably shouldn't have written about baddha konasana---because now the slim progress I've made will slip away again as my hips tighten like a fist. The Greeks called it hubris.

I was surfing Richard Freeman's website yesterday (don't ask why) and saw that he's written four (FOUR!) pages, using 9-point-sized font, on the subject of baddha konasana. Wow.

Here's a small sign of insanity for you. In my defense, keep in mind this was years ago. I went to Home Depot and bought two empty plastic sandbags for fifty cents each. Next, I walked down to the beach and filled 'em with sand so I had two 25-pound home-made sandbags.

I would get up an hour before practice and watch The Weather Channel with a sandbag on each thigh.

Every morning I would think, "Dear god, when will this nightmare stop?"

And because I was watching The Weather Channel, I would also think, "Dear Jesus, it's cold in other parts of the country!"

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

1. Kapotasana.
Is it possible to break one's spine in half? Just wondering, because it sure feels like it. Can your spine fall out of your back?

2. The Sand Castle Room at the Encinitas Best Western
Tim is asking that you refrain from hitting the wet bar until after practice.

3. "Trance Classics" Volumes 1 and 2
O the shame! The degradation! Yes, yes, a thousand times yes---I admit it, it's all true!

4. David Elsewhere
You call that twitching you're doing popping and locking? This is the real deal.

5. Two weeks with the Guru
I'm physically wiped out, but only realized it today. That led intermediate was gee-damn tough.

6. "Sin City"
It was too long, but there were some great moments, especially the grisly, hands-on demise of That Yellow Bastard. (Shades of Sonny Chiba's "Streetfighter"!) The very closing scene, obviously directed by Tarantino, was the only scene in the movie with a jittery, dread-filled spark of something real unfolding on the screen.

7. Speaking of "Sin City" …
Before making "Sin City," I wish director Robert Rodriguez had watched less Peckinpah and more Raoul Walsh, Sam Fuller, "Touch of Evil," Anthony Mann, Robert Aldrich, Jean-Pierre Melville, or even Budd Boetticher's later Westerns.

8. New York City
In two weeks …

9. Recipe for baddha konasana
Six days a week for three years, have a 185-pound man flatten you. Also, sit cross-legged every chance you get, all day, every day, for 18 months.

10. Bloc Party
The album is called "Silent Alarm."

11. Sheenon's tour shirts
"Ashtanga Yoga---Pure for Sure." And it's the Bharat Petroleum logo! Way too tight. Get one now, while supplies last. Or be reduced to envying mine.

12. Vajroli mudra VCD?
Who was in Mysore when that VCD was circulating, the one that showed that nutty British guy performing nauli kriya, dipping his Tiny Tim into a glass of milk, sucking the milk up his urethra, leaking it back into the glass---and then bloody winking at the camera? Jesus, how do I get a copy?

13. You can do drop-backs, but you're having trouble standing up.
Widen your feet one (and only one) inch.

Friday, April 1, 2005

A Santa Ana has gusted through Southern California, too, bringing with it 85-degree temps and flocks of butterflies. The air is crispy and ionized, charged with immanence and portent. Of what? Hopefully something good. Keep your eyes peeled for a virgin birth here in SoCal.

For those readers who demand to know my personal tastes, I've jumped from Jai Uttal's "Radhe Govinda" to a Ferry Corsten CD mixed live at Spundae. Who's Ferry Corsten, you ask? He's a fucking trance DJ!

There's this one part in "Digital Punk" when he drops the bass out and you hear the chanting, cheering crowd singing along. Then, as the break roars up, the entire audience sighs as one, a giant, amorphous body with no mind ... Corsten drops the bass and absolutely steamrollers the dancefloor. A room full of people goes absolutely apeshit.

I tell you, there's yoga out there in the clubs and tents, warehouses and dancefloors. It's just that getting to it in that context will wear holes in your soul.

(There was a similarly dramatic moment on that live Fatboy Slim record, when you can hear the crowd go ballistic during that cheesy yet triumphant house break.)

The Volvo is spectacularly dusty and filled with empty water bottles; a snorkel parka sits forlornly in the trunk, waiting for winter.

Today's practice: the Cabana Room. After practice, there were a million toast/croissant/bagel particles stuck to the bottom of my mat, as the Cabana Room is where the Best Western hosts its complimentary morning buffet for guests.

Mmm, toast particles.

Two weeks of the Guruji tour and I felt stronger than ever in practice, although perhaps it's attributable to the late hour (1 PM!), the tile floor (a harder surface), or the fact that an hour or so before I'd consumed my first ever hammerhead.

This variation of what must surely be an American invention---"Caffeine with extra caffeine? Sounds swell!---had two shots of espresso topped with coffee, shot through with condensed milk, and dusted with cinnamon.

Sweet Christ, I almost experienced rapture right there in the coffee shop, and it definitely made the Wittgenstein I'm reading ("Lectures on Aesthetics, Psychology, and Religion") go down smooth.

Music-wise, I'm trying to slide back into the death metal, but the black metal just works out so much smoother. This band Isis is killing it! Also copped a few Krishna Das albums, some Bloc Party for that Gang of Four feel, and a Spectrum album for droning guitar pulse.

My shameful secret: Community Resource Center Thrift Store, a couple hundred feet from the old shala. I like to go buy shitty (and I mean absolutely crappy) science fiction and fantasy books for a quarter, and then horror of horrors, read 'em. Then I donate 'em back. Sort of like a Dragonlance catch-and-release program.

But I can never turn down a good Mack Bolan ("The Executioner") or Destroyer book, either.

I ducked into the old shala today. The owner of Detour salon, the joint next door, took over the place, and is primed to knock through the walls to enlarge the salon.

The inside was totally gutted! Walls stripped and carpet gone! In a few places, the old color scheme---tan top, green bottom, bisected by purple---hung in abstract rectangles, but the rest was skeletal. She'd had to pull off the walls to bleach out the wood struts underneath to get rid of all the mold, and the carpet---well, obviously the carpet was headed for incineration.

Apparently the mold has permeated the walls, and was worst under the front windows.

I tell you, to see the studio gutted so brought a wee tear to the eye ... but only for a second, because as I said before, a room is just a room.

I got LA on tap for Tuesday ... and NYC in two weeks.
Tarik-from-Tokyo is 6-feet, 6-inches tall. The Best Western's Sand Castle conference room has ceilings that are maybe 8 feet tall. You do the math.

We were all crammed in there anyway, so it didn't really matter that there was a row of (mostly) pasty white appendages flapping about, catching unsuspecting yogis/yoginis unawares. Still, Tarik's one tall dude.

Tim brought his yoga studio jump-start kit---money box, sign-in sheet, incense, candles---everyone unrolled their mats, and we got to work. Just like that. A room is just a room, I guess, and what matters is the intent that fills it.

Nary a dry eye yesterday, the last on Guruji and Sharat's Encinitas stop. Like today, I practiced next to Andrew and Tarik, and had to dodge the requisite limbs. I was pretty fried physically after a week of led intermediate, and was glad for the first-series breather. Which I phoned in, might I add.

It was sad to say goodbye to so many people, and as I said, there was quite a bit of crying. (Never fear---as an incredibly masculine, macho, ass-kicking man, I didn't cry.)

It is so beautiful to come together for something like this, isn't it? Hundreds of people, unified in purpose, intent, and gratitude.