April 29, 2011

WNPR Signal Outage

WNPR has been off the air since yesterday around noon-time, apparently there was storm related damage at or near the transmitter on Meriden Mountain.

In the meantime, I've kind of been enjoying radio silence. I am an admitted NPR addict and I often have WNPR going on multiple radios (office / bedroom / living room) not to mention my car and an occasional podcast. So it's sort of nice to try a more contemplative, silent morning. I suppose I could catch the stream (shades of Colin McEnroe on WTIC during Red Sox games) but my computer speakers are not great and I'm slinging around large files for work this morning. Don't worry, WNPR. I will be back to my old ways as soon as you are back on the air.

In the meantime, just passing this along....
I’ve just received word from WNPR’s engineering department this evening that the power lines to the Meriden transmitter sustained heavy damage this afternoon during the violent storm that passed through the area.

CL & P crews, local tree removal services and tower maintenance personnel are working in concert to restore power – and our signal – as quickly as possible.

As I write, we anticipate the earliest time to get WNPR’s 90.5 signal back on line is late Friday afternoon.

Member support not only delivers the best news and information available, it also ensures that we can restore delivery of WNPR’s service as quickly as possible during times like these.

Thank you for your understanding and your financial support. Tonight in particular, your generosity will be at work throughout the night.


Jack Callahan
Vice President, Individual Giving
Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network
CPTV | WNPR CPTV4U | cpbn.org
1049 Asylum Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
Phone: (860)275-7320

Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training

I'm headed in for 5 days of teacher training with Cheri Clampett and Arturo Peal. Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training that is - 30 hours worth of it. So excuse me if I am a bit zoned out for the next week.....

Not really sure why I signed up. I spent a week with Cheri (and Heather Tiddens) in Montana last summer and I'd surely love to catch a bit more of that particular brand of lightning in a bottle. Cheri is one of those persons you just like to stand in the light of now and then; a wonderful swirl of goodness and strength.

Therapeutic Yoga is not something I've really though much of. I love a good Restorative Class now and then; but it remains a minor part of my own practice. And watching myself teach on videotape the other night (as uncomfortable as that was, we were doing the 2011 teacher Training video review and I had gotten tapped to teach one segment for a missing student) made me aware of how much of my teaching is intuitive and body directed, a connection between feeling in my body and voice. I do not so much teach as I pull my students along in my own experienced practice. My classes are a swirling miasma of give and take; my friend Nykki asked "Do you get tired when you teach?" because I am so physically involved in the practice.

So it's hard for me to imagine teaching Therapeutic Yoga - which appears (at least from this vantage) to be much more of a one-way street. The teacher is ministering to her students, there seems to be more thought and less feeling, more of a care-giver or healer role. I am not sure how or if that might work for my teaching style.

At the video review the other night, I was (rightly) called to task for my habit of closing my eyes as I teach. "Sweetie" my teacher said "You've figured out a new way to hide!" Yes, she really said "Sweetie". And yes, I do hide behind those blissfully closed eyes, even as I am tapping into my own body for inspiration and direction. Although, I am proud to say, I've never stepped on a student....

So maybe opening my eyes is the next step. Maybe Therapeutic Yoga is a step outside the box. Three years ago, in the midst of my own yoga teacher training, who could have guessed that I would end up teaching regularly. And yet here we are. So off I go into the unknown, into the future, into possibility.

April 27, 2011

Melancholy Odyssey Through Limbo

Maureen Dowd in yesterday's New York Times - Between Torment and Happiness

In it she recounts the rather horrific story of Chrissy Lee Polis's attack in a Maryland McDonald's by two young women, presumably for being read as trans. And folds in some observations about Renee Richards.

Why Dowd but A & B together is something of a mystery, perhaps best explained by this "In the mid-1970s, when I covered tennis..."

Renee Richards is perhaps her best, most direct, or only cultural reference to transgenderism, and part of being that sort of columnist is to reach across the years and ones experience and create deep, meaningful linkages. Or not, in this case. Does not work from an informed trans perspective but perhaps it plays in Peoria.

Also, Chrissy Lee Polis' mom is named Renee. So perhaps she just glommed onto these two stories bubbling up in the media (Richards' book, Polis' attack) and tried to make something out of them. Fail, IMHO.

This kind of reinforces one of my long held opinions - that the folks who truly transition happily, healthily, and well (assuming they are out there) are not the ones who are going to write the autobiographies for fear of damaging the good life that they have found or find their own journeys somewhat pedestrian and ordinary. Instead its the folks who are still in pain, or who crave the spotlight, who write such books. Giving Maureen Dowd (and society in general) the fodder to recount such loving phrases as:

"...at a place in between torment and happiness...."
"...melancholy odyssey through limbo..."
"...something that’s crazy and freakish and not real..."

Just want to report from a bunch of years down the track that this is not everyone's experience.

