Thursday, March 25, 2010

Astanga

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
If an posture is forgotten and the teacher doesn’t see it, does is create a huge cosmic void in the Mysore room?

Apparently not. I didn’t even notice that I had missed something until about three poses later. I could have added it in, but by then I didn’t feel like drawing attention to myself. The lost pose was Parsvottanasana, by the way, which is odd. I hardly ever miss that one!

Today, practice felt easier for some reason. Less adjustments, perhaps? I’ve definitely noticed that the adjustments add a deeper dimension to poses. When I’m being assisted, I work twice as hard.

I crossed my ankles by myself in Supta Kurmasana today. The back is very rounded in this pose, though there’s a fine balance to be struck between curling up and losing the bind. Somehow I found it. I managed to wiggle my right ankle over my left, curled deeper into the pose, then crossed the ankles.

My jump-backs are coming along nicely. Today I focused on lifting and pulling my feet back. I’m still not mastering the elusive ‘hip lift’ that would allow me to jump back properly. My jump-throughs were atrocious until I remembered something that Teacher IM said a few weeks ago. I need to draw my hips back and lengthening my torso before jumping forward. This action give me extra length, which translates into the height I need to jump through (or at least clear my toes when my ankles are crossed).

I’m very grateful for the Chakrasana tips offered in the comment section yesterday. I listened carefully to your advice and tried to apply it to my explorations of Chakrasana today. I tried Grimmly’s tip and engaged Jalandhara Bandha before the roll. I thought this might strain my neck, but actually, my neck felt better. I think my neck has been sore because I’ve been tensing it up as I go over.

Selina’s advice wins the gold star: Point the toes, engage the legs, kind of like when you’re holding your leg up after Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. Push down strongly with your hands, as if pushing up into Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Previously, I had been working with bent knees. Engaging the legs seemed to be a magic ingredient for me! When they engaged, I also felt my Bandhas engage. I tried it both ways (bent and straight legs) today and managed a roll each time. But with the engaged legs (and pointed toes), I was able to lift and roll back, then lightly land in Chaturanga.

The first time I managed *that*, I was so gobsmacked that I forgot to continue with the vinayasa. I wish I had a picture of my face!

I searched YouTube yesterday for a good Chakrasana clip to show the non-Ashtangis. This transition is not well known outside of Astanga (though apparently, it’s common in gymnastics).

The beginning of this video shows a great demonstration of the backward roll. The teacher (and by the way, who IS this teacher? Does anyone know?)(Her name is Diana Christinson and she's the director of Pacific Ashtanga in Dana Point, California. She trained with Tim Miller and she's authorized by Guruji) goes on to offer some great tips for my nemesis, Setu Bandhasana, and advice about coming in and out of headstand. For Ashtangis, it’s worth watching in it’s entirety.



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Referrer Thursday

This week’s referrer is Helen. She’s an Astanga teacher in Liverpool. Her blog is called ‘Astanga Yoga in My World’ and it’s a recent addition to my daily reading list. Her practice reports are lively and interesting. I appreciate her recent discussion about the emotional landscape of the practice. Her thoughts about the death of her father were very moving.

My favourite Helen quote is short and sweet (and wise). It comes from a post in which she talks about sharing her Astanga practice with her boyfriend.

She says: “This is an inner practice, it doesn't matter what it looks like.”

Yes!!!

4 comments:

Claudia said...

Congratulations on chackrasana! and I kind of think that if a student forgets a pose and nobody notices then... nobody notices... it is all cool.... sometimes I dont even notice and then remember hours later... then I crack up

Helen said...

Aww thanks Kai! Glad to hear you seem more settled at the shala. Amazing what you can learn in one week. Are you doing assisted drop backs at the shala, just curious..

Skippetty said...

Nice video, good find! I was watching the other parts from this same workshop. Very nice instruction. I wonder who she is!

Kaivalya said...

@Claudia
That skipped pose was a nice little 'yoga vacation' in the middle of my practice. And I think you're right - no one needs to know! :-)

@Helen
'Settling in' is a very good way of putting it. I was incredibly spazzed out for my first few days there. Going from home practice to a Shala was a HUGE adjustment for me (and I'm still adjusting).

I think the regular teacher was giving me a chance to 'settle' before throwing anything else at me, so no assisted drop-backs yet. But I think they're coming in April if I decide to stay on for the month.

@Skippetty
It was driving me NUTS not knowing, so I did a little research and figured it out. I've updated the post with her identity.

Damn, she's good! I loved the 'pull-through' video you found. Good stuff. I feel like writing her a thank-you note for posting all those videos. They're incredibly helpful!