Monday, February 1, 2010

Goa Recap #4

Thursday Q&A:

Pashasana - one of those things that some people get right off the bat, with heels down, and others work 10 years for. She advised (as something to try, not necessarily every time) grounding the heels and taking right shoulder to left knee then reaching forward with left arm (instead of wrapping) to get the feeling of being grounded while maintaining balance. You could try gripping the front of the mat with left hand to keep you there. Unfortunately even this is impossible for me, so tight are my achilles.

Utpluthi - 100 breaths as fast as you can do em, with equal inhales and exhales. I've been doing 25-30 so I decide to give it my best shot tomorrow. She couldn't even do one breath when she arrived to learn from SKPJ (he held her) and at the end of 4 months was doing 100.

Pregnancy - no twists, no navasana. Bharadvajasana is the modification for Mari C&D. Each practitioner is different and will need something different. (She said more on this, I kinda zoned out cause I'm not planning kids immediately - sorry!)

Back rounding or straight - she mentioned maha mudra (Grimmly, thought you would like this)! She showed us pictures from Yoga Mala where SKPJ was not straight or elongated. She said he taught them to first make a forehead to knee connection then slide the nose and chin forward, all the while head touching the leg.

Full Vinyasa - is OK once in a while if losing heat or if it feels right. I was surprised by her answer to this as I didn't think it was traditional to do so but she seemed very flexible on it if it was occasional.

Tone - have fun, laugh, don't be too serious. The atmosphere when she was learning was more like a gymnasium, with talking laughing and joking.

Splitting and practice length - if you practice both, you can either alternate primary and intermediate or do all intermediate except for once a week. When you know all of intermediate you can do that, or full primary then start at eka pada to finish 2nd. Or primary to navasana then start at pashasana. With proficiency, the practice should become shorter, not longer. A good exercise is to knock minutes off your practice until it becomes as fast as you can do it, then add minutes until it becomes as slow as you can do it. Somewhere in between is the middle ground. Breathing sets the pace. In her personal practice, she does 1st-2nd-3rd twice in a row to make her full week.

Surya B - tough to keep the correct breath here, when bringing the leg forward. Her advice is always to move faster to be in line with the breath, rather than holding or taking extra breaths. Although taking more breath is preferable to holding it, always.

Backbends - when she learned, UD wasn't a part of finishing. In fact, when they practiced primary, finishing was the final 3 lotus postures. UD was taught after intermediate. Dropbacks definitely weren't taught until all of intermediate was done (I forget about shoulderstand and fish pose, when these came into play). I found this interesting, and it made sense to me. Probably the biggest departure from the norm, but I like it and as she said, it's how she learned. Doesn't mean it stayed that way but it's how she learned in the beginning. (See disclaimer!! hahaha)

Friday Led class - Realizing that I practice much too quickly. This class was very difficult for me, because I found the movements much slower than I am used to. Legs were shaking! Got a great shoulderstand adjustment from Jason, he lifted me up so I could completely turn my shoulders out and get them under me. It felt amazingly straight. I did 80 (superfast) breaths in utpluthi.


lew said...

Great posts - sounds like you're getting a lot out of the trip. Y'know I keep hearing, again and again, that the whole ashtanga experience was less rigid a few decades ago. No UD until after all of second! Yet now it's no second until you can STAND form UD! Weird, isn't it?

Interesting about utplutihi, too - I try to keep my breath fairly strong and not too fast. Do you get a head rush with the quick breathing? Is it kind of a kapalabhati breath? Or shallow?

Keep up the trip reports!

Claudia said...

Cool!, thank you for posting :)

as per utplutihi, I can barely do 20, granted that is breathing slowly... but to even think 100... wow!

Liz said...

I would definitely get a head rush with fast breath! I'm very impressed with your 80.

So no one asked why in the world a person would want to learn Kapotasana BEFORE a regular 'ole back bend??? This seems crazy to me. I like the current system. ha ha ha!

Great notes- thank you!

V said...

Liz, I did ask that question and I can't remember her exact words right now, but she pretty much thinks that the backbending sequence in Intermediate prepares you for good 'ole backbends!

Liz said...

of course it prepares you... Kapo is the hardest *#%*@ pose in the series. Or is that just me? Seriously, though, if back bending is so advanced, what is 2nd series? A walk in the park, preparing one for the daunting back bend?

I'm really not trying to be a jerk, I just do not get the common sense in this. I get why she and others may teach primary before back bending- or even the first bit of 2nd, but not all the way to Kapo.

I promised myself I wasn't going to ask about this and here I've gone and done it. I'm glad you asked her- even though the answer is not satisfying! HA HA!!!

lew said...

Hey Liz - I'm with you. Kapotasana is evil. pure, unadulterated evil. I had a panic attack in it last week and STILL haven't recovered.

lew said...