And.....invisibility cloak back on. Continue as you were. Nothing to see here ;)

Why Taking Responsibility Will Set You Free

Why Taking Responsibility Will Set You Free

A post from Amy Ippoliti, an Anusara teacher, active in the blogosphere and twitter (my kind of yogi, on all counts!)

So much of what she says (wrapped in yogic philosophy and sanskrit terms that I have internalized far more than I have learned in a scholarly way) resonates with my own journey and philosophy.

We live in this society, in this culture, on this planet, and in this universe as it is. We can work for change at the boundaries, we can gently push our spheres of influence in a direction towards peace and justice. But if we plant our feet, resist the world in anger, and embrace our dis-ease and victimhood, it is a recipe for unhappiness.

April 13, 2011

Sad Story with Resonances

Mother Drives Herself, 4 Children Into Hudson River, Killing All Except For 10-Year-Old Boy

Weird Sidelight: Mother was identified as 25-year-old Lashandra Armstrong, childrem were identified as 5-year-old Landen Pierce, 2-year-old Lance Pierre, and 11-month-old Lainaina Pierre. The surviving child was 10-year-old Lashaun. Think she liked "L" names? I wonder how common this sort of alliterative naming is?

What 25 year old has the life skills to deal with 4 kids alone? At 25, she had her 10 year old at the age of 14 or 15. In light of this sort of tragedy, congresses effort to defund Planned Parenthood seems particularly tragic. 14 year olds are too young to be having kids, IMHO.

My heart goes out to 10-year-old Lashaun. He had a different father than his siblings; I wonder if his dad is still in the picture? Abandonment, loss of his mom and siblings, and hid mom tried to kill him....poor little guy.

April 11, 2011

Teaching Yoga

I've been teaching yoga for coming up on three years now - since I was (unexpectedly and inexplicably) tapped on the shoulder at the end of my teacher training and asked if I'd like a class. I've had my ups and downs, but I've settled into a nice rhythm of teaching 2.5 classes at the studio, one adult ed class, and filling in when I can. I'm sort of the studio "utility infielder" - not quite in the starting lineup for a lot of classes, but able to step in to a power class, a hot class, a gentle class, even a yin class now and then.

I guess I've gotten a reputation as the gentle teacher who makes you work. Once in a while I'll teach a gentle class where we never leave the floor, but mostly I get the class up for some standing postures. My friend Kristen teased me the other day - she was all zoned out and suddenly realized "Hey. We're doing dancing warrior! How did that happen?" I occasionally get a gentle class into Warrior III without them knowing it. There is a sort of panic / joy thing that happens when they realize it. It's kind of like riding a wave - just need to slowly increase the swells and students go along for the ride.

In my all levels class, I'm kind of the "stickler to form" kind of teacher. I spend so much time in the back of crowded hot and power classes, trying not to watch the students ahead of me who jumped right into these classes. Their postures are all over the map, and the teachers (responsible for 40 or 50 students) are not going to be able to do more than triage in terms of adjustments. So every hunched shoulder, askew knee, bent arm, or lifted heel reinforces my teacher mind - my All Levels students, if and when they make the jump to hot or power classes, will have my voice reminding them of the basics. And it's not so much the cues and harping, but breaking down the postures - setting the feet in Vira I. Then squaring the hips. Then lifting the arms. Then softening the shoulders. Each posture built up from the floor to the sky.

I'm the prop teacher. My own body just does not do every posture easily - I still use a towel to bind in Extended Warrior! So when I see a student's arms loosely approximating a wrap or a bind, I'm quick to offer a strap. I'm a big fan of blankets and blocks. The first few times I went through the Ashtanga series, I was crying at how inaccessible so many of the binds and twists were for my body. But I had some amazing teachers who worked with me to use my props - and now I just automatically put the pieces in place to get into the pose. So I teach with props in mind, always.

I'm also the mischief teacher. There is something ecstatic about crazy yoga poses - Balancing Half Moon, Down Dog on the wall, Warrior III, Dancer, Side Plank. All these graceful, strong, flying poses. I love working with new students, and using the walls, using props, building up in stages, have them walk away with a new posture. I remember my own early days of practice - I'd add a posture to my practice and then get so excited when it came up in a class. So I like to toss in a crazy asana now and then, break it down, build it up, let students play with it a little. Nothing wrong with walking out of yoga class with a bit of ecstatic joy!

April 06, 2011

Leash Your Dog II

A) Newington has a leash law. More specifically, the community gardens at Deming Young Farm also has a leash law. Your dog was not on a leash.

B) "He's not friendly" means keep your (unleashed) dog away, please.

C) If you call your dog and he does not come, he is not under control. No how, no way.

D) If my (leashed) dog snaps at your (unleashed) dog who is not paying attention to you, it's not my fault, it's your fault.

