Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Week 11 - Jenny

Feeling good . . . feeling good.  Week 11 brings in new poses and also a change in sequence.  Until now, Mr. Iyengar has allowed a bit of a warm-up before the twisting standing poses Revolved Triangle (Parivrrta Trikonasana) and Revolved Side Angle (Parivrrta Parsvakonasana).  This week the sequence starts with Extended Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) and goes straight into Revolved, then Extended Side Angle (Uttitha Parsvakonasana), then straight into the revolved version.  Craziness, I tell you.  But a pretty awesome moment when I realized that it was really no problem for me.  I was able to find enough opening in the extended versions of the poses that the revolved versions were as they are after more standing poses.

This week Mr. Iyengar adds standing forward bends, Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana) and Hand to Foot Pose (Padahastasana), the former holding the big toes in yogi toe lock and the latter slipping the hands under the feet (sometimes called 'Gorilla Pose').  Mr. I. has you stretch your torso forward in a concave shape before moving completely into these two poses - the same way you move into Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padattonasana).  I love his instructions for this first step in Padangusthasana: "bring the diaphragm toward the chest and . . . get the concave shape of the back from the coccyx."  This made me reach forward off of the pelvis to create length in the spine, especially the lumbar portion, before curving the spine to come into the pose.  This prevents injuries to the sacroiliac joint, as renowned yoga teacher and physical therapist Judith Lassater will tell you (and as I will tell you, having injured said joint and corrected it by using the concave shape technique). Mr. I. never ceases to amaze with his knowledge of such seemingly Western medicinal techniques.  He never mentions the sacroiliac joint or why you are extending from your pelvis, but his instructions are clearly keeping you from injuring yourself.  He mentions that you will need a guru to help you find the concave back position and that "one has to master other minor poses before attempting this one."  Seems to me this is a clear example of the transitions and blends of yoga and Western medicine.  He was saying it in the 60's from an experiential point of view.  We've done studies to prove it to ourselves - an academic point of view.

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) is the last of the standing forward bends in the sequence.  Same idea of trying to find a concave back position before moving into the pose.  Mr. I. mentions the calming effects of this pose - sounds a lot like Prasarita Padottasana.  He has you stay in the pose for about a minute, as opposed to the 20 second holds of the other two forward bends.  And I did feel at peace as I stood in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) after a minute in Uttanasana.

After that, it was back to the sequence of previous weeks - core work, then inversions.  As usual, the core work invigorates.  Then immediately to the calming, serene Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana I) / Plow (Halasana) / Ear Pressure Pose (Karnapidasana) / One-Legged Shoulderstand (Eka Pada Sarvangasana) inversion sequence.  This whole sequence is so grounding, so relaxing, so meditative (if you allow it to be).  I come out of it into Belly Turning Pose (Jatara Parivartanasana) with ease and serenity.  Then Ujjayi pranayama with inhale retention in Corpse Pose (Savasana) to breathe and open more, to massage the organs or whatever he says - it's perfect.  One of the miracles of everyday life.  Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh reminds us all that miracles occur every day in each moment of our lives.  This practice given by Mr. Iyengar puts a miracle right in front of me so I can't possibly miss it.  Breath.  Freedom.  Miracle.

1 comment:

anjplanetyoga said...

Hi there. I’m so glad you posted something on SI joint stability. Leeann Carey, an amazing yoga teacher, says that there are ways to protect the SI joint through yoga. She has a free yoga video on this that I think your readers might like: http://www.planetyoga.com/yoga-blogs/free-yoga-video-si-joint-stability/