Ashram Life

What’s happening to me? I’m out in, like, nature. I’ve found that if I’m outside in the late Fall heading into winter, there are fewer bugs. Except for the almost moth attack when I did that workshop upstate, I’ve been pretty a-okay with nature. So on a weekend in November, I took myself up into the Catskills to Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch.

The Catskills? Isn’t that where all those resorts are? Yes, it was exactly like Dirty Dancing except more in the middle of nowhere on a higher further mountain without dancing dirtily and with more vegan options, though Dirty Dancing did have watermelon, and the ashram did not.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

The ashram was offering a workshop on santosha, which is contentment. I’ve been wanting to continue my education in yoga philosophy, and I also wanted to go somewhere. Perfect fit.

I drove up on a Friday. It was sunny. There were snow squalls in the air that didn’t touch the ground. I was happy I’d worn my big red coat.

Side note: I have a NEW big red coat! It’s much like the last one only the hood has a faux-fur rim and is removable. Who would remove such a fashionista accessory?

I checked in at the main building where there was a very happy statue of Swami Vishnudevananda sitting outside with a pumpkin. This was a good sign. Also a good sign were the heated floors. In a place where you have to take your shoes off, heated floors are everything.

Guided by someone on staff, took my several bags for a two and a half day stay up a very steep hill to find my mini apartment. These digs were nice! I’m maybe mid-maintanence. Hence, the several bags whereas I’m sure other people brought a backpack. However, this apartment was nicer than I thought. It had two chairs, a kitchenette, a bedroom with two fluffy beds, and a bathroom. The shower was small for even me, but I didn’t care because this was modern living and there were no bugs. There were probably bugs in the summer. November is where it’s at! Or when it’s at, I suppose. Also where it’s at is baseboard heating. Mine was cranked up when I got there, and what a blessing for later on when the sun would go down.

From my front porch, I could see mountains rolling and rolling. After settling in my stuff and eating some snacks I’d packed (one of the several bags!), I took a walk all over the grounds. In my big red coat and snow boots, I stayed mostly warm hiking all up and around the hills and paths. There was a rather steep path down into the woods that I found following a sign for a temple, but I backed away. I didn’t want to die alone in the woods on my first day at the ashram.

Life at the ashram is regimented but also relaxed. I’d gotten there in time to walk around and then change in time for afternoon yoga. I settled in with my mat and found that they begin in savasana. I can get behind that. I lied down and let the relaxation begin. Then I heard the instructor say we’d be going through breathing and movements for the next two hours. Two hours? That’s part of the regimen. Two hours of yoga in the afternoon followed by dinner. Ah, okay, so it’s like to get to dinner, we get through two whole hours of yoga. Got it. I could do that.

The yoga they do at the ranch is not the kind of yoga that I particularly like. It’s a lot of the same pose held over and over again. Each asana is separated by a savasana. I’m used to the flowy kind of yoga. Which means this yoga was the yoga I needed, so I did it, and I found myself liking it. Sometimes not liking it. Then liking it again. They do headstands and other inversions as part of every practice. I don’t do headstands because of fear of everything, so I didn’t do them, but I did the prep for them. The instructor was really encouraging. The prep steps to headstand are very specific, and with the first four, he was like, We can all do this. He was right, so I did those first prep moves for that practice session and for all the others the rest of the weekend, and I got better at them each time. That’s what happens when you have yoga twice a day for two hours each. Yes, that’s right, four hours of yoga daily. Who’s in heaven now? Or nirvana? Or, well, you know.

So after that we had dinner, and meals turned out to be my favorite part of the weekend. I know, me and food, yes, I eat five times a day. I take that for granted, yo. Over at the ranch, they eat twice. That’s it. Two times a day. They have a brunch and a dinner. And that’s why I bring snacks everywhere. However, that’s not what was my favorite part. My favorite part was before every meal, everyone stands around the food holding hands in a circle and we all sing Hare Krishna and then they ask these questions to which everyone responds jai and then they say something else and the only word I understand is “cooks” and we all clap and then everyone gets to eat. This description does not do it any justice. It’s the most joyous ritual, and I kind of want to do it every time I eat now, but again, the five times a day, that’s time consuming.

