The first of (hopefully!) many similar posts…

February 28, 2008 at 10:02 am | Posted in celebrity obsession, wine, yoga | Leave a comment

A long time ago in, quite literally, another life, I lived in Los Angeles.  In Brentwood, on the corner of Montana and San Vicente, with its tree-lined meridian that slopes gently down to the ocean (a perfect six-mile run to the beach and back.)  My life happily fulfilled many LA stereotypes:  At the Whole Foods across the street, I’d regularly bump into my “neighbors”:  Jennifer Garner, or Ted Danson, or Reese Witherspoon, or Brooke Shields (one time when I saw her and happened to be wearing a Princeton t-shirt, I stalked her around the store, hoping she’d start up a conversation, “Oh, what year were you?”)  And, of course, at yoga I’d see dozens more celebrities:  Kerri Russell, John Cusak, Lisa Rinna (is she a celebrity?), the guy who played Kramer from Seinfeld, and most notably, Gwenyth, who practiced ashtanga next to me for two ego-bashing weeks.  I was friends with both an honest-to-goodness raw-food vegan and a successful television writer and producer who threw parties in the Hollywood Hills (where you’d park your car down the hill and a private bus would shuttle guests up and down to the house all night long.)  When I catch an essence of Eucalyptus or see a purple that reminds me of the spring jacaranda, I miss Los Angeles terribly – I miss these friends, too, who sadly have slipped away along with this former life. 

Many aspects of my life in Los Angeles were pretty fabulous. There was, of course, the wine – $10-a-bottle, incredible wine that doesn’t necessarily get exported out-of-state. I wasn’t working too, too hard at the time. Despite being a high school teacher and/or freelance writer (and despite all the wine), I found plenty of time also to be fabulously in shape.  Not only did I run on the beach almost every day, but I spent my weekends hiking in the Malibu hills, I had a twice-a-week personal Pilates trainer (what?), and, of course, I did yoga.  Religiously and fervently.  I went on yoga retreats to the desert in Joshua Tree and to Brazil.  I actually meditated.  And for a stretch, I got up every morning at 5:30 for a two-hour Mysore practice.  I stopped eating meat, most dairy, and wheat.  I read the Bhagavhad Gita.  I had a mantra. 

Like any other addiction, I suppose, my devotion to/obsession with yoga was filling another hole in my life.  But when I left Los Angeles, the hardest thing for me was leaving behind my yoga studio and teachers.  When I started practicing again on the East Coast, it was hard for me to abandon the rigors of an ashtanga practice, as frustrating and sometimes un-enjoyable that practice was for me. 

I did find a great studio in Cambridge and, for a time, got myself devoted again (sweating through a teacher training retreat in Hawaii, practicing for 40 days straight, volunteering at the studio, going on a fruit fast…).  I realized recently, however, that I have not practiced yoga since before the holidays.  Getting to and from class is a 2+ hour endeavor.  In that time, I could step out my door, run six miles, shower, and still feed my baby.  Nevertheless, the words of my aforementioned vegan friend have been circling around me:  “When you think you can’t find time for yoga is when you need it the most.”  My eight-month-post-baby body is aching (shoulders, back, neck from nursing, picking up an increasingly heavy child, lugging the stroller up and down steps, working, etc. etc., sob sob), I’ve had a low grade cold for a month, and my mind is restless.  It’s time to go back, though obviously I cannot commit to a 90 minute class, five times a week.  I’ve been focusing on running recently:  it’s a quick-fix, an immediate endorphin booster, instant gratification in so many ways, physically and mentally.  Is running my new yoga?  I hate that time forces me to choose between them (in my Los Angeles days I would practice ashtanga for two hours and then run for another.  I was 10 pounds lighter, yes…but – a good lesson learned – certainly no happier…exercise can be an excellent avoidance technique).

When I started this blog, I created a category called “yoga.”  But this is the first time I’ve had anything to write about it – two years ago, this blog would have been mostly about yoga:  how my practice went that day, what I was eating, what was up at the studio, and replete with links to every yoga publication out there.  Yesterday, I posted a query on a mom’s listserve I belong to for a recommendation for a good masseuse or chiropractor for my back.  A woman wrote me back a long message about some Eastern treatments she has been getting for similar problems.  We began an all-day email exchange about our experiences with alternative medicine.  I’ve never met this woman and probably never will, but this serendipitous exchange stirred up something in me.  So this evening, instead of hitting the gym for a six-mile run, I may take my mat two blocks further to Back Bay yoga and see what’s up over there.  Or I may get real with my current life:  20 minutes on the living room floor will do. 

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