Sometimes it pours…

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

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

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 karandavasana┬áis 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!

From insect to peacock

I started pincha mayurasana today! Fun!! Perhaps only fun because the two times I did it my teacher spotted me so I didn’t fall. It may be less fun while I’m actually learning to get up and balance myself. I picture a lot of flipping over into back bends. So, this may be my stopping place forever and that is great! Lots of juicy poses in this practice. Tittibhasana was even harder today, my thighs were screaming by the end! You finish that ridiculous walk and your whole body is just saying “get out now!” but you have to try to inch those heels together for the final variation. Ouch. Regardless of the wingeing I seem to be doing about the difficulty, it was an awesome and super energizing practice today. I’m almost sad about the moon day tomorrow! Almost.

The insect walk

Holy heck, yogis, intermediate series is kicking my butt! Last week was my first full week of being split, after the fiasco of the previous week, and I was feeling it! I can explain it in no other way than saying it was intense, both mentally and physically. In primary series there is a feeling of safety, of comfort. While you are asked to challenge yourself, it just somehow feels so much more manageable. It is yoga chikitsa, afterall. When adding on the poses of intermediate it all feels doable (at least attempt-able) after the long “warm-up” of primary series. When that whole series is taken away, you are left with the realization that second series is actually extremely challenging and you are asking your body (especially your poor, overworked spine) to really go to it’s extremes with the intense back bending, twisting, and crunching (leg behind head postures). It’s really all over the map, while primary is so forward fold heavy. It’s a bit intimidating, to be honest. You start your sun sals and you know that in 25 minutes, or whatever, you’ll be saying hello to kapotasana already. And, dudes, all that leg behind head action is serious! My hips are going to their limit! By yoganidrasana they’re just complaining and done with the whole business.

All this being said, I feel like I’m starting to adjust already. I know my body is capable, but my mind can be limiting. It opens you up to amazing growth to push yourself on both levels (mentally and physically), though.

So apparently we’re on to the next challenge already. Welcome to the fold, tittibhasana A, B, C, D. As of today, (I guess at this point it’s yesterday, but I’m working a night shift and it still feels like Sunday practice was today), this is my new stopping point. I’ve only done A before, but I’ve never jumped in. I also didn’t today (slacker?) but I will try tomorrow. I have no idea how it’s possible to get your legs in the correct position with a jump, especially since I am still such a slave to gravity. The next three versions of the posture were stupidly hard, and C is pretty weird with the insect walk forward and back. I think it could be the most foolish looking thing I’ve done on my mat so far. The end surprise is how much your quads burn when you finally exit, I had no idea! The hardest part for me was keeping my balance. I felt as though I was going to fall onto my back (scary!), especially during the final version. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes through the week. Like everything else, I’m sure I will make peace with it in time.

Here is the brilliant Laruga Glaser showing you how my new friends, the tittibhasanas, should look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZHlijyG7pk

SPLIT!

Big news in the world of my practice today, y’all. As of Sunday I am split. Eeek! Feelings on this? Mainly fear. Today I got dwi pada, in which I look like a crazed hunchback and find terribly hard. I will do that plus yoganidrasana starting tomorrow, then Sunday it is goodbye to primary (tear!) and hello to splitsville. I thought this wasn’t going to happen until my knee healed (which feels far away) but my teacher came over after I finished eka pada and asked if I felt like trying another pose, obviously I said yes. I’ll let you know how it goes. It feels a little frightening right now. She was all cool talking about taking me up to pincha in the next little while, while I was kind of nervous. This is a big change. One very happy point for me is bye-bye to utthita hasta padangusthasana, except for Friday’s!

I don’t do it like the boss, that’s for sure!
Picture from: http://grimmly2007.blogspot.ca/2012/01/sharaths-primary-series-dvd-plus-his.html

In knee news, I finally saw my doctor yesterday and am now waiting for an MRI appointment to see what’s up in there. He wants me to do physio after we get a diagnosis. I guess that means I’m not going to be pain-free for awhile, in his opinion. Maybe only doing second will be good for healing, because there’s less stress on the knees in the poses. We’ll see. Send my sad little joint some love, if you have a little to spare.

It’s a whole new world starting Sunday! Stay tuned, friends!

 

Unstuck

So, I may have failed in my plan to make it a six practice week. I missed Monday morning, for no good reason other than being exhausted and totally unable to leave my bed. Otherwise, it’s been a great week. My hips are taking longer to loosen up and my knees are complaining, but jump backs are coming along nicely and I’m landing bakasana B every day (although perhaps not on my first attempt). I’ve been trying not to itch for my next pose but, as I have admitted here, I have been. Today my teacher grabbed me on my way out and told me to start eka pada next week! I feel like there is a lot of opportunity for injury in this pose(s), but I think my body is ready for the challenge. Another exciting thing is that I’ll be starting eka pada on the weekend, but not at AYO. Saturday starts my nine days of David Swenson! I’ll be doing mysore with him this weekend as well two of the workshops on Sunday. The rest of the week is my primary series teacher training. I’ll be practicing at AYO in the morning, then taking the bus out to Swenson-fest for 9-5. I was so sad about missing out on the David Robson training, but I’m hoping to have a great week this week to make up for it. Led tomorrow morning, then I’ll be sure to post about my experience of mysore with the legendary Swenson. ­čÖé

Woah Nelly!

I woke up to snow this morning. I thought I was having a bad dream, but no such luck. I felt a low level of dread heading up the stairs to AYO. I was very low energy this morning and I took my time with practice. I probably fidgeted more than I’ve been allowing myself and I didn’t work on jump backs at all. In fact, I even stepped through in most of the second half of primary. No work on chakrasana confidence either, I just came up to sitting and jumped back to chaturanga. My right forearm was strained somehow, which was kind of painful and definitely had an effect on how much effort I put into my transitions. I also felt my knees in an uncomfortable way when I flipped out after garbha, so I was trying to be respectful of my body and take it slow. My teacher assisted me in kapo today, bringing my hands to my heels, which felt fine. It’s such an intense pose that I find it difficult to tell sometimes if I’m ok, or pushing to far. Supta vajrasana was a laugh, my fingers are just so far from my feet when I go back and my top leg wants to slide out of lotus. I tried jumping into bakasana B and my teacher gave me some pointers about where to engage that helped a bit, although the result was the same (totally unsuccessful). Then I got to add on baradvajasana and ardha matsyendrasana, which is one pose more than I thought I was going to add. I like the twists and they feel do-able. My teacher says we’re going to keep me here for quite awhile (whatever that means) so that I can get really comfortable with what I’ve got on my plate now, which I find to be quite a lot. I’m not too anxious to get to the leg behind head poses yet because that work is quite hard on my lower back, which is still feeling sensitive. So there I am. I think I’ve gotten a lot of poses in the last couple of months or so and I’m ready to work with what I’ve got right now. I still find primary to be enough of a challenge!

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