The food was delicious and mostly vegan. There was soup with every meal. There was a lot of greens. Tea for every meal. Vegetables and a salad for every meal. Just delicious. Delicious. Delicious.

After dinner, anyone who was new to the ashram could go to the orientation. First, we learned that ashram means house in the woods. This made complete sense. Then we learned about the legacy of Swami Vishnudevananda and his teacher Swami Sivananda. I got some of this, but by this time, I was nearing tired, so a lot of it went over my head. We then learned about the schedule. Our days would be regimented, but also relaxed. Again, it’s a difficult concept to explain, but it works.

After that was evening satsang. Satsang is meditation, chanting, singing, and listening to a talk. Swami Satyapremananda was there to give the talk the next day, so she discussed santosha a little bit during this session, too.

By the way, everyone there had a name like this. Not Swami, but the other very long name. They would say their names as if they were understandable and repeatable. The staff wears yellow, so if you can’t call out a name, you can at least tug on a yellow shirt for help. Also, fun fact, they are all volunteer, offering themselves up to karma yoga. What a life, for real.

Walking up the hill in the cold at night after satsang was exhilarating. I stopped at the top and stared at the stars. There are so many stars. So many. I went inside after a short while because it was, like 17 degrees out. I crawled under two blankets in my baseboard heated bedroom, read a little bit (still working on that Kerouac book), and fell asleep.

I woke up too early in the 4 AM hour. I was giddy, and I never sleep very well the first night I’m in a new place. I showered. I stretched. I had a little bit to eat, knowing I wouldn’t be eating until 10 AM. Then the bell outside gonged. It was finally 5:30. Time to head down the hill in the still very cold for morning satsang. Yeah, that’s right, we do that twice a day, too.

This weekend was special because it was the anniversary of Swami Vishnudevananda leaving his body. That meant that there would be a special ceremony during this morning’s satsang. How fortunate for me to be able to experience this. There was much of the same silent meditation and then chanting and singing. Then there were offerings. One of the staff members was carrying one of those industrial sized metal salad bowls around and handing out what I truly thought was salad. I mean, it was greens in a salad bowl. Turns out, it was flowers. Close enough. We all offered these flowers to the altar. Then there was a milk offering. Then there was another offering, and I don’t remember exactly what it was. All I know is that the ceremony went a bit long for my taste, but still, I’m happy to have experienced it. At the end, we were offered the leftovers from the offering, and they were, of course, delicious. This little morsel would tide me over until brunch.

Because first, yoga! Pranayama (breathing). Asana (poses). Savasana (resting). Two hours.

Then Hare Krishna Hare Rama jai jai thank you cooks, let’s eat!

I wound up writing a lot. I carried around a snack and my book wherever I went. This was partially so I would remember everything, but it was also because here I was, me, alone, not knowing anyone, in a very tight knit social situation. Yikes. Who even am I?

There was a nature walk at noon, so I took it. The walk included the very steep hill down into the woods that I’d skipped the day before. This was also a walk through real nature. there weren’t paths. There were markers nailed to trees and some planks for crossing treacherous places, but no real clearing of brush. This was nature nature. The staff guy said a few times, It’ll be a little muddy. To which someone answered, We’re yogis, it’s fine.

Flashback to Yoga Times Square when the dragon fly was flitting about and all the yogis were in awe, trying to take pictures of it, and I was dying inside, knowing that if it came near me, it would die outside, like a real death. So “We’re yogis” isn’t exactly a universal definition of being okay with nature.

However, there wasn’t a lot of mud. There was a lot of iced over leaves, which looked pretty cool. Some spots of large puddles. Mostly moss and woodsy-ness.

