Sunday, March 9, 2008

Day 207

I'm back from my two days off. Those two days were filled with a lot of sleep and even more snow. We had a two-day storm that left over 15 centimetres of the white stuff on the ground. Today, the city is digging out and the windchill is -21. It sure doesn't feel like March!

It would be inaccurate to say that I didn't do yoga at all for those two days. I may not have done the Primary Series, but I'm always doing a little bit of yoga here and there because I teach it. A day doesn't pass where I don't at least do downward facing dog and a forward bend or two as a warm-up and more postures in context of the class itself (though I shouldn't - and don't - regard them as my personal practice).

On Friday afternoon, I teach a loosely structured children's yoga class at an after-school programme. Many of these kids have been studying with me for three years or more, so they know a lot of yoga. There's nothing in this world cuter than a seven year old carefully leading her friends through Surya Namaskara A. Or, after attempting a jump-through, glaring at me and then announcing indignantly: “I can't do this because my arms are TOO SHORT!” (I have bad news for her - arms don't get any 'longer' as you age!).

One of my students - I'll call her R - has an amazing practice for an almost-nine-year-old. She's always bugging me to teach her new stuff (like any ashtangi, she loves to add fresh poses to her repertoire. *wink*). She also seems more serious and focused than some of the other kids and understands that yoga is not a game to me. She regularly asks me what I'm 'working on.'

When I told her that I was learning to jump into handstand a few weeks ago, she announced: “I can do that!” She promptly tried, fell over, then glanced over at me with a bemused expression. “Not as easy as it looks!” No, it's not!

Each week, we've been working on this. R is dogged when she's learning something new - she tries over and over again until she's too tired to continue. Then she takes a break and tries again. Every so often, she catches the hang of it, almost gets into a handstand and then she emits a little kid version of the 'Chewbaka wail.' I take a lot of inspiration from her determination.

And this is how I've ended up working on that dreaded jump entry into handstand over and over and over again on Fridays. I've been getting some extra practice! But this past Friday, something just clicked for me. One moment, it was impossible and the next, I was jumping into a handstand, smoothly, efficiently and easily. R stopped to watch me, then nodded sagely. “That's really good! You've got it!”

She was right.

Today's practice was sluggish and stiff. But I did two easy handstands. No fuss, no drama. I think Chewbaka may be gone forever!

I offer proof in the following video snippet. Please don't be turned off by the fact that the preview shows my butt. This is really a handstand video. Honest!

Reluctant Ashtangi Pictures presents...
"Die, Chewbaka, die!"

And, finally, Musical Sirsasana was 'Take a bow' by Madonna ;-)


Anonymous said...

that's great! what's the trick? moola bandha, shoulder strength, all of the above?

Kaivalya said...

@anonymous: I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around it, but I think the initial push is a combination of shoulder strength, co-ordination (muscle memory) and momentum. The lift definitely comes from the bandhas.

I found it very helpful to soften my arms a bit and to 'push the floor away' with my hands.

Yogamum said...

Nice! You make it look so easy!