Sunday, December 1, 2013

November 2013 Review

November went well. Too much yoga though!

1. Learn the Ashtanga Primary Series - I made it to Mysore Ashtanga once this month. The authorized teachers are in India, but the shala is still open. Yoga with people working full primary is humbling. Skipping chaturanga and up dog was hard on my ego. I did it anyway. I passed on my second chance to go, opting for home yoga.

I attended an arm balancing workshop at the start of the month. We spent the first 30 minutes talking about chaturanga as the foundation of arm balances, which was a little frustrating. I held planks and resisted my ego. Eventually, I was able to try some of the straight armed balances, but the shoulder problem was limiting.

Yoga anatomy class met 3 times over the month. The teacher has caused me to question my focus on the Ashtanga primary series. The more I learn, the more interest I have in the depth of "basic" poses. I spent a day learning from Maty Ezraty. Despite having 70 experienced students in the room, her workshop rarely left the sun salutations. If it's good enough for her and those students, what makes me so special, that I'd need something more?

Props are starting to play a bigger role in my practice. Instead of avoiding them (Ashtanga...), I am letting them expose work, while reducing the wear on my body. I can have the benefits of a pose with less strain. Awesome. My need for efficiency is satisfied. Decreased physical stress means recovery is easier. That saves energy for lifting or additional days of practice.

I spent some time watching myself do yoga, using a web cam and mirror for immediate feedback. I finally learned what it feels like to stop my scapula from winging out. That work is available throughout the entire practice, not just chaturanga. Fitting it in exhausts me. With props, I am able to enter and hold a full chaturanga, from the bottom. I am still working up to a descent from plank, using the rest of my sun salutation to build strength. I think there may be an issue with how I position my body in plank, that sets up the scapular winging. Maybe I am collapsing my chest as I exhale, maybe I am contracting the lats too strongly, maybe I am just weak. I don't know. The full vinyasa could arrive in December.

Much of my weakness stems from bad posture, especially working at the computer. I am trying to fix it. I switched to a split keyboard and eliminated my second monitor. I have been playing around with different chairs. An exercise ball offers the best alignment, but is tiring. My desk chairs are too large for an aligned, relaxed posture. I might buy a smaller chair and / or a standing desk, in December.

The day after thanksgiving, I took a 90 minute class with the yoga anatomy teacher. My wife and mom went, making it a family affair. I learned there is substantial work available for me in gate pose and cow face pose. We also did a cool thing using a bolster and a block to release the shoulders. I am planning to take a restorative class with the same teacher in early December.

As much as my ego has suffered, my shoulders and elbows are slowly improving. Sustaining a lifelong yoga practice requires pain free asana. Remembering that makes the adjustments to my practice easier to handle mentally. I also think this work is teaching me lessons that extend beyond just my shoulders. At the very least, even without bending my elbows, the mental benefits of yoga are strong.

There were also some minor logistical improvements. I got new yoga clothes. I stopped using a mat towel. I learned to release trigger points in my traps, feet and hips with a pinky ball.


2. Post a Class IV Powerlifting Total - November was another month of light eating. While I am weaker, I am still meeting the scheduled weights on 5/3/1. The hardest part is mental - loss of size and strength from my already small frame, coupled with a diminshed sense of well being. Being hungry is easy now.

Since my shoulder can use more time to heal, I've decided to lift at 148. It means one last month of light food and low strength. Useful, but unpleasant. Fortunately, the holidays will provide ample distraction from dull food and lifting. The immediate benefit to my yoga makes the negative parts (going to bed hungry on Thanksgiving...) easier to tolerate.

Mentally, I am looking forward to resuming a maintenance diet at the end of the year. That leaves 8 months to get stronger in this goal year - plenty of time to post a class IV total at 148. If my joints behave, I'll be in a great position to chase a Class III total next goal year.

Supplementation went ok. I took my multi-vitamin and D3. EFAs were lacking, since I'd rather eat a little more food. I am still eating almost entirely from Aldi.


3. Advance my Profession - My job continues to be heavy on testing, and I still don't have a build server. A few nice steps forward though:

3.1 Licensing of Redgate databases tools for the DBA
3.2 Initiation of a project to sync database schemas across environments, laying the foundation for generated database deployment scripts.
3.3 Solidification of a post-migration database diff as part of the production deployment workflow
3.4 Changes to personal web hosting reduced server fees by $100 a year, and provided a refresher on DNS and Email
3.5 Addition of IE10 in native and metro mode to our supported browsers, meaning new virtual machine software and access to Windows 8
3.6 Increased sophistication of my user admin workflow, along with approval to train a backup admin in December


4. Connect - Based upon my most objective metric - making time for my wife, I did poorly. There were just too many things competing for attention. Taking yoga anatomy class together was the biggest win, but it is not the intent of the goal, and it only met 3 times all month.

I am working to free more time. I switched my Netflix from streaming to discs, to reduce the risk of binge watching. I had my wife hide the gameboy, to recover the hours from gaming. I let one of my magazine subscriptions lapse and intend to lose another soon. I get excited about ideas, spread myself too thin, and then end up missing out. December will be a slower work month, concluding with 2 weeks off. Combined with the other changes, we'll have more time together. Longer term, the key is consolidation of activities.

Outside of the home, I'd say forward steps have been made, but there's still massive growth available. I spent a good amount of energy better understanding how my personality differs from most. While it's a very qualitative area, I did end up with a solid framework to build against.

Communication of my motivations and feelings has been more direct. This puts me in a vulnerable position, but has not harmed any relationships (that I am aware of, anyway!). Judging if it has helped is very difficult. I do feel more at ease, which is valuable to me. I did spend time with a lot of people this month, and expect even more next month.


Overall, a solid month. I would like more of the same in December.