Archive | March, 2012

Heavy Metal Yoga Playlist #1: short set, old school

31 Mar

For the curious or the just plan furious, here’s one of my playlists for Ye Olde Yoga Room (AKA The Slayer Shala):

Slayer, “South of Heaven”

Megadeth, “Holy Wars”

Judas Priest, “Hell Bent For Leather”

Iron Maiden, “22 Acacia Avenue”

Venom, “Countess Bathory”

Kreator, “Extreme Aggression”

Celtic Frost, “The Usurper”

Bathory, “The Golden Walls of Heaven”

Mercyful Fate, “Black Funeral”

Dio, “Holy Diver”

Ozzy Osbourne, “Bark at the Moon”

 

Practice at your own risk!

 

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The Metta Sutta

30 Mar

For those of you who are curious, here it is:

Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness
translated from the Pali by
The Amaravati Sangha
Alternate translations: Ñanamoli | Buddharakkhita | Piyadassi | Thanissaro
This sutta also appears at Khp 9.
This is what should be done By one who is skilled in goodness, And who knows the path of peace: Let them be able and upright, Straightforward and gentle in speech, Humble and not conceited, Contented and easily satisfied, Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways. Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful, Not proud or demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove. Wishing: In gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small, The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born — May all beings be at ease! Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings; Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding. By not holding to fixed views, The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, Being freed from all sense desires, Is not born again into this world.

The Ashtanga Experiment, Week One

30 Mar

I’ve been using several yoga DVDs for the past few years in my home practice, each of which honestly deserve a separate post on their own. I think the “Plus Sized”/AnyoneWhoIsNotASize2AndBendy population is seriously under served in the Yoga World. Usually us Phat Folk are targeted via “Weight Loss” yoga DVDs, invariably featuring the skinniest people EVER talking about “reaching a healthy body weight” in incredibly condescending tones. What if you are happy with your size and you want someone to tell you how to adjust for your belly, thighs and butt in certain asanas? What if you are a super stiff large sized person and you need all kinds of modifications? Well, until recently you’ve been shit outta luck, my friend. I’ve been lucky to find some awesome DVDs and books that helped me immensely over the last few years.But recently a little voice told me, “Maybe you should try Ashtanga.” Seriously? The yoga of Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow and sweaty, skinny loincloth Yoga Dudes? Are you fucking kidding me, Inner Voice? Then again, I have tried almost everything else. Lately I feel like my practice is stalled out and I am stuck. So why not? Luckily, only my yoga room will be a witness to my humiliation! I dragged out my copy of Ashtanga Yogaby Juliet Pegrum and got ready to rock.

The 6am thing is not working for me. I am NOT a morning person. I dragged myself out of bed last week at 6am, dogged and determined. I felt stiffer than ever before. I kept thinking about the infamous Pattabhi Jois quotations , “Do your practice and all is coming”, and  “Body not stiff, mind stiff“. I thought about how two years ago I couldn’t do a Sun Salutation without a chair and it would take everything I had just to get through a few of them. Nevertheless, at the end of the week I began to have little fantasies about saying adios to sunrise practice and a big fat HOLA to sunset practice. Is it a Moon Day yet so I can actually fucking sleep? Whatever, my body is hella stiff first thing in the morning, and 10 rounds of Sun Salutations barely gets things loosened up enough to function.

I decided as an experiment (since this is all technically an experiment. My whole life is one big experiment) to try an afternoon practice to see what happened. And guess what? It was awesome! The restrictive, rule following, perfectionist and honestly, punishing/ex-Catholic part of me was aggravated by this, but whatevs. I’m tired of fighting my body. Body says 5pm yoga done to Slayer, body gets what it wants. Body wants green juice and saurkraut? Body gets it. Body wants Coke Zero and Extra Apple Pie gum? Body gets that, too. Body wants to sleep until 6:30am? You got it. We’ll see how week 2 goes…

YogaFit Plus, DVD review

30 Mar

This DVD is really what kept me practicing over the last year. I had such a hard time finding anything that I could do that would accommodate both my 250 pound+ body and my numerous crazy injuries. Surgery on my ankle, surgery on my right hand (total freak accident for once), hip and knee injuries from being hit by a car while on my bike, etc. I liked that this DVD did not mention ANYTHING about weight loss. It was all about accepting your body and thanking your body. The Sun Salutation half-series on your knees part was particularly helpful. There are modifications, and the music is not too distracting. You are reminded to use props if you need to, and to rest if you need to. Sometimes I really need to hear that shit—my craziness will tell me that I am being lazy and that I need to push harder, blah blah blah. Sometimes I need to take a break!

