Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vacationing Hamstrings

The weather was horrible today. Cold, damp, pouring raining. The bike ride home was pure misery. As soon as a stepped in the door, I ran a bath and marinated in a tub full of Epsom salts for a half-hour. I'm heading right back to that tub after I publish this post. It's been *that* kind of day.

Oh, my poor, SORE hamstrings. *groan* I must be doing something right because my legs HURT!

I've been trying to think of how I could best sum up the past week of yoga practice. In my brain, it feels something like this: HamstringsHamstringsHamstringsGluteusMediusHamstringsPleaselegstaybehindmyheadNOTanotherbackbendGAH! There's definitely a theme, though it's a bit fuzzy.

The conversations and analysis around all-things-Urdhva-Dhanurasana continue... On Wednesday, I came down from a backbend after yet another failure to 'turn on' my hamstrings. I asked DT depairingly: "Is it a lack of intelligence in my hamstrings, or a lack of strength?" She replied: "Probably a bit of both." I groaned. "So my hamstrings are weak AND stupid?" DT laughed and said: "More like they're on vacation."

"Dominican Republic," I confirmed. "They don't like the Canadian winters." Not only are my hamstrings getting drunk at the Urdhva Dhanurasana party, they're doing the limbo on tropical shores while drinky fruit cocktails. That's just awesome! *eyeroll*

But! My legs *are* getting stronger and I'm seeing effects across my practice. I'm able to lower all the way to the floor in Laghu Vajrasana again (this is a first since the shoulder injury). My backbends are getting deeper. My lame little version of Kapotasana is even feeling better (though 'better' is a relative term in Kapo).

When I did my Primary on Friday, I could feel a difference in all the poses - DT even noticed it. At the 'Gong Show' Bikram class that evening, I was able to do every. single. pose. competently for the first time ever - including my nemesis, toe-stand.

A new depth is emerging in my yoga practice - Intermediate Series is making me stronger.

There's a huge mental component to this, too. I'm learning that I have to be 'on' all the time. That's why it's so exhausting! In every pose, a major muscle group is working like mad. The poses of Intermediate Series not only demand strength, but a greater coordination of effort between different parts of the body. I find that I need to pay attention and I can't 'relax' into a pose.

I'm constantly amazed by how difficult even the most simple poses are. Take Tittibhasana. My hamstrings are pretty open so this one is not a big deal for me. I can breeze through Tittibhasana A and B (though the walking part is a little bit weird). But my endurance starts to flag in C and my legs are shaking like jello by the time I get to Tittibhasana D because it's SO MUCH WORK. Then I fall on my face trying to exit.

So that's the theme of my practice this week: It's difficult, demands full attention and deep reserves of perserverance and strength. But it's getting easier every day.

On Friday, I welcomed a special visitor to our shala! The lovely Serene Flavor joined us for practice! If you ever have a chance to meet this amazing woman, you MUST! She was visiting town for a family event and cleared a whole morning to spend with me.

It was such a treat!!! She's incredibly warm and sparkly, one of those people you feel like you've known forever within minutes of meeting. It was so much fun having her in the room for Mysore. She has a great energy and focus in her practice. And it makes the 'Cybershala' feel a whole lot smaller and more 'real' when I'm able to practice with other bloggers. Her visit was well-timed: her kindness and good energy reminded me of how special our online community reallly is. It's a blessing and joy to connect with other Ashtangis from around the continent and around the globe!

After practice, I brought her to my 'hood for breakfast and introduced her to Princess Fur (and the "famous" Blue Futon). Then the three of us took a walk around the city. The weather couldn't have been more perfect: sunny and warm. Spring surprised us this year by arriving all at once - it feels like every tree and flower is bursting to life simultaneously. It was the perfect morning!

I'm so glad we had a chance to meet and I was able to show her the city at its best! Here's a photo of the three of us on the grounds of the University.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Alice said...

I feel you!

Flo said...

What a great photo. Side note: you are one tough cookie! Morning practice and evening Bikram!?

Yyogini said...

I'm so excited to see bloggers meet up!

Anonymous said...

It WAS the perfect morning. You are as lovely as I knew you would be,and I am so coming back sans the daily modern dance demos/recitals/graduations! Thanks for sharing your day off with me!