Thursday, May 20, 2010

Week 14 - Jenny

Wow.  So Week 14 is waaaay different than Week 13.  There are quite a few new poses.  It took me almost two hours to get through it all.  First, we begin with Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana I).  Mr. Iyengar mentions that Headstand should be done before any other poses so that you're fresh and not tired.  I held it for five minutes before going into the standing sequence that Mr. Iyengar has been having us do for awhile.

This week deeper backbends were added - Cobra (Bhujangasana I), Floor Bow (Dhanurasana) and Locust (Shalabasana).  I'm a little confused with the instructions for Cobra.  Mr. I.  has you come up to high Cobra with bent arms, then go to straight arms "bringing the pubis to the floor."  But I don't know if he wants me to keep my arms bent if the pubis doesn't reach the floor.  In the photo of the straight arm version (I'm guessing it was added to the book later as Mr. Iyengar is wearing a different pair of shorts than in all the other photos), his hands seem far out in front of him.  He doesn't say anything in the text about bringing them forward, but the photo shows just that.  I tried it with the hands placed forward - it is  intense on the low back, even though I was attempting to extend the tailbone towards the feet and the side ribs forward and up.  Since he has a great degree of elasticity in the spine, he is able to push his chest way back by straightening his arms while keeping his pubis on the floor, which is probably what accounts for his hands looking as if they are placed forward of the original position.  So the arms do stay bent so that my pubis reaches the floor.  Which accounts for today's leading teachers teaching the pose in this way.

I love the simple instructions assuming I'm as elastic as Mr. Iyengar.  Like in Dhanurasana - bring the legs up behind you before pulling the legs together.  As if I could do that.  But he had to write the book in some manner; and I think this is the best way.  I think the point is that you will eventually get there - you'll be able to do the poses as he does.

After such a long practice, I was rather invigorated.  I wasn't tired at all.  With all the new stuff, the standing poses felt like old friends.  I moved through them with ease and confidence that I'm working towards proficiency in all the poses.  The backbends provided chest and heart opening and exhilaration.  The combination of them with the forward bends - this week adding Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) and Seated Forward Bend (Pashimottanasana) - made my spine feel elastic - like it would have no problem going from a forward bend to a backbend and vice versa.

I need to work more on Mahamudra (legs set up as in Janu Sirsasana, but working the abdomen toward the spine as is Agni Sara) - I'm not sure I was quite getting it.  I had the chinlock and the abdomen pulled in, but it felt weird.  But I guess it is weird.  Again, I had a little trouble with the instructions.  Mr. I says to inhale, then pull the abdomen in and up, then release the abdomen and exhale.  Then he says to inhale and pull the abdomen in again.  Then to hold the pose for one to three minutes.  Does he mean to hold the inhale for that long?  He can't, right?  So I held for as long as I could - trying to exhale before I felt too much pressure entering my face - and took just a few breaths throughout the one to two minutes I held the pose.  I'll research this pose in other books to see what I can find.

All in all, a wildly invigorating yet relaxing sequence.  I'm looking forward to its repeat in Week 15.  Savasana with Ujayii again.  And I rested right down onto the floor.  My spine was a rubber band, but with strength.  I felt stretched out from head to toe.  I didn't want to kick anyone's ass.  I didn't want to walk through mountains in Tibet.  I was somewhere in between.  Balanced.  Ah yes, balance.  I believe that's mentioned in a few yoga books.

1 comment:

sfauthor said...

Ambitious project! Do you know about these yoga books?