Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Week 9 - Jenny

Wow.  Mr. Iyengar added a few surprises to the mix in Week 9.  First, how I feel.  I feel balanced, calm, grounded, wrung out, free.  I feel ready to take on the world, but less in a Spartan soldier kind of way and more in an unteeterable (I know that's not a word, but I needed it) Buddhist monk kind of way.  I feel like I can walk through hurricanes and malls without getting blown over.  I feel like I can support others with my calm power.  I feel like drinking some carrot juice.

Back to earth.  I'm not sure what the reason for all the new feelings is.  Mr. Iyengar adds a few poses to the sequence that contribute.  For one, Gate Pose (Parighasana).  A deep side bend.  I can't possibly reach my upper arm to my foot like Mr. Iyengar does in the photos.  But that's okay.  The stretch from the pelvis up and over to the side is quite intense and somewhat shocking.  And I thought I was getting an intense side stretch in Triangle (Trikonasana).  Gate Pose takes it to a different place - rather than lengthening through the side, you are bending to the side deeply.  I have to believe this pose, along with others, accounts for the wrung out feeling.

This sequence is interesting.  Mr. Iyengar starts with the standing poses as usual.  Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) and Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) are here as they were last week - adding difficult and intense balances to the standing sequence.  Then the core work (same as last few weeks), which I come out of feeling like I could kick someone's ass.  Then to the calm-provoking inversions - Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana I) and Plow (Halasana).  This week Mr. Iyengar added Karnapidasana (sorry, no English translation), like Plow but with the knees bent and placed by the ears.  He also added Single Leg Shoulderstand (Eka Pada Sarvangasana), a variation on Shoulderstand ('Eka Pada' meaning 'one-sided') where you bring one leg down to Plow while the other stays as in Shoulderstand.  I came out of this inversion sequence with that Buddhist monk feeling - all calm and clear, yes, clear - in my mind and in my body.  Also added this week is a final spinal twist laying on the back, similar to the one most teachers introduce to beginner yoga students, but with both legs straight.  Of course, this joins Gate Pose in providing the wrung out feeling.

Lastly, Ujjayi pranayama in Corpse Pose (Savasana) with retention of the breath on the inhale, "for a second or two."  And I came out of Savasana feeling so free.  Free from tension, free from worries, just free.

I have to give a shout out to one more new pose this week - Revolved Side Angle (Parivrtta Parsvakanasana).  I never thought I'd say this in this blog, but WTF??  In this version, Mr. Iyengar has you wrap the lower arm over the front leg, pressing the armpit to the knee.  SO this requires more twist to even get into the pose, but also more bend into the front leg so the hand can touch the floor.  And I can't figure out how to prop this hand with a block.  You need to get that arm over the leg and bend that leg enough to get the armpit to touch the knee.  Hard to explain, but try it sometime (check the link for the pose to see this version of it).  With more flexibility in the spinal twist and more ability to bend that front leg while keeping the back foot on the floor, this will eventually be achieved.  I can see in the photos that even Mr. Iyengar has trouble keeping his back foot planted - and he can do anything.  So this pose is a new goal of mine.  And the journey, as always, will reveal more than I ever knew.

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