Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Primary + Back Half of 2nd

In Sunday's Led class we did full primary followed by 2nd half of 2nd (starting with LBH). Having all those forwards bends and supta K behind me, I managed an unassisted bind in Titti B for the first time and I actually eked out an unassisted Dwi Pada A as well.

That Titti B bind makes the whole thing feel so much better - I've noticed this before when I was adjusted into it. I feel tighter, more grounded and oddly more balanced...better able to straighten through the legs.

Are Supta K, Yoganidrasana and Dwi Pada easier than Eka Pada? For me they are, and I think it probably has a bit to do with my body proportions. In the video below I am trying an Eka Pada after a Led primary class for scientific purposes...how will I ever get it back there! Hahaha...my legs are longer than my torso...one tip I got from Kino in Dwi Pada was to lock my feet, which helps quite a bit but in Eka Pada with nothing to latch onto those suckers will not stay put.

Videos are great to temper my Titti B ego-fest! Especially the second side :-)

I'm confused about how to approach the movement from the very beginning. Should the hip be a bit open to the side or not really? I usually open my hip to the side a bit to get my shoulder back there, then swing it back to the front to take the leg over my head. I think different people approach it different ways but I have to wonder what the best way is for my body, with my long limbs and shorter torso. Clearly I've got some work to do to open my hips and keep my gangly tibia from slingshotting off my shoulder-neck! Of course, practice, practice, practice...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saturday class - Viparita Dandasana prep

In A's class on Saturday we did primary to Navasana without rounding the back or folding forward. All seated postures revolved around extension and lengthening...this was to warm us up with vinyasa and flow, but not close off the front spine for the backbending to come. I found this made my back work harder. The smaller muscles were doing more to keep me upright and lengthened when it would have felt natural to curl in and fold.

We then did 2nd to Kapotasana and repeated Kapo several times...very helpful work. Usually in mysore I'm rushing a bit through Kapo in order to make it out of the pose before I'm assisted, haha! It isn't the heel-grabbing assist I mind, I find it bothers my back when I am pulled out of it. No matter where my back is touched pulling me out it gets a little crampy when pressure is applied in an area where the muscle is already contracted. I find it much easier on my body to rise out of it naturally on my own so that is what I aim for - J is really cautious about her students in Kapo and she can't resist helping us out.

After Kapo we did a fun exercise which turns out to be viparita dandasana prep. We start out in sirsasana, bend the knees and arch the back drawing hips and chest back (same direction elbows are pointing) and feet slowly approaching the floor. At some point when you reach maximum extension you drop. Then come to UD and stand from it. SO FUN! I was scared to drop feet to floor first time but A assisted me and I wasn't nearly as far as I'd thought I was so I was happy to try on my own the next few times. Something about that stretch in Sirsasana made my back feel so open that standing from UD was easy for me yesterday. Bit of rocking, then UP! And back to the floor to do it again! I can hardly imagine the opposite motion, of bringing the feet BACK over the head...I hope we try it one day. This work was the closest I've come to tick tocks and it was exciting!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Practice notes, Kino workshop

Last weekend, on a whim, I booked a flight to Toronto...Kino workshop! On Friday night, I headed to AYC Toronto for the demo, chanting and discussion. I haven't visited many shalas, but I immediately felt right at home in this one. It was cozy and had nice natural light...reminds me of my usual practice space.

Day 1 - demo...breathtaking. She did deep backbends, arm balances, LBH, twists...everything. Stunning!

After the demo was done, she wrapped herself in a shawl and proceeded to tell us that strength had always been her biggest challenge. I don't know why, but that made me feel relieved. There is hope! Strength was a theme we came back to again and again through the workshop.

"Strength is a decision you make"...every time you phone it in, you miss an opportunity to build strength. Every time you back away from an edge, you stand still. When you stay stuck in your comfort, you stop moving.

At first glance that might seem pretty darn close to "progress" and "linear" and "goal-oriented" but that's not the point she was making at all...or not the point I interpreted. She said when you encounter new, difficult, challenging, sometimes frightening situations on the mat, it's like a "laboratory" for life. Your response here will mirror your response in the real world. If you choose to acknowledge your discomfort, set it aside and move into the new/scary/challenging territory, you're building strength of character and not just strength in the body. It's not always supposed to feel good and warm and fuzzy and pretty...yeah doing your practice should make you FEEL GOOD, but working on yourSELF and your flaws and your deeply ingrained behavioral traits is not always going to be a walk in the park. Loved it, loved it as a metaphor for life and also as something I will be taking with me into my practice.

