Saturday, November 7, 2009

Astanga

Full Primary today. I enjoyed my practice, skipped Janu Sirsasana C and Marichyasana D - the former because it aggravates an old condition in my feet and the latter because my low back was a bit cranky last week (and possibly because I'm lazy). I always skip Setu Bandhasana. I probably need to suck up and learn that pose. Argh.

Lately, my entrance into Sirsasana (headstand) has been particularly strong and I'm wondering if it has anything to do with my recent work at the gym. I don't belong to a gym, but I teach at a fancy-pants health club. Recently, I started taking transit to class, usually arriving a bit early (intentionally - I factor in extra time in case there are transit delays). I use this time to play around on the fancy-pants gym equipment, most of which is still a big mystery to me.

There's this metal thing (Google says it's a 'leg raise') that is in my direct eye-path while I'm teaching, so I've seen other people using it (so it's less of a mystery). It looks like a throne without the seat. You climb up, rest your elbows on these platforms while grabbing the handle thingies, then lift knees to chest. Funky. It's a way to work the abs (and the quads too, I guess, and the Psoas). So I've been doing that.

Here's the photo I found online:
She looks so happy, doesn't she? And look at those abs! (clearly, I'm easily amused!)

Today, I arrived *really* early, so I unrolled my mat spent some time goofing around with forearm balance and handstands. I also worked on my backbends, doing Urdhva Dhanurasana against the wall (trying to press my chest towards the wall) and some hangbacks.

I'm no closer to doing drop-backs but at least I'm working on it. Sort of. I get points for trying, right?

Here's this week's State-of-the-Backbend. Kinda lame today:



I think I'll have a good run of long practices through the weekend and maybe even into Monday (no guitar lesson this Monday, which makes the day more manageable). I'm using the DVD regularly right now. I seem to go through these Beryl and Sharath (the CD) 'phases'. Right now, it's all Beryl.

Flo was asking about the Power Yoga DVD. I like it because it's a led Primary, but in a more casual format. Beryl counts in Sanskrit and follows the traditional vinyasa (mostly; there are few fun side-trips into non-traditional poses like Bakasana and handstand), and she offers tips and encouragement for each pose. There's a very authentic feel to the teaching on this disc - it's like being in a real class. Some of the people on the DVD can't do full lotus and use modifications. Beryl stumbles over her words a few times. I like it because it's unpretentious.

Significantly, modifications are offered and encouraged. There are probably not enough modifications to suit a raw beginner, but enough for someone who has done a lot of yoga or has a passing familiarity with Astanga.The DVD was very challenging to me when I first started. Now, a bit less so, but it's comfortable and familiar. When I'm in an Astanga 'slump' the DVD inspires me back onto the mat.

I tend to use the DVD when I have a reasonable block of time to devote to my practice. It's longer than Sharath's CD - about an hour and thirty-five minutes to Sharath's hour-and-ten-minutes. I own other Astanga DVDs, including Mark Darby and Richard Freeman. I found them interesting to watch, but I just wasn't comfortable practising with them. I haven't yet seen Kino's disc (but would like to; this might go on my Christmas list, along with the Intermediate).

Beryl also has a few audio recordings out there, including one on iTunes. I have the one recorded in the Bahamas (referred to as 'beachberyl' in the tags).

You know what my favourite part of the Power Yoga DVD is? Savasana. Beryl's late husband Thom created a CD of rock 'n roll devotional music and one of his songs (based on my mantra, 'Om Mani Padme Hum') accompanies the Savasana. I wish that song was on iTunes because I would totally buy it.

4 comments:

rand(om) bites said...

Hon, one day I am going to come to one of your classes! I love the way you write about yoga and I always learn something new, or inspired to look at a pose and just give something a go. The DVD is on my xmas wish list now. Thanks. LOL at the gym equipment. I bet it is helping your practice, for sure. I know when I run/hoop it helps me feel stronger in poses.

Flo said...

Thank you for posting the DVD!
I pulled out her book today since you had posted about Beryl. It was the first book I purchased in regards to Ashtanga practice. David Swensons was the 2nd.
I will have to search out that DVD. :)

Arturo said...

you're so cute

Kaivalya said...

@rando(om)bites:
If you're ever in Canada, drop me a line! I'd love to have you in a class.

So far, the gym equipment is making my abs sore. I really noticed it this morning in my up-dogs. :-)

@Flo:
The Power Yoga book is very good, particularly because Beryl specialises in teaching runners and athletes, so there is a recognition that not all the Astanga poses work for every body, modifications are needed (Swenson's book is also wonderful in this way). I bought 'Beyond Power Yoga' last year. It has some asana, but also some yoga philosophy. I'm looking forward to reading Beryl's take on that.

@Arturo
Wait until I get to the bench press! I'm a roll now! lol