Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Day 157

Today, I discovered my toe mounds. And my thumb mounds.

On some level, I'm sure I've always been aware of them if, for no other reason, my Ashtanga-turned-Anusara teacher M mentions them about every 3 seconds or so in his classes. But this morning I felt like a little infant who had just discovered her feet. Feet!!! Who knew!!!??

It all started in the sun salutations when I began exploring different distributions of weight in my feet during Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog). I had asked my students to do this in Tadasana yesterday because I noticed that a few of them were struggling to balance in Vrksasana. We all stood on one foot and shifted weight to different parts of our feet.

What I discovered this morning was that rooting down through the big toe mound makes me feel stronger in the pose and it's also easier to keep my heels planted on the firmly on the floor. It also made me feel like the musculature in my legs was activated in a particularly intense way. In Chaturanga Dandasana - and especially in the 'push up' I do after - I could feel the muscles in my trunk and shoulders engaging in concert to bring me back up to plank. Sometimes I find that I'm letting my arms do all the work in that push-up and that's when my middle body sags and I feel like I might be straining my back. Good to know.

So, big toe mounds, thumb mounds. I'm sure this little tip not 'hot news' - it's probably spelled out very precisely in one of the half-dozen Ashtanga books I have lying around the apartment at the moment. But these little things are always so much more meaningful when I stumble across them myself, rather than read them on a page.

Today: Primary Series in full. Amazing Garba Pindasana, even though I fell on my side once and couldn't get up (laughing my head off at 6 a.m. - the neighbours must think I'm nuts!). My back was surprisingly open today - Urdhva Mukha Svanasana felt very soft and liquid. Urdhva Dhanurasana didn't make me want to cry the way it usually does.

And yes, it's a Moon Day. Traditionally, Ashtangis do not practice yoga on the days of the new and full moons. During a normal month, I would enjoy the day off and make it special - do something fun, go for a walk, celebrate it. It felt a bit odd practising today, but I figure that it won't kill me to do this for a month. And I still get to eat a cupcake! ;-)

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