Saturday, April 24, 2010


I enjoyed a good lie-in this morning! Princess Fur woke me up with her ears. She knows that barking is verboten, so she makes other noises when she wants attention. Squeaky toys are a favourite and if nothing else works, she shakes her head so vigorously that her ears flap, flap, FLAP!

I practised for 75 minutes. Nice and easy - I didn’t do a full Primary, but I did want to warm up. I started with Surya Namaskar (5 As, 3 Bs), did the standing poses, then moved on to backbending.

To start, I did three long repetitions of Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, focusing on keeping the legs active and internally rotated, pressing the big and little toes into the floor, positioning the pelvis (it’s tricky in this pose, it feels counterintuitive to tuck the tailbone).

Then I moved on to a very unsatisfactory Ustrasana. I hate this pose and no amount of backbend workshopping seems to change that.The lack of flexibility in my upper back is starkly obvious as soon as I move into the pose. I took a video of it and *groan*! It was discouraging, but I’m glad I’m documenting it. As my backbending improves, I’ll have something to gloat over!

(And no, I’m not posting that video! I’ll take on a fourth career change and become a ‘YouTube Diva’ when I have Boodi’s madskillz.)

Next, three repetitions of Laghu Vajrasana. Reviewing the video of this one was good fun. From my perspective, it felt like I was in the pose for HOURS. Actually, I was down and up in a heartblink. At least I’m coming up strong and on my own. My legs felt like jello afterward, which is good. That’s what I’m after: strength!

Finally, I went through my Shala-endorsed backbending series, pushing the weight into my feet, moving the pelvis forward, pressing the heels into the floor. Again, perception vs. reality: It felt like I was walking my hands in for MILES. Viewing the video, it was more like millimetres! I also did a few hangbacks, but they felt awkward and terrible. Need to work on those some more, find the ease in them.

This State-of-the-Backbend is from a still of that video. In this image, I’m on the third repetition of the backbend. I’m getting tired here, but I’ve walked my hands in at least an inch.

I’m trying to keep my focus on the action of the legs and not worry about the pose looks like. I realise it doesn’t look as deep as backbends in previous months, but it’s a LOT more work! I don’t feel it in my back, just my legs.


I took my Orangutan Hair to the Grumpy Russian Guy this morning and said the magic words: “This time, you can cut it as short as you like!” His whole face lit up! Dude likes using his scissors!

He hated the longer cut on me and said as much. As I sat there with my eyes closed, silently doing japa, I could feel the big hunks of hair cascading around me. When he finished, I told him: “This will be easier” and he replied: “This *looks* better.”

I’m not sure about that. It’s REALLY short. Perfect for yoga; no fuss. I totally have the Pema Chodron look going on, though! I’m not posting photos here, but if I’m feeling bold, I may put something on Facebook.


It was a gorgeous day, but a bit coolish so I didn’t bother going to the Really Big Park, as planned. I’ve already missed the Cherry Blossoms anyway. Princess Fur and I went to the Small Park instead. I read poetry and she soaked up sun and nose-twitched for an hour. Happy times for both of us!

I’ve been trying to spend more quality time with her because the past few weekends of workshops have been tough. She hates it when I leave her alone. When I unrolled the Manduka this morning for practice, she settled down in her basket and let out a contented sigh. I think she misses watching me do yoga (or, at least, having me nearby).

Since I didn’t do it yesterday, here’s the weekly Princess Fur shot:


Dan said...

I have been exactly where you are and have a mid-upper back that curves the wrong way, so I have had to work really hard and try lots of things to make progress. Different things seem to be helpful at different stages. But walking the hands in has never helped me and burns a lot of energy. I start with a bridge, hands around the ankles, and really work the thighs to get the upper chest as vertical as I can (like those classic pictures of Mr Iyengar on the coffee table). Then do a few pressing up with the hands and feet in that same relationship but coming up on the toes and really pressing to straight arms, chest through, hips up, until I feel the front body has released some of its tension. If it hurts in the back body, then something needs to be adjusted. Then do some with feet flat. I always come up onto the head (move head under and as close to feet as is reasonable) before pressing up trying to keep elbows from splaying as I come up. And head looks back toward feet as much as you can - also helps to bring chest through and into a more vertical alignment. Basically, you need to feel where the restrictions are, what is not allowing you to stretch it, and find ways to really work into those areas to open them up and train them to be a new longer length without 30 prep poses to make it happen. Hope this is not too confusing. Backbends are hard!


teacupdiaries said...

Princess Fur is absolutely adorable. :) I can't help but think how nice it must be to have such a tiny, well behaved dog around when you're doing yoga! I have one large male greyhound and one smaller but rambunctious foster greyhound. My boy, Peyton, has learned to sprawl on the sofa when I practice but there's always a learning curve with the fosters. They love my mat and try to lie on it when I turn my back to put in the DVD, or they'll come over and lick my face repeatedly when I'm in savasana. Very distracting!! Oh, and, of course, no matter how much I clean it, my mat is always plastered with dog hair.

If they could curl up in such a small basket nearby, I would be happy. ;)

Claudia said...

I feel the same way about "certain" videos. I also prefer to keep them for posterity but not for publication... :-)

Kaivalya said...

Yes, backbends *are* hard. Kino said something about easy backbenders having less strength. But I don't feel that I'm very strong OR bendy.

Thanks so much for offering your thoughts and advice! I read your through your suggestions very carefully and I'll keep them in mind in my practice (particularly my next 'extracurricular' practice, which will be coming up on Moon Day Wednesday).

She may look small and sweet, but the Princess heads straight for the mat as soon as I leave the room. She loves my Manduka! Lots of good, stinky smells, I think. And it makes the floor less slippery for her.

I've even cut up some old yoga mats for her to use as 'runways' in parts of my apartment where she seems to slide around (mostly the kitchen and entryway). Last time I took her to the vet, I brought one of her little 'yoga mats' to put on the slippery metal examination table. The vet was surprised by how well it worked (but might have wondered about my sanity, giving my dog her own 'yoga mat')

It's lovely that you foster greyhounds. I always wanted to do that, but I've never had adequate space. They're amazing dogs!

teacupdiaries said...

Ah, I should have known that the lure of the yoga mat was too great even for a little cutie like Miss Fur! I love your use of your old mats, though; what a good idea. :) When mine finally gives up the ghost, maybe I'll save it for the pup.

Yes, with greys you need enough room for them to sprawl. I lived in a very small apartment when we first started fostering but have since moved to something a little larger. The extra space makes a huge difference! The pups are not on top of each other so much, which reduces griping. I absolutely love the breed and it's always gratifying to send a foster off to their forever home.

Kaivalya said...

Animals seem attracted to yoga mats and meditation cushions - maybe it's the energy of practice. Princess Fur would sleep on my zafu if I didn't have it blocked off in a corner. And I know that she misses being part of my yoga practice when I'm away at the Shala.

When I lived in the States, I volunteered for a greyhound rescue group - organised meet-and-greets and the like. I love those dogs! If I ever had a larger space...but they do need sprawling room, even if they do nap most of the time :-)