Then, because we’d gone down a hill, we were going to go up a hill. This hill was vertical. I shit you not. I found myself leaning forward for fear of falling backwards. Some people stopped along the way, and I knew if I stopped, I wouldn’t start again. So I got up that hill in one shot, one booted foot clambering over the next until the ground evened out. And when I was at the top, I moved over to the side, unzipped my big red coat because I was now sweating (if this surprises you, then you know nothing about me, for shame), and I kind of leaned forward to collapse my lungs so they could breath easier. I look up and saw another woman doing almost the same thing. She saw me and said, Oh thank God it’s not just me.  And as I watched everyone ahead of us not stopping, I answered, I work out every day, and I have no idea how any of them are still going. She was like, this is nuts. I was like, that was completely vertical. We agreed, gathered some oxygen, and then headed on the path to catch up.

We saw two temples in the course of the walk, and they were both gorgeous. We came out on top of and behind where the apartments and dorms were. I walked down to the main house to get water, and then I walked back up because there were 45 minutes before the santosha talk, and I needed to change because I was soaked. Worth every bead of sweat, for sure.

The talk on contentment continued where satsang left off. Swami Satyapremananda has this subtle kind of energy that melted into some funny moments and a lot of wisdom. One big takeaway was: Everyday do one thing you don’t want to do, and acknowledge its benefits; everyday don’t do one thing you do want to do, and acknowledge its drawbacks. Eventually, this leads to realizing that contentment is not based on satisfaction of the external world but being satisfied internally, and that leads to santosha. You’re welcome.

Then yoga time. Then eating time. Then bedtime.

No joke, by the time we finished with dinner, I was like, I need a rest. So I went up to my room, thinking I’d rest for half an hour and then come back down for satsang. The first part of that plan happened. Then instead of going back down, I showered so I wouldn’t have to shower in the morning and also because I’d sweat so much before and then did yoga on top of it, and so that wasn’t making for very aromatic armpits despite any kind of deodorant attempts. Then I climbed into my jammies and climbed under the covers and read the same sentence in my book over and over until I decided I needed to go to sleep for real instead of pretending to not be tired.

Sunday morning I felt like a million bucks! I got up before the bell gonged. I stretched, changed, packed a little, and then at the sound of the bell, I headed down to satsang. At the bottom of the hill, I got into a standoff with a cat. It wanted to go inside. It wasn’t supposed to go inside. I was trying to go inside without it following me, and that wasn’t working. My pleads of, No Kitty you can’t come in, fell on neglecting cat ears. Then I decided to try to trick it. I walked towards the front of the building, and the cat followed. Then I made a quick dash towards the back. Cats are fast. It literally got to the door right before I did. So then I did what any rational adult would do–I stood there and waited for the cat to become someone else’s problem. Sure enough, someone came down the hill and let the cat in. I followed and heard someone talking about taking the cat outside, and that’s what happened. Several times, the cat came in, and several times the cat was ushered back out.

Then it was satsang beginning with a very quiet meditation. I’ve been going to meditation sessions here and there, and several times, I’ve been meditating for a while and suddenly, I get one of those sleep jerks, only I’m awake. It’s been very trippy. I almost had that happen that morning, but meditation ended right before that. It was back to regular satsang, complete with a talk on santosha that involved the story of Elizabeth Taylor and that guy she married twice. It was a great story. We got a strawberry on the way out to yoga.

After yoga was breakfast where I chatted with two very lovely people. Then after breakfast, I went up the hill to get my bags, which I carried down the hill to my car. Then back up the hill to bring the linens back down to the main building. Then, quite content, it was time to go. I drove home with a full heart, and it still feels that way. Knowing that people devote their lives to work that will make the world a better place makes me content, for sure.

 

 

It’s Summer When

Yoga In Times Square Mind Over Madness. Done!

Summer Solstice in years past have been scorching hot. This year, monsoonish. The class before me got drenched in a downpour. My class saw some drizzling. I wore my socks for part of it. I got to lie down on my back in Times Square once again, and this time, it drizzled all over me, and somehow, that was magic. Catherine Cignac has the best sequences. I try to memorize them as we go so I can take them home with me and luxuriate in them. Another reason the rain was fantastic? No lines! I walked right up and went right in. No waiting around for anything. Somehow, the yoga village afterwards was jam packed, but otherwise, it was so spaced out and roomy. For FREE, we got mats from Aerie, water from Propel, tea from Pukka, and a bag to put it all in.

