Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Week 24 - Ariana

My dog was by my side throughout the practice - either pacing, whining, stepping on my book or sitting on my mat. He had already been out so I don't know what was bothering him. I guess he just wanted attention.

My muscles are stiff - not as limber as usual with the summer heat. It has been raining and chilly where we are.

For Chakrasana I unfolded one blanket on top of my mat. Then I placed two folded blankets on top of that. My shoulders were propped up on the folded blankets and the back of my head was on the bottom blanket. This support and cushioning made a huge difference. I almost did it fully.

Salabhasana- I looked closely at the photo of Mr. Iyengar doing this pose and I was surprised to see that his palms are turned up. I am surprised because this affects the position of the shoulders. I think I prefer to face the palms down because the shoulders roll back and up which opens the chest more.

I am struggling pressing up into Chaturanga and holding it there. Coming down into Chaturanga is so much easier. I thought maybe I was not using my legs enough. So I squeezed a block between my inner thighs to activate them more. It helped. In general I feel I am not "gathering" enough to my midline. Not enough core in my practice. Too much expansion from the center out and not enough coming back into center. There has to be an interplay between the two.

I had an aversion to Simhasana today. I can't sit with my legs the way he suggests so I just sat on my heels - the second time with the toes tucked under (broken-toe asana according to Tias Little). I prefer the pose this way.

I think Mr. Iyengar placed Utkatasana after all that floor work in order to bring back circulation to and re-energize the legs. Otherwise it seems so out of place to me.

I noticed my breath more than usual in today's sequence. Observing rather than altering it. Noticing when my breath is labored and when it is calm. Like when I am in the process of getting into one of the bound poses my breath is faster but as soon I as I get into the pose my breath settles down.
Unfortunately I ran out of time at the end and skipped Ujjayi in Siddhasana.  oh well.

I have been doing some reading on breath and came across these interesting points:

In Light on Life, Mr. Iyengar says that inhalation is tension and exhalation is freedom.

In Yoga Anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff states that contrary to what we think, "when we inhale we are not pulling air into the body. Actually air is being pushed into the body by atmospheric pressure that surrounds us all the time. The actual force that gets air into the lungs is outside the body."


Portside said...

Been really enjoying reading your blog.

One of my Iyengar teachers had us do this really great prop work with a strap - shoulder width just above the elbows (and then with a block at the forehead) - for chaturanga. The strap has really helped my hand placement, shoulder rotation down my back and most of all, the lift from lumbar and getting to the proper pelvic tilt to really engage and lift from that fickle lower abdomen. In my experience, really helps the gathering...

Keep up the great work!

ariana said...

Thank you for the suggestion! I have tried that strap around the arms for Chaturanga but have not tried the block at the forehead. Do you recall what the purpose of that was? Relaxing the neck? I will revisit the strap prop and give the block a try too.

Portside said...

Yes - basically so that the pose isn't in the neck. Also, giving extension through the neck and lift through the upper thoracic vertebrae - between the shoulder blades (which are of course down the back). For me the "pelvic gathering" is a lot harder with the block than when using a strap.

We had the block placed at its lowest and aligned at the hairline - as if you were doing a restorative/supported adho mukha svanasana.