Interestingly, I always associate the YogaFit brand name with this image:

This is what I HATE about the way Yoga is “sold” these days. Arrrgh!! Images like this make me want to smite someone with a sword while “Raining Blood” plays in the background (naaah, I don’t have anger management issues at all). I never thought to look to YogaFit for a solution, but there you go—help usually comes for me in the last place I look. I still use this DVD as a way to rest and unwind and get ready for some meditation, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is afraid to try yoga due to their size or anyone who is injured. I’m even considering doing a teacher training with YogaFit since they actually have a program for teaching “Plus Sized” yoga. We need more of this in the world!

Introductory Offer

30 Mar

Yes, this is a blog about yoga–heavy metal and yoga. Two tastes that do not go well together, you might be thinking to yourself. Two things that have saved my life at different points in my current incarnation…they happen to be two of my favorite things, and nothing makes me happier than hearing the screechy falsetto of, “Get your hands of off my woman, motherrrrrrfuuuuckkkkerr!” while I am sweating my ass off on my yoga mat. In my yoga room. I am lucky enough to have my own little yoga shala on the first floor of my house, and I am going to take full advantage of it for as long as I am able to live here. Now if I could only unearth all of my old Slayer posters so I can build a little Tom Araya shrine in the corner….it will really complement the Tibetan thangha paintings and incense…

Sometime in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I got my hands on the Richard Hittleman’s 28 Day Yoga book. I was a chunky little binge-eating Cuban-Italian kid living in the hood and going to Catholic school. I started doing yoga in my bedroom by myself. Why, I have no idea. No one I knew did yoga, and I knew I needed to keep it a secret from my family because it was “weird.” I can remember the first time I figured out how to do Plough pose—I was thrilled! Shortly thereafter, my Mom found my Hittleman book and told me yoga was “Satanic” and took it away from me. I was crushed. It seemed like everything I liked, apparently, was Satanic. D&D, kissing girls & boys in closets, unicorns, Ursula K. LeGuin, Randy Rhoads and now yoga? I went back to binge eating cheez doodles and hiding.

I started doing yoga as an adult (not even going to front like it was “a practice”, OK? Or even worse, “my practice”) in 1999. Initially, I took classes at the gym because I had heard yoga was good for asthma and so far, nothing else had worked. I was already working out doing cardio and weights a couple times a week at that point. I was about 250 pounds, still drinking and occasionally doing various drugs, and desperate for something that would help me to breathe. That first class kicked my ass! Not only was I huffing and puffing and sweating, but I was way less flexible than I had ever imagined. I wanted to kick the girl next to me who had her ankles behind her head in her smug little face. Clearly, I had issues. But for some reason totally unknown to me, I kept going back to that class twice a week for a few years. Then I started practicing at home, and then I started going to a Bikram studio.  Around this time I started dating a wonderful boy who decided he liked this whole yoga thing I had going on and we started doing yoga together. At first, it was amazingly fun. And then at some point, he morphed into someone I liked to refer to as “The Yoga Guru Asshole”—correcting my postures, lecturing me on various asanas and breathing practices. Instead of taking this with a grain of salt or maybe discussing it with him and telling him how much it bothered me, I took it as a sign to completely stop doing yoga and in fact to start hating yoga and anything even vaguely related to yoga. I liked to blame him, but of course it was all about me and my own brand of bullshit.

Fast forward to 2007. I was probably close to 275 pounds and extremely miserable. I stopped drinking and doing drugs this year, but every other area of my life seemed to be falling apart. I tore a tendon in my ankle from my crazy exercise purging behaviors and ended up in a wheelchair for almost 5 months while I healed from surgery. I hired an assistant at work who happened to be a dedicated yoga practitioner. I was venting about how I needed to get back into doing yoga, but how much I hated it with a burning passion. The new age bullshit, the skinny bendy people, the quasi spiritual crap–hated it. He said, “Maybe you just need to practice at home and listen to some metal. Or something silly. Like The Darkness.” He then busted out into this perfect imitation of Justin Hawkins and did a tree pose. Ah ha, I thought.

Now it’s 2012, I’ve lost 76 pounds, been clean and sober for 4 years and 7 months, been vegan since August 16th 2010 and I have been practicing (or doing) yoga for almost two years, usually while listening to heavy metal and usually in my bedroom. I think I can count the number of classes I’ve been to in the past two years on one hand! I still “suck” at yoga and am about as flexible as a stepladder, but I do my best. Yoga has been, ironically, a huge part of making peace with myself and recovering from addiction, alcoholism, binge eating and exercise bulimia. Yoga is for everyone, dammit. You don’t need fucking Lululemon yoga pants or a Bikram studio. Yoga doesn’t care if you’re old, young, fat, skinny, male or female. Yoga doesn’t care about your race, your tax bracket, or whether you can put your ankles behind your head better than the person on the mat next to you. Yoga, quite frankly, doesn’t give a damn. The impersonal, totally accepting love of the process of yoga is a most excellent thing. There’s enough room for all of us.

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