Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Rant: How Eco Should I Go?

I know it's on everyone's mind lately, and yet I can't help but share my thoughts and questions on green living. How green do I need to be? At the upstate house we're trying not to put anything chemical at all in the water system. Not only do we have spring water in our house (amazing!), but our whole area is the watershed for NYC's reservoir. Do I really want the residue from Soft Scrub Gel with Bleach in my water at home in Brooklyn? I THINK NOT! But there are certain things that are just not working for me.

Hair conditioner. It's a problem. I can't find a single biodegradable hair conditioner that works even a little bit. I have one favorite hair conditioner. I use a quarter sized amount every other day. And I can't seem to give it up. Shampoo is iffy, but there are a few good ones, and I think there'll be more as I experiment a little. But I think the conditioner stays. How guilty should I feel?

Here's another thing, skincare. I went to the dermatologist for a persnickety skin issue, and she told me to use cetaphil to clean my face. It's supposed to be the gentlest thing around. Now the list of ingredients is almost entirely chemical/petroleum based. There's propylene glycol, methylparaben and a bunch of other unpronounceable stuff. I have been trying to use as much truly natural skincare as possible lately. I mean your skin is an organ, that stuff is getting filtered straight into your system! But both the dermatologist and the aesthetician (who happens to be a very holistic/natural type) say that nothing natural does any good. All the advanced technology is the stuff that works. I find that more depressing than anything else. And mostly I refuse to believe it. But so far I'm not having any luck!

And finally, this is a really small one in the scheme of things I guess, but our new eco friendly toilet is too tall for me. What, only tall people care for the environment? Yes, the dual flush is great on our septic system. But I feel like an absolute child with my feet swinging inches from the floor. Oh well, time for a step stool.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Week 2

Well, it must be getting a little easier. I was up before the alarm, at 3:45, just because I'd apparently slept enough. I'm emailing with friends in Mysore. Must be afternoon there. And watching Olympic skating while drinking my homemade latte and loving the cat. It's amazing. Cat's don't base their neediness on time of day. He's just as clingy at 4:17 as at 8 in the evening.

So, yes, I do make lattes at 4 am. I don't just make a salad, I make a perfectly gourmet meal, never forgetting to toast the almonds, use lots of avocado, find the best, most wonderful EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar possible. My yoginess has not yet translated to austerity. More a shift of the enjoyment to vegetarian cooking. I think I had some idea I'd stop caring about the things I care about somehow, as I went forward with the yoga. But no, this is not the process really. Care without gripping, attachment, addiction is the goal. But this is a tough one for me! Hence, my favorite thing of the moment, a 4 am latte. If I didn't get it I would not cry, mind you, but I would get SOME sort of coffee. Well, I'll work on that when the hour's not so early.

The big thing is the teaching. I love it. It feels like the students are pleased too. And there are lots of them! Even the huge tall guys are getting something from my teaching, and it's so rewarding. More than that, even if I'm more tired in general, my practice doesn't seem to be really suffering yet. True, it's early in the process. Were I to be teaching full time I'd have to sustain the energy and health over days/weeks/months/years. Sadly, this is not in the cards immediately anyway. But I don have little daydreams about the regular teacher being detained and getting another month out of the situation.

Oh well, here's something yogic. Be in the moment! I still have a week and a half left, and the students are waiting for me. Time to hop into yoga clothes and hit the pavement!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 4! A Little Late...

Ok, now I know why Sharath drinks so much coffee. I started the post below three days ago, and only just got back to finish it now. It's been great, the teaching, but the first week of getting used to it is very tiring! Yesterday and today I slept till 6:30 and I don't know how I'll go back to that four am call time!

This is what I was thinking three days ago:

That's right, it's only the 4th day of the teaching experiment and already I am exhausted. This morning I didn't even shower, and am sitting on the sofa with coffee at 4:30 wondering what I will wear. For the next two and a half weeks now, this (with shower added) will be my routine.

Wake at 4.
Teach at 6.
Practice at 8:30 or 9.
Sometimes teach again at 12:30.
Sometimes teach again at 4:30.

Saturdays I get to sleep till 6:30 or 7, woo hoo, as I don't have to get there till 9. But then, the subways don't really work as well on Saturdays.

