Thursday, September 16, 2010

Astanga

I woke up with the alarm this morning, made the bed, swept the floors and ran my salt bath. And then I was struck with an attack of allergies so intense I could hardly breath. I was out of medication, but I dug through the cupboard and managed to conjure up a baggie with two allergy pills. I couldn’t tell if they were the ‘day’ pills or the ‘night’ pills. I decided to gamble.

BUZZ! You’re not a winner. Thanks for playing. They were the ‘night’ pills. *sigh*

By the time I got out of my salt bath, I was almost comatose (those pills make me extremely drowsy). I stumbled to the futon and passed out cold for three and a half hours. I’m lucky I woke up in time for work! So there was no yoga practice in the morning. My Manduka mat looked sad and lonely sitting there all by itself as I rushed off to teach my classes, but it was waiting for me when I got home.

When I miss a morning practice, scheduling gets tricky. There are not many 2-hour holes in my day when I’m teaching 4 or 5 classes! Fortunately, my night classes haven’t started yet so I was able to skip lunch and practise in the afternoon, shifting my big meal of the day to the evening after I got home from my late afternoon class. It all worked out and I had a fantastic practice from 2-4 in the afternoon.

Today, my silly brain finally got the memo about Pasasana: This pose is a twist!. Who knew? ;-) I’ve been trying to bind in Pasanana without really twisting very much. No wonder it’s been such a trial!!! Today, I worked on coming into a deeper twist before going for the bind and I was able to grab my entire hand! Okay, I finally get how a wrist bind might be possible!

For fun, I also tried to do the pose with feet flat to the floor, but I fell over backward. I still need a towel under my heels.

I’ve been struggling a bit with Dhanurasana and particularly, her evil twin Parsva Dhanurasana. In Hatha yoga, we do this backbend with the knees, legs and feet hip distance apart. It’s different in Astanga, though the specifics vary from source to source.

I’ve read ‘legs together’ but also ‘feet and heels together, knees slightly apart’. At Shala North earlier in the week, I spied on my Intermediate Series neighbour. She kept her legs together in both Dhanurasana and Parsva Dhanurasana, so I’m assuming that’s how DR teaches it. The teachers at Shala Central taught it that way too, so I’m trying for that. It felt impossible at first, but I’m discovering that I *can* do it, my backbend just isn’t as deep.

Parva Dhanurasana is an silly, evil pose. Every time I roll to the side I feel like I’m crushing my pelvic heads to smithereens. Ouch! As I linger there on my side, I feel like I’ve capsized and I’m scanning the skies for rescue. But help never comes. Instead, I find myself back in Dhanurasana, wishing it was over. By that point, my knees feel tweaky.

Hate, hate, hate. There! I said it! I hate this pose. Does anybody like it? Given that I had 8 new poses to deal with, I guess it’s not so bad if I hate just one of them.

I didn’t spend as much time in Laghu as I usually do, but I tried (and succeeded!) holding the pose for four breaths with my head on the block, then came back up (with difficulty - I’m definitely pushing my edge here).

My dropbacks are getting better. Today, I managed two genuinely strong, controlled dropbacks with a long ‘hang’ before lightly coming to the floor. Today, I tried dropping back to the futon and standing back up again without pausing to ‘rock’. Exhale down, inhale back up again (with a little push). It’s a bit scary, but do-able.

And one final note: I learned the hard way that ‘cold dropbacks’ are not accessible to me. I tried dropping back for fun while teaching a youth yoga class this afternoon and ouch!!!. I came down hard on my left wrist and it was smarting for a few moments. I was furious with myself, but it was fine. However, I won’t do THAT again.

4 comments:

ELP said...

Hey Kai!
This may be a weird suggestion, but helps me not to feel the crushed-bones feel in Parsva Dhanurasana: try pushing with your belly. Use the abs to push over instead of any momentum from the legs or body. Does that make sense?

My knees sometimes feel tweaky too! I can't figure out why.

I used to think Laghu was hard for me because my weakness is in my legs, but recently I've seen some tough, young, strong fellow students struggling and it's kind of made me feel better!! Is that bad?

Kaivalya said...

@ELP
Thanks Kapozilla! ;-) I'll try that. I probably need to shift my weight forward a bit as I roll to the side. Sometimes I think Guruji added some of these silly looking poses just to be a funny guy.

And nah, it’s not bad to notice other people struggling and feel better about your own struggles. I choose to see this as 'commiseration'. Totally allowed!

V said...

Kai,

I do a rocking motion as I roll on to the side. I lean forward a little bit as I start the movement and once I'm past the danger zone (hipbone contact with floor), I rock back into place. Not sure if this makes sense, but it really helps me.

And for what is worth, Parsva Dhanurasana is the one pose I would take out of Second Series. Yes, I'm weird like that.

Kaivalya said...

@V
Thanks for the tip! It does make sense, and I'll try it.

And when an election is held for 'Queen of the Intermediate Series', I'm voting for you! I like your election platform very much ;-)