Over here Chris, the guy who teaches the vinyasa classes in town I really like, is leading a three-month program for about a dozen people, re: better long-term fitness. There are dietary elements, workout elements, a real wholistic approach, from what I know and hear.
One of these is (perhaps drastically) reduced caffeine consumption. I go to-and-fro on caffeine; the more stressed or lonely I am, the more coffee appeals to me (it has both a chemical and a social element, and all coffeehouses know about the social element: hey, look, big cozy chairs, why not sit down and have 32oz or so?).
I've gone cold turkey on coffee in the past, and paid for it (headaches), but I've also progressively decreased the dose to nothing, a few times, and that has worked (the methadone approach, hah!). So, with Minnesota approaching quickly, I've decided to creep down to caffeine-free. Today, I'm a cup of black tea in, and that's all. No headaches, although I am quite tired every few hours and crave naps. Currently I'm making friends with a cup of decaf, and actually, I do feel some better, the tiredness aside.
Glutes: this morning in a class uptown actually called "power yoga," I rediscovered that my glutes are a major element in my being puzzled by whatever asana or movement it is, that puzzles me for the long-term. The class was lunge-heavy, and also involved a sequence that I would have called Vyaghrasana (Tiger), which I think I found on Yogadancer. Anyway, for the Tiger sequence, you come to a hands-and-knees position and then extend the opposite hand and leg out; for extra challenge, you sweep them to the side.
Between Warrior 3's and the Tiger sequence and twisting lunges and such, my glutes got tired and sore (as they often have in Chris' sequences of standing splits, half-moons and Warrior 3's) and they desperately wanted twists, Virasana and Supta Virasana, so I gave them those poses. By "glutes" I mean, of course, not just the glute max, but in particular the glute medius, which seems to be the real challenge in certain poses for me.
Take, for example, the now historic battle to get my right hip to permit a half-lotus. The left one permitted this quickly; definitely within the first year of yoga practice. But the right one? I remember knee-way-up-in-the-air for seated half-lotus, I remember foot-8-inches-from-hip in seated half-lotus, I remember MONTHS of TOTAL IMPOSSIBILITY in even faking a full lotus, and what was silliest about it was that the left foot would snuggle right up in there.
Over two years of determined practice, and a lot of self-practice and double-practice and ENDLESS research on anatomy and the poses and the exact movement of the hip, and options and modifications, and absolutely RELENTLESS bothering of online and real people about how and why and what.
Hmmm, does this degree of obsessiveness sound familiar (cough, backbends)???
It took until my home-practice warmup for SF, in the fall and winter of 2006-07, for the right hip to RELIABLY permit a standing, seated, and then full, lotus. That's over two years, close to three. I only began doing a full Garbha Pindasana, and Kukkutasana, in 2007. Two summers ago, I was very often NOT reaching my hand to the ground, in a standing half-lotus forward fold, with the right foot up.
So if the glute medius is involved, deeply, in backbending, I might well expect a long, productive conversation to occur here. It took this morning's "power yoga" to turn me on to that.
It's not "the pose," it's not "how long I've practiced," it's not some risk of being "less hardcore," it's YE OLDE GLUTES. You remember how protracted the struggle was. You come to expect how protracted the struggle might be.
It takes THIS for me to even WANT to go in with beginner's mind here. Man, you'd think I was a big ole stubborn TAURUS or something, with a serious warrior complex (Hi, Ares Moon!).
Today I was hunting around for pasta in the pantry, as this evening will be my partner's triumphant return from London, and the dish du jour is to be pasta, garlic, olive oil and red pepper.
What I found was
1) dried prunes! Excitement! I love all dried fruit, but the dried prune, slightly rehydrated, is like a concentrated plum; it is power and intensity and it's pure deliciousness.
2) dried black beans! Resource! There are canned chipotles in the house, and NOTHING better matches a chipotle pepper than black beans. I immediately tossed the beans into water to soak, and tomorrow, I shall prepare restaurant-quality Tex-Mex goodies.
Salvador Dali once said that cooking was a Surrealist activity because one took numerous isolated ingredients and combined them into something which no longer resembled, in finished form, the original start ingredients. I'm not all the way sold on that idea (ex: black beans), but I can think of cases where it is wonderfully true, and of course, I seize ANY opportunity to be a Surrealist.