Hey guys! It’s been a minute, I know. But now that mercury is out of retrograde and I’m able to string together a sentence again without busting a blood vessel (hey, I’m a Gemini! Mercury retrograde affects us a lot! Google it!), I’m back, and I have SO MUCH TO SAY! So get ready for a whirlwind, whiplash-inducing tour of The Highlights from the past few weeks, everything from mundane to momentous, both cute and brutal! Enjoy.
Let’s start with a simple one…
I got the weirdest correction ever! It happened in a class last week. We were doing Eagle. It went like this…
Teacher: Alison, you’ve got a little forward bend… Just so you know…
Huh? My face wrinkled up and I had to stifle a giggle. “Just so I know?” How… umm… polite? I guess? And weird! Usually when teachers correct me it’s in a tone more reminiscent of “Git ‘r dun and do it now, bi-atch!” rather than “Just so you know…”. I mean, the “just so you know” tone doesn’t usually indicate a command, or even a suggestion! It’s the way you would talk about the weather!
“Oh hey, I heard it’s going to rain today, JUST SO YOU KNOW…”
Regardless, I am working on eliminating my little forward bend in Eagle. Just so YOU know.
Maddie hair! Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two seasons, you are probably at least vaguely familiar with the amazeballs reality television phenomenon known as “Dance Moms”. If you read this blog often, you are DEFINITELY familiar with it. If you are NOT familiar with it, I suggest you visit Hulu right now and get to watchin’! I MEAN, IT IS ONLY LIFE-CHANGING PEOPLE.
So assuming you watch the show all the time like I do, you know who Maddie is: the adorable little nine year old super talented dancer kid who wins everything all the time and is the rockstar of her studio? Yes? Well. Maddie wears her hair in a fancy little up and over french braid that she—or rather, her Dance Mom (like the name of the show, GET IT?!) weaves into her ponytail.
Now since I am super cool and watch reality programs on Lifetime for fun, I thought it would be SUPER fun to copy Maddie’s hair—yes, I am taking hairstyling tips from a nine year old and her mom, SUE ME—and wear it to Bikram. And I have been! And I love it! It gives me something fun to look at in the mirror besides the sweat dripping off my earlobes and the asymmetry of my eyebrows. Now I have a fancy FRENCH BRAID EMBELLISHED ponytail! Oooh la la!
It’s gone over quite well. And apparently there is NOTHING more impressive to people than a girl who can braid her own hair. Everyone seems astonished that I do it myself. (Hey, I have to! I don’t have a Dance Mom to do it for me!) I’ve been asked to make a how-to video and post it on YouTube, but there is no way in god’s green earth I’m going to do that. Sorry guys, I just hate how I look on cam-e-ra (pronounced in three syllables with a Jenna Maroney from “30 Rock” accent).
And while I’m pretty good at doing my own brain when no one’s watching, I’m certain that if a camera were pointed at me I would get nervous and freeze up and not be able to do it and slowly lose my mind and you would find my dead lifeless body weeks later with a flip video mounted firmly in one hand and a can of Aqua Net in the death grip of the other. And really guys, I’m too young to die.
I kind of agreed to compete next year but it was totally an accident! So one day a couple of weeks ago I was in class, like normal, struggling to continue breathing, like normal. The teacher was being a little tougher with me than usual, but whatever, I kind of like that so it was all good.
We get to Wind Removing Pose, and I’m at the crisis point where I have to start reciting all the lyrics to “Cooling” in my head just to keep from having a panic attack, and the teacher comes over and stands right over my face and whispers something so loudly yet so unclearly that I can only respond with “WHAT”.
She repeats herself. I hear the following: “Yusshhucupppuppnxxxxtyrrrrr.” I respond with a VERY convincing: “Ok…” You guys, I didn’t know what she was saying! And I was just a LITTLE busy at the time trying to pull my knee into my shoulder whilst still remaining conscious!
She walks away, apparently pleased with that answer. I assume maybe she’s said “You should think about training next year.” Like, you know, going to teacher training. I kind of shrug it off. But then I realize that’s not what she said at all. She actually said, “YOU SHOULD COMPETE NEXT YEAR.” And… OhSHIIIITTTT, what was my response? The very flat, very convincing “OKAY”.
Well. I didn’t bring this up again. And neither did she. Until last weekend…
So I’m on my mat, getting ready for class, adjusting my towels and admiring my Maddie hair, and the teacher comes walking over with a friend of hers. She introduces me to the friend in the following way: “This is my student Alison, she has an amazing practice AND SHE’S GOING TO COMPETE NEXT YEAR!”
I didn’t correct her, unless you count stammering “Uhhhhhhh ummmmm errrrr,” as a correction, but I’m pretty sure the horrified look on my face said it all.
