Sunday, May 2, 2010


My incredible stretch of Good Transit Karma ended this morning with a no-show streetcar on the way to the Shala. I briefly considered just going home and practising there, but finally decided to put on my Big Girl Ashtangi Pants and hoof it to the Shala. I had to walk FAST! (later on in the day, the subway shut down entirely and I was left fuming on a train, late for an appointment in the west end. Ug, transit!)

I made it just under the wire and I’m glad I did. It was supposed to be a led Primary this morning, but after the led sun salutations, R told us: “Go on, Mysore style.” For a moment, we all just stood there, looking at her like she was speaking to us in Swahili. I was mentally prepared for led, so I had to completely shift gears. I had a genuine ‘space cadet moment’ when I nearly forgot Ardha Baddha Padma Padottanasana and Tiriangmukhaikapada Pachimottansana, but then I was back on track.

I had an unremarkable practice and I was feeling tired afterward. I went home and took a bath, had a quick, blissful little nap. And then I was back on a train, travelling to Shala North for a floaty jumpback workshop.

It was a lot a fun! At one point, I looked around me and was overcome by a sense of happiness. I realised that there was no place else I would rather be at that moment, surrounded by the smiling faces of fellow ashtangis, laughing as we experimented with Bakasana B (I actually landed it once, before I fell over, giggling), cheering each other on. It’s a nice little community up there at Shala North and I was delighted to be part of it for a few hours. They always make me feel very welcome. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

I jotted a few things down and if there’s a huge demand, I’ll transcribe some of it. The main thing I walked away with was a sense that floaty jumpbacks don’t actually matter in the grand scheme of things - the vinyasa is the whole point. You can float through space like a hovercraft, but if you’re not breathing and correctly linking your breath with the movement, then it’s INCORRECT. By the same token, if you can barely lift up and walk your feet back to step into plank, but your inhalations and exhalations are right on the money, you’re golden!

In a nutshell: Breath, learn the vinyasa. The strength will come with practice.

In the spirit of this, DR offered a handful of approaches to the jumping through and back, ranging from ‘stepping back’ to floating like a hovership. Arkie Yogini recently posted a YouTube video by Dave Garrigues which demonstrates this approach nicely. This is definitely something to watch if you’re new to Astanga and struggling to get your brain wrapped around jumpbacks.

DR also popped my bubble about the much-coveted straight-leg jumpthrough. I always thought that this was the thing to do, if you could do it. But no, according to him, it’s more challenging and strength-building to jump through with crossed ankles (but this is not saying that any jumpthrough or back looked difficult for DR - dude seriously defies gravity!).

I had lots of fun with some of the exercises. We did a tripod headstand, legs in Bakasana then lifted our heads up, jumped back. I remember trying this years ago and struggling with it, but this time it was easy for me. It gave me hope that eventually, my exit from Supta Kurmasana will be less sloppy. I also discovered that with my back pushed to a wall and Bandhas engaged, I can float up (with bent knees) into a handstand. I finally *get* how that’s possible.

I’m not sure how much of this stuff is replicable or directly applicable to my practice right now, but it’s good to know what’s possible and the whole point was to explore the muscle memory and specific actions necessary to lift up and jump back. I had a few fabulous jumpbacks during the course of the class (which became fewer and far between as I grew tired).

1 comment:

Ragdoll said...

Hi, I've been following you for a while and am finally moved to comment! I've not been practising for very long (a year or so in earnest) so I really appreciate your comment about the breath in the jumpbacks being the most important thing. The full jumpbacks and floating look so impressive but so out of reach.