Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Planning ahead

I didn't hike much this winter. I did a fair amount of urban walking, but if it has pavement, I can't consider it a hike. in April, I was getting back into hiking shape, when hubris got the best of me and I more than doubled my mileage, on concrete, in Five Fingers. Just as my tendon was recovering from that, a capoeira workshop and the end of the semester took up all of my time.

So today I sat down with AMC's Best Day Hikes Near New York City to map out a strategy for the next month or so. I looked at the hikes over five miles in length only and ruled out a Staten Island hike - I'll save that for winter when it's too nasty in the rest of the state - as well as one in Harriman State Park, which I've seen plenty of already. Surprisingly, this left only three hikes. That would be my biggest complaint about this book; the hikes are on the short side. (My rule of thumb for a day hike is that there's no point in spending more time traveling than hiking.)

June. Gonna be all about getting into hiking shape.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Capoeira Angola Quintal

Capoeira Angola Quintal by TheTurducken
Capoeira Angola Quintal, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
Last week I went to a weeklong workshop, culminating in a batizado, put on by Capoeira Angola Quintal. In this photo, Mestres Ombrinho and Gulliver play in the roda. On the berimbau are Contramestre Omi, Mestre Joao Grande, and Instructor Ariranha.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stroll around Inwood

Tip of Manhattan by TheTurducken
Tip of Manhattan, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
On Sunday I tried to go for a walk at Van Cortlandt Park. Memo to the MTA: The "Weekender," which shows schedule changes, is a great tool. But if a station/line is closed, it should be marked as "no service," not as "planned construction," which could simply mean delays. Got it? Thanks.

Anyway, I ended up at Inwood Park, which I like because of its relative wildness. In the fields, there were probably a hundred families out grilling or picnicking, plus games of baseball and ultimate. On the trails, though, it was considerably less crowded. A few of the neat things I saw:

I've never seen a squirrel that was black before, but this one was. He was a cute little guy, too, begging for some of my ice cream like a dog. (No, he didn't get any.) Before you click that link, I should mention that without the flash, he didn't have EVIL RED EYES.

I think I found the secret staircase someone was looking for last time. It has a rather private feel, especially when approached from the top.

A guy and a gal were stringing Chinese lanterns in a small glade. They said it was for a short film, but they didn't have enough lanterns. I hope they solved their problem. I also ran across another group doing what looked to be a photo shoot or a film.

Met a random guy who used to take his 14 nieces and nephews hiking out there, although they're older now. He was hiking to blow off steam, because he had been angry about something. He told me about his son, a a chess player who is now a sophomore at Middlebury.

Also, there were flowers.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yoga in NYC: Isn't Sonic a burger joint?

Not long after I moved to NYC, a friend pointed me to a clever video posted by a New York studio. It was amusing enough to get me to check the studio website. It was pretty solid, aside from the advertising for their teacher training, which seemed to promise riches to anyone certified. It's true, yoga can make you wealthy - if your name is Bikram.

Fast-forward to a month ago, when Living Social offered a deal at Sonic, $30 for a month of unlimited yoga. Even though I was satisfied with my current studio, my pocket liked that number, so I bought the deal.

Sonic offers, at last count, 50 classes a week. A small number of these are meditation or introductory courses. Most courses are hatha or flow, ranging in difficulty from 1 (introductory) to 3 (advanced). I had to extrapolate the 3; in fact, there are only two 2/3 courses. The labeling of the classes is misleading; all of the classes include advanced poses such as inversions. I found little correlation between the label and how hard the class was. Even at a "fundamentals" class, which did a lot of prep and breaking down headstand, crow pose was a part of the flow.

Under "things that trigger my irrational prejudices" I should note that the studio is guilty of Rachael Ray-style yoga-speak: The descriptions of these classes tend to use words like "yummy," "delicious,", and "juicy." Excuse me while I go eat the plums in your icebox …

… Where was I? Oh, yes. Sonic's classes. "Yummy" is for food. Not yoga.

On the plus side, the instructors give lots of adjustments. The teacher training program is a help here, because some classes feature a second student teacher aiding in adjustments. Also a plus is that Sonic has a definite sense of community; students seem to know each other and teachers are generally friendly.

Overall, I didn't like the direction of the studio, though. I felt the classes I attended pushed students into advanced poses - the kind that are showy (like handstand) rather than those that take practiced flexibility (like lotus) - and then into teacher training. (I found myself wondering where all these teachers could possibly work.) I actually would recommend against beginners taking class here; if you're an experienced yogi, Sonic will give you a good workout, and I wouldn't presume my reaction to the studio's vibe would be yours.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


This time last week, I was briskly trotting around Manhattan. Today, I'm avoiding walking if at all possible. It turns out the pain in my foot was a strained tendon, and after several days I gave in and went to see the doctor. It's nothing serious; it will heal if taken care of, but in the meantime, my body is bored silly. I'm supposed to avoid walking as much as I can, even if taking the bus is slower, and take 800 mg of naprosen three times a day. To all appearances, the foot looks fine, and you might even think, "That woman is wearing heels - she must be fine." Apparently, heels (or a heel lift) take the pressure off that tendon. Of course, heels suck, so the lack of pain in the tendon is made up for the hobbling nature of the shoes.

Yoga, capoeira, and (of course) hiking are out for a couple of weeks, and it could be 4-6 weeks before it's fully recovered. Ugh! I can do pilates, she said, and swim. I suppose I can also practice handstands, right?

The moral of the story, kids, is don't suddenly increase your mileage by 10 miles on pavement. Your feet won't thank you.