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.

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Beginner’s Body

I finally did it! I went back to practice yesterday. Back to who I think of as “my people.” It felt amazing. My new shala is lovely. I’ve visited before when on vacation here in my new home, so I knew it was a good fit already. I was pretty concerned about what my body was going to be capable of because if I’m completely honest I haven’t properly practiced (beyond a few sun salutations) in about two and a half months. I’ve never gone that long without practicing in the years I’ve been doing yoga, even before my mysore days. I’ll tell you my two take-aways from the long slog that was my practice. One: primary series is physically demanding, which you lose sight of when it’s just something you do everyday. Two: the body remembers. Urdhva dhanurasana felt horrific, so I didn’t attempt to stand up for drop backs just yet. I was weak and stiff (for me) but I got through all of primary with the only modification being no arms through in garbha. That’s not bad at all. It’s going to be a long road back, I think, but I’m sure I’ll get there and I’ll have fun doing it. Man oh man, those one million vinyasas may kill me in the meantime! I am so sore today! It’s a serious struggle to lift my arms! I guess this is a good reminder of what it’s like in the beginning; it’s hard! If you don’t think you have an ego about your practice, take a few months off and try going back. It’s humbling. I saw people doing intermediate and was slightly envious, thinking of how I once did those poses with relative ease. Now I’m giggling through the terrible jump throughs/backs (my core strength/bandhas have gone to shit) and trying to hold uth pluthi for more than five fast breaths. Regardless of my struggles, I am so happy to be back with the cult! 😉

Now to retrain myself for the early mornings. That’s a whole other challenge!

Dedication and progress

Every morning the little voice in my head (or perhaps the little devil on m y shoulder) whispers that I should stay in bed because there’s no way I can possibly get through all those poses today. This week has been a tough one for shutting that voice up. I’ve been so happy that I’ve made it to practice once I’m done, but I’ve fought myself to get up even more than usual. I know that if I miss a day the Ashtanga police will not drag me away to a never-ending Bikram class or anything, but I know I let myself off the hook with excuses in other areas of my life regularly and it’s not a part of myself that I like. Commitment to my practice is important to me, and I see it as having broader implications than just getting on my mat.

All that being said, I’ve had an excellent week of practice. Every now and then it seems I pass through another door, and I feel like I did that this week. My transitions have improved in a big way, I’ve been efficient. I’ve cut out any extra stretching and finishing in record time (for me). I’ve been putting more emphasis on using my bandhas, and I think it’s helping me. I’m noticing huge improvements in poses that have been a struggle, specifically janu C and parivrtta parsvakonasana. My lotus is getting a little easier all the time. I’ve really been sweating so much more the last couple weeks. I know I’m working hard but I’m not sure that explains it entirely. I haven’t been getting much in the way of adjustments. Some tips for parsva dhanurasana yesterday, which was helpful, and supta kurmasana Monday and Tuesday. I had great drop backs both yesterday and today. I’m feeling so much more confidence. My assisted back bend was absolute crap yesterday but today I had really excellent help and it was great. I think it’s improving, although of course I can’t see it. I was able to walk in quite far today while still managing to keep my heels down. It made me think that stretching out my psoas isn’t going to be the trial that my hips have been. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

While I am thrilled with my practice in the warmth of the afternoon sun, I know that those extra two hours of guilt-free sleep tomorrow morning will be absolute bliss. No fighting that little voice for the greater good tomorrow! Happy moon day!