Monday, September 13, 2010

Astanga

Ow. My. Quads.

Yesterday’s fun in Laghu translated into *very* sore legs today during practice. I also have a sore elbow, an injury mostly unrelated to yoga (I banged it on a wall while I was putting on my knapsack, in a hurry, because I was late to teach a class. DUMB!).

I had a bit of the The Lazy getting to the mat this morning too. I loafed around in bed for a while, dozing, then laid around in my salt bath for a while, surfing the ‘net. Finally started my practice around 7 a.m.

At least I got up!

I’m getting back to my meditation practice this week, after a long, long hiatus. I stopped meditating in late March, right around the time my relationship ended (and I started going to the Shala regularly). I think I lost the thread of my routine and just never regained it. I’ve had the idea of meditation rolling around my head for a while now, but I wasn’t ready to do anything about it. Today, I felt ready.

I sat for five minutes. I’m keeping it simple and easy for now. I’ll increase the time as I feel comfortable. I’m integrating my meditation with my existing morning ritual of candle-lighting, incense, chanting and offering.

I still occasionally make a food offering to my Spiritual Posse. It’s not a big deal - I don’t do any kind of formal Puja. It’s more like “Here ya go, guys. Chow down!” and I toss something yummy into the bowl. This morning it was an apple slice. Yesterday, they got some really awesome trail mix. Sometimes they get cookies! Or a muffin! Or chocolate!

As I completed my meditation today, I took a moment to think about all my friends who are out there in Shalas and rooms around the world, doing their practice. I sent good wishes and love to all of them. I can’t do much about the ‘long’ and the ‘difficult’ parts of my practice, but I’m hoping this little morning ritual will help me feel more connected to the greater Astanga community and less lonely as I step on my mat each morning.

I don’t know if it was the meditation, but I had a strong, focused practice this morning. All together, it spanned two hours and it was good!

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana is one of the poses I really worried about when I left the Shala. I *always* had assistance for that one. As a result, I’d totally lost the knack for balancing by myself. For the first few weeks at home, I supported myself against a wall. This week, I’ve been holding the pose on my own and it feels stable.

It’s a mystery to me how I’m managing to bind the Marichyasanas these days. I’m so chubby! I haven’t yet lost the ‘pasta weight’ I gained while on holiday in Montreal. I’ve been eating like a horse since I started practising Intermediate, so the pounds are not going away anytime soon. I can still bind to wrist in Mari D! Amazing. But I’ve been struggling for the bind in Supta K.

Pasasana surprises me every day! The bind is getting easier and easier! I don’t think I’m any more flexible - there’s definitely a knack to this one. The positioning of the arms is important. The towel beneath my heels is also getting ‘thinner’ by the day. I’m hoping very soon to have my heels on the floor.

I suspected I would probably ‘backslide’ in Laghu today because my legs are so tired and sore. And I was right - I couldn’t come to the floor and back up, so I used the block. I came down to a horizontal block three times, then moved the block to vertical and came up and down until I was tuckered (about six times). I always know I’m done when I get stuck and can’t come up again!

I’m ‘raising the bar’ a bit for Sirsasana. This pose is easy for me, but I haven’t been doing any long holds lately. It bothers me that I struggled with a relatively short duration hold at DG’s led Primary last week. Today, I set a timer for 3 minutes. It was challenging, but not overly difficult. I’m going to stick with this duration for a while, then bump it up a minute at a time. It’s a good way to build strength for inversions.

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I really enjoyed this post from Astanga Yoga Brighton, offering some thoughts on ‘becoming proficient at asana practice’. When Kino asked Guruji how long it takes to become proficient at a posture, he answered ‘you take it 1000 times!’ (and later added ‘1000 time, correctly!’).

For me, this is a good reminder that new postures and new skills are developed through dedicated practice and repetition. It’s okay to move slowly and allow things to unfold gradually. There’s no rush.

After my success dropping back and standing up from the futon yesterday, I was *so* tempted to try it from a point closer to the floor right away. But if I move too fast, I know I’ll just get frustrated.

For now, I’m dropping back to the floor three times, then dropping back and standing up from my futon. I’ll practice this every day and when the action feels easy and stable, I’ll know I’m ready to try it from the floor (or maybe a point slightly closer to the floor).

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Tomorrow, I’m taking a mini-vacation from longdifficultlonely and heading up to the Mysore room at Shala North. I’m going to hang out with the lovely Inside Owl, who is visiting the city for a couple days. We’ll practise, then find some lunch.

I’m really looking forward to this! It’s perfect timing because I really need a break from my home practice. It will be really great to see everyone at North (sadly, I won’t see DR and S, who are in Europe). And I’ll be practising in a hot, crowded room again.

Yoga! With people! I can’t wait!

4 comments:

susananda said...

Sounds like your practice is coming along great despite the difficult circumstances! I imagine ashtangis all over scratching their heads and wondering abut getting a futon :) Have a great time at the shala and give Owl a big hug for me, you're in for a treat!

Kaivalya said...

@Susan
The magic blue futon couch! The must-have prop for all serious yogis!

I've been taking my State-of-the-backbens photos in front of that couch for years. To think that I never discovered it's secret until now...lol

fivefootwo.com said...

The Futon! In my newbie mind I thought: She must have tried the futon already...But that's my mind- always searching for the way to cut corners/find the short cut. You seem to have outstanding work ethic. I bet you outgrow that futon in the blink of an eye!

Kaivalya said...

@fivefootwo
I think I was a bit scared to drop back to the futon because I didn't have enough control in my dropbacks. It certainly makes a different for standing up, though.