 

Kicking off a tour of all the museum exhibits I’ve been wanting to see. Done.

Who doesn’t love the 80s? The Nassau County Museum of Art has an 80s exhibition. I was all set for neon vibes all over. I didn’t much neon. Instead, I saw a lot of artists who died too young from AIDS. It was really depressing but also stunning. There was a Jenny Holzer, and I love her work because she uses a lot of words. Added bonus–my friend who met up with me told me about meeting Holzer and that was fascinating.

Bonus Bonus: We went to a bakery afterwards and I FINALLY TASTED RHUBARB and I LOVED IT.

 

Attendance at poetry readings. Done.

This past Monday saw no rain, which meant the Gazebo Reading was on! I went to listen to some good stuff and heard some good stuff.

Sunday before that, I read at Industry. This reading? My new favorite venue. I wanted to buy everything there. Sciency stuff. Quirky stuff. Artsy stuff. All my kind of stuff. Also, they had pretzels. Mmm, pretzels.

So the moral of this story is that everything I do involves some sort of food or beverage.

Happy Summer.

Retreating In Silence

A silent meditation retreat naturally appeals to me. I’ve always been quiet. The hardships of being in public include having to talk to people when I don’t feel like it. At a silent retreat, I’d be out in public but not forced to chit chat. I’d be able to do a deep dive into my own brain with the guidance of a guru. I found Kadampa Meditation Center. They offer Silence Is Golden retreats that last from five to six hours. That’s about the speed to ease into this thing.

My morning pre-retreat found me excited, looking forward to all the not talking I’d be doing. The excitement turned to anxiety as my GPS decided to test all that is calm and focused within me by taking me to not-the-mediation center. It kept telling me I was there when I was not there. I wasn’t really anywhere. It kept exclaiming You have arrived! when there was nothing to arrive to except for the backs of buildings. I figured it might be on a corner. Nope. I drove in a few circles. Then by the grace of all that is not GPS, I spotted it on a wider swath of circuity.

After checking in, a lovely woman brought me over to where the coats and shoes were, and showed me where the meditation room was. Thankful, I peeled off my jacket and my boots. I headed into a room filled with meditative souls, sitting on bolsters on the floors and on chairs. I took a chair. I took in the Buddha inspired vibrant paintings. Then everyone stood up. So I stood up. Oh, here was the leader. This is some heavy meditation respect.

The leader is a lovely woman who began with basics of why we meditate and why in silence. She spoke of people finding a challenge in keeping quiet. Ha. Nope, not me. This was heaven. I can only imagine how tiring this day was for her because her energy radiated in every moment.

We meditated through her guidance and readings. We took a break. They served mini Mrs. Fields cookies. No one talked. There was tea. This is what life should be.

We meditated again for a longer while. This took us to lunch, which they provided. All vegetarian. Soup. Quinoa. Vegetables. Fruit. More tea. No one talked. I went for a walk around the block. Then I circled again. These circles were a lot calmer than the GPS anxiety ones.

We meditated again. And then it was done. Five and a half hours of silent contemplation, cookies, soup, and tea.

I can’t explain how I felt afterwards. Driving home, an exhaustion overtook me. I couldn’t wait to pull into my driveway. Then when I got to my street, I drove past my house in a burst of energy and did some errands. Then I got home and felt somewhere between those two. Ah, I’d found equilibrium, which is exactly what we’d been meditating on. This stuff ? Works.

 

 

Solsticing Still

June 21 was the Summer Solstice as usual. Also, as usual, Times Square filled up with yogis endeavoring to slot minds over madness. This year, the session I took turned out to be the best yoga class I’ve ever taken. If you find yourself with the chance to take a class with Catherine Cignac, do it.

While finding inner peace is all well and good, the real reason I return to NYC every year to partake is something apart from that. It’s not even the free stuff. I mean, that’s a big reason. We all know I love free stuff. The Yoga Village is filled with free samples from food to delicious water (not all bottled water is equal, yo) to holistic soap. I got a pretty new mat. I got a bag of stuff. The bag? Also free.

