When the Vet’s Hall closed in January, the yoga world scattered and teachers booked classes all over town. It was a slight inconvenience but I made it to a lot of classes and discovered some studios I hadn’t known. Out of this inconvenience a new studio, yet unnamed, has been born. Just off Ocean Street, on 215 Washburn, Gina Marinelli has reborn her garage into a yoga studio, primarily to house Michael McEvoy’s generally loyal students. The floor is soft bamboo. Hooks with ropes line the side of the studio for stretching that feels like heaven, usually. There is no website yet, but you can check out Michael’s (www.pranichathayoga.com) for his schedule. Others may rent the space for yoga or other creative endeavors.
If someone had told me two years ago that I would become a runner, I would have told them they were crazy. I did not grow up in a fitness-focused family. My dad and my brother were sports boys, playing baseball and soccer. But I did not have a female fitness role model. My mom's workout routine consisted of jumping on a trampoline to bad ’80s music. This is what I learned in my childhood years: To lose weight, you diet.
As I got older, I tried for years to "become" a runner. I remember being 12 years old, "running" at my grandmother's beach condo in Monterey during my summer vacation. I think I made it a mile and crashed. Although I was an active dancer, there is a cardiovascular difference between dance class and running a mile. I could feel it in my bones, my muscles, my lungs—and I quit before even trying. I repeated the "try and fail" technique for the next 15 years, going full force and then burning out.
Driving through pounding rain, slipping on the winding shoulders of rte 9, lost in Greg’s dreamy music, I am part of the world, at one with the trees and the rain and the notes. This ride is how I prepare for my Tuesday, 8:00am class with Kris D’Amico, who teaches a solid and energetic vinyassa flow at Village Yoga, on Front Street. I need to feel this solid movement. Don’t come if you don’t like heat. The Bikram room is normally heated to about 100˚, although the temperature is not jacked up as high for this class. The movement was welcome, considering the long holds I have recently been practicing. The sweating and the twists, the balance and the rest, the focus and the alignment. A necessary change for today, as I am needing to shake it.
Well, here I am, a month to the day, fully healed and not even thinking about my absent tonsils (and I did NOT get a sore throat and tonsillitis with a recent cold!). Overall, I did much better than the average patient, pretty well fully functional by 12 days following surgery and no complications. I think that the prayers, herbs, craniosacral treatment, nutritional IV’s, and acupucture all helped—at least as much as the love of the people providing them. And I have to give a grateful nod to Western medicine, for as much as I loved all the holistic approaches, nothing came close to the passion I felt for my bottle of liquid Vicodin in that first week.
I was promised, by the good Dr. Lane, that this surgery would hurt. A lot. And she never lies. I started out gagging down the disgusting, yellow, sickly sweet liquid Vicodin and, honestly, by the end, I looked forward to its pineapple-like flavor. Amazing what the imagination can do. I have a whole new appreciation for the difficulty of living with chronic pain and a new sympathy for the longing of addicts for their substance of choice. After 10 days, I graduated myself to Tylenol and poured my lovely Vicodin down the drain.
Dave Eggars writes in the introduction to David Foster Wallace’s huge ( emotionally and physically – 1079 pages ) novel, Infinite Jest, about “a constant tragic undercurrent that concerns people who are completely lost – lost within their families, lost within their nations, lost within their time and who only want some sort of direction or purpose or sense of community and love.” This seems universal. After digging through Infinite Jest a number of times, never to finish, I can understand the commitment necessary to forge a connection to others or to the divine through creative expression. Is this my answer? Investigating and committing to photography and writing with a quest for love are encouraged by yoga. These postures, after years of practice, seep deeper and deeper into my heart allowing the art to emerge. Sometimes I’m sore, but mostly these days, I’m inspired. The asanas have become established within me inducing a clearing for the expression that seems more important than ever. Love.
This blog is a bit different from all the others as I am writing as a patient-to-be. My wise ENT doctor, Alexis Lane, has agreed that my enlarged and cryptic (in the “multiple caves” sense, not in the “short” sense) tonsils are to be relegated to the bin of lost body parts. Now, you might think I would feel relieved to be rid of these recurrent sore-throat, chronic tonsillitis nightmares that I have experienced since the age of 6, and I am. But as a holistic doctor by nature—I don’t LIKE intervention--especially when it comes to my own body. Yet I have always let reason rule and, tomorrow morning, I am going under the knife. Tonsillectomy is fairly routine in children, but in adults it is more tricky and MUCH more painful.
I traveled the windy road up to SF, thrilled with the cityscape, after these lonely hills, to the Yoga Journal’s 7th Annual SF Conference, and to an enveloped world of yoga. The faces I deem “famous” for my world were talking nonchalantly with each other and with students. Very exciting.
My schedule the first day was aggressive: David Swenson’s Primary Series, Shadow Yoga, with Scott Blossom, and James Higgins. These classes were top notch and helped me to explore new streams of my yoga practice. It was Sunday morning’s class with Rod Stryker that really did it for me. It was a pranayama class and I learned the depth of breath and its meaning. The benefits? Improved health, concentration and mental focus – increased vitality, manifestation of desires and intentions - self-realization. Watching my partner as she practiced pranayama, her lungs expanded and something wonderful seemed to happen. Incorporating this practice into my regular practice this week has been the goal and the benefits are already apparent, with my week in full bloom. *overheard at the conference
Acclimating to an indoor life is a winter happening, even in this un-extreme climate. This transformation is a balance: the dark to the light, the yin to the yang, the rest to the action. And it is this stopping that is crucial to a yogic life. It begins as a forced exile – outdoor activity curtailed - reading more, meditating more, sleeping more, thinking more, obsessing more. I have heard many teachers tout the importance of savasana (resting pose) as the most influential posture. This resting will balance the movement, they say, and assist in the slow opening of the heart.
I have only to look over at the amaryllis that Aunt Madeline sent me for Christmas, as she does every year. Yesterday the flower bloomed, after a strict dormancy, in the dead of January – a preview of my heart.