E) Deming-Young Farm is *not* a dog park. People walk their dogs there. Dogs (presumably dogs under control) are occasionally unleashed. But it's not a free for all; if your dog does not come when called, you really need to leash him/her. So stick the "He should not be at the park" up your stupid ass. He's FINE at the park if other dogs are properly leashed.

April 05, 2011

What's on My Bookshelf...

A quick survey of things I've been reading (or have on my reading list) - in lieu of actual blog posts...

Last time I was up at Kripalu, I picked up two books by folks I worked with up there.

Recovering My Voice: A Memoir of Chaos, Spirituality, and Hope by Aruni Nan Futuronsky. Aruni facilitated a week-long workshop, really liked her energy, and the book blurb sounded interesting.

Zen Life by Daniel Levin. I've done YogaDance with Dan both up at Kripalu and at West Hartford Yoga, and am in love with his energy. The kind of book one might leave in a bathroom, on a coffee table, or by one's mat and digest in little bites.

Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth. Every third person I come across in the yoga / healing world seems to mention this book. Bout time I read it.

Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg. A copy came along with my fee when I saw Sharon speak recently at West Hartford Yoga. A really nice primer on mindfulness and meditation techniques - and comes with a CD with some led meditation sessions.

Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike Birbiglia. I normally do not pick up this sort of thing (spoken word artists are often less endearing in print) but it was clearance at Border's so what the heck. Birbiglia charms me when I come across him on This American Life and The Moth.

Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving. Since Updike passed on, Irving and Tracy Kidder are my two remaining "must read" authors. I'll be seeing him at the CT Forum next month, so better get this read between now and then. At 554 pages, it's not light reading!

Teaching Yoga by Mark Stephens. I don't really need it but Amazon tossed it in front of me when I needed one more thing to get free shipping. If I ever sit down to read through it, I am sure I'll pick something up.

Yoga Body (Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana) by Judith Lasater. I worked with Dr. Lasater last year when she visited West Hartford Yoga, liked how she approached practice and anatomy, and found this book at Border's closing sale. It's full of great anatomical drawings and linkages between asana and anatomy. Probably a good backup reference text, and worth a refresher read through next time I'm bored. Joins my Anatomy workbook / notes (Ellen Heed) and Leslie Kaminoff's Yoga Anatomy in what is becoming a pretty solid yoga library.

I've also downloaded the Kindle App for my iPad - have not purchase anything significant yet - but I suspect the day will come. Maybe Tina Fey's new book "Bossypants" - seems like a perfect test!

Cutting the Cable - Or Not

I called up my cable / phone / internet provider yesterday to "cut the cable", at least as far as television was concerned.

I've never been much of a television watcher - when I lived with Zippy we had basic cable only, the only reason I bit for the digital cable was the bundle deal when I moved in. I need pretty robust internet for work (I upload and download large files regularly, up to 1GB) and I have two phone lines (one of these days I will relinquish the dedicated fax line, but today is not that day).

So Monday, I open up a cable bill for $172 bucks - the new customer special had run out a few months back, and rates just went up. And for whatever reason, it hit some internal threshold. The fact that my cable provider can not seem to resist sending me weekly marketing letters soliciting new business and dangling introductory offers in front of me has not helped my mood...

I've been thinking of killing off cable for a while anyway - I have a Netflix subscription and watch stuff there; I could get a digital antenna / converter, I have the ABC app on my iPAD, I could sign up for Hulu+ - lot of watching options. So I was perfectly willing to kill off my video cable subscription. The base rate would have dropped to $110. Not great, but needed for work.

However, the nice customer service agent dug up a "good customer" deal (also known as the "please do not shut off your cable like everyone else seems to be doing this day" which involved no change in my service and costs $40 less per month. Sold.

So I have not unplugged my cable television yet. But definitely moving in that direction....

April 02, 2011

iPad Addict

As befits my tendency to purchase technology once it's mature, I put my family's birthday gift towards a first gen iPad. All they had left was the 64M version, so I copped to lots of memory. I've been messing with it for a few weeks now. And I'm mighty pleased with my purchase. I mentioned my "attachment" to the technology - my friend Peter noted that "it's very sticky". Yes it is.

Mostly, I'm using it to stream movies / documentaries / tv shows (thanks Netflix) and although I'm not quite ready to kill my cable subscription, I am getting close. Netflix + Hulu might be all I really need....

I'm also amazed as usual with Apple's user-friendliness - when I synced up the device all my iPhone apps got installed - at least until I went hunting for the iPad versions of most things. No muss, no fuss.

The one app that I am really enjoying is Flipboard - it's a news reader - but it seems to glom onto just about anything (Twitter / Facebook / RSS / websites) and converts these things into a slick magazine. I've never been much of a twitter user - being put off by the links and such. But Flipboard has converted my twitter community into an amazing resource for news, articles, etc.

