Archive for March, 2011
This morning, I practiced at home, since I’m going to have lunch with My Gift during the time led intermediate happens. It’s interesting that I’ve gone from all home practice all the time to all shala practice all the time. An interesting pendulum that swings back and forth.
Sunday home practice isn’t my favorite because Sunday practice is such a crap shoot to begin with. So I incentivized myself by practicing to David Swenson’s intermediate CD — an experiment to see if he takes as long to get to karandavasana as I do when I practice at the shala. (Answer = yes.)
I’ve been struggling with the lotus in karanda, so looked forward to being able to struggle struggle struggle without driving a teacher crazy. I even pulled out the video recorder. Sure enough, what I saw was that though I am pulling the left leg back far enough to get the right leg into lotus, I’m not pulling the right hip back far enough once the first leg is in and I shift to tucking the left leg in. If the right hip isn’t back enough (and it seems to involve some twisting — externally, I believe, though hard to tell when upside down) the whole thing just keeps tumbling down. Good to know! And such a good feeling to finally get a lotus bound up while on pincha arms!
I also practiced close enough to the wall that I could save myself from flipping backwards, but far enough away that I could see what my legs would do in a flip (Answer: the lotus immediate pops undone). Another good thing to know, because it means that flipping out of karanda will be the same as flipping out of pincha, provided I refrain from any panic flailing.
All in all, a good enough practice for a Sunday.
Renaissance Man subbed on Monday and today and did two great things:
1) Turned the effing heat down. To 80 instead of 85. Thank you!
2) Gave the funnest karandavasana assist ever.
Okay, so yeah, when I was leaving the room last week, I looked at the thermostat. Set at 85, and the room — heated by a bunch of ashtangis practicing for an hour and a half — was hovering at almost 90. The hardest part about balancing in pincha mayurasana in that kind of heat is the way my thudding heartbeat makes me sway.
But the karanda assist! Okay, so he swings me down to touch my knees, then up again (no 5 breath hold), then down and up again — repeat for five. Wheeeee! Super fun. Helps me see how the exit really is a backbend, for one thing. And it’s a dynamic strength move! It reminds me of two things:
1) Weightlifting days. When I would always wake up sore, back in the days where everything could be solved by brute strength. (*sigh*)
2) Dynamic climbing moves. I love dynamic climbing moves. Instead of reaching to grab a handhold, you jump and grab! Motion! Momentum! A chance you might miss the hold! Very fun.
So yes, I am loving the dynamism of karandavasana. The only pain right now is my SUPER shaky lotusing of the legs. The balance is very weird when it’s a forearm balance (versus, say, a headstand). If any cybershalamates have advice on the pincha-armed leg-lotus, let me know.
I’m having very zippy practices these days. 60-75 minutes (60 on days like today, when thoughts of an early meeting keep me on a particularly quick pace). I know I’m going fast compared to others in the shala, but seem to be clocking in at the pace of a led class, so I think I’m okay.
Practiced at the Posh Spa this morning. God, I love their towels.
I try to get in a little before 6 AM, so I can wrap up savasana by 7:20 or so. Despite good driste, I had the sense that I was speeding along as compared to everyone else. That was confirmed when Muscle Man asked me, as we finished up the karandavasana assist: “What time did you start?”
I asked if I was going too fast and he said he didn’t think do. Apparently he moves along quickly as well. I don’t watch the clock, and I don’t want to, but I know that if I keep up a good pace, I can do my whole practice, get ready, and be at work early enough to get some work done before everyone else shows up and the circus begins.
Funny moment in
pincha mayurasana karandavasana. I did a down dog with some extra breaths before launching pincha mayurasana since I didn’t want to be in an inversion when my heart blew a gasket (seriously, I think they must crank it to at least 90 degrees in there). I got up into pincha mayurasana, got wobbly, and flipped. Went back up and stuck it. Suddenly Muscle Man was there, tapping on my right ankle. I kind of moved it in the direction of the tap. He then took my ankle and kind of did an outward rotation. “Geez,” I thought, “My alignment in pincha must suck.” Then I realized he was indicating that I should lotus my legs. Oh! I get it! We’re doing karandavasana! Duh, I was still on pincha mayurasana.
Alrighty, so after months and months of self-practice, I went to a Sunday led intermediate at a studio in the southern part of the valley. Great fun, a nice, funky studio, and a small regular crowd of friendly yogis. Sweet.
Then The Poetess started offering Mysore on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Volleyball Guy’s studio, which is right by my office. The Poetess teaches late some evenings, so I offered to open the place up so she could come in a little later and not have to worry about students standing outside waiting for her. Perfect. I can go in at 5:30, turn on the heat and get started.
And last week, I headed over to the newest studio in town, where Muscle Man is teaching Mysore on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. The studio is super-plush — reminds me of Pure Yoga in Singapore. What a great place to get ready for work after practice: stacks of scratchy white cotton towels (my favorite!), peppermint bodywash, shampoo, and conditioner, Q-tips, hair spray, deodorant, hair dryers, even containers full of disposable razors. There’s a mouthwash dispenser and little cups by the sinks. The Poetess told me she washed her hands with it before she realized what it was. Ha!
The Mysore room is beautiful, except for…um, mirrors on two walls. And what appears to be a teak floor. Hey, I like luxury materials as much as the next person, but cork woulda been my choice, not the hardest wood on earth. But that’s just a quibble. The place is gorgeous. And they turn the heat up to a thousand degrees.
“It’s like practicing in India!” I said to The Cop.
“Except for the luxurious surroundings and plush toiletries.”
So anyhow, much Mysore these days. Which is nice. And probably useful given karandavasana. In the Sunday class, the teacher doesn’t adjust that pose. On Monday I took two shots at it with Muscle Man. He did one assist standing behind me and grasping my knees, and another standing in front of me and pushing against my knees as I curled down (interesting, right?). This morning, The Poetess did the traditional hip grab assist.
