Sometimes it pours…

And here we are just chugging right along. Vatayanasana could be awhile. That shit is hard!!

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Just when I thought it might never happen…

Once again I prove to myself that my body is capable of things I once thought impossible. Yesterday I got nakrasana. This was the longest I have ever worked on a posture; Mayurasana was a toughie! I’m not one of those waifish yoga women without too much lower body to lift!

Mark Darby, photo from Ashtangapictureproject.com

Mark Darby, photo from Ashtangapictureproject.com

Mysore and mayurasana

A little news I should share, I’m going back to Mysore this season! I’ll be there for the month of February and I couldn’t be happier about it. I already have my room from last year reserved and a scooter! I can not wait. Stay tuned for a hopefully more comprehensive account of my experience this year.

On the asana front, mayurasana sucks. That is all. šŸ˜‰

All Is Coming (back)

Yesterday I was given mayurasana. That means I am now back to the last pose I was working on before I left for India last year. It feels like an accomplishment. For me it represents some kind of victory. A victory over myself, over my habitual negative thoughts and behaviours. My dedication to my practice defies many things I’ve always thought to be true about myself, such as being lazy and a quitter. It has been extremely challenging getting my practice back after the lengthy hiatus I took after Mysore. When I got back to my mat in May I couldn’t get through the vinyasas of primary series. Urdhva dhanurasana was incredibly uncomfortable and drop backs were a fantasy. My bandhas were non-existant. I’m still not back to where I was in terms of strength and flexibility, but it’s coming. Slowly and with effort, it is coming.

Shock and pride

I landed it! It’s an amazing surprise, but after these months of trying and trying I have finally managed to land my lotus on my arms and karandavasanaĀ is mine! It seems quite a crazy thing to be trying to do, really. It was little bit by little bit and it was hard. I guess you’re not really supposed to be proud in these moments, but I’m human and I am. Monday I will be starting mayurasana! One thing I love about this practice is that you never know what you’re going to be capable of doing with diligent and consistent practice. I love that it breaks down the pre-conceived ideas you have about what your body can do. You constantly evolve both physically and mentally. You can’t help but let it change you, and I see nothing but positives that it has brought to my life. My husband has now been coming for about two and a half months. We’ve recently changed to a new shala, opened by two of the assistants at AYO who have struck out on their own. It’s been lovely so far. It’s a beautiful space and I look forward to helping grow this new little community.

And I’m back, with karandavasana in tow

Hi blog readers! It’s been an extended absence on my part, but that is not due to an absence from my practice, let me assure you. It has been a very busy 2013 so far, both on and off my mat. There was a trip to Austin for a week and the accompanying opportunity to practice with another ashtanga community and a weekend with David Robson at my home shala shortly after (perhaps more on those experiences another time). I have somehow managed to overcome my crippling fear of pincha mayurasana and am now actually able to get the pose my first or second try most days (don’t picture it as looking anything like this, imagine something much more graceless). I’ve had more struggle with this pose than any other, I think. I’m not a comfortable inverter, so that was the first in a long list of obstacles. Not an easy asana, by any stretch, but I have had some excellent help. I am starting to get the correct exit from the pose, although only my right arm does chaturanga so far. Today my teacher gave me karandavasana. This one is a doozy. With all the knee/hip issues of the past few months (another story for another time) there is no way I’m getting into lotus without help. My teacher left me to it, and I did try twice to get myself into lotus, but I fell after the first leg. I waited and today’s assistant came and did it with me. I know this was my first time doing it, but I am having trouble imagining a time when it will be possible without someone doing all the hard stuff for me. What muscles do you even engage to get and stay down there?! It just seems bizarre and coming up is disorienting. It could be years in the making, but I am stubborn and determined.

On a long overnight shift right now. Another five and a half hours left here until I head to practice, when I’ll be trying the insanity that is karandavasana again. Have a wonderful week!

Just Do It Already

I felt a little inkling of frustration today. This is an extremely rare occurance for me, I am not the emotional-on-my-mat sort of yogi. It was just a wee bit, but there were definite ripples in my usual relative peace and calm. It was during pincha (surprised?). What got my goat? My inability to just do it! Not necessarily land the pose but to just try, really try, without the safety net of the wall or a spotter. It’s not even conscious. I pep talk myself (“you can do this”, “falling would be no big deal!”) but to no avail. It makes me mad at myself! If I could just fall a few times, I’m sure I’d get over the fear and maybe have a shot at getting the pose. Today’s assistant (conveniently the same one as Wednesday) told the other that I “need to fall” when he came to help me. They only caught me as I was going over, and I actually landed it myself a couple of times but couldn’t hold on for long. I need to dig in and find the courage to just jump up there, no crutch, and I think that will be the turning point. No one did just let me fall, I had spotters, but I know he’s right. I was reminded of this post by Kino and it takes on a new meaning now that I am actually working on the very pose she is referring to. Isn’t it in these very challenging places that we make change within ourselves? Easier said than done. There’s always tomorrow, right?

