Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 279

Friday turned out to be a big day for yoga. In the evening, I attended a Solstice party on a beach. With a view to the west over the water, we celebrated sunset of the longest day of the year with great food and interesting conversation. But before the other guests arrived, my friend (a personal trainer) and I did our respective workouts on the beach.

She did loads of push ups and crunches and body-work that isolated muscle groups. I did the Swenson short form of the Ashtanga Primary Series with some of my favourite poses thrown in for good measure. It was interesting for me to try some of the exercises she was doing. I found some of them hard and some quite easy. I was frankly surprised by some of the things she found very difficult: holding Navasana for any length of time, Urdhva Dhanurasana. I think my overall physical strength surprised her more than my flexibility (it surprised me too, to be honest).

We also had some fun doing cartwheels and handstands on the beach!

Observing her practice as I did my own was really interesting to me - not in the sense of making a judgment or comparison, but in the different skills and benefits found in each. She has great abs (a perfectly flat belly). I can do headstand. She can do many pushups. I can hold Navasna for several mintues (this was news to me, actually!).

My sense is, that Ashtanga provides more of an integrated strength - the different parts of the body are both stronger and more harmonious in their function with one another.

I also believe (and this is judgment) that I enjoyed my practice more. She grunted and moaned and transitioned abruptly from one thing to another, seemingly randomly. I just breathed. And flowed. This practice makes sense to me; to each their own!

Doing Ashtanga on the beach near sunset was absolutely marvellous! The weather was great, temperature was perfect. Doing a headstand with the lake as a drishte is trippy! I enjoyed the sound of the waves lapping up on the sand as I laid in Savasana.

I enjoyed a great day off on Saturday - all the usual, with trips to the market, wandering a street festival, napping. This morning, I was up bright and early at 5 a.m. to practice. I haven't done an early morning practice in a while and I enjoyed it.

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