Worn out

Wednesday already? I never complain about time dragging with my crazy schedule, that’s for sure. The last two mornings I’ve been trying to get to practice early due to early starts at work and it has been exhausting! I’m sure I’ve mentioned the fact that I am NOT a morning person. In fact, I hate getting out of bed unless I’m on vacation. Before my mysore practice days I never got up before 8 am, if I could possibly help it. I would sleep until the last possible moment, calculating and recalculating precisely how many minutes I would need to get prepped for my day so that I could hit the snooze button a few times. All the has changed. I basically never sleep in, with six mornings of practice and juggling three jobs. Who is this woman?!

I’m not sure if it has been the sleep deprivation, or the addition of two poses this week, but I have found practice grueling the last two days. Even getting through primary has me weak and dripping with sweat, which is unusual. I know I’ve been working hard, but I don’t think it’s been that different from last week in terms of effort. By the time I got to krounchasana I felt really tired, then still had to get through six more postures. I almost cut parsva dhanurasana short this morning. After ustrasana I thought “thank god I don’t have to try to do another pose,” especially considering what the next pose is. I’m sure stamina will come in a  couple of weeks and it will all feel more routine again, but for now I am just plain worn out. Despite the wussiness, I still had some really great drop backs! I’m definitely developing more control and confidence in both going back and standing. It’s a fine balance between too much push-off the hands to get up, and too little. Everyday I still feel this weird anxious anticipation before I start my urdhva dhanurasanas, but it’s always fine. I haven’t broken myself yet. I don’t think I had a  single assist today besides my back bends. I was just left to struggle through it and deal with myself.

I’m going to try to get a good sleep tonight so hopefully I’ll have enough gas in the tank tomorrow. There’s still one more day of mysore before led on Friday. Another extra early practice for me tomorrow! Come on body, we can do this!

Asana collection

Happy Monday, world! Well, happy so far because I’ve only been at work an hour and haven’t actually done much yet. I wanted to write about this mornings wonderful practice while it’s fresh in my mind. Spring is getting closer, which is obvious when I’m now leaving the house in daylight. I hate to admit it, but I’m already missing that cozy feeling that I got practicing in the dimly lit room on those pitch black winter mornings. Not that I want winter to restart, let’s not get carried away!

I had a peaceful practice this morning. I almost didn’t even register where I was in my practice until around janu C (which, by the way, is hugely improved). I got through utthita hasta padanguthasana with no fuss, and much better balance than yesterday. I’m developing an aversion to marichyasana B lately. It’s strange to me that sometimes poses that were once no big deal become difficult later. I’m struggling to grab my wrists and generally feeling awkward in it. I got some help in supta kurmasana today, and it seems I can either bind it or cross. My slippery fingers could just not hold on to each other as my feet crossed, damn you thighs! I love getting an assist in baddha konasana, which I also got this morning. I seem to have plateaued a bit with setu bandhasana, as I find it too difficult to stay up in the full pose (no arm beside head support) beyond 3 breaths. Intermediate is going well, or so I think. I actually got a reasonable grip in bhekasana, which is so helpful. Still not confident in the posture, though. I got two more poses today, parsva dhanurasana and ustrasana. I’ll just take it as it comes and trust that my body will find the stamina. While I recognize that Ashtanga is about more than simply “collecting” asanas, it’s still exciting to have a new challenge.

This is exactly what I looked like this morning, heels included 😉

Home vs shala

I admit it, I skipped led on Friday morning. I just couldn’t face getting out of bed. I was plagued by guilt until I finally practiced at home in the afternoon. I am awed and amazed by those who self-practice at home every day. It takes a different kind of willpower to ignore the distractions of home,  roll out your mat, stay focused and not skip those poses that you may not feel overly fond of. I got through it all, with some extra stretching cheats and no backbends. I then decided to try laghu vajrasana, just for fun. Or really, to test the waters and see how screwed I’m going to be. I can do the pose, and even get up from it, but it is such an effort. My psoas are stretching to the max and my hips are very low. I find the patience it takes to increase flexibility to be one of my biggest challenges in the practice.