Anyway guys, I’m not REALLY planning to compete, I mean I can barely hit my Standing Head To Knee in class nevermind on a stage in front of people while WEARING A LEOTARD, good god NO! But I haven’t broken the news to my teacher yet. Eh, I’ve got a year to fix this situation… I can put it off for a while. And who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind. Or maybe hell will freeze over. You never know.
My cover got blown in class! I was in class one Saturday, just doing my thing—ahhh, which would be sweating, grunting, and muscling my way through the Standing Series—when the teacher suddenly turns to me and says in a SLIGHTLY amused way, “Alison, relax your forehead!”
I try to, not really thinking about it.
The teacher goes on, “I have a better internal dialogue with you now; I’VE READ YOUR BLOG!”
Ohhhhh snap! BUSTED!
My left hamstring is a jerk! Ugggggh you guys, being injured is the biggest crapfest EVER. And a hamstring injury is one of the worst! You don’t even realize how many things you use your hamstring for (HINT: EVERYTHING) until you can’t use it anymore!
See, I have this kind of perma-injury at the very top (the “semitendinosus”, far right in the very fancy graphic below) of my left hammy.
I got it in college when I was dancing all the time and running marathons. I initially pulled it in a dance class, no big deal. But being SUPER SMART, I never stopped to rest it and let it heal. Nope! I just kept on taking dance classes, and competing, and running 100 miles a week.
I MAKE SUCH MATURE DECISIONS! I AM AWESOME AT LIFE!
Well, needless to say, after about a week of that I had made it soooo much worse that one day while I was running it kind of popped and well, that was the end of that. I couldn’t run for FOUR MONTHS. Bummer. And still to this day, over 10 years later, my left hamstring is still so sensitive that it pulls if you look at it funny. UGH.
So last week someone must have looked at it funny, because WHOA it was giving me a HELL of a time. I mean, it was bad. BAD bad. Like, I was almost in tears in class BAD. Not as much from pain, although it hurt plenty, but more because it is SO FREAKING FRUSTRATING to be MODIFYING your practice when you really want to be IMPROVING your practice! And it was really at the point where my brain was starting to panic and I was getting all OMMIGOD IT HURTS SO MUCH AND IT’S BEEN INJURED SO LONG AND IT’S NEVER GOING TO HEAL AND I’M NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO A SIT UP WITHOUT BENDING MY KNEES AND I’M GOING TO HAVE TO MODIFY FOREVER AND JESUS CHRIST I WOULD RATHER JUST BE DEAD THAN HAVE TO LIVE WITH THIS STUPID HURTING INJURED DUMB HAMSTRING ANYMORE!
And then the world’s smallest violin started playing an angsty bit of Beethoven—you know, one of those pieces he wrote after he realized he was going deaf—and I wept bitter, bitter, salty tears.
But wait! This story actually has a silver lining—nay, a Happy Ending! My hamstring has finally started to heal and is feeling so much stronger! At least in part because…
I took this AMAZING ‘Flexibility And Contortion’ class at a pole dancing studio in Chelsea! Wait—WHAT?! Pole dancing?!
Yes, pole dancing. I am obsessed. But we’ll get to that another time. For now, the least you need to know is that the studio I go to—which happens to be run by a bunch of US and world champion pole dancers (NOT kidding)—doesn’t just have pole classes, they have tons of other aerial/acrobatic class offerings too. One of which was this “Flexibility & Contortion” one that I took last weekend.
I was a little nervous, given the severity of my hamstring situation and also the use of the word “contortion” in the title, but HOLY HELL you guys, it was freaking AWESOME! It was like all the good, fun parts of a yoga class, all smooshed together. It was NOT easy. Not at all. It was definitely WORK. But the awesome thing is that the teacher really focused on HOW to work, and how to work SAFELY. My hamstring actually felt STRONGER when I left than when I went in! WOW!
And the backbending segment of class? AWESOME. I had NO idea I could backbend like that, and it felt soooo good!
And then we worked on piking into handstands… which was… somewhat less successful for me. But you know, there were girls in there that were totally doing it! Granted, they were full on acrobats, but it made it seem attainable! Like it could actually be a realistic goal! And that was exciting.
Equally exciting? I’ve been applying the ideas in Bikram all week and my hamstring feels AWESOME. If you live in or near NYC you should totally try this class, at least once! Contact me, I’ll give you the info! And prepare to be AMAZED. Also, sore. You will be SO sore. But in a GOOD way.
I’m still not locking out my Standing Bow! I know this is hardly news. But I swear to jesus, I’m at least a millimeter closer than I was a month ago! And while that achievement may be almost imperceptibly small, I think it’s still something to celebrate.