David Roche, Days 6-8: Mula Bandha, Mari D, Supta K

November 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sorry for the brain dump, but since I haven’t recapped practice in a while, I thought I’d do it before more practices accumulate!


Friday’s Led class was, again, a variation on a theme. This time, the theme was Mula Bandha. We did the Suryas (5 As, 3 Bs), before going into an in-depth deconstruction of Surya B with a heightened awareness of activating and holding Mula Bandha throughout the movement. It occurred to me that he’s using the led classes as a chance to ‘workshop’ the basics of the Primary series with us. To break it down so that we discover familiar poses in a new way, and bring a new awareness to how we carry our bodies, which will hopefully translate into our practice. I guess you could say that since a Led Primary class is going to be pretty much the same from one teacher to the next, these Roche-style classes are his ‘value-add’ for us in a group setting.

We began the Mula Bandha experiment with feet hip width apart and hands in prayer at chest level, a few inches away from the heart and elbows lifted. Then, inhale and lower the torso into a squatting position, activating the inner legs and outer edges of the feet, tucking the navel in and ‘spreading the butt’ at the same time. There’s a lot going on here, but surprisingly, once he got to the butt spreading instructions, I felt a ‘lightness’ in the stomach/pelvic region, almost as if my belly had turned into a balloon. Then, exhale fold forward, inhale, look up and jump on the spot. Tiny, light jumps, like mini-handstands. He called them ‘kangaroo jumps’, and we were supposed to focus on initiating the jump from the pelvis, i.e., from Mula Bandha, which meant keeping most of the weight in our core and only using the hands and feet for support. That was the preface to jumping back, chaturanga, upward dog, downward dog – all the while keeping the pelvic area engaged – and then it was time to jump back: bend the knees, look up and jump, again, moving from the core. For the first time ever, I managed some semblance of a controlled, semi-floaty jump from downward dog. “Mula Bandha is not a myth!!!!” I thought to myself. Duh.

With that exercise in hand, we did the rest of the standing sequence until Parshvottanasana, and then a couple of seated stretches before calling it a day.


 Monday’s practice was a light one. Did a half-Primary with no vinyasas between sides and only 3 UDs. I was still feeling some of the after-effects of a horrible migraine over the weekend, and with each vinyasa leaving me more light-headed than the last, I figured it would be best to take it slow and easy. I was left alone for much of the practice until Marichyasana D when David looked at my entry before asking “Do you really need to lift your sitting bones to get into the pose?”

I confess. I’ve been doing it the ‘easy’ way all this while. To get into Mari D, I set up the legs, then lean my weight into the bent knee, basically squatting on one leg, to help me get a deeper twist and bind more easily. I picked up this habit from watching another shala mate do the trick, and hey! it’s so much easier!! I’m binding effortlessly!!

{sheepish BAD LADY moment}

Now, the correct version is to keep the half lotus leg grounded while sucking in navel and trying “to bring your hip bones together”. It’s more of a visual guide than an actual instruction – to tuck the navel in so strongly that I could, theoretically, bring my hip bones together. The essence of the pose is in building up a strong and engaged core that would serve as my ‘base’ from which I could then lift up through the crown of the head and twist to wrap the arms. So now I know that this is what Kino referred to when she said that we should be twisting “from the solid foundation of the pelvis”.

I did two Mari Ds on my own after this correction, and managed to get through without too much hassle. What this pose asks of me now is a deeper awareness of how I activate and hold the pelvis, and ground the half lotus leg. In David’s words: “You’ve been using your extremities to get to your core, now I’m trying to get you to start from your core to get to your extremities.”


Did the full practice today, but no vinyasas between sides, so that I’d still have some energy left tomorrow. My right QL is acting up again and hurts so bad that even UDs are painful. Could only manage three today and three hangbacks with Ms A. Apparently, I’m trying to drop back with a flat spine, which is compressing my lower back. All well and good, but I have absolutely no awareness of the nuances and articulation of my thoracic spine – where I’m supposed to be keeping lifted and arched throughout all the backbends. This is frustrating, but it’s all I can do to just put on a pain patch, roll on the tennis ball, sleep and try working on it again tomorrow. If anyone has any suggestions for exercises that help to awaken one’s awareness of that part of the spine, I’m all ears.

Today’s adjustment was in Supta Kurmasana where David managed to put both my legs behind the head, reminding me as he did so, that “the feet and knees need to be flexed” because the flexing of the knees helps to push the feet further down the back. By ‘flexing knees’ I deduced that he was asking me to squeeze my thighs around the torso – it seemed to work and made for one of the most compact and light Supta K I’ve done in a while.

Only three, maybe four, more practices with David before I head off to Austin for a week. I’m starting to feel a little sad that I’ll have to miss one week of practising with him, but oh well. Life happens.


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