Thursday, November 29, 2012

Harriman hike

Creek by TheTurducken
Creek, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
This past Sunday I did a 10.6-mile hike with the NY Ramblers in Harriman Park. The weather was perfect - cold but not windy or rainy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

ASHE 2012

The bathing room by TheTurducken
The bathing room, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
I spent last week in Las Vegas at the Association for the Study of Higher Education conference. Vegas was a much more exciting venue than we usually have, so I imagine that next year in St. Louis we'll be looking around woefully, asking, "Where is my giant bathtub?" Yes, my room at The Cosmopolitan was actually larger than my apartment in Manhattan. And the weather was perfectly delightful, unlike Vegas in the summer.

The conference itself was also excellent. I only presented a roundtable, so low stakes there, but I went to a few interesting presentations, a couple of meetings, and some receptions. As always, one of the best parts of the conference was catching up with scholars and friends I see once or maybe twice a year.

Monday, November 12, 2012

More and faster

A staple of the movie news is "star beefs up workouts for movie role." In this story, for example, one actor worked out eight hours a day for ten weeks. The "easiest" part of those eight hours was two hours of choreography.

I have no idea how people do things like that. Not that working eight hours a day is impossible; it's just … going from working out an hour or two a day to eight? I mean, I know movie stars stay in shape as part of their job, but I assume they don't spend their whole day doing it.

Whenever I ramp up my workouts, my body feels it and takes a while to adjust. (Like, you know, 99% of people.) When I started capoeira, for example, I blogged about how I went to yoga and was unable to do a single chaturanga. When I joined Quintal, I started going to three classes a week. Previously, I had been doing two, and while the new classes were shorter, they were much more intense. I remember drinking what felt like gallons of water in my first few classes. A couple of months ago, I switched to an unlimited plan, and now I go to five-six classes a week. My body is still adjusting.

Friday night I went to our roda, although I didn't play much at all. I told Tarugo that I might come to his Saturday class, although it would depend how physical my volunteer morning at Van Cortlandt was. Turned out it wasn't very, so I went to his class, but as I told him, "I'm tired and sore and probably shouldn't be here." Luckily, we spent the class working our backs and arms, and it was my legs that were already shot. Sunday, I found I couldn't do side plank on the left in yoga. (Monday is my rest day … thank goodness.)

I know one struggle for me is getting enough protein, and maybe that makes a difference in recovery time, but really, I don't think what I am experiencing is that different from most people. (Perhaps, like a movie star, I should have a personal chef.) But I have this impatience - I want to get better faster! and my body is putting the reality check on it. If worked out eight hours a day, I'd get stronger at first - then I'd get injured. No thanks!

Yet, progress happens. I remember the first time I was able to get from a wide-legged forward fold to tripod headstand in yoga. It happened a few months before leaving Nashville, so let's say almost two years ago. I was super-excited. Just yesterday I realized I was able to control my descent enough to set my feet down silently when coming back out. It's not the dramatic part of the move, but it's just as important, and it means I have a kind of core control I didn't have before. That control has been coming along slowly and incrementally, but that moment of breakthrough is always something.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yoga studio: Laughing Lotus

Laughing Lotus is a studio I'd been meaning to try for a while, so I finally bought a three-class pass. That means that my comments below are based on a very small subset of classes, and I can't comment on most of the teachers. However, I am sure I will be back.

First off: It's a very owner-driven studio. They actually have two studios, the other being in San Francisco, and both of the owners still teach and are very visible.* The studio reflects their style. I know at least one yogi that would hate it, as it's definitely an American take on things. If you like a meditative, traditional, music-free class, this definitely isn't the studio you are looking for.

The space itself looks as if it was decorated by the love child of Betsey Johnson and Ganesh. (It advertises that it has the world's only glitter bar.) While your taste may vary, from a practical perspective the space works well for yoga - hardwood floors, lots of light.

One of the classes I went to was fine, but nothing worth writing home about. The other two were taught by Dana Flynn, one of the owners. She has the kind of oversized personality that makes most of the people she meets want to sleep with her, be her, or follow her around Phish-style. Both classes were her Sunday Revival/Gospel Flow.

Despite the name, there isn't much gospel music; it's upbeat pop, mostly. (Think "Walk This Way" and "Dance Hall Days.") The class is a nonstop flow until the very end, and the focus is very definitely on moving rather than alignment. I don't know if this is true of all of Laughing Lotus's classes. If it is, I wouldn't want it to be my sole studio. But the class is what it aims to be: uplifting. I wouldn't be entirely shocked if someone started speaking in tongues in the middle of class one day.

The class is billed as a level 2 (of 3), and it includes quite a few optional arm balances, but most of the poses are less notable for their innate difficulty than for being strung together into fast-moving sequences.

If you like to use the words "yoga" and "party" in the same sentence, you'd probably enjoy Laughing Lotus.

*I'm working on a theory of yoga studios that divides them into owner-driven, guru-driven, and investor-driven.