Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I’ve been avoiding eye contact with my computer all day, opting instead to do just about any task available in order to avoid writing about this morning’s practice.

It’s been great for my to-do list! I cleaned the entire apartment top to bottom, sorted through my desk and scrubbed Princess Fur’s food bowls. I rode my bicycle to the grocery store and stocked up on provisions, pedalling awkwardly home through traffic and construction, bags precariously strapped to my handlebars. I dusted the bookshelves. I swept the floors. I took the stinky trash out.

I cycled to the downtown core off to teach a few classes. In between, I sat in the sun and did some thinking. Now I’m ready to write.

I believe that I had a *good* practice this morning. Not because it was perfect (it will never be perfect!), but because I worked hard. I put my heart into it and I made a strong effort toward all of the goals I had set for myself this week.

Here are the things that I’m proud of in my yoga practice today:

- I was distracted and disconnected from my breath during the sun salutations, so I made an extra effort to deepen my Ujjayi in the standing poses and I found my rhythm again.

- My shoulders felt stiff this morning and relaxing them in Prasarita C was challenging. I used my exhales to keep them soft so my teacher could bring my hands to the floor during the adjustment.

- I worked on solid lift-ups in my vinyasas, trying to hold the lift for a ‘micro-pause’ (I’m discovering that my body wants to ‘swing’ there and I need to stabilize it somehow. Bandhas?).

- My jumpthroughs have been a bit choppy since I started lifting my hips more in the jumps. Today, I had a few very smooth jumpthroughs where my feet cleared the floor easily. Yay!

- I found all the wrist-binds myself in the Marichyasana poses.

- Heels lifted in Kurmasana for 5 breaths!

- I was able to bind my hands and solidly cross my ankles in Supta K. I lifted my seat off the floor while keeping my ankles crossed.

- Backbends: I did five in a row to start, breathing deeply in each, trying not to rush. I walked my hands in a tiny bit after lifting into each one. It was challenging to stay with it! After #4, I was really tired, but I just focused on getting through it, then I encouraged myself to do ‘just one more’ and came up for #5. I took a rest on the floor, then I did three more in a row, trying to walk my hands in even deeper. When I finished, my legs were all rubbery and my arms were tired. My back was feeling extra stiff today (I’m not sure why; my hamstrings were also stiffer than usual), so my backbends were not as deep, but I was definitely feeling the work in my legs.

When I got home, I felt completely depleted. I remembered some advice Helen had offered about taking extra time in the finishing poses to sooth my nervous system after backbends. I laid down for an additional half-hour to rest and I felt better.

This evening, I did another short practice focused on strength work and backbending:

- Core work and exercises to help with my jumpbacks/jumpthroughs.

- A variation of Laghu Vajrasana in an effort to build some strength in my legs towards eventually standing up.

- I did a few long holds in Ustrasana, focusing on relaxing my back body and softening into the backbend

- Shoulder openers, deep lunges to open my hips and some stretches for my achilles tendons.


I was given some extremely negative feedback at the Shala this morning regarding my backbending. It was implied that I’m going ‘easy’ on myself, not working hard, not ‘suffering enough.’

Short of adding a cattle prod to my practice of Urdhva Dhanurasana, I’m not sure what else I can do to maximise my misery and I’m not sure I want to. Holding backbends until my legs give out is a pretty good indication that I’m bumping up against some kind of limit. I really am trying!

I continue to struggle with the dynamic between working myself into a puddle and learning to enjoy backbending. I do believe there’s a fine balance between these two things: tense bodies don’t bend well. There’s an element of surrender that I need to master and I think it will come more easily if I’m able to demonstrate kindness towards myself, so that’s what I’m focusing on right now. Since there’s more than adequate criticism coming from outside sources, I think can afford to cut myself a little bit of slack in the self-deprecation department.

So I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Tomorrow: I’ll do my practice and do my best.