Practice # 2: I did primary again, then 2nd up to Ustrasana. Nancy helped me in Pashasana by grounding my heels first then wrapping the arm. I was leaning my full weight into her because my heels are nowhere near touching the ground. She is surprisingly strong, for such a slight woman. The practice feels good, again, the floor is quiet because it seems to be concrete so the jumps sound light whether they are or not.
In the evening talk, Nancy tells us that when she first learned Ashtanga, she learned both primary and intermediate in 4 months. She was very weak and ill at the time and not able to jump back or through. Guruji helped her by carrying her forward and back between postures. They did only 3 A's and 3 B's in those days, and she encouraged us to try this out the next practice, even just 5 A's and 3 B's. I had mixed feelings about this. For one, I am all about conserving energy for 2nd, but for two, every bit of opening helps especially before 2nd! Haha! Having faith I immediately switched to 3Bs for the rest of the retreat and was fine. I will try to do this in Canada too but the cold weather might make the extra B's necessary.
Breathing - the most important thing is that the length of the inhales and exhales should be the same. Even if every inhale is not the same length. Ideally they are all the same but most can't do that for a while. So aim for inhales and exhales of equal length and then for all equal breaths.
One of Nancy's assistants joined our table at dinner. After some chatting, he encouraged E and I to do 2nd for the rest of the retreat. He said that's why you're here, to learn and to improve and to get our help. The postures don't have to be perfect. E and I were relieved and decided to do as much 2nd as possible for the rest of the retreat.
Practice #3 - bit the bullet and did full 2nd. Another great pashasana adjustment from Nancy. I went into Kapo on my own, taking my toes, then I felt someone lightly lift my head, place it back about 2 inches and hike my fingers up to midsole - it was Nancy and then she was gone. It all happened so quickly, a half-breath, it was amazing - there was no fear and minimal sensation either. It made me realize that if such little negotiation and fanfare is needed to reach midsole, it is something I should be doing on my own daily.
Dropback drama. I skipped them. I was worried, scared, unsure, tired? I am more comfortable doing dropbacks at home alone with minimal warmup than in a studio or with a master teacher after a full practice - splain me that? Weird. I tell myself I'll do it tomorrow.
Disclaimer: I have a poor memory and sloppy shorthand...these entries are to help my own recollection of the retreat, and for your entertainment. I couldn't possibly recount everything Nancy or her assistants shared with us...you should really see her yourself to get the full picture. Any views of hers that I share here are things that made an impact on me or altered my view of life/practice - not meant to be controversial in any way. I hope you enjoy!