Still, the one thing that pulls me back is the opportunity to lie down in the middle of the city. I’m sure I could probably do that somewhere and not be looked at as odd. Odder things happen in the city all the time. However, I’d probably get stepped on. Here, corralled into safely taped-off sections of midtown, we all get to lie back, stare up at the cityscape, and really feel the wonder of it all.

Namaste.

 

Retropost: Yoga-ing, Trivia-ing, and One Amazing Sunset (Nov2017)

Fact: You do not have to do yoga to teach yoga. My hips won’t really ever be the same after the labral tears introduced themselves, and my knee is still forever a little wonky. Still, I’m almost back to normal. The activity that makes all the aches act up the most is yoga. Good thing I got my certification, right? Actually, right, because while teaching yoga, I don’t have to practice all the way through, and I certainly don’t have to push to the edge. So teaching yoga worked out. I taught a community donation class on Saturdays for the month, and the proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project. It felt so good teaching again.

In addition to getting back to yoga, I also got back to the reading circuit. I read at the end of the month in Northport. Fact: Driving to Northport from the south shore on a Friday night is equivalent to driving to California from the East Coast. I might be exaggerating, but only a tad.

CMR Caffe Portofino Oct 2017

On the most exciting note of all, tv trivia at Sip This saw my usual one team split into two teams because we had more than four people. So we split guys versus girls. And, yes, that’s right, the girls won. Because in addition to putting together the team, we knew stuff. Like, a lot of stuff! Three cheers for the gals!
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At some point, I saw this, and it is everything.

YTT v. PT Gone Wrong

If you’ll recall, last time I checked in here, I was limping around, unable to sit or move really. The positive update is that I can walk. The negative update is that not only do I still have patellar chonromalacia in my left knee, but the exercises the “expert” physical therapist gave me to fix that problem by opening up my tight hips successfully tore open the labrum of my right hip. That’s what the limping has been all about.

Meanwhile, I’m yoga-ing. Well, not really. I’m watching people yoga while I yoga in my brain. Fact: like 5 % of yoga is physical practice. The rest of it is all in your mind. Yeah, I know. Mind-blown, aren’t you?

On a complete sidenote: National Grid has been digging up the streets around my block for the past month and my dead end has been a storage place for their big yellow pipe thingies and various-sized piles of loose asphalt. This week, a port-a-potty appeared. I haven’t seen anyone go in it or come out of it, but it’s not like I’m watching it. I bring this up right now only because there’s a new kind of truck outside, and chains are rattling again. Either they’re moving more yellow pipe thingies in or moving them out. Guaranteed that plastic craphouse will still be standing when the truck leaves.

Anyway, focused meditation and breathing are what yoga is all about. Clearly, my focus is off (see paragraph above). I’m working towards passing this yoga course with every  element of willpower I own. I passed the written test and enjoyed a lovely ayurvedic meal with the yoga women afterwarrds. I would say I helped cook it, but mostly, I ate, and then I did what I do best with homecooked meals–I helped clean up. It’s the Virgo in me. I like it neat. Here, “it” means every gosh darn thing in the entire world.

The off-track-kneecap stopped hurting for a while. Then it started acting up again this week. The hip is nowhere near as painful as it was, but the pain is still there, moving from front to side to back to butt to all around and down and up and in again. Mostly, I’m annoyed. I work out six days a week on the usual. Now I’m kind of doing my weights for my arms and abs, and then every other day I do some PT exercises I looked up for both my knee and my hip.

FYI: Nowhere in the knee PT does it say to do any of the hip opening exercises the therapist told me to do. Ditto for the hip PT. That therapist? Is an ass. Did I mention he stretched out my right leg and then told the assistant it was my right knee? Yeah, that happened, which makes me even more convinced that he’s the reason my right hip is falling apart from the inside.

This leaves us here: I have my practicum on Friday at 2 if I can get two people to practice for me. I was planning to show up for the gals who are going before me, but yesterday was an achy setback, so I’m not sure if a physical practice in which I have to, like, move my legs is in the near future. This seems unfair to everyone–take my class but I can’t take yours. If it doesn’t work out for Friday, I’ll just teach the final some time in the future.

