Monday, March 22, 2010

Astanga

Last night, I woke up at 3 a.m., heart pounding. I had forgotten something. I went through the mental checklist: fed the dog, locked the door, stove is off, alarm is set. And then it came to me: during my practice yesterday, I forgot to do Navasana.

I know what you’re thinking, but no, I didn’t get out of bed and do three repetitions of Navasana. My craziness apparently has boundaries.

This morning, as I was getting ready to head to the Shala, I remembered my late night realization and decided to let go of any expectations. I figured I would miss something. And I was right: I forgot Purvottanasana. My brain and body will often collude to ‘miss’ that pose if I’m not paying attention. But it was fine. Teacher P reminded me, I did the pose, I moved on. I *did* remember Navasana this time.

But in the final moments of my practice, I enjoyed a small rebellion: I skipped Uth Pluthi. :-D

Shhhh! Don’t tell the teacher!

So....if I had to use just one word to describe my experience at the Shala this morning it would be this: DISORIENTING

It wasn’t just the new place, but the whole sensory overload that did me in: the early hour, the new place, shiny lights on the ceiling, heat, teacher watching me like a hawk, adjustments coming out of nowhere, the sound of many bodies breathing (I’m beginning to think I don’t breath loudly enough), movement of others around me, my own sweat.

As I started the standing poses, I had to stop and take a few cleansing breaths, then mentally place the contents of my apartment into the Shala. The wall next to me? That’s my desk. The mat cubby is the door to the balcony. That heater? It’s actually Princess Fur, sleeping in her basket. The dude behind me is my futon. The big open space is where the bookshelves usually are. Thus reassured of the cardinal directions of my Manduka, I stepped into Utthita Trikonasana.

The room is relatively small, but this is not a crowded Shala. There’s a LOT of space. And it was WARM! Toasty, Sauna warm! (Boodiba, you would love this space, lots of heat and lots of room to move around).

“So, Kai....” (the audience asks), “...what did you learn at school today?”

Wellllll, I learned that my bottom toe needs to be pointed in Supta Padangushtasana and I learned how to do the backward roll. That’s right, Chakrasana has finally found me and we’re not friends yet (but we may get there by the end of the week).

My take-aways from this morning were mainly small things that are challenging to change because they fall into the realm of habit: a toe should be pointed here, elbows dropped there, placement of feet and relaxation of various Kai-parts (head, hand, shoulders). In terms of vinyasa and moving through the poses with breath, I have some work to do, particularly in the seated poses.

I was very curious to see if I might be ‘stopped’ somewhere in the Primary Series, but I wasn’t. This wasn’t a huge surprise since I can do all the poses. But there will be no Intermediate poses for me until I learn to stand up from Urdhva Dhanurasana. Funny, Teacher P didn’t say anything about *dropping back*, just standing up.

In Urdhva Dhanurasana, he was encouraging me to move my weight into my feet, but I might as well have tried to grow a tree out of my belly button because it felt THAT impossible.

I’ll need to work on that. Great, there’s a project for the century! :-D

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And on that note, here’s a photo from the last century. More 70s Pranayama:

'Stimulated Breathing'

Sometimes, this stuff just writes itself.

3 comments:

Helen said...

Hi Kai,

Interesting to hear about your first day at the shala. Thanks for sharing. I love the heat of the shala and the sound of the breathing. I have to travel to another city to get it though. Hope you feel more settled tomorrow, sounds like your getting lots of help:)

Emma said...

that picture... yesssssssss!

susananda said...

'Stimulated breathing'.. HAHAHA! OMG... thanks, you got my day off to a good start with a laugh :)

You did great! Good for you for going. I'm sure you'll get used to the surroundings, though you can always reserve the right to have a cosy practice next to your dog and futon :)

Look at it this way, if he wants you to stand up, he's bound to give you plenty of help with backbends!