I am sure there are plenty of other useful apps out there to be discovered. But right now, the iPad is all that and a bag of chips.

Why I am Not Voting (for my favorite yogis)

I'm not voting in the Talent Search (presented by Athleta). I'm not promoting my faves on Facebook, Twitter or my blog. I'm being a grinch about it all...

The first level of this is purely self preservation. I have at least 3 good friends and teachers in the running (and another half dozen acquaintances) and I am decidedly NOT playing favorites. Yeah, I know I can spread the love and all. But I'm not gonna work that hard for something I have issues with. Hear me out....

First off, I want you to meet someone. Hothead Paisan.

Now, behind my smiling, optimistic, calm demeanor, my yoga teacher loving self, there lurks this "Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist". Folks who have been in my guest bathroom will find a small shrine to Diane Dimassa, Hothead's creator. Diane and Hothead rock. One of my yogic struggles is to keep the anger, the righteous rage at bay. And for the most part, in the words of Ani Difranco, I'm not angry anymore.

So, back to Yoga Journal's Talent Search.

For years, Yoga Journal has gotten some flak for its choices of cover models (predominantly thin, young, and white) and to a lesser extent its content (skewing the same way). I've mostly just ignored it - it's not any more egregious than anything else in the popular media, and there's a lot of good stuff in there.

Over on the Yogadork blog, they've been holding a (Yoga Journal Shadow) Cover Modal Contest wherein yogis can submit their photos to document the diversity of yoga practitioners.
For our version, it’s not so much a contest as a declaration of satya (truth): We ask you send a photo of who you are, as a yogi, a real person, in any shape, size, age, gender or color/clinginess of clothing. We’re not selling magazines. No fancy poses required, but by all means go for what speaks YOU. Everyone is welcome to submit. Hey it’s no magazine cover, but your photo will be proudly featured in our gallery! (note: while there’s no one “winner” per se, stay tuned, there will likely be goodies handed out down the road for participants, TBA.)

Yoga Journal seems to read Yogadork, and so they came up with their own contest. But they've introduced some complexity. And by complexity, I mean "What the hell were you thinking?"

1) The YJ contest is heavily weighted to the same demographic presently gracing the pages of yoga journal. And although there is a counter movement of larger or less mainstream folks submitting their photos, it's a small movement counter to the 100's of more traditionally embodied yogis. So if we were trying to encourage diversity - FAIL.

2) The yoga journal contest adds the lovely concept of a 0 to 5 star rating for each photo. What are we rating here - looks? hotness? brand name yoga gear? difficulty of pose? beauty of the pose? quality of the photograph? beauty of the locale? popularity?.

3) On top of that, the number of votes cast are tabulated. So my three beloved yogi friends are going to walk away with some numerical rating of their practice or themselves (please, let it be 5 stars, they are all 5 stars in my book!), a tabulation of their popularity (number of votes) and the temptation to do a rack and stack within our little yoga community as well as within the greater yoga community. Bleah...

Now, maybe this contest is just a little bit of innocent fun, and I ought to just chillax and let it wash over me. Folks are submitting to the contest for all kinds of reasons - yoga changes lives, and we celebrate that and want to spread it around. People have had their lives turned around during their first yoga class, and they want to share that. I suspect most of us who have become teachers have that sort of motivation.

And I get that yoga in this country is a lot of things - a spiritual practice, a great way to connect with one's body, part of a fitness regime, a business. I teach and practice at an amazingly spacious and beautiful (spelled "costly to build and run") yoga studio, and the space, the decor, the heat, the lights all cost money that comes in the door because of my amazing teacher friends who bring 50 or 60 folks into the studio on a regular basis. So perhaps embracing that popularity, snuggling up to celebrity is just part of the bargain. I'm fine with a bit of duality or dancing with the shadow.

But still, I am bothered. It bothers me to see photos of (mostly) women rated on a 0 to 5 star basis. It bothers me to see individuals collecting votes on either a popularity or a visual aesthetic basis. It brings up that inner Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist - who wants to toss a feminist bomb into the miasma of patriarchal popular culture. And it bothers me to see something that is so precious to me, so deeply meaningful and life changing, cheapened and threatened by that popular culture.

Not very yogic, I know, and that's one more reason do be pissed off at Yoga Journal - for bringing this stuff up within me. This contest has even made me question my desire to teach yoga - that perhaps I'm hiding behind my own spiritual journey, that perhaps I ought to spend less time on my mat and more time changing the world. The fact that I have written (and rewritten this) four times in the past week and have yet to hit the PUBLISH button, for fear of offending, for fear of being unyogic - speaks volumes. Just one more example of me hiding, keeping my head low, being afraid to be seen.

As one of my (contest entering) teachers is wont to say "The f*cking healing journey". Yeah that.