Monday, April 12, 2010

Week 9 - Ariana

Yes I am behind with this one. I missed my entry for last week so I will be posting weeks 9 and 10 this week. woo hoo.

I jumped ahead to see what poses and sequences are coming down the road. I know I should not do this because the last time I did I had second thoughts. It happened again. I started to think I was crazy for even thinking I could do this. I thought, how am I going to stick with this? A little voice said to just do what I can.

And then when I was in Gate Pose (Parighasana) on the right side and could not get much more than my heel on the floor, I started to chuckle that this is even stressing me out. What does it matter? I do what I can and that is enough. And then I laughed again when I tried the pose on the left and was able to not only get my foot on the floor, but do the full pose on that side. Ah, how I love the asymmetries of the body. I can't figure this stuff out.

For some reason my effort was easy today. Maybe because I did the sequence at night. I felt relaxed but strong too.

I decided to use a strap for my shoulderstand today to help keep the elbows from splaying out. It helped me relax the muscles in my shoulders and neck. I guess I grip there usually because I am so intent on keeping the elbows in. Because I released my shoulder and neck muscles I was able to get my spine more vertical this time. It was delicious. The strap helped me forget about my elbows so I could put the effort elsewhere - my feet. The result was more lift and more verticality.

Mr. Iyengar describes Ujjayi as "the process in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest puffed out like that of a proud warrior." I do not puff my chest when I use ujjayi throughout my practice, but in this Savasana exercise Mr. Iyengar says to fill the lungs up to the brim without bloating the abdomen. He says that the entire abdominal area from the pubes up to the breast-bone should be pulled back towards the spine. This directs more air up into the lungs- the spaces that we don't usually get to in breathing. He suggests to keep the "grip" on the abdomen on the exhale. It occurred to me while doing this that the purpose of this might be to stretch and strengthen all the little muscles between the ribs in order to increase capacity for air and prana. I learned recently that prana rides on air. They travel together.

Ujjayi pranayama while in Savasana is so centering and leaves a feeling of clarity in the mind and lungs. I mentioned before that Mr. Iyengar says this is the only pranayama exercise which can be done at all times of the day and night. I can attest to that. I have tried it in the morning, afternoon and now night. Right now it is my favorite part of these sequences. I look forward to this every time.

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