Sometimes it pours…

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

On being a big (sore) wuss

What’s been going on in my practice during the last week, you might ask. Here’s the update, friends:

Thursday I totally wussed out doing pincha and used a wall. Lame. A crutch that will never help me to gain balance to enter the posture. That old friend fear definitely reared its ugly head.

Friday came along and I slept in, skipping led. Sometimes you just need to stay in bed with your cats; don’t judge. I made up for it by going to the Saturday morning mysore at AYO. Super fun! I did primary with no drop backs, just like it was Friday. Ah, sweet, gentle, friendly primary. My body rejoiced. I feel like second is strengthening parts of my primary practice. I also noticed how not having to do all that half lotus everyday has helped my knee. I’m sure the leg-behind-head stuff is probably helping my hips open in a different way as well.

I was in Toronto for practice Sunday and Monday. AYCT is the hottest, sweatiest practice room of all time. My body loves it! David was away on Sunday, but that was fine. I loved being back there and noticed such a difference with the heat, in dwi pada especially! We’re barely breaking a sweat in the cold room at AYO these days. It’s a big room with lots of windows and there just isn’t that many of us. AYCT is pretty much the exact opposite. I took it slow because it was so sticky hot in there that I got nauseous a few times. Tittibhasana is possibly improving, but my legs are still hating me for it. The burn!! I got to pincha and, despite talking a big game beforehand about going solo in the middle of the room, I asked an assistant for a spot. Monday David was back, so no messing around. He adjusted me in trikonasana, which made me notice how lazy I can be in the standing postures. I totally got called out for my usual pre-kapotasana psych-out. It was good though, because it forced me to just do it with minimal mental chatter. I even got a little praise when I found my own heels (I will except ego strokes whenever I can get them!). David was busy when I got to tittibhasana so I didn’t get the help with jumping in that I had hoped for. He also spotted me for pincha, but perhaps with a slight eye-roll at my wussiness. I may have whined slightly as I made excuses about how recently I had gotten the pose. I got some good pointers regardless. I had to grab my shins (which I quickly slid down to my ankles) in my assisted back bend. Ouch, it felt terrible. My back just didn’t want to release at all. David says I should be doing it with my teacher everyday because my body is capable, but to be honest, I’m pretty glad I don’t because it’s just about the most uncomfortable thing ever. It makes kapo look like a cakewalk.

Back to the home shala yesterday. AYCT, I already miss your heat and intensity. Work interfered with practice in the morning so I had to go to evening mysore Tuesday. It was nice. Not many of us, which actually helped me focus on my breath because it was so obvious when I let it go. I got some really excellent pincha help and took my first steps into solo, wall-less attempts. It was a good practice (I love evening body!) but I was feeling a bit sore.

This morning work was also cutting into practice time, but I did make it. I was hurting. Perhaps something is out of place in my SI region, because there is extreme discomfort. I also have a little hamstring pull,  which is getting harder to ignore. I basically felt achy and a bit awful, so I took it very easy. I really half-assed kapo, just touching my toes, and skipped supta vajrasana (there was no teacher/assistant and I didn’t want to interrupt anyone else’s practice). I ended after eka pada because I was out of time and my body was definitely slamming on the brakes. I need rest. Practice tomorrow may be a fiasco. I can guarantee you I will not be asking to grab my ankles in my back bend.

I should be getting my MRI results tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Another lovely Sunday

I missed led primary on Friday, which my body said was just fine. We’ll chock that one up to ladies holiday. This morning I was back on my mat. It was not the most effortless practice I’ve ever had, I definitely had some struggles. I was making a huge effort during the first half of primary to properly jump back. I usually just put my hands down in front of my legs and jump from there.  Today was the best I’ve ever managed to do with it, using the tips I got from David Swenson last weekend. I’m realizing as I write this that I’ve given up on getting my arms through in garbha and I should probably make some effort with that tomorrow. I had some very nice assists today, which is always great because it’s usually quite rare. I had a pretty good supta kurmasana today, although my hands wouldn’t clasp. I come out of kurmasana and fool around with eka pada and yoga nidrasana, hoping that one of these days I’ll be able to manage dwi pada and just lower down from there into supta. Maybe tomorrow. I feel like I rush a bit through intermediate until laghu. It all comes to a slow crawl there. I’m certainly not the first to say this but I will anyway; kapotasana is hard. It is so intense on my back, especially in B. I’m grabbing the top of my foot without help, but it’s quite challenging. Today my teacher came over to help me get my hands higher up my foot and it wasn’t too successful. I am definitely finding back bends less stressful on my back muscles after adding the next two poses. I cannot possibly imagine a time when I’ll be able to hold my feet in supta vajrasana, but anything is possible. I couldn’t quite stick it standing from drop backs today, every time was either too much push off or not enough. I think my blood sugar was low and I was getting tired. Tomorrow I add two more poses and start the challenge of jumping into bakasana B. Wish me luck!

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!