No Manduka mat this morning - I left it at work yesterday. I pulled my old mat out of storage, my REALLY old mat. It’s almost 15 years old. I bought it through mail order, from Gaim, in the early 90s, along with two green foam blocks and a canvas strap. All à la Iyengar. At the time, I was practising at home with Patricia Walden’s ‘Yoga for Beginners.’
At the time, I thought the mat was an extravagance. I thought it would end up collecting dust, but it didn’t. Despite my ardent dislike of yoga, I practised daily and in time, my blue mat became a refuge from the swirl and confusion of my rapidly-changing life. I’m still very fond of it, but it’s not thick enough for an Astanga practice. I let out a surprised squeak when I rolled onto my head for Setu Bandhasana...OUCH.
I worked *very* hard during my practice this morning. I was focused, determined and WARM. The apartment was a tad cool when I woke, which starts to happen this time of year when the landlord dials down the heat. I turned on my space heater and the room warmed nicely. I worked up a good sweat. It was lovely!
In my sun salutations, I focused on weeding out the ‘flourishes’. I almost embarrassed to ‘fess up to them. We all have them and for the most part, they’re silly and unnecessary. Here’s one of mine: When circling my arms overhead, I do this thing with my hands, crossing them in front and only then circling them up. It’s very dancer-esque. I first noticed I did this when I saw my beginning students doing it. Of course, they were mimicking me! *cringe*
Now I start with arms at my sides, and coming back to Samasthiti, I bring them back down to my sides. Every movement is simple and purposeful - that’s my goal. No embellishments. Quaker yoga!
I’m also working my tail off on those jump-backs. Today, I experimented, trying a little bit of everything: blocks, no blocks, plain vanilla Lolasana, lifting up and trying (unsuccessfully) to jump back, lifting up then touching toes down *then* trying to jump back (better, but does it even count?!).
I even tried some jump-throughs. I can jump through with straight legs...with the blocks. In fact, I can do a fair approximation of a jump-back too...with the blocks. So what’s the secret here? Do I need more core strength? Is there a special Bandha Pill I can take to enhance my special yogic powers?
Or am I cursed?
(with a nod to Liz and her T-Rex...)
This week, I’m giving the shout-out to Christine at Ashtanga-Yoga-Gainesville. Christine has a strong home practice, supported by regular work with her teacher, David Keil. Every six months or so, she spend 5 days in David’s Mysore Room, getting feedback and ‘homework’ for her next stint of home practice.
Right now, she’s on Day 3 of her latest visit with her teacher, sharing her experiences and insights as she practises in Savannah, Georgia (I’m jealous, jealous, jealous! I *heart* Savannah).
Here’s a great quote from one of Christine’s recent entries:
“One of the things that I love about David is his attitude of total confidence that what feels impossible to me is totally possible (with time and practice of course!)
...and one of the things that I love about the Ashtanga yoga practice is that there is no end to confronting the impossible and learning that it really can be done! “