This morning was lovely back at AYO. It was busy and warm and sun was streaming in the windows. Perfection. My right knee was still sore, my balance was crap, drop backs were only ok, but I really enjoyed all of it. Oh, and I forgot purvottanasana, again. I was sweaty and tired by savasana and what a great feeling that is! No pose today, but I’m fine with that. What I’ve got on my plate now is challenge enough to keep me occupied. Will I ever get my arms through in garbha? Will I ever bind supta k at the same time as my feet cross? I’m optimistic, so I guess I’ll have to go back again tomorrow.

 

That good tired feeling

What a great practice this morning! It was busy and warm. The energy was high, which is always a good motivator. I was proud of myself for getting up despite being exhausted this morning. I made it to practice with enough time to relax and do my practice without stressing. Everything felt a little tight and squeaky but I gradually worked the rust out. I wonder if utthita hasta padangusthasana will ever get easier for me? I am working on less build up, just getting right into, which is helping because I don’t have time to psych myself out. My right knee is sore this week, but I’m trying to carefully work through it. The seated half-lotus postures are manageable. My jump backs from supta kurmasana and bhujapidasana are improving all the time. I felt like I’d lost them a bit last week, but this week they’re stronger than ever. I got a good assist in supta k today, which is always nice, but I do wonder how I’m ever going to bind my hands with my thighs as large as they are. I’ve all but given up on getting my hands through in garbha pindasana. I feel like it’s just going to injure my knee, and there really just isn’t space in there!  I think all my second series poses are going great. I had a good pasasana today, and I think I was able to get back into my heels a little more. I got some help with the transition back, which is super difficult for me because my core isn’t strong enough yet to lift up from a squat with my knees at my chest. I tried it a few times and only smacked my chin off the floor once. Bhekasana is a challenge. Sweaty hands and tight psoas make it hard, but also it’s just an awkward position to get into. I got an assist in it, then I did the two sides separately for some extra stretching. By the time I get to dhanurasana I’m dripping lots of sweat. I had awesome back bends today, besides the heels still coming up. Drop backs felt great and standing was solid. My assisted drop back was great. He held my knees in with his, and I got such a nice stretch through the front of my hips. I cruised through closing and was so happy to take savasana. I’m tired at that end of practice these days. It’s a nice tired feeling. I know I’m working hard and now that I’m getting into intermediate, my practice is getting longer. It’s only going to get harder as I add more poses and the back bending series coming up is challenging. I guess my stamina will increase and I’ll be able to do it. Plus, warmer weather is coming and that means I’ll be biking to/from work/practice and will generally be more active, which will be beneficial to my practice as well. I’m very happy with my practice right now and with the progress I’m making in the asanas. It’s a good feeling.

Gold star week

Despite my hectic work schedule, I have made it to every practice the last week. Today I went on no sleep after a night shift, and I will do the same tomorrow. Unpleasant for my body, to say the least, but I do notice that I’m a bit looser in my sleepless state. The last week has had its ups and downs, but I haven’t at all felt like writing about them. I finally felt that I’m making a minuscule amount of progress with my hips and the circulation isn’t being cut off in lotus this week. Today I actually jumped back from lotus for the first time, which was impossible before because of the tight squeeze my legs were in. Encouraging, for sure. I got an assist in bhekasana for the first time today and it was so helpful! I also got another pose today, dhanurasana. I’ve never been much of a dhanurasana fan, so we’ll see how I feel about it now that it will be part of the daily routine. I’m moving along in intermediate fairly quickly, but I’m sure that will end soon as the series becomes significantly more challenging in a few poses. My practice is slowly getting longer with these new poses, and I’m anticipating (read: dreading) having to get to practice earlier in order to have time for full closing and a reasonable savasana. It will be much easier once bicycle weather is here and I am no longer a slave to the public transit schedule, or the chauffeuring of my husband. Plus my body will arrive to practice nice and warm. Come on spring, don’t leave us waiting too long.

Food is not the enemy

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with my relationship to food. In part it stems from my practice and a desire to be kind to myself, to fuel myself in a healthy way, and of course, to trim down those thighs for an easier bind. It is also a symptom of larger issues. I am a huge emotional eater. I eat when I’m stressed, happy, angry. I reward myself for a hard day with treats.I celebrate with a meal out. I have spent a lot of time  reflecting on non-attachment and what that means in one’s life, and how is it achieved. It’s a real toughie for me. How do we care deeply about the people or activities that we are passionate about, but maintain a level of non-attachment to minimize suffering. Big stuff. I’ll tell the world if I figure out the secret.

