Friday, May 6, 2011

First week of Intermediate

I capped off my first week of Intermediate Series practice today with Primary Series. It was a relief to go back to the familiar routine of my old practice. I was curious how Primary would feel after a week of new poses and all of that uber-backbending. It felt easy and comfortable, just like an old slipper that has been well broken in - soft and pliable.

Now that my shoulder feels better, I've been adding in some of the more complex exits from poses, especially in the Marichyasanas. I couldn't resist doing a little bit of Eka Pada and Dwi Pada before my Supta K, but I generally stuck to the sequence and didn't add any backbends. Doing only three Urdhva Dhanurasana felt like cheating! ;-)

My practice this week was strenuous and challenging. Even though I'm familiar with most of these postures, it still felt like a lot for my body to process. I was exhausted at the end of every practice. I'm still repeating poses (backbends) and doing a few preps (mostly for Kapotasana and UD), but mindful not to allow my practice to overstep the 2-hour mark. Still, it kind of cracks me up that I thought my practice would be *easier* and *shorter*. Turns out, it's neither! It's just different and more challenging.

The first day, I discovered I coudn't bind anymore in Pasana. DT had to help me. By Friday, I was binding on my own again. The same was true for Krounchasana - I felt unusually stiff the first day but by mid-week, it was as deep as it always was. It's almost as if my body had to accept that fact that there would be no specific 'warm-up' for those parts of my practice and it all started to open up on its own.

Since the shoulder injury was aggravated by it, I had removed Parsva Dhanurasana from my practice for the past few months. This week, I returned to it and discovered that my knees *still* hurt when I roll to my side (this has been an ongoing problem). I asked DT about it and she watched me take the pose. It took her all of three seconds to diagnose the problem: "You're leading with your knees when you roll. You need to lead with your hips!" Simple solution. The pose doesn't hurt anymore and I can't believe the fix was so easy!

The biggest surprise of the week was discovering that I'm actually pretty flexible! DT is really happy with my progress in Kapotasana. She says my back is flexible, it's just not as strong as it needs to be. My greatest hinderance in Kapotasana is a lack of strength in my back and a lack of openness in my triceps and chest. DT added Raj Kapotasana as a preparation. I'm using a strap to grab my foot. I'm also doing some front-hip openers.

Supta Vajrasana continues to be my 'happy place' pose, even though it's involves a backbend and it's really not very comfortable. I think I love it because it's easy and obvious to access my thoracic back and doing this really makes a difference in the pose. It's good practice for me.

Bakasana A is not difficult. I've been getting help with Bakasana B - I jump to a half-handstand and DT helps me lower into the arm balance. I use that pose as an opportunity to do a few preperatory hops to handstand against the wall (I'm chuffed that handstand is sneaking back into my practice again).

Eka Pada Sirsasana and Dwi Pada Sirsasana have become deeper this week. I started using the window ledge as a 'prop' for a preparation pose. DT worked with me on the alignment of my legs, especially the leg that goes behind the head. I 'taught' myself this pose a long time ago (I've always been able to sort-of do it), but I taught myself wrong. The way I was coming into it wasn't horrible or anything, but I'm grateful to have a teacher looking after me as I learn this stuff.

The biggest shift I've observed in my practice this week wasn't in backbending, but in inversions, particularly Sirsasana. Headstand feels like an entirely different pose now, super-easy and stable, like I could stay in it forever. The change is actually quite striking and I don't know what to make of it. It was never a difficult pose for me, but it feels so much more solid now.

Princess Fur, celebrating spring with leaps and bounds (she didn't actually catch the squirrel)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous said...

I am dealing with the same limitations in backbending - needing to build strength to move deeper.

And actually I noticed the headstand thing after intermediate as well... I theorize that it must have something to do with the added awareness that the backbends bring - I feel better in that pose because I am more intune with all the parts of my body and therefore where they are in in space.

I am glad you are enjoying practice again so much, your renewed enthusiasm jumps of the page/screen ( :

Loo said...

I adore this photo!

Flo said...

That photo is beyond words.