It's an interesting thing. In some ways it is just as hard as I imagined. I am going to bed either really early and not seeing Brad at all (as in last night when I fed him dinner at 7, passed out on the couch around 7:45, and trundled off at 8), or I'm enjoying my fourth wind at 8, and then it's hard to sleep and I'm a wreck the next day. Also, practicing after teaching is tough in that I'm tired again by then. However, I'm also more "up" my muscles are functioning, I'm definitely much bendier without even trying. But I've had to give myself over to another teacher for the time being, rather than just practice on my own. She won't insist I do things her way, but it is MY way to do so. It's her yoga room, and if I want to get something out of my study, I should try it her way. Still, it's hard, it's a shift in focus. It's an ego moderating endeavor.

The great thing is, actually, the teaching. I do enjoy it. I've never taught a mysore room for more than a day here and there, and so didn't know what the whole life would feel like, and how it would feel to be in that room, knowing those students were relying on me for a period of time. It's different. For one day, you basically leave them alone, assist them only where it's absolutely necessary. For three weeks, you have time to observe, see the larger picture, figure out where to be and when in the room over the course of morning. It's exhausting! And totally fun. And nervewracking! This practice is deep and eprsonal and these students are used to Evan. They may be nervous. I mean, there's this one guy who's 6 foot 5 and all muscle. He lets me help him with drop backs, but you're telling me it didn't cross his mind that I might drop him that first time????

SO, from the 3 days later perspective, I'm excited to continue the experiment. I think I can tweak what I'm doing to make my energy more even, get a little more out of my days instead of feeling sort of blown away, like it's a "game on" time and real life will happen after. I know the three weeks will end, and I can get to all that leftover stuff later, but if I ever wanted to really do this, now is the time to find out if it's workable in a real life way. So, what grounding practice can I add in? Well, I should probably do pranayama instead of just emailing all the time, but I also need to be in touch with people. Its what makes me feel happy and alive. Ok, more thought is required. Check for updates!

And now, back to my regularly schedule coffee...I guess I'm not that stoic after all.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's The Big Idea?

In my short 8 years of yoga practice (6 of them a daily ashtanga practice) I have delved deeply and gone far. I have cried on the mat while nursing (eventually losing my mother) through Ovarian cancer. I have practiced with zeal in the tumultuous marital time that followed. I have practiced through joyous and seemingly easy times and through tougher times of injury and illness. I have stepped on the mat with giddy happiness and energy bubbling over and on many a morning when the subway steps seemed insurmountable and even a suryanamaskar seemed too much. I have taken my yoga (or followed it?) from NY to Boston to NH to San Fancisco, to Tahoe, Boulder, Miami, India, Mexico, Woodstock, and back to NYC again. But through all this, I have somehow managed to remain young in the practice.

There was an essay contest earlier this year, asking when people felt they had finally, truly felt like an adult, a real grown up. I think I have only recently begun to feel even the stirrings of this, in a way. With the purchase of a home-away-from home in Woodstock, NY, I have had to look at several aspects of my life in a whole new light, and take on responsibilities in a new way. One of them, of course, is my yoga practice. It’s been said that practice mirrors life and this is certainly true for me. The responsibility for my life experience, and yoga experience, now falls squarely on my (not so young) shoulders, and it’s time to take the reins.

Practice in Woodstock is entirely up to me. There’s lots of yoga there, but not much Ashtanga. Yes, there is a group of about 4 people who gather two or three times a week to practice together, but there is no teacher. In fact, I am growing into my teacher role there! So mostly I am on my own with my practice. With ashtanga, that should be easy, right? You have your practice, you know what it is, when and how to do it, when to take a day off. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Why is it so hard to simply take the first step onto the mat? It’s time to finally put my practice where my mouth is and really do it!

So here are the questions. Will I be able to maintain my daily practice, even while moving around so much, with teachers and without? Will I be able to take care of myself in the same way, maintain the practices that make me feel good, even when I know no one is “looking,” no teacher is waiting for me in the morning, except maybe me? Will I integrate the chanting and pranayama that help to steady and ground my practice, when no one forces me to make the extra time?

How can I find balance between my yogic ideals, my eat-drink-and-be-merry husband, my oenophile background and foodie tendencies and my austere early morning asana, my gourmet vegetarian cooking hobby and my carnivorous husband and friends, my yoga teaching and copywriting careers, my love of luxurious beauty products and my resolve to go natural and organic?

In short, what is a sustainable Laura? These are the questions we all contemplate in one way or another, and that keep life exciting on and off the mat. Follow me on the journey on the mat and beyond as I follow and create the path of the Laura Life.