Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Astanga

Two additional notes from yesterday:

-Marichyasana D adjustment: By the time I started attending the Shala, I already had a wrist bind in the first three Marichyasana poses and a solid finger bind in D. So I never received an adjustment in those poses (and I’ve always been a bit envious of those who did). A few weeks back, I even had the wrist bind in D, but lost it again. Yesterday, R sat down in front of me and gave me a genuine Marichyasana adjustment! She helped me move deep enough to bind to my wrist in D. It didn’t take a lot to get me there - just a firm nudge. But it was really fun! :-)

-Flash headache: I’m hoping one of the veteran backbenders can tell me what this is all about - after backbending yesterday, I got an intense, pounding headache behind my right eye that lasted all the way through the finishing poses. It was most intense when I was sitting up or standing. I didn’t notice it in Sarvangasana or Sirsasana but it was almost unbearable during Padmasana. I thought it might be dyhydration, so I grabbed a glass of water before Savasana. It was still there as I left the Shala, but by the time I got to the subway, it was already fading, gone by the time I got home.

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I had a good, solid practice this morning. I was more plugged into my breath, moved through the series at a moderate pace. Teacher P was on duty, so there was less verbal observation, more quiet observation. Teacher P is cool because he just lets me do stuff, watches me fall on my face, and *then* he comes over and tells me WHY I’m falling on my face.

Case in point: Bhujapidasana. I decided to take a shot at lowering my chin down to the floor by myself. Usually I just lower to my forehead, but I have pretty good control. Previously, I’ve only had my chin on the floor while R was holding on to my hips. And only did it because she told me to do it. Today, I thought I would be proactive!

Round 1: I came into the pose the regular way, then lifted my head up a bit and jutted out my chin. Fell over.
Round 2: I carefully lowered my chin to the floor, but my feet and my hips came down too. So I was kind of crouched on the floor. This is NOT Bhujapidasana. I invented a brand new pose! Then I fell over.
Round 3: P explained that I needed to shift my weight forward more, into my hands. I tried this, ended up falling forward and crash-landing onto the side of my head (but NOT my face, thank goodness not my face!).

I laughed. P instructed me to “Do Kurmasana.” Oh well!

I tried a wider stance in in Utthita Parvakonasana today because R was fussing over my alignment in that pose yesterday. I think it’s better now. She wants me to bend my knee more, rotate the torso upward.

I lost my bind in Supta Kurmasana. I need to make sure that my shoulders are well under my knees before I come into that pose (I think I was still freaked out from Bhujapidasana).

A few weeks ago, Arkie Yogini posted this clip of Kino MacGregor’s workshop, discussing strategies for the Lotus jumpback.

I didn’t bother to watch it because I thought Pigs Would Fly before I would ever be doing a lotus jumpback. Since Pigs Were Given Clearance for Takeoff yesterday, I figured I’d better study up! It’s a great resource for regular jumpbacks as well as for the lotus variety. In addition, Patrick posted some awesome tips for jumping back in the comment section yesterday.

I’ve been thinking about what my torso is doing during jumpbacks. In addition to Kino, I watched a variety of lotus jumpback video clips yesterday. One common thing I noticed was the way the knees are always pulled in toward the chest while the entire torso kind of rotates on an axis: the head tips down while the rear lifts up (DR emphasized this in his workshop too!).

The torso tips, kind of like a teeter totter. The Bandhas are at work here, but it looks like gravity is helping out a fair bit.

During one of my regular jumpbacks, I hugged my knees close to my chest and imagined that I was trying to bash my forehead into the floor, forcefully. I know, I know, it’ s a terrible mental image (and “Don’t think, do!”), but you know what? It TOTALLY worked!! I jumped back! Once. And I couldn’t replicate it. Oh well! Baby steps...

My lotus jumpbacks were a happy chaos of experimentation and flopping around. No one was verbally walking me through them, so I kind of winged it on my own, with mixed results. I’m learning all of the various ways one *shouldn’t* do a lotus jumpback.

Backbending was, once again, epic. I think R must have updated P because he left me entirely alone during the first three backbends, observed #4 and #5 (and grunted ‘good’ at one point), gave more detailed feedback on #6, #7 and #8. Today, I learnt that although walking my hands in is good, it’s *not* so good if I can’t keep my arms straight while rocking. For #8, I walked the hands in a bit less, and managed about 7 good rocks, with straight arms, before I was spent.

At home, I did my spiderman routine down and up the wall and this time, I filmed it! I was horrified to observe that all of that new depth in my backbends goes straight out the window as soon as I try to drop back. And my heels shoot up as I walk my hands down or up the wall. I consoled myself: It’s not pretty, but at least I’m building strength.

And I know I’m building strength because my arms are sore, my legs are sore and my abs are sore. It’s kind of interesting to observe that ‘being sore’ has become somewhat of a goal in my practice. If I’m sore, I know that I’m working hard and building my practice.

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One final note: It’s been a year since Guruji’s passing. I couldn’t let the day pass without expressing deep gratitude for his life’s work and this practice he’s given us. I never met him, but he’s made a profound impact on my life all the same. I’m reminded of this every day, each time I step on the mat. It’s an amazing legacy, if you think about it: all around the world, there are people doing this practice each day, becoming stronger in body and mind, because of the work of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Rest in peace, Guruji.

Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
July 26, 1915 - May 18, 2009

3 comments:

Selina said...

Let me know if you figure out why you get post-backbend headaches! I get them too, but only after very intense backbending. It happens fairly regularly actually. The odd thing is that I don't get it after kapotasana, only after dropbacks - normally when I'm sitting back down for a paschi squish. Weird. It never lasts long though, probably only a few seconds. It could be something to do with nerves in the spine? Or dehydration? Do you have low blood pressure? Because I do, and I have always thought that was a factor...

I've been told that it could be due to poor breathing technique, but I find it easy to breathe well in UD compared to say kapo, so not sure what's going on!

Selina

Arturo said...

hi Kai
chewy post. haha. i have the same problem with Bujapidasana. i don't land in one move, then i have trouble balancing, and i place my forehead on the floor.

i also sense growing strength, where things get easier to do.

regarding the lotus jump back, i've been doing half lotus jump back because the marichyasana is so deep my foot doesn't uncurl, so i just take the assembly back.

i think that John Scott teaches a transition that is kind of jumping back with the feet as you describe.

hugs
Arturo

Kaivalya said...

@Selina
I asked my teacher and she thinks it's breathing (or rather, not breathing deeply enough) that is causing the headaches. I've focused on breathing more deeply in my backbends and I haven't had a headache in a couple of days.

Also, could be low blood pressure and sodium deficiency, though I thought I had the sodium thing taken care of by now.

@Arturo
The lotus jumpbacks are fun. I'm starting to break down the transition into 'parts' so I can learn it more incrementally.