Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Alas, yet again I couldn't manage a morning practice. I've been sleeping a LOT lately, and having extremely vivid, engaging, movie-like dreams. They make it too easy to sleep because I'm so entertained! I woke up to shut the window last night and when I came back to sleep, the dream picked up exactly where it left off, just like a T.V. show! I went to bed early and slept late, didn't get on the mat until mid-morning because I had phone calls to make, then the dog needed a walk.

I was hungry for lunch at noon, but did yoga instead.

I did full Primary and this practice was definitely an improvement on yesterday's. I was less distracted and better able to keep attention focused on my breathing. Yeah, I kind of let that part slide yesterday. It's amazing - the first few sun salutations were lazy and soft, but when I pulled my focus into ujjayi breathing, I could feel the scattered energy coming together into a flow. My body heated up right away too.

In the comments, Alfia made an interesting observation about my Urdhva Dhanurasana. She said that I'm already open in my spine and shoulders, but my hip flexors are tight. I've been prowling around the Internet, looking for good Urdhva Dhanurasana photos. I found Arjuna, of course, and Elsie (an Anusara teacher) and one other. Then there's me...argh. ;-)

I think Alfia's onto something!

Today, I did a short series of hip openers before I came into Urdhva Dhanurasana. I did a psoas opener on each side using a block (I learned this in the recent Hanumasana workshop;iIt looks a bit like a Ardha Supta Virasana with the block under the sacrum). Then I did some low lunges that focused on stretching the hip flexors in the area of the hip crease. I moved into Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana (Pigeon Pose), came into Ustrasana (Camel) for 10 breaths, then repeated the psoas opener.

Then I did Urdhva Dhanurasana three times and I think it felt better, more open. At least, it didn't feel as difficult as yesterday. I often blame my back when I can't come into this pose easily, but I need to remind myself of something I say to my students all the time: “Don't think of it as a 'backbend,' think of it as a 'front stretch!' “ If the front of the body can't stretch, it's impossible to come more deeply into the pose, no matter how bendy your spine is.

I'll continue with the hip openers this week and see if there's any difference on Saturday when I take my next backbend photo.

I did Sirsasana against the wall today and worked on 'playing' with weight distribution and alignment within the pose. I didn't even come close to falling out of it, even with all of my moving around and experimenting. Tomorrow, I think I'll get out the camera and get a video of the pose so I can see where I'm coming into the best alignment.


alfia said...

Hi, Kai!

Knowing my psoas tightness problem, I do a pigeon pose every morning now. My UD feels much better since then. I will try your supta virasana with the block, too - thank you for mentioning this stretch! :)

donutszenmom said...

Oh, you have half the equation, so you're in good shape! Your back/shoulders look nice and open. I have tight shoulders and tight hip flexors, so I'm workin' on both ends at once. :-)

Kaivalya said...

@alfia: I'm thinking that I need a lot more Pigeon in my practice. It's the missing link in Primary. By the way, I added a detailed description of the psoas stretch in my June 11th post just so it's clear.

@donutzenmom: But you make up for it with the really cool props! I want one of those wedge things to use for dropbacks! Yes, I have prop envy! ;-)

Arturo said...

hi Kai
i do what Alfia does daily too, a longish pigeon pose (five breaths chest flat forward, five breaths upright) as part of my warmup.

i want one of those wedgies that Karen has too. whaaa! (plus 2 oversized bamboo blocks for chest opening warmups.)

i really need to look into whether there is a yoga prop store in Shanghai.


Kaivalya said...

@Arturo: I'm interested in your warm-ups. Do you do these before you start the sun salutations?