For shame, PT Therapist, for shame. Yes, I’m blaming everything on him. And on the ortho doc who sent me to PT for my knee in the first place. He could have just said, Don’t do high impact exercise for a week and see what happens because that seemed to make it better overall when I was stuck on the couch for two and a half days unable to sit upright. This is what we call rage. A very calm yoga-like rage.

What does a gal do when she aches and has plans to move and shake? She ices her joints and refuses to accept that she’s got issues. She is me, and I’m doing fine with my ice packs and willpower. That makes a good band name.

Namaste.

YTT Intensive, So Intense

Monday through Thursday from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, I go to a yoga studio with a group of women where we all learn yoga philosophy and practice. I also do homework. I haven’t done homework since grad school. I also observe classes. I also read books about yoga and anatomy. I also study. I haven’t studied anything since undergrad, and even then, not really. Yoga is now my life, because when it’s not Monday through Thursday 9:30 to 5:30, I’m doing all these other things.

Also happening: my left knee got all wonky after the first week to the point where I got scared and went to an ortho. X-rays showed a tracking problem–one of my quads is stronger than my other quad and is pulling my knee cap off track. Off to physical therapy.

The PT told me that my hips were tight. I kinda knew that, but didn’t realize how tight. I’ve been doing exercises to open them.

Today, I can’t sit down. I also can’t stand with my feet together. My right hip is in so  much pain that I’m basically a petite version of Lurch, dragging my leg wherever I go. Clearly, I skipped yoga practice this morning. If I can’t sit in the car, I’ll have to skip today. Hopefully it will feel better tomorrow.

So you want intense? This is intense. Mind swirling but learning about meditation. Body breaking while learning about strength. This is my satya–that means truth. See? I learned something already.

The real satya is that I have found a group of amazing gals who get all the reasons I’ve loved yoga — and maybe disliked yoga sometimes, too — and I get them. Intense, but the good kind.

Cheers To Lukewarm Bikram In NYC

June 21 means summer solstice. It’s also National Day of the Gong, National Seashell Day (because summer), National Selfie Day, Go Skateboarding Day, National Daylight Appreciation Day, and National Peaches N Cream Day. [see National Days for proof]. Most importantly, it’s Yoga In Times Square Mind Over Madness Day, also known as Yoga In Times Square, Solstice In Times Square, and International Yoga Day. Also, Lie Down In Times Square Without Getting Arrested Day. Fun for all!

I haven’t been to Summer Solstice Yoga in a few years, so I went this year. I didn’t bring my own mat for the first time, which proved to be freeing and lighter. I did bring a book and wore a backpack. I never wear backpacks–I feel like I’m getting robbed every time I stop walking, I don’t have access to anything, and it’s like carrying a small person around with me. Still, it seemed to be the optimal bag for the day with water and snacks and a change of in-case clothes.

Pit stop: Starbucks 2 in Penn. I grabbed a protein box for lunch that I could eat when I was on line for yoga. I also grabbed a yogurt and sat to read because I’d taken an early train so I could mosey along and not be drenched with sweat before class even started. The cafe had a lot of empty seats. A lot of room for a lot of people. So the very young in love couple dragging luggage behind sat right next to me. Okay fine. Then they started making out. Whenever they stopped making out, they would talk about his future. She knows that he’s going to be a famous director. If you’re interested in this make out session, you can go here. Otherwise, let’s move on.

I walked to Times Square for the 1:30 Bikram class (that would not be over 100 degrees as it has been close to in past years–this year, there was a breeze and the sun came out but not blaringly). Along the way, I passed by a man who was maybe an inch taller than me who was wearing a dapper suit and headphones. When we got to the corner to wait for the light to change, he began dancing off the sidewalk and into the street. Then he danced at me. It’s hard to describe what dancing at someone looks like, but that’s exactly what he did. It’s as if he had a catwalk linked between wherever he went and wherever I was. He would shuffle away in any direction, coming close to cars whizzing by and turning, and then dance towards me, breaking the personal space bubble. I did what any normal person would do–I stood there, not saying a word, not acknowledging the moves, not making eye contact not even through my sunglasses. When the light turned green, I speedily walked around him. We kept passing each other because he would catch up with some fast moves but then slow down to watch himself in window reflections. I lost him after a few blocks. He may still be dancing.

