Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Better practice today! I have some news. I was afraid to blog about this lest I jinx the whole process, but my gimpy hamstring is actually feeling better! The asymmetrical forward bends are becoming deeper on my ‘bad side’. I’ve been able to fold forward and grab my wrist again on the left side of the Janu’s.

The Prasaritas are nearly back to normal too. I’m spending some extra time in Prasarita Padottanasana A to allow things open up a bit in the wide angle forward bends. By the time I get to Prasarita Padottanasana C, I’m feeling ready for the adjustment in that pose.

I guess that means that I should stop skipping the post-back-bend Paschimottanasana and try to find a comfortable forward fold there again. I’ve been a ‘bad lady’, skipping a pose! It’s often not intentional so I’m sure there’s some psychological thing at work here (I’m ‘repressing’ the asana?).

Interestingly, I’ve been adding Tadaga Mudra before Sarvangasana and it seems to calm my nervous system far more than Paschimottanasana does. I actually crave it!

I think I just miss squishes, though. :-(

Today, I totally nailed the Bhujapidasana exit and the exit from Supta Kurmasana, at least from a vinyasa standpoint. Fun! Just wish my Bakasana was a bit better - my legs send up too far down my arms to do much of a jumpback.

I worked hard in backbending today. I’ve had a bit of ‘The Lazy’ lately in Urdhva Dhanurasana - for the past few days, I haven’t really been holding the backbends for a full five breaths. Today I made a point of it. In backbend #6, P came over and pulled my hips forward. My legs were so tired, I could feel them burning. I toughed it out, motivated myself to breath through the discomfort until P told me to release the backbend. I'm trying to develop some of the 'mental toughness' I've always felt I was lacking. Backbending is a good area of my practice to work on that.

More rocking today. On the very last rock, P pulled me forward until my hands lifted, but this time I didn’t squeak! :-D

I was totally savouring my finishing poses today, taking long, slow breaths and sinking deeply into each pose. I got all blissed out in Karna Pidasana - I love this pose! I separated my feet so I could more easily get my knees to the floor, then found my Driste and settled in for a leisurely 8 breaths. P was all the way across the room so I figured he’d never notice. I was safe!

So you can imagine how VERY startled I as when, out of nowhere, I felt a hand reach out and grab my feet to push them together! It was like a manifestation of every small child’s worst nightmare...

Eeeeeek! There’s a MONSTER under my Manduka! AND IT JUST GRABBED MY ANKLE!!

The ‘Monster Under My Manduka’ was actually my teacher, R. She was practising right beside me and had just finished taking rest, when she sat up and spotted my improperly aligned feet.

She just couldn’t help herself! She leaned over to my mat and gave me a 'criminal adjustment’.

Can I get away with ANYTHING? No, I obviously can’t!!!

I was still laughing a bit as I took Urdhva Padmasana.


Nothing new to report with my extracurricular work. My second practice lasted about 45 minutes and included the same hip openers and backbends I did yesterday.

I had a bit of a ‘moment’ in Ustrasana. I’ve never liked this pose very much (no surprise there - I’ve never been a big fan of backbending in general). I could never understood why it was so hard to keep my hips forward, over my knees.

Today, as I was coming into the pose, I approached it like a dropback, engaging my legs and pushing forward actively through my hips as I arched back. Something just ‘clicked’ and it felt so much better, even easy, as I took my hands to my feet. I stayed there for 10 breaths and it didn’t feel laboured.

In addition to the ‘hangbacks’ against the wall. I’m pushing off against the wall and engaging my legs to stand up. I’m trying to mimic the feeling I get in my legs when DR is helping me stand from a backbend. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like my legs suddenly ‘come alive’ and everything pulls in and ‘up’. If I walk my hands about half-way down the wall and I push away just a bit (to move my hips forward), I can find it. I can only stand about 6 times before my legs start to give out.

The ‘Dropback School of Hard Knocks’ delivered a lesson today. I was a bit too hasty in my first dropback and didn’t set it up carefully enough. When I dropped back, I bonked my head AND landed hard on my left hand, tweaking my wrist. It feels fine now, but I was really angry at myself for not being more careful. I should know better!

