Thursday, August 5, 2010

Astanga

Quiet morning at the Shala. I was on my mat at 6:30 a.m. sharp and moved through my Primary in 95 minutes. Not a bad practice, given how exhausted I was feeling after practice yesterday. For much of the day, my body felt ‘heavy’. I had to take the subway home from my evening class because I ran out of steam to bike home!

Today was a good hamstring day! I found a deep(ish) forward fold almost immediately. In the hamstring-healing-process, the last two hold-out poses seem to be Parsvottanasana and, of course, Kurmasana. In both, the hamstring is uncomfortable in the opening moments, but if I ease into it, I can go deeper.

The wrist bind is gone, gone, gone in Marichyasana D (though I can still get my fingers easily). I need to stop eating my own muffins!

This is a batch I baked up this morning for my students - I used blueberries, fresh mango and slivered almonds.

Where was I? Oh yes: Backbends.

By the time I started my backbends, I was the only person in the room actively practising (everyone else was taking rest). I had P’s full attention; he was hovering. After the first three Urdhva Dhanurasana, I asked him: “Is it okay if I do three more?” I was trying to straighten my legs more and push up through my hips and I wanted another go at it. Then I did a few rounds of ‘rocking’ on my own.

Though it felt like a ‘step backward’, I made a real effort not to bend my knees very much. This meant my hands were barely coming off the floor. It was so much harder!

Since P was around, I peppered him with questions. I asked about keeping my legs straight. He suggested that I focus more on straightening them until I could feel the contraction of my quadriceps and then maintain the engagement of the legs as I rocked. He said that if I’m feeling the work in the quads, then it’s correct.

So that’s what I did: strong legs, keeping them as straight as possible. When he helped me rock today, I could tell that he was doing more of the work than usual, but I also felt like the direction was more ‘forward-up’ and less ‘forward-forward.’ My legs were shaking by the time I finished!

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I carried this over into my Second Practice. 'Straight legs’ is the puzzle piece I inadvertently ‘dropped’ from the table when I took my dropbacks indoors. In the park, I’m certain I was keeping my legs straighter and finder a deeper hangback. During the transition to the Scary Floor, I adopted the wide stance and hyper-bendy knees just to get the job done (and it was VERY effective), but I’m way past that now (no more fear! yay!)

I have a new mission!

Today, I skipped the research poses and instead opted for many, many hangbacks with my legs as straight as I could make them. Even though my back wasn’t feeling very open, my dropbacks were definitely better. I was feeling more of an arch in my back. I was feeling the stretch in my hip flexors as I hung back.

I wondered if The Fear might return when I changed my approach to dropbacks, but it didn’t. Seems as long as I can see the floor in order to gauge a safe ‘dropping distance,’ my brain is still willing to play.

I started with my feet flush to either side of my Maha mat. This mat is narrow compared to my Manduka (on the Duke, my feet probably would have been half-way off the edges). My goal is to eventually have my feet *entirely* on the Manduka. Of course, once I begin to hang back, the feet start to ‘migrate’ away from the mat edge and my toes angle out a bit. I’m not worried about this. I have a feeling this will get better with time.

Here’s the current State-of-the-Dropback:

When I compared this clip to one shot in the park almost a month ago, I could actually see some improvement! The differences are subtle, but my hands are landing closer to my feet. I’ve lost that lovely ‘hang in mid-air’ that I was doing in the park, but I’m arching back more.

Alas, I’m no closer to standing up.

‘Practice and all is coming’ but no one ever said it was going to come quickly, did they!

3 comments:

fivefootwo said...

You're killing me with those muffin photos..Any chance of a recipe? Or maybe you have posted one already..

The Misanthropic Yogini said...

You bring your students muffins? I want post-yoga muffins...

Kaivalya said...

@Fivefootwo
I've posted the recipe before, but for simplicity, I've created a page for it:
Fabulous Vegan Muffins

@Misanthropic
Yup! And cookies too! Usually, the treats mark a special occasion - in this case, a new marriage and a new job. And I usually go into a spontaneous baking frenzy around the holidays. Even though I'm not part of the Christian tradition, I'm more than happy to celebrate 'Holiday Baking' ;-)