Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Week 8- Jenny

Okay, back to new sequences.  Week 8 built on the past sequences, adding a couple more challenging poses (asanas).  The two major one were balances - Warrior III (Virabadrasana III) and Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana).  For the first time ever, I noticed that these poses are quite similar.  Half Moon is a sideways version of Warrior III.

So for Warrior III, Mr. Iyengar has you start in Warrior I, then lay your chest on your thigh with arms stretched out in front of you, then move into the pose on an exhale.  I like the entry.  There's a moment of "here we go" as you lift off - and somehow that works.  It's hard for me to keep my hands together in front of me in this pose - I have tight shoulders.  So I tried to get them as close as I could without creating too much tension in the shoulders.  This pose is so invigorating and so challenging to the symmetry of the body.  I use this trick I learned from a pilates teacher friend - I look at the shape of the rectangle that is formed from shoulder to shoulder to hip to hip.  No matter what, that rectangle must remain intact.  Any skewing of the rectangle and you're off balance.  It works in a lot of poses, but it's really apparent in Warrior III.  So yes, lots of power coursing through the body as the standing leg reaches infinitely into the floor and the raised legs and arms reach infinitely front and back.  But then a pull of the energy towards midline - the sushumna or central channel.  And that makes the pose rock solid for me - well, not tense like a rock, but stretched like a soaring eagle - still, but moving.

Ardha Chandrasana is one of the poses that has never quite agreed with me.  I tend to be a good balancer.  And the universe has sent me this pose so that I understand what some of my students are dealing with in balances.  Again, I like the entry.  Starting in Extended Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana), then bending the forward and placing the hand on the floor, then lifting off into the pose.  I can usually balance if I look at the floor.  But when I try to look up, I lose it.  And I've tried to slowly move the head side and up, spotting places on the wall and then wall-ceiling joint, but it's hard.  Though he doesn't explain it in text, the photos show Mr. Iyengar looking upwards before lifting into the pose.  So I tried it that way.  It was better than usual.  It makes lifting off much more difficult and much slower (that's probably the point - I should balance my way into the position rather that jump into it), but it more effectively gets me to the final position.  In the past, I've always done this pose with the upper arm raised, but Mr. Iyengar has you place the arm on the side of the body.  I like it.  It takes the arm out of the equation so that the opening of the chest (per his instructions) is more available.

The other new pose was Wide-Legged Forward Bend II (Prasarita Padatonasana II) - we've been doing Wide-Legged Forward Bend I (Prasarita Padotanasana I), where you place the crown of the head on the floor.  The only difference here is that you place the arms either on the hips or in "namaste" behind your back.  I put them on my hips (tight shoulders again).  Mr. Iyengar mentions that this version of the pose requires more strength from the legs.  And yes, it does.  You have to engage the legs if you don't want to fall on (and possible over) your head.  A deeper form of the first version.

So I've been holding Shoulderstand and Plow (Halasana) for 5 minutes each.  They really become meditative.  I love it.  I come out of those into Ujjayi breath in Corpse Pose (Savasana).  Today I felt much more release of my body in Savasana.  I think it's due to the holding of Shoulderstand and Plow, especially Plow.  With more time in Plow, my shoulder blades get a little closer to their ideal place on my back- the rhomboids and trapezius muscles stretch and relax some, and I lay more of my body on the floor.  Ah.  I came out of the sequence invigorated and alive and ready for more.

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