OMG I'm a spaz - I only just realised you're back! Ugh! I was offline for a while and clearly didn't go back far enough in your blog to see what was going on....

Grimmly said...

Great post thanks for this. I'm with you and Nancy of course on the back bending. Made such perfect sense to me to do Kapo before dropping back and coming up. It seemed like you were preparing so carefully for the shorter Kapo dropback. I remember the hard time I got for that too. That said I like UD as part of finishing from the start.

I guess when you were learning them both together you were getting the 2nd series backbend work. Now you spend years with just the forward bends of Primary you need UD early.

I like the bit on splitting etc too. Alternating Primary and Intermediate makes sense to me. I can see the point of focusing on 2nd say for a couple of years as you do with primary to make it strong but then alternate it. The 123,123 makes so much sense.

Does everything come from no longer learning the two series together I wonder. The need for UD, for drop backs, for Sirasana etc. after Primary and the whole 5:1 ration when you do finally move on to Intermediate.

And I love the bit on tone, on having fun with the practice, that comes through in those old demo videos on Youtube .

Nice to read the old ways, more relevant to the home yogi's perhaps who have the freedom to choose which approach they want to take. Can see how it might cause confusion for the Shalas though.

I have a couple of weeks off coming up, both you and V have got me thinking about making the trip to PV, thanks for that.

KMB said...

Hi all - wow! 8 Comments already! I'm still on weird time so I went to bed early last night, sorry I missed this. Couple things to qualify what I've said above...

- for me, the 80 breaths are the fastest human breaths possible, hahaha! It is not kapalabhati, but fast and with equal inhale/exhales. No headrush at all, I find quick breaths easier than slow. They are as deep as I can make em, but still much shallower than 25 slower breaths. Planning to work on deepening once I get past the mind-block of the number itself! :-) Again, not sure if it is correct, this is just how I'm tackling the increase. It does feel great actually, which makes me believe its good.

- I like the idea of learning kapo before dropbacks, because it is a shorter way to the ground. However, this is how I learned it myself (so I'm biased) and I was extremely fortunate to pick up kapo very quickly. Had it taken me longer, I likely would have wanted to try something different.

- Personally, I'm glad I had a couple years of UDs under my belt before starting 2nd. In her case, because both series were taught at once in such a very short period of time, a few weeks really, the timing of UD and kapo may be a bit less important than it is nowadays when we're talking months and years. SKPJ could have still been adjusting them into kapo right up until he taught them UD. It could have happened within days or weeks.

- the splitting option I like the most is stopping at navasana and going to eka pada. Hadn't seen it before, and I love it!

- thanks V for chiming in!

- I agree, having fun and not taking things too seriously was hands-down the most important thing I learned during the retreat Grimmly! Better than all the asana advice and adjustments.

- Nancy made it clear that this is just how she was taught, and that she teaches the way she was taught. She also said it's entirely possible that other master teachers were taught differently over the decades and that they are now teaching as they were taught.

(some of this actually came out in later sessions but i'll share it now cause it seems relevant!)


Helen said...


Really enjoying reading about the retreat. It's interesting to read about the different approaches and interesting in that mostly we tend to like the approach we took. Reading about your experience it seems to have worked well for you.

Hard to imagine a different path to the one you have been on. I found dropping back I went through a great deal of emotional healing. As I am now going through a similar but more intense thing with Kapo I am glad that I have already been through my drop back journey.

But that's just me and my path, glad your practice is working for you. :)

Liz said...

okay, okay- in the context of learning it all in one go, I can see (sort of) how the back bend fits in. And I am just talking about the back bend- not drop backs.

Taking years to learn primary, then second, it would have felt weird to finally get to back bends after 5 years of practicing every day. But if it's within a span of a month or so, it would be reasonable. I forget the way the original group of bad asses learned!

KMB said...

Hi Helen - the way we're most familiar with always seems to make more sense to us, doesn't it! I think my "way" is in the minority but luckily it's working out for me...I'm glad your practice is working for you too :-)

Hi Liz - bad asses is right! 4 months for both series, my jaw dropped to the floor when she told us that. i can't even imagine...

my word veri earlier was "dente" as in al dente pasta, mmmm pasta.

Grimmly said...

Forgot to thank you for posting the bit about sliding the forehead to the chin along the leg, interesting.

I tried the 100 breath Utpluthi this morning. I've been doing 36 kapalbhati breathes, neither fast nor slow. This morning I sped them up as fast as iIcould and got the 100, that was a first for me so thanks for posting on that too.
I timed it. 10 fast kapalbhati breathes take me five seconds so 100 breathes 50 seconds though I think the last twenty breathes were a little slower so probably just under a minute, plenty long enough, not sure I'd want to do that every morning.