We’re having our first summer holiday weekend here in the Great White North and I really do feel like I’m on a bit of a vacation because my teaching schedule is very, very light next week. I have big plans to study the Yoga Sutra chants that I learned in yesterday’s workshop, read the stack of books that has been collecting dust on my desk, clip Princess Fur (who is VERY furry at the moment) and hang out in the sun in my new bikini! Fun times :-)
Practice was scheduled for a late start today (9 a.m.), but my body decided that it needed to wake up early anyway. In fact, my body wanted to get up at 4:45! I wonder if this is the backbend-induced insomnia that some of you have warned me about? The surprising thing is, I’m not even tired!
I decided to ride my bike down to the Shala this morning and time the trip: it’s 15 minutes, 10 if I’m moving at a good clip. Short of living on the sidewalk right outside the Shala doors, this is as good as it gets! Public transit takes almost a half-hour so I’m definitely saving some time.
I had a fabulous practice! My body was very open this morning. It was hot and very soggy in the Shala, sweat was dripping off the end of my nose! Kind of weird to be there so late in the morning - I’ve grown accustomed to an early practice.
I wore a new yoga bra and shorts that I bought on my epic yoga shopping spree on Friday. I bought these at Lu (very easy shopping and it’s amazing how the money just FLIES out of my wallet in that store!). I found two yoga towels on sale for $25 each at Winners and also scored a bikini, 50% off at the Bay. A good haul, and I’m set for awhile.
I’m not sure if I absolutely love the YogiToes towels. They’re not quite large enough for my Manduka. I’m used to tucking my towel under the two ends of my mat. Not possible with this one so it was bunching up a lot. It’s also not as smooth as the eQua, so my feet kept catching on it during jumpthroughs. R wants my hands closer together for jumpbacks too, which makes it worse. Seen from a different perspective, I guess it’s a good feedback mechanism: I have to stop dragging my feet as I bring them through *sometime*, it might as well be now.
R brought my hands to the floor again in Prasarita Padottanasana C. I spent a good 5 breaths trying to figure this out how to get them there on my own before she wandered over. I wonder how close I am without the adjustment? Once the teachers help me do something, I’m always trying to figure out how to manage it on my own. I’m not sure about this one!
I got put my chin on the floor in Bhujapidasana without help today. The next puzzle is how to lift up my hips and get my feet *off* the floor again. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with squeezing the legs into the shoulders (Gosh, maybe THAT’S why it’s called the ‘squeeze the shoulder pose’! Duh.). Oh, and bandhas, bandhas, bandhas!
P gave me a little bit of help in Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana. He simply stood behind me so if I *did* fall back, I would bump his shin. He instructed me to straighten my legs and bring my forehead forward onto my shins. Strong arms! It worked - I was able to balance. My hamstrings are very open, so I *should* be able to do this pose easily. I think this one is just practice!
And the backbends. Ah, yes! I had plenty of time to work on them this morning and I was all set to do my epic backbending thing, but that’s not quite how things unfolded.
R was standing by as I did my first three.
#1 The Money-ass backbend. Doesn’t feel good at all, so I press into my heels, keep my legs engaged and breath deeply.
#2 Slightly less uncomfortable, so I walk my hands in just a bit.
#3 Finally, things start opening up! I walk my hands in a bit more. Breath deeply. R doesn’t make a peep, so I must be breathing deeply enough.
#4 R asked me to rock, *really* rock and my heels were coming off the floor, so I came back down after five rocks and asked her about that. She said it was fine and my heels would probably need to come off the floor in order for me to stand up at first.
Next, I was all ready to do two backbends in a row, with the rocking, but R had other ideas. She told me to rock three times and she would help me stand up!
To be honest, my first reaction was: Yeah, fat chance! There was definitely some uncertainty, and a bit of fear. And I was genuinely worried that I would somehow hurt my teacher, by knocking her over or something. At times like these, I always feel like a 12-foot-tall, 500lb sack of beans with legs and no bandhas. When R said “Three” and brought me up, I felt a little prayer flash through my mind: “Dear God, please don’t let me squash my teacher!”
I didn’t, and I stood up! It wasn’t pretty and R did most of the work, but I did stand up! Very disorienting! R told me to sit down for a forward fold and I was surprised because that was only backbend #5. Then she changed her mind and asked me to have another go at it. I was happy to comply because I really wanted to try again! This time, it was a bit better and I was trying to figure out how to be more solid on my feet when I came up. She advised me to straighten my legs once I was on my way up. I applied that tip and the third time was much, much better.
She mentioned something about adding dropbacks, once I get accustomed to standing up with assistance.
At home, I did my Spiderman routine against the wall, focusing entirely on standing up. I started my backbends on the floor, as close to the wall as possible and walked my hands in, then rocked and finally walked my hands half-way up the wall and came up. I did this three times and the final time, I felt something ‘click’ in my brain, like I was finally understanding it.
I’m not even a smidgen close to standing up on my own yet, but I’m starting to understand how it might be possible.