In the meantime, I am working hard on my mat. This morning was wonderful. I tried to focus on my breath through the transitions today and it was great. I noticed my tendency to hold my breath as I’m making adjustments getting into some poses, while I will alternately breath very quick and shallow getting into others. I allowed myself the time I needed to get into each asana, but moved with my steady breath. Doesn’t it sound so easy when I say it that way? It’s not easy for me yet. I got some wonderful assists today and my body was cooperative. It was a busy practice, so the room was nice and warm. It’s never as good a practice if you can’t get a real sweat going, but I did today. I was about to start urdhva dhanurasana when my teacher gave me bhekasana, so I’m now four poses into intermediate. Bhekasana is rough for sweaty handed people, like myself. I slide off my feet, making it very challenging to hold the pose. While I understand the mechanics of this posture, I don’t know that I’ve managed to get it quite right in my body. I think I’m arching my back  to take the pressure out of my psoas, but there will be many more days to work on it. I suppose day one doesn’t need to be perfect. Backbends were great today. I felt as though my drop backs were deep and I was mostly able to hold myself steady standing up. All around great start to the day. Hopefully a preview of how the rest of the week will feel.

Primary plus three

I’ve been pitiful and sick and, although I don’t really do the “ladies holiday” thing, I used it as an excuse to take Monday off. Tuesday was a moon day, so another sleep in. It’s amazing how easy it is to get out of the flow of morning practice. I had to drag my lazy, heavy body out of bed this morning. It was really tough! As usual, I was so happy to be back on my mat. I had a nice practice. No adjustments until pasasana. My hips were tight and my knees were cranky, but I got through with little fuss. Ok drop backs, my teacher is trying to help stretch out my psoas by helping me to bring more of an internal rotation to my thighs, which was intense in my lower back (over-compensating for those tight hip flexors). I also got another pose today, so I am now doing intermediate up to shalabhasana b.

Less pain, more gain

This morning was a lovely practice. My hips were rotating a little easier than usual and lotus may have been slightly less effort, although still no getting arms through for garbha. I had less tightness in my knees and, for me, that was real progress. I think I even made it a little farther than usual in the evil janu C, I could bind the wrist of the first side and the second side felt less awful. I only made one half-hearted attempt at the bhuja jump, then just did the pose. Supta k was really good today. I got an assist and my fingers were touching, feet together, no hamstring weirdness. Back bends were ok. My stand up from UD was great, no steps required. I did about 7 drop backs and some were great, some required a stumble or two. My assisted back bend was intense today. My fingers went under my heels, but my super tight psoas’ meant I couldn’t get those heels down at all. I think once I stretch our the front of my hips, my back bends are going to be great because I think my spine is quite bendy. Anyway, it was fun today, regardless. Last week was tough with my breathing being impeded by my cold, but it seems to be letting up so I think this week is going to be a good one.

On another note, I’m reading Guruji and loving it. It’s amazing to read about the journey of practitioners who have been on the ashtanga path for many years. It certainly fuels my desire to make the pilgrimage to Mysore to completely be immersed in the practice. Maybe next year, I hope.

Chugging along

This week I’ve been playing with the jump into bhujapidasana. That shit is hard. I’ve done it twice – once playing around last Saturday, and then at Sunday practice on my third try. When I have managed to land it, I’m way too far down my arms, making it tough to lower my head and bring my feet through. I give myself three tries per practice to avoid frustration. Thus far, that’s working out just fine. I haven’t figured out the gravity defying secret yet, although people say bandhas. I am squeezing the life out of those bandhas in my jump, but I’m not sure I’ve put it together. Regardless, I’m having fun with it.

Today’s practice was such an improvement over yesterday. I went in with low expectations since I’m still feeling like shit and everything was tight and paining me. I bumped into another sicky on my way in to the practice room and for some reason I felt comforted by that – like, I’m not in this alone, other people are not putting out their best either and that’s ok. Pasasana was pretty good today, the best I’ve felt in the pose ever, and I got kudos from my teacher, which is always nice. I think I’m really getting a handle on it, and maybe my Achilles will let my heels drop this lifetime. I also got a pose today! Welcome to the repertoire, krounchasana.