Practice

March 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

It occurred to me that I haven’t written about my practice in a while. Not that anyone’s tracking I suppose – we just get on with it – but since this blog is meant to be a practice journal of sorts, I guess the occasional report wouldn’t hurt. Following the last post about getting stuck at Ubhaya Padangusthasana, I asked K the next day about moving on to Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana, and got it. I realized that she’s either waiting for the regular Mysore students to ask her if they can move on, or allowing us to try out the next poses on our own and giving tips as we do so. A little unconventional, but she’s my current teacher. If that’s the way she works, so be it.

LH last week, so no practice. Currently experimenting with Nancy’s advice of not doing any Ashtanga for the whole length of time. Stayed at home most of the time, but still didn’t get on the mat to stretch. Did lots of writing and photography and had a fabulous dinner with a group of inspired people to round out the week. Went back to the mat on Sunday and my oh my, how my hips have tightened up. I attribute it to a lack of daily stretching coupled with my lifestyle: desk-bound and lots of driving = cranky piriformis and tight hips.

Parivritta Trikonasana is my current nemesis. I just can’t seem to figure this pose out. Currently placing my hand on the shin and trying to keep the front leg straight gives a stretch so deep I can’t twist very much without trembling. When I do twist, there’s another twinge deep in the hip of the front leg, so I’m left trembling and going through the five breaths as quickly as possible. Not easy, this one.

Still nowhere close to placing my head on the ground in the Prasaritas. Ah well. I’ve long given up the ambition of doing so, particularly after a LH break where my hips feel like blocks of concrete.

Utthita Hasta Padangushthasana is coming along nicely. Have been standing without wobbling, and even the raised leg at the end doesn’t drop as much as it used to. Of course I’m still trembling like jell-o by this point, but who cares. Still trying to nail the balance in the transition from nose-to-knee and standing upright though.

Seated postures are lovely. Well, except for Paschimottanasana. My legs are still bent; they were very bent on Sunday, I’m glad to report that they’re straightening out with each successive practice. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana is the pose that best illustrates the gap in flexibility between my left and right hips. I’m able to really relax into the pose on the left side, resting my chin on the shin, but am nowhere close on the right with its bent knee…

The rest of the practice speeds by. I look forward to Marichyasana B, as much as I look forward to Bhujapidasana, Supta Kurmasana and Baddha Konasana. There’s something about resting my head on the ground that’s really calming and relaxing, I find myself adding a couple more breaths just to savor it!

With the tight hips, Kurmasana looks like a sad approximation of what it’s supposed to be; Supta Kurmasana – I’ve lost the finger bind but I’m sure it’s on the way back. Still working on a somewhat graceful exit from both Bhuja and SK, and also confronting my fear of falling flat on the face in Bekhasana. I can get both feet off the ground, but shooting back into chaturanga is another story.

I’m at a comfortable stage with Garbha Pindasana. No problems getting the arms through and rocking on the spot, but have anxiety about actually trying to rock in a circle. I keep telling myself, “one day” I will do it, knowing full well that that day is today, not tomorrow.

Then comes Baddha Konasana, my favorite pose in the entire Primary Series. Seriously. I love getting adjusted in this pose, the deep deep stretch that goes on in the hips and the flattening crush of my nose to the mat.

The backbends take a while to warm up to. Ironically, my best, deepest backbend is usually the third or fourth one, never the first. The muscles on the left lower back, between the hip and the mid-back, have been feeling a little sore and tender so I’ve been paying attention in the backbends, trying not to push into the hips too much. This achy lower back sensation has also removed the Chakrasana transitions, as well as Karna Pindasana and Pindasana from the closing sequence. Just bringing the legs over my head is enough to stretch that area, I don’t want to aggravate them. I find it interesting too, that the soreness that used to be on the right shoulder and lower back have now migrated to the left shoulder and lower back. Is it too much to hope that this is reflective of my body’s progress towards a ‘natural’ state, and that once the left side is done being sore, I can look forward to an ache-free practice for a while? We’ll see.

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