Of course, I had to get right back ‘on the horse’ and do two more dropbacks so The Fear wouldn’t sneak back in!

I’ve been SO sore lately, especially my legs and, oddly, my arms. But there’s a ‘full body’ soreness too. I *must* be getting stronger from all this work, but it doesn’t feel like it’s making much of a difference in my Urdhva Dhanurasana, especially at the Shala. My teachers must think I’m spectacularly lazy! I tire out SO fast during backbending. But I don’t want to stop the extracurriculars because I can see the progress in my dropbacks and in the State-of-the-Backbend photos.


Arturo said...

dear Kai
i could not imagine your teachers thinking you're lazy because you're tired by the time UD rolls around. i almost dropped back to the floor today by myself. i was so dizzy i would not have cared and just gone for it. the bends have to leg, (haha i wrote that first), the legs have to bend, have they not? haha. that's the thought that goes thru my mind. i see the practitioner behind me and almost the edge of the mat. if my legs bent more i would see my mat, then it would be safe to drop.

that is very funny about your teacher practicing next to you and adjusting you unexpectedly. the assistant has not been in our room lately because of what is going on. i taught him how to adjust me in triang mukka eka pada paschimotanasana, because he was putting too much pressure on my hurting leg. recently, though, i was afraid when he came to help because the leg wasn't getting better. i think it's pedaling too hard, so i'm bicycling slow around the neighborhood

Kaivalya said...

Ha, ha! You don't know my teachers! ;-)

Susan may veto me on this, but I think it's okay to bend your knees as you drop back - I know I do, especially during the last part of the drop as I bring my hands to the floor.

Interesting that your yoga teacher warned you off cycling. I bike almost 50km per day around the city and often ride very FAST. I haven't noticed any discernable tightness in my hip flexors

Boodiba said...

You do a TON of yoga girlfriend. It's no wonder you're sore.

Funny about the bending knees & Susananda's advice. She's such a great back bender. I've often found - in my own life - that no one's advice works for me. I'll listen to whatever any good bender says and try it, but sometimes you just have to do it howEVER it works with your body. Fail better! :) I loved that. I've been using it btw. That & my fuck-it philosophy book have been working wonders in my own practice the past couple days.

Kaivalya said...

Collecting backbending advice is my hobby these days! None of it may work, but I'm willing to try almost anything.

Yes, I keep 'Failing Better', daily. That's a hobby too!

I may do a lot of yoga, but it never seems to be enough. I really want to nail this backbending before the end of August.

I have one more month of intensive focus on my own practice ahead of me before the fall schedule kicks in. Then I'll have to cool it on the 'extracurriculars' because I'll be back to teaching full-time again.

Boodiba said...

Ya you should def get all the advice you can. Just don't be disappointed if it doesn't work!

Well I should talk. I'm ALWAYS disappointed when it doesn't work!!!

susananda said...

Hey, I didn't say don't bend your knees, I have to bend my knees slightly to get to the ground, and a long-limbed goddess like yourself will definitely have to! :)

I think it's helpful to keep them super straight for as long as possible though, that's what works into the hip flexors and builds the strength, and for me it taught me how to engage the back of the body without tensing the bum. Then when you have to go to the ground, keep the whole alignment, chest lifted, and push the knees straight forwards...

But in chakra bandhasana, straight legs is the name of the game :)

Kaivalya said...

I know you didn't say 'straight legs' but I was giving you full veto power, just in case. :-)

I do try to keep them straight as I'm arching back. I find a deeper arch that way and the hip flexors lengthen.

DR, the teacher up at Shala North, would just *love* you! He's all about engaging the hamstrings and softening those gluteals! There was a lot of bum-poking going on at the backbending workshop on Sunday. I half-expected to have bruises the next day.

I can always tell when my gluteals are contracted though, because I feel it in my back. I was noticing that today.

I'm glad 'long-limbed goddesses' are allowed to bend their knees a bit dropping back. I don't think I'll lose that habit for a very long time!