She mentioned that from early on asana demonstrates to us that the impossible is possible. So the very thing that looks insane to us in the beginning, we're doing it before we know it. Simply by facing it every day. The physical transformation in asana opens us to the personal transformation in yoga.

Day 2 - Mysore class. This was a large group so we were asked to stagger our times a bit. She also said we should practice the "series you want me to help you with". I was relieved. Because my background is a little different from many, I was a bit nervous about what to do for mysore - cognizant of the fact that a couple of my trouble spots would be where many others would be stopping and working, not moving on.

I did my 2nd and I'm glad I did. Despite the size of the crowd, I was adjusted in pretty near everything I had really hoped to get some help on. For a few asanas I waited quite a long time but I didn't even mind. There was an incredibly adept yogi in front of me and I was treated to an amazing display when I was waiting for an adjustment for several minutes! Turns out it was a teacher at AYCT, the hosting studio. Unreal!

On my last assisted backbend, she asked "Do you touch your heels?" and I said no but I went back and she asked me to walk them in and I touched. I could hardly believe it. So cool!

The afternoon session was all about strength so we worked on the foundation of a strong torso in a plank or other inversion...fingers, hands, chest, shoulders, abs, pelvis...and jumping back and through. We were given the same instruction as was given in ArkieYogini's blog, to bend the arms and walk the feet back. For the toe-tappers out there! I put it to work right away. Then we paired up and worked on floating up in sirsasana and piking to handstand (assisted).

Day 3 - Led primary. Two hours. Stick a fork in me, I am DEAD. Dropped my own ass in kukkutasana AND utpluthi. I was TOASTITOS.

Afternoon was all about backbending. We worked through the foundation of a supported backbend, with tucked pelvis, firm abs sucked in to spread the organs and make the waist small. Ribs up and out (serratus anterior?) with supporting muscles at work. Sternum up then raise arms...we paired up for assisted UDs and dropbacks.

Highlights, for me, were:
- the jumpback tips (hopefully one day the shuffleback will be a true jumpback)
- the surprising backbend assist she gave me
- the idea of strength as a choice I will make each time I practice

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Flippy exit

A few weeks ago, I had an introduction to the flippy headstand exit at another shala - lowering legs pike-style, then flipping yourself to chaturanga. Haven't been back there enough to practice it substantially and we don't do these exits in my usual studio.

So this week J showed me a similar headstand exit, which is more of a "timber" type move (no pike - body straight) and I found it much easier and really fun actually.

Now that I've learned the 7 headstands without a wall, I'm not really motivated to do them. I mean I know it is necessary practice at being upside down and being comfortable in sirsasana with hands in any formation...practice that will come in handy someday. But I'm just, um, bored with them. How can I make them more interesting? I'm not able to pike up in all of them yet, I do a little hop to a tuck and then straighten my legs. I suppose some pike work could keep me interested. But by the time I get to them I'm like blah, let's get this overwith and backbend. Must remember to pike next time.

I was playing around with Urdhva Kukku A a bit (yes I'm a criminal). I can get the lotus in headstand part no problem (someone tell me WHY this doesn't come before Karandavasana...for Pete's sake) and the lowering to upper arms/armpits but lifting the head? Nuh-uh. How in the hell? Yipes. Zipping up the arms in C is fun, but I get stuck below my elbows. Someday! No rush there, plenty to work on in 2nd.

Today's fun class was completely restorative, a series of 3 minutes holds...all of them were internal rotations of the legs. It was exactly what I needed, I've been feeling really tight all week (I didn't practice during my trip so coming back to it is always a bit painful). I remember each time I go more than a couple of days without practicing why I'm supposed to do this daily (or nearly daily). It IS easier.

The weather here is mild today, which means BBQ! And probably some wine. I love long weekends.

Also the bread break went well! We made a reunion loaf last night. I'm determined to enjoy responsibly, ie. not at every meal and upon every whim of the moment.

Tomorrow I'm going to do 2nd, either as self-practice or at a nearby shala. The custom at the nearby shala is full vinyasa in 2nd so my choice will depend greatly on my wine consumption tonight and resulting energy level tomorrow, haha!

Happy Easter weekend all :-)