Monday, August 23, 2010


I’m back to my regular schedule for practice, at least for a few days. I was on the mat at 6:30 a.m. this morning, candles lit, incense burning and it was hot, hot, hot! I was already sweating after just a few sun salutations. I turned the heat down a bit, but didn’t open a window until finishing.

I had a pretty good practice, but I was a bit distracted this morning. It took effort and frequent reminders to keep myself on track. This is one of the things I love about Astanga vinyasa yoga. It’s very clear when my attention starts to stray. I’m following my breath, so if I lose track of the count, I’m not paying attention! Simple. There’s no option to ‘check out’ because I’m always engaged in the practice.

Well, I’m supposed to be, anyway! I have a feeling that rubbing Princess Fur’s belly is *not* part of the Primary Series! ;-)

I worked on the exit from Bhujapidasana today. The pose itself is good and I’m starting to consistently lower my chin to the floor and lift back up without touching my toes down. But I can’t find a solid Bakasana for the exit. My legs are always too far down my arms (or they slide that direction). I tried it three times and gave up, moved on.

Kurmasana is coming back! My knees are still a bit bent, but I can bring my forehead to the floor comfortably! This is a big deal because that’s the pose that caused my injury - my hamstring is always most tender in it.

My injured hamstring has been feeling so much better lately! Any lingering discomfort seems to be due to the left leg being less flexible than the right. This has always been the case, but everything tightened up with the injury so I’m slowly stretching it out again. I’m able to catch my wrist again in most of the asymmetrical forward bends and my forehead touches the knee again in Marichyasana A. During my post-backbend Paschimottanasana today, I was able to come into a full forward fold, face to shins and take my wrist.

I’m *finally* squish-able again, but there’s nobody around to squish me. Pity!

I had plenty of time today, so I worked on backbending for almost 25 minutes, bringing my practice up to 2 hours.

I started with Urdhva Dhanurasana from the floor, three warm up backbends in a row (bringing my head to the floor for a breath in between), then I did a bunch of single backbends, walking my hands in as far as I could and holding for five breaths. My goal was to walk my hands further each time. I was on backbend #6 when I shifted my Driste and I dimly saw something on my mat. It was white and roundish. When I startled, it moved! EEK!

It was my heel!!

I fell out of the backbend and laughed so hard my eyes were all teary. In that moment, I was SO glad not to be at the Shala because I felt free to giggle and just enjoy the moment. It was the best laugh I’ve had in months! When my hilarity finally subsided, I thought, “That was SO cool! I wanna do it again!”

And I did! A few times, in fact, and I took a photo because I was genuinely curious how close my hands had to be to make this miracle happen. This is what my backbend looks like when I finally glimpse my heels:

Not as deep as I imagined it would look. I’ve probably hit the feet-viewing mark before, but wasn’t paying enough attention.

I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking about it too! Many people have told me that if I can see my feet, I can stand up! I *did* try to stand from this deeper-than-usual backbend, but I wasn’t even close. The problem is, it’s so tight, I feel like my body is made of concrete. My breath felt restricted and it was hard to move, let alone rock. I’m hoping that as my body adjusts to this deeper backbend, I’ll find more softness in it.

I had much better luck rocking after my dropbacks. I’m trying not to worry as much about standing up this week and just get into a steady, even breathing pattern. I’m trying to make my inhalations as long as my exhalations, then extend both. I do this while rocking up to my fingertips. I read something on Facebook about ‘digging in the heels’ to stand up. I tried, and failed, to visualize this as I rocked.

I only did three dropbacks. The first was a bit rough, the second felt deeper but I had a hard time dropping back because I kept popping back up every time I pushed my hips forward. The third was the best: I was able to hang way back, hands in prayer position and linger there for a micropause, then gently plop my hands to the mat.


It’s Monday, and time for some Vintage Yoga fun!

Here’s Audrey. As you can see, she’s still looking around for that contact lens she lost a few weeks ago.

Hm...maybe it’s under the sofa.


Anonymous said...

You are saying you had trouble droppingback because everytime you push the hips forwards you pop up ?

That's the action you need for standing up from backbend.

Kaivalya said...

Yes! You described it perfectly. I can get a good hangback going by pushing my hips forward to counterbalance the hang, but as I start to drop back, I occasionally pop right back up, even falling forward with force.

But I feel none of that when I'm trying to come up from the floor. I believe most of the actions necessary to standing are available to me. I'm just lacking the brain-body co-ordination to pull them all together into an integrated movement.

This isn't a new problem. You should have seen me learning Salsa! I was a hilarious klutz! It took a *lot* of repetition for me to learn a new move or sequence, but once I had it, it was solid and easy.

Right now, the part that seems to be eluding me is the lift of the upper body/chest. Also, when my heel are lifted, my legs don't seem to engage the way they need to. I've noticed that I lose control in my drop backs if my heels lift even the tinniest bit.

susananda said...

Yes, I agree with anon - popping up or even stumbling forwards on the way back are good signs that you are getting your hips forwards, just slightly overshooting the edge. That edge gets further and further with bandha strength and leg-rootedness.

Looking at the photo (which I think looks miles deeper than a few months ago), I zero in on the flat-looking area across the front of your shorts. I would work at pressing into the lower part of that area. Your upper back actually looks pretty open to me, but if you don't get your hips close to over your feet, you won't stand up. It also has to do with your long legs I think, you will really have to push your hips forward and up. It'll also help keep your heels grounded.

You are definitely going to stand up!!

Anyway, I have to tell you that when I first read this post, you know the part where you are laughing till your eyes are all teary? I actually started laughing until MY eyes were teary at that point!! Hahaha! So classic, being startled by your own heel and collapsing in hysterics. I absolutely love that :)

susananda said...

Oh PS, I'm sure you can work this out for yourself, but the way to get to that area is lunges. My latest craze is one-foot-up-on-the-third-stair lunges whilst brushing my teeth, so easy and ensures a good long brushing :) Cos I am really working with that area too.

Anonymous said...

Susan is right about those lunges. Another thing my teachers teach - being real old timers - is after pasarita padotonasa D do samakonasana, upavista konasana and hanumanasana. Apparently that's the old primary series. Really good for opening those hip flexors for backbends.