I need to set aside some time for my own work with the baddha hasta sirsasana lowering, ’cause I think that’s good for strength. In the meantime, though, plenty of opportunity for help with this pose.
Yeah, what he said.
I’ve been using the Maehle technique, too. It’s consistent with the principles of deliberate practice.
One of the things I’ve always been amused about, when it comes to deliberate practice, is that it is recognized right up front that deliberate practice is not fun. The whole idea is that you are practicing at the very edge of your capability, which means you won’t be getting the ego-fulfillment of being able to do something easily. Basically, it’s grind, grind, grind, stretch, stretch, stretch. Sounds familiar?
This morning is led intermediate with Andrew Eppler, who is visiting from Oklahoma.
This morning I did a random practice session, mostly with the intention of flipping in pincha mayurasana (to make sure I don’t develop the fear again) and to open up my psoas muscles a bit. Tomorrow morning is intermediate with Manju, and I didn’t want to face it after the moon day and then a day off. I felt I must prepare.
And then I was kinda lazy. I started off imagining a long session, but that impulse faded pretty quickly. I do value my days off! So I did a bunch of random stuff until I felt warm, then did some flipping. Not only does it not hurt at ALL, it is totally fun. I am still amused at how much it pleases me to flip. And then I realized that it is now much harder to balance! Apparently fear helps me defy gravity. Meh. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. The only thing I really didn’t want was to be in the “trying to launch but afraid to because I might flip” situation. It may play out that I just flip over and over as he counts to five, but I dunno, that doesn’t bother me for some reason.
The other preparedness stuff revolves around an upcoming visit from The Cop’s parents. They arrive on Wednesday and stay for a week. First order of business is keeping cranky Daisy in a muzzle at all times. Second order of business is cleaning the house. Siiiiiiiiiigh. I have a level of cleanliness that is acceptable to The Cop and myself, but then throw in house guests, and the stakes seem to go up. The dog drool splotches on the tile floor just seem normal to me. But they’ve got to go when there’re guests. At least, I have to TRY to get rid of them; they are immediately replaced, so there’s a Sisyphean aspect to the whole project. Between the dogs’ drool and desert dust, there’s just no way I can pull off an Architectural Digest facade.
How many times did I flip over this morning? Not sure — a dozen times, maybe? Did the guy next to me enjoy the merriment? Possibly not.
I’ve been going to an open studio at Volleyball Guy’s place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Presided over by The Poetess. There’re usually 4-6 people attending. I open the doors at 5:30 and get started. Official hours are 6-8 AM. Anyhow, The Poetess spotted me on a few flips this morning, and then I did a bunch myself, growing progressively more giddy as I went along. Lying in savasana it dawned on me: I am totally an endorphin junkie, and it’s been a long time since I’ve had the fear-of-falling endorphins. I’ve been flashing back on the climbing days since I’ve been working on flipping the pincha.
I know all of the backbending work of the past couple of years yields endorphins (that’s why it’s so compelling to do it every morning), but I haven’t had a big “falling and surviving to tell about it” rush for many years. So woohoo to falling out of pincha mayurasana, perhaps the closest one gets to rock climbing thrills in Ashtanga.
I actually had to stop and remind myself to try to balance at the top, which is the whole point of doing the posture! I got carried away, though, with launching myself up and over. That seemed like the most fun.
I tried to research rolling out of pincha mayurasana. Not a lot on the web. This was amusing, though.
Armed with little knowledge, I did a bunch of tuck and rolls out of baddha hasta sirsasana C. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right, ’cause I’m jolting my upper back, but nothing really painful. I’m just kind of a baby about jolts — I think it’s because I used to suffer sudden migraines, and a jolt could set one off. I don’t get migraines any more (thank God) (and I’m already feeling jinxed for having written that) but the reluctance to slam my body on the ground remains. Silly me.
Okay, so probably a dozen falls out of BHSC. Then I go up into pincha mayurasana and totally stick it. And don’t want to roll. Suspect I need more information (while recognizing that information-gathering is an excellent tool for procrastination). Here’s the question, though: am I supposed to lower my head to the ground before I roll/as part of the roll?
After practice, I was chatting with Vanessa online & decided to give it another go. This time, I had the good sense to go into the back bedroom, where there is carpeting (softer than tile!). And there is also (duh!) my foam gymnastics wedge. So I pushed the wedge up against the wall so it wouldn’t slip and launched up into pincha — and over! Wheeee! Then I got further from the high end of the wedge and did it again. And again.
It all sorts out by itself. I didn’t need to think about putting my head down, it just lowered to the ground as I went over and landed in a backbend. Less dramatic than the tuck and roll, but that’s because I’m a crappy tuck and roller, as my martial arts teacher probably noted, back in the day.
So now I all have to do is practice it a bunch of times to make sure I get past the impulse to do any panic flailing. Up and over. Up and over. Up and over.
And as soon as I flipped the pincha mayurasana, what did I think? “God, I’m scared to flip my lotus in karandavasana!” Really? Is there no end to this?
On Sunday, I’m attending a led intermediate with Manju, who is in town for the weekend. This morning at practice, I felt pretty scared about it. For one thing, I am very nervous about practicing pincha mayurasana away from the wall. I kick up every morning and don’t touch the wall, but I know it’s there. Sigh. I need to just flip it and get it over with, but I am afraid to do it alone (what if I die?) and afraid to do it around other people (what if I traumatize them when I die?).
Hubris, to even go to the class? Sure. But I’m so curious to hear what he has to say about the practice, at least up to pincha mayurasana. After that point, I’ll just flounder. But that’s fine.