The hard stuff

In brief, pincha is really hard. Have I said this already? Likely.Ā  Regardless, it is so true. Pincha is my favorite kind of asana challenge, both physically and mentally difficult. I haven’t had this fear response to a pose since learning drop backs, when I would feel sick every morning before practice knowing I would have to try to do it later. I’m not at the sick point (I hope this indicates some kind of progression in my ability to cope with this kind of thing) but I am definitely all up in my head about the whole asana. To use the wall, to not use the wall? The training wheels are so tempting but I know that’s not the way to really get into the juicy stuff, the fear. It’s also ultimately only teaching me to do pincha with a safety net, so I don’t really need to find my balance point because the wall will catch me. I also know I’ve been using it as an excuse to not confront the slight panic I feel about doing the pose in the middle of the room. Today I did it with the tough love assistance of our Wednesday teacher. It was ok. I flipped over once and I didn’t die. In fact, it didn’t even hurt. Will this help me when I go to put my forearms on the mat tomorrow morning? We’ll see. Pincha, you will not defeat me.

Doing it

Hi friends. It’s only been (not quite) seven days, but so far I have a heavy duty crush on 2013. Have I been working a lot? Yes. Have I been tired? Yes. But somehow the magical shine of newness has managed to stay intact through the past week. How are the resolutions going so far, you might wonder. Here’s the rundown:

  • I epically failed, almost immediately, on my resolution to stay adequately hydrated every day.
  • I am making plans to do a yoga photo shoot in the spring, just to document my practice for my future self.
  • I have started another Whole 30 (my second).
  • Perhaps most exciting, I am in the dreamy, far-away eyes phase of planning a trip to Mysore this year, and potentially (hopefully) more of India.
  • In the meantime, I have totally been going to practice everyday. And what practice it has been!

While our space is quite chilly with its drafty windows and high ceilings, I am still managing to get through it. Today was a bit warmer with the addition of a new heater and some plastic to cover the windows (it was amazing the difference in my body). I’m getting through it in just over an hour now, which seems crazy short. Every day when I get to my last pose it seems to have come so quickly and I have to review to see if I skipped something. I’m getting more fluid with intermediate, not as much stopping to collect myself. Ok, kapotasana is still a definite stalling point, but no one’s perfect. The whole section from eka pada to pincha is killer, in my opinion, and I’m kind of wiped when I get to my knees for my pincha attempts. Pincha is actually going really well, and I think I’m close to getting it. Today I kicked up into it without the wall but couldn’tĀ  hold on for the five breaths. My second attempt I overshot and one foot used the wall a bit, but then I was able to find balance for at least five breaths. I left it at that because I had very limited time, but I’m definitely starting to gain more control as the slight panic about the whole experience recedes. It’s close! I grabbed my ankles in my assisted back bend yesterday (ick, a feeling I don’t love) but today it was just not going to happen. There was no way that second hand was going to safely make it in for the grab. In another exciting development, I have gotten into urdhva padmasana without the use of my hands three days in a row- a first for me! It reminded me again to never say never. There was a time I thought my body would never be capable of at least half of the postures I’m doing now. If you’ve read other posts, that amazement seems to be a frequently repeated sentiment, but it is renewed all the time so I can’t help writing about it! The body is amazing.

Happy practicing this week! Hopefully you’re having success thus far with whatever resolutions you may have made for 2013!

 

Starting the new year as I hope it continues

I am pleased to say that while I missed Monday practice (I’ve been working like a fiend and was exhausted), I did go both new year’s day and today. It was so important to me to start the year off on a positive note on my mat. One of my resolutions for 2013 (yes, I make resolutions!) is to get my lazy behind to practice six days a week all year, obviously excluding extreme circumstances like illness. This doesn’t mean I have to slog through my whole practice every morning, sometimes that’s impossible with my work schedule, but I need to do at least the minimum of 3 A, 3 B, 3 closing postures. I think this is completely do-able.

In exciting asana news: pincha is coming! It seems a touch miraculous, but with the confidence I’ve gained having the wall to catch me I’m finding that I’m actually starting to not need it. Today I was able to actually kick up into the pose and balance for a breath. It’s a start! It is dang hard and my hands totally slide together, but it’s fun! The rest of practice is good. Good as in feels pretty good, not as in Yoga Journal cover ready ;), which is just fine with me. Today was a day when I was loving the practice and my little community here and feeling great. Yay for 2013! Yay for ashtanga! I’m perhaps a touch delirious with sleeplessness (I worked overnight last night) but I have really excited and happy feelings about what this new year has in store. I hope you all are enjoying some positivity in your worlds as well!

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