The line-up for me began on 47th and Broadway. Eight people stood on line before me. Well, okay, there were seven people and then a guy who leaned against the gate, talking to the cars driving by. The woman standing in front of him wore cat ears and a cat tail. This guy wore, well, I don’t know exactly, but I remember the bright socks and black sandals. People wear all kinds of things to yoga class, and yoga people can be a little, shall we say, “out there,” so I wasn’t sure if this guy was actually waiting for yoga or simply shouting at cars. I stood a little behind him, a bit off to the side.

When someone else came up behind me to stand on line as he was talking to the air and still leaning on the gate, I looked at her until she looked up so I could whisper, I’m not really sure if he’s on line, so I’m giving him some room. She got exactly what I meant and moved to the curb on the other side of me. Eventually, she and I struck up a conversation and the guy walked away. He wound up on the drop in line for a while, but then went away completely.

On the way in, we got free mats and bags with stuff that we could fill up with more stuff at the Yoga Village two blocks down. All FREE!

My waiting on line gal pal became my yoga gal pal as we set up our mats next to each other and kept chatting. We both went to post photos on Instagram where I saw a post about waiting for class to start. I was like, Oh, I know someone here. She was like, hey what’s your Instagram? And that’s how you introduce yourself to people today. After sharing Instas, we exchanged names. Ha!

The class started and the sun came out with our first breathing sequence. Bikram has a specific sequence, so following is kind of easy. Surprisingly, I did not drip with sweat. I sweat more standing and waiting on line than I did while practicing. The class proved to be calming and invigorating all at the same time. Several times, we all cheered for ourselves. We didn’t chant together, but we breathed together to end it. Then there was more cheering. The whole thing made me happy that I’d returned and excited to be starting yoga teacher training next week.

B and I went to the yoga village together where we scored more water, fresh mango slices, Luna Bars, crackers, and temporary tattoos.

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We parted ways, making a plan to meet up for yoga again some day. I walked back to Penn as the next session of NYC yogis filed in for their solstice gathering. The breeze blew. The sun stayed out. The absolutely perfect first day of summer.

Back to the Namaste

Remember when I used to teach yoga? It was a long time ago and for a long time. Then I stopped teaching all that often, but I got to sub, and that was fun. I got certified through NESTA, which is an organization that offers correspondence courses. It was a solo learning experience, building on everything I’d taught myself over the years since I’d opened Sassy Magazine and found a yoga sequence when I was a teenager. Certification led to my teaching for Continuing Ed community classes, which led me to the studio where I taught and then subbed.

And this happened once. It’s okay. I’m over it.

Also fun: All those times I went to Summer Solstice in NYC. That time in 2011. That time in 2012. That time in 2013. That time in 2014.

I went to hot yoga once. It was sweaty and gross and the instructor wasn’t great.

I also had a Groupon for yoga at the same studio but not as hot, so those were fun classes on the weekend. That same studio opened another studio closer to  home, so I went there for a few classes, too. Then they closed, so I stopped going.

In the meantime, I’ve practiced on and off at home, sometimes with DVDs by Shiva Rea or Yoga Zone, sometimes using Pinterest inspiration, and sometimes simply doing it because I know what I’m doing.

Lately, I’ve gotten to miss it, so on a whim, I looked up teacher training. There’s a 200 hour course that’s official through the most officially recognized yoga people in the world that I’ve always wanted to take and haven’t had the chance to. Because it’s 200 hours.

Serendipity has struck because I found a studio in RVC that offers it as an intensive several week course during the summer. This is exactly what I’ve wanted. I contacted them. They answered right away. I went to see the studio, and the owner showed me around and offered me a class. I took the class and now I’m hooked again.

The plan: In May, once the semester is over, I’m buying a monthly pack. That gets me to June, when the training begins. That brings me to July, when I’ll finally have my 200 hour course done and done.

I might go back to subbing. I might go back to teaching. I might not do either of those things. I’m just happy to be getting back to yoga.